Monday, September 26, 2011

Issue # 45 - New Smells for a new season

issue # 45 - New smells for a new season!

Well hello gents. It's been a while since i've reviewed some fragrances, and i figured it was about time to get back to it! Recently i've tested some great new smells, and I am very much excited to share them with you. The autumn usually brings out a bunch of new smells, and below i've listed 3 of them that i highly recommend. So without further ado, here they are!

Hugo Boss Just Different  -

After several let downs with Hugo Boss scents, I was reluctant to try this one. To be honest, the only reason I paid any attention to this one at all was because the spokesperson is Jared Leto, whose music and personal style i am a large fan of, and because of the bottle itself; red on black is a slightly sinister combination that stands out among ornate glass bottles and frilly design of other fragrances. All things considered, I was still expecting a let down typical of recent hugo boss scents; heavily synthetic smells with no real personality, a lot of chemical essence, and an extremely short life span. However, I am very hapy to announce that "Just Different" is just that: Different. It's a bright, refreshing scent that opens with a blast of mint, but mellows into a heart that blends cool citrus with warm notes of basil, transforming it into a completely different character. The basenotes are what gives this scent its massive uniqueness, evolving into a rich, warm, masculine scent of patchouli and cashmeran, which in itself is a combination of several warm, intimate scents. This is an absolutely perfect everyday fragrance for the man on the go, transitioning flawlessly from a busy workday to a mellow date night. It screams confidence and energy, and i highly suggest this as a staple in your collection.

CK ONE Shock -

Again, being a man who loves marketing and great packaging, this bottle jumped out at me. It's shaped like the traditional CK ONE bottles, but is glossy black with a neon green "SHOCK" added to look like graffiti. The ad campaign is similar, using a lot of grainy security cam type images with a noticeably green overtone to them. From looking at these two aspects, I expected this scent to be somewhat dramatic, highly explosive and colourful...upon spraying, it wasn't nearly what i thought it would be.

Don't get me wrong. It's not a bad scent at all, as i will soon tell you. It just caught me off guard, as the marketing and the product don't match each other, in my humble opinion. Much like Tommy Hilfiger's "LOUD" was rather quiet. That being said though, Shock is actually a ridiculously complex and compelling scent. I've worn it a few times, and have fallen in love with it, although never being able to place the is a soft, yet attention getting scent, with a vanilla-esque warmth to it; familiar and comforting. But there was something i just couldn't place, and it drove me crazy. As i researched the notes of this scent, i was absolutely floored when i saw what it includes. The top notes are a great mix of tangerine and cucumber, mixed with...get this: RED BULL. Yes, the energy drink. This has to be a first for the fragrance world, and it makes total sense why it was a familiar, yet unplaceable scent. It goes on to mellow into some of my favourite heart and base notes of Tobacco, black pepper and cardamom, and is a very long lasting scent. I suggest this for night time use, or any time you really want to make an impression. The most shocking part of Shock? How many compliments i've received while wearing it. One last thing, it's a potent scent, so don't overdo it. This one whispers and screams at the same time.

John Varvatos USA -

I end today's issue with one of my very favourite line of scents, and favourite designer, John Varvatos. I have reviewed almost all of his fragrances (there are still 2 i can't seem to get my hands on), and it's no secret that I absolutely love everything this man does. His newest scent is no exception and I'm quite excited to write about it. You'll notice that he has discarded his trademark bottle shape, for a much different, much more dynamic flacon. It has a spring loaded cap and a sleek bottle, and is undoubtedly masculine. The top of the cap, is apparently inspired by a subway token, which i find very intriguing. The most intriguing part of this though is, not surprisingly, the fragrance. My nose expected a familiarity of his fragrances; heavy orange influence with tobacco and leather, as several of his scents use in varying levels. What i got was something extremely unexpected. John Varvatos USA uses top notes of red ginger from Laos, juniper berries and cedrat. The heart blends blue spruce, green cardamom absolute and osmanthus absolute, while a base introduces vetiver, Venezuela tonka and belambre. It's highly complex yet suprisingly light and crisp, fusing the high energy networker and the laid back artist. Varvatos says this scent is for a man who loves wearing jeans and dresses unconventionally, and for a man who is effortlessly charming and confident. If that sounds like you, or who you want to be, then i highly suggest this one. It's at the top of my list for my next addition to my collection, and i hope you dig it too!

Well gents, that's all for now. I am eagerly awaiting a test of the new YSL fragrance, and will let you know when i get it. Until next time gents,


Friday, September 23, 2011

Issue #44 - The Fine line

Issue #44 - The Fine Line

Hello gents! Well fall is officially here, which means that any store that carries good men's clothing will be carrying a lot of the items (or similar items) to what you've (hopefully) been seeing in men's style magazines. GQ just released 2 great style issues, and SHARP just released the massive fall issue of their style guide. They're both available at corner stores, so you have no excuses.

