Style & Substance – J. Crew – Cashmere Cable Beanie

To be perfectly honest with the audience, I simply cannot understand how some gentlemen are capable of confronting the elements, of course referring to bone-rattling glacial winter temperatures, without dutiful protection of some form of headgear.  I quietly, painfully observe my fellow gentlemen commute across frozen, urban tundras; their cranial follicles crying out for a warm, merciful intervention. Alas, toasty relief is but an unfulfilled dream of comfort. As a bald gentleman, venturing into frosty weather is definitely not – and I passionately repeat –  is definitely not an option. I can vividly hear my late grandmother now: Boy, put something on that head before you catch pneumonia! Therefore, my winter wardrobe is stockpiled with the necessary accessories to combat plummeting temperatures.

In the more recent years, I have heavily favored beanies, generally cotton, to shield my head from cold, unsavory conditions. This winter, I wanted to switch it up and experiment with woolen fabrics. Enter the J. Crew cashmere beanie. At the time, I did not own any J. Crew merchandise, but their cashmere offering was on decidedly tempting discount, so I embraced the risk and purchased a burgundy selection to complement a pea coat I favor during this time. I was not disappointed. The delicate reputation of cashmere may elicit trepidation in some gentlemen, but the J. Crew beanie offers a heavy, robust knit while retaining the signature softness of this chosen woolen fabric.

The weave is suitably tight enough to deter chilly, sneaky wind from penetrating through the surface. And the fit allows for a slight stretch without losing its body and allowing for a cozy hug of the cranium. It grants warmth without being unnecessarily clunky. Now, the cable knit is a departure from the plain weaves of my cotton beanies, but it is a welcome change that affords an elegant presentation. Simply stated: This hat is a winner and J. Crew will certainly be added to my list of preferred brands. The quality of the beanie at the current price-point is fantastic. And if you are fortunate to take advantage of a sale – as it is currently – you will not regret your purchase. Your head will thank you later.

The Standard #45

A wise gentleman understands that his reward and blessings in life are not entirely his own to selfishly possess. Rather, his reward and blessings are meant to fuel his purpose, and his purpose – in some form or another – should be enhancing and adding value to the lives of other people. To be sure, a gentleman’s objective in life should not be driven by a concerted focus to facilitate personal gain, especially at the costly expense of other individuals. The wise and prosperous gentleman understands that material wealth is meaningless if it is not utilized to cultivate prosperity with other members in society. A gentleman’s service may arrive in the form of monetary value, educational and knowledge sharing, or granting valuable time with his presence. Truly, however, whatever a gentleman gives of himself to bless the life of another person is wholly his own decision. Surely the accomplished gentleman understands that his own blessings are most likely have been assisted by a helping hand – seen or unforeseen. Today, identify and recognize your own blessings and how they can positively impact the life of someone who could really reap the benefits. Someone is in need right now.

The Standard #44

An emotionally intelligent gentleman fully understands that the regular practice of deep introspection is vitally crucial to personal learning and growth. Affording oneself a quiet interval of thoughtful reflection is a fantastic opportunity to reveal truth and awareness critical to your development. If but for a brief moment, freedom from the daily rigor of life can open a personal alertness that can cleanse and rejuvenate the mental faculties. A gentleman can thoughtfully evaluate his state of affairs, calculate the necessary adjustments if required, and determine the best course of action to facilitate progression.

Now, the personal objective of sequestering time may present itself as an implausible, almost impossible feat. However, that is certainly not a reality that a gentleman should allow himself to be deceived. Procuring time can be as simple as silencing the radio during your commute to work. It can be as easy as allowing temporary disconnection from social media to concentrate on yourself, or as painless as momentarily shunning television programming – do not fret, DVR has you covered. All of that is to say: Time is available and ready to be smartly utilized. One cannot underestimate the importance of proper maintenance to one’s mental and spiritual state. The time is now, start today.

Review – Dolce & Gabbana – Light Blue Intense

To be perfectly honest, this particular review is woefully long overdue. Managing both my professional and personal life is still quite the challenge. Nevertheless, with the holiday season officially underway, I determined that there was not a better time to share my thoughts on Dolce & Gabbana’s aromatic offering Light Blue Intense. Intimately introduced to Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue a little over a year ago, I was pleasantly surprised when afforded the opportunity to sample the Intense version of the previous offering. For more than a few months now, Light Blue Intense has quietly become my preferred cologne of choice. Boasting a robust melody of aromatic notes, coupled with a sustained, mildly pungent presence, Light Blue Intense should be in your rotation of cologne. Allow me to provide a detailed explanation for you.

