Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Issue #51 - Gift Guide for your lady friend

Issue #51 - Gift Guide for your lady friend

Hello gents! It's the beginning of December, and that means 2 things: First, you can finally remove your moustache, and second, the Christmas season has officially begun, so that means you have some gifts to think of for the woman in your life...both of these things are much to the delight of women everywhere. You may be thinking you don't need a gift guide, or that the items on this list aren't for your woman. You're wrong. This issue is not about specific items to get her, but rather a certain combination of categories you're going to want to cover. These tips will help send you in the right direction regardless of if she's a new girlfriend, a long time wife, or even just a near and dear friend. But most importantly, it will hopefully help you avoid getting lost in big box store chaos, and let you actually enjoy the experience of gift giving.

First and foremost gents, there is one important fact you need to read, understand, and utilize: LISTEN. I don't mean listen to her telling you what she wants, I mean listen to her the entire year. Pay attention to things she says she likes, loves, wishes she could have, needs, etc. The gifts you give her shouldn't be just stuff you think of a week before the 25th. As a gentleman, you have the duty of hearing, logging, and recalling all the things she wants all year round. Whether it be those boots she always puts on the back burner, that spa she's dying to try, or anything in between. Oh, and if that weren't enough of a job, you also have to listen to the stuff she doesn't say, and pay attention to how she looks at certain items. Fear not though, this guide will help you cover all the bases, make her super happy, and make you look like a Christmas hero, all without breaking a sweat, or breaking the bank.

What you need to know about this guide is that if you give her at least one gift from each of the below categories, then you've officially covered every aspect of awesome gift giving. You'll save money, time and stress, and that mistletoe might see some action too.


There will undoubtedly be a few items she voices that she wants. If she says she wants nothing, she's lying. Find out what these are, and do what you can in order to get them. Obviously this will vary depending on the item, the budget, etc. Bottom line, if she says she wants it, then it must be somewhat of a big deal since she's actually telling you. So get it. But don't get caught up in getting everything she says she wants, there's much more to give.


You hopefully know things about her. If you don't, then it's either far too early to get any sort of significant gift, or your relationship just plain sucks. That being said, I would assume you can see something in a store or online and realize that it's something she would totally dig, and doesn't even know it. These are great gifts because it shows her that you actually have insight into her, and aren't just a list reading robot. These gifts will vary widely depending on your lady, so keep your eyes and ears open.


Sitcoms have basically made men out to be the worst gift givers on the planet, resorting to horrible taste and household items. Tim Allen in Home improvement was especially bad, getting his wife a vacuum cleaner. He was also a huge contributor to why men think it's ok to wear white running shoes with jeans and a dress shirt, but that's another story. What these sitcoms have told us is that it's a horrible idea to get your woman something practical, or something she actually needs. While this is indeed true if it's the ONLY gift you get her, it's NOT a bad idea if it's one of several gifts she receives, and shows actual, genuine thought. If she's frequently mentioned that she wants to make her own coffee because her starbucks habit is draining the bank, then a coffee machine or french press might make a good gift. The point is, listen to her needs and if you think something practical would be a good idea, then go for it....just make sure you add an extra gift or 2 from the other categories to make sure you cover your ass.


Guys, any caveman can go to the store, pick a card, and sign their name on it. Do you really want to be a caveman? I would hope not. Give her something genuinely and directly from your heart, hands, and mind. MAKE HER SOMETHING. Whether you make it yourself, or have it made custom for you, it shows a serious attention to wanting a truly unique gift for her, and will trigger her girly instincts. This means even if for some reason she hates it, she'll still love it, because you MADE it for her. This might sound a lot harder than it is, but trust me, it's not. No matter what you're good at, you can figure out something for her. Good at web design? Make her a little webpage that only you and her have access to. Good at cooking? Make her a mind blowing dinner. Not good at anything? Write her a letter instead of buying a card. In fact, do that anyways. It's way better than a card. This has now become mandatory.


We've been trained by television to think that women want flowers, candy and jewelry. Candle-lit dinners and bubble baths. Champagne and strawberries. Guys, this is cheese. It's stereotypical. And it's true. Regardless of how lame and cheesy these things are, there is a small part of every woman that secretly (or not so secretly) loves this shit. So use it, but use it sparingly. A few cheese items can totally work if used properly, so figure out which ones they are, and add it to the mix. A personal suggestion for a perfect cheese gift? The mixed CD. This totally combines the heart, the cheese and the knowledge, and is a perfect nostalgic piece. Depending on the length of your relationship, your choice of songs will obviously differ, but I suggest you select songs that are significant to a time you spent together, remind you of a funny moment or night or songs that remind YOU of her. You can explain to her why you chose the songs as you listen to the cd over a glass of wine (that you supplied of course), and a hand made cd cover wouldn't hurt either.

