This week's magazine is all about being cool. Not the sort of cool that means slamming jukeboxes and wearing leather jackets (Fonzie, take note), but the kind that epitomises the modern man.
Here, we've devised the new rules of masculine cool, 49 of them to be exact, taking inspiration from the coolest man of the moment, Ryan Gosling (read our interview here).
(Images: AllStar, Corbis, Rex Features, PA, WENN, Cameron Mcnee)
Don’t: be a narcissist
Do: reveal little
Blame Big Brother, blame Margaret Thatcher, blame whoever the hell you like: ‘Me’ culture is a sickening disease that’s gripped the nation by the throat. Its symptoms? Fake tan, not buying a round, tweeting during dinner and repeated references to “my journey”. You should never talk about yourself, ever, other than in a dismissive way. If your life’s that interesting, you should be living it, not bragging about it.
Don’t: stay ageless
Do: embrace growing old
Women always enviously say that men get better as they get older. Listen to them. Show off the wrinkles, the greying hair, the accumulated bitterness… Still hide the paunch, though.
Don’t: take arty pictures of yourself
Do: get a retro digital camera
“We can all see your arm stretched out, you posing git” is the only thing on people’s minds when they see your self snapped Facebook pic. Instead of documenting your new haircut, record the world on a retro-style digital camera.
Don’t: drink lattes and cappuccinos
Do: drink black coffee
Moving past the obvious and overused “skinny caramel triple mocha frappe latte” coffee name ‘gags’, black coffee is simpler, healthier and tastes better.
Don’t: read books
Do: read e-books
You have to embrace progress, and e-readers are incredible — that wealth of material on such a lightweight piece of kit. People who go on about staying loyal to proper paper books are quite obviously more concerned about being seen to be reading, rather than reading itself.
Don’t: be a playboy
Instant gratification culture means you can play the field easily enough well beyond your 30s, but the reality is that it’s shallow and tragic. To have depth is admirable, and to get true depth, you must learn to support, fight with and ultimately love someone. That’s a simple fact.
Don’t: be tactful
Do: talk straight
There’s a generation of scaredy-cats out there, and you should cut through all that by never mincing your words. Colleagues, women, pets all love it. Think Noel Gallagher and say the unsayable.
Just to be clear: only 0.01 per cent of the population look cool smoking, and they’re all rock stars and actors. It makes the rest of us look like Onslow from Keeping Up Appearances. At the opposite end of the spectrum, flossing is so in right now, it’s mental. Why? The sudden realisation that a teethful of rotting food is a tad unpleasant.
Don’t: cover your body in tattoos
Do: grow a beard
It’s a simple fact that the more tattoos you have, the more boring you are. A well-kept beard, on the other hand?Well, let’s put it this way — do you want to be a teenage goth or Kris Kristofferson in Convoy? Exactly.
Don’t: take the bus
How have you overlooked the humble bicycle for so long? It’s cheap, green and it’ll improve your fitness. Plus, considering the stranglehold that traffic has on most UK cities, it will usually get you there quicker, too.
Don’t: rebel against authority
Do: be an authority
Be the most well-read, the most informed, the most engaged with what’s happening in the world. Know your stuff, and you will be the boss in whatever situation you’re in, whether you’ve got the title or not.
Don’t: go to the gym
Do: exercise Outdoors
Sick of running on the spot like a cartoon? Ditch the artificial light and flickering television screens of the gym and get yourself out into the open air. Whether you’re running along a river or cycling through a park, you’ll feel better, mentally and physically.
Don’t: be mean
Do: be nice
Everyone has the propensity to be a snide git these days. Blog-culture ‘haters’, ‘anonymous’ comments on friends’ websites, it seems everyone is getting at everyone else behind each other’s backs. It’s not very becoming, is it? Rise above and as Patrick Swayze says in Roadhouse: “Just be nice.”
Don’t: be apathetic
Do: be a geek
By ‘geek’, we don’t mean you have to don inch-thick spectacles and develop an overbite. We mean be really into the things you’re into; immersing yourself wholly in the subjects you have interest in, be it films, bands or video games. There’s nothing more tiresome than someone who thinks they’re ‘above’ passion or excitement.
Don’t: write a book
Do: write a sitcom
Months of toil and solitude in a darkened room only to have your masterwork hurled in a literary agent’s bin? Sounds fun, doesn’t it? These days, it’s all about sharing the load, the laughs and the tea-making duties with a friend or writing partner while you craft your own award-scooping comedy series.
Don’t: wear chunky watches
Do: wear understated timepieces
Because you’re not a Premier League reserve team footballer, a rapper, or a deep-sea diver.
Don’t: drink whisky
Do: drink Tequila
Whisky is a cliché. Tequila is the drink for men who want to enjoy their night out. That’s good quality, smooth and suppable tequila — not the cheap shot with a salt and lemon side. No one looks good while yakking into a pot plant.
