INTRODUCTION BY SAM SABOURA, FASHION EXPERT

Men are some of the biggest skeptics out there, always questioning the value and meaning of things whether it’s the cost of designer shirts or the value of achieving a second degree. As a style expert, I’ve seen this skepticism first-hand as I constantly receive questions from men as well as the women who love them. To help out today’s skeptical man, we’ve identified a variety of credible experts on topics men are most skeptical about and interested in.
In addition to my own advice on fashion, you will find information on fitness, food, career, real estate and technology to name a few. Like fashion, these fields can seem very complex. We’ve taken the basics and provided simple answers to help men live better.

SAM SABOURA FASHION EXPERT

Q: CAN I REALLY ACHIEVE MY OWN PERSONAL STYLE?

A: If you weren’t born with great personal style, you can certainly achieve your own through experimentation. We all fall into patterns when it comes to getting dressed. You have to force yourself to try new looks from time to time so that means you have to experiment and shake things up. I always say, “Great style happens when you make a mistake.” When you try something new and mess with your sensibilities you’ll find a new look or style that gets you noticed in a good way. So grab a girlfriend or a friend whose style you admire and get shopping—even if you’re just going to try stuff on and not buy anything. You can always befriend a salesperson at your favorite shop –they can be invaluable and hook you up with some great stuff. Put yourself in their hands and see what you come up with together.

In addition to experimenting with your style, you should draw your own inspiration. I like to encourage my clients to check out the style of their favorite celebrity or public figure and use that as a jumping off point for a personal look of their own. Catalogs and mannequins from your favorite stores are another great source of inspiration. Gather some intel and then see what you already own that helps you get the look, or do some shopping and fill in the blanks. You don’t have to be a copycat or get too literal. Just get inspired and then…get dressed.

Q: CAN YOU REALLY BALANCE LOOKING PUT TOGETHER AND TRENDY WITHOUT APPEARING LIKE YOU’RE TRYING TOO HARD?

A: Yes, you can. Layering is probably the easiest way to look polished and put together without looking over styled. It can start with a great T-shirt that’s soft and broken in, chose a crewneck or V-neck T depending on your taste. I like an easy button or a knit (V-neck, crewneck, vest, or cardigan) over the T-shirt. Top this off with a nice fitted blazer, a casual ¾ length jacket, or your favorite lightweight coat. You should always layer in twos and threes, but no more. Layering adds dimension to any look and affords you a pulled together style that always works. Team these options with your favorite jeans or casual pants and a stylish shoe, and you’re good to go. You can always add a personal touch with accessories like watches and skinny ties. I’m not a huge fan of jewelry on a guy but if you can pull it off, more power to you. Just keep subtle and only wear one piece at a time. Remember, a guy should never look too perfect, or too fussy, even if he’s wearing high-end designer duds.

CARL CWIOK THE ART OF SHAVING

Q: IS THERE VALUE IN SHAVING REGULARLY?

A: A man’s style is about the entire package: clothing, shoes and grooming. Staying well-groomed requires that you take time for yourself, and for most men that means shaving regularly.

Despite popular belief, shaving regularly can improve your skin when done properly. By using the correct products and shaving techniques, any man can improve their skin condition.

Preparation is key
Use a pre-shave oil to soften the hairs. This places a protective coating on the skin, which will reduce razor burn and allow for a closer shave.

Lather with the right products
Use a natural glycerin based shaving cream and a quality badger hair shaving brush. Begin by soaking the shaving brush in hot water, and then apply shaving cream to the brush tips. The brush will help create a warm rich lather on top of the pre-shave oil.

Shave with proper technique
Shave the face in the direction of hair growth (with the grain) using little to no pressure.
Moisturize

After shaving, rinse your face with cool water, pat dry and apply after shave balm to moisturize and soothe the skin.
Once you incorporate these four elements into your shaving routine, you will begin to notice a difference in your skin.

Q: IS THERE AN INCREDIBLY COMFORTABLE SHAVE OUT THERE?

A: Yes, there is. In addition to using the correct steps, you must use the right tools. Use a high quality razor such as the new Gillette Fusion ProGlide. Compared to the original Fusion, Fusion ProGlide razor has thinner, finer blades and other unique technologies that reduce tug and pull to help deliver unsurpassed comfort and performance.
Also make sure the razor you use has a handle that’s ergonomically designed to provide proper weight, balance and comfort for better control. Blades with moisturizing strips are also a plus as they help the razor move more smoothly over the skin.

