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on April 24, 2006
This book is widely regarded as something of a classic - and for good reason. Of all books on the subject it is the most encyclopaedic in thoroughly covering everything from shaving, to suits, to sportswear, knitwear, dressing gowns and much more. The whole book is crammed with succinctly presented information from start to finish that it becomes a perfect reference book to keep on the shelf.

For many people the question will be whether to choose this or Allan Flusser's 'Dressing the Man'. The answer is really that they serve different purposes. If you quickly want to know how to look your best for a job interview in a suit then go for Flusser, as his book best explains suits in greater details and better still, tells you how to coordinate it with the shirt and tie. Roetzel tends to be more segmented and tells you less about how to coordinate the different items.

However, Roetzel great strength is that he has countless little tips jam-packed into his book that Flusser never touches on. One point at which Roetzel thoroughly surpasses Flusser is in his section on shoes, which is by far and away superior. The plethora of full colour photographs of different shoe types and on what occassion they should be worn has superior clarity to the brief and poorly illustrated overview dealt the topic by Flusser. Other places that Roetzel surpasses Flusser is his discussion on items such as sport coats, overcoats, socks, as well as extremely useful tips such as how to fold a suit jacket when travelling, and even the best way to iron a shirt.

One point worth mentioning is that the book is orientated towards an English ideal of what a 'gentleman' is. However, the book was originally written in German and also so gives a good continental perspective on how the French, German and Italians have adopted English fashion. Of course the likes of Ralph Lauren and Alan Flusser still strive to recreate the classical English look to the point that these Americans strive for an ideal more English than the English themselves. What you will read here is therefore perfectly adaptable to New England in the United States and unless you are a Southerner in your seersucker or linen suit there will be precious little that fails to translate into an American setting. Also Ivy League looks do get a bit of mention and are not completely neglected.
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on July 11, 2004
Mr. Roetzel's book is an excellent place to start for those who want to learn the basics of men's fashion - and to move beyond. To roughly paraphrase its author: before one can "push the envelope" in terms of style, one must first understand what the social conventions are. This book can provide one with the foundational understanding of conventional modes of dress. Once armed with this basic understanding, one can adjust the norms to suit one's personal tastes or move beyond even this lofty goal to set the trend among friends and acquaintances.

This book covers the major aspects of choosing clothing by identifying well-known (quality) brands and famous clothiers. Although the author's tastes are markedly Anglo-centric, there's nothing wrong with this. After all, if you're reading this review, you have the means to order many of the manufactured items he recommends. Additionally, the author explains how to identify quality in case you are adventurous (and tasteful) enough to explore new brands. The true gentleman recognizes the utility of brand identification in selecting goods known for their quality, but his devotion is never slavish. This book will help you understand what makes a brand memorable.

Aside from fashion, the book covers many aspects of lifestyle, including the appreciation of smoking, spirits and shaving.

If not for the difficulty in finding it, I might recommend this book to every young man as a coming of age gift, as well as for those who manifest an interest in taste rather later in life. For those who have already developed a sensible style, the book may be consulted either to check one's instincts or to find something new along similar lines. This book expressed ideas very similar to my own (tobacco being the exception) and was thus useful - because I approve of the author's taste, I have no doubt that his authority can be a trusted aid in exploring new brands and styles.

This book can be difficult to find, but if it's available, buy it.

UPDATE: Since writing this review, I bought a copy of Alan Flusser's Dressing the Man: Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion. Roetzel's book is more inclusive, and provides a guide to brands which can be very helpful to the initiate. As other reviewers have since noted, he also has an enviable discussion of shoes. If you can only afford one of these books, I'd suggest Roetzel's treatise. But if you can afford it, Flusser's classic is a great compliment.

