The Ultimate Loafer Shoes Guide For Men

In this series on men’s footwear, we have previously presented a guide to Moccasins and the Driving Moc, which is related to the loafer, but not the same. What exactly is a loafer, then? In this guide, you will learn all about loafers, their different styles, and the history of this wonderful shoe.

Loafer Guide for Men (Video)

Before we dive into the history of the loafer, let’s set a few ground rules for what distinguishes this type of footwear from other slip-on styles.

Penny Loafers by Rancourt
Penny Loafers by Rancourt

Characteristics of a Loafer

  1. A loafer has no laces; in other words, it’s a slip-on shoe.
  2. A loafer is a “low shoe,” meaning that the ankle is exposed, and the shoe does not wrap snugly around it.
  3. The sole of a loafer is separate from its upper.
  4. Loafers often feature heels with a relatively low profile.
  5. The upper vamp has a moccasin-like construction.
  6. Loafers will sometimes (though not always) feature a piece of leather across the vamp, which is known as a saddle.

From the above description, one can see the similarities between a moccasin and a loafer. However, there are a few key differences:

  1. All loafers have a separate sole; this is not the case for the majority of moccasins.
  2. Similarly, loafers have a defined heel, while moccasins do not.
  3. Unlike moccasins, loafers lack embroidery, beading or other ornamentation on the uppers.

The last difference is the primary reason these shoes, though similar in many ways, evolved into two different and distinct types of footwear. Important to note is that loafers and moccasins developed on separate continents. For more, here’s an historical overview.

Weejuns in the 1960's - a symbol of elegant leisure
Weejuns in the 1960’s – a symbol of elegant leisure

History of the Loafer

Unlike most other shoes, the loafer has multiple origin stories. One such story is that the loafer came directly from the moccasin, thus adding to the confusion. However, menswear and clothing historians are largely in consensus that loafers:

  1. Came from an English royal commission for a new form of house shoe, and/or
  2. Had their beginnings when a Norwegian man, Nils Gregoriusson Tveranger, hybridized traditional Native American and Norwegian footwear.

While it is comparatively difficult to pinpoint the definitive origin of the loafer compared to other types of shoes and boots, its evolution is still quite interesting. For purposes of clarity, this article subdivides the history of the loafer based on types while maintaining a rough timeline.

Wildsmith loafer in brown with Moccasin construction and typical saddle
Wildsmith loafer in brown with Moccasin construction and typical saddle

The Wildsmith Loafer

in 1847, Matthew and Rebecca Wildsmith established a footwear manufacturing business in London by the name of  Wildsmith Shoes. The mainstay of their business was making and subsequently repairing boots for the Household Cavalry, whose mounted unit, the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, was part of the Monarch’s official bodyguards.

Covent derby brown leather with U Broguing by Wildsmith
A “Covent” brogue derby shoe in brown leather by Wildsmith Shoes

In 1926, Matthew and Rebecca’s grandson, Raymond Lewis Wildsmith, was commissioned by King George VI, to make a country house shoe that he could wear mostly indoors with his shooting hose. Raymond came up with a low-heeled design that did not include laces and which could be comfortably slipped on and off. The construction of this shoe had a lot in common with the moccasin, though it’s unknown whether Raymond was familiar with that related style, or if he came up with the design based on the very specific instructions he received.  This design soon appeared in his ready-to-wear collection as the 582 (later the Model 98). Today, the style is known simply as the Wildsmith Loafer. While they were designed for indoor wear in a casual fashion, they very soon gained in popularity and began to be worn as a casual choice for outdoor wear.

The Aurland Loafer from Norway & Hand Drawn Moccasin Model for Reorder by Gardner
The Aurland Loafer from Norway & Hand Drawn Moccasin Model for Reorder by Gardner

The Aurland Loafer

At the beginning of the 20th century, Shoemaker Nils Gregoriusson Tveranger (1874-1953) introduced a loafer in the town of Aurland, Norway. Nils had traveled to North America at the age of thirteen to learn the art of shoemaking, and spent approximately seven years there. In 1930, he introduced a new design with heels which came to be known as the “Aurland moccasin.” This design was influenced by two sources: the moccasins worn by the Iroquois tribe of North America, and the traditional, moccasin-like shoes worn by the fishermen in his hometown of Aurland.

Penny Loafers from Aurlands in black leather. [Image Courtesy: Aurlands]
Penny Loafers from Aurlands in black leather. [Image Courtesy: Aurlands]

He slowly started marketing his design in the rest of Europe, where it became extremely popular. At that time, many Americans began traveling to Europe, where they stumbled upon these shoes, took a fancy to them, and brought a pair home. They came to the notice of the editor of Esquire magazine, and the publication began promoting them. Around 1933, the Spaulding family of New Hampshire sensed a business opportunity and started making shoes based on the Aurland Moccasin. They named their product the “Loafer,” which was by that point a generic name for slip-on shoes in America.

Around 1940, industrialist and U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Arthur Gardner bought a pair of Aurland shoes. Later, when he was unable to obtain them in the U.S., he made an unusual request to the Norwegian ambassador, providing him with a sketch of the “slippers”. Apparently, Gardner did not know where the shoes were made, but the ambassador recognized that he must have been referring to Aurland shoes. The local mayor organized production and three months afterward, four pairs of ”moccasins” were mailed to Washington, D.C.

Crockett & Jones Penny Loaffer Model Boston in Scotch grain calf on a classic Last & Variation Mertin on a more modern last
Crockett & Jones Penny Loafer Model Boston in Scotch grain calf on a classic Last & Variation Mertin on a more modern last

The Penny Loafer

In 1936 (some sources put the date as 1934), the G.H. Bass shoe company introduced its version of the loafer, and the company is known for it to this day. Their design included a distinctive strip of leather (the saddle) of the shoe with a diamond-shaped cutout. Bass gave their loafers the name “Weejuns,” to sound like Norwegians – a nod to the Norwegian roots of the shoe, and to differentiate them from the Spaulding loafer. Weejuns became immensely popular in America, especially among the Prep School students in the 1950s, who coined the term “penny loafer.” Legend has it that, wishing to make a fashion statement, they took to inserting a penny into the diamond shaped cutout of their Weejuns. An alternate theory is that, in the 1930s, two pennies were sufficient to make an emergency telephone call.

Bass Weejuns - Made in Maine Reddish Brown & Olive Green
Bass Weejuns – Made in Maine Reddish Brown & Olive Green

Whatever its origins, the name “penny loafer” stuck, and the G.H. Bass penny loafer has achieved the status of a classic, and is a staple of Prep and Ivy Style. In 1937, the American brand Nettleton trademarked the term “loafer” for “Ladies’, Men’s, and boys’ shoes made of leather, rubber, fabric, and various combinations of such materials.”

In the 1930s the Duke of Windsor was a big proponent of penny loafers, and he often wore a brown and white two-tone Penny Loafer with his suits.

The Tassel Loafer

It remains unclear what the roots of the tassel loafers are. Alan Flusser has claimed tassel loafers were popular with the Ivy League set in the 1920s, though our research has been unable to corroborate this. U.S. President Harry Truman wore derby shoes with tassels, but he did not have tassel loafers. Rather, evidence suggests that after the end of the Second World War, the little-remembered but rather debonair American movie actor Paul Lukas bought a pair of oxfords with little tassels at the end of the laces while on a trip abroad. Upon his return to America, he took the shoes to the New York shoemakers, Farkas & Kovacs, and asked them to make something similar. Not fully satisfied, Lukas then took them to Lefcourt of New York and Morris Bookmakers of Beverly Hills. Ironically, both of these firms would pass on the request to the Alden Shoe Company.

Alden Tassel Loafer
Alden Tassel Loafer

The then-president of Alden, Arthur Tarlow Sr., Came up with a slip-on pattern keeping the leather lace and tassel as a decoration. Alden, realizing the potential of the shoe, continued to experiment with the design for another year, finally launching it in 1950 through Lefcourt and Morris stores. The “tassel loafer,” as it became to be called, was a success, finding favor with the sophisticated set of New York and Los Angles. In 1957, Brooks Brothers approached Alden to make a line of tassel loafers especially for them. The resultant design was a tassel loafer with a decorative seam at the back part of the shoe which, to this day, remains exclusive to Brooks Brothers.

The Gucci Loafer

While the loafer grew in stature in America, with the tassel loafer being worn with suits by the 1960s, it was not quite the same story in Europe. In Italy this style of shoe was more widespread, but all other Europeans considered the loafer to be a casual shoe that had no place in the city. However, things changed in 1968 when the Italian designer Gucci introduced a loafer with a golden brass strap in the shape of a horse’s snaffle bit across the front–in keeping with the company’s saddle-making heritage. Gucci opened his New York office in 1953 and noticed the popularity of the loafer. He refined the lines, added the bit, and made them in black (loafers were usually in brown in keeping with their status of being a casual shoe).

The Gucci Horsebit Loafer
The Gucci Horsebit Loafer

The result was a shoe with just enough formality to make it acceptable to be worn with suits.  These went on to be named the “Gucci loafer” and helped establish the loafer in Europe and across the globe. Gianni Agnelli and John F. Kennedy were just a few of the big supporters that helped to popularize the style. In 1969, Gucci sold 84,000 pairs of loafers just in their U.S. stores. In keeping with the continued journey of the loafer, it crossed the pond to America, where it was adopted by 1970s businessmen and almost became a uniform on Wall Street.

Until Gucci designed this loafer, it was a brand known merely to insiders who appreciated saddles and quality luggage. The men’s loafer known as the Model 175 was designed in the mid-1950s. Initially, it sold for approximately $ 14. Subsequently, Gucci developed the Loafer Model 360 for women, and the very similar model 350, which was offered in seven unusual colors. Consequently, the fashion journalist and critic Hebe Dorsey dedicated an entire article to the shoe which was published in the International Herald Tribune and made the shoe an overnight success. Since 1985, the Gucci Loafer has been part of the permanent exhibition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The Belgian Loafer

Another popular style is the so-called “Belgian loafer,” invented in the 1950s by Henri Bendel, whose family store also brought Chanel, Dior and Balenciaga shoes to the U.S. Its characteristic features were:

  • A small bow that was easily recognized
  • Soft-sole construction; the shoe was sewn inside-out
  • Unusual colors and materials

After the Bendel family sold their store in 1954, Bendel purchased two 300-year-old shoe factories in Belgium in 1956 and started producing men’s and women’s loafers. The shoe became an instant hit, and the bow was easily recognizable. As such, he single-handedly rescued the Belgium shoe industry, which earned him a Knightship of the Order of Leopold I in 1964. Just six years later he was made Knight Commander of the Order of Leopold II.

Belgian Loafer
Belgian Loafer

Bendel died in 1997, and although the shoes are sold around the world, the only retail store that carries Belgian Loafers is located at 110 East 55th Street in NYC. Of course, you can also find them online. If you enjoy extravagant shoes, Belgian Shoes may be the right fit for you.

Loafer Construction

Since loafers are casual shoes, most of them are Blake- or Blake-rapid-stitched, though you may occasionally find Goodyear-welted loafers. While these are a little heavier, they offer an additional layer of cork, which makes walking in them a bit more comfortable. For casual summer use, an unlined, Blake-stitched loafer might be the better choice if you don’t intend to walk much in them. On the other hand, if you are looking for a more robust, multi-season loafer, a Goodyear-welted version with leather lining is probably the better choice. Twice a year Gucci releases a new version of their loafers, and while the summer ones are unlined and made of very thin leather, the fall-winter collection is leather lined and made of thicker leathers.

Slip-Ons – Not Loafers

Many men and women confuse slip-on shoes with loafers. As the name suggests, you can slip on the shoe just like a loafer, but it lacks the moccasin seam on the uppers and looks more like a regular oxford or brogue. The slip-on is favored by men who wear business suits when they fly because you can easily pass security and unlike a loafer, it is appropriate with a pinstripe business suit.

Slip on Shoe - Not a Loafer because it lacks the Moccasin construction
Slip on Shoe – Not a Loafer because it lacks the Moccasin construction

Loafer Style Advice

The Loafer is a piece of footwear that straddles the two worlds of casual and a more formal style, making it quite a unique piece in that respect. No matter what you read, a loafer is never a truly formal shoe because of its casual heritage.

Scarosso Model Mezzano Tassel Loafer in black suede with red tassels
Scarosso Model Mezzano Tassel Loafer in black suede with red tassels

Gucci Loafers

Gucci loafers are often combined with all sorts of outfits. Of course, using a black, polished box calf leather with leather lining and refining the shape will make the loafer more formal than an off-white, unlined Gucci summer loafer in suede, but at the end of the day, it is still a loafer and not suited for tuxedos or white tie ensembles. Likewise, it is historically not appropriate to wear one with a classic three-piece business suit simply because it is too casual. On the other hand, a casual suit will look just fine with tassels.

Selection of worn out Gucci Loafers
Selection of worn out Gucci Loafers

Tassel Loafers

Many American businessmen over 50 will wear business suits or sport coats with slacks and black or brown tassel loafers. As a rule of thumb, black or oxblood tassel loafers are about as formal as a navy blazer with grey flannel slacks. Wearing tassel loafers with business suits would probably not be considered to be a faux pas, but we would still encourage you to wear them with casual suits or blazer/sport coat combinations and choose an Oxford with more formal garments.

Penny Loafers

Penny loafers are a perfect companion for corduroy pants, chinos, flannel slacks and in the summer even linen or seersucker. In terms of formality, they rank just slightly below a tassel loafer and are a great companion for a blazer outfit with Oxford shirts and a tie or bow tie.

Penny Loafers are versatile
Penny Loafers are versatile

In a casual setting, the loafer can replace any of your other casual shoes to add a bit of dash to your look. However, unlike Boat Shoes, it is recommended that you keep your socks on when you wear loafers. Casual loafers can be worn with denim and khakis, and some men even wear them sockless with shorts. The beauty of rules is that you can break them elegantly once you have mastered them.

What Loafers Should You Buy?

Every man should have at least one pair of loafers. With that said, there is not one style that is objectively more necessary than another. While some would consider the penny loafer or Gucci loafer the number one choice, we would argue that tassel loafers make a good first pair; they can be worn in any situation where the other styles could, but the tassels will add a unique touch to your wardrobe. Here are a few options for purchasing loafers:

Penny Loafers

If you want to invest in a penny loafer, you have many options. Bass Weejuns offers foreign-made models for $ 118, Made in Maine versions for $ 295, and about twice as much for shell cordovan. Apart from that, you can also find them from Allen Edmonds ($ 225 – $ 365), Alden ($ 498), Rancourt ($ 225), and Brooks Brothers ($ 198). For a more high-end interpretation of this style, take a look at Gaziano Girling. In Europe, Jay Butler offers an affordable RTW option for under $ 150, and Crockett & Jones offers a large selection of different styles and lasts.

Monaco Penny Loafer & Variation by Gaziano Girling
Monaco Penny Loafer & Variation by Gaziano Girling

Tassel Loafers

All the brands mentioned above produce tassel loafers as well. Also, Meermin offers interesting budget tassels; Scarosso has an affordable MTO Program, though their offerings would not technically be considered loafers. For an excellent selection of various penny and tassel loafers, take a look at Pediwear.

Gucci Loafers

Although copied many times, Gucci is still the originator of the shoe. Bear in mind that they issue many different versions in gold and silver horsebit hardware. Priced between around $ 450 – $ 630, you certainly pay much more for the brand name than for the quality of leather and workmanship. We’d suggest that you invest that kind of money into higher quality and buy from places like those mentioned above, but to each their own. If you want a Gucci loafer, the most classic bit loafer is black leather with gold hardware, which sells for $ 590. For a more affordable version, check out Jay Butler, which sells them for just $ 175, which is great value for the money.

our Conclusions on Loafers

With this knowledge of the loafer’s rich history and many variations, what are your thoughts about this versatile shoe? Do you have a favorite variety, and how do you wear them? Let us know in the comments below.


Gentleman’s Gazette

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Ultimate survival guide for music festivals


Going to a music festival is something we should all do at least once in our lives, but there are some things you should know before you go. Prepare yourself for some fun in the mud as we give you our ultimate survival guide for music festivals.

Sleep exhaustion

If there is one thing you can pretty much guarantee is going to happen to you at a music festival, it will be not getting enough sleep. There’s just too much going on at night for you to even think about turning in. You’ll have to come to terms pretty early that you’re going to be tired. The best thing you can do is book an extra couple of days off work afterward so you can sleep all of the partying off.

Photo: Pexels.com

Drinking water

You’re most likely going to be standing in the sun for long periods during the festival so you’ll be losing a lot of water. Then you’ll most likely be dancing around a bunch plus all the drinks you might be having will also dehydrate you.

Most festivals have places where you can drink water, and you should take advantage of those at every opportunity. For every strong drink you have, you should have some water in between, that way you’ll still keep your hydration levels up which will make you feel miles better.

Wet wipes

Most festivals don’t come with shower facilities, or if they do, there’s a line a mile long to use them. You’re going to want to clean yourself as much as possible as you’ll get covered in dust or mud after a long day in a field.

One of the best tips we can give anyone going to a festival is to bring wet wipes with you. That way you can clean all of your vital areas without having to hope and pray that there’s a shower available to you.

Pick one that suits your taste

Make sure you go to a festival that suits your taste in music. You’re less likely to have a good time if there are a bunch of bands or artists around that you don’t like. The whole point in going to a music festival is to enjoy the tunes, right? Don’t just go to a festival because it’s close to where you live, or the tickets are cheap, make sure there are going to be acts there that you’ll enjoy.

Photo: Pexels.com

Agree to disagree

Lots of people go to music festivals with their friends. If there’s a group of you going then you aren’t likely to all agree on which acts to see. Most festivals announce their lineup well in advance so you and your friends can arrange which acts you’re going to see together and which you’ll see alone. Don’t be afraid to miss out on some time with your pals just to see an act that you really like, this might be the only chance you get to see them live.

With these helpful tips, you can make sure to survive just about any music festival you find yourself at. You’ll be able to keep the party going for longer by following this survival guide.

The post Ultimate survival guide for music festivals appeared first on Worldation.

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The Beginners Guide to Collecting Photography

Beginners Guide to Collecting Photography

May is officially Photography month. Our friends at Crane Kalman Gallery have helped us put together a beginners guide to collecting photography. 

Check out the bottom of this post for a very special competition…

Beauty And The Beast by Slim Aarons - Photography Print Beauty And The Beast by Slim Aarons

 

Why collect photography?

The best reason to buy anything is that you cannot imagine living without it. Photography is still a relative newcomer to the collecting scene, having only really come to the fore in the 1970s, due to serious collectors began to notice its value. Since the 1980s, the market for art photography has been steadily accelerating. With a sharply growing status in the art market, today it is recognised as an established artistic medium. In a fifteen-year period starting in 2000, photography’s price index grew by 48%. By the end of 2017, art-market analysis showed that art photography sales were up 54% overall.

Photographs by emerging and even established photographers are incredibly reasonable in comparison with the astronomical and ever-rising costs of contemporary art, which means that it is possible to build an exceptional photography collection for the equivalent price of one good piece of contemporary art. Did you know that the average auction price for a photograph is $ 10,000, compared with $ 60,000 for a painting? This makes it an appealing and exciting medium to be collecting, not to mention infinitely more accessible. And if you look at collecting work by emerging and mid-career photographers, or those in the 19-35 age group, it is highly likely that you will be investing early in great artists of the future.

Where to start?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to something as subjective as taste and art. A personal touch is key. Think about what you like; maybe you have a penchant for vintage cars. You could start with a well-defined field, like landscape photography or portraiture, and explore the ways in which different photographers approach their subject matter.

Some experts suggest creating a narrative through a selection of works by individual photographers. If you identify a noticeable theme driving your desires and interests, you can source works that respond to that theme. Grow your collection from there. 

If you have a fondness for icons of our recent history, look at Richard Heeps’ work. In Indian Coca Cola, Heeps depicts the immediately recognisable, cursive, white Coca Cola script locked in a losing battle with fading red paint on wood boards. The once vivid colours recall the glowing Golden Age of Coca-Cola. This is when it was linked with relaxation and an American way of life. Now, the sign has deteriorated. That Golden Age is just a distant memory held in our collective cultural consciousness. Heeps creates a powerful and deeply nostalgic evocation of fifties American life to contrast the immediacy of our contemporary lives.

Indian Coca-Cola by Richard Heeps - Photography Print Indian Coca-Cola by Richard Heeps

If you have an interest in American style, look no further than Michael Schachtner’s elegant images of the iconic American sports shoe: Converse’s All Star. Schachtner’s individual images of pairs of battered All Stars, one of the most iconic footwear silhouettes of all time, against a pure white background elevate the humble rubber-soled sports shoe to a museum object. The ingenuity behind this series is the way Schachtner depicts these shoes as portraits of their owners; every grain of dirt, every crease in the fabric, every hole in the sole represents a journey or adventure taken by the wearer, and vicariously by us.

Converse, Stars and Stripes by Michael Schachtner - Photography Print Converse, Stars and Stripes by Michael Schachtner

What next?

All Is Not Lost By Jeremy Gibbs AKA RomanyWG - Photography Print All Is Not Lost by Jeremy Gibbs AKA RomanyWG

Consider your personality: do you prefer to plan or are you led purely by instinct? If you like to plan, think about creating a mood-board, bringing together your interests in an immediately visual way. From the simplest approach of collating images that you like, to a more in-depth method, like identifying the aesthetic of a decade, nothing is off limits to you.

Why a mood-board?

The process of physically pinpointing what you like or what interests you through a mood-board can stimulate fresh ideas. Make the most of technology; use Instagram to search hashtags that will inspire new ideas, and collect your interests digitally. The benefit of creating a mood-board, is that it will enable you to see how works will look together in one space.

What suits you?

Trips to art galleries and fairs are a good idea if you are guided by instinct. This is because you can look at work in the flesh. Visiting a gallery and being surrounded by images is a valuable way of gauging your reaction to an artwork the moment you see it. It will also enable you to visualise how pieces will look in your home. Consider size, space and style; you will know what suits you and your home best. You can then use artrepublic’s website to find available works.

