Get Straight with Your Razor

Men, shaving has been going on longer than we think, and no shave has been more monumental than the straight razor. There’s a reason why some men still prefer a barber to handle their neck rather than themselves.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a secret to a straight razor shave that, once unlocked, will provide you with a clean shave every time. No, the secret to a straight razor is with its tradition and practice.

Tradition is the dividing factor when choosing to get a straight razor shave. According to Kennedy’s All American Barber Club’s Abbreviated History of Straight Razors, back in the day (about 5000+ years ago) men shaved with shark teeth, clam shells, and even pieces of flint. The Egyptians made razors out of gold in about 4000 BC. It wasn’t until 1740 that the first razor was introduced, says Kennedy’s All American Barber Club. And from then on, until about the 1950s, the straight razor was the pristine choice of men worldwide.

old photo of barber shop

Take part in a tradition that dates back longer than your great grandpa. Photo courtesy of Art of Manliness.com.

Brett McKey, Art of Manliness.com, states that a straight razor shave is also relaxingly dangerous, making it the manliest way to remove facial hair. Brett says nothing is more relaxing than having a hot towel placed on your face with fragrance of shaving cream following shortly behind. “The few times I’ve gotten a straight razor shave,” says Brett, “I’ve fallen asleep.” He also remarks on the danger of allowing another man to wield a sharp blade around your face, trusting that he won’t screw up.

Yet, much credit of a clean straight razor shave goes to the barber. National Geographic’s documentary Secrets to Shaving recalls how grooming wasn’t the only part of a barber’s profession in the 16 – 18th centuries. Believe it or not, barbers were also surgeons due to their sharp blades and steady hands. While saving lives left their profession, barbers kept the steady hand and perfected the practice.

Now, join in on an age-old tradition of danger, let the hot towel calm your nerves, and sit in ease as the steady hands of the barber slide a cold piece of steel across your cheeks.

How to Shave Happy

Let’s face it, fellas. Shaving isn’t the highlight of every man’s morning, especially when razor burn and irritation are the results of this necessary evil. Shaving leaves a man’s face feeling one of two ways: fresh and smooth or inflamed and bumpy. The preference is obvious, and it directly correlates with high self esteem.  What man doesn’t want that? It’s time to add some new tips and tricks to your shaving practices in order to prevent common irritation and maintain a soft, glowing face.

How to avoid razor burn

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First, it’s important to understand the common causes of razor burn and irritation. Problems are difficult to resolve without understanding the cause. The top three causes of razor burn are:

  • Excessive pressure
    • The razor should only be pressed gently against the skin. When a great deal of pressure seems necessary a new blade is needed.
  • Dull blades
    • Excessive pressure and dull blades go hand in hand. When a blade is dull the shaver has a tendency to apply too much pressure. Invest in a product that allows for replaceable razor heads to ensure the closest shave possible. Replace razor heads frequently — especially cheap, disposable razors.
  • Minimal or no lubrication
    • A good lather is half the battle. Apply warm water to the location that will be shaved in order to soften the hair and open pores. Then, apply a shaving gel or cream that provides a creamy lather to allow the blade to glide smoothly across the lubricated area. Men-U, an award winning line of men’s hair, shaving, and skin care products, advises shavers to stay away from cheap shaving creams that foam because it causes more resistance between the skin and blade than creamy products

Detailing ‘the perfect shave experience,’ The Art of Shaving offers a four-step shaving  process that all men should follow. Whether you prefer shaving near the sink or in the shower, these are easy-to-follow steps.

  1. Prepare — The Art of Shaving suggests its Pre-Shave Oil that provides skin protection and improves razor glide. Inexpensive pre-shaving oils can be found at your local convenient store to maintain healthy skin.
  2. Lather up — Use a creamy shaving gel or cream to reduce resistance between the blade and face. Specialty creams exist that require a brush to generate a creamy lather.
  3. Shave — Shave gently with the grain of the beard using a sharp razor. For a closer shave, re-lather and shave against the grain of the beard, as advised by The Art of Shaving.
  4. Moisturize — Rinse the freshly shaven face with cold water and apply an after shave moisturizer. Here is a list of the top rated after shave products by GoodGuide.

Keeping these shaving tips and tricks in mind next time you lather up will hopefully diminish the daunting task of shaving and turn the process into a refreshing morning ritual. If you have sensitive skin, do some extra research on the best products for your skin type. Looking good shouldn’t be painful, and now it doesn’t have to be!

