6 Reasons You Need a Great Tuxedo

So, I was invited to fancy black-tie wedding this past Fall in Los Angeles. I hadn’t worn a tux in a while and didn’t even know if I still owned one. But I dug through my closet and found the required supplies: jacket, pants, shirt, cummerbund and ties. I even found a sweet pair of my Dad’s old suspenders that were still functional. I knew my wife wasn’t going to let me show up (with her) in a less than acceptable set of duds to this wedding, so I had the jacket and pants professionally cleaned and the shirt pressed. I tried on my clean tuxedo and evaluated myself in our long mirror on the back of our closet door. Save for some minor pinching in the button of the jacket, it was as good as new. No threadbare spots. No tears. No stains. This tuxedo that had lasted me at least 20 years and dozens of boozy affairs was still serviceable. Plus I was still thin enough to wear it. It got me to thinking about all of the parties and weddings, a nostalgic journey where different women accompanied me to significant events though different times in my life. I dug up some old photos and reminisced about my college friend and fraternity bother Ken’s wedding where I broke out my guitar and serenaded him and his new bride. I thought about another wedding where my friends and I were forced to swim across a Cape Cod harbor back to our hotel at 3am. When we returned the next day to collect our tuxes, there they were, wadded up and stashed in the bushes behind the hotel bar we had closed down. And then there was the unfortunate incident at a particularly over - the - top fundraiser in Connecticut  that involved lots and lots of booze and a trampoline. I split the pants of my beloved tux that night, and yet somehow that repair job from the local tailor had held up. In fact, these pants were stronger now than they were when I got them. And then I thought about when and where I got my tux, and I remembered a little custom shop in Manhattan’s garment district where my father had taken me. My father loved clothes and knew all of the best spots in New York to buy them and have them customized. He was tall and handsome and knew what he liked. I was less so, but now, about his age then, I realized how important it is to have a suit that makes you look good and feel good. Of course renting is still an option, and you can do so here, but there are lots of great reason to consider owning a tux. And so here, without further ado, the six reasons to splurge on a nice, quality tux and take good care of it.

Comfort and Style

Looking and feeling good cannot be over-valued. If you are the sharpest looking man in a room of sharp looking men, then you are the king. And being the king has benefits. You’ll attract the right people, engage them in humor and wit that they will remember, and have fun doing it. Plus, if you play your cards right, the next morning you can sport the classic no tie and open shirt look that Daniel Craig has perfected.

Economics

If you do the math, own a tux and having it last 10 wears will probably be more economical. Renting a tux will run you between $75 and $100 for a night, and then you have to bring it back to the shop. I will never forget returning my own rented tux from my own wedding (As the groom, I had to wear a morning suit) and

Confidence

In life, there are moments where your nerves get the best of you. Maybe you get to meet Tom Brady or Derek Jeter, or maybe it is another moment. But your adrenaline will flow and you’ll feel a pit in your stomach. You will be trying to listen but you’ll be distracted by the nagging feeling that you’re

Accessorizing

Let’s face it, it is 2017 and people like spice up some old norms. Men these days like to try and push the envelope and trot out the rainbow cummerbund, the yellow vest, the t-shirt tux, the tux-with-sneaker look, novelty cufflinks or even the pink suspenders. If you are the kind of man who likes to show off your rebellious side without being too annoying or looking too ridiculous, then a black-tie event will provide you with the opportunity to do so.

Instagram

There will a lot pictures taken at black tie affairs, and they’ll find their way onto social media. The last thing you want is to see a photo and wish you had a better fitting, better looking tuxedo on. Pictured last forever, make sure you are looking your best.

James Bond

As if this needs to be said, there was a reason James Bond had a way with the ladies (and men), and it wasn’t just the martinis and the swagger, it was the tux. He looked so cool and he was cool. My favorite is the scene from Skyfall when Daniel Craig is inside the Macau casino and drinking the martini. He is so fit and his tux is snugly tailored, but he is a million bucks.

