Survey Asks – What Makes the Modern Man?

What is a modern man? In an age when we’re supposedly free to speak, think and be as we want, it seems that men today are constantly pulled up and pigeonholed depending on how they act, dress and behave. The media loves to show young lads causing havoc after a match. If we’re lucky enough to get a bit of peace from that, we usually have to sit through TV shows featuring men as dependent morons, workout addicts, animalistic meatheads or sexist businessmen.

Are you a lad’s lad or a man’s man? Are you in touch with your feminine side or do you keep a grip on your emotions? Are you well groomed everyday or do you care about men’s fashion only when necessary? Everyone has a different version of what it is to be a bloke today. So, we asked 1005 people: “What makes the modern man?”. Of course, we didn’t make it this simple. To get an all-round response that takes us right to the root of modern men, we had a few questions in store…

What celebrity defines the ‘modern man’?

First up, we checked who was on our radar when we thought about modern men. Here’s what we found:

Interestingly, nearly every man on this list is well over 30 years old — and we’re over the moon that it’s not full of Biebers. Almost half of this top-ten is made up of rich and famous men over the age of 40, who are success-stories in a highly-competitive and fickle industry. Taking this at face value, maybe the modern man has little to do with youth or age and more to do with drive, talent and career success: someone who has tried, failed and fought to reach their goal.

The modern man should be ____

We then asked people to choose a word to describe what they thought it took to be a modern man.

Men said: confident, respectful, career-driven, self-sufficient, sincere, skilled, politically-aware, polite, family-focused, and emotional.

Women said: socially-conscious, empathetic, honest, family-focused, groomed, politically-aware, adventurous, feminist, emotional, and genuine.

Each sex stresses the importance of men today being genuine, sincere, politically-minded, and family-orientated. At least we agree on something, because there are a few differences between men and women when you look closely. More men reckon blokes should have skills, confidence, respect, and career goals to be a modern man, while women seem to push the idea that honesty, empathy, social awareness, and esteem for feminist values are the true inherent characteristics of the ideal man today.

It seems that modern men have to blend the two personas to be a man of the world today — old-fashioned ideals, like self-sufficiency and a career-drive; with contemporary standards, like emotional sensibility and a socially-liberal mindset.

Male stereotypes

This ‘traditional values vs. new ideals’ stand-off lead our survey-takers nicely onto our next question: “Who does the ironing?”.  Housework is a sure-fire way to be branded a sexist pig in today’s world, so it’s going to have a massive effect on the modern man persona.

Here’s what came back:

  • 45% of men did the ironing themselves.
  • 32% let their significant other tackle it.
  • 23% were bold as brass when they said they didn’t do it at all.

We know we can’t say for sure, but we’re pretty certain that if we did this survey a couple of decades ago, the results would not look like this. It’s a fair assumption to say that men today are more self-reliant when it comes to doing their own laundry and this share of domestic chores probably plays a big part in making a modern man.

As we were on a sensitive subject, we wanted to interrogate further. Men’s fashion has surged in importance and popularity and we’ve long been believers that it’s just as vital to a man’s self-esteem to feel good about how he looks as it is for a woman’s. In our minds, it’s now not just acceptable, but almost demanded, that modern men take pride in their appearance. Here are the events that men choose to iron for:

If that doesn’t put the stereotype to rest, nothing well. Not only does our modern man do a fair share of the ironing, but he also bothers himself to iron every time he gets dressed. Plus it proves our theory that modern men care about their clothes and appearance at least enough to look presentable.

Modern men and formalwear

Since the modern man seems to be casting off stereotypes, we wanted to see if any traditions stay with him. Ties are the ultimate formal gear and are the ideal way to look smart when it matters. But putting them on is another thing. So, we wanted to know if men today had the skills to do a range of different tie knots. Here’s the outcome:

  • 65% are confident with the more casual ‘four in the hand’ knot.
  • 48% can take on the half Windsor.
  • 30% manage to do a full Windsor
  • 18% know how to handle a bowtie

Although a decent 64% of men had been to a suit fitting which shows that this sophisticated dress code is very much alive, we guessed that very traditional clothing was probably a dying art on modern men. A point that was established again when we asked how many of the men we asked owned a pair of cufflinks, Oxford shirt or pocket square (78%, 55% and 30%, respectively). It’s good to see that the majority hold on to the old ideals and can still do a decent tie themselves, but it’s fair to say that traditional knots and formalwear are less practiced and worn nowadays.

Trying on clothes

Men and women alike are probably the same when it comes to trying on clothes; most of us can never be bothered to do it. When we put this to the men in our survey, we found that just over half would only try on clothes if they were expensive, while a little under a third would try them on every time, and a fifth wouldn’t bother trying them on at all.

Footwear and the man of today

While women have make-up and jewellery, men have fewer accessories to play around with. However, one thing we do have is shoes. There’s a huge choice of footwear for men today, so we asked what role shoes play in making the modern man.

The majority of men (35%) own 11 or more pairs — annihilating the myth that men aren’t interested in footwear — while a decent 37% actually took time out to polish their shoes every week. Despite taking a hit from 54% of men with their confession that they didn’t bother matching their shoes with their belts; we’re confident that men today place a lot of value on looking smart and groomed. Men’s trends and men’s fashion are always adapting, but the modern man still has an appreciation of traditional clothing albeit with a fresh dress sense.

Men aren’t what they used to be, but they also haven’t completely lost that traditional sense of masculinity. Groomed, self-sufficient and in tune with society’s changes sum up the modern man.

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