Welcome to the 2018 Essential Man’s “Gifts To Get Yourself” Guide.

If you’re new here, I want to welcome you to one of my favorite holiday traditions.

For the past 3 years, I’ve put out a gift guide with a small twist: It’s not for your friends, family, or person you’re dating.

It’s for you.

You see, I hold the opinion that most gift guides are a little bullshit. They’re usually filled with stuff the writers haven’t even used, and most of the time I always end up wanting to get something recommended for myself!

And besides, you don’t need ANOTHER guide on stuff you’re probably never going to buy for someone.

So that’s why I decided to put out a practical guide – one filled with items that I’ve not only vetted, but recommendations you’ll actually buy that will improve your life and make you a better man.

And isn’t being a better person the best gift you can give the people in your life?

To make things a bit easier, I’ve sorted recommendations into categories. Use the table of contents below to make navigating easier.

Enjoy!

TABLE OF CONTENTS

STYLE

My Favorite Everyday Jacket: Media Twill Jacket by Acne

Whenever I create a new clients wardrobe, I make sure they have what I call an “Everyday jacket.”

It’s a jacket that’s versatile, has solid functional pockets and, of course, looks great. This is the jacket you grab when you need to run to get a bottle of wine, but is still perfectly suitable for a casual office and even a date. My pick this year is the Media Twill Jacket by Acne.

It’s a perfect interpretation of the classic French work jacket. The large patch pockets are perfect for your phone or notebook. The twill is a sturdy update from the lighter cotton of the classic. And it’s cut just oversized enough for you to layer a smart knit sweater for chilly days.

BUY: MEDIA TWILL JACKET BY ACNE, $380

A Proper Leather Jacket Your Offspring Will Fight Over

The colder holiday months is the perfect excuse to get a leather jacket. But not just any leather jacket, I’m talking about a proper leather jacket. One that you can wear nearly year round, and that’s so well made and stylish your kids will be fighting over it once you pass.

I spent 10 years designing leather jackets here in New York City, so I have a lot of opinions when it comes to what makes a proper leather jacket.

The one thing I will tell you is that this is going to be an investment. If you do it right the first time, you’ll never have to buy another leather jacket again. (Of course, there’s a difference between never having to and wanting to.)

For your grail leather jacket, I recommend either lamb or calfskin. Avoid heavier cow skin. Lamb is soft and wrinkles perfectly when worn. The downside is it’s delicate compared to cow. Calfskin is the best of both worlds: soft like lamb but rugged like cow. The downside here is that it tends to be more expensive. But it’s worth it. I’m personally a calfskin guy when the option is available

The most versatile styles you can get are café racer jackets or double rider jackets, most commonly known by their signature name “The Perfecto.”

If you want more in-depth guidance on buying the perfect leather jacket, check out these past guides I’ve written on buying a leather jacket.

BUY: L01 MOTO JACKET BY YSL, $4,990

The Perfect Winter Layering Piece: Cashmere Sweater by Mr. P

A classic crewneck cashmere sweater is a staple in any man’s wardrobe. It looks great on its own, and thanks to the thin and extremely insulating nature of cashmere, makes for the perfect layering piece in colder months.

But there’s been a trend of cheap cashmere lately, with budget shops like Banana Republic and Uniqlo offering cashmere sweaters for less than $100. But not all cashmere is created equal.

Truly premium cashmere is made from long fibers which result in an extra soft and plush feel on the hand that it’s hard to stop touching.

Feel a proper cashmere sweater from a label like Mr. P, and then touch one from a place like Uniqlo and the difference is clear. Entry level cashmere feels coarse. It’s no surprise people feel the need to buy a new cashmere sweater every Winter.

It’s time to pick up a sweater worth holding onto.

BUY: CASHMERE SWEATER BY MR. P, $385

Concert Shirts That Don’t Cost a Tesla Payment: The Smiths Reissues by Strangeways NYC

I’m generally not a fan of concert tee reproductions, but I’ve made an exception for Strangeways NYC’s Smith tees.

Gathering inspiration from rare concert photos, Anywhere makes near 1:1 repro of ultra-rare Smith concert tees on ultra soft cotton tees that don’t include the vintage collector price-tag. These sell out fast, so I recommend following them on Instagram where they announce new drops.

BUY: THE SMITHS TOUR SHIRTS BY STRANGEWAYS NYC, $45

The Ultra-Comfortable Pants to Wear on Long Flights: Weekday Warrior Pants by Bonobos

The Weekday Warrior Pants from Bonobos are currently my go-to daily pant. They’re slightly dressier than chinos, are ultra comfortable thanks to their stretch, and feature an incredibly flattering cut. I don’t think there’s been a single time I’ve worn these where my wife hasn’t commented on how good my butt looks.

My clients who regularly fly have noted that these are their favorite airport pants. As comfortable as sweatpants without making you look like a bum.

