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Posts Tagged ‘Accessories’

The Art of the Cigar

Monday, December 20th, 2010

By: Brian

While smoking is generally considered an undesirable practice, there are times when the occasional cigar is a merited reward or novelty exclusive to no man: provided he knows how to smoke it.

Any quality cigar lounge will have cases upon cases of cigars of every size and color displayed prominently from within their humidors.  Each box will have two numbers on it.  The first is the diameter of the cigar in 64ths of an inch.  The second number, which indicates the length of the cigar, ranges from 1 to (usually) 9 inches, but as with all things there are exceptions.

Cigars range from a light, almost greenish-brown color to a black.  The outer wrapping leaves determine the overall color and shape, while the interior filler leaves determine the flavor.  A good rule of thumb is that the darker the cigar,  the stronger the flavor, and the more blue the smoke.  Likewise, lighter cigars may have a gentler taste and a more white, billowing smoke.

Typically, the smell of the wrapping on a cigar is roughly the flavor one can expect to have on their lips as they smoke it.

Once a selection has been made, there are two options: use a cigar punch and drive a hole in the bottom of the cigar, or invest in a quality guillotine cutter, and remove the cap. To cut a cigar, look to the cap for where the binding leaves connect with the outer wrapping: there should be a narrow ring of leaf where the wrappings change direction.  Slide your cutter to the point that the blades are resting lightly on the ring, then firmly and smoothly, close the cutter and remove the cap.

From there, the rest is rather simple: inhalation is optional.  Use wooden matches to preserve flavor, and turn the cigar when you light it to ensure an even burn.  Leave about 3/4 of an inch of ash on the ember to act as insulation, when the glue on the label starts to melt, remove the label and discard it appropriately.

There is, however, a certain measure of etiquette that goes into cigar smoking.  If at a party or restaurant, check with the host or hostess that smoking a cigar is permissible, after all the goal is to enjoy yourself and not disrupt someone else.  Do not ash more than is necessary, and try dispose of your butt properly: nobody has any desire to see you walking around with a sodden stump of stogie hanging in your mouth.

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A Brief Message on Business Bags

Monday, November 29th, 2010

There is a saying…”Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”  While many young professionals fresh out of college know this (understanding the importance of investing in their professional attire) there are still those who some how fail to translate it into what they carry.

This gentleman clearly on his commute to or from work seems well put together but something is out of place…

What is wrong with this picture?

The answer is the juvenile backpack he uses to carry his personals too and from work.  From a purely practical perspective it may seem to make sense, leaving both hands free,  less fatigue if carrying much, etc.  But it will leave his suit wrinkled and from an image perspective it leaves him looking like he is on a field trip, an intern or generally out of his league.

The appropriate next step from the backpack would be to the briefcase or messenger bag.  For those who don’t have to carry anything to0 heavy to the office, i.e., a laptop, a briefcase would be the best option.  Small, practical and professional.

I included messenger bags because there are those that need to travel with a laptop or simply a bit more.  While with a messenger bag you can still wrinkle your suit when wearing it on your shoulder it will be more comfortable with heavier loads and still afford you with a professional demeanor.

*Note Below

For higher end briefcases and messenger bags I like both Bosca and Tumi.  While many young professionals may find these out of their range they could be used as guides of what styles of bags will serve them well in all facets.

*Note:  It is not like me to use pictures of celebrities in my posts but I chose the one above of actor Ryan Reynolds because I felt it was a successful depiction for this topic.


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Stocking Stuffers and Small Gift Ideas

Friday, November 26th, 2010

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone the gift giving holidays quickly approach.  Today being black Friday I thought it fitting to offer some suggestions for those of you whom may need some small gifts for your fathers, brothers, sons or friends.

It is my feeling that too often stocking stuffers end up being items that do not find much use or purpose after their after initial duties of filling a sock are complete.

These stocking stuffers are intended to compliment a man’s wardrobe by having value in their style and finding frequent use.

Wardrobe:

-A shoe horn is an important item for any man who wears leather dress shoes.  While many men may already have some type of shoe horn it is often a cheap plastic version.  For these men or men without any type I would suggest a fine shoe horn made from horn or brass.

-A suit brush is another addition to a man’s wardrobe that helps him properly care for his investments.  Used to clean a suit by brushing away dirt it also can be used quite effectively as a replacement for the adhesive lint roller which can leave behind a residue.

-Everyman can use a package of simple white linen pocket squares.  To add a bit of a personalized touch get them monogrammed with their initials.

-An assortment of silk knotted cuff links is a welcome addition to any man’s collection.  Being inexpensive means quite a few can be purchased.

