“No trouble losing when you got a good excuse. And winning! That can be heavy on your back, too – like a monkey. You drop that load too when you got an excuse. All you gotta do is learn to feel sorry for yourself. It’s one of the best indoor sports – feeling sorry for yourself. A sport enjoyed by all, especially the born losers.” – Bert Gordon
Probably one of the best movie lines in history about discipline – self-discipline. Those words were uttered by none other than George C. Scott’s character, Bert Gordon, to Paul Newman’s Fast Eddie Felson in 1961’s The Hustler. Bert, a shrewd gambler, was referring to an earlier scene in the movie when blotto Eddie blew a pool match he should have easily won against Minnesota Fats, played by Jackie Gleason. The match between Eddie and Fats is something to behold for all of those recognizing a connection between self-presentation and attitude. Fat’s, with Gleason’s signature flower in the lapel, and his financial backer, Bert Gordon, with his tab collared dress shirt, are looking sharp as a tac while Eddie, still starting the match looking somewhat put together, just isn’t quite at their level. Nay, he accessorizes his look with youthful cocksureness. He is still blissfully unaware that while talent is helpful in life, it is nothing without the discipline to be successful. Eddie likes the high of being on top but not the hard work necessary to be successful. For that, you have to know how to recover when you’re down.
So what does all of this have to do with classic style? More than you might imagine. Classic style is about presenting yourself tastefully so that the world can see you. It allows you to augment and make manifest different aspects of your personality in tasteful, understated ways. Classic style teaches you how to communicate aspects of yourself to others through clothing, i.e., your clothes, in a way, become the silent, but conscious, representation of hidden parts of your mind; you can show as much, or as little, of yourself as you choose. Oh, how sweet it is! In other words, classic style gives you one less excuse for being a loser because it disciplines you into always wanting to present yourself well.
Clothing communicates. The earlier you learn that lesson in life, the more time you have to be an effective person. No, clothes don’t make the man, but they sure can help, or hurt, him. Failure to overcome a fear of dressing well in a world that lets you degrade all you want to only leads to a stunted personality or all the subtlety of a barking dog. Discipline… Discipline yourself to dress well in a classic manner and watch The Hustler when you have a chance. You’ll never walk by a bottle of J.T.S. Brown bourbon the same way again.