BUY: WEEKDAY WARRIOR PANTS BY BONOBOS, $108

The Indestructible Sock: Darn Tough Socks

It seems like I’m always declaring a new brand my new favorite sock, but that’s because every time I add one to a list, I get a billion recommendations. The most recent one comes from you readers and I have to say, I think this is going to be hard to be.

Darn Tough is exactly what it sounds like. Crafted from merino wool that’s naturally wicking and odor repelling, Darn Tough crafts socks in a variety of different weaves and weights for different needs. Whether you’re looking for a daily dress sock, a pair more substantial for some nature treks, or the perfect low cut sock that won’t slip off your heel, Darn Tough has you pretty much covered.

Did I mention they have a lifetime replacement guarantee should any of their socks get a hole in them?

BUY: THE STANDARD CREW LIGHT BY DARN TOUGH, $20

The Tie for Guys That Don’t Wear Ties Often: Hand Rolled Tie by Drakes

The Essential Man is the place to learn how to look good when you don’t need to wear a suit and tie. But that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t have a few decent tie options in your drawer. After all, no matter how casual you are, there’s still going to be high-level business meeting and summer weddings you can’t avoid.

For me, the only place to buy a tie is Drake’s.

The legendary haberdashery has been handmaking ties in London since 1977. My favorite Drake’s ties are made from hand-rolled silk, and cut at a 45-degree angle, resulting in a beautiful drape that I can’t seem to find anywhere else.

It’s subtle, but when you see a man wearing a Drake’s tie, you notice how elegant and relaxed he looks. It’s what I consider a sign of amazing style: invisible and effortless.

BUY: TIES BY DRAKES, $175

The Perfect Brand for the Grown-Up Skater: Noah

I was a big fan of skateboarding in my younger days, but rocking oversized jeans and tees isn’t a good look for a man my age anymore. Like a 50-year-old rocker still wearing eyeliner to an award show, there are some things you need to let go of as you get older.

Noah is the perfect brand for men like me. Founded by a former designer at legendary skate brand Supreme, I describe Noah as what a former skater wears when he grows up and has a proper 401k.

Sure there are graphic tees and hoodies. But where Noah shines are their smarter, dressier pieces: from corduroy suits, slim cut shadow plaid shackets, and Italian made pleated chinos. It’s the perfect brand to help you never forget your youth.

BUY: CORDUROY TROUSERS BY NOAH, $298

If You’re New to Man Jewelry: Miansai Cuff

Many of my clients are interested in adding some “man jewelry” to their look but aren’t sure where to start. Don’t make the mistake that most guys do and go for a clump of leather cords. That screams “I got this on a whim while waiting in line at H&M.”

If you’re looking to dip your toes into man jewelry the right way, I always recommend a metal cuff or bracelet, like the ones from Miansai. It’s simple, understated, and masculine. And when you’re ready to graduate to a bit of stacking, check out this quick primer I did over on my Instagram.

BUY: 18-KARAT GOLD-PLATED STANDARD CUFF BY MIANSAI, $295

The Watches to Buy With Your Holiday Bonus That Aren’t Rolexes

So you scored a nice holiday bonus and are looking for a few ideas on what to blow it on. Might I suggest investing in a proper grown man’s watch?

I’m in the market for my first proper watch myself. So I reached out to two of my watch collecting friends with a challenge.

What’s a great first watch that isn’t a Rolex?

Not that I have anything against Rolexes, but getting a Rolex as your first watch is kind of…expected. I feel like putting a Rolex on this list is like recommending Old Fashioneds when you head to a bar. It’s a solid choice, but I want something that would make a true watch collector say “Oh, he knows what’s up.”

“There’s a wide variety.” Says Dean Kolnick, a watch collector I follow on Instagram. “I’d probably go with a vintage or pre-owned Cartier Tank. Or a vintage Vacheron (Middle: $6,450) or Audemars dress watch. That’s the nuanced choice.”

“Omega Speedmasters (Left: $3,500+) are a great buy, especially if you swap out the metal bracelet for a leather one. It dresses up real nice and caters to the watch nerds even though Omega is right up there with Rolex.” Says Troy Kennedy, a childhood friend of mine who is a watch collector now living in Switzerland.

One choice they both mentioned? The JLC Reverso (Right: $3,950), a classic that will be sure catch the attention of fellow watch enthusiasts.

BUY: VISIT HUDSON TIME

Fun Socks That Don’t Make You Look like a Nerd: Anonymous ism

Part of the challenge with being a stylist is incorporating my client’s personality into their looks.

Some guys just love fun socks and it completely makes sense. So if you absolutely need to be the Justin Trudeau of your office, might I recommend you look into Anonymous ism?

This Japanese brand is known for their fun, whimsical patterns. They have everything from Xmas sweater style Fair Isle patterns to multi-colored Melange-knit socks.

Even if you have no interest in fun ankle wear, I recommend you check out their more subdue two-tone wool socks. A stylish addition to any guys sock drawer this winter.

