How I deal with Passive/Aggressive comments on Social Media

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It's been a new thing for me in recent weeks, learning how to tackle the passive/aggressive and the outright aggressive comments on social media. By and large I have a great community of influencers and fans that champion my platforms, leaving very encouraging remarks. But as the saying goes if you're pleasing everyone then you're pleasing no one.

Some recent comments have hit home of late, especially the ones of the passive/aggressive nature. The ones that sound like they come from an honest place, but are have an undertone of resentment and in my mind specifically engineered to get under my skin.

Why passive/aggressive comments are the worst is because the author lacks a complete backbone. They don't have the balls to be direct and call a spade a spade. A recent comment on my YouTube informed me that I was pronouncing a certain word wrong, calling me a tw*t in the process. Those sort comments I can digest, deflect, even laugh, but the ones that are surreptitiously masked, leave a taint.

Saying something mean whilst having plausible deniability. 

Just Saying

Just Saying, putting it out there, always with the open palms right? You're just saying it, but that doesn't stop people feeling it. You're 'Just Sayin' is the weasel's way out. Just say it, without the Just Saying.

Just Curious  

Just Curious? Just curious about how many blokes you've slept with before me. Just curious, out of curiosity, what's your dick count up to? Just curious how much did you make on your last job? Of course you're curious, but just by making the proclamation does not make your 'curiosity' any less invasive. 

No Offence

No offence but actually offence. No offence but that's not a good look for you. That's not a good look for you, and offence because I'm actually bang into this look, and I can handle criticism, but not when it comes unqualified. No offence, but justify your opinions, I'll accept them, respect them and we'll move on. No offence, but go eff yourself with your no offence 'offense'. (Americanism). 

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How do you handle Passive/Aggressive comments on social media?

Firstly, if you're being intimidated or bullied at all then this can lead to mental health issues. Please reach out to the professionals, the word is eCrime is now sadly becoming more prevalent, it's in the police lexicon but there are professionals that can help you out. There's no shame in reaching out.

Secondly, you can always mute, block or call them out. It's possibly harder to call them out because they're more than likely friends in real life that has perhaps just gotten a little jealous, or maybe you've hit a nerve somewhere you didn't know existed. That's where the third tip will help you out the most.

DETACH! Learning to emotionally detach will help you handle most things, but especially negativity in your life. To quote ex-navy Seal turned author and podcaster Jocko Willink, you need to learn to detach

"When you're not detached you're in the storm and you don't even know it."

That's all I have on this today. I'd be interested to know if anyone else experiences this on their channels, and how they react to passive/aggressive comments. 

Is Debenhams Pulling a Fast One Blaming the Weather?

Debenhams announced some devastating figures this week, attributing the 85% fall in bottom line pre-tax profits the fall to the final trading days of the period when bad weather forced the business to temporarily close around 100 stores.

This came as a hammer blow to investors and employees as 'only' a 50% fall was forecast was predicted

The retailer cited a “disappointing Christmas season” behind the fall in underlying earnings in the UK, which were down 39.3 per cent for the half year, according to an article in the Retail Gazette

Carol Spencer who developed the personal shopping experience for Debenhams in the 90's told Wake Up to Money podcast when asked if the artic winds were to blame.

"I don't believe it (the beast from the east) would have an effect. A short term effect yes, but they were in trouble way before then. People want an emotional connection that you can't get online. Toys R Us have suffered. That massive warehouse effect of shopping is not want people want. That’s what a website is, a massive warehouse." 

Carol has a point. We need to radically rethink the whole monolith department store model. People are needing an emotional attachment to everything now, we're even given virtual carte blanche to travel on planes with our dogs because we're such fragile snowflakes. 

Though Debenhams are showing some signs of reimagining their bricks and mortar model. They may have been slow out of the blocks converting their catalogue to an online shopping experience, but they have made some small steps in consolidation of surplus floor space, their latest opening in Wolverhampton is much more compact and streamlined offering a more intimate customer experience. 

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But who is getting right? After all not every e-tailor is getting right neither as we highlighted in the demise of a A Suit That Fits. I asked E-Commerce manager for a multitude of companies and Editor of Maketh the Man, Anton Welcome about the future of retail and what brand is getting it right. 

"In my opinion it's John Lewis from a department store point of view their values resonate through everything they do. Their website generates a lot of revenue they are growing a lot faster than competitors with a lot less store footage. They have 50 stores on their portfolio but they have an online business that will cater to their demand and it's a brand that will deliver products to stores that customers can get to. Best of both worlds, lovely balance." 

And the future of retail? 

"Look, speed is everything. Let's just say if Amazon had stores we'd be in trouble. They are a ruthless, scary evil. A necessary evil, but very scary how powerful they've become. It's always been survival of the fittest, you're not going to stop Amazon anytime soon. The whole beauty of competition is that you have to do it yourself and do it better than them."

In other news

Away from Debenhams shirt seller Charles Tyrwhitt has announced losses of £5.9 million on revenues of circa £200 million as an IT blunder saw the company hemorrhage £7.3 million. And most recently House of Fraser is expected to announce a CVA (company voluntary agreement) to avoid falling into administration. 

 

Rum Cocktail Recipes | Top 3 Rum Cocktails Ever Made

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You hear the word RUM and what springs to mind? For me Rum is synonymous with capricious summer days spent on the common, where all the best laid plans go to waste simply because the sun decided to shine. 

Nowadays I've tempered the urge to down tools and lose a day simply because it's got above 25 degrees for the first time in 6 months. However, the appreciation for a decent rum cocktail has not diminished. 

