Style Do’s and Don’ts for dating
If you came here from any other part of the dating do’s and don’ts series you will know that this is the one of the posts where we give specific clothes recommendations. This post is about good skin and casual shirts. For links to the other posts on colognes, jackets etc see the bottom of this article.
For the where-to-buy references for the clothes and products recommended here, see the listings at the bottom of this article.
For our American readers
We have a lot of readers in the US and I need to point out that a number of the brands we refer to in these articles are based in England. So wherever possible we have put pictures of the clothes or products, so it is possible to understand the point of the recommendation. Recommendations for US brands that produce similar clothes / products are happily accepted as comments on the article.
No 3. DON’T: Dirty skin, razor cuts or burns. DO: Smooth, clean facial skin
Dating is a contact sport, your skin is your weapon.
At minimum it should be clean. But how touchable is it? (and we are talking about getting women into the touch zone here). So face and hands first. If your facial skin is dry and peeling, reddened, patchy, then you are not so kissable. Once again, as with dirty shoes,you will unnerve your date. You are sitting thinking about what to say and she is thinking about how she kisses you without tasting your razor-burn (it may not bleed but it weeps – which is nasty).
Good skin doesn’t make a small difference, it makes a dramatic one. Good skin on a man draws women like a magnet. We men are lucky, wrinkles give us character, but they look much better on smooth healthy-looking skin.
Hands are critical. Women always check out your hands and they are turned on by men with good hands. Once again, it is something they will tell their girlfriends about.
I have crap hands, ruined by years of martial arts, so I try to look after them well, by way of compensation. Your hands have to be clean, no cuts or blood and with as little hard skin as possible. I have some martial arts calluses on my hands and I know from experience that if I let them get hard they can snag on a woman’s skin and prick her, scratch her. Women’s skins are so much softer than ours but that’s the fun of it, right?
It goes without saying your nails have to be clean. You know that.
Pimples, blackheads or cuts on the face of any man over 25. It says dirty, possibly diseased.
Taking care of your skin is a really big subject, so I am going to concentrate on the basics you need for dating. So here are some ground rules. This is how I treat my skin.
Clean and exfoliate your skin.
Designer stubble has a lot to answer for. Like every good idea, it falls into the wrong hands. In this case, men who think grooming is optional. Your skin traps dirt, skin cells die and your skin gets a grey pallor. You need to clean it.
Soap and water are not enough. Your facial skin cells die, like all your body cells. Dead skin cells impede circulation; go a dull grey-white colour which makes your skin tone look unhealthy. An exfoliant scrubs out the dead skin cells, helps restore circulation, and improves your skin tone.
Moisturise your skin
Your skin gets dry, especially in England, where the damp and the wind have a harsh effect on your facial skin. As result your skin becomes dry, hard, pores are enlarged, wrinkles become more pronounced. You get dry skin peels. Your skin becomes progressively, noticeably less pleasant to the touch. Your skin becomes prone to irritations, spots, red blemishes. Worst of all, dry skin makes you look older. As you get older, your skin loses its elasticity and that too makes you look older. Moisturising the skin helps it retain its elasticity, keeps you younger looking.
So here is my facial grooming routine. Also, because there are so many men’s grooming products available and this is a multipart article I am going to recommend the products I use.
Cleaning my skin
For my daily routine I use the Deep Cleaning Face Wash in the “Men” range from The Organic Pharmacy. I have pale, sensitive skin and I find that though this cleanser is very effective, it is gentle enough for daily use.
Twice a a week I use a Glycolic Daily Facial Cleanser form Sk:N. I find this to be a powerful cleanser. Once I have used it I can really see a difference in my skin. I find it too powerful to use daily.
I have used the Sk:N clinics for services like face peels and I can recommend them. More on this another time.
Moisturising my skin
I use a day and night moisturiser.
For the day I like Ahava’s Protective Moisturising Fluid for Men. To read my extended review of it, go here.
I like several others, including the Dermologica and Nickel’s facial moisturiser, but the Ahava is my current favourite. It is long lasting, has an SPF factor 15 and is fragrance free.
For the night I like Anthony Logistics for Men all purpose facial moisturiser. I use a number of Anthony Logistics products and think they are superbly effective.
