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Men’s underwear guide

I had just moved into a new apartment and an old lady who lived on the ground floor knocked on my door. As she handed me a pair of underwear that looked very much like one I owned, I realised she wasn’t there to welcome me and invite me for a glass of schnapps. ‘I found these in my yard, Monsieur, and I believe they’re yours’ said she with a cheeky grin. Yes, it was windy and up till that day, I never saw a need for pegs. Luckily, it was one of my best pairs, not that it mattered much given that at her age, she was probably wearing a nappy.

To most of us, underwear is first and foremost a functional garment, which we wear because that’s what most people do and for beneficial purposes too. However, to go for just any underwear is plain wrong. Finding the right underwear is about feeling good – and that means both comfortable and confident, which is why one’s choice of underwear is indeed a personal one.

The different types of underwear – pros and cons in terms of comfort 

Boxers, trunks, boxer briefs, and briefs all have a different fit and come in varying lengths, meaning how comfortable they feel will also depend on what they’re worn under. Boxers are best for sleeping in, as they feel less restrictive. However, because they fit loosely, they can be very uncomfortable when worn under most trouser styles, especially tighter fits. Having a low crotch, they tend to bunch and gather. They are also not the most recommended type to wear under shorts, due to their peekaboo risk.

With trunks and briefs, neither the gathering of too much fabric nor ride-up are anything to worry about, though briefs can cause panty-lines when worn under trousers/shorts in a fine fabric. In addition, both styles offer support in the right places though how comfortable a particular style feels depends a lot on the design of the pouch and how tight-fitting or loose the underwear is.

Thongs and jockstraps are another alternative. These will obviously avoid the visible panty-line but I’ll leave it up to you to decide on how comfortable or not they are. Personally, I don’t find them very appealing on men but hey, that’s just my opinion. 

The contribution of design in maximising comfort 

Some of the brands that specialise in men’s underwear, such as Andrew Christian (available at KIR ROYAL), are focusing on what is labelled as ‘anatomically correct’ design. This is intended to offer maximum comfort by basically respecting the natural make-up of the male anatomy. The result is a sensation of having everything in place without that intrusive or restrictive feeling that underwear can sometimes have. Minimising the use of itchy tags and stitching is another factor that makes a particular design more comfortable than others. Clearly the choice in men’s underwear has become far less simplistic than what it once was, to cover more than just type but also design.

The importance of fabric-type for comfort

For a special ‘night’ you might wear a particular pair of your preferred type of underwear – one you probably keep for such an occasion. Similarly, you’d want something that’s suitable for the gym or any other sport activities, not so much for style but for comfort. This is where fabric plays an important role.

For everyday use, particularly in a warm climate such as ours, what one should really be after is underwear in a soft, light, and breathable fabric, such as cotton or modal. You would also be more comfortable in fabric that can absorb moisture easily, such as bamboo cotton or rayon. Underwear made from synthetic fabrics, which are non-breathable and therefore, trap heat, such as nylon and satin are best worn when intended to be removed soon after – just to set the mood.

When it comes to sports, using your everyday underwear will not only speed up the deterioration of the fabric but also prevent you from maximising comfort. Sports underwear is usually made from a highly moisture-absorbent fabric with cooling properties, such as COOLMAX or Pima Cotton, which is just what you need to avoid skin irritation, when sweating yourself out. The fit should also offer some support to keep the family jewels in place.

Feeling better-dressed in stylish underwear

Back in the day, men had no real choice except for a handful of colours in rather unflattering designs. In recent years, the market for men’s underwear has exploded and in response, so has the availability of designs. Probably fueled by the multiple marketing campaigns featuring male footballers in underwear showing off an enviable bulge, as much as by a general increase in image-consciousness amongst men, we have come to see underwear as more than a purely functional garment.

