Sure, the winter season is underway. However, in the arena of style and fashion, brands are gearing up to stock shelves with spring clothing & accessories. Therefore, serious sales will be plentiful as we head into the new year. That being said, one of my favorite websites – Mr Porter – have commenced their annual round of discounts. Over the next few weeks, discounts will climb as high as 80 percent of retail price, but stock will surely be slim pickings at that point. In some regards, it is a game chance, anticipating a price drop before your object of desire is scooped up. Notable brands are stocked such as Ralph Lauren,Timex, Burberry, and Hugo Boss. Likewise, brands that are not household names, yet still boast superior quality such as NN07, Richard James, and Grenson are available. Personally, I’ve been able to find some insane deals during this time. So, Happy New Year shopping!
With absolute certainty, the mantle of leadership demands a fidelity to integrity, responsibility, wisdom, and truth. Leadership is an exhausting exercise in guiding others, often thankless, yet undoubtedly needed. It requires a steadfast commitment to exemplifying a righteous standard, a model for all to glean its best virtues. However, do not mistaken, a person charged with the supervision of others may not necessarily retain the aforementioned leadership prerequisites. Trust, regardless of an individual’s station in life, or designation of a title, everyone is not suited to be a leader. Someone that disseminates disinformation and displays a craven hunger for chaos cannot be considered a true leader. A leader’s actions are dictated not by what is popular, rather, a gentleman’s actions are guided by what is just, reasonable, and logical. In the midst of tumult and tribulation, a leader exudes calm and steadiness. Typified by cohesive communication and unambiguous direction, the servant leader is driven not by emotion. Ideally, he embraces a pragmatic approach based on informed, selfless decision-making in the service of others. He recognizes personal faults; and exhibits a willingness to improve, learn, and mature. His mind is open to differing ideology and thought; always ready to compromise on points that are sensible and rational, as serving others is never lost in his actions.
So, here we are again, yet another winter season in Michigan. Wait, well, technically winter does not commence until December 21st. Nevertheless, Michigan weather is never one to strictly adhere to a specific calendar day, so wintry temperatures arrived early this year. Fortuitously, Black Friday generally coincides with the impending falling temperatures, offering a wide variety of cold-weather accessories for the gentleman seeking a bit of warmth. This year, I was able to score a cozy, 100% cashmere beanie, courtesy of J. Crew at an outstanding 50% off the $79.50 retail price. And even at full retail price, the quality is exceptional at that price-point. However, J. Crew seemingly remains in a state of perpetual discounts, so you’ll be hard-pressed to find an item that isn’t on sale. Given my previous experience with their woolen hats, a gentleman simply cannot go wrong when selecting from their inventory. Much like my previous purchase, J. Crew offers a hat that exhibits a comfortable fit without burdensome tightness, great warmth and protection from the elements, and just enough nuanced styling to distinguish it from standard beanies on the market. Currently, the model above is available in dark honey (pictured), navy, and heather oatmeal. And yes, it is on discount, 35% to be exact, courtesy of the code WINTERSALE. Bundle up and happy shopping.
For better or for (mostly) worse, in the affairs of varying dress, men tend to gravitate towards simpler options. Now, do not be mistaken, simple can produce an air of unexpected sophistication and elegance. Conversely, the preference for oversimplification can lead to a presentation bordering on pedestrian and uninspired. An explanation for this gentleman’s retreat to simplicity is fear; fear that one’s sartorial choices may lead to a foolish appearance. And the last thing a gentleman wants is look foolish. Personal experience and experimentation has guided me toward making bold selections, initially on a relatively small-scale, and then building on my confidence to construct more complicated ensembles. The easiest commencement point – an accessory. It is low risk that can produce a high return.
Sartorial trial on error is the best instructor. The accessory of choice? Well, despite what some individuals may perceive regarding gentlemanly accoutrements, the selections are plentiful. In the interest of recognizing the current and upcoming season, cold weather accessories suits this post perfectly – specifically gloves. In the past, I would gravitate toward the standard issue glove, unremarkable and disposable, generally arriving with a black or blue color. However, as I began to take more risks with my style, I welcomed selections with small embellishments that elevated it above your regular gentleman’s glove.
