09 December 2011

Progressing in Reverse : Straight Razor Shaving

An Affordable Wardrobe would like to thank the good folks at Heritage Shaving for their support, and I am happy to announce our first product giveaway contest. Read on for a chance to win a free straight razor starter kit:
Back at the beginning of November, Heritage Shaving, a tiny company run by a nice kid looking to drum up some cash to defray the cost of grad school, signed on as our first advertiser. I received a straight razor starter kit and started using it, admittedly with a little trepidation at first. It takes no small amount of courage for a modern man to take a surgically sharp knife to his throat in the morning, but that's a hurdle worth conquering.

At first, it took me over a half an hour, moving at a snail's pace, to give myself a shave that was only so-so. The nostalgic fetishism was kind of cool, but the ritual had me enthralled. In case you haven't read this blog before, I am a dead sucker for time consuming antiquated rituals. And that's what this was then, an antiquated ritual. But it quickly became more.

It's funny how we sometimes find the good stuff by moving steadily backward. In high school, I shaved with triple bladed, lubricated, silly expensive something or others, and aerosol shaving foam. A splash of Old Spice to follow. Later, I switched from the aerosol to a brush and mug, but kept the high tech gizmo razor. A splash of Old Spice to follow. Later still, I began using my Grandfather's safety razor. Some bits of toilet paper and a splash of Old Spice to follow. After years of this, the straight razor, the method of choice for men until 60 years ago, comes into the picture. At first, it was a once or twice a week treat. As I gained confidence, I came to look forward to it. Now, I use it every day, unless I'm in a screaming hurry, in which case I opt for the old safety razor. As always, a splash of Old Spice to follow.

Shaving this way is often the only time in a given day when I slow down and take a few moments to concentrate on myself. It's therapeutic. Its contemplative. It reminds me that in our mad rush forward at breakneck speed, we humans as a race may not always be progressing. It reminds me that new isn't always better, and that sometimes we realize that we hit the pinnacle long ago and that every thing since may be a downhill ride...kinda like how stereo technology hit it's peak in the mid 1970s. Besides, its extremely masculine, and its kinda tough. That may be silly, its true. But for a guy who spends all day caring for two small kids, and all night geeking out about either wine or clothes, a small dose of masculinity is the least you can afford me.

So...you tell me in the comments why you think scraping your neck and cheeks with a knife is a better idea that dragging expensive plastic cartridges across your face that will at worst cut you and at best give you a mediocre shave. Keep it relatively brief....most thoughtful answer wins a shaving kit, pictured above, which includes a Dovo razor from Germany, leather strop, stainless steel mug, badger brush,  shaving cream, oil, and knick stick. Contest open all weekend, winner chosen Sunday evening.

Update: Sunday, 11 December, 10:00a.m. EST. I'm truly overwhelmed by your excellent responses to this post. Thank you everyone who commented. I'm especially impressed with how many of you saw this topic as a springboard into things of vastly greater importance than merely cleaning up in the morning. You clearly understand how fraught with meaning these things can/should be. Commenting is now closed. We'll sift through all this and a winner will be chosen tonight, so stay posted.

And the Winner Is.....Bostonhud. Oddly enough, this was our very first entry. Many of you delved deep into the more esoteric meaning behind the modern day adoption of an archaic grooming method, which is exactly what we were aiming for. Topics such as connection with the past, contemplation, and a more thoughtful assessment of our modern day culture of speed and convenience above all else were frequently raised. But it was Bostonhud's haiku which managed to convey all of this in only three short lines:

Men seek old stories
Grandpa's hat, father's bow tie
give my son my shave

Congratulations, Bostonhud. Contact me through email at anaffordablewardrobe@yahoo.com with a mailing address and we'll get your prize out post haste.

If you're only just reading this,  the contest is closed. But do read the comments. It's enlightening to see how many men there are out there, many of them young, who don't necessarily buy all that the worlds been selling lately.

72 comments:

bostonhud said...

Men seek old stories
Grandpa's hat, father's bow tie
Give my son my shave

Luke H said...

I'm going to be a college graduate from Virginia Tech in six days and I couldn't think of a better graduation gift from my favorite site. You guys have kept me stylish on a college budget for these past 4 and a half years (I took a semester victory lap, but you know what they say: graduating college in four years is like leaving a party at 10)! I'd love to ditch my cartridges and get a proper shave for my upcoming job interviews!