Also, since the initial review, I bought and read copies of a number of books (hard to find and out of print!) cited by Roetzel in his bibliography. Roetzel's book definitely transcends those sources.
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on July 4, 2004
Roetzel's "Gentleman" is about creating a classic, elegant life style. Following Mr. Retzel's philosophy, style is not something we do for others. The pursuit of style is for one's own personal satisfaction. Therefore, Mr. Roetzel focuses on an understated, conservative elegance, with an acknowledgment of the importance of details, even if no one else notices. Roetzel's book focuses on mens fashion, with a bias toward tailored English clothing, but he goes beyond business clothing, to address casual, sport, and home style. In addition to the obligatory chapters on suits, shoes, and casual dress, there are sections on grooming and fragrance, hairstyles, wristwatches, and how to enjoy an elegant, relaxing breakfast at home. This book is a treatise on gracious living, and he introduces his readers to many of the small luxuries which no one should miss out on: the experience of a traditional shave from a good English barber; a pair of shell cordovan shoes; a bespoke suit; a comfortable and beautiful dressing robe. His philosophy is best exemplified by the section on eating breakfast, where he exhorts one to begin the day with a leisurely elegant ritual including "perfectly toasted bread." Personally, I barely ever eat breakfast, but the call to slow down and take the time to enjoy life's small pleasures resounds loudly none the less. The book is not perfect, and Mr. Roetzel has some rather quaint and outdated ideas - Overall, however, the book is an excellent roadmap for those who wish to live a cut above the norm in this too-fast, hyper-casual, overly-efficient, mass-produced, machine-made, often-shoddy world
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on July 4, 2004
This book will tell you where to find the best in suits, shirts and shoes and will save you years of experimentation which will eventually lead you to the same conclusions as the author. Even if you are not interested in paying $3500 for your next suit or $3000 for a pair of hand made shoes from John Lobb's of London this book is worth every cent you pay for it. It is well prepared and holds a wealth of interesting information
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on July 2, 2010
If you search for Bernhard Roetzel on Amazon, you will find several books that look very similar but not quite the same, including Gentleman's Guide to Grooming and Style (this book, originally available as a softcover), Gentleman: A Timeless Fashion (with a red cover), and Gentleman: A Timeless Guide to Fashion (with a pinstripe cover). I was confused as to whether these were revised and updated editions, re-printings, or what, so I ordered them all. Here is what I found.

Roetzel is a German who makes a living writing about style for outlets with which I am generally not familiar. For some reason, he writes about English style. Of course, Germans--that is German nobility, or German "gentlemen"--had their own styles at one time. Just as there was an English suit and an Italian suit, there is or was a German suit, and some style choices that were considered faux pas in England were acceptable in Germany and vice versa. Perhaps this is no longer the case, but whatever the situation, Roetzel is a German Anglophile and he writes about English style. Accordingly, the first book seems to have been a 1990s-era German book called "Der Gentleman" (I don't have this one) a guide for Germans to the English gentlemen.

Der Gentleman was then translated into English as "Gentleman's Guide to Grooming and Style." With typically German thoroughness, Gentleman's Guide provides a very complete and detailed guide to the clothing and toileting of an English gentleman. Methodically arranged and well-illustrated with high-quality photos, Gentleman's Guide is somewhere in between a coffee-table book and a reference book. You will find out not only about different types of shirt collars but also see beautiful photos of a typical English breakfast and find advice on what to wear when riding horseback. The only thing comparable I have found are Alan Flusser's books, but they are not quite the same. Flusser is focused on educating the reader to be aware of when buying a suit or choosing clothes to wear to the office or a night out. Roetzel is more focused on documenting the clothes and lifestyle of a certain class, place, and time period.

Gentleman's Guide was a Barnes & Noble Book and for some reason came out as a paperback first. It came out as a hardcover several years later under the same name and with no changes. Then H.F. Ullmann produced a book called Gentleman: A Timeless Fashion, followed a year later by Gentleman: A Timeless Guide to Fashion. This last book is a hardcover with a pinstripe design rather than the well-known red cover. It turns out that Gentleman: A Timeless Guide to Fashion is almost exactly the same book as the original Gentleman's Guide. For the most part, only cosmetic changes have been made. The graphic design has been updated with new fonts, colors, and layout. A few paragraphs have been replaced by new ones here and there. A few illustrations have been replaced. The biggest change is the absence of the blonde, blue-eyed model who graced both the outside cover of the Gentleman's Guide as well as the chapter headings.

When I tried to order Gentleman: A Timeless Fashion, I got sent a copy of the Gentleman's Guide instead, which just goes to show how close they are. (Although I can't say for sure, I'd be willing to bet that A Timeless Fashion is exactly the same as Gentleman's Guide, and was simply produced before H.F. Ullmann decide to make the cosmetic changes in A Timeless Guide to Fashion.)

From my perspective, A Timeless Guide to Fashion was a small step backwards from the Gentleman's Guide. Any man who is really interested in these books is probably more likely to enjoy the older fonts and design choices over the newer ones. Moreover, the red cover and model were distinctive. If I were shopping for one of these books today, I would get a copy of the Gentleman's Guide or A Timeless Fashion and forgo A Timeless Guide to Fashion altogether.