We choose that design that appeals most to us – classical or trendy – wanting not just comfort but to also feel good about ourselves, sexier, and yes, more confident. Essentially, I wouldn’t feel well-dressed in old underwear that’s seen better days, even in a new and stylish outfit. It’s why more men are opting for branded underwear, as opposed to the unflattering Abanderado styles we grew up in. Even if no one will know what we’re wearing underneath, it doesn’t matter. Wearing good underwear is no longer about impressing others but about feeling good. Agree?

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I once worked at a place where my toilet breaks were timed – yes, such places do exist. That is where the type of trouser fly became an issue – one I had never really thought much about before. When all I had were two minutes, wasting one of them undoing the buttons of my fly was something I could not afford, making the zip front the only convenient option. Now whilst the type of closure may not always be the determining factor in your choice of trousers, all men have a preference for either one or the other – meaning both have their advantages. 

Some historical background

The button fly is the original type of closure used in trousers, including the earliest models of jeans. It was only in 1913 that the ‘clasp locker’, as the modern zip was called at the time was invented, having taken some twenty years to develop. Initially, its use was mainly for closing boots and tobacco pouches, eventually being used in clothing (for leather jackets) in 1925. 

Until recently, the zip was the undisputed preferred type of closure. As the discerning consumer became more drawn to styles that carried a more authentic look, the button fly made its comeback and seems like it’s here to stay.

Zip or buttons – a comparison

Functionality is a crucial factor in our choice of clothing and this is what I would say is what the zip versus buttons debate is really all about. In terms of ease of use, the zip wins hands down. In fact, the central message of a 1930s marketing campaign for children’s wear featuring the zip was how easy it is to use, even by children – so easy they could get dressed by themselves. Undoing buttons obviously takes much longer and requires more effort, at least till the buttonholes loosen up. Some buttons, especially on tighter jeans require strong fingers to fasten – and patience.

So why on earth, when the pace of life is taking on heart-pounding speed is the button fly still an option? Well, mainly because apart from ease of use, it has more advantages than the zip. Unlike the zip, buttons do not break or get stuck and if they’re damaged, they can easily be repaired/replaced. A broken zip will render your trousers unwearable and is not always replaceable, especially in the case of jeans. Consequently, if you’re looking for durability, the button fly is the better option.

Durability is also a serious concern when it comes to preserving the state of your most prized manly rubies. As the comedian Jerry Seinfeld once said, “That is one place on my wardrobe I do not need sharp interlocking metal teeth”.

Moreover, fade fanatics will only consider the button fly. This due to the colouration this creates on the fly, making it more aesthetically appealing. This is caused by the bulk of the buttons as ultimately, a button fly is also bulkier than its flatter alternative. 

This is also important to keep in mind, especially in relation to the trousers’ fit. OK, a bit of bulk can look flattering, as long as everything else doesn’t look squashed. Therefore, a button fly goes best on looser fitting trousers, whereas on slim-fitting models, a zip fly is your best option. 

Final word 

Whether you’re a die-hard fan of the zip or button fly, or simply have your preference but it doesn’t really affect your choice of trousers, there are pros and cons to consider for both options. At the end of the day, what matters most is which of these is most important to you. So, which one will it be?

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Stylish collar stays

 

Most shirts come with removable, plastic collar stays that with time lose their shape or get misplaced. Our collar stays are hand finished and made of wood. This not only makes them sturdier but also easier to store – being more visible and coming with their own storage tube.

Available in three different sizes, they are both practical and elegant. 

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Tips for succeeding in a job interview

 If you think your qualifications are enough to get you through an interview, you’re wrong. What will? Read on.

First impressions really do count

Interviewers usually decide whether they want to hire a person or not within the first two minutes. That’s as ‘short’ as it takes, which is why in your image, qualities such as professionalism, confidence, and preparedness should be clearly discernible.

First, what you wear should reflect the company’s dress code. This reflects familiarity with at least one aspect of the company. Second, look professional by keeping your look neutral, avoiding fancy patterns, bold colours, or anything that makes a personal statement. You could never go wrong with a dark suit, white shirt, and burgundy tie. Third, regardless of the outfit, make sure your look is a clean, fresh, and smart. Untidy hair, tired-looking skin, clothes in the wrong fit, and dirty shoes will not help you.

