Language is constantly evolving, with new words entering the vernacular everyday to keep up with changes in technology and society. But, what happens to established terms that simply tweak their meanings?
The noun ‘gentleman’ has been around since the late Middle Ages and has changed drastically in definition. So, in 2018 when society is driving modern ideals and looking to improve how people in society behave and interact with each other; what does it take to be a modern gentleman?
Here, Fulton Umbrellas looks at the ‘old-fashioned’ idea of a gentleman and how you can modernise the best elements of the word to become the perfect modern gentleman.
What is an ‘old fashioned’ gentleman?
By definition, a gentleman is a ‘chivalrous, courteous or honourable man’, and traditionally, this moniker was used to refer to wealthy men who were of good social standing.
Members of the landed gentry were ‘gentlemen’ by birth in the past, as were those who worked within certain occupational areas, such as the Church of England, the army and Parliament. However, generally, people of lower class who had not had a public education and did not work in a ‘gentlemanly’ job, were not gentlemen — regardless of morals and characteristics.
By the end of the Victorian era and the early 20th century, the definition of the word changed. A gentleman was not simply someone of noble birth and good education; he could also be a man of good virtues and manners.
How to be a modern gentleman
For some, the idea of being a gentleman might seem out of date at a time when equality for all and liberation of stereotypes appears to have global support. However, being a modern gentleman simply means taking care of your appearance, being mindful of your behaviour and maintaining a polite, respectful and considerate manner — what’s wrong with that?
How to dress like a modern gentleman
To be a modern gentleman, you should embody a sense of confidence and finesse — which means wearing what you want but keeping it classy. Nobody expects you to be in three-piece suits all the time, but taking pride in your appearance and dressing appropriately is a good sign of an assured and sophisticated man.
Every now and then, switch a slouchy t-shirt and jogging pants for a checked buttoned-up shirt and slim-leg jeans — still relatively casual, but so much smarter. Treat yourself to new formal footwear, such as brogues and Oxford shoes, and invest in accessories like watches, pocket squares, umbrellas, and ties for a well put-together outfit when the occasion calls. Good tailoring and close fits will instantly smarten up your entire look, making you appear self-assured and prepared.
How to take care of yourself
Part of being confident and prepared will also come from how well-groomed you feel. Beards are very popular today and there’s no reason to change this to be a modern gentleman. However, making sure that your facial hair is kept under control is important if you want to exude a polished and poised aura.
Use beard combs and oils to keep your facial hair smooth and groomed — and make sure you keep on top of trimming it! Always spraying a nice-smelling cologne or aftershave on yourself before leaving the house — whether you’re going to work or meeting friends — is another good shout.
How to behave
When we think of gentlemanly behaviour, many of us will use words such as: chivalrous, honourable and gracious — and these traits still apply today. But, how should you act in order to embody the modern gentleman?
To behave like a modern gentleman, it’s crucial that how you treat others is always respectful. Be bold and assertive to make sure your point is understood — especially in the workplace — but never be overbearing or condescending. Thoughtfulness is essential; never forgot those who have done favours for you and always strive to be on time for meetings and dates. Paying attention is also a trait of the modern gentleman, so make a note of birthdays and anniversaries. This way, you can make sure to show others that their important life events are important to you, too.
Even chivalry, often now associated with the traditional way a man may treat a woman, can be part of a gentleman’s life in 2018. Simply be courteous and polite to everyone you encounter.
How to speak
A modern gent should try his best not to swear. Instead, expand your vocabulary by reading more — and we don’t mean poring over a dictionary for hours. You can peruse anything that takes you interest, from sci-fi and crime to thrillers and biographies. Even picking up a magazine in a subject that interests you will help to concentrate your mind, improve your vocabulary and present you with plenty of extra, interesting topics to kick-off small talk the next time you’re stuck in the communal area at work with nothing to say.
How to show how you feel
Merging the modern man with the traditional gent has been the aim of this article. So, forget the stereotype that men shouldn’t express their emotions. In 2018, a gentleman is in tune with his feelings and isn’t afraid to show those around him — family members, friends and partners — that he cares.
And this goes for negative sentiments, too. It’s important not to bottle up emotions, as this can lead to anxiety and stress. If you have a problem at work, sit down and discuss the issue calmly and directly. Don’t allow yourself to get worked up or let others dismiss what you’re saying. If you express it with confidence and tact, you’re more likely to be listened to and taken seriously while retaining your confident, gentlemanly persona.
How to spend
Having a good relationship with money is important. Be careful but never stingy, particularly with your friends and family. Being generous — whether that means buying the extra round of drinks at the bar for your friends, offering to treat your partner to a nice meal one evening, or buying a few gifts for no reason — is a true sign of a contemporary gent.