“For the true dandy the perfection of personal appearance consists in complete simplicity – this being in fact the best means of achieving distinction.” (GQ, Adam Sachs, page 124, July 2000)
Why, for a gentleman, is simple usually better? Maybe it’s because simple usually means direct, and unpretentious. Simple language is direct and gets the point across in an honest way. A simple gourmet recipe is one in which the ingredients are of the highest quality, not disguised with fancy sauces. Simple things often do the job better, because they’re not focused on pretending to be something they’re not.
A really good hamburger, made with high quality meat and cooked correctly, is much tastier than a mediocre steak covered in a fancy béarnaise sauce. In fact, back in the days when people were forced to eat spoiled meat for lack of fresh meat, sauces and condiments were often used to cover the taste of the rotten meat.
A very well made suit will often appear very simple, with clean lines; Extra pockets, and zippers, designer labels, showy flourishes and other unnecessary details will often detract from the appearance and effect. The most beautiful houses, the best furniture, even the most elegant cars have a clean simplicity about them that speaks of the designer’s clearly understood goals. Simplicity in design begins with a clearly articulated idea in the mind of the designer. It’s compromise and lack of focus that often leads to messy design.
A gentleman often prefers simplicity because he knows what he wants, and doesn’t have to be constantly distracted with all kinds of diversions. A good book, a decent glass of wine, and a comfortable chair may make a gentleman perfectly content for hours. On the other hand, he may be bored in five minutes at a loud party, with screaming music, shouted conversation, and shoehorned guests. A simple walk through a park, perhaps with his dog, his woman, or both, can be so pleasant, as compared to the cacophony of the mall. In a restaurant, a gentleman will listen to his dining companion; he doesn’t need, or want, blaring music, or the visual distraction of a television. He is there to share a meal and good conversation; not to talk on his cell phone, watch TV, or flirt with the waitresses.
When asked your opinion on any matter, it is much more effective to provide it in as few words as possible, focusing on your main point, rather than rambling on, trying to cover every possible nuance of the subject. An enjoyable conversation is one in which the conversationalists are focused on their points, and exchange points of view unencumbered by ranting or theatrics. They state their point of view quietly, briefly, and without rancor.
A simple electronic device is one a non engineer can actually figure out how to use without the help of consultants, in contrast to most of today’s home and automotive electronics, which require a PhD in aeronautical engineering to operate. Things are often complicated because the person making them cannot really figure out what it is for or how it will be used, and thus tries to cover all the conceivable possibilities.
Simplicity starts in the mind of a gentleman, who knows precisely why he acts; why he says something or buys something. Because he knows what he wants, he can communicate those needs simply and clearly. Because he is sincere, he can say things simply, whether those things are expressions of love in a letter, or a complaint to his cable TV company. If you know your own mind, and aren’t trying to fool anyone, there is little need for grand oratory. Like his words, his actions will be to the point. Keep it simple.