Twice Told Tuesday
"The First Steps That Count"
Baths—Shaving one's self—Dressing the hair
—Care of the teeth and nails—
The use of perfumes unwise.
There is more reason in the Englishman's morning " tub" than most people give him credit for. It is not mere affectation. A nice Anglo-Saxon in England or America understands that cleanliness is the prime requisite of health and of a gentleman, and that for obvious reasons a man who does not indulge in frequent baths will not be an acceptable person in good society.
It is no little trouble to keep clean, but it pays, and is the basis of all decency. There are various ways of doing it, some more convenient than others. A tub-bath in one's own room is an awkward arrangement, and a sponge-bath scatters too much water; while to fill the stationary tub takes time and watching. Most convenient of all is the shower-bath. If this is arranged for hot and cold water, it requires only a moment's patience to get a shower of the proper temperature, and not much longer to take a good bath and a thorough wash with castile soap.
Not every one can stand the shower well, and delicate men should be careful not to take it too cold or too often; but the average man may enjoy a bath of this kind every morning without harm to his health. One should wipe himself thoroughly until perfectly dry. It is not necessary to have a towel as rough as a corn-cob, nor to keep up the rubbing till the skin is blood-red, as many books about health insist. While the tepid bath is agreeable and harmless, the bather should constantly try to lower the temperature, provided it does not get so cold as to leave him in a chill.
After a bath the operation of shaving is in order. Every man ought to shave himself. So doing not only saves money and time, but it is cleaner. It is not agreeable to a person of refinement to have a barber pawing his face; neither does a gentleman enjoy the society of the barber-shop while " waiting his turn." The haughty man who would not allow the barber to turn aside his long Roman nose (although it was gently done), nor to pull down the corners of his mouth, did not deserve the credit he claimed for not tolerating familiarities from any one. He should have shaved himself at home, and manipulated his own features.
The care of razors may be a little difficult at first, but the knack of sharpening them is easily learned, and, aside from the advantage of cleanliness, if one has a tender skin, he can shave himself more easily than any one else can do it for him. Of course, for trimming the beard—the chin-whisker is not tolerated now—the mustache, and the hair, it is necessary to endure a barber; but under no circumstances should he be allowed to put anything on the hair except cold water. Nothing is so objectionable as the smell of cheap perfumery. A word here as to perfumery in general. Don't use it. It was formerly employed, according to some authorities, by people who did not take baths, to disguise that omission; and, from this point of view, the use of it to-day is a suspicious circumstance.
It is not intended here to say anything in defense of the bang, which, as it exists on a man in modern times, is a monstrous spectacle. It is merely desired to point out that, if precedent is needed for letting the hair divide naturally on the top of the head, it can easily be furnished. For many years in America to part one's hair down close by the ear was considered the proper thing; but the fashion of parting it in the middle is sensibly beginning to prevail, and after a short trial one will soon become convinced that a part in the middle is vastly more becoming than a part on either side.
Of course, if the hair is thin on top, this fact may be disguised a little by a parting on the side. If you object to a dividing-line on top because it is not seen there on most of the men you know, make the parting at least as high as you can stand it. It is the fashion now, and probably will be for a long time, to have the hair cut rather close at the back and on the sides. It is not parted behind, as was once done.
The growth on the neck should never be shaved, but merely clipped close with the scissors. If the hair is left a little long on top, it parts more easily. A closely cropped head is too suggestive of the prize-ring to be advised. It is permissible sometimes to put a little cosmetique on each side of the parting, so that the hair will remain in place.
Avoid frequent shampooing, as it tends to make the hair come out. The hair should be washed in cold water, without soap, during the morning bath. It is held by some that washing the head in a basin containing a few drops of ammonia in the water helps to keep the head free from dandruff. This may be so. At any rate, the hair must be kept so clean that there is never any dandruff on the coatcollar. It is well enough to comb the head once a week with a fine-tooth comb before washing it.
It is not necessary to dwell upon the importance of cleaning the teeth. They should be brushed twice a week with toothpowder, and every day with soap and water. They should be carefully watched by a dentist in whom you have confidence. No money is ever better spent by a young man than that paid out for having his teeth properly attended to, and filled when needed. It is laying up a store of enjoyment for a later period in life, when eating is about the only pleasure left. The hands always need careful attention. They can only be kept clean around the nails by the frequent use of a nail-brush, soap, and hot water. Castile soap is the best to use; it leaves no odor, and does not chap the hands. If the soap furnished at the basin in the office is too cheap, keep a piece of a better quality for private use in your desk. The finger-nails in some countries are allowed to grow very long, and are cut to a point. Indeed, long, pointed nails were at one time supposed to indicate a gentleman, or at least a person who did not work, for if a man performs manual or clerical labor his nails are sure to be broken. In this country nearly every one works, and the claw-like fashion in trimming the fingernails does not prevail. But an American gentleman keeps his finger-nails cut pretty short (about even with the end of the flesh), with just a suspicion of a point. The callous bits of skin around the sides ought to be removed with sharp, curved nail-scissors, which can be bought at almost any cutlery-store. It isn't necessary in America to show by the hands that one does no work. It is simply required of a gentleman that his hands shall show proper care.
A New York Clubman. Hints About Men's Dress. D. Appleton & Company. New York. 1888.
Barber Pole. Inset. Abbott, Berenice. Print. 1935. Changing New York/Berenice Abbott. Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs. NYPL Digital Library, New York.