 

I also recommend avoiding any strong fragrances. Fragrances are very personal not only in terms of preference but also associations. 

Know what you’re applying for

Showing you’ve done your research about the company’s activities, values, and history will send a clear message you’re serious about this post and that you see yourself working there. 

Know what the job is about and how you’re suitable for it. Doing your research properly enables you to stand out from the other candidates by giving answers that are personalised and relevant. Being in need of an income should never be the only reason for applying. That’s what those ‘Why do you want this job?’ and ‘Why should we employ you?’ questions are about. They enable interviewers to distinguish those who really care about that specific post from those who are merely after a job. 

Show confidence

Confidence is key to succeeding in a job interview. It enables you to actually understand the questions asked, give pertinent answers, and interact with the panel. More importantly, it helps you keep focused and in control of your behaviour. Of course it’s not easy to just believe in yourself but a firm hand-shake, eye-contact, upright posture, and lack of fidgeting will make you look more relaxed. 

Always prepare your reply to ‘Tell me about yourself’ and ‘Why do you want this job?’. Either one is more than likely to be the first question asked. Get that right and you’ll immediately get the feeling it’s going well. Get stuck on the first question and you’ll end up in panic mode. 

Focus on speaking clearly and making it sound sincere. Also make sure you emphasise the experience and qualifications that are most relevant to the post. No one really cares about your cooking skills when applying for a job outside catering.

At the same time, don’t overdo it by coming across as too confident. It is always important to show that you are more than happy to keep learning and most importantly, you know your place in the hierarchy. Not interrupting the interviewer when speaking, acknowledging their remarks, and stating that your achievements were the result of hard work but also support from and collaboration (direct or indirect) with others will give you a pleasant outlook and an air of sincerity. 

Final word

Ultimately, what any candidate must keep in mind is that they are just one amongst many vying for that post. Interviewing people is boring, not to mention tiring. If you want to succeed, make it worthwhile for the interviewer/s – don’t waste anyone’s time.

Are there any other tips you’d like to share?

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Dressing for success – how your image can help you achieve more professionally

I’m sure you must have heard of corporate branding – the development of a company’s image that reflects its values and makes it easily recognisable with the kind of customers it’s after. Since time immemorial, man has used his appearance for the purpose of showing off wealth, power, association, etc. Clearly, image is an instant and effective communication tool. As Miuccia Prada once said: ‘Fashion is instant language.’

The way we dress, our hairstyle, any jewellery we put on, the condition of our skin, amongst others, are factors on which others make snap judgments on the nature of our job, our rank, the kind of person we must be, and the lifestyle we lead; factors which trigger associations with pre-conceived ideas that are not always correct. Therefore, the question to be asked is: how do those who do not know us yet, or know very little about us but on whom our career prospects depend interpret our image?

Take a look at the image below, who’s the assistant, the executive, or the student?

What the research says

Studies constantly show that good-looking people – as in what are considered ideal looks – stand a better chance of earning a higher income. It starts from standing a better chance in interviews to being considered for a promotion, as as a result of e.g. better sales. Bigger women and short men are particularly disadvantaged, as the former tend to be linked with a lack of self-control and the latter a lack of presence. It seems that people find it easier to warm up to or trust good-looking people. We all know it’s not right and yet, how many of us have been there?

The same has been noted in the case of U.S. Presidential candidates with a full head of hair being preferred by voters. Baldness though apparently considered sexy, also gives the impression of a lack of vigour that most Americans want in their president. Yet, while physical characteristics are often beyond our control, or at least cannot be changed without some form of health risk, a lot of effort, and/or financial cost, a lot about our image is – and that is where we need to make an effort because ultimately, no physically ‘perfect’ person will be employable if poorly dressed and groomed. 