This moisturiser is heavy enough for the night but not too heavy so it soaks in easily. So if, in the middle of the night you decide its fun time with your favourite girl, you are not wearing a greasy face mask….
Alternately I like Kiehls Ultra Facial Moisturiser, which I think is actually sold for girls. But like all Kiehls products, it really works. Rich and heavier than the Anthony’s but very effective.
Twice a week I use a hydrating B5 gel, once again from Sk:N. This heavy-duty moisture gel re-hydrates my face after getting dryed out and dirty working in London. Also if I have a heavy night with lots of alcohol I use it the next day. Alcohol really dehydrates your facial skin, along with everything else.
I like Kiehls hand cream (salve) or Ahava’s Dermud intensive hand cream.
Skin Cosmetics that have really worked for me
So I am simply a stylish and vain guy. I am no cosmetologist. But credibility is important to me. All the products recommended here are ones I have used. At various times I have used products which have worked incredibly well for me. Here they are:
Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream
This is a moisturiser. I got a free sample some six years ago and was shocked at how good it was. I have been using it ever since. It has an immediately noticeable effect, your skin becomes softer, smoother, even in direct sunlight wrinkles look less deep. Overall my skin looks younger, lighter.
It is not as long lasting a cream as the Ahava or Nickel creams so a little expensive to use as a day cream. I use it for weekends and special occasions. It feels great on, too.
Nickel Silicon Anti-Aging Cream for men
This stuff is magical. Nickel are a French brand, and make a range of competitively priced men’s cosmetics. I would recommend them whole-heartedly. However, the Silicon Anti-Aging cream for men is the best. We wrote about Nickel Spas here.
I put this on for parties and big events, whenever I want to look good. It is a fragrance-free translucent crème that goes on easily. It visibly smooths the sharp edges of wrinkles, makes your skin look smoother and healthier. It takes ten years off your visible age. If you are going on a date, use this, it will help.
REN Frankincense/Boswellia revitalising night cream
So this is a girl’s night cream. I first bought it for my wife more than ten years ago and discovered that she did not use Ren products. It seemed a shame to waste it so I used it.
It had an immediate and dramatic effect. I had red razor bumps that had been around for twenty years (young man hangover shaving). The cream got rid of most of them. The largest was very large but the cream reduced it to virtually nothing. I had several enlarged pores which shrank back to normal size. My skin became much less prone to razor irritation and redness. All in all, this cream worked really well for me. I do not know if the effect is common to all men but I would definitely recommend it.
Those of you who are over 30 will know that around the age of 30 a man’s skin just falls off a cliff. My experience and that of a lot of my friends was that all the wrinkles and dry skin came home to roost at once. A bit of simple maintenance will help.
No 3. DON’T: T-shirts. DO: Polos
Bad idea. If you are a guy over twenty-five, terrible idea. T-Shirts have no structure, the cotton is invariably poor, they bag from the start, they look cheap and crap. They make you look crap. I have an acquaintance, who owns a very big T-shirt business. His T-shirts are made by the same company that make T-Shirts for top brands. He said to me “T-shirts are good for two wears at best. After that, they are distorted out of shape”. “You should throw them away after that.” T-shirts say lowest common denominator. If you wear them on a date, especially a first date, you are definitiely not Alpha male. I know, lots of men wear them, thats why you should not.
Look, if you are a superfit guy with the perfect body, wear the damn things. If you are an imperfectly shaped man, think about it. My right shoulder sits an inch higher than my left, the reward for a lifetime of Karate and favouring a right-hand strike. If I wear a t-shirt, it pulls towards the right shoulder, across the neck of the t-shirt. Not a good look. T-shirts are great if you are some cute twenty-year old guy, who is still in the “play/adolescent” stage of life.
Do not wear a t-shirt if you want to impress women. Here are some of the real don’t-dos.
So you go to a party or on a date wearing a t-shirt that says “Oregon beer festival 2006” or “Bold Trekkers Con 2005”. Hell, not only will the women refuse to talk to you, the men will also back away. These shirts say BORE. That you are incapable of discriminating between hobbies and style. And these t-shirts are how old exactly? You have been wearing them all this time? You know, I have two t-shirts that commemorate big events in the martial arts. I wear them to sleep in.
