This is the second installment of our Q&A series where you guys ask some questions and I give you some answers, with a drink in hand. I try to answer common questions that seem to come up a lot in my one-on-one work or ones that you all ask directly.
If you like this series or have a question you would like to see answered, leave a comment below, or hit me up on Twitter.
So let's dive into this April edition, shall we?
What are the basics of skincare? What do men need?
There are so many options out there now. Companies are coming up with all sorts of products for men. They're now capitalizing on a growing market of men who care about their appearance. Before you go crazy and snatch up a bunch of product, you need to start at the foundation.
You need something to cleanse your face, and you need something to hydrate (moisturize) it. That's all for a base level, along with some sun protection. Most facial moisturizers will have some SPF in them these days so covered there.
That all sounds simple, but keep in mind that what you use daily should be designed for your unique skin. If you have acne, look for a cleanser that has salicylic acid, glycolic acid or benzoyl peroxide. If you have oily skin, go for a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer. If you have rosacea, you want to stay away from harsh cleansers and scrubs.
If you’re wanting to take things to the next level, you should add an eye cream and a serum after you wash your face.
The skin around the eyes is the most delicate, making it’s prone to wrinkling early. A good eye cream will help diminish those crows feet.
A serum delivers more powerful ingredients to your skin and penetrates deeper than a moisturizer. The type of serum you get will again depend on your skincare needs. With regular use they can make your skin smoother, fight wrinkles and increase skin moisture. Ingredients to look for: salicylic acid, resveratrol, Vitamin C & E, hyaluronic acid, and retinol.
What’s the policy on open collar shirts? When is it acceptable?
It depends on your workplace or what the people around you are wearing. I’ll approach this from a style perspective.
Open collar shirts while wearing a jacket are more stylish than wearing a shirt with a tie and no jacket.
Going open collar can do a lot for your appearance. It broadens out your shoulders and can elongate your neck. It’s a nice stylish tweak that you should consider working in.
If you’re going with an open collar shirt, make sure that you're not wearing an undershirt. If you are, go with a v-neck shirt so it doesn’t peek out and ruin the look.
Off topic, but your undershirts should always be light gray rather than white. The gray color will hide the shirt better when you’re not wearing your jacket.
What’s the best attire for a wedding?
Speaking of the open collar, weddings are a great time to for this look. Weddings are that middle ground event where things are formal, but you still have plenty of room to experiment. If you’re not part of the wedding, going fully suited and wearing a tie is too formal in my opinion. You don’t want to upstage the groomsmen.
Weddings are fun and light. You want to balance that with a formality that says you respect the event and care about the couple.
Think lighter fabrics, lighter colors, and some minimal patterns. Since most weddings are around April-September, these colors will fit right in.
Air on the side of being more formal than underdressed. The couple will be happy and you’ll have a better shot of scoring with a bridesmaid if that’s your thing.
Here are a few outfit ideas for you in descending formality:
A full lightweight suit, with an open collar shirt and a fun pocket square
A casual blazer with a striped or patterned open-collar shirt and chinos.
Dark wash jeans paired with a tie and a vest
Dark wash jeans paired with a striped or patterned shirt and a casual blazer.
Chinos with any open collar shirt.
Dark wash jeans with any open collar shirt.
What’s the policy with black tie optional events?
If you’re invited to something that says black tie optional, go black tie. The host was too nervous to tell their guests to come back tie and that’s really what they would prefer you wear.
Going black tie, you’ll look better than the guys who tried to figure out the “optional” route. You’ll feel better, and your host will be pleased that you put effort into caring enough about the event.
Black tie events rarely come up these days. Take it as a rare opportunity to sport a tux. It could be the closest you ever get to feeling like Bond.
What should guys stop wearing completely?
I never want to tell guys to stop wearing anything completely if they love it. The walls of style are getting pushed back so far these days, people can pull off nearly anything if they do it methodically.
In terms of what will make you appear more attractive, there are a few general things I dislike on men.
Baggy shorts are at the top of the list. They shrink your legs and make them appear “stubby”. I tend to avoid shorts in general, because I think pants will always make your legs look better. When you wear shorts, make sure they are slimmer and conform to your leg. They should fall right at, or above the knee to keep your legs looking good.
