Standard Recommendations – Wool Pocket Square – Suit Supply

IMG_2525Gentlemen, it is quit remarkable that autumn has officially commenced, and before you can blink your eyes, winter will be touching down shortly as well. Now, I understand that is a conversation many gentlemen care not to entertain, but the reality is inevitable – winter is coming. Now, with these truths proven to be self-evident, fine department stores are bolstering their inventory accordingly with cold-weather appropriate menswear. Therefore, anticipate that the usual regiment of seasonal woolen offerings will inundate your local shelves. And speaking of woolen, again, I have to endorse this year’s wool pocket squares from Suit Supply.

Offered a few months ago, I recklessly procrastinated, and the result was a stock that was instantly depleted within weeks. To clarify, the wool pocket squares in question were a dynamic tandem, both light blue squares edged with a cream hue and speckled with either burgundy or navy dots. In affairs of the pocket square, Suit Supple stays winning. Luckily for me, both became available once again a month or so ago. And as a treat for myself, on my 38th birthday, I scooped up both pocket squares. Lightweight. Soft. Impeccable design. I cannot complain. I understand some gentlemen may scoff at the $45.00 price-tag, but I’m a pocket square lover, and sometimes one has to pay for style and quality. Once again, I am a satisfied customer. Stay stylish gentlemen.

Standard Recommendations – The Belt Keeper

Belt KeeperGranted, the concept of actually owning a belt keeper, especially one that rotates, can be perceived as slightly anal. Yes, a gentleman may cast a gaze of appreciation from a safe distance, but surely he would not dare own one. Well, I am here to roundly proclaim: There is absolutely nothing inappropriate with being orderly and organized. It’s just an intelligent practice. Hurried mornings rife with frenzy and panic – perhaps heightened by the unfortunate circumstance of a misplaced belt – can be tempered via the employment of a belt keeper. Now, maybe, you only own 1-2 belts maximum, then a belt keeper probably would not be feasible. However, if you are a gentleman with an unspecified (a lot) amount of belts, this smart accessory will definitely serve as a smart addition to your closet. Eliminate the search and rescue for missing belts; this inexpensive investment (the Woodlore offering above retails for $14.95) will reduce time allocated for getting dressed, and possible negate headaches related to hunting down your gentlemanly accoutrement. Next  – securing the location for those pesky, wayward socks. Those bad boys can be anywhere.

 

Standard Recommendations – Tend Skin

tend-skin-liquidMy first introduction to Tend Skin occurred during my college career at Michigan Technological University. A close friend was experiencing a severe case of acne along with razor bumps, and he was desperate for a solution to remedy his skin woes . During one summer – myself along with a few friends remained up North to work – my friend stayed with me and my roommate as he commuted back and forth to work in a nearby town. One morning, I quietly noticed my friend’s grooming ritual as he was applying a clear, pungent liquid onto his face in the bathroom. When I asked him about the product that he was liberally administering to his face, he informed me that the tart liquid was called Tend Skin. Now, I am not sure how it came to pass that he knew of its reputation, but he swore that it was working wonders for his skin. And after a few months, the appearance of his skin was quite noticeable. Tend Skin had cleared up his acne and razor bumps!

Now, if you take a gander at the Tend Skin website, it clearly states that their product is a solution for unsightly razor bumps, ingrown hair, and razor burn. Nonetheless, I am here to inform the audience that this product also works magic for acne as well. Just a week ago, I had an unusual breakout across my brow. I summoned my bottle of Tend Skin from the medicine cabinet, applied a few drops to a cotton ball, and addressed the area of concern during the morning and at night. And at the conclusion of approximately 5 days, my minor acne eruption was vanquished.

