Tag Archives: gentlemen

Fashion Friday: Whatever Happened to Style?


“What ever happened to style?” This is the question that a Chrysler commercial asks. As I watched this commercial I was inspired to write a post about personal elegance. There was a time when men like William Powell, Clark Gable, Leslie Howard, Humphrey Bogart, Carey Grant, James Cagney, James Earl Jones, Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte graced us with their strength of will, character and effortless elegance. Women like Gloria Swanson, Kim Novak, Kate Hepburn, Rita Hayworth, Dorothy Dandridge, Ruby Dee, Dianne Carroll, Lena Horn mystified us with their strength, class and intelligence.  Those days are gone, or are they?

Personal style is directly connected to your values. It’s about defining yourself through your actions, the way you move through life, it’s about how you exit a room, and not how you enter it. Anyone can make a grand entrance, but can you leave a lasting impression after you’ve left? It’s about the mark you leave on the hearts and minds of people you interact with each day. I’m an advocate for the behavior behind the appearance. Many  readers who follow me on twitter know that my favorite tagline “What good is a new suit if the man inside is rotten?” is more than a catchphrase for me, it is a meditation. All of these actors are/were great actors, some are/were great people outside their craft. Some chose philanthropy, humanitarianism, some were ambassadors, artists, writers etc. What made them great was the incredible lasting impressions they left on us even to this day. They arrived but it was their body of work and influence that still make us refer to them as icons.

Whatever happened to style? That’s a question that we all can answer with our body of  life’s work.

Dress internally.

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Monday Motivations: Shaking the Jekyll and Hyde Masculinity


Fredric March in production still from Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1931, dir. Rouben Mamoulian)

(photo by Gordon Head, via Hollywood Horror: Gothic to Cosmic)

“Man is not truly one but truly two”, is the essence of the Novella -The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This novelette written by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1887- about 120 years back. It is still the widely read masterpiece today.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the two characters of the novella are but one; one body two conflicting characters, the good and evil. what I find interesting is that the attire Dr. Jekyll wears is the clothing of what gentleman wore back  then. Dr. Jekyll walks & talks like a well-groomed, well read and well-bred refined man. But as we know just underneath the surface lies something sinister, something that is nothing like the picture above. This picture got me thinking about being genuine and to question who we really are on the inside. Jekyll’s problems began with his motives and desires.

As men it’s important to aspire to refine our personality, take an honest look at our flaws and make the needed changes that will elevate us to a greater sense of self or more importantly closer to what it means to be a gentleman. No amount of clothing, acting or appearance of genteel behavior will change what we may really be on the inside. Alfred Hyde ultimately destroyed the life of Dr. Jekyll. This is a cautionary tale of how it is important for us to be genuine in our intentions and in our actions. Dr. Jekyll was a player who became a pawn in his own game. I equate Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde to “Players”, men who talk like gentlemen, act like gentlemen, dress like gentlemen, but just under the surface they are something quite different. Let’s change this. We live in a society that tells men to express their masculinity based on their clothing, possessions, sexual prowess, or their physical power. With so much emphasis on the surface and what is transient, it’s tough to really know who is genuine and who is not. In the end though what’s important is to aspire to be better, more in touch of who we are on the inside. “What good is a new suit if the man inside is rotten?”

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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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