The glove above is an offering from Dents of England – an English manufacturer of stylish accessories including fine knits and leather goods. I purchased this glove for a few reasons. Functionality: a combination of leather and flannel to provide proper insulation from the wintry elements. Aesthetics: a beautiful contrast of black leather and grey flannel exterior; combined with a sharp, adjustable snap closure around the wrist. Incorporating such small details into your presentation will instantly infuse an otherwise lackluster appearance with maturity and class.
Because, when protecting your hands from continuously plummeting temperatures, a gentleman should employ a pair of sophisticated gloves to get the job done. Now, I want to be totally transparent with the audience, this of gloves will deplete your bank account to the tune of $90. I was the beneficiary of a sale, so I secured mine for half that price. If you are patient, Mr Porter typically has a winter sale in January. Stay tuned to this space for updates.
Well, good people, life is still unbelievably insane. My work-life balance still suffers from a burdensome imbalance, work days bleed profusely into home-life, and meaningful rest remains a distant hope. I find solace by understanding my labor helps provide for my family. Burning my candle at both ends is an observation offered by a coworker. It’s tough. However, I try to find bright moments. Sporadically, during varying occasions, I purchase surprise gifts for my children. The items are never elaborate, however, my children are elated with their unexpected presents nonetheless. Their unblemished happiness is a small sliver of joy that I can extract from this current state of affairs called life. My previous post detailed the struggle of balancing a new management position with the birth of my son. Often I would think aloud how eager I had become for these turbulent times to pass.
The same coworker gently reminded me that this time can never be revisited, and it was very important that I enjoy my children to the fullest during their childhood. Tenured parents often remark that I will long for these times, but it is difficult to grasp when you are in the parental trenches so to speak. Nevertheless, I’ve granted some thought to the subject and compiled a list of parental experiences that I will certainly long for as my children grow older. There are some duties that a parent performs daily and consistently; these tasks become ingrained within your person. Speaking for myself, this includes, but not limited to: packing lunches, ironing school clothes, morning school preparation (shower, dress, breakfast), school drop-off, teaching ABCs or 123s, bedtime wind down, etc. When these activities cease, only then will I probably feel that tremendous void. It’s like empty nest without them leaving the nest. So, enjoy, maybe someone will appreciate and relate to this compilation of early childhood happenings I will surely miss.
- I will begin with one of the quirkiest behaviors that my daughter exhibits. For Ava, from almost the instant she was born, my arm doubled as a comfort blanket for her. As she began to formulate words and recognize colors, she would beckon and gesture for my “brown”. We would sit on the couch watching cartoons, and she would say, “I want some brown.” Simply meaning she wanted to cuddle next to me and hold my arm for comfort. She wants to cuddle less nowadays, but every now and again, she will plop next me and request some “brown”.
- As I stated above, redundant activities breed a familiarity that results in a parental bond shared between child and parent. I sleep trained both Ava and Miles, but Ava’s training was more intense. She was difficult to put down to bed. And no matter what time she went to sleep, like clockwork, she would rise between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. My work shift did not start until 10:30 a.m., so I was up extremely early for my day. We would sit in bed watching Octonauts or Doc McStuffins – most mornings I would drift in and out of consciousness as the Doc diagnosed her latest toy boo-boo. Sometimes I find myself watching those same cartoons as a retreat from life’s tumult. It reminds me of Ava and Miles.
- I am going to miss the days I could hold my children with one hand. Ava is nothing but legs and Miles is akin to a small duffel bag of bowling balls. I won’t be holing either with one arm any time soon.
- When he is up to mischief, Miles devilishly averts his eyes to avoid looking you in the face. My wife claims I do the same thing. She may be correct with that assertion.
- Daycare drop-offs are exhausting – physically and mentally. Mornings proceed at a breakneck pace as we scurry out the door. However, morning jam sessions in the car – Earth, Wind, & Fire of course – is the preferred artist. And although we’ve listened to the same tunes over and over again, our carpool karaoke never gets old.
