Picking A Barber

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When was the last time you had a haircut or a good beard trimming? Has it been a while? Have you just been hiding under winter hats until you absolutely have to get one or are you simply looking for that someone special in your life? Someone to be available when you need them, someone who understands exactly what you’re looking for, someone to give you a boost up to where you can see if everything’s alright or if you need a change. I’m of course talking about your barber. As someone that just recently had to find a new barber, I know how hard what feels like a relatively simple task should be.

The first step to finding your new barber is to find out what’s available around you. Nowadays this typically goes one of two ways, you either ask your friends where they go or you resort to the all-knowing Google. Both ways work, if you’ve got friends that always seems to have great haircuts ask them where they go and if you’re going the google route, check things like yelp for reviews.

So now you know where you’re going, but what do you do when you get there? Generally speaking, kicking the tires and popping the hood on a potential barber is frowned upon, so how do you figure out if they’re right for you without leaving with a bad haircut? Barbers deal in hair and making you look good, so check out how your barber looks. Does he look confident and relatively well put together? Kind of the same thing as never trusting a skinny chef, don’t trust a barber with a bad haircut.

Once you decide you trust this person enough to actually cut your hair pay a lot of attention to the process while they’re actually cutting it. Are they asking you a lot of questions, what questions are they asking, or are they just kind of going through it with no feedback? Until you go to someone long enough to establish “the usual”, you’re going to want to give your barber lots of feedback. Questions like “How do you typically wear it?”, “How long on the sides?”, “How do you like the neckline?” are all good questions you want to hear. If you hear anything about a guard number, you can probably safely go ahead and cross them off for your next cut.

Charles Lindbergh and the Transatlantic Flight

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Every now and then I feel like I have a responsibility to use my platform and my abundance of time spent watching the History Channel to teach people about things that I think are neat. This time I’m going to focus on Charles Lindbergh and his solo flight across the Atlantic.

Imagine it’s 1927 and you’re a hotshot pilot that left college with the sole goal of becoming a daredevil pilot. You’re so good in fact, that you enter the US Army flying school and you graduate number one in your class. Now throw in the fact that for the last eight years there’s been a standing challenge of $25,000 for the first man to manage to fly from New York to Paris nonstop. Naturally, you’re going to follow your instincts and do everything possible to be the first. So now we have the background on the challenge and why Lindbergh chose to fly across the Atlantic instead of being the first person to buzz the tower.

Now people had already attempted this at this point and they had all failed for a number of reasons, the big one typically being death or disappearance. What did Lindbergh have that he thought would make him successful on this besides his indeterminable spirit? He had a plane. A custom plane designed for the task with help from Lindbergh and the financial backing of a group of investors from Saint Louis, hence the Spirit of St. Louis name.

With a plan and a plane, he set off on May 20th, 1927 at 7:52AM from New York up and over the Atlantic to Paris. Struggling with thick fog, frozen sleet on his plane, and general drowsiness Lindbergh flew, sometimes only ten feet above the ocean. Once he started to see fishing boats he knew he was close to land, soon he had passed over Ireland and England before reaching Paris and beginning his final descent at 10PM local time. 33 and a half hours after he had left, Charles Lindbergh had become the first man to fly across the Atlantic.

 

High Tech Fabric

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If you’ve watched any major sporting event on TV in the last few years, you’ve probably seen ads for athletic gear that promises that it’s made out of brand new fibers that can stop bullets, wick away sweat, and teach your dog to be housebroken. I’m obviously being sarcastic with that one, but there really are new fabrics being made every few months and while we may not be aware of them yet some of them do something absolutely amazing things.

For anyone that’s a big a hockey fan is probably well aware of the increased profile of Kevlar socks lately. The fabric for these socks are just regular cotton or synthetic athletic fabric reinforced with Kevlar to make sure that no wayward skates can find a defenseman’s calf instead of the ice. This is a really basic example of some of the new fabrics being made, but it’s one of the ones you’re most likely to see.

