Gentlemanly Review – Mont Blanc – Explorer Eau de Parfum

Sometimes I like to stroll through the beauty department at a nearby shopping mall and sample various colognes on the market. On this particular day, my dedicated salesperson offered the latest offering from Mont Blanc – Explorer. She explained the scent was popular and was quite similar to Creed Aventus. I had not smelled Creed Aventus before, but the fragrance is insanely popular within the fragrance community. She also explained that Explorer could be purchased at a fraction of the cost of Aventus, as it retails for more than $300.00. So, I went home and performed some research. It appears that Creed enthusiasts, while not totally dismissing Explorer, labeled it a clone. Now, for the average gentleman that isn’t a fragrance aficionado, this opinion does not carry much weight. The average gentleman simply wants a scent that smells great, lasts long, and provides a great performance over the course of a day. And if his cologne is able to garner compliments from the general public or significant other, he will be rightly satisfied. Ironically, a fellow coworker was in the same spot one day, and she really liked Explorer. The choices were Mont Blanc Explorer Eau de Parfum and Yves Saint Laurent Y Eau de Toilette. She took samples of both to decide at home. We passed another colleague back at work, and she performed a blind smell test. She liked Mont Blanc Explorer as well. So, let’s jump into the details below, as this scent may be for you.

Observations

Top Notes: Bergamot, Pink Pepper, Clary Sage

Middle Notes: Leather, Vetiver

Base Notes: Patchouli, Cacao Pod, Ambroxan, Akigalawood

  • The presentation of a cologne bottle may not hold value with some individuals. I, however, appreciate the aesthetics of a beautifully designed flask. If Paco Rabanne Invictus can be described as garish and flamboyant; Mont Blanc Explorer undertakes a sophisticated, minimalist approach with its appearance. The cylindrical grey bottle is encased by a leathery material with the Mont Blanc symbol slightly raised, displayed on the front. The burly top sits atop a wide circular surface with Mont Blanc Explorer inscribed along the curves on both sides. The top bears a striking resemblance to a barrel of a revolver (it’s actually the shape of the Mont Blac emblem). The top snaps tightly atop the atomizer so accidental spillage should not be an issue or incidents with mischievous toddlers as in a case with my son and bottle of Tommy Bahama. The glass bottle itself is heavy and dense. If an intruder gained entry into your home, I wager that a blow upside the head with this flask would render unconsciousness.
  • Mont Blanc Explorer Eau de Parfum is, of course, more concentrated than an eau de toilette. I would recommend approximately 3-4 sprays. As I was experimenting with its application, I laid it on too much one day and damn near asphyxiated myself and a coworker – sorry Nikki. It was an unusually warm December day in Michigan, and I swear the heaviness of my pea coat magnified the intensity of the scent. It was going strong late into the afternoon. So, gentlemen, proceed with caution and be mindful of its projection. Applied correctly, Explorer Eau de Parfum should last approximately 6-8 hours.
  • The fragrance opens with a light, aromatic tartness; slightly citrus and definitely masculine. The middle and base notes have a spicy, peppery vibe that transitions to an earthy, woody resting spot with subtle hints of leather. The scent is warm, moderately heavy, but not terribly overbearing.
  • Mont Blanc Explorer is for the gentleman that enjoys a clean, classy, and elegant fragrance. In my opinion, Mont Blanc Explorer is a serious scent that is best employed for formal environments. It is for the gentleman that prefers a simple approach to style and life. When I smell Mont Blanc Explorer; I visualize dark hues, understated attire, and sumptuous fabrics. This is a business or business casual fragrance that leans heavily toward business. Again, according to the general consensus online, Mont Blanc Explorer possesses a scent reminiscent of Creed Aventus – considered by many to be the king of men’s cologne. Honestly, I don’t have the type of disposable income to drop $300.00+ on a bottle of cologne. Therefore, until then, I will enjoy Explorer and take everyone’s word that this is a good variation of the more expensive fragrance.
  • Mont Blanc Explorer can be purchased in the following sizes: 2.0 ounces at $78.00 and 3.3 ounces at $98.00 – Available at Mont Blanc, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Sephora, Ulta, and other fine men’s department stores.

Gentlemanly Review – Jack Black – Charcoal Body Bar Massaging Soap

In the spirit of offering full transparency to the audience, the appearance of the Jack Black Charcoal Body Bar Massaging Soap gave me quite the full-stop pause. So, I can totally understand why a regular gentleman would take a hard pass on purchasing this odd-looking piece of bar soap. During shopping excursions for grooming and hygiene products, I never embraced the risk and purchased the Jack Black charcoal body bar offering. Sure, I was thoroughly impressed with the Jack Black Turbo Body Bar Scrubbing Soap, but this particular charcoal grey soap was a whole other animal. It was just recently that I discovered that charcoal could be used as an ingredient in soap. My mind pondered why I would rub my body with a dirty, grimy briquette that was better served on my Weber Grill. I plead ignorance. Nevertheless, more than a year after my initial encounter, I decided to take a chance and purchase a value set that included the charcoal body bar. And wow, I was completely astonished by its performance and results. Check out my findings below.