BUY: SOCKS BY ANONYMOUS ISM, $25

The Most Versatile Shoe You Probably Don’t Own Yet: Loafers by Bass Weejuns

Only recently have I’ve come to embrace the loafer.

I used to make the mistake of assuming they were too dressy, but draw some inspiration from the past and you’ll see you can easily wear them with a pair of jeans as you can a suit.

Think of it like the perfect choice between a dress shoe like an oxford and a casual slip-on like Vans. They’ll dress up any casual look, and make any dressed up outfit look slightly more effortless.

Bass Weejuns are an excellent starter brand with tons of styles and a solid entry-level price point. These winter editions have a bonus sole to give you a bit more grip when things get wet and snowy out. Perfect in time for the holidays.

BUY: WINTER LARSON WEEJUNS BY BASS WEEJUNS, $110

The Most Comfortable Underwear I’ve Ever Worn: No Boxer Boxers by Lululemon

I’ve tested out dozens of different underwear brands over the years, and Lululemon’s No boxer boxers are the current undisputed champ.

Three things I look for in good underwear: the ability to stay put and not ride up your leg, breathability, and of course, aesthetics. Lululemon’s No boxer boxers hit all these marks.

The stretch is just strong enough to be comfortable while preventing riding up your leg at the end of the day. The boxers are cut with a unique pouch that supports the boys, and they make you look damn sexy. (According to my wife).

What more could you want?

BUY: NO BOXER BOXERS BY LULULEMON, $24

The Tiny, Stylish Upgrade to Your Beanie: Donegal Beanie by Mr. P

I love a good beanie. They’re easy to wear and practical on chilly days. The first rule is to avoid anything with a logo or, god forbid, a sports team. Anything embroidered doesn’t belong in the office. Save those for game day.

A Donegal wool beanie is a great way to break away from boring black or navy beanies. A favorite among Irish fisherman, Donegal is an extremely warm yarn made from lambswool, where colored fibers are twisted throughout the yarn creating signature flecks of color.

It’s the perfect way to stand out while staying warm this winter without looking like you’re trying too hard.

BUY: RIBBED DONEGAL BEANIE BY MR. P, $70

Retro Glasses That Make You Stand Out in a Sea of Warby Parkers: The Yves by Jacques Marie Mage

I love Warby Parker for secondary glasses. I’m a big fan of the unique styles by Cutler & Gross (which did the awesome eyewear in The Kingsman movies). But if you’re ready for something a bit more stylish and exclusive, Jacque Marie Mage is the brand you want to look into.

I fell in love with their limited edition Yves, an homage to the legendary designer’s signature thick, rectangle framed eyeglasses he wore throughout his life.

Yes, it’s going to take a bit of effort to get your hands on them, but if you’re ready to be the guy that doesn’t have those clear Warby’s at the office party, it’s worth the hunt.

BUY: THE YVES EYEGLASSES BY JACQUE MARIE MAGE, $679

Smart Looking Touchscreen Gloves: Henley Touchscreen Gloves by Dents

Is there really a reason to get gloves that aren’t touchscreen compatible anymore? My gripe with most gloves out there is that they tend to be knit, which doesn’t hold up in colder weather and doesn’t look great at work.

Dents solved this by problem by treating their lambskin with a secret process that lets you swipe right in the middle of a blizzard.

BUY: HENLEY LAMBSKIN & WOOL TOUCHSCREEN GLOVES, $100

Your New Favorite Sneaker: Common Projects Skate Shoe

Look, I love my Vans, but this is hard to resist.

Common Projects’ recent skate shoe is like ordering a $50 truffle burger at an amazing restaurant. Sure, you can get a solid burger at Shake Shack at 1/10th the cost, but you’re getting this cause you love burgers and, because honestly, you can.

BUY: CAP TOE SUEDE SNEAKER BY COMMON PROJECTS, $410

TECH

The New Noise Canceling Headphone Champion: Surface Headphones by Microsoft

I recently caught a review of these headphones from one of my favorite tech reviewers, MKBHD, and was surprised to find he recommended these above the long-time champ Bose.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a huge audiophile. As long as I can listen to my Spotify and Podcast, I’m good. What intrigued me about these headphones (aside from their clean look and matte coated soft texture) is the ability to adjust the noise cancellation.

With a turn of a dial, you can amplify ambient sounds which makes it feel like you’re listening to music without headphones. This is great for office environments where you might want to hear your name be called. Turning the dial the opposite way allows you to adjust this all the way up to 100% noise cancellation.

Brilliant.

BUY: SURFACE NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES BY MICROSOFT, $349

My Secret to Working on the Go: Anker Powercore USB-C Battery Bank

I work a lot from coffee shops and hotel lobbies, and one thing that drives me nuts is showing up a bit after the rush to find all the great outlet spots taken. My solution?

The Anker Powercore USB-C battery bank.

I’ll spare you the technical jargon. Here’s what you need to know: this remote sized spare battery has enough juice to fully charge my MacBook Pro, my iPhone, and my iPad on a single charge.