Which photographers?

Consider supporting early-career photographers as their work will be more affordable than the big names. You may discover a gem that speaks to you. Try following photographers on Instagram; this will bring you closer to seeing their creative process and what happens behind the scenes. It will also prompt you to research the photographer, their background, interests, or previous series.

Summing up

Let your instincts and tastes guide you. Know the background of the photographer, the series, the edition size and pricing ladder, and have conversations with the gallery; research is key. But ultimately buy what you like. Think with your head, but buy with your heart.

Competition Time!

To celebrate the first in a series of the new artrepublic guides, giving expert tips and information on how to start collecting photography, we have a VIP pass (for 2) to the UK’s no.1 photography event, Photo London, at Somerset House in London running from 15th-19th May. See artist Ellie Davies new work on the stand of Crane Kalman Brighton gallery, G4 in the courtyard pavilion. The VIP ticket gives you access to the Preview Day of the Fair on Wednesday 15th May and to the exclusive Private View event in the evening.

To enter, sign up to our newsletter through our competition page HERE

We hope you enjoyed reading this article about photography and all the opportunity it offers. Stay tuned throughout the month to see further instalments into the ever prosperous world of photography!

The post The Beginners Guide to Collecting Photography appeared first on artrepublic blog.

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Utah: A Guide to Residential Solar Energy

Almost out of nowhere, Utah has become one of the country’s leading states for solar energy. Jumping up on national rankings for its solar panel installations and output, an April 2019 report from Environment America Research & Policy Center lauded the city’s explosive growth in the solar sector.

“In addition to the national rankings, the report examined national solar power in major cities over the course of six years,” reported the city’s KUTV news station. “According to the report, solar energy capacity has more than doubled in 45 of 57 of the country’s largest cities and it has more than quadrupled in Salt Lake City from 2013 to 2018.”

As of the end of 2018, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) ranked the state ninth in the country — more than six percent of the state’s energy comes from solar. Additionally, SEIA ranks Utah 15th in the nation in projecting its growth over the next five years.

The solar panel systems and installation market in Utah has exploded since 2015. Chart via the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Indeed, increased competition in the state since 2015—and the nature of the market on a national scale—means residents are primed for home value increases if they install solar panels in Utah. And when it comes to home value, researchers project the value of a home increases up to $ 15,000 on average, according to the Berkley Lab, one of the federal government’s national renewable energy laboratories. That doesn’t even take into consideration the massive savings solar paneling affords homeowners—or seasonal price fluctuations that make winter a possibly perfect time for your solar home improvement project.

Like every other state, Utah has a unique set of incentives, benefits, and challenges when it comes to investing in solar panels for houses. Read our residential guide to understand what you should know as a homeowner as you look for the best contractor to install solar panel systems in the many possible nooks of the Beehive State.

A well-informed and reliable contractor will go over each detail of your installation with you, from expected savings to increases in home value. At Modernize, we frequently speak to homeowners about their home improvement projects. In our recent interviews, 90 percent of homeowners requested a checklist to help them find and vet contractors. Modernize now offers homeowners a free, digital Contractor Checklist as a simple, step-by-step guide to assist with your solar panel project.

Salt Lake City, UT: Solar Energy Success Stories

Uniquely positioned to serve sun to many, myriad success stories come from homeowners who install solar panels in Utah.

Don and Mary Garner, for example, came back from a seminar at the University of Utah and decided it was time to go solar. Their solar panel system will pay for itself in less than a decade and is designed to offset 90 percent of their existing annual power usage, in order to take full advantage of net metering through Rocky Mountain Power.”

Elliot and Susie Hulet waited for a family member to show solid results from solar power before installing their own just outside of Salt Lake City, designed to produce 80 percent of their annual solar energy needs. Nancy Lombardo’s system is designed to produce up to 75 percent of her needs but she found that at its peak, her solar panels system was offsetting 93 percent of her summer electricity usage.

“They are practically invisible,” Lombardo said of her panels. “You can’t see them at all from the street. They’re very subtle.”

Indeed, solar panels have a sizeable effect on utility bills. Utah residents can expect to save nearly close to $ 17,000 over 20 years. This data serves as guidance for your journey to home improvement. Use it during your conversation with contractors in your area. Ask for this level of detail in your estimates and if jargon or complex wording seems confusing, ask for clarification.

A trusted contractor will be glad for the opportunity to explain what everything means and, more importantly, what it specifically means to you. When it comes to Utah’s solar energy, existing financial incentives (and policy) only make it more lucrative for you to sustainably increase your property value.

Utah Solar Panels: Incentives, Rebates, and Other Savings

There are currently nearly more than 80 incentives for homeowners to increase the value of their property by installing solar panels for houses in Utah. Find details about each program at the state’s Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE).

Solid contractors installing solar panels in Utah will be able to provide a list of applicable costs savings measures and help you navigate applying for and getting the most out of them. Learn enough to have a foundational understanding of these programs to best talk to your contractor about them once you’ve vetted and chosen one.

Renewable Energy Systems Tax Credit

Installing solar paneling for homes will increase property value for homeowners who have invested in their houses, and Utah is investing right back in them. Each year, Utah homeowners can get up to a $ 2,000 credit per residence, available to taxpayers who install solar panels for their houses. More specifically, you get 25 percent back on your purchase in the form of a tax credit, up to $ 2,000.

Find all the details at DSIRE’s profile for the program.

Other Utah-specific solar energy programs include:

Of course, you want to get the most out of local programs as well as federal ones, like the temporary Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, which applies to up to 30 percent of your installation. It is important to note that this federal credit is for systems placed in service by 12/31/2019. Solar Energy International reports that a typical five-kilowatt solar system installation in September 2018 would’ve dropped from $ 15,428 to $ 10,800 after the rebate is applied—but keep in mind its value is dropping and the credit could be completely gone by the early 2020s. Consult your contractor about this and other available credits and incentives to ensure your investment in the long-term value of your property is as easy on your current assets as possible.

That’s why you’ll want to find a contractor you can trust—a local professional who can get the job done and assist you with navigating local policy and regulation. The Modernize Contractor Checklist will help you vet a trusted contractor, so you can relax knowing your solar panel project is in good hands.

The post Utah: A Guide to Residential Solar Energy appeared first on Modernize.

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Ultimate Buy Black Mother’s Day 2019 Gift Guide

Buy Black Mother’s Day 2019 Gift Guide

This Sunday marks Mother’s Day 2019. Not only do we honor the beautiful women who gave us life—but we honor the figures in our lives who nurtured us; be they mentors, teachers, godmothers, aunts, or anyone who stepped into the role and has looked out for our well-being with unrivaled strength and wisdom. Mothers of color in particular often go that extra mile, making whatever sacrifices they need to ensure that their young charges not only survive but thrive. What better way to honor the mothers in your life, and also help support some mompreneurs, than by shopping for Mama from this comprehensive Mother’s Day gift guide. Simply click on the category or image to pull up a list of each black-owned business collection.


 

black mother's day gift guide

(Image: mahnal.com)


 

black mother's day gift guide

(Image: marjanibeauty.com)


black mother's day gift guide

(Image: longevitywines.com)


black mother's day gift guide

(Image: mycarddecks.com)


 

black mother's day gift guide

(Image: That Melanin Life/Etsy)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The post Ultimate Buy Black Mother’s Day 2019 Gift Guide appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Lifestyle | Black Enterprise

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New York: A Guide to Residential Solar Energy

In early 2019, New York state governor Andre Cuomo unveiled an ambitious plan to push the state into new clean energy heights, aiming to become completely carbon-neutral by 2040.

“This plan can bring massive economic and environmental benefits to communities throughout the state, spurring many new, well-paying jobs and cleaner air,” said Sean Gallagher, vice president of state affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) in a statement about the plan. And while jobs and development are great for the state, it’s been seeing dramatically positive growth in other aspects.

An April 2019 report from real estate site Zillow has found that homes with solar panels sell for 4.1 percent more than they would without them.

“Of the metropolitan areas included in the analysis, homeowners who stand to gain the most from solar panel installation include those New York,” reported CNN’s MONEY site, adding that the state saw a “5.4 percent, or a $ 23,989 premium on a $ 440,400 home.”

As of the end of 2018, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) ranked the state 10th in the country — 1.4 percent of the state’s energy comes from solar. Additionally, SEIA ranks Massachusetts sixth in the nation in projecting its growth over the next five years.

The solar panel systems and installation market in New York has exploded since 2014. Chart via the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Indeed, increased competition in the state since 2014—and the nature of the market on a national scale—means residents are primed for home value increases if they install solar panels in New York. And when it comes to home value, researchers project the value of a home increases up to $ 15,000 on average, according to the Berkley Lab, one of the federal government’s national renewable energy laboratories. That doesn’t even take into consideration the massive savings solar paneling affords homeowners—or seasonal price fluctuations that make winter a possibly perfect time for your solar home improvement project.

Like every other state, New York has a unique set of incentives, benefits, and challenges when it comes to investing in solar panels for houses. Read our residential guide to understand what you should know as a homeowner as you look for the best contractor to install solar panel systems for yet another resource the Empire State is famously wealthy in.

A well-informed and reliable contractor will go over each detail of your installation with you, from expected savings to increases in home value. At Modernize, we frequently speak to homeowners about their home improvement projects. In our recent interviews, 90 percent of homeowners requested a checklist to help them find and vet contractors. Modernize now offers homeowners a free, digital Contractor Checklist as a simple, step-by-step guide to assist with your solar panel project.

Endicott, NY: Solar Energy Success Stories

In bad years, the solar panels on Terry Woodnorth’s 90-year-old home supply two-thirds of the electricity he needs. In a good year, it covers 96 percent of what he needs.

“This may be the only Endicott-Johnson home running on solar energy,” Woodnorth says about the virtual neutrality his electricity needs have reached. “This has to be one of the most energy-efficient houses around.” While he still pays a $ 16 service charge to his electricity provider, he told USA Today that his bills are “a mere fraction of what they were when he bought the house more than 30 years ago, even with the large demands of heating, cooling and his Honda Clarity plug-in electric hybrid car.”

Indeed, solar panels have a sizeable effect on utility bills. New York residents can expect to save nearly close to $ 17,000 over 20 years. This data serves as guidance for your journey to home improvement. Use it during your conversation with contractors in your area. Ask for this level of detail in your estimates and if jargon or complex wording seems confusing, ask for clarification.

A trusted contractor will be glad for the opportunity to explain what everything means and, more importantly, what it specifically means to you. When it comes to New York’s solar energy, existing financial incentives (and policy) only make it more lucrative for you to sustainably increase your property value.

New York Solar Panels: Incentives, Rebates, and Other Savings

There are currently nearly more than 100 incentives for homeowners to increase the value of their property by installing solar panels for houses in New York. Find details about each program at the state’s Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE).

Solid contractors installing solar panels in New York will be able to provide a list of applicable costs savings measures and help you navigate applying for and getting the most out of them. Learn enough to have a foundational understanding of these programs to best talk to your contractor about them once you’ve vetted and chosen one.

Residential Solar Tax Credit

Installing solar paneling for homes will increase property value for homeowners who have invested in their houses, and New York is investing right back in them. Each year, New York homeowners can get up to a $ 5,000 credit per residence, available to taxpayers who install solar panels for their houses. More specifically, you get 25 percent back on your purchase in the form of a tax credit, up to $ 5,000.

Find all the details at DSIRE’s profile for the program.

Other New York-specific solar energy programs include:

Of course, you want to get the most out of local programs as well as federal ones, like the temporary Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, which applies to up to 30 percent of your installation. It is important to note that this federal credit is for systems placed in service by 12/31/2019. Solar Energy International reports that a typical five-kilowatt solar system installation in September 2018 would’ve dropped from $ 15,428 to $ 10,800 after the rebate is applied—but keep in mind its value is dropping and the credit could be completely gone by the early 2020s. Consult your contractor about this and other available credits and incentives to ensure your investment in the long-term value of your property is as easy on your current assets as possible.

That’s why you’ll want to find a contractor you can trust—a local professional who can get the job done and assist you with navigating local policy and regulation. The Modernize Contractor Checklist will help you vet a trusted contractor, so you can relax knowing your solar panel project is in good hands.

The post New York: A Guide to Residential Solar Energy appeared first on Modernize.

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Massachusetts: A Guide to Residential Solar Energy

New England might be in a region of the US less prone to sunlight ‚ but that doesn’t preclude it from being a great place for homeowners to install solar panels. As of the end of 2018, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) ranked the state seventh in the country — nearly 11 percent of the state’s energy comes from solar. Additionally, SEIA ranks Massachusetts 13th in the nation in projecting its growth over the next five years.

The solar panel systems and installation market in Massachusetts has exploded since 2011. Chart via the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Indeed, increased competition in the state since 2011—and the nature of the market on a national scale—means residents are primed for home value increases if they install solar panels in Massachusetts. And when it comes to home value, researchers project the value of a home increases up to $ 15,000 on average, according to the Berkley Lab, one of the federal government’s national renewable energy laboratories. That doesn’t even take into consideration the massive savings solar paneling affords homeowners—or seasonal price fluctuations that make winter a possibly perfect time for your solar home improvement project.

Like every other state, Massachusetts has a unique set of incentives, benefits, and challenges when it comes to investing in solar panels for houses. Read our residential guide to understand what you should know as a homeowner as you look for the best contractor to install solar panel systems under the sun keeping global educational powerhouses like Harvard and MIT universities enlightened.

A well-informed and reliable contractor will go over each detail of your installation with you, from expected savings to increases in home value. At Modernize, we frequently speak to homeowners about their home improvement projects. In our recent interviews, 90 percent of homeowners requested a checklist to help them find and vet contractors. Modernize now offers homeowners a free, digital Contractor Checklist as a simple, step-by-step guide to assist with your solar panel project.

Gloucester, MA: Solar Energy Success Stories

Once John Livermore to reduce his carbon print on the planet, he began a journey that would end with his house becoming “the first net-positive retrofitted home in Massachusetts and broadened the possibilities of household energy efficiency.” The massive success he found with his home led him to speak about it around the US.

“The difference in comfort, and energy performance, is phenomenal,” Livermore told Solar Is Workng. “We’ve never experienced such high levels of comfort in any house before … ever. It’s warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.”

Relying on state and federal financial incentives, Livermore lowered his solar system’s cost to less than $ 10,000. This system, along with other clean energy retrofitting, would come to save Livermore $ 2,500 a year in utility bills. But it’s not all about the money.

“Now we all breathe fresher air, it’s easy to keep good relative humidity levels in the house, and we get fewer colds and viruses -we’re all healthier,” he said.

Indeed, solar panels have a sizeable effect on utility bills. Massachusetts residents can expect to save nearly close to $ 17,000 over 20 years. This data serves as guidance for your journey to home improvement. Use it during your conversation with contractors in your area. Ask for this level of detail in your estimates and if jargon or complex wording seems confusing, ask for clarification.

A trusted contractor will be glad for the opportunity to explain what everything means and, more importantly, what it specifically means to you. When it comes to Massachusetts’s solar energy, existing financial incentives (and policy) only make it more lucrative for you to sustainably increase your property value.

Massachusetts Solar Panels: Incentives, Rebates, and Other Savings

There are currently nearly more than 140 incentives for homeowners to increase the value of their property by installing solar panels for houses in Massachusetts. Find details about each program at the state’s Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE).

Solid contractors installing solar panels in Massachusetts will be able to provide a list of applicable costs savings measures and help you navigate applying for and getting the most out of them. Learn enough to have a foundational understanding of these programs to best talk to your contractor about them once you’ve vetted and chosen one.

Residential Renewable Energy Income Tax Credit

Installing solar paneling for homes will increase property value for homeowners who have invested in their houses, and Massachusetts is investing right back in them. Each year, Massachusetts homeowners can get up to a $ 1,000 credit per residence, available to taxpayers who install solar panels for their houses. More specifically, you get 15 percent back on your purchase in the form of a tax credit, up to $ 1,000.

Find all the details at DSIRE’s profile for the program.

Residential New Construction Program

Since 2014, home builders could receive up to $ 4,500 in financial incentives if their constructed home met energy-efficient features that made it “more efficient than the typical home in Massachusetts.”

Find all the details at DSIRE’s profile for the program.

Other Massachusetts-specific solar energy programs include:

Of course, you want to get the most out of local programs as well as federal ones, like the temporary Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, which applies to up to 30 percent of your installation. It is important to note that this federal credit is for systems placed in service by 12/31/2019. Solar Energy International reports that a typical five-kilowatt solar system installation in September 2018 would’ve dropped from $ 15,428 to $ 10,800 after the rebate is applied—but keep in mind its value is dropping and the credit could be completely gone by the early 2020s. Consult your contractor about this and other available credits and incentives to ensure your investment in the long-term value of your property is as easy on your current assets as possible.

That’s why you’ll want to find a contractor you can trust—a local professional who can get the job done and assist you with navigating local policy and regulation. The Modernize Contractor Checklist will help you vet a trusted contractor, so you can relax knowing your solar panel project is in good hands.

The post Massachusetts: A Guide to Residential Solar Energy appeared first on Modernize.

Modernize

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A ‘MIB: International’ Character Guide To Fresh Faces (And Voices)

A ‘MIB: International’ Character Guide To Fresh Faces (And Voices)

Here come the new men in black! After over two decades since the original franchise release, Men in Black is back with MIB: International. The rebooted spin-off from the film series focuses on the unlikely dynamic duo Agent M (Tessa Thompson) and Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) – and this time, they’re going global. The original movies, spanning from 1997 to 2012, were made famous by Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, and although neither are starring in the upcoming reboot, there are tons of new…

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A local’s guide to Palma de Mallorca: 10 top tips

The Spanish island’s seaside capital punches above its weight when it comes to restaurants, art and culture – perfect for a late-spring or early-summer getaway

I love the maze of Moorish-feeling little streets in the historic district between Plaça de Cort and the seafront. If you just wander towards La Seu, the cathedral, you always come across something surprising. A lot of the old mansions have been done up and are now hotels, cafes and restaurants, which is great to see. You only need to walk for 10 minutes or so to see all sorts of architectural styles and you get a sense of the history of Palma going back over 1,000 years. You emerge from this labyrinth of lanes and suddenly the bay opens up before you. I still find it magical.

Continue reading…
Travel | The Guardian

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#Over40: A Guide To Law Of Attraction

Whether you are one of the people who believes in Law of Attraction or one of the people who don’t – you are entirely right. Because law of attraction in its essence is based entirely on what you consistently believe. If you remember all the buzz around the movie The Secret years ago, it was based on Law of Attraction principles.

But it’s no secret anymore if it ever was. The concept of law of attraction is not religion, but most religions echo its practices. Or, more accurately, law of attraction reworks many religious principles into the secular realm, even though many Law of Attraction proponents were religious themselves and used religion to illustrate LOA principles.

Here’s our guide to how it works and how you can improve your life using its principles.

LAW OF ATTRACTION IS NOT MAGIC, IT’S MINDSET

Stated simply the law of attraction is that like attracts like. It is, in essence, exactly what the scripture, Proverbs 23:7 – “As a man thinketh, so shall he be – is talking about. To paraphrase the old United Negro College Fund commercial – a mind is a terrible thing to waste – on negative thoughts. Law of attraction says that in order to manifest great things in your life, you must set your mind to the feeling of having them, even before they show up in reality.

If your life is not reflecting the things you want, it’s because your mindset is not allowing them to happen. Skeptics insist that you can’t simply manifest great things in your mind, but in fact, if you read the success stories of just about anyone with wealth, fame or just a great life they are happy with, most of them will tel you that it began as an idea or the certainty that those things could happen. Whatever you focus on, expands. So if you spend all of your time thinking about what you don’t have and what you don’t want, that’s all you will ever have. But if you change your mindset to appreciating what you do have and imagining all the things you want becoming a reality, then that’s what will happen.

THERE’S NOTHING SPECIAL YOU HAVE TO DO OR BUY

Law of attraction is all in your head. Literally. It’s about meeting the world with the most positive thoughts, no matter what is going on around you. That’s it. But no one said that it’s easy. Our self-talk is often completely negative. Some of us can’t be convinced no matter what, that there is any good in our current situations or that anything at all can be changed via words and thoughts. Those people’s situations are likely to stay the same, because that’s what is most active in their minds. Do you know someone who mostly always has drama in their life? To suggest that they change their mindset is almost always pointless as they are married to the idea that their lives are uncontrollable.

Law of attraction does not suggest that you take any action other than altering your habitual patterns of thinking. For example, if every day you lead with hating your job – driving to work thinking about how much you hate it, thinking about it at lunch break, telling everyone you know how much you hate it, it’s unlikely you’ll experience any improvement. But if you approach the situation by being grateful you have income, by finding the one good thing about it (its close to a Starbucks, your best friend lives nearby, the security guard makes you laugh every day) you will either be motivated to start looking for a job with more things you like, or the job you previously hated might become more tolerable. As author Wayne W. Dyer once said “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” He was talking about law of attraction

START WITH MEDITATION

Author/speaker/teacher Esther Hicks recommends meditation to help achieve the mindset you need for law of attraction to work in your life. Hicks, who says she receives messages through a spiritual being named Abraham that she passes on to the public, says you can reach needed clarity via meditation. Meditation can help you not only get clarity about what you truly want, it can help calm your mind and drown out your most negative inner voices. You can meditate for as little as 5 minutes a day and you can do so through apps or YouTube videos that offer all kinds of guided meditations.

Check out more tips including how technology can help on Page 2.