Once again, for kids. The idea is that they are ironic, kids grooving on nostalgia. If you are a mature man wearing a “Led Zeppelin, Houses of the Holy” cover art or “Castrol Protects” in huge San Serif, you are riding for a fall. People might think that you bought it when the album was released or the oil was being sold….you old man.
The whole logo thing is now completely devalued. The premium brands all started the same way, as craftsmen producing reliable quality product. Buying a t-shirt that they had knocked up in a sweatshop in China marks you as gullible at best.
If you are over thirty, face it. T-shirts are underwear.
Heavy, thrash or death metal. Any kind of heavy metal band t-shirt sends a message of emotionally incompetent, incapable of a relationship. One of the ugliest things I ever saw was in the Nineties. Dress-down Fridays in a major US bank I worked in. The IT guys would come in wearing Pantera and Rage Against the Machine t-shirts, girls being raped by dragons. Black shirt, logo, black jeans. They thought it said something about them. Unfortunately it did.
So we already ruled out t-shirts. Everybody needs casual shirts and here we recommend polo shirts. If you have read this far you will have begun to understand that discrimination is the key here. That you need a minimum understanding of what clothes do in order to dress well. Polo shirts have more structure, hold their shape, emphasise your manly shape while providing a modicum of civilised style.
You get what you pay for and polo shirts are no exception. At the cheap end you can get the same disadvantages as with t-shirts. The fabric is crap, sizes are notional. Cheap polo shirts are the size and width of a flag, regardless of the size on the label. With no structure in them they distort as easily as t-shirts.
So you need to spend a little money to get something good. Here are the secrets of polo shirts.
Most regular polos are made of cotton pique, which is a stretchy woven cotton with an interlocking diamond stitch and a fine texture. Buy polos made of good pique. Go take a look at polos and compare the fabric. You want:
Stronger, heavier pique. Pick a pique that feels stronger, weighs more, that is thicker. Thickness is not the only criteria but a heavier pique will retain its shape longer.
Best weave. The interlocking stitch of the weave is important. The weave on a cheap polo shirt is looser, so will lose its shape quicker. A tighter weave, which requires stronger pique, will hold its shape better, washup better. Gant are good here, Pringle are good here.
Try to get polo shirt which has a stitched structure. Above all, try to get a polo shirt with a yoked neck and shoulder, it will hold its shape better. See the picture below.
Get a polo shirt with a side seam (under the armpit and own to the hip). Without a side-seam, they are just t-shirts with a collar. See the picture below.
Get a polo shirt which has double-stitched seams. These will hold their shape far longer. See the picture below;
All fitted shirts flatter your shape, fitted polos do the same. Their obvious advantage is that they do not bag and do not make you look like a fat slob. Here is a picture of a Pringle fitted polo from their premium range;
Polo shirts are by and large are a big blast of a single colour. If you know what colours suit you, you are way ahead of the game, and saving money at the same time. You buy the one that works for you.
If you want that Americana look, with contrasting colours/yokes, variations on the button set I am with you. It adds excitement to the Polo look, and a touch of sophistication. I like the vintage ranges by Lyle and Scott, and The Original Penguin.
There is a whole area we have not touched, which is premium polos. Here the fabrics are finer, sea island cotton, cashmere, fine wool mixes. Think of it as an advanced class, to be taken another time. However the undisputed masters of this style are John Smedley. Smedley are a style powerhouse, here. Read their story, you will be amazed.
So this is it for skin and polo shirts. See below for links to the other articles in this series.
More in this series
To read the other articles in this series:
Part 1: How clothes work on a date, is here
Part 2: Shoes and black shirts, is here
Part 4: Jackets, hair and knitwear, is here
Part 5: Smell, look and attitude, is here
Men’s Fragrances: How to choose them, is here
Men’s Fragrances: 20 Good Fragrances reviewed, is here
The Organic Pharmacy is here
Sk:N is here
Ahava is here
Kiehls is here
Anthony Logistics for Men is here
Elemis is here
Nickel is here
REN is here
Pringle of Scotland is here
Gant is here
Original Penguin is here
Lyle and Scott are here
John Smedley are here
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