AARON GLICKMAN PUBLISHER

Q: IS IT WORTH THE EFFORT TO BECOME SOCIALLY WELL-CONNECTED?

A: While expanding your social network does take time and effort, it has many benefits that go beyond invitations to swanky parties. Think of each person as having their own set of resources. As you begin to connect to more people, you will have increased access to different resources on both a personal level and professional level. Personally, whether it’s a good restaurant you want to go to or a vacation you want to take, your social network will have recommendations. On the professional level, if it’s a promotion you want or new job, your social network can help you. It’s worth noting that most men will tell you they got their jobs through someone they knew.

Q: HOW DO I BECOME CONNECTED SOCIALLY?

A: If possible, maneuver from the top down. Align yourself with movers and shakers, but make sure you have something to offer. Attend high-end events and work the room. Make sure to observe, ask questions and take the emphasis off of yourself. Get your picture taken as often as possible by photographers who have a reputation for getting placed in top tier publications. Collect business cards from interesting people, follow up and cultivate relationships. The better you are at adhering to these principles, the better chance you have of being “connected” socially.

JASON MUIRBROOK PERSONAL TRAINER

Q: CAN I REALLY IMPROVE MY HEALTH – AND, THE WAY MY BODY LOOKS – WITHOUT WORKING OUT FIVE TIMES A WEEK?

A: Although hitting the gym frequently is a successful component to a healthy lifestyle and a great body, five days a week is not the only way to achieve maximum results and washboard abs. Keep your workouts “short and intense” by adding multiple sets and compound lifts using dumbbells and barbells. Doing this will help you achieve the same muscle building and fat burning benefits of any machine or treadmill.

Q: WHAT IS THE SINGLE MOST EFFECTIVE EXERCISE OUT THERE?

A: Without a doubt, the squat is the most effective and productive exercise out there. Squats not only attack your entire system, but they single handedly produce the most testosterone and human growth hormone than any other exercise. So next time you hit the gym, hit the squat rack, you will not be disappointed by the results that follow.

LAURENT GRAS RESTAURANT OWNER

Q: IS THERE A REAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A THREE-STAR AND FIVE-STAR RESTAURANT?

A: There are many rating systems with different criteria and scales. The Michelin system, which remains the best known “star system,” reserves stars for exceptional restaurants only in certain cities, and gives up to three. Other guides use up to four and five stars, with one star being the lowest rating. The real difference between three and five stars depends on who is rating the restaurant. Is it Michelin, or a newspaper? A three-star Michelin restaurant will likely win five stars from other guides, but a restaurant that is not selected to be rated by Michelin at all may get two stars from a local critic.

Q: WHAT CRITERIA SHOULD I USE WHEN PICKING A RESTAURANT?

A: When researching a restaurant pick the rating system with the criteria that matters the most to you personally. For example, the Michelin system awards stars strictly for cuisine and service. If luxury is important to you, look for the crossed fork and spoon icon, as this is rated separately on a scale of one to five – one fork and spoon being a “quite comfortable” and five being “luxurious restaurant.” A good fallback rating system is to look inside the restaurant and ask yourself, “Is it full of people?”

FORD MYERS CAREER EXPERT

Q: IS GETTING A SECOND DEGREE REALLY THE BEST WAY TO ADVANCE IN YOUR CAREER?

A: Getting a second academic degree is a fine idea, but only if it is an integral part of a well-thought-out career plan. If your professional objectives will be achieved more readily by attaining another degree, then by all means, “go for it.” However, I do not believe that you should spend the time, money and energy to pursue a second degree just for the sake of trying to land a new job. In other words, this decision should be based only on your career aspirations and passion for learning – not on the external circumstances of the current job market.

Too often, people load themselves up with academic degrees because their actual experience and professional assets in the “real world” are weak. Advanced education should not be used to “cover up” deficiencies in skill or experience. Rather, getting a second degree should augment and leverage your achievements in the workplace.

KEN JOHNSON CEO OF DCREALESTATE.COM

Q: WHAT IS THE VALUE OF BEING A HOMEOWNER IN A DOWN ECONOMY?