Or to put it another way, you can charge your phone 7x before you need to recharge this thing. (Which takes about 8 hours.)

BUY: ANKER POWERCORE 20100 USB-C, $49

My Favorite Zipperless Laptop Case: Magnetic SleeveS by Incase

I have a zippered Incase sleeve for my Macbook that I’ve been using for years and absolutely love.

Does it needs to be replaced? No, not really.

Are there any considerable advantages to this magnetic case compared to the zippered one? Other than the ability to use it with one hand, no.

But is the fact that it’s really fucking cool and fun to use enough reason to buy it? Hell yes.

BUY: ICON SLEEVES BY INCASE, $49

The New iPad Pro w/ Pencil

An iPad with flat sides where your near perfect lag free Apple Pencil magnetically snaps to?

What more do I need to say?

BUY: 11″ IPAD PRO WITH PENCIL, $899

Say Goodbye to Ugly Tangled Charging Cables in Your Bag: Native Union Key

The only thing worse than forgetting your charging cord at home is bringing it.

Native’s Union Key is a stylish, invisible solution, giving you access to a USB to Lightning plug hidden in a keychain. I’m not a huge fan of a ton of attachments on my keys, so I’d snap this to my bag. Also comes in USB-C.

BUY: LIGHTENING KEY CABLE BY NATIVE UNION, $29

WORK

Because Paper Straws Are Bullshit: Metal Straws By Ecotribe

I hate paper straws and think they’re bullshit. I’m also not a monster and I want to save the turtles, so I don’t mind carrying around a metal straw.

These food safe, FDA-approved, rust-resistant straws come with cleaning brushes and convenient beech wood carrying cases.

Say goodbye to soggy paper straws.

BUY: METAL STRAWS BY ECO TRIBE (SET OF 4), $24

How to Be Unforgettable in Life: Montblanc Noir et Noir Heritage Pen

One of the biggest game changers in my career and personal life has been handwriting notes.

Yes, texting and email are much easier, but that’s precisely why a handwritten thank you letter will help you stand out. It signals effort.

Like tasting menus, I never understood the appeal of luxury pens until I experienced it first hand. Aside from actually being more pleasurable to write with, I’m a firm believer that beautiful objects encourage you to use them more.

If you haven’t got in the habit of writing people, I recommend picking up your favorite pen and set aside an hour block every Friday and start. Once you got a month or two under your belt, make it a bit more pleasurable and upgrade to a Mont Blanc.

BUY: NOIR ET NOIR HERITAGE PEN BY MONT BLANC, 420

The Water Bottle That Isn’t Annoying to Carry in Your Bag: The Flat A5 Memobottle

The most annoying part of trying to stay hydrated is lugging around bottles that make your bag look like it has a tumor.

Memobottle’s A5 is the perfect solution. It’s about the size of a standard notebook (~6” x 8”) and holds 25oz (a bit more than 2 soda cans) worth of water.

BUY: FLAT A5 WATER BOTTLE BY MEMOBOTTLE, $26

The Most Popular Men’s Bag from My Recent Post: Metropolitan Slim Brief by Coach

I recently wrote an article on the 8 most popular work bags my clients love. The reader favorite from that post? Coach’s Metropolitan Slim Brief.

Whether you a new founder or looking to dress for the job you want, nothing says “grown man with taste” than an all leather bag.

Coach’s Metropolitan slim brief, with a price tag of $495, is a ridiculous steal considering that it’s made from beautifully soft calf leather (the most expensive type of cow leather to use). A bag like this could easily fetch 10x the cost.

If you want to stand out in a sea of backpacks or tech bags in a classy way, this is the best entry level leather bag you can get.

The interior is large enough to carry a 15” laptop and has additional zip pockets to hold your cell phone and any relevant documents. My favorite detail is the invisible outer pockets which secure via magnets, great for quick access to subway cards, passport, or plane tickets.

What color should you get? Both black and rich brown are versatile and timeless, it’s going to depend on your style.

Easy style hacks: Look at the shoes you own. If you own a lot of black shoes, I’d recommend the black briefcase.

BUY: METROPOLITAN SLIM BRIEF BY COACH, $346

HOME

The Perfect Post-Netflix & Chill Blanket: Weighted Blanket by Sharper Image

I’m a weighted blanket believer. I’ve been loving it some post gym couch relaxing. The pressure feels perfect on your muscles after a hard workout, just make sure you don’t have anything to do after the gym. It’s really easy to want to fall asleep under this thing.

Most guides will recommend getting a blanket that’s 10% your bodyweight. I’m 175lbs and found that a 15lb blanket was perfect. Sharper Image’s blankets come in a variety of weights for your own needs.

BUY: WEIGHTED BLANKET BY SHARPER IMAGE, $129

My Favorite Toothbrush: Quip

Here’s what I love about Quip toothbrushes:

They come with a travel cover that doubles as a toothbrush holder. The holder has a magical strip which somehow never loses its stickiness so you can keep taking it off and moving it around as many times as you want.

