Christmas Wish List- Hair products

Well hello! How are we doing folks? Well? Good. Here, have a song.

Anyway, guess what time of year it is? That’s right, we’re closing in on CHRISTMAS everyone! My favourite time of year. Seriously, I’m like Elf.

In fact, right now, I’m listening to my Christmas iTunes list, and thinking about all the things I’d like to get, and to buy for others, at Christmas. And then I figured… why not write a blog? In fact, why not write a few themed blog entries? If you have someone in your life who likes the dapper life, or who is slowly starting to gravitate that way on occasion, there are a few essential, and even more “good to have” items that are relatively easy to find, and could make you VERY popular come Christmas morning!

So, as it’s something close to my heart, I’m going to start with a Christmas wish list for those of us who are obsessed with hair. I’ve tried to make sure there are links to locations to buy everything… let me know if any of them break in the run up to the big day!

1) A good comb.

I cannot stress how important a good comb of set of combs are to good styling. Now, there are some very cheap combs that work really well (particularly a brand called Ace, available in stores in the US but not anywhere I’ve been able to find in Europe. Although Amazon and probably a few others do ship here) but for a real treat, I’d recommend one of two brands.

Firstly, and my personal favourite, is a comb available from the maker of one of my favourite pomades, The Daimon Barber.

Tell me that’s not a sexy comb. Just try it! Now, it is made of cow horn, so probably isn’t suitable for a vegan, but it is one of the smoothest combs I’ve ever used. It’s hand cut and polished, and they just look STUNNING. For £14.95 you won’t get a better comb. Buy it here.

A close second is any comb from the Kent range. I’m a big fan of their 7T pocket comb. Nice for detail work.

2) Hair tonic

People don’t use hair tonic enough. It’s a great, versatile product that can be used to style and keep things neat, but also acts as a great way to “freshen” hair between washes if you’re using an oil based pomade. You can get lots of different types, but my personal favourite is very available- you can even buy it in Dublin! It’s a product called “Florida Water” and it smells really fresh and crisp- I also occasionally use it as a cologne splash!

Like I said, you can pick this stuff up in a lot of shops, particularly those that sell weaves and traditionally “ethnic” hair products. I think I paid about €3 for my bottle in a shop on Moore St in Dublin.

There are also lots of other tonics, and I’ve heard particularly good things about the following:

Bees Knees V-Day Bay Rum

Clubman Pinau tonic

Tres Flores Tonic

3) Waterbased Pomade

Ok, I could list tons of pomades in this and the following section, but what I’m going to do is pick 2 in each section that I think would be particularly appreciated under the tree this year. They’re not the type you can find easily in a shop, so it’s unlikely your intended giftee has these, unless they’re already into pomades- in which case just have a root around their collection and see what they don’t have!

My absolute favourite waterbased (and therefore really easily washed out) is The Daimon Barber No. 1.

It smells like… I don’t even know. It’s just like rose, and honey, and sexiness, and unicorns and amazingness, all bundled up in a gorgeously packaged glass jar. And it holds damn well.

Buy it here. 

A second option in this category is a new product from an Irish barbering company which I really dig, called Pomp & Co from Sams Barbers.

I can pretty much guarantee whoever you’re buying for won’t have tried this yet! And they should, because it’s a really great product. It holds great, and smells like… Ireland. I know that sounds weird, but it does. Like sea, and moss, and dirt. In a good way!

Buy it here.

4) Oil based pomade. 

OK, so oil bases aren’t for the faint hearted, and it can be really difficult to find the one that suits your hair. And everyone at some point tried Dax Wave & Groom and gets terrified! Start out with something a bit lighter, from a guy or gal who brews it in their kitchen and you might be pleasantly surprised. Here are two of my (current) faves that might are a bit special for most folks just getting into this dapper arena!

Made by Clare up in Canada, the Absinthe scented version of South Side Soaps pomade is one of my favourites. It goes in easy, styles great and isn’t a complete pain to wash out, but still builds up nicely. I’d say any of the scents are great, but come on… Absinthe scented hair? How damn dapper and cool is that???

Buy it here.

As for option number two… I love Bees Knees. I have a tin of the “One Year Down” special edition, and it is my go to for formal occasions. Smells lovely, is petroleum free (as is South Side Soaps above) which is a benefit, and goes in easy enough, but with serious hold. It can be tough to work with, but it’s so worth it once you get used to it. And Drew who makes it is a true gentleman. Next on my list is the Lite pomade…

Buy it here.

