Readers. Friends. You followers of pointlessness, you toleraters of nonsense you. I ask you today, or tonight, whenever you’re reading this, to join me on less of a revolution, more a devolution. There is a way you can make the world a better place, a gentler, more proud, more decent place. Every man, woman and child can- sorry, did I say woman and child? That was a mistake, this is just for the men.
Have they left? Cool.
Gentlemen. Isn’t it time we started being gentlemen again?
I was going to put the word ‘chap’ instead of ‘gentleman’ there but I didn’t want to get too closely associated with Chap Magazine who, although generally a fine bunch of fellows, do silly things like climb up a sculpture at the Tate Modern and advocate smoking all the time, everywhere. Rather, I will take the best of their leanings and add a few of my own. Not to create something new but to bring back something old and refine it.
There will be no more boorish manchildren. There will be no more feckless ‘blokes’ whose idea of culture is singing Wonderwall at the top of their voices as the pub closes. Only the gent. The courteous, well-groomed men of the past with none of the unpleasantness that went with it like that misogyny or racism business. A new ideal.
How can we do this? We could do worse, in my humble opinion, than following these steps.
LOOK THE PART
Start dressing like a man
No wearing anything with ‘skinny’ in the title. No massive scarves unless your name is Tom Baker which it probably isn’t. No necklines plummeting dangerously towards the navel. No flip-flops for god’s sake. And if you’re the kind of person who wears a scarf and flip-flops at the same time then get off my website. I don’t want you as a reader, begone!
Look, if you want to dress androgynously because that’s what you’re into and all hey, that’s totally cool, no-one can judge you, do your thing, whatever. But if you follow fashions to the point of make-up and handbags whilst still ostensibly being a man then you might not be a gentleman. Oh sure, you may act like one, there might be no one on the face of the earth more polite than you but you won’t be the whole package. You’ll just look like a kid. We’re not aiming for gentleboys here. Which brings us on to:
Suits! Suits as often as possible
Now I’m a big fan of suit-wearing. As a suit-wearer I feel there are few things that can make you feel more confident and on top of things than a good suit. And ladies (if you’re still here and if you are why? I said get out!) I think you’ll agree that there isn’t a man alive who doesn’t look better in a well-fitted suit.
I study part time which means I often have to run off to classes straight after work. This has made people refer to me as ‘the guy who always wears a suit’. This is a good thing. What they don’t know is that I don’t actually wear a suit to work. I go and get changed for their benefit. Shh!
On the rare occasions where a suit isn’t appropriate you can still be smart. You don’t have to rock up in a vest that would make John McClane be all like ‘damn’ and jeans that look like they’ve served two tours in Iraq. A shirt and a pair of decent trousers go a long way. As a general rule, remember, it is easier to remove a tie than to magic a tie out of thin air.
Seriously, is there anything classier than a suit? Even casually worn with an open top button (which I will grudgingly accept but only if it has been a long day and not because you’re trying to look cool. You know like a ‘ooh I didn’t make an effort but I clearly did’ sort of thing) you’re going to look better than at least 25% of the men in any given situation. I mean look at the fellas of Mad Men.
Damn, look at them.
Apart from Christina Hendricks’ ludicrous body, the fine, fine suits are the best part of Mad Men and that’s a show stuffed to bursting with things you could easily call fantastic. Some parts of that show are like soft porn for tailors. Any time Hendricks is on screen it is officially classified as soft porn. No matter what she’s doing.
Which leads us nicely to…
Bring back the hat
That’s the other part of the Mad Men ensemble. The absence of which prevents us from looking like true, sharp gentlemen. The trilby, the fedora, the pork-pie. The top hat is probably too much. Even without a suit the noble flat cap can signify a gentleman because it’s all about their true purpose – doffing it at ladies. Men, you know you want to do this. It’s in your blood and you suppress the urges because you think it will make you look stupid or something. Let it go, let’s all be gentlemen and doff our hats at ladies (WARNING: This is no way a euphemism. I cannot stress this enough.) Now get out there and doff those ladies like they’ve never been doffed before.
I want to live in an age where gentlemen wear trilbys with their suits. A world of raincoats, umbrellas and a rolled up copy of the Times under your arm. There’s just something indefinably classy about the whole notion don’t you think? It certainly can’t be any old hat. None of those wooly ski-cap jobs or ones with earflaps or something or-
…good god. Whatever the shit that is, it has no place in the NGO (New Gent Order).
Oh and no wearing your trilby ‘ironically’ with something casual. If you see a scarf/trilby/flip-flop/natty jeans combo it is your duty to bust some lips.
ACTING THE PART
Chivalry can be resurrected
One part of the Chap Manifesto that is totally right is that, as a chap, you never have a seat to yourself on public transport, you’re just warming it for the next lady who can’t find one. We could easily say that men and women are not and never will be equal despite how hard we try but this is one inequality (and correct me if I’m wrong ladies… who shouldn’t be reading this!) the ladies don’t want to lose. Even if they don’t say it out loud, you find me one girl who doesn’t like to have a door held open for her, a jacket lent to her or a chair pulled out for her and I will show you one shocked face. Like this:
Try standing up slightly when a lady has to leave the room for whatever reason (periods and bras and the like). Even if you feel funny doing it I guarantee someone will comment about how gentlemanly it was. That’s how rare it is these days, it makes you stand out and if you want to be crass about it you could be one step closer to doffing like rabbits… Rabbits wear hats right?
No one is chivalrous and it counts for a lot when you are. Enjoy being unique while it lasts, I plan for every man in the world to be doing this as a matter of course like it’s the 1920s or something.
Pay for more stuff
Nothing is more ungentlemanly than being miserly and I should know, I’m a Yorkshireman. I know your account will take a hit what with the suit and your hat fund having to be set up and all but don’t panic, I’m not talking about paying for everyone’s everything. Going out for lunch no matter who your guest is: the bill can be settled without them ever seeing it. Not only is it gentlemanly, it’s straight up manly. But it isn’t about flashing your cash in ways that make people feel uncomfortable or intimidated. Do that and you’ve crossed the line from Gent to Twat. A line that is hard to uncross. It’s as easy as getting a round in or taking care of the designated driver. And if we tread back into Ladyville for a moment (man, how great would it be if there was a place called Ladyville…) no girl wants to go out on a first date and have to pay for it. Another slice of inequality they’re probably happy about. It isn’t a sexism issue that though, far from it. Girls have it a lot easier when it comes to pulling/dating I think most of us will agree. If you think of it as her graciously allowing you the pleasure of your company not only will you be correct but you will behave as a gent would. Unless she’s a bitch. In which case bail through the toilet window. Just don’t catch your new suit on the latch or something.
You don’t have to start smoking a pipe or wearing nought but tweed (though neither of those things would hurt for a head start) you just have to not be a twat and dress a little smarter. This is my plan for a gentleman devolution and it is rough around the edges in a way that my suit will not be. Am I just woefully out of touch here? Or do guys need to act a little less like kids and girls and more like men who wear hats and take action? I don’t do half these things I’ve written so we’re all in this together men. At the end of it all, would you rather have Don Draper as your role model or Liam Gallagher?
I’m David Hetherington and I’m going to wear my weskit far more often.