One of our favorite sartorial holiday traditions is the New Year’s Eve tuxedo.
And the most important part of the look is your bow tie—sitting there, dead center, staring back at everyone, inviting them to drink in your tuxedoed-ness in full splendor. Done right, a well-chosen bow tie can make up for some overzealous peak lapels or lightly scuffed tux loafers, but the wrong one could ruin an otherwise splendid black-tie affair. The trick is to choose wisely and make it a notch different than anyone else who dare rival your penguin suit. (And by different, we mean better.)
It wasn’t easy—it was a long and arduous journey filled with upgrading your kitsch and making a tough decision about wearing a Santa hat. It was all part of our inaugural Kempt Guide to Winning the Holidays (trademark still pending).
We’ve got a hunch that you’re going to find yourself in front of the television sometime in the next few days, probably watching a holiday movie. And, all things being equal, you’d prefer to watch the most stylish film available.
So we took the liberty of surveying your options, and distilling them down to the season’s magical number of 12. Not all of them are distinctly Christmas movies at the outset (take Edward Scissorhands or Trading Places), but they’ve all got a lot to do with the holiday spirit and lessons of kindheartedness—and, most importantly, there's a lot of holiday-appropriate stylishness on display. If you’re feeling exceptionally ambitious, you should have enough time to run through all 12 movies if you get started... now.
You win the holidays by playing a wintry mix of soul, rock, synthesized ballads and rap. At some point, just about every musician worth their salt has done a holiday song—if not an entire album. Pick any artist you might regularly throw into a party mix and there's a good chance they’ve sung about their winter escapades. James Brown, for instance, has an entire double album—albeit, it sounds like he ad-libbed and good-God!-ed through the whole thing at 4am on Christmas Eve (rest assured: James Brown loves you), but there are definitely a few gems in there.
In that vein, we picked the brains of our most festive and music-savvy editors to make the ultimate holiday party playlist—all holiday-themed, all merriment-inducing. (Naturally, we held on to a few of the old standbys.) And we’ve put all 25 songs together on Spotify.
All signs are pointing to an unseasonably mild winter this year—there hasn’t been much snow on the ground anywhere to speak of.
Which means, when some fresh powder finally does make landfall, you’re going to have to make the best of it. Especially when it comes to building a snowman. And in our grand new tradition of winning the holidays, we’re going to ensure the Frosty in your yard is cooler than cool (see what we did there?). We’re talking about throwing caution to the wind and building the most luxurious, stately, money-is-no-object snowman that your holidays deserve.
To truly win the holidays, you’ve got to have a multifaceted attack that barrages all five senses into yuletide submission.
And when it comes to making your humble abode smell like holiday spirit, you’re going to need some help—in the form of a tasteful cedar-, balsam- or pine-scented candle.
Your thoughts may have instantly jumped to something tree-shaped or even one of those air fresheners you’ve seen hanging from a rearview mirror. Stop right there. This couldn’t be further from what we’re advocating.
This is about the unmistakable coziness of flickering flames alongside the general winter-wonderland-y smells of freshly cut evergreen. And retaining your dignity while making your place smell how being wrapped in the warm, velvety embrace of Santa’s beard feels.
But for those of you inclined to go for the haymaker, we’d like to present the holy grail of competitive gift-giving—something we here at Kempt HQ like to call “Going Long.” (Trademark pending.)
Think of Going Long as the ultimate showcase of confidence and thoughtfulness—an Oprah Winfrey-an approach to appeasing the masses. You find one tremendously bold, unquestionably useful yet wholly unexpected piece of property, and you buy one for everyone. That’s it. No gift diversity here.
Done right, your generous persona goes viral, ensuring you invitations, favors and godchildren for years to come. Possibly even a LinkedIn referral. Done wrong, and... well, let’s just say your refrigerator door might be a bit bare next winter.
No doubt your inbox and just about every menswear site you frequent has made you aware: ’tis the season to be gifting. And, therefore, receiving. (This is geared toward the latter.)
In our ongoing campaign to help you win the holidays, we had our team of menswear research fellows cull every single gift guide on the Internet, pull out all of the best menswear and lay it all out in one handy be-all, end-all guide.
Put all of this on your holiday wish list, if it isn’t already. Or just conspicuously leave this guide open on as many browsers as possible.
