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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Simplifying Your Life

Robert Manni - Friday, May 19, 2017


Modern life is way too complicated. It doesn’t have to be that way.

There's a myriad of ways to cut through the chaos we face each day, and benefits of breaking your day-to-day life down into tasty digestible chunks are many. Start with piece of mind; add a splash of humor, and a dash of creativity. Life doesn’t have to be so damn overbearing. Regardless of what your boss says, there can be a separation of life from work. And that’s why your Guy’s Guy is serving up a platter of ideas that will help make your life more pleasurable and manageable. I call it the Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Simplifying Your Life.  Here goes…

1. Stop double and triple booking – Most of us manage our calendars digitally so you’d think we’d be smart enough not to double up on our appointments. Wrong. Lots of folks say yes to everything that comes our way. We pile multiple events on the calendar before choosing what we feel like doing the most at that time. Then we blow off or reschedule all the other appointments. But it doesn’t end there—we end up doing the same thing a week later.

Overbooking might make you feel like an important person, but all it really means is that you don’t know how to manage your day. No one wants to disrespect people, and we’ve all cancelled on at the last minute. But even if there’s a valid reason for a change of plans, it can be annoying when you’re on the receiving end of the cancellation. Bottom line, overbooking does not make anyone feel good, and often creates anxiety while causing chaos. My suggestion is to plan just one event in a time slot. If you are already booked when something else comes up, do your very best to find another time. Then show up, be present, and enjoy the time without worrying about what you’re missing.

2. Get a handle on your dating life – If you’re single and in the game, it’s easy to fall into that all-too-familiar trap of having too many dates, but no meaningful relationship. Between all the dating apps and services, anyone one with a pulse, a personality, and can clean up can score their share of dates. But too many dates can be a trap. When you date too often, people become disposable. You trim the herd by ghosting or deleting potential partners without giving them a real chance. Before you know it, you’ve lost focus on why you are dating in the first place.

I realized that after years of dating and broken relationships that the reason I remained single was because regardless of my current status, I’d stayed active online and on the lookout for the next partner. Frankly, I was selfish. And this self-absorption cost me. I paid the price by losing a number of relationships because of selfish cravings and lack of focus. Everything changed when I met my wife online. We went on a few dates and things felt good. I was really enjoying her company. I was still dating for the first couple of weeks, but after I asked her what I needed to do to be a good boyfriend, she said the two words that changed everything.  She said, “pay attention”. And that was it. At that moment I decided to give our relationship a real chance. I logged off the dating sites and took the time to get to know this wonderful person who became my wife. And I’m glad I did. It settled me down and got me focused.

3. De-clutter – If you’re like me, you don’t follow the trends. You know what you like, your choices are practical and classic, and you take care of your things. That can be a good thing, but it also means you’ve accumulated a lot of “stuff”. Things like clothes, books, music, tech, furniture, and other stuff that clutters up your space. When your space is congested, all that clutter gets in the way, and even affects the way you think. It’s challenging to solve problems and create fresh perspectives when you sit down see that same pile of crap around your workspace.

Take the time to rifle through your closets every so often so you can prune and toss what you don’t use. The old 80/20 rules for clothing (people wear same 20% of their clothes 80% of the time) still applies. Plus, giving some nice things to charity helps those less fortunate and helps you. The same thing applies for furniture, books, and music. Even if you are not that charitable, you can still make a few bucks by selling your stuff online or at your local book or music store. 

4. Be present. Focus on doing one thing at a time – My son is turning four this week. How time flies. As you probably know, toddlers’ minds and behavior is often unfocused and contrarian. You tell them to do one thing and they do the opposite. It’s not because they’re ignoring us, it’s because their minds have not fully developed how to process, discern, and do what we ask them. It can be extremely frustrating, so I came up with a very short list of “rules” for my son. One of our favorites is “do one thing at a time”. Like many adults, he’s got an overactive mind and is always multitasking. And like an adult, he’s at his best when he concentrates on doing one activity at a time.

