When The Stars Align | The Male Grooming Constellation Gift Set

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I know you'll all be inundated with Christmas Wishlist's and gift guides this year. However, I only want to deliver the gifting ideas that will save you time and save you money. Today I want to introduce you to The Grooming Constellation by Estee Lauder Companies.

I constantly talk about how you can't go wrong with skin care, grooming and hair care products for Christmas gifts. I personally only wish people buy me these products as I can guarantee they'll get used. (The same can't always be said for that random snow globe that gets swiftly moved onto the charity shops). 

The Grooming Constellation is the perfect gift for the man in your life. Wait wait wait, that's press release talk. That sentence makes me sound like I'm writing for Beefcake Magazine. Please allow me to start over. 

If you're looking to get some Christmas gifts for him this year, The Grooming Constellation has just launched an exclusively designed limited edition box featuring iconic products from some of the world’s leading men’s brands such as Clinique for men lab, Lab Series, Aveda & More…

How it arrives? 

This is the best thing. You don't have to burn any extra calories wrapping up these gifts individually. Be a little greener this year people. This Grooming Constellation gift set comes in a neat square cubed box, adorned with an intriguing constellation motif. 

Who should I get this for? 

Ladies, your other half will thank you kindly for this. Us guys aren't one for cosmetic shopping, although we love the products, we like the baby without the birth if you get the expression. 

This screams great buddy gift. Dispense with those useless drinking hats or 'Best Dad' mugs this year and get him something he can truly utilise. 

The perfect gift with an amazing saving!

Launching Tuesday 6th November for only £39, worth over £114. 

FRAGRANCE DIRECT | My Christmas Fragrance Picks

I consider fragrances to be the skeleton key of Christmas gifts. No one can turn their nose up (pardon the pun) to a decent fragrance when it comes in the guise of a Christmas gift. It works on so many levels; you get to be the stylish arbiter of someone’s scent, they get to inject a room with nice aromas courtesy of your generosity. 


But how do I know what fragrance someone likes? 

I associate that sentiment with, well which kind of woman do you normally go for Carl? Let me tell you something for free. Hot is hot. I'm not prejudice towards any make or mould.

"Hot" as the Americans say, or "Fit" as we Brits like to say, transcends all genres. 

Now apply that logic to fragrance. 

If the bottle looks well presented, the fragrance projects well, sits close to the skin, has decent silage and smells luxurious, then I'm going to like. And so is the person you're gifting it too. 


Fragrance shopping made easy 

That's what I love most about shopping with Fragrance Direct. They house all the best marquee names under one roof, indexed this season into 3 easy categories; for her, for him and new launches, as part of their ‘Festive Fragrance Wonderland’ Christmas theme. 

There a select number of brands to feature which include Gucci, Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein, Chloe, Marc Jacobs, Joop and Lacoste.


Which ones did you choose Carl? 

Thanks for asking. I'll be honest, it was a coin toss to see if I was just going to gift myself some nice scents this year. (Happens to us all right?) I still might, the prices are the best I've seen on the web. 


NEW FOR 2018

I have a friend who is a Hugo Boss nut so this will be perfect for him. I especially like the bottle, I'm a huge proponent of Black Tea in anything, be it after shave, cheesecake, you name it. HUGO URBAN JOURNEY is a fragrance for the modern urban explorer and embodies the intense aromatic heart of Black Tea, which is reinforced by the masculine Guaiacwood to fuel you with a daring new energy. 


FOR HER

I can't say who this is for because she reads the blog, but this Gucci Guilty Gift Set is an absolute banker for a Christmas gift. This Gift Set includes 90ml Eau de Parfum Spray, 50ml Body Lotion and 7.4ml Roller Ball. Gucci Guilty Absolute Pour Femme is a non-traditional women’s fragrance created for a contemporary woman. 

Yes I'll be looking forward to smelling this on her as well. 


FOR HIM

Yes another Boss number. I'm a huge fan of The Scent myself, the bottle is designed as such to look like a cage, a fragrance so powerful it needs to be behind bars. (It's true, I have credible sources). 