Again, this product is marketed for razor bumps, but another added benefit is it relieves acne and breakouts just as well. Of course, results may vary, but Tend Skin has never failed to resolve the random bout of acne during my adult years. I say adult, because Tend Skin (if the smell is any indication) appears to be a pretty strong product, so I would not recommend it for adolescents. So, if your skin is prone to breakouts or you experience an occasional bout with acne, I strongly recommend Tend Skin. It’s tough to find in stores, so ordering direct from the merchant may be the best course of action. You won’t be required to order a ton of product, as a little really goes a long way. I think I bought my bottle nearly 5 years ago. But then again, I don’t have ongoing issues with acne, so you will have to gauge your needs and order accordingly.

Tend Skin now sells their product as a gel, lotion, and roll-on. I haven’t used Tend Skin in these varying forms, so I cannot attest to their effectiveness. I am surmising that it cannot be any different from the liquid form. Nevertheless, Tend Skin does offer a small liquid sample at only the cost of shipping. Take a visit to their website HERE and judge for yourself. You probably won’t be disappointed.

Standard Recommendations – Suede & Nubuck Cleaner

Suede Eraser BrushYes, it is official, the time has finally arrived when the gentleman can confidently retire his snow boots; at least until Polar Vortex 2014-15 commences later this year. However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, now is the time to welcome and appreciate our current spring weather. Sure, it will be a little rainy, but given what some of us experienced from December 2013 until late March 2014 – we won’t complain. That being stated, stylish gentlemen everywhere are more than ready to emancipate their suede walking companions from their shoe boxes, priming them for daily jaunts around the city. Now, more likely than not likely, a few scuffs and smudges will discreetly materialize over the course of your many excursions around the block. As with your calfskin leather kicks, the necessary maintenance must be employed to keep your suede looking fresh and new.

Readily available at any reputable shoe store or department; a nubuck & suede cleaning kit should be able to properly address the occasional scuff. Because, as you very well understand – scuff happens. The kit should contain a small brush with stiff bristles and a gum eraser – sometimes both are offered as a combination 2-in-1 tool. The eraser is equipped to clear away marks and scuffs, and the brush is purposed for fluffing the nap and removing dirt. The result: suede that looks almost as good as when you first lifted your shoes out of the box. If you have suede shoes (we’re sure you do with the plethora of colors out now), it would be wise to have this nifty kit in your possession. It will cost you no more than 6 to 8 dollars for this gentleman cleaning essential. And that is small cost in the promotion and extension of healthy suede, so ensure you have a kit in your possession if it is not already there.

Review – Armstrong & Wilson – Pocket Squares

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The gentleman’s pocket square: A discreet piece of sophistication whose primary objective is to effortlessly elevate the overall sharpness of a suit. Now, for seemingly decades, the pocket square was relegated to bland neutrality – no offense to the crisp, clean elegance of the gentleman’s white handkerchief. However, recent developments on the sartorial front has emancipated the classic accessory from the confines expected stodginess and monotony. Widely and roundly believed to be on the cusp antiquation, the contemporary pocket square has emerged reinvigorated, offering a countless amount of variety and selection. And perhaps none are as unique as the pocket squares available from Armstrong and Wilson.

Founded in 2009 by Ontario Armstrong and Clifton Wilson – each a finalist in Esquire’s Best Dressed Real Man in America – Armstrong and Wilson has sought to reinvent tradition surrounding the pocket square, and they are more than succeeding. With an astute attention to detail; the duo infused their reinterpretation with an exciting variety of color and pattern, blessed the inventory with exquisite material, and added a detail that has become their signature – a button. And now, with a surging popularity, it is not uncommon to spot their product being worn by the likes of Chris Bosh, Mos Def, Michael A. Smith, and Lebron James.

Personally, I first noticed these fashionable pocket squares a few years ago, but the pricing precluded my inclusion with the aforementioned players of the Miami Heat roster. Stunning visuals aside, dropping $55 to $85 on a single pocket square just wasn’t in my budget at the time. However, with a few job advancements and a purchase of a high quality camera, the plunge was ready to be made. So, here we are today, ready to offer an honest evaluation of the merchandise for the audience. So, let’s dive right in and break it all down for you.

