Thursday, April 12, 2012

Style: Primer - The lifestyle magazine for 20-something men (and 30-something, and 40-something, and...)

Recently, while searching for a potential gift for my boyfriend, I happened upon the Primer magazine website. Their tag line is "Affordable style, how-to's & self development for the everyday 20-something man". As I went through the articles I realized I was thoroughly impressed. I know I'm not the target audience but if only this kind of magazine had been around a decade ago when I was consorting with 20-something boys??! I know people will argue that GQ and Maxim exist to fill this need, but I disagree. Ya, I get why boys like 'lad mags', I'm not stupid. However, I've flipped through a few Maxim's and I always thought that it pandered to it's audience with T&A and fart jokes. This magazine covers sex and dating just like the rest but somehow it feels like it has a little more self respect and focus.

Examples of topics categorized by headings like Live, Earn, Spend, Learn, Invest, etc.:
- 10 Style Mistakes I Wish I Learned Long Ago
- A Sensible Man’s Complete Guide to Losing His Hair
- How Pants Should Fit – The Principles of Fit
- A Visual Guide to Getting Your Car Unstuck From The Snow
- ProTip: Save a beer for later with a cork
- The Pro’s and Con’s of Winning a Mustache Contest
- "Shit, Shower, and Shave”: Make Your Life Easier with Ritual’s Grooming Lineup

 I know there are constraints for the 20-something male; whether it be a restricted budget or simply that they are in midst of transition to young adulthood. But so many men do not transition with regards to style. They are either trapped in the style of their youth or dressed by their significant other (or even worse, their mother). I know men in their 30's and 40's that are guilty of this and I have to say, this website could teach them a thing or two. It's the basics really, clothes/accessories need not be expensive but they must fit right! No white socks outside of workouts and stop wearing that ball cap! (So glad to see a guy write this!)


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Drink: Duque de Viseu Dâo 2008 (15.20$) Review

Name: Duque de Viseu Dâo 2008
Price: 15.20

Quick Sum Up: Flavourful, Smooth, a great value

Full Review: I was never a fan of Portuguese wine until I went to Portugal. Prior to my visit, I thought of Portuguese wine as clunky and tannin heavy. I drank very little white wine when I was there but I imbibed plenty of red wine (and port) daily. Not sure if it was the wonderful meals with amazing company that accompanied my wine or simply daily repetition (wink, wink) but by the time I came home, I was convinced that Portuguese wines are some of the best deals out there. Wine in Portugal was extremely affordable; it's actually cheaper than bottled water! I came to the conclusion that Portuguese wine should be cost effective and full bodied, or cheap and cheerful as they say! Aside from the private importation at Ferreira restaurant, I was never able to locate any of the wines I tried there so over the last few years I have assigned myself the pleasant task of tasting numerous Portuguese wines to discover new favourites.

Duque de Viseu is a label I have tried many times, and it is available at practically every SAQ in Quebec. There are plenty of cheaper Portuguese wines to be sure, but at 15.20 it's still a great value. I found it to be a full bodied wine with a full mouth-feel, something I come to expect when I taste a Portuguese red. I would characterize it as having a medium finish, with a more fruity than spicy flavour. Most importantly (to me), I considered the tannin to be very well balanced. All in all, a good price point for a balanced wine. I would recommend this wine if you like a full flavour that can compete with pizza, pasta or a charcuterie/cheese plate. It's not for someone looking for subtlety but I wouldn't call it clumsy either.

*** *** ***

Additional Information from SAQ

Tasting Notes from SAQ: This dry purplish red coloured wine features medium woody, empyreumatic, spicy, floral and fruity scents and offers a broad texture as well as smooth tannins.

