Monday, January 4

Male Fashion and Lifestyle: 3 Things Every Man Needs

Since I started wearing my Christmas present a bit early, I was asked about my watch by someone. It's a hybrid watch, which means it looks and acts like an old-fashioned watch but adds some smart watch features. I'd kind of missed having a watch since the Kansas movers stole my last one on our way to Jacksonville. Anyhow, the topic is watches, and this guy tells me there are three things every man should have: a tie, a watch, and a cologne collection. 

I'd never really thought about the male essentials, but since I'm a male fashion and lifestyle blogger, I figured I ought to weigh in on this one. While I can kind of agree with the essential of manhood list, I might have to add other items that are just as important, or at least bump something down to semi-important from our list. Anyhow, let's take a look. 

A Tie
So the tie does you no good without a collared shirt, so I'd probably say a shirt and tie, or maybe just call it a suit with a tie. Something you can wear to an event where everyone else will be wearing a tie. My friend and I, well before the film Wedding Crashers came out, had floated the idea of buying tuxedoes to wear to all formal events (and maybe sneak in to a few). It might have been funny, but I think I would have been overdressed to everything but our own weddings. Mostly, I don't wear a shirt and tie or suit to anything except some weddings, funerals, and job interviews. If you plan on ever showing up to those events, then owning a suit might make sense, and since most of us are not self-employed on a private island, you're going to need to be dressy a few times in your life. 

A Watch
Watches are mostly for decoration today, since every digital device in every room of your house has the time. Your vehicle, your phone, and the computer you play games on for work--all of them tell you the time. I even find it amusing when semi-homeless people around Jacksonville ask others for the time, since anybody for whom the time could possibly matter owns a device that tells him that time. But for a man to have the right accessories, does he need a watch? I'd say no, just because I've made it for several years at different times without one, and I don't think much changes. 

The fact is that I have always enjoyed having a nice watch. I got my first fancy-looking watch from Kohl's when I was twelve. An Armitron. It didn't keep the time well, even after I took the first one back. I had Swatches before the Armitron, but those were not really fancy. I got my next nice watch in college, and it was a Seiko Kinetic. I thought I had a watch that would last forever, but when I stopped wearing it over a summer when I played a lot of baseball, the battery never charged back up, and it was a stainless steel brick. Years later, my wife got me a very fashionable Skagen that got stolen before I got to Jacksonville, leaving me another three years in between watches. No big deal, though I do like wearing a nice watch when I am in public.

I guess I could agree with the idea that a man ought to have a nice watch rather than a cheapo (or even expensivo) fitness tracker. I suppose that's where some smart watches and hybrid watches might work. I did make the conscious decision to buy a watch first and then see what smart features were part of the deal. 

How about we say that a man ought to have a male jewelry item. A watch, a ring, a necklace, etc. Maybe an earring if you're a youth pastor or a tattoo if you're in the Navy or prison. The problem might be if you decide you're going to wear all of these accessories at once: a Rolex, tattoos, several rings, big gold chains, earrings, and more. Maybe Dennis Rodman could pull it off, but most of us, not so much. 

A Collection of Cologne 
I would say that a man ought to own a good go-to cologne that isn't a knockoff brand or something he wore in middle school. I'm not sure most men need an entire collection of colognes, though I do happen to have this because Christmas. Cologne lasts forever, and when your mom, wife, and even aunt buy it for you, then it lasts even longer. I even have some Stetson my grandma's boyfriend got me in our yearly secret Santa exchange. I also do have a tiny bottle of my middle school scent (Drakkar Noir), but I only wear that on retro dress up days. 

One warning about a signature scent cologne choice is that you might want to get more than one opinion about yours, even if your wife got it for you. My best friend always wore this one cologne after he got married, and I assume he liked it and his wife approved. However, I have a pretty good nose, and it smelled very much the same as a national brand feminine hygiene product. I couldn't bring myself to tell him, and since we were both married men not cruising for hotties, I didn't think it mattered too much. But if he'd have asked me if liked his new cologne, I would have been honest. He might have been like, "But I picked this out myself." And I would have said, "Dude, you're color blind, so these things happen."


