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.

The Standard #25

responsibilityThe responsible gentleman understands the principles of accountability. Ownership. Culpability. Obligation. Any attempt to avoid or avert responsibility is not entertained. If his conduct is unbecoming or offensive, he does not contort his face with surprised expressions of coy denial. No, he exhibits the correct amount of sincere compunction, and he actively searches for a viable resolution to atone for his actions. He is not seeking total absolution, as he understands the act of forgiveness is a process – a sometimes complicated process. His only objective is to acknowledge his guilt, offer an earnest apology, and establish a suitable resolution. That is the standard he abides by, as that is the only standard he knows. Ensure that you know it too.

Style & Substance – Spring & Summer Suede

IMG_0174A gentleman should not contract the services of suede during the spring and summer seasons. As a matter of fact, he is strictly forbidden from entertaining the thought. To that notion, we emphatically say: Nonsense! But, suede in the spring and summer? Why, yes my friend. Think of it as sweet & sour, or sugar & spice, or sweet & salty, or – well, you get the point. And that point is: Sometimes, opposites most certainly do attract. Marry with a pair of pressed cotton khakis or relaxed denim jeans. And if you are really feeling adventurous; rock a suede pair with one of your suits. Hey, we said opposites attract. It should be noted, I’m adventurous, but not that adventurous. Perhaps I would wear a pair with a crisp cotton suit, but that is about as far as I can take it. I just wanted to be transparent with the audience. So, check out my newest kicks – a cool pair of Florsheim wingtips – courtesy of a bonus sale at DSW. Draw the necessary inspiration and go kick it this season, and the next, in style.

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The Gentlemen’s Ten – We Are All Witnesses

BrothersMy brother and I were talking one Saturday and I asked him if he ever remembered watching our father attend church service. After briefly pondering my question, he replied that he did not. Sparked by a morning conversation with my men’s church group, where my pastor stressed the importance of sons seeing their father pray, I realized there were numerous things that I never witnessed my father do. Probably because he was sparingly there. As young adolescents, we are subconsciously influenced by things we don’t see just as much by the things we do see. Depending on the argument of the week that determined if my father would be allowed in the house, the only two things I did witness, on a regular basis, were alcohol consumption & abuse. Being educated on the virtues of manhood? Well, single mother households don’t allow for such luxuries. My mother did her absolutely best, and I am blessed for it. However, it would have been nice to have meaningful male interaction with the man who played a role in my conception.  So, I comprised a list of things I did not see from my father; but I will ensure my kids do see from me.
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Style & Substance – Richard James Silk Polka Dot Pocket Square

IMG_0091So, if by chance you were pondering the thought, yes, polka dots are still popular heading into the spring and summer seasons. Caveat: Polka-dotted furnishings for gentlemen are best utilized in small, discreet dosages. Perhaps in the form of a beautiful bow-tie, some jazzy socks, or silky smooth pocket square – such as the square pictured above. Bearing an all-over polka dot pattern and a light blue center edged by a chocolate border, this Richard James pocket square retains the right amount stylish energy without being foppish. And contrary to what GQ states in their latest guide to pocket square folding, the puff and point folds are not clownish. Pocket square does not denote the strict folding of a symmetrical or an irregular square. Trust me, the fanciful puff has been around for decades, it’s not going anywhere. True, cotton pocket squares are most likely to be folded conservatively. Then again, cotton is stiffer than silk. So, just because the square fold is the flavor of the moment does not mean other folds are antiquated. But I digress, the playfulness of this Richard James requires a whimsical toss in the breast pocket, because polka dots are, of course, playful. And with the weather warming up appropriately, this gentleman is all about play. Boom!

Style & Substance – Put Some Spring In Your Step

IMG_0126Woe to the gentleman that employs the exclusive services of black or navy hosiery – perhaps even both. Well, rejoice my friend! The time has arrived for the gentleman to emancipate himself from the dark, brooding hosiery that grant coverage for the feet and ankles. It’s time to put some spring in your step. Gentlemen’s Standard Approved: Brighter and more courageous socks are now totally safe to wear. Trust me on this one gents. Rocking a pair of colorfully patterned socks is an inexpensive method of injecting some personality into your presentation. And personality – the good, vivacious kind – is certainly endorsed here. So, over the course of the past few months, I have steadily procured of modest collection of spry socks for the spring and summer seasons. I wanted to share a few pictures, and hopefully you will be inspired to take the plunge and proceed forth in purchasing a cool variety of your own.

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Gent Hints – Deodorant…On Your Feet?

Dove-Mens-Care-deodorantFirst, allow me to offer an earnest apology, as the following statement can probably be filed under “too much information” – I’m sorry audience. Really, I am. So, with that bit of written remorse on the record, I want to tell the audience this: Sometimes, my feet perspire. Yes, sometimes, they can get downright sweaty if the weather aids and abets the process. Now normally, a little baby powder proves to be an easy remedy for this problem. However, there exists another solution for this bothersome dilemma. And that solution, wait for it – deodorant. More specifically, an antiperspirant, of course, to deter sweat. Thumbing through my newly purchased Big Black Book Spring 2013, I came across this nifty problem-solver in one of the articles. Intrigued, I retrieved a stick of Dove deodorant from my dresser drawer after a hot shower, and I put Esquire’s advice to the test.