Black America Web

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Today in Movie Culture: ‘Shazam!’ Fandom on Display, an Expert’s Guide to the Iconic Weapons of the MCU and More

Today in Movie Culture: ‘Shazam!’ Fandom on Display,  an Expert’s Guide to the Iconic Weapons of the MCU and More

Here are a bunch of little bites to satisfy your hunger for movie culture:

 

Cosplay of the Day:

Shazam! is now in theaters, and that means we’re seeing fans everywhere dressing up as the titular superhero as they flock to their local screenings. Here’s a group of cosplayers at a showing in the Philippines who didn’t just stop at representing Shazam. They’ve got a Billy Batson, a Freddy Freeman, a villainous Dr. Sivana and even the Wizard Shazam:…

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‘Fortnite’ Season Eight, Week Six Challenges Guide

Season eight’s week-six challenges are live in “Fortnite,” and that means new ways to earn Battle Stars and experience. By collecting more Battle Stars and upping their tier, up to a season maximum of 100, players can earn limited-time rewards like cosmetic outfits and XP boosts. (Collecting 10 Battle Stars will unlock one additional tier.) […]

Variety

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Scouted: A Runner’s Guide to Facing the Rain While Running With the Right Gear

During winter, we talked about what you’d need if you were running in the cold and some suggestions for those who feel more of the chill than others. You’re already on your way to get better shoes and better headphones. Now, while we’re slowly crawling out of that frosty period, we’re entering a new one with its own set of challenges.

Namely, I’m talking about rainy weather in temperatures ranging from chilly to warm. You’re basically challenged to find running gear apparel that’s designed to keep rain off your body and concurrently help you regulate your temperature (and sweat).

We put together some of our picks to help you navigate to a spring-ready running wardrobe.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

The Daily Beast Latest Articles

SPECIAL NEWS BULLETIN:

http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

BEST DEAL UPDATE BY AMERICAN CONSULTANTS RX:

Click today to request your free ACRX discount prescription card and save up to 80% off of your medicine!

SPECIAL DONATION REQUEST UPDATE:

Please help American Consultants Rx achieve it’s biggest goal yet of donating over 30 million discount prescription cards to over 50k organizations in an effort to assist millions of Americans in need. Please click here to donate today!

Scouted: A Runner’s Guide to Getting the Right Type of Shoes For Your Unique Feet

When I started running, I was much heavier than I am today — and my feet were flat.

My form was a joke. I hurt myself constantly and developed terrible habits that cost me both in physical pain and in the time I lost to achieve better fitness. I struggled through the early stages of that journey until I realized my shitty, old shoes were just not going to cut it. I needed serious support for my weak ankles, and I needed to start paying attention to my gait while I ran (which is comically difficult to do).

As a result, I started upgrading my running shoes and buying them with much more intention. Going back to 2017, I largely relied on two different shoes.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

The Daily Beast Latest Articles

SPECIAL NEWS BULLETIN:

http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.-American Consultants Rx -Pharmacy Discount Network News

BEST DEAL UPDATE BY AMERICAN CONSULTANTS RX:

Click today to request your free ACRX discount prescription card and save up to 80% off of your medicine!

SPECIAL DONATION REQUEST UPDATE:

Please help American Consultants Rx achieve it’s biggest goal yet of donating over 30 million discount prescription cards to over 50k organizations in an effort to assist millions of Americans in need. Please click here to donate today!

Nevada: A Guide to Residential Solar Energy

Nevada isn’t new to solar panels and the industry around them (nor to desert climes and lots of sun). And while it resisted the fundamental solar policy of net metering recently and for a few crucial years, in 2017 the state legislature voted “to resurrect this important state policy,” according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Otherwise, some of the state’s solar policy goes back to the late 1990s.

In its report on renewable energy programs in December 2018, the state’s energy department noted that “solar incentive program received 1,047 applications and completed 979 projects in December.” More importantly, Energy Nevada paid out more than $ 9 million in solar electric incentives in 2018 alone. Since 2010, the state’s shelled out more than $ 200 million in solar incentives alone. 

That is just one of the ways in the installation of solar panels in Nevada has seen a positive response and rise in recent years. As of the end of 2018, SEIA reported that nearly 13 percent of the state’s electricity comes from solar. Additionally, SEIA ranks Nevada fifth in the nation in projecting its growth over the next five years.

The solar panel systems and installation market in Nevada has exploded since 2014. Chart via the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Indeed, increased competition in the state since 2014—and the nature of the market on a national scale—means residents are primed for home value increases if they install solar panels in Nevada. And when it comes to home value, researchers project the value of a home increases up to $ 15,000 on average, according to the Berkley Lab, one of the federal government’s national renewable energy laboratories. That doesn’t even take into consideration the massive savings solar paneling affords homeowners.

Like every other state, Nevada has a unique set of incentives, benefits, and challenges when it comes to investing in solar panels for houses. Read our residential guide to understand what you should know as a homeowner as you look for the best contractor to install solar panel systems and produce energy like longleaf pine trees produced tar in the Tar Heel State.

A well-informed and reliable contractor will go over each detail of your installation with you, from expected savings to increases in home value. At Modernize, we frequently speak to homeowners about their home improvement projects. In our recent interviews, 90 percent of homeowners requested a checklist to help them find and vet contractors. Modernize now offers homeowners a free, digital Contractor Checklist as a simple, step-by-step guide to assist with your solar panel project.

Las Vegas, NV: Solar Energy Success Stories

Meet the Swensons of the Las Vegas solar universe.

“The reason we started looking into solar was for the emergency preparedness aspect of it,” they told Blue Raven Solar. They might have not expected it, but they ended up saving a lot of money, too.

“We were paying anywhere from $ 150 to $ 220 every month in power and,” they told Raven, “ever since we got the solar panels installed we’re at $ 0, other than the $ 9 connection fee to be tied into the grid.”

Indeed, solar panels have a sizeable effect on utility bills. Nevada residents can expect to save nearly close to $ 17,000 over 20 years.

Keep in mind this data serves as guidance for your journey to home improvement. Use it during your conversation with contractors in your area. Ask for this level of detail in your estimates and if jargon or complex wording seems confusing, ask for clarification. A trusted contractor will be glad for the opportunity to explain what everything means and, more importantly, what it specifically means to you.

When it comes to Nevada’s solar energy, existing financial incentives (and policy) only make it more lucrative for you to sustainably increase your property value.

Nevada Solar Panels: Incentives, Rebates, and Other Savings

There are currently nearly 80 incentives for homeowners to increase the value of their property by installing solar panels for houses in Nevada. Find details about each program at the state’s Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE).

Solid contractors installing solar panels in Nevada will be able to provide a list of applicable costs savings measures and help you navigate applying for and getting the most out of them. Learn enough to have a foundational understanding of these programs to best talk to your contractor about them once you’ve vetted and chosen one.

RenewableGenerations Rebate Program

This program goes back to 2003. Homeowners who install solar in Nevada and comply with the system requirements get reimbursed per the efficiency of their system and the electricity it produces — the higher the number, the more the reimbursement.

Find all the details at DSIRE’s profile for the program.

Net Metering

As usual, net metering means that if a homeowner produces electricity in excess of their use, they can sell it into the grid. Irregularly, they won’t get the full retail rate for the electricity. Rather, homeowners will be selling it at 95 percent of the retail rate and the more they sell, the lower the rate will become until it reaches its minimum: 75 percent.

Find all the details at DSIRE’s profile for the program.

Other Nevada-specific solar energy programs include:

Of course, you want to get the most out of local programs as well as federal ones, like the temporary Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, which applies to up to 30 percent of your installation. It is important to note that this federal credit is for systems placed in service by 12/31/2019. Solar Energy International reports that a typical five-kilowatt solar system installation in September 2018 would’ve dropped from $ 15,428 to $ 10,800 after the rebate is applied—but keep in mind its value is dropping and the credit could be completely gone by the early 2020s. Consult your contractor about this and other available credits and incentives to ensure your investment in the long-term value of your property is as easy on your current assets as possible.

That’s why you’ll want to find a contractor you can trust—a local professional who can get the job done and assist you with navigating local policy and regulation. The Modernize Contractor Checklist will help you vet a trusted contractor, so you can relax knowing your solar panel project is in good hands.

The post Nevada: A Guide to Residential Solar Energy appeared first on Modernize.

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Shirt Collar Styles: A Complete Guide

Within the framework of a standard men’s dress shirt, many variations can exist; there are differences in fit, cuff style, buttons, and so on. But what of the collar? Read on to discover the many variations.

If you’re in North America, the first dress shirts you bought probably had some kind of point collar; in Britain and mainland Europe, you likely bought spread collars. In either case, you may not have thought much about the collar style–it was just a shirt. However, when you begin to explore the nuances of classic menswear, you’ll uncover an incredible range of different collar possibilities, and you’ll likely be interested in trying them. Here’s a primer to get you down the rabbit hole.

Shirt Collar Parameters – The Factors Behind the Styles

Before we begin to look at the wide variety of collar styles available, it’s useful to consider the various parameters that influence how a collar looks. These are level of stiffness, height, size, and spread.

Shelby in a pinstriped shirt with a detachable stiff collar
Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy) in Peaky Blinders wearing a pinstriped shirt with a detachable stiff collar

1. Collar Stiffness

From the 1820s to the 1930s, stiff collars (made so by the liberal application of starch) were the norm. These collars were detachable for replacement in an era where effective detergents and laundering were not available. Nowadays, a reminder of the stiff detachable collar exists in contrast-collar shirts (also called Winchester shirts), but collar stiffness is determined by the thickness of the fused (glued) interlining used to form the collar.

Shirt with contrast club collar and cuffs
Winchester shirt with contrasting club collar and cuffs

Influenced by Italian style and the Duke of Windsor, soft collars are more popular these days, particularly with soft tailoring. So, if you prefer sport coats that have natural unpadded shoulders, a soft shirt collar can also be chosen to continue the Neapolitan style. Soft collars are more casual as well, so they are perfect for warm weather and relaxed looks anytime. On the other hand, if you are wearing a formal business suit, a firmer collar is the better option for a crisp and sharp appearance. Something in between the two–a medium hardness–may be the most versatile choice. When going made-to-measure or bespoke with shirts, you can usually select your collar stiffness.

2. Collar Height

Collar height is the measure of how high a collar sits on your neck, measured from the fold down to the point. Taller collars are more formal as well as more aggressive; they communicate that you’re a boss. When choosing a shirt for the workplace, be aware of the impression that collar height makes. A high collar is more typical of Italian style and can even require two collar buttons to support the added height. Taller collars can also require some getting used to in terms of the way they feel on your neck. If you’re interested in trying a shirt with a tall collar, consider some offerings from brands like Proper Cloth and Eton.

Stanley Tucci's shirt in Transformers
Stanley Tucci in Transformers wearing a high-collar shirt with a double top button

3. Collar Size

Related to height is overall size. Some collars, like the cutaway, which we will discuss below, are small and minimalist. Other collars are quite large. Collars at either extreme are more rakish and non-conformist. So, again, something of moderate size is ideal for business. For pleasure, the choice may be purely determined by your face shape. If you have a large head or round face, a bigger collar is more suitable to balance out your appearance. Wearing a tiny collar in such cases will only make your face look disproportionately larger.  Keep in mind that collar style should conform to face shape, and in terms of size, you want to choose one similar to the size of your head and face.

Face shapes
Face shapes affect shirt collar choice

4. Collar Spread

Lastly, there is collar spread–basically, the distance between the points of the collar. The wider the spread, the more aggressive. Face shape again comes into play. If you have a thin or narrow face, a spread collar can help counterbalance that; wearing a narrow collar in this case will only enhance the impression of narrowness and make your head look longer. On the other hand, if you have a wide or round face, wearing a collar with the points closer together will slim down your face. So, unlike collar size, in terms of spread, you want to choose essentially the opposite of your face width. A convenient means of categorizing shirt collars is by the distance between the points from narrow to wide.

Parts of a shirt collar
Anatomy of a shirt collar

Types of Shirt Collars

1.  The Point Collar

In North America, the standard or default business collar is likely the point. As evident from the name, this style is characterized by the fact that the collar tips are pointed. The spread between the points is small (in the range of  1.5″ at the very narrow range to 3.5″). As such, your collar will not expose any of the tie on either side beyond the knot if you wear a four-in-hand. When wearing a jacket, the points of the collar will not be covered by the lapels. This collar flatters if you have a wide face. A point collar seems to work best in medium stiffness. A stiff point collar will make the collar stand away from the shirt when you are wearing a tie, so there is a gap between the collar and the shirt.

Point collar shirt
A typical point-collar shirt, the Freddie from Thomas Pink

1a. The Spear Collar

A retro  version of the point collar is the spear, which, like its namesake, has really long points. These have made something of a comeback of late because their length is considered a rakish change of pace while still being usable in the same circumstances as the standard point. You can find versions of this collar in shops with vintage style; the point-collar shirts sold by Edward Sexton are also quite narrow and thus lean toward being spears.

Spear-point collar shirt
A vintage-style spear point collar from Revival Vintage in Great Britain

2. The Tab Collar

Speaking of vintage, within the same spread range as the point collar but with a distinctly classic look is the tab collar, which features an underlying tab beneath each collar leaf that fastens on the top button. This pulls the collar tips closer together while also lifting the knot of your tie for an even more distinguished appearance. Because of the tabs, this collar can only really be worn with a necktie, not open at the neck.

Tab-collar shirt
A tab collar shirt from Proper Cloth showing the way the tabs fasten.

3. The Club Collar

Another collar with a narrow spread and a vintage appearance is the club worn by Sven Raphael Schneider toward the top of the article. This collar originated at Eton College, which had previously been the incubator of Beau Brummell’s stylistic innovations. The young gents who attended there were looking for a way to distinguish themselves  from other schools and hit upon rounding off the collar points, which is the defining feature of the club collar.  It is possible to wear a club collar that is also a tab collar, as the former is defined by the shape of the collar leaves and the latter by the presence of a hidden tab.

Aleks wearing off-white oxford bags with a 6x2 blazer buttoned on 6x1 with tab collar and winchester shirt
Aleks Cvetkovic with tab collar shirt that is also a club collar.

4. The Pin Collar

The various collars with a smaller distance between the leaves or points lend themselves readily to the use of collar pins, clips, or bars. These are accessories designed to close the space between collar points while also elevating your tie knot. If your shirt is designed with special holes in the collar leaves, you can use a collar pin, which looks like a large safety pin, or a collar bar, which resembles a barbell with an end that unscrews. Such special pin collars are sold by Eton and Edward Sexton among others. Like the tab collar, because the pin or bar draws the collar leaves closer together the spread of such a collar will never be wide.

Pin Hole In Shirt Collar For Collar Pin
Special holes are sewn into shirt collars designed for a collar pin or bar

You can also create the look of a true pin collar with a collar clip, which can be used with point or club collars without punching holes in them. Like cuff links, collar pins are a bit of “man jewelry” to elevate your personal style. Since they were popular mainly in the first half of the 20th century, they do create a vintage look and will get attention. Fort Belvedere offers a variety of these accessories in silver and gold for you to try.

Collar Pin Guide
Collar pins, bars, and clips from Fort Belvedere.

5. The Square Collar

There are also shirt collars that are quite small with a minimal spread, among them the square collar, so called because the collar points are squared off. These were worn, usually in detachable form, in the early twentieth century, but are quite hard to find today.

Square shirt collars
Jonny Lee Miller can be seen wearing square shirt collars as Sherlock Holmes on Elementary; at right” vintage detachable square shirt collars from Welch & Margetson

6. The Button Down Collar

Although it originated on England’s polo fields, the button down collar has become an American favorite after it was introduced by Brooks Brothers, especially as part of Ivy, prep, and trad styles. The button-down collar is a variant on the point-collar dress shirt and is stylistically appealing for those who want to dress down but. But, in today’s casual world, a button-down with a tie and a sport coat is still quite well dressed. Fans of sprezzatura will leave the buttons open, or even just one button, to project a sort of nonchalance. For others, doing this can seem sloppy or c0ntrived, however, so it’s a matter of personal style.

DOs or DONTs - depends on your style Many Men Leave their button down collar undone
Many men leave their button down collar undone for a look of sprezzatura

Some button down collars are soft and others are not. Those who like collar roll, where a longer collar curves to create some space around the tie knot, love a soft button down for achieving this effect. You can see this in the image directly above. I like collar roll, but the buttons on the button down are too casual for me, so an option is the hidden button down, which contains snaps or a loop and button beneath the collar points, allowing the roll and the collar to sit in the same way but with the buttons hidden.

Hidden button down collar
A hidden button down collar (with a wider spread) from Eton

7. The Spread Collar

Once the distance between the collar point widens we have a spread collar, noted as the default collar of London (and European) business wear. The spread collar was originally popularized as a means of wearing wider tie knots like the Windsor and Half-Windsor, but some spread collars will still allow you to wear a four-in-hand without exposing the string of your tie next to the knot. A spread collar will also accommodate thicker ties, such as those made of wool, cashmere or other heavier fabrics. The line between the spread and cutaway collar is not well defined as some brands (Eton, for one) call their spreads cutaways, and there can exist a range of distances between the collar points. Usually a 4″ distance could be considered “semi-spread” with most spread collars showing 5-6″ between the collar points. We can also look at it in terms of angles, with the angle formed by the spread collar being 45 degrees or greater. Generally speaking, a wider spread collar is more suitable for men with a narrow face shape, as it draws the viewer’s eyes outward, creating the impression of a wider face.

Semi spread collar on a white dress shirt
Semi spread collar on a white dress shirt

8. The Cutaway Collar

The cutaway collar is a type of spread collar that is defined by the wide distance between points (over 6″) or the obtuse angle formed by said points. In some cases, the angle of the collar can be a completely horizontal 180 degrees (or zero, depending how you look at it); that is, the front of the collar forms a nearly straight horizontal line.

Horizontal Cutaway Collar
Greg McGregorson of gregsstyleguide wearing a cutaway collar.

For cutaway collars, a large tie knot is essential to avoid showing the string of the tie along with the knot, though some men will tie a regular four-in-hand and rev as a nod to rakish indifference. In collars that are labeled “extreme cutaway,” the collar points actually angle backwards, behind the neckband. This collar can be favored in Italian, especially Neapolitan, tailoring and is quite an aggressive look.  If you wear these at all, they are best worn tieless with the top button or two open. If worn with a necktie, the string of your tie will definitely show next to your knot.

Avoid widespread Cutaway Shirt Collars
Avoid widespread cutaway shirt collars if you wear a necktie.

9. The Band Collar

The concept of the cutaway collar taken to its farthest extreme would lead the collar leaves to disappear completely, leaving just the band. This sort of collar, standing 1-2″ high can be referred to as a Mandarin for its origins in Chinese clothing and a granddad shirt (when worn as part of a casual, rustic American style). This shirt must be worn tieless.

A band collar shirt from Emporio Armani
A band collar shirt from Emporio Armani

10. The Wing Collar

Reserved only for the most formal events is the wing collar, also known as the winged or wingtip, belongs among the minimalist collars because its points are quite small. The tips stand up and are directed horizontally so they resemble the open wings of a bird. This collar is most often worn with a bow tie and is actually supposed to be reserved for white tie events, though some men today enjoy its vintage look with a tuxedo. You may also see the wing collar worn by valets or butlers with a black neck tie in period pieces such as Jeeves and Wooster.

A Fort Belvedere barathea bow tie with a wing collar shirt.
A Fort Belvedere barathea bow tie with a wing collar shirt.

Other Specialty Collars

1. The One-Piece Collar

Known as the Hollywood or Cooper collar because it was famously worn by Gary Cooper, the one-piece collar is rare in ready-to-wear shirts. Usually, a shirt collar is constructed separately from the rest of the shirt. A one-piece collar, however, is made from the same piece as the shirt placket, which reinforces it and enables it to stand upright; it also requires tailoring skill to construct. Because of its structure the one-piece collar is tall and has an incredible collar roll, so fans of that look should seek it out. A possible shortcoming of the one-piece is that the points tend to float up or escape from under the lapels of a sport coat if the shirt is worn with the top button open. With a tie, there are no such issues.

One-piece collar shirt
A one-piece collar shirt from Deo Veritas; note the height and collar roll

2. The Pajama Collar

The collar commonly seen on pajama tops–flat and divided into two parts, resembling a notch lapel on a jacket–is known variously as a pajama collar, Cuban collar, or bowling collar. The look is definitely casual, for warm weather and most commonly seen with short sleeves including on Hawaiian “Aloha” shirts. However, they are mentioned here because they’ve recently made an appearance on long-sleeved shirts worn with tailoring. In some versions the top part of the collar is the longer than the bottom, but it can also be the other way around. The common aspect is that the collar is large, divided, and lays flat.

Pajama collar shirt with tailoring
Andreas Larsson wearing a pajama collar shirt from Berg & Berg with summer tailoring

Conclusion

Various menswear brands have special proprietary names for their collar styles, like the Varsity (Paul Fredrick), the Roma spread (Proper Cloth) or the Martus (the now defunct Welch & Margetson). Whatever the names, these are essentially variants of one of the collar types discussed above, and once that you know the different permutations you can identify the features in any collar. You may start with a more conservative style for work but then you’ll experiment until you find the ideal collar for your face shape and individual taste. I started with the typical American point collar then went with a radical cutaway with an eye toward Italian style. Eventually, I realized this didn’t work well with a tie or my rounder face shape. Now, I’m wearing moderate spread collars with collar roll and long points. Whether I stick with this for the rest of my life is yet undetermined. So, where are you in the process of trying shirt collars? What’s your favorite? Share in the Comments below.


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Side Hustlers: Are You Putting Enough Aside for Taxes? Read Our Tax Guide

Dave DiVerniero admits that when he started freelancing about 10 years ago, he didn’t use trial and error to figure what qualifies as a business expense when he did his taxes — it was mostly just error.

During his first full year of freelancing, he didn’t know that you can deduct a home office even if it’s not a separate room, or that the miles traveled to meet with clients counted as business expenses.

“When you file a return, [the IRS is] not going to tell you that you missed a bunch of deductions, so it was really just error until I educated myself,” says DiVerniero, who now runs a coaching website for freelancers called Freelancer Advocate.

In addition to deductions, there are many pitfalls to consider when filing taxes as an independent contractor, self-employed person or gig worker. One of the biggest traps is not knowing how much to pay the taxman. So how much should you set aside?

What Kinds of Taxes Do Side Hustlers Have to Pay?