Therefore, more than natural beauty and physical size, ‘looking good’ is a matter of choosing the right clothes and proper grooming, i.e. looking polished. 

Image is one of your best assets

We only understand the impact our image can have on our performance in life once we are honest about how it makes us feel about ourselves. When looking at your reflection in the mirror, do you feel good, confident, accomplished, attractive or the opposite? How much does your image help you reach your goals? 

Equally important, is to find an image that communicates, instantly, the qualities you want others to see in you. Very often these are pretty similar for all – attention to detail, smart, professional, approachable, etc. Does your current image reflect any of these? 

Take the image below, doesn’t the model look much smarter and with more experience in the second suit? 

 

Every professional environment has its own specific dress code but the above qualities are sought by all employers. Putting on a suit will not automatically give you a professional look or one that suggests experience. One that fits good and in the right colour and combined with the right shirt and tie will. Similarly, an image that is too trendy, made up, or overly reflective of personal style (as in the image below) could undermine your effort towards transmitting a professional image, might be off-putting for those who do not like your style, or simply too distracting.

 If the people who matter are focusing more on your image, whether it’s because you look sloppy or because you’re over-dressed, rather than on what you have to offer, you’re clearly at a disadvantage. Attention to detail and an ability to adapt one’s image to one’s objectives are key to success. You must have heard the saying, ‘Dress for the job you want, not the job you have’. Even if you’re not eyeing a promotion, your appearance should send a clear message that you’re happy on the job, taking it seriously, and have a lot more to offer if given the chance. In short, your image should inspire confidence in you. No employer will seriously consider someone who looks like they couldn’t care less or at the other extreme are too vain.

It’s a delicate balance that one must achieve. Focusing on clean clothes that fit well and are suitable for your body shape and the nature of the job, neutral colours, regular grooming, and limiting the use of accessories to a minimum are the basics for helping you make a good impression at most workplaces. There is plenty of information out there (such as our image tips) to help you pinpoint the most important elements in your image expected in the environment you aim to work in – or already do. If it’s too much to take in, personalised professional advice will help you find the exact image you need.

Final word 

Image is not a substitute for competence at the workplace but given the competition in the professional world, as well as the need for companies to have their employees represent the best possible image of their institution, competence is no longer sufficient but is part of a more complete package that employers are looking for.

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Wearing colourful socks

 

Hats off to those men who dare be original in their choice of socks and do it with style. You rock! 

Most men, as did I till some time ago, consider socks as having a purely functional purpose – a necessity that nevertheless, should be barely noticeable. Hence, the norm to stick to conventional and neutral colours like black, brown, grey, and navy. Yet, hosiery is ultimately an accessory and like all other accessories can be used to give an outfit a bit of an edge and certainly, a personal touch. 

True, there is a very fine line between looking original in fancy socks and looking eccentric. The only way to incorporate funky socks successfully into an outfit, even a formal one, is to keep coherence between all the separate pieces. It needs to be clear that you put that pair on as a result of a style-decision and not because it’s your favourite cartoon character or even worse (or is it?), a random choice. 

Matching colours 

Your starting point should always be to match your socks’ dominant colour with that of your trousers and not the shoes. There might be exceptions to this, depending on the particular colour but generally, I recommend going with this rule. Socks in the same colour as the shoes combine to form a unitary block that stops the eye at the level of the trousers’ end, rather than drawing it further down to achieve that lengthening effect.

If wearing other accessories, such as a tie or pocket square, or even small detail on your shirt/top, I would go for socks in a colour scheme and pattern that echoes those of the other accessory/detail. What you should avoid at all cost, is having your socks looking disjointed from the rest of your outfit. That is where people will give you that ‘what on earth?’ look. 

As for how much colour to go for, well, that really depends on the outfit’s style. On a formal outfit you’d wear to the office, I would opt for a pair of socks in the same colour as the suit with subtle patterns and colour contrast. It’s not the place to make style statements – looking elegant and professional should be your aim here, keeping expressions of personal style minimal.

