Transformations: The Gentleman Is D.E.A.D? (A Rebuttal)


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:

  1. CHARACTER
  2. COMPETENCY
  3. CLOTHING

CHARACTER:

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.

COMPETENCY:

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.

CLOTHING:

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.

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About TheStyleGent

I blog about character, competency and clothing. Giving back, living well and looking sharp is how you live life with style. What good is a new suit if the man inside is rotten?

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9 Comments on “Transformations: The Gentleman Is D.E.A.D? (A Rebuttal)”

  1. F7 Says:

    I loved this article, i loved the original one too.

    Reply

  2. Johnnie Weathersby 3 (@GentlemanREDUX) Says:

    I love the rebuttal sir. Each time I read your posts and seriously think about them I feel like I’m mentally working myself in the “right” direction. Thank you for that.

    “…[T]reating people with respect is always a first. There is more value in opening doors than burning bridges.

    …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?

    …A gentleman takes pride in his appearance. whether [sic] he owns 1 suit or 100 he understands the power of clothing but is not a slave to them.”

    All I can say is “wisdom” dukes. Keep sharing yours – and hopefully others will take heed.

    Reply

    • thestylegent Says:

      Thanks Johnnie. I’m constantly working to refine my motives and focus my perception and magnify my actions. It’s important to to realize that the more we focus on the things inside (our thinking, our motivations, our attitude) and less on what brand of car, clothes or where we took our last vacation, the more we will truly be closer to being a man worth emulating. Our young men, our little brothers and cousins need to see us take the lead and set the example in defining what being a gent is all about: Character, Competency then Clothing. I love that you are addressing these issues as well. Keep doing what you’re doing. We should do a “Marvel Team Up” and spread the message my friend!

      Thanks again

      Reply

  3. Steve Says:

    I can’t believe I missed this post. I am so glad I pop in from time to time and browse your archives. The Modern gentleman should be so much more than style, behaviour is paramount. Even though I never forget this, sometimes my own writings don’t reflect it. Thank you for keeping us honest!

    Reply

    • thestylegent Says:

      Thanks Steve for commenting. I always try to remember: “Character BEFORE clothing.” It’s easy to forget, hopefully we can focus on the inside just as much as we give attention to the outside. Thanks again.

      Reply

  4. Stephen Obisanya Says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this because you succinctly covered all the bases. It’s about that time we shift the focus from the glamorous side of menswear to a different perspective–the man beneath the clothes.
    Thank you for the education and reminder. I believe you’ll appreciate what we’re trying to do as well.

    Reply

    • TheStyleGent Says:

      Thank you Stephen. The goal was to inspire others to really strip it all down to the basics of genteel behavior: Character, Competency, and Clothing in that order. It’s not enough just to “act” like a gentleman, the goal is to have it to be woven into the very fiber of our being. Glad you enjoyed the post. Thank you so much for reading. Welcome aboard!

      Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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