Another really interesting fabric out there is called Vectra. Vectra uses a specialized manufacturing process where liquid-crystal polymers are extruded through a shower head like opening with holes that are only 23 microns wide, to give you a sense of scale the average human hair is 40-50 microns wide, to create fibers that can be woven together to create a fabric that hold the weight of about eight tons from a cord about as thick as a pencil.

Researchers in Italy are working on a fabric that could help keep houses collapsing during earthquakes. This “seismic wallpaper” is made up of special fibers that are woven together to be “multi-axial” and not nearly as susceptible to things like a sudden shift due to an earthquake. This multi-axial effect comes from the fact that the strongest way to build something is to cross layers at 90 degree angles. Think how much harder Jenga would be if all the blocks lined up one on top of each other instead of crossing.

Taking Off Your Hat

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We’ve probably all been to baseball games where we’ve been asked to take off our hats for the national anthem or going back to our school days been yelled at for wearing our hats inside. And I’m sure that none of us in our younger more antagonistic days never asked a principal “Why?” only to find out our favorite hat was suddenly in the bottom of someone’s desk drawer. Well, now that we’re adults and have access to the internet, we can find out the real reason for the tradition beyond “I said so.”

The origin of the tradition goes all the way back to medieval knights. Knights with their helmets with visors would typically open their visor with the right hand as a sign of friendliness and respect, since if your hand is busy opening a visor it can’t be used to swing a sword. This is where the tradition for saluting comes from as well. Ever since then actually removing one’s hat as a sign of respect has gone in and out of vogue, depending on the period. For soldiers, your hat is seen as part of your uniform, so removing part of your uniform to show respect to an officer seemed a little counter intuitive so most militaries have just instituted the salute instead. And as for everyday life? It all comes to down showing respect to different ideas and institutions, typically the national anthem and churches. So there’s no one particularly good reason for it, which feels like vindication for a 16 year old Ryan nearly a decade later and luckily we’ve got plenty of hats in stock to leave on or take off.

Proper Shoe Maintenance

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Shoes come in a wide variety of styles and designs and because of this a lot of us have shoes for pretty much every occasion. Shoes for mowing the lawn. Shoes for dinner. Shoes for quality time down at the gym. Some of us might be the types to hold on to one pair of shoes well past their shelf life, which when we think about how much some of these shoes cost isn’t the worst idea in the world. But how do you keep your shoes in tip top shape, or at least good enough to where toes and socks are peeking out the front, for a long time?

For all of your shoes that aren’t Chucks or sneakers, the best thing you can own is a shoe tree. The shoe tree allows for you shoes to dry out while also retaining their shape. Wet shoes contract and warp and lose their shape, often resulting in that upturned toe, and drying them with direct heat, something like under a radiator or over a heat vent, can cause the leather to crack. Polishing your shoes is another good way to extend their lives. A proper polishing acts like a shield between water and dirt and your shoes. We’re not going to go into detail about it right now, but when it comes to polishing one of the most important things is making sure you use a good polish.

So that covers some of the basics for everyday care, but what about extreme situations? Getting caught in a sudden downpour or if someone commits the ultimate sneaker crime and scuffs your new kicks? In the first situation, what you want to do is immediately stuff the shoe full of crumpled up newspaper and before they’re entirely dry pop ‘em on your handy dandy shoe tree to finish drying and stay shapely. If you end up with a scuff on your shoe there are a number of ways to treat it, depending on what the shoe is made of. For a sneaker, try a small bit of nail polish remover on the mark and then wipe clean. Depending on how bad the stain is on a pair of Chucks or other canvas shoes, you can try the nail polish or for more serious stains try baking soda with enough water to make a paste and apply directly to the stain. For a leather shoe, simply use a pencil eraser and try to buff it out, if that doesn’t work give it a full polish.

James Dean’s Fashion Influence

James Dean is best known as being a cultural icon for starring in movies like Rebel Without A Cause, East of Eden, and Giant. Beyond just leaving an impact on culture in America, references to Dean are dropped in everything from Degrassi: The Next Generation to, my personal favorite, Futurama, Dean left an influence on fashion in America that lasts all the way to today.

