The Ultimate Guide to Cycling for Beginners

A guest post by Catherine Bedford, Dashel.

Have you been bitten by the cycling bug? After all, the increase in take-up of cycling over recent months has been phenomenal! 

No doubt you have seen this and, perhaps, are thinking of following suit. But, if you haven’t ridden a bike since childhood, where on earth would you start in your cycling journey? Here are some things to consider when getting back into the saddle after a long time:

Which bike is best for you?

Your old BMX is probably not what you’re thinking of using to restart your cycling journey, so which should you choose? The best way to decide which bike is best for you is to think about what you will be using it for and where you are likely to be cycling. 

If you are looking for speed, perhaps to commute to and from work in the quickest time possible or if you are looking to travel far and fast on your weekend ride, then a road bike, or racer, is probably the right bike for you. They are lightweight and designed for speed. A tourer is similar to a road bike but is slightly sturdier so if you are likely to use your bike for longer journeys where pannier bags might be useful, for example if you are fishing or camping, this is worth exploring.

Alternatively, if you’re considering something a bit more adventurous and fancy taking your bike off-road in your free time, perhaps on forest trails or over hilly paths, then a mountain bike is probably what you need. These have better suspension and thick tyres designed to grip in muddy or loose terrain.

If you can’t decide or fancy a bike that you can commute to work on but ride off-road at weekends, have a look at the hybrid bikes. They are lightweight but also sturdy and comfortable and a good all-rounder.

And there is a lot more choice than these three, too. If you have a long commute but still want to cycle either side of the train ride, a folding bike is lightweight and practical, or for people with back and knee problems, it’s worth considering a recumbent bike, where you sit in a reclining position.

Your bike will be an investment so take the time to research what will suit you best. You can look online but I’d also suggest talking to the staff at your local bike shop to find out what will best suit your needs.

When it comes to cost, like anything you mostly get what you pay for. If you’re on a tight budget, do look at second hand, reconditioned bikes. They save money and are obviously also better for the environment.

Safety measures

Once you have decided on your bike you need to ensure you will be safe. This also does not need to cost the earth but do make sure you have the essentials. Starting at the top, helmets are not actually legally required but I do feel it’s important because, in the unfortunate event of an accident, it will protect you! If you think helmets mean looking silly, think again. There are some really stylish helmets on the market these days which means you can make a fashion statement while keeping safe. You can also buy helmets made of recycled materials, that can themselves be recycled at end of life.

Visibility is also key. You must have lights on your bike and, if you are likely to be riding in traffic, consider one you can wear on your (stylish) helmet too. This will make you even more visible to 4x4s and buses. Even if you’re not planning on riding after dark, it’s wise to carry something reflective with you at all times. Who knows, you might enjoy your ride more than you thought and want to go for a bit longer. You don’t have to be clad head to foot in day-glow; a simple sash that can be easily carried with you is enough to be sure you are seen.

Gloves are also a good idea, not just to keep you warm in cooler months but they will protect your hands in event of coming off your bike – these are generally the first thing you put out to save yourself. Also cycling glasses are not only good for protecting your eyes from glare and UV rays, they also protect your peepers from wind and rain, bugs and dust.

Finally, I’d also recommend you learn a little bike maintenance so you can ensure your bike is fit for purpose on a regular basis. Make sure you know how to check the air pressure in your tyres, test your brakes and ensure you have sufficient lube on your chain. Again, a good bike shop should talk you through the basics when you buy.

Geared up

Firstly, don’t think you need to go and buy loads of Lycra before you can get on your bike. Indeed, you can ride in your everyday clothes, up to a point, although you should avoid heavy shoes or loose laces and baggy skirts or trousers which could get caught up the pedals or chain. Wear light and comfy clothes and avoid things like jeans for long cycle rides as thicker denim can chafe after a while. If you already own leggings for yoga or running they’ll be perfect.

Of course, if you get seriously involved in speed riding you may want to buy clothes and gear that aid with streamlining. On the other hand, if you are commuting, that is probably the last thing you want to do. Instead, look out for cycling gear specifically designed to transition between bike and office. Not only can you get helmets that don’t cause ‘helmet hair’, there are stylish jackets which look great in a meeting but glow at night when you’re riding home. Similarly, there are some amazing shoes out there, perfect for cycling in that really look the part when you are sitting at your desk. There are even pannier bags available that you can take off the bike and hide the clips so you look like you bought from a local designer boutique. Similarly, this gear is great if you are cycling to meet friends for a pub lunch, cream tea or picnic.

Do invest in some rain gear – after all, this is England. A lightweight jacket and over-trousers are good to have to hand and a poncho is great for showery weather too.  

Avoid the aches and pains

Taking up a new physical activity will almost always leave you with some aches and pains, where you are using muscles that haven’t been worked for a while. Unfortunately, cycling has some additional potential discomforts.

You may find that you are saddle sore to start with. Check your saddle is in the right position and, after a while, as your muscles and tendons get accustomed to it, this ‘pain in the bottom’ will abate. In the meantime, you should stand on the pedals at regular intervals to give you some relief. It may also help to invest in underwear with minimal seams or even some specialist shorts. If the discomfort does not improve you might need to think about a different saddle.

You can also find you have discomfort in other parts of your body; neck, lower back, hands, feet and legs. These are almost without fail due to your position on the bike and the handlebars and seat not being in the optimal position. Again, it is worth asking the shop that you buy your bike from to help you get this correct in the first place or ask advice from friends who have cycling experience.