Taxes for side gig workers are a little different than those for regular employees. The most obvious difference is that taxes are not already taken out of a side hustler’s paycheck. That check is not all take-home pay, and it’s up to gig workers to pay their fair share to Uncle Sam.

If you look at a pay stub from an employee at a company, you’ll see federal income tax, Medicare tax and Social Security tax automatically withheld — often in addition to deductions for health care and retirement contributions. Employees usually have withholdings from their paychecks of 6.2% for social security and 1.45% for Medicare, a total of 7.65%.

For the self-employed, Social Security and Medicare taxes combined are a fixed 15.3% (also known as the self-employment tax). The reason they’re doubled is that the employer pays the other half.

“When you’re self-employed, now you have to pay that full amount yourself, so you are liable for 15.3% of the net profit from your self-employment income,” says Jorge Soriano, a certified financial planner with GTE Investment Group.  

But what about federal income tax? How much you’ll owe depends on how much you make annually doing your side hustle. In 2018, the tax brackets for a single filer are:

  • 10% (Earning $ 1 to $ 9,525)
  • 12% (9,526 to $ 38,700)
  • 22% ($ 38,701 to $ 82,500)
  • 24% ($ 82,501 to $ 157,500)
  • 32% ($ 157,501 to $ 200,000)
  • 35% ($ 200,001 to $ 500,000)
  • 37% (Over $ 500,000)

For example, if you made $ 5,000 as a ride-share driver and that was your sole source of income, your federal income tax rate would be 10%.

Unfortunately, that’s not all the taxes side hustlers have to pay. Most states require workers to pay state income tax and — in some areas — local income tax. Each state is different, so look up your state’s income-tax rate and find out if your city or county has an additional local income tax.

How Much Money Should I Set Aside for Taxes?

Drew DuBoff, a freelancer who coaches entrepreneurs on scaling their business, is usually cautious when saving for taxes. He sets aside 30% of his income for taxes every time he gets paid. Even though his self-employment, federal and state income taxes total less than 30%, he feels better having a buffer.

“I’d rather get a [tax refund] than have to pay more at the end of the year,” DuBoff says.

Soriano says that saving 30 cents of every dollar for taxes is a good standard. That way you’re not scrambling to figure out how to pay what you owe at the end of the quarter or year.  

He says the worst-case scenario of overpaying is that you get a refund. Even though you don’t want to give Uncle Sam too much of your money when those funds are not gaining interest, it’s easier to reassess your withholdings for the following year than end your first year in debt to the IRS.

Do I Need to Pay Estimated Quarterly Taxes?  

Federal income taxes and self-employment taxes run on a “pay-as-you-go” model, Soriano says. That means people need to pay throughout the year as they earn money.

Usually, those taxes are withheld from employees’ paychecks by their employer, but for side hustlers, it’s on them to pay quarterly. People need to pay estimated quarterly taxes only if they expect to owe more than $ 1,000.

Below are the dates estimated quarterly taxes are due for the following periods:

  • April 15 (January 1 to March 31)
  • June 15 (April 1 to May 31)
  • Sept. 15 (June 1 to Aug. 31)
  • January 15 (Sept. 1 to Dec. 31)

Please note that if a due date for estimated taxes falls on a weekend or a holiday, payments can be made the next business day and still be considered on time, according to the IRS. Soriano says if you do pay less taxes throughout the year than required, you’ll be charged a penalty.

Follow these IRS links to pay your estimated quarterly taxes using a bank account or a credit or debit card.

What Forms Do I Need to File to Pay My Freelance Taxes?

1099 miscellaneous form is shown

As a side hustler, you are considered self-employed by the IRS, regardless of how much (or how little) you earn.

You should receive 1099-MISC forms from any businesses that paid you more than $ 600 in a calendar year. But you’ll need to report all income even if you don’t receive a 1099 — that includes if your side hustle paid you in gift cards or non-cash prizes.

Here’s the overview of tax forms you may need:

  • Form 1040: Due to the 2018 tax changes, this is now the form used by all U.S. taxpayers to file an annual income tax return. Forms 1040S and 1040EZ are no longer available. (Many of the entries that were on those forms are now found in the schedules mentioned below.)
  • Schedule C or C-EZ: Here’s where you, as the sole proprietor of a business, figure the net profit or loss for your business. If you meet the listed requirements, you can use the shorter EZ form. You’ll enter the final number on Schedule 1 (Form 1040).
  • Schedule SE: This is the form you’ll use to figure your self-employment tax if your net earnings are $ 400 or more. You’ll enter this figure on Schedule 4 (Form 1040).
  • Form 1040-ES: Use this form to figure and pay your estimated tax.

Remember to track business-related costs you can deduct as an independent contractor. There are more expenses you can deduct than if you were an employee.

How to Simplify Saving for Taxes

Now that you know how much you have to set aside for taxes, DiVerniero and DuBoff both recommend side hustlers open a separate business bank account. DuBoff says it can be challenging to sort through personal expenses to find business expenses at the end of the month from the same account.

Your business account can be the place to deposit all your side hustle earnings, pay expenses and put aside enough income for taxes. That way you’ll be in great shape on April 15 and keep your tax-related fears at bay.

“A lot of people get worked up [about taxes], but it’s a lot more simple than people think,” DiVerniero says. “Once you get a handle on it, it’s very straightforward.”

Matt Reinstetle is a former staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. Staff writer Tiffany Wendeln Connors contributed to this story.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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North Carolina: A Guide to Residential Solar Energy

In March 2019, the federal Energy Information Administration reported that North Carolina’s solar energy production grew by more than a third (36 percent) in 2018. That growth, according to local ABC affiliate 13 WLOS, “firmly” places the state as “the No. 2 solar-producing state in the nation.” It was in third place in 2018 based on its prior performance then.

That is just one of the ways in the installation of solar panels in North Carolina has seen a positive response and rise in recent years. As of the end of 2018, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reported that nearly 5.5 percent of the state’s energy comes from solar. Additionally, SEIA ranks North Carolina fourth in the nation in projecting its growth over the next five years.

The solar panel systems and installation market in North Carolina has exploded since 2012. Chart via the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Indeed, increased competition in the state since 2012—and the nature of the market on a national scale—means residents are primed for home value increases if they install solar panels in North Carolina. And when it comes to home value, researchers project the value of a home increases up to $ 15,000 on average, according to the Berkley Lab, one of the federal government’s national renewable energy laboratories. That doesn’t even take into consideration the massive savings solar paneling affords homeowners.

Like every other state, North Carolina has a unique set of incentives, benefits, and challenges when it comes to investing in solar panels for houses. Read our residential guide to understand what you should know as a homeowner as you look for the best contractor to install solar panel systems and produce energy like longleaf pine trees produced tar in the Tar Heel State.

A well-informed and reliable contractor will go over each detail of your installation with you, from expected savings to increases in home value. At Modernize, we frequently speak to homeowners about their home improvement projects. In our recent interviews, 90 percent of homeowners requested a checklist to help them find and vet contractors. Modernize now offers homeowners a free, digital Contractor Checklist as a simple, step-by-step guide to assist with your solar panel project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asheville, NC: Solar Energy Success Stories

Mike Fleenor knows that without having received help to decipher the world of solar regulation and installation, his own in North Asheville, North Carolina, would’ve been a disaster.

“Had I gone this alone, I would have had to have been pretty motivated to get through the red tape and may have thrown in the towel in frustration in the end,” Fleenor told the Citizen-Times. The article noted that on top of federal incentives, “North Carolina offers a 35 percent tax credit.”

“Growth in residential solar power in North Carolina or the Southeast had been flat in recent years,” said local solar activist Katie Bray, who’s rounding up homeowners to get involved in installing solar panels. “This is pretty huge. Now there’s a real movement among homeowners, nonprofits and small businesses toward solar power.” And well there should be such a movement when turning to the sun can have massive effects on a homeowner’s bills.

Indeed, solar panels have a sizeable effect on utility bills. North Carolina residents can expect to save nearly close to $ 17,000 over 20 years.

Keep in mind this data serves as guidance for your journey to home improvement. Use it during your conversation with contractors in your area. Ask for this level of detail in your estimates and if jargon or complex wording seems confusing, ask for clarification. A trusted contractor will be glad for the opportunity to explain what everything means and, more importantly, what it specifically means to you.

When it comes to North Carolina’s solar energy, existing financial incentives (and policy) only make it more lucrative for you to sustainably increase your property value.

North Carolina Solar Panels: Incentives, Rebates, and Other Savings

There are currently nearly more than 130 incentives for homeowners to increase the value of their property by installing solar panels for houses in North Carolina. Find details about each program at the state’s Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE).

Solid contractors installing solar panels in North Carolina will be able to provide a list of applicable costs savings measures and help you navigate applying for and getting the most out of them. Learn enough to have a foundational understanding of these programs to best talk to your contractor about them once you’ve vetted and chosen one.

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing

Installing solar paneling for homes will increase property value for homeowners who have invested in their houses, and North Carolina is investing right back in them. North Carolina homeowners borrow money to help them pay for solar installations

Find all the details at DSIRE’s profile for the program.

Green Building Incentives

To encourage more green and renewable energy construction, North Carolina is open to municipalities bending tax codes and permit costs for builders relying on new energy resources like solar.

Find all the details at DSIRE’s profile for the program.

Other North Carolina-specific solar energy programs include:

Of course, you want to get the most out of local programs as well as federal ones, like the temporary Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, which applies to up to 30 percent of your installation. It is important to note that this federal credit is for systems placed in service by 12/31/2019. Solar Energy International reports that a typical five-kilowatt solar system installation in September 2018 would’ve dropped from $ 15,428 to $ 10,800 after the rebate is applied—but keep in mind its value is dropping and the credit could be completely gone by the early 2020s. Consult your contractor about this and other available credits and incentives to ensure your investment in the long-term value of your property is as easy on your current assets as possible.

That’s why you’ll want to find a contractor you can trust—a local professional who can get the job done and assist you with navigating local policy and regulation. The Modernize Contractor Checklist will help you vet a trusted contractor, so you can relax knowing your solar panel project is in good hands.

The post North Carolina: A Guide to Residential Solar Energy appeared first on Modernize.

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A local’s guide to Munich: 10 top tips

The Bavarian capital is famous for its parks, history and beer halls, but its underground music and neighbourhood restaurants are worth checking out, too

Nomiya offers an elegant blend of Japanese food and Bavarian gemütlichkeit (a feeling of warmth, friendliness and good cheer – the German version of hygge). The rustic Japanese tavern and restaurant has been run by Ferdinand “Ferdi” Schuster for over 20 years, and has become an institution in the Haidhausen district, on the eastern bank of the Isar. Occasionally, guests are regaled with impromptu performances by local musicians. Yakitori and sushi go well with cold beer in traditional half-litre steins. And be sure to ask for a Tilmans, a fine local lager made by young independent brewer Tilman Ludwig.
Small plates from €2, mixed sushi plate €17.50, Wörthstrasse 7, nomiya.de

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The Ultimate Guide to Babysitting (Plus How to Command a Higher Rate)

Years ago, I worked as a live-in babysitter for a couple of months. I didn’t have to dress up like Mrs. Doubtfire, and the kids were OK, but the experience still might be part of why I chose to never have children.

However, if you like being around kids more than I do, you could make decent money as a baby sitter. By the end of 2018, Care.com found that the national average hourly rate for a baby sitter was $ 15.83, which was more than a 30% increase from $ 12.07 rate in 2013.

And that’s just the base rate. But more on that later.

All this is to say that babysitting is no longer just a business for teenagers; as an adult, you may be more likely to find work.

Thinking of adding a babysitting side hustle to your income? Here’s what you need to know.

How to Become a Babysitter

What makes a good babysitter? Yes, you should like children. But it’s not all fun and games, according to Connie Fong, vice president of brand, Care.com, who notes that newbies to babysitting should brush up on those invaluable soft skills.

“Taking introductory courses can help aspiring sitters learn the key skills to babysitting, like responsibility, problem-solving, decision-making and leadership,” Fong said in an email. “Places like the American Red Cross offer classes in child care that cover the basics of caring for kids and even better, many classes can be found online.”

When you’re just getting started, word-of-mouth is one of the best ways to boost your babysitting business and to find new customers. Provide great service to friends, family and neighbors, then ask them to refer you to their network of parents.

Depending on your location, you may find opportunities posted on Monster.com and Indeed.com. You can advertise your services for free on Craigslist.

If you don’t want to go it alone, there are several online platforms specifically set up for connecting parents and baby sitters, including Care.com and Sittercity. Both offer free membership options as well as paid versions that include background checks and improved placement.

When setting up your profile on babysitting sites, include more than the basic facts to attract parents who are looking for specific work history and personality traits that are a good match for their family, according to Fong.

“Share information beyond, ‘I like caring for kids,’” Fong wrote in her email. “[Babysitters should] include more specific details such as their years of experience, the types of responsibilities they have had, and special skills or passions that may help with the job.”

So maybe all those arts & crafts classes could finally pay off.

How Much Can Babysitters Make?

Your pay rate will depend on a variety of factors, including the following:

  • Location. You can charge more in cities with a higher cost of living. The Care.com calculator suggests the rate for babysitting one child in San Francisco, California, is $ 21 per hour, while in Toledo, Ohio, the going rate is $ 13.50 an hour.
  • Number of kids. You can typically charge $ 1 or $ 2 more per hour, per kid.
  • Age of sitter. Adults earn more.
  • Time. Late night and on-demand schedules typically result in higher pay. You can also charge a premium for high-demand nights like New Year’s Eve.
  • Additional qualifications.According to a 2017 Care.com Babysitter Survey, 66% of parents say they would pay more for a sitter with CPR and safety training,” Fong wrote.
  • Additional responsibilities. You can charge a higher rate for going above and beyond regular babysitting duties, such as picking the kids up from school or helping with homework.

Which Should You Be: Babysitter, Nanny or Daycare?

The line between being a baby sitter and a nanny can be a tough one to determine, but the more important question is whether you’re an independent contractor or a household employee.

First, if you don’t get paid more than $ 2,100 by any one client in a year, you’ll normally be considered an independent contractor, which means you’ll need to pay the self-employment tax along with your income tax.

If you earn more than $ 2,100 per year from one client, then the IRS considers in-home caregivers to be household employees, which means your employer has tax-compliance responsibilities like payroll taxes.

However, the IRS says, “A worker who performs child care services for you in his or her home generally is not your employee.” So babysitting in your own home makes it clearer that you’re an independent contractor and that the parents won’t need to deal with payroll taxes.

If you do decide to babysit kids in your home, you might be classified as a daycare operator, in which case you may need a license and have other legal complications. Each state has its own laws covering daycare, and you’ll want to make sure you’re on the right side of them.

For example, child care law in Illinois specifies that you need a license from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) if you care for more than three children (your own are included if they’re under 12 years old). So if you live in Illinois and want to avoid the need for a daycare license, simply limit your service to watching three or fewer kids.

Consult a tax specialist if you’re in doubt about your status.

Whatever path you choose — babysitter, nanny, daycare provider — there’s plenty of responsibility involved when it comes to caring for other people’s children, so it shouldn’t be a job you enter into half-heartedly.

You may not be able to retire early on a baby sitter’s income, but expect your bonuses to come in the form of hugs and cookies — not a bad deal.

Steve Gillman is the author of “101 Weird Ways to Make Money” and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He’s been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).

Tiffany Wendeln Connors, a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder, contributed to this post.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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The Inexpensive Watch Guide

The truth is, not everyone can afford a $ 1,000 watch or even a $ 200 watch. Style doesn’t have to depend on how much money you have in the bank, so today we will look at how to buy a great looking watch for under $ 100.

How to Buy an Inexpensive Watch Under $ 100

These days, men no longer need a watch to tell time. Dress watches no longer serve a true purpose, other than to communicate your style and your means. Inexpensive watches won’t make you look like an investment banker, but they certainly have a role to play in every stylish man’s wardrobe. You’re going to get what you pay for, but there’s no reason it can’t still be a nice watch.

In the following, we will highlight a variety of wrist watches that are intended to support your style rather than your technical needs. That means you won’t find smartwatches, a GPS watch, or fitness trackers such as an Apple watch, a Fitbit Surge, or an Asus Zenwatch. These watches will complement your outfit but won’t be a triathlon watch that can measure your heart rate.

Three Places to Buy an Inexpensive Watch (and One Place Not to)

1. Online

While this may be a dangerous marketplace for fine timepieces, there’s no risk when you’re only looking for a basic wristwatch. By searching eBay, Craigslist, Amazon and various discount sites, you’ll probably be able to find the watch you’d buy in the store, but at a fraction of the price. This is an excellent source for low budget watches, and you might even look for pocket watches for less than $ 100, if you are so inclined.

2. Thrift, Goodwill & Pawn Shops

Treasures can be found at vintage stores but rarely during sales
Treasures can be found at vintage stores but rarely during sales

Often, these are some of the best places to look for a great deal. You can generally find vintage watches at these places for a small fraction of what they’d sell for brand new in the store, and in the majority of cases, the staff doesn’t know much about horology, so you can actually find some pretty amazing deals. These opportunities may be hard to find, but they do occur frequently. Recently a man found a 1959 LeCoultre Deep Sea Alarm at a Goodwill store in Phoenix. He bought it for $ 5.99 and turned around and sold it for $ 35,000 to a collector who also threw in an Omega. This same buyer who frequents Goodwill stores has also seen a variety of other luxury watches in the past at stores like these.  You can read the story here.

3. Department Stores

If you don’t have much time to spend and are just desperate to get a watch on your wrist, the final recommendation is to buy at a local department store. Typically, department stores sell higher quality watches than the bargain bin stores like Walmart and Target, but offer competitive pricing. This is the place to locate fashion watches and other watches that are of better quality. Of course, that’s not to say that Walmart and Target can’t be a viable source — I believe they also carry brands like Casio and Timex, which can be very good watches for the money.

4. But Not on Kickstarter

Kickstarter, along with fellow crowdfunding Indiegogo, has become the new frontier for men’s inexpensive watchmakers. Brands like MVMT (which was recently bought by Movado) and Vincero watches have aggressively moved into the low-cost watch market with sophisticated influencer and social media campaigns. These brands are due credit for reinvigorating the watch as an accessory for every man, but there’s a catch: very few of them offer watches under $ 100.

Kickstarter watches are rarely under $ 100

If you’re looking for a great inexpensive watch, we would recommend staying away from crowdfunding, or even brands that have evolved away from Kickstarter. To begin with, they tend to be oversized and minimalist to a fault, and they aren’t really adding much to that more established watchmakers aren’t already doing. Furthermore, they mislead customers into thinking their “direct to consumer” model benefits them; in fact, the quality isn’t better than other watches at the same price point. It’s simply a new way to market watches.

Inexpensive Watch Buying DOs & DON’Ts

The first step when buying a watch in this price range is to understand that it’s perfectly acceptable to play it safe and stick with the basics. Focus on watches with fabric straps or metal bracelets and go in expecting to buy a quartz movement. Anything with a mechanical movement will be inferior, although occasionally you can luck out.

DON’T buy a faux gold or plated gold watch

Fake gold Nixon is something to avoid
This Nixon watch commits 2 sins: gaudy fake gold plating and trying to imitate much more expensive brands

There are a few things you want to look for when buying a watch in this price range. The first thing is making sure it doesn’t contain any fake or plated precious metals like gold. If you plan on keeping the watch for any considerable amount of time, both plated and fake gold (often called ‘gold-colored’) have the tendency to strip off or change color. A perfect example of this is with plated gold, as after some use you’ll notice that it turns a greenish color, usually starting at the lugs. Furthermore, fake plated gold will always look cheap compared to the real thing, so why bother? We recommend skipping it entirely.

DON’T buy a knockoff or a fake

The first rule to remember is that if you can’t afford the $ 10,000 Rolex, don’t try and imitate it (better to buy it used from a specialty retailer like Bob’s Watches). One of the biggest mistakes men make is buying a watch that just makes them look cheap. I’m talking about the oversized, fake gold, plastic stone-encrusted watches. There is no humanly possible way to look good wearing these.

Can you spot the fake Rolex
Can you spot the fake Rolex? Those who can won’t tell you they know your secret

Buying a fake or imitation of an elegant watch poses the same risk. While you may be able to trick the average Joe into believing you’ve got a real Rolex on your wrist, anyone who knows a thing or two is never going to take you seriously. Wearing a knockoff is like trying to pay your check with Monopoly money. The second someone notices it, you’ve lost all credibility. If you want to be taken seriously, avoid the fraudulent watches because, in the end, you’re going to look like a joke.

DO focus on an “authentic” watch

As in, look for a watch that is not desperately trying to be something it’s not. This Seiko watch is classy and has a few interesting details, but it’s not trying to be something other than a Seiko. Try looking for watches that are made of a standard metal, plastic or composite, and you’ll end up getting the best bang for your buck.

DO lower your expectations for a leather strap watch under $ 100

Greg Stevens watch straps
Leather watch straps

Avoiding leather is usually a good idea since inexpensive watches tend to have cheap leather or imitation leather straps which will show wear very quickly. Unless you plan to use an after-market strap (which is a good idea), focus on finding watches that have fabric straps, metal bracelets or rubber straps. They’ll last longer and maintain their appearance, provided of course the metal isn’t plated or poorly made.

DO buy a quartz movement

Even under $ 100, your watch should work well. This isn’t such a big deal when buying new, but it’s still a good idea to make sure it keeps accurate time. Quartz watches are going to be your best bet. They may not have the appeal of mechanical or automatic, but they do keep better time and are usually what you’ll find in this price range.

Timex Intelligent Quartz Depth Gauge
Timex Intelligent Quartz Depth Gauge

Ideally, you want to find a watch that has Japanese movement. You can often determine this by looking at the back of the watch or the six o’clock position on the dial. Finding something that’s Swiss Made is almost out of the question, although you may find ones labelled Swiss Movement or Swiss Quartz —they are not the same. While some watches with Chinese movements aren’t bad, for the most part they tend to be the least reliable when it comes to watch production. It’s not the end of the world if you find a watch you like with it, but it shouldn’t be your first pick.