For more Men's Lifestyle content please visit ForMen.com, and for automotive content please visit DrivingToday.com

 

Razor Comparison 2017

So, in the old days when shaving was a boring, mundane daily routine that just had to be done and not really thought about too much, scrapes, cuts and razor burn just came with the territory. No one griped about it. But now, with fancy new technology (5 blades!), comfort strips and lubrication gel strips, shaving is more like a men’s home care New Year’s Eve party. And why not? The Men’s personal care industry has exploded in the last 10 years and many of the razor & blade manufacturers, shave and after shave balm makers and skin care players are all chasing market share. Heck, Dollar Shave Club is selling butt wipes for Pete's sake, so clearly there is opportunity for the brands to solidify their loyalties with their base. Proctor & Gamble, Unilever and Edgewell are the big players, but there are upstarts like Harry's who are competing to penetrate the coveted recurring cartridge subscriber. The irony is that despite the massive upgrades in gear, blades, cartridges, shave cream and aftershave lotions, people are shaving a whole lot less. Indeed, many of today’s ad pitchmen are bearded Millennials who apparently feel the need to remind the American public that they don’t have to shave for the jobs they may or may not have. But for now we are going to attempt to break down the question of which blade is best, both from a quality and performance standpoint, and from a cost standpoint.

Our collective jaws dropped last year when we read about Dollar Shave Club being acquired for $1 Billion by Unilever. And then we all scratched our heads when Harry’s went on a PR tour about the blade factory in Germany they bought. And it is worth noting that subscription-based services, like those offered by Dollar Shave Club, Harry’s and now Gillette OnDemand, are less about a quality shave and more about having your credit card on file to charge every month. There is a good reason the Dollar Shave Club founder Michael Dubin made such entertaining commercials: because he wanted your credit card.

Methodology

I did okay in middle school and high school science, and so I know a little bit about the idea of a ‘control’ to perform a proper scientific experiment. So I realized that before I lay out my findings on the increasingly costly modern shave set-ups, that I would lay out the rating systems and methodology so that there are no gray areas of misunderstandings. And, since this article will be published and translated into 5 different languages, I don’t want to offend anyone.

First, to establish a control I decided that each razor would shave three times: 1) the first time on a 72 hour beard, 2) the second time on a 48 hour beard (same blade), and the third time on a 24 hour beard. I wanted to do it this way to see how durable the blade was and how well it held up as its performance deteriorated and to measure the all-important ‘cost-per-awesome-shave metric’ I wanted to introduce. I say this because every man in the world who is reading this has extracted an extra shave or two or three from an old dull razor. And that is usually because he is out of blades, which is likely because they cost so much damn money and he didn’t feel like trading his financial security for a decent shave (this could also could explain why so many men are wearing beards these days.)

Quick sidebar: I was speaking with my father the other day about the 70’s when men his age wore sideburns and mustaches and long hair if they had it as a means of protest and display of civil disobedience. He told me that NOT shaving was never an option back in the day, and that men demonstrated their defiance and civil disobedience via mustached and hippie mullets (see season 1 of HBO’s Vinyl for a visual representation of this). But I didn’t care (and still don’t), but I do care about figuring out the best razor/shave set-up best for you, the reader.

Okay back to the methodology. I selected Jack Black’s Beard Lube as my shave cream/lube because I have used it in the past and I felt like its eucalyptus scent and cooling feel best represented what readers wanted out of a good shave. I also have noticed in my 30 plus years of shaving that I would rather have a slightly less close shave than a painful cut on my face, and that most men (or women) reading this this will agree. Blood is bad, comfort is good. Finally, to make each blade’s performance an apples-to-apples comparison to its competitor, they need to have the same whisker length and whisker toughness.

Gillette

I thought the Mach 3 was pretty great when it came out in 1995. And shaving with it was about the coolest thing I could have imagined. I never thought they’d get three blades into a cartridge, and then when they got 5 blades into a cartridge I figured the razor blade wars were over.  But those Gillette razor cartridges are not cheap, and still aren’t. A package of 8 new Gillette Fusion replacement blade cartridges goes for between $28 and $32 on Amazon. As usual, this was a great, comfortable shave. The lubrication strip lasted longer than I expected, and the blades stayed sharp through the third shave. The Fusion cartridges also comes with a blade at the top of the cartridge, above the comfort strip, that is great for getting whisker up under your nose.  I also like the design of the head for easy cleaning. Overall, even with Gillette’s new direct subscription option, these blades are pricey.

Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club has a 6 blade cartridge that sells for $9 per month for four cartridges. I really like this shave, and the blades held up well in three times I used the cartridge. What I didn’t really like is the silly marketing and overly complex pricing and subscription tiers. In general, I don’t like having my credit card getting hit every month for something I may not need. I don’t shave as much as I used to, and I want to buy razors when I need them, not when my razor company wants to charge me. Plus, as with any subscription business, there is the ever present lead generation and free sampling that bothers me.

Harry’s

Harry’s offers a few different options as well, but we used the 5 blade option for this exercise. The packing is nice (blue, orange or green handle), but until shaving gear becomes a fashion statement, then the color of the handle doesn’t and shoudn’t matter. What should matter is how close a shave you get, how many shave you can get get from one cartridge, and what the Cost-per-Awsome- Shave (CPAS) is. I liked this shave, but I noticed the blades wore down at a slightly higher rate then the others. I also felt like the website was clunky and didn’t really boil down the all-in costs of ordering a shipment. In general, anytime there is a shipping costs involved, there is room for padding costs.

Schick

The Schick Hydro came our in 2010 and has earned some respect among face shavers. Without over spending on branding and instead focusing on value and quality, Schick has been able to hold onto precious market share in the US while the Big Three beat each other up with media dollars. The truth is, Schick offers and excellent shave at a decent price, and enjoys brand loyalty not only in the US but around the globe. The Schick Hydro 5 performed very well in our comparison, and at $15 on Amazon for a package of 5 new blades, are priced reasonably.

Bic

Ahh the old standby. One blade, one use, throw away. Easy, no gimmicks, no flash, no commercials and, sadly, not a very comfortable shave. The blade will work fine with a decent shave balm on a 1-day beard, but any real stubble and you are in trouble. This shaving experience fit squarely in the ‘you get what you pay for’ bucket, and most men with a face will want to pay a little more for comfort.

  Comfort Durability Price CPAS*
Dollar SC 3.5 3.5 5.0 3.9
Gillette 5.0 5.0 3.5 4.6
Harry's 3.5 4.0 4.0 3.8
Bic 2.0 2.0 5.0 2.8
Schick 4.0 4.0 4.0 4.0

* We discussed putting in an actual dollar amount in here but given small price fluctuations, shipping, and free shave cream samples, decide to keep it simple and give an overall grade between 1 and 5. We also overweighted 'comfort' in the calculation of CPAS by @2X

 

To summarize, Gillette, Schick, Dollar Shave Club and Harry’s are making shaving a lot less boring and a lot more exciting for most men. But in the end, most men want a good shave (when they have to shave) at a reasonable cost without too many bells and whistles. We preferred Gillette, but as with everything, to each his own.

Fashion 2017: Colors and Patterns for Men

If your daily uniform is a white Oxford shirt and navy suit, it’s time to take your wardrobe to the next level:

Colors

Ten years ago, men had no choice. If you worked in an office, your shirt was white and your suit was navy. Color belonged on the tie. Today, the rules have changed in even the stuffiest of offices. Light blue shirts are as acceptable as white. Suits no longer have to be dark. You can choose from a range of grays, and during the warmer months, a light or dark khaki suit is comfortable and stylish. As for shirts, pink and light purple join blue and white. There’s nothing feminine about these colors in a dress shirt. Pink is masculine, and so is lavender (more commonly labeled “violet” or “lilac”).

If you work someplace more relaxed, you have more options. “There are no hard-and-fast rules for wearing color,” says Daniel Ou, director of product development at Gap. “But the easy way to find a color that looks good on you is to pick shades that complement your skin tone: lighter, brighter colors for dark complexions, and saturated, darker hues for pale skin. Experiment and test out your comfort level first. I recommend trying on a new colored T-shirt or polo shirt with a pair of dark denim jeans to see how they look together, on you.”

A good place to start is with classic colors -- blue, pink, purple -- but in different shades. There are great medium-blue shirts the color of blueberry juice. Cobalt blue is also popular right now. Baby blue, a longtime favorite, “seems to have run its course and may be best for the toddler set,” says Ou. “Pink is a standard go-to color, but it has a preppy undertone, so try a bolder, dark version to stand out from the pack.” Specifically, look for a dark pink -- not red -- that’s reminiscent of a faded barn. It’s warm and inviting.

“If you’re worried about looking too bright, use color as an accent,” advises Ou. “Pair it with something neutral like khaki, gray or brown. It will tone down the look.”