Find the right route

Whether you are cycling to work or for pleasure, consider sensible routes when starting out. You do not want to begin your new pastime weaving in and out of inner-city traffic. Not only is it dangerous to do so without experience, you are highly likely to put yourself off before you start. Try some rural off-road routes to start with. When riding to work, ask about and find some quieter routes that go through parks, for example, or beside the river. It may take a little longer but it will be safer and far more pleasant. Also consider the difficulty of your route. Novice cyclists are unlikely to enjoy hilly rides initially and would be much more sensible to opt for easy terrains and low gradients. You can always build up as you gain confidence and fitness. Best of all, use your early days cycling to explore local routes and find some you really enjoy.

These are all things to consider when you take up or resume cycling after a long absence. Don’t rush into it or think you need to have the full kit before you start. Ease yourself in, get comfortable and, as your cycling journey continues, you will learn what your mode of cycling is; whether you are a speed freak or an off-road adventurer, someone who loves being closer to nature on rural rides or social cyclist; the list goes on. Wherever your cycling journey takes you, I’m sure you will have a wonderful time!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Catherine Bedford is Founder of Dashel. Dashel offers a range of slim, ventilated, lightweight cycle helmets manufactured in the UK. With a distinctive urban feel Dashel Helmets are made from recyclable materials – ensuring that they are low impact at the point of manufacture and produce very little waste at the end of life. The new Re-Cycle helmet will be ground down into new helmets at the UK factory when it is finished with. The helmets are portable, sold packaged in a handy rucksack that means there is no superfluous packaging. They come in an array of classic colours. Choose from black, blue, sage green and red. Dashel helmets are £79 and available from all good cycle shops and online at Dashel.co.uk.

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How to get on your bike and where to begin with cycling

You can’t have missed the bike revival that has taken place over recent months. With massive numbers of people cycling during lockdown for their daily exercise, followed by people rejecting tubes and busses in favour of a bike when commuting to work.

I believe the numbers of cyclists can only increase further as the government is investing heavily in cycling infrastructure, as well as other incentives to encourage people to get back in the saddle, get fitter and avoid public transport. 

So, here’s my guide to starting out if you’re considering taking up cycling to work or for fun, post Coronovirus:

GET YOUR BIKE RIGHT

If you are buying a new bike, first consider the kind of riding you want to do and the typical route. If it’s hilly – make sure you get a bike with enough gears to handle it, if you’re commuting then 3-6 gears should be enough to get you up and down most town and city hills. If you are looking to road or mountain bike you will want to consider more than 10 gears to manage the rougher terrain. 

Next, consider the weight of the bike. Modern road bikes are all designed to be very light so even the heaviest will do you well – but aim to go as light as possible. For commuter bikes, the weight can be an issue. The heavier Dutch-style bikes often look very beautiful but are hard work if you’re peddling uphill, lifting it up canal path stairs or storing it in your flat. So, factor in the weight of the bike if you have a lot of hills to conquer or you need to store it inside. 

If you already have an old bike, dust it off, check the brakes and the gears are working properly and enjoy it. Getting on the bike is the only way to know what kind of cycling you enjoy. 

PLAN YOUR ROUTE

The first thing I’m asked when I mention that I’ve cycled around London for 15 years is; “aren’t you scared of the traffic?” I’m not. But that’s because I always pick my route carefully – even now.  

The route is crucial to an enjoyable journey. The main highways and roads might be the most direct path but they will not be the most pleasant. Always take the backstreets; they are quieter, safer and much more interesting as you get to discover parts of your town/city you would never have seen before. 

Fortunately, picking your route has never been easier. There are lots of cycle routes now across the country and they are definitely worth taking advantage of. Most city and the country routes are in cycle maps that are easy to follow. For your local paths have a look on your council’s website – most of the maps are available there. 

Give yourself an extra 15 minutes to cycle, take the slightly longer, quieter route, get yourself lost and, most importantly of all, enjoy it. 

LOOK AFTER YOUR BACK

Get the bag off your back and onto the bike! Not only does it take the strain off your spine, it also reduces back sweat – something a backpack seems to create in very un-natural quantities. The solution is a pannier rack. They attach over the back wheel of your bike and you can attach pannier bags and baskets on them to carry whatever you need. As the rack is on the back of your bike, not the front, and is low on the bike, it doesn’t affect your steering or stability, so it will help you feel more secure on your bike. 

Hill & Ellis has a range of stylish bike bags that all attach securely to your pannier bike rack. They are also designed to look smart so are the perfect accessory for the work commute. 

JOIN A GROUP

If you still want a bit more Dutch courage (so to speak) before cycling on your own, then you need your own personal peloton (cycling group). Cycling is really friendly, with lots of groups keen to help other cyclists get started with advice, buddies and supported rides. There are groups all over the country, so you’ll definitely find one in your local area. 

The Breeze network offers women’s only rides and commuting training rides to help build confidence for cycling to work, they will even arrange a group to cycle with you to your office for the first couple of rides.

British Cycling also has beginners guide on their website for the A-Z of what you need to know before taking to the saddle.

But most of all don’t rush. Enjoy it. Life from the saddle will always make you smile. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine Ellis is founder of Hill & Ellis, which produces a range of high quality, stylish cycle bags. Each bag, designed in the UK, is created to transition perfectly from home to bike to boardroom to bar. They are functional, fashionable and hard wearing.  There’s plenty of space inside for a laptop and other essentials, and each bag comes with patented pannier clips that fit almost any bike, allowing you to clip the bag on and off quickly and easily. 