As many of you know I've been working alongside Don Papa this last month, exploring their distilleries and sugar mills in Mount Kanlaon, where sugarcane thrives on its lush, fertile foothills. It's reacquainted my love affair for rum and given me license to exercise my creative mixology skills and here are my top 3 Don Papa Rum Cocktails.

1. THE NEGRENSE SOUR

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This cocktail paints a vivid portrait of Sugarlandia. Charged with agave syrup and lime, it’s straight from a place that believes in revolutionary ideals. Take a sip and enjoy the smooth flavour of a nation’s pride.

Ingredients

• 4 parts Don Papa Rum
• 2 parts fresh lime juice
• 1 part agave syrup (or brown sugar syrup)
• 1 egg white

Method

In a shaker pour in the Don Papa Rum and add in agave syrup instead of sugar. Squeeze in the juice of half a lime and add the egg white. Shake vigorously so that you create a light foam. Now add some ice and shake again. Serve in a whiskey glass filled with ice. Garnish with a lime peel and finish with 3 drops of bitters on the foam.

2. THE PAPA NEGRONI

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This Don Papa twist on the classic cocktail will inspire and liberate your senses through its balanced taste of bitter and sweet, much like the life of the legend himself.

Ingredients

• 4 parts Don Papa Rum
• 2 parts white vermouth
• 3 parts Apérol

Method

In a mixing glass filled with ice, add the bitter Apérol, white vermouth and Don Papa Rum. Stir gently. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and a grapefruit wedge.

3. THE DARKER DON

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We celebrate the Don’s burning passion for independence. Experience the resilient spirit of Don Papa with this refreshing cocktail. Taste the wild lime juice which twists the palette, causing an explosion of sweet yet sour flavour.

Ingredients

• 4 parts Don Papa Rum
• 1 part fresh lime juice
• Ginger beer • Mint

Method

In a highball glass filled with ice, squeeze the juice of half a lime. Charge with Don Papa Rum and top with a spicy ginger beer. Stir with a cocktail spoon and add a mint leaf sprig to garnish.


ABOUT DON PAPA RUM

Don Papa 7

The original Don Papa Rum. Light and fruity on the nose, smooth and delicate on the mouth, with a long textured finish. Don Papa has a light amber colour and offers flavours of vanilla, honey and candied fruits.

Don Papa 10

The first Limited Edition from Don Papa. Deep, rich and powerful on the nose, with a delightful tingle on the mouth. Don Papa 10-year- old has a dark amber colour andoffers flavours of dried fruits, cacao and just a hint of oak.

Don Papa Rare Cask

This new limited edition small batch rum has been aged in specifically selected and over toasted casks. Rich and fruity on the nose, with a hint of spice on the mouth, Don Papa Rare Cask has a dark amber colour and offers flavours of rich fruitcake, cacao and oak, as well as hints of wild mint on its beautifully long finish.

To enhance its distinctive taste, the cellar master decided to keep the rum unfiltered and unblended, bottling at high strength (50.5% ABV). This rare and unique rum is presented in numbered bottles and in a beautiful wooden presenter box. Only 6,000 bottles were produced. 

 

SHOP DON PAPA RUM IN THE UK

Yellow Tinted Sunglasses | The Latest Men's Summer Trend | Men's Style Edit

If you wasn't sunning it up at the most Instagrammable festival this week, aka Coachella in Palm Springs, California then you were probably getting royally pissed off with everyone that was. In all honesty I have no clue what bands played or if it was genuinely any good. All I know is that it's quite stylish and there seems to be a big wheel in the middle of it that's in the background of everyone's photos. 

What I did get out of all the 100's of instagram photos that I liked is confirmation on something that I've known for a while - yellow tinted sunglasses are this years festival trend. Actually let me rewind, this is not just a festival trend but one that will span men's, women's and unisex accessories this summer.

The yellow tinted sunglasses that I'm wearing in this men's style edit are from Gucci. Navy and yellow always work well together so I've gone with this colour theme for this look. My navy essentials t-shirt is from Zara and the layered navy striped shirt is from Reiss. My jeans are from ASOS, shoes from Goodwin Smith and finally watch from Rotary.

 

SHOP YELLOW TINTED SUNGLASSES

MY TOP PICKS

TONI&GUY Beard Grooming Heroes

TONI&GUY were kind enough to forward on some samples from their new grooming range, beard grooming heroes. With all the grooming products I've been sent recently, my beard would be forgiven for thinking it was growing residing on cheeks of the Sultan of Oman. It's getting spoilt, one day all the beard oils will dry up and we’ll look back to these salad days and say 'we never knew we had it so good'. 

Sorry I digress. Talking hair follicles Carl? I thought this was a serious blog?

TONI&GUY are looking to get out in front of current beard trends, considering not just the gentleman that like to grow full voluminous beards, but different styles and lengths. Second day stubble has been wildly overlooks as a demographic and now we're seeing more retro moustaches come into vogue.

The packaging

I'm all in favour of having different shaped vessels to differentiate the products. It's something of a bugbear of mine when I squeeze out the face wash expecting the face scrub, all because I didn't read the fine print. The pack leader in this field of terrible packaging is LQD.

The only thing I would say is that the product is a little black for a Spring/Summer launch. It's not offending my delicate sensibilities, and it is a stylish look, but it doesn't exactly liven up my shelf. On the flip side it is very masculine and I would be drawn to it on the shelves of Boots.  

The products

The beard oils come in Nourishing Premium Beard and Softening Premium Stubble. Both retail at £11.99, essentially one is a pre-shave, but both are designed to hydrate the hair follicles and soften the skin. Remember only use 2-3 drops and don't over saturate your beard. I can't say I noticed it being any better than recent oils I've tried, it certainly hasn't got the emollient qualities of an Acqua Di Parma Serum, but for the price point I wouldn't expect that. 

