The Christmas Day Hike

The holiday season is for many people a time of to-do lists, hurrying from store to store, buying and wrapping presents, and the chaos of planning a family get together.  So many folks get exhausted by all of the errands, planning, and family time. While there’s nothing wrong with all of the normal holiday business, this year, I’d like to encourage you to add a new tradition to your celebration: the Christmas Day hike.

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7 favorite menswear blogs 2019

I’ve learned almost all I know about mens style and fashion from internet mentors. I started my style journey around the same time that menswear blogs hit the scene in the late aughts. I learned the difference between preppy and streetwear, vintage and luxury, budget watches and heirloom timepieces. I’ve synthesized information from the world wide webs to form my own style, but I’m never done learning.

I want to share some of my favorite resources. These are the sites I visit frequently to get tips to beat the summer heat, apartment decor, cocktail making, and mens fashion and style. These writers are constantly inspiring me in all ways to improve my life, both inside and out. If you’re learning to dress better, these sites will help guide you in the right direction.

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The Perfect EDC Pocket Pen

One of the things I carry with me everywhere is a small pen. I use it for jotting things like shopping lists and playlists down in my Field Notes Brand pocket notebook. I use it when a client has to borrow my “real” pen in a meeting. I use it for signing receipts or writing in the margins of my books.

Over the past 15 years, I’ve carried a lot of different writing utensils in my pocket. I used an old bullet pencil that was my grandfather’s for years, but it wasn’t as functional as I needed once I entered a more formal career; you can’t sign documents in pencil. And while it’s better for sketching and doodling, pencil doesn’t write well on jeans, and is limited in the situations its appropriate to use .

I switched to a Fisher Space Pen for a few years because it was compact, had a history, and looked great. My first attorney repeatedly tried to swipe it from me after he used it the first time. There were a few things that kept the Fisher Space Pen from working well for me: (1) I always prefer a very thin nib (usually 0.5mm) and the thicker tip on the Space Pen didn’t feel completely comfortable for me; (2) every ink cartridge I used over 2-3 years eventually ended up leaking in small amounts; and (3) the pen body itself came unscrewed and after several months’ time would become impossible to fully screw back together as the 2 ends wouldn’t make a solid connection.

Years of small frustrations like these led me to begin my search for something else.

My criteria for a perfect pocket pen were:

  1. Truly compact. I didn’t want to carry a full size pen in my pocket.
  2. Handsome and professional. That farm bullet pencil I carried was practical, but it didn’t send a very professional message when I pulled it out of my dress pants to scribble a note in front of a client.
  3. Writes nice. Smooth action ink flow with no skipping or blotting. Those seem like basic requirements for a writing utensil, but I’ve been surprised at how many pens I’ve used that seem to struggle in one area or another after several uses.
  4. Fine point. I always prefer a pen point of 0.5mm as my handwriting seems to look a bit cleaner with a finer tipped pen.
  5. Inexpensive. I didn’t want to spend more than $20. A pocket pen gets beat around a bit by its very nature. I didn’t want to buy something so expensive it would feel precious.
  6. Single piece. I didn’t want to have to remove one end in order to write like I had with bullet pencils and the space pen. I wasn’t worried about the pen feeling small or trying to make it full size to write with. I just wanted a teeny little pen I could use every now and then without thinking too much about it.
  7. Blue ink. This may not be a concern for some people, but I work in the legal field and have become a stickler for having original documents signed in blue ink. While this isn’t a deal breaker, I really wanted to have blue ink, if possible.

After some research, I found NarwhalCo’s wallet pens. At first review, these seemed to check the boxes on my wish list: small, handsome, inexpensive, and one piece. I couldn’t find anywhere that talked about the point size, but at $13 for two (2!) pens, it was obviously worth trying.

The package came as shown with two refills, one black and one blue. Check blue ink off my list. The pens feel substantial and solid. No need to worry about busting this pen if I knock my thigh against the side of the conference room table (inevitable).