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The beginners guide to hiking and walking

Exploring the outdoors is for everyone, and if you’re just starting to make walking or hiking a more regular thing then we have some handy facts and tips that can help you enjoy it as much as possible.

Hit the hills, don’t sweat the small stuff!

Why choose walking?

Walking is simple, free, and one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier.

Sometimes overlooked as a form of exercise, walking briskly can help you build stamina, burn excess calories and make your heart healthier.

You don’t have to walk for hours…even a brisk 10-minute daily walk has lots of health benefits and counts towards your NHS recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise.

Take yourself off to a local trail in the country and you’ll be presented with so much beautiful, open space, you won’t quite know what to do with it!

Get closer to nature

In the country, you are surrounded by the singing of the birds rather than by the noise from the traffic. The countryside is surrounded by nature which has a soothing effect on both the mind and the body. A good walk can do wonders for your mental wellbeing. But it’s not just about the occasional one-off feel good factor. Being active has a whole range of benefits when it comes to mental wellbeing.

It improves self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep quality, and it reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue.

But, what to wear?

The first question everyone will ask themselves before they head out on their first hike is, ‘what should I wear?

If you have little experience with walking or preparing for the outdoors in general, it can be daunting to kit yourself out properly on your own. Working from top to bottom, we have put together a guide to clothing and accessories for walking and hiking, so you know before you go.

Your Upper Half

Your first must-have is a waterproof jacket which will keep you protected, dry and comfortable when zigzagging through forests, hills and lakesides.

We all know how quickly the weather can change, and at higher altitudes, a sudden shift in weather can be dangerous if you aren’t appropriately prepared. Look for a good waterproofness level combined with significant breathable properties, as this will help you stay fresh when you’re on the move – ideal for brisk treks and mountain climbs.

Your mid-layer is just as important as the outer layer, as it insulates heat and can be used as a light cover-up when the weather is fine. A fleece zip-up is a good choice of mid-layer, as it is a multi-use garment and provides protection from icy winds and temperatures.

base layer will complete your gear for your upper half, wicking away moisture when you’re getting hot and sweaty from exerting yourself, yet still insulating your body heat when you’re cooler.

Your Lower Half

A pair of quality walking boots to your outfit to make sure that your feet are able to tolerate the strains and stresses of walking long distances across diverse terrain. Trainers or slip-on shoes just won’t cut it on the hills and mountains, plus varied trails below. You will need a pair of boots that has a rugged grip sole, good support around the ankle and preferably a waterproof outer layer.

From the daily commute to a day out reaching that elusive peak, our rucksacks will see you through. Each is designed with comfort, durability and performance in mind. Crammed with great details like breathable air mesh and convenient pockets they’re guaranteed to make life a little easier wherever you’re heading.

Make sure you have the best clothing and equipment possible for your walk or hike.

The beginners guide to hiking and walking high street gent

Things to consider as a beginner

First-time hikers can often forget essential things that might not be the end of the world but can maybe make life a little more difficult uphill. So, here is what to do to avoid trouble…

  • Take plenty of water with you
  • Make sure your phone is fully charged (and invest in a portable charger)
  • A traditional paper map will never let you down
  • A packed lunch and/or snacks will provide a much-needed energy boost
  • Pack some plasters, bandages and an emergency blanket (for those longer and steeper walks)
  • Do not wear trainers (more so for hiking than walking)
  • Bring a spare hoodie or fleece in case it gets cold
  • Let someone know where you are hiking before you go
  • Don’t rush it! You can go at your own pace!

Where to go?

Before you head out, ask yourself these questions to help you find the perfect trail and make sure that you’re 100% prepared:

  • How long do you want to be out for?
  • Are you going to take friends, go solo, or hike with the family?
  • Do you know the route?
  • Will you be back before dark?
  • Have you told someone where you’re going?

These questions will help you pick the right trail or route and ensure you stay safe as you go. The last question there is vitally important; before you leave civilisation, make sure that you tell a friend where you’re off to, how long you plan on being away and remember to give them your contact number.

In need of some inspiration of where to walk? Take a look at the Top 15 walks in the UK that you can enjoy with the family.

The beginners guide to hiking and walking high street gent men walking through the hills
The COVID-19 Crisis Survey for Men Reveals 100% of Those Interviewed Are Now Experiencing Mental Health Problems

The COVID-19 Crisis Survey for Men Reveals 100% Are Experiencing Mental Health Problems

A survey into how men’s mental health has been affected by the pandemic reveals that an overwhelming 100% of all men interviewed felt that their mental health had been affected. All of those who took part reported problems including feelings of depression, anger, anxiety, lack of appetite, sleeping problems and lack of sexual interest over the last few months.

The Covid-19 Crisis Survey for Men went onto reveal that over half of all men who took part (60%), have not made time to socialise with their family and friends and this has had a detrimental effect on their mental health. The research also showed that:

  • 85% of men felt that their children had been affected by the pandemic
  • 65% are concerned about their family’s financial future
  • Only 10% felt that their partner hadn’t been affected by the crisis
  • 60% felt that they had made some positive changes since COVID-19

Psychotherapist Noel McDermott explains that “from boyhood men are told to be brave and ambitious, as they grow older, they strive to become good fathers, partners and providers. Throughout the pandemic, the traditional role of man has changed and with this has come new pressures. For many men their whole lives have been turned upside down, the vast haven’t been able to go to work, the gym, play sport with a team or to the pub with pals. Men in general have fewer social and emotional support systems and the places where men used to go and talk about their problems are closed and they’ve found themselves in new, unfamiliar circumstances. For those that are fathers, they have been at home all day with more exposure to the household demands and domestic responsibilities balancing both work and family. This has created even more demands and pressures”.