DO look for watch styles as if you had an unlimited budget

Frederique Constant Automatic Dress Watch
The Frederique Constant Automatic Dress Watch may be out of reach, but you can find something similar

By keeping this in mind, you’ll only buy one you really like and one that suits your lifestyle. If you’re going to wear it with a business suit, avoid sports watches; and if you’re going to wear it to the beach, make sure it’s water resistant.

DO save for the watch of your dreams

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch with a metal band
Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch with a metal band

Furthermore, we always recommend saving more or paying less. The majority of watches between the $ 500 and $ 1500 mark aren’t worth the markup, because they aren’t adding quality above the $ 500 price point aside from better branding. In almost all cases, they’re overpriced. Stick with either a cheap daily wear watch or save up until you can afford the watch you really want where the quality matches the price tag.

Recommended Watch Brands

Watch Model Brand Price
T2N747KW Weekender Timex $
Casio GA100-1A1 Casio $
SNK805 Seiko $
699.02 Aviator Quartz Stuhrling $
N14555G NST Nautica $
AK715SSB “Retro” Stainless Steel Akribos $
BF0580-06E Citizen $
Silver Dial Black Bulova $

When it comes to watches that cost less than $ 100, the only thing that really matters is whether you like how it looks. The movement is not going to be anything fantastic so focus on its appearance — you just want it to look good on your arm.

Timex

Timex Weekender Central Park
Timex Weekender Central Park

You may remember Timex being mentioned in our Low Budget Watch Guide. Their Weekender line is a GG favorite watch for daily wear. It’s easy to wear, relaxed, and not so precious that it can’t get dirty or wet. If it breaks, oh well, it’s replaceable. It’s a nice looking, classic timepiece that is great dressed down but also with a suit. You can make it preppy for the beach with a NATO strap or dress it up with leather. All-in-all, it’s a great watch and when it comes to Timex, you really can’t go wrong. As far as classic watches go in this price range, Timex is a top pick.

Casio

The Casio G-Shock definitely isn’t for the office, but it’s a great sports watch under $ 100

Casio is a very safe brand when it comes to sports watches. They don’t try to make their watches look better than they are by adding imitation stones or gold colored metals. Most of their products are sturdy workhorses that add the necessary features, like water resistance for a day at the beach. If you’re looking for a decent sports watch for casual wear, any Casio in this price range is a solid investment. Check out this Casio G-Shock on Amazon.

Seiko

Seiko watches are about as good as they get in this price range as well as in many higher price points. They make some exceptional watches and a quick search on Amazon netted two pages of choices for between $ 50 and $ 100. This military inspired Seiko watch with a canvas band has a great retro look ideal for a casual men’s watch. It is an automatic watch with a stainless steel case,so it ticks the boxes for a weekend timepiece under $ 100.

Stührling

A lot of people don’t realize that Max Sturhling was actually a master watchmaker who studied under Louis Audemars of Audemars Piguet — one of the world’s most renowned luxury watchmakers.

Sturhling Original watch for under $  100
Sturhling Original watch for under $ 100

However, Stührling wanted to make well-built timepieces that every man could afford. He left the luxury industry, in which he could have easily made a name for himself, and developed a line of watches that retails for no more than a few hundred dollars. Many of the watches feature automatic or mechanical movements and you can easily find some of their watches, like this one, for under $ 100.

Akribos

Unique and fun Akribos
Unique and fun Akribos

Akribos is one of those brands like Invicta, Fossil and Nixon that caters to a younger crowd. They do attempt to imitate the appearance of some famous luxury watches, but they don’t put imitation stones or metals on their timepieces or make watches that are as big as fists. Granted, some of their watches should be avoided, but they also make some pretty interesting timepieces that are great for the hipster crowd, design-conscious artists or someone wanting a fresh look. Check out this interesting Arkribos watch for a great price.

Citizen

Citizen watches are really quite good for the price. Granted, their $ 500 timepieces are terribly overpriced, but any of the watches priced under $ 100 are well worth it. In 1979, the brand created Citizen Eco-Drive, the first analog quartz movement to be powered by light. Many of their watches with this feature are priced under $ 100. They are a very respectable watchmaker and one that is globally popular across almost all demographics. Here’s a handsome Citizen quartz dress watch. The case diameter is 39mm, which is an ideal size for most men.

Bulova

Many falsely assume that Bulova is a luxury brand. In effect, they’ve done a fantastic job making a lot of people think that they are. Bulova, despite these questionable marketing practices, actually realize what (some) of their timepieces are really worth. They do offer some crystal-encrusted and over-the-top chronographs, but if you look through their collection there are a few classy pieces. This simple Bulova stainless steel one is one worthy of your attention as it’s a perfect dress watch for a low price.

Conclusion

Inexpensive watches, by virtue of their cost, shouldn’t seem less-worthy. Just because something is less expensive doesn’t mean that it’s ‘cheap.’ However, let’s call it what it is. When you’re buying a fifty dollar watch you’re foolish if you expect that you’re going to get a Rolex. You’re even more foolish if you try and get one that imitates it. Be proud of your watch, regardless of whether it’s a $ 30 Casio or a $ 30,000 Jaeger-LeCoultre. Your watch may not be an heirloom piece to hand down to your child, but you can be confident wearing it when you buy one that is simple, works well and didn’t cost more than a car.

Buy what you like, what you can afford and what you can justify. I know many men who can afford expensive watches but can’t justify in their own head spending so much on something that tells time.


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A Guide to the Biggest Celebrity Superfans of March Madness

In the 80 years since the March Madness tournament started, it’s been a beloved and much-anticipated tradition for college basketball fans to fiercely rally for their favorite teams and celebrities are no exception.

For some, like actress Ashley Judd, being a super fan comes with longtime school spirit for her alma mater, the University of Kentucky, whose Wildcats are also a favorite for rapper Drake, who counts Coach John Calipari as a close friend and mentor. Others, like Bill Murray, don’t necessarily have an academic connection to a team, but an emotional one; Murray’s son, Luke, was an assistant coach for Xavier’s basketball program, which meant that the funnyman was a popular presence at Xavier games; for the 2019 NCAA Tournament, it appears that Murray will have to change teams, as Luke is now coaching at the University of Louisville.

Ahead of this year’s March Madness NCAA tournament, here’s a run-down of the most avid celebrity college basketball fans.

Drake — University of Kentucky Wildcats

While many have said that Drake is a bandwagon fan for the of-the-moment teams, there’s no denying that the Canadian rapper is an avid fan of the Kentucky Wildcats. From receiving his own “Drizzy” championship ring when the team won the national championship in 2012 to a chummy friendship with Coach John Calipari that even lead Drake to be on Calipari’s podcast.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus — Northwestern University Wildcats

Julia Louis-Dreyfus has plenty of reasons to cheer on the Wildcats when it’s March Madness; not only did the Veep actress attend Northwestern and meet her husband there, her son Charlie currently plays on the basketball team.

Julianne Moore — Davidson College Wildcats

Julianne Moore became a proud Davidson fan after her son Cal Freundlich joined the basketball team, playing the same position (point guard) that Warriors star Steph Curry played while he was at the college.

Ashley Judd — University of Kentucky Wildcats

Perhaps the most famous longtime fan of the Wildcats, Judd has long been a welcome presence at the school’s games, where she faithfully cheers on her alma mater.

American v Kansas
Jamie Squire—Getty Images

Jason Sudeikis — University of Kansas Jayhawks

Jason Sudeikis grew up in Overland Park, Kansas, roots that have helped to make him a notable fan of Kansas sports, including the Kansas Jayhawks.

Kentucky v Louisville
Andy Lyons—Getty Images

Jennifer Lawrence — University of Louisville Cardinals

While the University of Kentucky might have some major star power from fans like Drake and Ashley Judd, Jennifer Lawrence brings the shine for the state’s other big team, the University of Louisville Cardinals. Lawrence, who grew up in Louisville, is a prominent fan of the team.

Wisconsin v Xavier
Jamie Squire—Getty Images

Bill Murray — Xavier University Musketeers/University of Louisville Cardinals

Bill Murray was a proud fan of the Xavier Musketeers, becoming one of their most prominent and popular game attendees while his son Luke was an assistant coach at the college. However, this year, Luke will be coaching at the University of Louisville, which makes many believe that Murray will now be a staunch Cardinals fan.

Paul Rudd — University of Kansas Jayhawks

Although Paul Rudd was born in New Jersey, he grew up on Overland Park, Kansas and even attended the University of Kansas, making him a Jayhawks fan for life.

Brooklyn Decker — University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Tar Heels

Swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker grew up in North Carolina, making her a diehard UNC fan.

Tim Cook — Duke University Blue Devils

Apple CEO Tim Cook attended Duke for business school and is such a big fan of their basketball program that he used an Apple presentation to troll longtime Duke rival UNC.

Matthew McConaughey – University of Texas at Austin Longhorns

Matthew McConaughey attended the University of Texas, making him a longtime fan of the Longhorns; however, he recently became the university’s basketball arena’s self-proclaimed “Minister of Culture.” While the duties that come with this title are still a little dubious, McConaughey seems to be taking the role pretty seriously, going so far as to hype players during a game earlier this year, all while clad in a suit in the same hue as the school’s trademark orange.

Charity Meet And Greet With Olympic Gold Medalist Shawn Johnson
David Greedy—Getty Images

Ashton Kutcher — University of Iowa

Ashton Kutcher was born in Cedar Rapids and later attended the University of Iowa, making it easy for him to become loyal Hawkeyes fan.

Seth Meyers — Northwestern University Wildcats

Seth Meyers is such a big fan of his alma mater’s sports teams that he often works in references to them in his comedic material.

John Legend — Ohio State Buckeyes

John Legend is a native of Springfield, Ohio and is not shy when it comes to sharing his super fandom for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Sports – TIME

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

Cobbled alleys, ancient bars, flamenco and the world’s biggest gothic cathedral are just a few of the Andalucían capital’s attractions

Some of the best places in Seville are found by taking a wrong turn. Like when you stumble into a time-worn taverna peddling crisp local sherry or come across the rickety home of Seville-born painter Diego Velázquez. Which makes it all the more of a shame that many visitors to Spain’s fourth biggest city don’t venture much beyond the world’s largest Gothic cathedral. Although the cobbled streets and alleyways that surround it are worthy of close inspection, this enchanting city has much more to offer a little further afield.

Continue reading…
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Today in Movie Culture: ‘Captain Marvel’ Villain Guide, the Evolution of Regina King and More

Today in Movie Culture: ‘Captain Marvel’ Villain Guide, the Evolution of Regina King and More

Here are a bunch of little bites to satisfy your hunger for movie culture:

 

Movie Backstory of the Day:

We’re less than two weeks away from the release of Captain Marvel, and that’s still plenty of time to get acquainted with the title character, her backstory, and how she fits into Marvel Comics and now the Marvel Cinematic Universe. To help with some of the context for the new movie, Marvel Entertainment has created a helpful guide to Skrulls, the alien race that…

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Texas: A Guide to Residential Solar Energy

Texas is the third fastest-growing solar energy leader in the United States, according to the Houston Chronicle, which reported separately that Texas solar is “on a roll” in its projected growth over the coming decade.

That is just one of the ways whereby Texas solar panels have seen a positive response and rise in recent years. As of the end of 2018, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) ranked the state sixth in the country — less than a percent of the state’s electricity is derived from solar energy but the sheer size of Texas means that statistic is still resounding. Additionally, SEIA ranks Texas third in the nation in projecting its growth over the next five years.

The solar panel systems and installation market in Texas has exploded since 2013. Chart via the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Indeed, increased competition in the state since 2013—and the nature of the market on a national scale—means residents are primed for home value increases if they install solar panels in Texas. And when it comes to home value, researchers project the value of a home increases up to $ 15,000 on average, according to the Berkley Lab, one of the federal government’s national renewable energy laboratories. That doesn’t even take into consideration the massive savings solar paneling affords homeowners—or seasonal price fluctuations that make winter a possibly perfect time for your solar home improvement project.

Like every other state, the installation of Texas solar panels is aided by a unique set of incentives, benefits, and challenges when it comes to investing in solar panels for houses. Read our residential guide to understand what you should know as a homeowner as you look for the best contractor to install solar panel systems under the Lone Star State’s nourishing sun.

A well-informed and reliable contractor will go over each detail of your installation with you, from expected savings to increases in home value. At Modernize, we frequently speak to homeowners about their home improvement projects. In our recent interviews, 90 percent of homeowners requested a checklist to help them find and vet contractors. Modernize now offers homeowners a free, digital Contractor Checklist as a simple, step-by-step guide to assist with your solar panel project.

Austin, TX: Solar Energy Success Stories

Chris and Krista live in West Austin, Texas, with their two children. They installed solar roof panels on their home as a way to save money on their utility bills.

“It cut our electricity cuts in half,” Chris said about their home improvement project. “I like watching the meter go backward,” Krista quipped.

Solar Customers – Chris and Krista from Solar Austin on Vimeo.

And they’re far from the only Texas solar energy customers glad about their investment. Learn more here.

Indeed, solar panels have a sizeable effect on utility bills. Texas residents can expect to save nearly close to $ 14,000 over 20 years.

Keep in mind this data serves as guidance for your journey to home improvement. Use it during your conversation with contractors in your area. Ask for this level of detail in your estimates and if jargon or complex wording seems confusing, ask for clarification.

A trusted contractor will be glad for the opportunity to explain what everything means and, more importantly, what it specifically means to you. When it comes to Texas’s solar energy, existing financial incentives (and policy) only make it more lucrative for you to sustainably increase your property value.

Texas Solar Panels: Incentives, Rebates, and Other Savings

There are currently nearly more than 115 incentives for homeowners to increase the value of their property by installing solar panels for houses in Texas. Find details about each program at the state’s Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE).

If you’re lucky, your city might even pay you to install solar panels.

“The city of Georgetown wants to start paying property owners to let the city-owned utility install solar panels on their roofs and feed the energy into the broader power grid,” reported a Texas NBC News affiliate. “The money would come either in the form of lease payments or royalties paid to eligible residential and commercial property owners.” If you’re not so lucky with your Texas solar panels, read on.

Solid contractors installing solar panels in Texas will be able to provide a list of applicable costs savings measures and help you navigate applying for and getting the most out of them. Learn enough to have a foundational understanding of these programs to best talk to your solar contractor about them once you’ve vetted and chosen one.

Renewable Energy Systems Property Tax Exemption

Installing solar paneling for homes will increase property value for homeowners who have invested in their houses, and Texas is investing right back in them. Texas homeowners are exempt from paying taxes on the increased value of their home after installing solar panels, whether for general electrical needs, solar heating, or otherwise. And that’s a full exclusion, covering “100 percent of the appraised property value increase arising from the installation or construction of a solar or wind-powered energy device.”

Find all the details at DSIRE’s profile for the program.

Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing

Since 2009, the Texas legislature decided to make it easier for homeowners to “to borrow money to pay for energy improvements.” The details and implementation of this financing is not simple, and we recommend you get specific advice from a trusted contractor about getting it in order.  

Not all projects for Texas solar panels require financing, and you should decide the best way to pay for your project based on your needs and your budget. If you have questions about the best way to approach making this decision, consult your local contractor, who will assess your house and upcoming project and provide a few options to pay for it.

Find all the details at DSIRE’s profile for the program.

Other Texas-specific solar energy programs include:

Of course, you want to get the most out of local programs as well as federal ones, like the temporary Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, which applies to up to 30 percent of your installation. It is important to note that this federal credit is for systems placed in service by 12/31/2019. Solar Energy International reports that a typical five-kilowatt solar system installation in September 2018 would’ve dropped from $ 15,428 to $ 10,800 after the rebate is applied—but keep in mind its value is dropping and the credit could be completely gone by the early 2020s. Consult your contractor about this and other available credits and incentives to ensure your investment in the long-term value of your property is as easy on your current assets as possible.

That’s why you’ll want to find a contractor you can trust—a local professional who can get the job done and assist you with navigating local policy and regulation. The Modernize Contractor Checklist will help you vet a trusted contractor, so you can relax knowing your solar panel project is in good hands.

The post Texas: A Guide to Residential Solar Energy appeared first on Modernize.

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New Jersey: A Guide to Residential Solar Energy

Despite falling into a bucket of states that still largely rely on nuclear energy, New Jersey has been pushing serious legislation and incentives to promote its clean energy goals. In summer 2018, for example, the state signed into law “a suite of legislation” that “vaults it into the ranks of top US climate leaders,” reported Vox.com. As of the end of 2018, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) ranked the state fifth in the country — approximately four percent of the state’s energy comes from solar. Additionally, SEIA ranks New Jersey 11th in the nation in projecting its growth over the next five years.

The solar panel systems and installation market in New Jersey has exploded since 2015. Chart via the Solar Energy Industries Association

Indeed, increased competition in the state since 2015—and the nature of the market on a national scale—means residents are primed for home value increases if they install solar panels in New Jersey. And when it comes to home value, researchers project the value of a home increases up to $ 15,000 on average, according to the Berkley Lab, one of the federal government’s national renewable energy laboratories. That doesn’t even take into consideration the massive savings solar paneling affords homeowners—or seasonal price fluctuations that make winter a possibly perfect time for your solar home improvement project.

Like every other state, New Jersey has a unique set of incentives, benefits, and challenges when it comes to investing in solar panels for houses. Read our residential guide to understand what you should know as a homeowner as you look for the best contractor to install solar roof panels under the Garden State’s nourishing sun.

A well-informed and reliable contractor will go over each detail of your installation with you, from expected savings to increases in home value. At Modernize, we frequently speak to homeowners about their home improvement projects. In our recent interviews, 90 percent of homeowners requested a checklist to help them find and vet contractors. Modernize now offers homeowners a free, digital Contractor Checklist as a simple, step-by-step guide to assist with your solar panel project.

Flemington, NJ: Solar Energy Success Stories

Ed Jenks was so excited for his home to reach a net-zero energy cost that he started a blog to document his journey.

On top of securing his house against energy deficiencies, Jenks had his solar system up and running by the end of 2018, beginning and completing his project during the colder months of the year, which means the Jenks family will be ahead of the game when the warmer months hit the region. Notably, Jenks utilized both federal programs and local ones like New Jersey’s Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) Registration Program (which we detail further down), rewarding his house based on its solar energy output.

Ed Jenks outfitted his New Jersey home with solar paneling and other renewable energy efficiencies, relying on federal and state incentives and advice from local contractors. Source: Ed Jenks’s personal blog about renewable energy.

“NJ is a great state for renewable energy.” Jenks wrote. “This June [a SREC] was selling for $ 290 each. I should get 7 SRECs a year. The price varies but I should get around $ 2,000 a year.”

Indeed, solar panels have a sizeable effect on utility bills. New Jersey residents can expect to save nearly close to $ 20,000 over 20 years.

Keep in mind this data serves as guidance for your journey to home improvement. Use it during your conversation with contractors in your area. Ask for this level of detail in your estimates and if jargon or complex wording seems confusing, ask for clarification. A trusted contractor will be glad for the opportunity to explain what everything means and, more importantly, what it specifically means to you.

When it comes to New Jersey’s solar energy, for example, existing financial incentives (like the SREC) only make it more lucrative for you to sustainably increase your property value.

New Jersey Solar Panels: Incentives, Rebates, and Other Savings

There are currently nearly 100 incentives for homeowners to increase the value of their property by installing solar panels for houses in New Jersey. Find details about each program at the state’s Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE). Solid contractors installing solar panels in New Jersey will be able to provide a list of applicable costs savings measures and help you navigate applying for and getting the most out of them. Learn enough to have a foundational understanding of these programs to best talk to your contractor about them once you’ve vetted and chosen one.

Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) Registration Program

Installing solar paneling for homes will increase property value for homeowners who have invested in their houses, and New Jersey is investing right back in them. For the first 10 to 15 years after installing solar panel systems, the state essentially allows residents to sell the renewable energy milestones they hit to companies or private entities who must meet certain clean energy quotas under newly passed state law. In other words, when commercial buildings can’t reach their state-imposed goals, they will turn to you for credits to reach those goals, and pay for your own clean energy generation — it’s essentially a bartering system and you can passively earn the goods needed to trade in it

Find all the details at DSIRE’s profile for the program.

Net Metering

Since 2008, if your New Jersey solar panels collect more energy than you use, you can sell your excess energy back to your energy provider.

They have to credit you for it—in other words, you are selling them the energy collected by the solar panels powering your home. And the credits “are credited at the wholesale rate at the end of a designated annualized period.”

Find all the details at DSIRE’s profile for the program.

Other New Jersey-specific solar energy programs include:

Of course, you want to get the most out of local programs as well as federal ones, like the temporary Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, which applies to up to 30 percent of your installation. It is important to note that this federal credit is for systems placed in service by 12/31/2019. Solar Energy International reports that a typical five-kilowatt solar system installation in September 2018 would’ve dropped from $ 15,428 to $ 10,800 after the rebate is applied—but keep in mind its value is dropping and the credit could be completely gone by the early 2020s. Consult your contractor about this and other available credits and incentives to ensure your investment in the long-term value of your property is as easy on your current assets as possible.

That’s why you’ll want to find a contractor you can trust—a local professional who can get the job done and assist you with navigating local policy and regulation. The Modernize Contractor Checklist will help you vet a trusted contractor, so you can relax knowing your solar panel project is in good hands.

The post New Jersey: A Guide to Residential Solar Energy appeared first on Modernize.

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Arizona: A Guide to Residential Solar Energy

The Arizona Supreme Court has made it much more affordable for homeowners to turn to solar paneling to power their homes. In a recent ruling that affects anyone leasing solar panels in 2019 and beyond, the court “spared tens of thousands of homeowners who lease rooftop solar panels from paying property taxes to the state on that equipment,” according to USA Today’s azcentral.com. Homeowners who bought or financed their solar panels haven’t had to pay taxes on those investments since 2006.

That is just one of the ways in the installation of solar panels in Arizona has seen a positive response and rise in recent years. As of the end of 2018, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) ranked the state third in the country — nearly 7 percent of the state’s energy comes from solar. Additionally, SEIA ranks Arizona seventh in the nation in projecting its growth over the next five years.