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In East of Eden, the only movie that was released before his death and the he actually saw all the way through, James Dean dresses in a very preppy, proper manner. This look continues to influence today with the modern preppy look often seen around college campuses. Michael Bastian actually did a fashion line based off of this as recently as 2012.

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Going in the complete and opposite direction of preppy and proper is Dean in Giant. In Giant, Dean most iconically is dressed like a rancher and the most famous shot of this, is Dean sitting in the back of a car with his feet up and his trusty cowboy hat on. Not to give too much of the movie away, but if Rebel Without A Cause Dean is an anti-hero, Giant Dean is an out and out villain for large portions of the film. And the style made it’s way out of the movie and became a way for teenagers to express their own feelings of not being satisfied with the clean cut options of the time.

On the set of Rebel Without a Cause

The most famous of all of James Dean’s outfits was the red jacket, jeans, and a white t-shirt look from Rebel Without A Cause. In the context of the 1950s and America’s own rock ‘n’ roll youth culture revolution, Dean’s outfit represents one of the first time’s where teenager’s fashions would be all that different than those of their parents. Dean was the cultural representation of the restless youth of America in a time of cultural change. This outfit has been referenced more times than can probably be count in pop culture, the best in my opinion being the entire character design of Fry from Futurama.

Finding the Right Beard for Your Face

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Pickles and peanut butter. Ice cream and soy sauce. Fish and cheese. Some things just don’t go together and beards are no different. Just like some haircuts look better on certain faces, particular beard shapes look better on some face shapes than others (although that X Wing probably looks amazing on any face). Before you commit to growing a beard you should have an idea of what you hope for it to look like. If you don’t, you could end up with an unmanageable shrubbery on your face instead of a bonsai like beard grown with planning and patience.

When it comes time to determine what kind of beard you should grow, you should first figure out what shape face you have. These shapes aren’t all that complicated you don’t need to remember any grade school geometry, you just need to be able to look in a mirror and give an honest assessment of how your face is structured. There are four basic face shapes: round, oval, square, and long.

The round face is shaped exactly how you think it would be. The goal for the round face is to make it appear longer and less round. In order to achieve this you should try to keep sideburns and the sides of the beard short and longer at the bottom near the chin. Something like a goatee instead of a full beard is a good option here. A shorter haircut also helps make the round face seem longer than it is.

Much like working with a round face, the best type of beard for the square face is one that adds length to your face. So keeping it short on the sides and longer at the bottom is the goal here.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the long face. With a long face the hope is to make the length less obvious and add some width on the sides. Thicker sideburns and a shorter cut at the chin will make your face seem wider, just make sure to avoid sudden changes in the length so that the shaping isn’t quite so obvious.

If it seems like the round face had to put in a lot of work to keep a good looking beard then hope you have an oval face. The oval shape is considered the best face shape to have since everything is balanced and doesn’t require any work to make your face appear even.

A Quick History of the Playoff Beard

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It’s common to turn on Sportscenter in June or October and see athletes beginning to look more like Grizzly Adams rather than the clean, cut versions we see throughout the rest of the year. The playoff beard has become a tradition in modern sports. It’s a sign of the physical commitment to the idea of winning and being able to show your opponents how far you’ve made it into the playoffs. For as much talk and tv time they get now, the origin of the playoff beard was fairly quiet and unpopular.

The history of the playoff beard goes back to 1980 and the very beginning of the dynasty of the New York Islanders hockey team. At the start of the 1980s playoffs after two years of upsets and defeats, Ken Morrow and Clark Gillies started to show the infamous superstitions of athletes and left their beards in place after each victory. While other teams may have laughed at Morrow’s beard, which would eventually become famous by itself in hockey history, they soon stopped as the Islanders went on to win the 1980 Stanley Cup. If the first Stanley Cup win didn’t give the playoff beard it’s place in sports, the next three consecutive wins did. Now more than 30 years later, the playoff beard has expanded to other sports and has even left the area of just sports as well.

