Tag Archives: modesty

TLM Southeast Florida: Alligator Alley and the Latin Mass

I am so intrigued by the number of comments surrounding my posts about how I believe men should dress. I’d like to address some of them here.

A gentleman named Pavel commented on my last post. He stated that, “If you have no money, it is hard to dress right.” well, Pavel, that’s only half true. Let me explain.

As a home-schooled young man many years ago, I made many trips to the library. I’m talking about the actual library. This was in the early 1990’s, just prior to the internet’s ubiquitousness as we know it today. We had to do this thing called research. It involved card catalogs and microfiche and interacting with people behind desks. During one of my journeys downtown to the main branch (complete with actual stacks) I ended up taking out a book on etiquette. It was, in fact, the book on etiquette – Emily Post’s Etiquette.

I found it fascinating. Look, I was homeschooled. The freedom I was given over my own didache meant I could follow all kinds of interests. I saw the title on the shelf while looking for something else and was intrigued. So I checked it out.

The first lines of the book stood out to me not only because they made so much sense as to be self-evident, but also because they seemed contrary to everything I’d ever heard about the subject. I will paraphrase.

“Etiquette is nothing more than making the people around you as comfortable as possible within the bounds of good taste.”

That’s a great rule to live by. Miss Post herself was spelling out the formula right off the bat. It didn’t matter if you knew whether or not to extend a hand to a lady who hadn’t introduced herself first or whether you should use the tiny fork first. If you used your common sense and your cogitative powers and if your intention was to practice fraternal Charity (setting others at ease in a tense social setting), then you’ve already won. I have used that advice in life so many times it isn’t funny.

And good dress is like an extension of good manners.

Think about it.

1) Common Sense: dress appropriately for your state in life and the task at hand. I’ve talked a lot about wearing a jacket to daily mass. I would not wear that same jacket while digging a trench. Duh.

2) Cogitative Powers: Think before you dress. God gave you the ability to reason and to discern. Who are you? Where are you going? With whom will you interact? Pull it all together and make your decision. Is the thing I would like to wear outside the bounds of my budget? Then be prudent.

3) Fraternal Charity: This goes both ways. Dress in a way to put others at ease but also remember that others should never be offended when you’ve done your best. I’ve seen college students (proverbially poor) show up to events looking phenomenal because they wore the best of what they have and they held their heads high with dignity. I’ve also seen millionaires (in fact, a well known Catholic TV personality) show up to Sunday mass week after week dressed to golf – because that’s where he was going immediately after mass. The thing is, I knew he owned suits far nicer than mine. It bothered me.

Pavel, if you are short on cash at the moment, do not fret. Cleanliness and being your best do not cost a dime. I remember reading stories of the saints when I was a boy. I was amazed at how, for instance, the father of St. Catherine Laboure, despite laboring in the fields, kept one nice set of clothes to wear on Sunday. It wasn’t “fancy” but it was his best. Seriously, Pavel, email me and I’ll help you figure it out. More than anything, it’s an attitude.

So to drive home the point about the appropriateness of one’s attire… While traveling across the southern tip of Florida today we stopped in the Everglades and took a tour on a fan boat. Our pilot stopped within a few feet of a gator who hissed at me. I thought I would die. But for that excursion, I was in shorts, a tee shirt, and a ball cap. I was in a literal swamp.

I decided to name him Bergogli-gator. It just seemed like the thing to do.

Hours later, I found myself at St. Agnes church in Naples, FL. This is the location where Corpus Christi Latin Mass Parish has a daily Mass. I pulled into a gas station, went inside, and, you guessed it, changed into a shirt and trousers with a jacket. I’ve got one jacket with me this week as I travel light but it works for its purpose.

Also, the Mass was pretty well-attended. This makes me happy to see packed Latin Masses. I will be there every day this week. So for a fun experiment, if you also worship at this parish and you see a stranger in a light blue sports coat, don’t be afraid to approach him after mass and say hello. If, however, you think his writing is garbage, then approach the older lady in the veil seated nearby and tell her. That man’s mother-in-law will not mind at all. She just loves making new friends.

Bonus: Swamp Vid

These creatures are terrible.

Virgin Most Faithful, pray for us!

St. Maria Goretti, pray for us!

Dressing for Fraternal Charity -*Slight Off-color Commentary Below

A few days ago I wrote a post about how men should dress. Since I am a man and I wear clothes I figured I would start with myself. Today I put that lecture into practice.

The day started obscenely early. Everyone in the house was up at 5 so we could get our last minute packing completed. I mentioned that I’ve already started wearing at minimum a jacket to daily mass. Mass this morning – for my family – was at 7AM and from there we’d be heading to the airport.

