Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Quick Updates Before My Move

Dear Gentlemen,

How has everyone been doing? The snow is coming down very hard right now and there's something very peaceful and pleasing watching how steadily everything turns to a nice shade of white. I hope all of you guys had a lovely Valentine's Day either with your lady friend or a night out with the guys. I spent quite a nice evening out in the city with my girlfriend. We visited "The Garage" an antiques and vintage item open market that I've read quite a bit about, and then checked out the Barney's warehouse mega-sale right afterwards. Neither of us found anything great, just saw a bunch of crazy shoppers (especially at Barney's). Men were trying on pants out in the open and women were trying on tops with their breasts exposed; they didn't seem to care! Sad to say, I will be leaving the States and moving to China exactly a week from today. The day is finally coming and a plethora of emotions are running in and out of my mind. Feelings of sadness, excitement, and nervousness have been eating me alive but deep down I know this move will be a great experience and truly a memorable chapter in my life which I am ready to begin.

This is going to be my last update from my small desk in northern New Jersey and the next one will be from another small desk but in Hangzhou, China! (Any readers have experience here or in Shanghai?). I've been getting quite a few emails about my APC's and how they've progressed since my "Raw Denim" post so I thought I'd share a few snaps of how they look right now.

Day 1 6 Months

12 Months - First Soak

14 Months

15 Months - Just washed these again a few days ago

006.jpg picture by kidkoreapix

As you can see, they've gotten considerably lighter in the past month. I'm pretty pleased with how their are turning out. Again if you have any questions of sizing, washing, or anything else feel free to comment or email me.

I recently wrote about Scott's leather goods and wanted to give a small update on that post as well. I took some better pictures(the last ones weren't too clear in my opinion) of my leather belt and how it has been aging, again I'll do a quick picture summary of their progression:

Bought New
DSC01188.jpg 1.75 picture by unlucky62

Now over a year old
001-1.jpg picture by kidkoreapix
002.jpg picture by kidkoreapix

Again, very pleased with how this belt is turning out. Quality is really great on these...Scott read my posting and being the nice guy he is offered to make me some great bracelets for FREE! What a nice guy...

003.jpg picture by kidkoreapix

The one of the left was his own design and the one on the right is a replica of the 3Sixteen Dual strapped leather bracelet. He even treated it with some nice aging oil, stay tuned for updates on how that begins to age during my stay in China.

I also purchased a Vado HD pocket camcorder recently to document my experiences overseas. I'm planning on utilizing more media, both videos and photo's, and maybe share some more personal experiences with you guys in the future.

Closing Words: I know there wasn't any good content in this post to read. It also seems like my writing in this post seems a bit all over the place and incoherent. Sorry for that but even when I was updating with this post just so many things were running through my mind at the same time. I'll be gone for a year to a country where I don't know anyone, don't speak more than a couple words of the language, and be placed in an environment completely different than the east coast of the United States. (I heard they block Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook in mainland China...wow). Anyways it's been great starting this blog here, but I think my move will be influence how I write and also the content of the blog so that should be a really great change that I am looking forward to. Until next time, stay warm, healthy, and safe and charge all of life's challenges head on! I'm really going to try and make the most of the absolute most of my life in China, cheers to all!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Gentlemen: A 24/7 Job

Dear Gentlemen,

It was nice to see some more comments in the last post, I even got a few emails about my belt and my APC's. For anyone that was curious, the leather belt was not treated with any oils or anything. It's probably a good idea to oil it to keep the leather healthy but it isn't quite necessary for it to start aging well. Anyways, I read a ton of blogs and websites on the daily and came across more than one mentioning of the word "gentleman". It seems as if there is slow resurgence of the mid 20th century "gentleman" persona these days. People are wearing suits and ties more than ever, males are noticeably paying more attention to their grooming habits, and men seem to be striving to be the most well learned, well dressed, and politely mannered Renaissance man they can be. It's pretty exciting that all of this is happening now, maybe our generation still has a shot at redeeming ourselves from the "never gone through any hardship been spoon-fed all the luxuries in life" era to establishing ourselves as a period in time where we looked great and behaved like true gentlemen: well mannered, educated, and clean cut. It's nice to hear this word thrown around more often other than this blog and I wanted to point some things out that all of us can start doing/working on to really "Improve ourselves on the inside and out".

Mannerisms and Etiquette

The Dinner Table - Your table manners can speak volumes, yes volumes about what type of person you are and how you were raised. If you don't think people notice, trust me, they DO.

1.) How To Use a Fork and Knife - I kind of get turned off a bit when I see someone who really has no idea how to handle their utensils at the dinner table, especially at a formal event or a nice restaurant. Chances are you're going to be using a knife and fork to cut that tasty piece of meat, so here's how to hold it correctly. (This is for right handed readers, if you're left handed just switch!) The fork goes in your left and the knife goes in your right. Your right hand is dominant, so it should do all the cutting and all the left hand has to do is hold whatever you are cutting in place. Your index fingers should be pointed out and aligned with the utensils like this:

It should never seem like you are holding a dagger of some sort ready to stab your steak or start hacking away it. If you haven't been holding your utensils like the picture above, well now you know. Work on this the next few times you eat out and it'll become habit within no time.

