The MR PORTER Guide To A Better Day: 41 Tips To Get You Started

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The MR PORTER Guide To A Better Day: 41 Tips To Get You Started

Words by Mr Chris Wallace | Photography by Mr Paul Hempstead

15 June 2020

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 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  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 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 , 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 , 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.”

04. You’ll obviously want to smell your best, so listen to  who suggests spraying on your chest because hair retains fragrance for longer than skin.

Looking and feeling your best

05. Some people work out to let off steam. Others just want to look good in their . No matter , we don’t think anyone wants to see naked flesh in the gym. So, wearers of low-cut, stringy and short , 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 : cinnamon to increase metabolism, cumin to fight fat cells and turmeric to prevent the regrowth of those fat cells.

07. Mr Ben Stubbington, creative director of menswear at , keeps simple: “The only person I’m competing with is myself,” he says.

08. If you are like , 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 : “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 .

11. 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 – 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, a high-quality vitamin C-based should do the trick.

14. That said, we all have our 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 founder and unapologetic nostalgist – who has built his brand toward a throwback ideal of artisanship while also pushing the envelope with a cult line of scents.

Smarter working

16. Mr Virgil Abloh’s ? 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, 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 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 moved his HQ into the King’s Cross Granary Square redevelopment he was keen to 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.”

21. of , who formerly worked with Daft Punk, has constructed his office around a pair of metre-high JBL speakers designed to pump house music in a club.

22. Author and Instagram riot Mr Raven Smith, who knows of what he speaks, encourages us to . “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 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 .

25. Designers Messrs Jerry Lorenzo and Kerby Jean-Raymond (of and Pyer Moss, respectively) met on Instagram in 2018 and have remained in contact to share information and support. But, fundamentally, , “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 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 . “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 at any time of year is knowing when to retreat.

29. Despite popular conception, we’ve found that . 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 , 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 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? and a 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.

Staying in

35. When designing your home, 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 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 : “It’s the New Yorker’s disease,” he says. Meanwhile, designer Mr has created 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 (). 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 .

41. We all know about blue lights, and stashing the phone in another room in order , 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

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