The 5th Annual Gifts to Get Yourself Guide

By: Peter Nguyen
Last Updated: November 19, 2020

My “Gifts to get yourself” guide has been a holiday season tradition since I launched The Essential Man. 

I’ve always found traditional gift guide posts useless. Not because of bad recommendations, but because I always just end up getting something for myself.

My job as a Private Personal Stylist has put hundreds of brands and thousands of products in front of me. I’ve shared many of these with you over the last 5 years.

This year’s guide is going to be a little bit different. 

Not only will I be recommending new discoveries over the past 12 months, but I’ll also be combing through past guides to pick the best of the best.

What am I still using and loving? What are my replacements for recs that have been discontinued? What’s been updated (for the best? For worse?)

Enjoy this year’s guide! And please email me what you pick up; I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Table of contents


Style

Black James Perse Cashmere Beanie

The only beanies I wear: James Perse Cashmere Beanies

James Perse has quickly become my client’s favorite brand for luxe, well-made essentials. And his line of cashmere beanies is now the only one I wear.

Cashmere does a much better job at trapping heat than most standard wools, with the added benefit of not being itchy. 

I must warn you, upgrading to cashmere beanies from your standard wool will ruin beanies for you forever.

BUY: CASHMERE BEANIE BY JAMES PERSE, $150 

Save Khaki United Supima Tee Mens

My favorite t-shirt: Save Khaki United Supima Cotton Tees

Longtime readers will know how much I love Uniqlo’s $15 Supima tees. But as the saying goes, there are levels to the game. 

Save Khaki United’s (S.K.U.) Supima is to cotton as Wagyu is to beef. 

Supima is a specially grown cotton that’s extra-long compared to traditional cotton. The length increases softness and durability. (Think about how soft longer hair feels compared to shorter hair.)

On top of that, Supima is less likely to pill or shrink. If you’re looking to really up to your t-shirt game, these are the ones to get. 

BUY: SUPIMA COTTON TEES BY SAVE KHAKI UNITED, $50

RRL Denim Western Shirt

The Coolest Shirt in Your Closet: RRL Denim Western Shirt

If I had to pick one shirt to live in for the rest of my life, it would be a western denim shirt. Looks cool under a suit, even better with jeans, ala Canadian Tuxedo.

If you’re going to invest some money in the perfect denim shirt, why would you choose anything other than RRL? (Ralph Lauren’s premium workwear line.) 

Made from Japanese denim, RRL’s take features all the classic details you want: western panhandle pockets with a boot stitch embroidery, pearl-like snap buttons, and washed for a vintage, broken-in look and feel.

BUY: SLIM FIT WESTERN DENIM SHIRT BY RRL, $265

Drakes Button-down shirt mens

The Best Off The Rack Dress Shirts: Drakes Button-down Shirts

If you don’t want to go through the hassle (and cost) of bespoke, I haven’t found a better off the rack shirt than those by Drake’s. 

Aside from the beautiful fabrics, I love the way Drake constructs their collars. It spreads perfectly when unbuttoned (no bare-chested flashbacks of the 70s) if you decide to go sans tie.

BUY: BLUE STRIPED BUTTON-DOWN SHIRT BY DRAKES, $235

Bonobos weekday warrior pants mens

My Daily Go-To Pants: Bonobos Weekday Warriors

The Weekday Warrior Pants from Bonobos are my current 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 have noted that this is their favorite WFH pant. It’s as comfortable as sweatpants, without making you look like a bum.

BUY: WEEKDAY WARRIOR PANTS BY BONOBOS, $98

Rag & Bone Jeans Mens

My Client’s Favorite Jeans, 5 Years Running: Rag and Bone Jeans

There are dozens of denim brands out there, but Rag & Bone never fails to make my private clients feel cool and get them compliments.

R&B has 3 fits, which will cover most guys (from skinny to straight). Guys with a more athletic body (larger butt/thighs) might not be able to get something flattering. In this case, I’d recommend Bonobos jeans athletic cut.

But for everyone else, Rag & Bone’s denim line is my top choice.

BUY: RAG & BONE JEANS, STARTING AT $250

Mr. P slim fit cashmere sweater

The Best Cashmere Sweaters (That Don’t Cost a Month’s Rent): Mr. P Cashmere Sweaters

A classic crewneck cashmere sweater is a staple in any man’s wardrobe. Mr. P’s take 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.

There’s been a trend of cheap cashmere lately, with budget shops like the 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, resulting in an extra soft, plush feel on the hand that it’s hard to stop touching.

All you need to do is a touch test between Mr. P’s cashmere and a fast fashion brand’s. Entry-level cashmere feels coarse. It’s no surprise people feel the need to buy a new cashmere sweater every Winter when they go fast fashion.

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

BUY: CASHMERE SWEATER BY MR. P, $385

Drawstring chinos by Save Khaki United in Gray

The Sweatpant Alternative: Save Khaki Drawstring Chinos

“Easy Pants” (drawstring pants that aren’t sweats) are a relatively new category, and they’re more popular now than ever thanks to everyone WFH.

I’ve been introducing my clients to Save Khaki United’s drawstring chinos (along with SuitSupply’s Ames trousers, see next) as an alternative to staying in their pajamas. 

Like their t-shirts (also recommended in this guide), S.K.U. doesn’t skimp on the fabrics: their easy chinos are made from the same luxe, insanely soft cotton as the rest of their line. I recommend a pair in grey, navy, and olive.

