How to Cook the Perfect Steak & Make Compound Butter – The Steak Guide, Part III

There’s no denying that great steak is a treat – juicy, tender and rosy meat surrounded by a well-seasoned crust is a simple-yet-impressive main course that’s often on the menu for celebrations and special occasions. Considering the cost of dining out at a steakhouse, learning how to cook the perfect steak at home is a skill that every (meat-eating) man should master.

You’d think that cooking a steak – which aside from choosing the cut is merely a matter of adding seasoning and heat – would be fairly straightforward, but it is a polarizing subject. Like BBQ, there are many schools of thought.  For one thing, the ideal cooking method may differ based upon the cut of the steak in question; for more information on steak cuts, you can jump back to the first part of this guide.

Part I – Best Steak Cuts

Part II – How To Buy Steak

Part III – How To Cook The Perfect Steak

As an example, bone-in steaks like the T-bone and rib steak often achieve their best donenesses on the grill, as the bones in these cuts could interfere with surface contact when being pan-seared. Before we get into specific techniques, however, let’s take a look at a basic overview of the range of donenesses that can be achieved, the different methods and materials available to the home cook, and what tools and are required.

A beautiful bone in ribeye

A beautiful bone-in ribeye.

Choose Your Desired Doneness Before You Begin

The amount of time that your steak cooks is always based on personal preference. Knowing this, there are still some general rules; shorter cook times result in a juicier, more flavorful steak, whereas longer cook times result in a drier, tougher meat (but with less concern for bacteria). While steaks can be cooked to almost any doneness level, there is a standard system of terminology used by most professional chefs, which is as follows:

  • Raw – Completely uncooked; usually bathed in a light dressing or used for dishes such as carpaccio or steak tartare.
  • Blue Rare – Seared very quickly; the outside usually has a nice sear to it, with the inside being cool and bright red, basically raw. In Germany, this is known as English Style, since it’s common for English chefs to place the steak in the oven at a low temperature to warm before cooking.
  • Rare – Cooked to 126°F or 52°C, it has a cooked or seared outside with a bright red center that is slightly warmed.
  • Medium Rare – Cooked to 131°F or 55°C, it features a reddish-pink center. This is the standard degree to which most steaks are cooked by restaurant chefs, unless otherwise specified.
Steak Doneness Chart

Steak Doneness Chart

  • Medium – Cooked to 145°F or 63 °C, the middle of the steak is fully pink and hot, with a grayish-brown crust.
  • Medium Well – Cooked to 154°F or 68°C, with a light-pink center and a browned crust.
  • Well Done – Cooked to 163°F or 73°C; greyish-brown throughout, with the outside slightly charred.
  • Over Done – Cooked as hot as 194°F or 90°C, the meat is blackened and charred throughout, resulting in a tough and dry piece of meat with little to no juice and any fat being rendered down.

As we recommend that your steak-eating experience be one of strong flavor, we would suggest that you try a doneness level anywhere from blue rare to medium rare, depending on how comfortable you are with the bacterial risks of eating raw and under-cooked meat.

Steak Cooking Methods

There are pros and cons to each cooking method for a steak, and many stubborn opinions about which is best. What follows is an objective summary of the pros and cons of each method, so that you can decide for yourself which method you’d like to try first.

  • Grilling Steaks
    • There are two primary types of grill available to the home cook, those being the charcoal grill and the gas grill. Other types, such as the wood-fired grill, are often less predictable in their temperature consistency, and are thus not as well-suited to grilling steaks.
    • Charcoal grill
      • Pros: Smoky flavor; beautiful hashmarks on the surface of the meat
      • Cons: Time-consuming process; practice and familiarity needed to master the equipment; can be somewhat messy
        • Additionally, as the grates of the grill allow any juices to run off from the meat, grilled steaks are harder to baste (which adds other flavors and moisture).
        • Not as much crust created vs. pan searing
        • Easier to burn or infuse burned flavor into the meat
    • Gas grill
      • Pros: clean flavor; easier to manipulate and control heat than a charcoal grill; beautiful hashmarks
      • Cons: lacks the smoky flavor of a charcoal grill; difficult to baste; not as much crust created vs. pan searing
Grilled Steak

Steak on the grill.

  • Pan-seared Steaks
    • Pros: simple process; inexpensive tools; works in nearly every kitchen
      • Can baste to add flavor and moisture
    • Cons: If the pan isn’t suitably hot – that is, hot enough to quickly form a nice crust while leaving the remainder of the meat mostly pink- the meat will cook through more completely while the pan’s temperature rises, resulting in less tenderness. As such, the pan-only method may not be ideal for very thick cuts of meat.
  • Pan & Oven Combinations
    • Pan-to-oven Method: start by pan-searing the steak, then bring to temperature in the oven.
      • Pros: a more even internal temp at the beginning of searing (in this case, cool) results in less overdone meat around the edges.
      • Cons: time-consuming and fiddly
    • Reverse Sear: bake the steak in the oven first, then sear.
      • Pros: a more even internal temp at the beginning of searing (in this case, warm) results in less overdone meat around the edges
      • Cons: time consuming and fiddly; the internal temperature of the steak may drop considerably while being transferred from oven to pan, so a desired doneness may be harder to achieve.
Butter basting adds flavor and nuttyness as well as keeps the steak juicy and tender

Basting a pan-seared steak in a cast-iron skillet.

  • A Tip for Pan Searing
    • Go with a heavy stainless-steel or cast-iron pan, as these materials provide good heat capacity and distribution, especially as compared to aluminum or teflon pans. With that said, cast iron is a bit harder to maintain, especially if you live in a humid climate, and may rust if not seasoned or stored properly. Alternatively, a dutch oven (enameled cast iron) provides the temperature control of regular cast iron with fewer maintenance concerns, and so may be a good choice for you.
  • Sous Vide & Sear
    • This method is very similar to the the reverse sear, but it requires specialized equipment (namely, a sous vide machine).
    • Pros: Awesome if you have the equipment; this cooking method allows you to hold meat at a desired temperature for a relatively long time prior to searing, allowing for complete control over doneness and edge-to-edge color.
    • Cons: Sous vide is expensive and much fussier than other methods; the texture of the finished steak may be more rubbery than with other methods.
Tribest Sousvant Sous Vide Machine

Tribest Sousvant Sous Vide Machine

Based on the best possible result with the fewest variables, our three recommended methods are simple pan-searing, grilling, and the pan-to-oven method. Still, we welcome you to try out each of the methods discussed here, to get a feel for them and to decide which you prefer.

Seasoning Your Steak

If you bought a great steak, you want to taste what you paid for. As such, the flavor of the meat shouldn’t be hidden under copious amounts of bold, multi-flavored seasonings; rather, a small amount of seasoning goes a long way to giving the natural flavors of the meat a subtle and pleasing accent. With that in mind, here are some simple seasonings that we recommend in reasonable amounts:

    • Salt: standard kosher has the simplest flavor, though you can experiment with flavorings; we recommend mesquite smoked salt, for example.
    • Freshly ground black pepper (not pre-ground in a store-bought container!)
    • Steak seasonings; we like a brand local to the Midwest called Penzeys
      • Rub it on with a bit of olive oil 4h before grilling
    • Fresh herbs and garlic (after most of the cooking is done)
      • Choose from thyme, sage, oregano, rosemary, chive, parsley, etc.
      • Dry herbs are not flavorful enough, and frozen ones have too much residual water
    • Other recommended seasonings include garlic and a bit of Hungarian paprika
    • Butter
      • Use a European, high-fat-content butter
      • We’re also big fans of so-called “compound butter;” it requires its own process to make at home, which we’ll outline here.
Fresh parsley, a great choice for seasoning steak.

Fresh parsley, a great choice for seasoning steak.

How To Make Compound Butter For Steaks

Compound butter (literally) rolls your butter and herbs into one pleasing little package, and is therefore a great complement to any steak.

    • As outlined above, we recommend that you use a European-style butter and fresh herbs.
    • Add a pinch of smoked salt, paprika, and a dash of fish sauce for that nice umami flavor.
    • Place all of your ingredients into a bowl, and blend with a spoon until they reach a uniform consistency.
    • Place the mixture (which should still be semisolid) onto parchment paper, and roll into a log.
    • Store the log in the refrigerator, taking it out when the steaks are ready to be served.
    • Cut small discs from the log, placing atop each finished steak. Enjoy!

 

Required Tools for Cooking Steaks

Fortunately, you won’t need many tools to cook a great steak, other than your desired cooking implement (be that stovetop and pan, oven, or grill), a good pair of sturdy tongs, and an instant-read thermometer. Regarding the last of these, it’s important that you find a modern-style thermometer with a digital display; old-school meat thermometers with a dial readout are simply too inaccurate to ensure a proper doneness. One other note: skip the “hand pushing” method of measuring doneness (that is, comparing the firmness of the meat to that of your hand when pushed while holding certain fingers together), as this technique is much too subjective and unreliable.

Thermapen Mk4 Thermometer

An example of a digital-display meat thermometer.

Regarding the setup of your kitchen, make sure that you have proper ventilation, as you may encounter some smoke, particularly when pan-searing. The ideal kitchen should have a strong fan, ensuring controlled air flow. Even if you don’t have a restaurant style setup (with such features as an indoor charcoal grill with adjustable grates), you can still cook a great steak. With this information established, let’s get to cooking!


Cooking Your Steak

  • Allow steaks to come to room temperature; this can depend on the temperature of your refrigerator, but we recommend letting your steaks rest on the kitchen counter for anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours.
  • Pat steaks dry with paper towels, as extra moisture inhibits browning.
  • Trim your steaks as desired; some people prefer to leave on any large caps of fat, while others remove them. While the choice is yours, keep in mind that steaks cooked to any doneness below medium will likely not get hot enough to melt the majority of this fat.
New York Strip aka Kansas City Strip Steak cuts with different degree of marbling - From Right to Left - Akaushi, Prime, Select, Grass Fed

New York Strip aka Kansas City Strip Steak cuts with different degrees of fat marbling – From right to left: Akaushi, Prime, Select, Grass Fed.

  • Season the dry surface with your preferred seasonings.
    • When pan-searing, there are two schools of thought regarding seasoning; some cooks argue that pan-seared steaks should not be seasoned before cooking, as the seasonings (especially the salt) will draw moisture to the surface of the meat, which will inhibit browning.
    • In our own tests for the creation of this guide, we did find the sear to be marginally better on non-pre-seasoned steaks. However, these steaks had fewer complementary flavors, as the seasoning was only added at the end of the cooking process.
    • The decision is yours to make, but if you’d like to taste some seasoning along with the natural flavor of the meat, we do recommend seasoning prior to cooking, up to four hours in advance. Just make sure your pan is quite hot, and you’ll still get a great sear.
    • When grilling a steak, feel free to season beforehand; your grill marks should come out nicely either way, as long as your grates are at the proper temperature.
Butcher Cut Pepper is best for steaks

Cracked black peppercorns.

  • If pan-searing, add oil to the pan; don’t oil the steak directly, because you’ll need more oil than just what the surface of the meat can hold.
    • Be sure to use an oil with a high smoke point; rather than something like olive oil, we suggest grapeseed or peanut oil.
  • Bring your cooking surface (pan or grill grates) up to temperature.
    • Restaurants can cook with temperatures up to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, though this is hard to replicate in the home. Simply get your surface as hot as you can to ensure the best crust formation.
  • Using your tongs, place your steak on the cooking surface, laying it away from you to avoid any splattering of fat or oil. The heat of the surface will drive the juices to the center of the steak.
cast iron skillet steak

Seasoned steak cooking in a cast-iron skillet.

  • Cook to the proper doneness.
    • Check your cooking time based on the size and thickness of your meat.
    • Turn your steak during cooking; some chefs recommend only one turn, but you can turn more often, so long as you keep a close eye on temperature.
    • When pan-searing, some cooks add butter, herbs, garlic, or other seasonings to the pan at this stage. We found, however, that this won’t add a lot of flavor to the finished steak, and instead recommend pre-seasoning and/or finishing with compound butter (see above).
    • When grilling, start with all burners on high heat (preheating for 15-20 minutes), grilling each side twice, forming a diamond pattern with your grill-marks. Following this, turn off the center burner (placing the steak there), and reduce the others to low, aiming for an internal temperature of 250 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. When grilling a bone-in steak, stand it up on the bone. Remove the steak when it’s 5-10 degrees cooler than your desired temperature.
Sous Vide Cook with Cast Iron Finish

Sous-vide-cooked steak, with a cast-iron finish.

  • Rest the steaks for 5-10 minutes (wrapped in aluminum foil) after cooking.
    • During cooking, the meat contracts and the juices move toward the center of the steak. Therefore, if you don’t let your steaks rest, the juices will pour out, resulting in dry meat. Resting allows or the the juices to evenly redistribute and be retained after slicing, for optimal juiciness.
  • Serve your steaks on heated plates.
    • Heated plates ensure that your steaks will be kept warm throughout the meal. Most plates can be preheated in the oven; using oven mitts when inserting and removing them, keep them in for just a few minutes, so that they’re warm without being dangerously hot to the touch.
  • Enjoy!
Pan seared Top Sirloin Steak topped with compound herb butter - stay tuned for our how to cook a steak and make compound butter video

Pan-seared top sirloin steak topped with compound herb butter.

Preferred Methods for Different Cuts

As we outlined above, we find that bone-in steaks achieve best results when grilled. For other cuts, such as the sirloin, strip, tenderloin, and ribeye, we recommend the pan-to-oven method, as pan-searing provides even browning, and the temperature of an oven is somewhat easier to control than that of a grill. Furthermore, grilling is less than ideal in cold winter climates, so perfecting your pan-searing technique is a worthwhile investment of time.

Conclusion

Using the techniques outlined here, you should be able to cook a great steak using a variety of methods. Remember that practice makes perfect, and that you should experiment with different techniques to see which ones you most prefer. As a reminder, you can refer back to the other two parts of this Steak Guide, which cover cuts (in Part I) and considerations for buying (in Part II). Bon appétit!

How to cook the perfect steak

This steak guide was written by Preston Schlueter, incorporating previous writings by Sven Raphael Schneider.


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Squeezed between the Andes and the Pacific and stretching from the Atacama Desert to the glaciers of Patagonia, this strip of a country opens its secrets to backpackers prepared to push into the lesser-known quarters: to the lava fields of Conguillío national park with its monkey puzzle trees, or to the wild beaches of Hueicolla. Along the journey you can sip bitter-sweet pisco sours, squirm at salty raw piure (bizarre red-fleshed sea creatures) and fill your boots with world-class Chilean wine.

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The Eyeglasses Guide for Men, Part I: History & Style Overview

After the horror of the eyewear in the 80’s and 90’s, eyeglasses have turned a sartorial corner. They are no longer dreaded but necessary accessories, because classic styles are making a comeback. Now glasses are affordable, optional accessories that you can use not only to correct your vision but to boost your style as well.

Like sunglasses, glasses can have a powerful affect on your style statement. In this guide, we will discuss why you should wear glasses, history, classic style options, and where to find the most interesting pairs.

Michael Caine wearing statement rectangular glasses in the 60s

Michael Caine wearing statement rectangular glasses in the 60s

What’s to Love About Glasses?

For many of us, getting rid of our glasses (after surgery or contact lenses) was a long-awaited triumph. That begs the question, what’s to love about glasses? Plenty, actually.

  • They’re optional these days! Since they are no longer the only way to correct your vision, you can choose to wear them as little or as often as you like.
  • Eyeglasses are finally more affordable. With low-cost online eyeglass retailers lining up to take your business where there were once only high-cost, cumbersome optical stores, you can now easily find and afford more than one pair, if you want.
  • Quality materials are making a comeback. Since glasses are now more about fashion than function, more retailers are offering materials other than basic plastic and metal.
  • You don’t need a prescription to wear them. Like to look of glasses but don’t need them or hate to wear anything but contacts? No problem. Many brands now offer the option of ordering frames with non-corrective polycarbonate lenses. Only you will know.
  • Glasses make you look smart. It’s not just a stereotype, it’s actually been scientifically proven. According to Psychology Today, glasses make the wearer appear more intelligent, honest and trustworthy, in addition to reducing your threat level and associating you with a higher social class. If you’re looking to get ahead at the office, getting glasses may just help.
  • They add maturity to young faces and youth to mature faces. By pairing mature frames with youthful faces and vice versa, you can change the impression of your age.
Vintage Glasses by Blickzurück - Anett Spinola

Vintage Glasses

History of Men’s Glasses

Glasses have come a long way in the last 700 years. The first mention of eyeglasses in roughly the format we know them today, two-lens corrective frames, in historical texts was in the late 13th century in Italy. Cultures around the world had been experimenting with optics for centuries prior, and the 11th-century Arabic text of the Book of Optics laid the foundation for the creation of modern eyeglasses. By the turn of the 14th century, Venice had established a guild to regulate eyeglasses. This early eyewear employed convex lenses to magnify a subject. The earliest known pair of dual-lens glasses ever discovered was dated to 1400 in Germany.

Scissors Glasses French Empire 1805

Scissors Glasses French Empire 1805

A few hundred years later, Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals and astronomer George Airy created lenses that could correct astigmatism. Glasses with temples that extended over the ears had been around for years, but glasses that were hand-held (lorgnette) or worn over the nose (pince-nez) dominated the market. Well into the 20th century, glasses were considered a “medical appliance” that was something to be embarrassed about, and they were intentionally designed to be as invisible as possible. It wasn’t until the 1970s that retailers caught on to the consumer demand for stylish eyewear, and the market has exploded since then. Eyeglasses are no longer an accessory to hide but much rather they are a stylish accent that can be used to enhance your outfit or burnish your personal image.

Eyeglasses Construction

Eyeglasses are constructed of several parts. Depending on the frame style, eyeglasses are typically constructed of a pair of rims that secure the lenses, a bridge which connects the two lenses, nose pads, and the temples, which extend over the ears.

Classic rounded plastic Eyeglass Frame

Classic rounded plastic Eyeglass Frame

Modern day glasses are constructed from many materials, including:

Plastic

Cellulose acetate is a plastic polymer that is made from wood pulp. Unlike other plastics (such as TR-90) which can be made from chemicals and petroleum, cellulose acetate is a plant-based plastic that is molded into sheets. Individual frames are then cut from the sheet and hand polished, which is more resource intensive than extruding plastic and therefore more expensive. Acetate is stiffer, heavier and more durable than standard plastic. Multi-colored patterns such as tortoiseshell are far more beautiful in acetate since the patterns were created over an entire sheet; standard plastic must be molded or worse, painted, to achieve the same affect.

In general, plastics like acetate and TR-90 are hypoallergenic. The main disadvantages are that they are more difficult to adjust, they are heavier than metal, and under stress, they can break or snap. Given the choice, we would highly recommend seeking out acetate for its beauty and durability.

Natural Materials

Though much harder to find and very expensive, it is possible to find frames that are made from bone, horn, shell, or wood. Wood frames are a recent trend,  and they are typically constructed similarly to a plastic frame. All wood frames are often made from a hardwood that is then veneered with a more precious wood. Buffalo and deer horn is often hand carved to shape, and beautiful natural striations and a matte finishing make for a distinctive choice. Real tortoise shell is largely outlawed, but a determined person could find vintage frames at specialty retailers.

Natural materials can be a distinctive style choice, but they offer only limited styles and require extra work on the wearer’s part to seek them out.

Original Tortoiseshell glasses are very difficult to find these days as mostly only old stock materials can be made into eyewear these days. As such, they often fetch prices north of $ 10,000.

Metal

Metal is a lightweight, easily adjustable choice for eyewear. They are ubiquitous in titanium, aluminum and various alloys such as Monel, which is corrosion resistant. Metal is particularly good for thin frames, such as round or rectangular shapes.

There are a handful of disadvantages to metal. They can easily be bent or misshapen, and since metal has a strong “memory” it can be hard, if not impossible, to reform them. People with metal allergies may find they react to metal glasses. Coated metal frames can also lose their finish over time, which will cause metal glasses to age faster than plastic frames.

Pascal Zimmer from Luxembourg with Newsboy Cap, Vintage glasses and shearling collar and lapel

Round metal glasses are staging a comeback

Glasses can be a signature accessory, such as Woody Allen's classic frames

Glasses can be a signature accessory, such as Woody Allen’s classic frames

Recommended Styles

One of the reasons we love glasses at GG is that so many of the classics are back in style. Here is a selection of styles that are classic yet very modern. Note that there are many variations on each style, so if our recommended frame doesn’t suit you, there is probably a retailer out there with an option for you.

Browline frames from Glasses USA

Browline frames

Browline or Clubmaster Glasses

Browline frames are defined by a top-heavy, strong frame along the line of the brow and temples. The lenses are suspended from the top of the frame by thin metal wires, drawing the eye upwards. This style is iconic of the 50s and 60s, when it was worn by famous figures such as Malcolm X and President Lyndon B. Johnson. This style is particularly good at adding maturity to youthful faces, but for more seasoned gentleman it can risk looking dated. This edgier style is great for creative types or those who simply want to blend classic style with a bold statement. Check out these black and gold Copperfield browline frames, $ 89 with lenses or if you want more customization option, Shuron.

Round Metal Glasses

Round metal glasses have long been the choice for counter-culture, resistance and youth-culture movements, and now they are reentering the mainstream. Favored by Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi, John Lennon and even Harry Potter, they are a bold statement by someone who feels they fall just outside of the mainstream. Today, they can be found in true round shapes to softened round shapes that are a little less aggressive. Great for creative, quirky types. Check out this pair of soft round Ray-Ban 6355 frames here, $ 185 with lenses.

Round plastic frames suit many ages and styles

Round plastic frames suit many ages and styles

Round Plastic Frames with a Keyhole Bridge

Unlike round metal frames, round plastic frames with a keyhole bridge are the epitome of classic men’s mainstream eyewear. These frames help add maturity to youthful faces, but unlike browline frames, they also work well for seasoned gentlemen. Overall, this look is ageless, intelligent, and thoughtful. Of course, the material is not the best. So if horn is our of your price range, and you can’t find something in acetate that you like, check out this pair of classic round Theory frames from EyeBuyDirect, $ 70 with lenses.

 

Rectangular Glasses

Rectangular frames can make a variety of statements. Long, thin frames are simple and pedestrian, while thick rectangles in dark shades can make a bold statement for men of all ages. They are just as fresh and attractive now as they were in the 60’s. This style is particularly good for adding youthfulness to mature faces, especially in bold color choices such as clear, blue, or tortoise shell. They give the impression of confidence, competence, and a touch of edginess to an otherwise classic frame.

Big Pattern

Herbert Stricker wearing rectangular frames with a bold dinner jacket

Do you wear eyeglasses? What is your go-to style?


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Fall Guide 2018: The biggest sporting events of the season in New York

The fall is nearly in full swing — and we’ve got you covered, sports fans.

Pro and college football games are finally upon us, with the MLB postseason and NBA and NHL regular seasons just on the horizon as well.

Here are the best sporting events in New York to look forward to this fall.

Yankees

Life Style – New York Daily News

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If you’re reading this, congratulations on surviving a brutally hot summer. After shielding children in swimming pools and freezing cold movie theaters, the fresh outdoors beckon with the promise of changing leaves and bonfires. The autumnal equinox, too, signals the start of school, but hey, that’s…

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How to Buy the Best Steak for Your Money – The Steak Guide, Part II

In the first part of our Steak Guide, we discussed what a steak is (and isn’t), the related terminology, and what cuts of beef we recommend that you buy. The question remains, then: how should you go about buying your steak? This second part in the series answers that question, letting you know where and how to buy steak in order to get the highest quality product for your money.

Getting Started with Buying Your Steak

The first step to buying a great steak is to look at the components we discussed in Part I of this guide, in order to determine your preferred cut–whether that be a ribeye, a tenderloin, a New York Strip, a sirloin, or a t-bone or porterhouse.

Assortment of Steak Cuts at the butcher

Assortment of Steak Cuts at the butcher

Second, you look at the flavor profile. Is it grass-fed is it grain-fed or maybe grain fed with grass finish? Of course the size and the thickness of the steak are also very important. Most grocery-store steaks are usually cut very thin, while most chefs prefer a 1- to 2-inch thickness. At the end of the day, you should choose something that you’re comfortable cooking, because both can be over- and under-cooked. In our experience, we recommend slightly thicker cut steaks, as they preserve a bit of that nice pink area inside when prepared medium-rare.

Measure the Marbling – The USDA Grading Scale

A huge factor to consider when buying a steak is the amount of marbling, which is basically the amount of intramuscular fat. The marbling of steak can vary considerably depending on the cut you choose as well as the quality level of beef that you get. In the United States, the USDA has a grading system for beef that’s pretty universal; there are three main categories: USDA Select, Choice, and Prime. These three grading categories are simply based on the amount of marbling present in the beef. USDA Select is considered to be the lowest grade of steak you can get, but it’s therefore also the leanest one.

A handy infographic breaking down the USDA grading system.

Approximately 40% of all steaks are categorized as USDA Select. The next class up is USDA Choice, which will already have a higher degree of fine marbling visible; large chunks of fat are undesirable, because they won’t melt when you grill or sear a steak. Choice is the only category that is further sub-categorized into three: these sub-categorizations are small marbling, moderate marbling, and modest marbling. Small marbling represents approximately 37% of all steaks, modest marbling approximately 15%, and moderate marbling approximately 5%. Reigning supreme at the top of the USDA scale is the Prime steak. It’s the most flavorful choice, having the largest amount of marbling. Only about 3% of all steaks are graded as USDA Prime.

