Etiquette: Being a Gentleman in 2016

December 28th, 2015

Having great style extends far beyond the wardrobe. It has little to do with current “fashion” and much more to do with carrying oneself with respect, dignity, and kindness.

In past generations a tailor wasn’t just a clothesmaker, anymore than a barber was just a haircutter. These professionals in matters of appearance were also trusted sources of advice concerning all matters of “style”. This included socializing, dating, professionalism, etc. In the age of elegance it meant nothing to be well-dressed without the strength of character to back it up.

Today, in a world of Iphone addicts and digital social lives, I find that when guys step out into the world they are often confused as to which “rules” to follow. So with the resurgence of fine tailoring and classic menswear, I ask, what defines proper “etiquette” in the fast-changing digital world?

Well, as we close-in on the beginning of a new year, I thought it would be a great time to jump on my soapbox and share some thoughts on matters of modern day manners. As always, these are simply my opinions based on my personal experiences and observations. I can’t say that I’m a perfect gentleman or that I follow all of these rules all the time. Being a gentleman, like being a decent human being, takes discipline, awareness, and consistent effort. But having ideals to live by is a good start.

These articles are always better as a discussion, so I invite you to share your own thoughts and opinions on “modern day etiquette” by participating in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Screen Addiction

A gentleman never puts his cellphone on the dinner table, the bar, or any other shared communal space. Nor does he pull it out in the midst of a conversion with another person. A cell phone is a private device used for making plans. Once you’re in those plans, be present and connect with those you are with. If you think you have a problem with this, experiment by taking some time away from your phone. Try turning it off or leaving it at home for the evening. For some of my colleagues, this has been life changing.

Talking Politics & Religion

This is never a good idea in a social setting. You likely don’t have enough time, or a well-rounded enough argument, to sway the deeply-rooted opinions of others in a short-form conversation. If you must say something, keep it personal and about your experience. Avoid any high-level generalizations that could make others feel uncomfortable. It’s very important to remember that your views on these matters are strictly a by-product of your personal experience. In most cases, if you are “right”, you’re also saying that half the world is “wrong”. Tread carefully, or better yet, keep your thoughts to yourself.


Nobody wants to hear about 1) how tired you are 2) how much you drank last night or 3) how bad the weather is. Silence is golden, especially if the alternative is hot air.

Making Introductions

When you bring someone new to a party, or a gathering of friends, it’s your job to introduce them and make everyone feel comfortable. Start with the host of the gathering, as he/she is now welcoming strangers into his/her home on your behalf. Before you start a round of introductions, it’s also a good idea to ask your new friend how they would like to be introduced.

The Lost Art of the Phone Call

In a world dominated by texting and facebook messages, the good ‘ol fashioned phone call was never had a greater personal impact. Want to show someone you care about them? Use your phone to actually make a phone call. There is an intimateness and a subtleness to a live conversion that can’t be replicated by passively typing.

Paying for a Date

If you invited him/her, you should pick up the tab. It comes with the invitation. You don’t invite someone to spend their own money. If you’re broke, do something cheap like a coffee date or something free like a walk in the park.

Shaking Hands

One good squeeze and one good “shake” (up-and-down), with eye contact. Don’t linger. I prefer to offer my hand out, lower than the other person’s hand, palm facing upward. Think of it as a suggestion or offering that the other person can choose to accept. I find it strong-handed when someone puts out their hand higher and downward facing, as if to make a suggestion that your participation is not voluntary, but demanded. You shouldn’t be in a position to be “kept hanging”, because you shouldn’t be “up top” in the first place, unless it’s someone you know well. Down low is less intrusive and more inviting.

Giving Cheers

When your glass clinks together with another person, you should be making eye-contact with them. A cheers is meaningless without a personal moment of connection to go along with it.

Saying Goodbye

I have one friend in particular who gives fantastic goodbyes. I think he lost a friend once and didn’t get to properly say farewell, so now he makes a point of making eye-contact, saying how thankful he was for sharing great company, and closing with something like “I wish you well until we get to meet again”. I always think about his goodbye later that night and it makes me appreciate his company and the rare times we get to spend together.

Personal Papparazzi

We don’t want to be in the background of your snapchat story. Respect people’s right to privacy.

Meeting New People

Remember their name. It sounds easy, but it’s not. My trick is this: the first time I speak with a new person, which I try to do soon after we are introduced, I use their name. It can be as simple as “it’s nice to meet you Jeremy“. This will help you remember and can go a long way with people you’ve just met.

Small Talk

“So, what do you do?” should never be your icebreaker. In my opinion, this question is inherently judgmental. Be honest, the reason you’re asking a person’s profession is to put them in a box and decide whether or not they are of value to you. Most people don’t like to be defined by their work. That’s why it’s rude. To break the ice, rather than asking a question that segregates people into classes of employment, start with something more personal (“where are you from?”) or something that you obviously share with the person (“what brings you here this evening?”). Through the course of conversation, if they want to talk about work, you will know relatively quickly.