- Witnessing your child’s learning and development is a wonder to behold. You will notice something new every day. It could be subtle. It could be blunt. Watching their transformation from babies incapable of coherent communication to forming progressively complex sentences is amazing. Last week, my son climbed on the couch, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me sir, I need help.” He is 2 1/2 years old. It was cute.
- The kids absolutely the zoo. Both love the train ride and penguin exhibit. And no matter what, Miles demands we visit the rhino and “z-bahs”. He really does love animals. He can’t sleep without his stuffed rhino, “z-bah”, giraffe, and sometimes monkey.
- Is is bad that I slightly enjoy eradicating creepy crawlers that terrorize Ava? Daddy – get it!! If but for a moment, I feel like her super hero.
- For a little over a year, I slept on the floor next to Ava’s bed. Despite my efforts to make a comfortable palette, that floor was unforgiving and my back reminded me every morning. Through nightmares and soiled sheets, I manned the night shift accordingly. As I transitioned back to my own bedroom, sometimes Ava would request I sleep next to her for the night. As tempting as that hardwood floor presented itself to be, I had to respectfully decline. However, a bit of me does miss our mini slumber parties.
- I am going to miss writing about my kids during this time. Writing truly is therapeutic, and I seriously don’t do enough of it nowadays. However, I am going to get a kick out of my kids reading these journal entries when they are older!
As a matter of public record, I have passionately stated that there are many aspects of early childhood parenting that I would certainly not miss. Among a few parenting pleasures that include, but not limited to psychologically torturous, sleep-deprived nights and cleaning projectile bodily fluids that require immediate attention, there are numerous memorable daddy moments that have rendered me mentally scarred. Nevertheless, there are memories that make me smile and moments that I will truly miss.
Unfortunately, this heartfelt feeling that makes me smile inside is stronger with my daughter than with my son. The first 2 years of my son’s life has been quite a blur. Seriously. As an infant, I struggle to recall our interaction as father and son. Conversely, with Ava, I can vividly remember many smile-worthy nuances, from the first time she was able to roll from her stomach to back and then reverse the position through the time she first crawled across the carpet for me. With Ava, I would designate random stuffed animals with silly names. Geoffrey the Giraffe. Mitchell the Monkey. Ella the Elephant. Reading books to Ava became Sing-a-Long Story time where I sang the stories to her. My uncanny mimicry (a hidden talent) of certain cartoon characters – to Ava’s delight – was mostly on point. These memories are plentiful.
However, in my experience with Miles, I cannot readily draw such indelible memories. Now, I know if I dutifully grant enough thought and concentration, I would be able to stubbornly retrieve a few from my recollection. It should not be that difficult – but sadly it is. And so, it is with regret and guilt, that I can’t summon as many memories from his first 2 years as I can with Ava. I can distinctly remember balancing, holding Ava on the underside of my forearm as a rubbed her back so she could fall asleep – maybe. I feel I was able to give more of myself to Ava than Miles, and thus the parental connection, sometimes, feels different between the two.
Miles’ birth arrived at a peculiar time in my life. I was a team lead at the time, maybe 9 months into my position, and then suddenly I would be promoted to the role of supervisor months later. On the job training was in session. As I was soon to discover, management is painfully demanding. Every day became a matter of professional survival and maintaining one’s sanity. In addition to supervising standard operations within the team, managing direct reports has proven to be an extraordinary challenge – a severely underestimated one by my calculation. Dealing with a motley blend of personality and emotion, I am a perpetual sponge, as I absorb and absorb the challenges my team offers daily. And so, my work life balance is disproportionate. It’s pretty horrible actually. I absorb and pour out of myself almost everyday. My leadership and decision-making are constantly questioned and criticized. I question myself. And in the end, the burden is mine, and sometimes too much to shoulder.
When my shift is finally over, it feels as if I have no more to give of myself. As a community volunteer & mentor. As a husband. As a father. And now I live with a guilt that I have shortchanged my son in these past 2 years or so. I live with the regret of failing to capitalize on the joyful moments I should have captured with Miles. I think about the missed opportunities and my own personal failings as a father. I simply needed to do better and I faltered. The energy and life I poured over Ava just was not there for Miles. I tried. I tried. But work bled into home life and time became a constraint. I could see all the things I felt I was doing wrong, yet felt powerless to change it. Nevertheless, a gentleman makes time for what he values the most. No excuses. You have to make time. You have to get innovative. You have to create your own opportunity to do better.