New York Strip aka Kansas City Strip Steak cuts with different degree of marbling - From Right to Left - Akaushi, Prime, Select, Grass Fed

New York Strip aka Kansas City Strip Steak cuts with different degree of marbling – From Right to Left – Akaushi, Prime, Select, Grass Fed

What About Grass-fed Beef?

Though it has become a desirable term (and something of a “buzz-word”) among consumers these days, we feel it’s important to note that “grass-fed” is not a protected or regulated term to any degree; thus, it can mean anything from a cow that ate just a tiny bit of grass to one that ate nothing but grass. As such, it really pays to understand where your grass-fed beef is coming from, and what the breeders are actually doing and feeding to their cattle. In general, grass-fed beef is leaner and has less intramuscular fat, simply because grass is not as energy-dense as grain. Also, grazing cows walk more than their grain-fed counterparts.

Grain Fed vs. Grass Fed

Grain Fed vs. Grass Fed

In recent years, grass-fed beef has become increasingly popular, touted by many as the healthy choice in steaks due to its higher amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids. While this claim is true when comparing the amount of Omega-3 in grass-fed steak to conventional grain-fed cuts, the overall amount still pales in comparison to other foods. For example, a 3.5-ounce piece of sirloin steak that is grass-fed has about 80 milligrams of Omega-3; at the same time, a traditional or conventional grain-fed piece of beef of the same size and cut has about half that, at 40 milligrams. Comparing both of these cuts to a 3.5-ounce piece of salmon, we find that the salmon contains 1000 to 2000 milligrams of Omega-3, meaning you’ll get about 12 to 25 times as much in the same portion.

Cattle on a ranch near Elko, Nevada, USA.

Cattle on a ranch near Elko, Nevada, USA.

What does this mean in practice? While it’s true that the consumer will get more Omega-3 fatty acids with grass-fed beef, we suggest that you simply enjoy the occasional piece of salmon every once in a while, and stick with traditional grain-fed beef; thus, you’ll continue to enjoy the more complex flavors of grain-fed beef when indulging in a steak, while still maintaining a diet that is richer in Omega-3 overall. That being said: as we discussed previously, grass-fed cattle are more often raised under more humane conditions; fewer antibiotics are used, and the cattle are allowed to roam and graze rather than being confined to tight-fitting pens, with the added benefit that such conditions lead to less environmental pollution. All this being said, grass-fed steaks do have a distinct flavor that some people enjoy or even prefer. At the end of the day, it’s a personal choice which you must make for yourself, and there’s no right or wrong answer.

What About Angus Steaks?

Certified Angus is a term that you’ll often see in restaurants or grocery stores, but stated simply, it refers to a specific cattle breed, not a quality grading. Angus or Aberdeen Angus is a breed of Scottish cattle that is smaller than the typical American cattle. As it is a breed and not a grading, Angus steaks can be graded under the USDA system discussed above, just as is the case with non-Angus beef. The breed has been around in the US for quite a while; the American Angus Association was founded in Chicago in 1883, though interestingly, it took them until 1978 to come up with the Certified Angus beef standard. The purpose behind this certification was simply to promote the idea of a higher-quality beef. In order to meet the Certified Angus standard, the cow in question must be 51% black in color and exhibit Angus influence, which includes simmental cattle and cross-breeds. Other necessary criteria include higher-than-average marbling, a carcass size of under 1000 pounds, and a certain hump size.

Two cuts of Angus beef (bearing the Certified Angus logo) alongside standard USDA-graded cuts.

With that being said, it’s worth keeping in mind that even McDonald’s serves Certified Angus beef. In our opinion, most people would not be able to discern a tenderloin of Certified Angus beef from a tenderloin that is not Certified Angus in a blind test, whereas a great many people would immediately be able to tell the difference between (for example) a Select-grade tenderloin and a Prime tenderloin. As with the differences between grass-fed and grain-fed beef, the difference in flavor (however marginal it may be) is yours to seek out if you prefer it.

What About Japanese Beef?

Given that these terms have also risen to greater popularity in recent years, let’s aim to answer the question of what characteristics are displayed by Kobe and Wagyu beef, and whether or not these Japanese cuts are worth your money. Stated simply, Kobe is a Japanese black cattle breed; more specifically, one of the Tajima substrain. It is fed on grain fodder, with a feeding period which is considerably longer than in the US (typically 26 to 32 months, as opposed to just 18). Kobe beef also has a much higher degree of intramuscular fat, the melting point of which is also much lower by comparison–meaning that when you eat it, it melts in your mouth like butter.

Steak Marbling Guide

A marbling guide to Japanese steaks.

There are only about 3000 cattle that qualify annually as authentic Kobe beef, and the best of them are never exported from Japan. Kobe grades go from a 1 at the low end to a 5 at the highest end. In the US, there are only a handful of restaurants that even offer a 5 grade Kobe beef. With this degree of exclusivity in mind, know that anything outside of these 3000 annually imported cattle are not the real deal, but rather a crossbreed between the Tajima strain and Angus cattle or other cattle in the US. In other words: whenever you are at the grocery store in the US and you see something advertised as Kobe beef, know that it’s simply not the real thing. If you are at a restaurant which touts that it does happen to serve genuine Kobe beef, it will cost you anywhere from $ 40 to $ 60 per ounce to enjoy such a steak–almost $ 2 per gram. While there are, in fact, some American Kobe beef breeders who have not crossbred their cattle, and they have them DNA tested to have them certified by the American Wagyu Association, we would generally urge you not to overpay for this American-style Kobe beef (especially when in a restaurant), because you can never see the raw product.

Authentic Japanese Kobe beef at the Wynn

Authentic Japanese Kobe beef at the Wynn

In our experience, Kobe beef is so fatty that you really don’t need more than two to three ounces per serving; personally, I once had it when I was in Japan, and it’s an entirely different experience from an American steak. I wouldn’t even call it the same thing–it’s really more like flavorful butter rather than the steak experience that you’re used to. So, should you buy the American Wagyu or Kobe beef that is advertised all over the place? Just keep in mind that it’s a crossbreed, and while it usually results in a higher amount of fat, it’s not regulated, so you really don’t know what you’re getting unless you can trust the source.

Akaushi Beef

Another Japanese beef variety that has become more popular recently in the US is so-called Akaushi beef. It’s actually a form of Japanese brown cattle, as opposed to black. In 1994, a Texas Ranger imported 11 purebred Akaushi cattle to the US, taking care to keep them separate from any American cattle to prevent crossbreeding. Today, that farm has over 5,000 head of Akaushi cattle. Typically, Akaushi steaks have even more marbling than USDA Prime steaks, and as such, are often priced higher (though you may occasionally be able to find a sale). Personally, I like the taste of it, and I think it’s a good alternative. So, the next time you come across a cut of Akaushi beef, maybe give it a try and see if you like it.

Certified Kobe Plaque at the Wynn in Las Vegas

Certified Kobe Plaque at the Wynn in Las Vegas

Where to Buy Your Steaks

Of course, once you know what kind of beef you like, you have to decide where you intend to buy it.

Grocery Store

Typically, the lowest-quality steak is always precut at the grocery store and shrink-wrapped. You have to hope that they didn’t falsify the packaging date, but keep in mind that–as we discussed in Part I–aging beef is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as it’s not spoiled. Alternatively, you can have your piece of meat cut at the grocery store’s meat counter, which has the considerable advantage that you can get exactly the piece of meat you want, in the exact thickness.

A typical grocery store meat counter.

Butcher Shop & Farmer’s Market

Another great source for your steaks is the local butcher shop. While there are chains of butchers, visiting a chain makes it harder to know where things are coming from. Conversely, if you go to an independently owned butcher, they can usually tell you exactly where their cattle is coming from, what breed it is, and why they chose it. Best of all, you can even have your local butcher dry-age certain beef cuts to your exact specifications, ensuring the flavor profile that you most enjoy. Additionally, you can also buy meat from a local farmer’s market; the benefits of this option are that you’ll be able to get to know the farmer well with repeated shopping (as well as learn what his cattle-raising and preparatory techniques are), and be secure in the knowledge that all the money you’re paying goes to him, and not to some marketing or logistics scheme.

Beautiful steak cuts at Lowry Hill Meats - a local butcher shop in Minneapolis

Beautiful steak cuts at Lowry Hill Meats – a local butcher shop in Minneapolis

Online Retailers

When it comes to specialty steaks–especially American-style Wagyu or other very high-end and expensive cuts–you can also buy them online. These cuts will likely come to you in Styrofoam boxes, packed in dry ice to prevent spoiling. You can buy online with confidence; that being said, it’s our experience that the prices you’ll pay for that kind of service are quite high for the quality that you’ll receive.

Snake River Farms American Kobe Wagyu Brisket

American Kobe Wagyu Brisket from online retailer Snake River Farms.

At the end of the day, what kind of steak you buy is entirely up to you. If you go to the grocery store, you’ll likely get the lowest overall price, whereas if you go to your local farmer or butcher, you will probably learn more about where your meat is coming from and what you’re eating. Also, if you like the taste of dry-aged beef, you’ll most often have to go to a butcher shop, or to someone else who really knows how to handle it; it’s not something you can do in your fridge at home.

Additional Tips

Finally, here are a few other tips we recommend when selecting your steaks:

  • How do you know whether a steak is aged so it’s really tender? I always find that if I use my finger and I push into the meat and the meat stays down it is tender, and will remain so once it’s cooked or grilled. Typically, grocery-store steaks are not aged as long, and will spring back immediately when subjected to this “push test.”
  • It’s worth noting that cattle that is stressed out before it’s slaughtered will have meat that tastes differently and feels tougher than meat from cattle that was relaxed at the time of slaughter–ergo, asking local sellers of meat about their techniques is often a desirable course of action.
  • If you and your family are frequent meat eaters, consider buying in larger quantities, such as a half or quarter of a cow. As beef can be frozen and defrosted for individual meals (and in fact, many chefs argue that beef that has been frozen cooks up better than fresher beef from the refrigerator), buying in bulk may be a cost-effective solution for the more carnivorous consumer.
Snake River Farms Wagyu Steak Lover Flight

If your family enjoys read meat frequently, consider buying in bulk.

Conclusion

With the information we’ve presented here, you should now be able to enter your local butcher shop or grocery store as a confident and well-informed customer, and come home with your desired cut(s) of beef. This is just the middle part of the process to enjoying  a great steak, however; after procuring your cuts, you’ve still got to know how to cook them properly. To learn more about this final (and perhaps most important) part of the experience, consult the final part of this Steak Guide; Part III deals with cooking and serving techniques. Additionally, you can go back to reference Part I, which covers basic terminology and our top five preferred cuts. Bon Appétit!

cast iron skillet steak

A preview of what’s to come in Part III – stay tuned!

This steak guide was written by Preston Schlueter, incorporating previous writings by Sven Raphael Schneider.


Gentleman’s Gazette

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A backpacker’s guide to Sri Lanka: a one-month itinerary

The crowds head for its Cultural Triangle but Sri Lanka’s sights also include quieter national parks, hiking trails and beaches. Explore it with our guide on what to see and where to stay

Few countries in Asia can offer such variety in a relatively small area, or are as easily navigable by bus and train – or even in your own tuk-tuk. Away from the main sights it’s easy to escape the crowds: instead of Mirissa, whale watch in quieter Kalpitiya – a laid-back destination for kitesurfing – and opt for Wilpattu national park over Yala national park for similar wildlife trips. In the hills, take the train to Haputale, rather than Ella, for less-trodden trails to scenic mountain viewpoints.

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A locals’ guide to Kathmandu, Nepal: top 10 tips

The gateway to the Himalayas has been a backpackers’ haven since the 1950s. Now recovering from the 2015 earthquake, it offers a magical mix of chaos and beauty

For most visitors, a trip to Nepal begins in Thamel. This labyrinth of streets and alleys lined with souvenir shops, bars, hotels and restaurants has been the hub for backpackers since the country opened itself to outsiders in the late 1950s. Of the city’s handful of green enclaves, the Garden of Dreams is a serene spot in which to escape the bustle of the streets. Just across from the former royal palace (which is now a museum), the garden, with its pavilions and ponds, is the perfect spot to unwind with a book or take a nap on the lawn mats.

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A backpacker’s guide to Ethiopia: a one-month itinerary

Full of natural wonders and ancient culture, this vast country is also home to booming cities and a youthful population. Explore it with our guide on where to go, what to see and where to stay

Ethiopia has astonishing landscapes, ranging from the flat-topped mountains of the north to the otherworldly multicoloured salt flats and lava lake of the Erta Ale volcano in the Danakil Depression; rich flora and fauna(this is the country where residents and hyenas live in peace); and ancient cultures, including the the city of Axum (one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in Africa), the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and Africa’s oldest mosque, Nejashi. It also has one of the continent’s fastest-growing economies (second only to Ghana), with booming cities and a young population. For all this, it is yet to attract large numbers of tourists, and visitors can often find themselves alone in this amazing country.

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Longwing Bluchers / Derby Buying Guide: From Cheap to Investment Worthy

About the Author: Adam Terry is a 30-year-old Technical Trainer in the heating and manufacturing industry. He’s #menswear by day and #workwear by night. He enjoys raw selvedge denim, Scotch whisky, and working on maintaining his dad bod.

So, you read that (overly) thorough review of those beautiful Grant Stone’s the other day and now you’re in the market for a pair of longwing “American brogues”? We’ve got you covered. But if you’re new to this style of shoe, here’s what makes a longwing brogue:

  • Unlike many other (most?) wingtips, the “wing” sweeps all the way around to the back of the heel, as opposed to dipping down towards the sole about halfway back.
  • Open, blucher or derby style lacing.

The result is a shoe that somehow walks the line between casual and dress unlike any other. Casual enough to wear with jeans, but you can pull them off with certain suits too (you might notice that J. Crew loves to shoot their suits with longwing bluchers). Now that that’s covered, here are a handful of stylish options to consider at various price points:

 

#1. The Budget Pick: Aston Grey Lovorwen via DSW – $ 99.99

Aston Grey Lovorwen via DSW

You think you love the look of a brogued wingtip and you want to give them a try, but you’re not ready to commit half your rent check on an investment grade pair quite yet? The almond-shaped, lightly burnished toe and slightly darker tan color makes this pair from Aston Grey the versatile Budget Pick. (Pro-tip: If you sign up for DSW’s newsletter email, you’ll get $ 10 off and free shipping!)

 

#2. The Smart Casual Pick: Meermin Chestnut Country Calf Long Wing Bluchers – $ 175 (plus shipping)

Meermin Chestnut Country Calf Long Wing Bluchers

For those who love dressing up a pair of raw denim jeans or pressed chinos, this pair from Meermin comes loaded with texture in the form of chestnut country calf. A noticeable upgrade in quality over most mall brand shoes, Meermin’s bluchers use full grain French leather, thick vegetable tanned leather insoles, a rubber outsole, and are stitched with proper Goodyear welting. Consider these the Smart Casual bargain coming in under two Benjamins. Returns are relatively easy, too, if you’re not sure of your sizing. Meermin’s store in SoHo NYC accepts returned goods. Just know that you’re on the hook for steep international outbound shipping ($ 35) as well as shipping them back to NYC if they don’t work out. So $ 175 is NOT the price you pay. More like $ 210. Best case. But still, many see these as an amazing value.

 

#3. The New Standard: Grant Stone LWB Crimson Chromexcel – $ 350

Grant Stone LWB

Of course a pair of Grant Stone’s terrific longwings made the list. Editor’s Note: And no, they didn’t pay to be here. No one does. Ever. After testing the British tan pair around the house for a few days, I secretly wished for something slightly darker for Fall that could easily take me from my conservative business casual office straight to dinner and drinks with friends. Say hello to The New Standard. Using Horween’s legendary Chromexcel leather and a micro studded rubber sole, Grant Stone has delivered one of the best do everything, go everywhere shoes at a price point that’s hard to beat. Rock these ‘wings with your suit and tie or hoodie and jeans.

 

#4. The American Classic: Allen Edmonds MacNeil – $ 425 (firsts) or $ 299 (seconds)

Allen Edmonds MacNeil

The original Allen Edmonds MacNeil longwing was introduced way back in the early 1960’s. It is still on offer today because the tapered, sleekish silhouette fills the niche for lots of people searching for a stylish, yet conservative business shoe. Still proudly hand assembled in Allen Edmond’s Port Washington, WI factory, the MacNeil can be ordered in a few different shades of “premium” calfskin with double oak leather soles or an optional studded rubber sole. I am particularly fond of the Walnut shade and think it looks best when worn with lighter blue, brown, or green suiting. (Pro-tip: If $ 425 is out of your budget, but you still want American made shoes, roll the dice on some “seconds” quality MacNeils. Typically, manufacturing defects are more visual than structural. Just know that you’ll have to shell out for a $ 25 restocking fee for any returns on seconds through the mail.)

 

#5. The Spanish Armada: Carmina 532 Bluchers – $ 450

Carmina 532 Bluchers

The Albaladejo family that owns Carmina and Meermin have been crafting shoes around Mallorca, Spain since 1866. Carmina is the Audi to Meermin’s Volkswagen: more refined and more robust. This pair in brown vegano leather is particularly beautiful, as the darker brogueing accentuates the perfect shade of mid brown. Paired with a brown Dainite studded rubber sole and a storm welt, this is the pair you reach for if you’re headed for that red-carpet movie premiere in the city or taking your partner to an anniversary dinner atop the Eiffel Tower and you’re not sure where the night will take you. Right? People do that, don’t they?

 

#6. The Three Identical Strangers: Alden LWB in Brown, Green, or Blue – $ 595

Alden Longwings

You dream of someday living in the PNW with your partner and pup, spending your weekends window shopping all of your favorite retailers who specialize in niche Japanese raw denim, British heritage outerwear, and American made shoes that you can barely afford. You enjoy taking photos of your recent purchases and share them regularly with your followers on social media, even though you’re not an “influencer.” If any of that rings true, you can’t go wrong with these special suede makeups from Alden. Those hunting green suede ‘wings would look killer with your cuffed Momotaro jeans and Private White V.C. Harrington jacket!

 

#7. The King Wing: Alden LWB in Color #8 Shell Cordovan – $ 760

Alden LWB in Color #8 Shell Cordovan

Introduced in 1958, Alden’s #975 Color 8 Shell Cordovan longwing bluchers originally sold for around $ 30. Calculating for inflation over the past 60 years, you would think these “Grail” worthy shoes should retail for around $ 260. Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case as the unique equine leather alone can easily cost upwards of $ 100 per square foot. For comparison, the Horween Chromexcel leather used to craft those $ 350 Grant Stone’s generally sells for around $ 6 per square foot. What makes Shell Cordovan so special?

For starters, it’s pretty rare. Horses have two “shells” or layers of fibrous flat muscle beneath the hide on the rump. Each shell can be used to produce a single shoe. As horses aren’t a large part of the world’s food industry these days, the leather is always in short supply.

Next, the tanning and dyeing process for Shell Cordovan can take up to six months and a lot of manpower to perfect the 100+ year old recipe. Only the most senior and talented employees work on the Cordovan shells.

Finally, Shell Cordovan is incredibly durable. It was originally developed for straight razor strops, but now it’s mainly used in footwear and small leather goods. As the leather gets worn and ages, it tends to roll like a wave instead of crease and wrinkle. The dye colors shift, too – Horween’s infamous Color #8 starts out as a deep, rich shade of burgundy and ages gracefully into gradients of cabernet red, eggplant purple, and milk chocolate. No two shells are alike; each will age differently.

We’re all in agreement that $ 760 is a lot of money for a pair of shoes. What you get for your investment is a pair that could literally last you a lifetime if taken care of. They’re one of the pinnacles of American style. They are Gunboats – solid, sturdy, if not a bit heavy. The King Wings.

NOTE: Shoes at top of post, moving from left to right: They’re all Alden Long Wings. Tan Suede, Shell Cordovan, and Whiskey shell cordovan. All can be hard to find, depending on the retailer you’re going through. The Color #8 pair with black edge dressing were purchased from J. Crew, which is short on supply right now. Brick + Mortar in Seattle sells the same shoe, only with “antique” light brown edge dressing. Same shoes otherwise. 


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The Steak Guide, Part I: Characteristics & Types of Cuts

Steak. For many men, it’s their favorite meal, a treat at a restaurant, or a point of pride in their home cooking repertoire. It’s such an important food in many cultures that entire restaurants are dedicated to perfecting it, and the definition of a perfect steak is hotly debated.

Even though it’s a deceptively simple dish, requiring only a bit of seasoning and some heat, there are many things to know about steak before you get started grilling, searing or ordering one. Therefore, this article will discuss what exactly a steak is, the characteristics of a good one, and the best cuts to buy.

What Is Steak?

It may seem like an overly simplistic question, but there is, in fact, a bit of nuance to it. After all, not just any piece of meat is automatically considered a steak. The actual definition, then, is as follows: a cut of meat, usually beef, that’s sliced perpendicular to the muscle fibers. While this definition can apply to other types of meat, this particular series of articles will focus specifically on beef steaks, a staple in western cultures.

Assortment of Steak Cuts at the butcher

Assortment of Steak Cuts at the butcher

Steak Controversies

Before we go any further with specific information, there are a few important considerations that we feel obligated to address.

  • In short: while steak is delicious, beef is controversial.
  • It’s an expensive, resource-intense food that is damaging to the environment.
  • Cattle are not always raised under humane conditions, and antibiotic use in animals has been linked to growing antibiotic resistance.
  • Furthermore, beef is definitely not a health food. In fact, the World Health Organization links regular consumption of red meat to an increased risk of cancer.

While many attempts have been made to reframe red meat as healthy (such as the “paleo diet” or advocacy of eating grass-fed beef) it simply isn’t. Ultimately, everyone must choose for themselves if or how they consume red meat.

Cattle on a ranch near Elko, Nevada, USA.

Cattle on a ranch near Elko, Nevada, USA.

Characteristics of a Great Steak

Now that we’ve covered our necessary disclaimers, let’s get back to discussing the particulars of what makes for a good steak. Overall, there are two key characteristics of a steak to consider: tenderness and flavor.

What Makes a Steak Tender?

The importance of tenderness can’t be underestimated; “tenderizing” a steak is a popular search topic for that reason. Tender cuts are easy and enjoyable to chew. Nobody’s idea of a good steak should include a dining experience that resembles chewing on a piece of leather! With that in mind, the simplest way to achieve a tender steak is to start with a tender cut of beef. When considering tenderness, let’s look at the characteristics of the steak itself and set aside the cooking method for later consideration (which is to say, the second article in this series). There are two key considerations when it comes to tenderness:

  1. How much the muscle was used

    Just as humans exercise different muscles to different degrees, the same is true for cattle. The less a given muscle was used by the cow in question, the more tender that the resulting cut of meat will be. For example, the muscles along the backbone (which are cut into many of the steak types we’ll discuss below) are used much less than the hips and shoulders (which end up as cheaper cuts, like chuck).

  2. The ratios of muscle, collagen, and fat in the steak

    A steak contains three main types of bodily matter, not counting a bone: muscle, collagen (a type of connective tissue which holds muscle together), and fat. Muscle is the primary substance of the steak, fat provides flavor, and collagen provides structure. During cooking, connective tissues do not have enough time to break down; therefore, tender cuts of steak should contain less connective tissue overall. Finely marbled fat will melt during cooking, but thicker pockets of fat will not; this compromises tenderness.
    This is why finely but intensely marbled Wagyu or Kobe beef is so prized–but we’ll address these types of beef later in the article.

A chart showing the various grades of beef marbling, using the Japanese BMS (Beef Marble Score) index.

A chart showing the various grades of beef marbling, using the Japanese BMS (Beef Marble Score) index.

To summarize, the most tender cut will come from around the backbone, has very little connective tissue, and has finely marbled fat. For these reasons, as well as the fact that the more tender muscles are often smaller, you can expect to pay more for a tender cut of beef.

What makes a steak flavorful?

Again, let’s just consider the flavor of the steak itself rather than any seasonings that might be added during or before cooking.

The main components that contribute to flavor are the amount of fat in the meat, the diet of the animal it came from, and how the meat has been aged.  

  • Fat is the main flavor component in steak.

    • Meat is mostly composed of muscle tissue, and therefore water.
    • Flavor-carrying molecules are repelled by water, but they dissolve in fat; therefore, fat enhances flavor.
    • As a further such enhancement, fat also adds to the juiciness of the steak.
A cut of beef such as the one pictured here, with little connective tissue and finely marbled fat, will be more tender and flavorful.

A cut of beef such as the one pictured here, with little connective tissue and finely marbled fat, will be more tender and flavorful.

  • The animal’s diet also has an impact on flavor.

    • Grain-Fed Cows
      For the most part, grain-fed cows are left to roam free for their first six to twelve months. After that, however, they’re moved into feedlots, which are no longer pastoral environments, but more concentrated areas. In the feedlots, the cows are rapidly fattened up with grains such as corn or soy. Some cows are even given hormones to help them grow faster and antibiotics to help increase their survivability in the concentrated and sometimes unsanitary living conditions. As you might imagine, these feedlots and the conditions therein are one of the principal complaints when considering the inhumane treatment of beef cattle.
    • Grass-Fed Cows
      Unlike grain-fed cows, grass-fed cattle are often left to graze for the entirety of their lives before going to the slaughterhouse. While the term grass-fed isn’t a legal definition, according to best practices it typically implies that cow will subsist mainly on a diet of grass, hay, or shrubbery. Grass-fed cows typically have less fat in their meat; this is because grass is less nutritionally dense than grain. Grazing cows also move more, which makes their meat a bit tougher.
    • Grain-fed is often labeled purely as “beef,” whereas grass-fed or grass-finished, which captures the flavors of both feeds, is usually labeled as such.
      • Note that the USDA does not regulate the labeling of grass-fed beef, so the discerning shopper may want to inquire further of their butcher or grocer.
    • At the end of the day, it is a matter of personal taste, so don’t be too concerned and choose what you like. We believe that if flavor is your aim, traditional grain-fed beef is going to be your best bet, although some people may prefer the flavor of grass-fed beef.
    • In general, remember that it always pays to know where your steak comes from, as the characteristics of the cattle will have an impact on the quality of the meat.
A helpful infographic, illustrating the differences between grass-fed and grain-fed beef.