Patterns
Easy places to add pattern include your tie, pocket square or socks. But to take a fashionable step forward, try adding shirts to the mix. Start with subtle stripes, plaids and gingham (a cross between a stripe and a plaid -- it’s two colors crossing over to create a small-checkered pattern). “Wearing these patterns will signal your interest in looking like a true gentleman,” says Ou.

With stripes, start with basic color combinations such as blue and white, pink and white, or dark blue and light blue. Pair them with navy pants, jeans or khakis; you don’t want your pants to compete with the stripes. The same formula works for plaid, but avoid overly large patterns and overly bright colors, unless you’re planning to chop wood or go camping.

“I love plaid,” says Brian Bolke, founder of Forty Five Ten, an independent shop in Dallas, Texas, “because it’s going have three colors in it, which gives you a lot to work with. You can add a solid pant and tie and look great.” Note: The pants and tie should match the darkest color in the plaid.

“Gingham is a classic and easy-to-wear pattern that will never go out of style," says Ou. But as with plaid, aim small. “Smaller-scale gingham in darker colors tends to be dressier and more stylish,” explains Ou, “while too large a scale might end up looking like a giant picnic table cloth.”

Finally, avoid combining multiple patterns. It’s too easy to look like you’re wearing pajamas. But a pattern tie-and-shirt combination can work well. For example, a medium-size plaid shirt with a tiny check tie can look smart when paired with a pair of dark pants.

In the end, the best advice is to experiment and trust your instincts. “Guys are uncomfortable trying new things,” says Bolke. “But they shouldn’t be. As long as you don’t go overboard, you’re going to get noticed -- in a good way -- for stepping up your game.”

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/YT

The Ultimate Guide to Cool Winter Coats

That layer of leather, down or wool on your back is not just a coat. It’s part of you. It’s the first thing people see when they meet you. And you’ll probably wear it every day between Thanksgiving and St. Patrick’s Day, unless you currently reside in sunny Puerto Rico, and then, well, you can click off to another story. The rest of us: We need a coat.

The pages of magazines are filled with new styles for the season. But don’t expect many surprises. After all, menswear rarely changes radically. During a recession, it changes even less because guys are more careful with their cash -- and designers know it. So the best coats this year fit into classic categories, from the varsity jacket to the overcoat, with subtle improvements. The newest versions of these classic styles are slimmer and more streamlined to last for more than a year before going out of style.

To help you transition from the first cold snap through the last tenacious snowflake, here are the top five trends for fall and winter 2011 – 2012.

The Varsity Jacket

If you already have a letterman jacket, save yourself some money and get it out of the closet. The athletic style is in tons of designer collections this fall. You can dress it up or down. Pair it with casual pants, a blue shirt and a tie to look relaxed but on top of your game. Wear the two-tone classic with jeans and a sweater for everyday wear. Further proof of the trend: You can splurge on one from Thom Browne ($1,295), choose a leather-less version (the arms are knit) from Shipley & Halmos ($495) or head to Macy’s and pick up a letterman jacket from Cavi ($88).

The Vest

When it’s cold but not freezing, grab a vest. Seriously. If your torso is warm, your entire body feels warm. Personally, I never believed this … until I got a vest of my own. It’s beyond practical and a pleasantly masculine addition to your wardrobe. A vest makes city guys look like they could fend for themselves in the woods. Wear one over a cardigan and a tie for work, or with a turtleneck and cargo pants on weekends. The Gap sells a few different styles, but look for their Modern Puffer Vest with slim padding and diagonal stitching ($70). If you’re seeking a little shine, Diesel’s Werty Puffer Vest ($250) is deep black nylon and the quilting is square and workmanlike. You could wear it at night on a date and look sharp.

The Puffy

The new puffy coats are still filled with down, mostly, but they’re different. They’re toned down, sort of half-puffy. Goodbye to over-inflated Michelin Man jackets; slimmer styles are in. These new coats could be described as quilted because, without so much inflation, you can see the stitching and the pattern it makes. The Down Bomber Jacket from PS by Paul Smith is the quintessential new down jacket for 2011. It’s also $765. But notice how smooth the face is, how minimal the quilting … how the stuffing doesn’t make you look fat. Patagonia makes a sweet toned-down Down Jacket ($200). The 1-inch horizontal quilting and short collar give it a very modern feel. While old-school puffies were essentially ski-wear, these you can wear any time. Pair with cords and a casual shirt for a dinner date or throw over a long-sleeved Henley for a weekend outing.

