Thursday, September 30, 2010

Issue # 20 - Product Review: Kenneth Cole Black

Issue # 20 - Product Review Kenneth Cole Black

I was very excited about this product review, as I have become a big Kenneth Cole fan in the past year. After I discovered the Kenneth Cole RSVP fragrance which is a standard in my collection, I made it a priority to get my hands on the entire KC collection, and my newest addition is Kenneth Cole Black.

To begin with, the bottle is just classic. It's solid black with just a simple and understated title, almost hand printed, which gives the fragrance an immediately personable and, if this makes sense, an unintimidating appeal. It's sleek and says class as much as it says casual. It's a bottle that while just being black, truly stands out on my shelf, which for some reason is a cool attribute for me.

Now, for the's fantastic, and not one bit of a let down. It opens up fairly fresh with just a touch of fresh citrus mixed with some faintly spicy notes. Although decently subtle, it immediately announces its presence; like an intriguing and mysterious party guest that arrives fashionably late, but doesn't crash the doors down.

As the topnotes fade, the scent takes a very welcome and comforting turn to the intimate side, settling into darker woodsy tones, including cedar leaf, and a unique element: Incense smoke. It gives off a warm vibe while wearing off just enough to know that it's there; a lingering vibe of vintage style. 

The basenotes are by far my favourite layer of this fragrance, committing fully to the dark allures of coziness, and settling into a warm atmosphere of violet leaves, musk and in my opinion, the defining scent, Black Suede. By this time, the scent itself has simply become a part of you, acting as your intriguing natural scent instead of a fragrance.

The way i look at fragrances, as you all should know by now, is how they make me feel; what do they say? what season to they evoke? What emotions do they emit? Sometimes i try to characterize the layers of a scent with a scenario in my head; it's crazy to say but it works for me. For Kenneth Cole Black, the combination of the topnotes, heartnotes and basenotes plays out a scenario for me: Coming in from a bright, crisp and snowy winter dusk to a log cabin where you pour yourself a glass of wine (for me it would be Inniskillin's Late Autumn Riesling), start a wood fire, and settle down into a blanket on the couch while you watch the snow fall outside...where you get so comfortable, you aren't sleepy but you just don't want to move. It's that perfect sense of relaxation and coziness that I feel Kenneth Cole Black evokes.

I read several reviews of KCB before writing this blog, and one reviewer compared it to "slipping on a vintage leather jacket". This is also an amazing analogy for KCB, which also comes across as subtley vintage.

Retail stores sell KCB for about $50 for a 50ml bottle, and around $80 for a 100ml bottle. I used my go-to source, (link is in the list on this page), and was able to score a 100ml Tester bottle for only $38! For those who are unsure what a tester bottle is, it's exactly what it sounds like: it's the bottle in stores you spray to test the scent. Often there are a surplus of these that don't get used, so places like get them and sell them at a fraction of the cost. What a lot of people don't know is that when buying a fragrance, part of the high price is the packaging, and amazingly, the CAP on the bottle, which costs often more than the bottle itself. I purchased KCB as a non-used tester bottle without the box or a cap, and saved a LOT of money. Think about it: do you REALLY need the box and cap?

If you're not able to score a tester bottle, and you find KCB a little out of your range, (after all this IS a blog for looking good on a smaller budget...sometimes), you can get a suitable alternative in Swiss Army Altitude. Not often will i ever sing praise on swiss army, but their 'Altitude' fragrance is actually a very close comparison to KCB. It's more citrusy on the topnotes, and doesn't quite capture that cozy vintage feel that KCB has, but to the naked nose, it can pass as a twin. Do I suggest this? No. I suggest buying KCB. But if you insist on not spending the cash, you can pick up Altitude for around $20 at most places.

To conclude today's review, i recommend KCB for day and night use (preferably night), and in very cool to cold weather, and rainy days. Pair it with a leather jacket and don't look back.

Until next time gents,

Issue # 19 - What Suits you?

Issue # 19 - What suits you?