A helpful infographic, illustrating the differences between grass-fed and grain-fed beef.

  • Finally, how the meat is aged also affects flavor.

    • Stated simply, aging is the process by which microbes and enzymes act upon meat to help break down its connective tissue, increasing both tenderness and flavor.
    • While one might assume at first that a more freshly butchered cut of beef would be more flavorful, this couldn’t be further from the truth! “Fresh” beef is tough and flavorless, as its connective tissues are all still intact. While some grocery stores sell “non-aged” beef, such material is still aged for at least a few days. Further, this “non-aging” is simply a hallmark of lower-quality cuts whose suboptimal flavor would not benefit from additional aging.
    • Dry Aging
      • In the traditional dry-aging process, steaks are aged by hanging them for about 30 days; due to the water loss, the beef flavor intensifies. Moreover, microbes on the outer surfaces of the meat are allowed to create a distinctive aroma and textured exterior.
      • Today, meat lovers often choose dry-aged beef over wet-aged beef because they like the stronger flavor. Generally, a standard grocer won’t carry dry-aged beef, while a reputable butcher often will. Furthermore, only premium cuts are typically dry-aged, because lower-quality cuts like flat-iron, chuck, or skirt steaks would simply degrade rather than improve – this is chiefly due to said cuts’ lower and less-evenly distributed fat content.
      • Dry aging is a delicate and therefore expensive process, as the meat must be stored at near-freezing temperatures in a humid environment (35-38 °F, or 1.5 To 3.5 °C, with a humidity of 50-60%).
      • Proper dry aging can take from two to six weeks’ time, and approximately a third or more of the weight is lost as moisture.
A selection of dry-aged cuts of beef. Note the dark and textured exterior.

A selection of dry-aged cuts of beef. Note the dark and textured exterior.

 

  • Wet Aging
    • Most beef is wet aged in this day and age, by way of vacuum-sealing cuts of beef in plastic bags.
    • This process not only helps to keep the meat fresh for a longer period of time, but also reduces the loss of water (meaning a higher value for the vendor, as steak is sold by weight).
    • Further, said process takes less time than dry aging (usually 4 to 10 days at a minimum) and helps retain the appetizing red color of fresh meat, which is seen as desirable by many consumers.
    • Just because we’ve already discussed how the loss of water-weight can lead to more flavor, that doesn’t mean that wet aging is necessarily inferior. Some vendors even start with dry aging and then switch to wet aging to get the best of both worlds.
    • Ultimately, our suggestion is to simply try for yourself, and once you have a favorite, take notes so you can get exactly what you like with future visits to the grocer or butcher.
A typical example of a wet-aged steak, with moderate marbling.

A typical example of a wet-aged steak, with moderate marbling.

Steak Cuts

There are many types of steak cuts; in simplest terms, a “cut” refers to the part of the cow from which the steak was sourced. The most tender cuts come from the loin and rib around the backbone, and as they typically have the best texture and flavor, these are the cuts on which we’ll be focusing today. We believe the top five cuts for tenderness and flavor are:

  1. Ribeye

  2. Tenderloin

  3. Strip

  4. T-Bone & Porterhouse

  5. Top Sirloin

While they are all worth eating, a great many people will likely attest that the best combination of flavor and tenderness comes from the first three cuts on this list in particular. Of course, you might also enjoy other cuts (for example, a flank or flat-iron steak), but as we believe that the five cuts listed here represent the best combination of texture and flavor, they’ll remain the focus of our discussion. Now, let’s talk about each one.

Another useful infographic, illustrating the numerous cuts of beef that are commercially available.

Another useful infographic, illustrating the numerous cuts of beef that are commercially available.

Ribeye

  • This cut is sourced, perhaps obviously, from the rib section of the cow (remember to check the infographic above!), and is also used, when slow-roasted, for prime rib.
  • Also known as a Delmonico steak, Scotch fillet, or entrecôte.
  • In the United States, a terminological distinction is made: “ribeye” refers to the cut when the bone has been removed, whereas “rib steak” refers to the cut if the bone remains attached. In other parts of the world, these terms are largely interchangeable.
  • We believe that the ribeye represents the best choice for those who prize flavor above all else; for its well-marbled fat and high degree of tenderness, the flavor of a ribeye is second to none.
Rib Steak Ready To Be Cut, without the bone it is a ribeye - notice the marbling

Rib Steak Ready To Be Cut, without the bone it is a ribeye – notice the marbling

Tenderloin

  • This cut, sourced from the center of the loin regions, is aptly named, as it is the most tender cut of meat on a cow.
  • Also known as the filet in France, the fillet in the United Kingdom, and the eye fillet in the Australasian region of Oceania.
  • The three main “cuts” of the tenderloin are (in order from largest to smallest) the butt, the center-cut, and the tail. The butt end is usually suitable for carpaccio, the center-cut for portion-controlled steaks like the coveted filet mignon and Chateaubriand, and the tail for recipes where small cuts of beef are used, such as Stroganoff.
    • Filet mignon (which means “small” or “dainty” in French) is sliced from the small end of the center cut, whereas Chateaubriand (named for the 19th-century French ambassador, François-René de Chateaubriand) comes from the large end.
    • The average animal only nets about 3.5 pounds of tenderloin, with about 2.5 pounds suitable for Chateaubriand and one pound for filet mignon. The weight of the tail portion will vary from 0.5 of a pound to almost nothing. As you might imagine, the tenderloin is therefore the most expensive cut by weight.
  • As it is leaner than the ribeye or strip, this cut is the better choice for those who prefer texture over flavor; it’s often described as being “melt-in-your-mouth” tender.
  • At the same time, because it’s not as flavorful as the ribeye or strip, the tenderloin is often wrapped in bacon or served with a sauce to bolster the flavor profile.
The Chateau Briand is the center cut of the Tenderloin

The Chateau Briand is the center cut of the Tenderloin

Strip

  • This cut is also known by a host of other names, including the New York Strip and Kansas City Strip.
  • Sourced from the short loin, the strip is another cut of meat that is low in connective tissue (with the muscle having done little work for the cow), resulting in a tender cut of beef.
  • Its fine marbling results in great flavor, generally second only to the ribeye.
  • As a bonus, strip steaks can also be used to make richly flavorful roast beef.
New York Strip aka Kansas City Strip Steak cuts with different degree of marbling - From Right to Left - Akaushi, Prime, Select, Grass Fed

New York Strip aka Kansas City Strip Steak cuts with different degree of marbling – From Left To Right – Grass Fed, Choice, Prime, Akaushi

T-Bone & Porterhouse

  • Both the T-bone and the porterhouse cuts are sourced from the short loin of the cow.
  • As you might expect, the T-bone steak is named for the distinctively shaped bone which holds it together. Somewhat confusingly, the porterhouse (whose name comes either from an early-1800s restaurant in New York called the Porter House, or a similarly named hotel in Georgia) also has a T-shaped bone, as both cuts are taken from the same region of the animal. Importantly, however, the two cuts are not the same.
  • While both a T-bone and a porterhouse contain a T-shaped bone surrounded by a tenderloin on one side and a strip on the other, the difference between the cuts lies in the quantity of meat in each of these two sections.
    • Both T-bones and porterhouses contain a large section of strip steak. Porterhouse steaks are cut from the rear end of the short loin, and thus include a larger section of tenderloin. Conversely, T-bone steaks are cut closer to the front end of the short loin, and contain a smaller section of tenderloin.
      • According to the USDA, a T-bone must contain a tenderloin filet with a thickness of at least 0.25 inches, whereas a porterhouse must have a filet that is at least 1.25 inches thick. As a result, many porterhouses can weigh two pounds or more.
      • Adding further confusion to this equation, the term “porterhouse” also has different definitions outside of the United States. In Britain and the countries of the Commonwealth, a porterhouse is a UK sirloin steak (that is, a US strip steak) on the bone, without the tenderloin – though some British butchers now offer American-style porterhouses, as well. Meanwhile, in New Zealand and Australia, a Porterhouse refers to a strip steak off the bone.
  • In general, both T-bones and porterhouses are both fairly large cuts, and as such are fairly expensive – and best shared among friends!
T-bone steak being cut by hand

T-bone steak being cut by hand

Top Sirloin

  • The top sirloin cut, meanwhile, is very simply named, as it’s sourced from the upper portion of the cow’s sirloin section (just behind the short loin, and under the hip).
  • While other cuts from the sirloin section, such as the flat-bone and round-bone sirloin steaks, feature more bone and tougher muscle, the top sirloin does not, and is more desirable for that reason.
  • Additionally, the top sirloin is a fairly affordable cut (the cheapest on average of those we’ve discussed in this article), and given this combination of desirability and affordability, it’s one of the most popular cuts in America today.
  • Though top sirloin is less tender, less flavorful, and leaner than the other cuts on this list, it isn’t sorely lacking in any of these categories. For the individual who likes to purchase and enjoy steak fairly regularly, then, top sirloin is a great budget alternative.
Top Sirloin Steak is a relatively lean cut

Top Sirloin Steak is a relatively lean cut

Conclusion

With the information we’ve laid out above, you should now be suitably familiar with the basic characteristics of a quality steak, as well as the unique attributes of our top five cuts. This is only the first part of the process to enjoying  a great steak, of course; after deciding what you want, you’ve got to go out and buy your steaks, and then cook them properly. To learn more about these two facets of the experience, consult the latter two parts of this Steak Guide: Part II covers how to buy a steak, and Part III deals with cooking and serving techniques. Bon Appétit!

Pan seared Top Sirloin Steak topped with compound herb butter - stay tuned for our how to cook a steak and make compound butter video

Pan seared Top Sirloin Steak topped with compound herb butter – stay tuned for our how to cook a steak and make compound butter video

This steak guide was written by Preston Schlueter and starred by Sven Raphael Schneider.


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Bow Tie Guide

Bow ties today are worn by people from all walks of life. Even famous people in the past have worn them such as actors Fred Astaire, Marlene Dietrich, and politicians like Winston Churchill, architects like Le Corbusier, scientists like Bill Nye and lots of other people.

 

 

In my experience, many men avoid bow ties because they don’t think they can pull one off, they don’t know how to tie one, or they think they don’t have the occasion to wear one. The truth is every man can pull off a bow tie and wear it well especially if you like classic style.

Today, I wear bow ties about 30% of the time and has become an integral part of my wardrobe. Once you know how to tie them, there are many occasions where you can wear one. If you are an avid wearer of bow ties, you probably know advanced ways of tying them. Hipsters wear them with just a regular shirt for everyday wear and it doesn’t have to be an evening occasion that’s very formal.

Winston Churchill wearing his signature polka dot bow tie in an iconic photograph by Yousuf Karsh

Winston Churchill wearing his signature polka dot bow tie in an iconic photograph by Yousuf Karsh

Bow Tie History

Basically, it’s one of the oldest forms of neckwear in menswear. The bow tie shares a history with the necktie in a sense that it originates from a different piece of neckwear known as the cravat. The first group of men known to decorate their neck with a piece of fabric were Croatian mercenaries in the 30 Years War in the 17th century. It became known as the cravate which is the French term for Croatian. Cravats were usually worn loosely tied in elaborate fashions and sometimes it took hours to get the look right.

The rise of bow ties

The rise of bow ties

The first bow tie that looks somewhat similar to what we know it to be today came up in the 1830’s. In the following 30 years, bow ties became progressively more prominent and by the 1860’s, the traditional cravat has fallen mostly out of favor. There’s a famous photograph of Abraham Lincoln from 1863 showing the bow tie style in transition. Lincoln is stoically staring ahead while wearing a black bow tie with pointed ends. On the other hand, his predecessor James Buchanan still wore a white cravat. Between 1850 and the turn of the century, bow ties dominated menswear and you could see them mostly in black or white or variations thereof.

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

At the beginning of the 20th century, bow ties transitioned more into a specific style choice because the traditional threefold necktie became more popular now. Even though they would be progressively less popular now, they still maintain their place in classic men’s wardrobe in the first half of the 20th century. At the turn of the century, bow ties were usually quite small but frankly, there were loads of shapes and forms, much more than you can find today.

By 1910, the bow tie had grown a little bit across the board but again there are lots of choices out there. In the 30’s you’d often see smaller bow ties as well and bigger bow ties. Generally, they weren’t quite as slim as later in the 50’s or 60’s. However, in the late 60’s and early 70’s, bow ties became huge. It was the same with ties and shirt collars, sometimes also lapels.

Winston Churchill - Speech battle of Britain

Winston Churchill – Speech battle of Britain

By the 1990’s, and early 2000’s, most men would not wear bow ties anymore; it was only something reserved for people who made a deliberate style choice and who wore bow ties because other men did it. I would guess that the overall market share of bow ties at that time was about 5-10%. Thankfully, bow ties today are not nearly as subjected to trends and they’ve become much more mainstream and popular. I would estimate the market share today to be anywhere between 30-40%. It seems to me that bow ties are much more flexible than they were in the past. People wear them sometimes even with short sleeved shirts or just a dress shirt. It doesn’t require a jacket anymore and it’s just a form of self-expression.

White Dinner Jacket with Black Batswing Bow Tie

White Dinner Jacket with Black Batwing Bow Tie

Despite this gain in popularity, there are still some stereotypes that people have towards wearers of bow ties. Sometimes people think bow ties are just for nerds or worn by conservatives, eccentrics, or older men. In my experience, confident men that are stylish wear bow ties simply because they like them and that’s a way for them to express themselves. That aside, it’s much more comfortable to wear in the summer because it keeps your chest a lot cooler than any kind of necktie would. On top of that, it’s very difficult to stain your bow tie with foods, whereas with a tie, it’s very easy to do so. Of course, it has always been a staple in the prep culture and for Ivy style.

What Are The Different Types Of Bow Ties You Can Get?

Basically, there are three main categories.

1. Pre-Tied Bow Ties

This category probably has the largest share in the market. Sometimes, they also come in a clip-on version and they’re really popular with men who simply don’t know how to tie a bow tie and men who don’t usually wear one. There’s a simple rule if you want to be stylish, never wear a pre-tied bow tie because it always shows.

Typically, they are made of cheaper, less expensive, oftentimes shinier fabrics, they are very symmetrical, and it screams “My bow tie was pre-tied!”. Wearing a pre-tied bow tie makes you look like a 16-year old attending prom and frankly, we believe they shouldn’t wear them either.

2. Self-Tie Bow Ties

As the name implies, you tie it yourself every time. It seems daunting. It’s the only choice for an elegant gentleman and sometimes you can even find self-tie bow ties that have a little clip on mechanism that allows you to remove it. So once you tie it once, you don’t have to tie it again.

Personally, I think that’s not the way to do it because changing the look of your bow tie every time gives your outfit a different air and sometimes, you can decide to have a smaller bow tie, other times a bigger one, depending on your mood. Among the self-tie bow ties, there are two subcategories.

adjustable bow tie

adjustable bow tie

Adjustable Bow Ties – Usually, you find them for all kinds of daywear bow ties. The great advantage is that you can simply adjust the size so sometimes you can have a smaller tie, other times a bigger tie, and you can even lend it to your father, your brother, or friend if they need one and it’ll work for them. There are all kinds of adjustment mechanisms. Some include metal clips while others have buttons. I have all of them and in my experience, they all work.

Fixed-Length Self-Tie Bow Tie – First of all, why would you want to limit yourself to just one size? Basically for evening wear when you wear wing collars, the entire bow tie is visible and having a little adjustment mechanism just looks weird and odd. So what about wearing a tuxedo shirt with a turndown collar? At the end of the evening, it’s very typical practice to untie the bow tie and when it dangles there, you can still see the adjuster and because of that, it’s always advisable to go with a fixed length neck size for evening bow ties

3. Fashion Forward Bow Ties

With the gaining popularity in recent years, we’ve seen wooden bow ties, we’ve seen bow ties made out of bird feathers, as well as leather bow ties. They’re actually not tied, they’re simply like a clip-on bow tie; they just have the shape of a traditional bow tie. Most of the time, these items are very flashy and I believe it’s a fad that won’t stand the test of time. Of course, if you literally want to look like a peacock, you can go with them. Otherwise, I suggest you stay with traditional self-tie bow ties.

 

 

Different Bow Tie Styles & Shapes

Basically, the sky is the limit and if you look at old men’s fashion magazines and books, you’ll see there were hundreds of different shapes around the market. Today, it basically boils down to five basic shapes and styles.

1. Butterfly Shape

The first one is the butterfly shape which is called that way because it resembles a butterfly. It’s a  style I really like for evening bow ties. You can check out a range of butterfly bow ties by Fort Belvedere hereIt’s tied in a way that the knot is relatively small and you have beautiful wings just like with a butterfly.

Also, while cheaper bow ties curve at the outer edge of the bow tie, a butterfly bow tie have straight edges. Do you want your butterfly bow tie to stand the test of time? Avoid the extremes. Don’t go too big, don’t go too small, and go with something within the middle-of-the-road. Of course, if you have a smaller head, a smaller bow tie is much more appropriate for you and vice versa.

2. Batwing Bow Tie

The batwing is basically rectangular that gets slimmer around the neckband but it makes for a bigger knot. Because of that, it can be harder to tie and in my opinion, it sometimes looks a bit boring but ultimately, it’s a very personal choice.

3. Pointed-End Bow Tie

It’s like a little diamond and it has the advantage that it looks slightly different every time and depending on how much you pull it out on either end. In any case, it will always be asymmetrical because the pointed end is in the front on one side then the back on the other side.

Overall, it’s a great option for daywear because it creates some form of casualness that’s a little more relaxed all the while being relatively formal. In my experience, it flatters most face shapes and because of that, it’s a very versatile option.

4. Asymmetrical Bow Tie

The ends of the bow tie are not symmetrical either top to bottom or left side to right side. It might look really odd when a bow tie is untied but once you tie it, it creates that desired effect that something is slightly askew, not 100% symmetrical and polished.

In my experience, it’s something for people who already have lots of regular bow ties in their closet and who simply want to change the look a little bit or maybe even impress their other clotheshorse friends.

5. Single-End Bow Tie

It’s called that way because it has that bow tie shape only on one end. Once you tie it, it looks very similar to a regular bow tie with the exception that it’s cleaner and crisper because there’s simply just one layer of fabric. This style was popular for a short period in the 1930’s, especially for evening wear.  To my knowledge, we’re the only place who offers those kinds of bow ties online. 

What Are Bow Ties Made Of?

In terms of bow tie materials, it’s pretty much as varied as it is with ties. Silk is probably the most popular and widespread material and it comes in all kind of shapes and weaves. It comes in shiny silk not so shiny silk, a coarser silk, silks with natural knobs in them and it’s just a wonderful material for bow ties. However, you can also find linen bow ties, cotton bow ties, blended bow ties, as well as wool bow ties. Personally, I’d stay clear of nylon or polyester bow tie because it’s just a lower end cheaper product that won’t look as nice. Another really great option for bow ties is velvet because it changes the look with the light and it can look very debonair especially with a dinner jacket.

One thing to keep in mind with bow ties is that a very fine weave that is tighter is always better because men usually grow facial hair and the bow tie is much closer to your hair thus picking on the fabric and if the weave is too loose, let’s say in the form of a grenadine, you’re much more likely to pull threads from your bow tie. And even if you have a tighter woven silk, it’s normal to pull out some threads but you can get rid of those either with a very fine pair of scissors or with a cuticle clipper, for example.

In terms of bow tie sizing, you don’t have to worry about it if you get an adjustable bow tie. If you get a fixed size bow tie, I suggest measuring your neck because sometimes your shirt says it’s a size 15 when in fact, it measures 16 inches.

When & How Should You Wear A Bow Tie?

Basically, the sky’s the limit. You can wear it for very formal events, for weddings or garden parties, black tie or white tie events.  In my experience, there are four tips I would tell anyone who is considering wearing a bow tie.

1. Always Practice Tying Your Bow Tie

Just so you understand how it works even in a stressful situation because I can’t tell you how many grooms have contacted us the day of the wedding trying to understand how to tie a bow tie. 

2. Keep it Simple

When you’re just starting out, keep it simple. Use classic patterns such as small micropatterns or Macclesfield neats and avoid super loud paisleys and prints.

3. Buy Moderately Sized Bow Ties

You can wear them now or 10 years from now and that will never go out of style.

4. Wear One With A Jacket

Otherwise, it reminds me more of the little flower boys at weddings where they wear little dress shirts with bow ties. Of course, ultimately, the choice is entirely up to you.

Too loud and large bow ties

Too loud and large bow ties

5. Do Not Go Overboard

When you wear a bow tie, keep in mind that it already makes a louder statement than wearing a regular necktie or no necktie at all. Because of that, we suggest not to go overboard with super bright pink colors, lobster patterns, or maybe even patchwork bow ties with madras, seersucker, and other fabrics, because it’s simply over-the-top.

How Many Bow Ties Do You Need?

Of course, the answer is, it depends. Personally, I probably have around 100 or even more. Other people get away with just three or four. A general person who’s interested in classic men’s clothing should probably invest in about 11 of them.

  • If you’re just starting out wearing bow ties, I suggest you invest in a simple black bow tie that you can wear for evening events. Go with silk.  
  • The second bow tie would be a classic business bow tie, maybe in blue or in red with a smaller micro pattern that is very easy to combine with lots of items in your wardrobe.
  • The third bow tie would be a slightly brighter color that you can wear in the summer, maybe even with seersucker.
  • The fourth bow tie would be a fall bow tie. I suggest you get this one in a wool challis. Simply because it’s a great fabric for the fall-winter season. It comes in more subdued colors. It’s a little crisper. It doesn’t wrinkle as much and it doesn’t have any shine.

What Makes Fort Belvedere Bow Ties Special?

Basically, we source very high-end fabrics from small weavers exclusively in England and in Italy. It’s not something you can find at department stores or at places that sell bow ties for 20 bucks because the fabric for a bow tie already costs more than that. We also strive to use the proper interlining for a bow tie so it ties very easily. On top of that, we offer our bow ties in different shapes and different sizes. We have an extensive selection of evening bow ties for black tie and white tie that is unparalleled and you won’t find a better selection elsewhere. All of our bow ties are self-tie. The day ones are adjustable. The evening ones are fixed neck sizes. And of course, we also offer single end bow ties which you can’t find elsewhere.

Are you a fan of bow ties? Why or why not? Comment below!


Gentleman’s Gazette

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Athens city guide: what to see plus the best bars, hotels and restaurants

Tour classical sites with locals and discover the guesthouses, restaurants and bars being opened by young entrepreneurs in a city buzzing with creativity

The revival of Europe’s classical capital has attracted plenty of artists, curators and digital nomads. But it’s entrepreneurial young Athenians who are opening pop-up restaurants, design collectives and guesthouses, regenerating derelict buildings in rough-around-the-edges areas such as Pangrati, Kypseli and Keramikos. Messy and unpredictable, Athens fizzes with an intense energy that burns bright into the night.

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Travel | The Guardian

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‘Fantastic Beasts’ Set Visit: A Guide to the Wizarding World of France From ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’

‘Fantastic Beasts’ Set Visit: A Guide to the Wizarding World of France From ‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’

When J.K. Rowling released a series of Pottermore articles about the world’s leading schools of witchcraft and wizardry, the Harry Potter author was secretly signaling to her fanbase that these locations could play a part in her five-part cinematic prequel series. With Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, magizoologist Newt Scamander arrived in Prohibition-era New York City. With The Crimes of Grindelwald, he’s now heading to Paris, France.

This is the country of love,…

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Here’s Your Guide to the 2018 MTV VMAs

One of the more fun events of the awards season, the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards, is almost here. Rap artist Cardi B leads the nominations with 10 including Video of the Year and Artist of the Year. Behind her with eight nominations are power couple the Carters (aka Beyoncé and Jay-Z) and rounding out the pack are Childish Gambino and Drake who both have seven nominations.

Don’t expect too many changes to the awards show from last year’s event. MTV is still keeping the gender neutral categories, but they are swapping the “Fight Against the System” category for this year’s “Video with a Message.” “Best Latin Video of the Year” is also new, perhaps in response to criticism after last summer’s Spanish-language massive hit “Despacito,” which was initially not nominated for an award. MTV is also introducing a new category “Push Artist of the Year” to highlight emerging artists like Noah Cyrus and Hayley Kiyoko.

With 2017’s big winner Kendrick Lamar out of the race this year, it could be anyone’s night to take home the top prize, the moon man.

Below is your guide on the 2018 VMAs from where to watch the show to who will win.

When are the VMAs?

The awards show will kick off Monday, Aug. 20 with a red carpet pre-show live on Twitter at 7:30 p.m. EST with hosts Justina Valentine and Winnie Harlow. Then turn on MTV to catch the rest of the pre-show at 8 p.m. EST hosted by Jersey Shore stars Pauly D and Vinny Guadagnino alongside Terrence J and Nessa.

The main event, the 2018 Video Music Awards, will begin at 9 p.m. EST in New York City.

How can I watch the show?

At 8 p.m. EST you can tune into watch the 2018 MTV VMAs pre-show on both MTV and online at MTV Live. This vamp up to the actual awards show will feature performances from Bazzi, Bryce Vine and the much-hyped Backstreet Boys, who are making their first appearance at the VMAs in exactly 20 years as presenters later in the broadcast.

