31 Of Our Favorite “How To Be a Gentleman” Quotes

Some helpful words on being a gentleman that are worth revisiting often

Since we’re calling 2017 “The Year of the Gentleman”, we thought it apropos to revisit a seminal work in canon of gentlemanliness. We’re talking, of course, about John Bridges’s fantastic manual titled simply, How To Be a Gentleman.

If you’re not familiar, we highly recommend picking up a copy for yourself (or a friend). It was a frequent fixture on our coffee table at the apartment before finding a permanent home amongst other stylish tomes on the shelves at HSS Studios.

The handsome little book is chock full of pithy observations, timeless advice and a several simple tutorials on subjects ranging from tying a bow tie to setting a table properly.

Here, we’ve curated a selection of our favorite aphorisms on the art of being a modern gentleman from Bridges’s book.

A Selection of Quotes From “How To Be a Gentleman”

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A gentleman never makes himself the center of attention. His goal is to make life easier, not just for himself, but for his friends, his acquaintances and the world at large. Because he is a gentleman, he does not see this as a burden. Instead, it is a challenge he faces eagerly every day.

A gentleman does his best to be there when he is needed and to stay out of the way the rest of the time.

A gentleman says “please and “thank you,” readily and often.

A gentleman does not disparage the beliefs of others – whether they relate to matters of faith, politics or sports teams.

A gentleman is always ready to offer a hearty handshake.

A gentleman keeps his leather shoes polished and his fingernails clean.

A gentleman admits when he is wrong.

A gentleman does not pick a fight.

A gentleman knows that it is appropriate for him to use his cell phone if he is certain that his conversation will not disturb or annoy others.

A gentleman does not use his cell phone on the “quiet car” of a train.

A gentleman uses his turn signals.

A gentleman always carries dollar bills in his pocket. He never knows when he may need to tip a doorman, a maître d’ or a parking attendant. He even carries a few extra singles to lend to other gentlemen or ladies who may be caught unprepared.

A gentleman never feels that he must say pleasant things about unpleasant people.

A gentleman clips his nose hairs and the unsightly hair in his ears. As he grows older, he may also find it necessary to trim his eyebrows.

Although a gentleman knows how to polish his own shoes, when he is on a business trip, or when he realizes that his shoes have become scuffed in the midst of a business day, a gentleman patronizes a reputable shoe-shine stand.

A gentleman feels no necessity to wear socks after Memorial Day – at least in casual situations.

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A gentleman never wears a belt when he is wearing suspenders.

When a gentleman wears a vest, he leaves the bottom button undone.

A gentleman does not brag.

A gentleman does not whine.

A gentleman does not beat around the bush.

A gentleman accepts a compliment by saying, “Thank you. It’s nice of you to tell me that.”

When a gentleman has been subjected to a conscious insult, either in public or in private, his response is simple: becasue he is a gentleman, he says nothing at all.

A gentleman thinks before he speaks.

A gentleman does not give BYOB parties.

If a gentleman says he will call, he lives up to his word.

A gentleman is perfectly willing to accept “no” for an answer – the first time he hears it.

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When a gentleman is in the company of a woman – whether she is his mother, his wife, his date, his boss or his friend – and they are walking through a crowded room, he walks slightly behind her.

When a gentleman realizes that another gentleman has neglected to close his fly, he tells him about it, even in a crowded room.

Because he does his homework before he shows up for an interview, a gentleman knows the office dress code well ahead of time.

A gentleman learns the names of receptionists, administrative assistants and secretaries at the offices where he makes frequent calls. He thanks them for their assistance as often as possible.

Have a favorite quote on being a gentleman? Chime in below and share it (and don’t forget to cite your source)!

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Stylishly Yours,

Brian Sacawa
He Spoke Style

Photography by Rob McIver Photo

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Chime In

  • Jesse Bielasiak

    Not quite on being a gentlemen, but my favorite style related quote must be Mark Twain’s famous quip, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”

  • tomas

    Favorite quote «a gentleman treats all others as he would like to be treated.Even if they do not reciprocate.» Unknown

  • Matthew Metcalfe

    Thanks for the article Brian. This has provided my office with an interesting discussion of being a modern gentleman, currently discussing the aspects of chivalry!

    “A gentleman is always on hand to help, even if it does not benefit him directly.” – Said by me, today! :-)

  • RJ Giddings

    Thou shalt not commit adulthood. Thou shall not partake of decaf. Thou shall not commit laundry. And my favourite: “Thou Shalt Not Have No Idea.” Courtesy of The Descendents circa 1987.

  • beardedman

    It’s not a favorite really but it was one of things in that book which I realized I was *always* doing wrong and it stuck with me. To loosely paraphrase, when finished eating at a restaurant, don’t try to “help” the wait staff by stacking your dishes and tidying up the table. The book explains the reasons against this and it makes perfect sense. I’ve never repeated the mistake.

  • http://www.adammartin.us/ Adam Martin

    This is my favorite…

    A gentleman admits when he is wrong.

  • Alex McNamara

    This one by Hemingway – “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”