Last, I don’t have to worry about changing my toothbrush, as Quip’s subscription service sends you a new replacement head every 3 months

BUY: QUIP TOOTHBRUSH STARTER KIT BY QUIP, $40

Make Your Bathroom Feel like a Fancy Hotel: Le Labo Hinoki Shampoo

Leave your 4-1 shampoo/conditioner/soap/face wash in the dorms.

Now I’m not a psychologist, but there’s something about seeing hotel level bathroom products that makes me get excited to start my day. I mean, if even your shampoos are stylish as fuck, what does that say about you?

Don’t think this is one of those cases where it’s all about the aesthetics. Le Labo’s Hinoki shampoo actually works.

All natural ingredients like avocado and coconut oil, rosemary leaf, and rice extract soften and strengthen your hair as it cleans. Coupled with Le Labo’s legendary reputation creating unforgettable scents (Hinoki is inspired by the smell of Japanese hinoki cypress trees, which are famously used as bonsai trees), this is the shampoo for the man with incredible taste.

BUY: HINOKI SHAMPOO BY LE LABO, $27

How to Look Cool Even When You’re Bumming It: Sleepy Jones Lowell Pajamas

My secret to always looking good is simple: if everything in your closet down to your pajamas is stylish, it’s impossible to look bad.

Sleepy Jones is the brainchild of Andy Spade (of Jack Spade fame and husband of the late Kate Spade). Much like all the brands he’s touched, it strikes a perfect balance between timeless and trendy.

My personal favorites are the classic piped pajamas, which look so good you could even wear it as separates during the day.

BUY: LOWELL PAJAMA SET BY SLEEPY JONES, $178

The Grown Man’s Fabreeze: Aesop Room Spray

I recently went over a client’s apartment and fell in love with how good her kitchen smelled. She let me in on her secret: Aesop’s room spray, which I’ve now lovingly dubbed the grown man’s Febreze.

The great thing about a spray versus a candle is you can get a place smelling great in seconds. And Aesop has 3 different spray scents to suit your vibe.

I’m a big fan of the Istros scent, a “pink pepper, lavender and tobacco” scent which is perfect the coming fall season.

BUY: ROOM SPRAY BY AESOP, $55

Because a Gross Bathroom is an Instant Turn Off: Yamazaki Trashcan

I remember chatting with a group of women at an event on the topic of dating red flags. One of the women brought up the fact that she judges a guy based on how clean his bathroom is. “If his bathroom is gross, what do you think his junk is like?!”

Restaurants lose a star in my mind when their bathrooms are disgusting, so I can totally see where she’s coming from.

Aside from regularly wiping down your sink and shower, I recommend also upgrading your trash can. Like getting a Porsche, it’ll encourage you to keep it clean.

BUY: COMO TRASHCAN BY YAMAZAKI, $24

The Home Hack to Never Forget Your Keys Again: Change Tray by Hermes

The first week using a catch-all change tray reminds you how stupid you once were emptying your pockets on any flat surface available.

There are tons of options out there for all budgets, but why not treat yourself and practice the “Buy it right once” philosophy.

Hermes trays are classic and one of the rare instances where I don’t mind a logo.

BUY: SELLIER CHANGE TRAY BY HERMES, $630

TRAVEL

The Perfect Travel Jacket: The Havana Traveler Blazer by Suit Supply

I’m one of those guys that insist on dressing up a bit for plane rides, only because I think the notion that one must choose between style or comfort is bullshit.

While I don’t think you need to go full on 3-piece suit, you’d be surprised how much nicer you get treated when you don’t remind the crew of the frequent demanding flier in pajamas.

Suit Supply’s Traveler blazer is my favorite jacket to fly in.

Not only is it smart and is an easy style upgrade, but it’s also made of special high twist wool that is wrinkle resistant. The unlined body gives it a relaxed, casual vibe and makes it extra comfortable to wear. My favorite details are the generous patch pockets, perfect for your passport and ticket.

BUY: HAVANA TRAVEL BLAZER BY SUIT SUPPLY, $399

The Most Comfortable Travel Shirt: Cashmere & Cotton Blend Polo by Rag & Bone

Need more proof that you can look good and be comfortable on a long flight? Rag & Bone’s cashmere & cotton polos are the perfect top to pair with your travel blazer.

It’s a beautiful marriage between the breathability of cotton and the soft, plushness of cashmere.

Like flying first class, it’s going to be hard to go back to anything else after this.

BUY: STRIPED COTTON AND CASHMERE BLEND POLO BY RAG & BONE, $250

The Last Piece of Luggage You’ll Ever Buy: The Aluminum Bag by Away

Away has spawned a few copycats since jumping on the scene with their carry-on luggage, but this review from The Points Guy sums up everything I love about them.

The easy to turn wheels. The built-in compression bag. That famous built-in backup battery with USB port where you can charge your phone.

