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Ah, the signet ring. Heavily discussed and criticised. Coat of arms or initials?
Worn with class or ostentatious? And is it real or fake?
For some people just an accessory, for others very meaningful. How come?
Let's take a closer look at what this signet ring actually is.

Traditionally, the signet ring was or is worn on the little finger of the non-dominant hand. For most people, this is the left hand. Businessmen, politicians and nobility used it to print their 'seal' on important documents, or to seal them. Hot wax would be dripped on the document, and the ring would be sealed by pushing an imprint of the coat of arms into it. Clearly recognisable as authentic to everyone, especially in earlier times when the majority could not even read. This type of ring soon became a traditional symbol of family solidarity. The use of seals can be dated back to the Mesopotamians, and so via the Egyptians, who incorporated it into a ring, to the Romans. The signet ring has therefore existed much longer than coats of arms or the emergence of heraldry.

With the rise of the bourgeoisie, it quickly gained popularity. If the middle classes did not have their own coat of arms, they used it anyway, either blank or with
initials, in order to appear sophisticated. If you were very wealthy in the 18th century, a beautiful stone could also be incorporated. The most popular stones were rubies, amethysts, blood stones and cornelians. They were mainly forged in gold, and from the 19th century platinum also became popular.

Nowadays, we also see signet rings being used, for example, to show membership of a certain club, university, regiment or fraternity such as the Freemasons. If one simply likes this kind of ring, and does not have a coat of arms, or does not want to show off the family coat of arms, it can be replaced by e.g. initials, or even just have a plain white surface.

- The Pope has worn a signet ring called 'The Ring of the Fisherman' ('Piscatory Ring') since about 1265, with an effigy engraving of Saint Peter.

- When the Pope dies, this ring is ceremonially destroyed by hitting a cross into it with a hammer.

- The study of seals is known as sigillography or sphragistics.

- In the British Museum in London is a ring ring with the name and function of an Egyptian high priest.

- If the bearer died, the ring was also destroyed to prevent counterfeiting or plagiarism of the noble seal.

-Traditionally, we can state as a basic rule that one does not wear a ring to which one is not entitled. Signet ring etiquette means that this is not acceptable because of the high value placed on the meaning. You must earn the right, and inappropriate to wear a symbol of something you are not or have not earned.

-And then there is the discussion about how the ring will be worn. With the image towards oneself or towards the outside world?
Towards oneself as a daily reminder of the meaning, or towards the outside world to be recognisable?

Raphaël van den Poel, former fashion consultant of Scapa, Reinhard Frans and Atelier NA tailored suits,
writes our weekly blog on gentleman matters. He works for MYX Magazine, a Flemish luxury lifestyle platform.
He also has his own blog which you can read here:

Raphaël van den Poel
The Belgian Dandy


Thierry Stravers Gentleman Franc-Maçon gentleman blog Freemasons Dutch regalia maçonniek Freemasonry Loge Benelux

Writing about a writer when you are not one yourself. Not so obvious. But hopefully we will all read a bit more. With these uncertain Corona times, we sit at home and inside more. And after watching all the Netflix, isn't a good book what everyone can enjoy?

Well, a book is written by a writer. He stows away his stuff in a bag that is fairly typical. Many models resemble each other in style and size. Many brands and many models, though. And just as there are qualities among writers, there are qualities among bags. Practically all of them have one thing in common, they last or will last a lifetime, and it is getting harder and harder for the owner to part with them.
The kind of bag you become one with. The kind of bag that you hope can tell its own stories.... An authentic bag!

An iconic writer's bag is that of the American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. The bag has had a long and hard life, has been repaired several times, and famous manuscripts have originated and been kept in it. A writer's bag is also a very nice thing, all the more so because it is not just any bag, but a bag with a purpose.

"An author ought to write for the youth of his own generation, the critics of the next, and the schoolmaster of ever afterward". - F. Scott Fitzgerald.

We are discussing a French reissue, a contemporary replica as it were, inspired by the old bag of Mr. Scott Fitzgerald. We assume that a good bag contributes to the writing quality of its owner. This craftsmanship is therefore an ode to this famous writer.

"The easiest way to get a reputation is to go outside the fold, shout around for a few years as a violent atheist or a dangerous radical, and then crawl back to the shelter." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

As I appreciate both good writers and traditional craftsmanship, this bag from French company Blue de Chauffe immediately caught my attention. And not just for its stylish looks and nice quality, but especially because there is quite a nice story attached to it. And so the story goes...:

Evan is an American. For the birthday of his girlfriend, who is a writer, he is looking for an original present. He is thinking of a handbag or something similar. While looking online for a while, he suddenly stumbles upon a very unique item; Scott Fitzgerald's personal bag, with his name printed on it, above the address of the former publishing house that printed his books.

Evan, who had been a fan of Blue de Chauffe for years, contacted the company to ask if it would be possible to personalise one of their own bags like the Scott Fitzgerald writer's bag. At the time, however, it was not possible for them to answer that question, but they loved the idea. So they decided to simply reissue this original writer's bag in its entirety, with the option of personalisation: the initials being embossed into the leather, like a timeless engraving".