MTV will begin broadcasting the 2018 VMAs at 9 p.m. EST. You can also catch the show live on VH1, Comedy Central, BET and CMT. If you’re not near a television or want to watch on another device, you can go to MTV Live and log-in using your cable provider to watch the livestream.

Where are they?

The VMAs will be held at Radio City Music Hall for a record 12th time, returning to the New York City venue for the first time since 2009.

Who’s hosting?

The Video Music Awards will go on without a host this year. But don’t worry, there will be plenty of presenters to make sure the night runs smoothly including Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown and Girls Trip star Tiffany Haddish. Other presenters include Kevin Hart, Blake Lively, DJ Khaled, Liam Payne, Amandla Stenberg, Bebe Rexha, Common, G-Eazy, Gucci Mane, Keegan-Michael Key, KYLE, Lenny Kravitz, Lil Uzi Vert, Olivia Munn, Rita Ora, Shay Mitchell, Zedd, Teyana Taylor and the Backstreet Boys.

Even without a host (which means no joke-filled monologue), you can still expect a night of laughs, costume changes and the occasional awkward banter between presenters.

Who will win?

Look out for 2018’s hip-hop queen Cardi B, who just won best female hip hop artist at the 2018 BET Awards. She’s up for her solo project “Bartier Cardier” as well as her collaborations “Finesse” with Bruno Mars and “Dinero” with Jennifer Lopez and DJ Khaled. Her big competition — in major categories like Video of the Year and Song of the Year — would be the Carters, who are nominated for their video ‘APESH-T.’

This is Beyoncé’s first time nominated for a VMA since 2016, where she broke the record and became the most awarded VMAs artist in history. With 22 wins (that’s more than Madonna), Beyoncé could break her own record. This won’t be too difficult, as the second-highest VMA award holder, Eminem, is far behind at 12.

So what videos should I watch to get up to speed?

Start with the most nominated video. The Carters’ “APESH-T,” is an artistic feat: they shut down the Louvre in order to film the video. That nabbed eight nominations. Their biggest competition might be Childish Gambino, whose “This is America” video stirred conversation with its explicit violence and commentary on the state of the country. Also make sure to watch “God’s Plan.” It’s got more than 770 million views on YouTube, and for good reason: the video shows Drake donating the entirety of its million dollar budget during the music video. It’s also worth throwing Taylor Swift a view, — even though her video “Look What Made Me Do” was shut out of all the major categories — she was nominated for three other awards (and her video has more than 950 million views).

Who’s performing?

The most nominated artist of the night, Cardi B, will be opening this year’s VMAs. Ariana Grande, who is up for Artist of the Year, will also be performing just days after her new album “Sweetener” is released. The 20-year-old pop star Shawn Mendes, who made his VMAs debut last year, is back to sing his thrice nominated hit “In My Blood.” Rap sensation Logic is set to perform the worldwide debut of his song “One Day,” his new collaboration with OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder. You can also expect a big showing from Jennifer Lopez, the winner of this year’s Vanguard Award, likely of her hits over the years.

MTV has also promised a performance from Nicki Minaj, who will be singing from a surprise “iconic” location in New York City. Other familiar faces at Radio City will include rap artist Travis Scott, Artist of the Year nominee Post Malone and rock band Panic! At The Disco.

This year is also the debut of the PUSH Artists Stage where PRETTYMUCH, Hayley Kiyoko, Jessie Reyez and Juice WRLD are slated to perform.


Entertainment – TIME

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A local’s guide to Córdoba, Spain: 10 top tips

This ancient Andalucían city boasts world-famous Moorish architecture, beautiful courtyard patio houses and a revitalised riverside full of cafes and bars

The Mezquita-Catedral is the attraction everybody talks about, because it’s incredible. Originally a mosque, built in the 10th century, it later became a cathedral. Being local I don’t pay to get in, but anyone can get in for free by showing up at 8.30am while they’re preparing for the service – although they push you out at 9.20am. There’s a tower with a nice view, though it’s best to stand inside in a corner, in front of one of the hundreds of columns, and take in the whole space. Córdoba is one of the warmest cities in Europe, so this building, which stays very cool, is a good place to be.
Calle Cardenal Herrero 1, ¤10, under-10s free, mezquita-catedraldecordoba.es

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Travel | The Guardian

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32 Teams Entered, 2 Remain. Your Ultimate Guide to the World Cup Final

For many football fans, an England-France World Cup final would have been a dream. After all, those two countries clashed the Hundred Years’ War. A ten-decade-long spat, plus a smattering of other conflicts across the ages, tends to sizzle up a soccer rivalry.

Croatia, however, had other ideas. And that’s just fine. The Blazers rallied to beat England in the semifinal, 2-1, with Mario Mandzukic scoring the deciding goal in extra time. After Mandzukic’s strike, the Croatian players trampled photographer Yuri Cortez while celebrating. Cortez, to his everlasting credit, kept snapping his camera at the bottom of the dogpile. (He got some wonderful shots.) After the Croatian players realized they almost crushed a working photographer, a few patted him on the shoulder, or made sure he was okay. One kissed him.

So Croatia’s got some underdog charm. With a population of 4.1 million — about the same as Oregon — Croatia is the second-least populated country to ever reach the World Cup final. Only Uruguay, which won the titles in 1930 and 1950, has fewer people. Croatia entered the tournament a 33-1 longshot to win the whole thing. It’s still a relatively young nation, having declared independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991 and fought through the Balkans conflicts in the 1990s, during which thousands of Croatians were killed.

“Like many countries which had to win independence the hard way, we are proud,” says Pjer Šimunović, Croatia’s ambassador to the United States.

That pride’s now causing earthquakes. Seismic instruments in Zagreb picked up tremors after Mandzukic scored his goal, and after the ref blew the final whistle to end the game. A World Cup win could break the Richter scale. “Everybody in the world will certainly now know more about that small country which was able to go that far,” says Šimunović. “This is immeasurably important.”

But France, the betting favorite at -220 (risk $ 220 to win $ 100), would love to crush Croatia’s dreams. The World Cup final airs on Sunday, at 11 a.m. eastern time, on Fox. Here’s your handy guide to the big game.

Rainbow 2.0

France won its only World Cup 20 years ago, when it hosted the most popular sporting event on the globe. That multicultural squad, known as the “Rainbow Team,” was composed of players with roots in North Africa, West Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific islands, Armenia and the Basque country. Many people in France expected the victory to win widespread support for immigrant communities. They also expected France to win more World Cups.

Neither, to this point, has happened. Two decades later, far-right populism has caught fire across Europe; in France and elsewhere, a number of politicians have taken anti-immigrant stances. On the pitch, France failed to advance to the knockout stage at the 2002 World Cup; four years later, Les Blues reached the final against Italy, but Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt of Italy’s Marco Materazzi in that game overshadowed the accomplishment. Italy took the penalty shootout.

France’s 2010 World Cup effort was disastrous. French striker Nicolas Anelka was sent home for cursing at his coach: the players boycotted a day of training, a top official resigned in disgust, and France failed to win a game. Les Blues reached the quarterfinals in Brazil four years later, and as host county of the 2016 Euros, made it to the final before losing to Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal.

So France will try to take care of unfinished business. Like the ’98 Rainbow Team, the 2018 incarnation of Les Blues is incredibly diverse: 17 of the 23 players on the roster are sons of first-generation immigrants. Win or lose, dreams of a more unified France will flourish once again.

Croatia 101

Croatians have made their mark on American culture. The late Drazen Petrovic and Toni Kukoc exported their basketball talents to the NBA back in the 1990s; now, Dario Saric (Philadephia 76ers) and Bojan Bogdanovic (Indiana Pacers) are solid pros. Croatian sculptor Ivan Mestrovic produced two bronze statues depicting mounted Native American warriors; installed in 1928, they flank the Congress Plaza entrance to Chicago’s Grant Park. Goran Ivanisevic won Wimbledon, in 2001. Before he lost his belt to Daniel Cormier last weekend, Stipe Miocic — an American who’s the son of Croatian immigrants — was the UFC heavyweight champ. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, some 400,000 Croatian-Americans live in the U.S. Game of Thrones is filmed in Dubrovnik, Croatia; Star Wars: The Last Jedi also shot scenes in the city.

Still, before this World Cup, Croatia wasn’t exactly top of mind for most Americans. “Most people know of it here,” says Indiana University visiting lecturer Teuta Ismaili, who teaches Croatian at the school. “But they think the war is still going on.”

So what should you know about Croatia? First, the country’s home to some of the world’s most scenic beaches and islands, along the Adriatic coast. Travel and tourism accounts for about a quarter of Croatia’s GDP, which is well above the 10.3% average for the European Union. If you want to drink like a Croatian at your World Cup viewing party, serve Rakija, a 40% alcohol-by-volume spirit. And be sure to make some Burek, layers of dough filled with cheese.

The World Cup’s psychic lift has arrived at an opportune time. Since Croatia joined the European Union in 2013, net migration from the country has averaged around 17,000 people. Youth unemployment remains high, at 33%. Croatia came out of a six-year recession in 2015, but economic growth remains slow.

“This is the best thing the could happen right now to Croatia,” says Ismaili. “Family and friends back home say the atmosphere is positive. People were mad at the politicians, mad about the economy. But they’re finally having that feeling of ‘wow, we are important again. We really mean something.’ We really need that right now.”

Mbappé Mania

French forward Kylian Mbappé, 19, is the breakout star of this World Cup. Against Argentina in the Round of 16, Mbappé — the son of a Cameroonian father and Algerian mother — became the first teenager since Pele in 1958 to score two goals in a single World Cup match. Versus Belgium in the semis, Mbappé delivered a magical pass off his back heel to Olivier Giroud; Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois blocked the shot, but that didn’t stop the internet from losing its mind.

Both Neymar, the Brazilian star, and Mbappé joined French club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) last summer for ungodly sums of money. PSG paid Barcelona a $ 263 million transfer fee for Neymar, and agreed to pay him $ 53 million a year, for five years. PSG got Mbappé from Monaco for about $ 200 million. For years, Neymar has positioned himself as the world’s undisputed best player, should Ronaldo and Lionel Messi ever decline or step aside. But during this World Cup, Neymar’s histrionics stood out more than his play. Given Mbappe’s speed, skill, and maturity, he may be a rightful heir.

“If I were a big soccer club with all the money in the world, and I could sign one player,” says former Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Shaka Hislop, an ESPN analyst, “it would be Mbappé.”

Modric Magic

On the Croatian side, Luca Modric — a midfielder for Real Madrid — is the player to watch. “He’s cool and calm on the ball, and one of the best passers in the world,” says Hislop. “You can’t pressure him into making a mistake.” He can also shoot from distance, with unexpected power. Modric, 32, does not cut an imposing figure. You can picture playing against him in your Thursday night men’s league. “If you breathe on him too strong, you can imagine flying out of the stadium,” says Hislop. “But he’s the complete package, deceptively packaged.”

Odd side note: Modric is facing perjury charges in Croatia, in connection with testimony he gave in a financial fraud case against a former soccer executive. If found guilty, Modric could face up to five years in prison. So any victory celebration might not last too long.

And The Winner Is …

“I like France to win it,” says Hislop. “France has looked very balanced throughout the tournament.” Les Blues won their first two games in the group stage, before playing Denmark to a 0-0 draw. France hasn’t needed any extra time in its three knockout round victories; Croatia, meanwhile, needed extra time and penalty shots to get by Denmark and Russia, and scored in the 109th minute against England. In all, Croatia has played 90 minutes of extra time, the equivalent of a full additional game, while France will also enjoy an extra day of rest between the semifinal and final. Croatia’s fatigue factor, plus France’s raw talent — the defensive pairing of Barcelona star Samuel Umtiti and Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane give Les Blues an advantage — make France the safer pick.

Croatia, however, hasn’t tired out yet. England was the more rested team going into the semifinal, but Croatia looked more energetic in extra time. So don’t doubt Croatia’s readiness to outclass France, and parade the World Cup trophy around Zagreb, of all places.

Sports – TIME

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A local’s guide to Edinburgh: 10 top tips

The Scottish capital’s big draw is its festivals but the quieter corners are alive year round – with stylish cafes and bistros, moody bars and thriving art spaces

Dovecot Gallery and Tapestry Studio

The Infirmary Street Baths, built in 1885, were the first public swimming baths to open in the Scottish capital, with the aim of improving public health. Today, the Dovecot Gallery occupies the old Ladies Baths space, while the Dovecot Tapestry Studio is in what was the main pool. Dovecot Gallery will appeal to anyone with a passing interest in contemporary art, but craft and textiles enthusiasts are especially well catered for. Exhibitions showcase art forms such as weaving and jewellery, and summer’s major show is Liberty Art, Fabrics & Fashion (28 July-12 January 2019), exploring 140 years of Liberty London. The tapestry studio, which makes tufted rugs, is not open to the public but can be observed from a viewing balcony.
10 Infirmary Street, dovecotstudios.com

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Travel | The Guardian

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BWW Exclusive: Broadway On A Budget: A Broke College Student’s Guide

Now that July has started with a massiveheat-wave, a comparison can be made between the high temperature outside and the current average price of Broadway tickets. This can cause theatre fans to feel stuck between a rock and a hard place, if they don’t know the following tips to make seeing your favorite shows a little easier.
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Your Ultimate Guide to the 2018 Tour de France

Cyclists from all over the globe are racing in one of the most challenging competitions in sports — the Tour de France.

The 105th Tour de France kicks off Saturday, July 7 in Noirmoutier en l’Île, a scenic, coastal town in western France. The 22 teams, which each have nine racers, will cycle the 21-stage race that spans a total of 2,082.2 miles and tours almost all of France. The last stage of the 2018 Tour de France ends in Paris on Sunday, July 29.

According to the organizers, 3.5 billion people in 190 countries tune in to watch the Tour de France each year and it is one of the best-attended annual sporting event on the planet, with 12 million roadside spectators cheering on cyclists.

Here’s everything you need to know about the 2018 Tour de France, including important dates, how to watch the races and who this year’s favorites are.

When does the 2018 Tour de France start?

This year, the Grand Départ starts around 10 a.m. local time in Noirmoutier en l’Île on July 7.

The 22 starting teams will cycle through most of France and make a pitstop in Spain before finishing in Paris on Sunday, July 29.

There will be two rest days, one individual time trial, a team time trial and three mountain finishes.

Who are the 2018 Tour de France favorites?

Four-time Tour de France champ, Christopher Froome, is the favorite to take home the title this year after winning the 2017 race. The British rider, who is part of Team Sky, will face heavy competition from Movistar team member Nairo Quintana and Richie Porter from BMC Racing.

Froome nearly didn’t compete this year after organizers announced he would be banned for suspected doping — a problem that has plagued the sports world, most notably affecting cycling with Lance Armstrong’s downfall. But Froome was cleared of any wrongdoing and will be going for his fifth Tour de France win.

There will be 176 riders total from countries all over the world including five Americans cycling in the 2018 Tour de France.

How can I watch the 2018 Tour de France?

The 2018 Tour de France will be broadcast live on NBC or NBCSN and and NBC Sports Gold with commentary by Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin.

You can also watch the competition through the Tour Tracker App, a free app that lets users livestream stages of the race and get push notifications on their phones for their favorite cyclists.

What is the 2018 Tour de France schedule?

The 2,082-mile race will be divided into 21 stages, with cyclist riding through Fougères, Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteuax and Houilles in France.

During the three-week race, cyclists will ride on a variety of challenging routes including hills, high mountains and dust-covered roads before finishing in Paris at the end of the month.

Each of the 21 stages has a distinctive set of challenges for cyclists. Kicking off on Île de Noirmoutier, a small island off the Atlantic coast of France, cyclists will cross a bridge to the mainland while navigating the twisting Vendée coastline.

Stage 9 is expected to be a fan favorite because of its complexities. On July 15, cyclists will ride through 15 cobbled paths from Arras to Roubaix, alongside the Belgian border. The bumpy ride can be dangerous for competitors, and is where a fall is most likely to happen — dashing hopes of victory.

Sports – TIME

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Your Ultimate Guide To Essence Festival 2018

Black women unite! Our festival is upon us, which means it’s time to converge at the convention center in NOLA for a weekend of empowering panels, uplifting events, beauty booths galore, concerts and so much more.

Here’s your ultimate festival guide.

What To Bring

Source: Danielle James / Hello Beautiful

First things first. Packing light, but effectively, is of the essence here (get it…essence). Girl, it’s going to be hot. We’re talking hot hot hot, which means the less clothing the better. Think white and bright colors (melanin-friendly) and comfortable but cute shoes because you’re going to be walking a lot.

The New Orleans Convention Center is the central location for the Essence experience and is where you’ll find yourself spending the most time. Bring cash, because the parking lot is full of delicious food and drink vendors. They might take cards, but who wants to be waiting for a receipt on the blacktop in the heat? Exactly.

The Panels

The most empowering part of Essence Festival is the opportunity to see your favorite motivational speakers, celebrities and personalities on panels.

Check out some of these panels and expos:

Thursday, July 5

Boss Up! – Empowering Women Entrepreneurs- Thursday, July 5: 1:00pm

“Miles & Mimosas: Back to your Roots” A conversation with RUNGRL about Black Hair as a Barrier to Wellness- Friday, July 6th: 10:00am

Ashunta Sheriff Presents “Get Glowing: Tips & Tricks For a Flawless Glow”- Friday, July 6th: 11:05

Beauty Myths Debunked: Slay, Nay or UmKay?! feat Gia Peppers, Dr. Candrice Heath and Tahira Wright of The Cut Life- Friday, July 6th: 12:35pm- 12:55pm 

Being an Editor-in-Chic with Mikki Taylor- Friday, July 6th: 12:45pm

Building and Branding The Mpire: An MPowered Conversation with Mona Scott-Young- Friday, July 6: 2:05pm

#BlackGirlsDo: How Black Girls Practice Self-Care feat, Kela Walker, Naturi Naughton and Necole Kane- Saturday, July 7th: 4:30pm-4:50pm 

Bearded Bae Showdown: The Hottest Bearded Guys at ESSENCE Fest- Friday, July 6: 2:55pm

Saturday, July 7

Source: Jeff Kravitz / Getty

Black Panther Heroic Encounter- Saturday, July 7: 11:00am

TRESemmé Summer Slay Hair Masterclass with Unilever Hair Expert, Ursula Stephen- Saturday, July 7: 11:35am

Screening of “Claws” followed by a cast Q&A, Presented by TNT- Saturday, July 7: 12:15

Cast Appearance: Insecure, Presented by HBO with Yvonne Orji & Y’lan Noel- Saturday, July 7: 12:55

Meet the cast of Power including Joseph Sikora, Rotimi & Naturi Naughton, presented by STARZ!- Saturday, July 7: 3:25

Sunday,  July 8

Cast Appearance: The Bobby Brown Story, presented by BET Networks- Sunday, July 8: 12:15pm

“What The F?” A lively, interactive, honest girl chat about FIBROIDS, FERTILITY and being a FEMALE!- Sunday, July 8: 12:30pm

10th Annual Gospel Tribute- Sunday, July 8: 12:45pm

Tasha Cobb Leonard Performance- Sunday, July 8: 2:15pm

Johnny Gill Performance- Sunday, July 8: 4:10pm

Beauty Booths

Source: Maskot / Getty

Throughout the convention center you will find beauty booths by various brands offering free hair, nail and spa services. That wristband will take you far. But be patient. As you can imagine, the lines to get these services can get long, since we’re all trying to enjoy the perks. My Black Is Beautiful always has an elaborate set-up that will immediately capture your eye. So lookout for the #MBIB logo.

Get Ready For The Turnup

Essence Festival is Black woman central. Whether you’re coming with your girls or alone, be prepared to find a fellow melanin warrior who will become your bestie. And you’ll need her because the concerts at Essence Festival are lit! Here’s a detailed schedule of who’s performing and where.

Friday, July 6

7:00 Doug E. Fresh with Special Guest Mia X- Main Stage

7:00 Ledisi- Main Stage

7:05 Pell- Superlounges

7:15 Lloyd- Superlounges

7:30 Damien- Escobar Superlounges

7:45 Miguel- Main Stage

8:30 H.E.R.- Superlounges

8:45 Kelly Price’s “For the Love of R&B” feat Keke Wyatt and Vaughn Willis-Superlounges

9:00 MC Lyte- Superlounges

9:00 Snoop Dogg- Main Stage

10:00 Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and More in a Special Curation by The Roots- Main Stage

Saturday, July 7

7:00 Doug E. Fresh with Special Guest V. Bozeman- Main Stage

7:00 Ella Mai- Superlounges

7:15 Kelela- Superlounges

7:30 Yanina- Superlounges

7:45 Jussie Smollett- Superlounges

7:45 XSCAPE- Main Stage

8:40 Queen Latifah Presents “Ladies First” with Special Guests Missy Elliott, Remy Ma, MC Lyte, Nikki D and More- Main Stage

9:00 Idris Elba- Superlounges

10:10 Mary J. Blige- Main Stage

Sunday, July 8

6:00 Roy Wood Jr.- Main Stage

7:00 Doug E. Fresh with Special Guest Ashanti- Main Stage

7:10 DJ Jubilee- Superlounges

7:15 Ro James- Superlounges

7:30 Louis York- Superlounges

7:45 Teddy Riley’s New Jack Swing Curation feat SWV, Blackstreet, Guy and more- Main Stage

8:00 Victory Boyd- Superlounges

8:15 Mali Music- Superlounges

8:30 Big Freedia- Superlounges

8:50 DVSN- Superlounges

9:40 Big Freedia- Superlounges

9:55 Fantasia- Main Stage

10:40 Janet Jackson- Main Stage

For more information, visit EssenceFestival.com.

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A local’s guide to Poznań, Poland: 10 top tips

Polish musician Daga Gregorowicz reveals the rebellious side of her home city, with its buzzing bars, street art and excellent, cheap restaurants and local cafes

Under the tourist radar and just the right size to explore, Poznań is full of surprises, from cafes in hidden courtyards to riverbank summer pop-ups. Its bourgeois facade masks its anarchic, rebellious side, and it has friendly people, an entrepreneurial spirit and artistic vibe. I also appreciate its intimacy whenever I return from tours, and its flat, bike-friendly geography giving the sense that everything is nearby, including the countryside. With all that, I think Poznań – halfway between Warsaw and Berlin – might be the best starting point for tourists new to Poland. After all, this is where our country was founded, back in the 10th century.

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Travel | The Guardian

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The Hip Flask Guide

Soldiers, explorers and even a pope (Pius XII) carried a hip flask – the latter “for medical reasons”. It’s a traditional men’s accessory, but it definitely has its DOs and DON’Ts. The Gentleman’s Gazette prepared this little guide to help you handle this classic accessory with care.

Hip flasks, also known simply as a flask, is a container specifically designed to hold a portion of hard liquor that is carried in a pocket. O.O. McIntyre, a Washington Herald columnist, wrote in 1920:

And then the party started/And there were ten flasks

Removed from the hip/In that many seconds

And the way they drank it/One would get the idea

That this was a free country

While it may be a symbol of freedom, the flask most certainly has a time and a place. We will explore the history of the flask, buying and caring for a flask, and flask etiquette.

History of the Hip Flask

History of the Flask

The History of the Flask, courtesy of drunkard.com

This excellent infographic from drunkard.com shows how the flask evolved from a rudimentary animal bladder in the Stone Age to sleek stainless steel vessel it is today. Over time, the flask or canteen has evolved from being a personal carrier of liquids to being almost exclusively for the transport and consumption of hard alcohol.

Through history, there have been some important developments in the transportation of liquids. Before the modern era, alcohol was useful for its preservation and sterilization properties when clean drinking water was hard to find. Drinking alcoholic beverages, such as beer and wine fermented from local crops, was first foremost a practical health measure. One needed to carry trustworthy liquids with them and as a result, nearly every culture developed their own form of a flask.

Some say it all started with the hunter-gatherers of the Kalahari, in Southern Africa, 60,000 years ago: they used ostrich eggshells as canteens. Earthenware containers evolved around 2000 BC and were eventually replaced with more modern materials such as glass and metal. From approximately 500AD to the Middle Ages, Pilgrim flasks were created by the thousands for Christian pilgrims to take home water or oil from a sacred place.

The modern flask – a sleek beverage bottle – may have started with the advent of the pocket watch. The notion of carrying something in an easy and practical way developed in the 18th century in England, but followed different ways: the landed gentry adopted the pocket watch and the workers started carrying the hip flask.

It’s not exactly known when, but it was approximately at this juncture when the flask was beginning to take the modern shape with a rounded rectangular body that was curved to match the contours of the body. This shape makes it less visible in the pocket than a square-edged shape.

Prohibition and the Flask in America

Prohibition radically changed drinking in America, and as you can imagine, if you wanted a drink it was best to conceal it.

Around this time, the watch and the hip flask traded places: the wristwatch became commonplace (it surpassed the pocket watch in the 1930s) and the hip flask found its way in the urban gentleman’s collection of accessories around 1920 when it gained its name.

A hipster

A hipster

The word “hipster” was used to identify people that carried hip flasks during Prohibition. Also, if you carried a flask, you were dubbed a vial villain, a gentleman from Kentucky or my favorite, suffering from hip disease.

A bootlegger

A bootlegger

They were also carried by ladies tucked in garters or by men in boots – thus the word “bootlegging”.

Prohibition is coming, stock before it begins

Prohibition is coming, stock before it begins

Some states, such as Indiana, banned the sale of hip flasks and cocktail shakers. This was probably due to the fact that more flasks were sold in the first six months of Prohibition than during the entire previous decade…

Post-Prohibition

The RAF revolver, or "hip flask"

The RAF revolver, or “hip flask”

In the mid-20th century, the most prominent users of flasks were soldiers, who carried canteens out of necessity. During World War II, they were called pocket pistols, along with other slang terms; on the other hand, RAF pilots referred to their service revolvers as hip flasks.

