• The Refined Man is Wild at Heart


    "Adventure is not outside man; it is within." —George Eliot

    Boys are wild.
    More creature than child, boys are untamed.

    Every man was once a boy. To carry this adventurous spirit into manhood is of paramount significance in the maturation of our boys. Sadly, today, that insatiable longing to explore is largely but a relic of childhood for many men. The adventurer is the child who survived. He is unapologetically wild at heart. He runs toward danger. Takes risks. Embraces spontaneity. In his book Wild at Heart, John Eldredge shrewdly notes, “Deep in his heart, every man longs for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue.”

    How a man seeks his adventure is how he embraces his purpose.
    How he embraces his purpose is how he pursues his woman.
    How he pursues his woman is how he loves his children.
    How he loves his children is how he loves his neighbor.
    How he loves his neighbor is how he loves his God.

    There are two types of men in this world: those who love what they do and those who don't. Those who have found something to fight for and those who haven't. The former are men who go on to great achievements, lead extraordinary lives, and love deeply. They have explored the depths of their hearts, discovered their (present) purpose in this world, and pursue it with reckless abandon.

    The latter are confused, timid, drifters. They are lost boys—succumbing to a culture that would prefer we be docile, domesticated, well-behaved children. How do we, as men, reconnect with that indelible wildness? How do we recover the masculinity our emasculated society so desperately needs? We must look within. What did you love to do as a child? What would you do even if you weren't getting paid to do it? What turns you on inside? Fight tooth and nail for that.

    When was the last time you climbed a frozen waterfall? Slept under the stars? Or crossed an ocean? The refined man not only needs adventure, he seeks it. The passion for this is at the core of a man's spirit. The thrill of closing a big deal at the office, cheering your team on from the comfort of your couch, or emerging a war hero in Call of Duty are nothing more than metaphors and cheap substitutes for what your spirit truly wants—danger, risk...adventure. Get out there.

    There is no place in our society more desperate for the wild heart in man than in the pursuit of a woman. Women are designed to be pursued, wooed, to be caught up. No woman wakes up saying, "God, I hope I don't get swept off my feet today.” They long to be swept up into an adventure. Gentlemen, you get one chance to make a first impression—and I've witnessed it squandered so often over a cup of coffee...or a drink.

    Plan something outrageous and memorable. Anything but a meeting that resembles a job interview. I like to know right out of the gate if I can laugh with a woman, so I'll plan an experience conducive to that. A little imagination goes a long way gentlemen. Have fun with it—but most importantly, have a plan. Remember, if this girl is as amazing as you hope she is, she's been on more first dates than Drew Barrymore—make this unforgettable for her (hint: women love surprises). Be intentional in writing a gripping opening to your story together!

    The refined woman creates the space for the wild at heart...spontaneity...and the unknown to invade. It is incredible what transpires within relationships when a man is given the freedom to be a man. To be unapologetically wild. What results is a beautiful encounter between the masculine and feminine.

    Every man is an adventurer inside. But the choice to live one is his own.

    * Originally written for The Refined Woman.

    Jun 11, 2014 | Permalink (2) Total Comments

    K McCurry left a comment on 6/11/2014 at 10:12 PM:

    This post is great! Where is that “Veritas” hat from? I really like it…

    Katherine left a comment on 6/11/2014 at 7:21 PM:

    Knowing your heart is an honor.  You are such a prolific writer + inspiring human being!  Thanks so much for sharing this with the world!

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  • Exploring Istanbul


    Stay wild.
    Just go.

    "The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun."

    —Christopher McCandless, aka Alexander Supertramp

    Last minute travel might be one of the greatest pleasures in life. One day you're on your couch channel surfing and the next, you're on a plane to Iceland, waking up to someone else's sun. It's magic.

    I recently indulged in such an adventure...to Istanbul, though. Iceland will have to wait. "Istanbul in the summer" happened to be number 67 on my 101 in 1,001 list (a short-term bucket list of sorts—101 things to do and places to see in 1,001 days). That means I'm practically obligated to say "yes" when a list item presents itself. That's how the list works...you get to say "yes" before you talk yourself out of it.

    The minute we land it’s off to the old city to explore the Grand Bazaar. Truth be told, the Grand Bazaar—said to be the world’s oldest shopping mall—lives up to its moniker. Much of the space is devoted to knockoff designer goods you can find on Canal St. To get to the interesting stuff, we mine deeper into the center of the Bazaar in search of the Old Bazaar, a maze of antiquities, objet, and Turkish rugs nestled in the heart of the Grand Bazaar.

    Locals have been setting up shop here for over 550 years. We spend the better part of an entire day getting lost in the labyrinth of side streets and alleyways. At a particular quaint jeweler's shop, my eyes light up at the sight of some sterling silver cuffs. Inspired, I scoop them all up.