 

Closet Organization for Men

I know that it’s typically women who envision the perfect closet: rows of shoes, shelves of bags, drawers of jewelry, color and season coordination. But organizing a closet is helpful for men, too. It gives you more space, helps avoid wrinkles (Who has time to iron?), and makes it easier to find the appropriate baseball jersey on game day. However, organizing a closet can take a lot of time, effort, and skill. Not the tidy type? No worries!

Read these quick tips on how to organize your closet:

men's closet organization

1. Out with the old

It’s easier to organize when you have less, so the first step is to get rid of old garments. Anything that you haven’t touched in over a year has got to go! It’s time to part with anything that is torn beyond repair. If you have problems deciding whether you should junk clothes or not, a good idea is to put all your hangers backwards. After you wear and wash something, put it back on a hanger the correct way. If there are any hangers left backwards after six months, then it’s safe to say that those are things that can be donated or thrown away.

2. Keep similar times together

This is really simple to do, so why not? Put all your pants in one place, all your sweaters in another. That way, when you want to wear a button-down shirt, you will know exactly where to look. Once you organize items by category, you can color coordinate within the category or organize the clothes from casual to formal.

3. Consider space savers

If you do those things and still have a messy closet, then it’s time to consider space savers. One idea is packing up clothes that are out of season and storing them in tubs. Under-the-bed tubs are nice because they don’t use space that can be used for much else. You might consider adding extra shelves or another hanging rod — whatever works best for you.

It might seem like a waste of time to organize your closet, but in reality it saves you plenty of time when you’re getting ready. You will know exactly where to find your slacks or your red tie. Just those three simple steps will get you well on your way to a better-organized closet, so perhaps it’s time for a spring-cleaning project.

Best of luck!

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Summer Fashion Trends — For the Ladies

Here at A Tip of the Hat, we focus a lot on men’s interests and fashions. But we do know we have some women out there reading. Ladies, this is for you. And guys, why not buy a special woman in your life one of the trends below? Just because.

The temperatures outside are heating up, and soon summer will be in full swing! As we work our way through spring, fashionistas everywhere are already working on their summer wardrobes as they make plans for fun outings, events, and vacations. While some look for specific items, styles, and shapes in their seasonal outfits, it doesn’t have to be so difficult. Think on a smaller level about colors, prints, and patterns. Below are a few hot summer trends to be on the lookout for that are easily wearable by anyone. Go on, check ‘em out!

Mint Green

mint green fashion trend

With pastels emerging as a hot summer trend, mint green is one of the top colors to be on the lookout for. Let’s face it — it’s everywhere! Whether you use it for your outfit, accessories, or beauty, you can’t go wrong with this dreamy ice cream shade. Combine multiple trends as shown above, colorblocking with a neon, or choosing a dainty lace for a fashion-forward look. Accessories such as an oversized handbag, thin belt, and adorable wedges with a pop of mint green are adorable. Don’t forget your nails! Mint green polish is perfect for toes or fingernails to add a pop of color.

Shop this hat with mint details>

Royal Blue

royal blue fashion trend

Royal blue has been on the rise since William gave Kate that gorgeous sapphire engagement ring in 2010, but this summer you can expect to see the color everywhere. This dress is absolutely swoonworthy, incorporating the royal blue into the colorblocking trend, as well as the ever-trendy criss-cross open back. The off-the-shoulder top can be dressed up or dressed down for an all-around stylish look. Wedges are an ultimate summer trend, while royal blue jewelry and nail polish complete the look to give it added pizazz.

Shop this royal blue beret>

Paisley

paisley fashion trend

Prints are always fun. This summer, paisley is back, and it’s everywhere. From bikinis to tops and maxi dresses, we the love the variety of color and style that’s available with this print. While paisley prints are typically reserved for clothing alone, this season’s fun, paisley-printed accessories are totally refreshing. Who would have thought that paisley flats could be so cute? On the other hand, these colorful and bejeweled bangles are a summer must-have!

Shop this paisley cowgirl hat>

What summer trend are you rocking this year?

 

Sizing Up when Suiting Up

Men, it’s time to suit up. The corporate world still highly regards suits as the professional choice for work attire. Even veterans on Wall Street won’t allow Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to wear a hoodie to a shareholder meeting. But be careful, wearing an ill-fitting suit may be your worst decision. There are three measurements that tell a man what his best fit is: the chest, the overarm, and the waist, says Delbert’s Clothing INC.

Determining Your Suit Size

Three key measurements when looking for the perfect-fitting suit: chest, overarm, and waist. Photo provided by Delbert's Clothing INC.