Operating in the present day, I realize that there is opportunity in my failure. Although time is not promised, I attempt to comfort myself with the idea that I am a beneficiary of time, and Lord willing, I will have said time to correct my early missteps. And hopefully the memories we forge now and in the future will be meaningful to Miles. I look forward to teaching Miles how to read, write, and count. I look forward to teaching Miles how to knot a necktie. I look forward to teaching Miles how to cook a mean meal. I look forward to teaching Miles how prepare for a job interview, and how to react when he does not get the position. I look forward to teaching Miles how to properly love a woman, and how to respond when that woman possibly does not love him back. Overall, I look forward to being a better man and father to him, strengthening the bond between both of us. It is going to be memorable.
Because, for the discerning gentleman that appreciates a polished presentation, the true characterization of personal style is based upon the intimacy of detail. It is the thoughtful approach to coordinating the discreet sartorial elements that comprise one’s ensemble. The separation of thought is clear. There is a defined distinction between a deep consideration for one’s appearance and the act of merely selecting clothing from a nearby clothing basket. Subtle details grant the biggest differences in a gentleman’s outfit. The turquoise imbued shoelaces. The incredible softness of a cashmere necktie. The elaborate motif belonging to a silk pocket square with hand-rolled edges. Or, in other words, a pocket square from the Rampley & Co. collection.
Founded with the guiding principles to offer eye-catching designs built on exemplary craftsmanship and superb materials; Rampley & Co. embraces the mission to bring British luxury to the worldwide marketplace. Partnering with prestigious museums, institutions, and artists; Rampley & Co. offers unique patterns and designs on premium fabrics such as linen, silk, and tweed. Because of its distinctive design, the best attribute of a Rampley & Co. pocket square is the varied look each fold presents when housed in the breast pocket.
With its undisclosed details known only to the wearer, it is the aforementioned intimacy of detail that grants a gentleman the projection of sly confidence. That is what I desire the most – being proud of an artful ensemble. Trust, a well-coordinated outfit often exudes personality and charm. A silk pocket square adorned with a large hummingbird in the center with a smaller identical motif sprinkled throughout, well, this square screams nothing but personality. It’s light. It’s vibrant with color. And it’s large enough so it does not feel paltry in a gentleman’s breast pocket. The only downside: It’s going to cost you. Most times, being stylish does carry a monetary requirement – the scope of financial strain varying from gentleman to gentleman. A pocket square from Rampley & Co. will cost approximately between $64.00 and $97.00. I humbly suggest you take a look at their offerings, as their collection is quite striking.
The challenging life of being married with children – and yes, the challenges exist in abundance – does not afford the luxury of uninterrupted adult activities often. Nevertheless, when those precious opportunities reveal themselves to be seized, those precious opportunities cannot be wasted. And when that precious opportunity entails covering dual award-winning artists from your prime adult years, one would be insane to decline offer and not embrace the moment. Partnering with Lincoln Motor Company for the 6th installment of their Lincoln First Listen series, NE-YO- along with the incomparable Brandy, performed at the Chene Park Amphitheater – Detroit, Michigan July 20th for some sizzling summer tunes, both old and new material. And bonus: My beautiful wife Stephanie was also extended an invitation to join me for the event. Therfore, a gracious thank you to Randy L. Jones, APR, Director, Media Communications and Event Operations with UWG. And so, without any further delay, allow me to dive into the intimate details from the evening’s activities.
The aforementioned, critically acclaimed music series, featuring the all-new 2018 Lincoln Navigator with brand partner NE-YO, is an amalgam of both quiet sophistication and impeccable style, representing the contemporary gentleman that appreciates understated elegance and inimitable grace. The event itself was a perfectly classy affair, commencing early evening with a VIP reception in the Lincoln Lounge. I was pleasantly surprised to see an old college classmate – Rajoielle Register – who is currently Head of Brand Strategy and Growth Audience Marketing for Ford Motor Company. And better still, I was also pleasantly surprised to see yet another former college classmate – Eniso Ngwenya – who is currently Body Interior Appearance Leader with Ford Motor Company. I am proud to see both of these dynamic women exemplifying success in their respective fields.
