Friday, October 29, 2010

Issue # 26 - Smell great, pay little

Issue # 26 - Smell great, pay little

Today's issue is directly budget based, and directed towards any man trying to up his scent game on a limited income. I made a discovery today, and I want to pass my revelations on to you!

The readers know I am a fragrance addict. I spend a lot of my personal time reviewing, researching and testing various fragrances, because I honestly love them and am fascinated by them. It began at a young age, roughly 13 or so, where I realized how much I loved good-smelling things. This translated into a love of scented candles, room sprays, incense, and ultimately personal fragrances. When I first got interested in colognes, I was only able to afford the cheapest of the cheap. Being 13 years old didn't really bring in much revenue to be able to afford the high end designer fragrances I am so fond of today. So i would ask for scents for christmas, or pick them up at the nearest drug store when I had a few extra bucks. Those were the days; spraying on way too much to tell the world that I had made my entrance.

Here it is, 14 years later, and I found myself the other day remembering my fondness for one scent in particular. This was brought on by a stranger on the street who i believe was wearing it as they wafted on by me. it reminded me of when I had purchased it for $20 at the drug store in grade 8, and how much i loved it.It was called Gender One, and it was a generic version of the newest CK scent; CK ONE. I wore it every single day. My dad had a bottle, as did my older brother. It was a scent that filled the room and was light and happy. This stranger on the street brought back good memories for me, and thus began my search for Gender One.

I went to Shopper's Drug mart and looked for it. They have actually moved up the fragrance ladder and carry next to no lower priced brands anymore, and focus more on the high end ones. Gender One was not to be found here. However, I figured that since it was a generic version of CK ONE, why not check out the real version, since now i can afford it, and if the false version was great, shouldn't the real one be BETTER? So i found CK ONE and tested it...and to my surprise i Didn't like it as much as the fake version. Crazy right? I mean, it smelled great, but just not like gender one, which i was searching for.

This got me thinking: If the cheap, generic version of CK ONE could be so good, is it possible that there are other generic versions that are the same? After all, this IS a blog about getting better style on a small budget, so I thought i could help you out. My search led me to a discount department store...which rhymes with Bal-Mart. In their limited and honestly quite depressing fragrance section, i didn't see what i was looking for, and was about to give up when I noticed it. There on the bottom shelf, pushed back a little bit, was a silver box with the name Gender One on it. I had found it! I opened it up and tested it, to make sure the formula was the same, and it was. I had found my childhood favourite scent...and what made it better was that it was only $13. THIRTEEN DOLLARS. This is a steal on so many levels. I noticed the entire bottom shelf was actually ALL generic brands of popular fragrances. So i tested them all, and surprisingly there were some fantastic versions that I would love to pass on to you.

Besides Gender One, there was also a great generic version of Dolce and Gabbana's wildly popular "Light Blue" for men, called "Shades of Blue". In a second flash back to my childhood i saw the bottle for a generic version of  Hugo Boss, called "Nitro". This was also a great scent! There was a version of Burberry the Beat called "Riot" which i would NOT suggest. It was close, and captured the peppery topnotes, but it was very strong and overly offensive to the nose. Best of all, they were ALL $13.

Now if you're like me, I know you don't really want to be the guy that buys the fake brands. Generic brands will NEVER be able to perfectly copy the original scent, and trust me the real things are ALWAYS worth the money, and i suggest you save up for the real thing. However, if you're stuck in a hard place and want a great scent, you can resort to these. They are easy on the nose, and the wallet!

Before i sign off, there's one brand i didn't see that i would also suggest. There is one called "Gender 2BU" which is a version of CK BE. It's also delicious, so keep your eye open for it. On a final note, don't get too caught up in the inexpensive scents. While the generic versions are definitely something to consider, the original brands that are this inexpensive are rarely impressive. So stay away from them if at all possible.

Until Next time gents,

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Issue # 24 - Stuff you just shouldn't wear

Issue #24 - Stuff you just shouldn't wear

Alright guys, I'm probably going to offend a handful of you with this one, but i'm sorry, it just has to be done. There are a large number of style travesties that occur on a daily basis, and it has come to my attention that a large number of you don't even realize you're committing these crimes against everyone's eyes. In fact, most of you think what you're wearing is cool....unfortunately's not. Don't shoot the messenger here! But in reality these are things you need to hear. So without further ado here is a short list of some of the stuff you just shouldn't wear.

