Find a Great Barber/Hairstylist

I’m so fortunate.  Since college, I’ve had some awesome barbers.  But, with each relocation, it takes me getting through the not so awesome ones to get to the ones I need.

Over the past decade, I’ve made four moves within North Carolina: Durham > Greensboro > Charlotte > Durham.  Growing up, I went to the neighborhood barber.  There wasn’t a decision to be made.  That’s just what was.  Then, when I got to college, I didn’t have a car so I went to this barbershop that was near campus and it was like the one back home.  But I wasn’t satisfied.  I saw guys on campus with sharper lines than I had.  So I asked a few of them where they went and, my sophomore year, I switched to a different barbershop.  In between cuts, I would get shape ups from this guy in the dorm who was trying to develop his barbering skills.  He got so good (and was so cost effective) that he took the spot of the actual barbershop.  That guy from the dorm turned out to be Vince Jamel of Adrian Fanus Grooming in Brooklyn, New York.  Now, one of my best friends, I was lucky to have him cut my wedding party and me last October.

Soon after graduating from UNCG, I moved to Charlotte and only heard the name of one barbershop: No Grease.  Everyone I asked who had a nice haircut (with the exception of my financial advisor George Acheampong) said the same thing.  So No Grease it was.  I tried two barbers there.  The first did a good job but I didn’t communicate the cut I wanted well enough.  So I tried one more and I hit the nail on the head.  Currently in North Carolina, Tim Doe holds the crown for cuts in my opinion.  Great customer service.  Accommodating.  And he gets to know who he’s cutting so that he can give good suggestions on what would best fit your style and industry.  See, a barber/groomer/hairstylist shouldn’t just be there to do the job.  (S)he is a friend and consultant.  Shoot, half the time, a good barber is your unofficial therapist as well.  When I had friends move to town, I pointed them to No Grease.  “Everyone in there can cut well,” I always said, “but see if you can get on Tim’s schedule.”  I even had a frat brother come down for a wedding and his barber in DC was out of town when he left but he really needed a cut.  I took him to Tim and got him squeezed in.  As always, an immaculate cut was given.

You can imagine how hard it was for me to move back to Durham and know that, as much as I wanted to go to No Grease like usual, a 3 hour drive would turn that into a $50-$60 haircut every two weeks, including gas (or, as I like to think of it, at least $1,300/year).  So I started the process all over again back home.  My old barber was no longer around.  At the time, I worked at Nordstrom and one of my assistant managers heard me say I was looking for a new shop so he recommended his, Rock’s Bar and Hair Shop.  Now, cutting straight hair and curly hair are two different processes, so I figured “I may check it out but I need someone who knows how to cut black hair.”  And I found someone there who does it very well.  The customer service there is exceptional and the environment is super cool.  Plus you get a free beer with your haircut!

As I said in the first sentence, I’m fortunate to have been blessed with great barbers over the past decade.  If you find a good one who knows you, your professional aspriations, and your style, keep him/her.  Do I have a favorite over all of them?  Of course.  But, since they’re all in different locations, you should just try each brand out when you’re in their respective cities.


Photo credit: Suave Visions


Make professional development a priority.


Finding the Right Fit — Shirts

The older I’ve gotten, the more my style has matured and, with that, I’ve fallen in love with tailored clothes.  I love it when my blothes feel like they were cut for my body and my body alone.  The problem is, I don’t have the money to have my clothes made for me.  So, over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting on to find the perfect fit on everything from office attire to workout clothes.

As a teen, I only bought classic/traditional cut shirts because, at the time, men’s clothing options were few and far between.  But, as men’s fashion has become more and more specialized, more options have been made available to us.  And, with more brands catering to men, I can say that almost everyone has an option that can fit their body and their budget.  There are are a few things you need to know first though before buying your shirts.

1 – Get sized.  Forget cut.  That’s secondary.  You will never look good in a dress shirt that is the wrong size.  Any menswear store that sells professional clothes ought to be able to properly measure your neck size and sleeve length (the two components that go into dress shirt sizing).  I am partial to Nordstrom because I worked there and I know that everyone who works in the mens suits and furnishings department is properly trained on sizing but, as I said, anywhere from Men’s Wearhouse to Macy’s should be able to do this for you at no cost to you.

2 – Find the right cut.  Looking at the picture above, figure out what cut would look best on you (while allowing you to be comfortable.  If you are a slim/athletic guy, what you don’t want is an extremely blousy shirt.  Sure, when you wear a suit jacket or blazer, no one will be able to tell but, what about the days you decide that slacks and a shirt are enough?

3 – Find the right brand.  Lacoste’s “Trim Fit” is not the same as Nordstrom’s.  And Hugo Boss has a cut called “Sharp Fit” (which I love but will not buy unless it’s on sale).  Every brand is not for everyone and it’s not always about budget.  I’ve seen folks who don’t need to buy a Sharp Fit put it on just because they want a $150 Boss shirt.  Don’t be that person.