Well gentlemen, this concludes my gift guide for your lady friend. I truly hope this has helped you on your Christmas journey, and will hopefully help you avoid throwing elbows at a Walmart on Christmas Eve. I'm giving you a head start here, so if you follow my lead, you should have no problem enjoying every drop of the holidays this year, and hopefully your Ms. Claus will be so happy with your thoughtful offerings that you definitely won't have a silent night.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Issue # 50 - What NOT to read

Issue # 50 - What NOT to read

Good afternoon gentlemen. I was originally planning on writing a handy guide to gift giving for your lady this holiday season, however I was side tracked when a new magazine landed on my desk. It's the debut publication from the Freeds company, and it's called "Image Magazine". Now, some of you may be unfamiliar with the Freeds name if you're not from this area. Freeds is a well known store that has been around for 80 years in this city. They are known primarily for Men's clothing, specifically suits, although they do women's as well. For decades, they have been the main place that men in the city have gone to get their suit needs fulfilled, with all the accessories. They have survived almost a century and are still going strong.

The above paragraph is the nicest thing I have to say about Freeds.

I for one, have never been a fan of Freeds, for several, very specific reasons. The clothing is highly overpriced. The quality of wear in the lesser-name brands (which there are an abundant amount of) is pathetic, with many of their items falling apart after the first few wears and washes. But  most importantly, they are ridiculously and astoundingly out of touch with modern men's style...and they could not be more oblivious about it.

Regardless of my preconceived thoughts of Freeds, I decided to give this magazine a read with the highest of hopes. I wanted my notions of the company to be put to rest. I held this magazine in my hands, staring at the cover photo; a sharp and mean looking model sitting cross legged in a light grey suit with a blue, pink, purple and white check shirt, paired with a rather hideous tie. (not to mention the tie width greatly exceeds the width of the lapels...proportion 101). Tie aside, I still endeavoured into the pages, optimism afloat. A short while later, upon finishing the magazine twice, I came to a final conclusion:


 And I mean this on more than one level. It became very obvious to me within the first few pages that not only have the powers that be at Freeds obviously never even looked at a real men's style magazine, but they are officially more out-dated and old fashioned than I could have ever imagined. This became painfully obvious when on page 7, the owner of Freeds mentions the "New 'fitted' Look" as one of this seasons major fashion shifts. I'm sorry? New fitted style? Have you not been around for the past 4 years?  Have you paid ANY attention to the shifting trends in men's fashion at ALL? Or did you just decide that your knowledge of what was fashionable in the late 80s and early 90s was more than enough to qualify you to put out a style magazine? The very fact that fitted style was referred to as NEW trend easily set the tone for what was to be an extremely poorly thought out, written and executed magazine.

After the fluffy letters from the owner, Ari Freed and the General Manager, Dan Orman (both of whose positions in the company I am only assuming since they don't say who they are), confidently patting themselves on the back, the magazine opens up to a varietal plethora of gag-inducing 'fashions'. Page 10 begins the painful journey with a self boasting article on Freeds and a lack-luster 4 photo spread; 3 of which are almost identical photos, showcasing a billowy men's shirt with a predictable tie, and a backdrop of a typical stuffy men's store. The article closes itself claiming that Freeds stays 'ahead of the curve' and 'shocks customers with incredible selection'. The only thing shocking here is the lack of style, and further lack of character.

Now I could do a page by page breakdown of this publication, but I don't know if I can come up with enough synonyms for 'useless'. The issue goes on to disappoint around every corner, choosing to focus minimal attention of giving visual examples of men's style, and instead choosing to place poorly written mini articles with very little visual support around double-page spreads of local business people who clearly are not doing much in the way of style, nor are they depicting the very style trends that the magazine said it was offering. (ie pg 20, 28,34, and 44...really? i mean...REALLY?)

