By Daniel van Voorhis –
So I wrote an article that made an impression with some, maybe a first impression. It was read understood, misunderstood, shared, defended, denounced, etc…. Lesson learned. I’m going to go safe and helpful today. This article is about impressions and first impressions, but on a different level (and one on which I am on decidedly firmer ground).
Scoff if you will, but your first impression of someone could be sullied by wrinkled shirts, flaky skin, oily hair, or scuffed shoes. So, using abbreviated and time-saving techniques can make you look sharp, without too much fuss.
First, let’s talk about your showers. They are probably too long and too hot. It might feel nice from time to time, but it wastes time, water, and is less than ideal for your skin and hair. I know you have a routine, but follow me on this one.
First, go ahead and pick whatever temperature you want. A little steamy hot water on a cold morning feels good. We will be changing the temperature later.
Buy a good bar of soap. If you are using a Dove “Body Bar” or something that doesn’t use the word soap, but rather just tells you it is a bar that cleanses, moisturizes, etc… it isn’t soap—it’s a detergent. That’s all fine. Don’t freak out. The detergent is made with chemicals which are cheaper and get the job done fine. But it will take a toll on your skin over time by drying it out and possibly over exfoliating. Spend a little more on a good bar of real soap. You aren’t using that much (see below), so it will be an even proposition (dare I say, a wash) with your pocketbook.
Next, please ditch the washcloth. Unless you are fastidious about wringing out, washing frequently, drying, etc… it is soon to become the equivalent of a petri dish of mold and little nasties you probably don’t want putting back on your body. Also, you have to keep reapplying soap. You are wasting time and water. You can use your hands, but the most efficient cleaner is a good mesh scrubber (sometimes referred to as a loofa). They don’t take as much soap for a good lather; they scrub away some dead skin and can be rinsed out pretty easily.
Move to your face next, but you’ll want to change the soap and temperature slightly. Turn the heat down just a bit; your face is little more sensitive. Don’t use your new bar of real soap, but instead a lotion. Don’t fret too much about it. Don’t know your skin type? Going with the “sensitive skin” option is a safe bet. Don’t look at price, but do check the ingredients. I avoid fragrances as unnecessarily expensive .The hydroxides and alcohols make your face feel fresh but can dry them out. A basic foam wash works fine. You don’t need oils, and you needn’t have it exfoliating. Exfoliating too much opens your pores and invites blemishes.
Wash, rinse, and move on. This is a quick shower, and you are now going to be turning the heat down a little more.
Only wash your hair every other or every third day. Your scalp produces oils that are beneficial to your hair. When you wash your hair, don’t go crazy with the amount of shampoo you use. Don’t rinse and repeat. If you massage your scalp for a good minute with shampoo, it is good to go.
Now, here is the part that is the game changer: when you are starting to rinse your hair, turn the heat down a little bit. As you rinse your body for the last time, kick the heat down a little more. Then turn it to cold-ish, and let the cold water douse you for about minute or two. This will help to keep you from drying out and get your blood pumping.
Now for a quick iron for your shirt/blouse
No one likes ironing. We can buy wrinkle-free shirts, but you usually have that shirt that either isn’t wrinkle free or could be freshened up. First, turn the board around- forget that strange narrowing end part. I’m sure it is helpful for something, but I just care about the shirt right now.
Next, don’t put water in the iron. We want to iron this thing quickly. Get a spray bottle, turn the iron onto the highest heat, and spray. Hear a little sizzle? You are ready to go.
You will want to iron the front, collar, and cuffs. For the shirt fronts, wet iron the iron and shirt, and be generous with the water on the shirt. As you press the iron down, tug on the shirt with one hand to stretch as you press the iron down. Repeat on the other side.
When you get to the placket (the strip that the buttons go into), wet again and pull tighter. This extra little bit of attention makes the shirt look a little crisper.
For the collar, iron the back of the collar first with it open and laid out (always spray the iron between sections and use generous amounts of water on the shirt). Iron it flat, and then fold it at the crease. Wet it again, and press down hard on the fold to make a sharp collar.
For the cuffs, open the cuff and iron from the inside (it’s quick and makes a difference). Once again, use more water for these thicker parts of the shirt. You will be hanging up the shirt while you shower (always button the top button and let it hang for 10-15 minutes). I assume you are wearing a jacket; it covers a multitude of wrinkly sins.
For t-shirts, the trick is what to fold right out of the dryer. If it’s been a little bit of time, throw a damp towel in, and let it dry. Forget the “fluffing”— just hit high heat. When the shirt is dried after 5-10 mins, take it out and do this. I can’t explain it, so you have to watch the video, but once you have it down it is like riding a bicycle and will keep your t-shirts from wrinkling
Clean and Sharp Shoes
Your shoes say more about you than you think. People notice your shoes as you walk to them from a distance, or when they look down to avoid a creepy stare. Whatever you’re wearing, try and make them sharp from changing laces, brushing and shining.
You could go to a shoe shiner, but like a massage or pedicure, this is a nice luxury, but not usually financially feasible. So— grab a can of Kiwi brand polish at the store. Grab a towel and an old white t-shirt. Use the towel to dust off the shoe. Use the t-shirt to put a light coat of polish on your shoe (and reuse the shirt as long as there are white areas available). You can remove the laces as I do, but if you are in a hurry, don’t worry. By the way, are you lacing your shoes the right way, or like you used to tie your converse hightops? Don’t over polish- you can build up residue, and it takes longer to dry. Don’t make the shoe shiny with polish, but rather matte. The shine comes later. As shoe number one dries, move to the next one. Once you are ready to shine them, take a seat and place the towel over your lap. Put the shoe, heel first, between your knees and take a cloth (a dedicated rag works) and buff while squeezing the shoe between your knees. Repeat on the second shoe. Now walk with confidence.
You’ve not spent much money, saved some time, and are doing it just little better than before. By sweating over the small stuff from time to time, you can start to build a style that says “professional” without trying too hard.
All the Best,
The Man About Town
Composed while listening to Rihanna- ANTI (2016)
*Daniel van Voorhis and his comrade Jeff Mallinson will be taking a hiatus for the next few months as they work to finish their forthcoming books. We wish them all the best and hope to hear updates periodically as they make progress. If you want to hear Jeff interview Dan about his work in progress you can listen to it here.