I recently had the chance to attend a wedding reception, and I was quite looking forward to it. Why? Because I love observing style. You should know this by now. And where else to observe style than at a wedding reception? This reception was different though, since the couple got married out of town and were just having a party here for friends and family. The event was more lax than most receptions, so the dress code was more of a Do-what-you-think-is-best code.

Since it was an informal affair, i decided to forgo the dress pants and jacket, and opt for something much more my style: A black and white dress shirt with a somewhat edgy checker/plaid pattern, A black cotton tie, A tweed grey waistcoat, vintage black leather belt, dark, slim dress jeans, and a pair of black leather Steve Madden Slip ons....with Black and purple Argyle socks for flare. Can't picture it? That's ok, just trust me. I arrive to the reception, and I am immediately bombarded with typical, ridiculous wedding attire from the prime example of the clueless men this blog is all about.

Not sure what i mean? Look at the picture above. If you think this looks fine, then you're one of the clueless men. Sorry if that offends you....actually no I am not. See, I have noticed that far too many men think that just putting on a suit and a tie automatically means you are 'dressed up'. This is not the fact, in a vast majority of cases, I find that men actually look MUCH more sloppy in their 'dressy' attire than they do on a lazy sunday afternoon. How is this possible? Please refer to my issue "Messy isn't Sexy" to get a precursor to what I am about to write.

A suit SHOULD NOT BE MESSY. If you go to any men's formal store, and buy a suit directly off the rack, or any dress wear for that matter, it will hardly EVER fit properly. So get it tailored. A suit should be tailored and fit perfectly. Yours doesn't. This reception was no different than any i have seen before. All around me were men wearing suit jackets that had the fit of potato sacks; Far too wide in the shoulders, far too long past the waist. They essentially looked like boxy black fabric sheets with a few buttons attached. (On that note, why do so many men insist on just BLACK suits? Newsflash boys, black doesn't always mean formal. A charcoal or lighter grey suit will work for every occasion, so try it out. ) Their dress shirts were ill-fitting and billowing out of their equally baggy pants at such a speed, i couldn't take it all in.

But the most dominant factor of my distaste, was the ties. Someone needs to make a mass bulletin somewhere in the media saying that WIDE TIES ARE NOT IN STYLE. All around me were massive ties hanging far too low, and just not matching ANYTHING in the outfit. There was one gentleman wearing a pink dress shirt which actually fit quite well...but he paired it with a shiny white tie which was far too wide, and black pants and black shoes. The tie was not echoed anywhere in the outfit, therefore it looked just completely out of place. Not to mention it hung a good inch below his belt which is a major no-no.

So what is it...what is it that tells men to dress this way? Well, I blame it partially on the male inherited gene of not caring enough to care what they look like, partially on a blue collar city's ultimate lack of style in general, and partially on the vast lack of knowledge of salespeople in men's stores. One gentleman i spoke to at the reception told me that he just walked into freeds, told them he had a reception to go to, and that he needed to be dressed. I would think that as a salesperson at a men's fashion store in the year 2010, he would have done something...well...good. But alas, he did not. So what did this gentleman leave the store with? An oversized black dress shirt, black tie, black belt, oversized black pants, and really bad shoes. How did such a thing occur? Well, it's a combination of 2 things. First, the salesman was most likely clueless as to what looks good in today's day and age, and Second, this is most likely because he's 96 years old. I couldn't believe this. Here was this man, roughly 5'6'', and thin, looking as if he was a little boy wearing his dad's clothes, because his brand new outfit was so vastly oversized.

Bottom line here men, wearing a suit does not mean you instantly look good. It takes as much work to look good in a suit as it does to look good in anything else. So spend the time and a little bit of money, tailor the suit and abide by the basic of all basic style rules, and you should be set.

Until next time gents,

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Issue # 18 - Reviewing Ralph Lauren's "Big Pony"

Issue # 18 - Reviewing Ralph Lauren's "Big Pony"

Ralph Lauren: A worldly name that symbolizes class, style, culture, and sophistication. A name that has been around for years, and has lived past its expectations time and time again. From clothing to candles, Ralph Lauren co. has excelled in everything it touches, and fragrances are at the forefront of that statement.