Observations

  • First things first: Why is there charcoal in my soap and won’t my shower be a filthy mess? Simply answer: The type of charcoal used in soap is actually “activated charcoal”. It is still derived from charcoal, but it has been subjected to very high temperatures, transforming it into a powdery, non-toxic substance. Being highly absorbent, activated charcoal swallows up toxins, oil, and dirt.
  • This isn’t prettiest body bar on the market, but in this particular case, appearances are deceiving. Oval, dark charcoal grey, complete with circular nubs on the underside; this bar soap would not be the first item you drop in your shopping cart. Nevertheless, the bar soap performs its duties quite well. The lather is moderate to heavy depending upon how vigorously you rub on your body or washcloth. And speaking of rubbing vigorously…
  • Infused with charcoal and jojoba beads, this bar soap is very grainy. It serves as a fantastic exfoliating agent, however, I would caution against using this product if you have sensitive skin. You will certainly feel the gritty surface of the bar when applying it to your skin. I advise that you address rough skin patches with a light, gentle touch. This is definitely a body bar. I definitely recommend that a gentleman not use this product on his face.
  • Jack Black Charcoal Body Bar has a pronounced, sharp, and lightly aromatic fragrance. It rinses clean and the scent will fade after an hour or slightly less. Despite its dark hue, this body bar rinses clear in the shower without a mess – aside from the dirt and grime it strips from your skin.
  • It doesn’t boast the mass like Jack Black Turbo Body Bar Scrubbing Soap, so I would estimate 3 weeks or so of grooming service.
  • Jack Black Charcoal Body Bar Massaging Soap retails for approximately $15.00 for a 4.75-ounce body bar. An auto-replenishment program is available (1-6 month subscription) that offers free shipping and deluxe samples.
Gentlemen’s Standard Approved
Disclosure: TGS was not financially compensated for this post. Item was purchased for personal use. The opinions expressed are completely my own based on my experience.

Gentlemanly Review – Jesse Jimz – Clean Slate Purifying Face Wash & Toner

As a gentleman matures, so should – theoretically – his taste regarding grooming essentials. My grooming routine has continuously evolved over the course of the last decade. The only grooming products in my bathroom consisted of bar soap, lotion, deodorant, and toothpaste. Speaking of bar soap, it was not that long ago that bar soap served as an all-purpose combatant against dirt and grime. It was my shampoo. It was my face wash. It was my body wash. Nevertheless, I slowly began to realize that bar soap should not be deployed for so many grooming duties. I began to slowly experiment with facial cleansers specifically formulated to address dirt and promote healthy skin. Bar soap can be rough on a gentleman’s face. Besides, do you really want to use the same soap used on your nether regions to be applied to your face. If that does not sound great, check out Jesse Jimz Clean Slate. Touted to cleanse the skin of impurities, restore your skin’s pH level, and even out your complexion. Check out my thoughts below.

Quick Observations

  • Jesse Jimz Clean Slate arrives in a dark brown squeezable bottle. The clear liquid dispenses evenly with a light, clean aroma. A nickel-sized amount is sufficient enough to work into a mild lather that covers your entire face. It isn’t slick or oily, so that was a positive.
  • The rinse is clean and does not leave troublesome residue. Jesse Jimz Clean Slate also performs double duty as a beard wash, so that is an added bonus for my bearded brethren. While it does not dry out your skin, a good moisturizer is still recommended after you’ve washed your face.
  • With the benefit of also being a facial toner; a gentleman can expect a reduction in oily skin, clearer pores, and an even skin tone. Over time, a gentleman should enjoy a healthy and vibrant complexion.
  • Jesse Jimz retails for approximately $25.00 for a 6 oz. bottle. I would estimate that a gentleman should be able to use a bottle 1-2 months if product is used every day.

Gentlemanly Review – Paco Rabanne – Invictus

I’ve read the reviews online – the good, the bad, and the indifferent. And my conclusion was not a surprising one. Paco Rabanne Invictus is, without a shred of doubt, a polarizing scent. Not exactly sophisticated or intricate, it is a fun scent nonetheless. Perhaps the ubiquitous nature of its smell is what draws so much discontent. The notes have a common and familiar feel to them, nothing really stands out. Now, there is a saying: You can’t judge a book by its cover. Well, I was judging Invictus by its cologne flask. Opportunities have presented themselves many times for me to sample Invictus, but the presentation struck me as gaudy. Therefore, I associated tackiness with the potential of a cheap scent. Until finally, I surrendered and decided to give Invictus an honest assessment. Love it or hate it. Check out the details below.

Observations

Top Notes: Mandarin Orange, Grapefruit, Sea Notes

Middle Notes: Jasmine, Bay Leaf

Base Notes: Patchouli, Guaiac Wood, Oak Moss, Ambergris

  • The presentation of Invictus is, well, quite flamboyant. In Latin, Invictus means undefeated. Drawing inspiration from that translation, the flask is fashioned in the shape of a trophy. I cannot state that I am thrilled with the design, as I prefer a cologne bottle not be a showpiece. Nevertheless, evidently, the intent of the flask is to make a statement. Mission accomplished. The cologne is dispensed by pressing a button centered on the top of the bottle. The projection is forceful and distribution is even. Don’t go too crazy – more on that below.
  • As many people will attest, the top and middle notes of Invictus are notably sweet. Some gentlemen may fiercely argue too sweet. If you are searching for a cologne that boasts a complexity of layered notes, Invictus is not for you. Fresh and citrusy sweet, Invictus starts strong and does not lose momentum until many hours later. It’s simple and straightforward; maybe a little too generic, but it performs well. I actually prefer the dry-down because the sweetness mellows out a bit. Personally, I don’t detect any strong woody notes at the end, but it does lean on the slightly spicy and floral spectrum.
  • This fragrance can be worn casually during the daytime or evening. If you operate within a casual work environment, it may work there as well. I strongly advise 3-4 applications around the neck/shoulder area and abdomen. I will caution again, do not go overboard with your applications. This is a strong cologne.
  • Paco Rabanne Invictus is intended for the gentleman that prefers a casual, sweet, and aromatic fragrance. There isn’t anything groundbreaking here, but a gentleman will benefit from a workhorse cologne that will deliver 8 hours or more of performance. I applied a few spritzes after a late-night shower and my wife loved it. In a strange way, I could almost categorize this cologne as unisex. Perhaps that is why she was drawn to it, as it was something she could probably wear herself. That may deter some gentlemen, but that should not be a dealbreaker. Trust me, you won’t smell like a woman.
  • Paco Rabanne Invictus can be purchased in the following sizes: 1.7 ounces at $70.00 or 3.4 ounces at $90.00 – Available at Macy’s, Nordstrom, Sephora, Ulta, and other fine men’s department stores.
Gentlemen’s Standard Approved
Disclosure: TGS was not financially compensated for this post. Item was purchased for personal use. The opinions expressed are completely my own based on my experience.

