Black Thought

esq-james-meredith-0113-lg“What any human being can do in life depends upon the foundation laid between birth and age five.”

 James Meredith

We are teachers – in some form or another. Now, perhaps a majority of the reading audience are devoid of the appropriate formal certification, but we are indeed teachers nonetheless. Knowingly or unknowingly instructing through our behavior, language, and actions; we shape and mold young, virginal, and formless minds. That cannot be taken for granted. We are, first and foremost, the foreman of fashioning intellectual promise, building emotional stability, and framing principled character. During those early formative years, our guidance and instruction is needed – no – it is desperately crucial to a child’s development. Their future hinges on what we teach them in the present. And that is where we should be – present; never absent from their growth and maturation. It is time for us to lead by example. We are the models of morality. We are the cultivators of character. We are the installers of integrity. We enable enthusiasm for education, and we advocate the accrual of astounding accomplishments. The foundation is ready to be laid. Let’s not wait any longer.

Review – Bevel – Bevel Shaving System

BevelFor better or for worse, the contemporary gentleman has been afforded the indispensable luxury of convenience. As we must stubbornly recognize our modern societal environment, we have been conditioned to accept that life is decidedly hurried. Every facet of life is now burdened with the absence of time. Thus, natural routines are now subjected to increasingly narrow time constraints. Our method of communication, the manner in which we prepare meals (if we even prepare meals at all), how we get dressed, and how we groom – it has to be swift, uncomplicated, and painless. At least, that is how our psyches have been molded to accept as fact.

So, speaking of said grooming, let’s examine the delicate art of it by way of sharpened blade, affectionately known as shaving. With each successive year, today’s gentleman is seductively bombarded with an array of new & improved razors that promise to deliver the closest and most comfortable shave known to humanity – in less time. More and more blades. Blades empowered with a lubricating strip. Blades that artfully pivot up & down, and now side to side. Blades that surprisingly vibrate during shaving. The gentleman’s razor has been equipped with a bevy of bells & whistles required to get him in and out of the bathroom as swiftly as possible, with the least amount of blood spilled as possible. Now, every gentleman has a preference, and with so many unproven promises monopolizing commercial airtime between games of the week, it really is a toss-up to determine which company adheres to its claims. Continue reading

Gentleman Essentials – The Art of Shaving – PreShave Oil

AOS Preshave OilWhen engaged in the gentlemanly ritual of shaving, the blade must be respected, and the proper preparation must be employed. Pre-shave oil is essential in that preparation. Ensure that your skin is appropriately moisturized and lubricated before exposing it to sharpened stainless steel. Thank me later.

The Art of Shaving

The Standard #33

mistakeTo be truthful, despite earnest attempts to uphold a gentlemanly standard, a gentleman will always be subject to the possibility of failure. Given that living one’s life in perfection is an impossibility, missteps and mistakes are almost certain to occur. It is an inevitability. Nevertheless, it is paramount that a gentleman understand his shortcoming, and it is more important that he extracts wisdom from his failure. Diligently, he must strive to apply the proper corrective measures to ensure that the esteemed, personal standard he has established is met. Don’t squander precious time persecuting yourself. Moreover, don’t grant time to individuals that want to continuously persecute and shame you. They are vulnerable to same mistakes as you, and constant reminders of your failure can negatively affect your spirit and focus. Privately and quietly – humble yourself. Admit your faults and recognize your error. A gentleman must not seek refuge in denial, instead, exhibit sincere contrition and work to prevent such failures from occurring again. You will emerge a more mature gentleman, fully knowing that you are still susceptible to making mistakes, but understanding how to try to avoid them in the future, and how to better deal with your missteps when it happens again.

Mr Porter – Sale – Up to 80% Off

Paul Smith Cuff LinksPaul Smith Cuff Links – Mr Porter

Literally, I have been patiently stalking a pair of brown suede wingtips from Grenson ever since Mr Porter launched their semi annual sale approximately one month ago. And finally, said suede pair attained the apex of their final reduction – plummeting from an out-of-reach $335 to a just-right $134. Now, if you are a gentleman that would not mind adding a few luxury pieces to his sartorial arsenal without spending an entire paycheck, it might be beneficial to afford Mr Porter a gentleman’s perusal. You just might find the perfect bargain. Happy shopping gents!