A: “Let me show you my place… that I rent.” Rare is the woman seduced by that last clause. Aside from being a player, the real estate market has to be seriously bad for the “Rent vs. Sell” debate to favor tenancy. You will cough up roughly the same monthly amount whether you rent or own, but owners build equity, and renters get a guaranteed 0 percent return on their money; in fact they lose the investment. Don’t forget that Uncle Sam wants you to own and rewards you with a fat tax deduction for your compliance. You may be asking, what if the market tanks? Let’s say you paid $300,000 for a condo, home prices drop a bank-busting 15 percent in one year (which is rare, as they usually go up); so you’ve lost $45,000, right? Maybe. Prices will rise eventually, and you may never realize an actual loss, and you have a $35,000 above-the-line deduction. Had you rented, you would have paid about $2,500 per month, or $30,000. That’s a 100 percent loss. Another plus to owning a home is that while your rent can go up, your mortgage should not.

Q: IS IT WORTH SELLING MY HOUSE NOW?

A: Unless you don’t need a place to live, no. Rule number one: “Buy and Hold.” Unless you are a much savvier real estate analyst than the next guy, which any guy will tell you he is, buying and selling based on your economic forecasting is a bad idea. Speculating on real estate is no different than trading stocks, but a lot more expensive, and has the potential to be far more problematic and consequential. A typical home sale costs the seller 9 percent of the value of the home (just in transaction costs), a cost of business that is hard to make up, even on the shrewdest bet. The market will go up and down – that’s what it does – but in the long run it goes up. Never bet against history repeating itself. If you’re in a financial pinch and can’t afford the payments, you’re going to get booted whether your rent or own and probably sooner if you rent. So hang on to your home, learn home improvement skills, read some design books, improve your neighborhood. Rule number two: never, ever, listen to the guy who tells you it’s better to rent.

ZEKE QUEZADA TRAVEL WRITER

Q: IS THERE SUCH THING AS A ‘MANCATION’ IN LAS VEGAS THAT MY WIFE WOULD APPROVE OF?

A: You don’t have to go to Vegas for a “Boys Weekend” out. There are plenty of other destinations that have “manly attractions,” for you and your friends to enjoy that your wife will likely be comfortable with. You can take surfing lessons in Hawaii, go sailing in the Atlantic, ski in Colorado, or kayaking in Alaska.

If you still want to go to Las Vegas, your wife will likely be most comfortable if she’s there with you. Make it a “couples retreat” by inviting your friends and their girlfriends/wives. Plan a couple of group outings, and reserve some “guy time” for you and your buddies. While you’re out with your friends, your wife can enjoy time with her friends. There’s plenty of shopping, luxury spas, shows and concerts that your wife will love.

JIM HAAG VICE PRESIDENT OF VERDURA

Q: ARE DIAMONDS REALLY THE WAY TO A WOMAN’S HEART?

A: Diamonds seems to be in every woman’s DNA. There is no rational explanation; it just comes with the gender! They are rare, special and very flattering, which might explain part of it. But the real flattering part is when a guy goes to great lengths to acquire a ring that she really wants; that kind of thoughtfulness tells a woman just how special she really is.

Q: WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR WHEN PURCHASING A DIAMOND?

A: What to look for? Go out with her… passively browse together at a few jewelers. Sharing this experience together is part of the fun. Have her try a few rings on and casually inquire about what size fits best; it will come in handy later. Then when you know the shape of the diamond, carat size and setting that makes her eyes light up, go out discreetly by yourself and purchase the best quality you can afford. Bigger is not always the best; it is just bigger. Women compare rings, so while you want a sizable diamond; you also want one whose whiteness is going to stack up with any other you might see.

And since you will share this together for decades to come, acquire something classic… you don’t want a ring that looks very 2010!

Then plan the surprise.

SCOTT BUDMAN TECH EXPERT

Q: WITH SO MANY OPTIONS, HOW CAN I STAY UP ON WHERE TECHNOLOGY IS GOING AND WHAT BRANDS AND PRODUCTS ARE TRULY INNOVATIVE AND USEFUL?