The solar panel systems and installation market in Arizona has exploded since 2012. Chart via the Solar Energy Industries Association

Indeed, increased competition in the state since 2012—and the nature of the market on a national scale—means residents are primed for home value increases if they install solar panels in Arizona. And when it comes to home value, researchers project the value of a home increases up to $ 15,000 on average, according to the Berkley Lab, one of the federal government’s national renewable energy laboratories. That doesn’t even take into consideration the massive savings solar paneling affords homeowners—or seasonal price fluctuations that make winter a possibly perfect time for your solar home improvement project.

Like every other state, Arizona has a unique set of incentives, benefits, and challenges when it comes to investing in solar panels for houses. Read our residential guide to understand what you should know as a homeowner as you look for the best contractor to install solar panel systems under the Grand Canyon State’s nourishing sun.

A well-informed and reliable contractor will go over each detail of your installation with you, from expected savings to increases in home value. At Modernize, we frequently speak to homeowners about their home improvement projects. In our recent interviews, 90 percent of homeowners requested a checklist to help them find and vet contractors. Modernize now offers homeowners a free, digital Contractor Checklist as a simple, step-by-step guide to assist with your solar panel project.

Phoenix, AZ: Solar Energy Success Stories

Melisa Camp makes it her business to know Arizona house values: She’s been a realtor for nearly a decade.

“There [are] more homes being sold with solar panels now because we can actually track the data,” Camp told her local TV station Fox 10, and explained that since 2013, the market share for houses powered with solar panels has been growing. “… Every single year that we have been able to measure how many homes are being sold, every year that number is increasing.”

Camp, an expert in the field, installed her own panels in 2010, “an investment she says has already paid for itself and can pay off for others as well,” Fox 10 reported, “but both sellers and buyers have to be armed with knowledge.”

Indeed, solar panels have a sizeable effect on utility bills. Arizona residents can expect to save nearly close to $ 17,000 over 20 years.

Keep in mind this data serves as guidance for your journey to home improvement. Use it during your conversation with contractors in your area. Ask for this level of detail in your estimates and if jargon or complex wording seems confusing, ask for clarification.

A trusted contractor will be glad for the opportunity to explain what everything means and, more importantly, what it specifically means to you. For example, Arizona Homeowner Associations cannot prohibit you from installing solar panels — although they can certainly sometimes give you a headache.

When it comes to Arizona’s solar energy, existing financial incentives (and policy) only make it more lucrative for you to sustainably increase your property value.

Arizona Solar Panels: Incentives, Rebates, and Other Savings

There are currently nearly more than 115 incentives for homeowners to increase the value of their property by installing solar panels for houses in Arizona. Find details about each program at the state’s Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE).

Unlike many other states, Arizona discontinued its net metering policies in 2016, but that’s had little effect on the growing number of solar panel installations across the state, according to the Phoenix Business Journal.

“We believe with smart, stable policies in place, the Arizona solar market can continue to grow,” SEIA’s VP for State Affairs Sean Gallagher told the Journal. “And we anticipate energy storage becoming an important component of the Arizona market as the transition to post net metering occurs.”

Solid contractors installing solar panels in Arizona will be able to provide a list of applicable costs savings measures and help you navigate applying for and getting the most out of them. Learn enough to have a foundational understanding of these programs to best talk to your contractor about them once you’ve vetted and chosen one.

Residential Solar and Wind Energy Systems Tax Credit

Installing solar paneling for homes will increase property value for homeowners who have invested in their houses, and Arizona is investing right back in them. Each year, Arizona homeowners can get up to a $ 1,000 credit per residence, available to taxpayers who install solar panels for their houses. More specifically, you get 25 percent back on your purchase in the form of a tax credit, up to $ 1,000. So if your purchase was $ 4,000, a quarter of that would come back to you.

Find all the details at DSIRE’s profile for the program.

Energy Equipment Property Tax Exemption

Since 2006, the Arizona Department of Revenue has exempted homeowners from paying taxes on the added value of their property caused by installing any solar energy devices, equipment, or components.

In order to qualify, you must provide your county assessor with documentation affirming the actual purchase and installation of the eligible equipment. Be sure your experienced contractor has a grasp of what that process entails. Ask who will be filing the paperwork and handling the process to completion.

Find all the details at DSIRE’s profile for the program.

Other Arizona-specific solar energy programs include:

Of course, you want to get the most out of local programs as well as federal ones, like the temporary Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, which applies to up to 30 percent of your installation. It is important to note that this federal credit is for systems placed in service by 12/31/2019. Solar Energy International reports that a typical five-kilowatt solar system installation in September 2018 would’ve dropped from $ 15,428 to $ 10,800 after the rebate is applied—but keep in mind its value is dropping and the credit could be completely gone by the early 2020s. Consult your contractor about this and other available credits and incentives to ensure your investment in the long-term value of your property is as easy on your current assets as possible.

That’s why you’ll want to find a contractor you can trust—a local professional who can get the job done and assist you with navigating local policy and regulation. The Modernize Contractor Checklist will help you vet a trusted contractor, so you can relax knowing your solar panel project is in good hands.

The post Arizona: A Guide to Residential Solar Energy appeared first on Modernize.

Modernize

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The Oxford Shoes Guide

In the recent past, we covered various types of men’s boots and shoes, both formal and casual. In our Brogues Shoe Guide for Men, we touched lightly upon the difference between Oxford and Derby shoes, and today we’d like to focus our full attention on the Oxford, which is often referred to as the most elegant type of men’s shoe – for a good reason!

What Makes an Oxford an Oxford?

Unlike most other shoes and items of menswear, the Oxford shoe has one principal defining characteristic:  the lacing system. Sometimes people use the term Oxford to denote any smart lace up shoe, even those with open lacing, but that’s not how we will use the term in this guide.

First of all, it may seem obvious but an Oxford is a shoe with laces, and not a slip-on, monk strap shoe or Chelsea boot. Second, an Oxford shoe has a closed lace system vs. the open lace system of a Derby shoe. But what exactly does that mean? Let’s start with the basics. The uppers of an Oxford usually consist of the quarters and the vamp.

Vamp

The vamp is that part of the shoe uppers the covers the toes and instep, i.e. the front of the shoe.

Quarters

The quarters are that part of the shoe uppers that wrap around the heel and meet the vamp in the middle of the foot i.e. the back of the shoe.

How To Lace Oxford Shoes?

Oxford vs. Derby - Shoe Anatomy Explained
Oxford vs. Derby – Shoe Anatomy Explained

The eyelets for the shoe laces are generally located on the quarters (with the exception of a wholecut and seamless shoe). For a closed lace system, the vamp is sewn on top of the quarters and the shoelace eyelets facings are stitched underneath the vamp. The shoelaces are used to tie the two quarters together thus fastening the shoe onto your foot. When a shoe is new, the quarters should form a narrow V-shape and once they are worn in, the V should disappear so the quarters touch each other, and you can only see the tongue at the top end. Most British Oxford shoes today, mostly have 5 eyelet holes on each side, whereas American Oxfords often have 6. In the past 4 or even 3 eyelets per side were not uncommon, and so it boils down to personal taste.

History of the Oxford shoe

During the 17th-century men’s footwear was dominated by boots. Often high and tightly fitting with buttons instead of laces, they were worn both outdoors and indoors. More often than not these boots featured rather high heels, a style popularized by King Louis XIV of France, who was of modest height. At that time, France was the cultural epicenter in Europe and hence most gentlemen aligned their sartorial choices with the French Court, and footwear was no exception.

However this style of footwear was very comfortable and although it is not entirely clear who exactly invented the Oxford shoe,  it seems plausible that the students Oxford University popularized a “half boot” called the Oxonian Shoe around 1825.  At first, the Oxonian shoe featured narrow slits on its sides which made it much more comfortable to wear around campus than the high boots then in fashion. Slowly over time, the side slits were replaced with laces (on the sides). These side laces eventually made their way to the instep of the boot. Further changes included lowering of the heel and the height of the boot being lowered to expose the ankle. It is still a matter of debate as to whether all these changes took place on campus, which seems highly improbable.

Some claim the Oxford shoe emerged from Scotland and Ireland. Captoe Oxfords are often called Balmorals after Balmoral Castle to this day. However, what is clear is that they were a result of a quest for a more comfortable shoe and that they were first associated with university students rather than with the older generation of the time.  The timeline for these changes is not very clear, with different sources giving different timelines.

However, we do know for certain that in 1846 Joseph Sparkes Hall, the inventor of the Chelsea boot, stated in The New Monthly Magazine that “Dress pumps are the only shoes now worn. The Oxonian shoe … is the best for walking. It laces up the front with three or four holes. It is none other than high lows now called Oxford shoes.” So, at least by then, the name Oxford had caught on in public.

From there, it was a short step to being acceptable as the proper choice of men’s footwear as boots were now being relegated to being worn for specialized activities such as horse riding. Ironically, the Oxford is a shoe with origins on campus but today, it would probably be considered too formal as an everyday shoe for on-campus wear even by English students, but that’s the evolution of style.

Tan Cap Toe Oxford without Heel Cap and 6 eyelets with burnished cap toe - No 549 by Shoepassion
Tan Cap Toe Oxford without Heel Cap and 6 eyelets with burnished cap toe

Characteristics of the Oxford Shoe

In a nutshell, these are the features of a present day Oxford Shoe

  1. Closed lacing system.
  2. Low-heeled
  3. Exposed ankle.

All Oxford shoes share these essential features, and although most have the eyelets on the quarter, a wholecut or seamless Oxford are the exceptions.

Types of Oxfords

Oxfords are not always Brogues though they sometimes are and Brogues are not always Oxfords though some of them can be. It is the lacing system and the absence or presence of broguing that is the differentiating feature.   To Americans the shoes described in the article are more familiar as Balmorals or ‘Bal- type’ while to the English they are known as Oxfords. To the English, the Balmoral is an entirely different shoe (a particular type of oxford with no seams, apart from the toe cap seam, descending to the welt). In this guide, we use Oxford the traditional, English way.

Although technically the construction of the shoe has no impact on the classification as an Oxford shoe, Goodyear welted, or Blake-stitched shoes are recommended because they feature the most classic Oxford styles.

Plain Oxford

The plain Oxford basically consists of the quarter and the vamp. It features neither a leather cap over the toe box nor does it have  broguing. This style is simple yet elegant; black is  the number one choice for evening shoes, and patent leather for black tie and white tie.

If you want to refine the look of your black patent oxfords for tuxedo or tailcoat events, you should take a look into evening shoelaces. Basically, they are much wider than regular shoelaces — they resemble a bow tie and thus mirror the look of your black bow tie. Back during the heyday of classic elegance, they were really popular but today they are all but extinct, which is why I decided to create my own range of evening shoelaces, which you can find here.

Of course, some men also wear pumps, but most men wear laced shoes. Some men prefer a water polish calf leather version that is polished to a mirror shine. Patent leather is definitely more traditional but a mirror shine is fine too. Although in theory this shoe can be made in brown, you are likely to only ever see them in black.

Cap Toe Oxford

The cap toe Oxford, sometimes also referred to as captoe or cap-toe,  is probably the most widespread Oxford shoe style in existence. The most popular color is undoubtedly black, and the black cap toe Oxford is the most popular shoe for the majority of classic men’s shoe manufacturers. Of course, it is also available in tan, brown, cognac, oxblood, etc., but the black variety is the epitome of Oxford shoes.

In addition to the vamp and quarters, an extra piece of leather – the so-called toe cap – is added across the toe box,  and they also feature a heel cap. In black, the cap toe Oxford is the classic business shoe worn by elegant men with their (business) suits across the globe. If you can’t afford a separate pair of patent leather or polished calf leather plain Oxfords,  the black calf leather cap toes may serve double duty as a tuxedo shoe because it is considered by some to be the poor man’s evening shoe, although technically it is not formal  enough for traditional black tie. That being said, it is never correct to wear it with white tie.

Half Brogue Oxford in dark Brown Suede - Model Roberto by Scarosso
Half Brogue Oxford in dark Brown Suede – Model Roberto by Scarosso

Wingtip Oxford / Brogue

The Wingtip Oxford has a pointed toe cap with extensions called wingtips which extend along both sides of the shoe.  Although technically an Oxford, it is generally referred to as a Brogue. When seen from above the cap is shaped like a ‘W’ or a ‘M’ depending on the viewpoint. This style is considered a bit more casual than the Cap Toe. Learn all about Brogues here.

Brown & Tan Saddle shoe No 589 by Shoepassion
Brown & Tan Saddle shoe

Saddle Oxford

These oxfords lack any kind of toe caps and have an additional strip of leather that runs across the top of the middle of the shoes down to the sole (the width of the shoelace eyelets) in a contrasting color. They may or may not have heel caps in a contrasting color. Historically, it is an American style, but you can find them offered by companies all over the world.

Kiltie Oxford
Kiltie Oxford – phot by www.classicshoesformen.com

Kiltie Oxford

The Kiltie Oxford is distinguished with an additional fringed tongue hanging over the top. These shoes are no longer very common.

Wholecut in Antiqued Cognac Brown Leather on an elegant rounded last by Ace Marks
Wholecut in Antiqued Cognac Brown Leather on an elegant rounded last with burnished tips by Ace Marks

Wholecut

This type has an upper that is cut from one single piece of leather. Usually, shoes are made from multiple pieces of leather sewn together. The wholecut oxford has the distinctive closed lacing system and this along with the single piece construction gives it an extremely clean and sleek look. It also requires more leather to make a wholecut because it generally has only one seam at the heel. In recent year, this style has become rather popular and often features a medallion on the toe box or other broguing. It is available in all kinds of colors and is usually a bit more expensive than a cap toe or plain oxford because it requires more skill and more leather. An all black wholecut in patent leather or mirror polished calf works as an evening shoe as long as it has no broguing.

Seamless

The seamless is very similar to the wholecut in the sense that it is made from one piece of leather as well. While the wholecut has a seam on the heel, the seamless does not have a seam, making it even more difficult to produce. Also, it requires even more leather than a whole cut and it takes on average about twice as much leather as is needed for a regular cap toe Oxford. As such, it is usually only offered by bespoke shoemakers. Sometimes, the term wholecut is used synonymously with seamless simply because the term is more well known, although technically this is incorrect.

Style Guide

Strictly speaking, the Oxford is considered to be a formal shoe, however, this does not hold true anymore as they come in many colors, variations and more casual leathers such as suede and brogues.

The Plain & Cap Toe Oxfords

These days the Cap Toe Oxford is often acceptable at less traditional Black Tie events and with dark evening suits. However, traditionally these are the quintessential dress shoes for your day – to – day suits and business wear. They can also be worn when you want to add a dash of sophistication to your casual dress options like chinos and a blazer. It is not recommended to wear black with denim. Cognac, mid-brown, cherry or oxblood serve this purpose much better. For tweed, it is generally recommend to wear boots or derby shoes instead, while fresco, solaro, linen or seersucker can be worn with cap toe Oxfords, although it is recommended not to wear black with these outfits. Instead, a spectator or a solid shade of brown are a much better choice.

The first Oxford every man should own is a black cap toe Oxford. It may seem unexciting but at the end of the day, it is the shoe that can be worn to the office, funerals, weddings, evening events and maybe even black tie and as such, it is very versatile. Unlike brown, black does not come in different shades, and so you don’t need two pairs of black shoes of the exact same style. Many well-dressed men may have only a couple pairs of black shoes in their shoe closet, one of them always being the black captoe Oxford, while they have 10, 50 or 100 pairs of brown shoes. For general advice on how to combine brown shoe colors, including cap toe Oxfords with your wardrobe, please refer to the How to Wear Brown Shoes Guide.

The Wingtip Oxford / Brogue

Wingtips or Brogues are considered to be more casual than the Cap Toe. In black, it can be worn to the office but in dark brown it becomes more versatile because you may now combine them with tweed, and other more casual outfits and looks, including jeans. Especially in shades of brown, these are great for the office in non-white collar environments, sportcoat / blazer ensembles. A dark brown brogue in suede is probably one of the 2nd or third shoes you should buy after you have invested in a black cap toe Oxford.

Wingtip Oxford Shoe with houndstooth bespoke suit
Wingtip Oxford Shoe with houndstooth bespoke suit

The Saddle Oxford/ Kiltie Oxford

These are probably the most casual of the lot but certainly the most difficult to carry off. Either style is only recommended for men who already have at least 15 pairs of shoes and who want to add something unique to their shoe closet. Traditional saddle shoes often come in cream or off white, with a navy blue saddle and red rubber soles, but of course, there are many variations available today. They can work really well with jeans, colored chinos or corduroy trousers and other casual to semi-casual outfits.

Allen Edmonds Canvas Spectator
Allen Edmonds Canvas Spectator

Wholecut / Seamless Oxfords

Wholecut Oxfords are rather popular right now, and they can look particularly handsome when a patina is acquired or applied to the shoe. In plain black, they are a modern alternative for a Tuxedo, and in brown they can be worn with all kinds of suits, combinations or casual outfits. Basically, they can be worn just like a cap toe Oxford.

Wholecut with side gussets by George Cleverly with punched broguing
Wholecut with side gussets by George Cleverly with punched broguing

Where to Buy Oxford Shoes?

There are literally thousands of brands and manufacturers that offer Oxford shoes, and probably over 100 who offer quality Oxfords that the Gentleman’s Gazette would approve of. Obviously, we have not tested them all, and hence, we cannot provide a definitive list. However, we can give you a few tips.

Shoelaces – How to Change the Look of the Shoe Without Buying New Shoes?

If you already own Oxford shoes, and you want a new look without buying a new shoe, the easiest way to do that is to exchange your shoe laces. First of all, make sure to get quality shoe laces that don’t snap. Oxford laces should always be round, not flat and thin because those look more elegant.

A different color than black or brown will really create an entirely new look for your oxford, and dark grey or light grey shoe laces on a black oxford can look very sophisticated. Also, a dark purple on brown can look splendid just as can a blue with white Oxfords.

Budget Oxfords

We consider Budget Oxfords to be in the $ 250 or under range. Brands that we have experience with are Scarosso (Blake Stitched), Pediwear (Goodyear Welted), Loake 1880 (Goodyear Welted), Meermin (Goodyear Welted) and Shoepassion (Goodyear Welted).

Ace Marks Italian shoes, blake rapid stitched on elegant lasts with nice patina in classic and unusual colors. $ 320 for a Wholecut, $ 295 for regular Oxfords = great value.  They also have the occasional Kickstarter where you can get a pair of Oxfords for $ 200, which is an even better value.

Loake produces private label shoes for many companies and offers decent quality for the price.

Meermin is run by a Albaladejo family member who runs the famous Carmina shoes from Mallorca, Spain. In order to save costs, their shoes are made in China, and so the workmanship is not quite on a par with Spain, but the price is considerably lower.

Shoepassion is based in Berlin, Germany and offers a great selection of classic and contemporary Oxfords made in Spain. With good quality and good prices, I recommend them to anybody who is looking for more unusual styles like saddle shoes, spectators or lambs wool lined boots and shoes.

Burgundy Wholecut from Ace Marks in Burgundy Diablo Antique with burnished tip
Burgundy Wholecut Oxford from Ace Marks in Burgundy Diablo Antique with burnished tip

Midrange

Mid range is $ 250 – $ 700.

Crockett & Jones From England, we recommend Crockett & Jones for the classic Gentleman who wants proper English shoes with history in a great selection and variety of styles.

Carmina from Spain produces excellent Oxfords and specializes in Cordovan although these are usually more expensive than $ 700.

Allen Edmonds produces classic American style shoes and apart from an MTO program, they have many specials and deals going on, often bringing the price below $ 250.

High End

Every shoe above $ 700.

Gaziano Girling From England, Gaziano & Girling offer great shoes either MTO or bespoke. The last are often stylized and the epitome of elegance.

Aubercy from France produces very elegant Oxfords (Richelieu in French) just like Crockett & Jones Paris.

In Italy, you can get great Oxfords from the likes of Stefano Bemer, Ugolini, in Austria from Maftei, Scheer or Materna.

Of course, any bespoke maker could be listed here but there are too many to list them all.

What is your favorite Oxford Shoe? Please share your experiences and preferences in the comment section below!

This guide was written by Sven Raphael Schneider & Vikram Nanjappa.


Gentleman’s Gazette

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Trilby, Homburg, & Pork Pie Hat Guide

Discover the top three hats we highly recommend you add to your hat collection. The Trilby, Homburg, and the Pork pie.

 

Wool felt trilby hat

Wool felt trilby hat

The Trilby Hat

Also referred to as a sloucher or slouch hat and named for the heroine of an 1894 novel by George Du Maurier. The trilby is sort of a little brother to the standard fedora. Like the fedora, the trilby also features a creased tapered crown with a front pinch but it’s slightly more streamlined with a shorter snap brim which usually features a simple sewn edge and sometimes a very narrow band across the bottom of the crown.

Originally associated primarily with the trench coat, the trilby evolved in the 1920s to a softer hat worn often in the English countryside and also at the racetrack. For these reasons, it’s typically seen as a slightly more informal hat than the standard fedora but not by much. In recent years, small trilbies with very narrow brims often printed in loud patterns across the hat and made from synthetic materials became a popular fashion item, however, these types of trilbies also quickly developed something of an unsavory reputation and brought the standard fedora down with them to a certain extent.

 

 

However, if you stick to wearing a classically styled trilby, as I do for most of my own personal hats, you’ll be able to overcome this stigma. Also, they do look particularly good on men with strong facial features so take that into consideration as well.

Homburgs have stiffed curled brims and grosgrain bands.

Homburgs have stiffed curled brims and grosgrain bands.

The Homburg Hat

Next to the top hat, the Homburg is the most formal of all men’s hats. It’s named from the German spa and resort town where it was first seen and also where it was popularized by King Edward the seventh when he was then still Prince of Wales, on vacation in the 1890s. Proper for both day and evening wear, the black or dark blue Homburg is worn with a dark business suit, stroller suit, or tuxedo depending on the occasion and also pairs well with a Chesterfield overcoat in winter in other various colors.