DB!!! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Ould said...

disposable razors are just one more part of our instant culture. A straight-edge teaches a man to slow down and appreciate the finer things, for which a little more time is needed.
Good quality clothes take time and so does a good quality shave. And like the clothes, I guess you have the satisfaction of knowing that even though it took a little more effort, the outcome is superior.

Logan Smith said...

Have you ever seen a man shave his scruff with a buck knife? Shaving with a straight razor is just a step below that, but will look manly and badass.

Torben Umeda said...

As a college student, affordability is key. With limited spending money, paying for new blades for my Mach 3 is a surprisingly big hit on my spending power, especially with the relatively fresh blades that my sensitive skin needs.
Looking for a better way, I stumbled across the old art of straight razor shaving, a less abrasive alternative that was cheaper in the long run. Perfect.
I started by switching to Van der Hagen's "premium" shave set, but was not willing to go as cheap on the razor and started saving, and still am.
Seeing this post, I was unable to believe how perfect this was and jumped at the opportunity.
Sure hope I get chosen.

Prinz Ulrich von Boffke said...

More power to you, and the equipment certainly looks cool, but ever since I saw Dressed to Kill way back in 1980, I've had an irrational fear of straight razors.

Best Regards,

Ulrich von B.

Todd said...

I use a five-bladed monstrosity now. I bought it because it was cheaper to get a new kit than it would have been to get refills for my old razor, which was clearly inferior as it merely had four blades.

Shaving has been robbed of its ritual and its skill. I can go through my morning routine half asleep, and get to the end of the driveway with no ill effects. Shaving with a straight razor interests me because it shifts that moment I have to be alert further back. In stead of meandering through my morning, I would start out more alert and attentive (or bleeding horribly from my throat, which I imagine would also help wake me up).

That, and it's cool. I'm about to go sit in a cubicle and stare at a computer for nine hours, let me start out by doing something cool.

J. (of today) said...

Because when your daily work consists of playing 200-year old music on instruments developed 400 years ago it's much better to shave with something with 300-year old tradition than a plastic disposable with 3-months life span. Especially when you also tend to wear 30-year old clothing.

Steve said...

Old school shaving with a straight razor & a brush is a great way to slow down. You have to be in the moment as you shave this way. It's a good way to start your day or end it. It's more than a shave; it's therapy.

Mariano de los Santos said...

Fast, Good – Choose Two.” Shaving with a straight razor (much like anything analog, rolling your own cigarettes, cooking from scratch, etc.) is the “Cheap & Good” option that can be time consuming, imperfect, and yet still completely satisfying in its results. I, for one, would choose “Cheap & Good” any day – you can keep your $20 cartridges. -M-

Unknown said...

Shaving with a straight razor would allow me time to connect with the millions of men throughout history who have started their day by skillfully removing small hairs with a surgically sharp piece of steel. No need to hurry, but no need to take longer than necessary. Everything would be zen-like.

Joshua said...

Why is a straight razor better than a cartridge? At worst it requires you to clear your mind and relax your nerves. At best, it requires you to muster your courage, trust your instincts, and reminds you that it's good to risk.

alyakovleff said...

Last summer my friends went to a hippie wedding in Vermont. They camped out. The night before they ate steaks cooked over a campfire and drank whiskey out of flasks.

In the morning they shaved with straight razors using a broken shard of mirror while Frank Sinatra piped tinnily through a hand crank radio.

I've already switched to shave soap/brush and aftershave, but I need the straight razor to ever dream of achieving a level of masculinity as high as was found on that camp site.

Jason Wilkins said...

The nearly forgotten art of shaving must be preserved. The vast majority of men today merely shave for the end result: a clean face. But where has the pride gone? The artistry?

As we move towards a future of careless grooming, the traditions perfected by our fore-bearers are all but lost. We must keep these rituals alive, for the sake of our children.

Ian H. said...

A straight razor shave reminds you that you take your life into your own hands every day, and if you slow down and concentrate on improving yourself you'll end up with fantastic results.

