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menshealth

Headhunter for My Heart

Spindel tells me how she does her voodoo.  “It’s an instinct – someone will pop into my head, and I may not even know the reason,” she says.  “In fact, I already have someone in mind for you.” I snap to attention like a Jack Russell hearing a can opener. “But first we need to get you in shape.”

Four days later, Elena Castaneda walked into my life, and apartment.  She’s a fit, dark-haired beauty with European features and the light, crisp smell of a classy woman in her late 30s.  Sadly, this wasn’t a date.  She’s Spindel’s image consultant, and she completed her appraisal in 5 seconds, as a woman can.”Your place is a bachelor cliché,” she affirmed.  “A lot of metal and glass, a lot of black and grey, everything sterile and cold.”

She gave me strict prescriptions: Put carpets on the hardwood floors.  Buy softer lighting.  Paint the white walls any soft color – the bedroom a different color than the hall or living room.  Warm up the place. We headed into the bedroom.  Her look of dismay was familiar. “Invest in bedding,” she said, looking at me as though I could forget anything else she might say that day.  A new silk-cotton comforter, lush blankets, 300-thread count sheets, throw pillows – I needed them like England needs dentistry.

Still unconvinced she was worth $200 an hour (her usual fee when working with Spindel), I escorted her through my closet.  After a grueling 60 minutes that saw the death of many old friends, she gave me 10 specific dressing points all men should employ. She eyed me for 10 seconds. “Get rid of your glasses or wear softer frames. Your glasses hide your eyes.  Women want to see your eyes. You’ll carry yourself completely differently, and you’ll wear your clothes much better.  Have pride in your hairline.  You can tell you’re self-conscious about it, and that’s much worse than having a receding hairline – go get a hairstyle that doesn’t hide it.”

It had been my previous definition of hell: having a woman guide me around in a department store, throwing clothes in a cart, assembling a new prototype of me.  But shopping with Elena Castaneda (newyorkimageconsultant.com) made me put an asterisk on my opinion.  The difference?  Your girlfriend or wife thinks she knows how you’d look best to her, which can make you look like one of the earth’s larger jackasses to other people.  A well-trained image consultant, instead, knows how you’d look best, period.  Castaneda gave me the following tips while destroying my wardrobe, and followed them up on a personal shopper trip.  An upscale department store or a Google search can point you to image consultants in your area.  Check their backgrounds and references before hiring one.

menshealth

Dress Like a Big Boy

By Ron Geraci

Dissect Your Best Clothes
You have one blazer you always wear? One pair of jeans you abuse like hell while others go untouched in your closet? Take your clothes to a fine tailor and ask why you like those particular pieces of clothing, says Castaneda. Write down all the characteristics. Armed with this information, you can buy only from designers who emphasize the exact traits you need–no who expensive trial and error.

Pick a Name
And stick with it. Every designer–Hugo Boss, Joseph Abboud, Armani, Zegna–cuts his suits, shirts, and pants a little differently. Talk to the tailor about what will look best on you, try them on, and then sign on for life. You should have two well-tailored, perfectly fitting outfits for romantic ventures that require looking like you care. These should be the finest-made, most stylish clothes you own (i.e., the ones that make you feel most confident). For backup, have at least four other perfectly fitting outfits that create different looks–and make you feel just as confident. build, don’t copy

Most men, says Castaneda, have a closetful of duplicates–11 copies of roughly the same shirt, trousers, socks, ties, everything. It’s a waste. Each time you eye a piece of clothing, make sure it’s high quality and a significant addition to your wardrobe. Unless both are true, you should save your money for something that is.

Never be Trendy
Women don’t want trendy men. Develop a style that’s your own.

Own 3 Tees
Buy fine Egyptian-cotton T-shirts in dark colors, like gray, navy, and maroon. These eye-catching T-shirts are dressy, and wearing them under a shirt or jacket will add style to your look, says Castaneda.

Have a Backbone
These five components form the spine of a well-built wardrobe, says Castaneda.

  • One staple suit. It must fit you with utter perfection, and it should look better than the suits you wear to work.
  • A navy gabardine three-button jacket. Wear it all year, with anything.
  • Dark khaki pants. Choose classy, all-purpose pants. Pair them with your navy jacket. (See Sensible Style this month for ideas.)
  • A crisp white shirt. Instant class for any outfit.
  • Three pullovers. Buy them in chambray, fine wool, or finely woven polyester or rayon.

Consider Going Custom
It costs more to have a fitted shirt. It’s worth $100, too. Women–especially ones who wouldn’t normally speak to me–notice.

Shop Aggressively
Go to high-end manufacturers’ sample or outlet sales, advises Castaneda. Make strategic strikes and fill your closet with quality.

The Goddess is in the Details
Women notice subtle expressions of confidence and know-how. They notice that you don’t wear pleated pants, because you know plain-fronts look better on almost any man and make you look slimmer. That you wear dress shirts without pockets on dates, because they’re more stylish than your work shirts. That once in a while you pair a vertically striped shirt with a horizontally striped tie, just because you can. If you can manage these subtleties, she reasons, you are a man in command. That’s the marrying kind.