Men’s Style and Grooming by Yatan Ahluwalia: Etiquette for socials

Published on Jul 15, 2022 09:02 PM IST

The complete guide to communicate and interact with people–verbally, non-verbally via gestures and body language, and what to wear to get noticed at casual socials

It’s never too early or too late to improve and enhance your social etiquettes; Model: Ravish Basist (a leading fashion and commercial model from Delhi) (Yatan Ahluwalia)
It’s never too early or too late to improve and enhance your social etiquettes; Model: Ravish Basist (a leading fashion and commercial model from Delhi) (Yatan Ahluwalia)
ByYatan Ahluwalia

Decoding the lead look

Hair: Medium length and neatly styled with a side parting.

Brows: Natural and defined.

Face: Clean shaved and well groomed.

Lips: Fresh, and clean

Others: Charcoal grey pants and round neck top, sky blue summer jacket with black piping.

Meals, dining & eating out

Breakfast: When meeting someone over breakfast, take your discussions straight to the point as most people rush through breakfast meetings (a spill over here will eat into their day’s schedule).

Don’t sit too close to the other person or talk too loudly, most people prefer their own space in the morning and only begin to get social by mid-day.

Coffee: Meetings over tea / coffee should be kept short and brief. Taking slow sips will make the conversation last longer and indicates that you are ready to talk and aren’t pressed for time. Placing your cup down immediately after you drink from it indicates you are convinced and interested while keeping the cup in your hand indicates that you are unsure or indecisive.

As soon as the person you are meeting finishes their cup, it’s time to wrap up the meeting and leave.

Lunch: To make them feel secure and reduce stress and tension, sit the other person with their back to a solid wall or surface. Most discussions come to a standstill once you start eating and nobody likes to talk with their mouth full – so try and complete all work-related talk after you order and before the food arrives. Compliment the food, but don’t overdo it.

Even if you have been invited, always be the first one to offer to settle the bill – it indicates that you are secure and can take care of yourself.

Drinks: Always ask, before you take someone out for a drink. It’s important to know your whisky from your rum and your white from red. Do your homework on brands, types, mixers, and combinations. Choose a location or seat that is quiet (not dark) and a brand or drink you are familiar with and that you or host don’t mind paying for.

Unless you know them well, never invite someone of the opposite sex to discuss business at a bar – you are likely to be misunderstood, even though your intentions may be good.

Drinking & eating

At a bar, strike a conversation with the bartender – this will allow him to know your preferences and keep the refills going. You in turn, get to know the insides of the place, gain local knowledge, and make small talk to kill time.

When you enter a restaurant, wait to be served. Brief the captain or hostess about where you prefer to be seated and they will remember this on return visits. If you are expecting someone to join you, leave a name(s) with them, so your guest is guided straight to your table.

Never snap or click your finger at the server or waiter. A simple smile or attention seeking gesture will get you noticed and ensures better service. While placing the order, be clear and audible. Always talk softly and gently. Raising your voice or pitch is normally unnecessary. To avoid any confusion, ask for the order to be repeated.

Clarify if you have doubts about a beverage or a dish you are not familiar with. There’s nothing worse than complaining about the food, taste, quantity, or quality – just because you didn’t know what to expect. If you like what you ate, compliment the chef personally – this ensures you are pampered and fed well when you eat there next.

Leaving a small cash tip (provided you have not been charged a service fee) of your total billed amount is almost mandatory. Unfortunately, ‘free loaders’ think it’s not important to tip at all – incorrect!

Look out for the badge on the server’s uniform and address them by their first name. When you give people an identity, they will do their best for you.

Parties & socials

When to arrive: If it’s a semi formal setting, be there on time. You can arrive ‘fashionably late’ by about 20 minutes to a casual occasion. However large the gathering, make it a point to let your host know when you have arrived.

Exchange pleasantries with the host when you meet them – telling them that you made it a point to be there, even though you are on a tight schedule will make them feel both important and wanted.

One-on-one: When you meet someone new, keep your conversation pleasant, short, and brief and make sure to introduce yourself. If you know who you are talking too, don’t pretend not to. Acknowledging someone, knowing what they do or may have recently achieved - will always make you look good and well informed. Having said that, a mistaken identity will kill all chances of a positive conversation or result.

Never get too familiar with the other person, either with your words or your body language.

Groups: If you are interacting in a group, try and stay as involved with the flow of conversation as possible. Acknowledge your participation by using few but firm words and sentences like yes, you are right, very much so etc. Move your head in an accepting manner, but don’t keeping nodding your head endlessly either. You should know that it’s a good time to join or leave a group when they are long pauses in-between. Excuse yourself in and out of conversations with a pleasant smile. If you are moving to another group, be gradual and discreet about it.

Leaving a group to instantly join another indicates that you found the people or the conversation in the other group more convincing, interesting, or important.

What to eat & drink: Never drink more than you should, socials are not the place to let your hair or your guard down. Not eating (even if you are on a diet) indicates that you are uncomfortable being there or with what the host has laid out for you.

Taking a couple of bites to make people happy, never really hurt anyone.

When to leave: Make it a point to stay for as long as you are expected to, but don’t ever be the first or last one to leave (unless of course the host specifically asks you stay on). Always compliment your host for the food, décor, or the setup – even if you notice shortcomings. People will always remember your parting words and they must always be pleasant.