That being said, this issue is being written specifically about the looks you see in stores and magazines. I call this issue the fine line because there is indeed a very fine line between dressing well, and dressing like a mindless clone. Gents, if there is one thing that i hope this blog has taught you, it's that style is not just about what you wear. It's about your own personal style working with your clothes. If your outfit doesn't speak a story about you, then you've wasted your time and money, and that's just not good, now is it?

For example. Today i saw a young guy, wearing an outfit completely constructed out of what were obviously all brand new clothes. These clothes looked to have also all been bought together, with this particular outfit in mind. This is definitely something i applaud, and i think many, MANY more men should shop with outfits in mind. All things considered, it was a decent outfit, and probably would look extremely well put together on a store mannequin, as it was most likely taken from one. Yet something about him looked off. His look may be deemed "stylish" but it lacked any essence of personality. There were no objects or accessories that spoke about him. The clothes were too  new to have any wear patterns on them. He fell into the trap of trying too hard to look good, and ended up being invisible; a trap that far too many men fall into.

Never fear gents, this can be avoided. The first and easiest way to keep from crossing this very dangerous line is simply knowing yourself. What are your colours? We all have different skin tones and we all have colours that just click for us. Some of  you can work anything, others cannot. This young man didn't do the most basic of basic research on himself.  He has black hair, and dark features, and admittedly "fake and bakes", giving his skin a decently dark, albeit fake, hue. Now the rules of thumb would say to put him in lighter colours, however on this particular gentleman, darker colours work much better. He unfortunately opted for a pink/orange/green large checkered button down over a crisp white v neck tee. Either of these items on their own would have been fine, but he just simply didn't do any studying. He completed the outfit with a pair of navy blue pants, and gray espadrilles, with no socks. Again, totally stylish items, but when paired with the rest of the outfit, and no personality, they fall flat and don't have the impact they should.

So. How do we avoid this? First, know your colours. If you know you look good in blues, then work with those. Expand and push your boundary, but don't take it too far. This dude should not have been wearing bright checkers, and to a certain extent, although a white v neck is my number one go-to classic item, on him, it fell flat. He would have looked much better in a black or charcoal shirt.

The second step is almost as easy as the first: Try not to wear too many new items at once. Why? because even though they might look awesome, they haven't been worn in, and don't have that patina that other clothes have. Believe it or not, the simple washing of an item a few times can give it a whole new vibe. Now this doesn't apply ALL the time. If you're going to bust out a brand spanking new outfit, anchor it with a couple items of your own to bring out your personality. For example, the other night I wore a brand new blazer over a brand new vest...but anchored it with worn in jeans and some beat up boots. The result? A clean, new stylish outlook with lived-in appeal. A good friend of mine wore an almost entirely brand new outfit, and completed it with a brand new accessory, and totally rocked it. All she added of old items were a black tank top and aviators. But she worked it. So there are exceptions to every rule guys.

Bottom line, do your homework. It sucks to admit to yourself that you just can't pull off a look, but unfortunately it's a part of life. There have been many times where i've had to reluctantly hang an item back up on the rack because, as much as i loved it, i just couldn't pull it off. IT ALL COMES DOWN TO YOUR OWN PERSONALITY. Bring yourself out in your look guys. It makes the entire difference between looking top notch, and looking like a copycat. Trust me.

I have a few more issues ready to go guys, so i will see you soon!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Issue #43 - Fall Back In

Issue #43 - Fall Back In

Well hello gentlemen! It's been a long summer, and while many beers, barbecues and bonfires were had, there was also a lot of writing for a whole new round of issues for the fall and winter. Since the weather is starting to (kind of ) cool down, and as you know am admittedly an autumn freak, I decided to start the new issues with something I always think is a great welcome to the colourful season ahead: Cocktails.

There's just something about sitting outside on a cold autumn night, sipping on a warming little ditty you mixed up at your bar. Whether it be a glass of red, or a simple splash of spirts, or an intricate mix, there's an autumn drink for everyone. Below, i've listed my favourite classics, as well as a few new ones and some in betweens. Cheers!

The Good Life - Cabernet Merlot

Maybe it's just me (it probably is), but since i've switched my preference to red this summer, but i find white wines to be more "daytime" or "Summer" wines, and reds to be more night time, and autumn-ish. That being said, In preparation for the coming fall, i've sampled several red wines of all different varieties. Some very good, some pretty bad, and all an experience. I've learned a lot about wines this summer, and what i have discovered the most, is that ultimately wine is all about your personal taste. If you like it, then who cares how much it cost or where it's from.