Churchill in Grey Homburg with lighter colored edge trim

Churchill in Grey Homburg with lighter colored edge trim

The Homburg is constructed with much more stiffness than the fedora and features a brim with a slight curl around the edge that’s also typically faced in the same sort of ribbon that you’ll find around the crown. Speaking of the crown, the homburg’s crown is typically very tall and also features a center dent. A favorite hat of diplomats and politicians like Winston Churchill and also featured prominently in The Godfather film series, the Homburg typically looks best on old and more distinguished gentlemen as well as men with defined facial features. You can still wear a Homburg if you have a rounder face, however, just try to find one with a slightly lower crown and a bit of a wider brim to balance things out.

Pork Pie Hat

Pork Pie Hat

The Pork Pie Hat

Also called the English pastry hat, the pork pie got its name from its telescoped crown which features a slight lip around the upper edge of the crown and therefore looks similar to a traditional English meat pie. Normally featuring a snap brim, pork pies flourished among college students in the 1930s and were also popularized by Hollywood stars like Fred Astaire and Cary Grant as well as jazz musicians like saxophonist Lester Young who was elegized by his contemporary bassist Charles Mingus in the 1959 song goodbye pork pie hat.

Lester Young

Lester Young

Pork pies also have a strong and storied association with sporting events particularly horse-racing furthermore, the golfer Sam Snead was often known to wear pork pies made from straw often in coconut and featuring bands with colorful patterns like Madras. Pork pies are definitely on the more casual end of the spectrum as full brimmed hats go and they can tend to give the wearer a slightly squat appearance. As such, shorter men and men with rounder faces should exercise caution when wishing to wear a pork pie.

There’s a basic overview of these three different styles. We’ve given you a few general tips already on how to wear each of them but here are a few more pieces of advice on how to wear all of these types of full brimmed hats with confidence.

Assorted hats

Assorted hats

Tips To Wearing Hats With Confidence:

Many men are hesitant to wear traditional full brimmed hats for one primary reason, they’ll look out of place or dated. It should be said that this fear isn’t necessarily completely without merit. If the hat doesn’t match the rest of the outfit in terms of formality, is not being worn with the proper detail like snapping the brim down for example, or doesn’t correspond well to the wearer’s face shape, it will look out of place.

Confidence is key, however, and if you pair that confidence with the following tips, you’ll be sure to be able to wear any of these styles with relative ease.

  • As these hats all have sizeable and styled crowns, they’re generally well suited to shorter men or men with a stockier build. As they elongate the face, draw the eye upwards, and overall, give a more vertical appearance.
  • As far as the brim is concerned, remember that this is the feature of the hat that should most directly correspond to your own specific face shape. In general, though wider brims typically complement long oval faces whereas narrower brims pair well with shorter rounder faces and as you may have picked up on earlier, men with strong and chiseled facial features are lucky in that they can get away with wearing pretty much any style of these hats.
Sven Raphael loves to wear hats

Sven Raphael loves to wear hats

  • In terms of pairing these hats with your outfits, you can’t go wrong and coupling them with traditional coat and tie ensembles whether that be a full suit or a combination of sport coat and odd trousers.
  • Because of the sporting heritage of trilbies and pork pies, they go well with more rustically styled outfits especially ones featuring tweed or layered with a sweater.
  • Color-wise, brown is a very safe bet for both trilbies and pork pies whereas the more formal Homburg will typically look best in black or very dark blue.

Out of the styles that we covered today, which one do you think that you might be able to incorporate into your wardrobe first?


Gentleman’s Gazette

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Business travel survival guide: How and why this entrepreneur refuses to settle

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Stacy Garcia, founder of Stacy Garcia Inc., a licensing and design company, travels frequently as part of her job as an entrepreneur and business owner. Her company, which focuses on interior design products, has roots in hospitality design, and today includes a collection of global lifestyle brands and product lines including textiles, carpeting, furniture, and lighting.

Part of Garcia’s success is due to her “never settle” attitude. “When I believe in something, I never settle until I’ve accomplished it,” she says. “I don’t stop just because I’ve heard a few ‘no’s.’ I’ve trained myself to hear ‘not yet’ instead of ‘no.’ This challenge is what has made my journey so meaningful, and so much sweeter when I finally get the ‘yes’ I deserve.” Read more…

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Business Travel Survival Guide: Do more and stress less with these tips from a successful millennial CEO

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“Behind every great woman, are great women.” As founder and CEO of the wildly popular networking platform Create & Cultivate, Jacyln Johnson practices what she preaches. With two successful businesses and recognition from Adweek, Forbes, Fast Company and Entrepreneur under her belt by the age of 30, Johnson doesn’t just have a career—she creates them

Recognizing a missing resource for accomplished millennial women, Johnson launched Create & Cultivate to empower women to achieve their career goals and become their own bosses. She started small, with a gathering of 50 entrepreneurs in Palm Springs. In response, Johnson received hundreds of emails from women eager for the next conference.“That’s when I realized there was real momentum around this idea,” said Johnson. “It feels like a dream job.” Read more…

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Super Bowl 2019 Guide for Viewing on Xbox One or PS4

Super Bowl 53 will see the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots compete against one another on Sunday, February 3 at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. With the growing popularity of streaming and less cable TV subscriptions, the question comes up of how one can watch the Super Bowl without traditional cable.

We’ve broken down where you can officially stream Super Bowl 53 without cable, whether it be from your PC to your phone, and even Nintendo Switch.

  • Xbox One
  • PS4
  • Nintendo Switch
  • Streaming Devices
  • PC/Web Browser
  • iOS and Android Devices

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Florida: A Guide to Residential Solar Energy

There is only one state with the perfect nickname when it comes to solar energy: Florida, the “Sunshine State.” Though in the last decade it “lagged in renewable energy use,” Scientific American recently reported, “solar is about to boom in the Sunshine State as the price of photovoltaic cells and related installation costs drop to all-time lows.” As of the end of 2018, for example, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) ranked the state eighth in the country since just about one percent of the state’s electricity came from solar energy. However, SEIA also ranks Florida second in projecting its growth over the next five years.

While initially slow, the solar panel systems and installation market in Florida has exploded since 2016. Chart via the Solar Energy Industries Association

Indeed, increased competition in the state since 2016—and the nature of the market on a national scale—means residents are primed for home value increases if they install solar panels in Florida. More specifically, researchers project the value of a home increases up to $ 15,000 on average, according to the Berkley Lab, one of the federal government’s national renewable energy laboratories. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the massive savings solar paneling affords homeowners—or seasonal price fluctuations that mean winter could be perfect for a solar home improvement project. Like every other state, Florida has a unique set of incentives, benefits, and challenges when it comes to investing in solar panels for houses. Read our residential guide to understand what you should know as a homeowner as you look for the best contractor to install solar roof panels under the large, wide, and perfect Florida sun.

A well-informed and reliable contractor will go over each detail of your installation with you, from expected savings to increases in home value. At Modernize, we frequently speak to homeowners about their home improvement projects. In our recent interviews, 90 percent of homeowners requested a checklist to help them find and vet contractors. Modernize now offers homeowners a free, digital Contractor Checklist as a simple, step-by-step guide to assist with your solar panel project.

Coconut Grove, FL: Solar Energy Success Stories

Wine consultant Carol Lopez-Bethel considered her switch to solar was a “no brainer,” according to CBS Miami.

Three years after Lopez-Bethel installed solar panels in Florida’s Coconut Grove, the sun powers many utilities in her home. And while you should consider your roof when you consider a solar panel system, keep in mind hers is a 1950s-era house.

“The lights that are on right now,” she told CBS, “are free. They’re coming from the sun.  And we’re not creating any pollution. We’re not imposing ourselves (on the environment) in any negative way.”

Indeed, solar panels have a sizeable effect on utility bills. Florida residents can expect to save nearly $ 18,000 over 20 years.

This data serves as guidance for your journey to home improvement. Use it during your conversation with contractors in your area. Ask for this level of detail in your estimates and if jargon or complex wording seems confusing, ask for clarification. A trusted contractor will be glad for the opportunity to explain what everything means and, more importantly, what it specifically means to you.

When it comes to Florida’s solar energy, for example, existing financial incentives only make it more lucrative for you to sustainably increase your property value.

Florida Solar Panels: Incentives, Rebates, and Other Savings

There are currently 100 incentives for homeowners to increase the value of their property by installing solar panels for houses in Florida. Find details about each program at the state’s Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE). Solid contractors installing solar panels in Florida will be able to provide a list of applicable costs savings measures and help you navigate applying for and getting the most out of them. Learn enough to have a foundational understanding of these programs to best talk to your contractor about them once you’ve vetted and chosen one.

Property Tax Abatement for Renewable Energy Property

Installing solar paneling for homes will increase property value for homeowners who have invested in their houses, and Florida is investing right back in them. The state “provides a 100 percent property tax exemption for residential renewable energy property.” In other words, you’re not paying taxes on any of the added value of your property. And this tax exemption doesn’t just apply to solar panel systems, but also to the many components that could be required as part of the installations:

  • Solar energy collectors, photovoltaic modules, and inverters
  • Thermostats and other control devices
  • Heat exchange devices
  • Pipes, ducts, wiring, and structural supports
  • Power conditioning and storage devices that store or use solar energy

Find all the details at DSIRE’s profile for the program.

Net Metering

Since 2008, if your Florida solar panels collect more energy than you use, you can sell your excess energy back to your energy provider.

They have to credit you for it—in other words, you are selling them the energy collected by the solar panels powering your home. And the credit has to be “carried forward at the utility’s retail rate.”

Find all the details at DSIRE’s profile for the program.

Other Florida solar energy programs include city and region-specific ones:

Of course, you want to get the most out of local programs as well as federal ones, like the temporary Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, which applies to up to 30 percent of your installation. It is important to note that this federal credit is for systems placed in service by 12/31/2019. Solar Energy International reports that a typical five-kilowatt solar system installation in September 2018 would’ve dropped from $ 15,428 to $ 10,800 after the rebate is applied—but keep in mind its value is dropping and the credit could be completely gone by the early 2020s. Consult your contractor about this and other available credits and incentives to ensure your investment in the long-term value of your property is as easy on your current assets as possible.

That’s why you’ll want to find a contractor you can trust—a local professional who can get the job done and assist you with navigating local policy and regulation. The Modernize Contractor Checklist will help you vet a trusted contractor, so you can relax knowing your solar panel project is in good hands.

The post Florida: A Guide to Residential Solar Energy appeared first on Modernize.

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Laser Skin Resurfacing Treatment Guide: Cost, Side Effects, and More

Lasers are now being used to zap everything from sun damage and skin cancers to acne scars and regrettable tattoos — and often with little to no downtime. Which ones are best for your particular skin type and issue? In this month’s Life in Plastic column, we tapped the country’s top laser gurus spell it out for us.
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The Landlord’s Guide to Reference Checks

Have you found somebody who
you think might be a great tenant for your rental property? To be completely
sure a tenant will be a good fit, landlords should complete a thorough
reference check to find out what a potential tenant’s previous rental
experiences were like.

Reference checks are often the final stage of the tenant screening process. They’re important because they give landlords the opportunity to fact check the information a tenant provided on a rental application. Plus, you may learn something about the applicant that he/she wouldn’t disclose to you personally, like if they had a dispute with a previous neighbor or roommate.

There are obvious benefits to talking to your applicant’s
references, but what exactly should you be asking them to get the most out of
your reference check? This post covers tips for talking to references, questions
you should ask previous landlords and roommates, and the value of it all.

How to Get the Most Out of a Reference Check

References are only useful if they’re honest, clear, and
relevant. So, how can you ensure that the references you get for a potential
tenant paint an accurate picture of what they’ll look like as a renter? You can
start by following these four tips:

  1. Establish trust: Take your time
    establishing a degree of trust and confidentiality with references. It’s likely
    they were chosen because they have a positive impression of your prospective
    tenant, but to get an accurate idea of what their experience was like, let them
    know you are seriously considering this applicant and that the conversation
    will be kept private. This way, you can feel confident in the honesty of their
    answers.
  2. Phrase questions carefully: How you ask
    a question is extremely important when looking for detailed and specific
    answers. Some references may only want to sing the applicant’s praise—but you
    need to know about shortcomings just as much as you do successes. So, as an
    example, instead of asking, “What didn’t you like about this person?”, try
    asking, “What could this person improve on?”.
  3. Ask open-ended questions: Some
    questions require only a yes or no answer. This is called a closed-ended
    question and is totally acceptable in certain scenarios. But, the more
    open-ended questions you ask, the more you’re likely to learn. Asking
    open-ended questions forces a person to put more thought into their answers.
  4. Be prepared. Write down any questions
    you might have about the tenant while you are still in the screening process.
    Keep these questions and the rental application in front of you when you’re
    making calls. This will give you control over the conversation, ensure you get
    all the information you’re looking for, and reinforce your appearance as a
    professional.

Reference Check Questions to ask Landlords

Talking with the applicant’s previous landlord is the best
place to start. This person can give you an idea not only of what you can
expect, but also what the tenant might expect from you. Here are some questions
to help get you started.

Questions to ask
about the property
:

  • What is the address of the rental property?
  • How long was the tenancy?
  • What kind of maintenance responsibilities did
    the tenant have?
  • What kind of vehicle parking was provided?

Questions to ask
about the rent:

  • How much was the monthly rent?
  • How would you describe the tenant’s ability to
    pay rent?
  • What was the preferred method of payment?

Questions to ask
about relationships:

  • How did the tenant communicate with you? How
    often?
  • What could this person do to be a better tenant?
  • Why did the tenant leave?
  • Describe your overall experience with the
    tenant.

Reference Check Questions to ask Neighbors and Roommates

Neighbors and roommates can provide a deeper insight on what
this tenant is like to live with. For this purpose, you’ll want to ask these
references a slightly different set of questions.

Questions to ask
about general knowledge:

  • What is your relationship to the tenant?
  • How long have you known the tenant?
  • What was your living arrangement like?

Questions to ask
about personality:

  • How would you describe the tenant’s lifestyle?
  • How does the tenant spend his/her free time?
  • How would you describe the tenant’s living
    space?

Questions to ask
about relationships:

  • What did you like best about living with/beside
    the tenant?
  • What kind of disputes, if any, did the tenant
    have with you or other tenants?
  • How were these disputes resolved?
  • What do you think the tenant could do to improve
    as a roommate/neighbor?
  • Describe your overall experience with the tenant.

Why Tenant Reference Checks are Valuable

The information you learn during these reference checks could push you in one of two directions: either you accept the applicant, or not. The decision is entirely up to you. Though, it certainly helps to get all the information possible before officially signing a Lease Agreement Form that you might regret.

Reference checks can confirm the applicant really is who
they say they are, which will save you both time and money in the long run.
That’s why they are so important when selecting the best possible tenant for
your rental property.

The post The Landlord’s Guide to Reference Checks appeared first on LawDepot Blog.

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Men’s Hat Etiquette Guide

Just as the gentleman should have a variety of hats for different seasons and occasions, he should also be aware of the rules for when to have his hat on and when to take it off.

Bowler Hats & Caps in 1920
Bowler Hats & Caps in 1920

A great many menswear sources, if they do offer advice on hat etiquette, will typically advise that the most basic rule to remember is to wear your hat when outdoors and to take it off indoors.

While this advice may end up working out for the wearer, let’s say 75-80% of the time, we believe that there’s a better central starting point for approaching hat etiquette which is as follows:

Pitti Peacocks by beforeeesunrise
Pitti Peacocks by beforeeesunrise

Wear Your Hat In Public & Take It Off In Private Spaces.

Stated simply, a private space is any place where people live, work, or pay a fee to enter. Anything else is generally going to be considered public. Here then are some more specific examples of this philosophy in practice.

Lobby of the St Regis Grand Hotel in Rome
Lobby of the St Regis Grand Hotel in Rome
  1. A house is a private space but the foyer or entryway just inside the door can be considered a public space. This goes back to the era when a butler would typically greet guests at the door and take their hats and coats. Similarly, an apartment is a private space but their surrounding hallways, as well as the lobby, are public.
  2. This same general rule is typically true for hotels with the added caveat that spaces reserved specifically for hotel guests such as the pool or lounge are also considered private spaces.
  3. One unique distinction for apartment buildings, hotels, and other such multi florid spaces, an elevator is considered a private space. This goes back to the days when most elevators still had human operators. As such, you would consider the elevator the operator’s office.
  4. Related to the concept of entry fees are membership dues. As such, any club with specific members is also considered to be a private space.
  5. Office buildings where the lobbies and hallways are are public spaces but specific offices are private spaces. In addition, cubicle areas are collectively treated as private, basically functioning as one large office. This isn’t limited to the specific space inside each individual cubicle.
  6. If a doctor’s office has a separate reception area, that’s considered a public space but the waiting room is considered a private space because you’re already waiting for the doctor’s services and in a manner of speaking, already in the office.
  7. Also in the medical field, a hospital building is treated as an all private space. This goes back to the days when most hospitals were still run by churches.
  8. A theater is a private space since you have to pay for a ticket to get in, however, since you have to buy the tickets in the lobby most of the time, the lobby is considered a public space.
  9. Despite usually requiring a ticket for entry, an outdoor stadium is still often considered a public space because it’s outdoors and fairly large. An indoor stadium, on the other hand, is a private space.
  10. A restaurant is a public space, in general, but once you’ve been seated at your table, it becomes a private space since, in theory, you’re paying to be there. Curiously enough, however, the bar is almost always considered a public space at all times.
  11. Stores are typically public spaces with the exception being if you’re given specific attention from a salesperson. Because you’re requiring their services at that point, the interaction then becomes more private at which point, it’s best practice to remove your hat.
  12. Places of worship are generally considered to be private spaces but of course, some religious traditions do have specific rules related to men’s headwear as well as women’s headwear. If you plan to attend a place of worship and don’t know the rules relating to headwear, be sure to ask someone in the know. Hats can also be removed at certain specific times for such activities like prayer, the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in the United States, or for the singing of hymns or national anthems.
  13. If you’re in motion, your hat should remain on regardless of the method or openness of transportation. This harkens back to the days when transportation was pretty much all done out of doors, either walking, on horseback, or in an open carriage. Even though we have many new methods of transportation and a lot of them are enclosed, the tradition of keeping your hat on while you’re moving still remains in effect.

And there you have it! Using this public space private space motto, the hatted gentleman can be sure that he’s always observing proper etiquette when wearing his hat or as the case may be, not wearing it.

The lounge at a private members club
The lounge at a private members club

Why Remove Hats In Private Spaces?

The answer is that the uncovering of the head is a sign of deference that goes back millennia. It’s usually done to signal an acknowledgment of intrusion or to show basic gratitude. In other words, the hallmarks of a gentleman.

Hat tip
Hat tip

The Practice Of Hat Tipping

The tradition of tipping one’s hat has its roots in bowing to show respect. A practice that was common across various cultures for centuries. When hats became the dominant fashion for men and bowing was still common practice, the hat would have to be removed when a man bent from the waist so that it didn’t hit the floor. Bowing would gradually become less extreme over the course of the 19th century, culminating in the simple hat tip by the 20th century. These days in the 21st century, even that practice can seem a little outdated.

If you’re a regular hat wearer and feel totally comfortable in headwear, you can give a hat tip to people regardless of gender these days too but if you feel that the behavior would seem affected coming from you, you can go ahead and skip the tip.

Straw Hats in 1958
Straw Hats in 1958

CONCLUSION

Even if you don’t commit to memory every single example we outlined in this guide, you can still be sure that by following the basic model of the public space-private space paradigm, you, as a hat-wearing gentleman, will be courteous with your stylish headwear.

Note: the majority of the information for today’s article was sourced from the writings of menswear historian Bill Thompson.

Which of the etiquette rules we covered today came as the biggest surprise to you?


Gentleman’s Gazette

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The Minimalist’s Guide to Dressing for Work

The Minimalist's Guide to Dressing for Work

Ladies, is one of your resolutions to have a more minimal wardrobe for work? I’ve seen a lot of reader conversations about it, and been asked a bunch about it over the years, so I’m finally rounding up my tips: here’s the minimalist’s guide to dressing for work! If you’ve done a closet revamp (or built a work wardrobe from scratch) recently, what are your best tips on having a minimal work wardrobe? For all the readers starting to think about building a wardrobe for a summer internship or otherwise creating a capsule wardrobe for work, what would you advise them? Do you think a minimal work wardrobe necessarily means having a work uniform or being ok to repeat outfits at work?

1. Pick a consistent base.

Pick a consistent base color for your wardrobe essentials for work like pants, sheath dresses, blazers, jardigans, and more. For a lot of women that means black or gray. 

2. Consider factors like garment care, weather, and ethics.

Pay attention to thinks like:

  • care – as you’re building your wardrobe pay attention to how things need to be cared for, and what you’re wiling to do. If you have one piece that is “dry clean only,” it may get waylaid at the bottom of the drycleaning bag and be out of commission for longer than you would like.
  • your laundry schedule – in my last “single girl” apartment, the laundry was four flights down and there were only two machines, so I wound up clearing an entire weekend once a month to do laundry. Later, when we moved into an apartment with a washer and dryer (and had a baby who required constant loads of laundry!), I wondered why I had SO many workout clothes and t-shirts I never wore, and towels I never used. It took me way too long to realize it was because my laundry schedule was totally different in the new apartment!
  • seasonality and layers — how many cashmere sweaters do you really need if it rarely goes below 40 where you live? Similarly, consider whether you really need things like linen suits or blazers. A bottom layer like silk long johns may seem like it doesn’t make sense, but because you can wear it with multiple clothes it may be a better investment than several pairs of super warm pants that you only wear once or twice a year.
  • durability – the goal, of course, is to buy well made clothes that will last a long time. If you notice that your clothes aren’t lasting very long because they start to look old with pilling, discoloring, and more, it’s time to avoid that brand of clothing or fabric choice.
  • ethics — you may want to focus on slow fashion and buying things made with environmentally friendly fabrics, produced in America or other factors

3. For basics, consider buying multiples of what you love.

For example, for socks, tights, underwear, bras, t-shirts, and sleepwear, if you find one you love, just stock up — it reduces your mental load to buy duplicates of your favorite clothes. Do keep in mind the other factors, though, like seasonality, your laundry schedule, and more. 