Social Media

Chances are you’re addicted to social media. Here’s a experiment for you. Tomorrow morning when you wake up, make a point to carry a piece of paper and pencil in your pocket. Yea, those still exist. Every time you check social media (instagram, facebook, twitter, etc), note the approximate amount of time on the paper. For example: 9:30am – “spent 12 minutes on instragram”. Then, at the end of the day, add up all the time you’ve spent and compare it to how many waking, off-duty, expendable hours you actually had available in that day. If you’re shocked, you’re living in the matrix.

First Dates

Take her/him somewhere non-threatening and non-committal. A coffee or a drink is very easy to put down and walk away if a personal connection is not being made. A fancy dinner or a lengthy show on a first date can feel trapping and put unnecessary pressure on both parties to see it through. Dress well (but not too formal), have a stiff drink to take the edge off, try to relax, ask about her/him, and try your best to remain humble when answering about yourself.

Hats & Sunglasses

Should be removed indoors. Without exception.

Online Commenting

The comments you make online, or on social media, are real comments. Increasingly these comments can be traced back to you, and once you put that energy out there, it’s out there forever. A basic rule of decency here is don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say directly to a person’s face. Because one day, inevitably, you will meet face to face and have to stand behind your online comments. When the grass is cut the snakes will show, and the grass is getting shorter and shorter all the time.

Gym Clothes

Should not make other gym members uncomfortable. It’s not the beach. You don’t need to show extra skin to get buff.


Staying consistent here is one of the absolute best things you can do to step-up your style in 2016. Schedule your barber shop visits for every 2-3 weeks and I bet you will start to see a difference in the way people react to you. Strangers love clean and neat looking people.

Listen More, Talk Less

“The quietest man in the room is the most confident”. This can relate to understated style of dress, as well as the rare quality of listening more than speaking. Don’t boast. A conversion is not a time to showcase your accomplishments. A professor of mine once told me something that I will never forget: “by your deeds and not your words you shall be remembered”.


The follow-up email (or text message) is the modern day version of the Thank You Note. Believe it or not, back in the day, thank you notes were a regular thing, especially in the South where people took manners and politeness very seriously. If someone invites you into their home, takes a meeting with you, or does something kind for you, the least you can do is send a thank you message. It’s very easy to do and it goes a long way.


So what are your thoughts on “modern day etiquette”? Please use the comments below to share your opinions and experiences on what is means to be a gentleman in 2016.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier

  • arel

    Great article, real human interaction is vital in enriching our lives. I work with people with mental illness/depression/personality disorders and their dependence/addition to their mobile ‘phones is disturbing.

  • Ace

    For you out there dealing with screen addicton, writing down might be quite the work. There are apps like “quality time” that keeps track of your phone usage and give alerts when you reach a certain time. Using for some time now and it really helps. Great post btw

  • Beau Smith

    Great article…The phone and social media are things people need to detach themselves from.

  • Gregor

    My apologies for the late reply. I quite agree with your post. We live in, not just informal times, but rude and self absorbed times. Your post is timely and should be repeated often. I was impressed when you stated “I can’t say that I’m a perfect gentleman or that I follow all of these rules all the time. Being a gentleman, like being a decent human being, takes discipline, awareness, and consistent effort. But having ideals to live by is a good start.” Well stated. Further, I believe humility is also a mark of a true real gentleman as well. Bravo.

    I would like to add one comment regarding Religion and Politics and other delicate topics of which life is full of. I believe debate and argument, which develop tolerance, is both an intellectual and gentlemanly pursuit and should not be avoided. That being said, emotion must be tabled, and when it is one begins to see the broader scope, beauty, subtlety, nuance and complexity of life. With this mindset in motion one apprehends the grandeur of society and culture, and the individual as well. Then, one is poised to appreciate and respects others.

  • Rodney Daniels Jr.

    This was by far a great article and I stand very firm about this. Being a gentleman is by far the best thing to do. I truly enjoyed this article post! There are day’s I sit back and think what happen to being a gentleman now day’s. I love to say “yes sir” or “yes ma’am”. The funny thing about manners, is when there are some people who don’t like to hear “yes sir” or “yes ma’am”, they say it makes them feel old (lol) but they definitely show there appreciation of me saying it. I will recommend this article to others and also will re-read this from time to time to make sure I am doing my part as well because you never know who is watching us.
    Great post “Sir” (lol)
    – Rodney

  • Sarah

    Great great article and absolutely on point.

  • AdamTwosleeves

    I read somewhere that an alternative to “What do you do?” is “What do you like to do?”

    Not only does that avoid the awkward response if someone happens to be between jobs, but it’s instant access to their passions.

  • Dave Corey

    ironic that you remember that professor by his words…
    also ironic that the best article of the year has no photos or fashion advice in it. great work dan!