I always remember my dad telling me about the golden age of airline travel. “Back then (pre-1970) people would dressed up to travel. It was an adventure and you had to look your best because it was required.”

Today, I dressed up to board a plane.

And I rocked it.

Commanding respect at every turn – from TSA to the concessionaires to the gate agents and flight attendants – I turned heads. It didn’t take much. I wore a light blue sport coat over a white dress shirt with a pair of navy trousers. That’s it. But contrast that image with the tank tops and booty shorts and general skin-on-display freak show that is a modern airport terminal and you will understand why I stood out.

I strode through the concourse with a swagger I didn’t know I possessed. My shoulders were back and broadened over my tapering frame. It’s amazing how good clothing will do that for you especially since I do not have a tapering frame. Confident doesn’t begin to describe my attitude this morning boarding a flight for a family vacation to Florida. Others looked like they were bound for a theme park from hell. I could have easily been heading to Mar-a-lago. And I want to emphasize I did not spend a fortune on this getup. The jacket cost $10 at a thrift store.

On the plane I sat back and took out a book I’ve been slowly making my way through for months. Many of you probably know it well. See the picture below. The drinks came free. I was not in first class but was treated like I was. I cannot say it was the attire but I cannot not say that either.

My in-flight vibe

The best part about this experience is that, despite the soaring temperatures, I was cool as a cucumber.

I looked good and I felt good and people noticed.

This is how, in my truly humble opinion, we should do it. I’m tired of dressing like a boy running onto a rugby pitch just because that’s what everyone else does. For, when we dress our best, it shows forth our respect for others. A random woman in the elevator even told me so. “My you look very nice today!” she said as she smiled. I thanked her and smiled back. I hope I made her day.

Unfortunately my daughter and I encountered a perfect example of the opposite of this idea when we got to our hotel. We went downstairs for a dip in the pool. A young couple whom I will charitably assume are misguided sauntered past us. The guy was wearing knee-length board shorts. His lady friend appeared to have been clad in dental floss. I turned to my daughter and asked (quite cattily), “Ever hear of side boob?” She nodded and laughed. “That poor thing is missing so much fabric, she’s got underboob.” My daughter laughed heartily and replied, “And her butt’s falling out too.” Forgive the off-color tone but we decided to write an action story based on what we witnessed. It will be called The Adventures of Underboob and Sideass. Hey, we had to witness it so you get to hear about it. It will be tastefully written. No illustrations though.

Seriously, folks. Modesty means covering the things that God intends to be revealed only to certain people or for certain purposes. I’ve said before that suits make a man look more manly. See the remark about my tapering frame above. And there is nothing more beautiful or feminine than a modestly dressed woman.

And once again the Blessed Mother will come through for me. I’ve already lined up daily Latin masses for every day of this trip.

God is good to me – far better than I deserve.

Men, suit up. It’s your duty.

Mother Most Pure, pray for us!

St. Christopher, pray for us!

Counter-Revolt HARDER… Why Dressing Like a Real Man is Easier (and Way Cooler) than You Realize

This afternoon I was doing my daily “research”. This entails sitting on my Texas front porch, sipping my gin and tonic, and thumbing through my phone catching up on all my trad goings-on.

I came across Ann Barnhardt’s latest post. I wonder if I can call her “Miss B.” like Non Veni Mark does? In any event, click here to read that post. It is one million per cent magnificent in its truth and timeliness. Here’s the quick synopsis. Ann argues the point that women need to start dressing modestly for obvious virtuous reasons, that doing so is not hard and in fact can be inexpensive, and that she herself is doing her part to get the trend of “these girls walking around almost nekkid, or in uber-expensive designer trash” reversed by, surprise, dressing amazingly. First sidenote: Going from Miss B. to Ann might be a bit too forward. I’ll return simply to Barnhardt. Second sidenote: Barnhardt has just upped the game for all of us. She’s wearing white summer gloves everywhere.

This all evoked incredible memories of my dad. I’ve mentioned him a few times. He was an honest-to-goodness real man and we were all blessed to have been born of him. To describe my dad accurately would take volumes so I’ll just give a sartorial overview. My dad wasn’t a hulking huge guy. He never played sports to my knowledge, though he did enjoy a game of frisbee or backyard volleyball with the kids in the summer. When you’ve brought a literal army into the world (there are 16 of us), you tend to do these things with and for your kids. Dad was incredibly smart. He was an actuary. He had a wicked sense of humor. He once told me (I was 6 years-old) that an actuary is a place where they bury dead actors. I believed him. He was a man of incredible faith and great dignity – at home with rich and poor alike. A daily mass-goer, a family man extraordinaire, a gentleman, and a scholar. And all who ever met him remember his class and style.

