Got A Question? Ask MR PORTER
In this mad, infuriating, ever-changing world, wise counsel is not to be underestimated. This new fortnightly column is here to offer just that, answering your burning questions on style, etiquette, wellness, grooming, the workplace and more. Want to know the answer to something? Drop us a line at email@example.com and we’ll do our best to connect you with an authority in the field, drawn from our family of style experts and industry insiders. Welcome to Ask MR PORTER.
Should I be worried that I’m not quite ready to return to a restaurant?
Know that you are not alone. The New York Times restaurant critic Ms Tejal Rao has reservations about making reservations just yet. Ditto Mr Ryan Sutton of Eater. That’s before we begin talking about the trials of dining outside or the financial considerations for waiting staff relying on severely restricted tips pools from diminished occupancies in their places of business. All of which is to say, we understand and even share your sense of caution.
In London recently, we were able to visit a restaurant where a laser thermometer mapped our body temperatures and processes seem to be in place to track and trace where needed. We sat outside with trellis barriers between us and other diners, which felt comforting, but is understandably not the norm. In this case, perhaps safe is better than sorry. No need to rush out if you aren’t ready. Just think of the skills you’re picking up in the kitchen – and of all those dinner party guests you will wow in the future.
When will we travel again?
Believe it or not, some of our favourite spots around the world are already opening up. Feel like buying out the Sheldon Chalet resort in Denali, Alaska, or Caldera House in Jackson Hole? You can do that now. Some of our other favourite places, such as in Skylark Negril in Jamaica, Hotel Cipriani in Venice and Villa La Coste in the south of France are also open. For a little bit more info, context and some more recommendations, we turned to Ms Delilah Khomo, travel editor of Tatler, to get the lie of the land. Even if our appetite for travel isn’t particularly dimmed by this moment, we may be looking for a different sort of travel when we re-emerge from lockdown, moving away from crowds, for example, into deep nature, towards a feeling of freedom.
“There’s a lot of talk about what constitutes luxury travel in these Covid times,” says Ms Khomo. “But after spending several months in lockdown, people are definitely emerging with a strangely renewed sense of energy and a desire to move around, with a fresh self-awareness and appreciation of what matters. Ultimately, people want to harness the restorative effects of nature and to venture off the beaten track – no thumping party scenes, just epic landscapes and a sense of being removed from the real world. Whether that’s a multi-generational family gathering at a private villa in, say, Bequia in the Caribbean, holing up in a cottage in Ireland or exploring the empty reaches of Iceland at Deplar Farm, an impossibly glamorous and cosy lodge, privacy is paramount, where you can decompress in isolated bliss.
“For me, after being locked down in London, all I crave is sea, sea, sea and nowhere beats Sicily for bleached beaches, turquoise waters and just-caught sea urchins. I plan on covering a lot of ground, going on a road trip across the island, seeking out ruins, Baroque churches and beachside trattorias and just generally taking advantage of the lack of crowds in the picturesque, honey-hued mountain town of Taormina, which is normally rammed in high season and impossible to get a reservation at the exquisite amphitheatre-backed Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo and Villa Sant’Andrea, which is right on the water in the Bay of Mazzaro.”
What’s the best night-time skincare routine for a man approaching 40?
As Dr Dennis Gross reminded us recently on @mrporterlive IGTV, night-time grooming routines are not one size fits all. Is your skin on the drier side or more prone to oily spots? Does it do well in the sun or not so much? Are you struggling most with acne or puffiness or discolouration, or all of the above? The pores, the texture, the dryness or oilinesss of your face is unique to you and so will take some self-diagnosis and some tinkering.
We’ve combed through zillions of routines and they all follow a similar progression: a wash (with a scrub, a light cleanser or nothing at all, as suits), a mask that addresses one of your concerns (be it oil or dehydration or fine lines) and then, moving from lightest in weight to heaviest, plop on the creams that make your skin sing. Do you need a stress-soothing balm, such as Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Stress Rescue SuperSerum? How about a nutrient-rich serum? If not, skip it. If oils and tinctures send your skin out of whack, cut ’em out. Collagen to rev up the skin’s elasticity? We’re fans. We’ve also been going quite hard on retinol in our overnight regimens and would recommend giving it a shot a few nights a week if it isn’t too gnarly on your skin. Then, perhaps, a nice healing moisturiser. Your skin really dries out overnight and anything you can do to mitigate that will help in the anti-ageing department. The actual ageing we haven’t quite figured out just yet, but we’ll get back to you when we do.
Any suggestions on looking stylish when it’s too hot for clothes?
We know what you mean. You want to see a friend and not burst into flames on the way there. This summer has really brought the heat and humidity – Siberia is literally on fire – to the extent that any old sortie from your home can leave you looking like a kind of animated drip painting by Mr Jackson Pollock.
We asked our well-travelled US Editor Mr Chris Wallace for some advice. “When I was living and working – and wearing a suit every day – in Saigon, a mere four degrees from the equator, I learnt quite quickly that looser, breathable linen beats anything silk or cotton,” he says. “Super-duper dark shirts and, if needs be, blazers are better at hiding sweat patches and weirdly, that drinking a lot of water – like, a lot a lot, litres thereof – somehow made me feel almost cold. If a camp-collar or aloha-style shirt feels a bit flippant and you’re not yet ready for a kaftan, one thing that I find works well for a variety of formal scales is a super thin, knobbly textured woven linen or piqué-blend polo shirt (TOM FORD does a great one that flatters any form). On its own, it’ll keep you cool as can be and, paired with a light, unstructured blazer, it is smart enough for most things short of the Oscars.”
Illustration by Mr Slowboy