This Gift Set includes 100ml Eau de Toilette Spray, 75ml Deodorant Stick and a 50ml Shower Gel.
BOSS Parfums is expertly crafted to reflect the strong personality of the BOSS Man and Woman.

 

Summary

Just to recap on why I'm plugging Fragrance Direct.

  • Easy to use

  • A bevy of options for both men and women 

  • Great prices, not seen cheaper anywhere else online

  • Free delivery over £20 

  • Perfect Christmas gifts for those difficult people that you never know what to get

 

*This sponsored post was created in collaboration with Fragrance Direct.

The Ultimate Stylish Gift for Christmas | Haig Club

Haig Club Clubman is one of the more decorative bottles of whisky on the market currently. If we're going by first impressions, aesthetically it would be remiss of me to not highlight the distinctive elongated square bottle. When within arm’s reach, not only does your eye gravitate towards it, but the unique composition of the bottle gives it a certain tangibility. You want to pick up, almost weigh it in your palm as you imagine what kind of future the two of you will have together. Your thoughts might take a flight of fancy. You see yourself running barefoot along a white sand beach, a bottle of Haig Club Clubman in one hand, the other is in the delicate basket weave-grip of David Beckham as the pair of you compare forearm tattoos. (Vinyl needle scratch). Apologies, I digress.

This stunning Single Grain Scotch Whisky from the House of Haig, created in partnership with David Beckham, brings a contemporary twist to Scotch and is a flawlessly stylish Christmas gift for both whisky lovers and newcomers to the Scotch scene. Single Grain Whisky is often used in blended whisky to mollify the more exotic bitters of Single Malt and Pot Still spice. In absence of those floral overtones is a more measured, clean flavour with sweet notes of butterscotch and toffee for a deliciously smooth taste.

The Haig Club brand has worked wonders to create the definitive entry level whisky aimed at persuading non-whisky drinkers that there is life beyond the custodial Gin and Vodka perimeters. I'm lucky - I've got some Christmas parties to attend next month and I'm excited to up the style stakes, introducing my colleagues and friends to the HAIG CLUB. I'm more than happy to play barman at Christmas parties because you're never isolated from conversation or feel out of place. People will want to come to you! Here below are some of the cocktails I've been practicing ahead of time, I hope they inspire you to try the HAIG CLUB, and experiment with mixing cocktails to suit your palette. Let me know in the comment box below, what you think. 

 

Haig Club Clubman Winter Spiced Espresso Martini

Dick Bradsell’s classic cocktail is given a decadent and delightful festive twist.

  • 50ml Haig Club Clubman
  • 50ml Crème de Cacao
  • 50ml Espresso
  • 1 x Cinnamon

Haig Club & Cola Old Fashioned

A modern take on a classic whisky drink which enhances the caramel flavours of the cola and the vanilla flavours of Clubman.

  • 50 ml Haig Club
  • 1 x Brown Sugar
  • 25ml Cola
  • 25ml Sweet Vermouth
  • 1 twist of Cherry & Orange Peel

Clubman & Cola

The sweet, vanilla flavour of Clubman combines perfectly with the smooth caramel of cola to create a refreshing drink with a vibrant, smooth finish.

  • 50 ml Haig Club Clubman
  • 250ml Cola
  • Slice of lime

HAIG CLUB 70cl: RRP £45 Available from Amazon

HAIG CLUB CLUBMAN 70cl: RRP £25 Available from Amazon

 

Disney's Aladdin | Gift Someone an Experience This Christmas

Christmas is my favourite time of year, fact! It’s a time of year that spending time with my friends and family is extremely important to me. In everyday life it can be easy to focus on work and neglect spending time with our loved ones and Christmas is a time where we can reflect and focus on the things that truly matter. My love for Christmas comes from my Nan who was mad about it, she would have her decorations up on the 1st December without fail, every window was covered with lights and even the front garden had a lit-up Santa and sleigh, she would get so excited about this time of year and it was infectious. Her front room would be decorated with the tackiest 80’s hanging ceiling decorations, a massive tree overly decorated with baubles, Santa’s, angels, tinsel, chocolates, multi-coloured lights and even silly string. Although my Nan is no longer with us, I can still close my eyes and see her face, her excitement and even her badly decorated tree that certainly wouldn’t make my Instagram feed!