Flip-flops are right up there as well. Let’s face it...men’s feet weren’t designed to be showcased. Flip-flops should be reserved for activities around water and around the house. If you can’t part with them, go with slim leather sandals instead of plastic thongs.
White athletic socks with anything. They’re coming back in style now, but ironically. Most men can’t pull them off without looking granddadish. They were intended for athletic activities, and that’s where they should stay.
Branded t-shirts, especially those brands that target younger men such as Hollister and Abercrombie. When you wear shirts with a large logo or brand, you look like a walking advertisement. Plain t-shirts always look better. You’ll have an easier time layering them, and the attention will be on your face rather than your shirt.
Bad looking wearables. I have no problem with the Apple watch or other similar tech. My problem is with the coloring of those items. Those items are usually colored in a way that stands out from the rest of your outfit and detracts from it. I saw a guy with a great outfit, very well put together with great color choices. But he was wearing an Apple Watch with an orange band that took away from the rest of the outfit. No item that small should have such visual power.
How should I work in jewelry? What’s an acceptable amount of jewelry?
Men’s jewelry is on the rise and you should be working it in somehow. For most men, less is more. In any case, you need to find your level of comfort with jewelry. For some guys, it's only a watch, for others, they want more of a rockstar appearance.
Start small and take baby steps. That first step is usually a watch. After that consider adding a leather or beaded bracelet or metal cuff. After that experiment with a ring on your middle or ring finger and a necklace.
Bonus points if you have a story behind some of your jewelry. Maybe you found it at a cool vintage shop, you picked it up traveling, or you bought it to celebrate an occasion. Those pieces will always mean more to you and you’ll have something to tell people if they ask.
What’s an easy way to level up my style?
Speaking of jewelry, accessorizing is one of the easiest ways to take an otherwise boring outfit, and turn it into something stylish. A simple watch or bracelet can do a lot more than most men realize. A lot of men still don’t feel comfortable with accessorizing, but if you can work in an accessory or two, you’ll have a leg up on the outfits around you.
The other thing you can do is dress a level or two above the people around you. If everyone at your workplace is wearing an open collar shirt and jeans, wear nice chinos and throw a blazer on. If everyone is wearing t-shirts, wear a short-sleeve button down. If everyone if everyone is wearing flip-flops, wear casual loafers. If everyone is naked, you should join in.
How do I get a sense of my personal style?
A younger man in his late teens asked me to advise him on his personal style. We hadn’t worked together, but even if we did, I wouldn't be able to give him the answer he was looking for.
I can aid you in the journey and help you realize your personal style, but it’s yours. Its something that is inherent to you and I can’t tell you what you like. I can tell you what’s most attractive for you and help you cultivate your personal style, but I can’t wrap it up and gift it to you. No one can. That said, here are a few things that can help you get a sense of your personal style.
1. You already have a better sense of your personal style than you realize. Think about your car, your home, etc. You’ve chosen those things for your life. You already have an inherent sense of what you like and what you don’t. Learn to trust your gut.
2. Take a look at what already surrounds you in your life. Who you hang out with, what your passions and hobbies are, etc. then start to look for things you can install into your personal style.
Let’s say you enjoy sailing. There are small things you can work in to let that passion shine through your personal style. Boat shoes, blue and white colors, a diver’s watch, a freshly scented cologne, etc.
Let’s say you enjoy the outdoors and spend a lot of time hunting or camping. You can work in earthy tones, heavier thermal fabrics, plaids, boots, and woody masculine fragrances.
There is always a way to take a little bit of what you love and throw it into your clothing. It’s best to do this in small doses.
3. Take to the internet and find some style icons. These are people who's style resonates with you for whatever reason. Trust your gut with this.
Go to Instagram and search the hashtag #mensstyle. You can also search “men’s style” on Google images. Spend five minutes pulling pictures of styles you like. Don’t overthink it. You’re just responding to that initial reaction of the things you like.
Once you’ve compiled some images, you should notice a common theme. What are the colors? What are the common articles you’re seeing? This will give you a “vision board” of what you’re after. You can now narrow the images down to the five you like best. When making purchases or choosing outfits, you can refer back to this vision board.