Observations

Top Notes: Mandarin Orange, Frozen Grapefruit

Middle Notes: Juniper, Aquatic Accord

Base Notes:  Amber Wood, Musk

  • Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Intense arrives in the same bottle as Light Blue Beauty of Capri – unadorned and simple. The delicately curved bottle is standard as most cologne bottles are presented. Short, stout, and dense; the transparent light blue flacon houses the selected scent topped by a powder blue cap.
  • A lively commencement of notes begin with a foundation rooted in sharp tones of citrus. Immediately, a gentleman will recognize that Light Blue Intense is definitely stronger than its predecessor. The introduction is a playful balance of bitter and sweet as the dry-down is mellow and smooth.
  • The progression toward the heart of the fragrance reveals a fresh and light personality. The fragrance definitely slows down before regaining momentum during the latter end of its notes.
  • The fragrant finish is slightly heavy with deep wood flavors. The base notes are surely pronounced, but not obnoxious. However, moderate applications are recommended. I applied too much on one occasion and later in the day, it was a little overbearing on the senses.
  • Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Intense is at its best when properly deployed for early to late evening occasions. Because of its intensity, I would recommend Light Blue Intense be saved for cooler temperatures. If you choose otherwise, please be advised that its scent will probably be greatly magnified if the environment is warm or hot.
  • Eschewing pretension, Light Blue Intense affords a touch of sophistication that should be befitting of any dapper gentleman. A gentleman will enjoy moderate to long longevity, as the spicy woody tones are robust and full. I would estimate that 4-5 applications of Light Blue Intense should suffice.
  • Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Intense 3.3 fl. oz. $88.00, 6.7 fl. oz. $125.00 – Available at Dolce & Gabbana, Macys, Nordstrom, and other fine men’s department stores

Style & Substance – Magnanni – Jamin

With excited preparation for the fall season, I have dutifully embraced the task of scouring the gentleman’s marketplace for the perfect pair of monk strap shoes. Currently, I own two pairs: the standard, traditional black and brown pairs. Nevertheless, my heart’s desire begs for an elegant selection that falls outside of the usual boundaries of accepted style. Enter a Magnanni monk strap – the Jamin. Chiseled. Rakish. Red. Sexy. However, its sex appeal gives way for a momentary pause due to the asking retail price – a not so modest $435.00.

So, unsurprisingly, the Magnanni Jamin won’t secure a slot in my footwear rotation until Nordstrom is merciful enough to lower the price. I hope it is sooner rather than later, as this monk strap possesses all the style required to round out a well-heeled presentation. The reddish hue adds just enough pop to separate itself from pack without being too obnoxious, and the extremely sleek silhouette dressy enough for workplace, but rebellious enough for after-hours excursions. Definitely keep this shoe, or perhaps a similar style with a scaled down price tag, on your sartorial radar.

Daddy Diary – Fatherhood is Also…

My previous daddy stories have generally focused on the challenges, albeit with a twist of humor, of being a parent. Today, I wanted to focus on those moments that spontaneously elicits that feeling of warmth and joy that makes being a parent a blessing – even when you are transformed into a makeshift sofa for two sick children because your burgeoning pot belly is mighty comfortable (see picture below). Whether it is the pride you feel because you have garnered enough trust from your daughter to dry her damp fingernail polish with a cool blow dryer or being awakened from a deep slumber because your son crawls over to you and plants a sloppy kiss on your cheek; parenting challenges are always tempered with those special moments of thankfulness and happiness. Here are a few of my reflections below.

  1. Fatherhood is also commuting to a shopping mall during your lunch break, meandering through the children’s department, and discovering an irresistibly cute dress that your little girl can wear at daycare.
  2. Fatherhood is also witnessing the sheer excitement and joy your daughter experiences when she spies a dual rainbow on a misty daycare morning. And you are momentarily  reminded how nature’s beauty can sometimes escape an adult’s eye, but not the eye of a child.
  3. Fatherhood is also patiently waiting for your son to finally form the sounds that constitute the word daddy, and when the time begrudgingly arrives, listening to him say it again and again until he falls asleep.
  4. Fatherhood is also having a bad day at the office, but receiving this daycare notice at the end of the day: Ava did her class work nicely and followed directions well. She also sings so sweetly! The Bear prize in Ava’s bag is for being a wonderful singer and helper.
  5. Fatherhood is also arriving home after work and having both your children demand you open the car door so they can pile into your lap behind the steering wheel and pretend to drive. Please don’t call CPS, the car was in park and engine was off.
  6. Fatherhood is also watching your son furiously tap his foot and clap his hands to Serpentine Fire by Earth, Wind , and Fire. Fatherhood is also watching your little girl grab a toy microphone and attempt to hit Philip Bailey notes from the aforementioned group.
  7. Fatherhood is also appreciating those quiet, infrequent moments when your son scampers into your arms, peacefully lays his head on your shoulder, softly acknowledges that he is sleepy, and slowly drifting away to sleep.
  8. Fatherhood is also having your arrival proudly and loudly announced when you enter the daycare facility to pick up your daughter – made even better when said daughter runs down the hallway to greet you with a hug.
  9. Fatherhood is also attending your first, exclusive daycare outing for fathers and feeling overjoyed as your child sings beautifully off-key  along with fellow classmates.  And to top it all off – she takes a bow at the end.
  10. Fatherhood is also never stopping to be amazed by the continuous learning and development of your children. Spanning the gamut of them learning how to walk to reciting their address by heart, your children will astonish you in more ways you could ever dream of.