The Beard Foam, Shampoo and Balm each bring different qualities to the table. The Shampoo perhaps isn't going to be a repeat purchase for me as it's designed for longer or thicker beards. It feels slightly superfluous for me, however the Beard Foam lathered up nicely and was quite refreshing. 

I should say that these TONI&GUY products are exclusively available at Boots, but the Beard Foam one isn't currently online. The Beard Balm would appeal to someone like me as I have quite a frizzy beard. Although the changes were imperceptible, for the price point this is a decent introduction for anyone looking to get into men’s grooming. 

The moustache wax was a tough one for me to trial as my facial hair in this department isn't long enough to shape. 

Conclusion

Fairly tick the box stuff from TONI&GUY, perhaps an opportunity for innovation missed, but we have to look at what market of the industry they’re targeting. They’re not Aesop or Acqua Di Parma levels of luxury, nor do they pretend to be. Moreover, TONI&GUY have produced what the industry might call accessible products for the everyday man. And they’ve done so comprehensively.

Are There Any Stable Jobs in the Retail Sector?

It's really a fascinating time for the high street. I'd hate to call it exciting as many people within the retail sector will be echoing the words of President Whitmore, "EXCITING? People are dying out there. I don't think "exciting" is the word I'd choose to describe it."

Okay so maybe I'm being a little dramatic. But you have to sympathise, not only is the pressure on these positions under immense scrutiny, but living with the insecurity knowing it could be your brand that will consolidate its workforce, or simply go out of business altogether is enough for a few sleepless nights. 

This week in high street news, Shop Direct announced the closure of three of its sites across Greater Manchester leading to nearly 2000 job losses with many of the roles being replaced by automation. Mothercare expecting to announce closure of a 1/3 of its stores and WHSmiths rumoured to be in a spot of bother. 

So what are the current stable jobs out there? Well amidst all the peril and what some industry experts are referring to as 'media scaremongering' some sectors of the retail industry are not only hiring, but showing exponential growth.  

Jane Foley, Head of FX Strategy for Rabobank which is responsible for the G10 currencies, told BBC's Wake up to Money yesterday

'It really depends what sector of retail we're talking about. People want an experience, see their friends, drink coffee etc, but are becoming less bothered about shopping for clothes or shoes.' 

So what jobs should people be looking for right now if they're looking to get into the retail sector? In another interview on the same podcast, James Hick from ManpowerGroup cites, 

"We're seeing significant demand for shop floor specialists, I.E sales assistants that can up-sell you something you don't necessarily want. There is also a huge demand in digital marketing, e-commerce supply chain and of course cyber security is a massive growth area across the retail sector.

What to do if you've just lost your job? 

If you've recently been made redundant from the retail sector you should focus on those transferable skills. Many people are transposing those customer service skills they've acquired in retail to the service industry. In the UK 3 coffee shops are opening every day on average. 

Look for jobs in retail outlets slightly beyond your postcode. Huge outlets like Bluewater in Kent, or Bicester in Oxford boast 97% occupancy rates so their retail metrics and employment stats paint an entirely different picture compared to the high street.

Look to strengthen your knowledge gaps in and attend digital marketing evening courses at the University of Westminster

Stay tuned for more articles like these, as we'll be looking to go into more depth with the state of retail. Next week we'll talk to Anton Welcome e-commerce specialist and editor of Maketh the Man about what brands are getting it right! 

What do Women Mean When They Say 'No Spark' | Dating Advice

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It seems like an implacable rebuke, how can you work your way back from 'I'm sorry, I just didn't feel any spark between us'?

The truth is you can't. Women that reached this conclusion after a first date are obviously not interested in the delayed gratification. Or perhaps don't have the time nor inclination to test the slow burn theory. I'm personally in agreement with Stella Grey from The Guardian who wrote, 

'People who won’t agree to a second date “because there was no spark” are … I hesitate to say they are idiots, but they are discounting something that could prove to be a slow burner.' 

But what are women really saying when they mean there is no spark? For guys it can be dumbfounding. Especially when guys feel they delivered their A-Game. The conversation was fluid and peppered with light-inoffensive gags, and you didn't get drunk this time, right? 

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What is the Spark? 

I'm no woman, I've never used the line. I can only assume it means one of three things.

1# A bit like style, you know it when you see it. A 'Spark' is almost this indefinable feeling that permeates through every sinew.

2# An easy-out, a line that sounds better than 'I didn't find you at all attractive, and I can't see any scenario, including one where we're both forced to repopulate the earth for the sake of mankind, where we would end up in bed together'. Bless her she's just safe guarding your feelings and keeping you in her rolodex in case she needs you to build her a website, replace her spark plugs etc., pardon the pun. (WAIT is that what they mean?). 

3# A sign of being inarticulate. I understand this one actually. They were hoping for something more than what they've got. We've all been handed a pint of lager in a plastic cup before haven't we? That feeling of loving lager, but not like that. It's not imperceptible, it's palpable. Sure we might drink the lager, but we're not hanging around here. I agree with the Date Technician on this one who says

"No spark means she may have found you interesting, and nice, and kind, and funny, but not attractive. She’s got friends for those other qualities. She’s looking for all of those things PLUS a bit extra – the thing that is going to make her think about you long after the date and waiting by the phone for you to message her." 

In conclusion, the 'no spark' line leaves you with nowhere to go. Because it's nebulous. You can't improve your spark factor. You can work on charisma, you can work on confidence, your style, all of these elements I'll be looking at in more depth. So stay tuned, keep your chin up. And if you hear the words 'no spark' think of all the times you've circumvented the truth to protect someone else's feelings. 

