Michael J. Jones, owner of The Gentlemen’s Institute, is more than just an image consultant for men.
His philosophy is to not only teach men about fashion but to also help them think of themselves as a personal brand.
“The clothing is their logo, and we work on the inside, which is the substance,” he says. “We teach men social etiquette, dining etiquette, professional business savvy like hand shaking.”
Jones, 31, started the company in 2008. He says he saw a need to help men upgrade their personal styles. His goal is to revamp the whole man, to make more gentlemen in society. He says it takes a confident man to accept his business card and use it.
Jones holds an undergraduate degree in education from the University of Delaware and a graduate degree in organizational communications from Bowie State University. He says he also holds a certification from Alpha Male Image Consultants in Atlanta.
Below is a Q&A.
What is a gentlemen?
A gentlemen puts his best foot forward when it comes to being present in the community. He’s very respectful and able to effectively communicate without being explicit. Gentlemen have an old-fashion value system. A gentlemen still believes in chivalry. Chivalry is not dead. We still believe our greatest asset is the woman on our arm, and we treat her with the utmost respect. A gentlemen in someone who is raising his kids and is a pillar in society.
Who are your clients?
Most of my clients are 30 to 50 years old and middle class. They are usually married or divorced. I get most referrals from wives who want to help upgrade their man’s or husband’s style.
Why do you think a 30- to 50-year-old man needs help in fashion? Don’t most know how to dress and behave by that point?
A lot of men don’t pay attention to fashion, grooming and details because it has a negative connotation as being “soft.” The thug culture or gangster culture has really taken over. It has created a society of men who are overly masculine. Men don’t want to be associated with anything that’s soft, so they don’t take the time to take care of themselves or do research.
Your father introduced style and etiquette to you. What about the men who don’t have fathers?
I can’t hold them accountable for what they don’t know. It was never taught to them. A lot of information, like buying a suit or tying a tie, was rites of passage for many boys in my generation. When we don’t have fathers, and mom has to be both mother and father, I don’t expect mom to know how to tie a tie and teach her young man that. It’s good that they do. I don’t hold them accountable for things that men are suppose to traditionally pass down to their son.
How do you deal with that in your business?
We have a class that teaches single mothers or female caretakers how to pick out clothing or how to tie a tie. Also, we teach women how to open the door or pull back a chair so that they can pass it down to young men.
What else do you do to reach boys and young men? All of this training can’t start in adulthood.
Most of my courses are geared towards young men from middle school through college age. We’ve done things with the Boys and Girls Club and with fraternal and sorority organizations. We are teaching boys how to have range. We don’t discredit a young man who feels he has to have street credibility. Streets knowledge is important. But you have to have range from the streets to the boardroom.
Are young men receptive?
It depends on the environment. Young men who know they are college and career bound are more receptive. Men who aren’t focused on that aren’t as receptive. However, I would prefer they know the information and not need it than to need it and not know it.
How much do you charge?
The first consultation is free. We get to know you and develop a personal image statement to guide you from where you are to where you want to be. All day packages range from $500 to $600. A full day includes assessing your closet, shopping, getting a manicure and pedicure, etc. If a client doesn’t need that, my rate is $65 per hour for shopping.
For more information, go to www.thegentlemensinstitute.com.