Category Archives: Grooming/Fashion

Fashion Friday – The Outerwear Guide

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I have to admit it is hard for me to even think about outerwear right now.  It has been in the mid and high 80’s here in Nashville for the last two or three weeks and it is getting a bit ridiculous.  I have to keep reminding myself that it is November!  Being from Minnesota and having lived in New York for over eight years this is certainly not the normal kind of fall I am used to!  However, I am sure what passes for “cold” weather here will be upon us like an unsuspecting fart on a first date, thus I suppose this post is timely regardless of where you live.

Don’t let other people talk you out of the importance of outerwear. Yes it is certainly used for keeping you warm and dry.  But, just like the right pair of shoes, the right jacket can put the finishing touch on any look.  Depending on where you live (L.A. vs Alaska) you may not need to consider all six (i.e. the parka for example) but it is a good refresher for every man, especially for those of us who travel for work!

The Bomber

While it’s been around since the ’50s, the bomber happens to be this season’s must-have jacket. We love it because it’s cool, classic, and, because of its trimmer fit, suitable to be worn indoors—meaning you can skip the coat-check line.  You can find these in any price range including at Sak’s ($$$$) at H & M ($) and everywhere in between.

A.P.C Black Bomber Jacket

The Topcoat

Because of its similar structure—lapels, button closure, and besom pockets—the topcoat serves as the perfect complement to a suit, sport coat, or blazer. That said, you don’t always need to dress it up.

Camel Topcoat

The Performance Jacket

A jacket like this will get the job done if you need something to block the rain or wind. Plus, performance outerwear has come a long way in the style department, so feel free to wear yours even when the elements don’t require it.

Aether Jacket Blue

The Vest

Down vests are now offered in refined fabrics and streamlined silhouettes, making them far more fashionable (yet just as comfortable) as the ones you remember from college.

Vince Vest

The Utility Jacket

Built for function, utility jackets (sometimes called field jackets) provide a thin layer of warmth and wind resistance that’s perfect for a crisp fall or winter day. They also typically feature enough pockets to carry anything from a cell phone to a pheasant.

Ralph Lauren Field Jacket

The Parka

Anticipating a tough winter? Then a parka with enough insulation to heat a small house is what you need. And, while they’re typically thought to be casual, don’t be afraid to wear yours over a suit when commuting through the Arctic.

Ralph Lauren Parka

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Fashion Friday – Pulling Off a Printed Shirt

I can already hear many of your eyes rolling at the thought of wearing a printed shirt but hear me out.  Let’s be honest your current fall look is boring by now.  Your co-workers, friends and all the women at the bar know what you will look like every time you show up.  Give your plaid shirts a rest man!

Not only will a bold print help maintain the casual feel it also will help you stand out from just about any other guy in the room.  What does that mean for you?  More attention from the ladies.  Who doesn’t want that?

Here are three takes on pulling off the look.

The Bold Approach

Floral print shirt

Yes, this shirt is covered in flowers. In small scales and subtle colors, floral prints are the coolest way to freshen up your fall wardrobe.  Don’t let your neanderthal friends tell you floral prints aren’t manly.  Just remind them after you have scored with a hot chick while they went home (maybe) with a woman based on her “beer goggle” profile.

The Tame Approach

Dot print shirt

If you still can’t stomach having flowers on your shirt (read: I am a big baby with questionable style), you can still opt for a  toned-down option (like micro dots) that’ll help liven up your look without stepping too far out of your comfort zone.

The Formal Approach

Print Shirt Tux

When dressing up, you can’t go wrong with a classic white shirt. That said, breaking free from the norm can really pay off.  Again, one of our main goals here is to get you some attention, especially for those of you who lack personality (just a joke!)  Women will check you out for no other reason than the interesting style choice and if you have a half-way decent mug to go with it, you might just end up scoring one hell of a night!

That is it for us at Be a Better Man!  Have a great weekend!

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Fashion Friday – The Fall Essentials

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Once again it is Friday! Woot!  The Boston Red Sox are on their way to the playoffs, the Minnesota Vikings have a defense that looks good enough to make up for most issues on the offensive side and the hints of Fall are making themselves known here in Nashville (despite the 90 degree weather!)

With Fall fast approaching for many and for my friends in the North, with Fall underway, it is time to discuss this years essentials for the Fall season.  Let us not waste any time!

Shawl Cardigan

No, we aren’t trying to dress you like your grandmother.  Nor are we trying to make you look like a mature gentleman, sitting on a leather coucdownloadh surrounded by rich mahogany and fancy books.  One of my favorite things about the shawl is it almost can pass for outerwear. On cool fall days this is the perfect thing to wear.  Throw it on over a t-shirt, as if it were a jacket and leave it unbuttoned for the classic relaxed look.

