Saturday, June 17, 2006

Spa Products for Men?

Over the years most men seem to come to the conclusion that pampering yourself is primarily a female trait. The beer drinking and sports loving is only left up to us men and that cracked skin and razor burn are the medals of manhood. It is really only in the last 10 years that we have begun to see the shift back the other direction with the innovative development of the "metrosexual". Currently, it is not uncommon for some men to pluck their eyebrows, wear make-up, and carry man-bags (otherwise known as purses). I am by no means here to argue the new social category of the "metro" but merely to offer the suggestion that not all the changes are for the negative. For example: take the serenity shower (shown above) which resides at The Broadmoor five star resort and spa in lovely Colorado Springs. Now I don't know about you, but it looks pretty sweet and amazingly refreshing. Aside from the $42 price point for only five minutes of bliss it sounds like a wonderful time had for all. $42 , you say?...smashing darling. I'll take two.

But let's talk on a smaller scale. What about the basic spa products that have traditionally been reserved for women. Bath and Body Works has started to realize this shift in male thinking and has since developed an entire men's line. In fact, they have moved the aromatherapy line into that fantastic grey area known as the androgynous zone. The products aren't skewed towards a specific gender. Having soft skin and relaxing sleep shouldn't be held hostage by the female sex like the last chocolate bar on the first day of PMS. Instead men should be able to embrace the soothing sensations of a sea salt soak like Chandler Bing from the hit series Friends. If you remember the episode, he mocked the power of the bubble bath but once he tested the seemingly still waters he found a swirling vortex of pleasant sensations beneath the placid veneer. My recommendation: start off with something simple like a basic moisturizer or a simple bath soak. You may find that sugar scrubs and pillow sprays are right up your alley.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Deliciously Divine Demitasse


What a wonderful drink.

Picture this: It is very early morning. The sleepy sun is just beginning to peek his radiant head out from under his covers of a horizon. Your mind is fighting to keep you in dreamland while your body is trying to get you out from your warm cocoon. Then you catch a wiff of that wonderfully intoxicating aroma from the kitchen. It wafts its way down the hall and into your zombie-like proximity. The very smell is like an a C9H13NO3 (epinephrine) shot to your cobweb brain. The very taste brings a satisfied smile to your face and the C8H10N4O2 (caffeine) is enough to kill a herd of elk but your body has become accustomed to it. The stimulant kickstarts your body and just like that you are ready to take on the day.

I am sure that pretty much all of you have experienced the wonderful effects of coffee but that isn't what I want to focus on. Instead let's talk about the taste. There are no substitutions for this amazing bean-based drink. Java is totally an acquired taste but it is a fine line between aficionado and addict. I like coffee with the rest of them, but I don't crave it all the time. Instead, I like to enjoy my cup of coffee instead of relying on it. For example: Gloria Jean's Coffee... I am pretty sure that it actually is an industrial paint stripper. Even Starbucks coffee isn't that good... it really is just the name (a perfect example of branding well done). Instead, I go for the coffee that has the rich flavor without the esophagus melting aftertaste. There is nothing better than savoring a hot cup of coffee with dessert or early in the morning.

What about the social aspects of coffee? Ah yes, how could I forget. When you go out with a group of friends it is great to go find a coffee house with tons of character. In every new town I go to I often search out the local coffee "watering hole". Each establishment has their own flare and brews to go with it. When I was in Phoenixville visiting my brother he took me to this wonderful coffee bar with laid back clientele and barristas. The thing that bugs me about coffee, though, is the fact that younger and younger kids are starting to drink it. It used to be an unofficial "right of passage" into adulthood or at least college years. Now you can go to a coffee house in the morning and see the yoga moms with their cup and their 20-month-old sucking on their bottle full of a grande double shot caramel americano. I truly don't believe that kids that young appreciate the coffee. How many times have you been out and witnessed 13-year-old kids ordering drinks with extra shots? Come on. It's obviously more for the appeal and that the prepubescent teens are searching for a way to feel older. Let me tell you, if you are 12 and you need a shot in the dark (brewed coffee with a shot of espresso) to get going in the morning you are in trouble.

But back to the positive side: It feels great to just sit around an open-air patio with a group of friends, coffee in hand, and shoot the breeze knowing that you have nothing to do and nowhere to be.

Final Verdict: Get out and pick up a cup but take the time to enjoy it. That's how we roll with it here in Western PA. This is Gmack signing off. You stay sylphlike society.

Southern Comfort: The Good Stuff Edition

There are just some things in life that make you smile.

One of the little pleasures in life has to be getting a new pair of socks. There are very few things as comfortable as putting on a new pair of really good socks...preferably a nice pair of athletic socks. If you have ever gotten a pair of American Eagle socks you totally know what I am talking about. If your feet had a face...well that would just be weird, but if they did I am pretty sure that they would smile. I got this great pair of microfiber dress socks the other week and, "wow" just those can make your day go well.

