Emile Post’s Man Rules

Wondering how to be a 21st century man? Ask Emile Post your questions.

Dear Emile,

How firm a handshake is too firm?


(Name Withheld)

A handshake is much like a dance, for one must lead. If you are intending to be a dapper, manly modern man then you must always lead the hand tango. The proper handshake grip depends on who is the handshakee, who is the female hand. If you are with a child, be aggressive and shake as hard as possible. This will inspire the young one to develop his own strong shake for future use. The next generation of hard-hand-shakers will get things done, possibly solving global warming, curing all global pandemics and finally figuring out what tie knot is superior (our vote: Half-Oxford). If you are shaking the hand of an older gentleman, shake lightly, perhaps even letting him lead for the first few bars of the shake. Let him remember his youth, when he led all handshakes. Always end with a firm squeeze, however, reminding him that it is you and your generation of dapper, manly modern men that are in charge now. A good suggestion, but by no means necessary is a pat on the back post-shake. (Note: Do not pat higher than solar plexus or lower than hips. Do not pat if older gentleman has history of back problems.)

If you are in an instance when you are shaking the hand of a man in your age vicinity, then good luck to you. The dance ends and the duel begins. Feel free to use your fingers as a fencer would an Épée. If after a few minutes the shake has not ended and it is still unclear who has the harder shake, declare a battle of the thumbs and settle the matter like men.

If you are shaking the hand of a woman, don’t bother. Leave the room. You should have kissed her.


Emile Post


I have a charity soiree to attend this month, the tickets for which I purchased many months ago when I was in a committed relationship. The relationship has ended since then and she is not on good terms with me. Is it couth to go stag to this event, in order to spare the feelings of my ex? If she attends on the arm of another man, however, I would feel foolish to not have a woman on my arm. In a fraught situation like this, is it completely rude to phone my ex and ask her her plans so as neither of us make the other uncomfortable?



Attending an event as prestigious as a charity soiree alone is a social misstep so great in scope that you risk spraining the ankle of your position in the community. Bring a woman, but be aware of the image your interaction presents.
The protocol for situations such as these is actually quite simple, though frequently misunderstood or disregarded entirely.
If she appears without a suitor, the appropriate action is to offer her the services of one of your unalloyed gentlemen friends as a companion.
But let us suppose she has entered the room with a strange man already in tow. If her new suitor walks at her left side, it is important to maintain a crucial distance from your recently ignited flame. Observe your former with attention, keeping a keen eye for tell-tale signs on how best to behaviorally proceed. Has the gallant cavalier taken her coat? If so, hand-holding with your new not-spouse is most certainly a red flag; your ex is sending a subtle message that she is not emotionally invested in her latest date. If he has taken her coat but hangs it on a coat-rack, this gives you a little more room for play. Feel free to briefly graze the hand of your untried lady, producing the effect of a planned accident. If, however, he has taken her coat and hung it on a coat rack, but the coat is red in colour, it is crucial that you maintain a distance of no less than six parasols from your own escort, the slightest hint of canoodling between you and your new would send your kept-no-longer into convulsive fits of agonized despair.

If the paramour appears at her right, find a polite reason to excuse yourself from the event at an appropriate moment. Possible socially accepted justifications can range from having to take a doctor’s call (if you are a doctor) to having to clean up a mess in the bathroom (if you are the janitor for the venue at which the soiree is taking place).
Call upon your gentleman friend to resume your date, and brief him so that he may continue from exactly the point you left it.
If the man appears at her right, but is wearing a polka-dotted hat, then the gloves come off. Remove your partner’s gloves. Clear the table of ornaments in one fell swoop, and publicly indulge in an intertwining of lust. It is important to keep in mind the spirit of the evening, so please, be charitable with your drive.


What kind of girlfriend will make me look manliest?

Warm Regards,


Good aft,

I am hoping you have performed a typo in your question, for I do not deal with issues of “manliness” or “masculinity.” If you are wondering which girlfriend will make you look the most muscular, choose an anorexic waitress you meet on Craigslist. The bland, typical manly man spends his eves watching Home Improvement and his bathroom breaks reading “Don’t Stand Too Close to a Naked Man.” He pays for women. However, if you are more in tune with what I actually write about then I can help you. Your question should have been posed as, “Which kind of girlfriend will make me look the most gentlemanliest?”

And now, the answer: The Two Cs of Being a Gentleman.

1. Coordination – Plan your garb to match, not clash with your woman. We live in a practical world, one governed by laws and propelled by the almighty dollar. It is impossible to buy an entirely new wardrobe everytime you land a new girlfriend. Only the Mark Cubans of the world can afford new wardrobes. You can barely afford to smoke a Cuban cigar. The solution is to inspect your new girlfriend’s closet before she does indeed become your steady girlfriend. Make sure her wardrobe will match yours easily. Does she have a lot of charcoal? Browns? Reds? What colour eyes does she have? What colour eyes do you have? Think before you pin your letterman jacket on her, and insure that the jacket does not clash with her boots.

2. Caring – If you are not a naturally caring man, then try to date a woman with a clumsy side. If she frequently drops things, such as lipstick or mascara on the ground, this will give you plenty of opportunities to reach down and grab them for her, effectively saving your damsel in distress and making yourself more desirable to the opposite sex. Should your girlfriend’s clumsiness rise to an extreme level, causing her to clumsily walk off a bridge or into an electrified fence, you will have no trouble finding a new arm-accessory Women love to see men caring for their girlfriends. They will want you to be their gentleman.

Hope these help.

Thank you.


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