World of Avallone - Men's Fashion & Lifestyle

Sherry Cocktails Are Your New Secret Weapon May 14 2015

After three or four drinks, look no further for your next round.

It's the moment of truth. Your phone lies facedown on the polished mahogany, the relaxed pulse of the music blends with the sounds of a couple dozen voices engaged in pleasant conversation, the lights shining through the ranks of whiskey bottles behind the bar enfold you in an amber glow, your companion is amusing–or even, perhaps, charming–and the cocktail you've just taken the last sip of was cold and strong and necessary, and you can feel it reaching into each individual capillary in your body, soothing each individual nerve. The bartender stands in front of oyu, her eyebrow raised. What will it be?

Sometimes, of course, the answer is easy: another, please, just like that one. But despite their modest size, modern cocktails are strong, and there are times when you don't want another just like that. You want to prolong the experience, but for whatever reason (and that's certainly no business of ours) you don't want to double your buzz. Fortunately, there's a simple solution, and it doesn't involve punting to champagne or beer or the like. As pleasant as those drinks are, they somehow seem like a missed opportunity when you've got an expert drink mixer standing in front of you, waiting to roll up anything you desire.

Drinkers in the 19th century were aware of this problem. Their cocktails, originally made of nothing more than straight booze with dashes of this and that, had to be. The first solution was the manhattan–one of those straight-booze cocktails but with a third or half of the fuel replaced by low-octane vermouth. But if you've ever drunk manhattans, you know that while the pleasure is great, they are no aid to sobriety whatsoever. It took another turn of the wheel to solve the problem. What if you took that manhattan and replaced the remaining spirits with sherry? Mixed thus, this Spanish wine has the texture and depth of flavor of whiskey or brandy or gin (depending on the style) but the same low proof as the vermouth.

The same solution seems to have popped up on both sides of the country simultaneously, in the early 1880s. In San Francisco, little Louis Eppinger, proprietor of a popular saloon on Halleck Street, made his version with dry vermouth and called it the Bamboo cocktail. In New York, "handsome" Joe McKone, of the famous Hoffman House, made his with sweet vermouth and called it the Adonis, after a musical.

Either way, it's a great cocktail. If you like 'em dry, a Bamboo with fino sherry and dry vermouth is as cold and dry as the Atacama Desert; if you want something bordering on the plush, an Adonis with a mellow old oloroso sherry and one of the richer sweet vermouths we're getting these days is as comforting as fleece pajamas.

Whatever you call it, the beauty of this formula is that it's easy to order in any craft-cocktail bar, even if the young Picasso behind the bar has never heard of ti. Simply ask for sherry and vermouth 50-50 with a couple dashes orange bitters and a twist, up. Not an order you could get away with at McSwiggan's, but you aren't paying 12 bucks a cocktail there, either. And if they don't have vermouth, well, you were planning on moving on anyway, or you would have that next one just like the first.

Bamboo Cocktail

Stir well with cracked ice:

  • 1 1/2 oz chilled fino or Manzanilla sherry
  • 1 1/2 oz dry French vermouth
  • 2 dashes orange bitters

Strain into chilled cocktail glass and twist lemon peel over the top.

Adonis cocktail.

Stir well with cracked ice:

  • 1 1/2 oz oloroso or amontillado sherry
  • 1 1/2 oz sweet Italian vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Strain into chilled cocktail glass and twist lemon peel over the top.

-From Esquire May '15


The 7 Best Looks from Goodfellas May 06 2015

We celebrate the style of Martin Scorsese's gangland epic, in time for this month's release of the 25th-anniversary Blu-ray.


The Point Collar Shirt

This ultra-long and narrow point collar bucks convention and is a total stand-out, especially when paired with a tan jacket and light pink tie—a thoroughly old school look we'd love to see come back into fashion.

The Green Suit
An olive-green sport coat may not be the first thing you think of when flashy mobsters come to mind, but this look makes for a much more distinguished, though no less striking, take on the usual gangland style.

The Open-Collared Shirt


One of Henry Hill's most stylish features is his loose, freewheeling take on high-end menswear. When he wears this wide open-collar on this black casual shirt with a designer suit he achieves maximum gangster panache.

The Casual Blazer


A light linen sport coat in etched gray is the ideal way to suit up through the warmer months. This one in particular, over a crisp white dress shirt, is an excellent take on a summer menswear classic.

The Leather Sport Coat


You've got to hand it to any man bold enough to rock a blazer made of leather, a short-lived trend from the '70s and '80s. Hey, if it's good enough for an aspiring mafia boss ...

The Red Velvet Jacket


Before red velvet was the dessert of choice among hip foodies, it was a distinctive style of jacket—and a pretty spectacular way to stand out while dressing up.

The Camel Coat


The camel coat has long been a staple of the distinguished man's wardrobe, a luxury item that instantly denotes sophistication and refinement.

-From Esquire May 2015


Why I Gave Up a $95,000 Job to Move to the Caribbean and Scoop Ice Cream April 30 2015

Noelle Hancock

There is a chicken in my shower. It's 8:30 a.m., I've just sat down on the toilet to pee. I casually glance around and there it is, drinking some of the residual water puddled on my shower floor. This is not the first creature to make an appearance in my bathroom. Since I moved to the Caribbean, I've had spirited encounters with tarantulas, scorpions, and untold lizards. But the chicken got me thinking.

"How did you get here?" I ask the bird. It blinks unhelpfully back at me.Perhaps a better question is, how did I get here? How did I come to live on a tiny, rustic island of 4,100 people sharing a bathroom with poultry?

It all began four years ago. Back then I was living in Manhattan, a 31-year-old journalist making $95,000 a year. I lived in a lovely(wildlife-free) apartment in the East Village, a bustling neighborhood with every imaginable convenience and so much to entertain. But New York is a competitive city; you have to spend most of your time working to afford to live there. And a downside of living among so many ambitious people is they're often overscheduled. Sometimes I didn't see my closest friends for months at a time. Trying to negotiate a time to meet a friend for drinks was harder than getting into college (and the cocktails about as expensive).

It's ironic to feel lonely on an island of 4 million people, but it seemed I spent my life staring at screens: laptop, cell phone, iPad — hell, even the taxis and elevators had televisions in them. I felt stressed, uninspired, and disconnected.

IF YOU'RE CONSTANTLY THINKING YOU NEED A VACATION, MAYBE WHAT YOU REALLY NEED IS A NEW LIFE.

"I need a vacation." This was a constant refrain in my head. I wasn't living in the moment; I was living for some indeterminate moment in the future when I'd saved enough money and vacation days to take a trip somewhere. If you're constantly thinking you need a vacation, maybe what you really need is a new life.But I was complacent. My life wasn't satisfying, but it was comfortable.

One day I was working on my laptop, finishing some edits on a book I'd just written. I was distracted, wondering what I would do now that the manuscript was finished. While I had several job offers, none of them excited me. I let my hands idle too long and the screensaver, a stock photo of a tropical scene, popped up. Here was something to get excited about. What I wanted — something I'd fantasized about for years, in fact — was to stop living in front of a screen and live in that screen, in the photo on my computer. And why couldn't I? With no professional obligations or boyfriend, I was completely untethered for the first time in my life.

Feeling slightly ridiculous, I posted a message on Facebook saying that I wanted to move to the Caribbean, and asking for suggestions as to where I should go. A friend's sister recommended St. John, the smallest of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Nicknamed "Love City" for its famously friendly locals, it was home to some of the most stunning beaches in the world. I glanced out my window where punishing, chest-high snow drifts were forming on the ground at an alarming rate. On the sidewalks impatient and preoccupied New Yorkers bumped into each other without apology. I immediately began expediting my passport.

It was startlingly simple to dismantle the life I'd spent a decade building: I broke the lease on my apartment, sold my belongings, and bought a one-way plane ticket. The hardest part was convincing myself it was OK to do something for no other reason than to change the narrative of my life.

"You can't just move to a place you've never even visited!" my mom protested.

"Sometimes you just have to leap and the net will appear," I said with more confidence than I felt.

Six weeks later, I stepped off the ferry in St. John. I had no plan, no friends, and no clue how ridiculous I looked, festively ensembled in boat shoes and a dress celebrating the palm tree. Yet I had a strange feeling that everything would unfold as it was supposed to.

My parents did not share this viewpoint. I come from a conservative Southern family with a healthy respect for the American Dream: You worked hard in school, chose an upper-middle-class job with a 401(k) and a good matching plan. So they were pretty taken aback when, upon arriving in St. John, I took a job at the local ice cream parlor.

"But, but ... you went to Yale," they sputtered. "And you're 31 years old!"

Perhaps there was something indulgent and Peter Pan-ish about this new lifestyle. But the truth is, I was happier scooping mint chocolate chip for $10 an hour than I was making almost six figures at my previous corporate job. It was calming to work with my hands. I met new people constantly, talking face-to-face instead of communicating via email and instant messaging. When I closed the shop at the end of the shift, my work was done and my time my own. Besides, I found that not everyone shared my parents' concern. "When I moved here 25 years ago, my dad insisted I was ruining my life," said one of my regular customers when we got to chatting about our lives one day. "Recently he visited and told me, 'You had it right all along. I'm toward the end of my life and looking to retire to someplace like this, and now I'm too old to enjoy it.'"

Cruz Bay, the island's main town, consists of a few winding roads and a handful of open-air bars and restaurants. There are no stoplights on St. John (though we frequently have to stop for the wild donkeys and iguanas and chickens that roam the streets). No chain stores. Limited WiFi. Shoes optional. We drive beat-up Jeeps because no one cares what kind of car you drive. For those without cars, hitchhiking is common; after all, we know almost everyone who lives here. We shower in filtered rainwater collected in cisterns attached to the house. There are no addresses. (Typical directions to someone's house are along the lines of, "If you take a left at the dumpster, I live in the white house at the end of the road with a broken-down dinghy in the yard.") People gather on the beaches at dusk to watch the sunsets together. I see my friends every day. On our days off, we hike the local ruins, dive, or go boating to the nearby British Virgin Islands.

These days, I work as a bartender, a job I pursued simply because it's something I always wanted to try. Sometimes I think back to the question I used to be asked in job interviews: "Where do you see yourself in five years?" That always seemed a depressing notion, to already know what you'd be doing five years in the future. Here it's not unusual for someone to work as a cook on St. John, then move to Thailand for six months to work as a dive instructor, then they will head off to Alaska and work on a fishing boat. Living abroad has exposed me to a different approach to life, one in which you're not expected to settle in one place and do one kind of job. Perhaps some of us are meant to move around every few years, change jobs and live many different micro lives.

That's not to say doubts don't creep in on occasion. Seeing old colleagues and acquaintances building successful careers can make me second-guess my choices. One of my friends from college started a little website called Pinterest. Another just won an Emmy for a hit television show she created.

But I have an island. I live in a charmingly ramshackle one-bedroom apartment on a hillside overlooking the sea.

Which brings us back to the chicken in my shower watching me pee. How did it get there? My best guess: It was tottering around the woods outside, accidentally flew onto my second-story balcony, and wandered into my apartment through the sliding-glass door, which I usually leave open to enjoy the breeze.

Smiling, I shoo out the wayward bird. Then I pause for a moment, transfixed by the view framed by my open sliding glass door. Sunlight sparkles on the water. Sailboats bob companionably in the distance. The scene is remarkably similar to the stock photo that was my screensaver four years ago. How different my life was then.

There's a quote by author J.R.R. Tolkien that pops up a lot on T-shirts and bumper stickers sold around town: "Not all those who wander are lost."

Lately I've been mulling moving somewhere entirely opposite of here. Europe, perhaps? There are so many places to go! It fills me with a sort of wild happiness. Who knows where I'll end up? And what a marvelous thing that is — not knowing.


The Bachelor Pad Upgrade April 23 2015

Updating your place doesn't always have to cost a ton of money. A fresh coat of paint and a few stylish finds from familiar home stores go along way. Domaine proves this point with a story on Washington D.C.-based designer Lindsay Speace's latest project. Charged with creating a functional, relaxing and masculine home for a guy who travels a lot, Speace took inspiration from menswear and outfitted the space with classic patterns, comfortable furniture and architectural additions like a built-in bookcase finished with handsome yet affordable industrial hardware. She saved even more cash by finding lamps and accent furniture from stores like West Elm.

Check it out here


Conor McGregor Doesn't Believe in Death April 17 2015

Most of the time, Conor McGregor wins fights with his fists. He has won once with elbow strikes, and he has won once by submission. But the other fifteen times he has professionally beaten another man bloody—most recently Dennis Siver, whom he picked apart in Boston in January—it has been with his hands. His coach, an Irish mixed martial artist named John Kavanagh, has studied the physics of human combat and collision for decades, and even he can't explain why the five-foot-nine McGregor can hit as hard as he does. The hardest hitters usually have long arms, which McGregor does, and they usually have big fists, which McGregor does, but there's something else in him, some mysterious and extraordinary combination of desire and angle and speed, that makes his punches land like bombs.

McGregor, who is also extremely Irish, has an upright stance when he fights, a style that is both entrancing to watch and almost comically traditionalist. "He looks exactly like the Notre Dame logo," says Dana White, the president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, referring to the university's ornery bare-knuckled leprechaun. Watching McGregor fight brings to mind ancient words like fisticuffs or donnybrook. He makes the delivery of knockouts look like some time-honored craft that occupies the space between art and science, like barrel making or leatherwork. A former plumber, he makes fighting seem like a trade.

When ordinary men land a punch, it lands with a blow, a seismic shock, like a hammer's thud. Most punches blemish. When McGregor lands a punch, his fists behave more like chisels, like awls. His punches cut. They don't bruise the skin; they break it. By the second round of their fight, Dennis Siver didn't look as though he'd been battered so much as he'd been glassed. His face was full of tiny holes.

"IF YOU PUT ME FACE-TO-FACE WITH FLOYD MAYWEATHER I WOULD KILL HIM IN LESS THAN 30 SECONDS."

Whatever reason McGregor's punches are different, they have made him his sport's newest darling, the culmination of a two-year rise from obscurity to headliner to crossover star. He will fight Brazilian champion Jose Aldo for the UFC's featherweight belt in July, and White believes it will be his organization's biggest fight of the year, "a global event," in large part because of McGregor's ability to seem more giant than he is.

But the twenty-six-year-old McGregor doesn't want to be regarded as peerless in only a single facet of his occupation—as just a puncher. "I don't look at a man who's expert in one area as a specialist," he says. "I look at him as a rookie in ten other areas. If you can box, what happens if I grab hold of your legs? If you put me face-to-face with Floyd Mayweather—pound-for-pound boxing's best—if I fought Floyd, I would kill him in less than thirty seconds. It would take me less than thirty seconds to wrap around him like a boa constrictor and strangle him."

McGregor sees the human body the way he sees fights, the way he sees this New York bar in which he's sheltering from the cold, the way he sees existence: Each is a collection of openings and avenues, roadblocks and hurdles. He always sits, as he is sitting now, with his back to a corner; he has scouted the exits; he has several routes of possibility mapped out in his cartographer's brain, every available advance and retreat. "I have a self-defense mind," he says. "I've had it all my life."


The way even the most successful still covet, McGregor dreams of possessing the ultimate trapdoor, of mastering the decisive submission that would finish any opponent: the rear naked choke. He has never managed to apply it during a UFC fight. He talks about it the way any of us talks about an object of desire that eludes us.

"It's the most dominant submission," he says almost wistfully. It isn't an arm or a knee bar or an ankle lock, each of which leaves its victim the opportunity to survive, however slight. And it isn't a punch that can be slipped or countered. The rear naked choke is almost a metaphor for the consequences of our most calamitous mistakes. "You can do nothing to me, but I can do whatever the fuck I want to you," McGregor says. "I have complete control."

He's not sure he's making himself plain enough. He wants you to understand the feeling of true hopelessness, the sensation of every last door closing to you. He wants you to hate that feeling, which will make you appreciate more deeply the moments you are free. His longtime girlfriend, Dee Devlin, sitting beside him in the bar, does her best to explain his intentions. "He wants you to be better than you are," she says.

So under the bright lights of a photo studio, he strips down to his underwear and jumps on you from behind. You feel his weight lean into you, 170 pounds walking around—he can cut more than 20 pounds in the week before weigh-ins—his pectorals fitting into the tops of your shoulders like puzzle pieces. His broad chest is painted with a giant tattoo of a gorilla eating a human heart. It's not some cartoonish representation of a human heart, either, but an illustration ripped out of a medical textbook, with ventricles and veins. It is a drawing of your heart, and now you can feel his, beating through the ink and into your back.

McGregor's legs hook around your waist, anchored in place by his huge ass. "Glutes are a motherfucker," he says. "Glutes are power." The sole of his left foot presses against the point of your hip; the heel of his right foot digs into your groin. Almost by instinct, your hands find that leg and try to remove it, but legs beat arms almost every time, the way arms beat necks. His right arm wraps around your throat, his thickly veined forearm locked under your chin. His left arm crosses over his right wrist and tucks behind your head. And then he begins to pull back his right arm while he pushes forward with his left.

It doesn't hurt. That's the wrong word. You're uncomfortable. McGregor knows the feeling. The last time he lost a fight, the sixth bout of his career, back in 2010, it was in thirty-eight seconds, and it was to a choke. He was so averse to the sensation, he tapped out before he lost consciousness, one of the great regrets of his life. "That ate me alive," he says. "After that, I said I was going to fight to the death. You're going to have to kill me."

