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A guide to help the average man... look less average

Bedroom Inspiration

Mark Kwak

Source: GQ

Source: GQ

A year or two ago, I came across an article on GQ that really caught my eye. Titled "Wake Up Your Bedroom," it displays five photos of a simple, yet beautiful modern bedroom. Now, I'm no interior design guru, but I do appreciate thoughtful living space aesthetics, and I think these pictures are on point.

By the way, I find it hilarious that GQ feels the need to post up a woman in some of these photos. Perhaps they want to convince you that with a bedroom like this, you can easily attain a supermodel girlfriend who will sit on your chair half-naked reading magazines while you're off at work. Oh GQ...

Source: GQ

Source: GQ

Source: GQ

Source: GQ

Source: GQ

Source: GQ

Source: GQ

Source: GQ

Okay, now four quick thoughts on the bedroom design:

1. Platform beds are awesome. Dark oak platform beds are even awesomer. <-- real word?

2. I love the dark blue color scheme. Dark blue sheets, dark blue walls, dark blue furniture... If I didn't rent, I'd do this myself. Also really makes the bright paintings and wooden furniture pop.

3. The article encourages a neat room overall, but a bit of manufactured (and highly curated) clutter - see mess on floor and TV stand. I think it's a bit unnatural/fake to carefully curate each small pile of mess in your room, but I do like the juxtaposition of a neat living space with some subtle carelessness.

4. Details matter. Look at the complementary color of the blanket. Or the symmetry of the nightstands + lamps. Or matching blacks on the furniture trim, TV, and clock. Oh yeah, and how her lingerie matches the floor rug. Just playin'.

Anyhow, hopefully this article gives you a little inspiration to go home and spice up your room. A clean and aesthetically pleasing bedroom can be a beautiful thing, especially if you're the type that needs a haven to come back to after a long hard day.

Jack Black Face Moisturizer

Mark Kwak

Source: Tiege

Source: Tiege

Never thought that as a grown man, I'd be one to talk about face moisturizer. Oh how life takes some weird twists along the way. 

Well, manliness and ego aside, I want to highly recommend a face moisturizer that I've been using for the past month. Take this from a guy who, up till maybe two years ago, refused to use moisturizer or even bothered to think about it. Alas, the persuasive words of every woman I had ever met who swore by moisturizing finally got to me, and I decided to indulge.

At first I bought Cetaphil. Not bad, but honestly I didn't like it all that much. Moisturized well enough, but felt oily and slippery on the skin- not the best feeling in the world for a guy who never really used moisturizer. Next it was Eucerin. My buddy who has eczema swears by that brand, but once again, seemed pretty similar to Cetaphil.

Source: Streething

Source: Streething

Then came along a men's grooming brand called Jack Black (no relation to the actor) with their Double Duty Face Moisturizer. I'll warn you, this stuff is pretty expensive ($28). Fortunately, I've found it's worth every penny. It's smooth, smells good, feels good, and seems to perform well while protecting my skin with a little bonus SPF20. By the way, Amazon ratings seem to agree with me on this one. In fact, I liked it so much I decided to get their body lotion too. 

Anyhow, I'll stop talking about moisturizer now, but just wanted to peek in and give this brand my seal of approval. For those who want to keep their face from aging too much, give it a shot.

Quick Reminder. Purge.

Mark Kwak

Source: NYHabitat

Source: NYHabitat

I've been reading this book for the past week called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Sheesh, what a title.

This book has become hugely popular in the recent months, even getting onto the NY Times Bestseller's list. It's all about minimalizing, a topic you guys probably know is close to my heart. Anyhow, I'm not done with the book yet, but I've already found that one thing is becoming painstakingly clear... the key to tidying / minimalizing is to discard, discard, discard. Oh yeah, and also to discard.

Too often we just move things from one place to another. Or shove everything into a hidden closet. We think: "out of sight, out of mind!" But of course to no one's surprise, the accumulation of useless things inevitably continues, until eventually you're right back where you started- stressing about the clutter of your place.

Source: Decoist

Source: Decoist

So in case you feel like your living space is too messy or unreasonable, I ask that you go home today and take a nice long look at your closet (or wardrobe, or bookshelf, etc.). Then... without hesitation begin to purge. Yes. Discard, dispose, shed, trash, ditch, abandon, toss, [enter next thesaurus word]. I know it's not easy, but it's the only way you'll keep yourself organized and free from clutter. It seems as though there are no alternatives.

....Though of course I'll let you know if the book changes its mind somewhere towards the end.


Apple + Wood

Mark Kwak

Source: Grovemade

Source: Grovemade

It seems like living in San Francisco has made me a full-blown Apple fan boy. Since my move in 2010, I’ve accumulated six Apple devices - a Macbook air, Airport Express, iMac, iPhone 6, Airport Extreme, and iPad. Thanks goodness some of those items are company-issued (oh how my wallet would cry otherwise).

