What Is a Gentleman to Make of the Men’s Rights Movement?

Sensible answers to the questions of modern manhood.
March 12 2014 4:19 PM

Gentlemen’s Rights

What to make of men’s rights activists, collar stays, and cohabitation.

Please send your questions for publication to gentlemanscholarslate@gmail.com. (Letters may be edited.)

I appreciate that collar stays are important, but I also have a tendency to lose them. I almost always forget to take them out, which means they are lost in the dry cleaning process. The brass ones are usually $15 for five pairs, and I have a tough time justifying spending $3 per pair on the brass ones if I’m going to lose them every other use. My dry cleaners tend to melt the plastic ones, which are flimsy and barely work anyway, into my shirts. Any advice? Is there a source of cheap collar stays? A good replacement option? Or do I just need to grow up and learn how to take care of my things?

Troy Patterson.
Troy Patterson

Photo by Christina Paige

Thanks for writing.

Advertisement

Let us begin with a word to those unfortunate souls who have yet to understand the importance of these slim thingamabobs. Collar stays exist to stiffen what is undeniably the most important part of a dress shirt. If you think of the shape formed by a closed collar as the head of an imaginary arrow pointing to your face, you may appreciate that, without these doohickeys inserted into the channels sewn into the collar’s underside, the collar is liable to flop a bit pitiably, so that arrow may seem to be saying, Hey, check out this doofus. The collar stays smooth things out and hold things down and contribute to a spiffy appearance. Indeed, they replace a spring-loaded collar-smoothing technology, much favored by the U.S. military, called the Spiffy.

Collar stays made of stainless steel are notably cheaper than those made of brass. Collar stays made of silver or gold are much more expensive, but you may find that the hideousness of the expense will inspire you to care for them properly. I would especially recommend collar stays made of precious metals to people inclined to find their extravagance not hideous but thrilling: The knowledge of having spent a handsome sum on an item invisible to everyone but you may put an extra bounce in your step or lend a mysterious shimmer of superiority to your smile as you glow with the secret knowledge of having reframed the megamundane act of keeping your collar from looking goofy as a kind of self-pampering. It might further enrich your feeling of stealth connoisseurship to have the collar stays engraved; one imagines that a special savor would flow from the engravature being somehow subversive—an anarchist slogan, say, or a choice phrase lifted from The Latin Sexual Vocabulary.

All that said, should we instead be focusing on the corollary to the collarly question? The most correct answer here is probably, Dude, pull it together; take care of your stuff. The most incorrect answer would be to interpret your repeated forgetfulness as conclusive evidence of early onset dementia and urge immediate assisted suicide. Between those two poles lies the observation that popular collar stay make-dos include paper clips, strips of business cards, and—hat tip to Heloise—wood coffee stirrers.

TODAY IN SLATE

Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Oct. 19 2014 1:05 PM Dawn Patrol Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
  Life
Outward
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 4:23 PM A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Oct. 17 2014 1:33 PM What Happened at Slate This Week?  Senior editor David Haglund shares what intrigued him at the magazine. 
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Space: The Next Generation
Oct. 19 2014 11:45 PM An All-Female Mission to Mars As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.