As for a general review of these books, it almost goes without saying that a true gentleman would never own or rely on one. The material is so detailed as to be almost a send-up of the English gentleman rather than a sartorial exploration. Moreover, the contention of the book's forward, that a gentleman is any man who lives and conducts himself in a certain manner, is a modern democratic conceit. Most of the material objects and lifestyle shown in this book are beyond the reach of 95% of its intended audience. And with moola', one would still need to combine leisure and birth. However, for me this does not detract from the enjoyment of the book because, like Roetzel, I am something of an Anglophile. For the $20 sunk cost of this book, I can sit down any time I want with a Glenlivet or Veuve Clicquot and be transported for 30 minutes. This is the consideration you have to make when considering whether to buy one of Roetzel's books. Are you looking for help choosing the right suit for the right occasion, or are you a fan of a lost male culture? If you are looking to educate yourself about clothes, buy one of Flusser's books; if you are looking for escape or inspiration, Roetzel is the way to go. (Another purchasing consideration is the gift. One of these books would make a great gift, and at this price for A Timeless Guide to Fashion--a new hardcover full-color glossy--it would be hard to go wrong.)
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on October 22, 2005
The selection of quality men's fasion books generally leaves something to be desired. I looked for quite some time, and picked up a couple books at the local library. I came across this book one day by chance at a Barnes and Noble, in the bargain section no less! This was exactly the book I was trying to find. Classic men's fasion, grooming, lifestyle tidbits, it's all there.
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on November 30, 2011
I have the hardback copy of this book and enjoy it very much. I use it for referrence quite often. This soft cover edition actually contains more information than the hardback and anyone who wants to learn how to dress properly or has a teenage son who wants to learn the proper way to present himself will love this book. I highly recommend it for anyone who cares about how they look, how good shoes are made, how to clean a suit, and a hundred other things that a man should know about dressing and clothes. It means nothing but the copy that arrived in the mail does not have a man in his underwear on the cover so apparently there are several editions of this soft cover book out there.
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on April 22, 2006
There is a great deal of information packed into this volume. There are sections on both grooming and clothing, and the history and evolution of gentlemen's wardrobe and grooming are quite interesting.

There are only two drawbacks: 1. A directory of the best stores and services to accompany the product recommendations would have been bery helpful. 2. The author seems to write primarily for English gentlemen (not a bad thing, but Americans might find some of the customs and suggestions are not appropriate for them).

All in all, though, a good book that is worth the read.
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on February 26, 2011
Not only is this book a useful guide for purchasing items for the man in your life, it is a guide to QUALITY construction and materials for anyone's wardrobe, including yours. How many ladies' apparel books cover quality and good taste? A Guide to Elegance: For Every Woman Who Wants to Be Well and Properly Dressed on All Occasions is a very good guide but it is not as thorough as this volume. What You Wear Can Change Your Life (Paperback) is another good guide to looking your feminine best but if you aren't careful you could easily end up with a closet full of cheap junk.

Obviously this book is not directly applicable to ladies; they need not read topics such as, ahem, "Does the gentleman dress on the left or the right?" or "How to grow a great mustache." Instead, ladies will find clear guidance on universal topics such as selecting the right sleeve length for jackets, how to iron a shirt, and best of all, how quality shoes are constructed. Studying a book like this will make you think twice before you grab that pair of $29.99 shoes in the bargain basement. This book could help you recognize that most women's apparel and footwear are enemies, not allies.

John Molloy, in his Women's Dress for Success book, tried to educate women about making choices that would help them make a good impression. For all his good-faith efforts he was lambasted mercilessly by the media and now his books are out of print. Ladies, this book is another chance to learn to identify and select good clothing if you spend some time extrapolating the advice and applying it to your own feminine wardrobe. This could not and should not be the only apparel guide in your personal library, but it would be an appropriate complement.
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on September 19, 2013
I bought this book on the advice of a friend, with the interest of updating my style and getting back to men's roots, and I have am thoroughly impressed. Brilliant advice for fashion and wardrobe choices, need to know information on the design and creation of men's wear, and the delightful layout of information makes this one of the most enlightening and informational purchases I've made this year. You won't be disappointed.

B. Kochel, 23, Texas
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