The rear naked choke is oblivious to such resolutions. Your body, like nearly everything you do with it, has imperfections that can seem like evolutionary carelessness. There are the few square inches of your liver that lie exposed, wide open under your ribs, a four-lane expressway to your central nervous system. There are the underengineered flying buttresses of your knees, waiting to snap. And there is your carotid artery, conveying massive volumes of your blood to your brain, close enough to the surface of your neck that you can see and feel it coursing, as though a salmon might run up it. Because that artery means life, it also means death. There is no way for you to strengthen it, to shield it, to mitigate the effects of pressure put upon it. Now McGregor squeezes, in two directions at the same time—again pulling with his right, pushing with his left—his arms like the blades of dull scissors. Your eyes are drawn down, leading the way for the rest of you, to the tattoos on his left wrist: a mustachioed gentleman in a top hat, and one of McGregor's principal mantras: slow is smooth, smooth is fast. He doesn't have to squeeze very hard, and he doesn't have to squeeze very long.

One second, two seconds, three seconds . . .

"Once the blood cuts from the brain, it's over," McGregor whispers.

It is. You are.

***

McGregor has lived his entire life in pursuit of the opposite sensation: limitlessness. For as long as he can remember, he has been obsessed with movement and its endless opportunities. He has studied animals for their advantages—gorillas, lions, crocodiles—and in Kavanagh's Dublin gym, he tries to find their secrets in himself. Kavanagh has given him a key to the place, because McGregor will get the urge, as irresistible as a choke, to move at all hours of the day and night, slithering and monkey-stalking across the mats. Devlin routinely wakes up to find her man shadowboxing in front of the mirror at four in the morning. He doesn't lift weights or put in carefully apportioned session work like most fighters. "Machines don't use machines," he says, "and I am a machine." He doesn't recognize most of the modern walls we have built around ourselves. "Ritual is another word for fear, manifested in a different way." He doesn't believe in time, or at least he won't submit to it; he recognizes that clocks exist, but he sees no reason to obey their demands. He eats when he wants, he sleeps when he wants, but mostly he moves when he wants. For McGregor, death would be stillness—if he believed in death.


"Even in death, they say your vision, you can see everything," he says. "It's almost like you're evolving to the next stage. It's like a different plane of existence, just another form of movement, now we're moving through the fucking universe or I don't know what the fuck. Think of what's out there."

In some ways, it's hard to bear McGregor's company, and not just because he might decide to choke you out at any moment. He is so confident and self-possessed, so in command of his body and seemingly of his fate, he fills you with doubt about yours. Most of our social interactions are based on the premise that we've all agreed to follow certain rules. McGregor has not agreed to those rules, he will not, which is unnerving because it makes his behavior unpredictable—you find yourself saying,"You can't do that" or "You must do this," and he does and doesn't do it—but also because he makes you wonder why you've agreed to those rules yourself. He walks down the middle of streets; he eats the way storms consume coastlines. He is exhausting as a lunch partner, just as he is inside the octagon. In both instances, he is an igniter of brutal self-examination, the most unflattering mirror.

"You tell someone the truth about themselves and they crumble," he says.

"It's life," Devlin says of her boyfriend's ability to create fissures. Their relationship predates his career as a professional fighter by two weeks. His loves are intertwined. "It's our life," she says. "It's not like it's on and then it's off. It's just the way he is."

He has been fighting in some capacity since he was a child, born a challenging presence. "I seem to have a face—I seem to attract attention somehow," he says. "For some reason, people want to try to come at me. They want to hit me. I just wanted people to leave me alone, basically. I didn't get into this to be somebody. I got into it to feel comfortable in uncomfortable situations."

He began by kickboxing and then boxing. Then he discovered jujitsu and its system of levers, how to beat a man even when you're trapped on your back just by applying a little pressure where pressure isn't normally applied. "It fascinated me," he says. "It fascinated me then, and it fascinates me now."

Then he sat in the stands at UFC 93 in Dublin in 2009. "That's when I could reach out and touch it," he says. He was still an apprentice plumber then, one foot in each world. To hear him tell it, he went back to a damp building site and looked at the masters, men old and shivering before their time, and he made the choice, as though it were a choice, that he would no longer abide. He put down his tools, because machines don't use machines, and walked away. He saw in fighting a nearly perfect freedom, a way to translate his love of boundless physical expression—in a sport where so long as you don't stick your fingers into eyes or open cuts, you're pretty much good to go—into that rarest of lives, he and Dee, soaring together, never to be caged again. "No matter what was going on in my life, good or bad, I always knew—we knew—that we would end up here," he says. "It was inevitable in my head."

He uses inevitable more than most people. For McGregor, his certainty about his rise, and its continuing, isn't bravado. He is doing you the favor of letting you glimpse a future that only he has seen. It's almost as though he can't help it, as though his jaw is just one more pressure-release valve through which he can vent his bottomless reserves of spiritual anarchy. Ask him about his reputation for trash talk and this is what he says, uninterrupted, it seems, even by breaths:

"Trash talk? Smack talk? This is an American term that makes me laugh. I simply speak the truth. I'm an Irish man. We don't give a fuck about feelings. We'll tell you the truth. People ask me a question about somebody, I tell them the truth. I don't have anything bad to say about Jose Aldo. It's pretty plain and simple. His time is up. It's done. There's somebody ruthless coming to get him. There's somebody cold coming to get him. I can look at him dead in the eye and say, It's done. You're over now. You're a champion that nobody gave a fuck about. Nobody cared about him before I came along. Nobody cared about the division before I came along. He's a decision machine. He can barely finish his dinner, never mind his opponent. And he's fought bums. He's fought little small bantamweights and he still can't put them away. Now he's coming in against a monster of a featherweight who hits like a truck. It's over for him. I don't need to say jackshit else. July is a wrap. It's inevitable."

Only two years ago, Dana White went to Dublin to accept an award from Trinity College. It seemed as though everywhere he went, every bar, every street corner, he heard Conor McGregor's name. White has been told about a thousand secret talents over the years; he has assessed an army of local heroes. You will never know their names. But White heard McGregor's name enough that it made him wonder. He flew back to Las Vegas and asked his matchmakers about this Irish kid. They told him McGregor had fought a little, nothing especially noteworthy—fourteen fights, mostly against unknowns, mostly knockout wins, a couple of submission losses. Still curious, White brought his unlikely prospect out to the desert. He remembers driving up the Strip in his Ferrari and McGregor's energy competing with the engine and the lights. White signed him to a five-fight deal without ever seeing him fight.

"He's a penny stock that couldn't have worked out better," White says. "He's one in a million. He has that thing that you can't teach people, whatever it is that makes people gravitate toward you. He has that more than any fighter I've ever met. He makes you believe everything he believes."

Maybe it is a choice whether we abide. Maybe we don't have to be there at nine o'clock sharp. Maybe we don't die.

***

Conor McGregor has been damaged. It was during his first fight in America, in Boston in August 2013. In the second round against Max Holloway, McGregor emerged from a scramble on the ground with an unfamiliar feeling: He couldn't find his feet. Because he really believes what he believes, he still went on to win the fight, but he had torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. It's a devastating injury for any athlete, but for someone like McGregor, it was especially cruel. He was built flawed like the rest of us after all.

He was told to sit still. He didn't listen. "People will study my recovery," he says. He found new ways to work out, shedding the last of his conventional weights and routines. He pressed his body against itself, refusing every invitation to idleness. He did push-ups against hotel-room sinks. He did single-leg squats. He came back and won his next three fights: TKO (first round, eighteen significant strikes landed); TKO (first round, nine); and most recently, against Siver, TKO (second round, sixty-four). Each was the performance of the night; each made him more popular; each made him more certain. "I learned a lot more about how important balance is, how important control of the body is," McGregor says. "From the moment I open my eyes, I'm trying to free my body. I'm trying to get looser, more flexible, to gain control. Movement is medicine to me."

He studied footage of his fights and of animals hunting other animals, and he became closer to one of them than one of us. If he was a breed apart before his knee was blown out, he was his own species after, better than he was. White tore up his contract, and then he
tore it up again. In McGregor's fight against Aldo, he will see a cut of the pay-per-view for the first time. Because its outcome is inevitable, and because he has a self-defense mind, he has already begun thinking of what will come next. "I'm interested in movement, and I'm interested in money, and I'm interested in the movement of money," he says. "If I win that belt and we do a million pay-per-views, we can rip up that motherfucker right there and do what the fuck we want."

"Someone like him, the money just rains down," White says. "He's going to get everything he's ever wanted."

Earlier that freezing day in New York, McGregor and Devlin had walked into a Christian Louboutin store in the Meatpacking District. McGregor is a stylish man; for him, clothes are another means of applying pressure to other men. He tried on several pairs of sneakers, ridiculous sneakers, the sort of clown shoes that would get the shit kicked out of a kid who wore them to the wrong school. He got stuck on a pair of gleaming white high-tops studded with rainbow hunks of plastic, little pyramids and diamonds that fought with the smooth red soles for his eye's dubious attention.

"They're fucking out there," he said, looking at himself in a mirror. "Wouldn't see no one back home wearing a pair of these."

He looked at them some more, turning, convincing himself.

"If you like them, get them," Devlin said.

"If someone says something—whap," he said, and he began firing off kicks in the middle of the store, the taken-aback employees looking at him and his cauliflower ears anew, doing all the mental arithmetic that men do when they're ranking themselves within the orders of other men. "Just snap them in the face," McGregor said, kicking again at the mirror.

"I don't know about them, I have to say," Devlin said.

"If I'm not going to wear 'em out of the store, I'm not getting 'em," he said. Then he nodded to himself. "I'm wearing 'em out."

Devlin laughed and paid for the shoes: $1,700. The leather boots McGregor had worn into the store went into the bag. The new sneakers went out into the snow and slush. They flashed like sirens.

Then a strange thing happened. A family with young daughters walked up to McGregor and asked for his picture. Then a construction worker broke from a road site and asked for one, too. Then a small crowd began to assemble in the cold on the cobblestones, inexplicably drawn to this man, to this machine, wearing shoes that somebody could wear only if he were somebody. McGregor was surrounded, just like that, made captive by his otherness.

He is aware of the irony. "If you're not in the humor of it, it can be heavy," he says, back in his corner of the bar. "People can become familiar with it, like they've known you all your life. That's weird for me. The reason I got into the game was so that people would leave me the fuck alone." He stops, his flashing black eyes looking at how many of the faces in this room are looking back at him. "It's backfired on me," he says.

And then McGregor is what he so rarely is: He is still, and he is quiet. You get the sense that he's recalculating, looking for different exits. He says he has not wondered once whether he might lose to Aldo—"If I entertain things, they tend to come true," he says—but sitting there, in the silence, he feels as though he has it in him, whatever the result, to disappear one day, maybe on a day not all that distant from today. He knows we'll swallow him alive if he stays; even he can't fight all of us off. The only way he'll have complete control is if he leaves. Maybe that's the future he's seen for himself all along, a great train robber's last big score before he makes good his final escape, vanishing into the jungle with his girl.

"We're the only animal that wakes up and doesn't stretch," he says, coming around.

"Look at your dog," Devlin says.

"Wake up and stretch," McGregor says. "Start there."

Start there and end up with everything you've ever wanted. To demonstrate, he announces that he's going back to his fancy hotel and falling into his cloud of a bed. It's three o'clock in the afternoon.

He won't sleep well. He hasn't worked out in two days, and he's edgy about it, as though he's taking his gifts for granted, as though he's forgotten those dark times when he felt trapped. He'll wake up at two in the morning and start prowling around his hotel room, padding across the thick carpets like a jewel thief, climbing the furniture, scaling the walls, walking upside down across the ceiling, learning how to move through the universe.

A few hours later, you'll wake up, the shadow of his arms still pressed around your neck. You'll get out of bed, and you'll stretch.

Published in the Esquire May 2015 issue.


The most important thing Warren Buffett looks for in job candidates April 08 2015

warren buffett

When Warren Buffett considers hiring an executive for his company Berkshire Hathaway, he assesses their intelligence and drive.

But more importantly, he said at a talk at the Ivey Business School in late February, he judges that person's character.

"I know an individual who is definitely going to outperform the S&P, but he's the last guy on earth I'd want my daughter to marry," he joked, saying that while that man may be a "winner" by all accounts, he isn't the right fit for Berkshire.

When hiring, it's best to prioritize whether you like someone above all else, Buffett said.

"So first and foremost, you have to feel good around them, you must enjoy their company, like a friend or a family member," he said. "If you feel good around them, it means they have characteristics you admire and are moving in the direction you want to associate with. These people represent who you'd like to be, and you may perceive them even as better than yourself."

He's used the same philosophy for the CEOs of companies he's acquired. Every leader he considers incorporating into his business must meet his standards of intellect, energy, and integrity.

"You can admire their behaviour or intellect, but always judge them as a human being," Buffett said at Ivey.

When employees' values are aligned with those of their company, they will achieve their full potential.

"These people do 10 things for every one thing you ask for," Buffett said. "They go above and beyond what you expect of them."


The Easy 5-Piece Outfit You Should Know for Spring April 01 2015

The Man

Mario Carbone, the chef and culinary empire builder just opened his latest restaurant.

The Clothes

Ever heard the phrase, "The more you know, the less you need?" Minimalism has plenty of mantras, and they usually evoke images of boring black suits. There is another kind of minimalism taking root this spring and summer, though, with clothes distilled to their most basic forms and then elevated with unexpected materials or colors. They're still simple and versatile, but they're also singular and distinctive, and when worn together in easy, five-piece outfits, they're the only things you need for spring.

You don't see a silk jacket often, which is why the sheen and texture on this one stands out in the simplest possible way. That and its aubergine color, of course.

2. Cotton shirt ($375) by Ermenegildo Zegna.

There is nothing more beautiful than a fine cotton shirt, especially when it has subtle stripes like this one does.

3. Cotton trousers ($475) by Ermenegildo Zegna.

The humble chino, elevated to the highest degree

4. Silk tie ($205) by Ermenegildo Zegna.

This tie might look plain at first glance, but its sheen and texture add plenty of visual interest.

5. Suede shoes ($345) by Coach.

These simple suede uppers gracefully give way to a rugged, clear ranger sole, which adds just enough heft to make these shoes perfectly unusual.

-From Esquire April 2015


The 7 Most Interesting Things About 'The Most Interesting Man In the World' March 30 2015

You know him as "The Most Interesting Man in the World," or possibly as your favorite carpool buddy, but it turns out that Jonathan Goldsmith, the actor behind the character is actually pretty damn interesting himself. So we got him to check in and tell about all the coolest stuff he's done in real life and we don't think you'll be disappointed.

1. He's Ridding the World of Land Mines With the Mines Advisory Group

"My work with M.A.G and my recent trip to Vietnam with them to help find and detonate landmines made me realize just how much more work still needs to be done and also how many lives have been saved by the organization's valiant work."

2. He Lived On a Boat in LA

"Living aboard my sailboat in Marina Del Rey allowed me to enjoy nature in the middle of a big city with a true sense of tranquility. I also enjoyed the cooler climate, especially in the summertime."

3. He's Down With The Troops

"It was a real pleasure to visit our troops and to see how they enjoyed being reminded of just a touch of home that I could bring them. I'm headed to the USS America aircraft carrier next week to meet more."

4. He's Down With Obama Too

"It was incredible to meet the most powerful man in the free world, both at the White House and at Camp David. He is a charming, humorous, and delightful gentleman."

5. He Saved Someone's Life on Mount Whitney

"One must always be prepared and aware. If they are not, they risk the lives of others getting injured when rescuing them."

6. He Was an Honored Guest at the White House Correspondence Dinner

"I was amazed that in a room full of luminaries including esteemed members of the media, our government's leaders and other celebrities, that everyone treated me as one of them."

7. He's Besties With Richard Branson

"He is one of the most exciting out-of-the-box thinkers of our time, a real forward thinking man. It was a great pleasure getting to know him and working alongside him as well.


Designing the Executive Leather Map Bag March 24 2015

When you think of a men’s leather bag, one classic bag always comes to mind; the leather messenger bag. The men’s messenger bag has been around for decades, and is a symbol of timeless style on all who wear one.  Just check out 3 Days of the Condor starring Robert Redford. This movie was filmed over 40 years ago in 1975, and in the opening scene you can see the men’s messenger bag in use.  Not only does this movie show a classic messenger bag in use, but Robert Redford puts forth an excellent example of great over-all style.

               

Now that we’re in the year 2015, many of our bulky notebooks and large binders have been replaced by iPads, smartphones, and small laptops. Despite these changes in technology, the men’s leather messenger bag still remains. One problem I noticed before designing the Executive Leather Map Bag, is that many of today’s messenger bags are still very bulky despite all of our advances in technology.  I also noticed how every bag seemed to have too many pockets, buckles, and other items hanging off of them that just didn’t look right, unless you were going camping.                                                            

          -Not the look I was going for.

I designed our men’s leather messenger bag with simplicity, and timeless style in mind, along with great function in today’s technology driven world. I named it the “Map Bag” because part of my inspiration for its design came from the original map bags soldiers used to carry their maps in during World War II. Similar to those bags, but for professionals, the Avallone Executive Leather Map Bag features a smaller over-all size (L 13.5 in. x H 10 in. x W 3.5 in.)  that still has plenty of room for all of your daily essentials. When testing the bag, I was able to fit my iPad, a “Marketing for Dummies” book, 3 manila file folders, my iPhone, miniature umbrella, digital camera, extra pens, keys, spare change (in the interior zipper pocket), and a small notebook with a little room to spare. I don’t own a MacBook Air, but that would easily fit in place of any of those larger items like the book or notebook.

 

Having previously worked on Wall St., not only did I want something functional, but also something stylish that could be paired with a suit or business casual clothing; nowadays that includes jeans. To keep the look versatile, I did not add any exterior pockets, used a tuck lock for closure, and chose Italian Napa Leather and Lamb Suede as the material. The contrast of the suede and leather gives the leather bag a balanced and refined look. Additionally, the Italian Napa leather is chrome tanned, which is the best option when you need a soft and supple feel. To add to the durability of the bag, we used 9 stitches per inch, a thick cotton lining, and increased the thickness of the leather in the strap by doubling it up.