Accessories:

-As I have written before a decent pocket knife is a welcome addition any man’s daily carry.  They can be very simple and find many uses throughout the day.  Some good deals on knives can be found on Ebay.  Case XX knives are quality knives that can be found for reasonable prices with a little searching.  For online retail I suggest Deadwood Knives.

-A great socking stuffer for a cigar smoker would be a leather cigar case.  These come in a range of styles from the number of cigars they hold to the type of leather.  An added advantage is the ability to be monogrammed to add bit of personalized style.  

This list could go on for some length so at the very least it is intended to sparks some inspiration and help you to get the right items for those who will appreciate them.

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Personal stationary on the cheap

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

In today’s environment of Blackberries, iPhones, and Email it has become more and more common for individuals to simply send messages though text or email.  This might be all fine and good for most mundane messages but I adamantly believe that anything that is more formal (aside from business correspondence) or shows appreciation should be hand written and on good paper.  Often times this means it must also be expensive,  this is not always the case.

I enjoy the benefits of personalized stationary without the obscene costs of printing that would be charged by a firm such as Crane.  The answer is very simple and I would assume that many of you are already thinking it.  You simply purchase some quality paper (Crane offers packages of 40 sheets and 20 envelopes for under $20) and create your own layout on your computer.

This ultimately offers you more freedom in your stationary than would be afforded by a stationary company.  You can select any font you want and become quite creative in your layout.  Depending on your field of work or the nature of the note or the recipient this offers you the opportunity to finely craft your stationary to have the most impact.  I have a few basic versions saved on my computer and when it comes time to write a letter I slide the paper guide on the printer to to correct position and print out what I need.

Note: Good paper will most likely have a watermark.  I prefer to have mine in the correct position to be read if the recipient were to hold the paper to the light while reading.  In order to have your paper print correctly it is important to understand how your printer feeds and to insert your stock accordingly.


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Send the right message

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

I’m sure that most (if not all) of you own a cell phone and almost as many of you that use a cell are avid users of texts, email, web browsing, etc.  Today it is common to see people totally engrossed in their phones.  They will be clicking away oblivious to the world around them.  I have even experienced people walk right into me because they were too busy with their phone to look ahead of them.  These habits, while not auspicious, pale in comparison to the committing of these acts while conversing or interacting with others.

I’m sure many of you have been in a conversation with someone and there is a ring, beep or buzz that has caused the other side to inadvertently remove their phone and click away in response to whatever form of communication they just received.

This may not seem like much of a transgression, and to many it may not be, but done habitually only shows those around you that they are not important to you and/or you have little interest in the interaction.

Due to the growing importance of staying connected to those in our lives it is inevitable that at some point you will receive a message while conversing with someone.

For those moments I recommend the following:

Set it to vibrate: If neither you or the person you are talking to hear the alert and only the person the message was intended for is aware of it then there is no harm done.  If your ringer has been left on then quickly silence it and then apologize.

Ask Permission: If you are expecting some sort of important news (loved one in surgery, oncology test results, call from potential employer, etc.) then ask the person you are talking to if they mind if you answer/respond.  Any reasonable person will not be insulted with a quick and general explanation.  I feel that this should be done before the fact and not as a sheepish apology after.

The flip side to being courteous and respectful of other peoples time is that in a world where interruptions such as these come more and more frequently it becomes a powerful statement to those you interact with that your time currently belongs to them.

These few points may seem obvious to many but it still is such a common occurrence.

By doing little things to show that you value those around you shows good style and from good style comes class.

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Style doesn’t have to mean Expensive

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

Like I have said before, a lot of what creates good style is attention to detail and the small things such as ties, cuff links, pocket squares, accessories, etc.  These are items that, when new, can be very expensive relative their size and the number you might need to fill a collection.  If you are looking to build a collection and don’t want to spend a lot of money on some things that will be worn once in a while then start your search on eBay.  I like to keep an eye out for interesting items that can be purchased for a steal.  Most of the time the items are used but this shouldn’t be a problem with pieces like cuff links.  Whenever using eBay be sure to follow their advice for safely navigating and making purchases.

Other websites that can be useful for finding items for relatively good prices are Overstock.com and Bluefly.com.  These can be good but I prefer eBay because of the fact that you can find great vintage items rather than newer items.

Happy Hunting

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Links…. Cuff Links

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

So much of men’s style is about attention to the details and finding a way to bring it all together.  Cuff links are one of those details.  Cuff links are most commonly worn with shirts that have double cuffs, also known as french cuffs, where the cuff is folded back over the sleeve.  Less commonly they are worn on dress shirts with combination cuffs, (cuffs that are not folded over but have a button hole on each side for links as well as a button on one side).