Staying focused and present has its rewards. It allows us opportunities to immerse ourselves in our work or play, clears our mind, and provides opportunities for accomplishment, as opposed to running around from place to place with three balls in the air. Try staying present and doing one thing at a time. Then see how it feels.

5. Treat yourself to a little down time, every day – Life is for living, not stressing. Unfortunately, we live in a culture driven by fear. Don’t fall into that trap. Manage your media consumption, social media, and meetings as best you can. Find an hour or two every day to get outside, exercise, meditate, or read. If you can’t do that, at least take a few moments each morning and evening to take stock of your life and what’s most important to you and your happiness. Use this time to reflect on your life, your family, your friends, your loves, and your dreams. Ultimately, amigos, isn’t that what it’s all about?

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is you, the reader. By reading up to this point in my post you’ve taken the time to consider what I hope is a simple message that helps you live your best life.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to "Guy's Guy" Style

Robert Manni - Thursday, April 13, 2017


They say that men’s fashion is dead. Need proof? Look at all of the retail stores that are closing. Now consider meggings and the man bun.

So where do guys go from here? Studies show that consumers in general have cut way back on clothing purchases since the Great Recession. Between paying off student loans and $17 cocktails, who has an extra $200 to blow on a pair of designer jeans when you can pick up a pair of 501’s on sale for under $50? When it comes to clothes, today’s men are sticking with the proven staples of guydom. But, even when working with the classics, a Guy’s Guy has to add some swagger to make them his own.

A Guy’s Guy is comfortable in his own skin. He creates his own personal style whether he’s twenty-five or fifty-two. A Guys’ Guy’s style is confident, understated, and transcends trends and fads. He evolves his look organically with both feet on the ground and his eyes on the prize. Casual confidence, emotional intelligence, and timeless style are all hallmarks of a Guy’s Guy. When it comes to suiting up, he dresses classically and comfortably, with just a nod to the latest styles without being overly trendy. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t know how to clean up and look great in a suit, a tux, or jeans and t-shirt—It simply means that a Guy’s Guy wears his clothes. His clothes don’t wear him.

Looking through that lens, I’ll riff on a few staples of today’s man’s wardrobe from a perspective that’s more classic than couture, more Varvatos than Versace, and more Levi’s than Gucci. You may agree or disagree. It doesn’t matter. It’s just part of an endless discussion of how we express our masculinity in today’s crazy world.

With that bloated build up, it’s time to roll out the first installment of what I’m calling The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to "Guys’ Guy" Style. Let’s open the closet and take a look at some Guys’ Guy’s fashion do’s and don’ts and how to look great without breaking the bank.

1. Outerwear – Ever notice that when guys get together they often hang at the bar with their coats on the entire night? I do that a lot and I’ve noticed that I’m in the majority when it comes to that weird fashion tick. Now, if it’s fifteen degrees I’ll probably take my down coat off and hang it on my barstool. That said, for the most part when a guy puts on his jacket, it stays on all night. So you better chose a cool coat. I’ve gotten lots of mileage out my pea coats, bomber jackets, and denim jackets. It’s always good to have a quality leather jacket too. A beat up, old school motorcycle jacket is timeless. Finding the leather jacket that fits your personality is fun, as long as you don’t get too crazy and go with black floor-length duster or an 80’s maroon Donnie Brasco style coat.  For leather, go understated and classic.

I know a lot of guys prefer those Patagonia or LL Beam fleece jackets. For me, that’s for a weekend of golf or going to a football game. A hoodie under a jacket also works in casual situations, but if the hoodie is too bulky it won’t work for Saturday night. Plus, every Guy’s Guy needs a quality overcoat or raincoat if he’s in a business wear he wears a suit.

2. Hair – The only rule to follow here is to wear a hairstyle or facial hair that’s in sync with the shape of our face and how much hair you still have on your noggin. More and more young guys are losing their hair early due to stress, the environment, and bad-luck genes. The good news is that if have decent shaped head, rocking a super close-cropped style works. Beyond that, be careful with the previously mentioned man bun, or whatever that weird, pull-back thing was that former Jets QB Mark Sanchez did with his headband a few years ago.