 The only article that could have possibly held any sort of merit was on page 38, entitled "Custom Fitted". It showed reputable promise, making me think the following read would be informative, interesting, and would shine some light on the custom fit look that this city needs to embrace. But alas, as with the rest of the publication it very quickly got off topic choosing to talk about what designers made an impact on a runway, and what colours stole the show as opposed to offering visual examples of how you can achieve such looks. In fact the only photos they offer in their blink-and-you'll-miss-it article on "one of this seasons' major fashion shifts" are one they obviously lifted from the internet depicting a perfectly slim-clad gentleman in a lift elevator with 2 gorgeous women, and a heavily blacked out photo of a man wearing a suit and tie. Neither photo show any real suit details. The article goes on to continually name drop designers they carry (as with the entire magazine), and then finishes by telling you to essentially buy a suit off their rack, take it to their tailor, and just be open to new possibilities. Thank you Freeds for that lovely piece of useless writing.

The issue continues to showcase business professionals in the city, which in my opinion are nothing but space fillers, since it's burningly obvious that the main writer Reena Kainth simply doesn't have enough knowledge or passion to write an in depth article that I'm sure many other men were looking forward to. The article on page 25 "Zip it up, a buyer's guide to jackets" is a prime example. Yet again, an article filled with a lot of useless filler, a lot of designer name dropping, and very little useful information paired with absolutely no visual support to give the reader something to compare the words to. How is this a buyer's guide to winter jackets if there is no guide to be seen? The article spends much more time on the history of the designers rather than guiding the reader.

As I neared the end of the magazine, I laughed to myself since the vast majority of the ads in the issue, (for brands that Freeds carries), contain models dressed better than anything the magazine has to offer, wearing better clothing than the magazine has showcased. One would think that the creators of this magazine would have taken a queue from the designers they name drop so frequently, and actually do some research. Instead they choose to dress their models (ie/ pg 34) in an overly typical outfit that Far, far too many people in this city wear. It is not stylish, nor is it trendy. It is not fashion. It is a man dressed poorly, in poor fitting clothes, dressed by people who - given the entirety of this publication - must think that if it's 'designer' then it looks good regardless. Well, I have news for you. You're wrong.

This magazine is a joke from beginning to end. The very idea that it could be a go-to for men or women looking to catch up on new styles and trends is nothing short of crazy talk. After a third time looking through it, it's truly nothing more than a piece of self inflating puffery from a company who is well past their time, and knows it. If they had removed every instance of dropping the name of a designer they carry (many of which are much less than impressive), and refrained from useless information that makes them sound like they know what they're talking about, they could have maybe saved a couple of pages for actual useful style information.
Luckily this is only out bi-annually, so you have a few months to recover before they fill their spring/summer issue with Ed hardy t shirts and jeans with rhinestones on the pockets.

In conclusion gentlemen, do not read this magazine. Do not shop at Freeds. If you want real style advice, I suggest you check out GQ magazine monthly, and also Men's Health magazine. Whether you subscribe or not, they are invaluable tools to keep you on the pulse of what's happening in men's style right NOW. Not 20 years ago.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Issue # 49 - Fragrance picks for Winter 2011

Issue # 49 - Fragrance picks for Winter 2011

Hello gents! How is everyone this fine evening? Well I hope. I've been writing a lot of issues, trying to cover topics I haven't touched upon yet, and I realized that I was so involved in it that I almost forgot the seasonal Fragrance issue! As you all know, I try to give you a head start on what my favourite picks for seasonal scents are, and hope to point you in the right direction so you don't get swamped by the massive wall of bottles at the drug store or the intimidating displays and snooty sales people at department stores. This season is no different, and I am very excited to write about my favourite topic.

Lately I've noticed a very disturbing trend in the fragrance world; the trend of putting out a new scent, and then following it up with an almost instant, barely indistinguishable spin-off of itself. They get around their obvious greed and laziness by calling them things like "intense". It's sadly un-creative, and in all honesty, it's just plain boring. I make frequent trips to both the drug store and department stores to see if there is anything new or exciting hitting the shelves, and lately there really has been very little worth writing home about. I was hoping for at least a few new winter-esque scents to arrive before this issue, but sadly, the designers and scent houses have focused their attentions on a stunning array of mediocre "sport" scents, and left the complex, warm scents on the distant back burner.

