Indeed, a gentleman ideally should be (and is) a well-rounded — educated, cultured, humble and stylish — individual, but above all he should be kind, courteous, respectful, and a role model for all to follow. In layman's terms, he is a man who is respectful of not only himself but all others irrespective of what they have to offer him, or he to them.
Characteristically speaking, it is a lifestyle choice — a way of life, as it were — and not a personality trait that is inherently reserved and bestowed upon just a select few. No longer is it an unattainable moniker that is handed out but rather one that must be earned.
You are simply a gentleman or you are not (yet you should always aspire to being one)
So what is a modern day gentleman? And what does he represent?
After debating — on numerous occasions — with friends and colleagues alike over what a modern gentleman is, what he believes in, and how he carries himself, I felt compelled to share my own gentlemanly manifesto of sorts, one in which I can only hope — when the dust settles — can be a lifestyle guiding compass point for all those men out there aspiring to be true gentlemen, for those looking to graduate to true adulthood. This manifesto is for those invested in truly embracing their style and all of its (societally tangible) components; dedicated to becoming a modern day gentleman, which in itself embodies having authentic personal style that has formative reaches that extend beyond ones attire and wardrobe.
So, shall we begin?
Oscar winning actor, Burberry frontman, and future international superstar (Newt Scamander; Harry Potter), Eddie has it all going for him, including his style and a laid-back, humbly self-deprecating personality that he completely owns.
A true modern gentleman in every sense of the word, he's a gent who can sartorially pull off most anything, from formal black-tie to paired back casual nonchalance with an enviously boyish ease. Eddie always looks comfortable and confident in anything that drapes his body (which is a must) and acts the part as well. He is ever-evolving yet undeniably refined, a true gentleman.
Yet, and in bucking the societal mores and class-based systems of the past, in this contemporary age gents can be found in every walk of life and are defined by more than their social standing and specialized (culturally curated + bespoke) wardrobe. They can be fathers, broke students, single men, blue-collar or white-collar workers, or just about anything in between — rich or poor. How? By taking care of themselves — their appearance, health, education, and mannerisms — and by choosing to become the best man that they can be. They are simply never idly content with acquiescing to the status quo or being another commercially indulgent drone.
All of which brings me full circle to addressing the commonly associated monetary parameter culturally tied to the gentleman. For you see, being a modern gentleman, much akin to being stylish, consists of more than attempting to throw around money to (hopefully) look your best or of abusing power to get what you desire. On the contrary, it is a distinction that cannot be purchased but rather must be earned; earned through ones everyday actions and the way he treats others. You simply cannot be a gentleman one day and not the next, it is a way of life and is not something that can be switched on-and-off whenever one so chooses so.
Furthermore, and despite actions speaking louder than words, a gentleman also knows that, just like in the way he carries himself, he must also choose his words carefully because the power of diction can make or break any relationship in life. So, take your time and carefully consider every word you spout out, because although people forgive, they never truly forget. A gent knows this and makes sure his lasting impression is a positive one by taking the simple action of weighing every word carefully and considering the repercussions before he speaks. Yes, there are indeed men who can fake all this (for a while), but the truth tends to find a way through and their deceitful ways are always unearthed in due course. A modern gentleman knows this and is always comfortable in his own skin, in being himself, in being genuine.
And that is why the modern gentleman is at a premium. Many men start relationships with lies, not out of spite, but rather due to a lack of confidence. They feel that they have to be more than what they are, when in actuality the only relationships that truly last the trials of time are those formed upon honesty. You are who you are and that is what matters. And yet, the telling of a little white lie also does not make one any less of a gentleman, it just makes them human like all of us are. We all have our faults, and we all make mistakes, but the difference is that a modern gentleman acknowledges and accepts his and is always eager and willing to learn from his failures in earnest of becoming a better human being. Point being, a real gent knows there is always something new to learn and accepts that he does not know everything, that mistakes will be made. But, he endeavours to keeping them to a bare minimum.
(Refined, Cultured, Established)
The genuine article, representing almost every standard that a modern day gentleman should aspire towards and be held to — and the most stylishly refined male (super)model today.
From his formative (and iconic) Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue to his modern creative partnership with the likes of Marks & Spencer, Gandy's face has been at the forefront of men's fashion and culture for over a decade now.