Amatourist said...

because i'm a goddamned sucker for gillette's marketing machine and something’s gotta give. Seems that shaving with a straight razor is like riding a bike through crowded streets into the office; best you clear the head and get into the moment, otherwise you’ll be flattened (or gutted, as the case may be). Win, lose or draw, this one’s on the Christmas list. Thanks for the offer, G.

P. F. Pugh said...

A straight razor is a reminder in the morning that one needs to take care even with one's daily routine. One has to be alert when scraping one's cheek with an implement that could slit the jugular. It is an exercise in patience, in taking the time to do something right rather than fast.

It is also a connection to the past. I recently toured a museum for a 16th Century shipwreck. The shaving implements on display there were exactly the same ones that are in use with a straight razor today: the design hasn't change. It's a reminder that even in an age where the latest i-device is outdated as soon as you open the packaging, some things stay the same---some things are not transitory fads.

Peter said...

I don't even know why I'm entering this. The Haiku wins, hands down.

Two things play a factor for me: cost and quality.

I started with the expensive multi bladed razor, then I went to a more expensive electric, now I'm using a safety razor that uses $.15 blades and soap that lasts 6 months.

In an age where nearly everything we experience is compromised in one way or another, shaving with the safety razor or straigt edge is a perfect shaving experience.

Eugenius Smith said...

The clothes don't make the man, and neither does the shave. But the kind of man who's willing to put aside the time to do things right, a few more minutes for the cut above, that's a man who shaves with a straight razor, and that's a man worth being.

alexmarks89 said...

My interest in the straight razor erupted just short of a year ago when I found out my great grandfather was a barber in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I had managed to sift through piles of family memorabilia to find his mug, brush, and old leather strop. At the bottom of the tired, worn leather was the stamp "Milwaukee's Barber Shop" a shop that was open until around 1940. I was disheartened to find no evidence of THE tool, the straight razor.

I committed to reviving the old family tradition and the deeper I dug, the more I found out America was doing the same. The hobby swelled as I acquired my first blade, whetstones, etc. I even recruited my father to help me make pre-shave oil and shaving cream soap from scratch (highly recommended). As an engineer, I developed a literal and figurative blood bond with this blade. My styptic pencil was depleted quicker than I'd predicted. Seeking the perfect shave, I dove into the process using metallurgical knowledge and mechanical intuition to understand and optimize the art of shaving. I thought on the same order of magnitude on which the edge exists as I went through the honing and shaving motions. Shaving, for me, became not only enjoyable, but meditative. Engineering perfection tooled over centuries of toiling. Tonsor humanus, as it was first called, has endured since antiquity. I plan on being buried with my straight razor, like many before me.

Luke said...

It's funny I feel the same way about my progression in coffee, starting out with instant & drip and moving back to french press, percolator alongside some expierments with the Chemex coffemaker (google search, it's amazing) and grinding my own beans. I enjoy it for the same reasons you enjoy straight razor shaving: its a ritual and it has a therapeutic element to it.

Mariano de los Santos said...

Hey Giuseppe! My comment got chopped a bit when I cut & pasted it into the box. Would you please delete it and post it in its entirety:

Mariano de los Santos said...
I read somewhere on the internet: "Cheap, Fast, Good – Choose Two.” Shaving with a straight razor (much like anything analog, rolling your own cigarettes, cooking from scratch, etc.) is the “Cheap & Good” option that can be time consuming, imperfect, and yet still completely satisfying in its results. I, for one, would choose “Cheap & Good” any day – you can keep your $20 cartridges.

Anonymous said...

I hope you're very careful because I enjoy reading your blog.

I thought in the olden days they used a bar of soap in a cup.

Kid Presentable said...

Because I can't go down with the Yorktown at Midway, this is the only thing I could do to try to be as badass as my grandad.

nickythegreek said...

If I graduated to a straight razor, then my wife definitely wouldn't try to use it on her legs and I could be free from the shackles of wondering how my new blades have gone from sharp to dull as I blink.

Ian said...

I have noticed a trend of the reemergence of this antiquated shaving technique, along with other "old fashioned" traditions, I had thought to have gone by the wayside. For example, in my city, small markets supplied by local farmers have begin springing up and competing with the megamart grocery stores. I believe, and I hope, this is the start of our society's realization that brand and popularity no longer correlate to quality.
In a small way, shaving with a straight razor gets at this idea. By adopting this form of shaving, a man can see how the quality of his work is directly affected by his skill in the manipulation of a tool; an experience, I regret to say, has become uncommon in today's world. I can only hope that whoever receives this gift - and I hope it is me - can extrapolate that experience more broadly to their day-to-day life.

