How to Wear a Pocket Square

To wear something well, you must first know why people wear it.

The Origins of the Pocket Square

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In the 19th century, starting with Beau Brummell – the grandfather of the modern business suit – having lots of immaculately white clothing became fashionable among men. The concept of regular bathing began to take off, especially in England and the US, and Cologne started exporting its famous fragrances to splash on ones body after bathing – 4711 or something like it was a favorite of Napoleon. Kings now ate with forks and knives instead of their fingers, and rosewater finger bowls declined in favor of napkins. With this new respect for hygiene, the pure white linen handkerchief became the mark of a civilized man.

Of course, the concept of a regularly laundered rotation of handkerchiefs has gone out of favor now that we have affordable tissue paper. But even though we no longer need to prove that our handkerchiefs – or pocket squares – are freshly washed, pure white linen remains the most classic look.

Pocket squares are sometimes called pochette squares by people that nobody likes.

Why You Should Wear a Pocket Square

Simply because not many men do. It doesn’t have to be in bold color to make an impression on people: a plain white linen pocket square tells people that you do more than the bare minimum, tells them that you have something extra (without being flashy,) and it subconsciously reminds them of the ideal of the clean, elegant, Victorian gentleman. Colored and patterned pocket squares, meanwhile, begin to take things in a playboy direction.

Why You Should Never Match Your Pocket Square to Your Tie

There are two reasons. The first and most important reason is that pocket squares were originally handkerchiefs, which would have been made of a completely different fabric than the tie. Some instinctive part of us still sees matching your pocket square to your tie as being just as tacky as matching your table napkins to your tie.

Second, it usually means that you bought a set, which apart from being stingy, implies that you rarely wear either ties or pocket squares, and just bought the set to get it out of the way. Far from looking reluctant, you want to look right at home.

How Do I Avoid Matching?

It’s pretty simple. If your tie is solid colored, your pocket square should either be white or have a pattern. If your tie has a pattern, your pocket square should either have a very different pattern, be in a solid color, or be white. Starting to see why I like white linen pocket squares so much?

A no-pattern navy tie and a no-pattern medium blue pocket square technically don’t match, but it’s better to leave advanced moves like these to professional dandies.

How to Fold a Pocket Square

I don’t do origami folds, and neither should you. A pocket square is an inherently loose article of clothing, and should take less than thirty seconds to fold. In any case, having some carefully constructed chrysanthemum or suchlike in your pocket means you aren’t ready to whip it out to console a weeping woman. And then what kind of gentleman would you be?

Here are three quick, easy, and above all carefree folds that are suitable for gentlemen of leisure.

The Presidential Fold

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The most professional looking fold, popularized in the 21st century by Don Draper. Also known as the TV fold. If you’re in businesslike setting, this sets the right tone. No frills on the straight and narrow path, this fold is very straightforward: fold it across to the width of your breast pocket, then fold it up depending on how deeply you want it to sit in the pocket.

The Puff

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Lay the square flat, pick it up by pinching the center with one hand, and smooth it down with the other. Once it is smoothed down, bend the bottom part of it in half, and stuff it into your breast pocket with the round side up. This is a relaxed and sophisticated look, the middle ground between work and play.

The Ruff

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Lay the square flat, pick it up by pinching the center with one hand, and smooth it down with the other. Once it is smoothed down, bend the top part of it in half, turn it upside down, and stuff it into your breast pocket with the corners of the pocket square flaring loosely. Optionally, give it a twist to make it look messier. This is the most devil-may-care way to fold a pocket square, so naturally, it’s my personal favorite.

How To Choose a Pocket Square

Always go either for 100% silk or 100% linen. It takes some experience to get an eye for patterns, so I recommend that you start with simple patterns based on neutral colors, like white pindots on navy.

Pocket square tip – go for hand-rolled edges to add a subtle touch of quality

The Best Colognes for Summer

This is a guide to some essential summer colognes from my staggeringly large personal collection of fragrances. I like to vary my scent just as much as I like to vary my food, but I’m keeping this list short and classic for the benefit of beginners.

Why Summer Colognes?