Gentlemanly Review – Arm & Hammer – Invisible Spray Powder Body

Without a single doubt, my Monday through Friday morning routine is a fast-paced hustle of getting my children showered, dressed, fed, and off to school before I speed to work myself. Unfortunately, active sweat glands are not forgiving as I scamper to and fro, working up some healthy perspiration before I have to interact with the public. Arriving at the office sporting unsightly sweat stains is certainly not the gentleman’s standard. Therefore, it was not unusual for me to recruit the services of an oscillating fan at home or air conditioning in my car to mitigate the effect of my sweat glands working overtime – even in the winter. Sometimes I am successful, and other times, well, I hide in my cubicle with my desk fan until my shirt is sufficiently dry. But now I have a possible gamechanger, a product that promises to keep sweaty gentlemen like myself dry and odor-free. Thank goodness I never had an issue with odor. Arm & Hammer Invisible Spray Powder Body is the grooming under the spotlight today. Let’s review its performance and effectiveness below.

Quick Observations

  • Arm & Hammer Invisible Spray Powder opens with a strong, sweet burst right out of the canister. And it flies out of the canister with authority. Immediately, I realized it was a little too sweet for my preference. If your senses are especially sensitive, this body spray will strike you as particularly loud. I learned my lesson early: Do not apply this body spray and then reach for your favorite cologne. The results will be disastrous. Perhaps it was my selection of cologne, but the combination produced a sweet, obnoxious odor that adhered to my body all day. Therefore, if you are using Arm & Hammer Invisible Spray, it is wise to utilize it strictly by itself.
  • Arm & Hammer Invisible Spray Powder does dry down to an almost imperceptible scent, so a gentleman should not worry about it lingering around after 30 minutes by my approximation. The application of the spray is even, doesn’t clog, and as advertised – does not leave you coated in a messy white residue.
  • Regarding performance, Arm & Hammer Invisible Spray Powder provided remarkable protection against sweat and odor throughout my workday. After the initial cool burst, it dries down very quickly. I did not experience any adverse skin reactions or irritation. My mornings are pretty active, so it was nice to arrive at work without sweat stains spotting my long-sleeve button-down sport shirt.
  • Now, Arm & Hammer Invisible Spray Powder is somewhat awkward when handling, as the height of the canister presents a small challenge when gripping and aiming. The spray nozzle is also slightly clumsy to compress. However, the issue may lie with a lack of dexterity on my end. It may not prove to be an issue for some gentlemen. Kawhi Leonard has big enough mitts, so he should not have any issues at all.
  • Arm & Hammer Invisible Spray Powder would a great grooming companion for an active gentleman that may produce his fair share of sweat. This gentleman doesn’t mind foregoing his favorite cologne perhaps in favor of staying dry throughout the day.
  • Arm & Hammer Invisible Spray Powder retails for approximately $6.99 for a 7-ounce spray canister.

Gentlemanly Review – Jesse Jimz – Prime Cut Rinse Free Shave Oil

Regarding my wet shave, I don’t require much to satisfy modest expectations for a pleasant experience. At the top of my list of expectations is a close, smooth, irritation-free shave. Due to skin sensitivity, I never utilize a blade directly on my face – no matter what a brand guarantees in terms of touting an irritation, bump-free experience. I simply cannot take the risk. Therefore, I only shave my neck area just beneath my chin. This area isn’t nearly as sensitive as my face. Nevertheless, I still administer care as I shave because ingrown hairs are still a distinct possibility. Typically, I shave during a hot shower so my skin is soft and pliable, and I employ the usage of a good shave gel. The thicker and slicker the lather, the greater the barrier between the blade and my skin. Jesse Jimz Prime Cut – a shave oil I am current trialing – aims to eliminate the need for a shave gel altogether. Founded by Jesse Jimenez, Jesse Jimz is a premium line of skincare products for discerning gentlemen that desire more from their grooming products. Prime Cut is formulated with ingredients such as jojoba oil, vitamin E, and apricot kernel oil to help sooth and nourish the skin for an irritation-free wet shave. Without the presence of a robust lather, I was curious how my skin would react to just a shaving oil. Now, let’s talk performance.

Quick Observations

  • Jesse Jimz Prime Cut is a lightly scented oil that is noticeable fresh, but not terribly overbearing. The shaving oil rinses scent-free after a gentleman is done shaving.
  • As advertised, the shaving oil will not clog your razor blade with bothersome goops of hair and lather. However, there is a slightly oily residue that remains on the skin after your shave has been administered. A gentleman should wisely ensure that the targeted shaving area is thoroughly rinsed thereafter.
  • Now, although I did not achieve the closest shave possible using Prime Cut, it did perform adequately on light to medium stubble. However, I fear, for more substantial beard growth, Prime Cut may not perform as well. Thicker beards may require the presence of a considerable lather to provide sufficient protection from a blade’s edge. A quality shave cream or gel should not need repeated reapplications, whereas Prime Cut would most likely beg additional pumps of oil to replenish itself on the skin. Prime Cut provided a slick enough surface to protect against nicks and scrapes, but I could still feel the sensation of the blade sliding against my skin, much more so than when I use a shaving gel. My skin didn’t suffer from post-irritation, but it is something a gentleman will have to become accustomed.
  • I would definitely recommend Prime Cut as a complement to a gentleman’s preferred shave cream or gel. Using Prime Cut alone may not be sufficient for gentlemen with coarse, curly hair. It is my hope that the addition of a shaving cream or gel is added to the Jesse Jimz line of products.
  • Jesse Jimz retails for approximately $24.00 for a 2 oz. bottle, which should last a lifetime when used in conjunction with a shaving cream or gel.