Giuseppe said...

Great responses, gentlemen. Keep 'em coming.

Giuseppe said...

P.S. the cream that comes with this set is nice, but I use a round cake of soap in the mug.

Dai said...

I love your blog. While I appreciate antiquated rituals, I don't mind the less-than-baby-skin results of a disposable shaving cartridge. I safely use the same cartridge for months and months, which mitigates the initial cost, and personally, a shade of lingering coarseness makes me feel that same small dose of masculinity without making me look like a homeless person.

Philip said...

I had my first straight-razor shave on a dare 35 years ago in, of all places, a barber shop on Disney World's Main Street (Navy boot camp liberty). After the initial trepidation, I fell asleep in the chair.

I never worked myself up to doing it myself, though I've enjoyed the process in high-end hotel barber-shops around the world.

The Dandy Man Can said...

Always shave wet, with a Badger brush & cream, not gel & with either a cut throat or D.E. razor. Great post!

bob said...

1. Using a reusable razor reduces waste
2. I have a thick beard and every disposable from bic single blade to some nine bladed monstrosity irritates the hell out of my neck
3. I can't lie, it just feels cooler to shave with a giant dangerous blade before going to work and sitting at a computer

Keith said...

Like you I love the ritual and meditative quality of just focusing on myself for a while. I use a brush with an old safety razor to shave, and my understands that when I'm in the bathroom shaving that she should give me that time to myself.

For me the value of this set is one that we both hold dear in our lives. The ability to be free of the consumer, technological, new is good life that requires loyalty to a brand or company and not ourselves. If the Gillette (or the economy, or the society) shuts down we can go on surviving because we know how to do and get the things that we need. We grow our own food, hunt, make soap, and in general try to be as self sufficient as possible. This type of shaving in a small way is an extension of that.

Antone said...

Why shave with the straight razor?

Because your grandfather did? Yes, but...

Because it connects you to the great men who built America, a thread of continuity running back through the ages? Yes, but...

Because it allows the precious moments in the morning when you can pause to contemplate your day, the passed night, the tasks to come, and the journey of life stretching, as it does, forward and back? Yes, but...

Because it gives a superior shave? Because nostalgia? Because it engenders masculinity, precision, and care? Yes, yes, again yes, but...

But most of all because it is the very embodiment of the great virtues. It is thrifty, there are no repeat purchases of endless cartridges. It is durable, your razor will be a friend for life. It is traditional, it is and will be the preferred method of the finest barbers. It harkens to our heritage. It makes us deliberate. It makes us efficient, but driven to quality. It makes us men. Indeed, it makes us men. For the virtues that this simple, antiquated ritual and its perfected tools embody are the virtues that men should live by; and to live these virtues in all things great is to live them in all things small. Shaving is no exception.

Wulfgar said...

A real razor is an heirloom. It has a character all it's own, and the act lends a depth of character to your life.

Mr. Sean said...

I tried a straight razor, but gave up before becoming skilled.
Now the straight razor stays in the shed for whenever one of the hens needs to be put out of her misery.

I need a new razor to put my stubble out of its misery.

Francesco said...

Here in Italy we have quite a peculiar approach towards tradition. On one side, we generally are proud of the excellence in painting, foods, wines and clothes that some Italians have reached before us. On the other hand, we seek modernity, are typically fond of iPhones, and fancy ways of living that aren't traditionally ours (the American way of life, oriental Jewellery, Japanese mangas and so on). For instance, no one in need of a full size car would buy a Lancia (traditional national marque) because the Germans are much more in fashion and one doesn't get marked as an “old fuddy duddy”.
Since half a dozen years (I'm 22 now) I've been trying, semiseriously, to live as if it were about 50/60 years earlier, obviously as far as just some aspects of my life are involved – the funniest.
Apart from choosing used classic clothes, rolling my own cigarettes, and trying to write and speak in intelligible language, not in sms-jargon, shaving plays a major role.
Given that in my opinion a shave is needed everyday, unless you are spending a spell in the jungle, I passed from cartridge to Wilkinson safety to a cheap disposable-blade straight razor, plus an Omega brush, Cella soap and Atkinson-Hurlingham cologne.
Straight shaving is cheaper, has an elseways unobtainable charm, kindles you to any great man of the past, gets you to know your face better and improves your manual capability. Need more?
Given my status of undergraduate law student, mean thrifter, I doubt I'll be able to buy a set like this on my own anytime soon, so who knows?

