Up until relatively recently, I was the sort of man who just had a few pairs of shoes that I had bought without much thought; based on their general look, comfort and, mainly, the price. Whilst loving nice clothes and spending a bit on suits, I usually assigned myself a relatively minimal budget for footwear.
Recently, however, I acquired a copy of ‘Gentleman‘* by Bernhard Roetzel. A mighty tome that has been translated into many different languages. Roetzel is a real authority on how to dress like a gentleman.
Prior to growing a beard for charity and never going back, shaving had become almost a hobby for me. In my youth I had used the common, three-blade razors without much thought. But then I discovered the world of traditional shaving. I became obsessed. Looking at all of the equipment, comparing razor blades…it felt so much more manly and involved than just grabbing whatever was on the shelves in the local supermarket. I would still recommend this method of shaving to you if you were to ask me, and I still use it now when maintaining the lines of my beard. In this post, I’m going to tell you why.
Okay…just to be clear, I’m not talking about the cut-throat, straight razor shaving. That’s something I leave to the barber and those far braver than I. I’m talking about something called a ‘safety razor‘ (see below) which is a T shaped, usually metal handle, that encases a ‘double-edge (or ‘DE’) blade’ . Part of the blade is exposed and goes directly against the skin.
I recently got to sit and have a coffee and a chat with a friend of mine, which is always good. What was particularly good is that, on this occasion, this friend was Jason Fligg, a registered Sports and Exercise Nutritionist, college lecturer who teaches up to degree level, and someone who also runs his own company: Jason Fligg Sports and Exercise Performance, based in Norwich, Norfolk, UK. Jason works with a range of people, from individuals who want to be healthier generally, up to professional athletes, and is also a UK Anti-Doping Advisor. I seized the opportunity, and he had some great things to say; this is some of what we discussed:
A gentleman needs self-confidence. Understanding what makes someone a gentleman, such as knowing what constitutes good manners, knowing a few things about etiquette…all fades into insignificance if you can’t carry it off with a positive flair. If we want to be successful in our endeavors, and in life in general, self-confidence is an important factor. But…
What is self-confidence?
Self-confidence is a general term that encompasses a number of different elements. By understanding these elements we can, hopefully, find ways to improve it.
One thing to be aware of is that it’s not quite the same thing as self-esteem, which is more to do with how we feel about ourselves at a general level; how much positive regard and respect we have for ourselves.
If there’s one piece of clothing that can alter a man’s appearence and make him look like a gentleman, it has to be the waistcoat. I love them…for their look and for their versatility
Whether it’s part of a three-piece suit or with a pair of jeans and shirt, the waistcoat just seems to give off an air of sophistication. But where did it come from? And…what’s with the tradition of leaving the bottom button undone? Continue reading “A Short History of The Waistcoat”
When people talk about what it is to be a gentleman, they might used the term ‘stoic’. This describes someone who doesn’t show emotion, and who endures hardship without complaining. The term ‘Stoic’ (capital S) however, refers to the philosophy of Stoicism. Some aspects of this philosophy, I feel, fit better with the idea of being a gentleman.
So….what is Stoicism?
Stoicism has a long history and originated from Athens in Greece in the 3rd Century BC. It was originally a philosophy of the streets, with the term ‘Stoic’ coming from the Greek word ‘stoa’ which is a sheltered porch area where the people used to gather. Continue reading “Feeling Philosophical?”
About 6 years ago I took the plunge. I hung up my razor and decided to grow a beard. I remember it well because, although I’d attempted it before and failed (usually due to the itching that it caused or protests from my wife), this time I did it for charity. This came with a commitment not to shave for at least a month. People had sponsored me. There was no backing out.
Fast-forward to now, I still have a beard and my wife prefers it! I’ve spent quite a bit of time learning about how to maintain it too. Sometimes people ask me questions about how I look after it so I thought I’d share a few tips I’ve picked up, just in case anyone’s interested in growing themselves some face fuzz.
During discussions I’ve had regarding what it is to be a gentleman, the term ‘chivalry’ often arises. It seems to be a word with a mixed meaning, that is quite hard to pin down.
In more recent times, the term has been used in relation to courtship. A form of etiquette where the man takes the lead by, for example, holding the door open for the lady, paying the bill at a restaurant, and walking her to her door after a date. Whilst some exclaim ‘chivalry is dead!’ implying that men no longer know how to act in this manner, others have argued that the term, and the behaviours associated with it, are outdated. Continue reading “What is Chivalry?”
If you type this question into a search engine you will get a multitude of answers. Historically, being a gentleman seemed to be something that you were born into. It came from a man’s bloodline.
The meaning of this term has evolved over time and, now, being a gentleman seems to be more a matter of choice. You no longer need to be of noble birth, but it comes with connotations of striving to be the best man that you can be. Continue reading “What does it mean to be a gentleman?”