Manolo for the Men Fashion and Lifestyle Advice for Men

July 29, 2010

Master and Commander

Descending the staircase long after Mr. Henry and his noble hound Pepper have risen, like a Prius on a downhill glide Mrs. Henry gains momentum silently. By the time the kitchen floorboards meet her little feet, she is captain in command of the bridge, issuing morning orders, sharp and firm.

Should Mr. Henry have neglected to water a plant or deposit a check, taking as examples two recently cited violations, Mrs. Henry may be forced to narrow her gaze and deliver her prepared remarks in clipped, crisp military tones.

Like any commander, her leadership apparatus seems to enjoy these little jolts. Once in a while when she looks a little sluggish, Mr. Henry will deliberately leave something in the wrong place or otherwise violate well-established rules. On cue, she erupts.

One good grouse in the morning and she’s right as rain for the whole day.

During the skirmish Little Henry heads directly for the front door, foregoing the covert gulp of Dad’s coffee. With sure survival instinct Pepper takes a defensive position under the dining room table.

In high-risk engagements like these, Mr. Henry’s finds his best course of action is not to engage. His fallback tactic is to feign deafness. Of course, this doesn’t really work, and perhaps never did, but it always buys a little time, perhaps enough to change the subject or be stricken by what insurance underwriters call “an act of God.”

After years of battlefield experience he knows better than to ask a question. Each question of his will be met by a question of hers slightly off subject. Another round of question-meeting-question leads the discussion deeper into a thicket. When she draws attention to her sainted forbearance and long-suffering patience, Mr. Henry may be tempted to toss off an Oscar Wildean witticism about how remarkably short her long-suffering can be. But he refrains. He hopes to live a long and fruitful life, thanks to having found his rightful place in the chain of command.

And did he mention that she is an angel in human form? Well, he can be neglectful.

July 27, 2010

Bulge in the pocket?

Filed under: Men's Fashion,Wallets — Mr. Henry @ 2:51 pm

Stepping out on a warm summer evening looking sleek – face tan and stomach more trim than it’s been since last fall – will Mr. Henry ruin the line of his trousers with a bulging wallet in the pocket?

Since he doesn’t need a jacket in hot weather, why would he carry a fat wallet?

In addition to paper billets, his wallet bulges with credit cards (three), driver’s license, health club card, Metrocard transit pass, pictures of Little Henry (three), museum membership cards (four), insurance card, AAA card, business cards (three), and assorted restaurant receipts.

When headed for the local eatery with every intention of ordering a full allotment of two drinks before stumbling home a crooked mile, does he really need to carry so much back-up?

Not at all. Leaving the house in the evening, he pockets a slim card case sparely rigged out with driver’s license (in case of terrorist emergency), a Metrocard (in case of taxi strike), one credit card (VISA), and a business card. He then collects about $100 in assorted denominations – just enough clobber to cover any likely eventuality – and folds the bills into the front pants pocket next to card case and house keys.

Voilá. A flat front pocket. With this Spartan kit he is as prepared for battle as any knight of yore, better prepared, actually, because if he should take a tumble he won’t require the assistance of a page boy to remount.

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July 18, 2010

Chronic shortage of trousers

Filed under: Men's Fashion,Suits,Trousers — Mr. Henry @ 8:23 am

Mr. Henry appreciates the best of everything. However, fortune, or rather its absence, does not permit him to have the best of everything he appreciates.

Because he prefers to wear the finest suits, his closet holds but three that fit the changing fashions as well as his changing frame: a dark navy for serious functions, a medium charcoal grey for daytime business, and a tuxedo. For other occasions he saves the suits and wears a jacket and trousers.

Consequently, because of the normal five-pound weight spread between his winter and summer body, he is chronically short of appropriate trousers.

Ten years ago “super-120” wool, what Armani uses it for their Black Label, was the best suit cloth you could buy. A pair of trousers would cost upwards of $650.

Now J. Crew offers Loro Piana super-120 wool trousers for a mere $175. How can this be?

New technology in looms permits Loro Piana to spin a light, strong, soft fabric from the best Australian and New Zealand wools, so-called “Tasmanian,” the most comfortable and durable suit cloth yet invented.

If you order online, J. Crew will hem and cuff them to your length.

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July 10, 2010

Shave the pits

Filed under: Grooming,Men's Fashion — Mr. Henry @ 3:41 pm

After a long flight, when you need to look alert and fresh at a business meeting, nothing gets you there like a shave. As soon as you disembark, nip into the men’s room, strip to the waist, shave and put on a clean shirt.

To really feel clean, shave under your arms.

That’s right, men. Shave those pits like a European footballer. Clark Gable did it, and who could question his masculinity?

Ignore snide remarks from macho idiots harboring secret doubts about their virility. A regime of shaving the armpits daily usually eliminates the need for deodorant. Do we really understand the long term health effects of antiperspirant aluminum compounds absorbed through the pores?

The best tactics to reduce underarm odor are through exercise, hygiene and diet. Get up a good sweat every day, wash, eat cleanly, and drink lots of water.

The general rule for hair is this: As you get older, your hair should get shorter. This goes for head as well as facial hair.

For better relations with womenfolk, shave your grizzled face. When bussing mother-in-law, auntie, or sis, do it with a smooth face. You may need their alliances on days when your wife goes bananas.

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July 2, 2010

Trousers for a serious man

Filed under: Men's Fashion — Mr. Henry @ 3:06 pm

Because right now most men are wearing shorts, the question of trouser length does not loom large. Summer long trousers – stained and frayed – tend to be whatever length they already are. You end up wearing whichever pair happens to fit comfortably round the summer waistline.

Shorts today present a curious paradox. Because disaffected youths elect to wear baggy basketball shorts, theirs extend well below the knee. Old timers wear plaid Bermudas at or above the knee. Consequently, knobbly, swollen, varicose-ridden legs are readily on display. Legs like statues of Greek gods remain hidden.

Once in a great while, however, you must leave irony at the door and strike out into the world attempting to look like a serious man. At these fateful junctures in life’s comedy, trousers that fall at the wrong length will undermine a confidence already crumbling at the edges.

I grow old … I grow old …

I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

How long should a serious man’s trousers be? Specifically, should there be a break in your trouser leg?

Without getting into the ticklish question of cuffs, let me offer one simple rule: the tighter the pant leg, the shorter the trouser.

Trousers should obscure socks or, heaven forfend, naked ankles. Perfect strangers should not have to confront either your veined ankles or your daily choice from the sock drawer.

But neither should trousers drag upon the ground. For a trouser leg of standard width, hem the leg to a length that creates a single break. Any longer simply looks as though your pants have slipped down your behind.

New peg-leg designs like these chinos from J. Crew, however, call for a slightly shorter leg. Instead of breaking on the foot, a narrow leg cut long will bunch and get fouled up in your shoes.

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