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50 Tips on Grooming, Style, and Living a Better Life

In life there are ways to do small things smarter that can have a significant impact on your quality of living. We’ve got 50 tips, tricks and hacks for what you wear, how you take care of yourself and getting the most out of life.

 
  1. Never say “Nice to meet you.” Ever been in one of those awkward situations where someone introduces you to someone else, you say, “nice to meet you,” and then it turns out you’ve met them 3 times before? Instead, always say, “Nice to see you,” or my personal go-to, “Hey, how are you?”  An even better alternative is to get specific depending on the occasion. “Thanks for coming,” or “Thanks for having us.”
  2. A man always uses the right tools for the job. In the case of grooming, you shouldn’t be ashamed of using $10 face lotion or $15 hair goop. That doesn’t mean you have to go around telling all your friends, but you should be proud to use grooming products you think are quality, worth the price and do what you’re looking for.
  3. Get better service everywhere you go. Skip the formalities of talking to a stranger and trick yourself into being more friendly by pretending that you know the person. Think about those greetings you give and the faces you make when you’re happy to see someone you know. Do that, but with a stranger.
  4. How to properly use most hair pomades, gels, etc. Towel dry your hair when you get out of the shower, put a small amount of the stuff in your hands and rub them back and forth 10 times. Rub it into your hair, style loosely and let dry. Once dry, finish styling with your fingers. This helps avoid “hard hair” or a shiny finish.
  5. Make your body grooming upkeep much easier, get a body groomer. I’ve got a Norelco Bodygroom and recommend it.
  6. The easiest way to pull off the casual tie? With a sweater.
  7. Be attractive like Don Draper. Work on your confidence.
  8. Want to start dressing better? When you don’t know what to wear in the morning the default should be a button up shirt. You should choose to wear a t-shirt for a reason.
  9. Every guy should shave his head at least once in his life.
  10. Every guy should let his hair grow past his ears at least once in his life.
  11. Get the haircut you want. Be as specific and descriptive as possible. “Like I have it but shorter” doesn’t help much, since hair can change shape and texture when growing out. Instead, say, “My last cut was 2 months ago, I’d like to take about an inch and a half off all over, and make it look like it’s grown in a few weeks.” Going for something really specific? Find a picture of a guy who has what you want and take it with you.
  12. Keep those nails cut. Next time you’re on the toilet for 5-10 minutes, skip your next round of Angry Birds and use the time for grooming your finger and toe nails. The goal is to maintain a thin white line at all times.
  13. I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than $50 on jeans. Know what you’re looking for, find a cheaper alternative, then buy them when they’re on sale.
  14. There’s no excuse for not flossing at least 5 times a week. Pick up a flosser if you need a way of making it easier.
  15. The American Dental Association doesn’t specify whether to floss first or brush first, but it does say flossing first allows the fluoride in toothpaste to better reach between teeth.
  16. Which body wash should you buy? Whichever is on sale.
  17. Going through a tough break up? Make it easier on yourself: delete her number from your phone, block her on Facebook, get her out of your life. If you can’t even do that, you’ll never move on. More here.
  18. You know that feeling you get when you’ve finished dressing and you know you look good? You should strive for that feeling every time you dress. Those times where you look at yourself in the mirror and you’re not sure something matches correctly? Trust yourself, it probably doesn’t.
  19. Prevent collar curl. If your shirt has collar stay inserts, make sure to put them in before you leave the house. Always take them out before you wash and iron.
  20. You’re not living up to your full potential–and you know it.
  21. Worried about your thinning hair? Give it more volume by blow drying it.Dress better
  22. Save that pretty face. Every guy should use lotion on his face after washing it in the morning. There’s nothing un-manly about taking care of yourself. It’ll help you look less tired, and you’ll thank me in 20 years. Find a moisturizer developed for the face like Every Man Jack’s Face Lotion.
  23. A guy should always have a blazer he can wear with jeans. Most times a suit jacket won’t work, you need something shorter. Try a pattern like herringbone.
  24. Different scents for different events. Consider having a fresh, light cologne for the daytime and work hours, and a more full-bodied scent for evenings and going out.
  25. The proper way to put on cologne: Hold your arm straight out and spray towards your chest. You only need one, two tops. Don’t spray it into the air and walk into it; that smelly water is expensive and this method wastes most of it. If you’ve got a bottle with no spray, apply small dabs under your ears and to your wrists.
  26. Don’t pop your pimples. You can scar your face, and it takes longer for the inflammation to go down. This may not be realistic advice if you look like Rudolph the morning of your big interview, but taking care of them once they show up is the wrong way to deal with them. The American Academy of Dermatologists recommends using a wash that includes salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Combat the blemish before it shows up and you’ll never have a morning surprise again. Over the counter products don’t seem to help? Go see a dermatologist, they’re not just for teenagers. Adult acne can require different methods of treatment than your teenage acne needed.
  27. And, while you’re there, ask them for some solutions if you’re affected by outbreaks on your back. Some simple phone calls and quick consults can get you on the path of not being embarrassed to take your shirt off.
  28. Carry a pocket knife. You’ll be absolutely surprised how often you’ll use it. I recommend a Victornox Swiss Army knife. From opening boxes, tightening screws, to getting a splinter out with the tweezers, they always come in handy. Remember before you got a smart phone you wondered if you really needed it? And now that you have one, you could never go back? You’ll feel the same way about a pocket knife.
  29. The next time you have private access to your significant other’s closet, mark down their sizes for a few of their favorite shirts, dresses, shoes, bras and underwear. Ring size may be useful eventually.
  30. A few years ago it was common to wear your jeans a little too long to the point that the bottoms got walked on and frayed. It was cool at the time, but jean style has moved on to a more fitted look. If you haven’t yet, you should. No more frayed wide leg jeans.
  31. Have a big date after work and no time to go home to freshen up? There are several new products on the market just for this dilemma. Keep the jungle less swampy with Fresh Balls, a cream; or Dry Goods, a spray.
  32. Always have one spare birthday card and one spare multi-purpose card for emergencies.
  33. Rejection is just an emotion. Learn to not take it personally or you’ll never be as successful as you want to be.
  34. Dark or patterned underwear will mask ”normal wear and tear.”
  35. Unless your doctor has told you otherwise for some reason, pick up a bottle of multivitamins. With our fast paced food culture, it’s easy to miss out on the essentials.
  36. You’re doing the woman you love a real disservice if you haven’t convinced her of the benefits of ordering a steak less than medium-well.
  37. Don’t fall into the trap of buying something because it’s heavily on sale. A $600 suit marked down to $250 still means you have to spend $250.
  38. If you haven’t called your mom in a week then you don’t have time to catch up on the DVR.
  39. If you haven’t called your best friend in a month then you don’t have time to play video games.
  40. It only costs $30 to replace your entire underwear collection. Why are you forcing yourself to wear ratty skivvies from who knows how long ago? For the cost of one round of mixed drinks, everyday can be nice underwear day.
  41. Moderation is good. In moderation.
  42. You can make someone’s day with a single sentence. Why would you not?
  43. White athletic socks should only be worn with athletic shoes.
  44. Never split the check on a first date.
  45. Lost or forgot your collar stays? Use a set of large paperclips. (hat tip)
  46. You have to stop worrying you’re going to offend someone and really go for it. The worst case is you lose something you never really had, the best case is you get what you want.
  47. When you’ve met the right person you’ll know. If you don’t know, you haven’t.
  48. What can you learn if you’re the smartest person in the room? Find a smarter room.
  49. If you wake up one morning and you’re fat because you can’t get yourself to go to the gym, don’t give up. You may just hate going to the gym. Instead try interval sprinting, pick up a recreational sport (kickball is popular these days), or find a park with a jungle gym. Think about other gym alternatives like getting a kettlebell and a $15 pull-up bar.
  50. The right boot can be the perfect “in between” dress shoe. I have a pair of Dakota Mid-Laces by Frye and love them. They look great casual, business casual, and smart casual.