Vintage Movie Fashion

Here at Fedoras.com we try to bring you the latest news in style and fashion to keep you ahead of the game. Just because we try to be fashion forward doesn’t mean we can’t take a look back though. Movies have always been a good way to look at vintage fashion in the context of the time of when it was just fashion. We’re going to take a quick look at five classic movies with classic style wardrobes.

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First up is Annie Hall. While you may be thinking that Annie Hall didn’t have great vintage fashion taste, in fact it was one of the character quirks that made the character of Annie Hall, you’d be wrong. Annie Hall’s combination of then vintage fashion, fedoras, trousers, and assorted menswear, soon became a major trend in women’s fashion following the release of the movie.

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Everyone is familiar with Casablanca and Humphrey Bogart’s white tux, but to act like that tux is the only thing that Rick Blaine wears in that movie leaves a lot of good, vintage fashion on the table. Bogart also wears a classic private detective’s outfit in the movie with a wide brimmed, thick banded fedora and trench coat. And we can’t forget Ingrid Bergman. Bergman wears a number of skirt suits, hats, and full length gowns throughout the course of that movie that deserve just as much attention as Bogart.

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Besides being known as the most popular song by Deep Blue Something, Breakfast at Tiffany’s features one of the most famous dresses in history. The image of Audrey Hepburn in her sleeveless black dress with matching gloves and cigarette holder is on countless posters. You also get a good look at 1960s men’s fashions with the suits worn by Paul, Doc, and other male characters throughout the movie.

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Fred Astaire is famous for his ability to dance and if you had to pick one quality about the man and the actor, that’s probably the one to go with. What rarely gets mentioned is his ability to dress. Astaire managed to wear clothes that not only made impressive use of pattern, texture, and color, he was able to be exceptionally physical in them. With all that being said, it’s hard to pick on Fred Astaire movie to focus on so I’m going to go with The Band Wagon just because it’s such a divergence from his normal clean cut, good guy role and you get to see where a lot of the inspiration for the video to Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal came from.

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The Untouchables is the most recent movie on this list and the only that has to make an effort to have accurate period fashion. Every single piece of clothing for the main characters is taken from historical photos and museum piece replicas. For DeNiro’s portrayal of Al Capone, they even managed to find original hat bodies used to make hats for Capone. All of this comes together to create a wardrobe of three piece suits, fedoras, and the occasional shotgun.

Caring For Leather

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The classic symbol of 1950s cool is the leather jacket. While we’ve moved on from the switchblade combs and cigarette pack rolled up in your sleeve as accessories, the leather jacket is still a timeless piece of fashion. And because it’s timeless that means we should make sure ours will last as long as possible. This is our guide for keeping all of your leather goods in good enough shape to channel your inner James Dean rather than the Fonz.

There’s a basic four step process to keeping leather in good condition. The first step is to thoroughly clean it. One of the biggest benefits of leather is that it’s naturally water resistant, this is due to the natural oils that come from the skin of the animal it’s made from. So make sure to not use any cleaners that strip away those oils or leave any residues. Once you’ve finished cleaning make sure that the surface is dry before wearing and stretching it and never use heat to speed up the drying process. Looking good is an invest in time as well as money, so always air dry.

Once you’ve cleaned your leather you need to condition it. At the end of the day no matter how fancy it is, leather is the skin of animal and once it’s removed from the animal it stops replinishing itself(not to imply that the animal fares any better without its skin). Those oils that keep it supple and water resistant need to be supplmented sometimes with the use of conditioners. Similar to cleaning, avoid conditioners that leave residue, wait for it to dry before wearing, and avoid heat. Generally speaking condition your leather whenever it goes through hot sunny conditions or lots of moisture.

The third step isn’t quite as important as the others, but I’ll still cover it real quick. If you want your jacket to have a nice glossy finish to it, polish it. The biggest piece of advice is to be careful while picking out your polish. Watch out for polishes that advertise color changing dyes or clog the pores of it.

The final step is probably the most important. Protecting your leather against moisture is the biggest preventative care measure you can take. Untreated leather will crack and stiffen relatively quickly and stop being water resistant and not look nearly as good. Just like polishing and conditioning, be careful about which leather protector you choose.

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