You can purchase the one pictured above from Pendleton U.S.A. which makes really great stuff you can trust.  The price tag can be a bit high but the quality can’t be beat.  Click here to check it out.  For something more reasonable jump over to American Eagle and pick up something for less than $60.

Bomber Jacket

Yes, yes I know.  This is a bit on the trendy side but who cares when you are going to look this good!  If you are going to need a jacket this fall, you HAVE to have a bomber jacket.  Seriously!  Similar to the shawl you can throw this over a t-shirt for the relaxed look.  However, if you really want to spice up your look, wear this (buttoned up) with a shirt and tie.

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You can check out this bomber (and others) from Top Shop for a reasonable price.  My favorite however is from Scotch and Soda and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.  Get your’s here!

Henley’s

This is a classic fall staple.  Perfect for the cooler weather as you can wear it under layers and if necessary rock it all by itself on those warmer fall days or when you are play football with your buddies. Besides if Raylan Givens wears ’em you should too!  Who doesn’t want to be as bad-ass as that character?

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Answer: nobody.

Here is one from J Crew but you can also pick them up on the cheap from H & M and probably discount stores like Marshall’s, TJ Maxx and Nordstrom’s Rack.

Chukka Bootshmprod

Chukka boots toe the line between rough and refined, allowing you to wear them pretty much anywhere with pretty much anything. Part knock-around boot and part dress boot, Chukkas are the ideal fall-weather shoe for anything from Casual Friday to Football Sunday. As a matter of fact I am wearing a pair from Cole Haan as we speak.  I have received so many comments about this boots it is crazy.  While we were in the hospital while Samara was being born, at least two of the nurses made it a point to tell me how “hot” those boots look on me.  Can’t go wrong with a nurse!

Stretch Denim

Relax boys!  This isn’t the same thing as “stretch pants” or “prego pants.” Stretch denim looks just like the classic jeans you’re used to, but the small amount of elastane makes them far more comfortable. Just trust us on this one, okay?  Get a sweet pair from Fidelity Denim (don’t mind that they are an L.A. brand)jimmy-1

There you have it!  Everything you need for fall!  To make it work really well, get several different colored Henley’s to switch up the look and at least two different colors or shades of denim.  It’s time to sit by the campfire and drink some cinnamon moonshine!

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Fashion Friday! Dress to Impress

Happy Friday everyone!

I am not working today and instead am enjoying the day off with my favorite lady.  I hope you have all had an amazing week!  Below’s fashion advice comes courtesy of The Art of Manliness.  The blog is a little long but it has some solid fashion and career advice.  There were even a few nuggets in there that made me realize I need to step my game up.  Hope you enjoy!

Are you intentionally making mistakes at work to make yourself look incompetent?  Are you purposely sabotaging your presentations?

Are you setting yourself up for failure as an instructor? Hopefully, the answer is no.

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Yet the vast majority of men I see who want to be influential fail to master the three tips I’ll share today. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Men spend a lot of time, money, and effort learning to be more persuasive speakers and negotiators. And for good reason — mastering these skills can reap huge returns when it comes to business and personal success.

But what if there were something you could do that would dramatically increase your persuasiveness without any extra effort or training on your part?

Would you take advantage of it?

If the answer is yes, it’s time to start thinking more about your personal appearance and how it relates to the art of persuasion and influence.

Attractiveness and Persuasion

We like to think that persuasion is a matter of good arguments and compelling rhetoric — in part because we don’t want to believe that we can be swayed by anything less.

The research says otherwise.

There have been a number of studies in the last fifty years that demonstrate people’s tendency to be more persuaded by attractive speakers than by unattractive ones.

In 1979, Shelly Chaiken published a paper on her study of instructors in academic settings. She found that instructors rated as “attractive” by their students could generate significantly higher levels of agreement from their audience than ones rated as “unattractive.” Even more impressively, the study also demonstrated that students actually performed better when they had an instructor they found attractive.

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 Why Attractiveness Affects Influence

It’s a little disheartening to think that just being handsome can make people under your leadership perform better, or make audiences more likely to agree with your point of view.

Worth bearing in mind is that it’s not a one-way street. Attractive individuals tend, on the whole, to have an easier time in social situations than unattractive ones. That, in turn, encourages them to be more outgoing and social, which gives them more practice with their interactive skills.

But with that said, there’s also an effect on the viewer’s brain when a person is particularly attractive. Our brains are big into shortcuts. Give them a chance and they’ll save mental energy by categorizing people into simple, all-or-nothing terms like “good” and “bad,” or in this case, “attractive” and “unattractive.”

That gives us a tendency to take a broad, generalized assumption about a person, such as “he looks good,” and then ascribe that quality to specific judgments as well, such as “he’s probably a good teacher,” or “he must be a good father.”