# 1 - Anything "Ed Hardy"

I know you think it's cool. I know it's all the rage, with everything from lighters to jogging pants to shoes being plastered in tigers, daggers, and scrolls surrounding bleeding hearts. It's not cool. It's in fact the exact opposite. Take the shirt to the left here. If it didn't say Ed Hardy on it, would you wear it? Probably not. It's the tackiest of tack. Now, add in the fact that a lot of these items feature rhinestones, studs, and assorted glittery objects and you've now taken your already awful display of 'style' to a level that only figure skaters can get to...and you KNOW you make fun of them.

# 2 - The backwards hat

Unless you're bumming around the house, or have a legitimate reason for turning your hat around, why do you do this? It hasn't been cool since the 90s, and even Fred Durst had the common sense to stop wearing it, so why are you still doing it? It truly, honestly doesn't make you look cool. At least the guy in the picture is wearing it with an equally sloppy hoodie, which makes it SOMEWHAT better. Please gents, stop doing this...but if you insist on wearing the backwards hat. Do not, i repeat DO NOT pair it with a button down shirt, or even worse, a button down shirt, vest and tie. This does not work. It does not say "I'm stylish but also laid back" or "Look at me i am trendy but also badass" says "I have no idea how to style my hair" or "I'm too insecure to actually dress up, so I am going to still act like a tough guy.".

#3 - The Pauly D haircut

What is this? No, I am seriously asking you what this is? It looks ridiculous, which is a vast understatement. You look like you're trying to be Guile from Street Fighter II. How do you even ask for this at the barber shop? On top of the overly stupid cut itself, you then pour enough product into it to create a spiky helmet, and this...looks...good? Honestly guys please don't try this. I know Jersey Shore is popular. I know Pauly D has his fan base of fanatical women...but you don't. And if you DO, then getting this hairstyle will certainly scare them away. Just say no. And on that note, if you're wearing diamond studs in your ears you should probably re-think those too.

#4 - The hiking shoe thingy

Unless you are trekking 15 kilometers through treacherous terrain on your way to work or school every day, there is NO need to be wearing these monstrosities. Are you a hiking instructor? If not, what are you doing even buying these? But even worse than buying them is wearing them EVERY DAY, with EVERY OUTFIT. Nothing strikes me as more puzzling than a guy that only owns 1 pair of casual shoes...let alone if THESE are that one pair. If you're a hiking or trail enthusiast, then more power to you. But keep them in the closet until you hit the woods. Don't wear them with your jeans, your dress pants or anything else.

#5 - Drakkar Noir

There are no words to describe this. Just stop. There are HUNDREDS of scents out there that will suit a man up and coming in the world. Drakkar Noir is not one of them. That is unless you want to smell like a man who quite obviously wears Drakkar Noir. Seriously. Stop. Don't even look at the price. Women cringe, babies cry, and flowers wilt. Don't be that guy.
That wraps up this latest installment of what you just shouldn't wear. If i offended anyone, I wish i could apologize, but you needed to hear it. Also making the short list of todays DO NOTs: Hockey jerseys, or any jerseys for that matter (unless you're going to the game), tighty whities (no woman wants to see that), and cell phone holsters on your belt. Again, if this upset you, and you want to tell me that i don't know my ass from a hole in the ground, then that's your right...but really, don't you know deep down inside that your Ed Hardy shoes (which are blatant chuck taylor rip offs) really look like they belong on a 6 year old?

Until next time gents,

Monday, October 25, 2010

Issue #23 - The thick and Thin of it

Issue #23 - The thick and thin of it

Alright's time to touch upon a topic that none of us want to talk about, but the majority of us will have to deal with at one point or another in our lives: The B word...Balding. There, I said it. Although sad, it's true that a vast majority of us will wave our thick, healthy head of hair goodbye one day, and say hello to male pattern baldness. Some of us will develeop the horseshoe...some, the widow's peak, some the dome of glory, and some of us will just lose it all. But I am here to say guys, have no fear. It's not the end of the world. 

In my opinion, it's really all about how you accept your fate...if it's genetic, there's not really a whole lot you can do about it. Sure you can try propecia, or rogaine, but in all honesty they have very low percentages of success, and more often than not will leave you disappointed. My blog today though, isn't about how to stop it, it's about how to embrace it. Yes, i said embrace it. The majority of men don't get upset about thinning hair or balding because of themselves, but rather how others, specifically women will percieve them. Balding is stereotypically percieved as a sign of ugliness and old age, and to be honest, that's not the truth at all. Many men would be surprised to find out that balding or thinning hair isn't really a huge turn of for women, or even a concern...but it's how you attempt to cover it up that leads to the problems.