What Men Fear Most

The biggest fear for many men is that they will not be able to return to full economic productivity and earning capacity and this is still a large part of men’s identity and role in our culture. Men who act as the primary breadwinners in their household feel the financial burden and responsibility within their relationship. For those that are now returning to work, many are reporting anxiety with the loss of family time and others are feeling the pressure to make up for lost earnings and secure an economic future. Numerous studies show men feel financial stresses both as a status issue and as a provider, this can lead to relationship difficulties, drinking and substance misuse and mental health issues. These concerns increase significantly during times of economic downturn and this can be seen during the lifting of lockdown.

Warning signs of mental health problems in men

Stress is a big factor in health and mental health for both men and women and these times of transition are very stressful. Typically, we see men express stress in a number of ways:

  • Sexual performance issues and loss of libido
  • Emotional dysregulation (irritability and anger)
  • Sleep issues, appetite issues
  • Withdrawal and bottling things up
  • Increased drinking
  • Mood shifts and mood swings

Self-help for Men: Stress Management Techniques

As these are stress responses the single biggest thing men can do to help themselves is learn better stress management techniques which are:

Spot it, know your signs that you are experiencing problems and have your ‘fire escape’ plan in place to ensure you manage better such as increased self-care, asking for help from others, getting professional help, talking to your GP.

Ensure general wellbeing hygiene practice to increase resilience: exercise, sleep well, good food, talk to friends and family about your worries, hydrate well, get outside regularly, ensure you do fun things!
Discuss your worries and ask for support, ensure you normalise your experiences of stress and understand everyone is feeling this and it’s not a sign of failure to be feeling overwhelmed.

Signs that there may be need of professional help are if there are problems in functioning that are persistent over a two-week period. Periodic anxiety or depression lasting a short period of time is to be expected and will generally shift of their own accord if your general mental hygiene/lifestyle is resilient. If it continues for days and weeks, then there is likely to be a problem needing proper diagnosis and treatment and asking your GP for advice is a good idea.

Noel McDermott is a Psychotherapist with over 25 years’ experience in health, social care, and education. He is the founder and CEO of three organisations, Psychotherapy and Consultancy Ltd, Sober Help Ltd and Mental Health Works Ltd. Noel’s company offer at-home mental health care and will source, identify and co-ordinate personalised care teams for the individual.

They have recently launched a range of online therapy resources in order to help clients access help without leaving home.

Beat your meat – Control the virus!

Fake news. Or is it? For us men, masturbating is a big part of our lives, but we feel we can’t talk about it and to be honest, the whole situation is surrounded with shame and uncomfortable willy talk. Why?

Back in 2018, we worked with Men’s Health and ran a survey to address the situation – you can read that survey here – but as lockdown hit, we ran another study to see if ‘pulling the pud’ could beat the virus!

From April – May 2020, we interviewed 152 men to understand their perception of masturbation, how they masturbate, how it affects their relationship, and what’s changed in restricted times.

It’s safe to say we’ve all been ‘at it’ a lot more, and boy have we been thrashing ‘em out! Luckily for you, this masturbation reality check, comes with health benefits too.

Do all men masturbate?

No shocks here, 100% of the guys we spoke to masturbate! It’s certainly deemed a must for all men. And that’s fine!

There’s often a taboo that comes with pleasuring yourself, and a shame that surrounds the act. All you need to remember is that your todger is there to please you. Don’t worry about playing with yourself, after all it’s consensual!

FACTS: Masturbation won’t cause unsightly hair to grow on your palms, but it may help you boost your immune system and beat off at least one type of cancer. That’s according to two studies that examined the effects of masturbation on the immune system and the incidence of prostate cancer. In this time of COVID-19, travel restrictions, and self-quarantines, many people are looking for every opportunity to bolster their immune systems – so get tugging!

You & your mates are all at it!

Men we asked in 2018 masturbate an average of 6 times per week, but during the virus this has grown to 9x a week. It varies massively on sexual appetite, age and relationship status.

That being said, we found men in their late teens and early forties pull their puds on average once a day!

Even men in relationships wank!

Does your relationship status matter when it comes to solo sex? No, we found singles report masturbating 21 times monthly and those in relationships masturbate 10 times per month on average.

In fact, we found men living alone (regardless of relationship status), were bashing the bishop most, clocking up 2 or 3 per day.

Turns out we look forward to doing it!

81% said they look forward to being able to masturbate at an open opportunity, with most of the chaps pre-planning when they can toss their todger and feel good.

A vast majority of men said ‘boredom’ was the main reason for reaching into their pants more times since the pandemic began, but still managed to climax every tine, during alone time whilst wrestling the snake.

How Long For?

Before lockdown, on average, men spent 20 minutes beating themselves off, with some millennials spending over an hour fondling their junk and ‘edging*’ – that statistic in lockdown has decreased to lads spending around 14 mins, but obviously an increased frequency.

When asked how quick you can bring yourself to orgasm, if aroused, our survey found it would take most men around 2-4 minutes.

Why have we been doing it more?