Because our bodies naturally produce more oil in summer, it’s important not to use overwhelming or heavy cologne that clings to your skin. Rather than smelling like leather or dark wood, you should go for refreshing, cocktails-at-the-beach type scents.

Why These Summer Colognes?

There are lots of tacky, over-the-top fragrances out there, like Paco Rabanne’s $1,000,000, which is actually shaped like a gold ingot, as well as many that smell like a teenager’s deodorant. Sometimes, good taste is about a process of elimination, paring things down to the essentials. These are clean.

Luxury:

TOM FORD – NEROLI PORTOFINO ACQUA

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Neroli is an oil with a distinctive scent derived from a rare breed of orange tree. Citrusy, spicy, and sweet, it has been prized by European aristocracy for hundreds of years. This cologne makes neroli the centerpiece of a subtle mix of citrus scents on a base of white musk and amberwood; it resembles a warm and fresh ocean spray. Most people have never smelled neroli before: it’s a scent to make women ask themselves, “Who IS he”? This cologne is too luxurious for the workplace, even if you are the boss. It’s strictly for playboy situations.

Classic:

CHRISTIAN DIOR – EAU SAUVAGE

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Not to be confused with Sauvage, which is an unfortunate modern attempt to cash in on the old name, Eau Sauvage is something that Don Draper would have worn. Debonair is the only word for it – this is the kind of cologne Ralph Lauren wishes he could make. It starts with notes of lemon and bergamot and undertones of spice, and gradually gives way to woody vetiver and smooth sandalwood by sunset. There’s something about the touch of musk that suggests sport and athleticism, a hint of masculine sex appeal in an otherwise clean scent. It’s the most versatile cologne on this list, suitable all-year, and smart enough for a professional setting.

Gentlemanly:

ACQUA DI PARMA COLONIA

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More old world than Eau Sauvage, Acqua di Parma is something that a refined Italian aristocrat might wear. It smells like a breeze through a green valley of northern Italy: notes of citrus, rosemary, and lavender, even a touch of rose, with masculine undertones of musk, amber, and vetiver. It is as clean and sophisticated as a crisp white dress shirt. First formulated in 1916 – just shy of the Edwardian period – it shows no sign of going out of style. Best worn during the day.

Contemporary:

HERMES – TERRE D’HERMES

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Terre d’Hermes is a little darker and more summer evening-oriented than the other colognes on this list. It’s as earthy and masculine as a citrus scent can get. Bold notes of ripe orange and spices create a balance between freshness and earthiness, and the choice of cedarwood and benzoin as bases reflects this balance: cedar is woody, but also fresh, and benzoin is heavy, but also sweet. It smells like rum cocktails at sunset, or the smell after rain. It’s surprisingly well-balanced for such a complex cologne, and I heartily recommend it for beginners looking to discover what cologne can offer them.

Cologne tip – spray the underside of your pocketsquare once before tucking it in.

Easy Salads

It’s not always easy to fit in fresh vegetables, compared to eating an apple or frying an egg. But you can make a salad in five minutes if you keep it classic. Allow me to introduce…

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THE DASH PANACHE SALAD

Ingredient:

Chopped Lettuce

And that’s it. The original form of salad was salted lettuce – salata means salted. This is just a course of dinner, so you don’t need it to be very filling. The salad dressing or vinaigrette yields most of the flavor, and the salad accomplishes its simple goal: to add fiber and whole plant cells to smooth your digestion. But you can always mix in spinach leaves or peppery arugula if you want to mix things up. And now for…

THE DASH PANACHE VINAIGRETTE

1 part Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar

2 parts Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 clove of garlic crushed and pasted into the above

As the most famous vinaigrette related saying goes, be a miser for vinegar and a spendthrift for oil. You can also swap out vinegar for lemon or lime juice.

If you think that’s pungent, you should try a Thai-style salad. Raw red onion, raw chili pepper, raw green cabbage, a side of salt-pickled egg, and half a lime to squeeze over it all. It certainly clears the pipes!

Another favorite of mine is Caprese Salad, which is a little heavier, more of a lunch in itself than a dinner course. It originated on the Italian island of Capri.

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CAPRESE SALAD

Sliced mozzarella

Sliced tomato

Basil leaves

Olives (Optional)

Simply make a circle going basil leaf, mozzarella, and tomato – green, white and red, the colors of the Italian flag – and dress with a little olive oil and salt.