About

Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page.

 
  • Tarun

    I think you’ve convinced me to try a swiss army knife.
    Great read.

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Thanks Tarun! I’m glad you liked it. I’ve been carrying a Swiss Army Knife for several years now, and I use it just about every day. Give it a try!

  • Ricardo

    Big +1 on the swiss army knife/multitool. Also, you shouldn’t skimp on one. A NICE Swiss Army will last your whole life, and make a many heirloom to give to your son when he becomes a man.

  • Ricardo

    manly*

  • Jeff

    I’m surprised you didn’t say more about properly fitting clothing, for more than just your jeans. A button up is an improvement over a t-shirt, but not much of one if it’s a horrible fit, which many guys are guilty of.

  • http://www.primermagazine.com/2010/learn/2010-fall-beer-review Andrew

    Jeff, it’s true a lot of guys wear shirts that are too big, but I think it is more common to see guys with really baggy jeans from a trend now over. I’ve actually got some articles in the works that cover shirt fit, stay tuned! Thanks for the comment!

  • Billy

    This whole column is contradictory. From buying quality grooming products to buying body wash on sale and being like Don Draper…it just doesn’t really add up.

    The figurative Don Draper in all of us has confidence derived from simplicity and knowing what he is all about. His hair product costs $4 (Brylcreem or Groom & Clean), his hair shines, he uses the most basic deodorant (Mitchum), he smells like one scent (Old Spice), uses listerine mouthwash, uses a brush with his shaving cream/soap and shaves with a straight blade or safety razor.