That being said, I managed to pull together a list of fantastic winter fragrances for you to check out, and hopefully purchase. I scoured my own collection for scents I haven't reviewed yet, pulled a familiar face or two from last year's list, and managed to (accidentally) find a brand new smell that I am very excited about. So here we go. (in no particular order)

Grey Flannel by Geoffrey Beane -

This is one of the more unique scents in my collection, and it is most certainly not for the faint  of heart. It contains notes of lemon, orange, violet, cinnamon and rose, accompanied by woody notes of oak and sandalwood. It has a warmth to it that is unmistakeable, and it's most certainly undeniably masculine.Those of you who prefer sporty, lighter scents this may not be one for you. It is one of the most 'winter' fragrances I own, and brings to mind the sensation of stepping out of a warm house into cold, brisk air, and breathing in your first breath of crisp, clean snow.  Don't be frightened, the top notes come off very strong right off the bat, but it soon mellows from bright winter day to cozy winter night. Seeing as it was created in 1976, it definitely carries a nostalgic nose to it, bringing back memories of Christmas day, and smelling like something my father may have worn while sipping whiskey next to the fire. Like I said, if you're a man that prefers lighter, more delicate scents, this may not be one for you. But if you're a man who wears his charm on his sleeve, and keeps his confidence in the same pocket as his flask, then try it out. The best part? It's ridiculously inexpensive. I scored my bottle for $9.

The Beat by Burberry/Bang by Marc Jacobs -

This one made the list last year, and is still one of my main go-to scents for the snowy months. It's a blast of pepper and citrus, and is quite long lasting. I could go on for a very long time about this one. It's instantly recognizable, and walks the delicate line between being overpowering and being not strong enough. One to two sprays is all you really need with this one, and as it mellows it becomes warm, complex, deep and inviting. Totally a sensual scent, and as most winter fragrances are, it's quite masculine. If you like the beat, also check out BANG by Marc Jacobs. It's similar in pepper notes, although a little less loud about it, and mellows into the same, if not more sensual base notes. They're both fantastic fragrances and will completely set you apart. Tried The beat but aren't sure about it yet? There's a pretty decent generic version called "Riot" available at Walmart for only $13. Test it out, and if you dig it, upgrade to the real thing.

Vintage by John Varvatos /John Varvatos -

There was no chance that these scents weren't making the list again this year. Both of these scents are perfect for winter, and compliment the cold weather better than a hot toddy and a fireplace. Vintage is beautifully rustic and slightly sweet, while being 1970s vintage (duh), and contemporary rock and roll all at the same time. It makes me think of chopping wood at a log cabin, then unwinding listening to The Arkells on vinyl. The original John Varvatos scent is similar while being completely different. It is absolutely retro, as if he somehow managed to fit a perfectly worn in black leather jacket and the entire year of 1978 into one 100ml bottle. With notes of tobacco and leather, there's no doubt that this is a man's scent. It's strong, so one spray will do you well. This is a supremely confident scent guys, so if you're going to wear it, own it. I highly recommend it.

and finally...

Ange ou Demon by Givenchy -

I have not been this excited about a scent in a very long time. I stumbled upon this one completely by accident. It's no secret that I am a very big fan of Givenchy scents, so while I was browsing a little while back, I noticed this bottle, since it was new to the store and I had never seen it before. I sprayed it on a tester strip and was completely blown away. It's dark, complex, brooding and mysterious. It immediately brought to mind the unmistakeable smell of incense, combined with a deep, intriguing scent I still can't place. It is overwhelmingly unique and only got better as it mellowed. I sprayed some on my wrist, and carried on with my shopping, not being able to stop smelling it. Every time I smelled it again, it got better and better. As it mellowed it got warmer, and more complex, almost inviting. It brought to mind a dark, candle lit room with incense burning, a glass of red wine, and the soft orange glow gently bouncing off the curves of a woman eagerly waiting for you. Gentlemen, this is a scent that I truly have fallen brace yourselves. It was an accidental discovery's a woman's scent. Now, before you get all manly man over there, keep in mind that there really is no rule for a manly scent and a womanly scent. It's our own perceptions and our society that differ between the two. There are very many scents designed for women that men wear, and visa versa. I was actually quite shocked that this was deemed as a female scent, since to my nose it was undeniably masculine, and at the very least unisex. I suggest you check it out guys, it's totally what I was waiting for this winter, and may be just what you're looking for as well. It's a bit pricey, but totally worth it.

Well those are my picks this season ,but there are a LOT of winter scents out there that are just as good. A few honourable mentions go out to Lacoste Pour Homme, Kenneth Cole RSVP, and the always delicious CK One Shock.

Until next time gents!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Issue # 48 - Underneath it all

Issue # 48 - Underneath it all

Hello gents, and a happy November to you all. I was originally going to write an issue on shaving tips and products in honour of Movember, but I stumbled onto a topic that I found to be much more important, and much more concerning than how to avoid razor burn, or why that chin-strap facial hair is a bad idea. And since it was a direct request from a female reader, I hope you pay some very close attention guys. (Note: The chin-stap facial hair is a very bad idea).Why is it important that you read this issue? Because it touches upon a topic that not only have I never covered, but a topic that the vast majority of men simply don't realize is a severe issue for women: Your Underwear. 

