What does it mean to be a gentleman in 2017? This is, after all, an age marked by stories of rude behavior and disregard for any code of ethics, where trolls employ communication tools to gain attention, and intransigent, disrespectful acts abound. It seems to be every man for himself. Yet even if the image we hold may seem outdated, the principles and values that distinguish a gentleman are still significant and appreciated today ... perhaps even more so!
The notion of a “gentleman” comes from Great Britain, more precisely the Georgian (1714-1832) and Victorian (1832-1901) eras. The symbolism has transformed as societal norms and values have evolved. In fact, the chivalrous man of today expresses himself on social media as well as on the street, at a popular event or during a flight between Paris and Tokyo. Though his appearance has changed to keep up with today’s tastes, he remains calm, diplomatic, considerate, generous, polite, neat, courteous and discreet. He is pleasant in company and naturally respectful of everyone around him.
Much more than a seducer à la Casanova, more upright than a Danny Ocean, and more faithful than a James Bond, the gentleman possesses undeniable role model qualities.
Mural paying homage to La dolce vita, a film by Federico Fellini with Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg.
On the path to distinction, not extinction
If there is one word that has best characterized the gentleman over the course of time, it is undoubtedly “distinguished.” And here are the ways he reflects this quality:
1. Impeccable hygiene and appearance
Obviously, when talking about good hygiene, cleansing the entire body every day and brushing teeth after each meal are a given. Also essential: a well-trimmed beard and mustache, clean nails, neatly combed hair, unobtrusive nose hair, and attention to other small details of the appearance. Any fragrance used must be applied with a subtle hand. The gentleman's dress showcases his finer attributes, with cuts suitable for his figure and age, favouring elegant and timeless styles, and understated colours and patterns. Everything worn must be free from the slightest stain or sign of wear.
2. Perfect manners
At any time and in any place, the gentleman is the epitome of good manners. He is polite, attentive, and a good listener. He knows the codes of propriety, uses correct language, and speaks in a discreet and clear tone. He is punctual, considerate and aware of the people around him. He says hello to everyone he meets and knows how to subtly inquire after a person who seems withdrawn or ill at ease. It goes without saying that he is courteous to women, but not overwhelmingly. He never imposes and can convey politeness with a glance.
3. Attentive to the needs of others
The gentleman is always more interested in other people than in himself. In fact, he keeps his personal life private and is careful not to flaunt his exploits. He does, however, actively participate in conversations while avoiding controversial topics. Ever helpful, he makes the first move when someone requires assistance. He treats people with respect, and is true to his word and honest to a fault. The gentleman also knows how to keep a secret.
4. A generous nature
The gentleman is never stingy with his attention, pertinent advice, money, time or contacts. He approaches people and looks them in the eye without imposing. He shakes hands firmly to show his interest, while avoiding too much forcl. The gentleman protects those who are vulnerable, offering his jacket to someone who is cold, his seat to a badly placed person and his arm when crossing the street. He will open and hold the door for people who seem pleased by this kind of attention.
Charles Waugh Beggs: A Visionary Gentleman
In 1874, Chicago was the place to be for men who dreamed of becoming the next Rockefeller, Vanderbilt or Carnegie. And in an era yet to know organized crime, the only option available to him was to earn his life honestly. A man's word acted as his bond. A simple handshake could open the doors to the bank.
It was in 1874 Chicago that Charles Waugh Beggs created the Marcelle product line. A true visionary, Charles Waugh Beggs firmly believed that science could improve people's quality of life. In creating the Marcelle brand for women, he promised them that his products would not only beautify their skin but also improve their health. And millions of women have embraced them over the years. Today, the CW Beggs and Sons line invites men around the world to enjoy exemplary products along with the distinguished and courteous attitude that typifies the gentleman.
In articles to come, you can read portraits of gentlemen from both centuries past and of our time. From Winston Churchill to David Beckham, touching on Marcello Mastroianni, Jean Béliveau, Justin Trudeau, Morgan Freeman and Barack Obama, you will meet masculine role models, men who carry the noble genes of the gentleman!