    I think it is interesting that you would recommend spending money on grooming products but never buy jeans over $50. Clothing and style is all about fit, not price. This goes from underwear to suits. My underwear costs a lot more than $30 to replace but its only because I am willing to pay for what I feel is a lot more comfort. My underwear is probably the most expensive thing in my wardrobe – haha.

    Anyway, good write up overall. It just seems like you copy and pasted a lot of different tips from various topics and they are out of context. Thank for your regular contributions. I appreciate reading your stuff.

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Billy, thanks for the note. None of this was copy and pasted! Come on man, give me more credit than that! :)

    I can see where you’re coming from on all of these, and perhaps the confusion is from the conciseness I was trying to make each of them.

    All 50 of these should apply to the person reading them, not necessarily as rules for everyone. For example, when I talk about quality grooming products, my point is a guy shouldn’t feel weird about buying $15 hair stuff — if he thinks it gives him the look and feel he wants. I’m not suggesting that you HAVE to buy $15 hair stuff or else you’re using inferior products. At the same time, to buy a $50 grooming product because it’s expensive, so it must be worth it, I completely disagree with. If the $15 product gives you, personally, a better result than the $3.99 drugstore equivalent, then there’s no shame in that, and a guy shouldn’t feel like he’s “being a girl” for buying what works for him.

    The bodywash tip is coming from a different place. When I stand and look at the rows of bodywashes for guys at Target, the prices range from $2.99 to $6.99, the biggest differences being the branding and marketing. So, don’t buy the $6.99 bodywash because it promises to make girls like you or because it has nicer packaging, it is by and large, the same stuff as the cheaper bottle. (There are probably inferior bodywashes that don’t lather as well, but I’m not saying buy the cheapest. From the 6 you would consider buying, choose whichever is on sale, it will perform as well as the ones in the manlier bottles.)

    I actually completely disagree about Don Draper’s confidence because the show is rooted in the fact that this man doesn’t know what he wants in life. Sure, he may use specific products, but he doesn’t know what he wants in a relationship, or for that matter, life. (New York ad man vs. freestyle LA beatnik) Confidence is something we can create, which I’ve talked about a little before, by appearing to be confident. Eventually, after pretending to be confident, we become confident. Feeling good about how you look definitely helps that, but I don’t believe Draper is confident because he’s comfortable with his grooming product choices. As viewers, we THINK he’s confident because he appears confident, not because we know the character feels confident. (more here: http://www.primermagazine.com/2011/learn/2010/learn/3-visual-tricks-that-will-instantly-make-people-think-youre-more-confident)

    I’ve never bought $50 jeans because I don’t think it’s necessary to do so. Fit, as you said, is absolutely important, as it is with all clothing, but spending more money on jeans doesn’t guarantee that they fit better, trying them on does. My favorite pair of jeans right now, I bought at the Gap for $30 on sale. They fit better than any of my other jeans, and to most people, they look just as good as more expensive designer jeans. After a certain point, jeans become more expensive because they’re selvdege, or whatever, but none of that is important to me. It may be to some, and then just like grooming products they shouldn’t feel bad about buying them. That tip is in regards to people who feel like they have to spend $80 or $100 to have good looking jeans, and it’s just not the case. Like I mentioned in the article, “Know what you’re looking for, find a cheaper alternative, then buy them when they’re on sale.”

    Same thing goes for underwear, I’m assuming the guys that wear old ratty underwear probably don’t consider them as important as you do. I would much rather a guy replace all his old underwear for $30, then buy one nice pair of $20 underwear, and still have boxers from high school. Just as before, it’s important to you, though, so it makes sense that you opt for the nicer underwear.

    Thanks again! I’m glad you liked it even though you found it contradictory. ;)

  • Zach

    $30 to”replace your entire underwear collection”??
    Are you suggesting loincloths? A single brief/trunk/boxer costs that. Pay any less and you might as well wear a loincloth.
    I’d be glad to hear of anywhere to buy inexpensive, decent quality underwear that wouldn’t be embarrassing to reveal in the locker-room, let alone an entire collection of it for $30.

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Zach, You can get a 3 pack of designer underwear for $5-$10 at places like Marshalls, Ross, TJMaxx, etc.

  • Ben

    Great post Andrew!

    Very good tips and a lot of different ones compared to the standard “top tips” articles published by the big names. Keep it up!

    Cheers,
    Ben

  • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

    Interesting points in the comments here. I agree with Andrew about not paying more than $50 for jeans. It’s not that you can’t, it’s that if you’re not willing to spend say, $200 for a pair, you don’t have to, because there are plenty of pairs out there that fit well, that are under $50. (run-on sentence FTW)

    I also just replenished / replaced a bunch of undiewears in my undiewear drawer. Spent… $12? It’s called Hanes boxer briefs, kids. (http://www.amazon.com/Hanes-4-Pack-Comfort-Waistband-7460P4/dp/B000FBC5T8) You don’t need 30 pairs of Calvin Klein at $20 a piece. Admittedly, I have a couple pairs, but they’re no more comfortable than the Hanes I have.