Gentlemanly Review – Ain’t No Half-Steppin’ – The Cole Haan Stitchlite Oxford and the Redefinition of Business Casual Footwear

The professional gentleman has always had a complicated, love-hate relationship with the concept of business casual. It is somewhat of an oxymoron is it not – business, yet casual? Business was business, and casual was casual. Nevertheless, the backend of the 20th century introduced an amalgamation of a business and casual option for gentlemen. Now the lines were strangely blurred. The ambiguity resulted in decades of indecisiveness regarding menswear and dress codes within the confines of corporate America. To be fair, there were some gentlemen that successfully navigated these new uncharted sartorial waters. Meanwhile, a bevy of others stumbled through the exercise quite literally with mixed outcomes.

And while the clothing component usually landed with a standard pair of khakis and a sport shirt; footwear really struggled to find its footing (see what I did there) in this new business casual environment. It wasn’t entirely the gentleman’s fault. The industry performed a disservice by offering some truly awful, unattractive selections for the already befuddled gentlemen. You can still spot a few on lonely shelves at a local DSW. However, in 1988, Cole Haan was acquired by Nike, and so began the infusion of urban contemporary style into men’s footwear that provided much-needed clarity. The early 2000s witnessed the introduction of the LunarGrand collection. The brogue and wingtip aesthetics of a traditional dress shoe was placed atop Nike’s proprietary Lunarlon cushioning system for the ultimate fusion of business and casual. The gentleman was afforded the appearance of a standard dress shoe for the office with sneaker-like performance.

Subsequently, Nike divested Cole Haan, but the company continued its innovation with their Grand.OS technology. Enter the Cole Haan ZeroGrand. Stylish. Comfortable. And insanely lightweight. To be honest, years back, I was a skeptic of this hybridization of formal and informal. Well, approximately 7-8 pairs later, I am definitely a ZeroGrand enthusiast. I receive consistent compliments whenever I wear my ZeroGrand oxfords in and outside of work. Cole Haan’s latest work is the ZeroGrand Stitchlite. It is the same innovative technology, but this time the upper receives the sneaker treatment with a woven knit construction. The woolen texture is a handsome standout, and for temperatures that hover between 30-50 degrees, it is a great complement for seasonal changes this time of the year.

To be absolutely certain, the Cole Haan ZeroGrand Stitchlite is ridiculously lightweight. In all seriousness, the accompanying shoebox literally feels empty when you pick it up. Why? Well, the ZeroGrand Stitchlite jettisons the leather, welt, cork, stacked heel, and whatever materials that lend weight to a gentleman’s shoe. Instead, the ZeroGrand Stitchlite employs construction that would generally be associated with an athletic sneaker. First, the Stitchlite’s upper is constructed with the following materials: 23% wool, 7% baby alpaca, 40% nylon, and 30% polyester. The fabric has incredible flexibility and breathability. It is water-resistant, but not waterproof.

The midsole is constructed of ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) and the outsole is rubber. The EVA midsole provides flexibility, cushion, and is shock-absorbent. The segmented rubber outsole provides more flexibility, traction, stability, and resistance to wear. The GRANDFØAM footbed offers yet more cushioning with an almost spongy feel. I attended an event – Donuts with Dads – at my children’s school which required me to divide time between both kids. Logistically speaking, one child was located at one end of the floor and the other child on the opposite end. Therefore, I spent the entire morning walking back and forth between both kids so I could participate in each class activity. And I must admit, the ZeroGrand did not disappoint. I cannot endorse playing basketball in the ZeroGrand, but it does offer comfort and on-the-go agility normally not offered by regular dress shoes.

After Donuts with Dad, I drove to the office to begin my workday. A quick word about the office: sitting at a desk all day can be hazardous to a gentleman’s health. A sedentary lifestyle in the office can lead to obesity, high pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar. Health experts recommend that a workforce trapped within the confines of a cubicle environment should dedicate time during the day for periodic standing and walking. It is not uncommon to see fellow colleagues switch out their standard dress shoes for sneakers as they take walk breaks during the workday. However, with the ZeroGrand, the requirement to switch shoes is all but eliminated. You can perform periodic walks around the office and look great in the process. Now, let’s dive a little deeper with what may be deemed as favorable or unfavorable for the gentleman.

Potentially Unfavorable

  • The ZeroGrand Stitchlite is water-resistant but is certainly not waterproof. Speaking plainly, it would be best to avoid torrential rainfalls or burly snowstorms. For gentlemen residing in specific locations, the Stitchlite is very much a seasonal shoe.
  • I did not experience any accidents, however, I do not believe the knit upper will be as forgiving to dirt or stains as its leather counterparts. It would be wise to address any grime or mishaps promptly.
  • Because of the unstructured nature of the knit upper, the Stitchlite may feel a little large. There is a lot of “give” to the shoe. Nevertheless, thick to moderately thick hosiery may resolve this issue by filling out excess space.
  • Depending on the model, the ZeroGrand oxford collection retails for $180-230. However, Cole Haan offers a tremendous amount of sales throughout the year, so procuring a pair below retail should be easy. However, even retail represents a great deal for a quality shoe in my opinion.
  • Depending on your locale, the Stitchlite may only be suitable for the Fall and Spring, although late summer is definitely a possibility as well. It is definitely not constructed for inclement weather.
  • Given the Stitchlite has a sneaker bottom, having it resoled will be quite cumbersome, even perhaps for an experienced cobbler.