So there you have it guys. A few options for those of you who have a dapper in their lives. I can fully attest that if I were to get ANY of the things on this list I’d be very happy.

I do plan to do a few of these lists in the next little while, so if there’s any particular category of gift list you’d like to see… then leave a comment here, or on my Twitter, or Facebook… Come talk to me, I’m lovely I swear!

Cyclical style

Hello, you sexy sexy lovelies.

Sexy Wink. Oh yeah.

I have realised recently, that I might have been a bit arrogant in choosing the name of this blog, and my twitter name– “dapper” is quite a label to put on oneself, right? I mean, what does it even mean? Why would I think I can call myself “dapper”? Well, the way I look at it, it started as a bit aspirational- you know, something to aim at. “I WILL be dapper. I will. Some time…” Then I changed my hair to a more classic, clean-cut kind of look, started embracing collared shirts, clean lines, bow-ties… I feel like my style is always evolving- or at least I want it to be. But why? Why do I aspire to ‘dapperness’?

I’ve always had a fascination with menswear, and grooming. I never had room to explore it when I was a kid, except via smelling my Dads aftershave (Old Spice FTW!) or borrowing my brothers shave soap to shave my legs as a teenaged girl. (It was lime scented. DIVINE). My Dad was very particular about how we presented ourselves, and he himself was always impeccably dressed. Not necessarily in suits, since his job didn’t necessarily require him to be dressed like that, but shirts were always ironed, shoes always polished… I learned quickly that the devil was in the details. Even to this day, my Dad is a stickler to the traditions of menswear- no black tie before 6pm, never another knot other than a full windsor for his tie, always a tie bar… He knows what he’s at.

I recently was given, by my Dad, a box of old family documents and photographs. I’m a social historian by training, so this was like Christmas for me! I had a look through, and not only did I find some amazing letters from family who emigrated overseas in the 50’s from Ireland (hello to my relatives in Canada, btw!), but there were included some truly amazing photographs of my family from the early 1900’s. And you know what? They looked SHARP. I mean, seriously sharp. So I decided to show them off, and you can really see that a lot of the styles of hair and clothes that are back ‘in’ at the moment were all ‘in’ 100 years ago- and my great great grandad was rocking them with the best of them!

 

With family heritage like that, how could I NOT claim some dapper in my life?

Til next time, stay… well… DAPPER!

Gender Discombobulation: What Conchita Wurst’s victory means to me.

Ok, ok, ok. Hands up. Who here has heard of Eurovision?

 

If you’re European then you definitely will have. If you’re not but are on the queer blogging/ twitter-verse then you probably will too, simply because of the act that won on Saturday night. But first, an explanation.

The Eurovision is a song contest that has been going for nearly 50 years, and is watched by an annual audience of well over 100 MILLION people. It is run by the European Broadcasting Union and according to Wikipedia:

Each member country submits a song to be performed on live television and radio and then casts votes for the other countries’ songs to determine the most popular song in the competition. The contest has been broadcast every year since its inauguration in 1956 and is one of the longest-running television programmes in the world. It is also one of the most watched non-sporting events in the world, with audience figures having been quoted in recent years as anything between 100 million and 600 million internationally. Eurovision has also been broadcast outside Europe to such places as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Egypt, India, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, Suriname, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States, Uruguay and Venezuela, although these countries do not compete.

It’s also been heartily adopted by the queers of Europe as an annual camp explosion and party of epic proportions. Seriously you guys, it’s immense. Acts in my memory include ice-skaters on a rink the size of a childs paddling pool, psychopathic looking sad clowns, a cowbell solo, multiple cake baking attempts, and more gayness than you could shake a stick at. Actually, to illustrate what I mean, I’m going to leave a video here. It’s from a YouTuber called SazzyAgain, who makes Star Trek: Voyager fan vids, usually slashing Captain Janeway and the glorious Seven of Nine together. Here, it helps you understand gay BOTH of these TV shows are.