BUY: DRAWSTRING CHINOS BY SAVE KHAKI UNITED, $138

Man walking in Suitsupply drawstring tailored trousers

The Sweatpant Alternative (When You Need to Get Fancy): SuitSupply Ames Drawstring Trousers

SuitSupply’s Ames pleated trousers kind of feel like a business casual cheat code. 

It gives you the sharp professionalism of wool trousers while making you feel like you’re wearing sweats. You can easily pair it with a sports coat for an important meeting, or throw it under a bomber and wear it with white sneakers for a date night look.

If you’re looking for the perfect way to look like you know your shit without feeling overdressed, get these pants.

BUY: WOOL DRAWSTRING TROUSERS BY SUITSUPPLY, $199

Leather touchscreen compatible gloves by dents

The Grown-Up Winter Glove: Dents Touchscreen Gloves

Is there any reason to get gloves that aren’t touchscreen compatible? 

My gripe with most touch compatible gloves is that they’re usually knit, which doesn’t hold up when things get really chilly. I also think knit gloves make you feel like a kid.

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

BUY: SHEEPSKIN & WOOL TOUCHSCREEN GLOVES, $70

Man wearing cutler and gross eyeglasses designed for The Kingsman

Those Cool Glasses from The Kingsman: Cutler and Gross Aviator Glasses

I love my Warby Parkers (I cycle through 6 different pairs!). The only downside is they’re quite flimsy. Expected considering how affordable they are.

For something a bit more substantial, I’ve been taking my private clients to Cutler & Gross, the British label responsible for those ultra-cool glasses featured in The Kingsman.

Their styles are the perfect blend of classic with just enough of a unique twist to make them stand out. 

BUY: AVIATOR EYEGLASSES BY CUTLER & GROSS, $440

Black leather motorcycle jacket by Saint Laurent

The “Buy It For Life” Leather Jacket: Saint Laurent Leather Jacket

The colder holiday months are the perfect excuse to get a leather jacket. This year why not consider getting THE leather jacket? You know, the one you only have to buy once in your lifetime?

One that you can wear nearly year-round. One that’s so well made and stylish your kids will be fighting over it at your will reading.

I spent 10 years designing leather jackets here in New York City. I have many 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. It’s tough to get a great, new jacket for under $800 (The cost of a classic Schott.) And don’t you dare try telling me one can acquire an amazing leather jacket for $200. It’s not happening. 

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.)

Ask me to name you one leather jacket to get, price no concern, and Saint Laurent’s Moto Jacket would be my answer. 

As the sales associate at the Saint Laurent boutique recently quipped to me, “There’s a reason why it hasn’t changed in 6 years.”

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

Man wearing lululemon always in motion boxer briefs

The Best Underwear For Men: Always in Motion 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, making you look damn sexy. (According to my wife).

What more could you want?

BUY: ALWAYS IN MOTION BOXERS BY LULULEMON, $28

Group of bombas over the calf socks in different colors

The Socks My Readers Can’t Stop Buying: Bombas Socks

Here’s what I love about Bombas socks:

They come in over the calf lengths, which helps them stay up your leg all day long. That means no more bunched up socks and cold calves this Winter.

The alternating weave throughout the design makes the sock hug your foot for a better fit. (Your socks shifting in your shoe is what can cause blisters!)

They also come in crazy colors like tie-dye if you want to go wild after you stock your drawer with the essential navy and grays. 

BUY: OVER THE CALF SOCKS (PACK OF 8) BY BOMBAS, $108

black cashmere socks by mack weldon

Cashmere Socks. Yes. You Read That Right: Mack Weldon Cashmere Socks

I’m not joking when I say I had to buy my wife a pair of these after she tried mine on.

These over-the-calf cashmere socks are ridiculously warm as they are soft and comfortable. While Mack has a guy wearing them under his boots in the promo shots, I recommend saving them for the end of the day lounging around the house.

BUY: MACK WELDON BLACK CASHMERE SOCKS, $68

brass colored metal cuff by Miansai jewelry

Jewelry For Guys That Don’t Usually Wear Jewelry: Miansai Jewelry

For those looking to dabble into the world of jewelry, Miansai is the brand to shop for. Their cuff designs are minimal, masculine, and come in various metals that fit all budgets.

For first-timers, I always recommend a classic metal cuff in silver or gold. Check out their necklaces too, I picked their Cuban cigar palm tree pendant and regularly get compliments on it.

BUY: CUFF BY MIANSAI, STARTING AT $75

Black calf loafers by morjas shoes

The Best Dress Shoes Under $200: Morjas Shoes 

Morjas just might be my favorite shoe brand. 

A box calfskin loafer for less than $200 that’s also comfortable to wear? Morjas shoes are regularly recommended by some of the most stylish style bloggers for a good reason. Handcrafted in Spain, Morjas shoes are handcrafted using luxe materials and with a Goodyear welt construction (translation: you can get them repaired at your local cobbler to last a lifetime.)

Morjas are the perfect starter brand if you’re looking for dressy shoes. They’re so good that you might not even need to upgrade them in the future.

BUY: BLACK CALF LOAFERS BY MORJAS, $199

Side profile shot of New Balance 547 sneakers in maroon

The Coolest Sneakers (That Haven’t Changed in 22 Years): New Balance

Retro style running sneakers are part of the capsule wardrobes I build my clients. 

There are a few reasons why I love a pair of classic New Balance 547’s. It’s their most popular style, unchanged since it was first introduced in 1988. They got a shoutout from A Tribe Called Quest, and they’re insanely comfortable to wear. (I mean, why else would your grandpa be rocking these?) 