Standard Recommendations – Suede Wingtip

Grenson Suede Wingtips

Grenson

Currently at this juncture in sartorial history, it can be wholly agreed upon that a gentleman is devoid any excuses for not dressing well, or at least attempting to dress well. Of course, this is stated with the understanding that said gentleman has the financial means to do so. If the means are indeed present, a gentleman can be free to explore the myriad of choices at his disposal. True, the gluttony of options can be overwhelming at first take, but once the terrain is dutifully studied, the navigation can be exciting and refreshing. And so today, we arrive at my latest style endorsement – the impeccable suede wingtip. Chances are you have already bolstered your shoe rotation with a classic wingtip. And chances are you possess a few suede options in that rotation as well. So why not reap the benefits of both worlds?

An attractive amalgam of sophistication and elegance; a well-appointed suede wingtip is duly equipped for both casual and business occasions. A smooth pair will properly add an unexpected dose of attitude to a suit, and they will also hold their own when pitted against a pair of sturdy, tailored denim. Owning footwear that can serve many purposes definitely a bonus. You might also recognize the pair pictured above is heather grey. Well, as a side-note, grey is trending for men’s footwear this spring. However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, brown variations will do just fine. Unless, however, you have settled into the terrain and are ready to take the plunge in the grey area. Stay stylish gentlemen.

Standard Recommendations – Face Moisturizer

Jack Black FacePolar vortex. Sure, the news climate calls for more sensationalized headlines to elicit attention, but truthfully, the climate has done a fine job by itself. I don’t require a fancy catchphrase to provide an education about how it feels outside. Wintry. Frigid. Blustery. Yes, this winter as been brutal in my region. That being said, let’s discuss a topic that rarely gets any attention within many masculine circles – moisturizer. Yes, we need to protect our skin gentlemen beyond regular body lotion. Do not allow yourselves to be deceived by the glacial temperatures outside your window. The sun is still out there. And as it seems that sub-zero temperatures will be around for the time being, understand that the sun does not leave for hiatus in the winter.

Ultraviolet light is just as damaging in the winter as it is in the summer – especially when it is reflected off freshly fallen snowflakes. It is wise to employ a moisturizer that is formulated with a sun protection factor (SPF) to help shield the skin from harmful ultraviolet light. A minimum SPF of 15 or higher is strongly recommended; meaning a product of SPF-15 will protect a gentleman’s skin 15 times longer with said sunscreen than without it. A note of caution, some sunscreens only address UVB sunlight (sunburn), while UVA sunlight (increased skin cancer risk) goes unattended. Select a moisturizer that offers absorption for both UVA and UVB sunlight.

Moreover, the lack of humidity combined with the intense need to turn up the heat can give rise to unwanted dryness. During these bitter days of cold, your skin can be continually robbed of much-needed moisture, potentially leading to cracking or flaking. For bothersome dryness, look for a moisturizer with oil or water-based emollients, as well as antioxidants (vitamins A, C, E) to protect against free radical damage. A good moisturizer may also be fortified with humectants which extracts moisture from the air and promotes retention within the skin. Some common examples are glycerin and glycerol. Now, the natural aging process cannot be stopped, but one can mitigate the process if the proper measures are taken. Do your face favor and employ a moisturizer in your life. Your face will thank you some years down the road.

Standard Recommendations – Collar Stays

Collar Stays Turnbull & AsserIts function is actually free of unnecessary complication. Its purpose is quietly basic and simple. For unruly shirt collars that stubbornly refuse to stay in place, the collar stay is specifically designed to, well, make your collar stay. Residing underneath your dress shirt collar, a small slot has been fashioned to house these plastic or metal accessories, thus eliminating the propensity for your collars to run astray. They afford much required weight to the dress shirt collar and prevents the tips from curling. Resting flat against your upper chest, the aesthetic is far neater and cleaner than a wild butterfly collar. Respected brands usually equip their shirt offerings with plastic stays, but I’ve found metal ones to be the better alternative. So, if you are really lucky, your selected shirt may arrive with a metal pair. For either option, remember to remove your stays before laundering or ironing. A few collar stays in your collection should suffice. This way, you can rotate each pair accordingly.