Not your stereotypical/average (super)model, his masculine, sculpted physique tore down androgynous industry standards and his philanthropic disposition speaks to the ideals of the modern gentleman who aims to refine every aspect of his being. A truly cultured gent, his life pursuits reach far beyond the vanities of fashion and in padding his cheque book. He is the archetypical (and it must be noted, unparalleled) representation of the established and considerate gentleman.
An admirable gentleman to be inspired by without any shadow of a doubt.
When it comes to carnal pursuits, he knows it's about returning her call or text promptly (and not waiting a societally preordained allotted time) and in being fastidiously forthcoming in a mysterious albeit clear manner — in not toying with one another's emotions. He acts accordingly, seeing that it is the modern dating etiquette and rules that are indeed the ones that can seem archaic in nature and that this culture of fast-dating, fast-fashion, fast-food — fast living — is anxiety inducing, stressful and often confusing.
So, he sits back, relaxes, and takes his time to properly access and handle any given situation, usually coming to the realization that the best route to take is almost always the simplest one: the one that is honest and classically-mannered in nature. Which brings me back to the point of a gent's handling of matters of the heart. In this regard, he knows that if a personal matter must be addressed that it must be handled in person, face-to-face, and with dignity and respect for his counterpart (ie. no breaking up over text).
In the end, he consistently embraces all of his emotions, staunchly believing that sharing ones desires and affections is not unmanly but rather quite the opposite. Collectively, this all demonstrates that he is a mature, grownup man who is in tune with who he is and what he wants, a man who is not afraid to express himself nor content in accepting the stressful bottling up of his emotions.
Life is about perpetual growth and personal expression, and the modern gentleman acknowledges this.
Nevertheless, and as a personal aside, I was never one who embraced this belief before, opting instead to harbour feelings, biting my tongue, being to afraid to speak up, and it was counterproductive. That is until I realized that rejection is fine (freeing really) and is something that you have to take in stride, using it not to grieve but rather to grow and to learn from mistakes. I've learned that it is about accepting that not everything is in your control, and being fine with that and that it is ok to embrace the uncertainties that we all at one time or another face as character building experiences.
Why? Because a willingness to change and an open-mind can do wonders for your mental state and your general well-being. We are all in a consistent state of growth, always learning and experiencing the ups-and-downs of a varied life. But, we should not allow change or stress to effect our personalities. And a gentleman knows this and stays steadfast in his actions and beliefs, being almost unshakable in spirit and intent.
(+ All Those Aspiring Gents Out There)
Kind, respectful and always willing to aid those in need, we are the next generation of gentlemen, preparing ourselves to carry on the storied torch when the time comes. We are constantly evolving and refining our ways because we have a goal in mind and a plan to guarantee its success.
This includes anything from making sure your clothing fits properly AND comfortably (regardless of ones personal style proclivities) to seeking a discerningly refined education in everything that defines his life: style, manners, hobbies, relationships, and career. Its about always keeping your cool in all situations and using your intelligence and experience to solve any problem or situation that your burdened with.
And although a pacifist I am not, a modern gentleman is always smart enough to know that calculated wordplay can solve more problems then fists ever could. And that, combined with his belief of never looking down upon anyone and always being accepting of the differences that make us all culturally unique, help to fully encapsulate my definition of the way a modern day gentleman should conduct himself.
For you see, being a gentleman is not about believing or trying to prove you are better than everybody else, its about aspiring to being your best self and letting those beliefs and actions seep out of your personality and onto all those you come across in your everyday life, allowing for mutual growth. Its made up of the small things like smiling at everyone you meet (its really uplifting for both of you); holding the door open for more than just your significant other (she will also like that…although I wouldn't endorse running ahead of her to do it either, its reeks of desperation); showing a general interest by listening to and expounding upon the topics of discussion with whomever it is you are talking with; and last but not least, in not lying, being true to yourself and being honest in your feelings —nothing is worse then being dragged along on the fence of uncertainty, both of your own, and to others. Why? Because time is the only true asset that we have in life, a gentleman knows this and takes measures so as to not waste his own or that of others because he knows that it is irreplaceable and priceless.