 

Now that you know the history and design inspiration of our Executive Leather Map Bag, don’t hesitate to order one if you find your current bag just isn’t cutting it. Whether you want a better look, a more compact leather bag, or just a replacement, we offer free shipping and a lifetime warranty.

The bag comes in either brown or black. Click here to view more photos or purchase today!

 Written by:

Christopher Avallon, Avallone Founder & Ceo


5 Great Hairstyles for Men March 19 2015

So how do men get the very best hairstyle? First, it’s important to be true to oneself; choose a hairstyle that suits your style, shape of your face and personality as well. Most hairstyles only look good on a specific face shape, for instance someone with a rounder face shape might want more volume in their hair, or, someone with larger ears may want to keep their sides longer.

Today hairstyles for men are becoming more elaborate than they have been during at any other time during the last 20 years. If you want to go short or have a messy hair look or if you prefer to go longer there are many different ways to make a statement with your hair. If you go for short hairstyle, then you have to ensure it goes with your face shape and this style is pretty simple to maintain.

For longer hairstyles, you can go to a salon and pay some extra money for a high quality haircut. After getting the right kind of hairstyle you want to ensure that you use high quality hair styling products. There are lots of cheap hair styling products that may cost a lot less, but probably do nothing for your hair.

Checkout the top 5 trends in men’s hairstyles:

1. The Classic Look

It is stylish and can be worn on any given occasion. The hair has to be long length or medium in length and the style is well achieved by putting certain hair products for example gel or pomade to create wet look. The sides are neatly swept to the back as well and the long hair to the front. Using a fine tooth comb will allow for the sleekest and classiest styles.

Here is a video demonstrating how to style a classic side part:

2. Messy Spikes

Spiked hair is less “in” at the moment, but it may be making a comeback soon. One can achieve this look when the hair is at short to medium length. One has to use hair products such as gel and wax to have the spiky look. There are various types of spiky look and all styles cater to both non-formal and formal occasions. The undercut is currently seeing it’s final days of prevalence, and a few different styles are vying for what will be “the next big thing” in 2015. Likely the trend will be longer sides, although some people are trying to set trends with messy, volumized spikes.

messy-spikes-hairstyles

3. The Pompadour

The pompadour is a personal favourite of mine. This is a great style because it really allows you to go all out and really show what you can do with your hair. To pull off a pompadour, one will need either a wax or pomade. Using wax’s in combination with a blow dryer are my personal favourite to create a volumized, yet messy style. If your hair has issues holding it’s volume, using a mousse prior to blow drying paired with a hairspray after styling will help keep your hair in place.

Here is a tutorial on how to style a messy pompadour:

4. The Shaved Head

If you are experiencing hair loss, the buzz cut is the best way to go. It is at times called the crew cut and it’s achieved by tapering the front side, backside and the sides of the head to come up with a clean look. It gives one’s face a rounder look and so the cut is not ideal for the face shapes that are too round, however when balding this is still the best option.

shaved-head-jason-steatham

5. Messy Hair

The messy hair is not out of the list. Due to the increasing number and quality of men’s hair products, the messy hairstyle is pretty simple to achieve. Wax can be used to create messy hairstyles which can be worn both in non-formal and formal events. There are various ways to style messy hair depending on the face shape and the type of occasion it’s worn.

This video shows three different styles, one of which is a quick messy hairstyle:

Hairstyles are one of the quickest and easiest ways to improve your look. The hairstyle you choose can greatly affect your overall appearance and can make or break the way you look for the day. If you are passionate about the way that you express yourself through style, try to find out the type of hairstyle that best suits you through personal experimentation. One can read as many handbooks or articles as they please, but nothing beats putting some wax in your hands and getting to work.

-Written by Joseph Andrews of Menstylefashion.com


The Apple Watch - Will Stylish Men Wear It? March 12 2015

Apple Watch Style Reviews

© Apple

Apple Watch Style Reviews

The Apple Watch Is Nice & All, But Will Stylish Men Wear It?

Apple is hoping its latest hi-tech offering is a high-fashion hit. But will the Apple Watch get more traction than the wearable tech that has preceded it? Or will it become this generation’s novelty, something worn by early adopters and the pocket calculator crowd but not the coveted trendsetter audience? There’s something else at stake with the Apple Watch: Apple’s reputation as a cutting edge company, which has been jeopardized of late by critics who point out that Apple hasn’t introduced any new tech since 2010’s iPad. We asked some of the most fashionable menswear experts if the Apple Watch will be added to the wardrobes of the very best dressed guys.

 

Brian Boye, Executive Fashion Director for Men’s Health, had a first look. “I write about watches for the magazine and interview watchmakers often.Smartwatches have been a source of great debate and agitation in the industry for the past few years, and the people I work with are mostly against the idea. I’m also a watch fanatic and have huge respect for the amount of work that goes into these tiny mechanical masterpieces. But I love new technology too. And I think Apple has done an amazing job at design with their new product. I live and breathe by the apps on my iPhone. Now you’re telling me I can strap that to my wrist? When they introduced it last year I spent a few days asking myself ‘Will I or won’t I?’ I finally landed on ‘Hell yes!’ “I have my eye on the gold model with a navy strap. But that will be just one of the watches I wear during the course of the week. I usually change watches every few days, depending on what I’m doing or who I’m seeing. So when it makes sense to wear the Apple, I will. But trust me, I won’t stop wearing my Breitling Navitimer or Panerai Luminor Marina.”

Score one Apple Watch.

Alexander Sumner, co-founder of Alexander Nash agrees. “There is a movement towards a greater consciousness of the codes of men’s dress and I believe that the Apple Watch masters the intricate connection between fashion and lifestyle. Men are interested in luxury garments for every day.”

“Stylish men seek platforms for creative expression. The Apple Watch does its part to inspire men to dress up. The synthesis of a stylish man and his garb is a fluid one. Being spirited and adventurous, they express themselves without fear and I believe the Apple Watch, being classic and bold with clean lines and interesting details, comes across as unmistakably masculine.”

Bloomberg Style Director Nic Screws will be watching both Apple and traditional watch loyalists.

“I think the Apple Watch will divide the allegiances of a lot of men. So many guys who are luxury enthusiasts, and watch collectors, are also tech-savvy and Apple supporters. Usually, if you’re an Apple guy, you buy into the whole DNA of the brand, and you want to own everything they do. That’s been a lot of Apple’s success: their ability to attract and sustain loyalists. But the same is true about the watch industry; in a lot of cases, they will be competing for the same customer.

Apple wants the guy that owns an IWC Portuguese or an Omega Speedmaster and watch brands want the modern man. But I think the guy that is a little techie and is that middle of the market watch owner (Tag Heuer, Tissot, Sieko) will definitely be a first generation Apple Watch owner. Then there will be men checking it out of pure FOMO. Then the real watch enthusiasts will follow. They’ll wait and see how it performs, maybe even for the second generation to come out, or they’ll splurge on the 18K gold version…as that’s the real investment piece. And ultimately, that’s what attracts the IWC and Omega guy — elite status.”

And speaking of investments, Matt Sebra, Senior Men’s Editor at Gilt.comsays...

“At Gilt, we know that there are two things guys are willing to spend money on: the latest technology and a good looking watch. That said, there is something about the timelessness of a vintage Rolex watch that all the bells and whistles in the world can’t replace.”

But what about being the first and setting the trend?

Skip Brooks from Alex Grant Creative Agency also believes in the power of classics.

 

“As a big Apple fan (dating back to prep school), Apple can do no wrong in my eyes. I’m usually a first generation buyer but I’ll probably take a wait-and-see approach for the Apple Watch. But to be honest, I don’t think the Apple Watch will make a major impact in #menswear because there is still a love of old aesthetics that the new watch can’t duplicate. From getting a vintage Rolex watch from your grandfather to saving up for that Omega that you saw James Bond wear on the big screen, the design of the Apple Watch can’t come close to the timeless aspirational timepieces or the mechanical masterpiece of an automatic watch."

"We now live in a world where people even question the functionality of watches, given the availability and usage of our cell phones. I believe the Apple Watch has a huge mountain to climb in not just the fashion world but with regular consumers. My father once gave a piece of advice in high school that stayed with me after all these years. When I showed him a picture of a luggage brand that started making watches, he replied, ‘Why would you buy a watch from a company that doesn’t make watches?’ Sound advice that applies to almost everything, Apple products included.”

Does the Apple Watch have staying power? Megan Collins of StyleGirlfriend will be watching.

“The Apple Watch will definitely be a status symbol when it first hits the scene, in the same way that some guys can’t wait to flash their new iPhone the day it comes out. What remains to be seen is whether it outlasts the ‘trend’ phase to become a staple in every guy’s wristwatch rotation.”

Street Style photo blogger Guerre, from Guerreisms, is skeptical.
“My initial thought was that the Apple Watch seemed to fit the GQ guy — a guy who is into gadgets, trends, the sporty guy. I wondered what the point of the watch was beyond telling time, and in all honesty I guess I never was curious enough to find out. Can you connect your headphones to it? If so, wouldn’t that be uncomfortable and awkward? Just about everyone has a smartphone so what’s the point of a smart watch?”

“While I have to admit the watch looks good (in a modern way) — it’s sleek and not an eyesore — I’m a firm believer that time is precious and that what you measure your time with should reflect your belief about time. For the young, stylish guy this may do just that — for them time is endless, full of fun and disposable. But for the more mature man of style, I think he’ll rather stick to timepieces that just tell time and are reminders of moments as opposed to reminders of eras.

Calculator watches, and one’s first Swatch Watch, are reminders of periods of one’s life; I think the Apple Watch falls under that category. Something that fits the times and has its market.”

“It is a trendy man’s watch, which is not always for the stylish man.”

ZDNet’s David Gerwitz isn’t exactly enamored of the design either: “I’m going to put it right out there: it’s a thick, ugly clunker. [...] It sure seems like Apple’s watch is thicker, and looks alot like Apple stuck an iPhone 1 in the wash and it shrunk. There’s a lot of curviness where there doesn’t need to be, and a big, bulbous bottom where your wrist meets the phone.”

Venture Beat’s John Koetsier pulled no punches, calling the Apple Watch “ugly and boring,” arguing that its design does too little to separate it from its smartwatch competitors. Worst of all? He’s certain Steve Jobs would not sign off on its design.

Watch blog Hodinkee’s review by Benjamin Clymer mostly lauded the Apple Watch, but couldn’t help but note two glaring faults: first, it doesn’t fit beneath your shirt cuff with ease, meaning its bulk will be a regular distraction, and second, despite some neat styling features, it still lacks emotion compared to a mechanical watch. “[...]what makes the millions of us who would never trade a Rolex in for an Apple is the emotion brought about by our watches – the fact that they are so timeless, so lasting, so personal. Nothing digital, no matter if Jony Ive designed it, could ever replace that, if for no other reason than sheer life-cycle limitations. My watches will last for generations; this Apple Watch will last for five years, if we're lucky.”


How to Tastefully Pack a Pistol, the Right Hat for London, and More! March 10 2015

Glenn O'Brien from GQ Mag. Solves Your Sartorial Conundrums. 
1418071654355_01 open carry on

Open-Carry On
I live in Wisconsin, where you can carry a gun as long as it's visible. What's the most stylish way to holster a pistol?

Have you considered a drop-loop double holster with rawhide tie-downs and double bandoliers? Of course, that's probably best with a dressed-down look, like a Packers jersey and a cheesehead hat. For dressier occasions, maybe a vertical shoulder holster like the Idaho Leather Company's Last Man Standing model. They'll be ducking into doorways when they see you coming into Oshkosh wearing your Colt in that gizmo. Wear highly polished conchas on your hatband and you can blind your dueling opponent by catching the sun in them.

 

1418071654359_02 j crew ludlow suit

Attention, Shoppers
I am 21 and am tired of looking 40 percent great, 60 percent freshman in college. I want to spend $1,500 and get some nice clothes. Where should I go, my man?

To be truthful, I'd have to say J.Crew offers the best style and value. I should also admit that I have friends there, and I have a discount card they sent me. But once I got my first Ludlow suit, I kept going back. Your budget will buy you a couple of fine suits and the kit to go with them.

1418071654362_04 check or checkmate

Check or Checkmate?
How do you feel about buffalo plaid in the workplace? Too cabin-in-the-woods for the modern office?

If the workplace is a lumberyard or a hardware store or any place where hunting season presents a hazard, fine. If you are Terry Richardson, why not? But if you work in something resembling a normal office, you may suddenly find yourself transferred to the Butte or Billings branch.

 

1418071654363_05 bates hats

Tops in Hats
I'm planning a trip to London this winter, and I want to know what style of hat I should wear so as not to stand out like an obvious tourist. Is there a specific type of hat you'd recommend?

London has some of the best hat shops in the world. I suggest you shop when you get there, enjoy expert help, and try on whatever you fancy. The best hatters are Bates on Jermyn Street, Christys' at Princes Arcade off Jermyn Street, and Lock & Co on St. James's Street. You'll find fedoras across the color spectrum, tweed caps and deerstalkers, and exotica like bowlers and top hats. For summer, Bates offers a nifty roll-up Panama that can survive an airliner's overhead bin.

 

1418139741228_08 tread lightly

Tread Lightly
Is it appropriate to wear black suede brogues with a tuxedo? I seem to see tuxes paired only with shiny patent leather, but I want to stand apart.

Looking like a clod, oaf, or dolt will perhaps set you apart, but brogues will offend any good tux. Personally, I don't care for patent leather, and I find that black calfskin pumps or plain polished black oxfords look right. Brogues are not for tripping the light fantastic. Tuxedos are not for standing apart; they are for standing together. Let the ladies do the standing apart.

 

 


The Six Shearling-Collar Coats to Consider March 09 2015

The Six Shearling-Collar Coats to Consider

You know the old saying about March: in like a lion, out like a lamb.

Which got us thinking, while we’re still on the lion end of March, we sure could use some help from that lamb... in the form of shearling. (Just go with it.)

So we rounded up the six handsomest shearling-collar coats on the market right now.

The Six Shearling-Collar Coats to Consider

Ami

  • From Kempt Magazine

5 World-Class Wines That Are Currently a Steal March 04 2015

A classic wine region, like a classic suit is perennial, but that doesn't mean the prices don't wax and wane. Whether it's a standout vintage, oversupply, exchange rates, or simply the vagaries of fashion, some wines become a bit more of a steal than others. Here's what to drink right now.

Brunello di Montalcino
A surfeit of great vintages—nothing less than four or five stars each year, going back to 2003—means there are too many superb Brunellos around, so prices are down as retailers try to make room for the 2010 vintage now being released. The Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona 'Pianrosso Santa Caterina d'Oro' Riserva 2007 ($89) demonstrates Brunello's capacity for combining power and elegance.

Alsace
Skip Moscato for Alsace's Muscat, and trade in the Pinot Grigio for Alsatian Pinot Gris; this French white-wine region hosts many fantastic varietals along with the more commonly applauded Riesling and Gewurztraminer (collectively these are known as the four "noble varieties"). Look for Grand Cru wines like the Marcel Deiss Mambourg 2009 ($75), which is a fine blend.

Zinfandel blends
Over-the-top, high-alcohol (15% ABV+) Zin captured people's imaginations and wallets over a decade ago but is fading now, though producers who never strayed from a more classic (and powerful) expression of the grape are still at it. Many of the best are actually field blends with other varieties. One great example: Ravenswood's muscular Icon 2011 ($75).

Sherry
This is perhaps the most underappreciated in the world ever since we abandoned Poe's alluring Amontillado (one of several kinds of sherry) in favor of Grandma's sticky-sweet version. High-quality sherry is back on the market with a vengeance, but producers are hesitant to increase prices. Try the Bodegas Fernando de Castilla Antique Amontillado NV ($55 for 500ml) to see what Poe's obsessed victim was talking about.

Bordeaux
After chasing inflated prices in Asia and finding it a fickle market, Bordeaux producers are once again courting wine drinkers in the U.S. market. St. Emilion, one of Bordeaux's subregions, is loaded with values right now, like the just-released Chateau Troplong Mondot 2012 ($85); keep an eye out for older vintages, too.

-From Details Mag., by Jim Clark


Not the Face! A Handy Guide to Applying Cologne February 23 2015

apply-cologne-01.jpg

Always:
The Spray 'n' Dab
Deliver one squirt to each wrist and then dab your neck. Why? It has nothing to do with pulse points—that's just where your skin meets the air most often.

apply-cologne-02.jpg

Sometimes:
The Mist
Yeah, walking through a cloud of scent seems precious at first, but it's the safest way to ensure you don't go overboard if you're using a potent cologne.

apply-cologne-03.jpg

Never:
The Direct Hit
Do not, under any circumstances, spray directly on your chest, clothes, or neck. It's a good way to make everyone else in the elevator hate you.


3 Kickstarter Projects to Enhance Your Wardrobe February 17 2015

 We found 3 great kickstarter projects that will enahance your wardrobe and complement any Avallone handmade leather wallet, bag, or belt. Check out the video's and links below: 

1. Kabaccha - Ultralight, comfortable & affordable leather shoes hand-crafted in Italy by artisan shoemakers.

2. The Quarter Century PantMade in America and backed by a 25 year guarantee. 

3. The Tie MakerAll the essential ties you need without paying an arm and a leg.


Tannins - What Do Wine and Leather Have in Common? February 11 2015

One of the fascinating things about wine (aside from its uncanny ability to help ease us over annoying Dow Jones industrial average related unpleasantries) is its ability to change flavor and even texture as it sits in your glass.  Especially red wine.  Wine, like most foods, is a complex mixture of chemicals that change with temperature and exposure to air.  But wine has a particular class of compounds, called tannins, that almost magically transform from something that can seem harsh and unyielding to something softer and far more flavorful.