    The rugs in Turkey are simply breath-taking. Rich in history, craftsmanship, and beauty, buyers from all over the world descend upon the rug shops in the old city in search of antique pieces (rugs over 100 years old). It is not uncommon for these rugs to start in the thousands of dollars. After drinking more than enough apple tea than we both can handle, a little shop outside of the Bazaar called Noah’s Ark catches the corner of my eye. Curious about the name (I mean, Noah’s ark is said to have been found on Mount Ararat in Turkey), we duck in.

    A gentleman welcomes us immediately with a smile as warm as the Turkish sun. In typical fashion, he offers us tea, a seat, and his name. He goes by Hamza…and he discreetly discloses with a wink that only tourists opt for apple tea. We nonchalantly opt for the locals’ cup of tea. His English is very good…so good in fact that his jokes and timing are spot on. Turns out he spends six months a year in the States hocking his carpets to the well-to-do. We spend the next several hours in conversation about Turkish rugs, their provenance, their significance, and most importantly, their beauty. At some point in the evening, a bottle of Jack Daniels makes its way out (as well as some chocolate). All the trade-secrets come spilling out like a busted piñata after two or three pours. The Tennessee whiskey eventually seduces Hamza into sharing his own story of his nomadic childhood and his subsequent journey to Istanbul at the age of 14. I’m loving this guy.

    While we certainly hit the highlights of Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar, and Sultanahmet Mosque over our six days in Istanbul, it’s the moments and relationships we share with the locals we meet that will travel back with us as souvenirs of our time in this vibrant city.

    Jun 3, 2014 | Permalink (0) Total Comments

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  • Rowley Eyewear


    by Tucker Chet Markus

    1988—Cynthia Rowley started her career by inviting New York’s most well-known fashion editors to a runway show...in her apartment.

    An ambitious start that has defined the trajectory of Cynthia’s success since; the Cynthia Rowley name has flourished, now with over 60 boutiques across the world. And today, Cynthia and her husband, art aesthete Bill Powers, have brought the quality and sensibility of the Cynthia Rowley brand to eyewear.

    Launched last year, Rowley Eyewear is the result of Cynthia’s vision to make eyewear not a necessity for seeing but another way to see yourself. The women’s line is designed by Cynthia and the men’s line—called Mr. Powers—is crafted by Bill. While Rowley Eyewear is the latest company to embrace the direct-to-consumer e-commerce approach, what Cynthia has dubbed Rowley Care is what makes her offering unique—by creating what she cheekily refers to as her own version fashion insurance.

    Pony up $50 for annual membership when you pick up your first pair (or opt $5 monthly installments) and throughout the year, you can buy as many frames as you want for 50% off. If you break a pair, buy a new one at 50% off. Leave your frames in a cab (ugh!)? Buy a second pair at 50% off. If you just want to switch it up, buy a third pair at 50% off. In fact, buy as many pairs as you like at 50% off—each designed with the artful perspective of one of the most preeminent fashion designers today.

    We caught up with Cynthia and Bill about their inspirations—as fashion luminaries, as parents, and as husband and wife. Then we took a bunch of selfies, like they were originally intended to be, in a photobooth.

    Cynthia, what was the inspiration behind expanding the Cynthia Rowley brand to eyewear?

    C: As they say, a smile is the most important thing you put on in the morning, but if eyes are the window to the soul, shouldn't eyewear follow? Even though the e-commerce model already existed, no other designer had made glasses into a stylized accessory yet.

    Explain the point of view behind Rowley Care.

    C: Lose 'em, break 'em, scratch 'em, or maybe you're just bored: Rowley Care is your fashion insurance. By joining, you can purchase additional pairs of glasses at a reduced price.

    What era of eyewear do you find yourself most influenced by?

    C: Now!

    Bill, what’s the one detail that you look for first when it comes to eyewear?

    B: French writer Malcolm de Chazal said, "We know the halls of our eye like welcome visitors.”

    How does the Mr. Powers line capture this?

    B: The glasses should evoke a kind of déjà vu, but still feel fresh.

    Both the Rowley and Mr. Powers lines are seemingly defined as independent parts of a greater whole. With this in mind, Cynthia, how do you perceive Bill as a catalyst to your work? Bill, how do you perceive Cynthia as a catalyst to your work?

    C: We both love art, and that influences every part of our lives. He is kinda bossy, haha, but in the end we both have our own aesthetic.

    B: My wife likes to joke that giving unsolicited advice is my favorite hobby.

    When looking through your own specs, what's your favorite sight to behold?

    B: My kids.

    C: Friends and family laughing, the New York skyline, the beach, and champagne bubbles in a glass.

    And at arms-length, what is your favorite thing to read?

    C: Bedtime stories to my kids.

    B: The best book I read this year was The Flamethrowers.

    To finish, fill in the blank: I’m absolutely in love with the _____________ frame right now.

    B: I love the No.06 or No.86 at the moment.

