Perfume companies launch a new crop of colognes every spring and summer, fragrances that are necessarily lighter because heat has a way of amplifying aroma. While scent is never out of season, sometimes you want more subtlety. You’d rather rub it on than spray or splash. Enter body butters, soufflés and creams. The best of these hydrate and nourish skin while providing the circulation-stimulating benefits of massage application. But their increasing popularity in recent years may also be due to their pleasing, sometimes decadent, aromas. Here are five of our favorites, some of them award-winners and others well kept secrets - until now. Click on any image for more info or to buy that product.
It’s not hard to imagine what you get when you combine a leading fashion retailer and one of the world’s foremost fashion and consumer trend experts. If what you get is a book, then it’s bound to be one of the most valuable resources any man of style can own. And its title is probably Nordstrom Guide to Men’s Style.
Released May 15, the 155-page hardback (Chronicle, $19.95) is Pittsburgh native Tom Julian’s first, as well as Nordstrom’s first focused on the retailer’s storied heritage of dressing men impeccably since the 1960s. It begins with a quiz that helps guys identify their style ID: luxury, classic, contemporary or trendy. (Or a combination, like me and many other men.) Then it’s quickly on to details about wardrobe essentials that fit properly and look debonair for each lifestyle.
Julian’s tone is refreshing, with just enough humor. He is authoritative without talking down to readers, affirming every man’s potential to be stylish rather than seeking to make debonair the domain of an exclusive few. The manual is loaded with practical, step-by-step advice that takes guys from basics such as matching shirts and ties to more sophisticated matters of style such as choosing custom suit details. The informational flow is logical and a cinch to follow, from the basics about essential garments such as shirts, pants and jackets to fabric attributes and correct fit. There’s also interesting “Did you know?” fashion trivia throughout.
Shoes, neckwear and formalwear - sticky wickets for many fellows - get deserved attention. There are tips on how to clean garments, how to treat stains and how to pack smartly for a trip. More than just attractive design elements, the photos and diagrams by Nordstrom staff show and tell how to achieve a desired look with relative ease. Plus, each chapter has an “Ask the Nordstrom tailor” section with answers to relevant, commonly asked questions on each topic.
The project “was sheer joy because everybody came to the table with something,” said Julian. The book was completed in less than seven months, unusually fast. Julian credits collaborative chemistry between writer, publisher and client for keeping the project on track. Nordstrom is a client of Julian’s Manhattan-based company, Tom Julian Group, and Pete Nordstrom penned an engaging foreword.
From the sartorially savvy high school teen heading off to college to the mature gentleman well along in his life and career, every fellow should own Nordstrom Guide to Men’s Style. It’s available at Nordstrom stores, Nordstrom.com, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and other book stores.
Summer is vacation season, but there are fashion places you don’t wanna go. And nobody wants to go there with you. Not sure what we’re talking about? Think of some of the sights you see every summer - sometimes throughout the year, though more prevalent in warm weather - and how seeing them is like shaking hot sauce in your eyes.
Unfortunately, and tragically, not everyone has someone in his or her life who will pull that person aside and help to prevent a style transgression of epic proportion. Though summer technically isn’t here yet, we thought we’d take advantage of rising temperatures to issue our list of summer Don’t You Dares. So, on behalf of the majority of the public upon whom hot-weather fashion disasters are annually visited, here are 10 taboos:
Muffin tops. Woe to the one who first gave one of our favorite baked goods a bad name. It’s inviting for a muffin to bloat over the top of its cup during baking. But midriff running over and running amok is just sad. Sometimes you find yourself in a place where your stomach and love handles are out of control. We understand. Just cover it up with an amply long top and pants with a waistband that fits just a little looser. Belly shirts and midriff-baring tops are not your friends.
Ribbed sleeveless tees (commonly referred to as “wife-beaters”) worn without a shirt. It’s okay for a 6-year-old jumping through a backyard lawn sprinkler, but not okay for a grown man - or woman - moving about in public. It belongs under something.
Busted feet. This is for those who wear sandals and especially flip-flops. You don’t have to look like a magazine ad for a spa pedicure. Soap and lotion used on the regular are cheap and go a long way in preventing dry, callousy feet that look like you were kicking flour. Keep toenails trimmed - use an instrument rather than picking and biting, guys - and ladies who prefer polish should keep it fresh and unchipped or remove it.
Banged-up nails. Clipping and filing take only a few minutes. If you like your fingernails polished, keep them that way, chipless and smooth. If you tend to have maintenance issues, go natural. An exfoliating hand wash and hand cream will help hands look as healthy and well maintained as fingertips.
Beat-up bags. You know when there are big cracks in the leather straps of your purse, when the straw has begun coming loose from that favorite summer bag, when the fabric is stained on that roomy cloth tote. If you can’t get it repaired, get rid of it.
Run-over heels. There’s nothing wrong with liking a pair of shoes and wanting to wear them as long as possible. But you can’t go around with heels that sit on an angle because they’re run-over and worn down. It’s also bad for your bones and posture. It doesn’t cost much to get heels replaced. If you’re real hard on heels, consider adding nylon or metal taps to preserve the life of the shoe’s heels. They’re relatively inexpensive. If the heels on your pumps show curling leather or fabric, or they’re worn down to the nail, they need to be repaired or retired.
Purposely visible underwear. This look goes from merely childish to majorly offensive when accompanied by plumber’s butt, which occurs when one squats or bends forward and the top part of where the derriere separates is visible. (That’s the most delicate way we can describe the look.) If any passerby can describe your underwear or can see that you’re wearing a thong, you’re out of line.
Camel toe. This garment-fit crisis says “too much information” like nothing else. Ladies, it just means that your shorts should be longer and looser and you need to wear panties. ‘Nuff said about that.