The name “tannins” is actually based on tanning hides – the same compounds help turn relatively fragile animal skins into more durable materials like leather.  They’re part of a group called phenolic compounds and are found in the skins of red wine grapes, in coffee, tea, chocolate, and in certain leaves and vegetables.  What they share is an ability to cause astringency, which is a tactile property, a sort of dry and rough feeling in your mouth, sometimes described as “puckery,” that comes when you eat certain foods.  It’s not acidity, although highly acidic foods can cause a similar sensation.  Think of drinking black coffee or a freshly-opened red wine – it feels a little rough in your mouth and almost leaves you thirsty.  That’s because of the tannins, which also contribute some bitterness to the flavor.

The tannins bind to the proteins in your otherwise slick saliva (we know we know – eew) , and join the proteins together to form larger molecules.  These larger molecules have a rougher feel to them.  They contribute to what you perceive as the substance of the wine – you may have heard some wines described as “chewy,” and that’s because the larger molecules bump into each other and slow down the movement of liquid.  The tannins, combined with the alcohol and some other components in wine, help create the impression of fullness of texture.  They also help keep the flavor of the wine going while you’re eating food, rather than the wine being swept out of your mouth by your meal.

So what happens to wine when it’s exposed to air?  Oxygen changes the tannins into compounds that are less bitter and less astringent, essentially softening them.  This allows other flavors in the wine to come through, while still making the wine seem substantial.  (You can also soften tannic foods by introducing other proteins for the tannins to bind with – this is what happens when you add milk to coffee, for example, and it seems easier to swallow than black coffee).  Other flavor components in wine also develop with exposure to oxygen, but softening the tannins allows some of the more subtle flavors to emerge and all the other flavors to assert themselves.  Aging wines in oak also helps soften tannins, both because a small amount of oxygen gets into the barrels, and also because some of the compounds found in the wood react with the tannins.

The amount of tannin people like in wine is a matter of personal preference – and what you’re serving with the wine.  So if you need another fun parlor game to add to your repertoire, begin by gathering your finest leather accessories for the complete tannin experience.  (And by “leather accessories,” we mean your Avallone handmade leather bag or wallet, so get your mind out of the gutter!)  Then you can try an experiment with two bottles of first vine wines, the Cave la Vinsobraise Diamant Noir and Emeraude.  Both wines are 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah, and both have a fair amount of tannins, mostly from the Syrah.  Open them, pour a glass of each, and taste them (with a little water and bread in between to clean the palate).  The Emeraude is aged in oak and will seem less tannic than the Diamant Noir, which is aged in concrete.  Then let them both sit in the glass for half an hour or so, swirling them for aeration a few times during the wait.  When you taste them again, you’ll find that they both are much less tannic, and some flavors that seemed muted before are now out in front.  Also, the oak now seems to affect the Emeraude differently.   Some describe the Emeraude as more elegant, perhaps because the oak reduces the tannins more.  (If both wines still seem too tannic to you, check out the everyday reds category for wines with softer tannins.)


The Dive Bar Rules - Pick Up a Stool and Enjoy a Proper Watering Hole February 09 2015

It isn't the fancy shmancy cocktail bar you love to order dealer's choices at. They don't have the same booze the other spots do. They surely don't have the right ice and there is not an Edison bulb in sight. A coaster slung across the wood and a "What are you havin'?" may be the first introduction to a very important drinking establishment you should learn to appreciate. Here are a few guidelines you need to know if you want your local dive to be a sanctuary and not just that neighborhood "hole in the wall" into which you've never ventured.

 

1. Make it yours.

 

Don't bring your friends here. Don't bring your girl here. Don't even talk about it. It is your secret now. Make sure it's on your daily route and a place you can frequent without having to go out of your way.

2. Pick your standbys and stick to them. Every. Single. Time.

 

By choosing something easy ie. generic beer, a pour of whiskey or a [insert booze] and [insert mixer], and ordering it every time they will remember you. Nothing is better than walking in and having the bartender put your drink in front of you without you having to ask for it and being able to settle up at the end without having to pay every time you order.

 

3. Tip 100% to start.

 

These drinks don't cost anything comparatively. You are drinking a beer for two bucks and change when you are used to paying six or seven. Just hand the guy a fiver and say we're good. Do it again on the second one and he will probably pick up your third. He'll also remember you next time.

4. Cash is king.

 

Pay in cash. The drinks are dirt cheap and it makes the transaction much faster and looser. The point is not to be a nuisance. The bartender is not waiting on you in the service sense. He's actually waiting on you so he can get back to the game or a better conversation.

 

5. Be quiet.

 

Don't talk other than ordering and stay off your phone in every way. You are new. Everyone else in the bar has been bellying up there for years. No need to spout off what you heard on ESPN yesterday—they watched it sitting where you are sitting right now and probably discussed it in length then. You will earn your spot to talk when you can be trusted. And it will likely start by someone saying "Hey I've seen you in here before. Let me buy you a drink (see rule 2)?"

6. Say "thank you."

 

When you leave, look the bartender in the eye and thank him or her by name. This and this alone goes a very long way. The whole point is to be remembered so next time you walk in they say hello, pour your drink, start you a tab and start up the conversation where you left it.

You can have multiple spots around the city at which you use this regimen. If your place serves burgers for lunch, stop in once a week and have one with a cold beer. They will remember you over time. When you get done with work, stop in and have another before hoping on the train. Before you know it, you'll have reached regular status just by being polite and having a few drinks. Use your spot before a date by stopping in and relaxing with some liquid courage. And maybe some great tips from the old timers for after dinner. What you are doing is creating a space that is different than your normal reality because it isn't your scene and it isn't what you normally drink and the conversation is not what you usually partake in. If you are anything like me, it will become a peaceful sanctuary in no time.


Great Free Web Directories for your Business! February 08 2015

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Do you have what it takes to be a Gentleman? February 05 2015

Manners. Etiquette. For some men, these words don’t belong in the same breath asmanliness. For them, etiquette and manners conjure up arbitrary lists of dos and don’ts, a nagging mother, or scenes of artificial formality, complete with images of bowing and scraping, the polishing of monocles, and a bunch of treacly, “How do you dos?” and “No, after yous!”

It wasn’t always so. Our forbearers saw no contradiction in being ruggedly manly and a refined gentleman. For centuries, well-bred men were trained in all the manly arts, from the skills needed to be a soldier to the proper etiquette for dinner parties. They were quintessential gentlemen—dapper in dress, polite in conduct, and yet every bit a true man.

George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and Robert E. Lee are some examples of men who combined gritty manliness with gentlemanly bearing. They paid attention to how they dressed, groomed, and conducted themselves and were as comfortable at a stately ball as they were on the battlefield. For these great men, having good manners did not make themless of a man, but more of one.

This is because they saw good manners in the way Edward John Hardy, author of Manners Makyth Man, defined them: as “little morals,” “the shadows of virtues, if not virtues themselves.”  If character was the root of inner manliness, then manners were the outer fruits that sprouted from the tree – the external behaviors and code of conduct that naturally followed from a life of virtue. These great men understood that while it is true that the rules of etiquette change over time and from culture to culture, the underlying principles of all manners remain constant: a respect for others, and a desire to treat all people with honesty and consideration – just as you’d like to be treated.

Still unconvinced? First let’s take a more specific look at some misconceptions about manners, and then at the reasons you should cultivate them.

What Good Manners Are Not

A young man’s negative opinion on manners sometimes springs from observing others practice them badly. But these are not true manners, for:

Good manners are not stiff, formal, or awkward. Good manners should come off as entirely natural. Some young men, knowing this and not wanting to seem like they’re trying too hard, swing the opposite way, and try so hard to be “natural” in their manners that they come off as even more contrived! Real naturalness comes from a few things:

  • Forgetting yourself and concentrating on others. The more you focus on making others comfortable, the less self-conscious you will feel, and the more comfortable you will become yourself.
  • Catering your behavior to the crowd and event in which you find yourself. Your manners should be more formal when visiting the White House than when eating at Chili’s.
  • Practice. Good manners shouldn’t be something you cram for in emergencies like studying for an exam. Rather, they should be a habit you develop through practice over time, like a leather coat that gets softer, more comfortable, and better-looking the more you wear it.
  • Cultivating an inner sense of character. This is most important. At its root, naturalness in manner springs from your sincerity and desire to treat people well for the right reasons; as mentioned above, it should be a natural extension of your character. Even if you do end up being a little awkward, if it comes from a sincere place, people will be very forgiving of it.

Good manners are not ostentatious. Good manners should never be showy or call attention to themselves. In fact they should not even be immediately noticeable in the moment and instead should create an overall positive impression, which the people with whom you interact only reflect on later: “I really enjoy his company.” “I had such a good time at his party.”

Good manners are not smug and judgmental. You don’t practice good manners to feel superior to others or to wield them as a club, policing people’s behavior.  As Charles Dickens once wrote: “My boy,” said a father to his son, “treat everyone with politeness—even those who are rude to you. For remember that you show courtesy to others not because they are gentlemen, but because you are one.”

Why Practice Good Manners?

Good manners give you confidence. Much of what constitutes good manners consists of common sense. Yet common sense can often fail us when we’re nervous, in unfamiliar territory, and just winging it. Look at manners as the signposts along the broad highway of common sense, guiding you in how to act and react in any situation, without veering off and getting lost in the thickets when you’re not sure what to do.

Good manners make a positive impression on others. A man with good manners makes enjoyable company, a welcome party guest, a referable contact, a trusted employee. Good manners attest to a man’s self-respect and self-control, qualities that apply to all areas of life. Plus, as good manners are in such short supply these days, they instantly put you head and shoulders above other young men out there.

Good manners add texture to life. In our day-to-day lives, we often just move from one thing to another, as each day bleeds into the next. Thus from time immemorial people have sought a break from the ordinary by creating festivals, rituals, special occasions. But special occasions aren’t special if we behave and dress exactly as we do in our everyday lives. Manners provide a unique texture to our lives, and contribute to adding a special atmosphere to special events – the solemnity of a funeral, the pomp of a wedding, the grace of a baptism, the significance of a graduation, even the escape of a movie. At the same time, creating this atmosphere is a community effort –with the guy in a t-shirt and shorts, the ringing of a cell phone, or the man walking in late, the spell is broken.

Good manners make things in life smoother, more pleasant, and more comfortable for everyone. Ironically, manners both add texture to life, and make our interactions smoother. Many old etiquette books described manners as the substance that “oils the creaking wheels of life.”  While we’d like to think that left to our own devices, everything would just flow naturally between people, without any guidelines on how to act – who does what and when – a whole lot of awkwardness and impoliteness ensues.

Good manners make other people feel comfortable. Ever been at a dinner where a guy brought up embarrassing stories from someone’s past, or insisted on pontificating about politics? Have you ever been with a friend who started talking to someone who was a stranger to you, but never stopped to introduce you to him, leaving you standing there awkwardly? “For what is a good manner?” William John Hardy wrote, “It is the art of putting our associates at their ease. Whoever makes the fewest persons uncomfortable is the best mannered man in the room.”

Good manners ultimately show respect for others. Do you like to wake up early to meet someone, only to have them be 20 minutes late? Do you enjoy it when your friend throws a tantrum after losing a round of golf? Would you like it if you made $2.50 an hour, busted your butt serving people, and then got stiffed on a tip? Do you appreciate being interrupted while you’re speaking? No? Then live the heart of good manners: the Golden Rule. Treat others with the same respect you’d like to be treated with.

In summary, good manners make life richer and more enjoyable for you and for others. Unfortunately, many young men are raised with very little guidance on the proper manners to cultivate for different areas of their lives. The good news is that good manners can be learned by any young man no matter his background (and by any older man, no matter his age).


Fashion changes too fast these days: Pierre Cardin February 03 2015

Today's fashion designers change styles much too fast, partly due to twice-yearly collections, making it harder to create couture that lasts for years, says designer Pierre Cardin.

The 88-year-old doyen of French fashion also said that it is now much harder for designers than when he first started in the business roughly 60 years ago.

"After the war, there were very few designers. Now there are so many designers around the world, in every country. It is impossible to change the fashions every year, every six months," he told a news conference.

"There are lots of designs that are very beautiful, crazy, fantastic on the eyes, but they are not making fashion for tomorrow. You can see it anywhere... but four or five years later, no fashion."

Cardin also said that when he launched his own label in 1950 he was told that what he was doing was "impossible" and that only belief in himself and obsession carried him through.

"At the time I was told that trying to make what I did was like trying to walk on the moon -- impossible. It was my strategy to believe that one day a man goes up," he said.

"My work was like an addiction. That's why I've been able to do it for so long."

Cardin has become a household name on products around the world from couture clothing to alarm clocks. He was the first Western couturier to turn to Japan as a high fashion market in the late 1950s and later communist China in 1975.

The designer was expelled from the Chambre Syndicale -- the monitoring body of Haute Couture in Paris -- for launching a ready-to-wear collection in 1959, but was soon reinstated.


The 21 Books from the 21st Century Every Man Should Read January 29 2015

Anyone who's been handed a high school diploma can tick off the classic novels from the twentieth century: The Great Gatsby, A Farewell to Arms, The Grapes of Wrath. But cross into this millennium and things are suddenly murkier, Kindle-ier, less classed up with age. Then again, it's been an affirming 15 years, enough time to breed a whole new body of post-2000 lit we're happy to call the new classics—and we're not afraid to name names. We spent months chiseling down a list* of not just our favorite books from the 2000s but also the works of fiction that we most readily recommend to our fathers, brothers, and non-blood-related bros. Then we asked a bunch of those authors to pick an overlooked book—stories, poetry, memoir—from that same period of time. Dig in quick: This is your chance to right some wrongs and hit the new musts you missed the first time around.

-as published by GQ. 

*Numbered, but not ranked

 

1.

The Corrections

JONATHAN FRANZEN (2001)

BECAUSE: Let's be real, he wrote two of the very best books (Freedom's the other) of the millennium—or, if you're guzzling haterade, at least the two best books on, among other things, family, anti-anxiety drugs, marriage, fate, songbirds, and Minnesota.

AUTHOR'S PICK: "Ms. Hempel Chronicles (2008), by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, is a deftly constructed novel masquerading as a collection of linked stories; you don't even realize it's a love story until you read the last chapter. Its heroine, Ms. Hempel, is a young private-school teacher whose troubles include haziness about the distinction between student and teacher. Chapter by chapter, as you watch her interact with her pupils, you realize that she's as lost and confused as they are, and the result is an extraordinary sympathy for all concerned. Bynum seems incapable of writing a sentence that doesn't have something fresh or funny or true going on in it. She gets you laughing and then she whacks you in the heart.

 

2. 

The Human Stain

PHILIP ROTH (2000)

BECAUSE: he's written eight pretty great novels since the turn, but only one masterpiece. Beginning in the summer "that Bill Clinton's secret emerged," it's the best book on sex, scandal (Roth coined the famous phrase "ecstasy of sanctimony"), and political correctness in the Lewinsky Moment.

 

3. 

The Road

CORMAC MCCARTHY (2006)

BECAUSE: While plugging this book is sorta like plugging a weekend getaway to Pittsburgh in February, it's irresponsible not to, for the sheer tactful feat of turning a post-apocalyptic skin-crawler into both a critical stick of dynamite (the Pulitzer Prize) and a commercial windfall (Oprah's Book Club). McCarthy, who rarely lifts a fingernail to promote his work, is better than hermetic: Doesn't care about the fame or money but isn't such a nutbag that he frantically hides from it. He's operating in the new millennium as actively as the younger generation, this prime-time gunner, now 79, who so clearly has still got it. Notice, on the other hand, the absence of those other stalwarts of the 1960s—1990s: Updike, DeLillo, Morrison, Pynchon, Ford, et al.

4. 

White Teeth

ZADIE SMITH (2000)

BECAUSE: Smith's debut (published when she was just 24!)—about the friendship and family fates of two polar-opposite and yet instantly identifiable British men—is better than any recent book at answering the question: What was life like in London last century?

 

5. 

True History of the Kelly Gang

PETER CAREY (2000)

BECAUSE: the voice in this fictional autobiography of Australia's most famous outlaw—Ned Kelly, bushranger—is so convincing that you'd swear it came from his own dirt-and-blood-soaked hands.

AUTHOR'S PICK: "Kent Haruf is one of the great poets of the modern novel. He has an extraordinary capacity for love. He will give you the smell of the dirt and grasses of the High Plains of Colorado. He will never fail to engage your heart, but because he is an honest man, he will have you grasp the nettles. If you have never entered his beautiful singing sentences, I envy you your first time. If you do already know that Plainsong and Eventide are masterpieces, get ready for Benediction, out this year. This is why writers write and readers read.

 

6. 

2666

ROBERTO BOLAÑO (2008)

BECAUSE: Big novels always arrive with an aura of ridiculousness, overpraised by critics, under-read by readers, slowly eroding an indent into the bottom shelf of your bookcase. Worse is a posthumous publication (which usually requires someone to defy the author's last wishes) that's as rickety as improperly assembled Ikea furniture. This book was both: the English translation of 898 pages showing up five years after Roberto Bolaño's death from liver failure. But pick it up with two hands and you'll find a masterpiece just swarming with stories, of hapless critics and too many murdered women; earnest, haunted investigators who don't find the answers they need; and vanished geniuses who don't want to be found.

7. 

Tree of Smoke

DENIS JOHNSON (2007)

BECAUSE: The best book about Vietnam took thirty-odd years to brew—resulting in the finest first few pages (and subsequent 600) written on the subject.

 

8. 

Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned

WELLS TOWER (2009)

BECAUSE: This is the voice lots of writers are most excited about today, the one whose story collection they'll hand you, dog-eared, if you ask for an urgently ass-kicking must-read. Spend a few hours with these damaged, defiant, uncomfortably familiar men (yep, including Vikings) and watch as Tower unravels and stitches up their lives. There's no way you're giving this book back.

