Wednesday, April 22, 2009

ELF: Eyes Lip Face for Men

Women can tell if a guy takes care of himself. Going to the gym, yoga, eating right, meditation, using the right hair product, cutting your nails, brushing your teeth are things guys do to keep themselves clean on the outside and the inside.

The next frontier in mens grooming is mens cosmetics. Think eyeliner, foundation, concealer. These items are no longer just for women anymore. Zac Efron, Dave Navarro, Pete Wentz (who also has launched his own cosmetic line) are some Hollywood personalities that wear makeup. According to market research firm Euromonitor, in 2006, $4.8 million was spent on male grooming products in the U.S., a 7 percent increase over the year before and a whopping 42 percent increase from 2001. Since men generally age faster than women, more products are geared to camouflage the lines and blemishes guys gain over time.

New York based ELF (Eyes Lip Face) Cosmetics has a predesigned Men's Kit that they sell on their website . In it are the following items:
  • Concealer Pencil & Brush in Light
  • Under Eye Concealer & Highlighter in Light
  • Tinted Moisturizer in Tone 3
  • Tweezers
  • Black Eyeliner
  • Clear Mascara
  • Mirror
  • Clear Nail Polish
  • Cuticle Pen
  • Nail File
  • Shine Erasers
  • Conditioning Balm in Vanilla
  • Hand Sanitizer
I met ELF Creative Director Achelle Dunaway at New York Fashion Week FW09 and suggested that I write a review on their Men's Kit. So here are a few thoughts on the items I did try and how I found them useful.

Concealer Pencil and Brush in Light - What is concealer? Its a product that's used to hide spots, blemishes, scars on your face or body. Make up artists use this alot on their clients to produce those flawless faces you see on TV and magazines. On the night I used the product, I had an event to go to. Of course, there were going to be photographers! So I had to cover scars from a zit that recently healed. It worked! Not only did it blend it quite nicely but the scar practically disappeared in a single application.

Under Eye Concealer & Highlighter in Light - Also used this to conceal my eyebags. When you don't get much sleep, it shows very quickly. This did wonders! Almost looks like I had a full 8 hours of sleep even when I've only had 4. I didn't use the other end of the stick as I didn't think I needed to highlight my eyes.

ELF Professional Shine Eraser - One thing that most guys don't pay attention to is how shiny their face gets during the day. The hot spot areas are around the nose, your forehead, and chin. Draw the letter "T" on your face and you'll know exactly where these spots are. The shine comes primarily from oils that are coming out of your pores. If you have a tendency to sweat much, they can also be sweat coming from sweat glands in those areas. Either way, ELF's Professional Shine Eraser can "mattify" your shiny face. The product does what it says "absorbs oil and shine, mattifies skin, minimizes pores. The paper rips easily compared to other blotters I've used in the past. Other than that, its one thing that guys should have in their wallets or toiletries kit.

ELF Hand Sanitizer - Influenza A(H1N1) aka the Swine Flu is among us. Outside of not traveling to Mexico, the other way of keeping any flu virus away is washing your hands with soap and water or using a hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer tend to come in two formats, gel or liquid. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has suggested that using hand-sanitizers that have alcohol in them is more effective in killing germs than just soap and water. ELF's hand sanitizer has Ethyl Alcohol as its primary ingredient. It also has Aloe Vera infused in the product which explains the moisturized feeling it leaves after it's applied. It also has this mild scent which is different from ones that tend to smell like a hospitals. I find the packaging a bit too small especially for men's style kit. A 25 ml might have been better.

ELF Therapeutic Conditioning Balm (Vanilla Creme) - Lip Balm is probably that one cosmetic item that most guys carry all season long. The two things to look for in good lip balm is its ability to keep your lips hydrated and if you're out a lot, get something that has an SPF rating. This balm from ELF doesn't have SPF protection, which is unfortunate because the product works on the lip moisturizing department. In the course of an 8 hour work day, I applied it twice. So it lasts for a while. Also, its a matte finish so it doesn't look like you're wearing lip gloss. Very important! The vanilla creme flavor is subtle which is good. And for $2 a stick, you can't really go wrong with it.
Most of the cosmetic companies have a men's line for us discerning males. The key to this business is making the products subtle enough so guys can wear it comfortably and proudly. Although we won't admit most times, guys want to look as perfect as we can. And products like these help in hiding our imperfections.

Earth Day Style Tips

Earth Day is almost over. I feel that everyday we should celebrate the beauty of this planet and bring forth activities to protect it. The fashion industry as we all know is textile based. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, an estimated 11.9 million tons of textiles, 4.7 percent of total municipal solid waste (MSW) was generated in 2007. The textile recycling industry annually prevents 2.5 billion pounds of post consumer textile product waste from entering the solid waste stream, according to the Council for Textile Recycling. This 2.5 billion pounds of post consumer textile waste represents 10 pounds for every person in the United States.

Generally speaking a full outfit (top, bottom, shoes) is about 3 pounds. If each person in the US represents 10 pounds, that's 3 sets of outfits that go to waste. We all know that we have more than 3 sets that we don't wear or that we simply dispose of when pieces go out of style or don't fit. My hope is that when Earth Day ends tonight, we become more conscious of our clothing consumption and the impact our own "buy, wear, dispose"cycle has on the environment.