Sale Begins Here: http://www.mrporter.com/am/home.mrp

Black Thought

paul-robeson“Having been given, I must give.”

-Paul Robeson

Sometimes, when sequestered within moments of quiet solitude, thoughtful ruminations reveal how incredibly fortunate I am. Fortunate, not in regards to monetary value, rather, fortunate in regards to the many blessings I have reaped tremendous benefit. Yes, I have been given much. Now, I understand that some individuals hold fast to the belief that they earn everything with no, if not minimal, assistance required. Well, sometimes success acts as a vanity whose reflection never grows tiresome to the person looking at it. Look, one cannot be merciless, yet expect mercy. One cannot embrace avarice, yet expect generosity. One cannot espouse hate, yet expect love. Only speaking for myself, I have been granted favor and opportunity. I have been afforded mercy and forgiveness. I have been given love and grace. And because of those realities, it is of the utmost importance that I give back. Giving back – it could arrive in the form of your time, an inspirational word, a much needed hug, or an important professional opportunity. No one ever truly does it on their own. Someone, right now, needs you. And you may need someone. Go ahead, give of yourself and surely you will be given.

The TGS Gives Initiative

PrintWhen I first started this blog in 2008, I had no idea it would attract a small but loyal audience of readers. And I certainly did not expect a myriad of opportunities would be presented to me in the form of reviewing and testing products. Over the past years, I have struggled with the concept of moving beyond the current state of just being a blog. There are plenty of style websites for men in today’s Internet market, so I have made a concerted effort to mix both style and substance in my writing. But to move even further beyond that, I have decided to fuse both my passion for gentlemanly style and community. The concept is still in its infancy, but I wanted to share a preliminary logo that a friend, Mrs. Debrah King, designed for me. The TGS stands for, of course, The Gentlemen’s Standard. And the “gives” suffix is pretty self-explanatory. Well, perhaps, it is not. In an effort to champion positive self-image and foster strong self-esteem amongst young males, I plan to use the opportunities that I have been blessed with to mentor and empower said youth. I’m still trying to clean up my mission and vision statement, but that is where my heart is starting. Now, I would love some feedback on the logo, as I may be prejudiced in my affinity for it. I would love to hear from you.

Also, if you want to consult with the designer about a logo idea of your own, you can contact Debrah at thecutephotographer@yahoo.com – yes, she is also an awesome photographer too.

Review – Tommy Bahama – Tommy Bahama Compass

Tommy Bahama CompassIt has been quite the busy month here at The Gentlemen’s Standard. I have been blessed with the opportunity to examine a bevy of products and offer personal insight to the reading audience. It has definitely presented a challenge, as the luxury of time is scarce nowadays, but I am extremely thankful nonetheless. Now, today we are evaluating another fragrance that perfectly complements the progression of warmer temperatures. Allow me to frame the picture for the audience: cream linen suit, open collar dress shirt, brown loafers – no socks, and a Panama hat. That is what I envisioned upon my initial introduction to Tommy Bahama Compass. This looked like a bottle that should be sitting on top of a sharp gent’s dresser while getting attired. Flipping open the top (an interesting feature) of the diamond-shaped bottle, I was wondering if this current offering compared favorably to a previous favorite of mine – Tommy Bahama for Men. Well, let us take a gander.

Observations

Top Notes: Lemon, Grapefruit, Violet

Middle Notes: Pimento Lavender, Clary Sage

Base Notes: Cedarwood, Amber Gris, Tonka Bean, Cistus

First impressions: The fragrance is resolutely smooth and effortless. Of all three notes, none overly dominates the other. Each note cascades into the following note quietly and discreetly. This is not a fragrance that is going to commence with an abundance of loudness, rather, this is a scent formulated for more intimate quarters. So, due to its distinct lightness, a gentleman does not have to be bashful with its application. However, it is still advised that one should not bathe in it either. Depending on your preference and body chemistry, I would guess 4 sprays from the nozzle should suffice.

Tommy Bahama Compass appears to best worn indoors during the daytime. Standout notes include lemon, grapefruit, and lavender. And no, the smell is not too feminine, just soft and pleasant. The ending notes definitely won’t go unnoticed, but they won’t be in your face either. If the affair is mellow and relaxed, this may be the summer cologne for you. This scent will not go unappreciated indoors. It can probably work outside as well, but you may want to apply just a touch more if that is the case. And even with an additional spritz or so, the scent is so light, you won’t have to worry about burning nearby nostrils. This is a sure thumbs up for the summer.

