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Compos Sui: Master of Himself

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Carrie McBride is the Family Editor of Apartment Therapy, where she covers design and modern homelife with children. Outside of work, she can usually be found in pursuit of artisanal doughnuts or manning the slide at a local playground.  She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, son, and two cats who don’t like each other.

My father sometimes reads my blog posts and, more than once, has written to correct my spelling or grammar. “Remember your Latin!” one missive urged. Yes, pater! Over the years, my Latin has really gone out the fenestra, but many of the idioms have stayed with me. One of my favorites is compos sui: master of himself. Legally, it refers to having control over your body, but I like to think of it as knowing yourself, liking yourself and honoring yourself. Perhaps Oscar Wilde (no doubt a Latin school boy himself) said it best: “A man who is master of himself can end a sorrow as easily as he can invent a pleasure. I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.”

Compos sui: make your own style, follow your own drummer, be good to yourself.

[Clockwise from upper left: Red iPad sleeve by yourfeltcaseGreen leather pen case by FairystepsBlack and white notebooks by byleedesignLeather keychain by ninexmusexleatherGrey wallet by AmielLeatherDesign; Grandpa hankie by downhomeamy;  iPhone case/wallet by Adimaa; Leather cuff by trailerparkgypsy.]

Vade mecum means “go with me”: an essential item you carry when you’re out and about in the world. These items are functional, but they also give the world glimpses into your personality and tastes. So the question is: what do you want to say?

[Clockwise from top left: State animals tea towel by jen pepperSalt and pepper mills by tealandgold; salt cellar by Culinarium; Potted plants plates by TheMadPlatters; Rustic cutting board by grayworksdesignAviator sunglasses apron by uVinylGerman beer glasses by vital.] 

First real men ate quiche, now they make it. Not to impress girls, but to nourish themselves, express their creativity and learn about the world through food. Beyond clichéd burgers, men are cooking ab ovo usque ad mala (“from the egg to the apples” or “from soup to nuts” in modern parlance) and usually cum grano salis (“with a pinch of salt”).

[Clockwise from top left: Birch lantern by kirkitureMoon chart by AGC916Faceted hanging tray by PigeonToeCeramicsApproaching Storm print by SiversonStudiosBull’s Eye Stool by StudioLiscious; Chalkboard Tablet by PegandAwl.] 

Man cave? Who wants to live in a cave? It’s a myth that men don’t care about their home. Your home is an extension of you and a private sanctuary from the world. It’s a place to express yourself — what you like and what’s important to you. As for furnishing it: suum cuique (“to each his own”).

[Clockwise from top left: Bay rum aftershave by SoapboxGypsyNatural deodorant by SamsNaturalGents tweed wash bag by catherineaitkenWetshave set by ManCaveSoapworksFougere aftershave by 9cirmes.] 

This isn’t your father’s aftershave — it’s your grandfather’s. Not to mention his other gentlemanly accoutrements. If your modus operandi is to trawl the aisles of Rite Aid for your grooming products, break out once in a while and treat yourself. After all, mens sana in corpore sano (“healthy mind in healthy body”).

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