It's a natural instinct to try to cover up, hide or distract people from what's going on up there...and for the first little while, it's totally acceptable. But let's face it gents, when no amount of styling, or hiding can cover up the damage, you have to just let nature take its course. Now you could be one of those guys that  ignores the problem and just lets it do what it's going to do. Unfortunately you end up with the dreaded Horseshoe (bald on top, but hair on the back and sides), and this actually makes you look OLDER and WAY less desirable than if you were completely bald. It's the truth guys.

Really, the only balding pattern you can get away with, without shaving your head is the widow's peak, aka the golden arches (like the thinning gent in the pic above). This can be held for quite some time and in some cases forever. But sadly, for most of us, we are going to have to accept fate sooner or later, and go bald.

But why does this have to be a bad thing? I know to many men, the thought of being completely bald provokes shudders, but really there are plenty of men who have turned the Mr. Clean look into the Mr. Badass look. Bruce Willis maybe? How about Taye Diggs...and who could forget Jason Statham? These guys have taken the bald look and turned it into something rugged, manly and attractive. Don't think so? There are many women who would disagree. Now imagine Bruce willis with the horseshoe...not very pretty is it. How about Jason Statham with a Skullet (the horseshoe with the sides and back grown disgustingly long) get the point. 

Baldness is no longer a sign of aging. it can be pulled off in many different ways. Sure you might have to alter the rest of your look, but it's a whole heck of a lot better than that gnarly dome you have going on. And trust me men, Women would rather a man who is completely bald than a man who has the vomit inducing Comb-over, which is the biggest turn off you can manage. TIP: If you're thinking about going the way of the Bic, try a buzz cut first. Ask your barber or stylist to do your whole head with a number 2 or 2.5...this will still be long enough to show that you have hair, but will be short enough for you to get a better idea of how you would look bald. The buzzed look could actually work for you, and you will probably notice that your thinning spot looks a LOT less noticeable. This is because the shorter you keep your hair, the less thin it looks by nature. The longer the hair, the more distance it has to cover, thus making it look thinner. This way, if you DO decide to go totally bald, it will be much less of a dramatic change for you and everyone the meantime, you may find women wanting to run their hands over your fuzzy new do....not sounding too bad anymore is it?!

If you still want to try to remedy the situation, more power to you, since I myself am in the thinning boat, and have taken this route as well. Before you go running for the rogaine though, keep in mind it's quite expensive and there are several generic brands that carry the exact same amount of medicine for a lower price. Shoppers Drug mart carries a brand for about $60, but Rexall carries their own brand in a 2 PACK for only $50...this is obviously the best bet. Propecia doesn't have much of a higher success percentage than Manoxidil, but you can try that as well if you would like.

If all else fails guys, don't be afraid to go full monty with your will take some getting used to, but you don't want to be the guy who doesn't accept you?

Until next time gents,

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Issue #22 - Why you NEED to read GQ (and not the COTY men's style blackbook)

Issue #22 - Why you NEED to read GQ. (and not the COTY men's style blackbook)

I was planning on posting a totally different issue today, but i was side tracked and forced to make an emergency posting, in order to minimize as much damage as possible. I was in Starbucks this afternoon, enjoying a Caramel Apple Spice; my cold weather treat, and on the ground i noticed that an insert from a newspaper had fallen out. When i looked closer it was something called "Men's style blackbook", a 14 page dedication to Men's style. It's by a company called COTY, and on the cover is a photo of a tanned guy with a crisp white shirt, and a black, seemingly cotton woven tie. He's also wearing a pair of aviator sunglasses.

Immediately, before even opening the booklet, it struck me as odd that the man on the cover, although dressed well, looked...funny. It struck me that it was because his sunglasses were pushed up far too high on his nose, causing them to just look awful. This already got me started on the wrong foot with what would soon be an upsetting read.

TIP: Sunglasses, especially Aviators, are designed to be worn on the bridge of your nose, not pushed up to the top. A good rule to remember is that your sunglasses should hit AT your eyebrows, NOT cover them. They should be decently centered on your head, and neither too wide, nor too narrow for your face. Some styles can bend the rules a bit, but with Aviators, you gotta get them right.

Upon opening the booklet and reading through it, it struck me that this was as much of a self promotion piece as it was a style handbook. The inside cover is a Marc Jacob's BANG ad, the back cover is for CK free, and within the booklet are 2 more CK ads (Eternity and Euphoria) and 1 nautica struck me as a LOT of Calvin Klein and that was fishy and when i researched COTY, it all made sense. COTY is a company that carries many brands of fragrances. For example, Adidas, and David Beckham fragrances are part of COTY's company. Thus, i suppose it made sense for the company to push their own interests.