Anyhow, this post isn’t to talk about my obvious sickness, but instead to introduce a pretty cool company for those who own a bunch of Apple devices like myself. It’s called Grovemade, and they specialize in wooden accessories and stands for your Apple products.

Grovemade2.jpg

Yes, these wooden pieces aren’t cheap. But hey, sometimes you want the best for your phone, computer, or whatever.  I’m particularly a fan of their iPhone dock and monitor stand. Just putting it out there in case you’re a fan of that modern wood + aluminum look that I’m personally fond of. Looks scrumptious.

Nike Flyknits

Mark Kwak

Source: Kicksonfire

Source: Kicksonfire

Being from Portland, Oregon, I must give a shoutout to the one (and basically only) major successful business in my neck of the woods: good ol’ Nike.

Recently, I’ve been obsessed with their flyknit collection. In case you’re not familiar with the word, let’s just say it’s Nike’s fancy branding of their proprietary mesh/fabric/cloth/awesomeness material used in some of their shoes. Complex has a super in-depth article on flyknits if you want to learn more.

I have a pair myself, the Lunar 3, and I love them. Great for running use, but also as casual street wear. Some other designs I like include the Racer, Free 4.0, and Roshe. Slightly expensive, but totally worth it in my book. Get at ‘em!

Source: Kicksonfire

Source: Kicksonfire

PS: Quick tip for you. You can use Ebates to get 8% cash back at Nike.com right now in case you’re planning on buying a pair.

To a new beginning

Mark Kwak

Source: Bacardi

Source: Bacardi

Hello loyal readers… I’ve neglected this blog for far too long, but I’m coming back!

Over this nine month Simpler Man hiatus, I’ve done a lot of thinking about what I want this blog to be. Originally it was (and hopefully continues to be) a resource for men who have no idea where to begin when it comes to clothing. My whole thesis is that you really don’t need to know too much to look great. It’s ultimately about keeping it simple- you’ll never guess how finding just a well fitted, high quality collared shirt or pair of jeans can elevate your sense of style two-fold.

However, in writing multiple times a week, I find the scope of menswear a bit more limiting than I’d prefer. I want to start expanding beyond the walls of fashion and talk about my other life passions as well. Dining, cocktails, technology, music, motorcycles, coffee, exercise, movies, business, design, you name it!

Basically all this to say: though Simpler Man will continue to remain primarily about style, the next step in its journey will have a splash of lifestyle in the mix as well. Too cheesy? Eh probably. At the end of the day, the good news is that I’ll be writing more often now, just be aware it may be about more than just OCBDs and selvedge denim.

Collar height

Mark Kwak

We all know fit is incredibly important when it comes to clothing. You can find a piece that uses the highest quality fabrics, was designed by the brightest minds in fashion, and has incredible value, but if it doesn't fit well, might as well throw it in the trash because you simply won't look good.

And it's pretty easy to tell too. Even the most amateur of menswear enthusiasts can spot sleeve lengths that are too long, bagginess and billowing in the torso, or too broad of a shoulder fit.

That being said, there are other fit problems that most folks won't readily notice or be able to diagnose. The smaller details that you know are bothering your subconscious mind, but just can't pinpoint. One of those problems is collar height.

What is collar height? Well, simply put, it's the length from the top of the collar fold to the bottom of the collar on a collared (obviously) shirt. Interestingly enough, the collar height really does matter when you're searching for a well-fitted shirt.

Below is a picture I took for this blog a long while back. Back then, I didn't really see a problem with the fit of my shirt, but today, I'm a little more critical of myself. As a result, I'm a bit bothered by the collar height. Take a look:

Now, I don't think it necessarily looks bad, but I think a shorter collar could be more aesthetically pleasing in this outfit, don't you agree? Take a look at the collar height on a shirt like this:

Sure, if I was a gargantuan linebacker in the NFL, a short collar like the above might actually look more comical than anything. But seeing as how my neck is far smaller than someone like that, the aesthetics just work better to use a collar with a shorter height.

Now, having made this discovery, would I go back to my closet and replace everything with a suboptimal collar height? Probably not, that would seem a bit over the top. However, would I consider this detail when buying shirts in the future? Absolutely.

So it's just one more thing to think about when looking at fit. Take it or leave it, but put some consideration into the collar height when choosing a new shirt! My guess is that your current shirt collection is overly generous in collar height and you'll want to reduce them just a bit with your new shirts. But also remember, don't go too far in the other direction either - look at this guy, I feel like his collar is way too short:

Also, if you're still clueless on what to look for when choosing the shirt for you, check out Hugh & Crye's collar guide. Gives you quite a bit of detail about what you should be looking for in a shirt, down to the nitty-gritty details.

Cheers fellas, stay warm.