'Really I'm just not ready to date, think I need to work on myself for a while. No it has nothing to do with the fact you have horrible kids, look nothing like your pictures and didn't put your hand in your pocket once to buy a round'. 

Layering with a Leather Jacket | Men's Style Edit

With the weather warming up you might be tempted to pack away your leather jackets in favour of something lighter such as a bomber jacket. I would say, don't be so hasty, your leather jacket can still be the crown in your wardrobe this spring and on the odd cool summer day. In this weeks men's style edit, I'm laying up using simple navy, white and black colours.

This is pretty much my go-to outfit when I'm dressing casually. The leather jacket is from Bodaskins, white t-shirt from ASOS and the navy shirt from Reiss. For the lower half I'm wearing ASOS skinny black jeans and a pair of Chelsea boots from Dune London, purchased via House of Fraser.  I've accessorised with a Rotary watch and pair of Silhouette glasses from their new Alpha collection.

As always, if you like the look, you can shop it below.

 

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Photo Credit Omnistyle

Kilian Announce the Launch of Shower Gels & Body Lotions

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I can't remember the last time I vented artlessly about my ambivalence towards the words passion fruit and energy; imbued into every other shower gel and body lotion. It's certainly been a good 2 minutes anyway. Ironic really that I can be that dispassionate, about passion fruit, a fair to middling flavour of fruit that like a hot model, has danced it's way effortlessly to the top of the food chain disregarding all laws or meritocracy. How? It's just got a cool name.

So it's with welcome relief that luxury scent brand KILIAN has announced its first Bath & Body Collection for five scents: Love Don't Be Shy - Stmightto Heaven, White Cristal Moonlight in Heaven, Good Girl Gone Bad and Intoxicated.

Admittedly some of these names sound like they were in the hat for either a Ron Jeremy boxset or a Britney Spears best of, but it's a significant evolution from the brand that is now entering its 11th year. Kilian also boasts a collection of 35 fragrances as well as wearable scented jewellery, scented paperweights, tassels, candles and home accessories.

The shower gel and body lotion have been custom-formulated with uncompromising respect for the quality and integrity of each fragrance blend. Each shower gel and body lotion refill claims its own elegant, upright vessel made of melded and lacquered resin. It is meticulously hand-polished for a sleek, jet-black gloss-except for that of the fragrance Good Girl Gone Bad, which stands innocently in white.

Who is Kilian?

Kilian Hennessy is the heir to a long line of cognac-makers. Many of Kilian’s fragrances today carry nostalgic childhood memories of those family cellars in Cognac as they are reminiscent of the sugar in the alcohol and the wood of the cognac barrels. After graduating, he then went on to train with the greatest noses in perfumery and worked for the most prestigious perfume houses such as Christian Dior, Paco Rabanne, Alexander McQueen and Giorgio Armani.

You might start to think who pays $150 on a paperweight? Or $500 on a bottle of perfume? Granted, those with a disposable income for sure. Kilian isn't just a brand for those looking to upscale from Lynx Africa, it overshoots that playing field by a couple of acres. However, Kilian is no stranger to the price of luxury and offered a candid rebuke to this in a wonderful article by Susannah Frankel at The Independent citing, 

"The luxury brands have been saying to customers for the past 80 years that a luxury fragrance costs £50. So generation after generation it has been established. When someone comes along with a perfume that costs £145, they're like, 'It's very expensive'. But it's a question of what you are giving the customer for that £145? There is not a single product designed by Apple that costs less than a few hundred dollars; at one point Steve Jobs said it is not that Apple has become mass market, it's that the market has now reached Apple's level. Hopefully that will happen with fragrance. Hopefully more and more people will say, you know what? £145 for that product is not a lot of money." Kilian.

Kilian can be found online and in Burlington Arcade in Mayfair.

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Introducing KOBOX - Fightclub meets Night Club

If you've been following my Instagram stories of late you'll know I've procured a healthy obsession with KOBOX. Yes, I'm working on my bikini body for my upcoming trip to Tanzania, but square pecs and a six-pack aren't just for beach holidays and showy social posts (well some days they are). I've come to the slow realisation that fitness is a way of life. 

For many people joining a boxing gym can be extremely intimidating. Whilst it's nothing like the movies where a trainer asks you to jump in to the ring within seconds of you entering the gym and asks 'ok kid let’s see what you got', it means completely abandoning your comfort zone. 

One of the reasons I've become hooked on KOBOX of late is because there is an acute sense of community. It's ran like a family business and straight I was made to feel like one of the family. All the trainers and staff live and breathe the brand, and want every person who walks through the doors to feel as at home as they all do. 

What is KOBOX?

KOBOX, 50-minute, high intensity classes that will see you tackle all the fundamentals of boxing. Each class is structured in a series of boxing combinations, displayed in HD on the studio wall, making boxing easier than ever. The classes are boxing combined with HIIT training, think 3 minutes on a bag and 3 minutes HIIT...repeated. 

I started off by using these classes once per week just to mix it up a bit as variation in your fitness routine is important (or so I’ve heard!) Now I’m up to 4-5 classes a week and I’m feeling as fit as I’ve felt in such a long time. Each class focuses on a particular muscle group such as Upper Body, Lower Body, Core or a Full Body workout. 

The best part for me is that I can get a sweat on, throw some meaningful punches and not leave with any marks on the cash register (my face!). The music kicks ass and lends a fantastic pulse to the class. The lights dim, the beat drops and as someone at KOBOX has so aptly coined, 'It’s Fight Club Meets Nightclub'.

