I just dress nice.
There is a pervasive association between wearing a suit and being overall gentlemanly. The biggest problem I have with this notion is that it comes with a whole set of preconceptions about what being a gentleman even means. And so I’ve encountered people – sometimes in the comments section of this very blog – who are surprised by the language I use, the views I hold, or that I don’t stand up straight but instead slouch in a completely ungentlemanly fashion.
All those expectations just because some people have an image of what a man should be, based on the way he’s dressed.
I’m a bit of a contrarian, so I feel almost compelled to subvert this image. But it’s not just that: I don’t like thinking of myself as a gentleman, just like I don’t like thinking about myself as a dandy. And I would certainly not want to be classified as such just because of my clothes.
And I don’t necessarily value all the social conventions, all the traditional rules and roles that come as a baggage with this term. I recognize their usefulness sometimes, but it’s not something that has a particularly high priority for me. And while interacting with other people I’ll rather try to do what my empathy tells me to do, rather than follow what’s considered proper. Sometimes it leads to exactly the same place. But there are some crucial moments when it doesn’t.
The fact that the word gentleman has a very diffuse meaning doesn’t help either. Not only do people think very different things when they say it, but there’s also an entire layer of other associations that comes from marketing, advertisements and so on, which equate being a gentleman with being, well, rich. It’s even more vain and shallow than wearing nice clothes just because they’re nice (and blogging about it).
If you feel like you’re a gentleman, great. I’ll stick to slouching and cursing though.