This is called the “halo effect.” It was first studied in the 1920s by a researcher named Edward Thorndike, who had noticed that in military evaluations, officers who were ranked highly in some qualities were ranked highly in other, unrelated categories as well. Similarly, officers with low rankings in some categories usually had low rankings in others.

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What does a squared-away uniform say about a Marine?

Objectively, the results didn’t make sense. Unrelated qualities like physical fitness and mental attentiveness should, in theory, be randomly distributed. You might get one or two high performers very good at everything they do, and one or two washouts who aren’t good at anything, but in general people should be good at some things and not at others.

What Thorndike found, however, was that one strong positive impression — an officer’s physique, say, or his attention to neatness and punctuality — was enough to generate an overall “good feeling” that spilled over into the rest of the evaluation. Once the person filling out the evaluation noticed something good about an individual, he assumed that they were good at other things too. The result was true for negative impressions as well.

Studies have shown, with remarkable consistency, that the halo effect is real and has a statistically significant effect on people’s success, in everything ranging from education to politics to courtroom defenses (one study showed that attractive people received much more lenient sentences than unattractive ones, even when convicted of the exact same crime).

This effect comes into play when you’re trying to persuade, in any setting or situation. The more positive people’s first visual impression of you is, the more positive traits they’ll associate with everything you say. A 1975 study found that clothing had more impact on first impressions in social settings than the person wearing the clothing — powerful stuff when you’re getting up in front of an audience!

How to Dress to Persuade

It should be obvious, then, that anyone who needs to persuade — for a job, a cause, or anything else — wants to look as “good” as possible.

But what is “good,” in personal appearance?

1. Be Free of Imperfections

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Can you spot the imperfections that different clothing exaggerates or masks on the same man?

To persuade, be meticulous.

Be meticulous about your hair, be meticulous about your shoes, be meticulous about your clothes. Everything counts.

Your goal when you prepare for a persuasive speech or sales pitch is to eliminate imperfections.

A tuft of hair out of place or a scuff on your shoes may not seem like much, and realistically, most people won’t consciously notice something minor like that, but their subconscious mind is still picking up the visual signal of asymmetry, and that tells the back of their brain that something isn’t quite right. The result is a vague, indefinable and off-putting sensation that the viewer won’t even be aware of — but that will be coloring his or her judgment of you.

Our brains evolved to use basic bilateral symmetry as a sign of good health and development, so they easily pick up on anything that deviates from that pattern. Always strive for a symmetrical look — or, when you break it, for a firm and deliberate asymmetry. A bright splash of color on one breast from a pocket square is fine; a faint stain on one lapel is not.

Remember that humans can generally only pay attention to one thing at a time. Our brains and our eyes are good at focusing, but bad at interpreting multiple stimuli at once. If you give people something out of place to focus on, they’re going to zero in on it. Thinking about how your tie doesn’t go well with your pants takes up the brain space they should be using to consider your message.

When you think about it, even things that we recognize as major gaffes aren’t much more than small details done wrong. Showing up at a presentation with your fly unzipped is, in practical terms, a flaw in maybe 1-2% of your total appearance. The rest of your outfit looks just fine! But we all know how big of a difference that one little zipper out of place is — it’s a deal breaker, guaranteed.

Things that logically have nothing to do with your intelligence or with the value of the message can still leave people thinking that you’re unconvincing. So take the time you need to get everything just right.

Aim for perfection. Go for the extra slow shave, the just-right-for-you hair product, the shoeshine in the airport. They end up mattering.

2. Be Well-FittedTailor-measuring-tall-man-clothing-400

The neat, crisp outline of well-fitted clothing serves the same purpose as painstaking attention to detail — it removes subtle asymmetries from your overall image.

You’re never going to look as attractive as you can if you have loose folds of cloth sagging off your body. A too-tight fit is just as bad, since it wrinkles and bunches when you move, so aim for a fit that’s close to the skin, but not restrictive. Click here for a refresher on how a suit should fit.

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Pay attention to your proportions here as well, especially if you’re outside the average build for a man. It’s easy for details like the pockets on shirts and jackets or the length of cuffs to get pulled far enough away from “normal” that the look is off-putting if you’re unusually large or small.

Part of this is avoiding off-putting imperfections. Another part is evolutionary — human brains like straight-limbed, well-proportioned bodies. They look like strong leaders and capable providers. When you look like that, you become the sort of person that other humans instinctively want to have in their group. The urge to fit in with you — and to agree with you — gets stronger.

Having clothing adjusted to flatter your body as much as possible encourages that eagerness to agree with you. If your posture and your outline has already convinced the audience that you’d be a good guy to keep around, you’re halfway to convincing them of anything else as well.