    C: Well, the whole idea behind Rowley Care is that you don't have to limit yourself to just one pair! Right now I love No.29 in black, No.78 in honey tortoise, and No.62 in blush.

    May 27, 2014 | Permalink (0) Total Comments

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  • Vintage Accessories


    Of the handful of friends I have who design interiors, they all seem to echo the same dictum: don't buy all your furniture at once. Doing so tends to capture but a snapshot of an individual's taste, personality, and experiences instead of a culmination of them. I think the same could be said of one's wardrobe. Personal style is best developed over time, a byproduct on the journey of knowing one's self.

    Part of what can make personal style interesting is when certain pieces tell stories or boast history. Whether passed down or purchased, the stories inherent in vintage accessories weave a weft that simply cannot be replicated by new. Carol Troy, author of Cheap Chic, lauds that “vintage gives you a feeling that in this throwaway world there are still some things around that can last ten, twenty, thirty, forty years, or more and remain beautiful.”

    The right vintage accessories can introduce an interesting depth to one's style. And more often than not, no one else will have it. It is now uniquely yours. The key to wearing vintage accessories is to buy great pieces (I love sterling silver) and mix them in sparingly with modern pieces you are already wearing. It is that mix of old and new that feels current.

    “Vintage gives you a feeling that in this throwaway world there are still some things around that can last ten, twenty, thirty, forty years, or more and remain beautiful.”

    This sterling silver American Indian chief ring is a gem I plucked from the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show. While flea markets, thrift stores, and estate sales are viable options, I appreciate the curated offering of the vintage fair. It is a more organized, curated flea market, with higher quality merchandise (and prices to match). Make an entire day of it. It is highly efficient and beats pin-balling between shops. Nearly all my favorite vintage accessories come from vintage fairs and eBay.

    Since most vintage fairs pop up in larger cities, thrift stores are your next best option. They can be just as rewarding—you just get to roll up your sleeves little higher. Here are a few thrifting tips:

    • The best thrift shops are typically found in wealthy neighborhoods inhabited by septuagenarians (that’s the UES for New York) or in rural towns devoid of hipsters.

    • Don’t be afraid to haggle. I always start at 75% of their asking price (with a goal of making a deal at 80%). If an item you’re eyeing has any kind of damage, go even lower. Long awkward silences only work in your favor. Use generously.

    • Belts, sunglasses, rings and other treasures are often stored in drawers, which tend to be overlooked by most shoppers. Poke around.

    May 14, 2014 | Permalink (0) Total Comments

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  • Ernest Hemingway

    Style | Culture  

    As significant as his writing was, Ernest Hemingway is remembered just as much for the life he lived beyond the page. Everything about him was oversized—war service in Europe, big-game hunting in Africa, all-night benders in Paris. Hemingway embodied a full range of traditionally masculine experiences few others have. He even had a dictum that summed up his approach: “Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk.”

    His appetite for adventure only persisted later in his life, which ended tragically in 1961. If Hemingway’s literary output slowed during this final postwar decade, his celebrity spread far and wide.  He wrote dispatches on bullfights and marlin fishing for popular magazines, and was the subject (sometimes willing, sometimes not) of numerous awed profiles.

    Hemingway, in this final act, produced the smash hits The Old Man and the Sea, which earned him a Nobel Prize in 1954, and his Parisian memoir A Moveable Feast. Meanwhile, the legend of his manliness grew. While on a big-game safari in East Africa, he stunned the public by surviving not one plane crash but two. Rather than kick open a door that had been jammed shut, in spectacular fashion, he head-butted it to escape the wreckage.

    "He always looked great, as if he’d slept a baby’s sleep in a soundproof room with his eyes covered by black patches..."

    The look that ‘Papa’ Hemingway sported in these up-and-down years of late middle age was the iconic one that comes to mind when we think of him today: straight, medium-length locks of white hair and a healthy silver beard. This is not the trim, mustachioed younger man who penned The Sun Also Rises—but it’s the look that hundreds of Hemingway fans replicate in a remarkable lookalike contest that takes place every year in Key West, Florida.

    The graying Hemingway wrote from his house in Cuba, where he was most productive during the morning hours. Ever the man of action, he tended to compose standing up.  No matter how much red wine he’d downed or unruly conduct he’d modeled the night before, a good night’s rest seemed to cure all. He “always looked great, as if he’d slept a baby’s sleep in a soundproof room with his eyes covered by black patches,” one of his sons later recalled.

    Nevertheless, personal hygiene was an afterthought. Hemingway’s third wife, Martha Gellhorn, described him as “one of the most unfastidious men I've ever known.” The thing he cultivated best of all, perhaps, was an image of done-it-all manliness. ‘Papa,’ a nickname often assumed to have attached itself to him later, was oddly one the author chose for himself while in his mid-twenties. But it was in these final, bearded years that it truly stuck.

    * Originally written for Kiehl's Men's Wing.

    May 13, 2014 | Permalink (0) Total Comments

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