The Standard #43

The wise gentleman comprehends the strength and value of living a life of integrity. During critical affairs arising from a moral or ethical dilemma, a learned gentleman is wisely deliberate and unequivocal regarding his ideological position. He understands that his words are absent merit or worth if he has to be badgered or shamed into speaking for what is righteous and just. Decency need not be stubbornly coaxed or passionately implored for proper address, nor should truth be shrouded by purposeful ambiguity that benefits self interests. Words and action are delivered with thoughtful reflection and measured balance. Because, during defining moments of uncertainty and unprincipled behavior, the upstanding gentleman is a moral constant, leading a life representative of virtue and rectitude in a world rife with turmoil.

The Standard #42

A gentleman understands that position and power should not be prostituted for profit and pleasure. Rather, an honorable gentleman understands his platform is erected upon pillars of purpose and principle. Embracing a mission of justice and service, he understands that power and prosperity can be perverted if treated as a self-serving priority. Therefore, his conduct is grounded in truth, integrity, and righteous action. A gentleman that declares himself a leader will work at the behest and best interests of the people. Superlative servitude within a community is at its best within the sphere of sacrifice. Power should be wielded for the community and never against it.

Review – Dolce & Gabbana – Velvet Cypress

Offering full transparency, my current role of supervisor in supply chain management continues to be physically and emotionally taxing. The complex universe of people management is a strenuous exercise in patience, empathy, and conflict resolution. In addition to standard family responsibilities, it feels that every facet of my life revolves around addressing a demand or providing resolution to a problem. Simply: I just need a day when I am not needed. That being stated, today I am directing my focus on a cologne that was slated for review during last Father’s Day, but product was not in stock for a gentleman’s assessment.

If you recall a few posts I wrote around that time, the theme centered around a gentleman pampering himself. Dolce & Gabbana Velvet Cypress is a perfect illustration of that point. Starting at a modest (well, perhaps not) $230.00, this is the most expensive cologne I have ever trialed for review. The latest from Dolce & Gabbana’s exclusive Velvet Collection (collection launched in 2011), Velvet Cypress promises a scent that pays homage to the late summer Italian countryside. Well, given my current challenges at work and home, I sincerely hope this is the case. Now, lets dive into the details.

Observations

Top Notes: Bergamot, Sicilian Lemon

Middle Notes: Galbanum, Clary Sage

Base Notes: Virginian Cedar Wood, Cypress Wood, Balsam Fir

  • Dolce & Gabbana Velvet Cypress arrives in a dense, rectangular flask with its top embossed with a smooth, circular velvet strip. A bronze nameplate adorns the front of the flask. The presentation exudes a simple, solid sophistication befitting of a gentleman that appreciates class and subtlety.
  • With a vibrant rush of bergamot and lemon, expect a welcoming committee of bitter and sweet citrus notes during the introductory phase of Velvet Cypress. It is a light, refreshing affair as the top scent isn’t overwhelmed by its citrus components.
  • The transition toward the middle notes is delicate, as the heart becomes ever so green with the presence of clary sage and galbanum. The experience is slightly earthy and warm. And consistent with its top note counterpart, the middle notes are neither obnoxious or unbearably strong.
  • The ending has a mellow dry-down with subtle hints of fresh spice. The woody aroma is fairly light. Truthfully, I thought the scent would be much heavier than I expected. My only complaint is I wish the fragrance was stronger. A gentleman will require approximately 8-10 sprays to enjoy the full benefits of Velvet Cypress. I would estimate a gentleman could extract 4-6 hours of performance before the scent begins fade.
  • Dolce & Gabbana Velvet Cypress is properly suited for daytime and early evening occasions. An easy-going, sophisticated scent with a moderate lifespan, business and business-casual settings are appropriate for a gentleman’s usage. Given the price-tag – as previously noted – save Velvet Cypress for those moments when you want to indulge in looking and feeling your best.
  • Dolce & Gabbana Velvet Cypress 1.7 fl. oz. $230.00, 5.0 fl. oz. $430.00,  – Available at Dolce & Gabbana, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, and other fine men’s department stores