To take your suit measurement, you need a flexible tape measure. You also need a friend to help take your measurements.

First, the chest is probably the most important of the three. To measure one’s chest, take a tape measure and wrap it around your chest just under the underarms. Be sure to keep the tape measure parallel with the ground; this ensures you are measuring the thickest part of your chest. In the US, all measurements are taken in inches.

The second measurement is the overarm. This is taken by doing the same as the chest, except the tape will go on the outside of your arms, rather than inside. Now, after you get this, subtract 7 inches from the measurement. Compare this new number to your chest size. Your suit size is the larger of the two numbers.

Finally, to get the trouser size right, you need to measure your waist. Typical waist measurements take the measurement from around your waist, slightly above your hip bones. Trousers also encompass your inseam, which is measured from your crotch to just above your ankle.

The fashion editors at Esquire.com have some quick, helpful tips that you can use when you’re at the store shopping for a suit. Consider these before heading to the register:

For the jacket:

  • Shoulder pads should end at the shoulder — not fall too short or extend beyond
  • On a three-button jacket, the middle button shouldn’t be below your navel
  • On a two-button jacket, the top button shouldn’t be below your navel
  • Your first knuckle should line up with the end of the suit
  • The sleeves should meet where the base of your thumb connects with your wrist

For the trousers:

  • An inch break should be between your pant cuff and the floor.

Now, you can confidently buy a suit and show up on the first day of work dressed to impress.

Manly Mixed Drinks

Mixed drinks have a bad reputation among guys for being too feminine or not strong enough — but you don’t have to order a strawberry appletini to enjoy a great mixed drink.

Here are some delicious cocktail recipes for even the manliest of men:

Whiskey Sour
whiskey sour

Whiskey sours are a classic, simple drink to make or order. You only have to worry about the ratio of whiskey to sour mix.
Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz whiskey
  • 1 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz simple syrup
  • maraschino cherry
  • orange slice

Directions:
Mix all liquids together in a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Shake and strain into a glass and garnish with the cherry and orange slice.

Old Fashioned
old fashioned whiskey cocktail
Thanks to “Mad Men,” this drink is back and as masculine as ever. Drinking these is just step one in trying to be half as cool as Don Draper.
Ingredients:

  • 3 dashes bitters
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 3 oz bourbon whiskey
  • club soda
  • 1 slice orange
  • 1 maraschino cherry

Directions:
Muddle the bitters, water, and sugar cube against the bottom of your glass. Almost fill the glass with ice cubes and add the bourbon. Top off with club soda. Garnish with an orange slice and the cherry.

Rusty Nail    rusty nail cocktail Drink names don’t get much manlier than this.  This is a smooth, slightly sweet drink that will help you ease your way into becoming a scotch drinker.
Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz scotch
  • 3/4 oz Drambuie
  • 1 lemon twist

Directions:
Stir ingredients into a scotch glass and garnish with a lemon twist.  It’s really that easy.
(Substitute amaretto for Drambuie to make a drink called the Godfather.)

Martini, Drydry gin martini James Bond drinks them.  Need I say more?
Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz dry vermouth
  • 1 green olive

Directions:
Stir gin, vermouth, and ice in a mixing glass. Strain the mixture into a martini glass. Garnish with an olive.

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A Guy’s Guide to Gift Buying

Do you dread purchasing gifts? Are you a notoriously bad gift giver? Do you wonder why  you never see your girlfriend wearing that sweater you got her last year?

giving her a gift

Finding the perfect gift takes a lot of care and thoughtfulness. And it can be a completely different process depending on who you’re buying the gift for and the event.Guys, here are a few hints to help you purchase a gift for the next special occasion.

Anniversaries

There are traditional wedding gifts for each year of marriage that revolve around different materials. The first five years of marriage are represented by paper, cotton, leather, fruits and flowers, and wood. It’s fun to be traditional, but these gifts also call for creativity. For the paper anniversary, a homemade card or a decorative print are both nice gifts. You could try out some sewing skills on the cotton anniversary or carpentry for the wood anniversary. Making something requires a lot of dedication and is a great way to show how you really care. Other classic anniversary gifts are jewelry, flowers, or works of art for the home.

Christmas

Christmas is a toughie. You’re buying for your friends, co-workers, family, and significant other. Everything is rushed and store lines are huge. I prefer to use Etsy at Christmas time. Buying gifts online allows you to avoid the hustle and bustle, so long as you get your orders in early enough. Etsy has a cool feature where it will suggest gifts for your friends based on their Facebook information and then you can buy the gifts from independent artists. This way, you’re getting unique gifts for the special people in your life that aren’t run-of-the-mill and sold at every retail store.