Liam said...

I shave with a safety razor (and a straight razor when I can) because as a college student I have mostly learned the value of a dollar.

For the cost of eight blades on one of the tribladed monstrosities you can have a good safety razor and enough blades to get through the year, or a straight razor that with proper care will last you a lifetime.

For the cost of three cans of shaving cream you can get all but the most expensive shave soaps, which will last you much longer than the cans will.

Investing a little bit of time in your shave moves you away from the disposable, fast paced time-is-money culture, and hearkens back to our fathers and grandfathers who did more with less and knew that money is time, not the other way around.

That is a reminder every man needs.

Brian said...

I feel more connected with the past and its better aspects when I lather my face for a good old fashioned wet shave.

Liam said...

I shave with a safety razor (and a straight razor when I can) because as a college student I have mostly learned the value of a dollar.

For the cost of eight blades on one of the tribladed monstrosities you can have a good safety razor and enough blades to get through the year, or a straight razor that with proper care will last you a lifetime.

For the cost of three cans of shaving cream you can get all but the most expensive shave soaps, which will last you much longer than the cans will.

Investing a little bit of time in your shave moves you away from the disposable, fast paced time-is-money culture, and hearkens back to our fathers and grandfathers who did more with less and knew that money is time, not the other way around.

That is a reminder every man needs.

Dana LaBerge said...

I actually learned most of how to be a real man from my mother. Not because dad wasn't around, just that she knew more. But on shaving, I took his advice as gospel for some reason. Not until last year when, like you, I switched to brush and soap (I highly recommend William's Mug Soap, available on amazon.com for as little as $0.77, because I love the smell) did I realize how wrong the shave gel I had been using was for anything more than panic shaving. Then I reflected, in the additional shaving time I now took, on the actual experience and quality of the shave I had been getting since the start. I found out it had never been truly great. Nothing to write home about so to speak. I look forward to the arrival of my first double edge an a while, once I get enough money from my crappy job, but until then I have realized that the quality of my shave has been exactly inverse to the number of blades in the cartridge. I started out on a Gillette Sensor with two blades. Just the other day a five blade monstrosity came in the mail for free so I tried it. I hate it. Now, I'm not brave enough to go straight razor just yet, but if I win I will definitely get to it sooner or later. (probably sooner since I would have it as opposed to having to save up to get the double edge)

Also, bostonhud, nice one.

Adam Potrzebowski said...

I'm currently stuck using an electric shaver for my daily shaving needs. I know, I know, but I'm a college student and I've never had complaints about my minimal amount of stubble.

That being said, I've always wanted to learn how to shave with a straight razor. When my grandfather passed, I inherited most of his personal belongings. His shoe-shine kit, suspenders, Buck knife. At some point with dealing with his estate, his German straight razor from WW2, which he had used on and off until arthritis got to his hands, was misplaced and couldn't be found. I remember fishing trips where my grandpa and I (the six year old) would be the only ones up. He'd take his Barbasol and coffee mug down to the lake and pull out that razor and free-hand his shave, only checking his reflection in the water to make sure he didn't leave any Barbasol on. Unfortunately, he passed before I could even grow facial hair. Every once in a while in the morning, I'd like to be able to go through a similar routine to his and be able to reflect and remember.

JKG said...

Because at the very moment we learned to do our best, we forgot why that mattered.

LBO said...

Shaving with a straight razor each morning is about discipline, routine, skill and our understanding of our place in the world.

These are the very masculine virtues that continue to fade in our post-modern, disposable-razor culture.

In the proper care and use of the razor we find discipline; setting the tone and standard for the day ahead.

By walking through the process, the routine of a proper shave, we build structure for the day. Through the comfort of routine, the man finds the time to mentally prepare and process the coming day.

To use straight razor requires the perseverance to master a real skill that connects us to past generations. That connection helps us to understand our place in the world, a subtle reminder about the cost of hubris.