They recently released a Rimowa-esque aluminum model that I can’t wait to get my hands on.

BUY: ALUMINUM CARRY-ON BY AWAY, $475

How to Pack Like a Pro: Eagle Creek Packing Cubes

Everyone has their own packing methods, from stacking all your clothes and rolling them up, to stuffing your underwear and socks into your shoes. I prefer a more organized and Tetris-like set-up.

My fellow stylist friend Cass put me onto packing cubes, which let you separate like with like. They also help you avoid mixing your dirty clothes with your clean ones. Eagle Creek packing cubes zip and unzips the smoothest of all brands tested.

BUY: PACKING CUBES BY EAGLE CREEK, $27 (SET OF 3)

One Stop Shop for Your Travel Grooming Needs: Sao Paulo Travel Kit by Aesop

You know what’s better than a solid dopp kitt? One that’s made for you by Aesop.

Aesop’s Sao Paulo travel kit is filled with everything you need to travel the world: toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo and conditioner, body cleanser and more. All packaged neatly in a stylish black microfiber case.

BUY: 9-PIECE TRAVEL GROOMING SET BY AESOP, $75

Because Cheap Eyemasks Just Don’t Cut It: Eyemask by Mantasleep

Past eyemask I’ve used all still suffered from the same problem: light leakage around the nose.

Mantasleep solved this by creating soft adjustable cups that completely surround your eyes. I think it’s safe to say these are the last eyemask you’ll ever need to buy.

BUY: EYEMASK BY MANTA SLEEP, $24 (WITH MY SPECIAL LINK)

How to Plan the Perfect, Stress-Free Trip: Bespoke Trip Planning by Journy

Journy is a trip planning service that creates custom daily itineraries for any upcoming trip you have.

You’re pair with an expert trip planner who crafts the perfect trip for you based on an extensive (and I do mean extensive) quiz you’re giving once you sign up. They ask you everything from your art and food preferences to things like budget and whether you like dancing at clubs.

From there, your assigned expert reaches out to their connections, which include people like Andrew Zimmern of Travel Channel’s Bizarre foods and jetsetting photographer Alice Gao to create a one of a kind experience.

Prices start at $25/day, with a premium option that includes help booking and reservations. My wife and I are using this service for our honeymoon (not sponsored!).

If we trust it enough for something this important, you can trust it for that yearly sabbatical from work.

BUY: CUSTOM TRAVEL PLAN BY JOURNY, $25/DAY

FITNESS

The Best Workout Gear For Men: Lululemon

Ok, it’s time to get over the fact that it’s Lululemon. They’re one of my favorite brands for workout gear (right behind Nike).

Their cuts are amazing and fabrics are on par with Nike, and their designs are getting better and better. Their standard workout shirt, the Vent Tech shirt is extremely lightweight and has anti-odor properties. They feel much nicer than my previous go-to, Nike’s Dri-fit tees.

My current workout routine is extremely fast paced (think Crossfit style) and clocks in at an average of 1.5 hours. Even after that brutal workout, Lululemon tees are almost dry to the touch. Pure magic.

BUY: LULULEMON MEN’S

The Most Versatile Gym Shoe: Nike Metcon 4

Nike Metcon’s have been my go-to gym shoe since version 2. Which each iteration, they’ve made subtle tweaks, and they just keep getting better and better.

The Metcon’s low profile is perfect for my workouts that require stability, like my kettlebell swings. They’re incredibly lightweight, making them great for sprints. The most important part though is that they’re the best looking low profile shoe out there. (If you wear those Vibrams toe-shoes, please stop reading my site.)

BUY: METCON 4 BY NIKE, $130

The Best Work-To-Gym Bag: Fit Pack 2 by Aer

If the Aer Day Pack and a gym duffle bag had a baby, you’d have the Fit Pack 2.

The compartment closes to your body is everything you love about the Day Pack: breathable mesh panel, padded laptop bag, and storage compartments for all your accessories.

Lay it flat like a gym duffle to access the front-loading compartment.

The 18.8L space is more than enough space to hold your gym clothes. At the bottom hides a ventilated shoe compartment that can house those Nike Metcons (up to size 13!).

The perfect bag to go from a co-working space to Crossfit, or even a quick work trip where you want to bring a change of clothes.

BUY: FIT PACK 2 BY AER, $135

Earbuds That Will Stay Put: Jaybird X4 Sport Headphones

The most significant upgrade to the 4 version is the addition of waterproofing, which seems like a no-brainer for workout buds.

Extremely light with an average of 7.5-hour battery life based on real-world tests, I’m not surprised Jaybirds are considered the gold standards when it comes to workout buds.

BUY: X4 SPORT HEADPHONES BY JAYBIRD, $129

How to Destress and Boost Recovery: Relax Bears Cbd Gummies by Green Roads

One of my goals for 2019 is to improve the quality of my sleep. A recommendation I keep getting from nearly everyone smart I know has been CBD gummies.