 That being said however, there is still something to be said for enjoying a great wine, and serving a great wine to your hopeful female company. Thus, after rigorous testing, I still will suggest picking up "The Good Life" Cabernet Merlot. I've given it glowing reviews in previous issues, and it still ranks high on my tastebuds. It's a big red wine with lingering flavour, and a little price tag. At only $12.95 a bottle, it's a total deal, and the hip retro 50s artwork will inspire conversation in an awkward silence emergency.

The Glenlivet 12 Year Single Malt -

Not a Scotch guy? Neither was I, nor would I call myself a scotch guy at this point in my life. But that doesn't mean that i don't enjoy a glass every now and then. I've recently attended a mini seminar on spirits and have learned a significant amount about a type of alcohol i've always been a stranger to. This was the scotch that i started on, and it coincidentally happens to be highly recommended as a starter scotch in general. Not implying that it's not high quality or less flavourful than others, but that it's palate is mellow and is more tolerable to a beginner scotch drinker.

Pour an ounce into a glass and try it for yourself. It should be enjoyed at room temperature, and enjoyed neat, or wish a small splash of water to open up the flavours. Rocks, or mixing is not "acceptable", but if you're training at home, feel free to add some cubes, or a small splash of ginger to get yourself acquainted with the unfamiliar tastes.

The Kraken Spiced Rum -

There is a distinct autumn quality to this rum, both in its taste, and its outstanding design and marketing. It's definitely a conversation piece and a fantastic bottle that you will want to be seen. But above all that, it's a dark, hearty spiced rum that pairs perfectly with that 'it's not that cold out but my nose is kinda numb' feeling, after raking a pile of leaves, or putting up halloween decorations. The great thing about this rum though, is its versatility. It's fantastic neat, on the rocks or mixed with cola, but my favourite way to enjoy it is with hot apple cider and cinnamon. It's a perfect warming drink for a late afternoon chill, and nothing says you can't bring a flask along with you for unexpected apple cider encounters. It's smooth, spicy and a perfect addition to the fall. Once it gets a little colder heading into winter, switch it up with the super cinnamon and vanilla kick of Lamb's Black Sheep Spiced rum, for something festive. And hey, try them both with Egg Nog. You won't be disappointed.

Disaronno Amaretto -

This one is simple gentlemen. It's sweet, warm and syrupy. It mixes with just about anything you can think of. It's easy to drink, and ladies usually like it. It's a no brainer. Mix it how you please, but i suggest either neat at room temperature, or with a few rocks.

Want an added autumn kick? Disaronno also happens to pair perfectly with cherry tobacco. If you don't have a pipe, that's just fine, but if you do, try's a fantastic match.

The Manhattan -

A classic for a reason, The Manhattan is an absolutely perfect autumn cocktail, and it's pretty idiot proof. All you need is rye, sweet vermouth, and angostura bitters. Traditionally, you would add ice and bitters to your glass, while adding 2 parts rye and 1 part vermouth to a shaker of ice. Shake, strain, garnish with a lemon twist and cherry. Done. It's a perfect combination of sweet and bitter, and is a perfectly classy drink. Experiment with changing the ingredients if you desire; swapping rye for bourbon (i prefer maker's mark but the new Jim Beam Red Stag bourbon will add a hit of black cherry to the drink), or use flavoured bitters instead of the traditional. (I use peach bitters occasionally to brighten it up a tad).

Finally, for those of you gents who are tried and true beer guys, I didn't forget about you! Below i have listed 2 superb autumn beers:

Muskoka Breweries "MAD TOM" IPA -

This beer is absolutely fantastic. While some may argue this as a summer beer, i really do prefer it as an autumn beer. It's crisp and refreshing, and full of hoppy goodness, as all IPAs should be. But what this one has that sets it apart is a very distinct grapefruit/citrus taste. It's unexpected, but very welcome. I am not talking about artificial, overpowering, sweet candy grapefruit taste. This has an almost bitter, real grapefruit note to it, which is all at once unsettling, but very intriguing. I'll admit that on first taste, i was a little thrown off, but after the first bottle, i realized that it really is as refreshing as the first sweater day of autumn. And it's the perfect bonfire companion...besides that cutie you've been eyeing all night.


This, is by far my favourite autumn beer thus far. I discovered it a couple of years ago, and bought it simply because of the label (i am a huge halloween fan). It's an absolutely fantastic brew, with notes of toffee and chocolate in it's rich dark hue. It's good chilled or at room temperature, and i prefer mine to be somewhere in between. it's definitely not a light beer, and it's got a lot more flavour than a lager, so if you're a coors light guy (which i really, really hope you're not), then this will take some getting used to. But hey, even if you have a bottle around for the sheer look of it, it will inspire conversation and imagination.

Well there you have it gents! Stock your bars with any or all of the above, and you'll be ready for the autumn ahead. Now grab a sweater, fix a drink, and go watch the leaves change.

Until next time,