Master those skills to become a extraordinary gentleman
Men should have skills. Lots of them. Granted, the nature of these skills have evolved over time. You don’t need to be able to sew your own crop anymore, simply keeping a few houseplants alive will do. Nor do you need to be able to use a bow and arrow or quick-fire a pistol or build your own house – the ability to change a fuse will suffice.
Of course, there’ll be skills readers may deem to be missing on our list. But for now, here’s everything we think a modern man should be able to do in today’s ever-changing world.
Style & Grooming
Understand how to buy a suit. You shouldn’t just be walking into a shop, picking up a suit off the rack and then walking out. You should know what fits, what does and doesn’t work, and what accessories to match it with.
Manscape. It’s not the 1970s and – like it or not – the 1970s are not coming back. Everything should be neat and presentable, top to bottom.
Tie a tie. There are hundreds of guides out there (instructions, videos, illustrations) so there really is no excuse. A versatile four-in-hand or Windsor knot does the trick. Proper gentlemen know how to tie a bow tie too.
Polish your footwear. What’s the point of spending all that money on those fancy new Goodyear-welted leather shoes if you’re not going to keep them at their best? Get the necessary kit and a high-quality polish and learn how to shine them up so they look brand new again.
Speak to a barber. The amount of men that walk into a barbershop not knowing any basic terminology, don’t take any pictures for fear of embarrassment, mumble something halfheartedly (or worse, say “do what you think looks best”) and then grumble when their haircut is subpar never ceases to amaze us. For once, take time out to speak to a barber, clarify exactly what you want (with visual aids or not) and then listen to their expert suggestions/tweaks. Don’t suffer in silence, but also don’t keep returning to a barber who isn’t willing to spend time figuring out your needs.
Dress for the occasion. Don’t be the guy that stands out for the wrong reason. Be the guy that stands out for the right reason. That means knowing the occasion and understanding the difference between formal, business casual and smart casual. If ever in doubt, dress up – you can always loosen up (unbutton your top button) and remove items (ties, blazers) but you cannot add pieces you don’t have.
Wash and iron clothes properly. Read the care labels and learn what they actually mean. Don’t just throw everything in and hope for the best – your knitwear will thank you. On the ironing front, Youtube is your friend.
In the home
Sew on a button. There’s no excuse here. It’s only a button. It’ll take you a few minutes to work out how to do it (again with the help of Youtube) and it means you can fix all of those wonderful shirts you’ve been avoiding.
Change your bed. You really don’t want to know just how much bacteria is living on your mattress and bedsheets (Google it if you have a strong stomach). With that in mind, you should be changing yours every two weeks without fail. It’s a tricky skill but easy to master. Plus, is there anything better than sleeping in fresh linen?
Hang a picture/artwork. Every home, whether a bachelor pad or family nest, should have some well-chosen pieces of art. Said pictures should be hung to perfection, whether it requires a simple nail and hammer or a drill and some screws.
Paint and wallpaper a room. You can’t pay other people to do things all of the time. It’s a tricky task but mastering the art of wallpapering and be able to say, “I wallpapered this room” every time you walk into it never gets old.
Put up shelves. Stop piling things on the floor in an “arty manner” because you’re too useless to put up some shelves.
Make flat-pack furniture. Yes, the instructions are almost always useless. Yes, it can take hours. But putting together flat-pack furniture is a modern life skill that proves you’re able to methodically follow instructions with precision. The feeling of achievement you will get from being able to use said furniture also makes the toil (almost) worthwhile.
Mix at least one cocktail. A cold lager is one of life’s simple pleasures, but sometimes you need something a little stronger. We’d suggest learning how to put together an Old Fashioned or Negroni, to start.
Keep plants alive. This one is an important one. Go out, buy some plants, ask at the place you bought them how to look after them and then follow those instructions. Keep them away from radiators, water them if the soil’s dry and give them sunlight.
In a relationship
Listen. You’ve got two ears and one mouth. Never forget that. Listening is one of the most important skills on the list and one that you should master ahead of anything else. Focus on what another person is saying.
Massage. A simple neck and shoulders massage will suffice but you should learn how to do it right. Even if that just means following feedback from your partner.
Cook a meal for your partner. This is different to being able to cook a signature meal. You need to know at least one thing your partner truly likes and you should to be able to cook it to perfection. Everybody has their bad days and everybody needs a pick me up when that happens.
Buy flowers. This isn’t just as a partner – it could be as a friend, a brother, a son or a grandson – but you need to be able to do it right. Petrol station forecourt flowers are a symbol of utter tragedy and should be avoided at all costs. Seek the preferences of the person your gifting, but if in doubt ask a good florist for recommendations on what is in season.
Ask someone out on a date. This is more important than ever in a post-Weinstein world. The rules have always been the same. It’s not the lame pickup artist stuff – it’s gauging the situation, reading body language and being polite and charming. Dating apps take away the social anxiety but for a more human approach, try asking someone out on a date in person (gasp).
Argue and apologise. If you’re cruising through a relationship and you’ve never had one single argument, one of you is bottling something up. Even in a tropical paradise you need a storm to clear the air. Arguments can be good, so long as you don’t use it as an opportunity to get too personal with your comments, can apologise afterwards, move on without resentment and, most importantly, learn from it. They’re an unavoidable part of life, the skill is to navigate them properly.