AUTHOR'S PICK: "Haven Kimmel's A Girl Named Zippy (2001) is a joyous, humane memoir of a midwestern childhood, wrought in sentences whose epigrammatic hilariousness makes you want to applaud at each period. Recalling her early years, Kimmel writes, 'If I could have gotten my nose close enough I would have inhaled leaded gasoline until I was retarded.' For my money, this whups Proust and his doughnut any day of the week.

 

9.  

Fortress of Solitude

JONATHAN LETHEM (2003)

BECAUSE: A lot of people write about Brooklyn—but Lethem's epic take on gentrification 
and racial tension is the first and last word on the subject.

AUTHOR'S PICK: "The appearance in 2010 of What Is All This?—a 600-page career-spanning anthology of stories from Stephen Dixon—was a welcome reminder of the continued existence of a literary cornucopia still steadily blurting out nourishment 
and fascination, now for fifty years and counting. Dixon's surely a candidate for the most prolific short-story writer of all time. Every one of his hundreds of tales long and short hinges on the singular miracle of his voice—as sprung and uncanny as Donald Barthelme's, yet as rooted in the urban vernacular as Bernard Malamud's—and from there takes nothing besides that voice for granted, promising constant surprise. Read Dixon to be staggered by his humanity, fearlessness, comic despair, and formal genius. In my opinion he ought to get the Nobel Prize.

10. 

Pastoralia

GEORGE SAUNDERS (2000)

BECAUSE: The title story alone—the depressive ramblings of an employee in a vaguely dystopian caveman-themed amusement park (trust us)—was proof that we had found a new king of literary tragicomedy.

AUTHOR'S PICK: "Stuart Dybek, an American master, is the literary embodiment of essential Chicagoness: deep emotion expressed in language that is street-smart, lyrical, and full of heart. The stories in I Sailed with Magellan are technically amazing, but always to emotional purpose. The book is full of the romantic, exotic, ethnic, story-rich Chicago I remember from my childhood. His story 'Hot Ice,' from the amazing earlier collectionThe Coast of Chicago, was the first contemporary story that ever completely cleaned my clock.

 

11. 

Runaway

ALICE MUNRO (2004)

BECAUSE: In any of the five collections she's put out since 2000, but especially in this one, she so totally nails the short story that one could be forgiven for thinking writing them is easy. It ain't.

 

12. 

Austerlitz

W.G. SEBALD (2001)

BECAUSE: Austerlitz is possessed of a form all its own. It's long been in vogue to blur the lines between fiction and non-, between novel and memoir, and W.G. did that before it was cool. But Austerlitz, which is basically about Sebald wandering around Europe, doesn't do it as a gimmick. You get the sense that this is simply what he had to write. Austerlitz is about the intricate, horrifying, inhuman destruction upon which all societies, certainly Western ones, are built. An understandable thing for a German to have been obsessed about. Its message is that we all live in the silent, beautiful ruins of sadistic disaster. And it falls to Sebald to uncover those ruins. To read it is to stop and smell the roses, except, you know, roses that smell like sadistic destruction.

13. 

Cloud Atlas

DAVID MITCHELL (2004)

BECAUSE: Forget the endless movie: Mitchell's original novel—six rollicking story lines connecting disparate-seeming characters through reincarnation—was big without being dense, and ambitious without being overbearing.

 

14. 

Gilead

MARILYNNE ROBINSON (2004)

BECAUSE: Conversation about religion in America in the twenty-first century is so batshit insane that when someone tries to strip it down to the parts that were interesting to people, like, 2,000 years ago, it's worth listening. While Robinson's novel—a long, elegiac, wisdom-bleeding letter from a much older father to a much younger son that's also a meditation on just about every question of God and humanity—sure ain't easy, it socks you in the face and then hands you some ice to cool the bruise. Which is what religion's supposed to do, right?

AUTHOR'S PICK: "I've read a book that comes out this month. It is Christian Wiman's My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer. Wiman is the editor of Poetry magazine and has now accepted a professorship at Yale. His book is a memoir, his coming to terms with cancer and a very dark prognosis—which he has outlived. The thing that is exceptional about this book, aside from its intelligence and its language, is the quality of its theological reflection. It is very lucid and not at all simple, a book in the great tradition of truly serious thought.

 

15. 

The Art of Fielding

CHAD HARBACH (2011)

BECAUSE: Bros will never not love baseball and bros will never not love college—and together, that pairing made us love reading a book more than the sum of our love of baseball and college. (Also: For guys who get through max two books a year, this is the surest rec on the list.)

AUTHOR'S PICK: "Sam Lipsyte's The Ask, from 2010, is my favorite novel of the past few years, and his new story collection, The Fun Parts, out this year, is just as good. Since 2000, the battle for Funniest Writer in America has been a mano a mano mountaintop clash between Lipsyte and George Saunders, and everybody 
else just stands around laughing.

 

16. 

Netherland

JOSEPH O'NEILL (2008)

BECAUSE: Shoveling down the language in this book—about a man's lonely assimilation in New York after his wife and kid leave him to move back to London in the wake of 9/11—is like dining out gourmet for a week straight. Plus: murder, banking, spanking, and—seriously, this will work on you, as anyone from the former Colonies has long insisted—the awesome draw of cricket.

AUTHOR'S PICK: "Skeletally, Leaving the Atocha Station (2011), Ben Lerner's first novel, is the chronicle of a young American poet's fellowship in Madrid. In substance, and not to mince words, this is a very intelligent, very funny, verbally brilliant, relentlessly perceptive investigation of the ethical-linguistic-political morass in which the American abroad must wade. Truly tip-top.

 

17. 

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

JUNOT DIAZ (2007)

BECAUSE: We've never heard a book talk like this one: "Dude, you don't want to be dead. Take it from me. No-pussy is bad. But dead is like no-pussy times ten."

AUTHOR'S PICK: "I guess I'll go for two. Aracelis Girmay's landmark poetry collection, Kingdom Animalia, because of 'Oh, body, be held now by whom you love. / Whole years will be spent, underneath these impossible stars, / when dirt's the only animal who will sleep with you / & touch you with / its mouth.' And Alexander Chee's incomparableEdinburgh, because of its bravery, its wisdom, its vitality, and because it's a novel that never stops haunting.

 

18. 

The Line of Beauty

ALAN HOLLINGHURST (2004)

BECAUSE: Although the story is simple—a recent grad spends the summer of '83 stumbling into his attraction to men while living in the home of a member of Parliament—Hollinghurst tells it with the metronomic consistency of early Cheever, the wide-eyed sexuality of Updike's Rabbit series, and the bloodlust for men of wealth and class that launched Fitzgerald. And because Hollinghurst easily carries the torch for all three.

 

19. 

Saturday

IAN MCEWAN (2005)

BECAUSE: No novel, by McEwan or anyone else, so precisely and gorgeously conjures the thought processes of its protagonist. Here the synaptic crackle and fizz of Henry Perowne's formidable brain as the neurosurgeon absorbs a body blow from a street thug: "The blow that's aimed at Perowne's heart...lands on his sternum with colossal force, so that...there surges throughout his body a sharp ridge, a shock wave, of high blood pressure, a concussive thrill that carries with it not so much pain as an electric jolt of stupefaction and a brief deathly chill that has a visual component of blinding, snowy whiteness."

 

20. 

The Yellow Birds

KEVIN POWERS (2012)

BECAUSE: What happens when poets write novels is you get sentences with chiseled precision, chapters with an elliptical swirl. What happens when a soldier-poet writes a novel is you get the best book yet on the post-9/11 wars.

AUTHOR'S PICK: "It's not exactly underrated—it was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2006—but then again, poetry collections aren't exactly overplayed. Elegy on Toy Piano, by Dean Young, is a sad and vibrant shock of a book. Moving between the ridiculous and the sublime, often within the same poem, this collection is a perfect introduction to the reckless humanity of Young's poetry.

 

21. 

The Namesake

JHUMPA LAHIRI (2003)

BECAUSE: No other novel this century has so fully, meticulously described the life of a man, from birth to middle age, and all the choices and obsessions that guide him through.


Winterize Your Boots, Save Your Feet January 28 2015

Today, while trudging through the slush, I saw many pair of shoes fall victim to it. A gentleman in suede desert boots plunged feet first into the murky depths of a puddle, another waterlogged his brogue boots and no doubt, socks. Needless to say, footwear has taken a beating in the past few months. Here are some solutions to either winterize what you've got or maintain it.

  1. Garbage Bags:I am laughed at constantly for this by my peers, but I have bone dry feet. Even today, a colleague with freezing and soaked socks arrived to say that she was wrong for making fun and has seen the error of her ways. That's what I call justice. Here's what you do: put on your socks, stick your feet into a small plastic garbage bag and then put your feet in boots. You'd be surprised how dry your feet weren't before.
  2. Clean The Salt:City streets are covered with salt and sand in the winter. It melts the ice and gives people a little extra grip on the slick concrete, which is nice. It will also destroy the leather of your boots and shoes, which is not nice. All you have to do is mix equal parts water and white vinegar together and gently wipe. Rinse it all off and let them all dry naturally, away from heat. And always remember to give them a good rubdown before storing for the summer.
  3. Fake it Till You Make it:If you've waited until now to buy winter boots, you've probably waited too long but, if you really want to add a layer of protection, just buy some SWIMS galoshes. They go on over pretty much any pair of shoes you own and will save your sole.
  4. Dry Right: If your boots are soaked, you're going to be uncomfortable. The best thing to do is take them off and stuff them with newspaper. This will help them dry faster and hopefully by the time you put them back on, you won't plunging your feet into a damp and dank shoe. Don't put them on a radiator to dry, that will mess with your baby soft leather.
  5. Protect: You can't make your shoes impermeable, but you can give them some added protection. Simply apply some Sno-Seal at the beginning of the season and you'll have an extra boost. Just be sure that your boots are properly clean before you do

How to Choose a Barber January 28 2015

Hint: Trust a man with scissors, not clippers

How is it that we don't have robots to do this? Shouldn't we just be able to lock our heads into some kind of Barberizer3000 contraption, download a picture of the haircut we want, and get a perfect replica? Crazy as it sounds, we're still relying on humans to wield sharp instruments near our ears to give us that look we have such trouble explaining. With humans you need to guard against miscommunication and very bad taste. In other words, you need to pay attention to who's cutting your hair. Some pointers to help you get by until the new technology arrives:

He should, first of all, be a he. Sorry—nice as it would be to have a woman patting your scalp while you sit bare-chested under a nylon kimono, it's got to be a guy.

Clientele is critical. If most of a shop's customers look like Trent Lott or Dennis Hastert, chances are it's not the place to go for the latest take on the faux-hawk.

When you do walk into a shop, check out its products. While expensive gels don't guarantee a good haircut, cheapo supermarket stuff usually means a cheapo Supercuts look is in store for you.

Beware of a barber who relies too much on electric clippers. Your haircut should have depth and dimension, and these can be achieved only through the use of scissors.

Think of it as a date. You need some talk before you get to the body contact. Let your barber know what you want. If he listens and relates to you sensibly, chances are he has the skills to back up the talk.


Style Maintenance – The True Classics January 23 2015

All of the retro-inspired elixirs look good in cabinets, but we admire those that have been getting it right for decades.

  • Aftershave – Most old spice offerings don’t have much in common with the company’s original products from the 1930’s. However,Old Spice Classic afterhshave ($9) is almost exactly the same formula. It feels good, prevents irritation, and makes you smell like your grandfather. Although some women may not think that’s a good thing. 

  • Hair – If you want the iron-clad comb-over look, or if you want to keep your hairstyle through a tornado, Murray’s Superior hair dressing ($3) is your best and most economical choice. One canister of the 89-year-old pomade can last until the next time shiny hair is in style again.

    • ShaveProraso shave cream ($10) has been made in the same Italian factory with the same ingredients since the 1940’s. The menthol and eucalyptus oils tighten pores and provide an invigorating start to your morning routine.

       

      • Powder Gold Bond Medicated body powder ($5.30 for 4 oz.) deodorizes, soothes rashes, and stimulates (when used in certain spots – whew!). The menthol powder has been saving us from swamp crotch for just over a century. God bless it.

      • Facial Hair – You might think mustache wax is pretentious. You might be right. But wax also gives your hair a healthier appearance and keeps food out of your whiskers. Whereas most new waxes require more kneading, Clubman mustache wax ($5) is creamy and easy to use.

      • Mouthwash – C.O. Bigelow pharmacy recently revived some of its original formulas with one of the best being Keightley’s mouthwash ($22.50). The modern version is painfully powerful, and with a cinnamon-minty mixture it’s also more refreshing then generic mouthwash.

      • Soap Hunter’s castile soap by Caswell-Massey ($10) hasn’t changed much since 1861. Castile soap is finally being embraced outside the granola community as more people realize that the olive-oil-based cleanser is easier on skin than most major soap brands.


        3 Stylish Men on Their After-Work-Before-Bed Wardrobes January 20 2015

        Sleepy Jones Designer Andy Spade

        The Philosophy: "It's all about utility and quality. I go to the Bowery Hotel near my office, and people are doing work in the lobby in their pajamas and robes. It makes sense, and it looks good. My dad used to tie up his robe at breakfast so it looked almost like a scalloped blazer. I try to get at that in a nontraditional way."

        Off-Duty Uniform: "Sleepy Jones pajama pants or boxer shorts and a button-down pajama top that's cut like a dress shirt. I mix and match patterns and solids with contrasting piping—a look inspired by artists like David Hockney. The pants have pockets, so they're actually quite functional. I finish with Alden loafers."

        Preferred Sleepwear: "My motto is to change as little as possible. I can wear a tie with the pajama shirt, take it off, and just go to bed. When people come by, I put on a cotton navy robe with pin dots from Paul Stuart that I've had for 12 years."

        The Missing Piece: "A sleep mask."

         

        Designer Robert Geller

        The Philosophy: "It's all about comfort and coziness, and the main goal is not to put too much effort into it. But I don't want to look sloppy in front of my wife. She still needs to like me."

        Off-Duty Uniform: "Sweatpants, often in gray melange, which is my favorite color, and a white Fruit of the Loom tank top as a base layer. If it's cold, I'll put a hooded sweatshirt over it. If I'm wearing gray pants, though, I won't wear a matching top—it may look cool, but it's a little too Rocky."

        Preferred Sleepwear: "I sleep in my underwear after I take off my clothes—white or gray boxer briefs from Uniqlo. I go to Japan four times a year to do production for my brand, and I buy them at the airport on the way back. They're quite a deal—five pairs for about $10."

        Socks for Lounging: "I don't wear shoes at home, just chunky knit Wigwam socks in white, black, or gray. The elastic isn't so tight, so I pull them over the bottom of my pants."

         

        Officine Generale designer Pierre Mahéo

        The Philosophy: "I'm not a guy who wears pajamas or color. Everything is white, gray, or navy. I have a pretty active life—wake up, walk the dog, make breakfast with my kids. I'm not going to do all that in a robe."

        Off-Duty Uniform: "At work, I'll wear a cashmere sweater and chinos in stone or khaki from my brand. When I get home, I'll keep the pants on and swap the sweater for an 80-gram jersey T-shirt. At home, I'm always barefoot. At a ski resort, it's fleece pants, No. 7 high merino-wool socks from Falke, and a cashmere turtleneck."

        Preferred Sleepwear: "Seamless white boxers from Barneys' private label and a white or gray T-shirt. I don't like button closures or polyester—just pure cotton."

        After-Hours Essential: "Old, holey gray and white Hanes crewneck T-shirts. I wouldn't wear them in the normal day, because I have to try things on in front of my staff, but I do at my country house. I love the destroyed rib collars."

        -From Details Mag. 


        A Simple Guide to Wine Pairings January 15 2015

        The subtle art of good food is all about striking a balance between flavors and textures. And no more is that clear than when it comes to pairing your dish with the right wine. Of course, we've all been told that we're supposed to drink white wine with fish and red wine with red meat. And while this is somewhat of a safe assumption, there's a lot more to consider when it comes to choosing a bottle. Wine and food pairing is a balancing act, more of an art rather than an exact science. So while there are no hard and fast rules for food and wine pairings, these simple guidelines can help you with the process.

        MATCHING FLAVORS AND TEXTURES

        You want to join foods with wines that share similar flavors and textures or, at least, complementary ones. Simply put, a delicate dish should be matched with a subtle wine and a hearty meal with a sturdier wine. For example, the rich, buttery flavors of a Chardonnay pair perfectly with lobster in a creamy, buttery sauce. And the peppery scents of a Syrah or Petite Sirah easily complement most red meat.

        WHAT GROWS TOGETHER GOES TOGETHER

        This one's an old rule—an expression used by chefs and wine lovers alike—but a solid tip nonetheless. There's a natural, organic relationship between the food grown in a particular region and the wine that's produced there. The agriculture and grapevines share the same terroir (climate, soil and geography), so they both have flavors that complement each other. 

        SMOKE WITH OAK

        Grilled foods, barbecue or any items cooked in a wood-burning oven pair well with wines that have been aged in oak like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Tempranillo. Oaked wines can be a little bold (and overwhelming to some dishes), but char-grilled foods tend to tone down that woody intensity, bringing out the lighter fruit flavors instead.

        SWEET WITH SPICE

        For spicier foods, you want a wine like a Riesling or Vouvray, that has retained some of the natural sugar from the grapes. Known as residual sugar, the sweetness will help cool down the spice's heat, balancing out the flavors of the food and the wine. What you don't want is a highly alcoholic wine like a Malbec or Sauvignon Blanc—the spices will actually intensify the alcohol and ultimately, make the food seem even hotter.

