A gentleman’s guide to good posture
Written by William HansonThe English Manner, The UK’s Leading Etiquette and Protocol Training Institute 310 310
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William joined The English Manner in 2008 before taking ownership in 2019. He is widely regarded as the freshest and most trusted authority on etiquette and civility, with his relative youth and old-fashioned values making him an arbiter of modern manners.Connect with William Hanson on LinkedIn Follow William Hanson on Instagram
27 November 2023
Regency ball scenes, books on heads, ram-rod straight backs and mechanical movements… history has given deportment a bad name. (Deportment is the fancy word for posture!)
In our contemporary world, the smoothest soft skills often make us stand out from the competitive crowd. How we present ourselves is crucial, and deportment is at the very heart of it.
While classic female deportment focuses on elegant movement, sitting perfectly and walking with some model-like qualities (think Catherine, The Princess of Wales), male deportment can be trickier to define.
Good posture for men should incorporate good poise, a natural stance, an underlying sophistication and an overall sense of ease. And it isn’t as hard as it sounds.
Your feet should be a natural distance apart. If they are too close together, your balance will suffer, and if they are too far apart, you will look like a nightclub bouncer. We don’t want that!
Talking of protection, hands can be lightly clasped gently in front of you, but it’s best to bend your elbows and lift them nearer waist height slightly, or you risk looking like you are protecting your essentials.
Another essential for good posture for men is to relax when you walk. This requires you to straighten your back, un-hunch your shoulders, and ensure your chin is parallel with the floor (we don’t want noses in the air or eyes on the ground).
Arms should hang naturally by your side and swing lightly as you walk. You are aiming for a natural yet tall stance, an ease of movement and a sensible pace. It’s said that a gentleman is never in a rush, but equally, moving at a sloth’s pace will make you seem like a sloth.
When it comes to sitting, as I recently explained on my Instagram, there is never a time or a place for any form of man-spreading. Legs should have a comfortable distance between them but not be too far apart. I recommend one fist’s width or slightly more, as a distance between the knees.
Feet should be flat on the floor; backs should be relatively straight; shoulders should be pulled down and back. Be cautious of slumping – remember that the more comfortable the chair, the higher the risk of slouching.
It’s best not to cross your legs unless you can be neat and tidy, and not take up too much space. Avoid the half-cross where your calf is across your thigh; it is defensive and too casual for every scenario apart from your own sofa.
If you are asking why you should bother with good deportment, consider this: excellent posture and poise change other people’s perception of you for the better. You will have more presence, clout, and confidence and, best of all, actually feel more confident, too.