Remember key dates. Get a physical diary or use your phone’s calendar and when you hear your partner say a key date, note it down immediately. It’s that easy. Plus it’ll save you a lot of embarrassment (and arguments) going forward.
Read body language. Important. So important. Learn when your partner’s angry; learn when to give them space. Read their face and stance. This ability to read the situation also translates extremely well to all walks of life, including business.
Buy presents. Jot them down in your phone notes and when the time comes, you’ll be grand. There’s always hints, you’ve just got to collect them and bide your time. Don’t get what you think they will like if they’ve been leaving breadcrumbs out the whole time.
As a Man
Shake hands. Firm grip, eye contact, hold for a second or two, no more. Observe Donald Trump, do the opposite.
Drive. Well, that is. Park properly and safely, avoid road rage and don’t leave passengers holding on for dear life in the back.
Basic car mechanics. You should know where all the liquids go and when to keep them topped up. You should know how to replace a tyre and you should know what’s under the bonnet. For everything else, leave it to the professionals.
Fight. This is really important. If it comes to the point where you have to stand up for yourself, you need to be able to do it. The worst people are the people that fight for the sake of it. The best people are the ones who can handle themselves and protect others if need be.
CPR, first aid and the Heimlich manoeuvre. Crucial. You never know when you’ll need them so swat up. You could save someone’s life.
Light a fire (and put one out). Every summer, whether it’s in a park, a garden or on a camping trip, the same thing happens: an “alpha male” will attempt to light a fire, big or small, and the same “alpha male” will fail tragically. Learn how to start a fire, but also learn how to put one out safely.
Negotiate. Whether it’s at work, securing a better deal, or defusing situations at home, being able to negotiate is an essential skill that is required in almost every aspect of life. There are plenty of books dedicated to this very subject – try Getting More by Stuart Diamond.
Squat, deadlift and bench properly. Good form at the gym is pivotal to good results. Learn to use the equipment properly, feet flat, engage your core and aim for perfect form before you start bragging about the amount of weight you can shift.
Make a speech. There will come a point where this is inevitable, whether it’s at a wedding, funeral, anniversary or your own birthday. Prepare well, be sincere and deliver with confidence.
Ask for a raise. You know if you’re working hard or not, and you know if your boss is taking advantage. Do your preparation, stand your ground, ask the question and reap the rewards.
Support women. Honestly, in the age of Donald Trump, Incels, Weinstein and the gender pay gap, just do your part. Of course there’s a few books you could read (Greer and de Beauvoir are good starts) but do you know what’s easier to do? Just listen. Listen to what women have got to say, don’t talk over them, don’t patronise them, don’t treat them differently to the men in your office and have some empathy. It goes a long way.
As a Father
Change a nappy. There’s no way around this. You’ve got to do it for the health of your child and sake of your relationship. After about the first 10 you’ll get over whatever surprise is awaiting you. Trust us.
Get the baby off to sleep. You need a strategy. It will take some trial and error but if it means getting those extra 15 minutes, it’ll be worth it.
Barbecue. In terms of competition with other dads, it doesn’t get more fierce than the barbecue. You know full well if you’re hosting, another dad is going to stroll over and try and hardball you over skin crispness and smoking technique. Get the tools, master the rubs, know your times and finesse the whole thing.
Dance. Children love dancing, children love to see adults dancing, children are likely to throw a wobbler if you don’t dance with them. So however much you hate dancing, learn some basic moves. Think Will Smith in Hitch: side to side, keep it simple.
Take a family photo. A lot of people are going to tell you it’s all about the lighting, but organisation is key here. Setting the timer, running back, keeping the youngest in check. The results will be worth it.
Always be charming, polite and dignified
When it comes to women, a gentleman has a lot to remember. Be charming but not arrogant, be polite but not coy, be forward but not forceful and, above all else, engage in intellectual conversation. When it comes to the fineries, remember to always treat her well; open doors, make reservations, pay for dinner, the list goes on. By treating her with respect and care, you will quickly become a well-rounded gentleman.
Learn how to choose the right wine for the right occasion
Wine has been a part of our culture for many centuries now, yet in recent years oenology has dropped. Not only is it vital to know the difference between Beaujolais and Merlot or Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, but it’s also imperative to know how to pair these wines with foods, other wines throughout a meal, or simply on their own. The wine industry is highly complex and takes years to master, but every gentleman should learn. Preparation is also key; how to correctly open a bottle, how to decant, how long to let red wine breathe, the correct glasses etc.
Travel often, and become more cultured
A skill that takes many years to accomplish yet will forever be a learning experience for a gentleman is the broadening of horizons. Much like reading, a thirst for travelling is a fundamental part of life. Alongside travelling, a definitive knowledge of culture and art is the final piece of the puzzle. Leaning about art takes many years, but they should be enjoyable years, filled with the happy understanding of the arts world. Travel and art are also significant factors to the knowledge of culture, not only our own, but foreign ones too. This will help to formulate a well-rounded opinion of the world in which we live, and will put one in the best possible position for the future.