Since I'm from Wisconsin, the importance of winter coats is ingrained in me, and a man needs to have at least one coat he can wear to church or a job interview. In Jacksonville, my nice black wool coat doesn't get much use, but having a decent all-around jacket here isn't a bad idea. I have a waterproof windbreaker that kind of fits the bill most of the time, but I probably should have gone black rather than gray. In general, I see way too many men around town who freeze when it gets cold out and/or who wear hoodies all winter. My choice for Jacksonville would probably be waterproof but with a liner that can be taken out. I'm not sure if that's a hybrid or convertible or neither, but the only thing I won't get is the puffy style. 

I have a collection of baseball hats, both from playing on teams and from being a fan. I noticed my neighbor heading out to the bars last week and wearing his own baseball cap backwards (which he probably hadn't done since college), so some guys still see it as a fashion accessory. I see it more as something I'll wear when my hair is having a bad morning. Also, you might be able to forego the all-around jacket with a decent winter hat. I can usually stay warm enough in Jacksonville with a fleece and knit cap because it's never really winter parka weather here. 

Sports Car
Let me ask dads out there if you still have that sporty little car you had back in high school. I assume not. I'm not saying everyone needs one of these, but if you can swing keeping that car, you'll be happy you did. I have a 1986 Bertone X 1/9 that isn't fast or in perfect condition, but it's a lot more fun to drive than an SUV or (heaven forbid) minivan, so I can still own one of those and tool around in something fun when I want. Some of you will buy a Porsche or Maserati SUV and call it a day. That's fine if you're satisfied with it. I just don't think a man with a Dodge Caravan GT is really happy or impressing anyone. 

Pectoral Muscles
After a year-and-a-half of dealing with what has been diagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis, I can no longer play sports. I'm not sure if I can do a push up, either. Yet, somehow, I still have pecs rather than man boobs, though the distinction is not quite as defined in years past. That said, I did almost impress my wife recently while doing some pec pops (Dwayne the Rock Johnson-style). Pecs are not a sign that you lift weights or work out a lot, just enough to not have flabby chest muscles. Of course, just as women now expect men to shave most of their body hair, perhaps women have also soured to defined male pecs. 

A Castle
The guy who provided the list of what every man should have was being dropped off at his parents' house. Actually, that's probably fine and often a wise financial decision, but it also might bring clarity to why this young man chose cologne as more important than a pot to piss in. When I was in college (and looking for hot babes), I am sure my cool watch and signature cologne seemed more important than the boarding house I shared with five other 20-somethings. However, now that I am a husband and father, I am thankful that I am not living in my parents' basement with my family, even if it was a fairly nice dwelling. I am also glad my family doesn't have in-laws staying with us or neighbors who live upstairs, but I could handle those situations as long as I was providing the house, condo, apartment, or double wide. 

Retirement Plan
While the young man who told me about his list of what every man needs was probably in his twenties and not worried about his retirement years, it's kind of an important part of a man's life eventually. I'm not talking about needing $1 million in investments or an insurance policy for future assisted living needs. I've got a partial pension, an investment property, some residual income, and another 15 years on my term life insurance  policy (just in case I don't make it to retirement). It's not a perfect plan, but it's at least a general outline. I think a lot of men might say a good job is more important than a retirement plan, but it's all kind of related. I had an OK job, but I got laid off. I've known others who worked entire careers just to lose their pensions to corporate greed. Still others worked 40 years with full retirement packages intact until the end. We can only really be sure of uncertainty, but a man does need to at least make an effort to provide some hope for a few years free of constant toiling. Even if the plan is to keep working to some extent well into your 80s, it's still a plan.

In some ways, the point of a man having all the stuff listed here is to make him a viable candidate to land a special lady and form a family. Some men might think having a beautiful girlfriend or wife is on the list of what every man should have. Or lots of beautiful women. Or men. Maybe it's just about having the children that result from dedicated or even fleeting relationships. Or living at home with your own parents until they need a care provider. Some men, especially young ones, might think friends are just like family, so your bros might qualify, at least until they get married and their wives don't like you (and they won't).

My List
When I was young, my own list might have included fashion accessories or fragrances. When I was really young, it would have included a baseball glove, a bat, and a ball. The things every man needs change as he changes, and it would be presumptuous of me to say my own list would be definitive for any man other than myself, but it's probably not a bad idea to make a list of your own and rate how you're doing, even if list-making isn't normally a guy thing.

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