Penhaligon’s No. 33 Cleanser

Penhaligon’s is out with a new men’s fragrance, No. 33 and it comes in a variety of grooming products.

As I’m a fan of Blenheim Bouquet, especially in warmer months, I chose to begin my No. 33 experience with the cleanser. Should I enjoy it, I’ll likely consider a purchase of the cologne.

The cleanser arrived today and I’ll be using it this evening. I’ll be reviewing it after I’ve used it for a day or so.

Ahead of the arrival, I wanted to see what I might expect in terms of the scent. Here’s how Penhaligon’s describes it:

It opens in an aromatic burst of crisp citrus, rustic armoise and clary sage alongside a bracing lavender note. Incredibly smooth, the heart is enriched by warming pepper, ginger and cardamom and fresh, rosy geranium. Tobacco, cedar and vetiver add a dry smokiness, balanced by the restrained sweetness of tonka, amber and vanilla. A contemporary celebration of lavender in all its bracing charm.

I’m intrigued by this description and from the rather sparse reviews I found that indicate the cologne is light and pleasant and clearly masculine.

More later as I try this iteration of Penhaligon’s No. 33.

For more on men’s grooming and other elements of being a gentleman, follow @SterlingGent

Penhaligon's Pic

New Chukka Boots

Blog Shoes 8-17-15Krystyn recently shared her thoughts on shoe basics for men and today, I’m showing off my new Chukka Boots.

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Shoe Basics for Men

Guest blogger Krystyn offers her thoughts on shoe basics for men:

In comparison to their female counterparts, men do not necessarily have the passion (in many instances, though certainly not all), or the colorful liberty of choices for shoes. Mens shoe styles, while available in a range of colors and textiles, predominantly gravitate toward classic/simplistic and capitalize on neutrals.

A man with a shoe fetish is nothing to scoff at. Women can, and do, appreciate a man with a sense of style, especially where shoes are concerned. However, it is not necessarily a deal breaker if his shoe collection does not rival our own, as long as what he does showcase is worthwhile.

Personally, I find the basketball sneaker obsession wildly over-hyped. Colorful, flashy, and obnoxious designs are vied for among “sneakerheads,” to the extent that a black market exists wherein shoes that might sell in stores for $160 will sell between individuals for upwards of $300 or more. If they are a “retro” style, or even a re-release, this price could escalate into the thousands. Considering Nike is the most prominent retailer for these styles, the price is insanely inflated for the quality and longevity of the shoes in question.  In addition, retailers sell clothes intended to match each style of shoe, so the result is an overall outfit that is entirely too “matchy-matchy” and ultimately appears as though the man cannot be trusted to put together a tasteful ensemble himself, thus putting all of his effort (and cash) into collecting pieces made to reflect a single color palette. It’s just too much, and honestly very juvenile.

By all means, if a man wants a pair of basketball sneakers, or Nikes, regardless of color or style, have at it! But this should not comprise your entire repertoire. It has been done. Over…and over…and over again. Let’s imbue some originality into the next generation of gentlemen, shall we?

As a grown woman, with grown woman tastes, I enjoy a man who can choose shoes that have character, but that are modest and classic. Business and casual should have their own separate spaces in order to extend the life of your investments, although there are more loafer styles currently that can allow for some flexibility in those categories, without sacrificing much in the way of cost.

Brogues are a wonderful addition to any professional wardrobe, as they are classic, and traditionally made to last in leather with hard, thick soles. Wingtip brogues are my personal favorite, because the design alludes to a generation in which craftsmanship meant a connection to the cobbler himself, and well-made shoes were symbolic of status and personal pride. Simple and plain styles are universally flattering as well, and still maintain a character all their own, that will surely compliment any suit or dress slack/shirt combination. Pebbled leather variations are hot this Fall, but perhaps not as universally applicable as they possess a more rustic or relaxed aesthetic. If paired with the correct suit and accessories to play up the quality, rustic can be charming and high-end in a corporate atmosphere, but it must be done with intent.