On the other hand, for something more casual, a colourful pair will not look out of place, of course as long as the colour scheme ties in with that of the outfit. Moreover, I would suggest to keep the main pieces (trousers and top) in a solid colour. This will maximise the impact of your socks, avoiding the separate pieces from clashing. You could still add a bit of colour/pattern through another accessory worn on your upper body e.g. a tie/scarf. In fact, this will keep you from only attracting attention to your feet.

Matching textures 

The second important element in hosiery is texture and combining this with that of your outfit gives a more unified look. Essentially, what this means is going for a pair of socks that are similar in thickness to that of the trousers, which itself should be chosen to complement that of the rest of the outfit. Therefore, if wearing trousers in a heavier wool, opt for socks that are not as fine as e.g. the silk pair you’d wear as part of a black tie outfit (whose silk echoes the silk on the jacket’s lapels and trouser sides). Apart from complementary texture, thick trousers (fabric) need bulkier socks to avoid the ankles looking too thin, just like thick socks will add too much bulk around the ankle when worn with trousers in a light and soft fabric.

Cannot not mention… 

I’m assuming if you continued reading till this point you already know this but no post on socks would be complete without mentioning that white socks are to be worn only for sports and open shoes, such as sandals are not to be worn with socks. If it’s hot enough for sandals, it’s too hot for socks.

Final word

So, those are the basics for combining socks with an outfit – matching the socks’ dominant colour with that of your trousers and the rest with any other accessories worn, and keeping the socks’ thickness similar to that of the outfit, especially the trousers.

Feeling confident enough to inject some happiness into your hosiery collection? Check out our range of hosiery in store.

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The innovative tie-holder

To those men who regularly wear ties, read on! This will seriously make your life much easier. 

As elegant as they are, ties can often get in the way. Flipping over your shoulders on a windy day, getting in your lunch-plate, or tilting sideways when you’re seated – all of which overshadow its formality and elegance, making you ultimately look rather sloppy.

All it is, is a simple strip of very durable fabric with two button-holes spaced according to industry standards, making it compatible with all dress-shirts. It is worn by sliding it through the loop at the back of the wide end of the tie and buttoned on to the shirt buttons at the level of the same loop. Simple and unnoticeable TheTieThing will keep you looking polished and doing away with the nuisance that comes with a loose tie.

It really is an indispensable accessory for the tie-wearing guy. Available at KIR ROYAL in white and sky blue (the most common choices for shirts) though colour is ultimately irrelevant, as the strip will not be visible from behind the tie.

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Suede – the ideal leather for spring/summer

  

 

As the weather gets warmer, we seek materials that are suggestive of freshness. In contrast, leather starts to feel too thick and stifling. Yet, there’s one type of leather that is not only ideal for the season but in fact, should only be worn when there’s no risk of rainfall – suede.

Suede has a soft texture that complements the lightweight fabrics typically worn in summer, making it an ideal pairing with linen and fine cotton. It also looks great with relaxed jackets and trousers, unlike stiffer types of leather. There is also a certain finesse to its texture, probably the result of its need to be handled with care. This gives suede the elegance and sophistication that canvas and other synthetic materials used for summer shoes, bags, etc. lack. 

In terms of colour, since summer clothing typically consists of fresh and bright colours, I would opt for light neutral tones such as beige, cream, or tan and navy – colours which practically match all other tones in your wardrobe. If you can’t resist going for a strong colour, such as red or orange, I would suggest keeping the rest of the outfit in neutral tones that complement rather than conflict with the strong colour.

To get the most out of your suede item, giving it the proper care is of essence. Suede should never be treated with water. Before using a suede pair of shoes, belt or bag, apply a protective treatment that makes it less absorbent and thus, less prone to staining. Apply the treatment regularly afterwards, depending on usage. To remove any stains, simply use a special brush that is intended specifically for suede, applying a few light brushes, always in the same direction. Of course, prevention is always better than cure, as with most quality wear.