Thanks to the popularity of Dad’s style and collabs with brands like Aime Leon Dore, they’re now cool to wear. 

I recommend you get two pairs, one in a classic grey and another pair in color like navy, green, or my personal favorite, burgundy. 

BUY: RETRO RUNNING SNEAKERS (574 CORE) BY NEW BALANCE, $79

Side profile photo of nike air force 1 in triple white

The Street Cred Sneaker: Nike AF1 

Streetwear was my first foray into fashion. 

My style has evolved to more tailored suiting and minimalism since college, but I still enjoy throwing some streetwear elements into my style.

I recently picked up a pair of Nike Air Force 1 and have been pairing it with my more tailored pants and suits to great success.

Minimal white sneakers have become the go-to casual shoe choice for the modern professional man. Subbing in the white AF1 gives you the same versatility in all your minimal white sneakers, but with an added cool factor thanks to the streetwear roots. 

In short, it looks cool without looking like you’re trying hard to look cool.

BUY: NIKE AIR FORCE 1 TRIPLE WHITE, $90

Man wearing a plaid cashmere scarf by mr. p

Soft, Non-itchy, and $115: Mr. P Cashmere Scarves

Mr. Porter’s in-house brand, Mr. P, continues to prove itself as my favorite contemporary brand for men. 

I’ve been recommending their accessories this season to all my private clients. A standout? The Scottish sourced wool-cashmere blend scarf in a brown check pattern. It adds just the right amount of color, pattern, and most importantly, warmth, to your fall look without begging for attention. 

And at $115, it’s an insane deal.

BUY: WOOL AND CASHMERE BLEND CHECKED SCARF BY MR.P, $115

Black hiking boots by Thursday Boot Co.

The Snow Boot That Doesn’t Look Like One: Thursday Commander Boots

Thursday’s Commander boots are my go-to NYC winter boot for the last few years.

Their cushioned ankle is super comfortable. The “tank tread” sole from Vibram has the perfect amount of grip for slippery snow and ice. If you hate wearing clunky snow boots as much as I do, these are going to be your new best friend.

BUY: COMMANDER HIKING BOOTS BY THURSDAY BOOTS, $249

Mojave Ghost fragrance bottle by Byredo

Upgrade Your Smell: Byredo Scents

I’ve amassed a small collection of scents, both those you can get at your local Macy’s and others you can only get two shops in the world. 

Lately, I’ve found myself reaching for my Byredo fragrances, specifically the uber-popular Mojave Ghost. (A woody scent of magnolia, sandalwood, cedar, and amber inspired by the Mojave Desert.) 

Byredo tends to be a new brand for my private clients. It’s quite a luxury fragrance line, so I can understand if you’re new to it as well. 

While it would be easy for me to tell you what to get, I also understand scent can be a very personal thing. That’s why I recommend reading this great post on “The 8 Best Byredo Fragrances for Men” and road testing a few by ordering samples on a site like Scent Split.

BUY: FRAGRANCES BY BYREDO, STARTING AT $180

Custom engraved notecards by Terrapin stationers

Be Unforgettable: Engraved Notecards

The curse of technology: we can communicate with one another faster, yet somehow feel like we’re not connecting enough. 

I originally had custom notecards made when I was designing my menswear line. I would write thank you cards to my customers and included them in every box. 

Since closing my line, I’ve used these to reach out to people I meet at parties or events. It never fails to get me a compliment and connect on a deeper level. 

If you want to make a strong impression, whether it’s with old friends or future business partners, nothing does the trick like a handwritten note on your stationery.

Sure, it takes a bit more effort, but the rewards in life always favor people willing to go that one step further.

BUY: CUSTOM ENGRAVED NOTECARDS BY TERRAPIN STATIONERS, $225


Grooming

Water pomade by Benjamin by Franks

My Favorite Hair Pomade: Benjamin by Franks Pomade

Full disclosure: This recommendation is going to be a little biased. 

Benjamin by Franks is the brainchild of Mr. Bee of Franks Chop Shop, who happens to be my barber. But I should also note that he’s been in the barber game for over 20 years. He’s cut everyone from Anderson Cooper, Drake, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Anthony Kiedis. He knows what he’s doing.

When Mr. Bee first told me his concept for his hair pomade, I knew he had something special in the works.

“I want something that doesn’t smell so much. Guys are already using soap, shampoo, got [signature] their cologne. They don’t need another smell throwing everything off.”

And Mr. Bee delivered. 

His pomades have the perfect hold and just enough of a scent to chill in the background while your nicer cologne takes center stage. I use the water pomade, which offers a high shine with a light sandalwood scent. For something more matte with a stronger hold, get the clay pomade.

BUY: POMADE BY BENJAMIN BY FRANKS, $22

Norelco Multigroom 300 in black

The Best Facial Hair Trimmer is $17: Norelco Multigroom 3000

I don’t have the beardiest beard, but here’s what I love about this trimmer: It doesn’t have a bullshit charging base taking up half your counter space.

It also has 18 different length settings and 4,200 near 5-star reviews on Amazon.

And most importantly, it has a nose-hair trimmer attachment. Trust me; your partner will thank you for the last one. 

BUY: PHILIPS NORELCO MULTIGROOM SERIES MG3750, $17

Sweatblock wipe packet

Stop Staining Your Nice Shirts With Deodorant: Sweatblock

Sweatblock will change your life.

SweatBlock is an antiperspirant towelette you wipe on at night. The towelettes contain an FDA approved proprietary formula blocks sweat up to 7-days per wipe.