Tommy Bahama 1.7 oz  $54.00 or 3.4 oz $69.00 – Available at Tommy Bahama, Macy’s, Dillards, Lord & Taylor or any fine men’s department store

Gentlemen’s Standard Approved

Disclosure: TGS was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes only. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

Review – Vince Camuto – Vince Camuto Homme

Vince Camuto HommeWell, spring has settled in nicely, and summer is patiently awaiting in the wings for its annual, highly anticipated appearance. As temperatures have reached a pleasing and comfortable range, the gentleman will surely discover himself enjoying the beauty of outdoors; perhaps near a cool, refreshing body of water. With that possibility taken into account, the timeliness of today’s review could be fortuitous for some gentlemen with outdoor summer excursions scheduled on their calendar. Introduced just this year, Vince Camuto Homme promises a fragrance that will ” liven your spirit and whisk you away to a land of beloved scents and gorgeous landscape. A place you will always want to be, a scent you will always want to wear.” Recently, I’ve been tapped to sample the new 2014 offering and offer some insight. I am always humbled when I am chosen to offer insight. So, let’s get to work.

Observations

Top Notes: Lemon, Ozone Accord, Gin

Middle Notes: Fennel, Blue Cypress, Juniper Berry, French Lavender

Base Notes: Atlas Cedarwood, Hot Musk, White Birch, Artemisia

Opening the package, one cannot help but recognize the beautiful bottle. The bottle itself, encased in what appears to be blue leather, is a rather heavy and dense glass. Don’t make a mistake and drop this on a toe! Centered right in the middle of the bottle: a metal seal of approval from the Vince Camuto brand. Gorgeous. It should be noted that my wife thought the bottle to be too opulent. I thought is displayed a great touch of sophistication and masculinity. Now, while presentation is key, a gentleman isn’t buying cologne to look at the bottle – no matter how pretty it is. Unless, of course, you keep it on the dresser to impress a visiting lady friend. But, I’m married, and my wife wasn’t impressed with the bottle. So, let’s explore what the actual fragrance smells like.

The introduction is refreshingly sweet and clean, as there is an aquatic feel to it when you spray it on. The notes of citrus are fresh and very dominant throughout the top note. Now, the beginning is not terribly strong, and you might be tempted to liberally coat yourself with the fragrance, but I would not recommend such a generous application. The transition to the middle and base notes is pretty swift, and both those notes are far stronger than the top note. So, I would advise administering some restraint and afford yourself 3-4 sprays around the wrists and neck. Again, don’t go overboard. Otherwise, you will carry the risk of the scent being obnoxiously strong during the close of the fragrance, which is deep and woodsy.

Vince Camuto Homme would probably work best either indoors or outdoors, transitioning from late afternoon to early evening. Because of its warm dry-down, I would definitely lean towards wearing this cologne outdoors. Pool. Beach. Lake. All of these options would be a great complement to this scent. It displays an extended longevity, so a gentleman won’t have to worry about it disappearing throughout the course of the day. Now, if you are looking for something new for the year, especially this summer, I would definitely recommend visiting a department store nearby and sampling a spritz or two. It could be a nice addition to your collection.

Vince Camuto Homme 1.7 oz  $57.00 or 3.4 oz $70.00 – Available at Vince Camuto, Macy’s, Dillards, or any fine men’s department store

Gentlemen’s Standard Approved

Disclosure: TGS was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes only. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

Review -Lacoste – Eau De Lacoste L.12.12 Pure White

 

 

Lacoste Pure WhiteEau De Lacoste L.12.12, inspired by the original polo tennis shirt designed by founder Rene Lacoste, was initially launched by the eponymous company in 2011. Now in 2014, Lacoste is celebrating their tradition with a limited edition relaunch of that fragrance. Borrowing from the simplicity of the white L.12.12 polo tennis shirt; the fragrance itself is housed within a discreet white bottle with the iconic crocodile affixed to the upper right hand corner, and with L.12.12 Limited Edition stamped in neon yellow in the bottom corner. The bottle also sports a textured pique panel running down both sides. And now, lets examine the fragrance itself.