Socially adept, the modern gentleman also knows that chivalry is certainly not dead, but that it should adapt to the times. If you are out on a date and she insists on paying, let her, don't argue or try to force the issue, its not about being cheap or adhering to the sexist belief that we as men should always pay, its about realizing the world has changed and that more woman are confidently taking the lead. A gentleman accepts this and adapts to it. But, if he does insist on footing the bill, he will have the foresight of arriving early and providing the venue (restaurant/etc.) with his credit card and telling them to just deliver the receipt for the prepaid bill at the end of the evening. And to that tune, he knows that if you two don't hit it off, just tell her (and if you do, certainly tell her!).
As for confidence, he knows that it is not always easy to come by and that to build it up you must be willing to take the shot. Consequently, a gent knows that being confidently prepared for any given situation, always accompanied by his sartorial supporting cast, is a prerequisite to his life. With that belief in hand, he acknowledges that his wardrobe is the most definitive characteristic of his gentlemanly distinction, the dependable provider of the much lauded confidence boost he so often desires (and requires).
In believing so, he has come to the realization that it does not matter what he chooses as his personal uniform, instead trusting in that what does matter to a gentleman is that, whatever he so chooses to wear, it fits him properly and he wears it confidently because nothing is worse than a man wearing something that, while it may look good, you can tell they are not comfortable or confident in sporting. As such, a modern day gent knows he can be seen in anything from a three-piece suit to the classic combo that is a perfectly fitted pair of jeans and white t-shirt, for he believes that as long as he exudes confidence and comfort in his choice that it does not matter what he wears, just that it is suitable for the occasion at hand.
And it is in this vein that he realizes that modern gentlemanly manner no longer dictates the competitive nature of attempting to constantly one up each another in every facet of life. No, he instead acknowledges that it is now defined by the creative inner expression of our unique personalities, in accepting our differences, and in understanding the reasoning behind our individual sartorial choices.
In this regard, the only difference between a modern gentleman and a normal unsuspecting man is that one (the former) has the confidence and knowledge in knowing what a proper wardrobe and fitting can do for his prospects and confidence.
Now, as for a gentleman's style, it is the one definitive characteristic matter that has stayed consistent throughout time (in formative purpose not competitive nature/aesthetics) because one cannot speak of being a gentleman without discussing his unique style, which as it were, is the symbolically absolute representation of his public persona.
As such, in this day-and-age a gents style should be reflective of the best of both worlds (as well as his unique personality), represented by a happy-medium between elegantly classic minimalism and the modern aesthetics of contemporary menswear. What should be born out of this pairing is the ideal wardrobing template, one whose foundation is first-and-foremost built upon timeless wardrobe staples that are updated with the modern tailored silhouette in mind.
Consequently, the ideal modern gentleman's style, in my opinion, should thereby be creatively defined by his own interpretation and then implementation of these stylized gentlemanly parameters whilst mixing in a small, signature touch of unique personality to each individual look.
The arbiter of modern day menswear and the world's first true dandy + refined gentleman (despite some poor vices), Beau Brummell ushered in the age of perfectly fitted, bespoke tailoring and wardrobing as well as the sensible colour palette — navy blue specifically — that the fashion industry and modern gentleman alike commonly reference year-after-year..
Well, simply put, gaining the distinction requires one to be purposeful in his actions, upfront in his intentions, polite in his mannerisms, kind in his regards, and refined in his style. With the byproduct being a man who is mature, confident, cultured, and considerate, with a little mystique lurking around the edges.
He is comfortable in his own skin, is approachable and makes others feel at ease in his presence, and is respectful and mindful of all those he meets. He is a highly cultivated and refined individual who plays to his own drum and to it alone.
~ Lyle Eero ~
So there you have it, my take on what it means to be a modern gentleman. And upon reflecting on what was just outlined I would like to note that this manifesto is not about strictly telling you what you must do, wear, or how you must act in order to be a gentleman. While that may be its overarching purpose, I hope it also triggers a moment of personal self-reflection, because little changes can make big differences.
And while these are all certainly vaunted ideals to live up to, I am of the sound mind of knowing that reality can often differ quite immensely from what we actively perceive it as being. But, that is no excuse to not live up to your highest standards. Ultimately, this all means that becoming a gentleman is attainable for one-and-all, one must just must be willing to put in the effort to discovering his inner most refined self.