I didn’t use gel because the thought of gel on my feet didn’t seem at all appealing. I wanted something that would roll on dry. Starting at the toes, I applied the deodorant the length of both feet with extra attention granted in the middle. And so, after a few days of my experiment, it really worked. And when I really think about it, why wouldn’t it? It functions the same way as if it were under your armpits – reducing sweat and neutralizing odor. So now I have two sticks of deodorant: one for the pits and the other for the dogs. So, if your feet have the propensity to generate undesirable amounts of sweat, I highly suggest re-purposing a stick of deodorant to combat the problem. You won’t regret it!

Style & Substance – Camouflaged Gear IV

Camo OxfordsResistance is futile. The inevitability of persuasive assimilation is real. So, please accept my humble concession. In the face of my apparent, transparent condemnation for fashioned camouflage, I am finally forced to acknowledge a perfectly executed offering of camouflaged style. And that would be the mirror-like, impossibly polished whole-cut oxfords you see at the top. This is one slick pair of dress shoes. Can we even call them dress shoes? It doesn’t matter, the wearer of these bad boys – I don’t know whom manufactures them – can call them whatever the heck they want. No arguments from this peanut gallery.

Source: Fresh Wall Street

Gent Hints – Sport Coat & Trouser Coordination

Phineas Cole Green Sport JacketTo be sure, some gentlemen absolutely abhor the notion of wearing a suit, as they would sooner employ a sport coat as a viable alternative. So, when an occasion begs for a discreet level of business attire, said gentleman promptly retrieves his sport jacket of choice from the closet. Pretty simply – right? Well, not quite that simple. The sly substitution of a sport coat arrives with a curious dilemma of its own. Unlike the complete business suit, the sport coat quietly resides, draped around its wooden hanger without the devoted companionship of a matching trouser. Thus, the critical mission of expertly coordinating a pair of trousers becomes not as simple as previously imagined – that suit doesn’t look so terrible now. No worries, may we present to the audience, a quick and dirty guide to find the right pair of trousers for your sport coat.

  • A few years ago, popping one’s collar on a polo top was quite the popular trend amongst preppy circles. And now, you have probably noticed that trend has migrated to the sport coat. Well, that popped collar actually yields a subtle hint regarding the color of your trousers. The collar of your jacket is lined (well, it should be lined) with fabric that should provide a nice color contrast. Take note of this color when searching for trousers.
  • Likewise, the lining of the sport jacket itself may offer clues as to what hue your trouser should be imbued with; so open it up for dutiful inspection and match your pants accordingly.
  • And don’t forget to take a look at the buttons; they also have the tendency of being fastened in a coordinating color that can be quite suitable for your bottoms.
  • If you’re lucky, perhaps your sport coat is embellished with a colored pattern, and said colored pattern can be smartly synchronized with the color of your trousers.
  • Or, a gentleman may opt for a monochromatic presentation. For example, a navy sport coat can be paired with a lighter shade of blue. Not that adventurous, but sartorially correct nonetheless.
  • When in doubt, a solid colored pair of trousers is the best option to select. And combining two different patterns, meaning a checked sport coat and striped pants, that is a big NO. Of the two elements involved, being your jacket and pants, one should be solid and the other patterned – if you so choose to introduce pattern into the equation. This rule can be ignored if your name is Russell Westbrook.
  • Take notice of the fabric. An autumn corduroy sport coat paired with summer linen pants is just wrong. Stick with fabrics that are appropriate to each season. For example, a cotton sport jacket wisely matched with linen trousers. Or, a corduroy jacket married to a pair of fabulous flannel bottoms. Boom!
  • And when all else fails – ask your wife or girlfriend. Trust, her coordination skills just may be better than yours.

Black Thought

King_Jr_Martin_Luther_093.jpg“Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Failure. To be absolutely certain, the possibility of failure sometimes negates the action of risk. But without risk, albeit intelligent and calculated risk, the beauty of success cannot be viewed from above if one willfully settles into deep valley of fear. Now fear, of course, can be a powerful and intense emotion that dictates behavior and conduct. A myriad of promising dreams and aspirations have collapsed under the immense weight of fear. Fortunately, your broad shoulders are blessed with the strength to not only bear the doubt, the trepidation, the uneasiness; they are also strong enough to press its worrisome mass high and toss it aside with relative ease. Why? Well, because friend, your character is constructed with a firm confidence and fortified with unwavering faith. Even when others cannot see the entire picture, your vision is broadened by belief, hope, and trust – in yourself. And you understand that your vision is a vision of success. The path is set, the destination is clear, all you have to do is take the first step. And don’t fear, we’re all walking this road together.

Style & Substance – Eton Silk Pocket Square – Skull & Crossbones

IMG_0090In a slight continuation from the last post, I present another pocket square selection from my collection. Now generally, my sartorial tastes lean heavily towards the conservative side of the aisle, even though my political beliefs are decidedly liberal. But that aside, my personal wardrobe is a reflection of stylish convention and moderation. I never get too crazy. Nevertheless, on certain occasions, a fashionable furnishing will attract my attention, such as the Eton pocket square pictured above. The soft burgundy square beautifully edges with contrasting white border, rakishly dotted with a naughty skull & crossbones motif, possessed the precise amount of bad boy charm that could add a jazzy jolt to my otherwise tame closet. I scooped this silk square, along with another version in deep ocean blue, from Esquire’s CLAD e-commerce site before it shuttered its door. It was on a deep discount, so I took a chance. If you are a relatively conservative gentleman such as myself, adding a few unconventional pieces to your stock is an easy way to keep your look fresh, interesting, and appealing. It could be a bright pair of socks, an ambitiously patterned shirt, or a ballsy pocket square. Whatever the case may be, give it a try, you just might surprise yourself with the results.

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