Made from the strongest French natural tanned leather, they simply named the bag 'Scott', and it has become a real must-have. Quite elegant, very masculine too, and can be worn on the handle or over the shoulder with a strap. The unconventional twist lock is made of solid brass, which makes the whole look stylish. And, admittedly, there is room for a 13-inch laptop, which is certainly not contemporary, but a large tablet will fit in without a problem. The interior is easily accessible. The 'Blue de Chauffe' label, with handwritten production date and signature of the craftsman who made it, is stitched on a felt inner pocket. A detail for some, but I can certainly appreciate it. An eye for detail!
This inner pocket is even removable: Very handy for smaller items, such as keys, fountain pen and the like!

Handmade in France from vegetarian tanned leather. Nowadays, more than 90% of leather worldwide is tanned with chromium and other chemical components. At Bleu de Chauffe, however, they take a different approach. The natural leather-tanning process ensures better quality ('sustainability' is not an empty concept here), is very pleasant to the touch and has the advantage that the leather acquires a really beautiful patina over the years.
The more you use the bag, the more beautiful it will become.
Not a hip, slick designer bag, but a stylish yet sturdy men's bag! A bag for the connoisseur.

And that is a special bag, which after a number of years, has its own story to tell. Like the original bag of Mr. Fitzgerald himself:

  • Would that bag know that Francis Scott was a poor student and miserable at spelling?
  • That he started writing diligently just before his military service for fear of not having a legacy if he was killed?
  • That 'The Great Gatsby', which had been in this bag, would not have its great success until after the author's death?
  • That its owner was a close friend of that other famous writer, Ernest Hemingway, who, however, found Scott's wife Zelda to be a hindrance to his writing potential?
  • That its owner, although not without wealth, never owned a house and moved every few years?
  • That he would be taken between 1920 and 1940 to New York City, Connecticut, Minnesota, Long Island, Paris, the French Riviera, Rome, Los Angeles, Delaware, Switzerland, Baltimore and North Carolina?

If only bags could speak, you would think!

Dimensions: 38 cm x 28.5 cm x 7 cm / suitable for laptop or tablet up to 13-inch. The colour is applied by hand, and therefore varies slightly from bag to bag. Handcrafted!

A piece of craftsmanship to cherish. A bag for life, why not make it an heirloom?

If you don't have the time to read 'The Great Gatsbywatch one of the famous film versions, and in between watch the bag.
You may get a better understanding of F. Scott Fitzgerald from it, and appreciate the craftsmanship of this bag.

More information about the bag and the producer can be found on the website A French company that understands and feels quality, natural materials, and, as a tribute to a great writer, at the request of a customer, creates a bag, with the respect it deserves, for life!

No matter which bag you choose, as an attaché case or as a work bag, an authentic writer's bag shows the world that you are not susceptible to trends and hypes. That you don't allow yourself to be trapped by designers or fashionable. After all, you have nothing to prove. You are who you are, you undoubtedly have a fascinating story, and you go for the real thing.

Raphaël van den Poel, former fashion consultant of Scapa, Reinhard Frans and Atelier NA tailored suits,
writes our weekly blog on gentleman matters. He works for MYX Magazine, a Flemish luxury lifestyle platform.
He also has his own blog which you can read here:

Raphaël van den Poel
The Belgian Dandy

Thierry Stravers Gentleman Franc-Maçon gentleman blog Freemasons Dutch regalia maçonniek Freemasonry Loge Benelux

Undeniably, we can state that the charismatic John Fitzgerald Kennedy or JFK, was one of the handsomest, and certainly best-dressed of all American Presidents. But much also has to do with his personal style. As former alumni of both Princeton as Harvard he was, evidently, also an adept of the well-known preppy Ivy-League style that characterises it.

He was therefore a loyal supporter of chinos, penny loafers, grey jumpers and the well-known oxford shirt. As president, however, and in office, things were a bit more formal. But overall, we can say that he exuded a certain air of cool. Let us discuss some of these style characteristics here. Of course, we have to translate these into a contemporary framework, but the classics remain the classics, of course. We cannot discuss everything here, but we will stick to some basics.

Wear the right jacket or suit.
It is well known that JFK brought both the blue blazer and the Harris Tweed sports jacket to the White House.
His suits were always grey or dark blue, sometimes with a fine pinstripe. Mid-collar, 2-button, soft shoulders without padding (a personal modification of the classic Ivy League style), (usually) slanted pockets,
with or without a flap, and, strange but true, no centre or side slits on the back.
But then again, that is something typically American. A simple white handkerchief or pocket square completed the look.
Discreetly folded, with 1 point visible.

Most of his jackets and suits came from Brooks Brothersan American icon.
He was even such a fan of it that he had personalised umbrellas made for the witnesses at his wedding in 1953,
with their initials embroidered on them. According to 'witnesses', he even wore dark blue boxer shorts of the brand, with his initials on them.
And yes, you have noticed, he also closed the bottom button of his jacket. Oh well, as POTUS you are apparently allowed to do that.