Observations

Top Notes: Grapefruit, Cardamom Seed, Rosemary, Cedar Leaf

Middle Notes: Tuberose, Ylang Ylang, Olibanum

Base Notes: Atlas Cedar, Vetiver, Leather, Suede Accord, Georgywood

Upon the initial application, one will discover that the top notes are remarkably intense – especially the hints of citrus. With an unabashedly bold introduction, a gentleman might be astonished and alarmed by the heavy notes in the beginning. With those facts on the table, it would be wise to employ a feather-light touch when dispersing the aromatic contents. For best results: Direct the spray nozzle center mass, an arm’s length away from the body, and fully depress the spray nozzle once. Trust – you only require one light mist.

The transition to the middle and base notes is a little smoother. As long as you don’t get overzealous with the initial blast, the remaining notes will settle nicely with a long-lasting, masculine scent that will be noticeable without being overbearing. The wood, leather, and suede lend an earthy splash, but it is very subtle. Personally, I would recommend this scent for any function that transpires outdoors. The fragrance is afforded the opportunity to breathe a little, and it is strong enough to stand up to the varying smells that await outside. With Father’s Day approaching, this may great gift idea to consider.

Eau De Lacoste L.12.12 Limited Edition 3.3 oz. $65.00 – recommended retail price at any fine men’s department store

Gentlemen’s Standard Approved

Disclosure: TGS was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes only. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

Black Thought

booker t washington“Never get to the point where you will be ashamed to ask anybody for information. The ignorant man will always be ignorant if he fears that by asking another for information he will display ignorance. Better once display your ignorance of a certain subject than always know nothing of it.”

-Booker T. Washington

Well, as the expression goes: there is no such thing as a dumb question. So true. As sometimes stubborn gentlemen, we retain this idea within our thick skulls that we know everything. Nothing could be further removed from reality-we simply don’t know everything. Yet, some gentlemen live their existence as if they do. When faced with subject matter that bewilders the mind, they occasionally conjure up imaginary facts and present them as truth. Listen, there is absolutely nothing incorrect about asking questions and increasing one’s knowledge. Better to look the fool once than be a fool forever right? Set aside the arrogance. Put away the pride. We all can benefit from the blessings of another with greater knowledge than our own. Weary are the legs of the gentleman supporting the weight of his own hubris. We don’t know everything. It’s wise to cease acting like it.

Review – Mission Belt Company – The Gentleman’s Belt

Mission BeltUnder the sartorial microscope today, I will be closely scrutinizing a standard gentlemanly accoutrement with an unexpected twist. Now, the gentleman’s belt is an indispensable accessory whose sole pragmatic function is securing one’s britches at an acceptable level, thus preventing the undesirable sight of dingy undergarments or ashy butt cracks. Dreadfully – it could be a combination of both. The standard issue belt arrives simply as a flexible strip of leather, dotted with incremental holes, with a buckle attached to one end so that a gentleman can fasten it around his waist. And so, that brings me to the product I am examining today. In the interest of fairness and honesty, when I first spied Mission Belt Company on the television show Shark Tank, I was thoroughly skeptical. A belt with no holes? I was not sold on the idea.

So, it was very surprising when a representative from Mission Belt Company reached out to me for a review. It was the perfect opportunity to address my skepticism. Perhaps my initial assessment, albeit by way of television, was unfounded and without appropriate merit. Could a belt absent its signature holes actually be worth the investment? Sure, there are hole-less belts on the current market in the form of d-ring and braided belts. However, this particular belt, with its unique ratchet mechanism, was unlike anything I have personally utilized. So, I decided it was worth a fair perusal.

Now, I would be woefully negligent if I did not mention the “mission” portion of Mission Belt Company. I don’t want to butcher their vision and mission, so what follows is their philosophy for the company:

“Here at Mission Belt Co, we don’t just want our customers to look good – we want them to feel good too.  That’s why a dollar from every belt sold goes to fight global hunger and poverty.  Having lived and worked across the globe, we’ve seen firsthand the struggles of those who aren’t as fortunate in their circumstances through no fault of their own.  There are so many industrious, motivated men and women striving for a better life for themselves and their families. Sometimes, the only thing holding them back is a little capital to get started and break the poverty cycle.  A few hundred dollars to buy a cow, a few chickens, or supplies to sell, can mean the difference between unemployment and a productive, independent business.