Standard Recommendations – Jack Black – Turbo Body Bar Scrubbing Soap w/ Blue Lotus & Lava Rock

Alright, allow me to address a significant detail that could prove to be problematic for some gentlemen: The Jack Black Turbo Body Bar is going to cost you $15.00 per bar. Yes, there is not a need to reload the page and read the previous sentence again – you read it correctly the first time. Now, I won’t gloss over the price-tag and pretend that this would not pose an issue for the average gentlemen. Because, in all likelihood of a gentleman’s standard shopping practice, he can procure an 8-10 count of regular soap for far less and utilize it for far longer. Without any doubt, the Jack Black Turbo Body Bar is a specialty soap. So, what makes this soap so special that a gentleman is willing to drop $15.00 on a single bar? Well, I am happy that you posed that question, let’s discuss the why in more detail.

As I have become more comfortable, relaxed, and confidant with my grooming regimen; I have settled upon the reality that it perfectly fine for a gentleman to pamper himself. Disabuse yourself of thoughts that include fanciful affectations accompanied by a long, drawn-out preoccupation with a mirror. Seriously, it is not that serious. Caring about one’s appearance need not be complicated; it only requires thoughtful, detailed attention to hygiene and health. Now, regarding the Jack Black Turbo Body Bar, this is one of the best body bar soap that I have ever used. First and foremost, the lather that it generates is absolutely incredible. It is wildly rich and ridiculously foamy. With only 3-4 circular rotations in your washcloth, a gentleman will certainly enjoy a lather that builds and builds during his entire time in the shower. The bar itself is gigantic – it didn’t fit into my meager plastic soap dish. It is double the size of average bar soap by far.

And with its brawny body, the soap’s fragrance is powerful and robust without being too heavy. Its pungent aroma will surely dominate your bathroom, but in a good way. The exfoliating qualities arrive with a modest granular texture that isn’t overly abrasive, however, a gentleman can expect soft and smooth after exiting the shower. It is gentle on the skin, but it gets the job done. Now, the label does tout the ability of this soap being a pain exfoliant, but I cannot attest to that fact. At the time of usage, my back was really sore, but I did not enjoy any noticeable difference in pain levels after using this soap. Nevertheless, the Jack Black Turbo Body Bar will leave no doubt that it is working hard, generating a superb lather, and dutifully scrubbing away dirt without leaving any nasty residue. And actually, I did notice the absence of soap scum that sometimes builds up from regular soap.

Now, let’s revisit that price-tag. One can argue that $15.00 for a bar of soap is steep. In the interest of full disclosure, I was able to use a single bar for approximately 1 month before I had to open another bar. Sure, your standard soap from Target will perhaps last longer. However, as I stated before, this is a specialty soap and there is nothing wrong with a gentleman that pampers himself. The Jack Black Turbo Bar would make a great Father’s Day gift or really a gift for any occasion. This is a product that I definitely recommend for a gentleman that wants to experience an invigorating washing experience – you won’t regret it.

Product Specifications

Natural Lava Rock: gently polishes skin, leaving skin supple, smooth and clean

Blue Lotus and Ginkgo Biloba: help combat fatigue and stimulate the senses

Murumuru and Shea Butters: nourish and hydrate skin

Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Palmate, Water, Potassium Palm Kernelate, Fragrance, Palm Kernel Acid, Pumice (Lava Rock), Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Glycerin, Potassium Palmate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Sodium Gluconate, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Protein, Sodium Chloride, Palm Acid, Nymphaea Coerulea (Blue Lotus) Flower Extract, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Bran, Avena Sativa (Oat) Bran, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Echinacea Angustifolia Extract*, Cymbopogon Schoenathus (Lemongrass) Extract*, Juniperus Communis Fruit Extract*, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract*, Alvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract*, Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Extract*, Rumex Cripus (Yellow Dock) Root Extract*, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Petroselinum Crispum, Astrocaryum Murumuru Seed Butter, Tetrasodium EDTA, Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492) *Certified Organic

For more product details, please visit Jack Black HERE for information.

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