Favorable

  • The ZeroGrand Stitchlite is incredibly stylish. The woolen upper is a unique interpretation of the traditional dress oxford. As a highly polished leather dress shoe adds dignified grace to a gentleman’s presentation. Here, the woolen texture of the Stitchlite adds depth and richness to the upper. The knit upper insulates nicely against chilled temperatures without making one’s feet sweat.
  • Insanely lightweight, the ZeroGrand is perfect for travel and commuting. Boasting a sneaker-like feel, a gentleman does not have to worry about comfort or cushioning. The midsole and outsole are extremely flexible; bending and molding itself to the gentleman’s unique gait.
  • Historically, Cole Haan has always offered a beautiful array of color combinations that can perfectly complement any gentlemanly ensemble. I especially like the color choices for their soles. I missed out on a pair of sandy cream Stitchlites with a brick red sole. As soon as that pair went on sale, the stock was completed depleted. Damn.
  • Unlike leather, creasing has not been an issue due to the construction of the woven knit upper. The knit upper has a lot of flexibility and give, but it reverts back to its original shape. I would still recommend shoe trees, although the shoe paper that they arrive with will also suffice nicely.
  • Some gentlemen may not want to admit it, but there is a certain level of vanity that coincides with purchasing and wearing attire. Everyone likes to look and feel their best. The Stitchlite will definitely make you stand out. The odds are in your favor that no one else in your immediate area will be rocking the same pair of ZeroGrands that you are wearing. They are fashion-forward and will surely garner compliments. I receive praise consistently regarding my ZeroGrand kicks.
  • The ZeroGrand Stitchlite represents business casual the way it was envisioned – start with a formal aesthetic and slowly add informal elements to the mix. Conversely, one can start with a casual foundation and then introduce formal details. The Stitchlite was made for pressed khakis, crisp sport shirts, cotton or corduroy sport coats (pocket square optional), and some natty socks. And given its versatility, the Stitchlite can, of course, be worn with denim jeans on strictly casual days.

Gentlemen’s Standard Approved
Disclosure: TGS was not financially compensated for this post. Item was purchased for personal use. The opinions expressed are completely my own based on my experience.

Gentlemanly Review – Acqua Di Gio Georgia Armani – Profumo

Well, autumn 2019 has settled in nicely here in Michigan. Greeted by cool morning dew on his lawn and perhaps his vehicle, the seasonally prepared gentleman moves to convert his summer style to one that fully embraces fall. Aside from employing progressively heavier outerwear and thicker fabrics, recruiting a fragrance that embodies the current season is important too. Now, my personal taste in cologne generally gravitates towards heavier, robust scents with somewhat of an earthy personality. As of late, I have been testing and trialing Acqua di Gio Profumo by Giorgio Armani. Released in 2015, Profumo is the follow-up to the wildly popular Acqua di Gio that was launched in 1996. Now, while Profumo retains the original’s aquatic sensibilities, it introduces a batch of floral greens and incense to offer a contrasting depth and richness. Is it the perfect fall cologne for you? Well, continue reading below and decide for yourself.

Observations

Top Notes: Bergamot, Aquatic Notes

Middle Notes: Sage, Rosemary, Geranium

Base Notes: Patchouli, Incense

  • The presentation of the glass bottle is simple, almost identical to its predecessor, except Profumo arrives in a slightly opaque black flask. The metallic spray nozzle is topped by a black top that matches the body. The brand’s name is featured in metallic silver across the body of the bottle. The glass is moderately thick and has a good weight to it.
  • Acqua di Gio Profumo starts with a moderate explosion of bergamot. It’s a nice little pop, but it is subdued. The citrus tones are nicely balanced by clean, fresh aquatic notes as it begins a smooth transition to the middle and base notes. Again, the beginning isn’t terribly strong, but a gentleman should proceed with caution and demonstrate restraint with his applications. Targeting the chest, abdomen, and shoulders yielded the best results regarding projection for me.
  • The heart and base notes consist mainly of sage, rosemary, geranium, and patchouli – a collection of soft, aromatic greens that blend well with the strong temperament of incense. Regarding application, I estimate that 3-5 sprays should be more than sufficient, but I suggest that you wisely experiment with what works for you. Depending on the application, a gentleman should be able to extract 7-8 hours of performance. Its projection is decent and not terribly offensive. Profumo is an Eau de parfum – meaning a higher concentration of aromatic compounds versus eau de toilette – so care should be taken during application. I went overboard one day with about 7-8 sprays and it was too much.
  • In my humble opinion, Acqua di Gio Profumo is meant for the mature gentleman that loves an earthy, mildly spicy scent that starts with a mild burst of citrus but quickly settles into deep and warm territory. Profumo is touted as a fragrance that can be worn year-round. However, I think Profumo is better suited for the fall and winter. I believe Profumo is also best suited for affairs during the evening as well. Nevertheless, Profumo is fine for day affairs and can be worn both casually and professionally. It is a solid fragrance, but I wouldn’t label it as an exceptional standout. However, if your cologne collection is bare, it is worth checking it out for possible purchase.
  • Acqua di Gio Profumo can purchased in the following sizes: 1.35 oz. ($70.00), 2.5 oz. ($98.00), 4.2 oz. ($135.00) – Available at Macy’s, Nordstrom, Sephora, Von Maur, and other fine men’s department stores.
  • Gentleman’s Rating: 3.75/5.00

Gentlemen’s Standard Approved
Disclosure: TGS was not financially compensated for this post. Item was purchased for personal use. The opinions expressed are completely my own based on my experience.

Gentlemanly Review – Beckett Simonon – Valencia Wholecut

Once upon a time, I could not care less about footwear. However, it was a necessary component of a gentleman’s attire. Because, when faced with the choice, commuting barefoot throughout the city was definitely not an option. However, after reinventing myself sartorially; assembling a distinguished collection of shoes was a high priority on my action list. At the time, I perhaps owned 3-4 pairs of shoes. And that is being generous. Present day, that number has expanded exponentially. I have acquired a myriad of varying styles throughout the years, and now my collection is suitably prepared for any situation and season. There is one style, however, that I have been reluctant to add to my closet – the wholecut oxford.

I have always held great admiration for its clean elegance and grace, but ironically, its simplicity was slightly intimidating. How could I incorporate such a simple dress shoe into my wardrobe? I’ve overthought the prospect for many years, but something great occurred. Fortuitously, I was presented an opportunity to explore and examine the world of direct-to-consumer luxury shoe brand Beckett Simonon. Launched in 2012, Beckett Simonon is a start-up brand created by founders Andres Nino and Nicholas Hurtado. Offering a modest array of footwear (oxfords, loafers, boots, sneakers), Beckett Simonon follows a pre-order, made-to-order business model.