Kickboxing is no longer the best way to de-stress away from the office. Mixed martial-arts classes, that emphasise the intelligence of the sport, are increasing in popularity as men look for more variety in their workouts — and no doubt the strapping physique that Tom Hardy acquired playing an MMA fighter in Warrior.
Don’t: work for a boss
Do: work for yourself
“Slave all day, without much pay… ’Cause I’m working for the man.” So sung Roy Orbison: a chap who would have agreed with our assertion that entrepreneurial self-starters enjoy life far more than company ‘lifers’.
Don’t: watch the Premier League
Do: watch grassroots
Astronomical wages, the bottomless pockets of faceless owners, the members’ only Champions League… Top-level football doesn’t need or care for you, and neither should you it. Grassroots football, though — now there’s a place you can remember why you started going to the match in the first place. Friends, standing terraces, a pre-match pint, half-time pie, change out of a £20 note…
Don’t: be greedy
Do: be altruistic
“The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good,” said Gordon Gekko in Wall Street. Well, we’re afraid that Gordon might have epitomised the height of sophistication in the Eighties, but that’s just not true any more. All right, he’s a little bit stylish, but greed most certainly isn’t. Volunteer, run marathons for charity, put others before yourself. It might not do anything for your bank balance, but it does wonders for your soul.
Don’t: be an extrovert
Do: be understated
The quietest person shouts loudest, and modern man lets his actions — and not how loudly he can proclaim them — define who he is. Have some respect for the company you keep and, turn down those karaoke requests.
Don’t: watch American cop dramas
Do: watch European crime dramas
The runaway success of bejumpered Danish thriller The Killing (pictured) has led to a foreign TV gold rush. Why tolerate more of CSI’s Scooby Doo plotting when Sky’s Italian saga Romanzo Criminale and FX’s unflinching French cop show Braquo have hopped over the channel?
Don’t: get drunk
Do: drink in moderation
George Best once professed that “I spent 90 per cent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted.” If ever there was a man who holds up as proof that while drinking the evening away might leave us with a funny anecdote or two, we’re simply better off exercising some restraint. Take your cool cues from European café culture, rather than that guy spilling his post-work pint while sporting a tie round his head.
Don’t: own a drill
Do: own a drill and know how to use it
It’s no good having a state-of-the-art cordless drill gathering dust under the stairs. You should be able to proudly show guests the coffee table you made. Before advising them that it’s perhaps best not to rest their coffee on it.
Don’t: stand alone
Do: be a family man
Forget the notion that a family man is lacking spontaneity or freedom. A family man is not only someone who has his priorities in order, but has also perfected the work/life balance in the most admirable of style. And if a man can’t be nice to his mum, he’s not worth knowing.
(Image: Rex/ M & copyright 20th Century Fox)
Don’t: book restaurants
Do: go to pop-up eateries
Late December jaunts around German markets aside, most men are guilty of being far too predictable when dining out. But with a burgeoning number of pop-up restaurants currently bringing first-rate dishes to scenic locations, that table you booked months in advance just seems a hindrance now. Spontaneity is in.
Don’t: stay loyal to a genre
Do: embrace eclecticism
A 21st-century iPod should contain everything from bluegrass to krautrock, hip-hop to house and indie to soul. Aim to be more like Gilles Peterson and less like Tim Westwood. That’s good general life advice, too.
Don’t: buy disposable
Do: buy quality
We’re not telling you to go round berating anyone who doesn’t own a Bag For Life — we’re just advising long-lasting, eco-friendly purchases. Although getting a Bag For Life wouldn’t hurt, would it?
Don’t: splash out on Comedy superstars
Do: champion Alternative comedy heroes
Why squint at a millionaire comedian’s tired old gags from snow-capped stadium seats when the alternative is so much more exciting? From Stewart Lee’s acerbic meandering to Tim Key’s surreal poetry, a wide range of exciting comics are making serious strides.
Don’t: play 5-a-side
Do: play 18 holes
Why graph your physical decline through a series of slowing kickabouts when you can spend quality time playing a game that actually allows for conversation? With players getting younger and cooler, and gear getting more stylish, it’s time to make your way to the tee.
(Image: Curb Your Enthusiasm)
Don’t: game as a multiplayer
Do: stand alone as a singleplayer gamer
It comes down to a simple choice: would you rather pit your skills against a well-pitched and expertly crafted campaign, or suffer cruel taunts of being “owned” after being shot in the head by some snotty 13-year-old in Arkansas? Exactly.
Don’t: wear leather
Do: wear suede
Quite simply: Bono thinks that leather is cool. See? OK. So, instead, try breaking out the suede and instantly be both rough and smooth.
(Image: Trussardi AW11)
Don’t: dress monochrome
Do: colour block
You’re not a street mime, so break out of your black-and-white shell. It’s all about big, bold colours in 2012. You will not look like a children’s TV presenter, promise.
