In Skyfall, the ever-beguiling Miss Moneypenny turns up unannounced at bond's hotel room, just as he is about to begin a wet shave. She greets him at the door, flirtatiously makes her excuses for turning up, takes the old-fashioned razor out of his hand and proceeds to give him a wet shave.
This scene lasted no longer than 10 minutes, but that was all it took: within five days of the film's release, sales for cut throat razors rose by over 400% and traffic from internet searches for 'cut throat razors' went up by over 730%. Our love affair with Bond can be summed up in this single moment - a moment that embraces the tradition, refinement and timeless style that define a true British gentleman.
As time goes by, masculinity continues to be defined by the rituals of the past, and as the concept of a 'refined man' becomes ever more popular, it is safe to say that the 'gentleman' is back and here to stay. From pocket scarves to polished brogues, new has never looked so old - and so damn good.
The fashion and style behind the modern gentleman look is in full force, and it isn't hard to see how this has happened. We live in a world of custom-made and custom-fitted, a world where you can create, perfect and polish every aspect of your existence.
Neglect has no place in a man's life anymore, least of all his wardrobe. It doesn't take long to stumble upon the hundreds of books and magazines that seek to educate men on what it is to be a gentleman, from the formalities behind the fashion to the courtesy behind the etiquette, and we're drawn to it.
As much as I hate to admit it, there is a correlation between the age we live in and way we dress: in a time of upheaval, unrest and uncertainty, we seek calm and civility, and that desire is reflected in our attire.
Fashion and style is something that should be celebrated, however fashion (particularly of the more polished kind) has a tendency to cultivate a type of exclusionary beauty, and create a standard that only the affluent can meet. A gentleman could spend so long polishing his brogues and clipping his ties that he eventually becomes a novelty, much like the mods, hippies, skaterboys, indies and hipsters before him. He could end up as part of just another clique that welcomes those that can afford the suits, and excludes those that can't, or won't.
However there is a difference between the present day gentleman and the gentlemen of past, and that difference is their power to choose. We live in a time that not only applauds the decision in the detail but encourages our freedom to choose such details. The modern gentleman, much like the modern woman, is a symbol of choice. Therefore, what they are presented with is an opportunity to redefine modern masculinity; one that sheds its traditional sexist, homophobic and classist attire.
A new all-inclusive status quo can be established, thereby ridding the need to define a gentleman by his wristwatch or his knowledge of single malts. By keeping the idea of a true gentleman in perspective, we can move away from creating an exclusive club for the dickie-bowed gentry and develop a more forward-thinking outlook on what it means to be a man; an outlook that can actually evolve and not simply become outdated.
I think that the reason the idea of the 'gentleman' keeps coming back around is not because of the wet shaves or the silk scarves, but because of the integrity that runs through it. That integrity is not sustained by fashion or style, but by how a man treats not only himself, but those that can do nothing for him, nor look anything like him. Blazer. Bomber jacket. Bra. Those that consider themselves gentlemen should be seen as such. It's a state of mind, not a timepiece, and maybe that's why we really love a true gentleman. Each piece of him is carefully and purposefully put together with thought and precision, and although we may not like every piece, we respect the pride that he takes in every part of himself, and in the details that make the man.