2.) Bread, Bite Size, Butter - I was at a top-notch Italian restaurant over the holidays with my graduating college class. We all gathered to see each other for the first time in a while so we decided to go somewhere pretty nice and enjoy a nice meal together. Everyone was hungry and as soon as the bread came out everyone began to dig in. Now I couldn't help but notice how a couple of my friends ate their bread. No I wasn't intentionally trying to check to see how people ate or anything but it was just that obvious how unappealing it was!
Case #1: Each slice of bread was pretty big as in it would take the average person about 10 bites to finish it. One particular friend of mine buttered the entire piece at once and began eating it like it was a slice of New York style Pizza....!!! (Yea the very large ones). If some of you are thinking "it's just bread, isn't that how you're supposed to eat it?" you are horribly mistaken my friend. Instead, grab the slice just like everyone else does and place it on your plate. Then with your hands (yes you can use your hands) you simply rip off a bite size piece, butter it, and place it in your mouth and chew away. That's how you do it.
Case #2: This particular friend got the bite size part down, but failed at the buttering part. How? Here's how: The butter came in 3 different dishes for the entire table to share. She had her bite size piece in hand but decided to slam DUNK it in the butter dish, leaving tons of crumbs behind in the butter...!!! Instead, you should use your knife and take a small but sufficient amount from the dish and place it on your plate for you to use. That's how you do it.

< --- Not a good look at all...

3.) Wear Your Napkin - Yep, either tuck it into your shirt (yes it's acceptable) or simply place it on your lap (what I like to do). This will prevent you from getting any annoying stains on your outfit (white especially) and save you some embarrassment if you're on a date or an important gathering. Now I prefer to keep the napkin on my lap because once the napkin does have some stains on it from your food, you don't want to constantly expose them to the people around you. If you want to wipe your mouth, do it, but return it to your lap so it's not out there in the open during the entire meal!

4.) Pull Out - I'm talking about her chair guys..when you're on a date little things like pulling out her chair may seem a bit on the cheesy side but it isn't at all. It'll actually score you some points showing her how much of a gentlemen you can be. It's little things like this that'll make her take notice and will definitely do more good than harm.

Other Things to Keep In Mind

1.) Grooming - Being well groomed should definitely be a top priority for any gentleman. Nobody likes to see a dirty looking man or even be anywhere near a smelly one. Why wouldn't you want to look and smell your best at all times is my question.

Shower - Take a quick shower before getting ready for a night out. You can take a 5 minute shower and it can really rid of any body odors that may be lingering around from the entire day.

Brushing Teeth - I try and brush my teeth after every meal, keyword: try. Again investing only a few minutes to do so will surely prevent you from ever scaring away somebody with your breath. Carry a pack of gum or mints around as well, they could come in handy.
Shaving - I use an electric shaver right before heading out to run some errands or to meet a buddy of mine for a quick beer or two but this won't suffice for long nights out. Shaving with a razor will give you a MUCH closer and cleaner look, and again people will notice. If you like to keep a mustache or a beard of some sort, definitely keep that trimmed and clean looking as well like this:

Image taken from The Sartorialist

2.) Strive to Learn - People get surprised and say "Oh I actually learned something today" as if that's a rare occurrence. You should be learning many things each and everyday of your lives. It doesn't have to be things of utmost significance but you should be expanding your knowledge and mind with as much information as you can. Stay current with the news, know what's going on around you and around the world. Know what the weather is going to be like for the day or for the week. (You can prepare outfits accordingly, I hate getting stuck in rainstorms with any of my suede shoes). Read a book, a blog, a newspaper, or a magazine. There's tons of things out there to learn and why not indulge yourself in as much as you can. Knowledge is POWER.

3.) Obey the Golden Rule - If you don't know it, here it is: Do unto other's as you would like them to do unto you. I'm trying to base my life around this simple rule. You don't have to be religious or anything to apply this idea to your personal life. You don't have to necessarily go out of your way to help people all the time but if it's something as little as holding the door for someone or even blessing them after a sneeze then why not? This might at least get a "thank you" or even a smile out of them. If things go really well then maybe you can spark up a nice conversation and who knows what that can lead to? Try following the golden rule and you'll begin to notice that the people you encounter will reciprocate your behavior to the people around them. Love and kindness is contagious.

4.) Your Attire - Never go under-dressed to any event. If anything, it's ok to be slightly over-dressed. You don't want to be the only guy wearing a basic tee, a pair of jeans, and some running shoes amidst a sea of dress shirts and ties. On the other hand, it wouldn't be bad at all to be the most dressed up person in the room, you'll look sharper than the rest of the guys and that should grab you some positive attention. Another thing, don't wear anything wrinkled or stained in the slightest. Even a clean Hanes t-shirt will look better than a wrinkled up Ralph Lauren dress shirt.

5.) Accessorize - If your feeling a bit on the lazy side before heading out, no need to do your hair or wear a shirt and tie. Go out in a t-shirt and a pair of khaki's but pay more attention to the details. Those newspaper boy hats, fedora's, and top hats are very in right now and can transform a basic look into a pretty stylish one. You can also try some leather or beaded bracelets or necklaces, anything that will up your fit from a basic tee/jean look to something more. Try something new, take some risks. There aren't any rules for what you decide to wear.

Newspaper Boy Cap Straw Woven Fedora

Closing Words: There's a lot more one can work on than just what I mentioned but those were just some things I personally wanted to improve. I really think every male out there should strive to be the best they can be in terms of looks, attitude, and just a true gentlemen that people will love just being around. Here's a short little clip of Fonzworth Bentley, one of the dudes in media who really evoked gentlemen-like styles into the mainstream, talking about a few things that I found pretty interesting and somewhat educational.