Subtly mirror the body language and actions of people when you interact with them. This is a powerful way of establishing the same status, building relationships, and creating a rapport.

Get noticed

Clothes and accessories to be seen in, at a casual mid-day meeting or social:

1. Shirts

Vintage aeroplane printed shirt

A casual shirt with a Mandarin collar will allow your neck to stay sweat free and lends a laid-back look. Undo the first two buttons or more, as necessary.

A shirt with unusual prints can become a conversation starter (Vintage aircraft printed, light and breathable shirt by Chhapa)
A shirt with unusual prints can become a conversation starter (Vintage aircraft printed, light and breathable shirt by Chhapa)

A printed blue shirt

Wear a well-crafted full sleeve semi casual day shirt for more dressy venues. (Printed blue shirt by Cottons, Jaipur)
Wear a well-crafted full sleeve semi casual day shirt for more dressy venues. (Printed blue shirt by Cottons, Jaipur)

I suggest a striking printed shirt, either on its own or under a casual jacket. Go for dark or deep shades of blue, as it’s this year’s most sought-after colour.

2. Coordinated sets

The tie & dye set

A coordinated athleisurewear tie & dye set when out with a group of friends, will make you stand apart (Tie & dye blue and white jogger and half sleeve t-shirt by Tistabene)
A coordinated athleisurewear tie & dye set when out with a group of friends, will make you stand apart (Tie & dye blue and white jogger and half sleeve t-shirt by Tistabene)

Hang out with your buddies in a striking but comfortable coordinated casual daywear set. You can always mix and match the two, with a plain t-shirt on top or a pair of plain joggers’ underneath.

3.Accessories

Wrap around sunglasses

When outdoor, sport an urban and futuristic pair of sunglasses for overall protection from the sun (The edgy black and silver Deimos sunglasses by Arnette)
When outdoor, sport an urban and futuristic pair of sunglasses for overall protection from the sun (The edgy black and silver Deimos sunglasses by Arnette)

Except on cloudy days or when indoor, sunglasses are a must have accessory. A sleek pair like this will give you all around coverage and protect your eyes from the strong and harmful rays of the sun.

From waste to your wrist

Conventional watches haven’t lost their appeal, especially a timepiece which can trigger a discussion (The upcycled watch made from ocean bound plastic from the Waterbury Ocean Collection by Timex).
Conventional watches haven’t lost their appeal, especially a timepiece which can trigger a discussion (The upcycled watch made from ocean bound plastic from the Waterbury Ocean Collection by Timex).

As we change them often, I recommend a sustainable watch to reduce your carbon footprint. Always match the watch to your look. Invest in a waterproof watch for better durability.

Laptop sleeves

Carry a sharp looking laptop sleeve that’s dressy enough for a work meeting. (Dual textured sleek leather laptop sleeve by Lerida on Roperro)
Carry a sharp looking laptop sleeve that’s dressy enough for a work meeting. (Dual textured sleek leather laptop sleeve by Lerida on Roperro)

Carry a smart and flat sleeve for your gadgets. Don’t make this look overstuffed and ensure to keep it lightweight. Contrast the sleeve to your clothes, but ensure it matches the other accessories (belts and shoes) you are wearing.

For a casual social, carry a sleeve that doubles up as a bag to place your essentials into (Buttercream chevron sustainable laptop sleeve and bag by Maisha Lifestyle)
For a casual social, carry a sleeve that doubles up as a bag to place your essentials into (Buttercream chevron sustainable laptop sleeve and bag by Maisha Lifestyle)

To avoid carrying multiple bags and staying hands-free, I suggest a sleeve that has multiple pockets as well as a handle or strap so it’s easier for you to be handsfree or on the move.

4.Footwear

The best walking shoes

Wear a versatile pair of walking shoes which are light and have a good grip to keep you stable. (The Fleecewalk - the new, smart, durable, and sporty lace up walking shoes from Adidas)
Wear a versatile pair of walking shoes which are light and have a good grip to keep you stable. (The Fleecewalk - the new, smart, durable, and sporty lace up walking shoes from Adidas)

Our shoes are the last to be put on, but the first to be noticed. Choose a pair that matches all your casual day looks. Keep comfort and resilience in mind. Pick ventilated styles over those that aren’t. This pair feels just as good as it looks.

Sneakers to get noticed

Sneakers must be high performance, have good cushioning and give the right amount of support (The ultra-sporty contrasting colour blocked, advanced Gel Nimbus 9 by Asics Sports Style)
Sneakers must be high performance, have good cushioning and give the right amount of support (The ultra-sporty contrasting colour blocked, advanced Gel Nimbus 9 by Asics Sports Style)

Sneakers must be high performance, have good cushioning and give the right amount of support (The ultra-sporty contrasting colour blocked, advanced Gel Nimbus 9 by Asics Sports Style).

Sneakerheads who like their shoes to speak before they do, should not miss out on this pair. This is ideal for casual and daywear. The design is a mix of contemporary and modern, in a contrasting white and blue colour combination with silver trimmings.

The author is an image, style, grooming and etiquette consultant and trainer.

From HT Brunch, July 16, 2022

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