We all have them; Those ratty, worn in, faded, baggy, skid marked, ultra comfortable underwear, with at least one hole in it (probably near the waist i right?). Whether your a brief guy, a boxer guy, or somewhere in between, chances are you've never looked at your underoos as anything but a layer between your junk and your zipper. Neither cut nor colour nor style has ever mattered much to you, outside of having a basic preference for comfort reasons. You find the pack with the most pairs for the lowest price, grab it and forget about it, despite the fact that they look like they were made from old gym shirts in grey, navy blue and off white. After all, you're a MAN, right? Why should you spend more than 4 seconds looking at underwear?


Think about it. Your girlfriend, your ex girlfriends, the girl you're sleeping with, your friend, ANY woman. They all have a ridiculous amount of under garments, right? They will spend countless hours and dollars completing their arsenal of bras and panties, all with specific uses in mind. Their collection ranges from sexy underwear to cute underwear, to matching bras and panties, to comfy/period underwear (if you got grossed out or turned off by that, please grow up), to a collection of panties for specific outfits, because comfy or not, they'll be damned if you see panty lines through their pencil skirts...they take the time and the effort to do these things guys, and you can be damn sure that 9 times out of 10, if they have even the slightest thought that you might be seeing them out of their clothes, they'll be sure to be wearing something for the occasion. Why? Because they want to look good for you, and want to feel good about themselves.

So why do you not do the same? Think about it. You're in the heat of the moment, and as her pants come off, you see a sexy little number that looks so good you almost want to leave them on her. We've all been there. Now put yourself in her your pants come off, she sees... two holes under the elastic waist of your boring grey cotton hanes jockeys that have been through so much use they've lost their once form-fitting appeal and now hang lifeless like tiny little ugly board shorts. Sexy.

Wake up guys. I know as men we're not raised with the ideal that we should have sexy or attractive underwear. It's not part of our wiring. But I highly suggest you change that. This not only falls into the category of style, but also into the category of being a gentleman. Why should she have to put in all the work of trying to be sexy for you, when you don't even think twice about it? Think about how disappointed you would be if you got her back to your place, pulled off her outfit that was driving you crazy all night, only to reveal torn, ratty and just plain ugly panties. Now imagine how she feels. Am I making sense here gents?

Now I am not saying go buy a bunch of banana hammocks or stripper underwear, because those are equally as horrifying to her. But what I am saying is put a little more effort, a little more thought, and a little more coin into your drawers. I'll admit that I myself was oblivious to this issue until about a year ago. I purchased what I thought to be a style I usually wore, and I was mistaken. They were in fact, completely different than the Jockey shorts I was intending, and instead were snug fitting mini shorts, falling somewhere between the length of briefs and the length of jockeys. At first, I was uncomfortable with the idea of them, but upon wearing them I quickly changed my mind. They were snug, comfortable and I barely noticed they were there. But more interestingly, I felt more confident with them on...and if you know anything about this blog, it's that confidence is key. I went back and bought 3 more packs.

Listen guys. She finds it sexy when you have nice underwear on. So go get some. It's really simple, and it makes her happy, which will in turn make YOU happy. You follow? It's a no brainer. If you don't want to get rid of your old ones, then don't. But at least only wear them around the house, and instead don a great new look for when you're with her. She'll notice. And you just might notice how you feel when they're on as well.

I'm almost done here today gents, but I will send a few tips your way before I leave. If you're not sure where to start your search for new skivvies, I suggest H&M if you have one near you. They have the underwear I was referring to. They come in packs of 3 for only $14.95, and even better, they come in colours and designs that are as manly for you as they are sexy for her. A personal favourite of mine is black with white pin stripes, and the solid black with white waist band. Simple and classy for you, sexy for her. For my second tip, I'm going to crush the brown elephant in the room and go there: There is absolutely nothing attractive about skid marks (although we've ALL been there). If you're a man who is prone to this phenomenon, I have a few words of wisdom. First, wipe better. I know you're in a hurry to get back to whatever video game you're obsessed with right now, but if you can spend 25 minutes reading on the toilet, then you can spend 30 extra seconds to make sure you're not going to leave a trail in your knickers. As a secondary line of defense, opt for the black underwear when you can. This way, if you just couldn't wait to get back to your spike tv, then at least you have some decent camouflage to hide it.

Until next time gents,

PS - You're welcome ladies.