Shirts with double cuffs are slightly more dressy than shirts with button cuffs.  For this reason you generally wouldn’t wear a shirt with double cuffs without a tie or in very casual dress.  The cuff link  you choose to wear can also reflect how formal the occasion is.  For the most formal I formal linkwould recommend solid gold or silver links. To add a little color to your evening wear or to be slightly less formal you can wear cuff links that include enamel that can come every color you can imagine.  Finally fabric knot links would be the most casual.  The colors in the enamel and fabric links allow you to tie them into other parts of your ensemble, such as tie or pocket square.  Cuff links can also be whimsical and express the wearers hobbies, interests or sense of humor.

Any man who enjoys wearing double cuffed shirts should own a healthy collection of links.  I define a healthy collection as at least two metal sets per double cuffed shirt.  This collection should include both gold and silver so that the metal of belt buckle, watch, ring, and links can be similar.  Because links can be fairly expensive I strongly suggest looking to places like ebay to find some great deals.

silk linksKnotted fabric cuff links are much more affordable than the gold or silver varieties allowing for a much larger collection.  They come in solids and multi-colors and are often sold as impulse buys at the front of fine clothing stores.  Their affordability allows you to have links for countless color combinations.

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A gentleman’s accessories

Friday, August 14th, 2009

A great suit might really help to make a look but style does not rely on clothes alone.  It is subtle details such as accessories that help to refine the look and make it timeless.  These accessories are not just meant to look nice but they need to function and serve the purpose for which they are intended.

Wallet: Wallets come in many shapes and sizes but I feel that, as in most applications, simplicity is best.  I don’t like sitting on a folded piece of leather or having a lump on my backside.  To avoid this I started using a front pocket wallet.  They are thinner and have room only for the essentials (cards, cash).accessory wallet thinaccessory wallet open

This wallet is a great example of a good balance of form and function.  It’s made by Bosca who also make other luxury leather goods.

Watch:  A watch is as much a piece of jewelery as it is a functional necessity.  The criteria an individuals use when choosing the right watch for them should include their personal requirements and expectations.  Does the watch need to be waterproof, have lots of features, or only the basic simplicity of time and maybe date.  You should also go and try on watches with different sized watch faces to find the size that works best for you.

For the best of sport watches that can go from work to play while representing the epitome of class look to Breitling and TAG Heuer.  These watches are waterproof and are available with either leather or metal link bracelets.

    TAG Heuer's Monaco as worn by Steve McQueen in 1969s "Le Mans"

TAG Heuer's Monaco as worn by Steve McQueen in 1969s "Le Mans"

For a more traditional, simple elegance,  look to brands such as Patek Phillippe or Breguet.  These watches delight in the concept of less is more.  Relying more on clean lines and a well thought out layout to make an impression than an abundance of features. Patek Philippe's Ref. 3939 These watches while very nice tend to exist outside the average price range for the American man.  It is possible to find less expensive brand that have similar style cues and satisfy similar needs but for less money.  If you are lucky enough to be able to say that these watches are within your range then I would recommend the best.

The Pen: Every man should always have a pen somewhere on them at all times.  In more casual settings this may just call for a nice ballpoint for jotting down the occasional note or number but for the office or when a suit is involved I recommend a fountain pen.  Nothing can be more formal or more personal that a handwritten note written with a fountain pen.  For top-of-the-line, look to DunhillMont Blanc, or Waterman.  But from a design point of view one of the most beautiful pens is the discontinued Parker 51.

Parker 51:  Simple and elegant

Parker 51: Simple and elegant

Flask and Pocket knife:  More optional, but just as necessary in my opinion, are the hip flask and pocket knife.  Both  tend to show their real worth when you need them and don’t have them.

A flask can be a beautiful accessory that says a lot about its owner.  I recommend a vintage sterling silver flask.  They can be found on various auction websites and antique stores but if you are lucky enough to have one that has been passed down from father to son, fill it with your favorite tipple and carry it proudly.  Many a train ride home from work has been made more enjoyable thanks to a few sips of a favorite drink.

A small pocket knife has many uses from opening letters or boxes to cutting fruit.  Like the flask the most most desirable pocket knives are those that have been passed down and carry a history with them but don’t feel bad if you must buy one.  They can be extremely cheap while still looking very nice.  If you choose to carry a small pocket knife take care when traveling and make sure to keep it in checked luggage.

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