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Haute Stuff: a look into male grooming

By far the most important thing about fashion is personal upkeep. You can throw a posh suit on anyone, but if they are unkempt they’ll end up looking absolutely horrible regardless of how nice their threads are.

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By Alexei C. Summers (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: November 30, 2011

In our time there has been a serious wave of neglect sweeping over of this generation. Gone are the days of suits being worn to the office – Casual Friday has now become every day of the week. But there was once a time, not too long ago, when men used to take very good care of themselves, and if we take a little glance to the days of yesteryear we might find that we can see something they saw, feel something they felt.

By far the most important thing about fashion is personal upkeep. You can throw a posh suit on anyone, but if they are unkempt they’ll end up looking absolutely horrible regardless of how nice their threads are. There are certain techniques that were known to our forefathers that have now been relegated to mere memories. It is unknown why many of these practices have disappeared. Some of them disappeared simply due to cost, and now we see a barrage of today’s cheap mass-produced products such as disposable razors, aerosol shaving cream, and cheap canned scents.

Here is a look at some things you can do to make sure you exude manliness in spades:

Scents

Dish out a bit of extra money and buy yourself something nice. Make sure you think long and hard about what you get. Some good brands are Chanel, Gucci, Clinique, etc. I myself just bought a bottle of Chanel Allure Homme. It is musky, with a tinge of sweet spiciness that is both suave and charming. But really, it’s not about the brand at all. It’s about how the product works for you. Make sure it says something about you – make sure it’s unique. Be yourself, and never compromise that ideal. Consider purchasing some Bay Rum for an aftershave. It smells wonderful, and has a very interesting and long history of usage. Bay Rum is distilled from rum, and bay leaves. Its prevalence has died out in recent years, but most barber shops still use it.

Hair

I shouldn’t have to say this, but you’d be surprised how many men these days neglect to even drag a comb through their hair in the morning. It’s not that hard. They’re about a dollar at the drugstore. Purchase one. Use it. Also get regular haircuts. The moment your hair starts to look a bit shaggy, head on down to the barber and get a trim. There’s no sense looking like you’re homeless. Speaking of barbers – consider getting a shave at a barber shop once in a little while. It’s quite the experience; one you’re not likely to soon forget! Barbers know the science of hair and shaving like nobody’s business, and can help you avoid certain things like razor rash, nicks and cuts. If you don’t want to dish out the cash to have someone else drag a blade across your face – consider investing in a safety razor. You might’ve seen them in old films, or lying around in your grandfather’s attic, but new ones can still be purchased and they give you a shave closer than any of today’s razors, which scrape skin off rather than hair. Also invest in a shaving mug, a bar of shaving soap and a badger hair brush – the blades only cost a quarter each.

Talc

Years ago, before antiperspirant deodorant really took off like a rocket most men used talc, a derivative of talcum powder. This is the same stuff as baby powder, really. Talc is a highly absorbent substance which absorbs moisture. It also doesn’t cost very much and it also smells quite good. James Bond used it, you should too. Crabtree and Evelyn makes a lavender talc powder which is both soothing, and smells terrific.

Skin

There are many practices which men fail to do to keep their skin healthy. Since (most) men don’t wear makeup many assume there is no need to exfoliate or moisturize. This assumption is poor and could not be more wrong. Dead skin cells pile up when the face is not exfoliated, and when shaving is added into the equation, it can cause skin to look blotchy – it can also cause the build-up of bacteria and irritation. There are a number of ways to exfoliate. You could purchase a bottle of St. Yves Exfoliating Apricot Scrub – it’s cheap, good on skin and natural. Clinique also makes a refreshing scrub which contains menthol that allows pores to breathe, and gives a soothing feeling to the face. You could also purchase a pair of bath mitts from The Body Shop for $5 – these get my personal vote. They’re simple and brilliant.

As I mentioned before, moisturizing is also quite important. Many men just slap alcohol onto their face after shaving. This dries skin out. Skin is meant to be moist, and firm. When skin dries out, skin cells die. This causes flaking, and an overall gross look, as well as some of the irritation I previously mentioned. Skin is the largest organ on the human body. Take care of it.

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