You simply twist the pen to extend the retractable point. I like that this will keep my pocket safe from ink and that it’s not a production to get the pen writing ready.

The pen does write really nicely. The tip is medium, but smooth enough I didn’t feel like that was a dealbreaker. I sometimes find myself reaching for my pocket pen instead of my favorite desk pen, the Pilot G2 retractable fine point, because the Narwhal writes so nicely. It really feels like it flows smoothly across the page.

I’m at an age where I’m beginning to demand a bit more from the items I use every day. I am not interested in luxury so much as I want things that work really well at what they are designed for. I don’t want to troubleshoot. I don’t want to tinker. I don’t want things require me to compromise or make adjustments to ensure their utility. I just want it to work reliably and without me having to think about it at all. Just work.

A pocket pen is a small tool. Maybe an afterthought to some or not even a consideration to others. But for me, it’s a tool I need to use consistently though infrequently. I don’t need it to work underwater or in freezing conditions. I have a desk job and I need my pen to look professional and work well when I hand it to my client for them to sign an important document. It’s a tool I carry with me all day, every day, and I need it to be reliable.

I couldn’t be more pleased with my NarwhalCo wallet pen. NarwhalCo is NOT a sponsor of Butc(h)er. I didn’t receive anything in order to write this post, not even a free pen. They probably don’t even know that I’m one of their customers. I simply love their product and wanted to share it.

Every butch has a personal EDC – those items you always have in your pockets. I want every item in my EDC to be something I love and that I look forward to using. My EDC includes a pen and a notebook. My EDC pocket pen is a NarwhalCo wallet pen and it’s the best pocket pen I’ve used in the past 15 years. Grab one yourself over at NarwhalCo.

Can’t Get Enough: August 2019

1. John Mayer – Maybe you only remember him as that goober from 2001 with the silly pop song or the douche from 2010 with the dumb interviews and succession of celebrity girlfriends.  But honestly, have you ever heard this guy’s guitar playing?  It’s fucking incredible.  I had enjoyed his bluesy style pop for the past several years after being converted to a casual fan by his album Continuum. Then my wife got me tickets to see him live for my birthday. Friends, I cannot even find words to say how amazing his music is and how his astounding guitar playing was a near-spiritual musical experience for me. All I know is that I began crying when he began playing. 3 songs later I got myself under control only to randomly feel tears streaming down my face throughout the entire 3 hour, 25 song show. For weeks, he is all I’ve had playing and I implore you to at least give his live album a once through listen to experience the beauty of his bluesy pop with plenty of blues guitar solos.

2. Mad Men reruns. I watched this whole series when it came out and loved and hated and couldn’t get enough of it. A few weeks ago, I put one episode on to keep me company during dinner when my wife had a work function and promptly got slurped right back into the Mad Men world. Before I realized what was happening, I couldn’t wait to get in a few episodes every night after work and before bed. This show is just so damn good. And excuse me for being so fragile, but it’s wonderful to watch a show set in an urban setting and not entrenched in a historic world devoted to war and violence. And, my god, are the men’s clothes on this show incredible, or what?

3. Plain seltzer water. First, to be clear, I am NOT referring to hard seltzer. I’m not talking about club soda. I’m not hating on hard seltzer or club soda. But I’m talking about that most basic of bubbly water – plain, unadulterated, fizzy seltzer water. I’ve been trying to limit my alcohol intake during the week, but there is just something lovely about coming home and having something “special” to drink while cooking dinner. I’m not buying anything fancy – I’m grabbing basic grocery store brand seltzer. I’ve come to love the pop of the can, and fizz of the bubbles into my favorite glass, and the joy of drinking something just a little special every night when I get home from the office. It might be the mildest, but most enjoyable way of “treating yo’self” I’ve discovered yet this summer.

4. Crate and Barrel Hatch glasses. The wife bought me a hatch rocks glass a few years back and it was the glass I grabbed every time I poured my favorite sipping rum. One bad night a few months back, I tripped on my way to the couch, dropped the glass and watched it (and the last of my favorite rum) crash to the floor. My relaxation that night shattered along with my favorite glass. The next morning, my wife ordered me a replacement and bought a companion highball hatch glass to go with it. Now, that, folks, is love. I can feel that love every time I fill my new favorite glass with ice and pour my favorite rum to the perfect 2 (ok maybe closer to 3) finger pour.

