Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What makes a Southern Gentleman?

I recently found a neat little company that I commend to you.  It's called The Forgetful Gentleman.  Below is an example of what you might find on their blog:

Forgetful Gentleman interviewed the ultimate Southern Gentleman himself, Jeremy Blume, Principal at Bearings, a Southern lifestyle guide for men:

Why is the idea of a gentleman so prominent in the South?

Manliness and manners have always been important attributes in the South. We celebrate the man that hunts, works with his hands and has a backbone. Yet we are also a culture that prides itself on proper conduct and hospitality. The combination of those two characteristics is part of the fabric of a Southern gentleman.

What ideals, virtues and morals are integral to a southern gentleman?

A Southern gentleman should embody integrity, character, chivalry, hospitality and humility. His confidence in who he is as a man garners respect, but it’s also his humility that sets him apart. He has a healthy appreciation of the past, while at the same time a forward thinker.

What distinguishes a Southern gentleman in the following areas?

Style: There’s a certain sensibility in our generally classic prep style. It’s no accident that two of GQ’s most lauded in men’s attire are Southern innovators: Sid Mashburn and Billy Reid.

Food: We may be known for our distinct food more than anything else. Today’s Southern man knows his way around the kitchen and the grill with at least a few family recipes.

Drink: We claim bourbon and Tennessee whiskey – that probably speaks for itself.

Music: The South has such a strong musical heritage - jazz, blues, country and Appalachian folk music have their origins here and today’s musicians are building on that foundation in their own way. Everyone from R.E.M. to The Avett Brothers to Louis Armstrong have combined heritage with innovation.

Women: You can’t separate chivalry from the words “Southern gentleman.” We were raised to open doors for ladies and we’ll make sure our sons uphold those same standards.

Outdoors: Nature has always been a strong part of our Southern heritage. The connection to our land is important – even to those living in urban areas.

How do Southern men learn these things?

Family and tradition are central to the South and our culture. More often than not, our fathers and grandfathers have taught certain traits or skills to us. There is pride in passing on something to the next generation.

How is the southern gentleman evolving to stay relevant in today’s more technologically advanced world?

Just because we appreciate our history doesn’t mean that we are stuck in the past. We bring the lessons from those that came before us into the present, but with an eye to the future. For example, a man with class doesn’t drop his standards just because he’s functioning in a digital world. Our character is a constant even as we adapt to new technologies.

What advice do you have for men who want to embrace the southern gentleman lifestyle?

There are elements of each culture that we can learn from and grow, but we have to do that with authenticity. Our vision is not that our Southern lifestyle will replace others, but that men would appreciate and be enriched by the depth and value in our culture.

Why does the South fascinate America?

Right now there is a strong emphasis on the importance of heritage and craftsmanship. The South has such a rich, developed culture that it’s is easy to see the unique aspects of our music, art, food and traditions. As people look back, they are discovering just how much is actually Southern culture.

If you are ready to incorporate more gentlemanly things of the South into your life, check out the following articles by Bearings.
Imbibing: Moonshine's Resurgence, The Return of Bitters, The Basics of Pipe Smoking
Etiquette: The Art of a Toast, Modern Manners for the 21st Century
Style: Seersucker in the South, Curators vs. ConsumersFor more Southern lifestyle suggestions, finds and insights, check out Bearings, A Southern Lifestyle Guide for Men.

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