Forget emptying your bank account, selling your worldy possessions and remortgaging your house to pay for the ski passes, bags of kit and ludicrously expensive mountainside food and drink. All you really need for an enjoyably ‘extreme’ holiday is a few friends, a moderately warm British coast and some rented surf boards. Plus, you won’t find too many midnight beach barbecues in the Alps.
Don’t: have lunch on the go
Do: eat homemade
There’s nothing cool about a watery soup or limp sarnie that you’ve spent the best part of £10 on. It’ll take a little bit more effort, but home-baked potatoes, cleverly retooled leftovers and simple salads are the way forward for an envy inducing lunch hour.
Don’t: read crime fiction
Do: read fantasy fiction
Unbelievably, thanks to Game Of Thrones, fantasy fiction is very much ‘in’. Let’s be clear, though: dressing up as a wizard at the weekend to have plastic sword fights with Colin The Orc is most definitely not.
Don’t: show off your iPad
Do: get a smart cover
There’s no need for a gleeful show when you pull your iPad out now. Accept that the days are gone when people would look at you with awe. Buy a smart cover, for a more discreet and practical approach. Until the iPad 3 comes out, that is…
It’s worth referencing that Ryan Gosling YouTube clip again. The way he breaks up the fight on the street while everyone else looks on — and indeed, films it — is most impressive. Everyone’s a spectator these days, but properly cool men should get involved. Just, y’know, don’t turn into a vigilante and get stabbed, or anything.
Don’t: carry a briefcase
Do: carry a document case
It’s simply not practical or necessary to use a clunky briefcase any more, and they look stuffy (and let’s face it, you only keep your lunch in there anyway). A document case, on the other hand, is lightweight, manageable and, when tucked under the arm, perfect for that man-about-town look. Or, if you’re northern, that just-been-to-the-butcher’s for-a-pound-of-beef look.
Jermyn is £550 and will be available online at jimmychoo.com
Don’t: wear brogues
Do: wear loafers
When something is as ubiquitous as brogues, you need to push on to something else. Or rather, slip into something else, as loafers, with all their attendant smart-casual European cool, are back.
Don’t: get a curry in
Do: make a curry from scratch
You need spices. And lots of them. Start by slowly building up your collection with the key four (cumin, coriander, turmeric and garam masala), from which you can rustle up a curry that is tastier and more satisfying than even your regular takeaway’s lamb dhansak. Your bank balance, and belt, will thank you.
Don’t: stick with a classic side-parting
Do: embrace big, seventies hair
Don’t run away! Come back! OK, we admit that the prospect of growing a Lego-esque Bee Gees barnet in preference to adopting a crisp parting might seem highly improbable, but trust us when we say that a thick, luxurious head rug says more about your exquisite manliness than any vintage leather jacket could. Big hair equals virility. Ask your dad.
Don’t: wear suits
Do: don bespoke tailoring
With the advent of online service Asuitthatfits.com and Reiss Personal Tailoring, there’s no excuse for baggy trousers and jacket sleeves that graze your elbow. Savile Row style is now within the grasp of mere mortals. Once you’ve invested in a bespoke suit, you won’t look back.
Don’t: avoid babies
Do: hold that baby with confidence
It’s not cool to back away, shaking your head, pulling at your collar when your friend hands you their six-week-old daughter. Take hold of the child, rock them in your arms, supporting their tiny head. Once you realise they’re not going to break, you’ll be picking up more babies than a pre-election David Cameron.
Don’t: make fancy cocktails
Do: drink an old fashioned
Sex On The Beach? It’s not 1987. Mojito? No one wants muddled mint in their teeth. Straight whisky may be out, but this Don Draper cocktail isn’t going anywhere: bourbon, angostura bitters, sugar, orange rind, soda water and ice. Mix one and feel like a Sixties ad exec. Minus the adultery and alcoholism.
Don’t: own a dog
Do: own a chicken
It’s over. The Pedigree Chum ads, the poop-a-scoop, the hilarious paintings of mutts playing billiards — man’s best friend has had a great ride, but we’re now far too busy exercising ourselves to do the same to them. Instead, get a chicken. Everyone should still go to work on an egg, and there’s none fresher than one just laid by your very own pet. Just make sure you’ve urban-fox-proofed that coop.
Don’t: chat on social media
Do: have a conversation
Remember when we used to interact with each other? It was great. Honestly, try it with some friends today. You’ll get lengthy anecdotes rather than 140-character summaries, real smiley faces rather than colon/bracket amalgamations, and genuine belly laughter rather than repetition of the acronym ‘Lol’.
Don’t: try to be cool
Do: be cool
Ultimately, the coolest thing to be is comfortable in your own skin. No matter what people tell you to wear, watch or eat, if you try too hard, you’re going to look about as cool as the Earth’s core. Who gives a damn? Enjoy yourself.