Playboy Gourmet Series – Champagne

“Champagne! In victory one deserves it; in defeat, one needs it.” – Napoleon

Champagne is one of the best aperitifs there is. It’s light, refreshing, and goes well with pre-dinner starters and hors d’oeuvres. A little champagne and finger food with the right person, and the main course won’t be food.

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The Champagne Close

I didn’t invent this move, but I’m pretty sure it’s been around as long as the drink itself.

When you’re flirting, and things are warming up a bit, casually mention that you’ve got a bottle of champagne back at your place, and ask if she’d like to share it.

Deceptively simple. But how many men have made that offer? It’s not about the champagne, it’s about charm and style.

If she’s already at your place and you haven’t offered the champagne yet, ask if she wants some “wine.” When you casually bring out champagne, without making a big deal about it, she’ll be pleasantly surprised. Women love to be surprised – so always leave her something to discover.

Keeping Champagne Cool

For parties, an ice bucket with cold water added allows the bottle to slide in and out smoothly. But for more casual and intimate occasions, just take it out of the refrigerator. If it’s just the two of you, an ice bucket begins to take things into rose petal territory, i.e. overdoing it. Keep it casual.

How to Open a Bottle of Champagne

The “fountain” method of opening champagne is strictly for big celebrations, and is hardly a better way to drink it than smashing the bottle on the hull of a ship.

Instead, remove the foil, unwind the cage, and gently twist off the cork in the palm of your hand. Keep a firm grip and don’t let the cork go flying. As the saying goes, opening champagne should sound like a nun farting – a discreet hiss, and not a bang.

 

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Casual champagne with friends – rose petals very optional

What’s the Best Champagne Glass?

Traditionally, people used a coupé, which is a bowl-shaped wine glass allegedly modelled on the breast of Madame Pompadour, Louis the 15th’s favorite mistress. They’re very old school, Gatsby-esque glasses.

These days, a narrower design called a champagne flute is more common, and it helps keep the fizz going longer than the wider glass. Which is better is a matter of taste.

Champagne versus Prosecco

Prosecco is a fine wine in its own right, and about half the price of champagne, mostly because it is not a byword for luxury and celebration. It’s a little sweeter and milder, and is delicious paired with little cubes of watermelon. Call it by its own name.

What about vintage?

Champagne and prosecco are drunk young, and don’t benefit from long aging. If you want to put away a bottle of something for a newborn son to drink in twenty years, give the poor kid some scotch or port instead of old champagne. That’s all I know about parenting.

What about sparkling wine?

I advise against it. If neither champagne nor prosecco is an option, it’s better to go with plain, honest white wine than a knockoff product. That philosophy applies in many areas of life.

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Champagne tip: pair it with (very) fresh sushi and you will blow minds.

 

Espresso Makers I Can Vouch For

There are coffee makers out there going for over $1000 – Breville, Gaggia, I’m looking at you! – but you don’t have to break the bank to clear your head in the morning. These are all coffee makers that I have had personal experience with, each good in its own way.

The DeLonghi EC680

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This is my go-to. It’s light, easy to use, and takes up very little counter space. No risk of pulling a muscle moving this around. And most importantly, it makes excellent espresso.

You add one scoop of ground for the single shot basket, two scoops of ground for the double shot basket. Then screw in the basket by the black handle – I like the weight of that handle – and press the button. Espresso in less than a minute.

It provides hot water that you can add to the espresso to make an americano, and the nozzle to the side can heat and froth a jug of milk for a caffe latte when you turn the switch above it.

Difference between a caffe latte and a cappuccino: you pour espresso into a tall glass of heated and frothed milk to make a latte, but you pour a small amount of heated and frothed milk on top of an espresso to make a cappuccino. I generally prefer cappuccinos in the morning – I like the contrast between the strong espresso and the mild froth – and I take espresso for the rest of the day.

There’s a cup warming platform on the top, which is a nice touch – not much use pouring espresso into a cold cup, especially in winter.

The Le Creuset French Press

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I used one of these in my student days. It’s sturdy as all hell compared to glass French presses, and tided me through many morning hangovers. If you want a simple, strong coffee without too much tech involved, this is the thing.