Today

Today, in a world in which every imaginable specialized beverage container is available, the flask is used primarily to carry one’s private supply of hard alcohol. It’s commonly given as a groomsman’s gift.

Hip Flask or Coat Flask?

It is so called because it may be placed in a hip pocket of trousers or inside a coat or blazer. The latter is the best because it will not warm the alcohol, while the hip pocket will.

Not so good: the hip pocket proper

Not so good: the hip pocket proper

Carrying it in the trouser pocket makes it more prone to breaking, bending, or appearing obvious.

A rectangular stainless steel hip flask

A rectangular stainless steel hip flask

Its shape – thin and curved, similar to a kidney – made them easy to conceal.

The round hip flask with a leather cover by Barbour

The round hip flask with a leather cover by Barbour

A Great Gift

A hip flask with the Mackenzie clan crest

A hip flask with the Mackenzie clan crest

Hip flask as a gift for a best man

A hip flask as a gift for a best man

Another similarity between watches and flasks lies in the possibility of engraving both with initials, coats of arms or crests, toasts, mementos, etc. As such, it makes an interesting gift for a best man or groomsmen, for instance.

Hip Flask Materials

An English glass and silver hip flask

An English glass and silver hip flask

They have been produced in a variety of materials, but mostly in pewter, glass, silver and stainless steel. The first material used for hip flasks was glass, with its neutral effect on flavors or aromas as an upside, but with its fragility and weight as a downside.

A hammered pewter flask

A hammered pewter flask

Then came pewter – a metal alloy made from tin and a mixture of copper, antimony, bismuth, silver, and lead, which now is forbidden in drinkware. Pewter started as a kitchenware material in the Bronze Age. It is a beautiful material to be worked with, but one that may alter negatively the flavors of the spirit, unless it has a neutral lining. It is softer than most materials but may gain a nice patina from usage.

 A vintage silver hip flask with a detachable bottom

A vintage silver hip flask with a detachable bottom

Silver was also used, and now these hip flasks are a prized collector’s item. Some have a detachable bottom part that serves as a drinking cup – very handy in situations where drinking straight from the flask is not advisable.

Stainless steel flask with leather cover

Stainless steel flask with leather cover

But stainless steel, with a good combination of hygiene, price, and resistance to deformation, is the material of choice for hip flasks. Many come with a captive top, a small arm (also called a bayonet cap) attached to the top cap to prevent it from getting lost. Some are partially or fully covered with leather or a material resembling it, which may or not be removed for cleaning.

Talking about it, you may – actually, you should – clean your flask externally and internally with dishwashing liquid, but not with soap: it leaves residues that will alter the liquor. Rinse it well and let it air dry.

Hip flask with funnel

Hip flask with funnel

Some flasks come with a small funnel of the same material to help to fill the flask up without spilling the precious spirit. They may also be purchased separately and I strongly recommend you to have one.

Sizes

They are made in many sizes

They are made in many sizes

As to size, you may find a shot-sized flask up to a massive one that may hold 1,89 liters. However, the standard is 8 oz, which is just over 5 shots of hard alcohol.

Hard liquor only!

Hard liquor only!

Fill Your Flask

What should you put in it? The experts are unanimous: hard liquor only, which means 80 proof and above. Whiskey, bourbon, rum, gin, brandy (Cognac, Armagnac) are fine. Lower alcohol beverages such as beer or wine don’t keep well in a flask, nor do cocktails, cream liqueurs, or citrus-based liquids. They will deteriorate or mix badly with the flask material, and some may even damage it. Flavored alcohol will not stay fresh, either. Port wine is a possible exception to the 80-proof rule, especially if you plan to smoke a cigar with it.

Cigar case with a tubular flask

Cigar case with a tubular flask

By the way, the best companion for a hip flask is – for those who enjoy a smoke – a cigar case. A good sip without a cigar will be a half pleasure, something to be avoided, especially in a nice and relaxing place such as the hill you have just conquered after a difficult path, looking at a great and sunny landscape. Just be sure to carry stogies (plural, if you are with friends) that are compatible in strength and flavor with the spirit in the flask.

Storage

How long may you keep the spirit in a flask? You should not leave it for longer than a week, as an upper limit; ideally, you should carry your day’s quota and drink it on the same day. Some say that anything over three days will make the beverage acquire a metallic taste from the flask. If you do not plan to drink the flask content promptly, transfer it to a glass container. Also, put the flask with alcohol in a cool and dark place; this may slow the development of the metallic taste.

Flask Etiquette

Be careful with the "open container law"

Be careful with the “open container law”

The truth of flask etiquette is that there are very few scenarios in which it is appropriate to carry and drink from a flask. Just consider how flasks are depicted on TV: they are almost always used by a character who is reliably inappropriate, often drunk, or disrespectful of social norms. There simply aren’t many social situations in which bringing your own supply of liquor is encouraged or acceptable. Furthermore, the “need” to bring a flask implies that the scenario is one in which you shouldn’t be drinking.

Our advice is to choose carefully when you carry and drink from a flask.

Here are a few flask Dos and DON’Ts:

  • DO be aware that though Prohibition is long gone, many states have open container laws that prohibit bottles, cans, and flasks with a broken seal or that have been previously opened from being carried in public (aside from a car trunk). Check your local laws.
  • DON’T attempt take a filled flask on an airplane, as they won’t let in outside alcohol nor will it pass the TSA
  • DO carry it to a wedding party, a friend’s house or other private places where you know you will not find your favorite spirit
  • DON’T carry a flask purely with the intent to get drunk; that’s not gentlemanly anywhere
  • DON’T take a flask into bars or restaurants as a way to save on the drinks that should be bought there, even if it is your best 20-y.o. single malt. It is rude and cheap, two things unbecoming of a gentleman.
  • DO remember to offer your friends a sip from your flask once it’s open
  • DON’T take a flask to situations where you would not drink out of respect –a religious service, funeral, a government building, etc.
  • DO be prepared to experience some judgment from the people around you
  • DON’T carry more liquor than you can consume without embarrassing yourself
  • DO plan a safe ride home
  • DON’T make carrying a flask become your personal hallmark; carry it sparingly

Conclusion

One of the all-time favorite gent’s accessories, the popularity of the hip flask shows no sign of abating. You will find a great number of options on some websites, such as in this great article by The Independent, here, or at Amazon.com. What about you? Which hip flask style suits you best?


Gentleman’s Gazette

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32 Teams Entered, 16 Remain. Your Ultimate Guide to the World Cup Knockout Stage

Germany is gone. For the fourth time in the last five World Cups, the event’s defending champion was bounced from the tournament after the group stage, as South Korea’s stunning 2-0 victory on Wednesday sent the 2014 winners home.

The result inspired a few incredible scenes — for example, South Korea’s victory enabled Mexico to advance to the round of 16 knockout stage. So people in Mexico City did what any sane soccer fans would do: they went berserk outside the South Korean embassy while urging the consul general, Han Byoung-jin, to down tequila shots (he complied). In Brazil — which still hasn’t quite gotten over Germany’s 7-1 humiliation of the home team during the 2014 World Cup semifinals — several maniacs staged a mock funeral for Germany, parading down a street with caskets draped in the German flag.

Sometimes, sports fans are the best.

Senegal is gone, too. But how can one not feel sympathy, given the way they were eliminated? The Lions of Teranga lost their final game to Colombia, 1-0, meaning that both Senegal and Japan finished with four points in the Group stage. Only one of the teams could advance — Colombia topped the group — putting FIFA’s byzantine tiebreaker rules into play. First up: goal differential. But both Senegal and Japan scored and gave up four goals in the group stage. Next: most goals stored. That metric left them tied, too. The most logical first tie-breaker — head-to-head results between the two teams — is lower on FIFA’s list, for some reason, not that it mattered here: Japan and Senegal played to a 2-2 draw on June 24. So for the first time in World Cup history, the “fair play” tiebreaker came into play. Japan advanced because the referees issues six yellow cards to Senegal, but only four to Japan.

Sure, this World Cup has taught us an important lesson: Behave on the field, or it can cost you. Still, FIFA needs to create better tie-breakers. (Here are some worthy ideas, like results against a group’s top team, or flying both teams to a pre-game penalty shootout before the knockout stage.) Leave the cards to poker.

The group stage offered its share of excitement to be sure. But now the World Cup moves to the knockout round. Sixteen teams remain, and it’s win or go home. No more ties mean penalty shootouts — flawed but exciting — are sure to determine some winners.

Here’s TIME’s handy guide for 2018 FIFA World Cup knockout round.

You can still binge watch

American audiences will undoubtedly miss the daily group stage triple headers, which aired at convenient though perhaps productivity-stifling hours (so what?). This past week was even better: four games a day. The knockout stage is bittersweet in this regard. The stakes are higher, but there are fewer games from this point out.

Still, the round of 16 will give viewers plenty of sports-watching distraction. Enjoy the four straight days of doubleheaders in the schedule below, all times ET.

Saturday, June 30
France vs. Argentina, 10 a.m. on Fox
Uruguay vs. Portugal, 2 p.m. on Fox

Sunday, July 1
Spain vs. Russia, 10 a.m. on Fox
Croatia vs. Denmark, 2 p.m. on Fox

Monday, July 2
Brazil vs. Mexico, 10 a.m. on FS1
Belgium vs. Japan, 2 p.m. on Fox

Tuesday, July 3
Sweden vs. Switzerland 10 a.m. on FS1
Colombia vs. England, 2 p.m. on Fox

The knockout stage brackets aren’t loaded with geopolitical sizzle (thanks to American soccer incompetence, Russia and the U.S. won’t be facing each other on the field, for instance). Still, there’s plenty of intrigue on the board. Brazil and Argentina are blood rivals, and they could meet in the semifinals. How about a Denmark-Sweden semi, in a battle for Scandinavian supremacy? An England-France final would settle some scores. A Spain-Portugal rematch is worth cheering for, too — the teams played to a 3-3 tie in the group stage, with Cristiano Ronaldo putting up a hat trick for Portugal. That match was one of the finest in World Cup history. Just picture them meeting up for the championship (and fine, go ahead and picture Ronaldo ripping off his shirt after winning his first World Cup, too).

English Renaissance

In 1966, England defeated West Germany, 4-2, in the final to win the country’s first, and still only, World Cup. England hasn’t been to the semis since 1990. This underachievement — relatively speaking — doesn’t sit too well in London and Liverpool. But England has looked impressive in Russia. The Three Lions won their first two games, trouncing Panama 6-1 in the process. Even Thursday’s loss to Belgium was fortuitous: by finishing second in its group behind Belgium, England avoided Brazil, five-time World Cup champ and home to superstar Neymar Jr., in its quadrant.

An extended World Cup run for England, however, could trigger a national emergency. A carbon dioxide shortage has forced some beer rationing in the U.K.; pubs without pints for a World Cup final are like humans without hearts.

Video Star

This World Cup has introduced VAR — Video-Assisted Referees — into the global vernacular, which has been a positive development. Because for all the handwringing about delays as officials review the replays, and the intrusion of technology into what will always be a sweat-and-tears athletic endeavor, the bottom line is this: so far, VAR has helped get several important calls correct. Which is always worth it. Here’s a safe bet: a knockout stage game will come down to a controversial decision. And video review will offer a just result.

And Speaking of Betting…

Who, you may ask, is going to win this World Cup? Brazil is the favorite, according to Oddschecker.com, at 15/4, followed by Spain at 19/4 and Belgium at 15/2. A Brazil-Belgium quarterfinal would be a potential championship-level match in an earlier round: with Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany returning from an injury, don’t be shocked to see Belgium survive its challenging draw — and hoisting the country’s first-ever World Cup trophy on July 15 in Moscow.

Sports – TIME

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Royal Wedding trip guide (for people not from the UK)

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you’ll know that there is a pretty special event coming up. No, it’s not your yearly vacation or your birthday (although that is kinda important), it’s the royal wedding! Sure, were pretty upset that Prince Harry will finally be off the market, but we can’t wait to see the dress that Meghan Markle wears on the big day. As these two lovebirds exchange their nuptials, you can guarantee that people from around the world will descend onto London to share the excitement. So, it’s probably best you know where you’re going and what you’re doing…

Where to stay

Because the royal wedding is kind of a big deal, there will be thousands of people making their way into London in the run-up to the main event, and they will all be looking for somewhere to stay. Most tourists will try to stay as close to the center of London or Windsor as they could possibly be – which means it’s best to avoid it. It’s best to stay clear of these two hotspots and venture into the outskirts of London. This way, you can find the hotels that haven’t already been booked up, and those that are a little cheaper.

How to get around

It doesn’t matter if you’re two or ten miles away from London, you’re still going to be able to get around. England has one of the best train and underground systems in the world – and it’s super easy to use! You can buy yourself an Oyster Card (no, it doesn’t taste like oysters) and make your way around London and the surroundings as you hop on and off the public transport. You can either take yourself off to a traditional English pub to watch the events unfold with a glass of Pimms in your hand, or you could stand outside Buckingham Palace and join the hubbub of people all celebrating the marriage.

Where to go

For one day only, the pubs in and around England are staying open extra late to celebrate Harry and Meghan, which means it’s the perfect opportunity to see what all the fuss is all about and try your very first bite of bangers and mash. Although almost every single pub in the UK will be showing the wedding on their television screens, you might also want to check out the other celebrations that are on offer. If you fancy rubbing shoulders with the married couple themselves on the day, you can make your way to Madame Tussauds, where you can see the new waxwork figures of Meghan and Harry as they are unveiled! Once you’re done, make your way to one of the many open-top bus tours in London and Windsor to see the celebrations from above and take some epic pictures. If you’re lucky, you might even stumble upon a British street party, where you can hang with the locals and wear a union jack around your neck. You know you want to.

If you’re going to the UK to witness the royal wedding in all of its glory, you’re going to need a little help – because you’re not the only ones. The best way to get the ultimate royal experience is to plan in advance. Book your flights, book your hotel, and plan where you want to go and what you want to do before you leave! Trust us; you’ll thank us for it after…

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When is Wimbledon 2018? Your Ultimate Guide to Tennis’ Biggest Tournament

Summer is officially here, which means the start of Wimbledon, tennis’ most prestigious event of the year, is just around the corner.

Wimbledon 2018 will be held from Monday, July 2, to Sunday, July 15, at the All England Club in South West London. The first round of play will begin on the 2nd at 11:30 a.m. BST on the outside courts and 1 p.m. on the main show courts: Centre Court and No. 1 Court. The women’s singles final will take place on the second-to-last day, Saturday, July 14, followed by the men’s singles final on the 15th.

Wimbledon is not only the oldest tennis tournament in the world, but also, along with the Australian Open, French Open and U.S. Open, one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments. It is the only major still played on grass.

Here’s everything you need to know—from the Wimbledon schedule to the deal with Wimbledon prize money—about The Championships, Wimbledon.

Where does the action go down?

Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty ImagesCrowds gather outside centre court on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon.

Wimbledon 2018, just as the tournament has since 1877, will take place at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, London.

Matches with star appeal—a.k.a. those involving top-seeded players or local favorites—generally take place on the club’s two main show courts, Centre Court and No.1 Court, with the finals and semifinals of main events like men’s and women’s singles always reserved for Centre Court. But don’t be fooled, there’s still plenty of action to catch on the club’s remaining 17 courts.

Unfortunately, there were a number of player complaints last year about the condition of the Wimbledon courts, with Britain’s number one seed Andy Murray describing the playing surface of Centre Court as “not as good as previous years.”

The Wimbledon scheduling committee has also previously come under fire for assigning higher-profile courts to men’s matches rather than women’s.

Who is playing at Wimbledon 2018?

Venus Williams awaits a serve from Ana Konjuh at Wimbledon 2017
Roland Harrison/Action Plus via Getty ImagesVenus Williams awaits a serve from Ana Konjuh at Wimbledon 2017.

There’s going to be plenty of top tennis talent to keep an eye out for at Wimbledon 2018. In addition to last year’s women’s and men’s champions, Garbiñe Muguruza and Roger Federer, star players like Serena and Venus Williams, Rafael Nadal, Caroline Wozniacki, Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep are all expected to compete in the tournament.

Serena recently pulled out of the French Open ahead of a highly-anticipated fourth-round match against Maria Sharapova due to a chest injury. However, as a seven-time Wimbledon champion, she is still considered a favorite to take home the coveted Wimbledon trophy.

The official draw and seeding for Wimbledon 2018 will be determined on June 29.

Prize money

The All England Club will award a total of £34 million (about $ 45.1 million) in prize money to competitors at Wimbledon 2018, with the men’s and women’s singles champions each receiving £2.25 million ( about $ 2.3 million). This is a 7.6 percent increase on the amount of prize money awarded at last year’s Wimbledon Championships.

The club has also introduced a new “50:50” rule in an attempt to prevent injury withdrawals in the first round of the men’s and women’s singles events. Players can now claim half of their first-round prize money if they withdraw on site by the Thursday before the start of the main draw, with the remaining half going to their replacement. However, if a player competes in the first round and “retires or performs below professional standards,” they may be subject to a fine equal to the sum they received as prize money.

See a full breakdown of the Wimbledon 2018 prize money at Wimbledon.com.

Tickets

You can purchase tickets for Wimbledon 2018 through sites like StubHub and Ticketmaster—where several hundred Centre Court and No.3 Court tickets will be sold online the day before play. A limited number of tickets will also be available on the day of play to those who line up in the queue at the All England Club.

For those who can’t make it out to the grounds this year, Wimbledon 2018 will be available to stream on WatchESPN, Hulu Live, SlingTV, and DirecTV Now as well as the BBC Sport website and app.

Sports – TIME

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Pinky Ring Guide

This guide is all about the history of pinky rings, its significance, as well as how to wear pinky rings and how to buy them.

What Is A Pinky Ring?

Basically, it’s a ring worn on the fifth finger also known as the pinky finger. Interestingly, the pinky finger got its name from the Dutch word pink which means as much as a little finger.

King Edward and his ring

King Edward and his ring

Why Do Men Wear Rings On Their Pinky Finger?

For most of modern history, men’s rings were always a symbol of wealth, social class, and your prestige. Often, they were worn to make a specific statement such as in a signet ring. If you go further back in history, you can see that men wore rings and basically any finger on both hands including the index finger. In the 18th century, most men, especially in England, would wear rings only on their pinky finger. Later in Victorian times, men and women could wear a pinky ring to indicate that they weren’t interested in marriage. When wedding bands for men became more popular, oftentimes they would stash their signet ring and their wedding ring on their pinky finger of the same hand.

In the 20th century, a new approach to clothing came about and it was much less about tradition and more about fashion and making a stylish statement. The same is true for pinky rings. You can see pinky rings worn by men in Paris through the Jazz Age. It was just an expression almost of freedom and style. In the US, many wealthy Americans adhere to the British tradition of wearing their signet ring or their pinky ring on the left hand. That’s also true for Franklin Roosevelt who wore it again on the left pinky.

Prince Charles in Black Tie with Signet Ring

Prince Charles in Black Tie with Signet Ring

A little later, American grifters and members of the Mafia would wear pinky rings to indicate their affiliation with certain organizations. Because of that, in the mind of some people even today, the pinky ring has somewhat of a negative connotation. But just like with fashion in general, rules relax a lot after the end of World War II. Of course, the English have always been more into their traditions, and so even up until the 60s for most men of a certain class, it was unthinkable to wear anything but a pinky ring and maybe a simple pair of cufflinks.

The pinky ring was usually worn on the left-hand pinky finger. For example, if you look at Prince Charles, he still does it today. He stashes his wedding band as well as his pinky ring on the left hand. Of course, there were also rebels such as Winston Churchill who would wear his signet ring on the ring finger of his right hand. If you like rings and if you like to wear them on your pinky finger or anywhere else, you can just do it and be just fine.

In conclusion, pinky rings today are more of a fashion statement and an expression of your style than they are in association with tradition or to display your social class or status. Traditionally, pinky rings came in a wide range of shapes; often they had a typical signet ring shape that was slimmer at the bottom band and then got wider, paired with a semi-precious stone.

Pinky Ring Details – The Sky Is The Limit

Pinky rings were made out of solid metal such as solid gold in 10, 14 or 18 karat, maybe sometimes even 9 karat. You could also find them in sterling silver or in platinum.

Star sapphire ring with diamonds

Star sapphire ring with diamonds

If you look at my ring collection, you can get an idea of the endless possibilities of pinky rings. Every once in a while you see a small diamond in a brilliant cut set to the left and to the right of the center stone which is a very classic look. Stones that are particularly good for pinky rings are turquoise, bloodstone, onyx, lapis lazuli, tiger’s eye, tourmaline, malachite and star sapphires.

Personally, I really like star sapphires. They’re rare and they’re expensive but when you have a light source, it creates a star that moves with your movement and I just think the look is quite exceptional and unique. Since the pinky ring often emulates a signet ring without the engraving or the signet, they’re mostly flat stones.

You can also opt for domed stones

You can also opt for domed stones like Sven Raphael’s favorite dome tourmaline stone pinky ring

Why Should You Wear A Pinky Ring?

Basically, for the same reason you wear most of your other clothes and accessories. Simply because you like it and you want to express your own style. Keep in mind that not many other men are wearing pinky rings so it’s an easy way to set you apart from others. There are also no mechanical parts so you don’t have to service them like a watch and at the same time, they’re less expensive than the wristwatch. That being said, it’s always difficult to get the right ring size because most men’s rings are of a larger diameter and you either have to size them down at your local jeweler for a fee or you find one that is exactly the right size. Because of that, we want to create pinky rings that are classic, stylish and affordable.

 

 

Pinky Ring Dos & Don’ts

Oversized pinky ring looks rather cheap

Oversized pinky ring looks rather cheap

1. Don’t go with oversized pinky rings because they’re quite gaudy. As a general rule, the center stone should be slightly slimmer than the width of your pinky finger.

2. Don’t mix metals. Either go with gold or silver but having those two-tone looks rarely work and it makes you look dated or like from the 80s very quickly.

3. Don’t buy overly ostentatious rings. Rings with very bold and loud engravings or lots of different stones are just not part of a gentleman’s wardrobe.

4. Do match the metal color of your pinky ring to your other accessories. So with a gold pinky ring, maybe gold cufflinks and a gold belt buckle. I know that it can be a little more tricky and if you don’t happen to have it, don’t stress out about it, just wear it and enjoy it. What looks particularly dapper is if you match the stones of your ring to your cufflinks and I often do that with our Fort Belvedere collection.

5. Do buy rings in different sizes. I found that with the seasons, the size of my fingers changes dramatically. In the summer, I have puffier, bigger fingers and in the winter, I have slimmer fingers. Because of that, I buy rings in different sizes so I can wear them at different times of the year.

6. Do experiment. I think you should not just limit yourself to the pinky fingers but you can also play with the ring fingers or other fingers and see what you like and what works for you. Personally, I always wear my wedding band on the ring finger of the left hand and then one ring on the right hand because I think it’s balanced and not over-the-top. I’ve seen other men who wear a lot of rings or some men who wear just a wedding band. Ultimately, the choice is yours.

Antique show in Brimfield

Antique show in Brimfield

Where Should You Buy Pinky Rings?

Honestly, my collection grew all vintage not because I wanted it to be that way but I simply couldn’t find the kind of ring I wanted from jewelers in a price range that I deemed acceptable. Finding a nice new pinky ring can set you back at several thousand dollars and it just seemed over-the-top because I could invest in suits, shoes, and shirts instead, as well as a number of accessories for the same price. Now, of course, it takes a lot of time. You need to travel through vintage stores and you have to be lucky to find something that fits you at the time you’re there. Of course, you can have rings resized to a certain extent. You can make them bigger, you can make them smaller but it always depends on the specific ring.

So if you are interested in quality pinky rings with different stones and exactly the size that is right for you, please head over to our website. Tell us a little more about it and maybe we can help you to find that right piece for your pinky finger.

What’s your take on pinky rings or men’s rings, in general? Do you wear one? If so, what are your favorite designs?


Gentleman’s Gazette

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‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’: A Character Guide

'Ant-Man and the Wasp': A Character Guide

Set several years after Ant-Man (but before Avengers: Infinity War), the new Marvel movie reunites audiences with Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), as well as Hope’s father Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). While Scott is trying to stay trouble-free after getting into a heap of it over his participation in the events of Captain America: Civil War, he has to don the Ant-Man suit again as Hope and Hank attempt to locate Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) in the Quantum…

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A traveller’s guide to seeing the Northern Lights

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Let’s be honest, the world is a weird and wonderful place – but we would say it’s more wonderful than weird. Although we may have built concrete jungles in every country on the globe, there are still incredible wonders that showcase what mother nature has to offer. We can now take helicopters over active volcanoes, we can often witness double rainbows in the sky, and there are even flammable ice bubbles under frozen lakes! Yet, one of the greatest natural phenomena of all time just has to be the Northern Lights. If you fancy checking this out, you’ll need this traveler’s guide…

Where can you see them?

Although we wish we could see the Northern Lights from our bedroom windows, it just doesn’t work that way, and they only appear in certain areas of the world at certain times of the year. Thankfully, there are various destinations around the globe who offer views of the Northern Lights, including Swedish Lapland, the Norwegian Coast, the Dalton Highway in Alaska, Fort McMurray in Canada, the Hebrides in Scotland, Southern Iceland, Rovaniemi in Finland, Greenland, and Stewart Island in New Zealand. However, just because you travel to these destinations doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a sighting. The Northern Lights do what they want!

