Thursday, 29 May 2008

Are gentlemen a dying breed?

EJ passed an interesting article featured in the Times and it got me thinking (I've subsequently seen the article featured on Getkempt and the delightful The Sunday Best). The articles concern was whether or not the gentleman in 21st-century Britain is a dying breed, literally and figuratively. If it is indeed an endangered species, is this because the very notion is anachronistic, a product of a bygone age that has no great relevance in today's society? Quite possibly. Dunhill's director of brand imagery (man I wish I had a title like that), Yann Debelle de Montby somewhat vaguely describes a true gentleman as someone who is “gallant and generous. One can be gentle but remain firm, determined and retain a great sense of humour.” Since the Victorian era the the word "gentleman" came in common use to signify not a distinction of blood (as it had done previously) but a distinction of position, education and manners. I certainly think that paragons of good manners, dignity and charm are increasingly rare in 21st-century Britain and that is a sad thing.

Are these chaps a dying breed? They certainly are trying thinks a little too hard

As this is a men's style blog, let's get down to what really matters...the clothes! Throughout history one of the most obvious ways to detect a gentlemen was the way they were dressed. However, in recent years the gentleman's uniform of well cut pressed suit, polished shoes, groomed hair and freshly shaven appearance have been abandoned. Men can no longer doff the hat to the ladies they see because...well men just don't wear hats anymore!

“It is ungentlemanly to even refer to oneself as one [a gentleman],” Fergus Henderson

The article describes a new breed of gentleman like restaurateur Fergus Henderson (as shown above) who wears everything from overals, classic suits to jeans. If the modern gentleman does still exist he is certainly much more difficult to pick out in a crowd!

If you want to be modern gentleman, the articles gave 10 pointers...I need to work on a couple...EJ will tell you I need to take note of point number 2!

How to be a (modern) gentleman

1. Some things don't change: say please and thank you and ask questions about other people rather than talk about yourself.

2. Be punctual. Tardiness does not make you look important, it turns you into an arrogant incompetent who thinks that his time is more important than other people's.

3. The modern gentleman cares about the planet. Be environmentally aware (but not obnoxious about it).

4. Open doors for people and stand up when they enter a room, but do this for men as well as women. The modern gentleman doesn't treat women like porcelain.

5. Be modest. Bragging is distinctly ungentlemanly.

6. Be a good father. Nothing is less charming than a man who leaves childcare to women.

7. Be honest about wherever you have come from in life. Pretension is spineless.

8. Flirt - with everyone. Good flirting is a form of politeness. Pay compliments and put your companion at ease.

9. Do not phone/text/check your BlackBerry incessantly.

10. Dress tidily. Whatever style you are going for, scruffiness just isn't in.

If all this interests you I certainly recommend a vist to The Chap


j said...

I'm afraid number 8 is the only one I do well.

Stylesalvage Steve said...

J - It's a great place to start!

Thomas said...

Fergus Henderson is a rock star. I must make it out to his restaurant soon.

Edith Purdy said...

OK, I'm a laydee but equal opps and all that!

I think your second point about being punctual is really interesting. I'm routinely 15 minutes late for everything. I never thought about how that might be perceived by people before... I certainly don't think my time is more important that others but now can see that I may be interpreted in that way. Better start setting the alarm clock 15 mins earlier!


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