With over 3,000 nearly 5 star reviews on Amazon, SweatBlock is a top-rated and effective solution against sweat.

The only downside? While it does block sweat effectively and reduces some odor, it doesn’t eliminate it. (B.O. is caused by the lack of airflow your pits get.) SweatBlock recommends you use it along with a deodorant. Luckily, I got a rec for that!

BUY: SWEATBLOCK, $19

Beard brand beard kit package in temple smoke

Give Your Beard a Spa Day: Beard Brand Beard Kit Stuff

I’m cursed with the Asian genes that prevent me from growing an epic beard. 

So when it came to helping my first bearded clients tame their facial hair, I let them be my guinea pigs and test out a few products. 

The winner? Beard Brand. 

I’m not surprised, considering they’re the first grooming brand catered to bearded men. Their beard kit has everything you need to keep your beard “soft, healthy, and looking awesome.” — beard oil, wash, softener, styling balm, even a comb. When it comes to scents, I recommend Temple Smoke, a favorite with my clients. 

BUY: BEARD KIT BY BEARD BRAND, $98

Set of 3 facial care products

My Minimalist 3-Step Facial Routine Kit

Like many men, my skincare routine consisted of bar soap in the shower.

I recently started taking it seriously after 1) realizing I’m getting older and 2) freaking out after noticing how my dad’s skin has aged. 

Thankfully I’m not a smoker like him, but it was enough to scare me straight.

The skincare specialists at Heyday helped me craft an ultra-minimal, 3-step skincare routine for me. Wash. Tone. Protect. Everything else is a bonus. If the thought of having a skincare routine feels overwhelming, this is for you.

My facewash of choice is from Vermont based Ursa Major, a gentle foaming face wash with ingredients like aloe, white tea, and lemon to gently strip away dirt without over-drying your skin. Did I also mention it smells amazing? (Think cedar, spearmint, and lavender.)

For my toner, I love Lab Series’ Rescue Water. What does a toner do? Toners help rebalance the pH levels of your skin. 

Just what the hell is pH? Our skin has a thin layer called the acid mantle, which acts “as a barrier to bacteria, viruses and other potential contaminants that might penetrate the skin.” pH is simply a scale that is used to measure how “effective” your acid mantle is.

In simple terms, when you wash your skin, you’re also washing off some goodness, throwing off your pH, leaving you open to harsh external elements.

After I apply my toner, I put on some sunscreen and moisturizer.

My Heyday specialist recommended Image’s Prevention + SPF 32 Daily Matte Moisturizer, which has both! 

It’s the best sunscreen/moisturizer I’ve tried. It goes on smooth and matte and doesn’t make you feel or smell like you’re about to go to the beach.

BUY: URSA MAJOR FANTASTIC FACE WASH, $28

BUY: LAB SERIES RESCUE WATER TONDER, $36 (YOU’LL ALSO NEED SOME PADS TO APPLY IT)

BUY: IMAGE SKINCARE DAILY MATTE MOISTURIZER + SUNSCREEN, $44


Tech

Fully Jarvis Standing desk with a light wood top and black legs

My Favorite WFH Buy: Fully Jarvis Standing Desk

I discovered Fully’s adjustable Jarvis desk on a Twitter thread on life changing Covid WFH buys. Fully’s standing desks showed up so much on the comments that I decided to pull the trigger that day. I think it’s my favorite purchase all year.

I decked mine out with a monitor arm, saving valuable desk space. But my favorite addition was the programmable height adjuster, which can let you save up to 4 different heights. (Mine’s programmed for sitting and standing heights for my wife and me, who’s 2″ taller than me!) 

BUY: JARVIS DESK BY FULLY, STARTING AT $400

Yoozon tripod selfie stick in different setups

The Piece of Tech I Never Knew I Needed: Yoonzon Tripod Selfie Stick

I originally purchased this selfie stick tripod to help me take better progress pics for my fitness routine. But I’ve found it extremely now that video calls are becoming the norm.

The Yoozon selfie tripod I bought is ultra-compact, measuring at roughly 7″, extending up to 29″. The tripod base is super sturdy and sets up in seconds. The holder adjusts to accommodate pretty much every phone on the market (and works extremely well with the new flat edge iPhone 12). It has a detachable Bluetooth trigger remote that auto reconnects, so you don’t have to fumble with any settings after the first pairing.

BUY: SELFIE TRIPOD STICK W/ BLUETOOTH REMOTE BY YOOZON, $17

Apple airpods pro

AirPods Pro

I’m one of those people whose ears aren’t compatible with the original Apple earbud designs. I have a weird shaped ear, and those fuckers love slipping out and wrapping themselves around subway poles like Indy’s whip.

The Pro’s solve this with their suction buds.

Plus, they will drown out the noise of other humans. That should sell you on them alone.

BUY: APPLE AIRPODS PRO, $249

iPhone 12 in blue

iPhone 12

Once I heard rumors that they were bringing back the flat edge iPhone, I held onto my iPhone 7+ for as long as possible.

What more can I say that you haven’t heard by now? I love this thing. 

BUY: APPLE IPHONE 12, STARTING AT $799

Top shot of Keychron's K1 mechanical keyboard

The Holy Grail Keyboard: K1 Mechanical Wireless Keyboard by Keychron

I was heartbroken when my wired clicky Apple keyboard died. I went on a hunt to find a suitable replacement.