        CUT THE FAT WITH ACID

        Fried, rich or fatty foods should be paired with a zesty, acidic wine like Sauvignon Blanc or wines that are high in tannin such as Cabernet Sauvignon. The acids and tannins cut through the richness of the foods and essentially act as a palate cleanser so you're not overwhelmed by the heavier flavors. These also tend to work with dishes with a similar degree of acidity or bitterness like salads dressed with vinaigrettes, sharp cheeses or marinated meats.


        Seek Out Awe - The secret relief for the stressed, overworked, and time crunched. January 15 2015

        Time is a scarce commodity for most people today. A recent poll of Americans found that nearly half (47%) feel like they didn't have enough time between the daily demands of their family, job and personal errands. This time-crunched feeling of having too much to do and not enough time to do it has been linked to some undesirable side effects like trouble sleeping, extreme stress, poor diet decisions and postponing seeing a doctor when ill. Sound familiar?

         

        Thankfully, researchers from Stanford and the University of Minnesota have found just what all of us impatient, over-worked people need—a dose of awe. Their study (PDF) found that when we experience awe—which they define as that "feeling we get when we come across something so strikingly vast in number, scope or complexity that it alters the way we understand the world"—you focus more on the present moment, which expands your sense of time. Which means after you catch an epic sunrise, take in the majesty of a mountain or helicopter over a Hawaiian island, you no longer feel like life is quickly passing you by. You become less impatient and more interested in taking care of yourself and others.

        What's more, you don't have to jet off to some exotic locale to revel in a vast, awe-inspiring view. You can experience awe from a particularly powerful film, natural events like a rainstorm or by paying attention to things you might've missed before like a rhythmic flock of birds flying or peering up at a skyscraper. It's different for each person, but you'll know it when you see it. After all, it's not what you look at that matters. It's what you see.


        How I Got My Body: Basketball Star Tim Hardaway Jr. January 13 2015

        Though his team's midseason record leaves something to be desired, the Knicks' 22-year-old shooting guard has stepped out of the shadow of his all-star father and made a name for himself. Here's how he keeps his six-foot-six, 210-pound frame in game shape.

        "I get to the training facility two hours before practice, just because it's easier for me to get warmed up on my own. I'm here before everybody—well, not everybody, but before the veterans.

        "First thing I do when I arrive is get a good meal in—usually grits or oatmeal, a bagel with cream cheese, and a bowl of fruit. After games, I like to have a steak dinner—I mean, I love steak. I love potato chips. I don't keep a strict diet, because I tend to lose weight easily, running for miles and miles and burning a lot more than I could take in without even realizing it.

        "Coming in early means I can spend 30 minutes in the treatment room getting stretched out—mostly my glutes and hips—and making sure my joints are okay. I also get massages twice a week to help my muscles recover. It's a long season, so I need to be sure my body is prepared. Some days I don't work out at all—I'll just shoot around so that I have my rhythm. It's about repetition after repetition—but other than that, the coaches want us to just sit down.

        "Off the court, I lift for about 40 minutes three or four days a week—more during the off-season. This year I gained 15 pounds of muscle. My dad is the one who started me weight-lifting. He pushed me to my limits and taught me how to act as a professional on and off the court. I focus mainly on my legs, because I'm on them constantly, and that helps me on the court running, jumping, defending how I want to defend. I like the kettlebell workouts our strength-and-conditioning coach, Mubarak Malik, puts us through. They help my balance and ensure my core is tight. My least favorite exercise would have to be anything with the TRX bands. I really don't like those, but you have to get them done.

        "On game days, I go home after shootaround and nap. My routine actually starts the night before—I need at least seven hours of sleep. Especially when we're traveling. That's the hardest part about basketball, the plane rides. I definitely get jet-lagged. I meditate too. That's key. It's something I've been doing since I was at Michigan—my coach there was a big believer, and so is [Knicks president] Phil Jackson. There are so many ups and downs in a season that I have to focus my mind on one thing and one thing only."

        Published in Details Magazine


        School of Leather January 13 2015

        It's one of the most hard-wearing, versatile and masculine materials around. This quick reference guide offers up everything you need to know about buying, wearing and maintaining leather.

        The Essential Leather Glossary

        There's a lot of jargon when it comes to leather. Which is why we put together these easy to understand explanations of the industry terms you'll likely encounter when shopping for quality leather goods.

        Bridle Leather

        Vegetable Tanned cowhide used for making equestrian equipment.

        Buckskin

        Deer or sometimes elk skin leather.

        Buffalo Leather

        Skin from the domesticated water buffalo (and not the American bison).

        Burnished

        A polishing technique where heat is generated resulting in a unique, darker surface shine.

        Calfskin

        High-quality, fine grained leather made from the skins of young cattle.

        Cordovan

        Also known as "shell cordovan," this leather is made from the firm shell portion of a horse (read: the butt). Cordovan has a characteristic finish, and is very durable.

        Corrected Grain

        Outside skin that's been smoothed with sand paper to minimize flaws, then pigment-dyed and embossed.

        Crocking

        Like with raw denim, this is when the dyes or finishes rub off onto other materials.

        Full Grain Leather

        Leather that has not been corrected in any way, beyond the original hair removal, allowing the natural markings and character of the leather to show through. Full grain leathers must be cleaner hides to start with, making them more expensive.

        Glove Leather

        Lambskin or other very soft, high quality leathers typically used for gloves.

        Grain

        A term used to describe the natural characteristics of an unprocessed hide, such as its texture, wrinkles and markings.

        Horween

        The Horween Leather Company is one of the oldest continuously running tanneries in the US. They offer a variety of pigments and tannages, utilizing primarily cowhide and horsehide along with some bison as well.

        Nappa

        Soft, full grain leather made from unsplit sheep or lambskin. It is usually tanned with alum and chromium salts and dyed throughout the whole piece.

        Nubuck

        A leather where the surface has been buffed and brushed to create a soft, velvety effect. While suede is created from the flesh (inner) side of a hide, nubuck is created using the grain (outer) side, making it stronger.

        Oil Tanned

        Leather that is tanned using oils to create a very soft, pliable finish.

        Oxblood

        A dark, reddish-brown color used to dye leather, and is used often for cordovan.

        Patent Leather

        Leather, one surface of which is covered with a flexible, waterproof film which has a lustrous mirror-like surface. This coating was formerly built up by the application of various varnishes and lacquers using linseed oil. The original process was developed in New Jersey, by inventor Seth Boyden in 1818. Today, patent leather
        usually has a plastic coating.

        Patina

        The rich, worn-in hue or luster that develops in a quality piece of leather over time with age and wear.

        Pebbled Grain

        A popular embossed leather grain finish that resembles a bumpy, pebbled surface.

        Pull-Up

        Describes the behavior of leather that has been treated with oils, waxes and dyes so that when the leather is stretched (or pulled), the finish becomes lighter in those areas. Horween's Chromexcel is an example.

        Shearling

        Sheepskin or lambskins that have been tanned with the wool intact.

        Split

        The underneath layer of side leather which has been "split" off. Devoid of a natural grain, it may be either sueded or pigment finished and embossed.

        Suede

        A finish (not technically a type of leather) where the top surface of the hide has been removed by abrasion and then brushed to create a soft, fuzzy feel. Also known as buffed leather, similar to nubuck.

        Vegetable Tanning

        A method of hide tanning which utilizes materials from organic materials such as bark, instead of the traditional chemicals. Vegetable tanned leather is stiffer than traditionally-tanned leather, and gets darker from your body's natural oils the more you use it.


        Don't Fall for These Three Hotel Scams January 09 2015

        Three points to be aware of at your hotel - and how to stop the scam cold.

        Many travelers view their hotel rooms as their safe place while visiting a new city. In their hotel room, they are invulnerable to the hustle and bustle, and are allowed to rest and relax after a day of adventuring. But even the most savvy of world travelers are unaware of the risks of sophisticated scams that start right inside your hotel room.

        Even when we think we're the safest, danger always lurks around the corner. And because travelers are often looked at as an easy target, scam artists are always looking for the easy way to part a traveler from their money. Here are three hotel scams that you need to be prepared for as you travel.

         

        Hotel Scam No. 1: Fake Hotel Food Delivery

        It's not uncommon to find a number of menus in your hotel room for local dining options. And how many times have you come to your room to find a menu slid underneath the door? While the menu looks real, it may be a restaurant that doesn't exist at all.

        Here's how the scam works: the scam artist creates and prints a menu that looks realistic. Once created, the menus are slid underneath the doors of hotel rooms, inviting guests of the hotel to order in at the end of the day. What guests don't know is that the restaurant doesn't exist. When a guest places the order, they will be asked to pay for their order by credit card. The food never comes, and the scam artists get away with the guest's credit card information.

        Before you decide to order in, make sure that your restaurant actually exists. A simple internet search of restaurants in the area of your hotel will give you plenty of dining options. And if you have any doubt, ask the front desk if there are any restaurants that deliver to the hotel - they should be happy to provide you the menus from several local restaurants. 

         

        Hotel Scam No. 2: Fake Front Desk Charges

        Many high quality hotels are trained to make a phone call to your room 15 minutes after your check-in, just to make sure that your room is perfect. But have you ever gotten a call from the front desk with another issue?

        Although it's becoming less common, the front desk call scam can still be a problem - especially in developing parts in the world. It starts when you get a call to your room phone from someone claiming to be at your hotel's front desk. Often times, they will claim that the hold on your card was declined, and they need to re-verify your credit card number. As a convenience, they are more than happy to take your credit card information over the phone, so that you can go back to your vacation in progress.

        A real member of your hotel's staff should never ask for credit card information over the phone. Should you get a phone call about a credit card problem, never give the calling party any information. Instead, always offer to come down to the front desk to sort it out. If the caller insists that it must be taken care of immediately, then simply hang up, and either call or walk down to the hotel front desk.

         

        Hotel Scam No. 3: "Free" WiFi Connections

        Nobody enjoys paying for wifi internet access at their hotels, which makes the "Free WiFi" hotspot popup even more tempting.

        A growing problem, wifi "skimming" is a new scam that targets you through the promise of free internet access. Common at hotels and other public places, like coffee shops and bus stations, the scam works by setting up a "free" wifi hotspot - usually aptly named to get your attention. Though the internet connection will be free to access, your data can route through several points, including a scam artist's computer. Because they are hosting the connection, they can see all data you transmit through their wifi signal - including websites, usernames, and passwords used during your session.

        Before you connect to a network, make sure that it is a legitimate network. Many networks will be secure, and require you to have a password to access. Other secure networks will usually have the name of the property or hotel chain in the network ID, and will advertise their wifi network on printed materials. Be sure to ask which is the preferred network at your hotel, and how you can access it once you're there.

        Keeping yourself safe from common hotel scams simply takes a little know-how of what to be aware of. By knowing the scammer's tricks, you can worry less about losing your data, and focus on having a great trip. 


        Top 5 Things to Bring When you Go Abroad – Complete with Travel Tips January 07 2015

        1. Your passport

                    This one is obvious.  You’ll need your passport to go anywhere out of the country.  But once you’ve reached your destination, no need to bring it with you everywhere you go while backpacking or sightseeing.  United States licenses serve as acceptable proof of age.  Keep your passport locked up in the hotel or hostel.  Make sure you keep a copy of it in your luggage too, in case you do need to bring it out and it gets lost or stolen somehow.

                    What to bring to keep it safe: Avallone Antique Handmade Leather Passport Holder

         

        1. A decent bag

                    This depends on what the purpose of your trip is.  If you’re backpacking, you’ll want a big enough bag to hold all of your items while still feeling comfortable on your back.  If you’re just sightseeing as a tourist, any luggage will do.  A bag on wheels (and the wheels that roll in all ways, meaning you can also roll it at your side, not just behind you) might be the easiest option, but it depends on your preference.  You shouldn’t need much when you’re out on the town – probably just a wallet, a map, and maybe your phone.  You’ll leave most of your things where you’re staying.  And if you’re traveling for business, you’ll probably be bringing your briefcase.

                    What to bring (if you’re traveling on business): Avallone Executive Handmade Leather Briefcase

        1. Your wallet

        A slim wallet tends to be the best choice for travel.  You’ll want to keep your money in a front pocket instead of the back – you’ll be walking through busy areas that will be full of tourists, and therefore likely pickpockets.  If traveling through a few different countries on your trip, you might want to simply keep your debit card in your slim wallet and take out cash when you arrive to each destination.  I’ve done this before and found it to be the best method – it’s a bit easier than exchanging a big wad of foreign currency with your bank before leaving the U.S.  Check out fees before you leave.  Your bank might charge a fee when you make a withdrawal from a foreign ATM, but certain ATMs don’t charge fees at all, and to be most economical, you might think about estimating how much you’ll spend in each country.  Then take the money out just at one time when you arrive – and maybe take out the largest amount that the ATM will allow.  You shouldn’t have to go back to the ATM until you get to the next country.  (I’ve found that it feels safer to do this rather than using a debit or credit card for actual purchases.)  And make sure you notify your bank that you’ll be traveling!

        What to bring to guard your cash: Avallone Slim Credit Card Leather Wallet

         

        1. Mobile phone

                    You already bring your phone everywhere, so this one is obvious too.  Look into international data plans if you need to stay in touch.  Keep in mind that most places have Wi-Fi (hotels, hostels, coffee shops, restaurants), and you can probably find enough places with Internet to stay connected throughout your trip without spending any money.  Some phone plans will also allow you to pay a flat fee for a limited amount of data to use when you aren’t in a WiFi area – for example, if you need to contact someone when you get there, and you’re not sure if you’ll have WiFi access, you can pay something around $20 to $30 that will allow you to use the Internet anytime, anywhere.  The fee might be worth the security of knowing you’ll have the Internet if you need it in a pinch.

         

        1. Comfortable shoes

                    The right shoes are essential for traveling.  You don’t realize the amount of walking that you’ll do until you get there.  You’ll want to see everything and will likely walk more than a few miles a day.  Go for comfort over style, or better, find a shoe that will allow you to combine the two.

                    Styles to check out: Desert Boot by Clarks, ‘LunarGrand’ Wingtip by Cole Haan, or Seawalker Oxford by Ecco

         

        Written by Alyssa Avallon


        3 Tips for a Perfect Fitting Winter Coat January 06 2015

        We talked to three experts who know a thing or two about how a coat should fit.

        Brunello Cucinelli
        Fashion Designer
        "The easiest fix a tailor can make to a coat is to take in the waist—it will instantly give it more shape. The length is also very important. A coat should hit right above the knee."

        Brian Trunzo
        Co-Owner of Carson Street Clothiers
        "The traditional rule of sleeve length is that it should hit at the base of the thumb, but I like to have it a little higher—a centimeter and a half or two—so you can see the cuff. I don't mind if it's a little shorter than what the old guard says is right. But know that the shoulder is the death knell: If it doesn't fit you in the shoulders, you're in trouble. It's possible to trim down a shoulder, but it's labor-intensive and expensive, and so few tailors are going to be able to do it, it's just not worth your time."

        Joseph Ting
        Details' New York City Tailor
        "The only thing that can't be fixed is if the coat is small—you won't have enough seam allowance to open it up. Also, I often taper the sleeves. When you look at a coat from the side, the whole thing looks better if the sleeve is slimmer."


        Why Smart People Make Bad Entrepreneurs January 05 2015 1 Comment

        One of the most counterintuitive traits that can hurt entrepreneurs is smarts. Yes, the more successful you are and the more talents you have, the harder it is to run a business.

        While you may think that being smart, motivated and talented would logically make someone the best possible candidate for entrepreneurship, unfortunately, this is often not the case.

        The 'I'm better than everyone at every task' challenge.

        The smart-people problem starts back in school when the dreaded “group projects” are first assigned. Knowing the 80/20 rule for work (80% of all work is done by 20% of the people), what do you think happens in every group project? The smartest and most talented people in each group decide that they are going to do the lion’s share of the work. They don’t want to risk their grade in the class by dividing the work equally and hoping that Timmy (the guy who is absent from class two days a week on average and sleeps through class on the other three days) does his part well, if he remembers to do it at all. In school, there isn’t any benefit in trying to get Timmy up to speed quickly. Forget that -- the smart people just take over and do the whole project themselves.

        And thus begins the smart-people work cycle. The smartest people do just about everything better than most everyone else. They write better, plan better and reason better. They are better, until it comes to running a business. Then, they are not better; they are screwed.

        There are only 24 hours in each day and a person does need to sleep, eat, shower and do certain other things. So, each day, this smart person tries to do everything himself, because he can’t stand someone else doing a job badly. Then, he is stuck with the one-man band “job-business” and ends up not being able to grow.

        Why slackers can reign supreme as entrepreneurs.

        It is interesting, but actually, some of the slackers are better suited for entrepreneurship than the “smart” people. Why? They figured out early on to surround themselves with smart people who would do the work. They know how to delegate and sometimes, how to manipulate other people into doing things that they don’t want to do.

        You’re only as smart as you can automate.

        Ideally, smart people would just be able to convey their talents to others. But since the smart people are so used to doing everything themselves, they don’t learn the key skills for making their business successful, including automating and delegating as many tasks as possible. As a smart person, you need to use your smarts and talents to boil down their essence in an easy to follow format that anyone can replicate.

        Too smart for your own good.

        Smart and talented people also often have a flair for the unusual, complicated or different. They don’t like to follow the KISS principle (keep it simple, stupid), which is required to make a business succeed.

        If you think of the assembly line in a fantastic manufacturing plant or the global presence of McDonald’s, they both seem complex, but in reality, they are a series of incredibly simple functions. Every single task is broken down into easy-to-follow steps. The assembly line worker repeatedly performs a few tasks that are specifically defined. So does the McDonald’s cook, cashier and drive-thru order taker. There is little input from these individuals, as everything has been standardized for them.

        Some of the largest, most successful businesses in the world aren’t staffed in their majority by the smartest people. They are actually staffed in large part by regular, average (and sometimes, stupid) people. These successful entities have just a few people who are smart enough to standardize, automate and delegate the majority of the tasks in a way that can’t be screwed up by their average employees.