KOBOX has two London locations one in Chelsea and the other in the City. You simply sign up to koboxlondon.com and buy a pack of classes which you use to book your slot. The booking system is super easy to use and the classes structured with incredible staff. 

I'm now proud to announce I'm an ambassador for the brand and would love to hear from you on what your take on fitness is. Have you attended a KOBOX class and if so please leave some thoughts in the comments below. All feedback welcome. 

Who Owned the Red Carpet at the Oliver Awards 2018?

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Sadly, I couldn't make this year’s Olivier Awards ceremony, which saw the best actors, theatre luminaries and fashion supremos alike grace it's red carpet. Ironically it clashed with the Olivier Giroud awards that was hosted around the corner, a sort Razzy to the Oscars if you will. 

Nevertheless, my news reel was submerged with updates from the red carpet. The erudite Grey Fox Blog looking suitably well-heeled in toe with the reptilian Nick Carvell. The impeccable maverick Joshua Kane and his counterpart Oliver Proudlock were also on hand to inject a kick of ritzy-glamour wearing of course, Joshua Kane. Oliver Proudlock (below-left) is wearing the brands 'Classic Collection' whilst expertly demonstrating the contrast in tailoring available at Joshua Kane Bespoke, Joshua Kane himself (below-right) is wearing a dinner jacket suit from the 'Fantasy Collection'.

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Chester Barrie is, for the seventh year in succession, the menswear sponsor of The Olivier Awards and the brand was worn by many of the nominees and presenters at yesterday’s ceremony. At the heart of the collection is the classic black Chester Barrie dinner suit, fashioned with peak lapels and jetted pockets.

Here's a quick rundown of the runners and riders. 

Adam J Bernard

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Adam from the Dreamgirls production currently playing at The Savoy theatre, is rocking the Chester Barrie velvet jacket which featured as part of Autumn Winter 17 which sadly isn't on sale anymore. Talk about rule of thumb though. Look at how the jacket lands perfectly between the knuckles of Adam's right hand thumb. Great length, nice exaggerated width on the shawl lapel, very ostentatious and why not. 

Joe Mcelderry

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Yes, Joe! That's how you rock a gauntlet cuff my friend. A slightly longer jacket length and a single button stance. Notice the colour pairing of Joe's brown eyes are almost identical to that brown/hickory colour of his jetted pocket trim, lapel, bow tie and cuff. 

Jamie Lambert

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A crisp delivery from singer/presenter Jamie Lambert. Jamie is insouciantly donning this double breasted Black Watch Tartan jacket fresh from this seasons black tie Chester Barrie catalogue. The contrast navy peak lapels bring out his baby blues, paired equably with his bowtie and knotted cufflinks. 

Jason Donavon

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He's matured like a fine Australian Shiraz. Jason Donavon in the shawl lapel dinner jacket from Chester Barrie above. Below is the peak lapel version sported by Michael Sheen. I normally like to go with the home team on this, but I think Jason has edged this one don't you think? 

Michael Sheen

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Do you have a favourite from the Chester Barrie Black Tie collection? Did you go to the Olivier awards? You do know I'm joking about the Olivier Giroud awards right? There's no such thing. (But there should be). Leave your thoughts in the comment box below. 

 

The Versatile Camel Overcoat | Men's Style Edit

On a spring day that feels more like winter it is imperative that you have a lightweight, smart overcoat for layering over your workwear. A camel coat can be worn both smart, layered on top of a suit or casual with a pair of jeans making it super versatile. There are a lot of wool mix or cashmere-wool mix camel coats on the market for affordable prices, although mixing in wool will give the coat more warmth and therefore better suited to cold weather. If you can stretch your finances, always try to buy 100% cashmere, as it is warm yet breathable and most important, lightweight. 

For this weeks style edit, I'm wearing a 100% British cashmere coat by Hawkins & Shepherd, layered on top of a navy double-breasted suit from Reiss and a blue stripe shirt, also from Hawkins & Shepherd. The shoes in this look are from Goodwin Smith.

 

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Murdock London Grooming Products Reviewed

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Today I'm talking about some of the wonderful grooming products the good guys at Murdock London were kind enough to send on. I've frequented their barbers down in Shoreditch a handful of times, it was in East London that I spawned the almightiest slogan for every independent coffee house to have on its wall. You don't have to have a beard to work here, but it helps. Thank you, it's why I get the big bucks. 

Let me also tell you the word around the campfire is that Murdock know what they're doing with their brands. They have a loyal audience and consumer base and having just relaunched some of their staple products, amped up the price a little bit on some of their products, but let’s see if it's justified. 

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Packaging

I love these bottles. Between navy and cobalt blue, like a bottle you'd find whilst digging a pond for your goldfish when you were young. Long tubular lids accentuate its stance, with contrast ivory labels with a braille motif, only not embossed. They look like glass, which is why the touch and feel of plastic deflated me momentarily. But I got over that. 

I applied a few squirts of the Beard Oil the night before to allow my beard to absorb and soften. 2-3 pumps is enough, as the Sultan of Silver will tell you the majority of men will drown their beards. 

In the morning I applied the Pre-Shave Oil which is the first step any man should take before he approaches the blade. (Sounds rather menacing that doesn't it?). The barbers of Murdock recommend for you to use a couple of drops once a week as a treatment for your hair. 

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I didn't actually wet shave this week but did get a nice lasting glow from the oils. It didn't penetrate the cuticles like some previous high end brands I've tried, perhaps due to the lack of emollient, but my beard has maintained a nice feel and texture.  Both the beard moisturiser and the facial moisturiser are scented, you'll get wafts of cinnamon and citrus and it stays with you for the best of the day, an indictment to its silage. 