However, it's a bit ridiculous. Naturally, being a fragrance hound, i looked for the sections dealing with this first. I immediately shook my head in shock, as the first page held something called the "morning style checklist" and the very first item said:  "spray your cologne through the air in front of you and walk through it. You'll get just the right amount for the day. Try the new Davidoff Champion for an energizing scent or Pure Nautica for a masculine, laid-back feel."

This was just ridiculous, for many reasons. Men, if there is ANYTHING you take from this issue, let it be this: DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT spray your cologne in the air and walk through it. Why? First of all, you look stupid. Second of all, you're wasting 90% of the fragrance you have just spent a lot of money on. Sure you will get some on your clothing...but your floor will smell fantastic too. Did you buy cologne for your floor? I don't think so. This is a marketing tool, and it's even more obvious when it's the COMPANY telling you to do so. How is it marketing? Well, the majority of men who do this will find out that while they smell good, it doesn't last long the next day they spray 3-4 times in the air, and walk through it. Take these 3-4 sprays per day, waste 90% of each spray, and before you know it, you're going back to the store to buy a new bottle....ta daaa!! You've just been a victim of a devious, although very clever marketing ploy.

 TIP: Spray your cologne ON you, where you want. Good places to spray are your wrists, neck, and down the back of your shirt. Sounds weird i know, but when you walk past ladies, you'll turn their heads. If it's a new scent, stick with one spray until you know how strong it is, then adjust accordingly. Also, choose a scent that's right for you. The colognes they suggested in their tips are both their brands, so don't take their advice to heart. Try what works best for you and your mood!

They continue their propaganda style of suggestion by telling you that to extend the life of your scent, you need to layer with several different products of that scent. While this IS true to a certain extent, you don't have to run out and get the entire line of CK Free products like they want you to. They also say that Marc Jacobs' BANG will drive ladies wild, and that in the bedroom you should use Calvin Klein Euphoria intense...all super suggestive, but not completely true.

So getting to the point, why you NEED to read GQ...because GQ is a magazine that will tell you what you NEED to know in order to look good, without being completely biased to products they own. Looking for a scent? they will tell you where the best ones are, and give you several options. Want some great ties? they will point them out, and list them so people of ANY budget can grab one. It's a fantastic magazine that I swear by, and it's steered me in the right direction on many occasions. It's not very expensive on the news stand ($7 or so), and even less expensive with a subscription, something like $37 per year. Included in the fantastic style advice and ideas are engaging and interesting articles, as well as new music, movies and books that you should check out. i HIGHLY recommend it.

On that note if you SEE the COTY men's style blackbook, or have it, get rid of it. While it does hold some good information about shaving, and workouts, the blatant self promotion kills it for me...and that whole spraying your cologne in the air thing, well that just made me angry. Sorry for the rant gentlemen, but i had to save you. 

Until next time,

Monday, October 18, 2010

Issue # 22 - Fragrance Reviews

Issue # 22 - Fragrance Reviews

Versace: Blue Jeans -

This, I will admit is a scent that i would most likely normally ignore, citing the strange canned packaging and "cheapness" of the overall look as a reason why it can't be good. I would have surpassed it effortlessly in search of something that LOOKED better. But upon further inspection I admit, i would have been wrong to overlook this's so ridiculously unique, I would have felt stupid for ignoring it.

I had never heard of Blue Jeans by Versace, and upon visiting my local Shoppers Drug mart (don't knock it, they have a surprisingly good fragrance selection), I checked this out. I always look at the discount fragrances as well as the main displays because there are usually some pretty great finds for cheap. Generally at the end of every season, they take their leftovers and sell them for cheap to make shelf room for the new scents. Sometimes it's very slim pickings, sometimes you find great buried this one.

Upon first smell, you immediately know this one is different. For a men's scent it's very sweet and almost candy like, evoking fresh top notes and strange crispness. Admittedly, I didn't like it. But i allowed myself to ponder on it, letting the scent simmer on my skin and alas, i fell in love with it. It's so strangely unique and different from everything else in my collection, I felt it was a perfect addition. It's SLIGHTLY overpowering at first, but i suspect it's only because they scents are very different than what i am used to. It lasts well for roughly 5-6 hours or so, and the base notes are quite pleasant, like a sweet aftertaste of a light and refreshing dessert. carries this in the 75ml format for about $30...i was able to snag this for $20. Not a huge savings, but with no shipping to worry about, it was a steal.

