Hey gents,

It’s the start of a new year and most of us are awash with resolutions… some of which you mentioned in the last article’s comments. Hopefully you’re able to make them a reality this year, instead of simply brushing them aside come the third week of January.

The reason I asked for your TWO biggest resolutions and not just your style-focused one is because most of us aren’t completely consumed by our personal style 24/7.

In the grand scheme of things, what you’re wearing isn’t necessarily that important.

As I began writing this article, I thought about how the way we wear clothing represents our style. And then I wondered, how can we extend that desire to be stylish into other parts of our lives? How can we be better men in other aspects, more than just clothing and outward appearance?

Below are a few things that crossed my mind. I think that adopting some (or all) of these will place you several steps ahead of your peers.

How to be a stylish and distinctive man beyond your closet

Many of these thoughts may seem elementary or obvious. If that’s what you’re thinking, then I’d consider you in the minority since most of these were inspired by simple observation of men around me and what they were (or weren’t) doing.

Get a grown-up email address

[email protected]” or “[email protected]” might’ve been cute in high school because it matched your AOL screen name, but not so hot now that you’re an adult and expected to have a career. First name and last name as your email address. That’s it.

If your name is common, try some abbreviated combo with your initials (i.e. [email protected] if [email protected]gmail.com is taken). If it’s still impossible, add a short one- or two-digit number at the end. The simpler the better.

Give your word, and keep it

Have honor, even for the seemingly minute things. Borrowed a buck from your friend but he’s since forgotten? Pay him back, and do it right away. Promised to do something for someone but you’ve been putting it off? Just do it already.

If you say you’ll do something, do it. In other words, don’t be lazy.

(Modern) chivalry is still very alive

Women may not expect you to lay your coat down over a puddle these days, but don’t be one of those douchebags that forgets to treat ladies with grace and respect because they “should be treated like equals.”

I’ve heard that excuse before. How f’ing lame of you. Be a man and hold the damn door open.

Regardless of your idiotic justifications, they’re still the fairer sex and should be treated as such.

Be fiercely passionate about something

Video games don’t count. What’s something that really lights a fire inside you? Or something that you find infinitely interesting? Be a connoisseur. Know everything there is to know about it. Or at least, be constantly learning about the subject so you can teach someone about it.

Why? Because every man should have interests, things he can speak intelligently and at length about. It may be cigars, bourbon, cameras, coffee, woodworking, high-end road bikes… anything. It makes you a more interesting person.

Just don’t talk about it all the time, especially if you weren’t asked in the first place. That doesn’t make you a connoisseur, that makes you annoying.

Improve your penmanship

I struggle with this one myself, but I think it’s important. In this day and age, we type more than we write, but writing in itself is a lost art. Practice, and take the time to form your letters. No one likes chicken scratch.

Speaking of chicken scratch, have you evaluated your signature lately? Mine could definitely use some improvement, or at least an extra second or two to get some sort of semblance of an actual name instead of just scribbled lines on a receipt.

Learn to recognize social cues

You may have to hone your skills on this one, especially if you’re oblivious to most things. Recognizing social cues quickly and correctly is the key to being socially graceful and not awkward.

You know that one guy who just doesn’t get a clue? Don’t be that guy.

Have a presence, but don’t be in the way. Listen more than you talk. Always be observant. Be aware of your surroundings. Be courteous of other people’s wishes and desires. You get my point.

Mind the details

The little things are everything. The way you sit, how you take care of your shoes, the fact that you moisturize (or don’t moisturize) your hands… It all says something about you. Make sure the details align with what you think of yourself and how you want to project yourself to others around you.

Give gifts

Doesn’t have to be big or elaborate, but if someone close to you deserves it, give him or her a gift. For example, if you’re a house guest and someone is hosting you, or if someone picks up your tab more than once without expecting anything in return, things like that.

In other words, be thoughtful. Thoughtfulness goes a long way.

Say “No” more

It’s okay to say no to things you don’t want to do. Life is too short to fill up with imaginary obligations you don’t particularly care for, to please people you don’t necessarily care about.

If you truly don’t want to do it, don’t. Bow out gracefully yet assuredly. If you have to, say it’s you, not them. Explain you only have so much free time and need to spend that hour / day on yourself.

Don’t feel bad about it. You can’t always push aside your own priorities. Say no and move on. If he or she isn’t mature enough to understand, then that’s not your problem.

Say “Yes” more

but to things you want to do. To things you should do, but are afraid to take on.

