You’re lazily sorting through junk mail after work. As you sift through the jumble of coupon books, bills, and prequalified bank cards that stuffed your mailbox, you feel it. Thicker than the rest, made of heavy cream linen, with your name and address in carefully penned on the envelope. Sliding it open your stomach clenches and your wallet shrinks, as you come to the inventible realization, it’s wedding season. The time of year when your weekends and your cash flow take a serious hit.
Yep, it’s that time of year. But, don’t dismay, whether this is your first rodeo or your 10th wedding in the past three years we’ve got you covered.
If your first inclination is to dust off that tired, old, ill- fitting suit you wore to your first job interview, or rely on your standard uniform of a navy blazer and khakis, which hopefully you have replaced and you aren’t still wearing the same beer stained blazer and khakis you wore to every football game and frat party in college.
Come on man, isn’t it time to step it up? Someone has gone to the effort to invite you to their special day, a day that probably took two people, and I mean the bride and her mother of course, a long time to plan and process, why not give the happy couple your best?
Not only are you representing yourself, but you are representing them as well. Do you really want to be that guy the bride is cringing at when she pulls out her wedding pictures to reminisce 20 years from now? Or the plus one your date has to make excuses for to her friends and family while you are at the bar?
Imagine how she feels when her father asks, “He couldn’t bother to get a haircut?” And her best friend says, “The beard isn’t bad, but seriously? That neck beard has to go! Doesn’t he own a razor?”
We get it, you telecommute. You’re a budding millennial tech star. You are a wanna be Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg rolled into one and they wore jeans everywhere, why can’t you? Or you’re in finance and the only time you get to dress down is on the weekends. Face it those black dress slacks and white button-down have seen longer hours than most Mormon missionaries. Just because it works on the Arsenal doesn’t make it wedding attire. And no, just throwing on a jacket doesn’t make it black tie.
We hear you, “nobody is looking at me anyway, isn’t it the brides day? Won’t all eyes be on her and her bridesmaids?”
Well yes, it is her day, which is why it’s so important that you look your best. This is a memory that she and the groom will have forever, and showing respect for an occasion you’ve been invited to participate in, and will forever be enshrined in photos, is part of the responsibility of checking Yes on that RSVP.
Here’s another scenario, that knock-out you’ve been seeing for the past two months, the one you’re close to saying the “L” word to, has invited you to be her plus one at her sister’s wedding.
We hear you,“nobody is looking at me anyway, isn’t it the brides day? Won’t all eyes be on her and her bridesmaids?”
Everyone she knows will be there. Do you really want to show up sporting an unkempt beard and a Lethal Weapon mullet? That look is fine when you’re hanging out at Yellowhammer, but not when she’s introducing you to her whole family. Otherwise, she’ll be telling everyone, “Oh don’t worry, we’re not serious. He’s just a fun guy I hang out with on the weekends.”
If you want her to introduce you to her family as a man, her man, the man who one day, will be licking envelopes and trying eight types of cake for your big day together, then you need to consider getting yourself to a good barber and quality men’s store.
When you shake her father’s hand, you my friend, will be making a statement, whether you like it or not. Let’s make that statement, “I am a man of class, I respect not only your daughter, but also this occasion enough to present myself at my best.” You will also subconsciously be sending other signals as well, that you are a provider, a protector, a man who has conquered his boyish animal nature and embraced his adult responsibilities. Can your appearance, convey all that? Yes, yes it can.
“So how do I live up to this exceptional example of masculinity and refinement you’ve just outlined for me? Where do I start?” you ask. Start at the top and work your way down.
Austin is great with men’s hair, but more importantly, he understands beards. His advice to men, “you can get a haircut anywhere, not a good one maybe, but you can get a basic hair cut just about anywhere.” But when it comes to beards, personal experience is a must. When guys decide to grow a beard, they realize, “a girl working at Cost Cutters, her haircut is whatever, but I know for a fact she can’t do beards.”Sure, you could go to the Cheap Cuts place you’ve been going to, but the old adage holds true, “you get what you pay for.” When it comes to haircuts what you want is a professional.
Someone who knows what they are doing and who will take the time to make sure, you look your absolute best, someone whose business is built on word of mouth and customer satisfaction. That’s where a true men’s barbershop like Greasy Hands comes in. Greasy Hands is a by-appointment-only barber shop that began in Florence and recently expanded to Huntsville.
After a stint in advertising sales in New York, the shop’s founder, Austin Shirey brought his expertise and Manhattan training back to the Shoals. A few month’s ago, he was invited to man a chair in Roosevelt & Co. on Clinton Row.
Austin takes a detail-oriented approach to his work. He is a classic barber, who takes the time to consider what cut would look best on you. Having had the privilege of getting a hair cut with Austin for this article I can tell you, the haircut looks great, and more importantly, my girlfriend approves. And, as an added bonus, you won’t have to listen to that chick at Cost Cutters complain about her boyfriend, or argue on the phone with her mom while she’s cutting your hair.
Austin is as much a barbering resource as he is a men’s lifestyle aficionado. He moved to New York after graduating from The University of Alabama and landed a job selling advertising for Esquire magazine. It didn’t turn out to be his dream job, “I was in the fashion, grooming, men’s lifestyle world, but I was on the business side, I dealt with spreadsheets and numbers.”
He realized that he wanted to stay involved in men’s lifestyle, he but he wanted to take a more hands-on approach.