Graduation

Graduation gifts can go one of two ways: sentimental or practical. Sentimental ideas include a homemade t-shirt quilt, Oh the Places You Will Go by Dr. Seuss, or even an emotional card. Those are all great gifts that someone will likely cherish forever, but to get to the practical side, most graduates will be quite pleased with a card and cash.

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a good time to give back to the woman who gave you everything. And husbands, if your wife is a mom, then you owe her a gift, too; it’s not all on the kids. This is a good time to spoil the special women in your life, so gift ideas include certificates for spas, manicure/pedicures, massage treatments, or even their favorite clothing store. Jewelry, candles, scarves, and home decor are also good gifts.

Valentine’s Day

Browsing for something extra special for your girlfriend, fiance, or wife on the Day of Love? Skip the novelty Valentine’s aisle, and grab inspiration from our gift guide!

Father’s Day

Classic Father’s Day gifts include fishing gear, barbeque accessories, gadgets, and tools. If you want to do something extra special, purchase game tickets for yourself and your dad for his favorite team. He’ll love this gift — and the time he gets to spend with you.

The most important part of gift giving is making sure the gift is personalized and from the heart.

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Men’s Summer Fashion: Bring on the Color

With summer right around the corner, it’s time to update your wardrobe. This year, nothing says warm weather more than a color scheme of wide variety.

guys colored pants

The fashion editors at Esquire magazine say that summer style for 2012 is going to make use of the whole spectrum of hues, introducing some new colors to your closet such as moss, mustard, pool blue, and rust. These colors will help you mix and match what Esquire’s editors call the only four items of clothing a man needs during summer: a blazer, shirt, pants, and shoes. Match your shirt with your shoes, or offset your blazer and pants. Either way, brighten up your style with a little color.

Also this summer, men’s style is looking to conquer the concrete jungle by incorporating the traditional safari style into an urban setting. Levi’s is breaking new ground with its recent line of clothing called the Commuter, directed at urban dwellers who make their daily commutes via bicycle. With a variation of jackets and pants designed with special reinforcements and stretch fabric using nanosphere, these items will last you longer than just one summer.

levis commuter jeans

The new Levi’s 511.5 Commuter Jeans are designed with the rider in mind, providing extra-reinforcement to the back pockets and inseam. They provide a multipurpose waistband to help keep your U-lock out of the way.

The other half of the safari style is bringing in different shades of green. From olive to sea green, mixing it up will keep you looking as though you’re ready for adventure, even in the heart of the city.

For those who like looking sharp on the job, don’t be afraid of sweating when you suit up. Ermenegildo Zenya created a new line of “Zero Weight Suits.” Made from ultra fine silk, these suits weigh a fraction of your typical, lightweight formal wear. However, you can still keep it classy without the suit. Pairing up your chino’s with an unlined, cotton blazer is another way to take the weight off your shoulders.

Finally, summertime means summer shoes. Adding color to your shoes can create new combinations in your style. With shorts coming back, ditch the socks and grab a pair of canvas shoes or slip ons. But don’t forget to clean and powder your feet before wearing them. This will prevent your feet from sweating, saving you from having some rotten shoes.

Summer is all about relaxing and having fun — make sure your closet reflects this!

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6 Tips on How to Buy Jewelry for Women

Women love to receive jewelry for any occasion — Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, anniversaries, birthdays, and the list goes on. Basically, any special event with your significant other calls for jewelry. But this creates a problem. Jewelry is really hard to buy — and it’s expensive.

Guys, this really puts the pressure on. You don’t want to drop bank on a necklace that she’s not going to like. Not only is that a waste of money, but she’ll end up being disappointed and potentially angry at you (Trust us, it’s happened before.). If you’re tasked with finding the perfect diamond earrings, pearl necklace, or even a ring for that special someone, then here are six tips to help your shopping sail a little bit smoother.

vintage ring advertisement

1. Know her taste.

Be sure to scope out your girl’s jewelry box before you go. Don’t buy gold if all she wears is silver, and steer away from dangly earrings if all she wears are studs. Pay attention to her ring size if you’re going that route. If you don’t know her size, than sneakily swipe a ring from her jewelry box that you know fits her well — a jeweler will be able to determine from the ring what size she is. Also take into consideration her day-to-day lifestyle. If she has a hands-on job, a huge ring with a tall, intricate setting might not be best.