CBD is short for cannabidiol, a cannabis compound with similar medical benefits as marijuana, without the psychoactive effects. Popular uses include treating sleeping disorders, anxiety, and inflammation, especially recovery from workouts.

I was put on to Green Roads product from UFC fighter T.J. Dillashaw, who swears by them. Good enough for him, good enough for me.

BUY: RELAX BEAR CBD GUMMIES BY GREEN ROADS, $54

SEX

The Perfect Fitting Condom, Every Time: Condoms by One

Confession: Up until a year ago, I was using the wrong sized condom.

As a man who is slightly wider than average, getting something off the shelf has always been a challenge. It’s either wide enough but too long or the right length but too tight.

One condom solves this by offering 60 different size combination. All you need to do is download their fit kit and submit your results to find your perfect size.

BUY: MYONE PERFECT FIT CONDOMS BY ONE

The Hook-Up Secret Weapon: Single Lube Packets by Sliquid

A reader emailed me a while back about how appreciative a Tinder hookup was over the fact he brought a small tube of lube.

While I give him props for having the foresight and putting his ego aside, there’s an even better choice.

Sliquid makes these small pouches of lube that are the same size as a condom and come in all their flavors.

BUY: LUBECUBES BY SLIQUID, $18

The Sex Toy That Will Blow Her Mind: Sona Cruise Clitoral Stimulator by Lelo

Alright guys, I’m going to let you in on a secret: a good sex toy (and sex for that matter) isn’t always about penetration.

Clit stimulators are nothing new, but none have looked so nice you wouldn’t be embarrassed if you accidentally left this out. Aside from aesthetics, LELO’s SONA uses sonic pulses to stimulate deep into her clit, which results is really powerful orgasms. There is a reason why countless reviews have said this is the best sex toy ever made.

If you could only pick one thing on this list to get, I’d go with this one.

BUY: SONA BY LELO, $89

The Only Shaver I Will Let Near My Crotch: Bodygroomer by Phillips Norelco

Don’t make the amateur mistake I once did of using your beard trimmer in such a sensitive area. The delicate skin around your groin requires finer blades, otherwise, you’re just asking for your skin to get caught and (ouch) cut. And nothing puts you out of the sex game longer than open wounds.

I was a huge fan of Norelco’s Bodygroom trimmer when it first launched and was extremely surprised with the upgrades they’ve made.

First, it’s wireless and uses a battery, which solves the huge problem the previous model had of losing its charge after a while. (Slow blades means unwanted cuts)

The teeth are finer and include two soft silicone blade guards. This not only makes trimming a breeze, but it’s also pretty much impossible to cut yourself, especially in super-delicate areas like your balls!

A couple of downsides.

If you got a big bush, I definitely recommend taking scissors or your beard trimmer on a 3 or 4 setting to give the Bodygroom less to struggle with. The Bodygroom works best as a tidying tool.

Probably the most annoying con, the blades fill up fast with hair, so you’ll have to stop every few passes, pop off the blades and use the mini brush to clear the build up.

And while Norelco says you can use this in the shower, it’s definitely most effective dry.

BUY: BODYGROOMER BY NORELCO, $19

The Instant Mood Setter: Lifx Smart Lightbulbs

It’s a fact that dimmers make the mood sexier.

LIFX lightbulbs make it super easy to turn any lamp or light fixture into one that’s dimmable. Unlike other smart bulbs, LIFX doesn’t require a hub. You simply twist it in and use the app to connect it to your wifi.

Along with dimming, you can set cycles to automatically turn on and off lights, save light configurations and colors as “moods” for quick switching, or even trigger lights via GPS so they’re on as you enter your house.

Just a warning, having sex under red lights might get addicting.

BUY: SMART LED LIGHTBULB BY LIFX, $44

Upgrade Your Sex Life Without It Being Awkward: Kindu App

Even after 7 years, my wife and I still get a little embarrassed talking about what we want when it comes to our sex life.

While we’ve used free services online in the past but the interfaces have always been a bit clunky.

Kindu allows you to connect with your partner and go through relationship/sex decks which cover everything from vanilla topics like hugging more to more kink things like BDSM.

You basically Tinder your way through the cards, left swiping on things you aren’t into, right swiping on something you want to explore more. You’ll be notified when something’s a match.

Thank god for technology.

BUY: KINDU APP

FOOD

Master the Essential Skill of Feeding Yourself: Cooking Lessons from Masterclass

Cooking is the gift that keeps on giving.

You’ll save money. You’ll be able to throw amazing parties. You’ll eat like a king and score points with women. What better way to learn than from the masters? Masterclass classes constantly blow me away with their teachers.

A lifetime of knowledge from Michelin star chefs for less than $200? It almost seems too good to be true.

BUY: MASTERCLASS ALL ACCESS PASS, $180/YEAR

Look at Food in a Whole New Way: A Multi-Course, Hours-Long Tasting Menu

Like flying first class, I’m a big believer that everyone needs to experience a tasting menu at least once in their lives.