Keychron’s K1 keyboard checked all the boxes for my holy grail keyboard: Mac keys, mechanical, wireless (with USBC charging), and a number pad, since I’m a heavy Google sheets user. This keyboard beat out 3 other replacements I tried when my wired Apple bit the dust (which included Apple’s updated wireless model.)  

BUY: K1 WIRELESS MECHANICAL KEYBOARD, $82

Anker soundcore 2 portrable bluetooth speaker

I Can’t Believe How Affordable This is: Anker Soundcore 2 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

I’m usually skeptical when something is too cheap. But with nearly 42,000 reviews with an average of 4.7 stars, I had to see what the big deal was.

I was quite honestly surprised. 

The sound from this little speaker (which is about the size of a box of butter sticks) is mindblowing for the price. It easily fills up my living room and maintains a solid Bluetooth connection, no matter where I set it in my apartment.

The battery lasts for roughly 24-hours. And if you use it like me (an hour here or there listening to podcasts or short playlists while I’m cooking), you can go without charging it for weeks.

BUY: SOUNDCORE 2 PORTABLE BLUETOOTH SPEAKER BY ANKER, $39

Memobottle flat a5 waterbottle filled with water

Stay Hydrated: Memobottle Flat A5 Waterbottle

The most annoying part of trying to stay hydrated? Lugging huge, round waters bottles that make your bag look like it has a tumor.

Memobottle’s A5 is the perfect solution. The flat design makes it a dream to carry in any bag (especially if you’re a tote user like me.) 

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

Coach's metropolitan slim briefcase in brown

The Best Professional Work Bag For Men: 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’re a new founder or looking to dress for the job you want, nothing says “grown up with taste” than an all-leather bag.

With a price tag of $595, Coach’s Metropolitan slim brief 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, passports, 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, $595

Aer fit pack 2 backpack filled with sneakers, waterbottle, and laptop

The Office-to-Gym Backpack: Aer Fit Pack 2 Backpack

Tons of my clients have requested a bag that can help them transition from the office to the gym, without looking like they’ve gone from the office to the gym. I’ve always pointed them to one place: Aer.

Their bags are sleek, minimal, and have all the necessary sectioned off pockets to ensure your dirty clothes don’t stink up your laptop. While most people’s favorite feature is the shoe compartment at the bottom, my vote goes to the fact that you can lay the bag down and open it like a proper gym duffle.

Just a warning: this bag sells out fast and often, so make sure you put yourself on the waitlist.

BUY: FIT PACK 2 BY AER, $135


Home

ikea skogsta stool

Ikea Skogsta Stool

I still stand by that this Ikea stool is the best $25 I’ve ever spent.

It’s sturdy and compact – the perfect size for an entryway.

If you want to stop trying to test your balance every time you need to put your shoes on, I highly recommend this simple addition to your home.

BUY: SKOGSTA STOOL BY IKEA, $24

Side profile of dyson v7 hand vacuum

Dyson V7 Hand Vac

My wife and I loved our Dyson upright vacuum. The only problem: it was the size of a small child.

Enter the V7 Hand vacuum. It’s everything we love about Dyson vacuums – great suction, easy cleanup, in a small compact design we could easily stash away on a closet shelf.

BUY: DYSON V7 HAND VACUUM, $199

Malin + Goetz cannabis candle and box

Our New Favorite Candle: Malin + Goetz Cannabis Candle

I know what you’re thinking, why would I want to get a candle that smells like weed? 

Don’t worry, this isn’t what Malin + Goetz was going for when they named their candle.

The candle reminds me of a fancy hotel or barbershop. Warm. Inviting. Expensive.

From the site: “Free of THC but heavy on black pepper and bright bergamot, this apothecary staple grounds higher flights of fancy with a base of earthy cedarwood, patchouli and sandalwood. Inhale deeply for an experience rife with nostalgia – minus the side effects.”

BUY: CANNABIS CANDLE BY MALIN + GOETZ, $55

LIFX lightbulb with a purple light setting

Set The Mood: LIFX Lightbulb

It’s a fact that dimmers make any room sexier.

LIFX lightbulbs make it super easy to turn any lamp or light fixture into a dimmable one. 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 turn on and off lights automatically, 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: A19 SMART LED LIGHTBULB BY LIFX, $59

yamazaki como trashcan in white

Upgrade Your Bathroom: Yamazaki Como Trashcan

At an event, I once chatted with a group of women on dating red flags. One of the women mentioned she judges a guy based on how clean his bathroom is. “If his bathroom is gross, what do you think his junk is like?!” The rest of the group screamed “YES!” in agreement.

Stop using that beat-up black step can you bought at Staples and upgrade to Yamazaki’s ultra-clean Como model. Hopefully, the sleek, minimal design (with its extremely convenient handle) will encourage you to empty it. Also, wipe your toilet and sink.

BUY: COMO TRASHCAN BY YAMAZAKI, $12


WFH

Drakes cashmere cardigan in dark grey

The WFH Jacket (That Isn’t a Jacket): Drake’s 4-ply Shawl Collar Cashmere Cardigan

One of the biggest WFH “hacks” that transformed my productivity? Getting dressed for work. 

No, I don’t mean wearing a full-on suit and tie around my apartment. (I’m not a psycho). But I found that changing out of my pajamas helps me snap into work mode instead of binge-watching old Rick & Morty.

The key? Pick pieces that offer the same cozy comfort as your favorite pair of hoodies and sweats, but make you look employed. 

My two favorites lately have been shawl collar cardigans (in place of a sports coat) and dress chinos with a bit of stretch. For the latter, I haven’t found anything better than Bonobos’ Weekday Warrior (also recommended in this guide.) 