I don’t just love Eurovision for it’s innate and unshakable queerness, either. I am Irish. And I grew up in 80’s & 90’s Ireland. Not, perhaps, the best environment for a baby gay (since homosexuality was only legalised here in 1993), but by GOD! Did we rule Eurovision. Johnny Logan. Linda Martin. More Johnny Logan, More Linda Martin. We’ve won the contest a record SEVEN times, with a classic winning streak in the mid-90’s, which incidentally also gave us Riverdance and Michael Flatly. (We’re sorry for Michael Flatly. Honest.)

So there’s the history of it. It’s a song contest. It’s like a family party where everyone does questionable karaoke and choreography after a few too many sherries. It’s camp as a row of tents. But it’s not really taken seriously by many people. Until this year, apparently, when a drag artist by the name of Conchita Wurst entered for Austria, and suddenly the world went mental. Why, I hear you cry? It’s not like there haven’t been gay people, or songs with gay undertones (and overtones!) before. A trans artist from Israel won in 1998, and went on to become one of Israels top recording artists (so Wikipedia tells me anyway). Surely drag, in this day and age, isn’t a big deal?

Well, it is if the drag queen has facial hair.

Behold! The magnificence of Conchita!

(via ibtimes.co.uk)

And my goodness, hasn’t she been causing a stir? The Russian politicians have been going MENTAL about her winning, with some of these lovely quotes coming from various sources (these quotes are taken from a article on The Journal, an Irish online news service. The full article is available here.):

 “ (Conchita winning) showed supporters of European integration their European future: a bearded girl”

-Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin

“There’s no limit to our outrage. It’s the end of Europe. It has turned wild. They don’t have men and women any more. They have ‘it’,”

– Nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky

I mean, I get Russia not liking her performance. I’m pretty sure that by showing it, the national broadcaster probably broke their own laws! But- and this is important- the Russian televote gave her THIRD PLACE. The Russian public obviously had no problem with Conchita. In fact, they quite liked her. And here’s the point- she won. She was declared the winner before the final countries had voted. She consistently got points, usually high ones. Obviously, both the public and the national juries (made up of music industry experts in each country) liked her and the song. So why are some people freaking out about it?

I think (and here comes my completely unsubstantiated, purely from my own head opinion), that people are fine with drag, for the most part. It kind of makes sense to people. It’s a man dressed as a woman, and acting like one. That’s ok. It’s weird for some people, but they can understand it. But a drag queen with a beard? Is she male? Female? Is she acting? Is this how this person looks all the time? WHY ARE THERE NO BOUNDARIES?????? People dearly love putting other people in boxes, and doing it to themselves. Hell, just by calling myself “butch” I do it. every day. We all do. We all want to understand who we are, and most people like to label ourselves. Some of us like to label ourselves so much, that we label ourselves as “unlabel-able”.

I have lost track how may times I have heard someone say “But is it a man or a woman?” “Why doesn’t he shave off the beard if he wants to be a woman?” “What do I call it?” “It‘s just a man in a dress” in the last few days. The amount of “it’s” being thrown around is astonishing. The amount of vitriol that exists for someone like this who lives or performs outside the gender binary is astounding. An awful lot of people have no real idea of the differences between transvestism, transgenderism and drag. I have had to explain it to an awful lot of people. When I mention that most transvestite men are heterosexual I just get met with blank stares and crickets chirping.

When I was watching the voting on Saturday night, I felt something flicker inside me. A little jolt of recognition. Here was a person so proud of who they were, being themselves, being who they want to be, and doing it fabulously. Here was a very visible representation of what many of us feel like on this inside. I know my life would be easier if I had no boobs, or more facial hair. People would understand that. They’d read me as male. I can’t be read as male, not when I turn around. Oh yeah, from the back, and on a passing glance I get “sir”ed quite a lot. Then I get that delightful double-take, which many readers will probably be familiar with, either directed at themselves, or perhaps someone they love. The eye-flick down, to check the boob situation. The second look to see why the face and the hair and the clothes don’t really match the boobs. (To be honest, I don’t actually WANT to be read as male. But sometimes it would be preferable to being read as “weirdo freak”)

Each time a point was given to Conchita, it felt like I was getting a point. I started cheering her on. I’m not Austrian. I don’t speak German. I’ve only been to Vienna once. But on Saturday night, watching Conchita edge closer to winning, I felt part of a new, separate country. A Nation of Queers, all banded together by willing her on. Watching her stand up and get that trophy made me feel a bit more normal. A bit more like I could fit in.