"There is a reason this is our number one selling product. I use it every day on my own beard and on every bearded client I see. Use daily to keep your beard in best condition. If you beard gets really dry, maybe after a sunny holiday or when the weather is freezing, pimp the Beard Mo up by blending in one pump of Beard Oil." - Murdock London

Lastly the Sea Salt Spray was very effective. It gave my barnet a degree of veracity, very 'day on the beach'. It's a summer staple that guys are moving into right now of having a do that’s styled, but looks like you made zero effort. Typically, you only need sea salt for lightweight hair, but it did give mine some body and movement. Apply it to dry hair, run your hands through it and give it the once over with the hairdryer on a cold setting. 

Let me know if this review has helped at all in the comments below, also if you're interested in having me review any other products then get in touch with me here. 

 

What the Hell is Going on With A Suit That Fits?

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As many of you know by now, one of my competitors* A Suit That Fits has collapsed into liquidation. In a very informative article by James Hurley of The Times, Daniel Warwick, the companies’ director, has blamed a weak retail environment, higher import prices linked with Brexit and an earthquake in Nepal, where its clothes are produced.

The brand was launched in May 2006 and were very transparent with their model of having their production in Nepal, even citing their generous payment methodology of paying it's foundry workers and seamstresses over 50% the average local wage. 

The idea initially being you can get measured by appointment by a local stylist, pick your cloth and styling, and have a suit turned round in 8 weeks. If you needed additional fittings (which of course you would) then that would be dealt with by their own alterations department which would take up to a month. Alternatively, you could measure yourself and order an e-Suit through their website. 

ASTF (A Suit That Fits) ran into trouble into 2013, fell into administration and was sold for a minute sum to a person called Keith Watson who decided to resuscitate the business through crowdfunding promising a ROI of over 9 times the share price. Third parties at the time pointed out to Crowdcube (the equity investment platform) that the directors’ previous insolvency had not been disclosed to prospective investors.

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As well as the article by James Hurley, I thoroughly recommend that you read this blog post by the Equity Crowd Funding Experts who deliver an excoriating assessment on the character of Keith Watson. Almost a crusade of sorts to deliver the man from the shadows into the gallows. 

'Round about 2012 ASTF used the services of an accountant, Keith Watson. Now it turns out that Watson was in the market for a failed company and was the only offer the administration for ASTF received. He paid a few thousand pounds for the business. Keith we will meet again.'

I've reached out to DW Clothing Limited, the trading division of ASTF for a comment but they have not got back to me. They have also failed to update their website and at the time of writing, have not issued a statement on their social media. 

My personal view is that Brexit has become this axiom for companies struggling to justify their lack of sales. Some sources and competitors I know have informed me that Brexit has boosted sales, especially internationally thanks to the weaker pound. Retail is tough but then ASTF was not shackled into any leases, no bricks and mortar so I'm not sure how they managed to hemorrhage so much investor capital. 

They might want to look at how dated and their platform has become. The tutorials offer zero personality and when it comes to augmenting the styling, it's an increasingly frustrating and tedious procedure. Not to mention all of a sudden, that 2-piece suit that you were promised for under £300, has now spiraled into 5, 6 or £700. Which is still not a bad price for a bespoke 2-piece, but all of a sudden you have to question its USP. 

Plenty of thoughts on this, very keen to rant on the podcast that's currently in the making. Stay tuned. I'll leave you with the last review posted by a customer on the services of ASTF found on Trust Pilot

'I ordered two separate set of multiple suits worth well over £3000 and they are refusing to repay me claiming that the company behind the brand is in liquidation, yet offering to complete my order. A task they have failed to accomplish in the last few years. The staff are rude and unhelpful and purposefully misdirect and lie in regards to support queries.'

*I use the word competitor here loosely. I sell ready to wear suits with 100% British Wool fabric for £250 on my e-commerce site Hawkins and Shepherd.

Spring Smart-Casual Workwear | Men's Style Edit

Dressing smart-casual for the office is without a doubt the hardest or all sartorial challenges and it's because there are choices to be made. Do I dress more casual? Or do I dress more on the side of smart? Are jeans and trainers acceptable? You get my point. My biggest tip would be to dress on the smarter side of casual or on the casual side of smart! Let me explain...

Dressing casually would translate to t-shirts, trainers, ripped jeans etc but for me they are too casual for a smart-casual look. Slightly smarter options are mid-blue jeans with no fades or rips, brogues or boots instead of trainers and layer a t-shirt with a smart jumper. 

Dressing smart would mean a suit, shirt and tie, but for me they are way too smart for a smart-casual look. Although the casual side of this would be a blazer or even an unbuttoned button-down shirt and definitely no tie.

I've styled this weeks men's style edit based on these rules, so what do you think?

John Frieda London Men’s Grooming Products Reviewed

The eponymously titled John Frieda is a brand that started with the opening of a salon on New Cavendish Street, London over 3 decades ago. The man John Frieda is a British celebrity hairstylist and founder of the business, the hair product side that I’ll be reviewing today has since been acquired by Kao Corporation, a Japanese company. 

I will say that people should sit up and take note of how well the John Frieda website is put together. The reviews are very balanced, unlike the Harvey Nichols site which is very functional and easy to navigate, but offers little in terms of customer feedback. Still that's what us bloggers are here for right? So let's get to it. 

John Frieda Energising Shampoo

Where can I buy John Frieda London? Interestingly Boots have the monopoly on this. You can only buy this collection exclusively online at Boots or in selected stores. The Shampoo is designed to strengthen, invigorate and cleanse your scalp of all that dulled-product gunk that's been coagulating on your scalp since your teenage years. 