My criteria for a good shawl collar cardigan? A wide shawl collar, braided buttons for easy buttoning, and nice big pockets. It doesn’t hurt if it’s made from plush 4-ply cashmere in Scotland. 

BUY: 4-PLY CASHMERE SHAWL COLLAR CARDIGAN BY DRAKES, $995

Ugg kenton slippers for men in tan

The Perfect WFH Footwear: Ugg Kenton Slippers

I’ve recommended a few slippers for my private styling clients over the years, and Ugg’s Kenton slippers always get the most praise. 

I think it’s a combination of its minimal design, plush, warm sheepskin lining, and price. 

At just under $100 bucks, you won’t find anything that feels this comfortable or look as good with pajama or jeans. I recommend either the classic chestnut or my personal favorite, chocolate colorway.

BUY: KENTON SUEDE SLIPPERS BY UGG, $100


COVID/SAFETY

man and woman wearing matching proper cloth facemasks in olive

My Favorite, Stylish Face Mask: Proper Cloth Facemask

I don’t know about most people, but I’m loving wearing a mask. 

First, I get to live out my childhood dream of being a ninja. Second, they make everyone at least 50% more attractive, AND I can hide my disgust from people. 

I’ve been testing a handful of masks. The ones from Proper Cloth have been a fav with my private styling clients and readers.

I love the classic menswear fabrics (as well as their fancier options.) All the usual features are here: moldable nose, filter pocket, and the option for over-ear or over the head strap. They’re also one of the few that offer different sizes.

Even with the great news of the vaccines, I think we’re going to be wearing masks for a while. So why not add a few more stylish options to your repertoire? 

BUY: FACE MASKS BY PROPER CLOTH, $25

1.7oz bottle of aesop geranium leaf rinse-free hand wash

Fancy Hand Sanitizer (Cause You Deserve it): Aesop Geranium Leaf Rinse-Free Hand Wash

Two things I love about Aesop’s “No rinse” hand sanitizer: it doesn’t make you smell like a hospital, and the packaging is just damn fancy.

The Geranium Leaf Rinse-Free Hand Wash is an alcohol-based gel combined with Geranium Leaf, Mandarin Rind, Bergamot Rind, giving it a lovely citrus scent without overly drying your skin. Pick up the 1.7oz bottle to stash in your bag and the 16.9oz pump for your entryway. (Also doubles as your travel-sized refill!)

BUY: GERANIUM RINSE-FREE HAND WASH BY AESOP. $10 FOR 1.50Z, $47 FOR 16.9OZ


Fitness

24kg kettlebell by onnit

Onnit Kettlebells

I’m still not 100% comfortable heading to the gym yet. Kettlebells are the perfect solution right now, thanks to their extreme versatility. All you need is light and one heavy bell, and you’re set for a full-body workout. 

I’m a big fan of Onnit’s kettlebells. Their handles are slightly wider and have a nice powder coating, making them a lot easier to grip and use. Yes, they sell out fast, so make sure you add your name to the waitlist and jump on it the second you get the email. I rec a 12kg for your lighter bell, and 20 or 24kg for your heavier. 

BUY: KETTLEBELLS BY ONNIT, $44 FOR 12KG/26LB

Stack of rubbermaid brilliance food containers filled with food

Be Your Own Private Chef: Rubbermaid Brilliance Food Containers

Ok, it’s been a rough year when it comes to fitness goals. If you want to join my wife and me to shed that Covid-20lbs, I recommend these containers to get your meal prep on. 

We’ve tried a few in the past, but they always left a few things to be desired. Rubbermaid’s Brilliance line is the first truly leakproof container, is microwave/freezer/and dishwasher safe, and doesn’t stain when you use tomato-based sauces! They also stack very nicely in the fridge. And even though you slaved over your meal prep the previous Sunday, you’ll feel like you have a private chef every time you open your fridge.  

BUY: BRILLIANCE FOOD CONTAINERS BY RUBBERMAID, $27/5-PACK

man wearing maroon hoodie by lululemon

My Best Workout Clothes For Men: Lululemon 

It’s time to get over the fact that it’s Lululemon. They’re the best workout gear for men.

Their cuts are flattering, and fabrics have surpassed Nike in many ways, 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 hour. Even after that brutal workout, Lululemon tees are almost dry to the touch. Pure magic.

BUY: WORKOUT GEAR BY LULULEMON

lululemon workout socks

The Best Socks For Working Out: Lululemon socks

Socks are one of the places I always rolled my eyes at when it came to spending a bit more money. 10 pack of white cotton socks at Target for $10, I’m good to go!

Lululemon’s sweat-wicking Powerstride socks are like truffles, a small addition to your gym routine that makes a huge difference.

See those sections in the socks? Those weave patterns, changing directions to form to your feet and give you better support and fit. The socks are also treated with Silverscent technology, which prevents bacteria from building up and making them smell—no more sour smelling socks.

BUY: POWERSTRIDE SOCKS BY LULULEMON, $18


Sex

three books on sex and relationships

Get Your Masters in Dating and Sex: What Women Want / Nina Hartley’s Guide to Total Sex / No More Mr. Nice Guy Books

So I’m cheating here by lumping 3 books into one recommendation, but they’re so good as a trio I had to. 

What Women Want (Formerly known as “Mate”) is one of my favorite books on dating and relationships because it addresses something that many other dating experts overlook: what dating is like for women. 

Understanding the challenges women go through in dating helps men understand how to approach dating more effectively, so both parties are happy. (This is called empathy!) 