4 – Look at reviews.  What you don’t want is a shirt that is going to fall apart on you or look like it was cheaply made.  I buy all of my clothes on sale because I like to make sure that I’m wearing brands that will hold up. When it comes to shirts, you can find some great prices on Nordstrom brand shirts (my brand of choice) of all cuts at Norstrom Rack.  And, if you don’t get the wear you think you should out of it, they stand behind their product and will replace it.

Whether walking into an interview or handing in your letter of resignation, your wardobe should leave a lasting impression and, being that a man’s shirt is the foundation of each professional outfit, it’s integrity should never be compromised.  So don’t compromise it.


Make professional development a priority.

Fly High This Fall With the… Falcons

Ok, that title was a minor shot at the Philadelphia Eagles (even though my G-men lost this weekend too) but this post is about being well-dressed during fall (I know, nothing to do with a falcon. I just really don’t like the Eagles).  But I digress.  So, this fall, you have to go to work.  It’s not like you can just take the fall off.  And when you go, you have to be dressed properly.  So, how do you start the fall off looking fly?    Check out the following places I recommend for building your wardrobe on a budget.

The thrift shop: A thrift shop in an affluent neighborhood will generally yield more quality professional clothes than one in a less fortunate area.  And, even if the outfit doesn’t fit perfectly, you can always take it to the tailor.  When it comes to pieces like suits and slacks, you’ll still end up saving more than you would buying brand new, especially when we’re talking about quality brands.  Or, if you see a pair of shoes that can be restored, find a good cobbler and you’re good to go.  So go thrifting on the nicer side of the town.  Your wardrobe (and pockets) will thank you.

J. Crew: J. Crew can be a bit pricey BUT if you go in when they’re having a decent sale and you still have a non-expired college ID, you can save 15% on top of the sale price.  I’ve gotten some pretty great sweaters for next to nothing that way.

Nordstrom Rack: Now, Nordstrom is a great (though sometimes pricey) brand and, as those of you who have been reading know, I worked there for a while.  But what you may not know is that I worked at Nordstrom Rack (The Rack) first.  If you’re not familiar with The Rack, it’s like a high-end TJ Maxx.  You get great brands for a fraction of their retail prices.  That’s where I go for everything from suits to Allen Edmonds shoes to Nike sweats.

Those are just a few suggestions but definitely feel free to leave your favorite places to get professionally (or casually) fly.

Before I go, make sure you download the Valet Mag application on your smartphone for daily deals and great seasonal fashion buying guides.  It’ll help you stay in style while adding staples to your wardrobe for a bargain.

UnderFit: Because All Undershirts Aren’t Created Equal

If you know me, whether personally or virtually, you know that I am a stickler for details. That being said, I am a major proponent of having everything on fitted so that it makes your entire outfit look seamless. When I say everything, I mean everything. The same way that women choose undergarments that will allow them to flaunt their best features, we men should do the same. Now I’m not saying go out and buy thongs because that’s just not the move to make. But underwear should work well with your suits/jeans/sweats.

Now, underwear aren’t just the boxers, briefs, or boxer briefs that you choose to wear. They are also the shirts that you put on underneath your polos and button downs. When it comes to undershirts, I will not lie, I do have quite a few generic brands you can find at any supercenter store because those are the ones I grew up wearing. But I also grew up wearing traditional fit dress shirts that looked like they were cut in the mid-1700s. Now that I have all of my shirts tailored at best or, at worst, buy them already cut into a trimmer fit, I knew I needed to go with a different brand of undershirt. I am currently in the process of transitioning all of my undershirts to the UnderFit brand. UnderFit has been my undershirt of choice for the past year and I can honestly say I never have enough. The fact that it has a tailored fit makes it feel as if I’ve got a layer between my skin and my dress shirt but not one that will take away from the well-tailored look that I’m going for. It is light enough to wear through the summer but still protective enough to keep the winter wind from hitting my bare skin between the buttons. One more thing: Guys, you know when you stretch your arms and your undershirt comes untucked but your shirt stays tucked in and it feels extremely uncomfortable but you’re not in a position to re-tuck your shirt in? You won’t have that problem with UnderFit shirts. There are three extra inches at the waist of the shirt so that it stays tucked in throughout the day. Awesome right? Right. I’m getting married later this year and my groomsmen and I will definitely be buying UnderFit shirts for the wedding simply because I want all of us to look our absolute best on that day.

Being a stylist at Nordstrom in the men’s clothing and furnishings department, I see an array of undershirts and have tried on most brands that Nordstrom carries. Without directly naming any brands, I will say that UnderFit is still by far the best that I’ve ever put on. It is made of ProModal and Spandex, which is a costly combination but you can feel the difference. I strongly recommend you all try it. Ladies, if you’re looking for a great gift for the significant other, try getting him an undershirt that will add to his confidence when he walks into a room. Try them out and let me know what you think. We’re at the age where we really need to invest in our wardrobes as opposed to buying new 5 packs of cheap cotton shirts every 6 months.

To learn more about UnderFit and purchase a few, visit The site is great and they have an awesome blog. I guarantee you’ll love it and, in the unlikely event that you don’t, you can return them with ease. But definitely try them out. You won’t be disappointed.