Ralph Lauren's newest line of men's fragrances is called the "Big Pony Collection", inspired by the "Big Pony" line of shirts that were hugely successful. I caught these bottles outof  the corner of my eye, because they are simply too vivid to miss. Very rarely to men's fragrances go off the deep end in terms of colour, they usually stick to many tones and darker colours or blues. But this line uses vibrant oranges, greens, reds and blues, and alternates them on the 3 different design aspects of the bottles. It's quite appealing to the eye and right off the bat, the bottles tell you that these scents will be different.

The line released 4 different fragrances, all distinctly different and all to suit a certain mood/personality. There is "Sporty", "Seductive", "adventurous" and "Stylish" (from left to right in the picture). Notice how the colours of the bottles almost tell you which one is which without even knowing? I love it. The fragrance in review today is #2 - Seductive.

Upon seeing the new line, I HAD to test them. They were too inviting not to sample almost immediately. I sprayed each one on the tester cards provided (which allow you to tear the corner to remind you which was which, ingenius) and put them in different pockets so they wouldn't mix. About 5 minutes later i took them out and smelled them. They are ALL fantastic scents, so it was hard to choose which one to start with, but alas, i chose #2. In a red bottle, with a Yellow logo, and a bright green 2 on the back, it certainly does stand out amongst my collection, but what's inside stands out more. It's warm and subtle, and almost edible. It has sweet notes of dark chocolate among a bright citrusy opening, and settles into an inviting powdery tone. It's not overly manly, nor is it overly light. It truly is hard to describe and is a complex scent. Being the "Seductive" scent in the lineup was a good's almost as if it's sweet opening lures in your prey and the masculine dry down seals the deal.

The writer who reviewed this fragrance on "Now Smell This" (   is quoted as saying:  "Big Pony No. 2 seems like a young man’s idea of a “sexy” and dressy fragrance with its ‘edible’/foody notes mixed with light, non-confrontational musk.".  While I cannot confirm nor deny this since I am not a young man, (they referred to this scent as "Prom Night Special") I do not see a reason why grown men should deny themselves a scent of this complexity. And while i disagree with his/her opinion categorizing this as a fragrance for the young, I do agree that it is not a formal scent. To me it's somewhere between every day casual and semi-formal; Being light enough to wear daily if desired as a signature scent, or formal enough to wear on occasions that require a great scent accessory, but not a formal event. Did that make sense?

All in all this fragrance is definitely a stand out, both in appearance and scent. I personally can't wait for the chance to wear it out, and I am even more excited to try the other scents! From my memory of testing them, I would put #3 as my next purchase, #4 after that, and although you know i am not a fan of 'sporty' scents, #1 would be my last purchase just to round out the group.

Until next time Gents!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Issue # 17 - Messy is not sexy

Issue # 17 - Messy is NOT sexy

Hey guys, This may come as a shock to you, but looking like a slopshow does not attract the opposite sex. I have noticed a disturbing trend that has become exremely prevalent in recent years, and this trend is the "Look like i don't care" look. As far as I can recall, this trend started in late 1999, and into the early 2000s. Men went from taking the time to style their hair immaculately, to showing up to school and other gatherings with their hair completely untouched by anything but their pillow. This then translated into untucked shirts, wrinkly pants, and so on. While this trend was popular at the time, it was extremely short lived.

Now, as we approach the end of 2010, this look is still making appearances, and for the life of me, i cannot understand why. The whole beauty of the Messy look is that it wasn't truly messy. It was a look, that while characterized by the "i don't care" facade, actually took a lot of time and care to perfect. This is why the "messy look" in hairstyles is still the best look for men. Hair is one thing. Entire outfits are another. Take this classy looking gent above. Does he look anywhere near what a man should look like? If you were a woman, would this attract you? I doubt it would. There are far too many examples of sloppiness present in today's attire: Oversized t-shirts, boxy blazers, square jackets, and the list goes on.