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Thanks Ben, I really appreciate that. Glad you liked it!

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Barron,

    Completely agree regarding the underwear. Have a couple nice ones thrown in for special occasions otherwise a new pack of nice Hanes will do you just fine.

  • Joel

    With regard to #17, the best part of deleting your ex from your phone is being able to respond “who is this?” to any future texts she might send you.

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    hahaha Joel, that is good!

  • Ben

    Kudos on the pocket knife.. I got my first one when I turned 9 and I’ve never been without one since.. although it does get replaced every few years :)

    After moving to a place with no laundry facilities, I’ve found a good baseline for clothes… if you’re embarrassed to let a stranger wash that holey, ancient underwear, then it’s gotta go, no questions asked.

  • zots

    Long time lurker, but I feel compelled to say that this is one of the best and most useful articles I’ve read!

    Keep ‘em coming!

    Thanks!

  • Billy

    Hanes underwear!? Take some pride in your genitalia and treat it with respect. Its ok to skimp on jeans but not on articles that touch your gladiator.

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Zots, Thank you! I’m glad to have you as a lurker. :) I’m really glad you liked it.

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Billy,

    I have heard that Hanes underwear will cause the skin of your ‘gladiator’ to breakout. I’m just kidding, I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about. Honestly, the no-tag boxer briefs may surprise you. Especially for everyday use, they’re great and cheap. What brands do you trust?

  • Ricardo

    Hanes and Fruit of the Loom boxer briefs. Replaced annually.

  • Billy

    Haha. I have used hanes and I find a lot of issues with size and durability. I have muscular legs and I occasionally find myself working out in my regular boxers after work. For the number of times I had to deal with what felt like a small cotton hammock between my legs, and the short life of the boxers, I decided to look around.

    Several years ago (5-6), Abercrombie had a cotton/spandex blend boxer ($15) that was amazing. They provided the comfort of soft cotton but the stretch of spandex. For some reason, they ditched the spandex in the blend and went to 100% cotton, which restricted the movement of the material and ultimately making them uncomfortable.

    After Abercrombie I looked around and settled on Jockey ($12 on sale). At this point, I was out of college and needed a boxer that would fit under dress pants nicely without lokoing like I was wearing a diaper. Jockey provided a durable, thin cotton boxer. Despite being thin, I haven’t been able to wear a hole in them. Still, I was missing the stretch factor the boxers from Abercrombie use to provide me.

    The boxers I have settled on now are the 2(x)ist button fly cotton boxer ($20). They are by far the most comfortable piece of textile I have graced my groin with in my life. Roomy, soft, durable, stretchy and unnoticeable under dress pants. The bad thing is that they are $20 a pair. I don’t care though. I will buy my dress shirts at Old Navy from now on if I can have a full stocked drawer of these boxers.

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Billy, Thanks for the recommendations! I can relate to some of the fitting issues, I’ve found on either Hanes or FotL, I can’t remember which, the leg opening on the boxers was too narrow and would cause them to ride up. I haven’t had that problem with the boxer briefs though.

    I haven’t tried 2(x)ist yet, but I’ve seen them at Marshalls for a reasonable price, much less than $20 a pair. Check it out the next time you’re near one.

  • http://www.styleformodernmen.com Jeff (Style for Modern Men)

    Hi !

    I would add
    51. Use wax instead of gel for your hair, or it will look like you just glued it.
    52. When untrusted with a secret, keep it.
    53. A suntan is earnt, never bought.

    Regards,
    Jeff, from Paris

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Jeff,

    Those are great! Completely agree with all three.

  • http://www.beingtotallysweetinchicago.com Sweet Grooming

    Hi there, thanks for taking the time for sharing your post. Here is something that might be of interest to all readers. Enjoy! Sweet Grooming

  • Mot-Mot

    Hi Andrew,
    Very nice Post about styles and groomming.
    Keep it up buddy. Really like it.

    Regards,
    Mot-mot

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Thanks Mot-Mot, I really appreciate that!

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  • http://releasingmetoday.com Deeone Higgs

    Hey Andrew,

    Great tips mate! And while I may not be able to use a few of them, I can definitely see a use for most of them. Great idea for a post!

  • Mg

    These tips are really good, well done.

  • Jake

    as per usual, great post, even though its recycled, lol

  • Jonathan

    You suggest not spending a lot of money on jeans and face lotion but the link for men’s blazers brought me to a sportcoat that cost $325. That’s a bit expensive to advertise for, especially for a website that is directed toward post college graduates. Any cheaper blazers/sportcoats that you would recommend?

  • M Pittman

    Awesome Reading…… I’m trying a few as I type

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