Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ask a Gentleman: The New/Old Way to Shave

Question: I've recently started shaving. New cartridges, gel and mositurizer run about $40.00. Am I doing something wrong or is keeping a clean mug really this expensive?

-Mr. Giovanni Hennessy

A Quick Heads Up before we get started.

American Gentleman is running a holiday giveaway on our Facebook Fan Page. Just search for American Gentleman Magazine.

Valued at $350.00, we're giving one lucky gent a grooming package to start the new year out fresh. The odds are winning are great, all you have to do is click the LIKE button on the page.

**Back to our normally scheduled programming**

While speaking with my grandfather during my previous trip back home the subject of shaving came up. I don't know how we got started on the topic, but I happened to mention that I always found it strange that he didn't shave like the rest of us. His tools were different, his technique more time consuming. As for the products he used, good luck finding them at Walgreens. He explained to me that he never could get with the "store bought" potions and lotions, and especially the cartridges and their 5 blade shaving heads. Nope, he rather use a brush to apply his shaving soap, a double edged safety razor, and maybe some Old Spice or Brut to complete the job. Talk about old school!

During my previous trip back home brought the subject of shaving came up. I don't know how we got started on the topic, but I happened to mention that I always found it strange that he didn't shave like the rest of us. His tools were different, his technique more time consuming. As for the products he used, good luck finding them at Walgreens. He explained to me that he never could get with the "store bought" potions and lotions, and especially the cartridges and their 5 blade shaving heads. Nope, he rather use a brush to apply his shaving soap, a double edged safety razor, and maybe some Old Spice or Brut to complete the job. Talk about old school!

With a slew of interviews, conferences, and events to attend in the coming months I decided to give my grandad's method a try. I recently purchased a Merkur Double Edge Saftey Razor, a badger brush, a puck of Williams Shaving Soap and a tube of organic after shave by SheaMoisture.

Taking a try-till-perfected approach I discovered why the old man has remained true to this technique. Its simply a better quality shave. First, you're not putting all kinds of chemicals on your face, Williams Shave Soap has ten ingredients all of which I can pronounce. The brush lifts the hairs to the surface making them easier to cut. Three passes with the Merkur and you're good to go. Not to mention its cheaper. A pack of platinum coated blades costs $1.00 and will last you for months. Try getting that kind of mileage out of one those Gillette Fusion monstrosities.

Sometimes the modern gentleman must take cues from the past. Whether it be in courage, style or in this case grooming, there is much to be learned from those who have already traveled the road.

Stay fresh,

Alex C.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Understated Elegance

Understated Elegance is a subject that's not always exposed and brought to the attention of others because the name itself represents an incognito way of style and living. Understated Elegance upholds the principles of "less is more". I've noticed that not bringing attention to myself at most times is more appealing than trying to prove my significance to others. (Now-a-days we live in a world where people are desperate to prove their significance.) I hope that makes senseto you, a good example focusing on the approach of letting everything come to you. 

This isn't just for style and fashion, it's also a lifestyle. But to incorporate how it works, a impressionable gentleman with a impeccable look, will present himself in a way that shows you that he's all about business, and has built a professionalism around his attire. It may be a tailored blazer, or watch, or shoes that don't scream look at me I'm expensive, the look will compliment the attire. Or when it comes to the lifestyle aspect of understated elegance, the way you carry yourself can speak volumes. You can let people know what you do by mentioning the field you're in, but you don't have to go into details. This will only create an impressionable image that draws curiosity. Understated Elegance. Be quick to lend a another your ear, but not your tongue.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Q & A Thursdays: A Fresh Prince in the Land of Jokers

Hello Alex,

I've been enjoying the gentleman lifestyle for a few years now. Through reading, experimenting, trial and error, I've refined my taste in music, art and my overall outlook on life. Throughout this process I've taken in consideration the way I present myself to the outside world. Choosing to "dress up" as some have remarked.

Though my appearance is generally well-received and often complimented from the ladies, I am sometimes the punchline of playful teasing. Carlton Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Diddy's one time assistant Fonzworth Bentley are often the comparisons I get. Words cannot describe how much I loathe this comparison. Not only are there personalities repulsive but we share little in common other than being young, black and dressed up. What's a gent to do?

-A. Johnson

Great question Mr. Johnson. There was once a point in time when wearing a cardigan, loafers, tailored trousers and some designer frames would instantly garner comparisons to Mr. Rogers or a professor at a community college. Fortunately for us, those days are gone but not everyone has got the notice.