4. Know your neutrals.

For some women that might be beige; for others it may be cream; for others it may be caramel. Pale blue or pink can often act as a neutral as well. The trick is to know what’s flattering to you, what works with the rest of your minimal wardrobe base, and importantly, what you’ll wear.

5. Pick a limited color palette for accents.

We talked about this with our discussion of capsule wardrobes for work a few years ago, where I illustrated how even if you pick bold colors like red, purple, and royal blue, you can keep a consistent look with a minimal wardrobe. If you want to get fancy, you can pick a favorite multicolored thing you own — maybe it’s a scarf, or a sweater — and pull the colors from that scarf into a color palette. You can buy a minimum number of pieces but establish a consistent, pulled-together look that transcends style or trend.

the minimalist's guide to dressing for work - have a capsule wardrobe for work

Pictured at top (white shirts): Deposit Photos / WorldWide_Stock

Hunting for the minimalist's guide to dressing for work? We're rounding up some of our TOP tips for having a more minimal, streamlined work wardrobe, whether you're revamping your wardrobe or building a work wardrobe from scratch. Great tips from the readers who've tried to make their work closets and work outfits more streamlined and minimal as well!

The post The Minimalist’s Guide to Dressing for Work appeared first on Corporette.com.

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CFDA Introduces Sustainability Initiatives to Help Guide Designers Looking for Cleaner Ways to Work

With “where to begin” being a common conundrum for many brands considering sustainability, the CFDA has launched its Sustainability Initiatives to help designers do their part to clean up the fashion industry.
In line with the United Nations’ call for the fashion industry to act on its global mandate on sustainability, the CFDA has rolled out a four-part strategy. Many designers’ questions may be answered by referencing the first edition of the CFDA Guide to Sustainable Strategies, the Sustainable Strategies Toolkit, the CFDA Materials Index or the CFDA Sustainability Directory.
While Eileen Fisher, Stella McCartney and other designers have been committed to trying to clean up the industry’s excessive waste for a while, many less established brands are examining sustainability for the first time. The United Nations Alliance on Sustainable Fashion will stage its launch event March 14, during a media event of the 4th U.N. Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya. Just as consumers have learned about the environmental farm-to-table choices, sustainability supporters are hopeful that greater awareness about the need for sustainable fashion will lead to changing the consumption and production habits.
Konstantin Grcic recently joined forces with the Aeance to create a sustainable capsule collection. Stella McCartney has been leading the

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Turtleneck Guide

Turtleneck sweaters, also known as polo neck, mock neck, skivvy, and so forth. Learn all about its history, how they should fit, how you can style them, and what to pay attention to when you buy them.

SRS in a brown turtleneck sweater
Sven Raphael Schneider wearing a brown lambswool turtleneck sweater from Uniqlo

What Is A Turtleneck?

Basically, it’s a sweater with a high rolled collar that is turned down and covers some parts or most parts of your neck. A traditional polo neck or turtleneck is always folded over and it’s very slim fitting in the body. Typically, the turtleneck part itself is made out of a ribbed knit while the body is generally made up of a solid knit.

A cousin of the turtleneck is the so-called mock neck. It also covers the neck yet it’s not folded over. Personally, I don’t like that style very much because it usually is more flimsy around your neck and it doesn’t drape as well as when it’s folded over.

Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester wearing a doublet

Turtleneck History

They first have been worn in the Western Hemisphere in the 15th century. If you wonder why, you know once you put them on that they really keep your neck a lot warmer which is nice for the colder days of the year. Because of that, it never really lost its popularity but by the 19th century, it was primarily a garment for the working class or for sailors. Sometimes, you could also see them worn by naval officers.

That being said, it was not a garment that you would see an aristocratic gentleman wearing. In fact, it was a utilitarian garment and it didn’t become fashionable until the playwright Noel Coward wore it in the 1920s. It’s so popular that it was subsequently adopted by the preppy style movement because people wanted something that was more casual and they wore it instead of a shirt and a tie especially during the cooler days of the year. Ever since, turtlenecks have been going in and out of fashion. They were really popular in the 80s and then the demand dropped.

Clark Gable wearing an overcoat with a turtleneck sweater
Clark Gable wearing an overcoat with a turtleneck sweater

I remember I had my first turtleneck sweater about 15 years ago in the early 2000s and at that point, they weren’t really popular. That being said, in recent years, there has been a surge in popularity especially with elegant men because it’s a garment that helps you casualize the rest of your somewhat formal wardrobe. Obviously, it keeps your neck warm and it also means you don’t need to have a necktie or a bow tie which makes it an ideal winter travel companion.

Johnstons of Elgin Cashmere Turtleneck Sweater
Johnstons of Elgin Cashmere Turtleneck Sweater

How A Turtleneck Sweater Should Fit

The turtleneck is a rather slim fitting garment that is snug and reaches below your waist. Most turtlenecks are quite long so you can tuck them in without them coming out. In the 80s, sweater turtlenecks were very floppy but personally, I think it’s not a good style because you have it sit very close against your neck so it’s floppy in the body, it just looks weird.

That being said, turtlenecks usually come in different weight classes, there are some that are extremely thin and it’s a great substitute for a shirt. On the other hand, you have thicker sweaters typically made out of wool which are meant to keep you a lot warmer and you might be able to wear them with an undershirt.

Slim and very thin turtlenecks can be great to layer but wearing them on their own, they really show every imperfection of your body. Frankly, whether you wear your turtleneck tucked or untucked is entirely up to you. Personally, I like to wear it tucked with dress pants or if I combine it with a suit, I wear them on top of my pants if it’s a more casual combination.

Broan Sacawa wearing a Turtleneck & Overcoat with Overplaid
Brian Sacawa wearing a Turtleneck & Overcoat with Overplaid

How To Style A Turtleneck Sweater

  • Personally, I like to wear them directly against my skin or with a thin undershirt. I never wear a polo shirt underneath with any kind of collar and I also try to avoid any kind of dress shirt with a collar because it just looks weird and you can see it outlined from the outside. Sometimes, even an undershirt is too much and I just suggest you take a look at it in the mirror before you go out on the street because if you have an outline of a v-neck t-shirt underneath a turtleneck, it just looks odd.
  • Turtlenecks are a great way to dress down suits. In the video above, I’m wearing a gray turtleneck with a navy suit. It creates a very different look than when I would wear the same suit with let’s say a white shirt and a tie.
Off white overcoat with plaid sportscoat & red turtleneck sweater
Off white overcoat with plaid sportscoat & red turtleneck sweater
  • A turtleneck makes everything look a lot softer yet you’re still well-dressed. Some people even combine it with striped suits which, in my opinion, is over the top because the striped suit is more formal and it can clash.
Turtleneck sweaters and black tie tuxedos do not go hand in hand
  • To go even a step further, I’ve seen people wearing it with a tuxedo or dinner jackets and I find that look is rather odd because black tie lives of its formality but it looks much better like that, in my opinion.
  • You can also use a turtleneck to dress down a double-breasted jacket.
Suits with Peaked Lapels and Turtlenecks
Suits with Peaked Lapels and Turtlenecks
  • At recent Pitti Uomos, I’ve also seen men wear a turtleneck sweater that’s rather thin with a larger denim shirt on top which is topped off by an overcoat or a jacket. Obviously, that’s a more flamboyant fashion-forward look and are only recommended to people who really know what they’re doing. Personally, it’s not a look that I like.
  • Off-white is a really nice color for turtleneck sweaters especially in the winter because it contrasts with the darker colors that are otherwise usually incorporated in your outfit. That being said, make sure you get a very thick white or off-white turtleneck because otherwise, you can see your nipples, the hair pokes through, and you can see the outline of your pants which just looks really really bad.
Wax jacket with turtleneck and off white sweater with white pants
Wax jacket with turtleneck and off white sweater with white pants
  • Turtlenecks generally tend to look better with shorter haircuts. So if you like your longer hairstyle, simply don’t wear turtlenecks.
  • If you’re in to turtlenecks, you can also pair them maybe with some jeans and boots and wear them outside let’s say with a pea coat.

One of the biggest challenges for turtlenecks is to combine them with your other garments so it looks very well put together. I found, in terms of color, if you follow the concept of contrast and harmony, you always look well-dressed.

Contrast & Harmony

By harmony, I mean that you take a color that complements maybe your jacket or one of your pants. Because turtlenecks are exclusively reserved for the colder seasons of the year, it makes sense to use a more muted color scheme that creates that harmony with other items.

By contrast, I mean the colors have to be noticeably different because if everything blends in yet it’s not the same, it has this sort of monochromatic look that simply does not work.

How To Buy Turtlenecks?

Ideally, you get something that is machine washable because sometimes, you’ll sweat more if you go from a cold environment into a warm department store than you would with a different sweater. Because of that, you want to be able to clean it regularly and dry cleaners are very costly so ideally, you want to be able to wash it at home in your washing machine. That means you get something in cotton. Cotton is not very insulating so merino wool is probably the best material for a sweater because it is not as delicate as cashmere yet you can wash it on a gentle cycle in your machine at home. Because I sweat more in them, I have to wash turtlenecks more often and therefore, I get pilling more quickly and the sweaters don’t last as long.

Turtleneck
Knit Turtleneck Sweater

In terms of colors, I think gray and tan are fantastic companions for the winter season and those would be the first to invest my money in because generally, they work
well with other classic colors that are usually worn in the winter. If you want to add more, I think an ivory color is great as long as the material is thick enough so you don’t see any outline underneath. You could also play with maybe a burgundy or a dark olive green. Tones of camel and khaki are also nice but I would stay clear of black or navy because they’re usually too similar to the jackets and then it just all blends in and creates a monochromatic look I don’t like.

Uniqlo extra fine merino turtleneck

Rather than going with a stark white, I encourage you to go with ivory or off-white because they’re softer and blends in better with brown tones still creating a contrast but in a way that is more warmer and looks more well-put-together than a plain solid white.

If you’re not sure about turtlenecks and whether they’re right for you, a great place to start is Uniqlo. They provide turtlenecks with a nice slim fit even for shorter guys or for guys like me. They have a nice color palette, they offer merino wool and cotton and they really don’t break the bank. No, this is not sponsored at all. I’ve just found that Uniqlo turtlenecks are a great value so give it a try and let me know what you think.

What’s your take on turtlenecks? How do you usually combine them? Share with us in the comments below!


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The guilt-free guide to being a better person in 2019

We’re all trying our best to be ‘woke’, ethical and sustainable. But then again‚ sometimes it’s hard to know what the damn rules are. Here, Francesca Hornak breaks it down

Recycling

Essential, obviously. But if only waste disposal didn’t come with so many diktats. How clean must an empty pot of Yeo Valley be to guarantee recycling? What about an empty can of sustainably sourced tuna? Is a rinse fine, or does it need to go in the dishwasher, or is that a waste of energy? Which bin does cling film go in? What about cellophane? And Jiffy bags – part paper, part plastic? These are the kind of quandaries that have seen sane people get out of bed to give the hummus pot in the green box an extra wash, for luck.

Coffee Cups

Hooray for KeepCups! So simple, so stylish! Except that every morning one of two things will happen. You’ll either realise, as you rummage for the sodding cup at the front of a long, tetchy queue for coffee, that you have forgotten it and will have to sidle to your desk with a shameful disposable cup, conscious that yesterday you were talking loudly about ‘that documentary on plastics’. Or you’ll remember the KeepCup just as you’re about to leave home, and locate it sitting in your bag, coated in stale coffee from the day before. You’ll then make yourself late washing it, and detect a hint of Fairy Liquid in your flat white.

‘Why do I never have one of my 500 canvas totes when I’m actually in a shop?’

Facebook

Isn’t there something innately unclean about Facebook? Even before fake news and all its attendant moral dilemmas, the whole place always felt grubby, posting content for likes from people you neither like nor care about. But still we can’t help ourselves stalking the girl everyone fancied at school and then cursing Mark Zuckerberg for stealing another hour of our lives.

Bags for life

Is it wrong to miss, just slightly, the time when there was always a spare plastic bag kicking around at home? Something to line the bathroom bin with, or shove your muddy trainers in? It is wrong, and you know it. As a result, you now have a huge collection of bags for life under your sink, and an uneasy feeling that these might take even longer to biodegrade than the flimsy plastic bags of yesterday. See also: why do I never have one of my 500 canvas totes when I’m actually in a shop?

Periods

Once, you could unwrap a Tampax Compak without seeing a little grenade of toxic plastic, waiting to wash up on a beach. And in a few years’ time, we’ll probably all have mastered Mooncups and Dear Kate pants (does anyone else find this off-puttingly close to a nappy?). But until then, no woman should be begrudged the occasional Lil-Let.

Veganism

Touted as the no-brainer route to a more sustainable life (assuming you can find joy in life without cheese). That is, until you Google ‘air miles from almond milk’ or ‘is coconut oil worse for you than butter?’ and feel immediately exhausted. But let’s face it, who regularly has time to roast legs of lamb anyway? You’re probably unintentionally vegan half the time out of sheer culinary laziness. Job done.

The post The guilt-free guide to being a better person in 2019 appeared first on Marie Claire.

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When is it worth hiring a tour guide?

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Traveling the world and exploring the globe’s different cultures and cities really is something magnificent. It’s a way to step out of your bubble and expand your horizon by experiencing and seeing new things. You can explore the pyramids of Egypt, the amazing mountains of Machu Picchu in Peru, or Dubai’s spectacular skyscrapers. Unfortunately, we are not all natural explorers. Some of us have a hard time finding our way around a foreign city.

The streets and signs may lead you into a never-ending labyrinth. Even in this digital age where we can access any information, getting around and finding those hidden and beautiful spots to visit might still be very difficult. So why not hire a tour guide? It might sound old-fashioned, but tour guides really are the cheapest and best way to get yourself around a foreign city without having to walk those extra miles when you get lost, or spending an ungodly amount of money on expensive fares.

See the best sites

A tour guide is usually a well-rounded local who is familiar with every corner of the city you are visiting, and thus, is able to show you the most exclusive and unique places that Google probably doesn’t know about. You see, a local tour guide develops a natural skill of knowing the exact location of places that are truly embedded in the culture, and that might not be as “touristy.” We’re talking about places that aren’t crowded with tourists, overly expensive gift stores, or full of high-end cameras flashing you in the face. Instead, a tour guide will be able to introduce and guide you to the most interesting and sought after places a tourist could ever wish to visit that truly represent the culture.

They know the language

This is especially true when you are traveling across the world to a city where the people might not speak the English language very well. If you can’t communicate with the locals and ask questions, you’ll probably stick around the same center-city streets and see the same old buildings that every other traveler sees. Instead, invest in a tourist guide that not only takes you to the best places, but that is also able to answer any questions or concerns you might have during the trip.

They can answer your questions

Feel like asking when that building was built or what it was used for back in the day? Ask the tour guide! Don’t underestimate the value of having a tour guide who can answer questions and discuss concerns that are better off discussed, than ignored. This is even more important when you’re traveling alone. There are always great people in tour groups with whom you can bond and share experiences. You might make new friends and travel companions for your next destination!

We tend to rely so much on our smartphones and wi-fi to access for information about the “best hotels” and “5-star restaurants” in the city, that we ignore the most resourceful and insightful option we have, a tour guide.

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The post When is it worth hiring a tour guide? appeared first on Worldation.

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If you’re just setting up a new Nintendo Switch or trying to transfer your data over to a new one, these helpful Nintendo Switch guides should make that process much easier. In this article, you’ll find quick links to popular Switch setup guides (as determined by traffic, user questions, and popular searches) and troubleshooting wiki pages.

IGN’s Nintendo Switch guide has plenty of great hardware information, but if you’re looking for more guides on Nintendo Switch games, be sure to check out these popular game wikis:

From Adam Rippon to Zazie Beetz: The A-Z Guide to Everyone and Everything We Discovered in 2018

The Year In... A-Z Guide to Everyone and Everything We Discovered in 2018Pop culture is all about the joy of the discovery.
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Cocktail Attire For Men – Dress Code Guide For Weddings, Parties & Events

When you receive an invitation nowadays, it may add a dress code such as Cocktail Attire, Black Tie Optional, Semi-Formal Attire or Formal Attire, but what exactly does that mean? 

Back in the day, things were simpler: the dress code was either Black Tie for less formal evening occasions or White Tie for more formal ones. Women’s dresses were chosen accordingly. Today, for many men the tuxedo is the most formal garment they will ever wear, and it is often rented. In the following, I want to explain what Cocktail Attire For Men is all about and what options you have for weddings, parties or events when you receive an invitation that asks for it.

Video – Cocktail Attire For Men

Want to look the part at the next cocktail party? Get our cocktail attire pocket guide for men here.

cocktail attire_900x400_2

The Basics of the Cocktail Attire Dress Code

Dress Codes Formality Scale
Dress Codes Formality Scale

How Formal is Cocktail Attire and When Should You Wear It?

On the scale of dress codes, cocktail attire is the middle, a step up from business casual but less formal than black tie. It is considered on par with business attire, so it is easy to use an outfit you would wear to your office or an interview to create a great cocktail attire ensemble. This dress code is most commonly found on invitations for parties, weddings, and professional events, which are formal events.

Dark Flannel Suit with Silk Tie & TV Fold Pocket Square
A Dark Flannel Suit with Silk Tie & TV Fold Pocket Square is perfect for Cocktail Attire

Even though times have changed and style is becoming ever more casual, if a dress code is called for, you should do your best to stick with it because dressing appropriately is a sign of respect for the host and the event. Cocktail attire is likely to be one of the more frequent dress codes most men encounter because it falls in the middle of casual and formal, but it is also one of the most convenient because it is made up of garments and accessories that most men likely already own. 

Sven Raphael Schneider wearing a DB flannel suit
Sven Raphael Schneider wearing a DB flannel suit that would work for cocktail attire

Cocktail attire is also versatile in that when in a pinch, you can wear a cocktail attire with a dark suit instead of a tuxedo when black tie is called for as the dress code. It’s also appropriate for funerals and other solemn occasions when formality is required. In this case, a solid dark navy or charcoal suit can be worn if you don’t own a black one, and your accessories should be muted, such as a black grenadine tie, black leather oxford dress shoes, and a solid white shirt. Even if you wear smart casual or jeans on a day to day basis, it pays to have at least one cocktail attire outfit ready in your closet for short notice events. 

What is Semi Formal and Formal Attire for Men?

Colin Firth in Kingsman wearing a classic British suit with padded shoulders that works for cocktail attire

If your invitation states a semi-formal or formal attire, these are vague and challenging dress codes to deal with today because they mean different things to different people. In the past, formal attire was a tuxedo, while semi-formal would be like cocktail attire. These days the ambiguity of these dress codes can make them frustrating for guests.

If the Invitation Asks for Cocktail Attire, Men Should Wear:

  1. A dark to mid-gray suit
  2. A button-down dress shirt in white or another muted color
  3. A necktie or bow tie in subtle patterns or plains
  4. A simple pocket square
  5. Black dress shoes with a leather sole, such as oxfords
  6. Over the calf socks that either match your trousers or pick up something in your outfit such as a color in your tie or bow tie
  7. Of course, make sure you are clean shaven and you have a recent haircut
Opt for a dark suit for a black tie optional event
Opt for a dark suit for a cocktail attire event

Cocktail Attire Don’ts: 

  • DON’T wear your tuxedo or white tie, as that would be too formal for this dress code 
  • DON’T wear a black suit – these should be reserved only for funerals
  • DON’T wear your pinstripe suit, bright colored ties, a bold paisley shirt, or flashy accessories at home to a wedding – the couple should be the center of attention, not you
  • DON’T wear casual clothes such as khakis, chinos, jeans, polo shirts, or a sports jacket; if it would work well for business casual, don’t wear it!
  • DON’T wear casual shoes such as loafers (or any shoes without laces)
  • DON’T go sockless – this may be a trend now but it is inappropriate for cocktail attire
  • DON’T forget to wear a tie or a bow tie- it’s too casual without one

Cocktail Attire For Men at a Wedding

Navy suit with burgundy grenadine tie
Navy suit with burgundy grenadine tie

Even though the above guidelines for cocktail attire may seem a bit subdued, they will be appropriate for the majority of weddings. The result of the cocktail attire dress code is that you will be elegantly and respectfully attired for the occasion without being flashy or otherwise drawing attention away from the focus of the day – the bride and groom. Unless you have information suggesting otherwise, such as a beach or barn location, you can’t go wrong with traditional cocktail attire at a wedding. 

 If the bridegroom is a flamboyant artist or someone who wears shorts and t-shirt, no matter what, try to adjust your outfit so you will not be completely out of place: For an artist wedding, go with more colorful accessories and for a completely informal wedding, skip the tie and just wear a combination with a dark jacket and lighter colored slacks – again, it is their day so you should try not to catch much attention with your outfit.

What Should Men Wear to a Cocktail Party?

Single-breasted suit
Single-breasted suit with a bold shirt is a good choice for a cocktail party

Interestingly, most women understand the attire required for such an event due to the aptly named cocktail dress (often black), whereas it is not as clear for men what attire they should wear to a cocktail party. Unfortuntanely, the cocktail party and cocktail attire do not go hand in hand, and you will need to make a judgement about the nature of the event before you decide what to wear. 

If the event suggests a dress code, then go with it.  If not, consider that cocktail parties are supposed to be relaxed occasions, and although not wrong per se, a classic dark suit such as navy or charcoal is probably a tad too formal. During the winter, you can wear flannel, with patterns, and maybe a bow tie. Be more daring than with your business wardrobe and pay attention to accessories such as cuff links, tie bars, pocket squares, boutonnieres… but don’t overdo it and only use two accents at the most.

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Sven Raphael Schneider wearing a DB flannel suit

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Madder Silk Bow Tie in Purple with Paisley