What's the key to not looking messy? Well first and foremost, you need to differentiate what messy looks like. If you cannot do that, well then you might just be a lost cause. Little things like not unbuttoning your shirt too far, making sure your collars are crisp, and ironing will make you look less messy in an instant. Second, you need to understand that tailoring is everything. Very few things ever fit perfectly right off the rack, and i mean VERY few. You may need to get things altered to have the right fit. If you cannot do this, then you need to try to make sure you get the best fit possible for your body type. Please refer to my other blogs below for more on this topic. The third, and most important Key to looking neat and tidy is....PROPORTION. You will find that if your clothes are proportioned properly for your body, you will notice that not only will you look very polished, but your body will also look completely different. Every man's body is different, therefore every man's clothes should fit differently.

For example: I have a longer torso, and shorter legs...also known as "top tall". This means that my jeans always fit just a little weird. Also, what this means is that if i wear a shirt that is normal length, it will make me look shorter than i am. Therefore, i try to make sure my shirts are shorter than normal, hitting just below my waistline and above my hips, giving my legs a longer look. I know this seems like a lot of overthinking for clothing, but in all honesty, it comes naturally once you know what you're looking for. It's all about the right proportions. If you're wearing a tie, it should not pass your belt, nor should it be too short. If you're wearing a vest with your dress shirt and tie, the tie should not exceed past the bottom of the vest, and the vest should skirt your belt. Oh, and on the pet peeve front, just for the record, stop doing the 1970s collar-outside-the-jacket look. It made a comeback at the turn of the century for about 28 seconds. It's gone now. Please stop it. Your collars should be crisp, and wrapped around a tie.

Clothing aside, avoiding looking messy can be done by making sure you are decently shaved as much as possible, and keep your hairstyle maintained. For a little spruce up between haircuts, try simply trimming the hair above your ears and defining your sideburns. You would be amazed at how much of a difference this makes. Don't have time to iron? Throw your shirt in the dryer while you shower for a little refresher on it. Keep your ties hanging, and not rolled, to keep them crisp looking. These are all quick and easy tricks to keep yourself from falling to the messy side.

And on a final note, as you know how obsessed i am with fragrances, if you DO find yourself running out the door in a rush with a wrinkly shirt, and bed head, a light fresh fragrance that evokes happiness and summery notes might just make it work for you. But let's keep that as a Plan B, shall we?

Until next time,

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Issue # 16 - Brown Bottle Syndrome

Issue # 16 - Brown Bottle Syndrome

In my opinion, there are few things as tacky as a brown beer bottle at a dinner table. Especially if it's a more formal event. It always strikes me as a very un-classy move to sip from a bottle when it's quite as easy to just pour it into a glass. Yet time and time again at Weddings, on dates, and all around the world on formal or special occasions, brown bottles grace the tables.

I can only speculate that there are a few reasons for this travesty, the main being that since it's mainly men that commit this style crime, that they are simply fitting into their manly stereotype. To them, Man = Beer. Now, before i continue, i am not knocking beer. I am a beer fan myself, but for the sake of all that looks good, just pour it into a glass! For some reason, I find that men have this need to always be 'manly', and gentlemen, i am here to tell you that being secure, confident and stylish will outshine any amount of "manliness" ANY day. It's as if drinking straight from the bottle in some way denotes their Alpha Male standing...i say nay, gents. Slugging giant gulps from the bottle is fine for most occasions, bars, parties, concerts, whatever. But if you're sitting down at a table, with other people, engaging in a meal that is even the slightest bit past casual, pour your beer into a glass.

But pouring your beer into a glass is just the tip of this topic. Why beer? I mean if you've tried many other things, and only like beer, that's one thing. But feeling that you can only drink beer because it's the manly choice? That's just wrong. When did men get demoted to sipping low-alcohol content out of a brown bottle? Use Don Draper of Mad Men as an example....he drinks Canadian Club, Tangueray and on occasion Glenlivet. All either straight or with very little ice. It was the epitome of class. Never did you see him at ANY business meeting or gathering, drinking beer. You only saw him drinking beer when he was putting up a playhouse in his backyard. Men these days should take this as an example, and order something that says "Hello, my name is _______________, I am not a typical beer swilling buffoon.". I find the problem is that most men don't realize the vast extent of drinks and cocktails available to them, and have a wild misconception that mixed drinks are 'girly'. So instead of making an educated choice, they just say "ummmm coors light". My how the world has changed.