  • Kenneth Geathers

    I love this article! Great information ! It helps me ,and many other men…be men,be a gentlemen! I would love to see other articles such as how a gentlemen deal with criticism when he dresses well etc. Happy new year everybody !!

  • Mr. Cavaliere

    Awesome list Dan. I always find it crazy to think that these aren’t inherent to people. The world needs some of this right now. Thanks for putting it out there.

  • JoeFromTexas

    Great article. I just want to add a bit to the Pay for a Date section, since it seems like splitting bills is becoming more common. If you (man or woman) were treated to a meal on a date, but want a more even or equal relationship, then ask to take him/her somewhere you think they would enjoy next time and pick up the tab. That way, every date is a kind of gift. Splitting the tab almost makes it seem like you just happened to be sitting at the same table.

    One more thing while I have the mic – be a gentlemen, but don’t make a show about it. Hold a door and pass a smile. Stand when someone arrives to or leaves a table and give an appropriate salutation. Give your chair to someone who could use it and don’t be upset if it’s not taken or acknowledged (in fact, rather than ask if they want to sit, just smile, stand and move aside – it’s a sweet gesture whether it is accepted or not).

  • Rich

    Great article. Question, at what age does a man appreciate the need to be a gentleman? Most important part of this article is addressing our de-socialization progress during these days of digital addictions.

    • tommyjohn_45

      I agree, desocialization has been a focus of mine lately. It stemmed from really noticing how disengaged some of my friends were on a routine basis. While the disrespect is unintentional, it is still off putting.
      In terms of an age to appreciate being a gent – I don’t think it’s ever too early to start. Generally it’s something that develops as you mature and experience the benefits of treating others with respect. As a kid, you’re often given so much slack, it isn’t a priority.

  • Sam Parrish

    Oh, that’s what I’ve been doing wrong. I guess “do you like oral sex” is an inappropriate icebreaker. Who new?

  • cam

    i am far from perfect but i feel i have great etiquette for the times we are living. my issue is how to deal with all the people that have ZERO etiquette. it is very frustrating esp with phones. they are everywhere, all the time, non-stop and i dont see it getting any better. oh well

    • tommyjohn_45

      If it’s a close friend, be blunt.

      I’ve actually heard of apps being developed that are trying to force people to “live now” and reward you for phone inactivity. Hopefully gamifying less phone use trends in 2016!

  • Miguel

    Great article Dan, I’m taking notes, I’m guilty of the cell one, you’re taking to someone and then you just pulled your cellphone out, it’s very rude, I’m making some changes.

  • Jesse

    Note to self: New Year’s Resolution 2016, be a gentleman.

  • Dan

    Great list!

    I’m really happy that you mentioned the ‘What do you do?’ question. It’s amazing to me how this has become a commonplace first question and that most people fail to realize how awful it is.

    Couldn’t agree more about social media and screen addiction, and I like that you added the text message follow-up. I have a good golf buddy who always follows up with something along the lines of ‘Thanks for playing, had a blast’ and it really means a lot to me. As a result, I try my best to never break plans with him.

    Also intertwined throughout your list that could be explicitly stated, “Make eye contact”. It can change your life. As a shy person this was difficult for me, but with practice you’ll notice a difference in how people treat you.

  • Julien

    The phone call part is so important. I’m only 21 so most of the people I hang out with aren’t comfortable with a phone call, especially the girls I talk to but damn it… It’s so much better than a text. “Texting is the death of communication” -> just heard that on a TED talk this morning.

    Thanks for the great article, we need to be prepared for 2016.

    • TO

      I’ve had multiple adult females admit to me while we’re talking on the phone (or afterwards in a text) explicitly that they are not comfortable talking on the phone. I’ve heard this from guys before too in passing conversations. When I hear it, I’m kinda dumbfounded.

      • Julien

        Some people just go too much used to being so private (while posting many things on social medias for the world to see) that they feel uncomfortable when something “real” happens to them I think…
        Good there are still guys like us, haha.

  • A.P.

    Great article as it pretty much covers the basic of savoir faire. My 2 cents: I detest people who brag about themselves out of the blue and without apparent reason. Mate, if you are successful/ super rich/ whatever, it will come out in the conversation naturally. Happy New Year everybody! :)

  • Herbert Morrison

    Best article of the year. Much love brother from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The best things I learned from you Dan are work hard, worry about yourself, be real & good things will happen. Next year Dirty 30—looking forward to catching up before then. Be Well.

  • JBells

    What a great article Dan! I love this site’s strive to not only look great but be great.
    My biggest issue (which you touched on) is living presently throughout the day. I believe when I am able to do this I can have more meaningful interactions and perform much better throughout the day (also helps with keeping screen time to a minimum). A few mindful breaths and some bulletproof coffe can work wonders.

  • Randy

    Love these, especially the ones about cell phones. Sadly, people are constantly checking their phones at dinner rather than having conversations. And nobody wants to talk on the phone anymore, always a text first. Glad to see someone calling those out.

    Happy new year, playa!