Enjoying a picturesque setting directly on the Detroit River; Stephanie and I were treated to some delicious hors d’oeuvres and cocktails which included roast beef sliders, lettuce chicken wraps, shrimp cocktail, stuffed mushrooms, chicken & waffles on a skewer, and Moët & Chandon for spirits. I had a simple glass of Sprite. It is very rare that I partake in an adult beverage; perhaps only on wedding anniversaries. But I digress, the location (adjacent to the main stage) was simply gorgeous with a small assembly of boats dropping anchor nearby to capture some tunes emanating from the main stage. And as good fortune would have it, under the ominous specter of thunderstorms, the final outcome was a beautiful evening with a soft breeze rolling off the river, resulting in a cool summer night that rivaled the hot performances to come.
Keeping crowd engaged until Brandy was set to hit the stage, the DJ spun some classic R & B jams to elicit a slow build to the first musical act. After a reverent and passionate introduction from Local 4 News team reporter/anchor Evrod Cassimy, Brandy launched onto the stage with an energy that transported me back to late 1994. Performing her classic up-tempo tracks that had the crowd jumping to beloved slow jams that had bodies gently swaying, Brandy poured her all into her performance even though her voice was not 100%. Spoiler alert: Her vocals were not at full strength because she has been in the studio recording a new album! From engaging the audience with a funny story about winning her first Grammy to a heartening tribute to the late, great Whitney Houston (Brandy’s last album – Two Eleven – is a reference to her birthday, which is also the same day Houston passed away), the whole performance was steeped in nostalgia and emotion. She even unleashed her alter ego B Rocka and spit a few verses. Favorite moment of the night: Brandy singing and improvising her part from The Boy is Mine while the crowd recited the part for Monica. Classic. Simply classic. I am looking forward to her new material, as I have always loved her raspy, sweet vocals.
After a brief intermission and trip back to the VIP Lincoln Lounge to replenish some fluids, it was time for the second performance to commence. Now, in my humble opinion, NE-YO is probably one of the more underrated live performers on the music scene. I had never watched a NE-YO performance live before, but it is apparent the influence Michael Jackson is prominent. Maybe I can chalk it up to the vegan diet he referenced, but wow, this man did not appear to fatigue at all. Promising to take us back to a period in time “when music was good”, he surely did not disappoint the crowd. All of the hits were on display. So Sick. Sexy Love. Miss Independent. Champagne Life. He also surprised the crowds with renditions of hits that some people probably did not realize he penned, such as hits Let Me Love You (Mario) and Irreplaceable (Beyoncé).
When he wasn’t treating the crowd to classic material, we were introduced to offerings from his seventh and new album – Good Man (released June 2018). Representing aspirations that every gentleman strives to achieve, the album embraces the many of facets of being a loving husband, devoted father, and selfless servant to society. It is about growth and maturity. It is about self-reflection and honesty; being the model gentleman that one’s family and community deserves. It was truly an honor and blessing to be invited to cover this event, as I feel The Gentlemen’s Standard upholds those ideals. The entire evening was nothing short of spectacular, as a night out as an adult was a welcome change from potty watch, breaking up toddler fights, and cleaning up toys. However, true story, the very next day my daughter caught a nasty bug, so I was back to cleaning up the contents of her nauseated stomach and sleeping on the floor next to her bed to monitor her fever. Such is life. And note to self: I to step up my hat game come autumn because NE-YO has that on lock.
Sometimes, for a gentleman that works in management, desperate times beg for extreme desperate measures. Employment, especially when a gentleman is on a management team, is never straightforward. Because, no matter how simplistic a task may appear to be, the most influential variable that disrupts that very notion is the worker. Yes, the worker. Stating the painfully obvious: People can complicate matters, particularly when it involves a rudimentary function such as performing one’s job duties. It has been a few years since I stepped into my current role, and as I close in on 42 years of age, by all accounts I should look like a 90-year-old functioning alcoholic. Nevertheless, compared to some of my contemporaries, I look pretty good as I approach middle age. Wow, that last thought is frightening.