The most common reasons for masturbating? The survey found the top three reasons were: relieving sexual tension, stress and boredom. Sounds about right!

More 30-40 year olds reported masturbating because they enjoy it, with one participant saying “I love doing it.”

51% of over 40s and 46% of over 50s said sexual appetite and stress relief were main factors to lead them to pleasuring themselves.

Hey, we’re all human.

We’re creatures of habit

A whopping 78% percent of the men in the survey have a masturbation routine, which makes sense, because why fix something that isn’t broken?

Most men find morning or evening times in the bathroom, away from family and partners is safer. 87% use porn, 58% use their imagination, 34% think of a past experience, 26% look at pictures, and 19% use sex toys.

Caught out!

57% of chaps in the survey had been caught masturbating by a partner, parent or friend at least once in their lifetime.

3% of those were caught out at the moment of climax. *Insert awkward jizz face here*.

As we reach the climax…

It’s totally normal to masturbate! 100% of males agreed masturbation is a healthy part of their lives and of being a man.

Masturbation is good for your health, both mentally and physically. And it’s pretty much the safest sex out there!

When you have an orgasm, your body releases endorphins, which are hormones that block pain and make you feel good. The good feelings that accompany an orgasm happen whether you’re by yourself or having sex with a partner.

Plenty of research has shown the health benefits of masturbation. Masturbation can:

  • release sexual tension
  • reduce stress
  • help you sleep better
  • improve your self-esteem and body image
  • help treat sexual problems

Besides, the NHS even says that sexual arousal sends the heart rate higher, and the number of beats per minute reaches its peak during orgasm.

So if you are feeling a little under the weather, or simply want your immune system firing the way it should, simply whip out your play mate and enjoy the time indoors.

…so what are you waiting for? Go knock one out now and report back!

How to style a Men’s Gilet

Man wearing gilet and wellies walking through a field on a grey day in the countryside.

The gilet remains one of the most divisive items in men’s fashion today. But after years of bad publicity and poor styling, we’re here to champion this vital item of clothing. A gilet can prove to be one of the best items of clothing you own.

After years of being left out in the cold, the gilet has recently been brought back to life. Whilst it may remain one of the polarizing items of clothing in the men’s fashion world, its recent resurgence suggests that it’s here to stay.

Whilst being highly fashionable in several European countries such as Italy, in Britain it has often been associated with the smell of cow manure and the sound of tractors. But thanks to a sudden surge in popularity, it’s fast become one of the most sort after fashion pieces around today.

The big question surrounding it though is just how do you pull one off? Get it wrong, and you’re likely to look like you are heading down to the boxing day hunt with some chums. Get it right though, and it’ll turn out to be one of the most stylish additions to your wardrobe.

How Should a Gilet Fit?

Whilst famed for their puffy aesthetic, the gilet in recent years has undergone something of a transformation and lighter padded, slimmer fitted gilets are available in most high street stores. To get the right style, a gilet should fit like a waistcoat– cutting slim around the body with high arm holes. This will help it fit perfectly underneath a nice coat or blazer,
alternatively opt for a more padded option if you are using it as your top layer, adding plenty of insulation in the colder months.

A gilet is no longer just viewed as a casual item of clothing. However due to its adaptability, it’s often seen on the high street being worn with a suit, or smart work clothes. A lighter gilet doubles up perfectly as a waistcoat, though if you have a tailored suit it will likely go better over the top. Make sure that the gilet is shorter than the layer underneath in order to style it perfectly.

Layer up

Done right, the gilet can perfectly compliment any well layered outfit. Whilst famed for being puffy, a well fitted gilet will fit nicely with an overcoat or casual blazer. By removing the stuffiness of the gilet, it can work perfectly as a replacement for a waistcoat, or even a coat, adding a practical layer to your style without ruining your whole look.

If this is the option you go for, then opt for a colour that blends with the rest of your attire- don’t try and be garish about it because it most likely won’t work. Neutral colours tend to work better with gilets, though when used as a top layer, there is more room for extravagance.

Whatever the Weather

In Winter, the gilet can be the perfect item of clothing- proving the difference between being horribly numb and being nice and cosy. In this scenario you should try and opt for a well-fitting quilted gilet, one that goes perfectly with a good piece of knitwear, or underneath a winter’s coat. Once again, try not to be too eye-catching, use it to layer your style, not as the focal point.

On a lukewarm day in Autumn or Spring, the gilet will also work as the perfect replacement for a normal coat. When it is too cold for just a T-shirt or shirt and a coat proves far too stuffy, the gilet perfectly fills the gap; padding around the shoulders can also prove the perfect alternative to a scarf.

One of the best advantages of using a gilet instead of a coat, is that it tends to prove more portable- lighter ones are easily scrunched into a ball that will fit into a travel bag, taking up much less room than a traditional coat. There is a bit more room for experimenting with colours here, however if you are likely to be wearing it with a variety of different outfits, a more conservative, neutral approach may be better suited.

Final Word

The gilet is an item of clothing undergoing a much-needed renaissance at the moment. Having suffered from bad styling for the best part of the last decade, the gilet is back with a bang and is quickly becoming an essential part of any winter wardrobe. It’s practical, adaptable and increasingly stylish- in short, if you don’t own one, what are you waiting for?

Here we’re wearing the Walker & Hawkes tweed gilet, fantastic insulation and a nice tailored finish. You can shop more of Walker & Hawkes range at Equestrian Co.