A quick look at any NBA post-game interview is the biggest sign of the times. Players like LeBron James, Amare Stoudemaire, DeWayne Wade and Dwight Howard can all be seen rocking the latest in geek chic.

What was once synonymous with Carlton Banks is now suddenly en vogue with millionaire basketball players and downtown trend chasers alike.

Don't believe me? Check out this piece on the sports blog Grantland on the Rise of the NBA Nerd

Athletes and hipsters aside, if the image or style you've created for yourself is genuine, who cares if the guys still sporting oversized tees and sagging pants have something to say. As you climb tax brackets, they'll be left to their wise cracks. Who really gets the last laugh?

If you're merely playing dress-up because you think that's what a gentleman is about you're as far off base as your tormentors. Being a gentleman isn't about what you consume or adorn yourself in but how you go about navigating this crazy world with poise, grace and swagger.

Being authentic to yourself is what the lifestyle is all about. If you've taken the time to actually consider how you look to the outside world, you've got a head start on 90% of the male population.  Dressing the part is key, but you must also embody the lifestyle, it can't be purchased or faked.

So wear what you want. Nothing is sweeter than being introduced to the girlfriend of the guy who just cracked a joke on your clothes and having her compliment you, then asking you to give her boyfriend a few pointers.

Stay true,

Alexander Chambers

If you have questions for next weeks Q&A Thursday send them to @GentLife on Twitter or email

 foregoing the David Stern approved "Suit and Tie" rule for an edgier and dare I say geek chic look.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Gentleman & His Barber

Having just watched Good Hair, the Chris Rock  documentary on the $9 billion black hair care industry, I began to think about my own part in this very complex system.  Being a man of color, the need for hair care products is minimal. Shampoo, a light gel pomade, moisturizer, and a brush to keep the waves flowing.  All tools in my grooming arsenal, easily replaceable and cheap. 

The biggest expense and most valuable is my barber. Whomever it may be at the time; a cousin, neighbor, co-worker, friend (and that one time in 7th grade, my mom), regardless the end result the experience is the same. I always leave the chair feeling better than when I sat down.

It has been well documented that barbershops are pillars of society and influence in most communities. Bastions for lively conversation on politics, sports, women, fashion, part debate hall, part sanctuary.  I can't recall ever having a boring time at a barbershop. Where else can you find businessmen, politicians, street hustlers and athletes alongside  common folk on a Saturday morning? More important than the atmosphere of shops are the barbers themselves.

I've gone through plenty of barbers for a number of reasons, be it money or time restraints, location, or quality of cut. But the one thing that remains the same is that barbers provide more than just grooming services. And today's gentleman can learn a thing or two from todays barbers. Many times barbers act as stand-in therapist, a listening ear for things you'd otherwise keep to yourself. Their non-judgmental insight allows for an exchange of information that we don't readily share with our spouses or friends. Not all barbers possess this trait as some are prone to gossip but you know the ones that are. As a gentleman, discretion is key.

Another trait that is common amongst barbers that should be adopted by todays gentleman is the ability to perform ones craft exceptionally and consistently.  As a barber you can't have an "off day" like an athlete who has a rough game. No, we hold our barbers accountable to provide a superior quality of service regardless of time or energy. And if you've had the same barber for any length of time you take notice that he/she delivers, all the time, every time. The gentleman should hold himself to such standards as well.

So take a cue from the person you've consulted before every big life moment. You sought out their services prior to the first date with your future wife and before that dream job interview you landed. They haven't let you down yet and as 21st century gentleman you can utilize their traits of discretion and consistency as your own.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Q and A Thursdays: The Tipping Point

Ask a Gentleman:
I'm a recent college grad who is saddled with student loan debt and a crappy job market. My passions don't always translate to lucrative occupations. What would a more experienced gentleman do?

Today, someday, one day it will happen. The culmination of countless hours, humble dedication and a lucky break or two will lead to that heaven-sent phone call, email or other correspondence that will lend legitimacy to your passion as more than just a hobby, but rather your true calling.

Coming down from the high of ambition mixed with gratitude you will find yourself at the proverbial fork in the road. One path is paved, well-lit, with few potholes and plenty of rest stops. Convenient stores and gas stations line the road offering quick solace if you are ever to run out of gas or need a quick pick me up. Traffic is heavy on this road with  economy cars bumper to bumper but nonetheless  it creeps at a steady 35mph.

The other road is bumpy, with only the brake lights from the adjacent road providing any illumination. Gas stations are far and few between and you can’t help but notice the abandoned cars that litter the road. As you squint to make out just how far the road leads and to where your eye catches one motorist who is actually walking. You can only guess which of the abandoned cars is his or for how long he has made this journey on foot. Til the wheels fall off isn’t a cliche for this guy. He’s on some real Ironman shit.

