the art of male grooming, according to dan jones
Looking good for guys is not just about man buns and getting girls into bed; fashion editor Dan Jones explores what it’s like being an average modern man.
If anyone knows a thing or two about male grooming and style, it's Dan Jones. Many years ago, he was the Shopping Editor at i-D, before joining the Time Out team as Shopping and Style Editor, then moving on to ASOS, to be the Senior Men's Editor, simultaneously gaining a reputation for being one of the nicest fellas in the fashion biz.
These days he writes for various titles and consults for brands such as Lee. He has also been busy of late, putting together Man Made: The Art of Male Grooming, a new book that addresses all the ins and outs of modern peacockery in the self-conscious, selfie-snapping age we live in.
Packed full of advice and tips about haircuts and haircare, beard management, shoes, clothes, vitamins, facials, physique and even shaving your bollocks, it's the ultimate guide for all mirror-gazing men - from spotty teens to elegantly-ageing trendies.
i-D chats with Dan about this ongoing quest to help the male of the species look and feel his best.
Did you suddenly wake up one day and realise you were a male grooming expert, Dan, or was it a gradual process of trial and error?
You could call it a lifetime of getting it wrong. At 14 I was a real Ugly Betty. I had acne, train-track braces, a monobrow and wet-look 'fro. By 15, I'd dry combed my too-wavy hair back into what I didn't seem to realise was a loose beehive... I loved The B-52s. Then I tried Bjork-sty;e bantu knots with metallic blue hair mascara -- it was the 90s afterall -- and all manner of hair-dos and facial hair trickery. Later, as a magazine editor, I tried and tested everything from old school wet shaves to having my face microwaved on Harley Street. So, my book is full of the advice I have after experiencing the ups and downs of real grooming. I've lived through the worst of it so you don't have to.
What prompted you to produce this book?
I had this feeling that contemporary men's grooming advice is dated, a bit boring, and weirdly gendered. It's all about how to get a girl into bed, or telling you how great man buns are - all the while pushing an almost unobtainable body image that leaves most guys out in the cold. That's not to say I don't play around with those ideas in the book, but I wanted to give honest advice that's hopefully more of an authentic representation of what it's like being the average modern man: odd hairy bits, a slightly wonky face, and nipples that are two inches too low.
How long do you spend each day, primping-and-preening?
I like to think I've got it down to a fine art and do most of it in the shower. Doing a full 30 seconds - or more - of gently massaging in face wash or your weekly exfoliator really makes a difference, paying special attention to your forehead and nose to get in all the cracks and crevices. Otherwise, I keep it simple with moisturiser, a little water-based hair pomade, and comb through my beard with my commemorative DO MY DO OBAMA presidential comb, that makes me ponder what it would be like to be as half as cool as him.
Are there any male grooming no-no's that should just never happen, or are we living in a time of 'anything goes'?
It's definitely a time of anything goes; ignore those clickbait articles that say otherwise, as if they're laying down some sort of archaic grooming law. Just keep it simple, invest in a few good products, eat well, drink lots of water. It's not rocket science.
There are a lot of guys around these days with very plucked eyebrows. What's the Jones verdict on this?
I have a confession. I plucked my monobrow for a few years when I was a teenager, and I'm pleased to report that I now permanently have two brows rather than one. I'm not a fan of overly plucked brows - it's so hard to tidy them up yourself without looking like a blow-up doll - but if it makes you happy, do it.
Beards and quiffs have in recent years become ubiquitous... but are we bored of them yet?
I have a beard, and yes, occasionally I'm bored with it. And it's not a myth that you find things in them, like cake crumbs and beans. But I love the wave of quiffs and beards that's overtaken men's grooming in recent years. It's pushed men into being a little more creative with their appearance, and that's a good thing.
Man Made offers advice about shaving one's bollocks. Ever had a nasty nether regions-accident while brandishing a bic razor? What's the secret to avoiding traumatised testicles and tears?
Don't shave your balls. Why would you want to rub a razor against your plums? If you think about it for more than a few seconds, it's a crazy idea. I tried it -- for research purposes -- and it's more than a tricky maneuver. You need a super-sharp razor, all the best products, a post-bath situation, and the hand of a heart surgeon. Also, it feels weird. You know when you're a kid and you pull down Action Man's pants and find nothing there? It's like that.
Now that we are living in 'gender-fluid' times, should the book also be offering tips on how to apply lippy and mascara for the modern man about town?
You're right! Unfortunately, I don't cover proper make-up in the book, it's not my heartland at all - although I've always thought I'd look killer in Chanel's Pirate lipstick.
Who do you cite as fine examples of stylish and well turned out men?
I love David Lynch; he's lofty and proper handsome with a great signature style, dark, deconstructed suiting topped off with a geyser of silvery-grey Eraserhead hair. The 90s model Tony Ward, Madonna's old bf, is super slick and has the world's second most amazing tattoo collection -- the winner is Adam Goldberg, obviously. NYC photographer Karl-Edwin Guerre always looks considered and confident with a touch of Willy Wonka weirdness, and I often look out for Nick Wooster's latest outfit as he runs about Fashion Week.
If people follow the advice offered in the book are they likely to get laid more?
Yes! There's nothing and no one that a bit of soap and water can't improve. If in doubt, just run it under a tap - that's what I always say.
What are you working on next?
My abs. I saw them once, in my early 20s, after a week-long bout of stomach flu. I'd love to get reacquainted.
Man Made: The Art of Male Grooming is published on October 13th, by Hardie Grant Books