Standard Recommendations – The Rubber Sole

Allen Edmonds Mcallister

Allen Edmonds Mcallister

To be perfectly honest here, the delicate practice of dressing with elegance and sophistication need not be, well, delicate. However, some fashion fanatics espouse strict rules and regulations pertaining to said practice for dressing well. And even though there exists an expectation that a gentleman should be serious about his style; style should not be taken all that seriously. Now, that statement may appear to be contradictory, but allow me to explain further. True, style arrives with a seemingly complex array of principles, but a gentleman should not burden himself in an attempt to adhere to each and every one. Rules can be broken without consequence. And as we are discussing style, the consequences cannot be that dire.

So, the point of it all is to say this: I endorse the rubber sole. Allow me to be more specific: I endorse the rubber sole on a leather dress shoe. Now, before select members of the audience ready the torches and pitchforks, hear me out. I completely understand Style Rule #56: leather shoe, leather sole. Some hold the belief that a leather shoe with a rubber sole is somehow, somewhat less dignified than one with a leather sole. In my humble opinion, that is crazy. In the ever-changing universe of style – style changes.  

It’s just fashion people. Calm down. Here in Michigan, we were just treated to an arctic blast not seen in many, many years. Seriously, one day last week, temperatures were lower than the North Pole. Snow and ice made for very slippery conditions. And if you are a gentleman that has to traverse more than a few parking lots, a rubber sole can definitely be the best traveling companion. It provides much-needed traction and required stability. Slick parking lots – no worries. Slippery lobbies – no problem. Your anointed rubber sole can possibly be a saving grace.

Now, you may be worried that a big, clunky rubber sole will ruin the graceful aesthetics of a leather dress shoe. That is not the case at all. Modern dress shoes with a rubber sole can be just an elegant as those with a leather one. And some may even be more comfortable. Function over fashion. Goodbye rules; hello what best works for you. So, what is less graceful: rocking a leather dress shoe with a rubber sole, or potentially busting your tail in the parking lot? Sure, you can slip either way, but I hope you use your best judgment.

Standard Recommendations – The Merona Knit Cap

Merona Knit Cap 2I have always been cautious of discount retail chains, such as Wal-Mart and Target, that have aggressively entered the market of selling serious clothing merchandise. Beyond the standard collection of tee shirts, underwear, and socks; it feels slightly strange retrieving a gallon of milk from aisle 16 and then selecting a merino sweater from aisle 12. Prejudiced by the simple reality of kitty litter being a few feet away, I always suspected that the clothing sold was cheap. And not cheap as in price, but cheap as in cheaply constructed. One spin in the washing machine would surely send your sport shirt to a premature state of fraying and tearing.

Nevertheless, I have heard whispers that clothing from stores such as Target was actually good. In a concerted effort to offer quality products at an affordable price, Target has teamed up with various big time designers to offer such selections, as well as offering their own house brands. So, that brings me to one such brand – Merona. In search of a good cold weather cap, the thought of slapping down $50 to $70 for a cap wasn’t too thrilling. And so, I found myself in Target doing some light shopping when I spied the Merona knit cap. Now, for approximately $4.99, the risk was minimal and the reward would be tremendous if it performed its duties.

Offered up in a myriad of colors, I promptly grabbed a black, charcoal gray, and green knit cap. It’s not 100% wool though. It’s actually a blend of predominantly acrylic and some spandex for stretch. That didn’t matter. My only concern was would it keep my bald head warm. And it does. The fit is comfortable. It doesn’t lose its shape. And it keeps the dome nice and toasty. For $3.99 a pop, a gentleman can’t beat that. Sure, it’s not wool or cashmere, but I’m not trying to win on style points here. Not when arctic blasts are threatening to take off my ear lobes. Thus, the Merona knit cap passes the test. With the colors offered, it’s a great way to accessorize your look with a little color, stay warm, and do it on the cheap. This cap is a winner. And I’ll probably be back at Target to pick up a few more. There’s an orange one with my name on it.

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