Socks with sandals. You have to choose. Socks defeat the purpose of sandals, which are designed to allow the feet to breathe in warm weather. If you’re afraid of germs or think you have ugly feet, then sandals aren’t for you. This doesn’t apply to women wearing hosiery with strappy heels. That doesn’t look silly. White athletic socks with sandal-style footwear does.
Strapless at church. Don’t even think about it. People attend church to worship, not to be confronted by décolletage, no matter how stunning it is. Save strapless tops and dresses for the nightclub or hot dates, along with one-shoulder pieces and anything that shows cleavage. If you aren’t sure whether something crosses the line, don’t wear it. Go with clothing that’s unquestionably tasteful and appropriate.
Tiffany & Co. has away of taking everything to a luxurious new level, from items as mundane as key fobs to those as unique and intimate as diamond engagement rings. So it’s no surprise that the company’s passport holders transform something utilitarian and incidental into a conversation piece. Take your pick of patent or textured leathers in pink, red, black, white and Tiffany blue ($100) or black lacquered designs with red or black hearts by Elsa Peretti ($125). Great for a gift or personal indulgence. Check them out at Tiffany stores and tiffany.com.
Pity fathers, whose annual Sunday to be celebrated is but a shadow of Mothers Day. Just ask the folk at Hallmark and the U.S. Postal Service. Or any dad. If you want to step up your Fathers Day gift-giving game this year - and why not? - stun the stylish pop with something practical and cool. If you think he’s had his fill of neckties, power tools and gift cards, send him out of the house with a sleek messenger or cross-over bag by Coach. From the luxury brand’s Hamptons collection are the washed-leather cross-body ($448, shown here in brick and saddle) with discreet exterior and interior pockets, a PDA pocket and zip-top closure. They can comfortably accommodate files and a laptop. It’s a great alternative to the geeky briefcase and the hopelessly adolescent backpack, yet it’s no “man bag” or “murse.” It’s just hip. Available at Coach stores, coach.com and select fine retailers.
More men are showing interest in maintaining healthy skin and preventing signs of aging, but that doesn’t mean they want to put a half-dozen products on their face every day. That’s what makes Jack Black’s Double-Duty Face Moisturizer SPF 20 a great investment. It contains ingredients such as antioxidant-rich blue algae extract and soothing sea parsley extract to nourish and strengthen skin, plus broad-spectrum sunscreen that absorbs harmful ultraviolet rays before they impact the skin. It’s hydrating yet surprisingly lightweight, and free of artificial color and fragrance. And it’s one of those products that a guy might find his girl sneaking to use. It’s $16 for 1.5 ounces and $26 for 3.3 ounces and can be found along with other products from the men’s line at higher-end department stores, getjackblack.com, drugstore.com and beauty.com.
Statement-making makeup is in vogue. Call it cosmetics with purpose. Color is as big as ever, and while brilliant nails and rich lips are chic, few things are as seductive as long, thick, black lashes. Now every woman can have the depth and drama of come-hither smoky eyes with Exotic Eyes Blackest Mascara by Destination Glamour. The super-black, water-resistant mascara is a favorite of celebrity makeup artist Shalini Vadhera, partly because rather than making lashes as brittle as twigs, it moisturizes, softens and strengthens them with Japanese camellia oil, Indian Mowrah butter and African beeswax. It’s $23 at Dillards, Victoriasecret.com and globalgoddessbeauty.com. Perfect for summer travel is Destination Glamour’s Jet Setter Mini Tool Case Luxury Brush Set, a sari-fabric holder that houses five brushes for blush, eyeshadow-blending, crease eyeshadow, eyebrow-angling and lips-concealer. The brushes are made of fine goat and pony hair and taklon. It’s $45.
Oceans is Nautica’s most inspired and sophisticated scent to date. The energetic, eco-friendly fragrance is water-based - a true aquatic - and biodegradable. Its patent-pending formula combines notes of brisk ocean air, lemon tonic, sea salt rose, lavender reef, teakwood, amber crystals and a pleasantly unusual “regatta accord” inspired by the energy aboard a racing yacht. Despite its tech-sounding formulation, Oceans is fresh, original and organically masculine. And it starts at a mere $49 for 1.7 ounces. Click on the photo to learn more about and buy the eau de toilette and related products, and to enter a sweepstakes with weekly and monthly prize drawings through June 8. You can also get Nautica Oceans online at Perfume Worldwide.
Women of transcendent style understand intuitively that black heels with a little black dress is passé. At best, it’s boring; at worst, it insults the LBD with its mundane, matchy-matchy mimicry. What’s called for is something along the order of the Amanda Rio. The Grecian goddess-gladiator style is tough yet tender with metallic trim, grommet details, buckled T-strap and an appreciably high 3-1/4-inch covered heel. Pictured here, the red and gold, an uptown way to complement an understated LBD. . It’s also perfectly at home with a pantsuit, a jumpsuit or a pair of jeans. The chic shoe also comes in black and pewter. They’re under $50 at Shoe Trader. Click on the photo to shop.
Women easily win the bling race, many with astonishing collections of rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces. Guys may accumulate a few rings, bracelets, necklaces and perhaps even some cuff links, but the king of men’s accessories is the wristwatch. Not only must it be hefty in size, it must also be flashy enough to attract attention from across a room without appearing over-the-top. That’s what makes the Invicta Sea Spider Chronograph Brown Rubber such a find. The end of its name refers to its clasp strap, which is interwoven with rose gold tone stainless steel inserts that match the case. Bold yet elegant, the Sea Spider sports a mineral crystal face and Swiss-made chronograph sports movement. It lists for $895 but is only $313.99 at World of Watches. Click on the photo to shop.