Another simple pleasure in life is climbing into a freshly made bed with new sheets. What a wonderful feeling to slide underneath the tightly tucked-in sides of the crisp, washed sheets. If you have ever had your sheets hang-dried well then you...hmmm let's just say that if you haven't let your sheets air dry then stop reading this because you obviously don't know what is good in life and these little pointers aren't going to help you with your meaningless life. When I was a child, one of my favorite things was to get into bed at night after my mother had put my hang-dried sheets back on my bed. They always had a very clean and airy smell to them that normal fabric softener or detergent can't replicate. Have you ever climbed into bed when your sheets are a little cold? It is very refreshing to snuggle under the sheets when the air is brisk and you have to wait for your body heat to warm up the fabric. Satin sheets are classic for this. It can be 105 degrees all day long but when you climb into bed your sheets are silky and chilled. They just snap up that nippy night air.

Finally, one can never underestimate the soothing power of a new broken-in tee. J.Crew, Jimmy'z, and American Eagle are well known for this. The thin fabric of a new "T" against your skin puts a smile on your face and a warmth in your heart...or maybe I'm confusing that with a goodnight kiss. Either way, they can be a great way to relax in the evening or the perfect pick-me-up for the start of your day. The other benefit of a great t-shirt is that they pretty much never go out of style and you can wear them under just about everything. A basic solid tee can be worn under everything...including work clothes and even the occasional ringer tee can step up in a pinch.

My final thoughts for the day. Splurge today and get a comfy tee, a new pair of socks and relax on your freshly washed, air-dried sheets this evening and enjoy the wonderful summer weather. So that's how it's done here in Western PA. This is Gmack signing out. You stay classy world.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Every Girl's Crazy 'Bout a Sharp Dressed Man

Ok men, here is our turn to have a little bit of fashion advice. For starters I will just say one word: ombré. This is what the fashion world refers to as the slow fade of color from a darker shade to a lighter shade in order to draw the viewer's eye in a specific direction. Take this wonderful v-neck sweater from Kenneth Cole. The darker area around the bottom helps to conceal any flaws (ex: excess weight, or a family of flying squirrels stuck to peanut butter). Basically the eye is drawn towards the lighter areas of the shirt. The lightest area being in the middle also helps to create the image of larger pectorial muscles.

Next we have what I like to call the shoulder broadener. Horizonal stripes especially across the middle of the chest help to make it appear as if you have a larger (muscular) chest than you actually do. If you notice on this model, the accent with the polo shirt "v" also helps to add the shape to the pectorial area. The collar on the shirt adds to the ideal upside-down triangle shape of the male upper body. It helps to accent the "traps" thus pulling the eyes outwards towards your outer shoulder. Notice that the model doesn't have a bright colored belt to immediately draw your eyes to the center of the body. The subtle look of this outfit is what really makes this work. The darker fade jean even helps with a lengthening/slimming illusion.

Another great look for pretty much any male is the sports coat/blazer/suit jacket. Now this jacket, being made up of a linen/cotton blend strives for what is most often called the "noble wrinkle". It isn't so much a look of unkemptness...but rather a purposeful look of relaxation. What a jacket does is merely enlongate the torso. Since the flash of color comes at the center of the body, the eyes don't linger on the outward shape of the body. This is a great tactic for a man wanting to hide a little bit of a "spare tire" or those pesky flying squirrels caught in peanut butter. The several top buttons of the dress shirt unbuttoned shows that the male is confident and stylist. I highly recommend the top 2-3 buttons undone. Finally, a 3 button or more jacket pulls the lapels higher up on the jacket, thus slimming the person. If you have a larger waist, I would steer clear of a 3-button and move to the classic 2-button. A 2-button usually has more room through the lower area of the jacket without being overly noticeable. The one-button is reserved for usually slim-cut jackets and as such should be worn with well tailored shirts and more classic-cut pants.

Finally, the v-neck and 3/4 length sleeve. The v-neck has made quite a comeback over the last year. It allows more of the neck muscles to be seen, but the real benefit is how it helps to shape the chest area. The v-pattern mirrors the underside of the male pectorial area and really accents a well developed chest, or helps to enhance an average one. Notice how the shirt is just loose enough through the abs region to leave some to the imagination but at the same time doesn't blouse out at the bottom. The 3/4 length sleeve is one of my personal favorites. I often roll my sleeves up or "scrunch" them up as shown above. This shows off the thinner area of the forearm and helps to bunch up the fabric around the bulkier area of the arm. For guys with great biceps this actually masks your assets, but for guys with average to scrawny arms this works to your benefit. Since the bicep area is indiscernible, the imagination plays often to your advantage. Plus, the other benefit of the "scrunched" look is that you look more casual...and confident.

So that's how it rolls as of late. For more fashion ideas check out or .

Oh, and everytime you get ready to go out play the song Sharp Dressed Man by ZZ Top. It is the ultimate male psych-up song.