You don’t need to be fancy to enjoy one. (If you want proof, I try to go to one tasting menu a month, and I’m a huge fan of Taco Bell.)

You don’t have to be balling like a CEO to experience one either. Many Michelin star restaurants have great deals on lunch tasting menus that are just as extensive as hard to book dinner ones.

And with the rise of sub $100 tasting menus, you have a lot to choose from.

BUY: VARIES. SEE BEST TASTING MENUS UNDER $100 VIA THRILLIST

Because Drinking to Get Wasted Is What Boys Do: Pechuga Sipping Mezcal by Del Maguey

I used to think that mezcal was the lame cousin of tequila. It wasn’t until a recent visit to a mezcal bar in New York did I learn how wrong I was.

If you’re ignorant to mezcal as I was, let me shoot you a quick primer: Both mezcal and tequila are made from agave plants. Tequila can only be made from one specific agave plant, blue agave, while mezcal can be created with any, resulting in different, complex flavors. Traditionally, mezcal is meant to be sipped, like a good scotch, accompanied by salts and citrus slices like orange or lime. Mezcals will often have their own recommended salt and citrus combos, with some producers creating their own salts to drink with your mezcal.

I reached out to my friend Andrew White who runs The Craftender for his recommendation.

“Del Maguey Pechuga Mezcal. Most good bartenders worth a lick know the low-end Del Maguey, Vida, which is only $30 a bottle and perfect for mixing. But the Pechuga has amazing notes of spice, fruit, and even mint that can only be savored by sipping.”

BUY: PECHUGA SIPPING MEZCAL BY DEL MAGUEY, $194

The Perfect Cutting Board: Two-Sided Cutting Board by Food52

A good knife is only as good as the cutting board you’re using it with.

The biggest mistake most guys make when picking a cutting board is going too small. Small boards don’t give you enough real estate to work it, they also pose a safety risk. Smaller board means lighter boards, which means your board could shift and make you lose a finger.

Food52’s was created through feedback from 10,000+ cooks and readers. The hefty board is big enough to carve two roasted chickens without moving. A notch on one side of the board is perfect for holding your phone as you cook your way through a recipe.

Flip the board over, and you have a channel around the edge of the board to catch the juices of whatever you’re carving, perfect to use for gravy or stock, or simply easier clean up.

BUY: TWO-SIDED CUTTING BOARD BY FOOD52, $99

Soft Spreadable Butter Whenever You Want: French Butter Keeper by Sawyer Ceramics

This genius low tech solution to the problem is un-spreadable butter you’ve been dreaming of.

Inspired by how dairy farmers keep butter fresh by submerging it in water, the keeper is composed of two cups that fit into one another.

You fill the smaller cup with butter and the larger container with water, then flip the butter side into the water. This keeps the butter at a nice, spreadable room temperature, while the water creates an airtight seal to keep it from going rancid.

BUY: BUTTER KEEPER BY SAWYER CERAMICS, $50

LIVE AN AMAZING LIFE

The (Near) Chew-Proof Leash for Your Best Friend: Lifetime Leash by Atlas Pet Co.

According to a study by Harvard, people who own pets live longer, healthier, calmer lives. Even more reason to get your best friend something to last a lifetime.

The Lifetime Leash is built with premium-grade climbing rope. Designed to stand up to the rough terrain of mountains where it’s a matter of life and death, this makes for the ideal material to take the chews of your canine pal.

In fact, Atlas stands by their products they back it with a lifetime guarantee. Send in your destroyed gear and they’ll replace it for life.

BUY: LIFETIME LEASH BY ATLAS PET CO., $48

The Book That Changed My Life: “It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work” by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

One of the best decisions I’ve made in my life recently was cutting my work hours in half.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the cult of hustle, especially when people are sharing their highlights non-stop on social media. There comes the point where you have to reevaluate how you want to be spending most of your precious time.

I realize I am in a unique position to be able to control the hours I work without any resistance. But even if you have a boss or work for an old-school company, I would recommend reading “It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work.”

“Long hours, an excessive workload, and a lack of sleep have become a badge of honor for modern professionals. But it should be a mark of stupidity, the authors argue. Sadly, this isn’t just a problem for large organizations—individuals, contractors, and solopreneurs are burning themselves out the same way. The answer to better productivity isn’t more hours—it’s less waste and fewer things that induce distraction and persistent stress.

It’s time to stop celebrating Crazy, and start celebrating Calm.”

BUY: IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE CRAZY AT WORK BOOK, $18

IF YOU PICKED UP ANYTHING FROM THIS LIST, I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

In the comments below, shared what you bought and how you like it!

peter@theessentialman.com'
Author

Hi, I'm Peter. I spent 11 years as a menswear designer here in NYC. Now, I help some of the most successful men look really good as a Private Personal Stylist and writer of The Essential Man. You can learn more about what I do by clicking here