Model Miska Sykora gives our Average Joe a crash course in Ps and Qs
PRESENTED BY COTTON
He who is cool, calm and confident tends to win the day. But occasionally, attaining said trifecta of Cs requires a lifestyle tweak or two — not a full overhaul, mind you, but a nice nudge in the proper direction. Preferably from someone with some nudging experience.
With that in mind we present Freshen Up, a series in partnership with Cotton in which we recruit battle-tested coaches to help regular, real-world fellas revamp certain aspects of their lives. In today’s episode, The New Rules of Chivalry, a newly single gent prepares to re-enter the dating world with some advice from a savvy gal-about-town — from dressing cues to some etiquette updates for 2018. Advice applicable to more of us than we'd like to admit, no doubt.
LESSON O: GEAR
Miska Sykora knows from lookin’ good: rarely is there a waking moment when the model/stylist/creative director is not thoroughly immersed in the world of professionally stylish (and immaculately groomed) individuals. And what’s more, her time spent on set creating jaw-droppingly gorgeous snaps has afforded her an in-depth perspective on today’s dating world, what women are looking for, and what the concept of chivalry looks like in 2018. As far as romance coaches go, a savvy fella would be hard pressed to do better.
DAY LOOK NO. 1
The reason “jeans and a T-shirt” sounds too easy to be true is because unless you nail the key details, it can look totally lazy. Here, those details include looking for a cotton fabric with a little personality (the texture in the case of the shirt, the color in the case of the jeans) and being particularly mindful of the fit. Finishing touches like an überclean white sneaker and a swaggy watch help elevate the kit even further.
If the occasion calls for something slightly dressier, you can rock a collar without feeling stuffy or overly buttoned-up (pardon the pun): go for a light cotton with a pop of pattern up top, anchored by a classic dark denim down low and a shoe that’s a step up from a sneaker. Breezy all the way, but considered and put-together enough for any venue curveballs.
The line between “check out that guy in the killer suit” and “that guy looks like he just got out of work” is razor thin, and we want you on the right side of it. So start with a lightweight cotton suit in a left-of-center color that steers well clear of office vibes, then throw on a knit polo (often referred to as a “sweater polo”) underneath. Remove the jacket to show off some suntanned arm at your leisure.
For a more casual night out, learn the art of layering: the key is to stack comfy, breathable pieces so that even with the full kit on you’re still feeling cool and confident, not overheated. A short-sleeve henley is a nice base and adds some additional personality under a rugged (but also airy) chambray shirt. Keep it weathered with the denim, rugged with the footwear, and keep a knit cotton cardigan on hand for any unexpected dips in temp.
SKINNY SLIM STRETCH DENIM JEANS IN CHARCOAL DSTLD / $85
'Tis a bold and fraught act, bravely casting one’s line into the dating pool and hoping for a bite. But a pinch of know-how leads to a pound of confidence, and that’s what makes people (be they romantic interest or not) respond. So brush up and remember that he who operates from a place of knowledge operates from a place of comfort, and he who operates from a place of comfort tends to be a fun guy to be around. Some more tips from Miska on being that guy:
ON BUYING HER A DRINK: "It's a nice gesture. It's old school. But don't expect anything from it — if she starts chatting you up, great. But if she gives you the vibe that she's not interested, don't feel like she owes you a conversation."
ON CONVERSATION: "Anything positive. Nobody likes a complainer. And be curious — ask questions about her. You're trying to get to know one another, not just pitch yourself."
ON IRL VS. ONLINE: "Obviously dating apps are really popular now and it seems successful for some people, but I think females in general like to meet people authentically. Whether it's your gym or some kind of club or whatever, it's nice to start from a place of common interests."
ON SELFIES: "Acceptable if done in the right way. Shirtless in front of the mirror is not the call."
The times, they are a-changin’, and the truly savvy gent doesn’t just feel like he must change with them, he welcomes the shift and takes an active role in it. And — will wonders never cease! — it turns out that straight up asking a smart, friendly gal in your orbit is not only OK, but usually appreciated and can net you a boatload of insight into how to comport yourself as the changin’ continues. Some more thoughts from Miska on which chivalrous moves still play, and which ones you should retire:
ON OPENING HER CAR DOOR: "I get the gentlemanly intention, but honestly, who needs the awkward wait for him to walk around after he gets out? I'm gonna call that one outdated."
ON CALLING VS. TEXTING: "When you're initially asking her out, texting is the move — way less awkward if she wants to get out of it. But once plans are in motion, if it's getting complicated or texting isn't happening fluidly, I'd just pick up the phone."
ON PICKING THE DATE VENUE: "I know there's a reason behind all the memes about asking a girl what she wants to eat. We're complicated in that sense. But I think it's cool to give her a couple options to choose from. If she says something like 'any of those sound good,' that's code for you to just make the call."
ON PAYING: "No woman should just expect that you're going to pay, but if you asked her out I think it's a good call to at least offer."
ON LAYING YOUR JACKET DOWN OVER A PUDDLE: (Laughs) "I've never seen anyone do it. What do you do with the jacket after? Do you pick it up? Do you litter? Do you wring it out? Seems like you're creating more problems than you're solving." (Ed. Note: if you do decide to channel your inner Victorian gentleman and go for it, a cotton jacket is durable enough to handle the task. Just sayin'.)