Canada: great at exporting comedians, pancake accoutrements and, apparently, fun. Last week, we stumbled across these photos of a 1930s songbook put together by the owners of the venerable Labatt Brewing Company. The book, filled with traditional drinking songs, was given to all employees—as a too-seldom-invoked method of ensuring company bonding.
It’s not that people don’t get drunk and sing anymore (that is the distilled essence of karaoke, after all), but it is rare that grown gentlemen sing together in spirited voice without accompaniment.
Sure, there are exceptions. There’s the occasional shouting of “Hey” during Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part II” at sporting events, fratty sing-alongs of “Sweet Caroline” when it’s closing time at a bar or, most dreadfully, the awkward, all-office version of “Happy Birthday” for that girl who may or may not work in Accounts Receivable.
It’s officially holiday party season, which means your annual office gathering is just around the corner. And with it: an open bar. Last year, you heeded the conventional wisdom, had a couple drinks, some non-memorable conversations with your coworkers’ spouses. Briefly ruminated on the inevitability of death. Ate some goddamn cheese cubes on toothpicks.
But last year, you were missing an important bit of knowledge—see, the holidays are a competition. And by pairing your natural ability with a little insider knowhow, we think you’ve got a good shot at winning. Everything. But to start, we’ll tackle the nuanced art of drinking at your office party.
Because let’s face it: you work hard, you like parties. This time of year is your time to get one-drink-less-than-dead drunk while singing a few lusty ballads with a choice group of like-minded coworkers.
That means your focus for the next month is fitting in as many dinners as humanly possible. But be forewarned: increased feasting frequency means busier kitchens and a higher chance of culinary errors—namely in the form of undercooked eggs, overcooked steaks and rogue hairs.
In seasons past, you may have let these sorts of things slide. But this year, you’re winning the holidays. And that means exercising your God-given right to eat dinner the way it was intended to be—even when it means sending it back. It’s an essential move, but not without risk: it can irritate your server, create tension among your dining companions and seriously diminish your dining-out cred. Unless you do it correctly.
In our ongoing campaign to help you win the holidays, we’ve come up with a list of eight integral items you’ll want handy for the upcoming season.
Some are things you can wear, some are calls to action, and some are just a state of mind. But they all add up to one hell of a festive menagerie, bound to get you in the holiday spirit. We’ve got the entire list below, but as always, you can find them anytime you’re in need of inspiration on the left side of the Kempt home page.
In the event that you’re romancing the idea of throwing a holiday party, you should plan on sending out invites by week’s end.
And since we’re here to help you win the holidays—this time, by filling your party with top-tier friends—we’d like to suggest putting pen to pad and sending real-life invites on honest-to-God flammable paper. (Stick with us here.)
The digital age has made it easy to ramble off a few nondescript lines and mass-message your nearest and dearest 437 online friends. But sitting down with a pen and pad should help give a more personal touch to each invitation, guaranteed to win over the people you really want to attend—and make you rethink the size of your guest list. (For party guests, like for most things, it’s best to favor quality over quantity.) And since there are a lot of competing festivities this time of year, you want anything that will give your party the edge. Like the tactile joy of engraved cardstock coupled with your finest handwritten bons mots. (Bonus points for cursive.)
It’s one of the most important rules of party etiquette: don’t arrive empty-handed. (Good to note, since between now and 2013, you’ve got a lot of parties.)
In the past, that’s meant showing up with a bottle of wine, purchased last-minute, or an ill-begotten dessert item. But not this year. Because this year, you’re winning the holidays.
As you might recall, we kicked off Kempt’s Guide to Winning the Holidays last week with a little refresher course on your holiday kitsch. Now we’re upgrading your host gift. The real nugget of wisdom here is that you should be bringing something that enhances the evening—which is why a bottle of wine usually works in a pinch, but we’re thinking: more personal, more fun, more ambiance. (Since really, the best gift you can give any host is to help make the party more fun.) So, we bring to you:
Which means, officially, that the holiday season is upon us. And while you might think it’s all fun, cuddling, togetherness and games... it’s not. It’s a competition. And we’re going to help you win it, in this new ongoing series we’re calling “Kempt’s Guide to Winning the Holidays.” (Catchy, right? We’ll be tagging it all, so you can find it here.) And for our inaugural post, we’re starting with the utmost basics: your holiday kitsch.