His epiphany came during, “a hair cut at the Blind Barber in the east village, a very cool barbershop. They do cuts for fashion week and a lot of style work, and they are in tight with many of the big fashion brands.” He realized that barbering was a way he could participate in the men’s lifestyle arena, in an active way. He quickly shifted gears. He quit his advertising job and went to barber school on 39th street in Manhattan.
After working in a barbershop in New York, he decided to come back home to the Shoals, so he could spend time near his growing family. He shows a reverence for his craft. He’s not just trying to make you look better, for Austin, there’s a social aspect to the experience as well. One of the things that attracted him to the business was the relationships and comradery he saw between the barbers and clients in New York. He brought that atmosphere to his own business, along with his vast knowledge of men’s grooming.
"When it comes to beards, Austin is a master."
Austin’s practice is to, “establish your cheek and neckline, clean up around the ear, and shape your beard for your face, so after a week or so when you are ready for a trim, you can follow those guidelines yourself.”
AUSTIN SHIREY | GREASY HANDS
BEARD TO BRITCHES - THE ESSENTIALS
1. Find a solid barber who can give you a professional haircut and who can trim
your beard right for the wedding. Have your beard shaped and trimmed by an experienced barber. A barber who will define the lines of your beard, shape it the way it should be shaped for you face, and show you how to keep things trimmed at home between visits. Most guys go 3-4 weeks between haircuts, which means your beard is going to need some attention in the interim.
2.Invest in a versatile and functional suit, “every guy needs a nice suit in the closet. A good suit is an investment, but it is one
worth making.” Having a classic suit in your closet, one that can take you from work, to church, to dinner parties, to weddings, or even to a semi-formal event means you will be ready for whatever occasion arises. There is really no getting around it. Every man needs to own a least one a great suit.
3. Find a men’s clothing purveyor that can do everything from alterations for off the
rack items to a full made to measure garment. Stick with the classics, charcoal or navy and you can’t go wrong. A classic suit offers versatility. If you can’t accessorize, find someone who can. Get to know someone at your favorite clothier and let them help you pick shirts and ties that go with your suit. Because, it’s not just about the suit, it’s about everything you wear with it too.
"Think of a suit as a 10 year investment. If you look at it from a price per wear perspective, you might pay a bit more up front, but in the long run, the price per wear for a excellent suit, is one of the best clothing investments you can make.”
Finding the right suit takes time. Bite the bullet and get one now, so when that invitation comes, you’ll be ready. While most men’s stores carry standard sizes, Meggan Crunkleton, co-owner of Roosevelt & Co. cautions, “a made to measure garment takes about 6 weeks. If someone comes in who is let’s say a 50L, we may not have that on the rack. For most standard sizes, we can get a suit in within a week to 10 days, but it’ll come un-hemmed. There may be other minor alterations that need to be made, which could take another week. So you are looking at anywhere from 3 weeks for off the rack to 6 weeks, for made to measure. A suit is something you need to plan for. We want to be sure that any suit that leaves our store fits perfectly and looks amazing on you.”
What if you’ve waited until the last minute, and you’re reading this a few days before the big day? The staff at any quality men’s store, will do everything in their power to get you ready for a last minute special occasion. Tailoring is the key to a good suit, without it, even the best suit won’t fit perfectly. If there isn’t time to do full tailoring before the event, have them do the essentials like hemming your pants and plan to bring your suit back afterward, for a detailed alternation.
Meggan agrees, “This is important for me to get across, if a guy is going to have an investment piece, we want it to look amazing on him. We are going to do whatever alterations are needed and make his suit look like it was made for him, even if it wasn’t a made to measure garment.”
The fit is king, and for good reason, a well-fitted suit sends a message. Without saying a word, you convey elements of your character, in a glance. A well-cut suit makes a man look better, taller, slimmer, stronger and more impressive. What guy doesn’t want that? It conveys self-respect, shows that you care enough about your appearance to spend the time, money and effort to seek out experts, who found you the perfect fit, fabric and finish. A suit is simply a classy move. It says, “I care enough about your special day that I got dressed up and gave you my best self.”
“Alright,” you say, “I’m convinced. I need a suit, but what suit should I get? Stick with the classics, charcoal or navy and you can’t go wrong. A classic suit offers versatility.
Let’s say you’ve got a casual wedding this month, you can wear that navy suit you just got, with a more daring shirt, and loafers, and you’ll look great. Two weeks later, you can wear that same suit to a black tie optional gala, with polished black shoes, black belt, white shirt and a black bowtie, you’ll be one of the smartest dressed guys in the room, and you didn’t have to rent an ill-fitting tux for half the price of the suit you already own. A great suit is all about flexibility. Think of it as the Swiss army knife of your wardrobe.
If you can’t accessorize, find someone who can. Get to know someone at your favorite clothier and let them help you pick shirts and ties that go with your suit. Because, it’s not just about the suit, it’s about everything else that you wear with it. You don’t want to show up in your new tailored suit wearing a tired old button down shirt, or worse, a tie that doesn’t match or an obnoxious pocket square. Let the experts help you curate an outfit that is perfect for whatever occasion you’ve been invited to.
THE BIG DAY ARRIVES
There you are, walking in with the possible Ms. Right on your arm, sporting a stylist hair cut, perfectly trimmed beard, wearing a classic, tailored navy suit. You look fantastic, if you do say so yourself.
You were a little hesitant about the spread collar, but with that full Windsor knot and pocket square combo, you are feeling pretty good about your chances with your future in-laws. When they meet you, they know without you having to say a word, “I’ve been looking forward to meeting you all. I appreciate the invitation, and I’m here to celebrate this special day with you today and for years to come in pictures, video, and memory.”
Now all that’s left is to shake her father’s hand.