You add ground and just-boiled water to the pot, stir with a long spoon, let it brew for a few minutes, then gradually press down the plunger. The thick ceramic sides seal in the heat, so you have something like a two hour supply of warm, strong, French-style coffee.

The Bialetti Moka Express

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Moka pots are excellent for travel, and the Bialetti is the original. I like a cup of coffee in the morning right after a shower, bathrobe and all, so if I’m staying in an apartment-hotel or somewhere with a stovetop, it’s very easy to just take a moka pot out of my suitcase and fire it up.

You unscrew the top section, fill the bottom part with water, the middle part with ground, and then screw the top back on again and put it on the stovetop. After the water begins to boil, it filters up through the ground, creating a fountain of coffee in the upper pot. Gargling has never sounded so sweet.

Probably the only coffee maker that can survive life on the road. The aluminum gives it a faintly sharp taste compared to the coffee from the ceramic Le Creuset, though.

Random coffee tip: try adding a small touch of cardamom to the ground. It’ll taste slightly different, but nobody will be quite able to put their finger on how.

The Perfect Beef Bourguignon

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Beef Bourguigon is my answer to the Sunday roast. But unlike roast beef, it’s always rich, tender and juicy. The key to good stew beef is the marinade. You could buy the toughest cut of beef out there, and a good marinade would make it go down like filet mignon. You just need the patience to leave it overnight!

The Marinade

First, take bite sized chunks of beef and lay them out in a tray or deep bowl. Then add any dry red wine at all, even if it comes in a box – a noble vintage or subtle notes of blackberry won’t survive the cooking process. In fact, it will already begin changing from red to a sort of purple color when it makes contact with the raw meat. You want enough to submerge it.
Then add some crushed cloves of garlic, crushed black peppercorns, a little sea salt, and a bay leaf. You can top it off with some olive oil for good measure. After that, cover it, and leave it overnight in the refrigerator.

The Braising

The next day – any old time – take the beef chunks out of the marinade and give them a quick fry in creamery butter, just enough to seal in the sides. This should take no more than two minutes, so have the pan hot and ready to go.

The Stew

Take the entire contents of the marinade and put it in a saucepan or stewpot, add the braised meat, then add vegetables as you please, and a little water, bone broth, or soup stock to keep things liquid. Carrots, mushrooms and onion are traditional. I recommend tomato passata (or liquidized tomato) and a hint of cumin powder to enrich the stew. If you want spinach in there, I advise adding it in the last ten minutes of the cook, or cooking it in a separate pot. Overcooking spinach is practically criminal.

Better to keep the potatoes out of the main stewpot and cook them separately; alternatively, swap them out for pasta. Potatoes are simple: peel, halve or quarter, soak to get rid of the starch, throw out the starchy water, then boil starting from cold water. With such a rich stew, plain potato makes for a good contrast.

The main stew’s cooking process should take about two hours on the stovetop in an open saucepan. Stews are often slow-cooked in the oven to tenderize the meat, but in this case, the beef has been soaked and softened by the wine overnight – no need to gild the lily. This is a simple and hearty meal, very suitable for sharing with a group of friends, and it’s guaranteed to impress. Bon appetit!

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The Upside to Cowhide Rugs

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Winter is coming, and ’tis the season of cold feet and drafty floors. I’ve been looking into something more cozy than traditional rugs. Polyester fluff seemed like the only readily available thing that could save my toes, till I discovered cowhide or calfskin rugs.
They’ve got a lot going on for them. First, they are masculine – it would rarely occur to a woman to use one, and something about them evokes our old caveman instincts. Put one in front of a fireplace and the scene is primal.

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They are unusual and eye-catching. Odds are your guests will not have seen one before, and since they are all-natural, even if they have, they have not seen the same pattern, which is organic and unique as a fingerprint. No one person can have the same cowhide rug as you – certainly beats picking something up at IKEA.

They are affordable, since cows are far from endangered, and also durable, which means they last twice as long, and in effect cost half as much.
Lastly, they have an organic, irregular shape. In a room filled with sharp angles and hard lines, a cowhide rug adds a pleasant contrast.

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