The few cars on this road  vary in model and year, the scarce  traffic allowing them to speed towards their unknown destination. You try and guesstimate their speed, 75 MPH maybe.  One car you’re sure is going well over 120MPH.  As you turn your attention to the well-paved road, with its steady flow of traffic and predictable rest stops you strain to get a further view down its path. As the road stretches you notice that the exit ramps begin to lengthen in distance from one another until you can no longer distinguish them from the horizon.

That call that changed everything has left you in a pecuilar position. You know that each road leads somewhere , because no road is infinite. In your minds eye you visualize the destination. You take into account your vehicle’s mileage, fuel economy, and other variables. I’ve made it this far you think and know that lightning doesn’t strike twice. Assuming you’re comfortable with gridlock traffic, cruise control and predictability then by all means take the secure road. For some of us, that phone call wasn’t just a tipping point, it was the exit ramp. The conveyor belt that we all find ourselves on has few opportunities to step off. This may be one of them or it may be the only one. Which will you choose?

Best of luck Steve.

Be sure to send your questions to or @GentLife on Twitter.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Introducing the Ask a Gentleman Blog

We invite you to experience the Ask a Gentleman blog, a new series in the American Gentleman suite of lifestyle content. Curated by lifestyle and etiquette impresario Alexander Chambers, the blog will cover everything from current events to the coolest parties and destinations around the world. Updated every Tuesday and a follow up Q&A Thursday, the Ask a Gentleman blog seeks to be your weekly primer, prepping you for the week with all things important for the modern man to know.

First up, let’s talk about conversations................without words.

Conversations Without Words

We’ve all seen him, you know the one, yeah him, that guy.  The one who upon entering a room instantly commands its attention, all without ever saying a word. Confidence oozes through his pores but he is far from cocky. It’s as if he just heard the best news of his life prior to entering the venue. He’s at ease, greeting strangers as if he’s known them for years, maneuvering through the crowd with a magnetism that other men envy and peaks the interest of women. It’s as if he just got paid, laid and you think to yourself, likely both.  

Contrasting his demeanor with the other guys in the room, with their slumped postures, arms crossed and aversion to eye contact, the difference is apparent.  It’s not what he is doing or saying, more so it’s how he’s doing it. He has the disposition of a winner, the body language of an alpha male, and here’s how you can get it.

There’s a saying that “dogs can smell fear and women can smell confidence”, and while there isn’t any scientific explanation, one fact cannot be disputed. Both are keen observers of nonverbal communication, and by deciphering body language alone, can make an alarmingly accurate assessment of gentleman’s internal mood.  That is why even in a world that is quickly replacing face-to-face interaction with text, IM, tweets and wall postings, body language remains an important tool in the gentleman’s communication toolkit.

3 Body Language Hacks to Appear More Confident, Taller and Powerful

1.    Always enter a room with a smile on your face. The reason for this should be obvious. Enthusiasm is contagious and people are more likely to mimic your behavior and mood if you set the precedent.  Try smiling whenever entering a room for an entire day and note the response’s you get.

2.    Listen with your eyes:  Eye contact is crucial in establishing engagement in any setting be it the bar or the boardroom. It’s a shame that most men shy away from direct and sustained eye contact. If you want to come off as confident and competent, try sustaining  five seconds of direct eye contact with everyone you come into contact with for a day. For bonus points, mix in the above recommendation of smiling.

3.    Back straight, head up. A slouchy posture isn’t just bad for your spine, it can also effect your interactions with the opposite sex. Before you open your mouth a woman has formed an initial impression of you, largely using you how you carry yourself as the determining factor.  If your posture resembles that of Quasimodo from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” don’t count on your conversation skills or dapper clothes to help you recover from the betrayal your posture has already committed. Try this exercise taken from the Alexander Technique to strengthen your spine and game.

(Stand with your back against a wall, tighten the abdominals and bring the back of your head, shoulders, butt and heels in alignment so that they all touch the wall.  Holding this position, walk away from the wall and hold for at least a minute. Challenge yourself and see how long you can hold your posture. Repeat this exercise daily until you no longer need the wall to get things in line).

Making a lasting impression without words, isn’t rocket science. Thousands of years of evolution has equipped us with the ability to decipher these nonverbal cues that account for as much as 50-75% of all communication. The interpretation and showcasing of these signs is often performed subconsciously. By using the techniques provided you are now more fluent in body language than a large segment of society.  Now that you’re actively aware of how your body is communicating, what will you say?