Gentlemen Are A Dying Breed. And Whither The Ladylike Ladies?

Illustration for article titled Gentlemen Are A Dying Breed. And Whither The Ladylike Ladies?

A story in today's Times Of London asks, "Are gentlemen a dying breed?" The author, William Drew, writes that when his grandfather died, people remembered him as a "true gent." "The act of being a gentleman transcends conventionality and surely goes some way beyond basic good manners," Drew claims. "My grandfather was not only impeccably polite, he was genuinely interested in others, whatever their place in society, and frequently made people feel quite special through his attention." What's interesting about the concept of a "gentleman" is that (in my opinion) when a girl is told to be ladylike, it means "shut up and look pretty." Whereas "acting like a gentleman" is a wonderful thing. But there is something to be said about being polite, about treating your fellow humans with respect. Is being a "gentleman" the only way?


After the sexual revolution, after the protesting (I am woman, hear me roar), after the unisex clothing (jeans for everyone!), do we need new guidelines on what it means to be a "a lady"? Looking to Lady Victoria Hervey (here she is in Cannes) doesn't exactly help.

The Times article has ten ways to be a modern gentleman:

1. Say please and thank you and ask questions about other people rather than talk about yourself; 2. Be punctual; 3. Be environmentally aware (but not obnoxious); 4. Open doors for people and stand up when they enter a room, but do this for men as well as women. The modern gentleman doesn't treat women like porcelain; 5. Be modest. 6. Be a good father. Nothing is less charming than a man who leaves childcare to women; 7. Be honest about wherever you have come from in life; 8. Flirt - with everyone. Good flirting is a form of politeness. Pay compliments and put your companion at ease; 9. Do not phone/text/check your BlackBerry incessantly; 10. Dress tidily. Whatever style you are going for, scruffiness just isn't in.

What are the new rules of behaving in a "ladylike" manner?

Some are the same, some are different. Here's my list:

  1. Say please and thank you and ask questions about other people rather than talk about yourself.
  2. Be punctual
  3. Be environmentally aware
  4. Open doors for people. If a man opens a door for you, be sure to thank him. If he doesn't, open the door for him and smile brightly. He will feel like a cad.
  5. Be modest. And if someone compliments you, take it well: With a smile and a thank you.
  6. Be a good mother by being good to yourself? (I'm open to a new #6.)
  7. Be honest about wherever you have come from in life and treat royalty and maids the same: politely.
  8. Flirt - with everyone. Flirting is polite. It's also stress-reducing to chit chat about the weather or tell your cashier that you love her nails. Let it out!
  9. Do not phone/text/check your BlackBerry incessantly
  10. Dress tidily. Ladylike no longer means skirts and gloves, but when you have respect for yourself, others will respect you.

I also think learning to argue politely and stick up for yourself politely could be on this list. Any other suggestions?

Are gentlemen a dying breed? [Times]

Related: Lady Victoria Hervey Stuns Cannes With A Dress That's Barely There [Daily Mail]



@andBegorrah: @es-ki-mo: Disclaimer: I have broken most of these rules, just so you know (I own four pairs of fabulous red shoes). Subsequent rules include:

- always wear matching pajamas. you should look as good in bed as you would on the street (Ha!)

- your pearls and silver should always be real. also, pearls can be worn with ANYTHING.

- Luzianne iced tea is the only acceptable non-alcoholic beverage to serve to guests.

- Join the Junior League as soon as you turn 24

- All men shall be referred to as "gentlemen callers" or "beauxs"

- Never be seen without your makeup, girdle, and panty hose. Also, wear hats and gloves whenever possible.

- Never marry a Yankee unless you want to be a Yankee by association.

- Break any and all of the above rules if you feel the need, but never, ever admit to doing so.