October 10, 2015

Welcome to the first installment of the Kaf Grooming Lifestyle Blog. It explores one man’s quest to find a new, more mature look. Here we’ll take a practical, and occasionally humorous, look at what a little shine in your shoes and product in your hair can do for your confidence, career and, of course, style.

A little goes a long way

Big life changes don’t happen overnight. Breaking bad habits from college, landing a better job and growing up in general are goals that everyone (okay, most of us) wants to achieve…but where to start?

For me, it was a week ago.

I’d been passed over for a promotion at my marketing agency. It wasn't the first time either. I was upset, but I was more confused than anything else.

Before leaving my apartment on Monday, I glanced in the mirror and saw Dockers pants bunched around my ankles, a brown Carhartt belt that didn’t match my black shoes, and a Van Heusen shirt with too much fabric for my frame. Up top, my hair was still damp from the shower, hastily arranged and unkempt.

I didn’t look like a man who deserved that promotion.

On the L train, I reviewed my outfit again and suddenly felt very self-conscious. Around me were young professionals – several years younger than me ­– in well-fitting business casual clothes. There were older businessmen who paired shirt, tie, jacket and a pocket square with ease. There were even a few teens that matched their bright colors well.

As I stared at my shoes, I decided to make one small change that day: I’d get new ones.

I found a men’s style blog and learned that you couldn’t go wrong with Oxfords. I needed two pairs, black and brown, to compliment the pieces in my wardrobe.

Amazon Prime would deliver them on Wednesday. Then I thought, “Why stop with shoes?”

After work I brought two pairs of pants and three shirts to the tailor shop below my building and had them hem the pants and take in the shirts.

On Tuesday I stopped to get a haircut: ‘2’ on the sides, an inch off the top and tapered in the back. As I spoke with my barber, I saw a small pyramid of round containers on a shelf – brown with red and white accents. When I asked about them, the barber said it was a new styling cream from a company called Kaf grooming, and he told me a little about the easy hold and silky texture. Though I rarely used hair product before this, I bought a container anyway, since the word of the week was change.

Everything came together on Wednesday when my shoes arrived and I picked up my clothes.

I’d never worn a shirt that truly fit before. Now I’ll never wear anything else.

The next morning I saw myself in a fitted shirt, pants that just touched the lip of my new brown oxfords, and a belt to match. I took out the Kaf American Select styling cream and ran some through my hair. The post-shower disheveled look transformed into a tight, clean affair that made me look older and more put together.

On the subway that morning I felt better than I had in years.

At work, I won’t say that anyone did a ‘double take’, but my immediate superior greeted me with a handshake – something that hadn’t happened since I started there. I worked harder that day than I had in a long time and felt a new sense of confidence as I wrote email after email to people above and below me.

I’m not sure if that promotion or a new job is in my immediate future, but I can honestly say I am more optimistic about my chances.

I began to think and act more like the man I want to be, simply because I looked the part. All it took to start a big life change was a new pair of shoes, a shirt that fit and a dab of quality hair styling cream.

Big changes start with small ones. Make one today.