Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lists of Ten: How to Be a Gentleman

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.
This list is from an article in the Times (U.K.) called "Are gentlemen a dying breed?"

The answer is yes, of course. But this is mostly about good manners -- any of these, save the one about being a good father, could apply to women. I might add to this list a couple of my own:
*When shaking hands, a gentleman should firmly grasp the whole hand not just the fingers.

*A gentleman writes thank you notes. Hand-written notes are more meaningful than e-mails (although a rapid electronic thank you may be rare enough to be meaningful, too). Write notes for a good party as well as for gifts.

*A gentleman always introduces himself to new people in a group, whether it's in the office or at a social function. And he makes sure to say hello to old acquaintances and (especially) people he's dated in the past.
We also associate gentlemen with dressing well. Whether Casual Fridays permanently ruined the suit and tie businesses or not, American men as a group have not been dressing with the sort of conscious attention and grace that they used to.

Blame disposable fashions and more distractions. Few men shine their shoes these days, but even fewer own shoes worth shining. (You can always spot American men abroad by their ratty, dingy sneakers.) The typical American man (myself included) has more questions than answers with regard to how to dress. The art of dressing well without looking like someone who cares about looking like he dresses well is all but lost.

So how does one dress like a gentleman? I'm not sure. I mean, who knows? But I do know that it's not about rules, like always iron your shirts and never wear sneakers with suits. All those rules are made to be broken; that's what gives a man style.

It's not about money, either. My best-looking sport jackets are not my most expensive ones. I get great blazers at Savers on 35E in St. Paul for under $10. I get great ties in Manhattan for less than $10 at a thrift store on 17th and 5th.

Every man needs a nice pair of black leather shoes. Every man needs a suit -- whether he's a mechanic or a banker -- and he shouldn't be afraid to wear it occasionally. Don't want to look too formal? Skip the tie. Not sure how to pull it off? GQ, Details, Men's Vogue (and sometimes Esquire) have good advice every month and online.

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Blogger Christopher said...


6:28 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Don't get him started. He's been buffing his fingernails like a madman, then accosting people and demanding that they appreciate the satiny smoothness.

11:46 PM  

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