How to Be Chap: The Surprisingly Sophisticated Habits, Drinks and Clothes of the Modern Gentleman

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Release Date: 
June 5, 2016
Reviewed by: 

“The chap is the modern English gentleman, and he’s out to conquer the world,” writes Gustav Temple.

How to be chap? That’s actually a good question considering that “being chap” is some intangible quality that this reviewer can only equate to “being cool,” except that being chap primarily or solely pertains to men of British descent or those who aspire to be a British gentleman. The concept, if not the entire topic, sounds arcane, and this reader was actually perplexed by the entire premise of the book.

Apparently, How to Be Chap is both a how to manual and an exhaustive and somewhat exhausting explanation of this rather unknown or ephemeral male quality, but then there is “chapette,” if you can believe it. The authors have taken this somewhat marginal and rather trivial aspect of life and extrapolated the concept into a rather large volume of odd do’s and don’ts that include not only sartorial habits and choices but also manners, vacations, sports played, attitudes, preferred foods and drink, and so much more.

It is rather difficult to discern who would be interested in all this as the more you read, the more you might think that this is just all made up stuff based on the personal preferences of the authors that will end in being chap, or at least according to them!

Even after plodding through all this seemingly nonsensical material, this reviewer can’t figure out if this is anything more than a vanity piece or is this is actually a recognized aspiration that exists in the real world other than in the minds of the authors. The only thing that can be gleaned from this book’s reading is that it is a manual that serves as the authors’ ideas of how to be a proper English gentleman, no matter how misguided or absurd those inherent qualities or advice might be.