If you have a nice head of hair, choose a style that works over an extended timeframe. Unless you’re a working actor, you’re not playing a new role every six months. Find a cut that works and stick with it for a while. In this case, consistency is not a bad thing. When it comes to facial hair, there are no rules. If you think your big bushy beard is really cool, I just have two considerations—How does that big-ass hipster beard feel when it’s ninety degrees? And remember, mustaches were big in the seventies. How did that work out?

3. Tattoos and jewelry – Tattoos is another area where nowadays, anything goes. That said; think long and hard if you have an urge to rock ink above your neck or God forbid, on your face. Call me old school, but as cool as you think a nose ring might be, I can’t help but think about the consequences of wearing a nose ring and catching a weeklong running nose, or the sight of a seventy-year old man with metal between his nostrils. Just sayin’. Earrings are a bit dated now, so unless you play pro ball, do you need to rock diamond studs?

When it comes to jewelry, be tasteful. If you can afford it, you will never go wrong investing in a classic watch. Bracelets are a personal choice, but if you go for it, consider real semi-precious stones with energetic properties, leather, or silver. If you wear a necklace, same rules apply. Make “clean and simple” be your guidelines.

4. Jeans – Regular and slim cuts are fine, but unless you’re in a rock band or are thin as a rail, super-skinny probably won’t look great on you and they’ll crush your balls. And, ladies really don’t want to see your junk bulging all time.

You can never go wrong with dark washes. They work great across the spectrum of occasions, like for business with a blazer, with a hoodie, or with a t-shirt. It’s worth investing a hundred bucks or so in a good pair of jeans made with Japanese raw selvedge. I have a pair that I bought as stiff as a board. I’ve never washed them, but over time they have broke in nicely and look great.

5. Footwear – Kicks are another sartorial category where personal taste and comfort rules. Let’s start with casual. What guy doesn’t have a closet overflowing with sneakers, training shoes, and running shoes these days? That’s all good, but when you’re out with a lady and you want to wear sneakers, make sure they are clean, up-to-date, and lightweight. I love the comfort of New Balance, but until recently a lot of their styles have been kind of clunky.  Classic causal kicks include Timberlands (I have a low cut pair that totally rocks), chukkas, and smart looking, simple boots. For work, make sure your shoes are fresh and kept cleaned up. Also, make sure you match the color of your belt with your shoes. If you wear a suit to work, simply buy quality shoes that are at least on par with your suits, ties and shirts. A tattered pair of shoes really kills the suited-up look. As far as sandals go, I’m for them, but not at the office. I don’t buy into that “mandals” handle. There are lots of cool, comfortable sandals for the weekend or the beach. And do I need to remind you about no socks with the sandals? I didn’t think so.

6. Dressing up – No matter what he does for a living, every guy needs to own a suit, and possibly a tuxedo. When I started out in marketing and advertising, I had to suit up every day and, man it was hot on those subway platforms in August. Thankfully most industries have loosened up their dress codes, so unless you’re an attorney, banker or work in insurance, you probably dress casual to the office. However, “business casual” does not mean t-shirts and beat up shoes.

Even if you dig ditches, you’ll need a few standard items in your closet that fit any proper occasion that might crop up. I suggest that every guy invest in a quality navy blazer, a dark colored suit (preferably navy, gray or black) in a lightweight wool fabric, and a handful of dress shirts that have collars that fit his neck and facial contours. If you buy three dress shirts, consider owning one that’s button down.

I bought a tuxedo in my twenties. I still have it and occasionally wear it. It’s a traditional cut with a shawl collar. And, yes, it’s black. The waistband has hidden notches that allow for changes in my waistline. For the cost of a few rentals you can own a tuxedo, so buying one is a smart investment. Concerning ties, I suggest not too flashy, skinny or wide. And, if you want to be taken seriously, skip the bow ties.