Donald Kjellberg said...

WoW! The responses.

Well, I started with a safety razor 6 months ago and love the sound and feel as it glides across my face.

Plastic is now lackluster and convenient.

Using a straight razor? Another great move into gentlemen's tradition. Against my neck with a surgical blade . . . bring on the whisk!

Fishgutmartyr said...

I prefer to shave with ghosts. I use safety razors that have survived from the past; that have been cared for by men that came before me.

I favor the ones from the 1930's: I like to imagine these were used by the edifice-builders--the men that built things like the Empire State Building, the Hoover Dam, or even something as modest and beautiful as the local (Wilkes-Barre) Market Street Bridge. As I shave, I can almost feel their fingerprints, and bond with eras long gone. You will never get this with a Fusion, and will only feel the bond of ritual with a modern double edge razor.

Your Dovo is very nice for learning the ritual: how to burn the incense, how to sharpen the blade for sacrifice. But for my purposes, it would be used to learn while deciding to restore my late 19th century Clauss razor, and to bond with the nation-builders. Then my son takes his turn on the Dovo; and he will feel its fingerprints.

ethan herman said...

I think it is important to know where you come from whether its how your grandparents met, the town your parents grew up in, or the business that you're grandfather started. Practicing those rituals that you're ancestors partook in everyday lets you connect with a history that you have only heard about, but never could smell, feel, or see.

Bill F. said...

I want the same thing in a razor that I want in my love life — just one for the rest of my life. I promise to give it only slightly less care than I give my wife.

J Stillwell said...

There's something special about fulfilling a tradition; specifically there is something special about fulfilling a tradition learned through the father son relationship. Even though I am only a college student I realize that one day I will have a son to whom it will fall on me to teach the art of being a man. I feel as though it would be so much more special to give my son the blade i have always used, a blade that he will have the opportunity to pass on to his son, than to give him a pack of razors that will be gone in a month. I want to teach my future son the lesson that quality is much more important than ease.

DPP said...

I have two kids under three years old, and I work 80 hours per week.

My kids and family are everything to me. Quality family bonds and rewarding family life require intent focus, high energy levels, and putting everyone else in your household before yourself. Other husbands and fathers will proudly smile, as they know of what I speak. I wake up early, I work hard, I go to bed exhausted. I am the luckiest SOB I know.

And yet, there is a quiet moment each day, before the dawn breaks, as the sky turns from black to cobalt, when my familiar radio station is still playing jazz before the morning news reports begin, that I possess entirely for myself. It is peace, it is beauty, it is energy, it is contemplation.

It is what I have to myself before my little girl wakes, and the splendor begins again.

Help me make this moment all that it can be, Giuseppe. I know you understand.

Buon Natale.

DPP

Rev. Whitey Dee said...

I began using a safety razor one year ago when I received it for Christmas. What I can say is that my shave is slightly better, but only because of the amount of concentration I exert while shaving now. I pay more attention and take my time. Call it Zen and the Art of Shaving. I think the straight razor follows the same course. I find it extremely easy to shave with the new vibrating 5 blades razors. It's smooth, fast and nearly impossible to cut yourself with it. What I get from shaving with the more traditional methods is a greater sense of satisfaction and joy from an otherwise joyless task before my day has even begun.

Jho78 said...

Women will want me, men will want to be me.

FLW said...

Shaving in such a fashion is a reminder of how lucky we are. It took thousands of years and the lives of more than a few to create the world in which we live. Think about it. We get to spend time on ourselves in some zen-grooming state of mind just because we want to, because we can. We have online resources and dozens of friends with whom we can discuss "blades and badgers" (or spirits and affordable wardrobes, for that matter), all in total comfort. It took many people a long time to get us here, so let's respect the time they've earned for us.

Christopher said...

I shave every morning, and it would seem a waste for such an oft repeated ritual ti be performed with mundane instruments. Its an important task, and the use of the traditional tools is an excellent way to connect to the shared memory of the men that have gone before.

Connor T Lawrence said...

Great comments gentlemen! I don't mean to sound over dramatic, but some of these comments read like poetry. It's going to be tough to pick a winner. Keep 'em coming!

The Enigmatic Jim said...

Progress isn't always progress.

Dave said...

