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Required Reading

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

January 10th, 2017

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”


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.

blue pinstripe suit

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.


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

Brian Sacawa

Brian Sacawa is the Founder of He Spoke Style and one of the original men’s style influencers. Since 2013, his goal has remained the same: to provide men the advice and inspiration they need to dress well, develop their personal style, and gain more confidence. Brian’s interest and passion for men’s style and luxury watches has led to his writing for The Robb Report, The Rake, and Sotheby’s and he has been quoted on menswear in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal,, Brides Magazine, and the Huffington Post. He lives in the woods north of Baltimore with his wife, Robin, kitties Nick and Nora, and German Shepherd/Collie mix Charlie.

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