Be more adventurous. Make new friends. Try things you previously told yourself you wouldn’t like. Expand your horizons and learn to embrace change and growth. Do things that freak you the F out.

Travel more

The world is much larger than your backyard or hometown. Get inspired and travel. Visit other towns, states, countries. Stop filling your house with things you don’t need, and instead spend the money on experiences that will fill your life with wonderful stories.

When you’re 98 years old, you’ll be telling your grandchildren about the time you drove across the country, trudged through the Amazon, surfed with locals in the South Pacific, or wandered the streets of Florence. You won’t be reminiscing about the time you bought another car, or got the highest score on Wii Bowling.

Say “Hello” more

There’s this great quote from Augusten Burroughs I’ve always loved:

I used to feel so alone in the city. All those gazillions of people and then me, on the outside. Because how do you meet a new person? I was very stunned by this for many years. And then I realized, you just say, “Hi.” They may ignore you. Or you may marry them. And that possibility is worth that one word.

If you think someone is worth knowing, reach out to him (or her). Send an email, ask for an introduction through a mutual friend. Just do it.

If you look up to someone, let him (or her) know. Ask him to be your mentor. Listen to his story; everyone loves sharing stories and having someone listen.

If there’s a special person out there that catches your eye, be brave, take a chance, and say “hi” to her. Who knows, it may lead to nothing, but then again it could be something.

About four years ago, I said hello to a girl on the train. This summer, I’m marrying her. So, consider me living proof that taking a chance and introducing yourself to someone you want to know can lead to good things.

It’s only the beginning

That’s just the start of a long list of improvements many of us can make in our lives. Sure, looking great is important, but being a great man? Infinitely more so.

In case it’s not obvious, I’m in the same boat as you guys. In fact, you could probably say I wrote this article to myself. I’m still striving to perfect many of these things and plenty other unmentioned improvements. It’s an ongoing process, that’s for sure.

You may have your own priorities, and these may not fit you exactly, but it’s a place to begin and evaluate. How can we be men of distinction, class, and character to those around us? It’s not about money, status, or time. These are things we can improve upon regardless of all that. And when we do, we improve how the world sees us.

Over to you

What other resolutions in this same vein are you adopting this year? How does the above list look to you? Let’s hear it in the comments below; looking forward to reading what you have to say.

A quick, short reminder

K and I are still traveling and visiting family, and we figured some of you may be doing the same… so we decided to extend our holiday sale at Fifth&Brannan until January 7th.

This should give most of you travelers and vacationers enough time to settle back into your routines and check out the new site, maybe pick up a shirt, etc. All shirting is 20% off using code HELLO2013, and orders will ship out January 8.

Take a look here. Thanks in advance for checking out the brand, and if you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

Till next time!


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29 Responses

  1. sincarne on

    “Be fiercely passionate about something[…]Video games don’t count.”

    May I ask why? They’re in the MoMA. They’re studied for their narratives. They are important pop-cultural touch stones. They’re an incredibly vibrant business, both large and small. And the creation of games is more accessible than ever. In the past year we’ve seen an explosion of people using a tool called Twine, people who could never have programmed before, and who have some amazing stories to tell. I’m disappointed by such a blanket dismissal!

    • Belle on

      I came here to comment about on the video comment as well. Video games is how I have met so many of my friends. I feel everyday that video games have affected my life positively.

    • Arden on

      I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss Video Games either. However, there is a difference between being passionate about them (which, I guess, would include an interest in the production side, the interactive experience and their value as pieces of art) and merely fawning over them and making comments regarding the “amazing graphics and firing noises”.

      • sincarne on

        True, but that’s also true of any pursuit. I’ve been bored to tears listening to the same shallow conversations about cigars again and again.

    • Barron on

      Don’t read into it too much. I’m a designer, so I have respect for the creativity that goes into producing video games, especially these days. I’m referring to guys who sit in pjs playing games and eating Cheetos ten hours a day, rarely taking a moment to step outside, much less develop interests in anything else.

    • sincarne on

      Are you looking for sources on graphology, or on improving your handwriting in general? If it’s the latter, I’d suggest looking for books on the Italic alphabet. You can find free worksheets online. Italic is a great looking alphabet for people who are looking to improve from a chicken scratch.

  2. Aaron Trent on

    Chivalry should be dying with equality.