Since I already start the day by tying a noose around my neck, I can think of no better addition to this then holding a knife up to it right before that.

Hawthorne said...

I shave with a straight because of the badass factor. It's also a better shave. You want to really take yourself back, put on some Miles or Coltrane while you're cleaning up your mug. There is nothing in the world like listening to blue notes with a knife to your neck.

It inspires confidence like nothing else as well. There's something about knowing that if you don't pay attention to details you'll chew up your moneymaker. That kind of pressure makes sales meetings, management decisions, and work drama seem silly.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gdworjan said...

Because in the rush of life and in the drum-beat of convenience, sometimes it's nice to slow down and really appreciate what you're doing-- whether it's shaving in the morning or preparing a meal at night from scratch. It's nice to take the time out, think about what you're doing and about your own life in those moments, and enjoy the ritual all at the same time.

Unknown said...

I know this man behind the razors, he's a true man's man. I of course am a bearded gentleman and therefore would only use such a shaving implement on my neck fuzz but still, I would be proud to do so.

Jesse Towsen said...

"What advantages attended shaving by night? A softer beard: a softer brush if intentionally allowed to remain from shave to shave in its agglutinated lather: a softer skin if unexpectedly encountering female acquaintances in remote places at incustomary hours: quiet reflections upon the course of the day: a cleaner sensation when awaking after a fresher sleep since matutinal noises, premonitions and perturbations, a clattered milk-can, a postman's double knock, a paper read, reread while lathering, relathering the same spot, a shock, a shoot, with thought of aught he sought through fraught with nought might cause a faster rate of shaving and a nick on which incision plaster with precision cut and humected and applied adhered which was to be done."

In short, shaving can be something to be done quickly and roughly gotten over with. Or shaving can be something to enjoy; a time to reflect over life.

DB!!! said...
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Micael Poplawski said...

I feel that since shaving is a necessary ritual that must be repeated everyday then just - revel in it. Why downplay it? Do it the best you can and enjoy the whole ritual and don't rush it. Everything in life is becoming easier and faster to do, yet no one seems to be actually enjoying them, or possibly not even noticing them. It is the little things in life that add up. Stop with the 20 bladed monstrosities, cargo shorts, and cheap stylish-less clothes from the Big Boxes. Find yourself and create an image that is you and step out of being an non-entity schlub. Stand out and be proud.

jmt said...

Because life's too long.

Thad said...

Well, I have been called old-fashioned and a straight razor would be ideal to keep my beard in check! So, nothing flouncy, ironic, or sentimental, I just want a straight razor.

JBH said...

Albeit a late entry, I feel it's better late than never. I remember how my grandfather used to shave. Only a kid at the time, I would brush cream on myself and pretend to be like him. The way he skillfully went about the procedure like a surgeon was a thing of beauty. He never had a hair on his face, which has always inspired me to be as clean cut as the man I'll never forget!

bostonhud said...

Just wanted to say Thanks to G for selecting me and Hertiage Shaving for sponsoring the contest.

Prinz Ulrich von Boffke said...

Just a small shaving addendum. . . A mug and brush add quite a bit the daily shaving experience, even if one forgoes the straight razor. My wife presented me with a set for a recent birthday, and shaving has actually become something I look forward to. And I get greatly improved results. Much closer, and many fewer nicks. Even with disposable blades.

Best Regards,

Ulrich von B.

Jsbrugg said...

Using a straight razor reminds me of using hand tools in woodworking. While I'm not going after Roy Underhill's style, the philosphy is much the same. There is something therapeutic about working the wood with ones hand and actually feeling the touch it takes to just bite into the wood enough whittle away what you don't want and I can imagine it being the same way when working on the face.
The other therapeutic piece is the ritual involved in maintaining the tools. The smell of oil and the scritch of the whetstone is relaxing and it brings a smile to my face to imagine what it's like to make the broad stroke of the steel on the strop. I only hope that mistakes on my face aren't as bad as the ones I make to wood.

Rahul said...

When I switched from a 5-blade Schick razor to a straight razor, all the redness and irritation from my face was gone. My face felt smoother and softer - and a lot of people noticed the difference. I can't believe I used that crap for 14 years of my life. I also bought a shavette for travel purposes. I use hand-made goat milk shaving soap and my skin has benefited greatly from it.