The versatility of the dressy white shirt.
Their nail-white shirts contrasted well with his suits and jackets. White is also a logical colour, because it goes with everything, and can always be used in any combination. The collars had short points, and were even spread, and the sleeves were always finished with double cuffs.

Some of his dress shirts, like the one we saw when LIFE following him on his campaign tour in 1960, even had the JFK monogram on the left breast. Being president of the most powerful nation in the world also gave him some advantages.

For example, he wore gold 14-carat cufflinks with the presidential seal at the front and his signature and initials at the back. He regularly gave them out to friends or visiting heads of state. Some are even reaching the market now and are being sold or offered for around $10,000. A real gadget for the enthusiast, I would say.

Whether on a golf course or sailing in Maine, JFK had a strong preference for white trousers, preferably still showing his ankles. He preferred to wear a wool cardigan over an Oxford shirt. Combine this with penny loafers or deck shoes, and you have an ad
by Ralph Lauren. White trousers in summer may seem a bit cliché to many, but in style they are very common. Worn by other younger and older style icons, such as Harry Styles, Pierce Brosnan or Daniel Craig, they are a common sight not only in the Mediterranean region, but also at e.g. nautical events worldwide.

But enough about the white trousers. More general now! Always without pleats, with turn-ups, and only a small or a 'kink' on the shoes.
Usually combined with a black leather belt with a classic rectangular buckle. The belt was rarely visible because he usually kept his jackets closed when standing up. Just as it should be. As a president, he always wore socks or stockings adapted to the suit, which also has a lengthening effect.

The trousers, with fairly narrow legs for that time, were always well ironed with a clear crease. His chinos or slacks, on the other hand, and his white trousers, were always creased. He wore this really casually, usually without socks, or with brightly coloured socks. Considering his preppy background, this makes sense.

The classic Wayfarer, or is it not?
Our friend JFK was more than regularly buckled in with sunglasses on. Most suspect they are the classic Wayfarer by Ray-Ban goes.
The model in general does indeed resemble it, and is also typical of the time. And, very importantly, it also fits the shape of his face perfectly.
Of course, as a dedicated sailor, he often wore sunglasses, but this did not stop when he landed.
He preferred a nice tortoiseshell or horn design. And we have to admit, he looks just fine with it.
A trait he was all too aware of.

To return to the Wayfarer story.... Providence Optical did an extensive research, and could identify 3 different glasses: American Optical TC74-51, Cabana TS 2505, and Universal Optical "Mansfield Square" glasses.
Voila, now we know that again! Of course he also wore military Aviators, like at the Naval Academy in 1961.

He kept them simple. Either striped or geometric, and of course always in natural silk. We do note, however, that he wore the striped rep-ties the English way. So the stripes in the opposite direction than what was usual in the USA. His ties were also slightly narrower than what was customary at the time. Many of his ties were blue. And this will also have its reasons.

Blue has a soothing effect. It radiates peace, creates trust, inspires cooperation and constructive thinking.
It may be just a theory, but the fact is that he often wore them, and was a peaceful, easy-going president.
Off-duty, we know that he often wore bow ties, another Ivy trademark. Especially beautiful combined with tweed of course.

Put something nautical in your outfit.
JFK has been an avid sailor since childhood, and this is reflected in the rest of his life.
As he himself once said: 'It is an interesting biological fact, that all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, our sweat, and in our tears. We are tied to the ocean."

And of course we're not just talking about the classic red jacket, nylon or otherwise.
Unfortunately, it is very common nowadays in dubious quality and design.
In his scarce free time, he was rarely to be found on land. His personal sailing boat, the 25-footer 'Victura', which he got from his father on his 15th birthday, was his favourite.

We see this in his outfits: Nautical blue polo shirts, navy blazers with copper or gold buttons, pale jumpers, white trousers, chinos, boat shoes or white canvas trainers, cable jumpers, and of course sunglasses.
He knew how to combine it all just perfectly.

What time is it?
One of the accessories that JFK loved were watches. Flat, rectangular and made of gold was his preference. With a brown alligator strap.
The Omega "Ultra Thin" watch of the President, called "Stockdale watch", in 18 carat gold with engraving: "President of the United States John F. Kennedy from his friend Grant", was worn at his inauguration in 1961.
The watch is now in the possession of the Omega museum, at the brand's headquarters in Biel, Switzerland.

Once you have found the watch that suits you best, it will be inseparable. Therefore, it does not have to be a luxury watch.
Often, 'less is more'. A classic model, easy to combine, and which you feel good about.

In general, his taste was not so refined, but he knew what looked good on him, felt good in it, and that is what he radiated.
And that is the most important thing.

Raphaël van den Poel, former fashion consultant of Scapa, Reinhard Frans and Atelier NA tailored suits,
writes our weekly blog on gentleman matters. He works for MYX Magazine, a Flemish luxury lifestyle platform.
He also has his own blog which you can read here:

Raphaël van den Poel
The Belgian Dandy