Food pairing from SAQ: beef, braised. mushroom sauce. pork, grilled. Pasta, al dente sundried tomato pesto
Additional Information from SAQ:

  • Wine family: Dry, medium-bodied and fruity
  • Country: Portugal
  • Region: Beiras
  • Appellation: Dâo
  • Producer: Sogrape Vinhos SA
  • Alcoholic strength: 12.5 %
  • Acidity: Refreshing
  • Intensity: Medium
  • Persistance: Medium
  • Body: Medium-bodied
  • Tannins: Smooth
  • Texture: Broad
  • Sugar: Dry
  • Taste family(ies): Woody, Empyreumatic, Fruity, Spicy, Floral

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Shop: Clothing Conundrum - Silk Colour Block Blouse

I recently purchased this beautiful blouse from Banana Republic, the soure of my fashion fustration:

Photo courtesy of Banana Republic
At first I though I just didn't have enough imagination to pair it; I kept putting outfits together and then at the last minute opting for something else instead. I scanned Polyvore in an attempt to find ideas for pairing it and eventually it dawned on me that the problem wasn't the shape or color but the fabric. This blouse has the sheerest fabric I have ever seen. It is so see-through that I can't wear it without a base layer but at the same time, all the base layers I have tried stand out so sharply that it detracts from the overall look of the blouse. The writing on the material/care tag on the side seam can be read though my shirt! I've analysed the photo from the website and not only does it not appear to be sheer at all, but there is not a shred of evidence that the model is wearing a cami, tank top or even a bra. Damn you, photoshop!

If by chance there is someone out there who also purchased this top, I'd be very interested to hear how someone else resolved this fashion dilemma. Do you go with something flesh coloured and hope it doesn't stand out and distract from the lovely contrast trim, or do you say the hell with it and try something completely different like a black bra or vibrant hue?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Shop: FYI Today Only - One day, one item at 40% off at Banana Republic

For anyone waiting for a sale at Banana Republic to buy that certain something special, they are having a one day, in-store only 40% promotion on one full price item TODAY. You have to bring a print out of the email coupon, but I can tell you that some (to remain nameless) salespeople have a print copy at the counter they they will graciously scan for you if you ask nicely enough. I have a prior engagement, otherwise I would most certainly be there to pick up this little beauty: Maggie Skirt
Photo courtesy of Banana Republic

Monday, April 2, 2012

Shop: Tip # 5 - Purchase based on Shipping Cost & Method

Sometimes I can be so distracted buy the price of an item on eBay that I forget to pay attention to the shipping costs. You learn quickly after a couple of these mistakes.

This might be less of a problem for the folks buying and shipping within the U.S. but for us Canucks, shipping can be costly and can sometimes take the total price from a bargain to downright inflated. I understand that with the frequency of mail being lost and stolen in transit these days, sellers are hesitant to send something off unless it's registered or tracked. Despite this, I think that as a buyer you really should consider the value of the item to determine if it's worth it as a whole. For example, shipping for clothes or mid priced jewellery should be affordable, since it does not weigh much and you can accept the risk of loss should it be lost in transit. Between 10-20$ should be expected. For big ticket jewellery like Tiffany & Co., you should always opt for the more expensive shipping option that provides tracking (generally 24.95 or more). Shoes will almost always be bulky and heavy, so expect to pay between 20 to a whopping 40$ for shipping, same with outerwear. Which royally sucks... so the discount better be worth it, right? At that price, you can patron online retailers instead who will give free shipping with most purchases over 50$. Use common sense; if someone is selling costume jewellery from J. Crew or a 15$ DVD, seriously question why they are charging 24.95 for shipping when they can safely charge 12.95 or less (and the product is half the price of the shipping!). Sellers are not supposed to inflate shipping prices but it happens often enough to warrant being weary about it.

The second aspect of shipping that I consider carefully is which shipping method is used. I will never again buy from a seller that uses UPS, DHL, or FedEx. Every single time these carriers are used, I not only have to go to some location in an industrial part of town during business hours to pick it up BUT I inevitably get hit with handling fees and customs. Always, without fail. Combine the handling fee, taxes and duties; chances are you didn't get much of a bargain at all. I get that sometimes you just don't have a choice when you find that one-off special item you got to have, but I will always take the seller that uses USPS, even if it means paying a higher sale price (within reason). This way, my mail is conveniently located at my local post office for pick up within reasonable service hours AND there is a good chance that I won't get hit with customs (and certainly not handling fees).