How to style last year’s clothes this season

Charles Tyrwhitt, Shirts, Autumn Winter 2018, Autumn Fashion, Fall fashion, 3 men, dapper men, dapper dress, smart casual, shirts, blazers

Image: Charles Tyrwhitt

Although it’s come around so fast, the AW18 season is well underway and our trends have changed with it. But, what’s in style this season? And, how can we reuse our AW17 wardrobe for this season’s fashion? In this guide, we’ll cover what’s hot for men and women this autumn-winter, perfect if your shopping for yourself or buying for your other half!

Styling menswear

Charles Tyrwhitt, Shirts, Autumn Winter 2018, Autumn Fashion, Fall fashion, 3 men, dapper men, dapper dress, smart casual, shirts, blazers

Image: Charles Tyrwhitt

One of the biggest trends of AW17 outerwear was shearling — the style of suede and wool combined in one garment. And, it’s back this year. Giorgio Armani mixed up the textures further with a shearling, suede and leather jacket that looks smart yet cosy for the colder months.

You might want to dig deeper than last year’s AW clothing with one of this season’s trends. That’s because this year it’s all about throwing it back to the ’90s. You might’ve thought you’d seen the back of shell suits and full tracksuits, but they’re back with a vengeance. On the catwalk, Prada completed the look with branded bucket hats and lightweight waterproof jackets (ideal for autumn weather).

Another garment that comes out year after year is the leather jacket. Instead of the shorter bomber style though, this season it’s all about oversized leather coats that can be paired with slim-leg jeans and winter boots. Fendi, Balenciaga and Paul Smith were all rocking the look during their AW18 shows this season.

When it comes to colours, it’s autumnal brown that’s in this season, a colour you’re bound to have knocking around in your wardrobe. From brown men’s suits to oversized ponchos and shiny leather jackets, the brown colour palette is so versatile. If you don’t want to overdo this shade, you can keep it simple with brown accessories such as hats, scarves and shoes to get in with the trend.

In recent years, we’ve seen layering really take to the main stage. It’s all about bringing together different garments in an effortlessly stylish sort of way. You might not have worn a V-neck in a few years but bring it out this year and slip it on top of a roll-neck jumper for an on-trend outfit. Other ways to layer include pairing an open checked shirt (a print that was everywhere in AW17) with a graphic t-shirt and black skinny jeans.

Styling womenswear

Similar to the menswear trends, layering is on-trend this AW18 too, with designers such as Balenciaga showing their support of the fashion technique at their shows. If you’re bold enough, the best way to layer is with contrasting colour and textures. Dig out you metallic puffa jacket from last year and wear it over a fringed jumper.

Animal print was a big part of this season’s shows. While Victoria Beckham demonstrated her love for leopard print, other designers such as Isabel Marant were all about snake patterns. The great thing about this style being in trend is that you can mix and match animal print and still create an outfit that looks well put together. Leopard print has rarely been out of the spotlight in recent years — why not pair your printed cami dress with snakeskin boots and a matching clutch?

Although glitz and glam was reserved for Christmas and New Year events last year, this season they’re acceptable throughout autumn and winter. Paco Rabanne showed off their models in oversized silver sequins that brought some much-loved sparkle to the runway. Don’t wait until late December to bring your glitter dresses out of the wardrobe, embrace them in October and November too!

Oversized and chunky knit is back for the colder seasons too. The great thing about this year’s trends though, is that you can pair your grandad knit with your summer dress and still look on-trend. Miu Miu showed off an outfit that was made up of a green floral midi dress and fluffy grey knit — no need to pack away your summer clothes just yet!

Follow our top tips for getting the most out of your wardrobe this season!  

Accessories For Guys For A Perfect Classic Look

Accessories For Guys For A Perfect Classic Look. sunglasses, belt, tie, men's accessories, men's watches, men's wallet, men's belt

Accessories compliment an outfit to complete the look. They upgrade your style quotient to add something extra to your casual wear or formal attire. Though, when it comes to men’s fashion, the choices are not vast, there are a few pieces of accessories that every man must have. The kind of accessories you wear speaks volumes about your personality, and it even adds to your persona.

For some men, teaming up accessories with their clothes is easy, while others struggle. Many might think that stressing over accessories is a waste of their time. However, once you get an idea of what works for you and what does not, building up the right wardrobe is easy. If you are confused about which men’s accessories are important to get you that classic look, read on.

 

  • Watches – Let’s check off the oldest chip off the block. Want to look timeless? Invest in a classic stainless steel or leather strap watch. Watches do much more than just telling you the time. Buying a good watch is a one-time investment and really amps up your style quotient. Watches come in different shapes, styles, and prices, and there is one for every person, every occasion. Watches are the perfect style statement and can liven up a boring outfit.
  • Tie – The tie is that one accessory that pulls the entire suit together. There is something about a necktie that screams maturity and confidence. Be careful to buy good quality, sober ties that add and not distract from your attire. Buy a tie you can afford, in a shade that will go with almost all your suits and formal shirts.
  • Wallets – The best wallet option for that classic look is the Italian leather wallet. Wallets are the perfect men’s accessories that are crafted to look good and give utility along with it. Some men go on to emboss their initials in it, hand down making it the most personalised and preserved accessory. Do not be scared to experiment with colour and ditch the black wallet for a brown or navy blue one.
  • Belt – Holding your trousers and look up is the job of a classic leather belt.  A good quality leather belt comes at affordable prices and will last you longer than investing in cheap canvas ones. Stick to darker shades like black, brown, blue or grey to match it with almost every suit. These colours will give you the attention you need without you having to ask for it.
  • Cufflinks – They are a must for men who love to attend formal occasions. A well-made set of silver cufflinks suits every shade of shirt for every occasion.
  • Messenger bag – A bag is a must-have for the man who is always on the go. Go for a nice leather bag, of a neutral tone that is not too big yet fits in all your stuff easily. Vintage bags are a must-have for that classic, old school vibe.