2. Shop with a friend.

Ask your lady’s closest gal pal if she’ll go jewelry shopping with you. (Or, if this isn’t your cup of tea, solicit her opinion before you go shopping.) It’s likely she’ll have a better understanding of your significant other’s jewelry taste than you. Just don’t let the bestie take over the shopping trip. At the end of the day, this gift is from you, not her.

3. Do your research.

Research jewelers in the area to be sure you’re shopping somewhere reputable. Compare prices based on quality so you don’t end up with something extremely overpriced. Usually, local shops have better prices than large chains — for the same quality, if not better.

4. Check the craftsmanship.

Examine the piece all over. Make sure the setting is secure and the clasp works well. Make sure the metal has no scratches or imperfections. If you’re buying a stone, ask to look at it under a microscope. I recommend doing research beforehand if you’re purchasing a stone like a diamond. With a little knowledge, even an untrained eye can find glaring imperfections.  You’re spending a lot of money, so make sure you get something that will last.

5. Stick with silver.

With gold prices at a historic high, many are sticking to silver, and that is perfectly okay. Silver is very trendy. If the piece is marked sterling or has the numbers 925, then it is 92.5 percent pure. If it’s marked nickel or German, then the metal actually has no silver in it. Just remember that silver takes a little more upkeep than other precious metals like gold. To prevent tarnishing, consider purchasing a tarnish prevention cloth to accompany the jewelry.

6. Customize it.

Many jewelers will make custom pieces, just so long as you don’t show up the night before you need it! Customized jewelry shows that you put a lot of thought into her gift and will probably win you a lot of brownie points! If you can’t afford to have a custom piece made, consider a charm bracelet or a Pandora bracelet that allows you to create your own piece without the price of customization. With these options, you can continue to buy her charms for future holidays. This makes gift buying easy for you — and she’ll be excited to have a beautiful piece of thoughtful jewelry!

Take these tips to heart, and you’re sure to find something she’ll love.

Author Bio: Stephanie is a guest blogger. She loves writing and reading and has spent a lot of time in a local jewelry and watch repair shop where her close friend makes custom pieces often.

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How to Buy a Timeless Watch

In this day and age, cell phones have taken over the world of time, leaving wrist watches to be less of a tool and more of a fashion statement.  But one thing’s for sure: No one wants to be caught with a naked wrist.

Now, buying a watch can be tricky. Knowing what works, what looks stylish, and what will last is complicated — and you definitely want to make your purchase worth the investment. Don’t worry, here are three things to keep in mind when looking for a watch:

1. Band

The first is the band. Judging by Jeremy Kirkland’s top picks on Esquire.com, leather bands certainly take priority, adding a sleek look to any man’s wrist. However, you shouldn’t rule out metallic bands. Jeremy highlights the Omega Speedster and its silver-toned band. And if you’re not quite sure about this watch, just remember it’s good enough for George Clooney and NASA.

omega speedster watch

With its exceptional quality and good looks, the Omega Speedster hasn’t drastically changed since it was first released in 1957.

2. Face

Secondly, be sure to take into consideration the face. With all the advances wristwatches have made, there are many faces and dials to choose from. One thing to avoid is too many dials. Over dialing on watches can be a problem, and it can leave the watch looking more chaotic than suave. Also, know what each dial measures. You don’t want to be the guy at the party saying, “I don’t really know what it means, but it sure looks cool.” A simple, one-dial watch, such as the IWC Pilot’s Mark XVII, may be all you need.

 IWC’s Pilot Mark XVI

Originally made for pilots, IWC’s Pilot Mark XVI is built to withstand high altitudes and strong magnetic fields.

3. Life

Finally, a watch must last to establish itself as a truly timeless piece. Many watches now-a-days are self-sustainable, not needing a battery to keep them ticking. Citizen’s Eco-Drive technology uses solar power to run the dial. Another way to make batteries obsolete is movement technology. Watches that employ this technology wind themselves as you move your wrist.One movement technology watch is the Hamilton Khaki Field. Jeremy from Esquire says, “Change the straps as you wear them out, as the ETA Swiss movement will likely outlast the bracelet — and may outlive you too.”

Hamilton Khaki Field watch

The official watch of Indiana Jones, the Hamilton Khaki Field is made for “the field.”

With these details, the only thing left is to quit using your phone to keep you in sync with the world. You’re now ready to buy a watch that will add to your style and keep you on time.

Watch photos from Esquire.com.

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