Metro Man & Metro Home

By Mike Shen

Indeed, I had a wonderful story lined up regarding the art of shaving, but unfortunately my contacts failed to follow up. But this is a blessing in disguise since I can now use this as an opportunity to vent my frustrations, as well as offer up my humble opinions, regarding fashion dos and mostly don’ts that I have witnessed this summer. Please understand that if my comments do apply to you, I am speaking out with your best interests at heart (and with the backing of numerous beautiful women that heartily agree with my statements). So without further ado….

Summer Faux Pas #1:
“Don’t do that with your polo.”

Ahh, you know what I’m talking about, especially if you’re from Long Island, Staten Island, New Jersey, or Westchester County – what the heck, let’s throw Connecticut in there, too. Here’s the setting: handsome young man walking down the street with a great pair of tastefully styled cargo shorts and Cole Haan sandals, clean-shaven, sporting a nice textured haircut without too much product in it. He’s also wearing a bright orange polo shirt. There’s nothing wrong with the color; bold colors are in and make strong, positive statements as you walk down the street. EVERYTHING is negated by the mere fact that he has his COLLAR TURNED UPWARDS. Don’t do that. You look like you’re trying too hard to be cool, or you could be overcompensating for a sheepish neckline (whatever that could be). Most importantly, it is a retro fad from the 80′s that should never have resurfaced. Aviator sunglasses are good. Bootlegged jeans are good. Polos and Henleys with collars turned up are very, very bad. That fashion statement died with the Members Only jackets, and we should keep it that way. Women love men with a strong, defined neckline. If you have it, show it – don’t hide it.

Summer Faux Pas #2:
“Combat humidity with showers, deodorant, and antiperspirant.”

I apologize in advance if this seems basic to many of you, but smelling under your armpits to see if you need deodorant is about as effective as breathing into your cupped hands and inhaling quickly to see if you have bad breath. It doesn’t work, and besides what you smell like to yourself is not the same as how others perceive your distinct aroma. As a resident in the northeastern United States, one needs to understand that during our humid summers, odors (particularly bad ones) permeate the air faster and hang around longer, one will sweat more profusely in lower temperatures than one might expect (even in the high 60s), and one needs to take AT LEAST one shower a day. You will be surprised to know that a large number of men (and women for that matter) do not shower on a daily basis. If you twist my arm, I might concede such a habit is allowable during colder, more tepid weather; but during hot, sweaty summers, you might as well put a gun to the nose of every commuter in the subway during rush hour. And regarding antiperspirant, I understand that it is impossible not to sweat, but at least try not to appear like Patrick Ewing in the fourth quarter of an NBA Final game (have the Knicks even gotten that far?). If you’re afraid of staining (ie. bleaching) your clothes, use a non-gel based deodorant right when you’re dry after a morning shower. Then do the rest of your morning routine shirtless, letting the product settle and the excess dissipate. I promise you that you won’t get bleached armpit stains on your shirts if you follow those simple steps.

Summer Faux Pas #3:
“When’s the last time you shined your Ferragamo’s?”

I am willing to bet that 8 out of 10 men don’t shine their shoes on a regular basis. Furthermore, 9 out of 10 men probably don’t even use wooden shoe trees to maintain the quality of their fancy footwear. It boggles my mind how some New Yorkers, despite the wildly diverse weather we experience, will shell out $500 for a pair of shoes and choose not to take care of them properly, thus shortening the life of the shoes by as much as 75%. Here are some tips I HIGHLY recommend that you follow: 1) Shine shoes at least once a month. Cream shines are great in drier weather (ie. winter). A regular shoe shine will give you shinier shoes and protect well against humidity and rain. Yes, believe it or not, a quick shoe shine before a summer shower will help protect the peccary or deerskin on those shoes. 2) Shoetrees should be wooden, though crumpled pieces of newspaper shoved inside could do the trick. Shoetrees don’t only help maintain the shape of your shoes, but they also help eliminate foot moisture and odor. Shoe shine = good moisture. Foot juice = bad moisture that can degrade the leather on the outside and corrode the interior at exponential rates. 3) Cycle between your footwear. We all have our favorite pair of shoes, but the constant pounding of the heels and scraping of the sole on hard New York concrete will take its toll if you don’t alternate footwear on a regular basis. Follow these rules, and that pair of Hogan’s will last you twelve years instead of merely three.

Summer Faux Pas #4:
“No more Speedo’s!!!”

OK, if you’re European, I can understand why wearing Speedo’s might not be a big deal. I’ve seen more than my share’s worth of Speedo’s all around Europe. But seriously, no one (and I’m rounding up from 90%) wants to see a camel hump strutting around the Great Lawn or Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park. Yes, you can get more body surface area tanned while wearing Speedo’s, but how often are you going to yank up your shorts crotch-high at a bar to show the lady friend you just met how tan you are? Tan lines aren’t as taboo as they used to be (unless they’re really tacky), and even that fashion trend was directed more toward women than men. Speedo’s are small and tightly fitted to the body for one reason – SPEED. Unless you’re a competitive swimmer or a Chippendale dancer, Speedo’s are serious fashion don’ts. Besides do you see a swimming lane or catwalk anywhere in the middle of Prospect Park? I think not. You might be proud of your package, but modesty really is the best policy in this regard. Save the tightey-blackies for your private gym’s sundeck (here at least you paid for the right to be flamboyant).

Originally published August 2004
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