I am aware that many of us are calorie and sugar conscious, so a once common Rye and Coke, or vodka 7 may not be the first choice...but there are so many other choices available. A Gin and Tonic for example is both light in calories and refreshing. Vodka Water with a splash of cranberry for flavour is also extremely light and refreshing. Yes, you will have to get over the fact that the drink is pink, but if that's a major concern, then you should stop reading this blog, and go read a Maxim magazine, Broski.

Bottom line gents, If beer is your weapon of choice, that's your call. But if you're anywhere more than a casual get together, backyard party, or watching football, pour it into a glass. Trust me, it's just better. And while you're at it, don't be afraid to try different brands. Beers are like wines, and each match with different foods, etc. So be adventurous.

Until next time gents,

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Issue # 15 - Product Reviews

Issue # 15 - Product Reviews

Well it's about that time again to review some of the more recent products I have tried out lately. Please keep in mind these are opinions, and if i put something down that you love, it does not call for rude emails.

Givenchy Blue Label Pour Homme -

This was recently given to me as a gift, and it's a fantastic scent! It's light and airy enough to be worn on hot summer days, but also warm and sensual enough to be worn at night and for formal occasions. The bottle is very interesting and the scent is very intricate. I personally love Givenchy fragrances, and they always come up with something excellent. The only downfall of this fragrance is it wears off a bit too quickly, especially if you are wearing it on a warmer day. In light of that i would keep this as more of a night time scent.

Degree Adrenaline antiperspirant -

The stick i am referring to is actually the Degree Adrenaline in the Yellow packaging, but i couldn't find the right photo. This product is fantastic. If you sweat easily like myself, especially in situations of stress, anger, excitement, or whatever, this is the stick for you. It actually does kick in when you need it to, and works well. The scents are iffy, especially if you're wearing a fragrance you want to be noticed, but it's worth it for excellent sweat protection.

Clinique Exfoliating Face Scrub for men -

Yes men, washing and scrubbing your face is something you should be doing. I know the majority of you think that using whatever bar of soap is handy and some cold water will do the trick, but really you're not really doing anything but giving yourself a tight dry face that smells like soap. This scrub, although a bit on the pricey side, will gently scrub the dead skin cells from your face, leaving you looking refreshed and brighter, which in turn will make you feel better. But don't take my word for it, pick some up and try it out. It will make a difference. (Also check out their shaving gel and pre shave scrub).

Ralph Lauren Candles -

These are AMAZING, and this wasn't a surprise. Anything that combines Ralph Lauren and fragrance is bound to be fantastic. These are no exception. I stumbled upon these by random at a discount store, and at first was disappointed because they boxes they come in are sealed, not allowing you to smell them. But upon smelling the box, the aroma of the candle actually comes through. I purchased one of them (i won't say which one, since it seems to be rare to find), and upon burning it briefly that night, returned the next day to purchase a second one, because it truly is a fantastic candle. I got mine for decently cheap, given the going rate of quality scented candles, but again, it was from a discount store, so i am not sure how much they cost regularly. But trust me guys, if you want a candle to set the mood, check these out.

Strut Wine -

I stumbled upon this wine because the packaging struck me, as did the overall design of the wine. It's clever and witty, and being a wine fan, i decided to check it out. I tested out both the "Chardonista" and the "Well Heeled White", and they are both fantastic. When chilled well, and poured with a spicy or savoury dish, it's perfect. It's also a conversation piece and it's a wine you don't need to be a snob to enjoy or talk about. Pick up a couple bottles and keep them on hand. One thing i have learned guys, is always keep some wine on hand and ready. Especially a wine as lighthearted and fun as Strut.

Well that's all for now, i will come back in a few issues with more product reviews! If there's anything you've tried out and love, let me know!