        So, being smart or talented isn’t going to help you unless you can use those smarts to figure out a way to simplify those tasks that will make a business successful. This isn’t easy, because it goes against everything that you have ever done and is counter to how you were taught to think. However, it is necessary for a business to succeed and why smarts and talent alone don’t predict entrepreneurial success.

        Too much to lose.

        Another issue with the smart people starting businesses is that they often have the most to lose. The smarter you are -- unless you have the social graces of a wild ape -- the more options you have available to you. You will be able to make a lot of money in a variety of fields and have room in your career to become promoted and make even more money.

        This means that when you start a business, you have a lot more to risk than someone who makes less money and has fewer career options. This is often referred to as the “golden handcuffs” dilemma. Because you have more to risk, this means that you need to have a business opportunity that is going to provide an even bigger reward for it to be worth it to you.

        If you make $250,000 a year (or have an opportunity to do so), your business is going to have to be five times more successful than the business of someone making $50,000 a year to get the same return. Additionally, it is a lot harder to found a business that will double your yearly profit when you make $250,000 a year than it would be if you make $50,000 a year.

        So, with the most to lose, a wide range of other options available and the penchant for more intricate, complex endeavors, don’t be surprised when the person “Most Likely to Succeed” from high school ends up in corporate America and it is one of the more average students that finds success in his or her own business.

        -From Entrepreneur.com 2015


        The Best Wallet in the World – Especially If You Like Orange January 04 2015

        As many of you know, Avallone specializes in men’s handmade luxury leather goods. Using a combination of fine craftsmanship and Italian leather, they have created the Italian Classic Bi-Fold Men’s Leather Wallet. The wallet is part of the Executive Suede Collection, and the orange suede leather gives this classic style wallet a unique, modern twist. It’s one of the newest leather products they have released currently available on AvalloneLuxury.com and stores nationwide.

        The Italian Classic Bi-Fold Wallet is handcrafted in soft, luxury, orange goat suede on the outside, and smooth, supple, orange Italian Napa leather on the inside, and border of the outside for extra durability. For $68, this luxury wallet is perfect for a night out, or even your business suit, and with the unique orange suede you will definitely garner some attention. It features a slim profile with 7 credit card slots, a bill divider, ID window, 2 side slip pockets, and quality backed by a lifetime warranty. Oh, and in case you hate orange, Avallone also carries this bi-fold wallet in forest green, brown, and black.

        In addition to wallets, Avallone produces handmade leather bags, belts, passport holders, and a variety of other men’s luxury leather accessories. Just browse the website (www.avalloneluxury.com) and have a look around. Current prices range from $49 to $462, and they also feature a brand new Antique Leather Collection. If you would like to find a local retailer who carries Avallone leather goods, go to the “Find a Retailer” link in the footer of the website. Some of their most notable retailers include Belk in Charlotte, NC, Spare Parts in Chicago, IL, Rothmans in NY,NY, and Blakley-Mitchell in Bristol, VA.


        The 45 Essential Rules of Men’s Dress December 31 2014

        As many of you know, style is relative, which leads to a situation where there is no single list of men’s dress rules that are all-encompassing and without exception. However, the following is a list of dress rules that Avallone stands by. Some of these rules are without exception, such as not wearing a crew neck undershirt when the top button of the shirt is left unbuttoned. Other rules have exceptions, like the rule that a man’s socks should match the color of his pants. The rules presented here are taken from many different sources including tradition, classic men’s dress rules, and personal taste.

        1. Match the metal of the bit on your loafers, belt buckle, suspenders, blazer buttons and cufflinks.
        2. You do not need to match the metal on your watch with the other metals you are wearing, however, it is preferable.
        3. You can wear black shoes with a navy suit/pants.
        4. One must only wear black, brown or oxblood (burgundy) leather shoes for business dress.  The only exceptions allowed are white bucks.  Blue, green or any other colored shoes are inappropriate.
        5. One shall match the color of his socks with the color of his pants.  As an exception, socks can be matched to something worn above the waist such as a man’s shirt, tie, pocket square or suspenders.
        6. One must match the color of his belt to that of his shoes.  This holds true in all situations except when wearing white bucks.
        7. You do not need to match the leather on your watchband with that of your shoes and belt, however, it is preferable.
        8. Wear a belt when wearing pants with belt loops.
        9. Never, ever, ever use your belt to hold accessories like beepers, phones, Blackberrys, ID tags and/or keys.
        10. If pants do not have belt loops they should have side tabs and/or  buttons for use with suspenders.
        11. You shall never wear a tie and pocket square of the same pattern.  The talking heads that do this on television look like fools.
        12. One must not wear a French cuff (double cuff) shirt without a jacket.
        13. You must always doubt salespeople and in-store tailors opinions on fashion, style and fit. The stores they work for pay them, not you.  Their motives are to sell products to who will buy them, not necessarily to who will look best in them.
        14. You must not wear slip on shoes with a suit.  In fact, they should be avoided.
        15. Never wear flat toe/square toe shoes.  They should be avoided like the plague.  They are cancerous to a man’s wardrobe.  They are aesthetically offensive.  Their sole purpose lies in showing men what not to wear. 
        16. Patent leather shoes are only for black tie (semi-formal) and white-tie (formal) occasions.  Patent leather is never acceptable to be worn in a dress or causal setting.
        17. Never wear a long necktie for a semi-formal (black tie) affair, even if that tie is solid black.
        18. You can wear brown suede shoes for business dress.  They are elegant and gentlemanly.
        19. Do not wear Chesterfield coats, which are typically signified by a velvet collar, with anything of less formality than a suit.  They should not be worn with business casual attire.
        20. Do not wear a tie without a jacket.  If done so, you will run the risk of looking like a waiter at TGI Fridays.
        21. Do not wear suspenders without a jacket. 
        22. Only wear suspenders that utilize buttons, not clips. 
        23. Do not wear a crew neck undershirt when the top button of a shirt is left unbuttoned.  When leaving the top button unbuttoned you must wear a v-neck undershirt.
        24. One can wear brown suits for business dress.
        25. Only wear shirts with white collars and white cuffs with a jacket.  These shirts should not be part of a business casual wardrobe, that is, one where suits are not utilized.
        26. Leave the bottom button of vest (waistcoat) unbuttoned.  Except when wearing a double breasted or flat bottomed vest, in which case the bottom button should remain buttoned.
        27. Iron the collar of a shirt before wearing it.  Creased collars caused by dry cleaning and hanging do not follow the natural circularity of one’s neck.
        28. Utilize a pocket square when wearing a jacket.
        29. Pocket squares are underrated, underutilized and most importantly they are awesome.
        30. Do not wear a shirt with any type of logo on it in a business setting, including when in business casual dress.  These shirts should be reserved for casual wear.
        31. Wear your tie bar at a slant, not horizontal.
        32. Off color shirts with a white collar should have French (double) cuffs, regardless of whether or not the cuffs are white or the same color or pattern as the shirt.
        33. Life is more fun in a tuxedo (dinner jacket).
        34. Never button all three buttons of a three button jacket. Sometimes the top, always the middle and never ever ever the bottom.
        35. Wear over the calf socks as opposed to crew socks whenever possible.  They are far superior in both form and function.
        36. Do not wear a solid black suit for business or professional activities.  Save it for formal events and funerals.
        37. Style is a state of mind.
        38. It is impossible for a man to be considered well-dressed if his shoes are in poor taste or of noticeably poor quality.  Any good ensemble is built on a fine pair of shoes.
        39. Do not wear sport sunglasses with a suit.  It’s like wearing socks with sandals; everyone else knows its wrong, why don’t you?
        40. Do not wear a sports watch with a suit.  It would be like playing lacrosse in dress shoes, and no one wants to see that.
        41. There should be no presence of logo or branding when wearing a suit.  For example, do not wear a Polo shirt with the Polo logo on it under a suit jacket or a Burberry tie with the Burberry tartan (although the scarfs are fine).  The emphasis of a suit should be the fit, not the brands it is worn with.
        42. It is better to be overdressed than underdressed. A man does not need an excuse to wear a tie or jacket.  In other words, a man does not need an excuse to dress up.  Despite the fact that in today’s society it seems he does need one.
        43. Never, ever, ever wear a black dress shirt with a suit (or a dinner jacket/tuxedo for that matter).  Just because they may be or may have been ‘on trend’ does not mean one will ever look good on you.
        44. Take off your sunglasses when talking to someone else who is not wearing sunglasses, unless you are at the beach or pool.
        45. Take off your sunglasses when inside. 

        The Cecil - Best New Restaurant in America - Harlem, NY December 30 2014

        Eat out in America, particularly in high-end restaurants, and you tend to see the same people, eating the same dishes, and you start to take them for granted. Then you find a place like the Cecil and you wake up. Yes, its food was the most thrillingly unique tasted this year, loaded with flavors of the African diaspora – that trail of taste that moved from West Africa to India, the Caribbean to America to China, and then back again. But more remarkably, the Cecil has made a community restaurant in one of the most polarized places on earth. Very rich, very white grandees with $3 million condos go there, and so do middle-class blacks who have lived in Harlem for decades. Asian-American people eat there, and Hispanic people and grad students and he-men – everybody more or less. Go in, even on a Monday, and the place hums with happiness.

        Much of this derives from the ubiquitous presence of its genial co-owner, Alexander Smalls, a white-bearded former opera singer with a deep, mellifluous voice. The rest comes from the great young chef Smalls enlisted to bring his vision to life: JJ Johnson, whose classical training provides the backbone for all the exotica. The oxtail filling in the dumplings wouldn’t be possible without veal stock and demi-glace; and the gossamer dough that wraps it isn’t something you just pick up overnight. And the melang of flavors is found no place else – from the bird’s-eye chili and Madagascar vanilla in the opulent feijoada, a Brazilian black-bean stew with merguez and oxtail, to the Chinese cinnamon scent of the fried guinea hen.

        Both culinarily and culturally, the Cecil feels like a restaurant from an alternative universe, or possibly better future, a great melting pot of gumbo and good times. The Cecil has the unique distinction of creating not just a new kind of cooking but a new kind of culture. 210 West 118th Street, NY,NY; 212-866-1262.

        -Review from Esquire Magazine 2014


        The Leather Weekender Bag – Why Do You Need One? December 29 2014

         

        A couple months ago I was invited to attend a friend’s investment seminar over in Los Angeles, California.

        I’m always grateful to be invited to such events, and putting my best foot forward at all times is important. At events like this you are bound to meet potential investors and business partners everywhere.

        Even when checking in at a hotel lobby.

        As I was standing in line – a young professional woman complimented me on my weekender bag.  She was curious as to where she could find one for her father. I smiled as moments like this are always a great way to bridge the conversation into a meaningful personal or business connection.

        As most people already know, first impressions are important.

        The non-verbal messages we send go beyond our clothing.

        The way in which a clerk or your fellow traveler relates to you initially is determined by what they see. Our choice of luggage and accessories signal to those around us whether we are a frequent traveler, business executive or a first time tourist. Many people would rather be seen as an experienced traveler, even if they are not.

        With that in mind – it’s important that a man own quality traveling tools that make his journey easier and identify him as a professional, or well organized person, even when traveling for pleasure.  The classic leather weekender bag is one such tool – a piece of luggage that should be in every traveling man’s closet.

        What Is A Weekender Bag?

        A “weekender” is a gentleman’s travel bag designed to hold the necessary clothing, toiletries, and incidentals for a long weekend trip.

        This style of overnight bag is a step up from an ordinary backpack in terms of both carrying capacity and style. It’s a roughly rectangular, soft-sided bag that unzips across the top lengthwise, and usually features both a shoulder strap and a briefcase-style handle.

        A true weekender should qualify as carry-on luggage for commercial flights. Roughly speaking you should be looking at a bag that’s about 1′ x 1′ x 2′, or in that general size area.

        Typical materials are leather, canvas, or some combination thereof.

        Styles can vary widely, but good ones usually come in either a business style (dark colors with minimal contrast) or a nautical/sporting style (dark cloth with light-colored leather, or vice-versa).

        What about wheels? – If you’re packing that much stuff the classic leather weekender bag is not for you!

        What’s Is A Weekender For?

        The weekender pretty much says it right in the name: it’s meant for overnight or weekend trips where you’ll have a couple changes of clothes, your toiletries, and not too much else.

        A weekender can fit a sport coat in a pinch, but it’s not made for lugging your suits around. They’re mostly meant for casual business and personal travel rather than conferences or business meetings. That said, if your line of work doesn’t require you to wear a suit, by all means rely on the weekender as your business travel bag too.

        Air travel is the primary purpose but not the only one — a weekender makes a fine gym bag or even beach bag as well, and it can fit a whole picnic including a bottle of wine (get the plastic wine glasses, though; you don’t want glass shards in the bottom of your good bag).

        Why Do You Need A Weekender?

        The weekender is your upgrade/replacement for a backpack or an elegant substitute for wheeled travel luggage.

        A regular two-strap, school-sized nylon backpack is, let’s face it, a kid’s tool. It does a great job lugging textbooks and pencil cases around, and when you wear one that’s what people are seeing: a school kid. Fine when you’re flying back to college or going out on a camping trip, but not great for walking around a city (for those interested in a more professional and stylish backpack, the Antique Leather Backpack by Avallone is a great alternative to the standard nylon school pack).

        Your wheeled travel luggage is perfect for the week trip to your consulting gig in Atlanta – but it’s designed to be a practical work-piece for the road warrior.  The weekender leaves the wheels, and does a better job balancing an elegant look with functionality.

        Switching to a weekender gives you a bit of class. It also gives you a timeless look — men have been carrying the same, soft-sided luggage since the days of cross-continental rail travel.

        Even if you don’t travel for your job, you want one of these in the back of the closet for unexpected trips. They’re the perfect houseguest bag as well as a good business bag. Any trip that’s not long enough to warrant a big, checked-luggage style suitcase is one where you’ll get good use out of your weekender.

        What Makes For A Good Leather Weekender Bag?

        Many companies make these bags, under many different names (mini-duffel, travel bag, overnight bag, weekender, etc.). So what makes a good one? Check for a few details that show good construction:

        Material – You want a tough bag that won’t show wear-and-tear. Leather usually makes the best exterior, as well as canvas too. Contrasting Leather handles and siding, whether material or color, add class and a little extra style.

        Build Quality – Pay close attention to the stitching, the thickness of the leather, the steel used on the zipper.  These are the areas that fail first – make sure they appear durable otherwise you’ll have problems later down the road. All of the Avallone leather weekender bags come with a lifetime warranty. With that option, you have free repairs or replacements for anything that might fail.

        Color – Dark is more businesslike; light is sportier. Figure out which one you need. Black or Brown luggage is pretty much always safe. Navy blue or grey is nice if you’re looking into a canvas bag.

        Size – Always small enough to fit within overhead compartment regulations, but close to as big as you can get within those. You should be able to fit a doubled-over sport coat neatly across the bottom and still have plenty of room for your other gear. A tennis racket also makes a good guide — if you couldn’t fit the head of a tennis racket (with the handle sticking out of the zipper) in the main compartment, the bag’s a little too small.

        Inside Pocket – A classic weekender will not have compartments on the inside – however it should have at least one pocket for important paperwork, jewelry, or other small valuables.

        Outside pockets – Usually not very common, but nice to have if you’re going for a more sporty look.

        Straps – You want tough straps that are (and it’s hard to emphasize this enough) long enough for you. If you’re a tall man you may need to buy your own strap for the longer shoulder strap. The bag loses its sporty flair if it’s hiked all the way up your shoulder blades when you sling the strap across your chest. Thicker leather or stuffed cloth handles rather than plain webbing straps are nice for the briefcase-style handles, too; they’ll be less prone to digging in if you have to hold the bag for a long time.

        Ribbing – A sturdy bag will have bands of cloth or leather running around the width of the bag at multiple points. These soft “ribs” give it some structure without making it inflexible. Bags with plastic ribs sewn inside the cloth are cheaper but more prone to breaking, and the ribs can tear through the lining on either side, ruining the bag.

        How Much Should A Weekender Cost?

        A weekender bag will usually run you anywhere from $100 to over $600 for a luxury designer piece.

        My opinion is to pay for construction over brand name – if it’s a well-made bag you could easily end up using it for the rest of your life and passing it on to your children.  Of course my personal recommendation is our very own Avallone First Class Traveler Duffle Bag. It’s made in Italian Napa leather, lined in suede, and comes with a lifetime warranty. I may be biased, but I do know good quality, and how to guarantee it. Take a look around, but you may not find the same quality, style, and function all in one piece.


        Manners Make the Man December 26 2014

        “Respect for ourselves guides our morals. Respect for others guide our manners.”

        -Being Caballero

        Most of us have seen or met someone, be it a lady or a gentleman with manners that appear so second nature to him or her that you couldn’t imagine that person any other way. These experts on all the finer points of etiquette exuded proper elegance merely with their presence. They never seem to need to raise their voice to get anyone’s attention or lift a finger to define their intent and yet, they possess a glaze so powerful that it could easily burn a hole through a brick wall, much less your soul, or a smile so comforting they could get away with murder. The secret behind such power and influence is quite simple: manners.

        Manners are the basic building blocks of civil society and the greatest accessory any man can have after his confidence, something to be discussed on a later date. The reality is that good manners, combined with a confident smile will open more doors that money or power ever can. The same way the Samurai turned bowing into an art and the soldier turn the salute into a precision science, manners show a person’s discipline and principals with every action. It’s these small details that will define you as a Gentleman more than any suit can, although the suit does help immensely.

        Manners are not about what fork to use or about how to hold your glass of wine. That’s etiquette. If etiquette is the science of proper behavior, manners are the art of social interaction. Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. It means you care enough about those around you that you respect them. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, regardless of how far you bowed or if you picked the wrong knife. Your actions and behavior must reflect your principals. If you don’t believe in them and are simply repeating pre-practiced actions, they will look forced, fake, and even insulting to any onlooker.