For me that’s Christmas, even writing this blog post it’s making me smile because it’s making me recall good times with family past and present. As a kid I recall religiously going to watch a musical around this time of year and I haven’t been to one since growing up which is a massive shame. I almost forgot what it was like to see a performance like Aladdin the Musical. On arrival at the Prince Edward theatre it immediately transported me back to the good times of Christmas, a nostalgic warmth came over me, in fact I couldn’t stop smiling! It made me think why on this winter tradition was not continued into my adulthood. From this year on, I’ll see at least one musical every Christmas and to prove it I’ll write about it!

Recently I was fortunate enough to watch Aladdin the Musical including a back stage tour at the end of the show. I was blown away by the performance, the visuals and the costumes all of which gave me an uplifting feeling helped by my plus one that was completely in awe and acting like an excited puppy! Expect colourful outfits, incredible visual effects, songs that we can all recognise, exceptional performances from Aladdin, Jasmine, Genie and even a flying rug! Aladdin the Musical is currently on at the Price Edward theatre and you can still buy tickets here.

It’s a time of year for giving, so it also made me think about what to buy my family this Christmas and rather than gifting things, how amazing would it be to gift experiences such as tickets to Disney’s Aladdin the Musical? For example you too could reinvent a lost family tradition by buying two tickets, one for yourself and surprising your loved one with the second ticket. It’s an experience to remember forever as well as getting to spend time with that person.

Christmas Gift Guide For Men 2017

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ALCOHOL

WINTER COATS

FRAGRANCE

FORMAL SHIRTS

TIES

NOVELTY CUFF-LINKS

GROOMING KITS

WATCHES

KNITWEAR

MANDLES

ARTWORK

Top 5 Items on my Christmas Wishlist

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I was borderline to having a flight of fancy whilst proverbially window shopping around the luxury fashion websites over the weekend, Harvey Nichols, Mr Porter and Farfetch just to name a few. These sites have got quite the portfolio - their impressive stables famously house brands like Valentino, Saint Laurent, Givenchy and Comme des Garcons amongst others. I've put together a wish list below, let me know what you think of my picks in the comment box below. 

1. BALENCIAGA - All Over Short Sleeved Shirt - shop it

Christian Dior once referred to Balenciaga as 'the master of us all'. He was a pioneer of women’s dress essentially. A visionary that was often coined the master of shape. If you haven't caught the Balenciaga exhibition down at the V&A Museum, then I implore you to down tools immediately. 

This monogram patterned short sleeve shirt has been described as Dadcore, a progression on Normcore which was essentially a return to minimalist street wear a few years back where people would wear deeply commercial brands, more out of irony than as a statement. The piece features a pointed collar, (it mentions long sleeves in the description but that’s an oversight) a front button fastening and an oversized fit. I'd love to be seen turning heads wearing this. 

2. BLOOD BROTHER on Farfetch - Cutty Zip Through Sweatshirt - shop it

There is something deftly destructive about this jacket. I've had my eye on Blood Brother for a while and whilst this zip-through sweatshirt can be paired with the matching Sark joggers, I'd gravitate towards the dark denim and black sneaker look. With my black hair I can bookend the look nicely, plus we're all thinking it aren't we? Something very Kill Bill-ish about this sweatshirt right? 

3. FENDI - Micro Houndstooth Trousers - shop it

I've recently awoken a curious interest into Houndstooth. It's a type of dual tone weave that surely has the best name of any weave, only usurped by dogstooth which is a micro version of Houndstooth. (Technically, these are dogstooth trousers). 

Italian fashion house Fendi is well known for its exquisite and elegant designs and these pleated trousers are composed from grey virgin wool. The neural hues will pair effortless with most coloured tees, shirts and outer layers. I'd actually swing for the Fendi patterned hoody. You may as well go big or go home. 