Barnhardt mentions that she was “born in ’76” and thus after many of the trends she’d like to bring back. Fair point. I was born in ’77. My parents, however, were born in the late 1930’s. They lived through the upheaval and the revolution and all that jazz. Dad never stepped out of the house unless properly attired. That meant, most days of the week he was in a suit. He’d tell me, “Son, you can never go wrong with a dark suit and a white shirt.” His shoes were always polished. He always had his pocketwatch tucked neatly into his watch pocket. He wore this to daily mass, to work, and finally, sitting in his chair at night watching TV with us kids. On Saturday he might be found in a polo shirt and navy trousers but always with a sportcoat and always a very nice looking one. I never saw the man wear shorts, sneakers, or a tee shirt. Every September he would grow in his goatee and every March he would shave it off. Even in his retirement, he still came to the breakfast table in a jacket. And he loved covering his head when he stepped outside. From the occasional Irish motoring cap to the wool fedora (to match his trench coat, of course) to my all time favorite – his 1910-era boater hat.

The man had style and a ubiquitous pipe from which he let out billows of beautiful and aromatic smoke.

More importantly, he respected others. He made a lasting impact. All looked up to him. He represented an ideal of manliness one hardly sees anymore. He placed my mom on a pedestal, honored his marriage vows for close to 60 years, brought many souls into being for God, took care of his family, and went to his reward buried in a dark suit. And a white shirt.

Over the years, although I’ve inherited some of his fashion sense, I’ve fallen into the terrible trap of the modern world where dress is concerned. As I write this I am wearing shorts and a tee shirt. Granted, I’m sitting inside my house and it’s late at night. But just like everything else the man taught me, I’m learning more and more everyday that he was right. That post from Barnhardt brought it home.


I dress the part. To every daily mass I wear a dress shirt and jacket (if not a full suit and tie). I will not ever again run out to the store late at night dressed like I do to work out. And I will be working harder to set those trends back in the right direction. A man who dresses well according to his state in life is a man who cares about others.

We tend to think that modesty isn’t so much of a problem among men but it surely can be. And on that point, I come back in my mind to the question of my PE wardrobe. You know, I live on the surface of the sun in Texas and by necessity I work out outside. OK, I will continue to wear gym shorts and sleeveless shirts when I’m lifting or jumping rope. It’s 14 million degrees here and I sweat. A lot. I also work out in the middle of the day when no one in my neighborhood is even home. But, as Barnhardt says in her piece, we need to lead the counter revolt and we can do it simply enough by how we dress. So, I’ll be thinking twice before running out to the liquor store in my “Biden can’t ban these guns” tank top. Come on, that’s pretty funny.

I learned from my father that men who are bold set trends, they do not follow them. Dad had no shortage of courage and just a dash of “I’m not concerned with what you think”. In the late 1980’s he and my mom headed out to his office client Christmas party. It was a big deal. His bosses spared no expense and hired incredible entertainment. Dad wore his tuxedo. Mom got after him a bit. “Honey, it didn’t say it was black tie.” He replied, “Doesn’t matter. It should be.” He was the only man in a tux that night. Within five years, it was mandatory. The entertainment that year? Dad came home and when asked who had performed said, “Some no talent clown named Michael McDonald.” And everyone in the audience was in a tux.

I started dressing up for daily mass and I’ve noticed other men doing the same. The world already marks us as different. Heck, the institutional Church marks as different – “those trads”. Do it. What do you have to lose? Your wives will respect you for dressing like men should dress. Your sons will copy you because boys want to be like their old men. Your daughters? Oh man, they already think you’re Superman. Wait until they see Clark Kent! And pro tip: suits are designed to be as flattering to the male form as possible.

So thank you, Miss Barnhardt, for starting this conversation. I’m happy if I could offer my insight on the male side of things.

So, putting a hat on this discussion, Barnhardt has a great line in her post:

“The more I see fat, naked slobs walking around and rolling into shops and restaurants in slovenly garments that I literally would not sleep in, the harder I COUNTER-REVOLT. Hence the white summer gloves.”

Fellow trad men, we need to lead that counter-revolt. God made you male for a reason. Dress like men. Act like men. Lead by your example to show the world there are only two genders. Wear the literal pants in the family. And the tie, and the jacket. And don’t forget the hat. I wear one now just so I have something to remove should I hear the Holy Name of Jesus when outdoors. And the hat I wear to Sunday mass in the summer?…

Just a little something I picked up from my old man.