The MR PORTER Guide To A Better Day: 41 Tips To Get You Started
Over the course of the past dozen years, say, the stories that men’s lifestyle magazines tell have changed – if not always in type, then certainly in tenor. In place of the stern commandments of style we got in the late 2000s and early 2010s, the how-tos we’re likely to read (and write) now are more akin to suggestions. Not must-dos dictated by a fashion police, but what-ifs, in order to help: hey, I do this little thing when I’m scrambling my eggs and it seems to work out.
This move in tone, reflects, we hope, a wider change in the culture. A chilling out, for one, in recognition of the fact that we, editors and writers, needn’t uphold some illusory sense of “culture”. After all, life is not one-size-fits-all.
MR PORTER’s Guide To A Better Day is an informative survival kit for the daily assault, taking you through all the perils, known and unknown, that you might face from sunrise to sundown. Proceeds from the sale of this book will go to our Health In Mind fund, run in partnership with the charity Movember to support men’s mental and physical health initiatives. To celebrate the launch of the Guide this week, we pulled 41 tips and titbits from the book to help you get through today, starting with one of the very first things you’ll do (or at least we hope you’ll do).
Starting the day in style
01. The most important of all truths about morning dressing is that it starts 12 hours before you’re out the door. By making your clothing selection the previous evening, you will not only have the time to make better, more considered choices, you’ll also afford yourself a few precious extra minutes in bed.
02. According to artist Mr Lucian Freud, breakfast is best taken in the same way, in the same place – in his case it was Clarke’s restaurant in Kensington – every day.
03. If you prefer to stay at home, though, and hanker after the perfect boiled egg, take the advice of Mr Nick Korbee, executive chef at New York’s Egg Shop: “First, there should be enough boiling water to cover the eggs by one inch. Next, you must have an ice bath prepared for the second your eggs are ready to be removed from the water.”
Looking and feeling your best
05. Some people work out to let off steam. Others just want to look good in their underwear. No matter which sort of gym bunny you may be, we don’t think anyone wants to see naked flesh in the gym. So, wearers of low-cut, stringy vests and short shorts, perhaps save your bulging pectorals for your significant other, or your Love Island audition, OK?
06. What you eat, too, should be reflective of your fitness programme lest it countermand your efforts in the gym. We happen to like curry for fat-burning: cinnamon to increase metabolism, cumin to fight fat cells and turmeric to prevent the regrowth of those fat cells.
08. If you are like Mr Laird Hamilton, who moves to the groove of the day, you will want to build variety into your workout routine – variety, for Mr Hamilton, includes dropping everything for an impromptu surf session, if he likes the waves he sees breaking outside his Malibu home.
09. In order to bring more mindfulness into your workout, Messrs Max Vallot and Tom Daly of District Vision recommend some reflection: “Consider why you have chosen to commit to this activity. How did you get here? Why is this important to you? What are your objectives?”
10. And full holistic health depends on mental wellbeing. One place to make gains in that department is to get better at speaking to your friends.
11. Mr Jon Hamm puts a lot of value on therapy, and rehab, which he says, “has all these connotations, but it’s just an extended period of talking about yourself. There’s something to be said for pulling yourself out of the grind and concentrating on recalibrating the system. It works. It’s great.”
12. Your relationship with your trainer is a relationship, best to learn how to properly communicate with them – like, don’t ask them to make you look like Mr Brad Pitt in Fight Club.
13. But even when the abs are sorted, the face can still disappoint. If you are looking to combat fine lines and crow’s feet, Dr Sam Bunting says a high-quality vitamin C-based serum should do the trick.
14. That said, we all have our grooming crosses to bear and our preferred coping mechanisms. Mr Atip Wananuruks, fashion director of Highsnobiety, has developed a passion for scents to the extent that “the bathroom has become more like a perfumery counter”.
15. “In the 19th century [in Europe], there was no ‘men’s grooming’ other than shaving and toothpaste,” says Buly 1803 founder and unapologetic nostalgist Mr Ramdane Touhami – who has built his brand toward a throwback ideal of artisanship while also pushing the envelope with a cult line of scents.
16. Mr Virgil Abloh’s tip for smarter working? Make everywhere your office. “If I have a fully charged phone, I can do anything.”
17. On the other hand, if the pace and nebulous hours of work these days is (rightly) wrecking you, Mr Tom Stafford, a cognitive scientist, suggests holding off sending emails until 4.30pm to minimise the chances of same-day replies.
18. That should free up some more time for mastering the passive aggressive lexicon of corporate culture the better to employ such gems as, “Do you have bandwidth?” Meaning: I need to fob this off on to someone else – you’ll do.
19. As anyone who has unlocked one level of achievement only to see a new, better one looming on the horizon knows, success qua success isn’t everything. In a new, original essay, our former Editorial Director Mr Adam Welch argues that our goal-driven present “confuses ‘success’ with ‘meaning’”.