A gentleman can participate in a select “campaign” that offers a variety of footwear models. Once he orders his choice of footwear, there is a 8-12 week lead time for delivery. The pre-order, made-to-order model reduces superfluous inventory and keeps prices low in comparison to the quality that a gentleman receives. I was given the choice of two models: the Valencia and the Durant. The Durant is a handsome calfskin brogue that would be the perfect business or business-casual dress shoe, but my closet overfloweth with brogue dress shoes.

Now was my opportunity to experiment with a wholecut – the Valencia. And so, I relayed the choice to my contact and eagerly awaited its arrival. Fast-forward, boom, right out of the box: the Valencia wholecut, additional pair of waxed cotton shoelaces, two monogrammed felt shoe bags, two removable insoles, and a Beckett Simonon booklet. My initial thoughts were positive. It was a damn good-looking shoe. So, let’s examine Beckett Simonon’s offering and determine if it is worth a nearly 3 month wait as their business model dictates.

Leather outsole, stacked rubber heel, beautiful silhouette

Gentlemanly Observations

Favorables

  • The Argentinian full grain leather utilized for the Valencia wholecut is remarkedly soft; seriously on par with similar offerings from Allen Edmonds at nearly half the price. Retrieving the Valencia from its box, a gentleman will immediately be greeted by the fine aroma of rich, full grain leather. Full grain leather is the best quality reserved for a gentleman’s shoe. It is the top layer of an animal’s hide that has not been altered or corrected. It is durable, rich, and luxurious. Here, the Valencia’s leather is best characterized as sublimely pliable and moderately thick with a beautiful luster. It received polish well to produce a nice glossy shine.
  • The wholecut oxford itself is a unique model of gentleman’s footwear. Generally an oxford bears the mark of some ornate pattern or design. Here, the design is as simple as simple can achieve. Ironically, it is this simplicity that actually emboldens the wholecut with special distinction. Beckett Simonon achieves a streamlined silhouette with its version with a pronounced, curved slope along the vamp. The Valencia wholecut is equipped with 5 eyelets with shoelace strength and length appearing to be particularly hearty. To balance its quiet presentation, I recommend pairing with a trouser rich in fabric and design. Think tweed and Glen plaid for your choice of trouser.
  • Of all things, I must reveal that the fit and comfort exceeded all my expectations. What good is a beautiful shoe if it constricts and hurts one’s feet? Although I wear a D width, my size 12 feet are moderately wide, and I anticipated a tight squeeze when sliding into the seemingly slender Valencia. I was incorrect with my assumption. The Valencia was very comfortable – not tight by any measure. Straight out of the box, the Valencia rejects rigidity with a supple insole and pliable body. There is certainly a lot of “give” to a Beckett Simonon shoe. I wore both thin dress shoes and slightly thicker cotton socks. The fit was still excellent.
  • Over the last decade, the price of quality dress shoes have steadily increased. I have long held the belief that a quality pair of dress shoes will cost between $150.00 and $200.00. Nowadays, that range for some of my preferred brands have exceeded the $300.00 threshold, with even some approaching $400.00 and more. Beckett Simonon offers comparable quality at approximately half the price at $200.00. Absent the pre-order made-to-measure business model, Beckett Simonon would generally retail for $300.00. If you are lucky enough, you might be able to secure a 20% discount code online to further reduce the cost.
  • Expanded price range for all footwear: dress shoes ($199), boots ($219), and ($149)
  • The Valencia employs Blake-stitch construction with affords a lightweight quality, flexibility, and slenderness to its profile. In simple terms, Blake-stitch construction entails the shoe upper being attached the outsole and insole by a single stitch. The upper wraps around the insole and is sandwiched between it and outsole. The simple construction reduces the cost of the overall shoe when compared to a Goodyear welted shoe – which has the presence of a welt (an additional layer that the outsole, insole, and upper are stitched to).

Potential Unfavorables

  • Unless you are a discerning gentleman that actively procures handsome selections of footwear – absent urgent necessity – you perhaps fall into the category of gentleman that only purchases shoes when you need them. That being said, a gentleman with an immediate need for a pair of elegant oxfords will be hard-pressed to wait 8-12 weeks for delivery. And still, even if an immediate purchase is not required, an average gentleman may be stubborn to part with the necessary funds to secure a product he won’t enjoy for nearly 3 months. Beckett Simonon is definitely suited for the dapper gentleman with patience and sufficient disposable income to acquire their product.
  • For all intents and purposes, Beckett Simonon is still a young brand, and with its made-to-measure business model, uncertainty may provide pause for the cautious gentleman. Unlike purchasing footwear first-hand inside a store, or even ordering online from a proven brand in business for several decades, the consumer is trusting that this young company will fulfill and deliver all made-to-order shoes to the consumer. Seven years and counting in the business, they appear to be on the right track for longevity.
  • Currently, Beckett Simonon only offers a medium width (D) for their footwear, so some of the slimmer models may present discomfort for wider feet. Comfort level will vary gentleman to gentleman.
  • In the past, the opportunity to procure a wholecut oxford has presented itself multiple times over. However, I have been hesitant due to the potential high-risk of noticeable creasing. Now, creasing is a natural result of leather bending and flexing as shoes are worn. Its visibility can be mitigated based upon the decorative nature of the shoe. A wholecut oxford, however, is free of decoration. It is this naked simplicity that may lead to prominence of creasing that may be undesirable. Of course, this will depend upon a gentleman’s gait. I did notice that as I stepped, the Valencia did not flex around the vamp area. Neverthless, shoe trees are definitely recommended.
  • The Blake-stitch construction doesn’t offer much resistance to wetness or temperature, as there is no barrier (a welt) between the insole and outsole. So a gentleman will need to factor weather into his sartorial plans for the day.

