THE GUIDE TO BEING A MODERN GENTLEMAN. CREATED BY THE SCHOOL OF LIFE & MINI CLUBMAN.
WHAT MAKES A GENTLEMAN IN 2015?
What does it mean to be a ‘gentleman’ today? The consensus is a ‘civilised, educated, sensitive, well-mannered individual’ with the core principles of confidence, consideration and respect for others. Certainly a moniker to aspire to.
However, in interconnected, diverse and image-conscious Britain, the guidelines for gentlemanly conduct have evolved.
One thing is clear. The modern gentleman remains driven, well groomed, and comfortable in his own skin.
The challenge he faces is to take care of the multifaceted image presented to the world - while remaining true to his inner values and beliefs.
When you feel rough inside, the best place to start is on the outside - because when you look good, the world is more receptive.
Plus, in the face of advertisements and photoshopped media icons, it’s easy to fall prey to anxiety and insecurity. But happily, men’s grooming has transformed in the last twenty years, making it easier than ever to enjoy your routine.
So use the confidence that comes with looking good to feel completely at home in your own skin.
RULE 1: BE WELL GROOMED, NOT OVER-PREENEd.
Good grooming is like a magic trick: people should be impressed by the results, but in the dark about how you achieved them. Overdo the fragrance, teeth whitening or eyebrow taming and you just show the world your sleight of hand.
RULE 2: CREATE YOUR OWN RITUAL.
Many cultures (from the ancient Greeks and Jews to the modern Japanese and Scandinavians) practise bathing as a ritual. Hot water is relaxing, yet invigorating like little else – that’s why some of our best thoughts can come to us in the shower. But take the time out from here on in to really ‘be’ in the shower, to quell the monkey mind and to really feel the water on your skin and the scent of the products you use. It’s not just the female of the species that’s worth it.
BUSINESS & ENTREPRENEURIALISM.
Entrepreneurialism is about more than fame, wealth and a willingness to take risks. It’s about finding solutions.
Faced with opportunity, the entrepreneur rises above any fear of failure to form answers. Setbacks and objections are chances for feedback. They don’t get defensive or discouraged, but simply improve the solutions accordingly.
Best of all, they share their solution with others. Because simply put, when life fires arrows, we can transform them into flowers, and improve the lives of those around us.
RULE 1: EMBRACE RISK.
What sorts the men from the boys is how far they embrace risk and the inevitable brushes with failure that risk entails. Problems and pains are your best feedback when it comes to refining and improving your ideas. Pinpoint something in your recent past that went wrong. A relationship? A conversation? A work project? What you learn will mean that whatever the short-term verdict, the risk you embraced will pay off in the long run.
RULE 2: STAY AGILE.
Thinking like an entrepreneur requires not holding on stubbornly when circumstances change. Agility means choosing the things in your life (from our skills and mindset to bags and cars) for their adaptability and agility as well.
RULE 3: TAKE A MOMENT.
Sometimes, to move forward, you just need to stop. Modern life is so busy we forget to think, but time is often the best brain food. You need it to keep evolving, innovating and improving, and the most successful people in the world are the ones who find a way to fit solitary thinking into.
The fashion world is in a state of continual change - leaving us feeling we are never acting, or reacting fast enough to the current trends.
Now is the time to stick to your own path and shun the need for quantity over quality, or jumping from fad to fad. Confidence in your own ‘look’ is essential: it implies efficiency without any loss of grace. And having an authentic style shows how powerful you can be.
But true style isn’t just about sustainability and breaking the fast fashion cycle. It’s about fine-tuning certain aspects of your wardrobe and your life so that it has more character and becomes more productive and resolute.
RULE 1: COMBINE STYLE WITH SUSTAINABILITY.
You’ve heard before that finding timeless classics is important – even if it’s a bit more expensive. This is true, but remember that doesn’t just have to do with money but also patience, thoughtfulness and ethics. Classic fashion means shopping consciously. Take the time to concentrate on timeless materials, fit and construction that are in harmony with your body and mind.
RULE 2: CONSTRUCT A WARDROBE MANIFESTO.
Your wardrobe should reflect a style that truly reflects you, so continuously detox items and clutter that do not serve you. Once you’ve written your manifesto, purge a section of your wardrobe ruthlessly. Think of it as a wardrobe workout, and lose the flab.
RULE 3: STAND OUT AS A STYLE LEADER.
At its best, your style should be instinctive. The designs and brands you choose are a message to others about who you are and what you value. When you know your style and shun the trendy fluctuations, you stand out as a leader. So go with your gut instinct, don’t self-censor. Eccentric quirkiness is a great British tradition.