Tucker has done an amazing job of giving men a realistic gameplan to become more successful at dating. He doesn’t advocate “gaming” or “tricking” women with sleazy techniques, but by encouraging guys to become the man that women want.

You might remember Nina Hartley from a recent NSFW post. It came to my attention from a few people that Nina also authored THE book on better sex. I started reading it last week, and I really couldn’t put it down.

(Seriously, I’ve highlighted so many things that it kind of defeats the purpose of highlighting.)

Nina does a great job of addressing things like oral sex, sex positions, safe sex, seduction, etc., from both the male and female perspective.

She also recommends reading the parts geared towards your opposite gender for perspective, which is such great advice. There’s no such thing as knowing too much when it comes to better sex.

Finally, No More Mr. Nice Guy is a book that I think all men should read. Dr. Robert Glover has been working as a therapist, specializing in working with men who have the “Nice Guy Syndrome.” Men who are people pleasers who often get trampled over.

Robert teaches you how to identify qualities in yourself, value them, and properly set boundaries so people respect you.

If you ever felt like people take advantage of you, or if you ever felt like you’ve gotten “Friend Zoned” one too many times, I highly recommend this book.

BUY: WHAT WOMEN WANT BY TUCKER MAX ($16), NINA HARTLEY’S GUIDE TO TOTAL SEX BY NINA HARTLEY ($22), AND NO MORE MR. NICE GUY BY DR. ROBERT A GLOVER ($10) ALL VIA AMAZON 

small black leather condom wallet

Always Be Prepared: Leather Condom Wallet

The wallet you use for your cash and cards is one of the worst places to store a condom. It’s cramped, hot, and you’re most likely sitting on it all day. Now a wallet JUST for condoms is another story. 

Why do you need a wallet just for your condoms?

First, it’ll help you remember to bring condoms. Keep this thing loaded and near your keys, so it’s ready to go.

Second, it makes it easy to find said condoms when you’re about to have sex. No more frantically digging through your pockets.

Toss in a few packets of Sliquid lube singles and an emergency $20 for some post-sex eats, and you got yourself the perfect safe sex travel kit.

BUY: CONDOM WALLET BY FUINLOTH, $7

baby blue ollie wand vibrator by unboundbabes

Your Bedroom Wingman: Ollie Wand by Unboundbabes

Some men are weird about using toys in the bedroom, especially if they’re for her. The way I see it, whatever helps take the pressure off of you and makes her feel good is a win for both of you.

Wand Vibrators have been around since the 60s. While many swear by the classic Hitachi wand, I’ve never been a fan of its 1980s Brookstone design.

The Ollie wand is the Hitachi for this generation.

The silicon body is waterproof and a joy to look at as it is to touch. It has 8 settings and patterns that’ll drive her crazy, and it comes with a cool magnetic charging cable that snaps into place.

Get this. Now.

BUY: OLLIE WAND BY UNBOUND BABES, $75

Norelco bodygroom 1000

The Best Way to Trim Your Pubes: Norelco Bodygroom 1100

Don’t make the amateur mistake I once did by using your beard trimmer in 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 near your dick.

I was a huge fan of Norelco’s Bodygroom 1000 trimmer when it first launched and was extremely happy when they redesigned it.

It’s now wireless and battery-powered. This makes it much easier to power up when you need it. (Slow blades = 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 as the guards ensure the blades never touch your skin! (Especially welcome in super-delicate areas like your balls!)

There is one downside.

If you got a big bush, I recommend taking scissors or your beard trimmer on a high setting and do some quick pruning. The Bodygroom works best as a tidying tool.

The blades can also fill up fast with hair. 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 most effective dry.

BUY: BODY GROOM 1100 BY NORELCO, $19


Food & Drink

Truff Truffle hotsauce

The Most Addicting Hot Sauce: Truff Truffle Hot Sauce

I discovered Truff truffle hot sauce at my local coffee shop and I can’t get enough of it. (I’m not alone! It currently has near 2,700 4+ star rating on Amazon.)

TRUFF is a hot sauce made with black truffle oil and slightly sweetened with agave nectar for a great balance. The sauce pours quite thick, almost like paint, and the original black bottle is pretty mild for my taste but still insanely delicious (especially on eggs).

BUY: TRUFFLE HOT SAUCE BY TRUFF, $17

chocolate chip walnut cookes by levain bakery

For Your Next Cheatday: Levain Cookies

Levain cookies are constantly voted the best cookies in the world. And if you haven’t made the trek to NYC, you’re in luck. They ship nationwide! (And yes, the shipping cost is well worth it.)

How can I even try to explain why these cookies are amazing. First, they’re huge — but don’t let their thickness fool you; they’re still perfectly soft, sometimes cookie doughy on the inside.

Levain says they’re meant to be shared, and while your ego might try to convince you that you can crush one solo, I highly recommend taking their advice and sharing with a friend.

My personal favorite flavor is their classic Chocolate Chip Walnut. If you’re going to spring for these cookies shipped, get the variety pack. 

BUY: ASSORTED COOKIE 4-PACK VIA LEVAIN BAKERY, $27

french butter keeper in natural by sawyer ceramics

The Best Toast of Your Life: French Butter Keeper by Sawyer Ceramics

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

Inspired by dairy farmers keeping butter fresh by submerging it in water, the keeper comprises 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 on your countertop.