Here are some style tips that will help:

1) Define your personal style. Know your body type. Trends come and go. And if you don't have a sense of your OWN distinct personal style, you end up spending on unnecessary items that you will most likely throw out when the trend passes. Also, know your body type. A lot of the things we don't end up wearing is because they don't fit or we thought they would but don't. For the fellas, if you want to know your body type, Ask Men has a good article on it here. And for the ladies, check out Trinny and Susannah's (the original "What Not To Wear" girls) revelations here.

2) Don't throw them away. Make other people look as good as you by donating your clothes to charities like the Salvation Army or Dress for Success. The other option is to take them to a consignment store and make some extra cash when your pieces are sold. If you are at the consignment store and are looking to update your wardrobe, scan the racks for some good finds. Keep in mind that most textiles are non-recyclable. If you simply throw them in your trash bins, they will end up in land fills.

3) Rework what you have. If you've lost some weight it does not necessarily mean that you have to celebrate with a new wardrobe. If you do, follow tip #2 and take your old clothes to your favorite charity. Find yourself a good tailor or seamstress to adjust your old clothes to your new body. A few nips and tucks on your favorite piece makes a lot of difference on how it looks on you. Plus it's easier on the pocket!

Regardless of what tip you follow, remember that your actions impact the environment that you and everyone else shares. Be conscious. Be knowledgeable. Be in style.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

ISTYLEU is now on Twitter.

It's official. ISTYLEU has recently made the leap to Twitter. Follow ISTYLEU ( as it provides real time advice, tips, discussion and media coverage around men's style and fashion.

As always, keep looking good!

Paulo Vallejo
Your Stylist

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Get Kickin: Spring Summer 2009 Hot Picks for Kicks

Sneakers make a lifestyle statement just like any pair of shoes you own. Its a known fact that there are two things a woman looks at when they first meet a man: the watch on their wrist and the shoes on their feet. Shoes tells a woman where a man's been and where he's going. The watch tells a woman where he's at in his life. Some guys have a few pairs of shoes they rotate (good idea!). Some guys have a couple of pairs that they alternate. Regardless of how many sneakers you own, the following principles apply:

1) Keep 'em clean. A pair of pristine white Converse Chuck Taylors or Adidas Stan Smiths always looks great with jeans and a collared shirt or even with cotton trousers and a crew neck cotton sweater. Dirty sneakers conveys "I don't care" or "I'm sloppy". Invest in a sneaker cleaner. Maintain a clean style with sparkling clean kicks

2) Find the right size. It doesn't matter if your sneakers cost $19.99 or $199.99, it has to fit you perfectly. When you have a shoe that has a narrower toe box (the front half of the shoe), go one half-size up. Nike and Adidas tend to have narrower fit compared to other sneaker brands. Walk around the store. Jump. Stride. Make sure they are comfortable in all the pressure points (toe box, mid-foot and heel). See the size chart below.

3) Give your shoes a break. Former First Lady of the Philippines Imelda Marcos owned 3,000 pairs shoes. She probably had a good rotation going during her time in government. But the lesson here is that shoes need time to breathe and relax. A 24 airing period prevents leather shoes from cracking, keeps the insoles dry, and maintains the longevity of the shoe.

For those of you who are shoe fanatics, you've probably already started stocking up on your kicks for this season. Or better yet, cleaning those vintage reissues you own from Nike, Adidas and New Balance and taking them to the streets with your straight leg denims. Either way, this season's kicks are about streamlined toe boxes and the combination of materials to create one of a kind pairs that in 20 years will be the new vintage. Here are my top picks:

Puma Low Top Sneaker by Mihara Yasuhiro

Japanese designer Mihara Yasuhiro has been collaborating with Puma since 2000. An unparalleled blending of function, inventive design, and style, the shoes this guy puts out to sneaker aficionados are ones to look forward to. This red, white and blue low top sneaker makes use of a combination of materials like a patterned red fabric, and smooth leather. The striped laces and gray eyelets and buttons provide clean detailing to the shoe making it versatile day and night. Online price $125 USD. Available at PUMA's online store.

Creative Recreation Colleti in White Patent

What's the benefit of wearing a patent leather shoe? Its easy to clean. You take a damp cloth and wipe the grime away! Creative Collection is fairly new in the sneaker industry, having been in business since 2002. The brand is well known for creations that combine sneaker comfort with dress shoe sophistication resulting in the ultimate hybrid footwear. This season, I'm looking forward to the Colletti in White (or Black) patent. Aside from the "easy to clean" factor, this shoe can easily be dressed up or down. The black patent version can be worn with a black linen summer suit. The white patent version will go with white or khaki trousers and a colored shirt. Retail price around $90 USD. For more selection visit the Creative Recreation site.