 

People build impressions based on what they wear and how well they carry themselves. Accessories make sure that an outfit is given that extra push without making one look like they tried too hard. Choose accessories that fit your personal style and suit your pocket equally well. Keep abreast with the latest trends and do not feel afraid to experiment.

5 Summer Grooming Tips for Men

Summer grooming tips for men, Men's shaving, Men's hair gel, Men's razor, Men's shaver, Men's shaving foam, Men's moisturiser, Clean Men

Fellas, are you looking for some summer grooming advice? You’ve come to the right place! We’re sharing a few tips on how to keep your skin looking and feeling its best all season long, with Maximum Style.

Proper skin care is not just for the ladies. It’s an important self-care habit that everyone should adopt—no matter your gender. Of course, caring for your skin should be practiced year-round, but a few steps and products should change with the seasons…summer included. As you enjoy the season of outdoor BBQs and beach days, there are a few necessary adjustments you should make as it relates to caring for your body’s largest organ. From Broad Spectrum sunscreen to lightweight moisturizers, we’re sharing the ultimate summer skin care guide for men, ahead!

TIP #1: CLEANSE YOUR SKIN

Keeping the skin clean is a no-brainer year-round, but especially during the hot summer months when dirt and sweat build-up can dull the look of our complexion. By cleansing your skin twice per day (morning and night) with a gentle cleanser, you can help remove unwanted oils, dirt, debris, and impurities that can accumulate throughout the day on the surface of skin, giving way to a cleaner, brighter-looking complexion.

If you plan on shaving, cleansing your face beforehand is an absolute must. Reach for an exfoliating cleanser that can help whisk away dead skin cells from skin’s surface and prep the skin for a smooth shave. For optimal results, use daily as a cleanser or three times per week as a mask.

Use a clean and sharp razor too. This is key to avoiding cuts, nicks and ripping out hairs. A stainless-steel razor will be cooling against your chin and cheek whilst it warm. We’d go for the kind of razor that imitates this, view here.

TIP #2: DON’T SHAVE DRY

Summer grooming tips for men, Men's shaving, Men's hair gel, Men's razor, Men's shaver, Men's shaving foam, Men's moisturiser, Clean Men

Need to clean up that 5 o’clock shadow? To avoid irritation and any potential nicks, be sure to lather up your scruff with a shaving gel, foam, or cream. These products provide a slick layer of protection and can help provide a smoother, closer shave. Try Uppercut Deluxe Shave Cream, which offers an easy glide when shaving. Plus, it contains cooling menthol and coconut oil to aid in blemish free control for a fresh finish! All you should do is apply the cream to clean, wet skin. Be sure to rinse your blade after each pass.

TIP #3: MOISTURIZE, MOISTURIZE, MOISTURIZE

Summer grooming tips for men, Men's shaving, Men's hair gel, Men's razor, Men's shaver, Men's shaving foam, Men's moisturiser, Clean Men

After cleansing, exfoliating and/or shaving, it’s important to hydrate your skin. Since shaving can sometimes lead to skin irritation—especially on sensitive skin—we recommend reaching for a moisturizer that considers any post-shaving sensitivity, alcohol-free balm can help hydrate and soothe freshly-shaven skin to provide additional comfort.

If you’re not shaving and prefer a lightweight hydrator and a product that resembles miracle grow,   try Tommy Riots’ Beard Moisturiser. This moisture-enhancing gel formula enriched with Vitamin B5 and hyaluronic acid hydrates the skin without weighing it down, the ultimate benefit for parched summer skin. Feel free to use this gel as you would your regular moisturizer, or as an extra layer of hydration before finishing off with a cream or lotion.

TIP #4: PROTECT AGAINST UV RAYS

During the summer months when we’re spending more time in the sun, it’s important to keep sunscreen on hand at all times. Start your day by applying a facial sunscreen as the last step in your skin care routine and as directed before heading out the door. SPF and provides the skin with a layer of defence from harmful UV rays. To use, apply to face and neck fifteen minutes before sun exposure. Be sure to reapply at least once every two hours, every forty minutes if swimming or sweating, or immediately after towelling off.

TIP #5: STRONG HOLD HAIR POMADE TO WITHSTAND THE HEAT

Summer grooming tips for men, Men's shaving, Men's hair gel, Men's razor, Men's shaver, Men's shaving foam, Men's moisturiser, Clean Men

A good hair care routine is one that’s simple and effective. Arming yourself with the right tools and information about the chemistry of hair is the best first step. No matter what hair type and texture you have, you’ll be able to perform your routine quickly and have great-looking hair.

Summers are a time when your hair tends to grow much faster than usual. This works in your favour and all you need to ensure is that you prevent breakage. Make sure you wash your hair regularly and condition it well. This will keep it in good shape. Choose a product, like Mason’s Pomade, which keeps the moisture locked in, allows your hair to breath, but also lets it move freely whilst securing style. It’ll work whether you’re in town, in the pool or at the beach.