BUY: BUTTER KEEPER BY SAWYER CERAMICS, $50

Few immortal rye whiskey bottle

For The Whiskey Snob That’s Tried it All: FEW Immortal Rye Whiskey

I wandered into my local spirit shop looking for something new, and my guy didn’t disappoint. 

He suggested I check out FEW Spirits “Immortal Rye” — a straight rye whiskey brought to proof with cold extracted oolong tea.

I was hooked after my first tasting. The tea mellows out the rye but doesn’t overpower it. (You def taste the tea at the end.)

It reminds me of a rye forward version of my favorite fall combo of black tea + whiskey. Highly recommend it if you’re looking for something a bit different. I’ve already blown through 3 full bottles in the last couple of months.

BUY: IMMORTAL OOLONG TEA RYE WHISKEY BY FEW, $49

Nespresso inissia espresso machine in black

My Favorite Kitchen Appliance: Nespresso Inissia Espresso Machine

I’m a coffee guy.

This isn’t hyperbole. I probably own every coffee-making gadget there is. I’ve even taken actual coffee cupping (tasting) classes here in NYC I’m not ashamed to admit that I love my Nespresso machine even more than I enjoy visiting my local coffee shops.

It’s quick, convenient, and most important, consistent. And no need to worry about those pods, as Nespresso pods are now recyclable in NY. For those not in NYC, they also offer an ultra-easy pre-paid postage recycling program via mail. Just dump your old pods in a supplied bag and drop them off in the mail.

BUY: NESPRESSO INISSIA ESPRESSO MACHINE, $134

Bluepeak nespresso pod rack holding nespresso pods

For Your Nespresso Machine: Bluepeak Nespresso Pod Rack

Now when it comes to storing pods, Nespresso’s solution of cubes isn’t the most convenient.

I came across this spinning rack on Amazon, and it was exactly what I was looking for. It holds 50 pods, and the sleek, stable base makes it easy to spin and use without worrying about it toppling over. A must-have if you own a Nespresso machine.

BUY: POD RACK BY BLUEPEAK, $22

Nonneutral vero cortado cup filled with coffee

Also For Your Nespresso Machine: Notneutral Vero Cortado Cup

I’ve been drinking a lot of cortados lately, and I fell in love with the cup my local coffee shops serve them in.

The small smoked glass cups by Nonneutral were designed specifically for cortados. If you’re not a coffee drinker, I’m sure you can find a liquid worthy of sipping out of such a cool cup.

BUY: VERO CORTADO GLASS BY NOTNEUTRAL, $18

norlan heavy rauk tumbler filled with whiskey

For Your End of the Week Cocktail: Norlan Heavy Rauk Tumbler 

I’ve been a fan of Norlan since they first released their tasting glasses as a Kickstarter project. So I wasn’t surprised by the quality and beauty of their tumbler glass, the Rauk. 

Weighing in a 1.1lbs, they weren’t kidding when they named it Heavy Rauk. And that weight is where the beauty lies. There’s just something about feeling the heft in your hands as you sip your end of the week cocktail that makes you feel accomplished. 

BUY: HEAVY RAUK TUMBLER BY NORLAN, $50


Family

Loki the lion stuffed lion doll for kids

For Your Little One: Stuffed animal

I love seeing kids lug around their favorite stuffed animal. The only thing I love more? Seeing my friends tattered, well-loved stuffed animals from their childhoods.

I don’t have any kids, but I imagine I’d get them one of the stuffed animals from Anthropologie if I did. While they do have the classic bunny, I think I’d go for Loki the Lion.

Parenting pro-tip: Buy 3 or 4 and stash the extras away if one goes missing or is destroyed beyond repair.

BUY: LOKI THE LION STUFFED ANIMAL BY ANTHROPOLOGIE, $26

Herschel black nova baby backpack with changing mat

For Your Little One, Again (But Also For You!) Herschel Baby Backpack with Matching Changing Mat

Herschel’s baby bag was the one “baby bags for men” option that didn’t try to overcompensate with some military design. 

Their Sprout line tweaks their classic bags to accommodate your little one’s essentials, and that’s why it’s so great. It’s a bag you can (and probably will) use when you no longer need to lug around diapers, formula, and baby wipes.

The backpack features storage for diapers, wipes, and toys. It also includes a matching folding changing mat that stows in a custom compartment.

BUY: NOVA BACKPACK SPROUT WITH CHANGING MAT BY HERSCHEL, $129

Red lifetime dog leash by atlas pets

For the Other Child in Your Life: Lifetime Leash by Altas Pets

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.

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., $58


Self Improvement

red book that says my fucking feelings

The Best Investment I’ve Ever Made: Therapist

So many men have been conditioned to see seeing a therapist as a sign of weakness. Yet, many of these guys are also chasing the next morning routine, tracking device, or butter coffee recipe to improve their lives. What could be better than having your go-to expert to sharpen how you think, feel, and handle anything life throws at you?

As I’ve gotten older, I realized mental health is very much like physical health. It’s great to seek help when something’s “wrong”. It’s even better to work on it even when you’re “healthy.” 

I lucked out in the sense that I decided to see my first therapist a month before Covid lockdowns began. 

Having a neutral, non-judgmental person to talk to and help give me the tools to work through challenges in my work, marriage, friendships, even my fitness goals has been the biggest cheat code. (Let’s not forget coping with this crazy global pandemic!)

I’m less stressed. I’m sleeping better. And despite Covid causing an uptick in divorce rates, my wife and I have been doing the best we’ve ever had. 

If you asked me to pick just one thing on this list to get, I’d choose a therapist.

READ: HOW TO FIND A THERAPIST VIA GQ

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