        No amount or power of money is a substitute for proper manners and no suit can hide a person’s vulgarity

        Holding the door open to the next person in line, helping an old lady carry her groceries or letting a lady pass; these are not signs of superiority or inferiority, but rather of manners and respect, for yourself and for the other person. It’s all about being considerate.

        Many people today have chosen to ignore even the slightest consideration to social behavior, assuming that, for example, their financial status will compensate for this lack of consideration or that manners are a sign of weakness in a society dominated by egoism and vulgarity. In either case, the lack of manners simply demonstrates a lack of social understanding, and further more a true dislike of self. No amount of power or money is a substitute for proper manners and no suit can hide a person’s vulgarity.

        Proper manners and behavior not only show off who you are as a person, but actually have the effect of enhancing how you present yourself, your image, the message already presented to others by your style. Consider this next time you dress up, or simply go out. Remember that no accessory you wear will cause an impression as favorable on others as proper manners.


        6 Men's Style Rules to Live By December 24 2014

        Every man has asked themselves about matching their socks with their trousers and other assorted questions at some point in their lives. Here I have listed six important men's fashion rules to live by which should at least clear up some confusion about a few things.

        1. Always match your belt with your shoes.This is a good rule to follow and it keeps things simple. It's best to stay with traditional colors such a black, dark brown or a rich tan. Other colors will be difficult to match, and generally speaking, should be avoided. If you wear sneakers every day that probably means you are wearing jeans in which case I suggest trying a belt made of fabric or something equally as casual, but please avoid dress belts with jeans and sneakers. If you wear suspenders, I am compelled to ask you why, but I digress. Just don't wear a belt and suspenders together, it's one or the other.

         

        1. Matching Ties and Shirts.For while the solid-colored shirt with a tie of the same (or slightly-off) color was seen everywhere. This is now a somewhat dated look. Try mixing things up a little and experiment with colors. Ties are great way to express yourself, but keeping it tasteful is your best bet. You can't go wrong with diagonal stripes, modern polka-dots, plaids and subtle patterns. Just make sure your tie compliments your shirt, suit, sweater or whatever you will be wearing it with. Novelty ties are best avoided since the novelty is short lived.

        Note: Ties should be tied in whatever style most strikes your fancy. You should know that there are many different ways to knot your tie, and different knots say different things. I prefer the Windsor or the four-in-hand, but I do suggest that you explore a little just for kicks. As for clip on ties--just say no.

         

        1. Pleats vs. Flat-Front. Why so many men have avoided flat-front trousers has always been a mystery to me. Flat-front trousers look better than pleated pants, at least most of the time. Plus pleats make you look less slim. I have heard guys wear pleats because it’s more comfortable or because flat-fronts are more for athletic bodies. Truth is most men can wear a flat-front trouser. If you want more room then buy them a little big and have them brought in at the waist. This can be done at the store where you buy your clothes or by an independent tailor. And lastly, flat-font trousers are much more fashionable. How do you feel about pants with pleats?

         

        1. Socks. The more official rule on socks is that they should match the color of your pants, though preferably not the exact same shade unless, of course, you are wearing black in which case it's okay. However, I personally like to wear socks with patterns, such as stripes in various colors. But I do try to match my socks with my pants and shoes. To quote Glenn O'Brien from GQ magazine, ". . .you will ultimately realize that beyond the valley of rules rises the mountain of aesthetics, the peak of which (if there is one) is always shrouded in beautiful clouds of various hues, many of them resembling certain of my more unusually hued socks."

        Note: Although it should be obvious, white socks should be reserved for the gym.

        1. Watchesare the single most important accessory a man can own. I really suggest investing in one good watch that suits your lifestyle and taste. However, if you are someone who likes to own more than one watch, wear the appropriate timepiece for your outfit: black band with black shoes and belt; brown band with brown shoes and belt; and silver band for either. See our Watches for Every Dress Code for a selection of new styles.

         

        1. Eyeglassesare one of the few ways you can really express yourself. I have worn glasses for many years and I love having a few pair in different styles. They don't have to just serve a function, but can enhance your overall look. Do your best to find a pair of glasses that not only compliments the shape of your face, but also expresses your personality. Ask people who wear glasses for a place where you can get good advice about what shape and style looks best for your face shape and features.

        Buying a New Leather Bag or Wallet? – What You Need to Know First December 22 2014

        A major part of making a smart purchasing decision when buying a leather jacket, leather bag, belt, wallet, or any other leather product is knowing exactly what kind of leather it was made with, and what characteristics that type of leather embodies. Once you familiarize yourself with the different manufacturing processes involved, and the different types of finished leather used on products today, you will drastically reduce your chances of being ripped off.

        For those of you who do not know, companies produce leather by transforming a raw animal skin or hide into leather through a manufacturing process called “Tanning.” Tanning basically cures the animal hide, and prevents it from further decomposition. Once leather is tanned, companies use a finishing process to finalize the desired look and feel of the leather. It is through a combination of different tanning and finishing processes that result in the many varieties of leather you currently see in stores.

        Some of the most popular tanning methods today are Chrome tanning and Vegetable tanning. There are also many other tanning methods that the majority of people are not familiar with. However, for our purposes we will cover the 4 most common methods; i.e. the ones responsible for producing the leather you will most likely encounter on your next trip to the store. The following is a list of each tanning process and the type of leather that results from it:

        • Vegetable-tanned leather is tanned using tannins and other ingredients found in different vegetable matter, such as tree bark prepared in bark mills, wood, leaves, fruits and roots and other similar sources. It is supple and brown in color, with the exact shade depending on the mix of chemicals and the color of the skin. This is one of most natural ways to tan leather, and it is the only form of leather suitable for use in leather carving or stamping. This leather is not stable in water; it tends to discolor, so if left to soak and then dry it will shrink and become less supple, and harder. In hot water, it will shrink drastically and partly congeal, becoming rigid and eventually brittle. However, if treated with certain finishes and dies, this water instability can be prevented. The leather can be purchased in naked form, or in different colors finished by the manufacturer.
        • Chrome-tanned leather, invented in 1858, is tanned using chromium sulfate and other salts of chromium. It is more supple and pliable than vegetable-tanned leather and does not discolor or lose shape as drastically in water as vegetable-tanned. More esoteric colors are possible using chrome tanning. The chrome tanning method usually only takes a day to finish and the ease and agility of this method make it a popular choice. It is reported that chrome tanned leather is responsible for close to 80% of the leathers in the world.
        • Aldehyde-tanned leather is tanned using chemical compounds of glutaraldehyde or oxazolidine. Most tanners refer to this leather as wet-white due to its pale cream or white color. It is often seen in automobiles and shoes for infants, and is the main type of “chrome-free” leather.
        • Rawhide is made by scraping the animal skin thin, soaking it in lime, and then stretching it while it dries. Rawhide is not technically "leather", but is usually lumped in with the other forms. Rawhide is stiffer and more brittle than other forms of leather; it's primarily found in uses such as drum heads and parchment where it does not need to flex significantly; it is also cut up into cords for use in lacing or stitching and for making different dog toys.

        Once the leather tanning process has been completed, the newly tanned leather needs to be sent through a finishing process. Remember it is a combination of the tanning process and finishing process that gives you the finished leather seen in stores. Most tanning and finishing processes can be mixed and matched. For example, you can make Vegetable tanned full grain leather, or you can make chrome tanned full grain leather. Different finishing processes result in different leathers. The following is a list of the most common finished leathers with some explanation on how they were finished.

        • Full-grain leather refers to hides that have not been sanded, buffed, or snuffed (as opposed to top-grain or corrected leather) to remove imperfections (or natural marks) on the surface of the hide. The grain remains allowing the fiber strength and durability. The grain also has breathability, resulting in less moisture from prolonged contact. Rather than wearing out, it will develop a patina over time. High quality luxury leather furniture, shoes, leather briefcases, leather wallets, leather belts, and many other items are often made from full-grain leather.
        • Top-grain leather has had the "split" layer separated away, making it thinner and more pliable than full-grain. Its surface has been sanded and a finish coat added to the surface which results in a colder, plastic feel with less breathability, and it will not develop a natural patina. It has greater resistance to stains than full-grain leather, so long as the finish remains unbroken.
        • Corrected-grain leather is any leather that has had an artificial grain applied to its surface. The hides used to create corrected grain leather do not meet the standards for use in creating vegetable-tanned or aniline leather. The imperfections are corrected or sanded off, and an artificial grain embossed into the surface and dressed with stain or dyes. Most corrected-grain leather is used to make pigmented leather, as the solid pigment helps hide the corrections or imperfections.
        • Split leather is created from the fibrous part of the hide left once the top-grain of the rawhide has been separated from the hide. During the splitting operation, the top-grain and drop split are separated. The drop split can be further split (thickness allowing) into a middle split and a flesh split. In very thick hides, the middle split can be separated into multiple layers until the thickness prevents further splitting. Split leather then has an artificial layer applied to the surface of the split and is embossed with a leather grain. Splits are also used to create suede. The strongest suede’s are usually made from grain splits (that have the grain completely removed) or from the flesh split that has been shaved to the correct thickness. Suede is "fuzzy" on both sides. Manufacturers use a variety of techniques to make suede from full-grain.

        Additional Finished Leathers that are derived from the main categories seen above.

        • Nappa leather is a kind of full-grain leather first made by Emanuel Manasse in 1875 whilst working for a tanning company in Napa, California. That is how the leather got its name. Nappa leather is full-grain un-split leather made from kid, lamb or sheep skin. Nappa leather is typically chrome tanned to give it a very soft and supple feel, and dyed so as to obtain various colors.
        • Nubuck is top-grain cattle hide leather that has been sanded or buffed on the grain side, or outside, to give a slight nap of short protein fibers, producing a velvet-like surface
        • Patent leather is leather that has been given a high-gloss finish. Patent leather usually has a plastic coating, and can be made from any type of hide.
        • Vachetta leather is a type of full grain leather and is used in the trimmings of luggage and handbags. The leather is left untreated and is therefore susceptible to water and stains. Sunlight will cause the natural leather to darken in shade, called a patina.
        • Belting leather is a type of full-grain leather that was originally used in driving pulley belts and other machinery. It is found on the surface of briefcases, portfolios, and wallets, and can be identified by its thick, firm feel and smooth finish.

        Now that you are familiar with the main tanning and finishing processes, and the different leather those methods produce, you can put that knowledge to good use. Next time you are shopping, whether on the internet or in the store, take a look at the tag or description of the leather bag, wallet, or belt you are buying. Take note of the type of leather it was made with, think back on the processes used to produce that particular leather, and what type of characteristics those processes give that leather. You will now have a better idea on the durability and use you will get from that leather product before spending your hard earned money.


        Watches for Every Dress Code December 19 2014

        121614_rossling-watch

        It’s tough enough just wading through the flood of holiday party invitations this time of year, let alone deciphering their dress codes.

        Luckily, we’ve put together a list of watches that will go with anything a dress code throws at you—from creative black tie to casual arctic-chic…

        121614_shinola-pocket-watch
        Creative Black Tie: Shinola Henry Ford Pocket Watch

        121614_kent-wang-watch
        Semiformal: Kent Wang Art Deco Watch

        121614_rolex-green-watch
        Festive: Rolex Green Submariner

        121614_frederique-slimline-watch
        Cocktail Attire: Frederique Constant Slim Line

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        Casual Arctic-Chic: Rossling & Co. Watch with Tweed Strap


        Cool Guys and Foreign Rider Co. December 19 2014 1 Comment

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        Today’s must-reads from around the Internet.

        Foreign Relations: Well Spent gives industry vet and founder of Foreign Rider Co. Ralph Dunning the seven questions treatment.

        Cool Recognize Cool: Cool Material counts down the 50 coolest men of 2014.

        Red Hot: Mr. Porter profiles rising star and man of style, Eddie Redmayne.

        Parking Attendant: Style talks to the inimitable Andy Spade about finding holiday cheer in a parking garage for his new book


        Canadian Whisky - An Underated Category of Booze Finally Demands Some Attention December 18 2014

        For a long time, Canadian whisky has been the boss of the bottom shelf. Out of the 200 million or so bottles that are sold in the United States every year (ranking it behind American straight whisky - bourbons, ryes, and Tennessees - as a category), about half are destined for shots and high-balls at the local dive bar. Proof positive of the good sense of the price-conscious American drinker: Canadian whisky is a much better product than it's American blended equivalent.

        Generally, American blended whisky is made by diluting straight whisky like bourbon or rye with vodka: unaged neutral sprits and water. Blended whisky from Canada, however, is made like Scotch and Irish blends, in which the diluting agent is instead a true whisky, albeit a very light one, that has been aged in barrels - base whisky, they call it. In Canada, the straight whiskies mixed with this are, of course, not Scottish malts or Irish potstill whiskeys, but rather local "flavoring whiskies," many of which bear a familial resemblance to our bourbons and ryes. A smoother and richer blend is the result.

        Since it's not 1950, specializing in blended whisky is no longer a great commercial strategy. The American market has now left this category to our northern neighbors, with a focus instead on higher-priced, higher-intensity straight whiskey, whether it's small batch, cask strength, wine-barrel finished, or just plain bourbon or rye. Just about all the rye that previously went into American blend, for example, is now being sold as straight whisky. Up until now, this all seemed to be fine with the Canadians. They continued focusing on their standard shot-grade blends, along with a couple of very popular, equally traditional high end ones, letting the whole 21st-century whisky renaissance pass them by.

        Finally, Canadian distillers are realizing that's not a smart idea. For the first time in years, we're starting to see interesting new whiskies out of Canada: straight whiskies (those flavoring whiskies bottled without blending), richer blends, whiskies aged in innovative ways.

        For example, the brand "Lot No. 40" ($57), is a legitimate rye (by law and tradition, Canadian whiskies are allowed to call themselves "rye" even if there is no rye in them). It's made from a mix of malted and unmalted rye and it's spectacular: dark, spicy, and very, very grainy - liquid pumpernickel.

        "Collingwood" ($27) is a traditional Canadian blend that has had staves of toasted maple put in the barrels for a time. These give it pleasant maple notes.

        Canadian Club and Crown Royal I thought I knew all too well until taking another look at them. The regular Canadian Club ($15) might be a little spirity, but it's clean, smooth, and pleasant. Then there's the Small Batch Classic 12 ($22) from Canadian Club, which throws off appealing hints of maple and fig newton and fresh-split oak. Crown Royal Reserve ($40) is similar to Crown Royal, but adds dark chocolate rye to the mix making it elegant and perfectly balanced.

        So, next time you take a trip to the local liquor store, keep an eye out for the above mentioned brands, and try one out for yourself.


        How to Spot Fake Leather When Shopping December 15 2014

        It's not always easy to tell the difference between genuine and fake leather. If you think you're getting a genuine leather handbag or pair of shoes, it can be disheartening to later learn that you have been deceived. So to help you spot the hot from the not, use the tips below for detecting fake leather.

        Instructions

        • Study the edging where the fabric has been cut. Real leather will have a rough-around-the-edges look and feel to it, but fake leather will look and feel like foam or plastic.
        • Feel the fabric. Fake leather has an artificially smooth, often plastic feel to it. Depending on the type and quality of leather, real leather can range from course to silky smooth. But the texture will generally be less consistent than fake (since you can't regulate the real thing) and have a suppler feel to it.
        • Examine for pores on the surface of the leather. Pores on the fake will be in a consistent, repeating pattern, whereas pores on the real thing will be more irregular.
        • Take a whiff of the product. If it doesn't have that distinct "leather" scent, you can be sure that it's a fake.
        • Spend some time comparing fake leather products with genuine leather. Once you've seen the difference between the two, you will eventually get good at spotting a faux right away.

        Travel Tip: When to Use a Travel Agent October 29 2014 1 Comment

        Not sure when to use a travel agent?

        Some of you might think that with the Internet, travel agents are past their expiration date. Not even close.

        What a lot of the better travel agents are doing now is specializing.

        If you’re headed to an unfamiliar place, someone with expertise in the area can help you connect the dots: flights, car rentals, hotels—and you can still skip the tour group.

        If you’ve got a complicated itinerary, do you really want to book that online? No, you don’t. You want to talk to somebody about it—you want to have a conversation.

        Someone who specializes in cruise travel can actually help you figure out the best line for you—and the best itinerary—whether you’re traveling with your entire family or you prefer a smaller ship for just you and your significant other.

        If you’re planning an upscale trip, look at the Virtuoso network. It can often get you access to a lot of perks you may not know about otherwise.

        Here’s the rub. The websites like Orbitz and Expedia? They’re actually known as Online Travel Agents, or OTAs. So even if you think you’re doing it on your own, there’s still probably someone else on the other end pulling together the deals for you.

        It’s still okay to research your travel online. But more often than not, seek out a travel agent who specializes—and have that conversation.

        Keep reading for more travel tips.


        Avallone Now Found at O'Connell Clothing in Buffalo, New York! October 10 2014

        O’Connell's, established in 1959, is a family owned and operated traditional clothier offering mens, womens, and young mens clothing.  Through the years, the Huber family has established a loyal clientele by providing uncompromising quality, unquestionable value, and exceptional service. 

         

        O’Connell’s
        3240 Main Street
        Buffalo, NY 14214

        1-800-336-0076 (toll-free)


        Avallone Now Found at Chris Foley Fine Leather in Healdsburg, CA! September 19 2014

        Located 2 blocks north of the Healdsburg Plaza. Leather bags, briefcases, wallets, purses, watches, watch battery replacement, silver jewelry, luggage and much more!

        433-B Healdsburg Avenue
        Healdsburg, CA 95448
        (707) 473-9892
        (707) 473-0400
        (707) 473-9488 (fax)