Now, it has been quite a long time since I have reviewed an offering from Zirh – approximately over three years in fact. Given my previous experiences with Zirh products, and the positive results yielded from its usage, I was very excited to receive an offer to sample a few grooming selections from their platinum collection – Deep Clean and PM Rescue. Both selections arrive with the promise of mitigating signs of aging and improving skin definition. And so, when faced with the daily stress that arrive with life and the natural aging process, I accepted the invitation to gauge what Zirh Platinum had to offer. So, lets dive into the details below.
- Zirh Deep Clean: Luxurious foaming cleanser formulated with a natural fruit acid blend along with papaya and pineapple extracts to deep clean, exfoliate, soothe and hydrate skin. Deep Clean helps remove blackheads and impurities from the skin while providing anti-aging benefits by boosting skin elasticity and stimulating collagen synthesis.
- Zirh PM Rescue: Immediately firms the appearance of skin and protects against the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Gives an immediate tightening effect on the face and neck. Antioxidants protect against free radicals that are known to accelerate skin aging. Builds collagen to plump up the skin, filling in lines and wrinkles.
- Both Zirh Deep Clean and PM Rescue are packaged in conservative, black containers – the deep clean housed in a pump bottle, and the pm rescue in a small squeeze bottle.
- The Zirh Deep Clean produces a very light lather. Humbly, I would estimate a minimum three pump requirement to generate a worthy lather. Regarding its scent, it produces a light, peppery pungent aroma when worked into a lather. It dissipates after a minute or so, but the initial smell is quite unexpected. The cleanser rinses cleans without any oily film or residue. It also does not dry out your skin. Given the amount that must be applied to generate a worthy lather, I would recommend using this cleanser every other day, if not even less. A gentleman will surely use up all of the product before a month is over. Use wisely.
- The Zirh PM Rescue only requires a small marble sized amount to deliver the proper service. And although, it is presented as a skin serum, the consistency is more akin to a moisturizer. It goes on cleanly and absorbs into skin swiftly. Nonetheless, perhaps a few minutes after its application, I apply facial moisturizer to finish off the regimen. If I were to estimate, if applied daily, one tube should last approximately a month.
- Zirh Deep Clean retails for approximately $45.00 for a 5.0 fl. oz. bottle. Zirh does offer an auto-replenishment program: monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly. Any one of these options will net a gentleman a 15% discount off regular retail value.
- Zirh PM Rescue retails for approximately $125.00 for a 1.6 fl. oz. bottle. Zirh does offer an auto-replenishment program: monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly. Any one of these options will net a gentleman a 15% discount off regular retail value.
- Both products boast a substantial price-tag that may grant thoughtful pause for the discerning gentleman. Dependent upon one’s lifestyle, the cost, perhaps, is negligible. Honestly, it is too early for me to assess any redeeming promises from Zirh Platinum, however, claims that arrive with the hope of counteracting Father Time may be worth exploring.
To be absolutely sure, the world in which we exist is painfully flawed, replete with the best moral and ethical failings that mankind has to offer. Now, the wise gentleman comprehends that unnecessary energy expended toward circumstances that cannot be unconditionally rectified, nor altered is an exercise in futility. Moreover, the wise gentleman also comprehends that he cannot burden himself with the weight of impossibility – indelible moral sins that stain the woven fabric of our humanity. Nevertheless, a gentleman can intelligently wield whatever influence he possesses to assuage challenging and distressing conditions that he may encounter.
One gentleman may not be able to resolve the issue of homelessness, however, he can donate to a local shelter or champion a clothing drive. One gentleman may not be able to eradicate racial workplace bias, however, he can smartly utilize his voice to challenge preexisting discrimination and prejudice. One gentleman may not be able to mend the broken spirits of every at-risk youth, however, he can dedicate much-needed time to mentor or volunteer with a local charity. A wise gentleman does not become discouraged or disenchanted due to the seemingly enormous effort required to confront the difficult complexities that society presents. Regardless of what the problem may be, he simply does what is righteous and just because that is what an honorable and principled gentleman is called to do.