    Sorry man, it’s not a lame excuse. Courtesy should be extended to all people because they are people, not because of their genitalia. If you hold a door for a woman and let it slam in the face of a man you are not a gentleman, you are tool that’s trying to get some ass.

    My other goals for the year:

    Some athletic stuff.
    Get my Securities License.
    Explore southern Appalachia by bicycle and motorcycle.

    • Barron on

      I never said “let it slam in the face of a man,” you just assumed I meant that. Courtesy should be extended to everyone regardless of sex, like you said.

      To me, being chivalrous towards a woman means (among other things) honoring and respecting her, being gracious. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

    • Kasper Hedegaard Munck on

      In my opinion, the core of being a gentleman is to respect other human beings (be it males or females) for who they are. Maintaining (what might be referred to as old school or out dated) gentleman-ship is a fine art. I am always a step ahead, opening the door for my significant other, but I do also take my time and hold the door for another gentleman, who might be 3 feet behind me when, eg, entering a boutique. I do in return expect a nod, which I consider a general way of expressing appreciation.

      I do, however, experience likeminded, so called gentlemen, who open doors, pull our chairs etc. and yet – in my opinion – fail to be gentlemen. That is, having the notion that males are females superior. Having that perception of yourself makes you a male chauvinist and, at the end of the day, an unpleasant person.

      In addition, I actually thing that one should reserve at least a little extra courtesy for women. In opposition to gentleman-ship I think that being an attractive woman includes being feminine and actually allow a door to be opened for you. I do not consider it submissive or weak, i rather consider it being aware of your sex.

      Let me finish up by saying that I do, too, rest my head in the arms or at the shoulder of my girlfriend and she does as well appreciate getting her hands dirty in the field (so to speak).

      Fine article, Barron.

  3. Daniel on

    Great article! It’s really speaks to me. I have similar attitude to those things.
    I have been reading your blog for a while, and enjoy it alot. Its very useful and helped my to open my eyes to a lots of different things, and show me that i have a lot to learn.
    Greetings from Poland!!!

  4. DZ on

    My thoughts on video games is this: Its no different than other interests or hobbies. There is a good way to be passionate about it and a wrong way.

    I can be passionate about menswear, style, fashion and enjoy learning about trends, history, and just reading blogs. Or I can go to the mall every other day and blow my paycheck there over and over. In this case, there is a difference between being passionate about fashion and style and being a shopaholic.

    so even as a gamer, and someone who has made many friends in online gaming, I see where both side of the argument is coming from. There is definitely a cultural change in people’s perception of video games but like anything else, it must be done moderation.

    staying home, playing WoW instead of getting a job or studying because you are “passionate” is not a valid excuse. But the act of playing video games could just as well be skateboarding, or gambling. The fact that video games are easily addicted and easily accessible for young people makes it kind of the go-to scapegoat. And for good reasons.

    • Barron on

      The “wrong way” as you put it is exactly what I was alluding to in my original message, but people like to get caught up and get defensive about things I wasn’t trying to offend in the first place. So thanks for the third-party clarification.

  5. smerkinb on

    Just wanted to say that I really enjoyed this article. Thanks for putting up something that digs a little deeper and sharing your thoughts on some other areas we can all improve.

  6. Tino Raharja on

    well I should be passionate about Video gmaes, since I’m working at Games Industries
    but right now, I’m into the shoes

  7. Rob Stephenson on

    As a family we finally made the big investment in travel. Although there are still things we need to do in our yard, one of our cars is getting a bit tired, and a smaller mortgage would be nice, our kids have reached the ages (20,18 & 16) where we needed to either make the commitment or accept that we would never do a “big trip” as a family.
    We spent most of December (home in Australia on Christmas Eve) in Europe – spending time in London, Paris, Venice, Florence and Rome. It was the most wonderful time for us – things we have wanted to do and see for years; cold but no crowds (YES!) and, most importantly; has given our kids the opportunity to experience places that are nothing like home, as well as see so much of significance to Western civilisation and our way of life. (and hopefully ignited a desire in them to experience more of life than what is in their own backyard).
    They can pay for their own future trips though – I need to start saving for a romantic return for just the two of us oldies!

    • Barron on

      I love this! Travel, in my opinion, is the best investment you can make in yourself. Being exposed to other people and cultures is priceless, especially if you’re open to learning and absorbing the experience. Your kids are lucky!

  8. Adi on

    Great article, really inspiring, but I’m really curious, if you don’t mind sharing, could you let me know the sequence of events from saying hi at the train station till you became a Fiancé?