Marc Jacobs: BANG -

Marc Jacobs' new, and much anticipated scent "BANG", has finally been released in canada. I saw the ad for this fragrance in the latest GQ issue, and immediately was intrigued. Although I don't own a Marc Jacobs scent, nor had i sampled one, i was very excited for this release. The entire ad campaign is very well done, and the name Bang has several connotations, from sexual to literal, referring to the unique and gorgeous bottle; which was my immediate attraction.

The other day, I went to sample it, very excited. I walked in to see the 100ml bottle on display for a staggering $95, the 50ml version for $65. While i knew the fragrance would be pricey, a $100 + price tag was a bit steep even for my blood. Regardless, i sampled it, fully knowing that if i loved it, i could get it for much less online...i sprayed it on the tester strip, aired it out a moment, and smelled...

I was so disappointed. My anticipation led up to a bitter let down, as it smelled as if i had jumped face first into a pool of cracked black pepper. The scent was light and not overpowering, but the topnotes of three different peppercorns were so blatant and assaulting, i couldn't get past it. I knew that the topnotes didn't dictate the entire scent, (as i learned quickly with lacoste red), so i wasn't ready to base my entire opinion on that first whiff. I sprayed myself once, and left the store, eagerly awaiting the heart notes to bring me some sort of promise. Sadly, they didn't. While the scent faded into a more pleasant aroma, the soaking of pepper remained on my skin, seeming less as a light fragrance, and more of an odd body odour. It reminded me a little bit of Burberry The Beat, but with its top notes on crystal meth.

All in all, as much as i wanted this to be a jaw dropping fragrance, it struck me as much more talk than walk, leaning on it's massive ad campaign and sexual imagery to convince people they smell sexy...when in reality they smell like they've been pepper-sprayed. Maybe you like this scent...maybe you love pepper...but for $95, save your money.

That's all for today gents,
until next time,


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Issue # 21 - Scents your style

Issue # 21 - Scents your style

I have had several people approach me recently, asking me what fragrance I would suggest for them, or their loved one. Usually it's a woman, asking what i would suggest for the man in their lives, who either doesn't wear anything at all, or desperately needs a new scent. The first thing I ask, is to know what kind of person they are.

If it's a woman looking for a man, I ask them what kind of man he is. Is he sporty? Is he artsy? what is he into? These are all things that need to be raken into consideration before finding the right scent. In today's issue, i break down what fragrances match which type of guy in an easy guide. So follow along and let's find you a scent.

For the Sporty Guy:

If you, or your guy is a more athletic and sports oriented guy, then opt for a lighter, fresher scent. Many fragrances offer a "sport" scent, or a "sport" version of a popular scent. These are a great bet because the active man wants a scent that is uplifting and as active as he is. Also, because many of these scents offer "fresh out of the shower" type vibes that are refreshing after a long workout, or extra innings. If you think this is the right kind of scent, then you should check out:  Perry Ellis Reserve, Lacoste Essentials, Hugo Element, BioTherm Force, Diesel Fuel for life.

For the Artsy Guy:

If you or your loved one is a more artsy guy; Musician, Artist, designer, etc, Then you want to look into a more complex, edgy scent with multiple notes, to compliment the multiple creative levels of the man. There are a lot of darker, edgier scents that offer a uniqe twist to the generic man's scent. If this sounds like the right fit for you, then try out: Kenneth Cole Black, Ralph Lauren Big Pony #2, John Varvatos, Dolce and Gabbana Masculine, Lacoste Red, or Bleu de Chanel.

For the Manly Man:

If you or your man is a quintessential manly man...a rugged, masculine, outdoorsy, hunter, alpha male type, then you need to look for a fragrance that smells as masculine as the man is. Many scents have deep, woody tones that evoke manliness, and in fact, many fragrances are ALL about this. There will be a lot of complexities in these scents, and at first smell, they may seem the same, but they greatly differ. If you think your man is suiting for this scent, then you should try: John Varvatos Vintage, Polo Black, Burberry, Sean John I am king of the Night, or  Burberry brit.

For the Metro Guy:

I usually hate using this term, but sometimes it's the best suiting term. In this case, i refer to the metro man as a man on the go, an man with goals, a fast paced mover and shaker, but also a man who stays stylish and very fashion foward at the same time. You know the man...the shoulder bag friendly metro-mover, looking good even when under a tight deadline. If this is you, or your man, then you should try: YSL L'homme, lacoste pour homme, Chanel Allure, Kenneth Cole New York, Pi Neo, or Kenneth Cole RSVP

I hope this guide has given you some idea of where to start. If you find one you like, stick with it! You can always branch out from there. If you or yours is a man like myself, then you may find that you/he embodies a little bit of every category...well then, try one of each! You can't go wrong!

Until next time gents,