Converse Classic Chuck Taylor

According to Converse historians, 60 percent of Americans either own or have owned a pair of Chuck Taylors (aka "Chucks"). The brand that started in 1908 is still alive 101 years later, a true testament that classics never go out of style. The patented rubber toe cap, cotton canvas uppers, gum rubber soles and the signature striping around the shoe makes this the perfect sneaker. The leather version of these shoes makes great "dress up" sneakers. Otherwise, the multitude of colors and patterns give you the opportunity to rotate and wear a new pair for every day of the calendar. Retail price $44 USD. Available at Urban Outfitters and other specialty retailers.

Regardless of what pair you end up with, keep the rules in check and the style clean and crisp. You are what you wear so represent well.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Polo Rules: It Ain't No Game.

Invented in 1929 by tennis great Rene Lacoste, the polo shirt continues to be part of every man's wardrobe. Back then, the polo served as an alternative to standard court attire of the shirt and tie. Today, it still remains an alternative as it can be easily dressed up for an evening affair, and dressed down for a good old tennis match. There are two basic rules to wearing the polo shirt.

Rule#1: It CAN NOT be too tight. So what exactly is too tight? If you can't stick your finger in between the sleeve and your bicep, its too tight. Most polos are made of 100% cotton. If it looks like you're wearing a neoprene wet suit, then its too tight. Ideally, you want the shirt to be comfortably fitted. The sleeve ring should sit nicely around your bicep. If you see a lot of flack around the sleeve, the shirt might be a bit big.
Tight Fit Polo: A big No No.
Rule#2: It CAN NOT be too long. Why? Because polos when worn too long looks like a girl's shirt dress. However, it should be long enough so you can tuck it in without the shirt bunching up in your waist. When the shirt's length goes past your hips, its too long. Lacoste has a great fit guide that's fairly easy to follow. They categorize the cut of their shirts to four fit types: the classic, the retro, the modern and the pima. Bottomline, once you find a brand you like and a cut that best fits your body type, stock up on a variety of colors and prints
Image from
The polo is one of the most versatile pieces in a man's wardrobe. We've all seen the polo, blazer and jean combination. And then there's the polo and khaki look. And lastly the polo and golf short which we see our dads wear a lot of during the summer. What we don't see a lot of are the creative ways of wearing your polo. As the days get warmer and longer, try a couple of these variations of polo wear. Double Polo with propped up collars Be careful on when you turn up your collar. If you're hanging out with the guys at Country Club, its most likely appropriate. At a business meeting, keep your collar down.
Image from
Long Sleeve Polo with Casual Dress Pant or Light Colored Denim A long sleeve polo is a great alternative to dress shirt. Also known as the Rugby Polo, this piece is nice to have during those cool spring or summer nights. This polo is also meets most casual friday dress codes in corporate America.
Image from
Learning to wear the polo right can be tricky sometimes. Each brand has different styles and fits. American brands like the Gap lean more towards the classic boxier cuts. British brands like Fred Perry and French brands such as Lacoste are a lot slimmer in fits than their American counterparts. At the end of the day, what matters most is how it fits. So shop around, try on a few brands and fits, and when you've found the perfect style purchase a few colors and patterns that best suits you.

This post can also be found on Primer Magazine.

Vancouver kicks it up a notch: Vancouver Fashion Week FW09

Last week, I saw Vancouver put on a spectacular Fall Winter 09 Fashion Week dazzled with great local and international designers, but more importantly interesting pieces that are current, unique and highly marketable.

For street wear, To The Nines presented a collection that was different from other street apparel brands I've seen lately. The trio of Nikolai Hobrucker, Owen Covert and Graeme Webb put Vancouver on the street wear map by combining street, skate and snow inspirations wrapped in a lot of punk and hip hop attitude. My favorite pieces include the Jenny and Treat and Rough prints. I wore the Jenny tee to the Junos After Party the next evening and was snapped by one of VitaminV Daily's photogrphers. The T-shirt was coined the Best Tee in the Haus on their Editor's Blog. Click here to see Jenny on VitaminV. For more information on To the Nines, check .

Image by Jonathan Evans

Image by Yvonne Chew

For contemporary mens wear, Joseph Domingo, a designer from San Francisco, CA, displayed men's pieces that were just mandatory in every man's wardrobe. Joseph's attention to detail has been evident in the tailoring of his men's suiting, overcoats and the show itself. From the lighting, music and overall production, the show was just stellar. My favorite piece from the show was the black wool-gaberdine military inspired double breasted coat. The cut is classic, the buttoned neck collar is unique, and the piece will just never go out of style. I had the opportunity of trying this on backstage, and just couldn't let it go. For more information on Joseph Domingo, go to

Image by Jonathan Evans

In the international mens wear category, Helen Lee, from Shanghai, China displayed a euro chic men's line that can shake up the way men dress in Vancouver. Although well recognized in the international fashion scene, this is Helen's North America debut. She's been honored by Vogue as one of the Top 20 Designers in China (2007) and has work gracing magazines like Elle and Bazaar. From tailored suit jackets, satin finished trench coats and technically well constructed leather jackets, Helen covered all the bases for a guy's wardrobe. My favorite pieces include the Tux Jacket with the gray striped piping and the Leather Jacket with inner flap detailing. For more details on Helen Lee, go to .

Images by Yvonne Chew

All in all this season's showing is probably Vancouver's best so far. Keep it up Vancouver!