When can you see them?

Most of the time, the Northern Lights appear in the winter – although there have been reports of summer sightings. Yet, if you want to up your chances of seeing this incredible spectacle, it’s best to book your trip for the winter months. To get the best sighting of this multi-colored sky display, the night will need to be perfect. You will need to be away from light pollution, the lunar cycle will need to be perfect, the cloud cover will need to be minimal, and solar activity will also play a part in whether you catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Because of this, it’s best to book a longer trip so you can give yourself multiple chances of seeing the lights.

How do I spice up my trip?

Catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights will most likely fill your heart with warmth (even though you’ll be standing in freezing temperatures) and will allow you to create lasting memories of a place – but sometimes it’s not always easy to spot them on your own. If you want to spice up your trip to see the Northern Lights, you might want to spend money on a guided tour. This way, you will be taken to a Northern Lights hot spot, and given all of the information you could possibly want to understand what’s going on. During the day, you can also go on tours to explore what your chosen destination has to offer. You could visit Father Christmas in Lapland, you could hike the local hills in Scotland, or you could choose to visit the Golden Circle in Iceland. There’s just so much room for activity!

Will I need to wrap up warm?

Considering you will only normally see the Northern Lights in the winter and in destinations that are often covered in snow and ice, it’s fair to say that it will be incredibly cold! This means you will need to wrap up incredibly warm for your trip to see the Northern Lights. The likelihood is that you will spend hours out in the freezing cold, and will need to wear multiple layers to ensure that you can stay out long enough to catch the natural phenomena.

If you’ve always wanted to see what the Northern Lights has to offer, now is a better time than ever to book your flights and see them for yourself. Just remember to keep in mind this traveler’s guide!

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A local’s guide to Vilnius, Lithuania: 10 top tips

‘Vilnius, the G-spot of Europe: Nobody knows where it is, but when you find it, it’s amazing’ … a bold claim from a recent tourist ad that went viral

The poster produced by two students referring to Lithuania’s capital as Europe’s G-spot really sums the city up: it is not where you thought it was. It is not in eastern Europe, not even in central Europe, but the capital of a Baltic state in northern Europe.

Founded in 1323 by grand duke Gediminas, who attracted Jewish and German tradesmen and merchants with generous tax exemptions, for centuries it became a destination for those fleeing religious persecution (there was even a Scottish Calvinist community in Vilnius) or tough trade guild regulations. The city’s coat of arms features Saint Christopher, the patron saint of travellers.

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Your Ultimate Guide to Watching the 2018 World Cup

The soccer World Cup kicks off Thursday in the 81,000 seater Luzhniki stadium in central Moscow. Host country Russia, ranked 70th in the world, take on 67th-ranked Saudi Arabia at 6 p.m. local time (11 a.m. ET). While unlikely to be a match for the history books, it does mark the start of the first World Cup in eastern Europe. The games will be played across 12 stadiums, spanning a huge distance—with the most eastern in Ekaterinburg, 1,800 miles east of the stadium in Kaliningrad, Russia’s European territory that borders Poland and Lithuania.

With 64 matches over four weeks, there are likely to be surprises—especially with video assistant referee (VAR) technology making its World Cup debut after a widely criticized outing in the 2017 Confederations Cup. Here, a cheat sheet of what else to watch out for in this year’s tournament.

The favorites and the challengers

The only South American team to win a World Cup on European soil was Brazil in 1958. This year, there are five teams from South America in contention. Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Colombia all look likely to make it out of their groups, with Peru the underdog. With Brazil’s Neymar looking in form after returning from injury and scoring in both warm-up friendlies against Croatia and Austria, the Brazilians could live up to their tag as tournament favorites.

France and Germany are both considered strong challengers to the South Americans, especially playing closer to home. But with Germany’s surprise decision to leave star winger Leroy Sané at home and a loss to Austria in a pre-tournament friendly, France could have the edge. A young squad bursting with raw talent, like forwards Nabil Fekir and Kylian Mbappé, has the best chance in years of bringing Les Bleus their second ever World Cup.

Final flings

This tournament is likely soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo’s last shot at winning a World Cup. The 33-year-old Portuguese captain has won the European Champions League five times with two teams and set scoring records, yet the World Cup trophy remains elusive. Leading fourth-ranked Portugal to victory would cement his place as one of the game’s greatest players of all time.

Portugal v Algeria - International Friendly
Quality Sport Images—Getty ImagesCristiano Ronaldo of Portugal in action during the friendly match of preparation for FIFA 2018 World Cup between Portugal and Algeria at the Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica on June 7, 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal.

Egypt wasn’t considered to be a team to watch even when it last played in a World Cup, 28 years ago, but since Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah powered his way to become one of the top three goal scorers in Europe, it is attracting fresh attention. The team is already set to break one tournament record: fielding the oldest player ever to play in a World Cup. Goalkeeper Essam el-Hadary, 45, is set to captain his side. He told ESPN the milestone meant little, since “age is just a number.”

Teams for the neutrals

Although Iceland may have pride of place as tournament underdogs, Nigeria is emerging as another popular choice. According to the Nigeria Football Federation, the Super Eagles’ distinctive white, green and black patterned jersey had 3 million preorders, and London’s Nike store sold out after fans had lined up for hours. The country is hoping for a best-ever performance after finishing ninth in 1994.

England v Nigeria - International Friendly
Catherine Ivill—Getty ImagesDetail of the Nigeria badge and shirt during the international friendly match between England and Nigeria at Wembley Stadium on June 2, 2018 in London, England.

Off the pitch

Away from the stadiums, soccer officials are hoping the host nation can avoid a resurgence of soccer hooliganism. At the European Championships in 2016, Russia’s fans violently clashed with British fans in the city of Marseilles. Russia says it has created a blacklist of “known troublemakers,” reportedly of almost 2,000 people and plans to deploy hundreds of police on the streets to dispel violence. Still, fans are bracing for trouble. The British Foreign Office has warned citizens traveling to Russia to watch out for “anti-British sentiment or harassment.”

If you only pay attention to soccer every four years, you might be wondering who the U.S. is playing. Alas, the United States men’s national soccer team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, prompting much soul-searching and anger at the controversial goal that let Panama proceed instead. There’s a silver lining in the form of a squad of rising stars like Christian Pulisic and John Brooks, who are young enough to be dreaming of a resurgence in 2022. And the Americans are at least in good company: four-time winners Italy also failed to qualify.

Sports – TIME

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The ultimate guide to Princess Diana’s go-to fashion brands (and where to shop them)

princess diana fashion brands

We’ve already told you all about Kate Middleton’s fashion brands, as well as Meghan Markle’s go-to shops, so we thought it was about time we compiled a guide to Princess Diana’s favourite designers and high-street stores too.

After all, Princess Diana’s iconic style inspired future Royals in more ways than one, like the time the Duchess of Cambridge’s maternity dress was a nod to the late Princess, or when Meghan Markle wore her blue ring on her wedding day.

Diana’s style varied over the years, from her Sloane-ranger blazer and jeans combo to her sleeker 90s dresses, but there were a few brands she always went back to. You can shop them below…

Princess Diana wearing Catherine Walker

Whether it’s a power suit or an evening gown, Catherine Walker was Diana’s go-to designer no matter the occasion. Founded in 1977 by Cyrus and his wife Catherine Walker, it became famous in the 80s and 90s thanks to the Royal. Some of her most famous outfits include, but are not limited to, a powder pink ballgown (like the one Meghan Markle wore at Trooping the Colour), a Dynasty-esque green sequin dress and that pearl gown that was fondly nicknamed ‘the Elvis dress’.

princess diana fashion brands

Princess Diana wearing Catherine Walker in 1989 in Hong Kong. Picture: Rex

She famously wrote to the designer after wearing a white lace dress after her separation from Prince William, telling her ‘I was so proud and felt very confident to stride out there and deliver my first speech since the divorce.’

You can buy Catherine Walker designs in store.

Princess Diana wearing Christina Stambolian

You’ll no doubt have heard of the Revenge dress, which Diana wore for her first appearance since Prince Charles admitted to having an affair with Camilla. She wore the black design to the Serpentine gallery, paired with her famous sapphire choker (here’s what happened to it and the rest of her jewellery after she died). What you might not know is that she was meant to wear Valentino that evening, but the brand released a statement earlier that day about it, which put her off.

princess diana style influence

REX/Shutterstock

So she went with the Greek fashion designer instead, and it all blew up from there. Other fun fact: she had actually been sent this dress three years previously, but was at the time worried it was too revealing. You can buy her designs on eBay.

Princess Diana wearing Versace

Princess Diana was very good friends with Gianni Versace (‘I am devastated by the loss of a great and talented man’ she said when she found out about his death), and wore his designs a lot in the 90s. She famously posed on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar wearing an embellished blue dress, and wore a gorgeous one-shoulder silk gown to a charity ball in Sidney in 1996.

princess diana fashion brands

Photo: Rex

Shop now: VERSACE Contrast-trim crepe dress for £1,141 from MatchesFashion.com

princess diana fashion brands

Princess Diana wearing Bruce Oldfield

Princess Diana met Oldfield through her work at Barnado’s and wore his couture dresses from the mid 80s to mid 90s, when her style changed, at which point she stopped wearing his designs. Some of his dresses include an off-the-shoulder navy dress which she wore at a dinner in 1987 and a gala in 1988, and was later auctioned off for £45,000 at Christie’s.

princess diana fashion brands

Princess Diana wearing Dior

There’s a reason Dior has a bag named after Diana (the Lady Dior FYI): she was one of their most loyal customers. The bag, which had another name at the time, was given to Diana by the French First Lady, Bernadette Chirac. She loved it so much that she ordered it in every version, which prompted Dior to name it after her.

princess diana lady dior

Photo: Rex

Shop now: Mini Lady Dior bag in black patent calfskin for £2,350 from Dior

 

Princess Diana wearing Bellville Sassoon

You might not have heard of David Sassoon, but he created over 70 gowns for Princess Diana over the course of two decades, and is credited for taking her from Sloane Ranger to fashion icon status. She famously wore a bright floral-patterned dress to visit children in hospital, and a pink floral dress for Prince William’s christening in 1982.

princess diana fashion brands

Photo: Rex

Princess Diana wearing Emanuel

Diana’s fairytale showstopper from her 1981 royal wedding was created by Welsh designer duo David and Elizabeth Emanuel. The dress was made of ivory silk, pure taffeta and antique lace, with 10,000 pearls and sequins, and had a 25 ft train

princess diana

Credit: REX

Princess Diana wearing Ferragamo

Everyone talks about the Lady Dior bag, but did you know Ferragamo also named a bag after Diana? The late Princess owned over 20 variations of the chain strap bag, which was named the Lady Di after her death.

princess diana fashion brands

Photo: Rex

Shop now: SALVATORE FERRAGAMO Ginny medium leather shoulder bag for £915 from MatchesFashion.com

Princess Diana wearing Chanel

Princess Diana was a big Chanel fan, and was especially fond of the bags and shoes, though she sadly didn’t wear the brand after her divorce. The reason she couldn’t wear Chanel anymore was because the interlocked Cs reminded her of Charles and Camilla.

princess diana fashion brands

Photo: Rex

Shop now: Chanel flap bag for £4,220 from Chanel

There’s no denying Princess Diana was very loyal to the designers she loved, which included lots of British up-and-coming names, who she supported even after her divorce, which was a turning point in her style. You could even say she paved the way for Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle.

The post The ultimate guide to Princess Diana’s go-to fashion brands (and where to shop them) appeared first on Marie Claire.

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Elder Scrolls 6 Location Guide – Where Could Bethesda’s Next Game be Set?

If there’s one game that’s probably on most gamers’ wishlist, it’s Elder Scrolls 6. Bethesda is keeping incredibly tight-lipped on the topic however, especially regarding the game’s existence and where the Elder Scrolls 6 location would be.

Whether it’s Valenwood or Argonia, there’s been plenty of speculation as to what the Elder Scrolls 6 setting will be.

Here we take a look at the possibilities and top fan favourites for the Elder Scrolls 6 locations.

A brief history of Elder Scrolls

Of course, the location for the game is more than just a setting, it also gives us an idea of what the game’s called.

For example, Elder Scrolls 2: Daggerfall was set across the High Rock and Hammerfell provinces, while Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind took you to the island of Vvardenfell.

Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion was set in Cyrodil and finally Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim took us to… well, Skyrim.

All these locations were featured in the original game, Elder Scrolls Arena. It’s the only Elder Scrolls game to date to allow you to explore the full empire of Tamriel, but sadly because it was 1994 it was very basic and repetitive.

The original map from Elder Scrolls Arena looks something like this:


Elder Scrolls Arena map
From left to right: Summerset Isle, High Rock, Hammerfell, Valenwood, Skyrim, Imperial Province, Elsweyr, Black Marsh and Morrowind

In fact, this awesome map from a Reddit user sums up where the events of all the Elder Scrolls events have taken place so far:


Tamriel Elder Scrolls game map

All the events of every Elder Scrolls game since have taken place within Tamriel, so it’s safe to believe that it’ll be the same for Elder Scrolls 6.

With that in mind, here are all the potential Elder Scrolls 6 locations currently up for games within Tamriel.

Elder Scrolls 6: Valenwood


Elder Scrolls, Valenwood
The Valenwood province of Tamriel

Location: Valenwood is a south-western province of Tamriel, west of Elsweyr, south-west of Cyrodiil and east of the Abecean Sea.

Home to the Wood Elves or Bosmer, this is a largely uninhabited forest wilderness. The coastlines are dominated by mangrove swamps and rain forests.

Likelihood: Strong

Valenwood is one of the spots in Tamriel that Bethesda hasn’t yet explored in the Elder Scrolls series beyond Arena.

However, there’s also a purportedly leaked memo from within Bethesda back in 2014 that supports a Valenwood location.

The memo allegedly prohibited Bethesda employees from “using or referencing” a number of terms. These included Fallout: Nuka World, which ended up being part of a Fallout 4 DLC release, Elder Scrolls 6 or something known as Project Greenheart.

Many believe that Project Greenheart is the codename for Elder Scrolls 6 because Greenheart is a city found in the Valenwood region.

Coincidence? Probably not.

Elder Scrolls 6: Elsweyr


The Elsyweyr province of Tamriel

Location: Elsweyr is a region of Tamriel bordered by Valenwood on the west, Cyrodiil to the north and east and Argonia to the east.

The province is separated into two nations: Anequina to the north and Pelletine to the South. Anequina is a desert-like badlands similar to Hammerfell. Pelletine, on the other hand, is a mixture of dense jungles and woodlands like Valenwood.

It’s the home of the feline race of Elder Scrolls, the Khajiit.

Likelihood: Possible.

Bethesda has regularly said that the setting of Elder Scrolls games tends to be based on which province has the most lore.

There’s plenty of information about Elsweyr in the previous games, so could be a great base to build Elder Scrolls 6. 

Elder Scrolls 6: Hammerfell


Hammerfell, Elder Scrolls
The Hammerfell province of Tamriel

Location: Hammerfell is a vast province to the west of Tamriel. The region is bordered by High Rock to the north, Skyrim to the north-east and Cyrodiil to the east and south-east.

It’s a massive region that’s covered by mountain ranges, grasslands and even deserts – just for that real mix of terrains.

The Redguards call Hammerfell their home, who are a race of men known for their cunning and skilled swordsmanship.

Likelihood: Strong.

The only issue with Hammerfell being a potential location for Elder Scrolls 6 is that it was partially featured in Elder Scrolls 2: Daggerfall. 

However, at E3 2018, Bethesda released the first teaser trailer for the game, revealing few details beyond a sweeping view of a mountainous region. This could indicate that Hammerfell will be the location for the upcoming sequel.

Hammerfell is an absolutely massive region so there’s plenty more that Elder Scrolls 6 could explore.

Elder Scrolls 6: Argonia


Elder Scrolls Argonia, or Black Marsh
The Black Marsh or Argonia region of Tamriel

Location: The Black Marsh, known also as Argonia, is a region in the south-east of Tamriel. It’s bordered by Morrowind to the north, Cyrodiil to the west and protected by both the Topal Sea and the Padomaic Ocean.

It’s here that the reptilian Argonians call home, some of which you will encounter in other Elder Scrolls games.

The province is filled with great rivers and impenetrable swamps. It seems to be ruled by the King of Argonia and an Argonian Royal court.

Likelihood: Strong

Online rumours have speculated that Argonia or the Black Marsh will be the setting for Elder Scrolls 6 for years.

Although there don’t seem to be any verified leaks as yet, it is one location that the Elder Scrolls series hasn’t yet explored.

Plus, there’s plenty of knowledge of the Argonian race in previous games to support the next game exploring their homeland region.

Elder Scrolls 6: Akavir


Akavir Elder Scrolls
There are currently only fan-made maps of Akavir, but it could look something like this

Location: Akavir or the “Dragon Land” is one of the only areas in this list that’s outside of Tamriel.

It’s actually a totally different continent that lies to the east of Tamriel and is the homeland of the Akaviri.

These people are made up of unrelated races, the Snow Demons of Jamal, the serpent men of Tsaesci, the Monkey People of Tang Mo and the Tiger Dragons of Ka’Po’Tun.

Little is known about the continent but it is referenced multiple times throughout the series.

Likelihood: Possible.

If Bethesda thinks the Elder Scrolls series is just retreading old ground in Tamriel, moving to the nearby yet historically connected continent of Akavir definitely has potential.

Elder Scrolls 6: Atmora


Atmora Elder Scrolls
Again, there are no real images for Atmora from the game, so this is a fan-created outline of the continent

Location: Atmora, also known as Elder Wood, is a frozen continent way to the north of Tamriel, across the Sea of Ghosts.

It’s described in the Elder Scrolls series as a place of permanent winter, with little life and no sign of habitation.

Likelihood: Very unlikely.

Nothing lives in this land of ice, so what reason would Bethesda have to set Elder Scrolls 6 there?

Elder Scrolls 6: Alinor


Elder Scrolls Summerset Isles

Location: The Summerset Isles, also known as Alinor, is an archipelago consisting of three major islands: Summerset, Auridon and Artaeum.

The archipelago is located to the south-west of Tamriel and west of Valenwood in the Abecean Sea.

It’s home to the Altmer or High Elves/Western Elves. They’re one of the ten default playable races in Elder Scrolls games and are primarily known for their enhanced magic abilities.

Likelihood: Possible.

The High Elves are one of the most popular races in Elder Scrolls, and any player would love to see a game set in their homeland.

There’s plenty of history when it comes to the Summerset Isles too, which could give a major AAA release plenty of source material.

Plus, there’s a couple in Fallout 4 called the Summersets. Is that a little hint from Bethesda?

The post Elder Scrolls 6 Location Guide – Where Could Bethesda’s Next Game be Set? appeared first on FANDOM.

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Panama Hat Guide

Even though hats are no longer an obligatory element of a man’s wardrobe today, they go a long way to enhance style in terms of both form and function. Unlike the plethora of hat style choices in the winter, there is really only one classic summer hat that has stood the test of time: the Panama hat.

A “Panama hat” refers to a lightly-colored, finely woven hat made from the straw of the South American toquilla palm plant. Although the name implies that the origins of this world famous hat lie in Panama, original Panama has always been made in Ecuador. There, it is better known as sombrero de paja toquilla, or simply “straw hat”. The Panama’s elegant shape and lightweight, breathable qualities make it the perfect choice for hot, sunny weather, and therefore a Panama hat should be in the wardrobe of any serious sartorialist.

As a side note, this Panama Hat Guide was our very first article we published on the Gentleman’s Gazette on March 6, 2010. We have grown and changed a lot ever since and the original 700-word article is now 2100 words long. Also, our content standards have become a lot higher. Therefore it was time to redo this guide, I am sure you will enjoy it!

History of the Panama Hat

Theodore Roosevelt inspecting the Panama canal

Theodore Roosevelt inspecting the Panama canal

Panama hats have been woven in Ecuador since the early 17th century, when they were worn and traded locally. In industry grew steadily and spread in the following centuries, and by the 19th century, they were exported out of Ecuador for distribution in Europe, the Americas, and Asia. The story goes that as early as 1834, gold-rush miners that were making the trip to California via Panama bought hats there, earning them the misleading moniker “Panama” hats. Word of mouth and the continuing flow of miners through Panama sustained the term and the hat’s popularity, but the hat didn’t achieve a broad audience in the US until Theodore Roosevelt was photographed wearing a Panama hat while visiting the building site of the Panama canal. By 1944, Panama hats were Ecuador’s top export.

Gregory Peck holding a Panama hat on the set of To Kill a Mockingbird

Gregory Peck holding a Panama hat on the set of To Kill a Mockingbird

In the 20th century, interest in the hat continued as movie stars, politicians, and noteworthy fashion figures wore Panama hats in warm weather settings. Hercule Poirot, Rober Redford in the Great Gatsby, and Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird are just a few of the characters who wore this famous hat.

Robert Redford wears a Panama hat in the Great Gatsby

Robert Redford wears a Panama hat in the Great Gatsby in 1974

In the present day, the authentic Panama hat industry is centered around the city of Cuenca, Ecuador, where the production is mostly focused on quantity rather than quality. Large companies manufacture hats in the thousands and sell them around the world. If you come across a hat labeled as a “genuine Panama hat,” it probably comes from one of the factories in Cuenca. The hand weaving tradition of Panama hats is still alive outside of Cuenca, and the most well-known center of hand woven hat production is probably Montecristi. Many would argue that the best Panama hats come from this small town, but the coastal town of Calle Pilé in the western part of Ecuador also lays claim to the best hat producers.

How a Panama Hat is Created

All Panama hats were originally woven by hand, using local toquilla palm straw, around individual hat forms. Like most popular wardrobe staples, the demand for hats eventually led to the industrialization of the hat making process, and now most Panama hats are woven by machines in modern factories. While the factory production of Panama hats is rather uninteresting, the process of hand-weaving one is fascinating. It’s a dying art that is worth appreciation; in 2012, the hand weaving of Panama hats was even added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

Searching the Ecuadorian jungle for the toquilla palm plant

Searching the Ecuadorian jungle for the toquilla palm plant

The process begins with the straw, which can only be found in the equatorial rainforests in Ecuador. Like a rare wine grape, the best plants are found in a microclimate that is ideal for growing toquillas. The heart of the plant, the cogollo, is the perfect material for creating baby hair-fine straw for a high-quality Panama hat.

Dozens of cogollos may be required to create a single hat, and each one is harvested by hand from wild plants in the forest. The stalks of the plant are then painstaking separated by hand and boiled briefly before drying. Once dry, the fibers are bleached in sulfur smoke and then split into even finer straws.

Hand weaving the crown of a Panama hat

Hand weaving the crown of a Panama hat

The weaving begins with the centermost part of the hat, the crown, and is then woven outwards in a circular pattern. Weave possibilities include the “liso” herringbone and the “brisa” diamond pattern, but the hand weavers favor the liso for it’s more elegant appearance. The brisa weave is favored by large manufacturers for economic reasons.

Once the crown is large enough, it is placed on a waist-high tripod that is topped with a hat block in the shape of the crown. Once the weaving extends over the edges of the block, the weaver will place several more blocks on top of it, as well as a small cushion. He or she will then lean over the cushioned tripod, using their body weight to hold down the weaving. It is quite literally back-breaking work. A single very fine hat can take months to weave; the record is 8 months for the finest-known hat to have been produced.

Leaning over to weave a Panama hat

Leaning over to weave a Panama hat

Once the weaver approaches the edge of the brim, the unfinished hat is passed off to a handful of additional skilled artisans for finishing. First, an artisan finishes the edge of brim with a loose back weave. The second artisan tightens the back weave. The third cuts the excess straw from the brim. For a very fine hat, this straw will be saved so that any needed repairs can be made from the same straw. The hats are then washed and bleached before being sent to the fourth artisan, who then pounds the hats with sulfur powder to soften them. Finally, the hats are trimmed and ironed into a form that begins to resemble a finished hat. Blocking (or shaping the hat into the form) is the final step, but that is usually completed by the buyer.

Raja Panama Hat 1934

Raja Panama Hat 1934

Panama Hat Quality

The quality of a Panama hat is determined by a number of factors, most notably the straw and the weave.

  1. The Straw: the straw is derived from the fibers of the toquilla palm tree, and, generally speaking, the finer, the more identical, and the more evenly colored the straw, the better the quality of the hat.
  2. The Weave: The denser the weave and the more even they are, the better the quality of the hat.

Oftentimes, hats are categorized as “Montecristi fino” or “Montecristi superfino” and so on. Some manufacturers and retailers supply numbered grades, such as 1-20, but these aren’t universally recognized terms. This supposedly implies the fineness of the weave of a Panama hat, but unfortunately, those terms are not clearly defined and thus can be used to obscure or inflate the real quality of a hat. In fact, the terms and grades are used very much in the same confusing manner as Super numbers in the fabric trade and thus do not really help to evaluate the quality of a Panama hat. Rather than having to rely on uncertain terms, it is best to simply count the weaves per square inch.

Finely Woven Panama Hat

Finely Woven Panama Hat

In addition to the quality of the straw and the weave, some consider another quality criterion: the number of concentric circles—the vueltas—which can be found on the crown when the hat is held against the sun or other intense light. Supposedly, the more circles, the higher the quality. In my opinion, counting the weaves per square inch yields far more reliable results than counting the vueltas. For everyday wear, a hat with 350–400 weaves per square inch is perfectly sufficient.

Panama Hat Circles in the Crown

Panama Hat Circles in the Crown

The Finest Panama Hats

The finest hats have over 2000-4000 weaves per square inch, taking the hat maker between four and eight months to produce such a masterpiece. Considering the amount of time that goes into the production of this piece of art as well as the fact that there are only a few handfuls of people left who can weave in such a fine manner, it seems obvious that this quality of hat will not come cheaply.