4. UNIVERSAL WORKS - Sheepskin Jacket - shop it

Universal Works is a British Brand, with two London stores and a HQ in Nottingham. All the pieces have a very honest blue collar feel to them, inspired by the founders father who would come home in workwear designs similar to ones you're likely to find in their current capsules. 

The sheepskin shearling jacket is a staple piece for the discerning man’s wardrobe. This one disparages itself from its contemporaries by having two open slanted front pockets on the front. I want to wear this, migrate to a training camp in Russia and shout DRAGOOOO from a snowy peak. We've all seen Rocky 4 right? 

5. Adidas by Raf Simons on Farfetch- Black Sprint V Trainers - shop it

Can't leave the house without something on your feet! These Black Sprint V Trainers will be just the ticket if you're looking to down scale your outfit from business to smart-scale. I did something similar recently for an afternoon tea down at Fortnum & Masons. I like the white Spirit Low version they do which is similar, but black will be less maintenance. 


Top Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

A Sartorial Gift this Christmas For Him or Her | Henry Watches

If you head over to my Instagram @HawkinsAndShepherd and watch my current story, you'll see the unboxing of this Henry Watches hamper including some of my favourite things like a Terry's chocolate orange and of course a Henry Watch. Affordable, everyday watches seem to be taking a major slice of the consumer watch market right now and Henry Watches are right in the middle of this trend, offering a huge variety of stylish watches.

This is my first Henry watch and as a little watch aficionado I was interested to finally get it on my wrist and give it a road test. Firstly the rose-gold and black design really stands out and suits my fashion style, which is pretty much anything monochrome so the rose-gold in the watch really offers a sartorial punch. The black leather strap in this design is soft and comfortable whereas the watch face is detailed yet not cluttered in a very classical design. 

On all watches, they offer an engraving service for an extra £10, which adds an extra personalised touch when buying a gift this Christmas, something I know I would love. Henry Watches also sell a variety of different designs for him or her so if you want to dress up and accessorise your his & hers Christmas jumpers, why not get matching personalised watches?!

Henry Watches is a London born brand who gathered their inspiration from a market stall in Notting Hill. They found a vintage watch beautifully styled in a classic and traditional design, stamped with 'Henry, August 1965' on the back of the watch. Today's take on this traditional watch incorporates modern cutting-edge technology, so expect your watch to last. Henry Watches perfectly balance modern styles with classical, long-established touches.

SHOP HENRY WATCHES

STAYING STRONG OVER CHRISTMAS #AD

Christmas time is one of the most anticipated dates in the calendar, however it is also well known to be one of the most stressful. Whether you are feeling the pressure of hosting friends and family to your home, cooking the perfect Christmas dinner, wearing that perfect Christmas party outfit, buying the best presents and of course being able to afford all of it, we should take time to try and reduce this stress in our lives. The stress that we have to put up with however is nothing on Santa, I mean getting around to all of those houses in one night whilst having to eat every mince pie on offer and trying to keep the buckle on his belt intact! Watch the video below to see how Santa completes his Santa’s Boot Camp and has a unique way on handling the stress. A little spoiler alert, it may also include a cute French bulldog licking Santa’s ear!

As a family we have done secret Santa for a few years now, so we don’t have to spend a fortune buying each other presents, instead we just buy one of us a present they really want. It is a great way for family’s to reduce the stress levels related to buying perfect gifts and of course the financial aspect.

However, about a week ago I was at my parent’s house with my Brother and Sister drawing names for this years Secret Santa. There is one name that no one wants to draw and that is my Dad, as he doesn’t give any hints or tips on what he wants for Christmas and just says, “It’s okay, I don’t really want anything” and then he’ll say “just no Simpsons socks”! That is all the information you have to work on when buying for my annoying Dad! But if he is reading this, he is actually awesome and not too annoying.

Whether you have drawn your Dad in Secret Santa or even worse and you are doing secret Santa at work and drew your boss, it is important to stay positive and have a strong, positive attitude. There are so many common struggles that we all face in the lead up to Christmas day and some are more prevalent to certain people. For example having the perfect Christmas tree is important to so many people…to me, as you can see it is just important to have one.