A Final Word – The Valencia

  • Hand-made one at a time
  • Blake construction that can be resoled at a reputable cobbler
  • Full grain calf leather uppers
  • Full grain leather lining for extra breathability
  • Sturdy leather soles
  • Extra durable leather heel stacks
  • Rubber heel caps for better traction
  • Waxed cotton laces
  • Dust bags included
  • 1 year warranty
  • Free shipping, free returns, and free exchanges

Overall, I was very pleased with the Valencia from Beckett Simonon. The shape is beautiful, and it is very comfortable right out the box without a breaking-in period. This shoe is a perfect companion for the professional gentleman in and out of the office. For the quality you receive, the price-point is very affordable. Of course, a gentleman will have to exhibit the patience to wait on his order, but it should be well worth it. Beckett Simonon’s next campaign commences October 1st, 2019.

Please visit their website HERE for more information.

Gentlemen’s Standard Approved – Sponsored Post

Gentlemen’s Review – Prada – Luna Rossa Carbon

Prada Luna Rossa Carbon - clear flask with a black bottom, metallic top, and red Prada stripe down the middle

Today, I will be sharing my thoughts on a fragrance that was introduced to the market in 2017. The latest in the Luna Rossa (Red Moon) collection, Carbon is billed as a seductive and masculine fragrance, inspired by the collision of nature and technology. It is a steam-distilled botanical mix with modern materials in a distinctive blend. Until this point, I was not familiar with the Prada brand outside of their clothing line. However, I was provided a sample and was pleasantly surprised by the fragrance. Now, some insight that I have read online compares it to Christian Dior Sauvage. Granted, my experience with Sauvage was only relegated to a brief smell test at a local mall, but Carbon presented itself as milder and lighter – something that could be worn both inside and outside the workplace, casually and professionally. Let’s dive into more details below.

Observations

Top Notes: Bergamot, Pepper

Middle Notes: Lavender, Soil Tincture, Coal, Metallic & Watery Notes

Base Notes: Patchouli, Ambroxan

  • Prada Luna Rossa Carbon introduces itself in a very discreet manner; very calm and inviting. There is a bright burst of citrusy bergamot, but it is weighted down by elements of pepper. The beginning is very short-lived before it settles nicely into the middle and base notes.
  • The transition toward the middle and base notes is fluid and steady. Between the middle and base notes, the fragrance is consistent throughout – not particularly high, nor low. It projects well, but it doesn’t scream its presence to the surrounding area.
  • The presentation of the flask is handsome; arriving in a slightly opaque, rectangular body with an all-black bottom. The brand name is positioned in the middle, atop a red stripe flowing down from a metallic crown. The design is allegedly inspired by modern sailboats, but I find it difficult making that connection. Nevertheless, it is still a nice-looking bottle.
  • Moderately heavy, this fragrance can be worn both casually or professionally, during the daytime or evening. I strongly recommend 3-5 applications around the neck/shoulder area and abdomen.  However, the soft introduction belies its intensity if overused. Unfortunately, I committed the error of spraying perhaps 6-8 times in the morning, and the scent desperately clung to my skin well into the early evening. The projection was still going strong and I felt a little self-conscious wearing it.
  • Prada Luna Rossa Carbon is intended for the gentleman that prefers a warm, earthy fragrance that seamlessly transitions from each individual note to the other. And while it is definitely a masculine scent, it is not overly aggressive or offensive. This fragrance can be worn year-round, however, I like Prada Luna Rossa Carbon best during autumn and winter. The warmness of the scent presents a beautiful contrast to the colder temperatures of both seasons.
  • Prada Luna Rossa Carbon can be purchased in the following sizes: 1.7 ounces at $70.00 or 3.4 ounces at $90.00 – Available at Macy’s, Nordstrom, Sephora, and other fine men’s department stores
Gentlemen’s Standard Approved
Disclosure: TGS was not financially compensated for this post. Item was purchased for personal use. The opinions expressed are completely my own based on my experience.

Gentlemen’s Review – Kiehl’s – Ultimate Man Body Scrub Bar

Kiehl's Ultimate Man Body Scrub Soap - this is bar soap

Seriously, selecting bar soap should be a straightforward decision, one devoid of complication and confusion. However, we are in an age of choices. And by choices, I truly mean a lot of choices. There is something on the market for nearly every gentleman for every lifestyle. Trust, generally my preferred bar soap is a simple pack of Lever 2000. It’s my workhorse bar soap that performs its duties well and is readily available nearby at a local Target, CVS, Walgreens, etc. Nevertheless, I am always open to trial new products within reason – given the promise of more benefits and attributes beyond the standard array of similar items in the aforementioned stores. Now, I really enjoyed using the Turbo Body Bar from perennial favorite Jack Black, so I was curious if its grooming doppelganger from Kiehl’s would meet or exceed that level of quality. No doubt, the Kiehl’s offering is a quality piece of bar soap. I have been enjoying its services thus far. I seriously would have to compare both bar soaps head to head in another post. However, for now, let’s dive into my observations and analysis below.