Vintage panama hat ad

Vintage Panama hat ad

Panama Hat Styles

The style of a Panama hat is determined by two main characteristics: the shape and size of the brim and the crown. While there are endless variations of hats available, here are some of the most classic hat profiles you should consider.

Fedora

For the most modern, and yet still very classic look, select a Fedora shaped Panama hat. The most traditional Fedora comes with black grosgrain ribbon and leather sweatband. There are many iterations of the Fedora to choose from, ao you are bound to find one that suits you.

Optimo style Panama hat

Optimo style Panama hat

Optimo

The Optimo shape was a staple profile in the first half of the 20th century, but it still retains its appeal and elegance today. With a distinctly British expat feel, this style is defined by a top seam along the center of the rounded crown.

Planter style Panama hat

Planter style Panama hat

Planter

The planter style Panama hat has a rounded, molded crown and an extended brim for extra sun protection. Great for a characteristic look when staying out of the sun is paramount.

Golf style Panama hat

Golf style Panama hat

Golf

Since golf is a warm-weather sport, there is a style designed with the golfer in mind. The golf Panama hat is often woven with an open, decorative weave along the sides of the molded crown for even better air flow.

Prince Charles in RayBan Sunglasses with Panama hat and Gardenia Boutonniere

Prince Charles in RayBan Sunglasses in a finely woven Panama hat and a Gardenia Boutonniere

Where to Buy Quality Panama Hats

While you can certainly buy a Panama hat from a local hat shop, it’s best to look online for the best selection and information.

Brent Black

Brent Black has long been a player in the hand woven, Montecristi Panama hat trade. He goes to great lengths to explain his product offerings on his website, and his passion for the business is obvious. Prices range from a couple hundred dollars up to $ 25,000, no joke. The only downside of shopping with Brent Black is the clunkiness of this antiquated website.

Optimo Hats

Optimo hats is one of the last hatters (as in, they make hats) in the United States and they have one of the finest selections of hats around. Based in Chicago, they have an online gallery of styles, including a range of Montecristi Panamas, but do not offer an option to purchase online. That being said, they offer personal phone fittings, which in combination with the images should give a buyer what they need to know to make an informed decision.

Panama Hat, stripes shirt, checked sport coat, off white slacks and printed red Madder Tie

Panama Hat, striped shirt, checked sportcoat, off-white slacks and printed red Madder Tie

Panama Hat Buying Tips

  • Verify the country of origin and the material before you buy a Panama hat. To our knowledge, the name “Panama hat” isn’t regulated, so hats using the similar white color and a traditional black band will call themselves a Panama hat even though they aren’t from Ecuador.
  • Buy from a reputable hat retailer or a hatter. If their business is hats, they should be able answer all your questions about the country of origin, the weave density, etc. If they don’t, find a different source.
  • Buy for quality and longevity, not price. Buy the best quality authentic Panama hat you can afford, as it will last you for years if properly cared for.
  • Don’t love the hat band? No problem. A hand band can easily be changed by your local hat blocker. Most hats come with a black band, but they also look great with other colors and patterns, such as a forest green or a red, white and blue stripe.
Panama Hat and suspenders

Gui Bo wears a Panama hat and suspenders

My Panama Hat Collection

Standard Panama Hat

Standard Panama Hat

One is the standard panama hat in a nice even color, the weave is nice and dense but the straw is not super fine, however, its back woven and it has a fabric sweatband.

Golf Style

Golf Style

Golf style with air holes which is particularly nice when you’re exercising and play golf or do other things in the summer and it comes with a nice dark tobacco brown sweatband which I think looks much better than a black one.

Montecristi Superfino

Montecristi Superfino

Last but not least, they sent me this wonderful Montecristi Superfino which is a very nice and dense weave, beautifully back woven brim. Personally, I prefer different colored ones. It takes sometimes six months to make these hats because of that, it doesn’t make sense to stock them and so they rather list individual hats so you can see the exact weave count, you can see the color, you can see the shape, and everything there is to that particular Montecristi.

When Can You Wear A Panama Hat?

Basically, all the time. In the video, I am wearing it with a seersucker suit, however, you can go with a simple pair of swim trunks maybe with just a polo shirt because the main purpose is to keep your head out of the sun and it’s a summer hat and because of that, you can really wear it with everything in your wardrobe. It’s probably the most versatile hat you’ll ever own.

Panama Etiquette

When should you not wear a Panama hat? You should not wear a hat when you are in places of worship or in people’s homes unless of course, it’s a public building like a railway station, then you can keep it on. Generally, it’s not a great idea to wear a hat and sunglasses, however, with the Panama hat, it’s slightly different because you wear it when it’s really bright outside and if even the wide brim can’t protect your face simply go with sunglasses, even Prince Charles does it.

Conclusion

How do you wear and combine a Panama hat? For more detailed information about the Panama hat, I recommend the book Panama: A Legendary Hat by Martine Buchet.


Gentleman’s Gazette

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A local’s guide to Kraków: 10 top tips

It’s Kraków’s striking medieval old town, one of the finest in Europe, that attracts visitors, but the city’s youthful restaurants, bars and cultural hangouts are well worth checking out, too

Hotel Forum was a monstrous concrete carbuncle of a hotel built during the Soviet era (started in 1978, it took 11 years to complete) next to the Vistula river in the middle of the city. It represented unprecedented luxury in Poland at the time, and featured a swimming pool, mini golf and a casino. But it only stayed open for 13 years – a design fault led to the basement constantly flooding, and it stood decaying and abandoned for many years. The long-term fate of the building is still uncertain, but five years ago, a group of creatives set up Forum Przestrzenie, a contemporary cultural centre with a bar and a good kitchen, which is now one of the hippest venues in the city. Local beers cost about 8zl (£1.65), pizzas from £6.30. Alongside concerts, movie screenings, food and fashion shows, locals come to relax on deckchairs and enjoy the sunset, with Wawel Castle across the river. DJs provide extra ambience. It has a very relaxed atmosphere in a retro setting.
Ul Marii Konopnickiej 28, forumprzestrzenie.com

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Father’s Day Gift Guide & Ideas

Father’s Day is just around the corner. Whether it’s a celebration of your dad or a unique list to give to loved ones seeking inspiration for your gift, here is our annual Father’s Day gift guide.

Gifts Under $ 100

Portable Camping Hammock

Portable Camping Hammock

Portable Hammock

Relaxing is a necessary part of Father’s Day, and while a porch hammock is the dream of many a Dad, they take up a significant amount of space. With this lightweight, packable camping hammock, the man in your life can set up his hammock at the local park and enjoy a relaxing swing in the breeze. Check out this affordable, fun Hammock from Honest Outfitters here.

J Herbin Stormy Gray Fountain Pen Ink

J Herbin Stormy Gray Fountain Pen Ink

J. Herbin Stormy Gray Fountain Pen Ink

Boardroom professional and yet with a hint of sprezzatura, this is the ink any fountain pen enthusiast will be happy to receive. More unique than the traditional blacks and blues, this is one ink that you’ll be buying Dad year after year. Click here to check out J. Herbin’s Stormy Gray Fountain Pen Ink. 

 

Dodge City Book Dodge City Book

Dodge City Book

Dodge City Book

Few eras of history evoke masculine American culture like the Wild West. For the history lover and wannabee cowboy in your life, the book Dodge City: Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and the Wickedest Town in the West is a deep dive into the people that achieved such posthumous fame. Their stories rise above caricature to create a far more real picture of some of America’s most famous events.

Violet Marguerite Boutonniere by Fort Belvedere

Violet Marguerite Boutonniere by Fort Belvedere is handmade in Germany

Violet Marguerite Boutonniere by Fort Belvedere, $ 35

A boutonniere is one of the easiest ways to make an outfit standout from the crowd. You Dad may love his trusty navy blazer, and this violet flower is a perfect way to add a pop of color to his favorite jacket. This daisy-like flower is elegantly casual, not as formal as a carnation and not as casual as a forget-me-not, which makes it an ideal companion for nights out at the country club and family weddings. Check out this Violet Marguerite Boutonniere by Fort Belvedere here.

Timex Weekender Green Tan Nylon Strap

Timex Weekender Green Tan Nylon Strap

Timex Weekender with a Striped Canvas Strap, $ 40

Watches don’t always need to be expensive and stodgy. This Timex Weekender, which we’ve long recommended as a great inexpensive watch, is the perfect relaxed accessory for your Dad’s weekend wardrobe. The silver case and green striped nylon strap will pair well with jeans, chinos, and sporting attire, and the 38mm case is a classic size. At this price, you can’t go wrong for a casual watch. Check out the Timex Weekender Canvas Strap Watch here.

SKLZ Golf Swing Trainer

SKLZ Golf Swing Trainer

Golf Swing Trainer

Golf requires many years of practice, and every serious golfer is looking to find ways to improve their swing. This Golf Swing Trainer is designed to help the avid golfer perfect their swing, fight slices, develop core muscles and gain power. It also does double-duty as a warm up tool before hitting the links. Check out this Golf Swing Trainer here.

HarmanKardon Esquire Mini

HarmanKardon Esquire Mini

Harman/Kardon Esquire Mini

For the traveling executive, this mini Bluetooth speaker from Harman/Kardon is a fantastic gift. The speaker doubles as a portable conferencing system, and the sound is on par or better than most Bluetooth speakers in the sub $ 500 price range. We wouldn’t recommend it for an audiophile’s use at home, but it’s a perfect size to throw in your briefcase or carry-on and use in the hotel, at the office or even as a secondary speaker you can move from room to room in the home. Click here to check out the Harman/Kardon Esquire Mini speaker to buy it.

Glyder Styptic Balm

Glyder Styptic Balm

Glyder – An Upgrade From Your Old Styptic Pencil $ 10

No matter if you are a beardsman or prefer a clean-shaven face, you will always use a razor of some kind. No matter how good your shaving technique is, you will cut yourself eventually, and traditionally, the only thing you had to disinfect the wound was a stinging styptic pencil.

The Problem with styptic pencils: they break very easily which makes them useless and inevitably you will drop it just before you need it. Even if it didn’t break by the time you needed it, these pencils are just a mess to use.

The Solution: Glyder, a styptic balm made of a patented formula including Aloe Vera, Vitamin E, Argan Oil, Tea Tree Oil, Jojoba and wax that leaves your skin protected, disinfected without any smell of alcohol. It comes in a handy, chapstick-style packaging ensures a mess-free application.

Verdict: It’s easy, simple and inexpensive, which is why we won’t ever go back to an old-school styptic pencil again. Just make sure not to twist too much on the ring, you just wan a few millimeters of white. Otherwise the entire balm comes out and due to its consistency, it is difficult to get back into the shaft.

If your dad shaves, this should be an add-on to every father’s day gift you are making this year. Normally it costs $ 9.99 for one but up until Father’s Day you can get 2 for 1 with the code: stypticpencilnomore2  meaning you can keep one for yourself and have one for your dad! Father’s Day perfected.

Flaviar Tasting Box - a wonderful Fathers Day 2000

Flaviar Tasting Box – a wonderful Fathers Day 2000

Flaviar –  The 21st Century Speakeasy Club For Explorers At Heart $ 60

Does your dad have everything and you don’t know what he could possibly want? If your dad drinks liquor, he will love Flaviar.

What is it? Flaviar is the #1 place to explore and taste craft and premium spirits such as scotch, bourbon, rum, cognac and many other spirits.

How does Flaviar work?  Once a quarter, you or your dad gets a beautiful box of spirits in the mail. He can have them curated or pick what he wants. Once received, he can blind test them with friends and brag about his awesome kid, host a tasting party or bond over a drink with you. Flaviar provides tasting notes and background details, and if he likes to geek-out about things, he can use their app, to explore tasting notes for over 20,000 spirits and a bunch of in-depth content.

The cool part about Flaviar is an algorithm called FlavorMatch which learns your likes and dislikes and keeps coming up with new spirits that will suit your palette. It’s like having a Whisky Concierge.

Once he knows what he likes, he can easily order the full bottle or explore The Vault, their collection of ultra rare collector’s spirts – of course, shipping on any number of bottles or tasting boxes is always free.

Cost: $ 60 per quarter

Flaviar Benefits: An average bar or restaurant has only 50 to 100 spirits, the largest online retailers have 3,000 spirits. Flaviar has over 15,000 spirits available that you or your dad would never otherwise be able to taste or buy anywhere else.

Hands down, this is one of the coolest gifts for Father’s Day we have seen in a while. Cheers!

Shakespearean Insult Poster

A father may be famous for his “Dad jokes,” so this year why not help him expand his repertoire with poster exploring some of Shakespeare’s greatest insults. Considered to be the greatest author in the English language, Shakespeare’s remarkable wit and creativity when crafting a good taunt ranges from classic name-calling to edgy retorts. Give the father figure in your life some literary insult inspiration with this Shakespearean Insult Poster, directly from the artist Charley Chartwell.

Gentleman: The Ultimate Companion for the Elegant Man Coffee Table Book

For a clotheshorse, it’s not every day an essential style book gets a modern update. Though he’s not as well known stateside, Bernhard Roetzel, an authority in menswear for more than two decades, has revised his style companion (originally Der Gentleman) to include many new crisp full-color images and text over 350 pages of sartorial inspiration. Unlike your typical coffee table book, Roetzel’s tome also doubles as a thorough reference tool for all things related to dressing and grooming, with a distinctively European touch. Get a copy of the Gentleman: the Ultimate Companion to the Elegant Man here.

Or, if you can bear to wait a little while, pre-order Roetzel’s next book, A Gentleman’s Look Book, featuring our very own Sven Raphael Schneider.

Yard Dice

Not every yard has the space for a volleyball net or a bocce ball court, but that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be a reason to enjoy the outdoor space you have. These giant yard dice come with instructions for 4 games, and they are sure to keep guests of all ages entertained during a barbecue. Check out these larger-than-life Yard dice here.

White Linen Pocket Square with Blue Contrast X-Stitching, Fort Belvedere

Few things in a men’s wardrobe take less time to wear and have a bigger impact than a pocket square. Here is the companion for your Dad’s favorite navy blazer. This striking Italian linen pocket square features a hand-rolled edge with a contrasting x-stitch that is ideal for the coming spring and summer seasons. Check out the Fort Belvedere White Linen pocket square with Blue Contrast Stitching here.

Bartender’s Prep Board

Your dad may love a good homemade cocktail, but digging through recipe books and web search results for the basics is always a pain. For the home mixologist, this Bartender’s Board lays out a conversion chart, a glassware glossary, and garnishes so that each drink your Dad pours will look like it came from a Brooklyn speakeasy. It can even be personalized.

Davidoff Scottish Mixture Pipe Tobacco

What’s more manly than pipe tobacco infused with Scotch whisky? Pretty much nothing. This delicious and fragrant pipe tobacco is one of our highly recommended tins for the budding pipe enthusiast. Click here to get a tin.

Cigar Caddy Draw Enhancer Tool

For anyone who has ever experienced difficulty drawing from a cigar, this tool is one worth more than the price tag. This is a great gift for any dad who enjoys spending his evening with a cigar in hand. Click here to get it.

J. Herbin Stormy Grey Fountain Pen Ink

Boardroom professional and yet with a hint of sprezzatura, this is the ink any fountain pen enthusiast will be happy to receive. More unique than the traditional blacks, blues, and antique greys, this is one ink that you’ll be buying Dad year after year. Click here to get it.

The Butler Speaks

From one of the foremost experts and butlers in the world, The Butler Speaks is a handy guide for anyone who enjoys entertaining. From how to host a dinner party to small daily chores like making the bed, filling the dishwasher and polishing silver, this guide will show you how to ensure your home remains sophisticated and charming without having to employ a butler. Click here to get it.

Fort Belvedere Vintage Prints

Exquisite Men’s Fashion Illustrations by Maurice Taquoy from 1919 on the cover of the French Magazine Monsieur, Issue No. 1, January 1, 1920. You can see an elegant gentleman with gifts walking in the snow with a black bowler hat, burgundy scarf, dark blue overcoat, chamois yellow gloves, gray trim trousers with cuffs and boots with beige spats. Click here to get it.

Tani Underwear

Our favorite underwear on the market, Tani has developed a reputation as using only the softest, most color and shape resistant materials for their underwear. Their newest addition is the light, soft and breathable Micromodal Air fabric, which comes in a range of styles that are perfect for the office to workout apparel that wicks moisture. The underwear is more expensive, but you definitely get what you pay for in terms of comfort, breathability, colorfastness, and longevity. When you consider how often you wear it, it really doesn’t make sense to compromise on the quality of your underwear. Take a look at their SilkCut collection .

Spikeball

Since it debuted on Shark Tank, this game for four has gone viral with entire leagues and teams competing at beaches around the world. If your Dad enjoys playing sports and keeping active, this is a new and unique game that’s easy to pick up and can be played anywhere from the backyard to the park or the beach. You could even play it indoors. Click here to get it.

Partagas Robusto Cigars

Partagas Robusto Cigars

Partagas Robusto Cigars – Price Varies

Arguably one of the finest robustos, any Dad who appreciates a medium to full-bodied cigar will adore a box of Partagas. Spicy and flavourful, it has rich notes of espresso, cocoa, vanilla and sun-drenched leather that start off the smoke. Visit your local tobacconist or shop online for a good price.

$ 100 – $ 250

Steve McQueen wearing Wayfarers in The Thomas Crown Affair

Steve McQueen wearing Persol 649s in The Thomas Crown Affair

Persol 649 Series Sunglasses

Who can forget the effortless cool of Steve McQueen in the original Thomas Crown Affair? We can’t, and Persol 649 series sunglasses are just as edgy today as they were then. They pair equally well with a suit and a casual weekend outfit, so these classic frames are not likely to be left behind often. The frames even fold at the nose and the temples, and they come in a huge array of colors and patterns. Check out the Persol 649 Series Sunglasses here.

Travel Manicure Set by Fort Belvedere, $ 140

This brown and blue manicure set should be every gentleman’s companion. It contains all the tools you will need for the next 20 years to keep your nails looking well groomed. The best part is, it takes just 5 minutes. Watch our video to learn how:

 

British Racing Green Driving Gloves in Lamb Nappa Leather with White Contrast Detailing

British Racing Green Driving Gloves in Lamb Nappa Leather with White Contrast Detailing

Green Driving Gloves by Fort Belvedere, $ 160

You may think, gloves in June? While they may not be necessary to keep warm, driving gloves are a car enthusiast’s most important – and stylish – driving accessory. The will help the man in your life grip the steering wheel of his weekend ride in style. These exclusive driving gloves are crafted of buttery-soft lamb nappa leather with bold contrast stitching and trim. Check out these Fort Belvedere classic British Racing Green Driving Gloves here.

YETI Roadie Cooler

YETI Roadie Cooler

Yeti Roadie Cooler

In general, coolers are…boring. Not so with the Yeti brand of coolers! They take the challenge of durability and performance seriously, and they also manage to make the humble cooler look a little bit more stylish at the same time. They don’t come cheap, but considering that they are engineered to be bear-resistant and virtually “indestructible”, they should be able to stand the test of time. A favorite final feature: ergonomic rubber latches for an easy grip that won’t break like every other cooler latch, ever. Check out the Yeti Roadie Cooler, $ 199, here.

Babolat Pure Strike Tennis Racket

Used on the professional circuit as well as by amateur players around the world, if your Dad enjoys playing tennis, the Babolat Pure Strike 100 Series is a perfect racket for just about any skill level. Click here to check out the Babolat Pure Strike Tennis Racket to buy it.

 

Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

Yeah, that’s right, a pressure cooker. You may be surprised to see this included here, but despite the previous unpopularity of the pressure cooker in the US, it’s now the darling of the home cooking world. So what’s the big deal? Adding pressure speeds up the cooking process so that Dad-approved dishes such as chili or pulled pork can be made in an (unsupervised) hour, rather than the 2-3 hours it would take in the oven. This talented little machine can also be used as a rice cooker and slow cooker, and it has passed safety standards with flying colors. Kitchen gadgets these days can be expensive single-task space wasters, but the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker is none of those things.

Ellipse Bluetooth Bike Lock

For the Dad who loves to bike, keeping his 2-wheeled investment protected from theft is a serious concern. This Bluetooth-enabled bike lock uses a 17mm thick steel shackle, a dual locking mechanism, and bank-level encryption to protect against theft. The keyless entry is controlled by an app that takes just a few minutes to set up, so your Dad doesn’t have to spend any more time fumbling with keys. Check out the Ellipse Bluetooth Bike Lock here.

Nespresso Inissia Espresso Maker / Keurig K575

If you enjoy the richness of an espresso without the effort, there isn’t anything quite like the Nespresso line. However, if espresso is too strong for your tastes and you want a wider selection of coffee and teas to choose from, the new and highly improved Keurig K575 is our single-cup brewer of choice. Click here to get a Nespresso or click here for the Keurig K575.

Pit Master Crate

We normally don’t recommend monthly clubs because the quality of the boxes can vary and the items are often discontinued. However, ManCrates has adopted a different business model and their crates never change or discontinue. If you buy a crate today, you can get the same crate next year with the same items inside it. It’s literally a crate and the perfect gift for the man’s man. With the accompanying pry-bar, you have to open the wood crate to find out what’s inside. The Pit Master crate comes with a quality pair of grilling gloves that we managed to hold the accompanying cast iron pot for a considerable amount of time after we brought it up to a scorching 700°F. The Rufus Teague sauces are okay – better than most you’ll find at the store – but the Meat Rub from Rufus Teague is a decent store-bought rub. The crate also comes with strong and sharp bear claws we use to pull pork, a collapsible grill fork that has become a daily use item and a fairly decent – but not spectacular – silicone basting brush. Combine that with the two single-use wood chip packs and you get a great deal for the money. If your Dad enjoys grilling, this is a wonderful gift. Click here to get it.

BakerStone Pizza Oven

Outdoor pizza ovens are expensive and for the most part, they are custom built. However, this pizza oven sits directly on your existing barbecue and creates a pizza that’s almost identical to the more expensive stone pizza ovens we’ve used. Perfect for the family, the oven holds a single pizza at a time and comes in a handy case that makes it perfect for taking with to the cabin. For anyone with young kids, this will quickly become a go-to cook space for the family. Click here to buy it.

Hennessy X.O. / V.S.O.P Privilège

Hennessy has long produced one of the finest Cognacs commercially available worldwide. The X.O. is a remarkable brandy, and the V.S.O.P. Privilège is a more reasonably priced brandy that still yields exceptional depth and a range of flavours. For the Dad, who enjoys relaxing with a snifter of brandy, a bottle of Hennessy is the gift he’ll enjoy over and over again. Click here to get the X.O. or click here for the V.S.O.P. Privilège.

Slingbox M2

Another gift for the frequent flier, the Slingbox effortlessly connects to any cable or satellite provider’s box at your home and allows you to watch all your channels and programming from any device, anywhere in the world. Forget only being able to access Netflix or Hulu on your phone; now you can watch your TV package and control it on the go. It takes about five or ten minutes to set up and after that, it’s maintenance free. Click here to get a Slingbox.

Soda Stream Power

The Soda Stream and the Keurig Kold are two of the leading soda machines for the home that you can use to make flavoured sparkling water, club soda and brand name soft drinks. The Soda Stream Power is a simple to use, automatic carbonating system that transforms normal tap water into carbonated beverages with the touch of a button. We’ve tried numerous flavours and quite liked the berry and grapefruit syrups. We have not tried the licensed Pepsi products yet, but there are plenty of reviews online. We don’t recommend this instead of buying pre-made soft drinks, but it does work very well as a small appliance for the home bar and can quickly expel a litre of club soda or flavoured soda to mix a drink with. Click here to buy it.

Snake River Farms Wagyu Steak Flight

As meat providers restaurants like The French Laundry, Snake River Farms is known in the culinary industry as the go-to ranch for the high-quality American wagyu beef. This flight of steaks is a steal of a deal and the same quality you’ll find at expensive steak houses and championship pit masters using in their restaurants and on their grills. If Dad enjoys a good steak, there is nothing better than this that’s available in the United States. Click here to get the pack.

Arccos Driver

It attaches to any standard golf driver and tracks your performance with each swing you take. The perfect way to see what you can improve on, this device is ideal for any Dad, who enjoys golfing and wants to improve his game. Works with iPhone, iPad, and the Apple Watch. Click here to buy it.

$ 250 – $ 500

Snake River Farms Wagyu Steak Lover Flight

Snake River Farms Wagyu Steak Lover Flight

Snake River Farms Wagyu Steak Flight, $ 319

As meat providers to restaurants like The French Laundry, Snake River Farms is known in the culinary industry as the go-to ranch for the high-quality American-style wagyu beef. This flight of steaks is the same quality you’ll find at expensive steak houses and on the grills of championship pit masters. If Dad enjoys a good steak, there is nothing better than this that’s available in the United States. Check out the Snake River Farms Steak Lover’s Wagyu Flight here.

Baracuta G9 Harrington Jacket, $ 390

If you’re not familiar with the Harrington jacket, it is one of the most classic spring and fall wardrobe staples a man can own. Though they are available from many menswear brands in a wide range of prices and finishes, the Baracuta G9 Harrington Jacket is one of the original producers of this jacket style. This racing green version of the Baracuta G9 Harrington Jacket has a striking tartan lining. Favored by classic movie stars and modern fashion icons alike, this jacket is a worthy investment for a stylish Dad.