The same applies to your beard and moustache; keep facial hair trimmed or sport a clean-shaven look this summer. Don’t over-shave though! Your skin will be putting up with a lot when temperatures soar and you don’t want to damage it further by shaving every day. Stick to shaving twice a week and trimming when need be.

LASTLY, NOTHING BEATS A SHOWER.

When it comes to dealing with body odour! If you happen to perspire a lot, a daily shower is a must. You might need to shower more than once a day if you perform vigorous exercise. Showering right after your workout will help wash away sweat and prevent your skin from breaking out.

You don’t have to scrub your whole body every time you take a shower; just wash your chest, armpits, genitals, and feet thoroughly as these areas produce more sweat and are responsible for body odour.

Remember to choose mild soaps and cleansers; you don’t need to be harsh on your skin to get rid of the dirt.

Should You Shave Your Beard for an Interview?

Should You Shave Your Beard for an Interview, smartly dressed man with beard reading a newspaper, bearded man, bearded in in sunglasses, man reading the newspaper, beards for business

This is a tricky one.

On the one hand, you love your beard.

Then on the other, you probably could really do with that new job.

So the question is…

Do you take the hit on your man pride by shaving off your beard, effectively playing it safe – or do you go all guns all out – bearded, confident and dressed on point?

Ultimately, we think there are three major factors at play that you have to think about:

i) What does your interviewer think of your beard (and beards in general)?

Beards have become far more socially acceptable in recent times, that’s a given since the recent beard booms and what seems to be the undying trend.

Unfortunately, there is still a slight, albeit unfair stigma still attached to them. The typical one of course being – that a guy who sports a beard is lazy, unprofessional given that he can’t even be

bothered to shave. Harsh and largely untrue given that a good beard takes a lot more upkeep than just shaving every few days.

Of course, you won’t really know if your interviewer likes beards or not, but if you happen to know who you are going to be interviewed by, this could give you a little heads up.

It might be worth hopping on to your laptop or smartphone and do some classic ‘social media stalking’, checking out LinkedIn, Facebook – you know the drill and try and figure out if he is sporting one. If he is, it’s a good sign, he’s on your side. No beard? It could go either way.

The less risky route of course is to go shaven, if this is something that concerns you we will explain a little later why you should probably reach for the razor.

ii) Does it fit in with the ‘business culture’?

In some industries facial hair is just far more widely accepted.

Finance and law, it is almost an unspoken rule that wearing facial fur is pretty much forbidden. As with most things, there are exceptions to the rule but you best bet that those guys who sport their beards in such industries are incredibly well-kempt (again, this is something we will get into a little later).

Then there are industries that pretty much require shaven faces for health and safety reasons due to large industrial machinery or where they are a little frowned upon such as in food preparation areas (where they require you to wear beard nets and trust us on this – it just ain’t a good look).

Then there are much more beard friendly industries such as gaming design and development, photography and so on. We tend to find that with most creative jobs, they almost go hand in hand.

Ultimately, what we are trying to do is to encourage you to get your research on. Head to LinkedIn and check out the company you are applying to and other competing companies, and ask yourself does it look like many of their employees are bearded?

If so, take it is a thumbs up.

If not – it’s probably something you ought to think about.

iii) What do you think of your beard?

Of course, we know you love your beard.

What we really mean here, is do you think ultimately your beard will be working against you or not?

Whether it ‘actually’ does or not in reality, what you don’t want to happen is your subconscious screwing up your interview because you are stressing that the beard is not working in your favour.

If you are cool with it and don’t think there are any issues to be had, then that’s awesome. Keep that glorious man mane of yours!

However, if you think there potentially ‘might be’ an issue whether in fact there is or isn’t,, it could end up negatively impacting on your interview performance. In which case, we recommend you play it safe and get it shaved off. At least that way, your focus is 100% on the interview on hand.

That said, if that is the case though, we would raise the following question to ask yourself:

Can you go without your beard for the sake of your job?

I’m afraid, only you can decide that one.

iv) If you’re keeping the beard for the interview

First off, that’s awesome! We know it takes a bit of guts and we tip our hats off to you for that.

Now if you do decide to keep your beard and go ahead with the interview, you need it looking its best.

Even if your interviewer likes beards and is a beard friendly job – you still can’t turn up with it being scraggly with stray hairs sticking out all over the place. Tidy it up, apply some good beard goodies and have it looking its absolute best.

Here’s a quick step by step breakdown to have your beard looking awesome:

  1. Comb out your beard.

It’s a given, but the quickest way of dealing with tricky beard knots and generally making your beard looking neater and fuller is using a proper beard comb to help bring some order and get it all into place.

  1. Splash on some beard oil or a beard balm.

Make use of a high quality beard oil by thoroughly massaging it into your beard and skin to help moisturise and conditioning as well as to give you a great smelling odor. If you are still struggling with flyaway beard hairs, reach out for a styling balm that will help to give you some hold and control over your beard.

  1. Brush the beard and shape it up.

The final touch is just to help distribute the oils that you have applied and then helped to get your man scruff in order.

If your beard is looking particularly out of place we recommend heading to your local (and trusted) beard barber, they will help shape it up – take care of any neckbeard for you and ultimately give you a style that suits both your beard and your face. All you have to do now, is carry out the few steps we’ve just mentioned.

Like we say, it’s your call.

Play it safe and get a shave or stick it to the man and face that interview with a great luscious face forest.

Either way let us know how you got on.