The Gravity Of Sangfroid And Prudence

March 8, 2009

Or in other words, the importance of poise and self-restraint. 

Actions speak louder than words, but even more vehement is appearance. Someone once said that it’s 40% how you look, 40%how you sound, and 10% what you actually say. When it comes to casual interaction, I’ve always found this to be the gospel. If you look good and sound good, you can survive any social situation. 

So how does this relate to style?

Having actual style in alt culture is an onerous task. The aim has become more about identifying with a subculture, rather than creating a look that identifies with you. The googles make you steampunk, the hair falls make you cyber, the New Rocks make you rivet and so on. Alt culture has reached this pinnacle where the clothes make us who we are. 

What is your look trying to say? Are you and your posse elite cypher-ninjas? Do those brown goths really have a tiny biplane parked outside? Do you take periodic breaks to drink the blood of the innocent?  I was unaware that Lip service is a sovereign nation with a substantial military, what with the numerous humans donning their uniform. 

So there’s the first 40% (but if you ask me, it’s really more like the first 70%). The viewer has already assessed most of who you are by the way you look. Fashion has become so compartmentalized that looks are becoming regalia. If this continues, alt style is surely doomed. 

The point is, if you look like an asshole, people will assume you are an asshole. 

To move on, I will not deny that many people can pull it together. Within subcultures, style does indeed exist. Scores of mortals have been known to show up at ye olde nightclub looking magnificent. 

Which brings me to the real issue at hand, the way you sound. The most expensive clothes from the most prestigious designers are not worth a thing once you have consumed your third drink. What happened to poise? What happened to grace? Hours of style primping can all come crashing to the ground the second you stumble in your stilettos. 

If it’s 40% how you sound, most of you are preordained to fail. The gods of liquor have seen to that. 

I conclude that some contemplation is in order. If you look like an asshole and sound like an asshole, then the last 10% won’t even matter, because no one will care what you have to say. 

So have an opinion! Think before you buy! Buy a mirror! Stop at two drinks! And for the love of god, make sure that biplane has fuel!

As I can never post without the addition of photos, here are some images that, for me, always embodied the essence of poise and grace. 

Photos by Irving Penn.


  1. Amen and amen. On the very rare occasions when I let liquid substances go to my head, I try to pause, pull myself together mentally, and think about my posture. Then, even when I’m slurring a bit, I’ll look a bit more graceful. At least, that’s what I tell myself…

  2. […] The Gravity of Sangfroid and Prudence (aka the importance of poise & […]

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