20. When the designer Mr Tom Dixon moved his HQ into the King’s Cross Granary Square redevelopment he was keen to make the space match the spirit of the work being done there: “as the beginning of an adventure rather than a fait accompli,” he says. “I want to open it up even more, to open up our design, prototyping and interiors processes.”
22. Author and Instagram riot Mr Raven Smith, who knows of what he speaks, encourages us to perfect the art of self-promotion. “To slay at self-promotion, you have to foam-finger your brilliance like a Warriors fan at an NBA final, while simultaneously projecting Mr James Dean-level cool.”
23. Dress for the people with whom you’ll be spending the day: expensive suits might win you favour with clients on Wall Street, but won’t go down so well if you’re a doctor.
24. And don’t forget to take a beat in your day to get into nature. Even if not a full forest bath, the outdoors will shift the brain waves, making it more adept at finding creative solutions to problems.
25. Designers Messrs Jerry Lorenzo and Kerby Jean-Raymond (of Fear of God and Pyer Moss, respectively) met on Instagram in 2018 and have remained in contact to share information and support. But, fundamentally, Mr Lorenzo says, “our friendship wasn’t ever really about the fashion. It’s about the brotherhood.”
Food and drink
26. He may be biased, since it comes from the same region he does, but the great chef Mr Massimo Bottura thinks Parmigiano Reggiano is the most valuable ingredient in food. He cites, The Decameron, in which, he says, “Boccaccio wrote about Modena as this amazing place, with beautiful women sitting on mountains of grated cheese making pasta 24 hours a day. It’s the secret of life.”
27. No matter the meat you are making, or the apparatus on which you are cooking it, Mr Francis Mallman says the key to cooking with fire is focus. “You have to be constantly observing when you are cooking with fire,” he says. “You have to have the concentration and, of course, you need patience.”
28. In the summer sun, an Aperol spritz is sensible; a Campari and soda wise. A large plate of carbohydrates better still. But the key to day drinking at any time of year is knowing when to retreat.
29. Despite popular conception, we’ve found that great chefs do indeed like to make great food for themselves at home. Mr Bottura, for one, makes his grandma’s passatelli (cheese and breadcrumbs in broth). We’d be really keen to stop by the home of Mr Matt Orlando, the chef-owner of Amass in Copenhagen, who, in his downtime, makes the carne asada tacos he grew up with outside of Mexico City.
30. If ever we do make it back to the home of a friend for a dinner party and endeavour to appear wise in conversation, Ms Marianne Talbot, a director of studies in philosophy at the University of Oxford, says, “ask questions, listen to the answers and take them further”.
31. If the DJ-ing duties for an evening fall to you, a few rules: never surrender the aux cord; don’t bore people with the liner notes of every song; trend toward trap and trance for vibe, but – I don’t know who needs to hear this – never, ever play Hootie and the Blowfish.
32. When dressing for dining: live for the moment. Is it a birthday? Then, you should make the effort. Catching up with friends? Jeans and a T-shirt is fine. Read the situation properly and you should never feel over or underdressed.
33. Dining is a sensory occasion – and we don’t just mean what you put in your mouth. In fact, 80 per cent of the sensation of taste is down to smell, so beware of spraying too much fragrance.
35. When designing your home, experts will tell you to go all-in on the lighting and art. Vintage pieces can help you be expressive.
36. If you don’t know where to begin, there are a few classics of design that will never let you down.
37. For Mr Nick Wooster, the home is a great retreat from his insane travel schedule (250,000 miles plus, in the days before lockdown) and he packs his home like he does his suitcase: “It’s the New Yorker’s disease,” he says. Meanwhile, designer Mr Rick Owens has created a kind of Superman Fortress of Solitude on the Lido in Venice with nothing to distract him from his work.
38. The home and the wardrobe are great places to reduce our reliance on plastic (which we must do). Synthetic textiles can shed up to 700,000 microfibres with each wash – synthetics which have no problem escaping the confines of sewage treatment plants to end up ingested by wildlife (which can then travel up the food chain until they are consumed by us).
39. At home, remember to keep your closet looking as smart as you do. Items should have one or two fingers’ worth of space between them, so it’s easy to choose what you want and to avoid wrinkles. Stuffing and squeezing things to fit is a sign that you need more storage or – and, believe us, we don’t say this lightly – fewer clothes.
40. In order to find some real, relaxing downtime, schedule it. But do remember that Murphy’s Law will send someone calling at just that time, so always wear your best set of loungewear.
41. We all know about blue lights, and stashing the phone in another room in order to get better sleep, but a tidy mind is just as important according to sleep expert Dr Neil Stanley. “So whether it’s meditating, yoga, having a warm bath or settling any arguments you might have had, make sure you are nice and relaxed before bed. Never go to bed angry or worried.”
Illustrations by Ms Elena Xausa