For a flexible (casual and professional) option, consider a leather loafer in black or brown shades. The shape mirrors that of a traditional dress shoe, while the slip-on style and cut allow these to be worn effortlessly with jeans or shorts and mimic the boat-shoe vibe that still persists among younger groups. The loafer takes that essence and matures and refines it for a more focused demographic of aspiring professionals. Cole Haan, Sperry, and Ralph Lauren have excellent variations on this style, as pictured below.

loafers 1

loafers 2

loafers 3loafers 4

 

Pictured top to bottom:  Cole Haan Howland Penny; Sperry Gold Cup Bellingham ASV Penny Loafer; Polo by Ralph Lauren Wes Driving Moc; Polo by Ralph Lauren Arkley Penny

Essentially, women want a man whose style comes from within. How bright, or expensive, or new an item is, has no bearing on the style character of the man wearing it. It is always in the way that the man wears what he chooses, that speaks volumes. Likewise, a man who takes care of himself, will take care of his clothing and shoes, and will likely take care of another person in his life. Women seek quality, responsibility, confidence, and stability, and looking the part can often help lead us in the right direction!

For more on men’s shoes and style, follow @SterlingGent

 

 

Krystyn and Dapper Dan

A young woman from the South offers her take on men’s hair in the Pacific Northwest:

Contrary to the perseverant ideals of short, clean, and dapper men’s hairstyles on the east coast, the Pacific Northwest is leading the way for longer and wilder manes with individual twists, depending on personal taste.
Growing up in the south, as a woman up here now, I am pleasantly surprised when the eccentricity is pulled off with sophistication. Often you’ll see a man bun or top knot with fades on either side or as special form of undercut.
To distinguish between a man bun and a top knot, a bun generally rests on the back of the head and requires a full head of super long hair.
A top knot, on the other hand is medium to long hair pulled into a tight knot on the top of the head, often with the sides and back shaved.
Fades require more attention to detail on part of the barber, so guys, choose wisely! Rarely will supermarket chains or Sport Clips be able to provide you with a quality fade. The signature of a good, read: fresh fade capable, barber is the ability to blend graduated lengths of already very short hair.
Another perk of finding a great barber for contemporary and edgy styles, is the ability to cut designs into that perfect fade. While this is huge right now, and extremely sexy when used appropriately, this is not for everyone, and it can easily come off as cheesy. So again, choose carefully. Less is more here, in my opinion. I’m not a huge fan of exuberant designs in men’s hair, but I’m also considerably more conventional in that respect (I attribute this to my southern heritage; Clark Gable is basically my male hair archetype).
One thing is most certain, and worth mentioning if you’re single: Please, PLEASE care for your hair if you decide to go long and luscious or for top knot and bun styles. You have to wash and condition it, and plan to have it trimmed regularly. Long hair is more vulnerable to damage, which makes the hair look unattractively unkempt, dirty, and unhealthy when not given proper attention. Accordingly, these styles are preferably for men who don’t mind being a little more high maintenance. And as a woman, I am beyond naturally inclined toward a man who cares of himself a little extra ;)
If you aren’t quite the demographic inclined to go with the wild length, I encourage any young man to incorporate a fade into short styles, even the classic high and tight. Just that single touch can bring a high class edge to your comfort zone!
SG says: Attention to detail is critical in all facets of personal style. This includes your hair. Guys, pay attention to it!
For more on men’s style and the gentleman’s lifestyle, follow @SterlingGent

Men’s Fall Fashion

Guest Blogger Krystyn offers her take on men’s fall fashion:

Fashion is very deeply influenced by the culture that surrounds it. Being a country of luxury and individualist tendency, American fashion ultimately follows suit. For men, the Fall 2015 runway pulled from all the hot topics that you’ve likely followed in the media, including (in my interpretive opinion): Fifty Shades of Grey, gender fluidity, a shift from form fit to loose and more inclusivity to different body styles, hip hop culture, and the persistent fixation on anything Retro. This lineup was interesting, to say the least, but not completely unwelcome.

Dark greens and any and all hues of grey are the colors of the season (money and sex – 50 shades allusions, anyone?), and for men, these are always classic! The colors themselves are reminiscent of the changing seasons, and always find their place among fall lineups, but to be seen in such heavy focus is refreshing and sexy (considering my interpretation of their inspirational origins), especially in men’s fashion, as both are almost universally flattering.  Despite my personal proclivity for money and sex, I do absolutely think that the focus on grey has everything to do with our nations’ obsession with the infamous book series that brought taboo sex to the suburbs! I, for one, could not be happier about this. We do not live in the fifties anymore; please do introduce some of that subculture into the mainstream so everything does not have to be SO shocking and offensive! While you’re wearing your grey trousers, don’t forget that silver tie…the ladies will automatically tune in to that channel mentally.

Oversized fit was quite common on this line, as well this year. Where we have usually opted for a closer fit in male clothing, high fashion has integrated “street” styles with baggy trousers, and oversized – even slouchy – overcoats. While designers were rumored to be channeling the days of Zoot suits (prohibition nostalgia, anyone?), the end result simply appeared sloppy. While I cannot speak for everyone, I do not prefer a man in baggy, slouchy, or otherwise oversized clothing. A man who looks as though he put minimal effort into his look, I assume will be equally lackadaisical in his relationships…and in even more personal areas.

That being said, I do give props to designers for what I believe to be their attempt at making fashion more body-inclusive, albeit a far-fetched and narrow attempt through oversized structure, but the attempt is there, and that is a start. Men, as women, come in a variety of body sizes and shapes, none superior to the other and all more than deserving of a unique and polished style. It is no longer an obsessive trait of the fashion industry to design for waif thin models or perfectly square male physiques. Runways are often over-exaggerated versions of reality, so the outlook is bright for greater acceptability of different body forms.

One cultural shift that I did not expect to have such an immediate influence was androgyny or gender fluidity. Of late, more and more individuals are ditching the ridged constraints of masculine or feminine and experimenting with elements of style from both camps! This is quite revolutionary in our modern culture, where sexism and conformity are ironically rampant, considering our vehemence on “freedom.” The fall lineup for men boasted one-piece suits (‘jumpers/rompers’ as we ladies know them), in a variety of colors and materials, and accessorized with ties, belts, and even button down shirts (worn underneath) to help personalize the look. The color-block fad that invaded women’s lines several seasons ago has also made a reemergence in male fashion this season; with large square patterns and mixed media embellishments. Interestingly, both of these gender neutral adaptations, as well as the Shearling obsession in this fall lineup (which I refuse to acknowledge, because it is overdone and horrid in my opinion) also have roots in the Boho trend that incorporates seventies/hippy-era elements into womenswear. Perhaps this is an indication of what’s to come next for the guys?

It should be nothing less than interesting to see what men on the street do with the trickle down from the runways. If we can make these staples sleek and classy, this fall will be on point! Nevertheless, we should all find solace in the fact that our culture is moving toward greater freedoms and focuses on equality, and communicating those themes to the masses not only in media, but in the ways we style and represent ourselves. You must BE the change you wish to see in the world, right?

For more on men’s fashion and the gentlemen’s lifestyle, follow @SterlingGent

Guest posts are welcome — get in touch on twitter and we’ll talk!

 

A Woman Talks About Men’s Fragrances

Reader K offers her views on men’s fragrance, including some recommendations to ensure you’re a great smelling man who impresses…

Mens fragrance can be a tricky business. Too often merchandisers over masculinize the scent, or make it more powerful than necessary. Of course, this opinion can be biased, due to the fact that women actually have more cells in the olfactory bulb (the area of the brain responsible for smell). Fun fact: the sense of smell was the first sense to evolve, and as such, our sense of smell is the most connected sense to our memories.

That being said, men be wary when selecting your signature fragrance; women are hard-wired to use sense of smell as an indication of mate preference as well ;) You’re making much more of an impression than you may be aware of!

The trend for male fragrance seems to fall between three primary themes: clean, spicy, and sporty. I’m not sure if this opinion is widely held, but for me and my olfactory receptors, this is it. I prefer clean and sometimes sporty scents, but it has to be subtle. Too much of anything, even a good thing, is an instant mood killer. Victorias Secret Very Sexy Platinum is one that I dislike, but had to learn the hard way. The brand took the classic sultry/musk undertones and attempted to apply it to a masculine sport cologne, and it just did not work for me. It seems to be an evening attempt at an athletic/masculine scent, but the result is overpowering. The original, Very Sexy for Men was great. It’s very clean and overall unobtrusive; so that I would recommend for an evening choice, because there is a little more strength to the scent (likely due to the company’s roots in women’s’ fragrance, and their tendency to be ironically strong), so it should last without choking out your company.

If you are a fan of sporty colognes, one that is often overlooked and definitely under-appreciated is the original Issey Miyake: L’eau d’Issey. To me, it perfectly combines the clean, fresh aroma of something like Acqua di Gio but with just the right amount of spice to set it apart in a more athletic/sporty direction. The product is described as including essences of verbena, sage, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg and saffron. The ingredients are each intense, but together with other trace elements, it is perfectly subdued but definitely pleasantly unique.

Another that has not garnered much attention, but I highly recommend, would be Yves St. Laurent: L’Homme. It is woody and fresh in the most refreshing way. Some men worry about woody and fresh edging too close to the florals they are accustomed to with womens perfumes. This is not at all the case with this scent. It is the perfect day time fragrance for a man who pays careful attention to his image and personal style, and I would even go as far as to say a man who spends time with people regularly because it is so inviting. L’Homme is as pleasing as mens cologne goes, and I would say fairly neutral in terms of the undertones.

One thing is for sure: You absolutely cannot sacrifice quality when it comes to mens fragrance. Drug store or department store adaptations are not created equal. Men so often make the mistake of buying body spray or imitation colognes to be budget conscious, but the difference is apparent. Cheaper colognes do not have the same quality ingredients, so the fragrance (if not completely butchered) is lackluster at best and has a tinge of sharpness, likely from filler or artificial components, that is completely unwelcome. Likewise, the scent itself does not last as long as higher quality alternatives, nor may it stay true to the original essence or intended fragrance as it combines with the body’s natural oils. Trust me guys, your lady will appreciate you taking the time and care to find your signature fragrance, and a man who prefers quality will always attract quality!

SG says: K’s advice is sound — you don’t want your cologne to announce your arrival… or to arrive before you do. You DO want your cologne to invite closeness and to leave a fond memory.

MORE ON MEN’s FRAGRANCE:

Review of Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille

The Scent of Success

The Scent of a Gentleman

For more on the gentleman’s lifestyle, follow @SterlingGent

 

 

Review of Harry’s Shaving

Last year, I wrote about my switch to Dreadnought Shave Cream — a switch I have not regretted at all. To the extent shaving can be enjoyable, Dreadnought makes it more so.

Now, in this review of Harry’s Shaving, I’ll tell you about another important switch.

When I was 18, Gillette sent me a Mach 3 razor and 2 blades in the mail. I think it came with some aftershave, too.  The razor was nice, a decent weight, felt good in my hand. The blades were sharp — and there were THREE! A big improvement, I thought, over the two blades on the plastic disposable razors I’d been using through high school.

And, well, the shave was better.  By a lot. The blades lasted a bit, then, at college, I bought replacement blades.

Fast forward 22 years. I’m using the Gillette Fusion razor and blades. Yes, a simple marketing trick — mailing me their nice razor and blades — resulted in 22 years of my business.

Then, a few weeks ago, I went to buy replacement blades. And the price is crazy. And I think about the ads I’ve seen for Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club. I checked out both sites, and the prices were definitely cheaper. Harry’s seemed to cost a bit more, but also had a blade that seemed similar to the 5-blade Fusion I’d been using. I decided to try Harry’s and see what happened.

For about $15, I got a razor with a blade attached and 4 replacement blades. In looking at replacement blade prices at Harry’s, they come in at about HALF what I’ve been paying for Gillette.

Of course, if the shave isn’t good, the low price doesn’t matter.

So, my Harry’s Truman razor in olive green came in on Saturday along with my 4 replacement blades. The packaging was quite nice.

I knew they were on the way, so I hadn’t shaved that morning. And once they were in, I knew I’d wait until Sunday morning to shave.

With one day of beard growth, I was pretty stubbly Sunday morning. I have dark hair, so my beard is noticeable even when I skip just a day of shaving.

I lathered up with Dreadnought and a shaving brush.  And started my first Harry’s shave.

I’ll admit, I noticed a bit of pulling at first, but nothing too bad. The glide was nice and the overall experience smooth. The blades cleaned easily when water ran through them.

I finished up and my face was — WOW — incredibly smooth. This was the smoothest, closest shave I can remember having. After patting down with water and applying a light aftershave, I headed off for some coffee.

My face felt a new sensation. Smooth. Rubbing my hand across my face in any direction revealed soft, clean skin.  The irritation and bumps I’d sometimes get from shaving were not present.

I used my Harry’s Truman razor again today. And again, an amazing shave that seems better than anything I’ve ever used.

To be clear, the combination of a good cream, a shaving brush, and a great razor makes the shaving experience. I’ve had the great cream for over a year. I’ve recently added a shaving brush. And the sharp, smooth Harry’s razor and blades seem to be the perfect touch. After all, it’s the razor that removes the hairs from your face. Harry’s is a winner in my book — and at half the price of what I was using, I’ll be ordering more from them.

For more on men’s style and the gentleman’s lifestyle, follow @SterlingGent

A Gentleman and Hair Loss

Many a gentleman, no matter the age, will face the issue of hair loss.

Some will embrace it. Perhaps shave your head. Or just let it go the way it’s going to go.

Some men, though, want to fight hair loss. Or, at least, make the process a little less unpleasant.

If you’re going to fight your hair loss, you may as well resist with a natural product that gets real results.

Have you ever read the side effects of Rogaine? Ouch! No, thanks!

So, here’s some information on Nioxin – which has been around for some time and which seems to get pretty decent results, at least according to a guy who has written about it:

Well, you can fight hair loss with Nioxin.

I use the full system — the shampoo, scalp therapy, scalp treatment — for a while, this seemed to slow my hair loss and keep my hair looking full.  Plus, it’s a great shampoo that makes your hair soft and thick-looking.

As I’ve aged a bit, my hair loss is now accelerating somewhat.  That’s when I added Nioxin intensive hair follicle booster.  It’s supposed to work to stimulate your follicles and keep them growing. No, it won’t regrow hair from lost follicles, but it DOES keep your hair growing.  Those follicles that used to have only that tiny peach fuzz are now sprouting hair.  That’s after about 5 months of regular use.

Plus, I find the product works a bit like a pomade and helps keep your hair in place.  Combining it with the scalp treatment makes for a red scalp at first, but it works.  It makes my hair look thicker and I can tell that I’m keeping more. 

It’s especially helpful (to me) at the front of my scalp where I was slowly losing my hairline. 

So, if you are a gentleman struggling with hair loss and you want to fight it, you might give Nioxin a try.

For more tips on living the gentleman’s lifestyle, follow @SterlingGent

 

Wednesday Cuff Links

A man is not fully dressed up unless he’s wearing a French cuff shirt with cuff links.

These are my Wednesday Cuff Links — a simple blue pair of cuff links paired with a blue Brooks Brothers shirt with white cuffs and collar.

Wednesday Cuff Links 2015

 

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Tuesday Cuff Links

Calvin Klein cuff links paired with a purple striped Brooks Brothers shirt. These are my Tuesday Cuff Links:

CK and Brooks

For more on men’s fashion and the gentleman’s lifestyle, follow @SterlingGent