7. Casual shirts (t-shirts, polo, etc.) – Unless you want to look like a bouncer, you can pass on the black, skin-tight muscle shirts. This Guy’s Guy likes polos, and you can never go wrong with an original Lacoste (alligator logo). They’re expensive, but they are made of Pima cotton, made in Peru, and last forever. You can find them on sale and they age well. My only advice on t-shirts is to be careful about the size of the logo or design. Do you really need to show everyone that you are a Denver Broncos fan? And, although I’m not fan of those omnipresent ironic t-shirts, I’m not a millennial. So, for me, solid colors are the best choice. I favor dark colors like navy, gray or black, or good old white. V-neck or crew collar? It doesn’t mater.

I’ve also invested in a handful of denim shirts. You can wear them anywhere, except in my opinion, work unless you are a creative or at a start up. I prefer a western cut and like how the fit of denim shirts from Lucky Brand, Muji, and J Crew. Levi's makes the gold standard, but I find that they are cut for really slim guys.

8. Summer fun – Shorts are great, but this is another category where you want to keep it simple. Yes, I know women detest cargo shorts, but if you really, really need extra pockets for all of your stuff, I don’t see anything wrong with wearing cargos on a sunny Saturday. I don’t wear my shorts too long or too short and I keep the colors and designs under control. So, although I dig the Rolling Stones, you won’t see me wearing a pair of shorts covered with their lips and tongue logo. That said, a classic white or black Stones t-shirt with one logo works with a pair of shorts or jeans. When it comes to bathing attire, buy a decent bathing suit. Yes, you can wade into the ocean in your cut off sweat pants and tightey-whiteys, but do you think the wet, saggy look is going to attract any ladies? I prefer a bathing suit that comes to your mid-thigh to super long board shorts, and I think most ladies agree. If you live in America, Speedos are for the swim team. Sandals are fine for the beach and trekking around town on the weekend.

9. Hats – Most guys have at least ten baseball caps. I live in NYC and have seen every team logo you can imagine in the subway. I can also unequivocally state that there is no better looking baseball cap than a Yankees cap. Unlike, say, a NY Jets cap, a Yankees cap looks classic and it matches any outfit. Caps in bright colors like the Jets green or Bronco’s orange scream, “Hey, I’m a crazy Jets fan and I might pour beer on you if you look at my girlfriend.” It’s okay to wear a Jets cap and a jersey when attending a game, but what is the message you are sending out when you’re on the street? It’s just something to keep in mind. Again you can never go wrong wearing a New Era traditional navy blue Yankees cap.

For cooler temps, every guy has a woven woolen cap. Most of them are made from 100% polyester, which makes your head sweat and gives you hat hair. I suggest you check the inside label and buy one that is 100% cotton or wool. And, guys, do you really need that sock hat when it’s eighty-five degrees? Just sayin’.

10. Underwear – I used to be a boxers guy. Then I found them to be too bulky for under dress clothes, so I switched to super lightweight breathable body-hugging boxer briefs. They are cool and comfortable and fit comfortably under even slim-cut jeans. Although I prefer going commando once the temperature hits sixty degrees, I wear underwear to work. Believe it or not, sometimes wearing an undershirt under a dress shirt or a polo shirt keeps you cooler. And, it doesn’t look half-bad. This is another one where you can use your discretion and personal style.

The bottom line is a man’s style is a personal thing. There is nothing wrong with rocking out now and then, but for most occasions, it’s better to err on the side of wearing understated clothing. That does not mean boring. It means that the real you will not be overshadowed by your clothes. And remember, the best way for a Guy’s Guy to showcase his style is by being comfortable in his own skin.

Because of the topic, this week’s GUYS’ GUYS OF THE WEEK are George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Jamie Fox, Jake Gyllenhaal, Daniel Craig (as James Bond), Bradley Cooper, and Tom Ford with a special mention of Steve McQueen. These guys know how to dress up and dress down without ever letting their outfits take center stage.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Style DON'Ts (Part 1)

Robert Manni - Thursday, November 19, 2015


Guy’s Guys take pride in their style and swagger. That doesn’t mean we’re vain or narcissistic. We’re simply comfortable in our own skin and we like looking good.