HEALTH & Wellbeing.
Today, we recognise physical training as a very necessary part of any ‘mental’ work. Just take a look at the rise of yoga, Pilates and new forms of ‘mind fitness’ for proof. Certain Buddhist monks, for example, learn kung-fu so they can withstand rigorous hours of meditation.
Today’s sharp gentleman understands that how he treats his body affects his mind, and vice versa. An improvement in one area is often what unlocks improvement in another.
Some say that exercise is the new religion. Perhaps this is a bit extreme. But it reveals a larger truth: physical fitness can be a vital component of a wider theme: living a good life.
RULE 1: PRACTICE YOUR OWN SPORTS PSYCHOLOGY.
Playing sport doesn’t just build muscle and lung capacity. It helps you to refine your ability to strategise and practise collaboration and fairplay. By observing your knee-jerk emotions and choosing to respond rather than react, you can change your behaviour on and off the field, court or mat.
RULE 2: KEEP MOVING.
It seems odd that we often stand on the escalator on the way to a gym class. Exercise begins the moment you get up in the morning. The ‘active living’ movement helps us to understand this. Man was never meant to be sedentary. Walking up the stairs, washing the car, and having sex can all increase our fitness without a sweaty gym bag in sight.
FOOD & DRINK.
Today’s gentleman is a food geek, displaying enthusiasm in the cooking and eating of it, even to the point of glorious, nerdy obsession.
The realities of how our food is made have a real potency. Exploring the craft and provenance of food is a worthwhile task to remind ourselves that we are organic bodies needing the right fuel to thrive.
And whilst Michelin-starred restaurants have their place in the gentleman’s affections, he respects the democracy of street food stalls, burger joints and noodle bars.
In a world of fast-changing food fashions, the gentleman remains open. From deep fried locusts to liquid nitrogen ice cream, he embraces all new culinary experiences with effortless sophistication.
RULE 1: MAKE MEALS A COMMUNAL AFFAIR.
The philosopher Epicurus refused to eat any meal unless he had friends around to share it. Indeed, the word ‘companionship’ comes from the two words ‘com’ (with) and ‘pain’ (bread). Too many of us eat alone, and by doing so we take away one of the greatest aspects of mealtimes. Sharing food with good company and taking time to relish it is one of life’s simple but profound pleasures.
RULE 2: LEARN A SIGNATURE DISH.
Many of the best restaurants don’t have lengthy menus because they recognise the value in perfecting a small range of dishes. Great chefs understand the satisfaction of working on a signature dish, tweaking it until it reaches perfection. Choose a dish that you can experiment with in the kitchen and enjoy ‘perfecting’ it.
RULE 3: MAKE DINING INTERESTIN.
For many of us, our busy lives mean that we have fewer and fewer opportunities to engage in creative pursuits. Make dining interesting. Drive to new places, go a little further afield. Cultivate an open-minded, adventurous approach to eating and drinking, and dine out differently once a fortnight. The world is your oyster/razor clam/cockle.
travel & leisure.
It’s time we took a fresh approach to our travel and leisure activities. We could start by calling our free time ‘time on’ rather than ‘time off’. It is, after all, time to redress our work-life balance and reaffirm the things we value most.
Leisure gives us opportunities to move comfortably outside our comfort zones. We’re not talking all-consuming projects that soon feel like a second job. Today’s gent discovers new experiences by gently exploring the world and new ways it can thrill and make him feel truly alive.
The trick is to go exploring in your five-to-nine – to give you fresh energy for your nine-to-five
RULE 1: NEVER STOP LEARNING.
Make a list of things you’d never think of doing. It might be learning to tango, trying wild swimming or something simple like going to the cinema on your own. Try one out one weekend. Cut loose from the invisible chains of habits, and break out of your comfort zone.
• Go somewhere new in your local area
• Go on holiday, but don’t have a plan other than to explore
• Change your route to work
RULE 2: BROADEN YOUR DEFINITION OF CULTURE.
While museums, theatre and art-house cinemas offer cultural enrichment, there are plenty more options. Ask a friend from a different culture to teach you how to cook a traditional dish, research online and go to a lecture or explore a new musical genre.
RULE 3: STOP TAKING PICTURES AND LEARN TO DRAW.
Smartphones can make us spectators in our own lives, never truly immersed in the moment. If you want a picture to remember things by, put your phone down and create one later from your own efforts. (You don’t have to hang it on the wall.)