It does lather up well. When a product fails to lather in my palm I feel like marching back into the Boots store like Arnie at the end of Raw Deal. (Deep pull Carl, but go on). It has a nice lasting smell, like black tea, a tiny bit of citrus. It left a nice shine, I still needed to use the conditioner afterwards but I have quite coarse hair and I'm a creature of habit. £7.50, not bad at all.  

John Frieda Sculpting Paste

This one has cucumber in it. Known for its calming & hydrating properties, (eat that passion fruit). I want to knock passion fruit of its arrogant-prissy little perch. Passion fruit thinks just because it has a cool name it can put its name on anything. But not on my watch passion fruit, your days of ubiquity are numbered d'ya hear? 

Sorry, I digress. I wouldn't say my hair is unruly, but it is coarse and takes a bit of work to mold it to some kind of form. This product isn't as malleable as I'd hoped and it does give it too much shine. On the plus side it has a touch of splendour to it in the fragrance department. Smells a bit like passion fruit, wait! Dammit!

The Lifting Clay Creme

For less of a 20's gangster slick-sheen and more Le Blanc circa 90's matte finish, then this is the product for you. The smell is more muted than the paste and it does leave a nice textured finish. You'll need to go sparingly as it applies thickly, the tub should last you awhile if you've got reasonably short hair like me. 

There you go gents, did you like this one? Have you tried the John Frieda men’s products? Ladies if you're man is trying these grooming products what do you make of the smells? Let me know in the comment box below. 

 

SHOP THE COLLECTION BELOW

The Style & Sound of Edward Sexton

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Who is Edward Sexton? In short, and in my opinion, Edward Sexton is a redoubtable trailblazer tailor who along with his late partner Tommy Nutter, revolutionized not only Savile Row but much of the movements that happened in both elegant men’s and women’s tailoring during the 60’s-70’s.

No longer of Savile Row he sees his clients by appointment only out of his studio in Beauchamp Place, a fashionable shopping street in the Knightsbridge district of London.

Whilst sieving through the annals of Savile Row history during my downtime on a recent trip to the Philippines, I kept circling and underlining inspirational comments, glib remarks and cool turns of phrase that Edward Sexton used in his social commentary. I’d love to interview the man personally one day so if you’re out there Edward and you’re reading this, have your people call my people and we’ll do lunch.

In the mean time I thought I’d corral all my favourites in a mini listicle for your amusement.

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·     I knew to develop oneself and to express yourself and to make the styles to create the work you wanted, you had to go outside. So I started moonlighting.

·     To make the same style day in day out, is wonderful but to keep the edge you need to challenge yourself all the time.

·     When we had a window display all the old guys freaked out, they said ‘give them 6 months’. (And they’ll be out of business).

·     What made us was the quality and the style and Tommy wearing it socially and we attracted a lot of ink.

·     My philosophy is that a client should wear the garment, the garment should never wear the client.

·     Romancing IS accessories. You can make the most beautiful suit and put it on somebody but unless it accessorized correctly it won’t work. And some people need a lot of accessorizing.

·     Ringo was different again he didn’t say a lot until it was finished and we realised he wanted a double breasted instead of a single breasted.

·     I like sophisticated elegant clothing it’s what I stand for. That’s what I do for a living it’s what I’ve done all my life and I don’t suppose I’ll be changing.

Simba Mattress Review | Get a Better Night's Sleep

It is Easter bank holiday weekend and I've completed a social media poll asking "what are you looking forward to most this Easter" with the options going out or catching up on sleep. Catching up on sleep got 86% of the votes and if I could vote on my own poll that would have been my answer too. Sleep is something that I've taken seriously lately for my wellbeing but it is not just about the number of hours sleep you're getting every night, it's also important to get a good quality night's sleep.

With that in mind, I have been testing out the Simba Luxe Mattress in search for the best possible night's sleep and boy did I get it. I've always been a very active person, playing all the sports from my youth, teens and continued into adulthood. The gym, HIIT classes and boxing is my way of life, so over the years I have put a lot of pressure on my body and in particular my mid and lower back. Over the last year I have suffered continuous problems with my lower back, so much so that I now visit a chiropractor every 2-4 weeks for an adjustment. That has worked wonders, especially during exercise and I no longer have 'twinges' whilst working out and the next day my back isn't aching. 

Saying that, there was still one major problem that I HAD to address and that was my sleep quality. Although the chiropractor adjusted my spine, it doesn't change your lifestyle and habits. I was still waking up in the morning with my lower back painful to move. I would have to move gradually with small movements to loosen my back up before I was able to even get out of bed. I always had an inkling that it was caused from my previous old spring mattress that I have had for about 5 years. My pervious mattress had a dip in the middle and regardless of where you went to sleep you would wake up in the dip! It was also higher near the head, dips lower around my back area and again up at my legs...causing my spine to curve especially if you sleep on your front - like I do.

My Simba Luxe Mattress was delivered exactly when arranged with the courier company called prior to their arrival to double-check you are in. They then install the mattress on the bed that you require (as they are quite heavy) and they take away your old mattress as part of the service. You have the leave the new Simba mattress about 6 hours to settle in to its new home before you lay or sit on it for the first time. Trust me it is worth the wait. Fall back into this mattress and you do not bounce up uncontrollably, the mattress absorbs you and moulds to your body. 

My first night's sleep was better than I've had for years, it was so comfortable I found myself able to sleep on my back with no problems. I didn't wake up at all in the middle of the night to adjust and I woke up feeling incredible, I just wish I had changed my mattress years ago.

If you’re a lover of luxury, a craver of quality or you just want the pinnacle of mattress technology, the Simba Luxe is for you. Limitless luxury, and all in a mattress that fits in a box. An inimitable combination of 10 sumptuous comfort layers, the finest hand-picked fabrics, 10,500 patented conical springs and an ultra-high-definition ‘7-zone’ support base; the Simba Luxe reduces pressure on key compression points across the body and enhances ease of movement throughout the night, whatever your size or sleep style.

Layers of luxury We reinvented what we can put in a mattress, and then layered an extra level of luxury on top of it. The topper alone contains 4,000 of our patented conical pocket springs. It could be a mattress in its own right. But with Luxe it’s just the beginning. The new comfort zone For ultimate support, we developed smaller, finer and more responsive springs - a total of 10,500 over three layers.

Then we varied the tension in the lowest layer to match the zoning in our expertly engineered support base - holding your body in perfect equilibrium. Soothing sleep We re-engineered our supportive, cooling material, Simbatex, especially for the Luxe. It uses charcoal, a natural purifier that delivers superior air flow and durability, so each comfort layer holds its shape and firmness impeccably for 10 years. It’s so soothing to sleep on, we included it twice.

 

HOUSE 99 Male Grooming Products Created by David Beckham in Partnership with L'Oreal

HOUSE 99, is a complete collection of 21 grooming products created by David Beckham in partnership with L'Oreal.

'Lovely party, pity I wasn't invited'. Remember that from Ace Ventura? That would have been me watching every other blogger under the sun attend the launch of David Beckham's new grooming range House 99 on my social news reel if I wasn't invited, lucky I was! The launch was down in Knightsbridge earlier this month, but I didn't get time to trial the products on the night so I've decided to try out some of his new products over the last couple of weeks and create a more meaningful review.

What's with the name? 

The name 'House' is his idea of community and 99 is the year when he won the treble for Man United, got married, had a child (Brooklyn) and it also mirrors his philosophy that we can always do one better.

It's not a question of why has Beckham released a grooming range, more like why has it taken this long? When you think the male grooming industry was worth $50 billion in 2015 and has seen steady incremental increases since then. I know from personal experience that the grooming reviews and vlogs draw many people to my site. US online magazine Primer that writes about practical style and grooming advice for young men boasts numbers like 1.5m monthly page views. So there is an audience, has been for quite a while. It belies his seemingly omnipresent persona, but it could be a genuine case of Becks simply not having enough hours in the day to do everything. Why hasn't Becks played James Bond? Why hasn't Becks released a rap album? Why hasn't Becks saved the rainforest?

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So let’s get one with some product reviews. Up first:

Smooth Back Shaping Pomade £15 90ml,

According to Harvey Nichols this is a personal favourite for Beckham who cites 'there is no shine to speak of, which is important when you’re looking to get a natural look, and the hold is good. It’s very thick, so a little goes a long way.'

The packaging isn't as bad as other bloggers have made out. I saw quite an excoriating review by another blogger on the packaging and it's really surprised me. In my mind it's inoffensive, passable, risk averse. It's not as perfunctory as LQD or as lavish as L'Occitane, it's middle of the road, where it should be for this price point.

There is a slight scent but by no means invasive, very creamy to the touch and easy to apply. I got some good definition and as it's water based it was easy to wash out. However, after about 6-7 hours it ran out of puff and lost some of its lustre. It doesn't hold like a wax and a pomade won't, but it's something to note if you're thinking of going straight out after a day’s work.

Going Big Thickening Daily Shampoo 250ml

This shampoo is infused with styling polymers; designed to instantly purify and thicken hair. It has peppermint notes and comes out black (that's the charcoal) which is a funny colour for shampoo but gives the verisimilitude of containing something 'sciencey'. Truth is, and I hate to brag, but I have a lustrous head of hair, thus it's not a product that really speaks to me. I'd be interested to know why there isn't an accompanying conditioner with this also? Take two bottles in the shower? YES. DO! It makes sense, always has.

Bold Statement Tattoo Body Moisturiser 

David Beckham has 40 tattoos! One every year, where's he going to put them when he runs out of square footage? I've only used the Tattoo Body Moisturiser for a couple weeks and it's hard to tell if it's had any effect reviving any discolouration on my tattoos. I'll be honest and say it's imperceptible if it has, but it's a non-greasy formula, attacks the skin well and doesn't feel like I need to jump back in shower to get the residue off. It's a spray lotion, with SPF 30 so will protect you against the elements.

That’s it for now, if I get any more products from House 99 I’ll be sure to review them here. I’ll be interested to know if you have any thoughts, maybe you’ve tried a few. Let me know in the comment bar below.

The Cuban Collar Shirt | Men's Style Edit

Okay so we're forecasted continuous rain in the UK for the next 10 days, so I couldn't feel less Cuban right now if I'm honest! Some people say that I have an over imaginative mind and I'm harnessing all of it's power right now in the attempt to imagine this shirt on the beaches of Cuba or in-fact anywhere remotely sunny. Instead I've thrown off my large warm jacket, umbrella and photographed this outfit during a brief break in the weather on the streets of London.

It's quite hard trying to showcase new SS18 (Spring/Summer 2018) collections when the weather just isn't playing ball...but as a predominately fashion blogger, I have to persevere, adapt and carry on regardless. I love the simplicity of this look, a basic monochrome palette and on-trend Cuban collar shirt completes a very summer look. Imagine this on a tropical paradise sipping a cocktail.

Starting from top to bottom, I'm wearing sunglasses from Finlay & Co, a white Cuban shirt from Reiss, watch from Rotary, skinny black jeans from ASOS and white trainers from Cole Haan.

 

SHOP CUBAN COLLAR SHIRTS | MY TOP PICKS

Photography by Rebecca Spencer