5. Sauvignon Blanc. I am WAAAAAAYYYYYY late to the wine game. I’m 36 and I drank my first real glass of wine this month. Let me explain. I had some wine when I was … about 23 maybe. I got instant heartburn from that fine selection from the budget shelf. And I wrote off wine for nearly 15 years. Partly this was because I fell deep into the rabbithole of craft beer. I loved everything about it. And then I found out I should avoid gluten and my romance with craft beer was suddenly ripped away. I tried hard cider as a replacement and, forgive me, but there is no hard cider in the world that tastes like a strong IPA. So began my new journey with alcohol. As the saying goes, “When the alcohol goddess of the universe shuts a door, she opens a hatch to the wine cellar” . . . or something like that. In any case, I have new worlds to explore, alcoholically speaking. And I’ve just found the entrance to the rabbithole of wine. Hot summer days and very cold, crisp, and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc is a very promising pairing.

Better Dressed Butch: Belts

I think one of the easiest ways to start dressing better is to put on a belt.  Wearing a belt immediately pulls your outfit together. It shows how you put thought and intention into your clothes. And, honestly, I just think it makes one look more like a grownup. Kids don’t wear belts; grownups do.

I started wearing belts way back in college for the sole purpose of keeping my oversized baggy jeans from ending up around my knees. Before the end of my first semester, I felt incomplete without one.

As my style evolved, my choice in belts changed from that first 2-inch wide, double-holed warhorse. Now picking out a belt is a part of getting dressed every day. I truly enjoy choosing just the right belt to complete my outfit.

Some tips for choosing a belt:

Match the style of your outfit.

If you are wearing shorts, don’t put on a dress belt. Choose a casual belt. If you are in dress slacks, don’t throw on a thick rugged leather belt and call it good.

Match the color of your leathers.

The rule of thumb here is leathers should match. Brown shoes = brown belt. Black shoes = black belt. Match your watch band as well, if possible. This gives your outfit a cohesive look. Try and keep the shade as close as possible. For example, tan and chocolate are both brown, but your outfit won’t look as polished if you have a light tan belt and dark brown shoes. If you’re rocking your classic sneakers, don’t worry about matching the color. This rule applies most to dress and business casual situations.

Not too long.

Does anyone else remember the late 90’s when cool teenage boys wore super long belts and let the extra tail hang down their legs? Don’t do that. Keywords in that first sentence: teenage boys. You do not want to look like a teenage boy. From the 90s. You should be able to use one of the middle holes and have the tail reach the first belt loop on your pants. If the tail of your belt extends more than an inch or so past the first belt loop, cut it off or buy a new belt.

Don’t worry about matching metals.

This used to be one of the rules for belt wearing. Gold belt buckle meant wearing a gold watch. Silver buckle = silver watch. This rule seems to have died. The matching metals police are off duty. No one notices if your ring is silver, your watch is rose gold and your belt buckle is brushed nickel. Take a look at the picture above about matching your leathers – did you notice the silver buckle/gold watch in the bottom left or the black metal watch with the brushed gray metal buckle in the top right?

Skip the clunky/witty buckle.

Unless you have recently won a rodeo, please do not use your belt as a showcase for a giant hunk of shiny metal. Do not give in to the (strong) temptation to display your wit to the world with a clever or ironic buckle. Do not, for the love of all that’s stylish, wear a seat belt buckle for a belt buckle. If you want to wear a seat belt, get in your damn truck.

If you want to start dressing better, wearing a belt is an easy first step. It immediately makes your look more mature and put together. Matching the leathers you wear gives a polished look even to casual outfits. Belts are easy and inexpensive accessories that upgrade every outfit you wear so you can be a better dressed butch.

Featured image by Keegan Everitt.