The Double-breasted Overcoat

A double-breasted jacket makes a man look bigger and bossy. In contrast, the double-breasted overcoats appearing in stores this year look almost understated. They’re less boxy too. If you need a new coat for work, this is it. Double-breasted means you take yourself seriously, but, with the new styles, not too seriously. Vince combines two trends in one with their double-breasted Puffer Peacoat ($395). For a more relaxed approach, look at Kenneth Cole’s Double-Breasted Topcoat ($350). Banana Republic takes double-breasted to an even more casual level with their Heritage Cotton Military Jacket ($298).

The Toggle Coat
Show me a toggle coat and I think of young French boys jumping in puddles. But I’ve probably seen too many French movies. Designers obviously think toggles are for everyone, and the fact is today’s toggle coat is all grown up. They make their wearer look like the owner of a yacht, not a wee sailor. The Rugger Hooded Toggle Coat from Gant ($398) is a classic with big wooden toggles. Brooks Brothers’ deep navy Classic Duffle Coat is a little pricier ($598), but the toggles are covered with dark leather. The version from the Gap ($158) is sturdy wool and comes in navy or olive green. These coats are great for layering; there’s plenty of room underneath for a thick sweater, and if you’ve got a dress shirt underneath, it won’t get wrinkled. That’s important since you’re eventually going to take your coat off, and what’s underneath says a lot about you too.

Know Your Skin Type

Looks are only skin-deep, you’re always told. So unless you want to wow women with your inner beauty, you’d better take good care of that skin. The trick, says Ellen Marmur -- author of the book Simple Skin Beauty and chief of dermatologic and cosmetic surgery at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York -- is knowing how to do it properly.

Marmur recommends what she calls a PET strategy: protect, enhance and troubleshoot. Protect means to use sunscreen. Most men don’t, even though it dramatically reduces wrinkles and other effects of aging over the years. Enhance means use the right skin and shaving products. And to do that, you need to troubleshoot, or identify your unique skin care needs. We’ve enlisted the advice of Marmur and Valentina Chistova, a renowned aesthetician and owner of ABC Day Spa in New Jersey, to aid you in this part of the process. As for the inner-beauty part, you’re on your own.

Skin type: Dry

How to identify it: Your skin feels tight after you wash it. You may notice chapped splotches in spots, and it can appear dull from excess dead layers.

How to treat it: Apply moisturizer in the morning after you shave and at night before you go to bed, Chistova recommends. “In the evening, you can use a rich moisturizer, one that is specially noted for nighttime use,” she adds. You might also want to consider using cleansing milk instead of soap, as it removes fewer natural oils. You should probably refrain from using aftershave if you’ve got this skin type, says Marmur, since it tends to close pores and further dry your cheeks, chin and neck.

Skin type: Oily

How to identify it: Within thirty minutes of washing your face, your skin is already shiny. When you touch your face, you notice oily residue on your fingers. You also have a tendency to get blackheads.

How to treat it: Use one of the many gel facial cleansers designed specifically for oily skin. Also, says Chistova, after washing your face, apply a toner -- which cleans the skin and closes pores -- with a cotton ball. You still need to moisturize, but probably only once a day, in the evening. Marmur suggests experimenting with different aftershaves to find which one complements your skin the best and slows it from getting shiny during the day.

Skin type: Combination

How to identify it: Marmur calls this the most common skin condition among men. Your cheeks and forehead may be dry, but then shiny oil may build up along the T-zone (across the brow and down the nose).

How to treat it: Cater your approach to whichever area of the face you’re treating. Use the strategies best suited for oily skin on the T-zone, and the ones for dry skin on the cheeks and forehead. And, adds Marmur, apply sunscreen everywhere to prevent aging effects.

Skin type: Sensitive

How to identify it: Your face sunburns easily and is prone to redness, hives and bumps.

How to treat it: If you have this type of skin, you should seek a dermatologist or a skin-care professional for specific advice based upon your unique needs. But Chistova provides some simple, basic tips: Wash your face a couple of times a day at most, and use the most delicate soaps and facial products possible. Some brands make a face wash for sensitive skin, which would be far superior to a bar of soap.

Photo Credit: @iStockphoto.com/atanasija