But with fashion and culture evolving at breakneck speed, sometimes it’s not so easy to keep our hands firmly on the style wheel. The world has changed and it’s not all about khakis, loose-fitting jeans and goatees anymore. We’re tempted to stretch our stylistic limits by what we see on social media and celebrities. Girlfriend jeans? Man buns? Meggings? What’s a Guy’s Guy to do? That’s where I come in, amigo. Although I firmly believe that as long as you are feeling it, in most cases it does not matter what you wear, there remain certain no-nos when it comes to dressing in the timeless Guy’s Guy style. So here is my first list of things guys should NOT wear.

Drum roll, please.

1. Too many sports logos – You’ve all seen this guy. He’s sporting a Packers jersey, a Yankees cap, a pair of clunky Nike running shoes circa 1995, even though he’s not a runner. Oy. Or the guy dressed in the orange Denver Broncos hat and Peyton Manning jersey. Oy, again. Guys, too much is too much. Unless you are heading to the Giants, Jets, Mets, Yanks, or Rangers game, limit yourself to one, that’s right, one sports merchandise item. When it’s cold or rainy, I top off my outfit with a Yankees cap. Living in Harlem, you can never go wrong with that interlocking N and Y on a navy blue cap. Classic. But, that’s it, amigo, one item only.

2. The hipster uniform – You seen this guy, too. Tattered skinny jeans, soiled white v-neck t-shirt, chains and beds around his neck, scruffy or urban woodsman beard, wayfarer shades, beat-up leather jacket, and the prerequisite sock hat dangling off the back of his man bun, regardless that the temperature is in the 70’s. Don’t be this guy. You are not Johnny Depp. Although it seems cool, it’s a uniform and it shows little imagination or classic style. In my opinion, you can rock any two items in this outfit (except the man bun), but not the whole enchilada. Ever.

3. Zubaz pants and the sweats culture – Remember those baggy zebra striped pants weightlifters wore in the eighties? Yeah, the ones that make you look like Hans or Franz. I see guys still wearing them out when walking their dogs or on the way to a sporting event. If you insist. But, on a date? Oy. I know sweats are damn comfortable, but please only wear them in the house. But, if you insist on wearing sweats when you are out, find something that fits you, not sized 2XXL that you get all comfy in on the couch.

4. Baseball caps indoors and on dates – When you are folically challenged wearing a cap feels secure. But there comes a time when you need to take that sweaty thing off your head. In particular, I am referring to not wearing a cap when you are on a date or in a restaurant. I get it with the caps if you are out with the boys at a bar watching the game, but not at a sit-down restaurant and not ever when you are on a date. It makes you look like an overgrown frat boy, and we know you're better than that. So, take the hat off when you are with a lady or when you sit down at a nice place to eat. It’s not so bad now, is it?

5. Big chunky, fat sneakers/running shoes with giant logos. Hey, I dig the Swoosh now and then, too, but old school running shoes paired with jeans is a dated look. You are better off rocking a pair of Chucks, chukkas, or Tretorns, my personal favs. Big cushiony running shoes are for running, not styling, amigo.

6. Old school khakis – I'm referring to the baggy kind from the nineties that may even have—gasp— pleats. We all know that many fashion staples come and go, but don’t expect pleats to come back on the scene anytime soon. If you need a break from jeans in your casual wear, there's a wide selection of slim khakis from brands like J. Crew in various shades that fit just snug enough around your naughty bits and bum to make you look fly.

7. Baggy nineties suits - I watched the new James Bond film, Spectre, the other day, and damn, Bond’s suits were freaking tight. This is the style now, amigos, and it’s a tough one for guys with that American “athletic” build to pull off. But if you stay fit, you will look damn good in those little suits that are all the rage. Do you best to find a suit that looks right on your frame, but whatever you do, take a look through your closet and get rid of those suits and sport jackets with the loose fit and big lapels.

I think we're off to a good start, but there is more to come. In the interim, check your closet and do the necessary pruning. You can thank me later.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is actor, Daniel Craig. His version of James Bond is masculine, feral, and brimming with timeless style. And, he rocks some great outfits throughout the film. Hey, Bond is a Guy’s Guy!

Photo courtesy of Peace on That.


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