Observations

  • Kiehl’s Ultimate Man Body Scrub Soap is a solid, hefty piece of bar soap. Arriving in a clear sealed, plastic packaging; this rectangular shower companion weighs in at a robust 7 ounces. It is approximately 4 inches long, 2.5 inches wide, and 1.25 inches thick. It has a light tan hue with small flecks of brown dotted across the surface and throughout. Instructions regarding usage and ingredients are displayed on its label.
  • Kiehl’s Ultimate Man Body Scrub Soap produces an amazingly rich, foamy lather. Much like my experience with the Turbo Body Bar from Jack Black, I was quite surprised with how much lather it generated after a few rotations in my washcloth. Aided by a minimal amount of water, 5-6 full rotations in a gentleman’s washcloth is enough to supply sufficient lather to the entire body without replenishment. It washes away smoothly with no residue.
  • While not odorless, the Ultimate Man Body Scrub Soap may boast “ultimate man” in its title, but the scent is actually very mild. Some products go overboard as far as fragrance is concerned when marketing to men. My assumption is the stronger the smell, the more the product represents a man. However, if a gentleman also wears cologne, the two competing scents may conflict with one another, and the results may be aromatically unpleasant. Kiehl’s offering does have a slight minty aroma, but it washes clean without a residual scent afterwards.
  • The Ultimate Man Body Scrub Soap does have a granular texture due to the combination of bran, oatmeal, and pumice. Do not use this on your face. The texture isn’t especially harsh, but this product is not meant to exfoliate your face; it is formulated only for the body. Addressing areas of the body where dead skin may accumulate or where skin may be prone to roughness, the exfoliating properties is gentle and didn’t irritate my skin. The sensation of the granular feel against the skin while scrubbing is very satisfying. You don’t have to go overboard, a good once over for targeted areas will suffice.
  • Now, if I identify one drawback to the Ultimate Man Body Scrub Soap, it did strip away moisture and render my skin a little dry. Therefore, it would wise to utilize a nice, thick body lotion to replenish your skin with the nutrients it requires. Personally, I like Lubriderm Advanced Therapy Lotion.
  • As previously stated, this bar soap does not take long to form a thick lather. So less time being bombarded with hot water means this soap won’t dissolve at a quickened rate. After nearly a week’s usage, my body bar appears just as it has when I freed it from its package – minus the Kiehl’s since 1851 etched into the soap. If I were to calculate daily usage, I would estimate that a gentleman could retain 1 month or more of dedicated grooming service.
  • Now, I fully understand that the price here will be a big deterrent, as $15.00 per bar soap may appear as absurd. Hell, for slightly less than half that price, I can secure a 12-count of 4 ounce bars of Lever 2000. So, the question becomes: Why spend $15.00 on a single bar of soap. Because, depending upon where a gentleman is stationed in his life, he should want to experience something more than just regular. I use regular bar soap all the time, and this time I wanted to feel the difference of something beyond typical. I believe it is worth it. Kiehl’s does offer an auto replenishment option for the Ultimate Man Body Scrub Soap: every 1 month through every 6 months at a 5% discount. So, a gentleman can control the frequency that he receives it.

Kiehl's Ultimate Man Body Scrub Soap - this is bar soap

Product Specifications

Slough off dead skin with our highly efficient exfoliating bar soap for men. Infused with an invigorating aroma, our bar soap with Oatmeal and Bran thoroughly cleanses skin and helps alleviate roughness. Scrub away fatigue with our energizing body scrub soap.

Key Ingredients

  • Oat Bran – extracted from the outer casing of the Oat Grain. Within their special formula, it helps soothe and condition skin.
  • Oat Kernel Meal – derived by grinding kernels of Oats. Within our formula, it acts as a natural exfoliant.
  • Pumice – a rock of volcanic origin and commonly used as an abrasive and a bulking agent. Within our formulas, it works as a natural exfoliant, helping to remove dead and rough skin for smoother results.

For more information about product from Kiehl’s, please visit their website HERE for more details.

Gentlemen’s Standard Approved

Kiehl's Ultimate Man Body Scrub Soap - this is bar soap

Review – Jack Black – Protein Booster Skin Serum

God willing, I am going to be 43 years young when September arrives next month. Given my demographic, I am certainly blessed to have reached so many years thus far in my life. Now with that many years under my belt, my skin has certainly sustained a fair amount of environmental stress that accompanies the aging process. And although I can never be mistaken for an eighteen-year-old Glen Antoine Palmer, I humbly offer that I have aged well into the middle act of my lifespan. A non-smoker, I can credit good genetics along with an absence of alcohol and drug usage. Nevertheless, as beneficial as those factors are, a gentleman my age still requires assistance in the form of grooming products that mitigates the onslaught of Father Time. Jack Black Protein Booster Skin Serum is one of those products. Trust when I disclose, I never imagined I would be as particular about my grooming regimen as I am now. However, particular I am, and my skin is better because of the rigor my grooming entails. So, allow me to present a few points that deem this product a Gentlemen’s Standard favorite.

Observations

  • The serum is housed in a dark blue, slightly transparent glass bottle with a pump top. Now, I would definitely caution against purposely releasing said glass bottle from a significant height, however, it does feel solid & sturdy. It doesn’t look or feel cheap. But that may not be a burning concern for the discerning gentleman.
  • Regarding physical appearance, the serum leaves a lot to be desired, as the dark mustard hue doesn’t seem like something a gentleman would want to slather on his face. That is neither here, nor there. Undesirable yellow appearance aside, the protein serum is relatively odorless and mildly slippery to the touch, but definitely not greasy.
  • The protein skin serum absorbs into the skin with relative ease; I would estimate 3-4 application pumps should provide adequate coverage for the entire face. One might be tempted to apply more than recommended, but due to the consistency of the serum, it is capable of covering a large area in relation to the amount dispensed.
  • Daily usage should yield approximately 6 months of service, perhaps even longer if a gentleman employs an every other day schedule. Depending on a gentleman’s lifestyle, I would definitely recommend using the protein skin serum every other day.
  • Once applied, the serum may feel significant enough to replace your standard moisturizer. However, to fully maximize the serum’s potential, a standard moisturizer should be applied in tandem. Personally, I follow up with applying Jack Black Double-Duty Face Moisturizer.
  • Jack Black Protein Booster Skin Serum retails for approximately $62.00 for a 2.0 fl. oz. bottle. An auto-replenishment program is available if the gentleman so chooses to participate.

Product Specifications

A peptide-rich, multi-functional serum that penetrates to reduce the visible signs of aging and keeps skin looking healthy. The silky liquid texture allows powerful, efficacious ingredients to be readily absorbed below the skin’s surface to help improve skin tone, help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and help protect from future damage.

Key Ingredients

  • MATRIXYL® 3000: Highly effective peptide that helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles by up to 45 percent.
  • SYN®-AKE: Advanced myo-relaxing peptide smooths skin yielding up to a 52 percent reduction in the appearance of wrinkles*; mimics the activity of walgerin 1, a peptide found in the snake venom of the temple viper.
  • RENOVAGE®: Patented anti-aging ingredient that reduces the appearance of pigmented spots by up to 56 percent and increases moisturization up to 58 percent
  • DYNALIFT®: Natural sorghum stalk juice tightens and smooths skin.

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

Gentlemen’s Standard Approved
%d bloggers like this: