11 March 2008, 07:51
[Guest post by Audrey.]
Helping guys with their outward appearances is one thing, but I admit that it’s the more personal aspects of clothes and men’s health that guys really need help on. Whether it’s guys asking for advice, or girls asking out of some immature curiosity, everyone seems to be obsessing over the problem men have faced for years. What’s actually better — boxers or briefs?
Men’s underwear certainly has undergone a lot of changes throughout history, with ‘modern’ brief and singlet separates only coming into existence around the 1930’s. Before that, men had to endure things like loincloths in ancient Egypt, codpieces in the 16th century and union suits or long-johns in the Victorian era.
For some reason though, while we’re enjoying such a wide range of options for undergarments, guys seem to continue to wear the same old stretched out, hole-in-the-waistband underpants that we’ve clung onto for years. It’s time we broke this pattern though, lads! There’s no definitive answer to the boxers or briefs question, though – it really comes down to personal choice, or the choice of whoever is going to be seeing you in them at the end of the day.
So let’s check out the pros and cons of all your available options so you can make a well informed decision.
The main advantage of wearing boxers is the health aspect they offer, which I’ll explain it in a little more detail for you later. Put simply though, boxers are technically a little better for you as the extra room they offer will let your man-parts air out and breathe, and they are significantly cooler as far as temperature in your nether-regions goes. One thing to keep in mind though is that an airier area down there means there’s a lot more potential for offensive odours to escape. Make sure you keep yourself clean and fresh down there!
You may not have realised, but boxers are also are more flattering for all you robust gentleman! The looser elastic band across the waist has a lot more give to them than the thinner, tighter elastics on briefs. A tight waistband will give you a fair bit of overhang if you have a bit of a spare tyre. Some nice, loose boxers will make you look better, particularly once your pants are off, increasing your chances for lurrrrrrrve!
Boxers have far more fabric than briefs, which can be tricky if you’re wearing tighter jeans or pants – the excess fabric will ride up into some sort of a mushroom cloud above your waistline. They also don’t give a lot of support, leaving you… well, DANGLING. Not really good for when you’re participating in any sort of physical activity. You don’t want to hurt yourself down there, do you?
For those of you who favour boxers, a few things to keep in mind: stay away from those tacky, crazy print boxers or anything with a cartoon character on them. While funny patterns and sexy slogans on your underwear can be good for a laugh, I guarantee they’ll be a complete mood killer when a girl unbuttons your jeans in the throes of passion. And think of how silly you’ll feel in a nightclub if your hipster jeans ride low and Yosimite Sam is peeking out at everybody. Secondly, silk boxers are not underwear! They’re alright for sleeping in if you’re into that sort of thing, but shouldn’t be worn under pants or jeans. Think of it logically – silk is slippery. When you walk around all day, your jeans will slide down and your boxers stay up with the elastic. You’re going to look ridiculous. Keep that in mind and stick with cotton, boy-o!
Briefs are a popular alternative for guys who don’t like the freedom and space that a pair of boxers can offer. Due to their snug fit, they’ll stop your parts from uncomfortably dangling about when you’re pacing around your office, climbing stairs or going for your morning jog. Made in plain fabrics (never, ever, EVER buy patterned briefs unless you’re doing some sort of erotic performance at a hen’s night!), it’s difficult to go wrong or have them clash with an outfit. They’re just such an easy option to wear.
Their no-fuss ease of wear also means briefs are the underwear of choice for boys who lack the desire to go shopping. Briefs normally come conveniently packaged in sets of seven at your local department store or wherever it is you buy groceries. However, I’m a firm believer that like hair- and skin-care, the ones available at the same place you buy ham and milk and eggs aren’t necessarily going to be the best. So if you’re picking up undies when you’re refilling your kitchen pantry, you might want to rethink that.
They have a disadvantage as far as health goes though, for the opposite reason that boxers will do you well. Briefs don’t exactly have a lot of ventilation, causing problems in both health (see below) and cleanliness. I’m also not a fan of the way briefs are cut – leaving your inner thigh exposed leaves you open to horrible sweating and chafing if you’re wearing denim in hot weather or walking around a lot. It’s all about health and comfort, folks!
There is also a bit of stigma attached to guys who wear briefs – particularly ‘tighty whities’. They are commonly seen as ‘little boy’ underwear, so not exactly a good choice for a mature, strapping man to be wearing. Similarly, the swimwear equivalent is hardly appropriate for anybody over the age of eight!
There’s frankly not much I can say about these without repeating what I’ve already said about boxers and briefs. But these are my top tip choice for underwear as they basically take the best parts of boxers and marry them up with the best parts of briefs to leave you comfortable and happy all day long.
They feature a great boxer shape, which is especially good for wearing under denim jeans. but since they fit more snugly than traditional boxers, they still keep you from moving around the place as you go about your business. What more could you possibly want?
Keeping your ‘bits’ healthy
Penis, testicles, sperm, scrotum. There, I’ve said them all so that’s that out of the way and we get down to business properly. Feel free to pause and giggle to yourself before reading on!
Much debate has gone on with the boxers-or-briefs battle regarding the impact of your choice of underwear on penis size and sperm count. For those worried about size, I can assure you that your choice to wear more snug-fitting underwear won’t impact your development of a sizable ‘implement’. Actual size only depends on things like your body’s natural development, and you can’t change your DNA. So if this is what you’re basing your underwear decisions on, then fret not. And besides, there is no actual proof that bigger or longer is necessarily better – it all depends on your lover and what they personally prefer.
But while tight underwear won’t stop you from being some impressively equipped Adonis, there is some truth to the rumour that wearing briefs can lower your sperm count. And I know, this is a tricky topic to talk about, but it’s time I sorted this out once and for all for you. The male body is designed how it is for a reason. The growth and development of strong, healthy swimmers is quite dependant on temperature, so having your testes located down in their sack keeps your sperm away from the heat your body generates. This is also the reason why you’ll notice your manly bits shrinking up and coming closer to the rest of you in the colder weather — to keep their temperature correct for healthy man-parts. Consequently, wearing briefs means that your boys are up and against your body and don’t have room to move away. While this only will marginally impact your sperm count and strength, it may be the straw breaking your camel’s back if you and your partner are struggling to get pregnant. Doctors always recommend switching to loose boxers if you’re planning on starting a family.
3 March 2008, 23:31
[Guest post by Audrey.]
“I’m usually nervous around girls, but finally worked up the courage to talk to a girl I like and asked her out. Now we have plans to do something next week, and I have no idea what to do or where to take her. Help!”
It would seem that I caused a furore a little while ago with my article on How To Be A Gentleman, and quite by surprise too. For the longest time, I was of the opinion that guys were just a little scared of using their manners, but I never realised the level this fear had reached. Amongst other things, I covered in that article how to be nice and respectful to a perfect stranger and even break the ice. I’m now being turned to for advice on the next step once you have a girl’s attention: the dreaded first date.
Understandably, preparations for a first date are a time of extreme nervousness and worry. First impressions do, in fact, count. Ask any couple if they remember the instant they saw their partner for the very first time and I bet they remember all sorts of minute details. So of course, you’ll need to make sure you’re looking and smelling your best when the night in question rolls around. However, planning a date actually requires starting at the end and planning backwards, so you first need to work out what you’re going to do and then organise accordingly.
Coming up with some sort of activity is the hardest part. I remember the first time I actually had a date after I got out of a very long term relationship a few years back. It was with a girl I barely knew — we had just met and hadn’t really talked yet. Young and naive, I took her on the regulation dinner-and-movie date and it was such a disaster. There was forced, awkward conversation over a boring dinner at an ordinary café. We sat quite uncomfortably next to each other at the cinema and watched the movie. And predictably, it ended in even more awkward stammering and actions when I dropped her home afterwards. Needless to say, she never returned my phone-call for a second date!
Learn from my mistakes, gentleman! That kind of formal, rigid first-date stuff doesn’t cut it any more, so don’t just dinner-and-movie-date her and think you’re rocking her world! If you think you might like this girl, spend some time seeing what will make the date fun and enjoyable. What is she into? What does she like? You want the date to be fun, it’s as simple as that. As long as she has a good time and you both laugh and enjoy yourselves, it will be a success. This is where some subtle homework will help you out.
Since you’ve asked this girl out, I’m going to assume that you’ve at least had a reasonable amount of conversation with her, and not just blurted out an invite to some random girl at a bar you thought you felt a connection with. I have to say that I wouldn’t recommend pulling out all the stops for a really romantic date with someone you’ve just met. Casually catching up with her away from the flowing alcohol and blaring dance music is a much better way to get to know each other before you decide whether you’d like to spend more time as something more than friends. I think actual dates should be reserved for people you have a proven connection with. And this first, informal step is where you’ll get your inspiration for your real “date”.
I’m frankly a little reluctant to give you the following piece of advice, but in this modern day it is a viable (and very common) option. if you want to learn more about them to make sure a date is going to be special or to draw some inspiration of what they like, you can always have a quick peek at their Myspace or Facebook profile. These sites can be good to double-check their taste in music, beliefs and politics. It can be very useful to look them up and see, for example, that her political or religious views are completely opposite to yours — thus saving you the embarrassment and uncomfortable silences when you actually spend time together. Just try and keep an open mind – opposites attract as they say. Don’t write her off straight away just because she has written something strange like “Recycling sucks!” on her profile. Maybe she’ll open your mind and you’ll learn new things.
Please though, promise me you won’t overdo it and become some psycho online stalker. It’s perfectly acceptable to have a quick poke around to check some details, but it’s something else all together to have snooped around all her photos, memorised her list of favourite authors, checked out her friends and made notes of her in-jokes. Chill out a bit — if you go overboard, sites like these can really kill the mystery. I think the best part of dating someone new and those first few months is getting to learn about them, hearing stories and building a relationship. You get to meet the special people in their lives, discover you both have a secret love of an obscure band, that kind of thing. Doing too much homework is going to completely destroy all of these awesome things, and you’ll come across as a really, really creepy guy — even if it’s just that you were a bit overly enthusiastic.
So, Casanova, still no ideas? Here are some suggestions: maybe there’s something you know she’ll be keen on. And I’d love to hear from the nonpareils and get their tips on great first dates.
Make a picnic and take her to an awesome park in autumn. Eat great food and jump in piles of leaves.
Hire two bikes and find a lake or nice part of the city to ride around (could incorporate the picnic!).
Weather permitting, buy a huge ice cream sundae and share it.
Look up if your city has a ‘Cinema in the Park’ event over summer and let her pick the movie.
If she’s an artistic gal, take her to the local gallery and ask her to pick her favourite pieces.
Buy two tickets for a band that’s coming that you happen to know she likes. Bonus points if you snag an autograph for her!
Whatever you do, just make sure it’s something memorable, interesting and fun. Something that allows her to be herself, while also allowing her to see the real you. Good luck!
25 February 2008, 16:56
[Guest post by Audrey.]
You might remember I wrote recently about accessories, and the importance of putting in some effort with them. And while all accessories are important, no men’s accessory is more prolific and obvious than the tie. Not only is it a staple of the well-dressed gentleman’s outfit, it’s quite literally the Rubik’s Cube of the fashion industry: decidedly simple in its design and appearance, yet so goddamn complicated that most guys either do it half-heartedly, or give up and leave it at the bottom of their closet.
For the longest time, I avoided them at all costs. I kept my one school tie knotted in the one knot that I had my mother do, then I’d just loosen it and slip it over my head like a noose. And that’s what it was in my opinion: a noose. It was a symbol of death and darkness and all sorts of other horrors. Then, suddenly one year, something clicked. My wardrobe went from piles of oversized tees to some sharp, well cut shirts. I embraced my slim figure, and realised how good a button-down collared shirt can look on me. And hand in hand with a nice button down shirt goes a good tie –- the perfect icing on the cake.
While the wearing of the tie used to be a very formal affair, it was easy to stick to the rules of the season or event attended to make sure your choice of tie and knot was modest and appropriate. With the change in attitudes towards ties though, today’s gentleman is faced with a plethora of options. Plus, to make matters worse, skinny ties have made a definite resurgence in the mainstream fashion world. Yes sir, things just got more interesting.
The tie itself
The staple of the mods, the rockers, the indie hipsters and now the masses, skinny ties are quite frankly the white whale of the tie world for many men: a trend they’d love to try, but are too scared or intimidated to attack with confidence.
The first point of call is to actually select the tie. Before we get too crazy on the width of your new accessory, we need to cover colour and pattern. There are some simple rules and tips to follow, but keep in mind some rules can be broken if you have the style and charisma to pull it off.
A patterned shirt normally requires a plain tie. If you have a nice patterned tie, break it up with a plain shirt. Colours are all dependant on the rest of your outfit, and are mostly a personal choice. Try and pick something that compliments your skin tone (see Gala’s Fashion Help For Recovering Goths piece to determine your colours). Experiment! That’s my biggest piece of advice. See what suits you, what brings out your eyes, what plays on your best features. And if you don’t know what your best features are, ask your close personal female friends. I’m sure they’ll make a fuss and let you know what they are. And above all, trust your gut feeling. If you think something looks terrible, you won’t be comfortable, and then that’ll let you down even if the outfit does look good.
Let’s get back to the skinny tie. The wearing of a skinny tie is sort of like a mathematical equation. All those angles and degrees of triangles and percentages and you learnt in math class in high school were actually useful after all!
The first rule you need to understand is ratio. Skinny ties are… well, SKINNY! So the second you put one on, everything else will look larger in contrast -– the width of your waist, the height of your torso, the width of your body, the size of your head. As all-inclusive as I’d like to be, it’s a fact of life — if you’re carrying some extra baggage in the stomach area, this isn’t going to be working in your favour.
The good news for the more husky gentleman readers out there is that with the rising popularity of the skinny tie, there are variations of it out there available for purchase. So while a skinny tie may not suit your frame, there are still a lot of different shapes of slim ties available for you to purchase. Instead of the three centimetre wide leather 80’s style vintage piece, pick up something that’s still slim but still has a little shape. I personally am not a fan of the thin, straight knitted ties which can be disastrous for those with a fuller figure. Instead, I favour a ‘narrow’ or ‘Cambridge’ tie – something with a little more shape to it like this.
Just that addition of a little shape could mean all the difference for you too.
You need to look at the shirts you’re planning to pair up with your new skinny friend. Just like the tie will make you look different, it’ll also mess around with the proportions of your shirt. Ergo, you’ll need to be certain your shirt fits you immaculately in relation to the tie. I’m planning a guide to shirts for a future article, but you’ll need to slim up the cut of your shirt for your tie. Personally, I swear by MARCS men’s shirts. Long but never baggy, these shirts are cut so incredibly well in great crisp fabrics, and have amazingly clean lines.
But shop around, and try some on before you make your final decision. This is important! I’ll always maintain that you get into a fitting room with some options before you whip out the credit car. Get measured up by a professional, and find something that’s going to sit well and set you up a nice base for your tie. Try and avoid large, wide collars as again, the proportion of this to the thinness of the tie will look abstract. The body of the shirt should be fitted without being so small and tight that it exposes your belly. Sleeves should be fitted and long, but consider turning them up to the elbow. Otherwise, make sure they’re ending at the end of your wrist, at the base of your thumb -– not halfway down your arm. The stitch line where the sleeves attach to the torso of your shirt should run in line with your shoulder. I promise more details on these points in a couple of weeks’ time!
The final thought for shirts you need to think about is what I call the ‘polish’ -– make sure it’s cleaned and freshly ironed before you put it on and head out the door.
The long and short of it
Okay, so that’s the horizontal axis covered –- now let’s attack the vertical. While I’m built slim, which lends itself perfectly to the skinny ties I love so much, I’m also incredibly tall (we measured me at work today, I’m spot on 199cm!), which can cause me problems finding ties that are actually long enough. While there are a huge variety of excellent skinny ties being manufactured today (I have some great H&M skinny ties in my collection), I’ll still always have a soft spot for the vintage ones –- they have some fabrics, prints and stripes that they just can’t reproduce as well today. And it seems guys back then must’ve been shorter than me, because they’re all just far too short. So keep this in mind when shopping for your skinny tie. If you’re tall like me, find a nice long one so you can still put it into a full- or half-Windsor knot without it ending at your bellybutton. Hint: a tie clip is a great way to hide the fact the ‘tail’ of your knot only goes midway down your chest!
I hope this helps you all in your quest with looking great in a slim tie. For once though, it seems us guys are lucky in the fact there is such a wide variety of them available to us now -– various thicknesses, different patterns, different lengths and fabrics. The world is your oyster, good sir. Be sure to let me know how you go.
18 February 2008, 18:26
[Guest post by Audrey]
I’ve had a few requests lately asking me to tackle the sensitive topic of body odour. Being a human being of the male-variety, I do know what it is like to sweat, stink and generally be a greasy slime-ball — particularly in the summer months. Thankfully though, I have enough common sense and knowledge to accurately battle the problem, and thus have become the clean, fresh, great-smelling boy you’ve all come to know and love!
So for all of you guys out there whose partners, friends and colleagues are suffering day in, day out from the unpleasant stench of your bodily odours, I offer my services to help sculpt and groom you from the foul-smelling beasties that you are into the crisp clean princes we all know you really are inside.
Let’s talk about sweats, baby!
Let’s talk about you and me! Sweat is, essentially, our body’s automatic air-conditioner. It will switch itself on when needed in an effort to cool our bodies down and keep us comfortable and functioning properly. However, while our body cools itself all over with the usual sweat that is slightly salty but generally inoffensive, our apocrine glands (commonly known as the ‘sweat glands’) get busy secreting a mixture of proteins, fats and amino acids, which combine to make a far more toxic substance. These apocrine glands are situated everywhere that body hair grows abundantly (i.e., armpits and certain other places I shan’t mention), which unfortunately results in the funk that is no doubt situated in all your hairiest bits.
You’ll notice that these bits are in the dark, clammy places of your body and have a low amount of air-flow due to the way our bodies are shaped and the clothes that we wear. These substances pair with these awful conditions to make the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, which grow and multiply at alarming rates. And that, my friends, is what makes the horrible odours. And if that’s not bad enough, the bacteria that like to breed in our hairy-bits are actually scientifically proven to be more foul-smelling than the organisms that thrive in the same places on women, explaining why we are far more offensive to people’s noses than our female counterparts who always seem to smell of strawberries and cream even after three hours on the squash courts and an hour in the sauna.
A good offence is the best defence
Don’t be fooled though – it’s not just a case of the hot-n-bothereds that can trigger these apocrine glands into secretion overdrive. Studies have shown that these can be switched on by a number of different things. Emotions (nerves, fear, stress etc.), certain foods and spices (most lads call these the ‘curry sweats’) and an excess of drugs and alcohol can all increase the amount of toxins in your bloodstream. So while your sweat glands will be pumping out natural toxins throughout the day (one to two litres a day on average), exposure to stressful periods, hot foods or having a night out and pumping even more toxins into your body will only make the problem worse.
Just think – your body is designed to manage a certain amount of bad stuff: toxins, fats, germs and the like. It’s inevitable to encounter and ingest these on any given day. But if you up your intake of these, your body needs to switch to other ways to separate the good stuff from the bad stuff and then dispose of it. The rest of your body’s already at full capacity doing it’s regular job, and your body has to get this gunk out of your system somehow, right? Well, your skin is the biggest organ on your body, so it utilises this and disposes of these toxins by letting them leak out of the pores in your skin. Slowly, all over your body, you’re literally leaking all the rubbishy stuff you’ve ingested in your sweat. And that, of course, has odours. Disgusting, right?
The trick to combat this though is a good offence: keeping yourself clean, healthy and well-maintained is the only sure-fire way to
minimalise the risk of smelling like a sweaty taxi-driver in the middle of the season’s biggest heat wave on the way to the dump after eating curry for lunch. Good personal hygiene and a some semblance of moderation will always stand you in good stead to stay clean and pleasant.
Cleanliness is Godliness
Some people favour an evening shower before bed. And I do admit, freshening yourself up before you hop in your jammies is great, and you should ALWAYS have a pre-bedtime skin, eyes and teeth routine in place. Unfortunately though, sleep is our body’s time of healing and revitalising itself. A good night’s sleep can cure just about anything, so just imagine how much your different organs are working while you’re unconscious. Your body works, the world around us keeps going, we get hot and sweat or our partner snuggles up to us with their gross germs and sweat and sleep-breath and by morning we’re almost as dirty as when we were the night before, rendering our pre-bedtime shower useless in preparation for the upcoming day.
So set your alarm fifteen minutes earlier. Jump out of bed and get straight in that shower. It’ll help wake you up (Lord knows I myself need that help most mornings), and it’ll have you fresh and squeaky clean for the day ahead. Besides, every day you should have a nice crisp shirt and clean underpants and all of that – who’d want to muck all that niceness up with a slimy, dirty guy inside?
Now, showers aren’t just about doing blowfishes on the shower screens, or singing Elvis numbers into the end of the massage nozzle (both of which are still fun to do though). Shower time is clean-yourself time so make sure that’s what you’re doing in there. Get lathered up and rinsed off thoroughly. Soap is okay – but keep in mind that soaps are really generic and full of chemicals that can actually be bad for your skin type and dry you out. Do a little research, find your skin type and get yourself a good exfoliating scrub for the shower.
What? Oh yes, I’m sorry. For those boys who unfortunately haven’t encountered this word before:
Exfoliating will, among other things, remove dirt and dead skin cells that accumulate on the surface of the skin. We all have a layer of dead skin and general filth over us (some more so than others) and removing it by way of exfoliation will make your skin smooth and healthy as well as looking better. The even better news is that there are a range of amazing products available that will not only exfoliate your skin, but will also leaving you smelling rugged and manly and great. Personally, I favour The Body Shop Brazil Nut Body Scrub. Even when I sweat throughout the day, it just smells like brazil nut, which is awesome. But go searching, and find a scent that you like and that defines you.
Do keep in mind though that exfoliation shouldn’t be done every day – just like holding a drill, swinging an axe and using a hammer hardens up the skin on your hands and causes calluses, exfoliating too often is actually bad for your skin in the same way, and the abrasion will toughen your skin in a bad way. Aim to do it a few times a week, and use a body butter or shower scrub and loofah (I have a black loofah, so still keep my man-points up!) for the off-days.
Le routine d’post-shower (after shower routine)
“Now, in the cologne department, most men overdo it. Americans practically spray it on with a crop-duster. My rule: Nothing above the neck. Although, I do like a little splash on ‘Big Ben’... You never know where the day make take you”. – Jude Law, Alfie
I think ‘routine’ is the key word here. I’ve been lucky enough to recently move into a bedroom with a very functional wardrobe, so that all the products I use in my morning routine are on a shelf next to my ties, at my fingertips as I agonise about what to wear for the day. Moisturiser for my face, deodorant for my underarms, floss for my teeth and hair product are all neatly stacked beside my keys, sunglasses and wallet. Time management, people!
Deodorant is however the most essential. This is a non-negotiable, fellows. Not only do deodorants mask your musky odours, they also contain chemicals specifically designed and included to fight the bacteria we spoke of earlier. So don’t be lazy and disgusting and skip this all-important step. Come on, say it with me: “Out of the shower, under each arm, every single day. Out of the shower, under each arm, every single day.” That’s it! You’ve got it. Hell, while we’re at it, throw a spray deodorant into your man-bag for when you need that mid-afternoon spray to freshen yourself up.
“Time to musk up.”
Cologne is, on the other hand, a place where you have a little leeway and get to call some of your own shots. What appeals to some might not appeal to another, so I’m not going to lecture you on which aftershaves you should rush out and buy (though if anybody rushes out to buy me the newest Dior Homme, that’d be nice). I will give you a few things to think about, however.
Applying the cologne is easily overdone — so don’t fill your bath tub and splash around in it at all costs. Most guys think cologne is meant to be sprayed to mask a more offensive smell, like body odour or cigarettes. Newsflash, gentleman – this is not high school, you’re not a teenage girl, and you’re not carting a can of spray perfume around to try and hide the fact you’ve been having a ciggie behind the bike shed at lunch time. Cologne is meant to mix with your body heat and your body’s natural chemicals to create an enticing aroma. Nobody should be able to smell it at forty paces either – it should be a scent that gently tugs at a girl’s nostrils when she’s up close on a dance floor or in a loving embrace. That’s when she should be finding out what you smell like. It’ll eventually seal itself into your clothes and your possessions and before long, you have yourself a signature scent without having to be hosed down to stop offending everyone at the office.
Aftershave is expensive, don’t get me wrong. The designers make a mint, hire beautiful models to flog it out to us, and it seems every celebrity has their name attached to some spray these days. Unfortunately, I’m a firm believer that with cologne you really do get what you pay for. A nice name-brand scent can set you back a few hundred dollars but if bought from a reputable dealer will have the best ingredients and the right proportion of chemicals to keep you smelling good without the risk of fatally damaging your skin. Shop around, take advantage of sales, and make sure you buy proper merchandise. You’ll find the fakes hocked on street corners and in back alleys aren’t always what they’re supposed to be and can have alarming levels of dangerous chemicals. So be careful. If smelling good is too much of a strain on the ol’ hip-pocket, find a scent you really like at your local department store and then find one of those ‘inspired by _____’ perfume stores that offer similar smelling perfumes at a fraction of the price.
Extra For Experts:
Basenotes – In my opinion, basenotes is the website to learn more about fragrances, get reviews and suggestions on products. Always my first stop if a friend mentions a new aftershave I might like.
I Subscribe – Like their female counterparts, men’s fashion/style magazines commonly contain advertisements for different fragrances. Rip them out, pull the tab and see if you like something. If you do, go buy it, and stash this magazine strip in your underwear drawer to keep it smelling good.
Freebie List — A good source of free samples you can get your hands on, and a lot of cosmetics companies promote their new products this way. The best way to decide on something is to try before you buy!
11 February 2008, 20:35
[Guest post by Audrey.]
There is a Latin phrase that goes, ‘Vestis Virum Facit’. Translated, it means, ‘The Clothes Maketh the Man’.
Personally though, I think there needs to be a second point added onto that: Accessories Maketh the Outfit. Now I have no idea what the Latin for that is going to be, but my point is that dressing well is not just about what top and pants you’ve decided to pick up off your floor, shake off and put on. It’s vital that you understand the importance of accesorising. To add the finishing touches — a little tweak, a point of difference. Think of it as crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s before you leave the house in the morning.
Good accessories, when worn well, do a number of things. For starters, accessories are surprisingly practical. Your biggest accessory will be your trusty man-bag, but it goes further than that. A nice wrist watch will make sure you’re never late for meetings and appointments. Scarves and gloves will keep you warm. Hats and caps shade you from the sun. Sunglasses protect your eyes and stop you from getting crinkly eyes later in life, and belts stop everyone from seeing you in your tighty whities. Without the basic accessories, we’d barely function as fully-clothed human beings. They’re important!
On the sneaky side though, they can also hide a multitude of sins. A well proportioned neck tie can elongate your body (or shorten it if you need it). A nice, fashionable hat will help you survive a bad hair day unscathed. Or imagine it’s winter and you had a hot date last night but the girl bit the hell out of your neck while you made out at the cinema. A spiffy scarf will make sure nobody sees it, and make you look quite distinguished, when secretly you’re sporting the tell-tale sign of a fun-filled, naughty evening. That, my friend, is the wonder of accessorising.
A picture paints a thousand words, and likewise certain accessories can communicate things to everyone without you even having to speak a word. How many girls do you know that will wear a ring on their wedding finger just so guys won’t hit on them? That’s a perfect example of accessories at work. A button badge of your favourite band tells everyone in a five metre radius about your musical taste. You’d be surprised how much something like a small pin or kerchief or some other small addition to your outfit can communicate to your surrounding public.
They can even be a conversation starter or ice breaker. An interesting necklace from your trip to Zimbabwe or impressive technological watch that translates English into a fun foreign language can be quite the conversation piece at a party or bar — or give someone who’s taken a fancy to you an excuse to come up and talk. Accessories can also give an outfit just the tweak it
needs to change it from one occasion to another. A quick change in belt and shoes can change a work outfit to a going-out-for-drinks outfit without you having to take a change of clothes and lug a bag around for the rest of the evening like the rest of the suckers from your office.
Now, Johnny Everyguy, just TRY and tell me you don’t need accessories. They’re so versatile and important. I’m sure now you’re wondering how exactly you’ve managed to cope so long with nude necks and boring, bare wrists. The time to accessorise is now! You just need to know how to really work them.
There are so many different options out there as far as accessories go. You just need to find something that fits you, your life and your own personal style. What sort of items or look do you you think you want to focus on? Do you prefer silver or gold? Does a necklace with charms sound good to you? Or perhaps a leather wrist cuff and a diamond stud in your ear? An old-school trucker hat and wallet chain? A sharp, skinny tie and braces? Shiny rings? Exquisite cufflinks? A felt fedora?
Just remember the main rule about accessorising yourself: less is more. Accessories are made to be little accents, and designed to be a point of difference. It’s vital that you don’t over do it — a striped scarf, some fuzzy mittens and a colourful, pom-pom beanie all worn together might make you look like you’re eight years old. A cowboy hat, snakeskin belt and bolo tie is a bad combination too, because you don’t want to look like you’re playing dress-ups. We’ll leave that to Vince Noir.
Personally, I like clean lines, robust shapes and simplicity. I’m a big fan of silver, black and white for accessories, so naturally I think Nixon’s range of men’s watches are incredible — particularly the “Metal Dork“ which is equal parts shiny and technological. I think jewellery should be sentimental, so I’m a firm believer that you should rarely buy it for yourself, and instead let others come to the party. Whether it be a beautiful ring from your significant other or a plastic heart pendant your best friend got for you from a gumball machine, I love the feeling you get from having something sentimental around your wrist or neck.
If you’re lacking inspiration though, just have a look around. Accessories are huge for guys right now and there’s an infinite number of places to get ideas. I’ve always been a fan of scarves but I doubt anyone really pulls off the scarf-and-blazer combo better than Jude Law in ‘Alfie’ — a look I decided last winter to make my own. There’s nothing wrong with taking a cue from
somebody. Grab some magazines, watch some video clips or just have a look around your local coffee shop or record store.
Inspiration is everywhere, boys! So don’t be too scared to get out there and try something new. Trying new things is always tricky, particularly if you’re easing into the world of accessories after years of your life without them. Give things a shot, ask your friends or lovers what they think. It might take a few tries but I’m sure you’ll find something that fits. And when you do, you’ll wonder how you ever dressed yourself without it.
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