Of course I don’t have all the answers on how to deal with stress but I do know how I personally manage to stay strong and positive when faced with my biggest strain, which as mentioned is buying the perfect presents.

The biggest stress factor for me is time management and it is a struggle to juggle time to buy presents in-between my everyday live, hectic social schedule and looking after my dog Charlie. So when I do shop, I make sure that I’m prepared and here are my tips:

·      Start the day off right, for example with a hearty breakfast

·      Create a Christmas present list.

·      Where possible, try to have an idea of what you will buy each person on your list.

·      Shop online to find the best deals.

·      If you prefer shopping in store, visit a shopping centre and do all your shopping in one go.

·      Plan out exactly what shops you need to go to and stick to it.

Yes it seems simple but everyone does things differently and it would be great if you too could share your stay strong stories this Christmas as well because you might just help others have a more enjoyable festive season.

Just remember it could be worse, you could only have one eye like my poor snowman L

This post is brought to you in association with Actimel. Actimel contains Vitamin B6 that contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue. It also contains Vitamins B6 & D that contribute to the normal function of the immune system.

www.facebook.com/ActimelUK/

Handmade English Leather Goods | Made to Last by Barnes & Moore

It is no secret that many fashion houses have been substituting quality for profit for some time, although it is not just the fashion industry that has been passing off cheaper goods to their customers. The pressure is on to make more profits and the simplest way to achieve that is to reduce the cost-of-sales by using inferior quality materials or by spending less on the manufacturing build. This week in the news, even our beloved Toblerone chocolate is changing its iconic shape to reduce the weight from 400g to 360g. Everywhere I look there are examples of not getting value for money anymore. However ultimately the consumer has the power, you make a choice on what to buy and it seems that consumers have had enough of being puppets to the super brands and wanting to know where their products come from and how they are made.

I’m no different and when buying clothing, I always like to know exactly where the materials come from, where the clothing is made and conditions of the workers – all very important questions.

A few months ago, I was introduced to the brand Barnes & Moore and it was completely refreshing in the way they conduct business and the passion they have for their products. When a brand can talk about every single aspect of their manufacturing process from start to finish and explains in detail what exactly makes their products better than the competition, you cant help admire what they are doing and I wanted to buy into this exceptional attention to detail.

Barnes & Moore select the best hides from some of the best tanneries in the world and then hand cut the belt strip to the required length. The belt strip’s then buffed, to remove the protective wax on the surface, and cut to suit the relevant waist size. The tips are then cut, and the edges bevelled, dyed and hand ‘burnished’. The burnishing process involves waxing the edge and using friction to flatten the leather fibres, which allows the belt to pass more easily through belt loops. Many commercial manufacturers replace this process with painting the edges instead, as it’s labour intensive, and time consuming, so it’s only generally found on higher end products. 

It doesn’t stop there, a belt in not complete without a suitable buckle. Barnes & Moore then select a buckle for the belt, their Garrison buckle is cast in sand, by hand, at England’s last remaining sand cast foundry, and is solid brass, and either polished, or dull nickel plated. The buckles are riveted in place with solid brass rivets, (80% of rivets on belts are cheaper, base metal rivets), and the solid brass keeper secured. The belt holes are punched by hand, and the belt is finally polished before being boxed. Barnes & Moore then add a miniature pot of their hand made wax (contains natural mineral oil, beeswax, and natural vanilla. no chemicals) and ship it out to you lucky people!

 

Of course, I have just chosen to explain to you about their belt manufacturing process, although in typical Barnes & Moore style, you can find further information on their website with regards to the manufacturing process of each product.

I’ve had my Barnes & Moore products for about 3 months now. I tend to wear them for outdoor types of activities like walking my dog, going for walks to a warm country pub or weekend breaks away – I think it is because their products are so hardy. My favourite product of theirs that I have is this Despatch Messenger Bag in Olive because it was pristine when I received it, yet the more I use it, the better the leather looks - it gains a whole new look and personality. It’s a bit like leather sofas, which always look better and better after every year of age.

 

SHOP BARNES & MOORE

Photography by Rebecca Spencer