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As a private personal stylist for men for the last 6 years, it’s been my job to help weed through the noise and find the best clothes, accessories, and grooming products for my busy clients. The Quality Man asked me to share some picks for summer. Here are 9 summer essentials my clients and I are obsessed with.
Bonobos is one of my clients’ favorite brands. Their soft everyday tees are made with an ultra soft, superfine pima cotton. They come in a huge range of sizes — from XS to XXL, slim and regular cut, and are tagless (no more itchy necks). After being loyal to Uniqlo’s great supima cotton tees for almost a decade, I’ve made a 100% switch to Bonobos.
Like most people, a majority of my clients found themselves working from home during the pandemic. This presented a few wardrobe challenges. How can you look presentable and get yourself into “work mode” without resorting to sweats? My secret weapon for my guys has been drawstring chinos (which I’ve dubbed “easy pants”). They offer the best of both worlds:the comfort of sweats with the crispness of a work pant. Save Khaki United’s Twill Easy Chino has been a favorite of my clients’ thanks to their ultra soft American Supima cotton and huge range of colors.
Benjamin by Franks is the brainchild of Mr. Bee of Franks Chop Shop, who happens to be my barber. He’s cut everyone from Anderson Cooper to Drake and Anthony Kiedis-- and is the only person I trust to cut my clients’ hair. When Mr. Bee first told me the concept for his hair pomade, I knew he had something special in the works. “I want something that doesn’t smell so much. Guys are already using soap, shampoo, got [signature] their cologne. They don’t need another smell throwing everything off.” His pomades have the perfect hold, with just enough of a scent to chill in the background while your nicer cologne takes center stage. I use the water pomade, which offers a high shine with a light sandalwood scent. For something more matte with a stronger hold, try the clay pomade.
My background is in fashion design, so the world of skincare is new to me. A few years ago I decided to see a specialist at Heyday to help create a minimalist, simple skincare routine for my male clients. At the top of the list of essentials was a sunscreen -- and my clients and I have found two we love. Image Skincare’s Prevention+ matte sunscreen moisturizer SFP 32 ($40) is my top choice. It’s been popular with my male clients because it goes on matte, has a mild pleasant smell, and doubles as a moisturizer. The only downside is Image Skincare’s matte sunscreen can sell out fast. That’s when I grab Eucerin’s Daily Protection SPF 30 ($8), another sunscreen moisturizer combo. Not only is it lightweight and super affordable, you can get it at any drugstore. Both options are around SPF 30, which dermatologist Sandra Lee (of Dr. Pimple Popper fame) says is the sweet spot, offering 97% UV protection Higher SPFs like 50 only offer a 1% bump, are more expensive, and can cause acne.
Typical drugstore hand sanitizers always left me feeling like I just exited a hospital. They dried out my skin and smelled like I just washed my hands with vodka. I discovered Aesop’s Resurrection Rinse-Free hand wash after stopping by to stock up on their Resurrection soap. Their rinse-free hand wash features the same mandarin orange rind scent of their soaps, with a perfect ratio of hydroalcoholic gel to sanitize without drying out your skin. I have the large 16.9 pump in my entryway, and keep a 1.7oz travel bottle in my bag.
One of my biggest style pet peeves is when socks fall and bunch up at your ankles. There’s nothing more frustrating than feeling a sock slowly roll down your calf as you walk. Over the calf socks are often reserved for wool dress socks, but Bombas offers a cotton version that I love wearing with everything from loafers to sneakers. The over the calf socks are lightweight enough to wear in the spring and have a comfortable seamless toe design. Bonus? Like all their other socks, when you purchase a pair, Bombas donates a pair to communities in need.
In almost every client wardrobe I build, I try to include a retro style running sneaker. They’re extremely practical and versatile -- and really trendy right now. You can wear them with anything from sweats, drawstring chinos or jeans, even suits. My favorites lately have been New Balance 574s. Shopping protip: there’s no difference in the design between men’s and women’s outside of how the sizes are numbered. If you’re looking for more color options, shop for women’s 574s. Just make sure you order 1.5 larger than your size in men’s (for example, if you’re a size 9 men’s, you’d be a size 10.5 in women’s).
Warmer weather calls for a negroni. My wife and I love these single serving bottles by St. Agrestis as we don't need to have huge bottles of alcohol around the apartment if we want a cocktail. St. Agrestis makes its gin, vermouth, and bitters in-house. This creates a more complex herbaceous negroni than one you’d find at your local bar. Plus, they're super convenient to throw in a bag and pop open in the park. If you want to really prepare for spring, St. Agrestis offers a 1.75L box for your fridge.
As I tell my clients, the best gear isn’t always the most exclusive or expensive. High quality products can come from a dad favorite brand like New Balance, or be hiding in an aisle at your local drug store. Step into summer with confidence with our faves this season!