A: Fittingly, the best way to stay hip to new tech, is by using technology itself. For those of you who have some down time at your desk, there are lots of good websites out there testing products before they’re released. TechCrunch, VentureBeat, CNet’s news.com, and even Yahoo.com top my personal list, but there are dozens. Spend some time window-shopping online, and you’ll find the writing styles you like, and the products that interest you.

There are also Smartphone apps that track new technology. Yahoo! has several, The New York Times has a great app, and it’s deep into tech these days. For you Mac fans, MacWorld has an app to keep you posted on the latest and greatest from the mind of Steve Jobs. And, of course, don’t sleep on the social networks. Twitter and Facebook are full of people testing and rating new brands and products. Find some people you trust, and follow them. Soon enough, you’ll be someone looked to for advice.

Information courtesy of The Art of Shaving, www.theartofshaving.com

About the experts:

Sam Saboura has made his mark as a television personality, style expert, clothing designer, and author, and he is the go-to guy for advice when it comes to outfitting men. His professional career began as the personal shopper and menswear manager at the famed Fred Segal, LA’s most exclusive specialty store. For several years, he remained Hollywood’s best-kept secret, dressing many of the world’s most visible stars—including Brad Pitt, The Osbournes, Jude Law, Robin Williams, Mark Ruffalo, David Beckham, and the members of Aerosmith—who consistently sought out his extraordinary eye and impeccable sense of style.

In 2003, he joined the cast of ABC’s Extreme Makeover. As the breakout star and host of this hit series, he led an elite team of professionals who transformed the looks—and lives—of individuals throughout the country. Saboura has been seen most recently seen as the resident style expert on TLC’s Real Simple. Real Life. He is the host of AOL’s new Web series, “My Body, My Style,” and is currently creating and producing his own style show. His clothing collection, STYLED by Sam Saboura, is sold exclusively on HSN, and he works extensively as a freelance wardrobe designer and consultant.

Carl F. Cwiok is the National Master Barber for The Art of Shaving, the world’s first specialty retail chain offering grooming products and services exclusively for men. Carl has traveled extensively across the US and Canada, and even to Moscow, to train barbers on product and shaving techniques on behalf of The Art of Shaving. Carl currently resides in Boston.

Aaron Glickman is the publisher of SocialMiami.com – a Web site dedicated to “all things social” featuring information and photos from top regional events. Aaron frequently attends high-profile charity galas, restaurant openings and fashion events. Aaron currently resides in Miami.

Jason Muirbrook is a high-profile certified personal trainer as well as nutrition and wellness consultant. Jason has also been featured as a model in several national advertisements and magazines. Jason currently resides in Los Angeles.

Laurent Gras, Executive chef and visionary of L2O, Chicago’s modern seafood restaurant, began his career in some of France’s top Michelin-rated restaurants. Identified as one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs in 2002, Laurent has built a reputation for creativity and excellence in the culinary world and continues to influence chefs and foodies nationwide.

Ford Myers, President of Career Potential LLC in Philadelphia and author of “Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring,” works with leading companies that are committed to developing and retaining premium talent. He has appeared as an industry expert on many television and radio programs, such as NBC-TV, Comcast-TV, Fox-TV, ABC-TV, CBS-TV, Clear Channel Radio Network, CBS Radio Network and ABC Radio Network. Ford currently resides in Philadelphia.

Ken Johnson, CEO and editor of DCRealEstate.com, knows everything about development and condos in the D.C. area.DCRealEstate.com is not only DC’s best real estate website – it is also an innovative marketing, sales and leasing company that buyers and developers turn to for information on real estate in D.C

Zeke Quezada, author of About.com Guide to Las Vegas Travel, has been a world traveler and writer for the past 15 years. Zeke currently resides in Las Vegas.

Jim Haag started his career in advertising, but soon entered the world of diamonds in the 1990s, working with the mining giant DeBeers, now known as The Diamond Trading Company. The glamour of Fifth Avenue brought him to run sales and marketing for Harry Winston for almost a decade, and he could often be seen on the red carpet accessorizing stars for world class industry events. He has now made his way to the top of the industry working for Verdura, the discreet, chic jeweler founded some 70 years ago with the help of the legendary New Yorkers Cole Porter and Vincent Astor.

Scott Budman is a technology reporter for San Francisco NBC affiliate KNTV-TV and host of “Tech Now!” a program that features consumer technology reviews and tips on what’s hot. Scott currently resides in San Francisco.