So we decided to start a company that is so focused on fighting world hunger and poverty, that you’ll know about our “Mission” from the second you hear our name.  We’ll be the first to admit that our no-holes belts are pretty awesome, and you’d probably want to have one regardless of our Mission.  But even more important than producing the world’s sleekest, most stylish, and most comfortable belts, is making sure we can do it in a socially responsible way.  Every time you put on your belt, and hear the ‘click click’ of the perfect fit, you can remember that you too are a part of the Mission.

So that we can focus on making our world-class belts, we searched around for a well-known and respected organization to work with, and found just that in Kiva (www.Kiva.org).  Kiva is a non-profit, peer-to-peer ‘micro-lending’ organization that helps provide opportunities to support economic development and entrepreneurship, mostly in developing countries, as part of its efforts to alleviate poverty and create more economic opportunity. Before you think we’re loan sharks, Kiva doesn’t collect nor pay us any interest on our funds.  Rather, we help to increase the supply of credit for borrowers who might not have access to traditional banking services in their home countries.

As stewards of our time, talents, and resources, we take our Mission seriously.  We aren’t Sally Struthers preying on people’s emotions and we aren’t charity-tourists taking a trip around the globe to hand out school supplies to starving kids. We’d rather avoid the airfare and the photo-ops, and get the most bang for our belts by focusing our Mission on three key aspects: sustainability, transparency and impact.”

Honestly, I think their mission is very admirable. I cannot speak to its impact or magnitude, but its concept is admirable nonetheless. For more information regarding Mission Belt’s social entrepreneurship, please visit HERE for details. Now, on to the observations.

Observations

  • True story: Upon unearthing the mission belt from its package, I jokingly remarked to Stephanie that it spelled and felt like real leather. And to my amusement, as I turned the belt over for inspection, engraved on the underside: Yeah…it’s real leather. I surmise Mission Belt anticipated the doubt. Clever.
  • So, addressing the quality of leather, it is definitely soft and extremely pliable. This is certainly not some stiff, plastic piece of imitation leather that you will be securing your trousers with.
  • The stitching is tight with no noticeable frays or loose threads.
  • For leather selections, the standard register of business colors are available: black and brown. For more adventurous, fashion-forward gentlemen; colors such as red, blue, and even gray can be purchased.
  • The buckles are seriously heavy-duty. A gentleman is presented with options of brushed stainless steel, gold, or brass. The designs are varied, yet simple; ranging from plain solids to colored solids to a three bar design with color.
  • The underside the belt is embedded with a small rigid track that “catches” a small metal clip that is housed within the belt clip. Think of a roller coaster on its ascent, you can hear the belt clicking as you insert it into the belt buckle.
  • To release the belt and remove, there is a small lever that sits on the side of the buckle. Pull the lever away from the body, and the belt easily releases.
  • If a gentleman loses a little weight, the buckle can be removed, and the desired length of leather can be cut off to accommodate the difference in waist girth. Simply re-attach the buckle and you are good to go. This is probably cleaner than punching more holes in a standard belt, or perhaps just going to buy another. However, once you cut that leather, it is no going back. So, if you are a gentleman that has weight fluctuations, it may not be a good idea to go slicing your belt.
  • Speaking of width, there are two belt widths currently available: 35 mm and 40 mm.
  • A gentleman can expect to pay between $26.99 (kids) to $34.95-39.95 (adults).
  • Usage is relatively simple. Just insert your belt to fasten, and then pull the release lever to loosen. While the buckle is really sturdy, the release lever could be prone to wear and tear if your touch is heavy-handed.


In conclusion, I think Mission Belt Company has presented the gentleman with a great alternative to the standard belt. Given a gentleman does not change out belts that frequently, the investment could be worthwhile. The leather is quality and the sturdiness of the buckle and the ratchet mechanism should provide dutiful service without breaking. Again, be aware that if one does decide to size down due to weight loss, any leather cut off cannot be recovered – so tread lightly. So, despite my initial doubts, I have to give Mission Belt Company a thumbs up for a quality, innovative product. Check them out for yourselves: http://missionbelt.com/

Gentlemen’s Standard Approved

Disclosure: TGS was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes only. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

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