A few months ago a fellow twitter user @GentLife proclaimed with the hash-tag #TheGentlemanIsDead in his twitter timeline.
I thought it was a bold and engaging statement. I smiled as I began to read his reasons. It basically comes down to two factions trying to define what being a gentleman is: One by archaic, medieval or possibly 19th century etiquette standards and the other by 21st century Jet-Setting, sartorial means. So I decided to put my thoughts into this post on what my perspective is on the subject.
If you’ve read posts on my site you may already know my angle on this. But I thought it important to delve a little deeper into this for simple clarity. In his article Mr. Alexander says the gentleman is:
“used to market everything from books to cologne, the word and image that it evokes have been made a commodity.”
and divides him into two versions:
”The fashionisto: More concerned with lapel widths and thread counts then living The Gent Life, the fashionisto spends a large amount of his time reading fashion blogs/magazines and a significant part of his income chasing trends. Though his time/money could better be used on other pursuits, this “gentleman’s” focus is primarily on appearance.”
“The simp: the overly nice guy so concerned with manners and proper decorum that he’s lost all edge and spontaneity. Predictable and artificially effervescent. His observance of all etiquette guidelines, even irrelevant ones, are often a kill joy.”
I tend to agree but only partially. The realization that companies have remixed, repackaged, and marketed him to the masses saddens me. He has been reduced (and I use that term specifically) to someone overly concerned with status, clothing and his sexual prowess. The “Purist” or as Mr. Alexander calls him the overly “Nice Guy” although well intended in motive, tends to give the gentleman an old-fashioned and nostalgic slant that some may find irritable because of its rigidity or lack of relevance in the 21st century. There is a third kind, a sycophant, a more insidious type of man. “The Player” who has found a new game, a new way to wrap himself in a different skin, who appears genteel just to get the accolades from women and the envy from other men. I’m most disturbed by this type because he hides himself more craftily and effectively, making it hard to discern the real ones, thus eroding the spirit of the true gentleman.
To level out the playing field there are three areas that I believe define the gentleman:
No matter how many clothes you own, designer or otherwise nothing will ever hide bad behavior. NOTHING. If you have ever watched Scott Disick in action then you’ll understand where I’m coming from. No ones saying you have to be an automaton, There is room for variety, but treating people with respect is always a first. There is more value in opening doors than burning bridges. Part of genteel behavior is putting others first. Opening a door, Sliding in a chair for a woman is not even half of the real work that needs to be done. Grow. Learn from your own mistakes or even better, from the mistakes of others.
Having the necessary ability, knowledge, or skill to do something successfully. Ambition and the plan to execute is necessary, It’s what wakes you up in the morning, gets you moving to meet your goal. A gentleman should also question his goals as well. They are linked to his character so he should always ask himself the hard questions: Do I have goals? Do I have a plan to meet them? Why is this goal important to me? Am I doing this for the best reasons possible? Learning life lessons reinforces good habits and banishes bad ones. It effects his everyday interactions with others and makes him well read, well-traveled and well-rounded. It doesn’t make him haughty, just grateful to those who came before him.
A gentleman takes pride in his appearance. whether he owns 1 suit or 100 he understands the power of clothing but is not a slave to them. This is true despite what the magazines or blogs will tell you. It’s time to get some balance on this subject. You don’t define yourself by your clothing, you use clothing as an expression of who you are. Clothing can be a powerful tool for this expression, but it should never be used to hide who you really are or as a deceptive ploy to be someone you are not. Having a balance view will help you make better choices for your wardrobe.
Those are the three “C’s”. I invite you to put them in the order that you believe important.
Aspiring to be a gentleman isn’t like going to etiquette or charm school and you don’t need to own a suit, know thread counts or the difference between a blazer and a sport coat to be one. Your cologne choice won’t make you a gentleman, your place of residence won’t make you one. The amount of stamps on your passport doesn’t give you that credibility. You don’t need to have a ” little black book” app or dozens of female conquests in your smartphone either. Being a Gent is the quiet nobility that comes from doing the right thing at the right time. It’s being mentally strong and powerful. It comes from a deep sense of responsibility to experience life in all it’s beauty and trials, not taking anything for granted, rising above the fray and making out for yourself and those around you a life of meaning. Bring this nobility to the small things you do and every environment you place yourself in and you’re only halfway there.
“Don’t be misled by ‘grind’ talk. Theres a difference between working to be famous & working to be greater.” - Jessie Adore
Special thanks to Mr Alexander (@GentLife) for throwing down the gauntlet and stimulating the conversation.