Weber Smokey Mountain Charcoal Smoker

For some, smoking might fall into the “better done by a restaurant” category of food, but for the serious grill aficionado, a smoker is another toy that a Dad can use in his pursuit of the perfect meat. Thankfully, it turns out that you don’t need a $ 15,000 custom-made smoker to get professional results at home; this smoker from the ultimate grill authority, Weber, has been used to win BBQ championships. A quick glance at the reviews will give you an idea just how beloved this smoker is by BBQ enthusiasts. Get the Weber Smokey Mountain Charcoal Smoker, $ 399, here.

 

Lapis Lazuli Gold Eagle Claw Cufflinks, Fort Belvedere

Elegant, double-sided cufflinks are hard to find these days in a market that seems to favor cheap nickel and enamel. Cufflinks, like other men’s jewelry, should be made to wear and keep for years. These elegant cufflinks are handmade by a master goldsmith in Germany and are double-sided so that no matter the angle, the design shines through. Exclusively designed for Fort Belvedere, these Lapis Lazuli Gold Eagle Claw Cufflinks are gold-plated solid sterling silver fitted with genuine semi-precious lapis lazuli.

AudioEngine Bluetooth Speakers

Is your Dad still fiddling with cables and wires? It may be time to help him upgrade to the convenience of these Bluetooth speakers from AudioEngine, a brand adored by audiophiles for great sound quality in its size and price class. These speakers even come in a variety of finishes to match your Dad’s tastes or decor. Simple set up ensures that your Dad can start listening just a few minutes after opening the box. Check out AudioEngine Bluetooth Shelf Speakers here.

AKG N60NC Headphones

AKG N60NC Headphones

AKG N60NC Headphones / V-Moda Headphones

AKG is known for the quality of its headphones . Audiophiles and sound techs around the world praise the quality, and the N60NC noise canceling headphones are perfect for any father. Designed for travel, the noise cancelling feature blocks out the hum of the aircraft and the rattle of the train or subway. The headphones fold up and can easily be stored in a messenger bag, carry-on or coat pocket. These are perfect for the man who likes listening to music or watching movies on short commutes, international trips and at home or work.

VModa Crossfade Wireless Headphones

VModa Crossfade Wireless Headphones

If you don’t like the hassle of cords, we suggest the V-Moda headphones. The sound quality isn’t as good and is on par with brands like Beats. However, it’s unique in the sense that you can listen wirelessly through BlueTooth, or you can plug in the cord if the battery runs out or you want better quality sound. Click here to get the AKG’s which are our favorite headphones or click here for the V-Moda’s which allow you to pick and choose how you want to listen to music.

UE Megaboom

We tested multiple outdoor speakers, and the UE Megaboom was by far our favorite. Small and compact, the waterproof speaker packs a huge punch we weren’t prepared for. The sound quality was better than most of the outdoor speakers we tried, but the volume levels were shockingly good. Even on one of the lowest settings, the speaker was far louder than most of the others we tried. The range was also impressive as was the ability to pair multiple speakers together. It’s not the most attractive speaker on the market, but it can easily be concealed and placed out of sight. Perfect for small family dinners on the patio or large garden parties, Dad will love this when he’s grilling, tending the garden, smoking a cigar or just playing with the kids. Click here to get it.

Lagostina Grill Pan

Our go-to grill pan for steaks, chops and even a rack of lamb, the ridges keep the meat from sitting in its drippings, and the pan’s angles allow an easy pour of the au jus or the option of spooning it back over the meat. Oven safe, it’s one of the best pans we’ve ever used on the stove for restaurant-quality steaks. Click here to get it.

$ 500 – $ 1000

Vitamix 7500

A fairly new design from Vitamix, the 7500 has a lower and wider profile which allows it to fit under cupboards on most kitchen counters. With the same power and capabilities Vitamix is known for, this workhorse of a blender is more powerful and consistent than any other blender we’ve tried. Revered by professional chefs and culinarians, if your Dad is a serious home cook, a Vitamix is worth every penny. Click here to get it.

Big Green Egg (Large)

There is no grill or smoker quite like the Big Green Egg. The majority of competitive grill masters will argue it’s the best barbecue ever made, and we happen to agree. If your Dad enjoys grilling, smoking or barbecuing low and slow, the Big Green Egg is one gift he will love. Sold in stores only through authorized dealers.

$ 1000+

Yuneec Typhoon Drone with 4K Camera

Few tech accessories are more coveted than a drone, and this one can film in ultra-high-definition 4k in a 360-degree field of view. As the winner of the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show “Best in Class” category, this is a toy that features professional-grade equipment at a consumer accessible price. Check out the impressive Yuneec Typhoon Drone with 4K Camera here.

Nikon D500 Digital SLR

A recent introduction from Nikon, this camera does it all. For the serious photographer and videographer Dad in your family, this camera can capture 4k video for up to 30 minutes. The proprietary EXCEED 5 processor can process images at up to 10 frames per second, while a tilting 3.2″ touchscreen display allows you visibility from a variety of positions. Check out the Nikon D500 Digital SLR here.

Tesla Model S

Tesla

Deposit on Tesla Model 3

The car brand for the eco-friendly speedster, the Tesla Model 3 is the brand’s next car that will be priced starting at $ 35,000. Tesla produces some of the most tech-driven sportscars in the world, and the new affordable 3 will not be an exception. From its autopilot features to its small footprint on the environment, this is a car any Dad would love to own. Click here to reserve your Tesla for delivery in late 2017.

TourGolf Membership

TourGolf Membership

TourGolf Membership

Many fathers enjoy a membership at their local country club, but for those who travel, visiting private clubs can be difficult. Rather than investing in multiple memberships, this package from TourGolf gives your Dad the option of golfing at some of the most scenic private clubs in the world with the same benefits their members receive. This is one membership the traveling golfer will truly appreciate. Click here to sign up.

Omega Speedmaster Professional

The Omega Speedmaster is a watch with a remarkable history. The official Moon Watch worn by NASA Astronauts, it is one of the most popular luxury timepieces collected today. This Dark Side of the Moon watch is one any father would be honoured to receive, and one we think is worth your consideration. Click here to get it.

Van Dam Custom Wood Boat – Price Varies

For the Dad, who enjoys life on the water, owning a custom wood boat that evokes the spirit of the 1920s and 30s is one gift most GG readers would appreciate. Van Dam specializes in custom yachts, but they also sell a small selection of their vintage boats online. Click here to learn more and to schedule an appointment with your boat builder.

Experiences

For this year’s experiences section, we selected two of most charming, historic hotels in America.

Hotel Del Coronado

Hotel Del Coronado

Hotel Del Coronado

Located on Coronado Island where the U.S. Navy Seals train for war, this historic and elegant hotel on the water is just a stone’s throw from San Diego. One of America’s most charming hotels, it is one that any classic gentleman or dandy would love to relax at. Plus, you can watch U.S. Special Forces helicopters and ships performing training exercises in the distance. Click here to book your vacation.

The Grand Hotel

The Grand Hotel

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island

One of our favorite hotels in the United States, the Grand Hotel is located on the beautiful Mackinac Island in Michigan. Like a step into the past, the island doesn’t allow cars and the only transportation is on foot, by bicycle or horse-drawn carriage. A sophisticated and utterly charming summer island, a weekend in Mackinac is one you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Nightly rates start at just $ 304 per person and include a full breakfast, Grand Luncheon Buffet, and five-course dinner daily. The main dining room requires a coat and tie, which we definitely approve of! Click here to book your stay.

Item Price
Glyder $
Flaviar $
Shakespearean Insult Poster $
Gentleman: The Ultimate Companion to the Elegant Man $
Gentleman Look Book by Bernhard Roetzel $
Yard Dice $
White Linen Pocket Square with Navy Blue Handrolled X Stitch $
Davidoff Scottish Mixture Pipe Tobacco $
Bartender’s Prep Board $
Cigar Caddy Draw Enhancer Tool $
J. Herbin Stormy Grey Fountain Pen Ink $
The Butler Speaks $
Fort Belvedere Vintage Prints $
Tani Underwear $
Spikeball $
Persol 649 Series Sunglasses $
Instant Pot pressure cooker $
Ellipse Bluetooth Bike Lock $
Nespresso Inissia Espresso Maker $
Keurig K575 $
Pit Master Crate $
Men’s Manicure Set Travel Kit Brown and Blue Leather and Stainless Steel by Fort Belvedere $
BakerStone Pizza Oven $
HarmanKardon Esquire Mini $
Hennessy X.O. $
V.S.O.P. Privilège $
Slingbox M2 $
Soda Stream Power $
Snake River Farms Wagyu Steak Flight $
Babolat Pure Strike Tennis Racquet $
Arccos Driver $
Weber Smokey Mountain Charcoal Smoker $ $
Baracuta G9 Harrington Jacket $ $
Lapis Lazuli Gold Eagle Claw Cufflinks, Fort Belvedere $ $
AudioEngine Bluetooth Speakers $ $
AKG N60NC Headphones $ $
V-Moda Headphones $ $
UE Megaboom $ $
Lagostina Grill Pan $ $
Vitamix 7500 $ $
Yuneec Typhoon Drone with 4K Camera $ $ $
Nikon D500 Digital SLR $ $ $
Tesla Model 3 $ $ $
TourGolf Membership $ $ $
Omega Speedmaster Professional $ $ $
Van Dam Custom Wood Boat $ $ $

Conclusion

Father’s Day is the one day each year where we have the honor of showing Dad just how much he means to us. For the other 364 days, he is usually the one taking care of us, and he spends most of his adult life caring for us and shaping us into the men we are today. This year, take our advice and give him a gift that he will truly enjoy and ideally, one that he may remember and talk about for the rest of his life.

What gift ideas do you have for Father’s Day?

This gift guide was created by Sven Raphael Schneider, Teresa C. Schneider & J.A. Shapira.


Gentleman’s Gazette

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A local’s guide to Brussels: 10 top tips

The Belgian capital isn’t all boring Eurocrats: a cast of creative types are busy doing their arty things – often with humour and a social conscience

Veer sharply left by the Chanel store on Boulevard de Waterloo and you’ll find yourself in a tiny oasis among Brussels’ busiest shopping streets. The gardens of the elegant Egmont Palace (now the home of Belgium’s foreign ministry) are a public park, one of the most secret in Brussels. It’s home to a charming little statue of Peter Pan, a gift from the children of Britain to the children of Belgium, and the palace’s former orangery is now a cool, modern restaurant, La Fabrique en Ville, that boasts Brussels’ best terrace for brunch in the sun. Poached eggs and homemade hollandaise on an English muffin is on the expensive side at €13.50, but well worth it for brunching like a king in the grounds of a former palace.

Continue reading…
Travel | The Guardian

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The definitive guide to different types of skincare acids

Think you know your acids?

These days you can barely talk about skincare for five minutes without acids coming up in conversation.

Hyaluronic, malic, glycolic, salicylic – it feels like there is an infinite number of different acids for skin and so can feel hard to know which you should use.

But, no more: allow us to give you a brief overview of the big hitters and the products containing them that you should use for your skin type. It’s not as complicated as you probably think (and that’s coming from someone who hated chemistry at school).

Keep scrolling to find out the differences between the most commonly used skincare acids below.

Salicylic acid

Beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), also known as salicylic acid, is an exfoliant that penetrates deep into the skin’s layers, encouraging the pores to unclog.

It’s able to break down the things that clog your pores, like dead skin cells, dirt and excess oil. As well as this, it’s also a great anti-inflammatory agent, which is why you’ll often find it in spot gels and acne treatments.

Hyaluronic acid

Often cited by skincare experts as the hydrating hero, hyaluronic acid is known for its incredible ability to hold over 1,000 times its own weight in water.

A substance that’s naturally present in the body, particularly the eyes and joints, it’s also humectant, so draws moisturse to the skin from the environment.

Hyaluronic acid serums are one of the most popular methods of hydrating the skin, and the plumping effect makes it a great anti-ager. It’s also used in non-permanent lip fillers.

acids

Citric acid

You’ll recognise the name from your favourite fruits, but citric acid is also used in many skincare products for gentle exfoliation –  it’s why a lot of at-home face peels smell like oranges. Citric acid is also in the alpha-hydroxy acid group.

Unlike BHA, AHAs are only able to penetrate the top layer of skin, but this makes them an excellent choice for sloughing off dead cells from the surface.

Glycolic acid

An alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), glycolic acid is one of the two most popular chemical exfoliants used in peels and toners.

Glycolic acid is much smaller in molecule size than other AHAs, and can therefore penetrate much deeper into the skin.

Sensitive skin types may find it a bit irritating or harsh for this reason, however, so always introduce it into your skincare routine gradually and in a small concentration first.

Lactic acid

Also an alpha-hydroxy acid, lactic acid is a naturally-occurring substance found in milk. It’s more moisturising than glycolic, making it less harsh on the skin and a better choice for sensitive complexions.

Read our full guide for more information and the best product recommendations.

Malic acid

Naturally derived from apples, Malic acid is probably the least well known of the commonly used skincare ingredients.

As an AHA, it also encourages skin cell turnover rate, but is found in many anti-ageing beauty products because it can encourage the production of collagen.

Malic acid can also reduce the production of melanin, helping to prevent and improve hyperpigmentation.

Consider your crash course in skincare acids, complete.

The post The definitive guide to different types of skincare acids appeared first on Marie Claire.

Marie Claire

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Clark Howard’s guide to saving money on your wedding

When money expert Clark Howard’s daughter was planning her wedding for May 2018, she and her fiancé used a lot of different money-saving strategies to hold down the cost while still putting on a lovely event.

The great news is that you can use those same strategies to plan your own fabulous wedding without going deep into debt.

RELATED: Clark Howard — How my daughter saved a ton of money on her wedding

Follow Clark’s advice to get married cheap and happy!

Wedding planning season is here, and couples are racing to plan the perfect nuptials in time for a late-spring or summer wedding date.

The average wedding today costs $ 33,391, according to the latest numbers. So before you get too deep into planning, you need to sit down and come up with a budget for your wedding. It can be $ 100 or it can be $ 30,000 or more.

The idea that weddings have to be frightfully expensive to be any good is an odd and amazing thing. I think about my in-laws who were married some 50 years ago and it cost them $ 25. Inflation adjusted, that would be like a $ 100 wedding today. — Clark Howard

Ultimately, it’s your budget that will determine whether your wedding is a courthouse ceremony or more like a coronation. It’s whatever makes sense in your life — or in your parents’ lives.

Such was the case with Clark when he gave his daughter a flat amount of money and told her whatever she didn’t spend, she and her husband could keep for the down payment on their first home.

As part of creating your budget, write down all the elements of a wedding you want — flowers, DJ, wedding favors, etc. —  and then start prioritizing them. That way you get a feel for what’s indispensable and what you can maybe do without.

“Just don’t do what I did to save money on the vehicle we drove off in [after getting married],” Clark warns of his marriage to wife Lane.

“My mother-in-law will probably never forgive me for renting a subcompact purple Mitsubishi that was $ 16 a day. I also remember the wedding photographer was so angry at me for ruining his exit shot. He wanted me to leave in his car, which was a Cadillac convertible. I said, ‘Nobody’s going to believe that it was really me leaving in a Cadillac convertible!’”

Without further ado, here are some ways you can keep it both cheap and classy…

The first rule of a cheap wedding is…Never say the word “wedding”

When you call around to vendors, don’t tell anybody you’re getting quotes for a wedding. Call it a ‘party’ because you’ll likely get a lower quote.

Don’t buy a million bridal magazines

Leading up to the big day, women love to thumb through wedding magazines. But the cost of those polished glossy magazines can really add up! Browse Pinterest for wedding ideas for free or just look at those magazines the library.

Besides, you won’t want a pile of those magazine hanging around after the big day anyway.

Be flexible on the venue

You can save the cost of a catering hall by holding the reception at your home or someone else’s home. Sometimes people who met at college will hold the reception on campus. Or, check to see if you can rent a museum or other public facility for your wedding.

Clark’s daughter and her fiancé looked at a lot of venues and found an event space in a public park. They got married outside and, luckily, had great weather.

You can save a lot if you hold the reception at a place that will let you bring in your own caterer and alcohol. In that case, consider buying the alcohol yourself at a discount store and bringing it to the reception.

Be flexible with your wedding date

Many event spaces have different charges on different days of week. Saturday and Sunday are typically high-priced days to get married. If you want to go really budget, consider a Tuesday or Thursday. If that’s too extreme, then maybe Friday is the right compromise between scheduling and pricing.

“I have nephew who got married on Monday because their venue in California was cheaper on that day,” Clark says. “When have you ever heard of somebody getting married on a Monday?!?”

Another way to flex to save money is to plan your wedding for a time of year that’s not traditionally associated with weddings. That could mean considering a January wedding instead of a June one.

Work with a canceled-wedding broker

It’s always a great idea to see what services you can pick up on the cheap. For instance, when engaged people break up and don’t make it to the altar, what happens to those non-refundable services they booked?

If they’re smart, they’ll sometimes sell the services they’ve paid for to a canceled-wedding broker. That helps recoup at least some of the cost.

But here’s the neat thing: Their loss can be your gain!

A site like CanceledWeddings.com buys broken contracts and offers them at a discount. This recent snapshot of their Twitter feed shows venues you could pick up on the cheap in Pennsylvania, Washington D.C. and California for summer and fall 2018 weddings:

canceled weddings

Consider your guest list carefully

You may have to make tough choices with your guest list based on your budget.

Since most catering facilities will charge you by the person, deciding how many people to invite will have a greater impact on the cost of the wedding than almost anything else.

Make your own invitations

Look for fonts that appeal to you online and use them to create your own invitations with a laser printer. Pinterest is perfect for this purpose.

Or, as an alternative, use online discount sites that can also make your Save the Date cards and invitations. This works especially well if you have a discount code that can bring the price down further.

Live band or DJ?

A DJ will be much cheaper than a live band. Ask about cash discounts or pay-in-advance discounts. It never hurts to negotiate, either. Just be sure to get the final agreement in writing.

If you want at least some live music on your big day, consider hiring a piano major from a nearby college or music school to play at the cocktail reception. Maybe you’ll luck out and even find a student jazz ensemble that will perform for much less than a professional band!

Opt for beer and wine — but not liquor

It’s much cheaper to serve just beer, wine and maybe one signature cocktail at your reception than to have an open bar serving liquor.

You could also consider offering a cash bar, or serving no alcohol at all.

Create your own décor

Joel, one of the producers on The Clark Howard Show, got married back in 2011. He and his bride Emily staged a very inexpensive wedding, working within the $ 12,000 budget from her parents.

Emily had fun creating the décor for the wedding. She crafted flowers out of paper instead of dedicating money to a huge flower budget.

(If you do opt for real flowers, ask the florist if you can buy the vessels in which to display them yourself. That could be a savings of $ 20 or $ 30 per vase or bowl right there if you find ones you like at a discount store.)

Joel says Emily liked the creativity behind the whole process and the saving money part just kind of fell in line with that. For their rehearsal dinner, they opted for catered BBQ and kept prices down that way.

Again, Pinterest is an amazing place to get ideas for DIY wedding projects. We’ve got a list of some of the many wedding items you can create and personalize on Pinterest here.

Sheet cake from a supermarket is a money-saver

A sheet cake rather than a multi-tiered cake will net you a big savings. Top off those savings by buying the sheet cake at Costco, Target or another grocery store bakery.

Clark’s daughter had a regular white icing cake from the Publix supermarket bakery. She bought four different sizes of round cakes and stacked them to dramatic effect to make one giant cake. The price tag? Under $ 40!

Don’t financially strap your bridesmaids

For the bridesmaids, try telling them a color (like navy or black) and encouraging them to wear an existing dress, rather than having them buy a one-time use only dress.

About the dress…

Buying a wedding dress off the rack is a great way to save money on this centerpiece of any bride’s wedding. H&M has wedding dresses for just a couple hundred bucks or less online. J. Crew and Ann Taylor sell wedding dresses, too.

Sample dresses at bridal stores are often discounted. You also shouldn’t rule out buying a dress secondhand or using a hand-me-down, particularly if you’re into either vintage styles or family heirlooms.

Renting a dress is another great option because then you don’t have to worry about storing or preserving the dress after your wedding. The reality is most people can’t tell if your dress is designer or from a chain. So, if you aren’t attached to a specific dress or designer, try a rental site like BorrowingMagnolia.com.

If designer is the way you want to go and you want to own, you can buy a name dress on deep discount from NearlyNewlywed.com.

Final thought

Does a glitzy wedding make the marriage? Not by a long shot.

In fact, recent research into the correlation between what you spend on a wedding and how long your marriage lasts shows the exact opposite.

If you insist on spending more than $ 20,000, you’re statistically going to get divorced at a rate that’s roughly 1.6 times higher than couples who spend between $ 5,000 and $ 10,000.

Want to have the longest-lasting and happiest marriage of all? The study shows you’ll have a lower-that-average rate of divorce if you spend $ 1,000 or less on your wedding.

Ultimately, the lavishness of the ceremony means nothing. It’s about who you’re marrying.

“If you’re a Bridezilla, I would encourage you to take a chill pill,” Clark says. “Remember that your vows and having a great life with your spouse are the most important things. A wedding can be very tasteful and it does not have to blow the budget.”

clark.com

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‘Ego travel’ – your guide to the narcissistic heart of modern holidaying

Millennials have replaced the sun, sea and sex of the Club 18-30 holiday with Insta-friendly trips featuring toad licking and ayurvedic smoothies. Have you become one of them?

After 50 years of putting the “shag” in Shagaluf, Club 18-30 could be coming to an end. According to Thomas Cook, the tour operator that owns the infamous holiday brand, millennials are more interested in “ego travel” than pairing off with like-minded singles over buckets of cocktails, with their tastes being shaped by what looks good when posted on social media. But what is ego travel – and are you guilty of it? Here is your guide to the narcissistic heart of modern holidaying.

Continue reading…
Travel | The Guardian

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Your Complete Guide to the Shoes That Are Perfect With Skinny Jeans

They’re a wardrobe staple—a second skin—yet from time to time, our skinny jeans throw us a sartorial curveball when it comes to which shoes to pair them with. There’s not much in the footwear department that doesn’t go with a spray-on silhouette, but sometimes it’s the wash of the denim and the height of the heel that can make all the difference.

A little turn-up here and a lighter shade there can take you from outfit frustration to outfit success. How do we know this? Because one look at some of the most stylish women out there revealed as much. From the queen of skinny jeans, Kate Moss (who must sleep in hers), to street style superstars, we’ve scanned their best looks for the ultimate skinny-jean recipes. Scroll for your complete guide on the shoes to wear with skinny jeans.

Style Notes: Classic white lace-up sneakers have proved that they’re here to stay, and this is music to our ears. As seen on petite fashion influencer Monikh Dale, there’s plenty of proof that this can look absolutely amazing when you’re not a glamazon. They’re skinny jeans’ new best friend.
Available in sizes 5 to 13.
Style Notes: An off-duty model is all we need to show us that loafers—even if they’re on the scuffed, vintage side—and skinny jeans are perfect for trekking around a big city in style. Pack a pair (we’re obsessed with the Olsens’ offering at The Row) on your next mini break, and wear them on the plane—your feet will thank you.
Available in sizes 4 to 12.
Style Notes: Skinnies and trainers go together like bread and butter. But as London-based fashion guru Irina Lakicevic proves, the coolest combination for now lies in chunkier-soled, sporty kicks like these classic Nikes.
Available in sizes 6 to 15.
Style Notes: It worked for Audrey Hepburn all those years ago, and it still works today. Flat, pointed shoes elevate a pair of figure-hugging jeans to no end. A color-popping style like these cult Aquazzura lace-ups adds further interest.
Available in sizes 4 to 11.
Style Notes: Pernille Teisbaek often wears her sharp-pointed courts from Balenciaga with skinny jeans—and you can see why. They elongate your legs to no end, meaning you can balance out a cosy sweater very nicely.
Available in sizes 6 to 11.
Style Notes: If flats are too flat, heels are too heeled, and sneakers feel just plain wrong for you, then the solution lies in cute midi-heeled block pumps. Glove shoes like Maria Alia’s (worn here with socks) are the perfect, comfortable, elevated option.
Available in sizes 6.5 to 10.5.
Style Notes: There’s nothing like minimalistic strappy sandals to add a dressy edge to a pair of casual jeans. British supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is a pro at styling hers. Follow her lead and make sure that yours stop just above the ankle straps of your shoes.
Available in sizes 4.5 to 11.5.
Style Notes: She made skinny jeans a wardrobe essential around the world, so it’s only right that we look to Kate Moss for how to style them. And the answer is yes, you can wear them with sandals—even jet-black denim. Note how the supermodel added a little turn-up to hers to avoid them scrunching around the ankles—a definite no-no when going for skinny jeans and sandals.
Available in sizes EU36 to EU39.5.
Style Notes: The Hadids and Jenners like to tuck their skinnies into sock boots, and the idea has caught on for the rest of the world. You can wear them untucked, but ideally the hemline needs to sit just above the top of your boots.
Available in sizes 6 to 9.5.

Next up: The biggest summer 2018 fashion trends New Yorkers can’t get enough of.

Opening Image: @mariaalia

This post originally appeared on Who What Wear UK

Celebrity Style and Fashion Trend Coverage | http://www.whowhatwear.com

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A local’s guide to Nice, France: 10 top tips

The once-sleepy grande dame of the Côte d’Azur is now its vibrant artistic hub, with cool new bars, restaurants and galleries enlivening its classic sights

Nice is booming, despite and in defiance of the terrorist attack that shattered the Bastille Day celebrations here less than two years ago. Irina Brook, daughter of legendary director Peter Brook, who runs the prestigious Théâtre National de Nice, reveals her favourite art venues, restaurants and bars.

Continue reading…
Travel | The Guardian

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