Ladies and Gentlemen!

Well after the hectic pace of the holiday season and the inevitable binging that comes with it, we turn ourselves to a new year. For many of us it is a time to reflect on the past year and vow to improve ourselves in some way, shape, or form. This has invariably lead me to think of what I should do to improve myself going forward. I did all the usual things, starting hitting the gym again with a regularness that is only sure to fade come the cold mornings of February. Eating better, paying down debt, saving for the future, ad infinitum. However, a recent talk made me think about what it really means to be a better person, and that got me thinking of what it is to be a true gentleman.

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”

While the concept of a gentleman has been around for centuries or more, I am going to limit it to the more modern, British sense of the word. The best definition in my humble opinion is “to signify not a distinction of blood, but a distinction of position, education and manners”, the last being the most significant, for without the latter the former are useless. Now, I would like to preface this diatribe by saying that every generation that passes mourns the collapse of the Old Guard ways. However with the increase of social media distraction, mobile devices clasped tightly in each persons hand, rampant individualism, we are seemingly becoming more isolated, we are now busier photographing life then living it, we are busier judging others than looking at our own selves. So it begs the question, how do we begin to act like gentleman again?

Put The Phone Down:

I know that we all jump when our phone rings, vibrates, or makes whatever other sound we have it programmed it to do, but you need not respond immediately. We all got along fine before instantaneous messaging, and we will get along fine if we do not answer within 1 minute – trust me. If you are with people, in a meeting, queuing in a line, in a a movie, or generally engaged with another human being, keep your phone in your pocket.

Hold Your Tongue (and your temper):

It seems like the whole world is trying to speak at the same time today. We (and me) need to listen and respect people more. Now, there are some people out there that will keep ranting and raving regardless, but try and be more understanding, not just in real life, but in your online life too. If you would not say that to someone face to face, then don't post it on a message board or on social media. My father always say to me 'It is better to keep your mouth shut and let someone think you are an idiot, then open it and remove all doubt'.

Why Thank You!:

I am guilty a bit of this one, but I am working on it. When you want something from someone it is considered polite to say 'Please'. When someone gives you something, it is polite to say 'Thank you'. When you do something and someone says thank you to you, it is polite to say 'You're welcome'. Not a head nod, not a 'No worries', not a 'Don't mention it', simply 'You're welcome'. It is a small thing, but as has been said 'Manners maketh the man'.


As we are on the subject of what to say to people, we should maybe talk about what not to say. There are many times in life where a four letter word fits the situation. However, this is not in polite conversation with people that are strangers or acquaintances. Using vulgarity, makes you vulgar. Keep it to when you are seated on your couch when your favourite sports team just blows the lead.

Dress Appropriately:

Yes, I know I work in the clothing industry and our job is to sell clothes. However, for certain events in life, you should don certain attire. If you are going to a funeral, wedding, interview, business meeting, etc., wear a suit. It shows that you take the event/occasion seriously. If you are attending those events, it is not based on you, it is based on other people (like the bride). Do it for them. I know from living in other parts of the world this is still strictly adhered to and it should be no different here.

Be Loyal:

It may say you have 500 friends on Facebook, but how many of them are really your friends? I can tell you I have about 10 'real' friends and I consider that be a gift. I know that they would (and have on more than one occasion) gone through hell for me, and I in return would do almost anything for them. I am not looking to replace them for someone shiny and new, they are irreplaceable. But it extends to more than just friends. Your employer. This person took a chance on you and they deserve to be respected. Show loyalty and stick up for your country, it may not be perfect, but it is yours and you have a stake in it.

This list is not exhaustive, being a gentleman means being civic minded, being culturally aware, being a man of taste, but why not start with the easiest things first? Just trying to be better makes you better. None of us are perfect, especially your humble author. However, you would be surprised with just a little effort how much things can change.

© Copyright 2021 - John McNabb Clothiers