Conchita seems, on paper, to be an exercise in contradictions. A beard and lipstick. Shaving and eyeliner. A masculine woman, or a feminine man? Or how about just a person. A talented, lovely person (by all accounts she won over legions of fans at all the Eurovision events), whose words in victory were not a “F*ck You!” to her detractors, but a rousing call for equality and unity.

“This night is dedicated to anyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom. You know who you are. We are unity, and we are unstoppable.”

I really wanted to end this post with that quote, but I think it’s important to actually show you the song. It’s brilliant. The next Bond theme for sure. But listen to the lyrics- no-one’s been talking about them. To me, from start to finish, Conchita’s entry and participation in this contest has been about freedom, equality and being who you are. How can any of that be a bad thing?

Thank you, Conchita. Your win means more than you know.

 

Nifty thrifty!

Please forgive the naff title. It’s all I could think of.

As promised, I’m going to talk a little in this post about shopping in 2nd hand stores. My mother was a WORLD CLASS thrifter, so I include here some tips I picked up from her, and also a few I have developed over the years of having very little money to spend on clothes. Bear in mind also that my style aims at tidy, a bit 50’s, and masculine. I am also bigger than average, and so some of my tips and tricks have that specifically in mind.

1) Ok, so. Starting off. The worst thing you can do is go in not really knowing what you want to pick up. Obviously, have an open mind, but if you don’t at least have an idea of the kinds of pieces you’re looking for, things get a bit overwhelming. It’s only recently that I have started to enjoy clothes shopping, so I am a bit more easy going than I used to be, but either way faffing around with little to no purpose still irritates me.

2) You will have to try things on, probably on the shop floor, so dress accordingly. If you’re looking for jumpers/ shirts, then wear a tee shirt with a zip closing hoody or something similar, so you don’t have to keep dragging your layers off over your head. If you’re going to be trying on shoes or trousers, then slip on shoes (a la Vans, or something similar) are your new best friend.

4) When you’re actually in the shop- whether it be a charity shop, a funky little thrift store, or a big warehouse type store (like TK Maxx)- be aware that you cannot trust labels, or the size sections. I can’t stress this enough. If the label says size 14 or xl, or whatever it is, don’t dismiss it because it’s “not your size”. At the very least take it off the rack and look at it on the hanger. So many older pieces are labelled in a different sizing scheme that we’re used to today. If something is originally from a different country, those sizes won’t match- there is no such thing as a size “2” dress/ trousers in Ireland. I have picked up things that are cleared not labelled correctly. Do I care? No.

5) Obviously, don’t stick to one ‘side’ of the store either. If something suits you, it suits you, regardless of the gender it was originally intended for. If you’re very slim, mens trousers may suit you more because they have a small hip/ waist ratio. Likewise if you’re bigger like me, no matter what you do men’s trousers just aren’t going to fit right. Get over it, and work around it.

6) Sometimes the best times to buy something are in completely the wrong season. I picked up an awesome really thick knit polo neck jumper on one of the hottest days of summer a couple of years ago. But it was there, it was marked down because it was the wrong season, and come November I was damn glad I had it to throw on when the cold arrived with a bang.

7) If you are thinking of buying something, look at it again. Does it have a stain? Put it back. If the last person to have it couldn’t get the stain out, you probably won’t be able to either. If it’s too small somewhere, put it back. It’s very difficult to let out something if it’s too small. If it’s too big, it’s possible to work with, but be aware unless you can use a sewing machine VERY well, you’ll have to leave it in to a tailor. Now, that might be brilliant, because you’ll probably get something at a fraction of it’s original cost and tailoring might not add too much to the price. But be aware. The easiest alterations are sleeve length and trouser length and waist size. If the shoulders are wrong, it can be altered but probably not as well as you’d like, and it’ll be pricey. But it might be worth it. I bought a navy peacoat online from an army surplus store for €70 two winters ago, and spent another €70 getting it altered to fit; shoulders, sleeve length, etc. With such a heavy fabric, it was a lot of work. But I now have a classic winter coat that I love, that fits me very well and will last and last.

8) Possibly the best thing about thrift stores are the accessories. Ties, scarves, hats, shoes, braces… there are so many accessories in thrift stores that can be amazing. You usually have to dig through big bins to get them, but when you find the good stuff, it’s brilliant.

So are many of you into thrifting? Any great finds?

Keep it dapper!