A little tailoring goes a long way. Plan on having the majority of your clothes adjusted by a tailorwho knows you well. The differences are subtle, but the cumulative effect is impressive.

3. Be Dressed Up, Not Dressed Down

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Finding the exact level of formality can be tricky, especially if you’re speaking in a casual or non-traditional setting.

More than one politician has gotten himself in trouble by showing up at a soup kitchen or a disaster shelter wearing a tailored suit and an expensive silk tie.

In general, when attempting to persuade, you want to err on the side of looking like you dressedup for the occasion, not dressed down. Lean toward the more formal end of what your audience will be wearing (but not too much beyond that).

There’s a very simple reason for this: you’re trying to influence, and therefore your clothes should be the clothes of an influential man. The halo effect will kick in for you once again, making people much more receptive to your words and ideas.

For most of the Western world, that usually means a suit or blazer-style jacket. The V-shaped chest opening and squared shoulders speak to our subconscious minds of power and influence— and as an added bonus, they flatter the male physiology too, making you look more dominant.

Don’t be afraid to look a little more dressed up than the people around you. That’s your way of showing them respect. Subconsciously, they’ll assume that your ideas are important too.

There’s a practical element here as well: it’s much easier to correct being “overdressed” than under-dressed. If you show up somewhere in a tie and jacket and you realize that absolutely no one else there is wearing anything nicer than a casual collared shirt, it’s not that hard to slip off your jacket and tie, roll up your sleeves, and fit right in.

If you show up in blue jeans and a work shirt and find everyone else wearing suits, that’s a lot harder to correct for. So err on the side of dressing up more than everyone else, and shed accents or layers as needed to bring it back down if you really feel out of place.

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Be Attractive. Be Persuasive.

If it sounds irrational to you that something so unrelated to your other merits can have such a powerful effect, don’t worry — you’re not alone.

The halo effect is just one of many seemingly irrational ways that the human brain processes external stimuli. But that doesn’t make it any less true.

Most people, if they really think about it, can recognize at least a few times when they’ve let a public figure’s appearance or charm affect their perception of other, unrelated issues.

It’s why Hollywood celebrities so often get away with extreme behaviors that would be off-putting in others — we already have a perception of them as larger-than-life characters (since that’s how we see them in their on-screen roles), so it seems “okay” for them to behave that way on the streets of Los Angeles as well.

So yes, it can be hard to believe that something as simple as wearing nice clothing can actively improve your powers of persuasion. But have a little faith in the science and in your own understanding of human nature.

It’s not a magic charm. Just having a good suit isn’t going to make people agree with everything you say. For one thing, there are a lot of other guys out there in good suits already, so you have lots of competition for people’s attention!

But you can create a positive first impression by being neat, by having the attractive outline that well-fitted clothing brings, and by looking just a little more dressed-up than the men around you. That edge might just be enough to tip the scales in your favor and get you the job, the sale, the votes — whatever it is you need from other people.

There are limits to the effect, certainly. Even a very well-dressed man isn’t going to be listened to if he’s shouting about the aliens in his head. But a well-dressed man speaking calmly about reasonable-sounding ideas is much more likely to be believed than the same man giving the same speech in a sloppy outfit.

Fashion Friday – Three Ways to Wear a T-Shirt

TGIF People!

As you know we have been gone way too long.  I hope you all will come back now that we are settled in and ready to rock n roll.  I know it is getting close to the end of Summer (say it ain’t so!) but the following bit of fashion advice applies year round (especially if you live in the warmer climates where there is no winter.)

I hope you enjoy!

With a Blazer

This is not as easy to pull off as you may think. after all there are rules that must be followed to be successful here.  First, don’t go crazy with the t-shirt.  It should be white, navy or grey.  It also shouldn’t be a crew neck but rather a t-shirt with a small v-neck shape to round out the look and keep it sharp.

Second, do NOT try this with your suit jacket! The last thing you want is to go out looking like an 80’s TV star.  The shoulders of a suit jacket are too square for this kind of casual look.  The blazer should be soft and deconstructed.  They are more causal and the relaxed shoulders go great with the t-shirt.

Finally, make sure the blazer fits at the waist (i.e. when buttoned) to complete the look.  Just a friendly reminder that you should only be buttoning the top button!

With JeansT-shirt with jeans

It is pretty hard to screw up this look.  However, if you fail to pay attention to the fit of your t-shirt you will end up looking like a homeless man (too big) or something straight out of the 70’s (too tight.)  Fit is key for this look so don’t miss this detail!

Graphic Tees

If you really want to stand out from the crowd, throw on a graphic t-shirt (think subtle not Metallica Ride the Lightening.)  No sports t-shirts, no college t-shirts and of course under no circumstances should it have come from Ed Hardy.  Think classy not obnoxious.

How to wear a t-shirt

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