Many of you have probably seen today’s guest on YouTube. His name is Aaron Marino and he’s made a name for himself as a men’s style expert with his often zany videos geared towards helping men look and feel their best. He’s also been a two-time contestant on Shark Tank.
Today on the show, Aaron and I discuss how an early business setback in the fitness industry led him to creating a men’s style empire online. We also get into the nitty gritty of men’s style by discussing the common style mistakes men make and the easy and cheap fixes that will help you look like a million bucks. This podcast is filled with with actionable steps that you can start implementing today to look more stylish and make a better impression wherever you go.
- How a failed business venture led Aaron to helping guys dress better and building a style empire online
- Aaron’s overall approach and philosophy towards style
- Why guys should care about how they look
- How making subtle tweaks to your wardrobe can make you look and feel more confident
- The common style mistakes that men make
- How spending $10 can instantly make your $30 department store dress shirt look like a $200 custom-made dress shirt
- Easy style upgrades that will provide an immediate ROI
- Why you should go for timeless style instead of chasing fashion
- How to look good in a casual setting
- The stores Aaron recommends for affordable, yet stylish clothing
- Style tips for the shorter guy
- Style tips for heavier men
- The grooming mistakes guys make
- How to take care of your skin without being a fastidious ninny about it
- How to prepare for pitching on Shark Tank
Resources/Studies/People Mentioned in Podcast
- Art of Manliness Dressing & Grooming Archives
- A Man’s Guide to Clothing Alterations
- What Not to Wear
- The Style Pyramid
- Man’s Guide to Denim
- A Man’s Guide to Boots and Shoes
- How to Wear a Leather Jacket With Style
- Casual Dress for the Young Man
- How to Look Like a Million Bucks for Under $200
- A Man’s Guide to Khakis
- Dressing Taller: 10 Tips for Shorter Men
- 7 Style Tips for Large Men
- Pete and Pedro (Aaron’s hair product company)
- Tiege Hanley (Aaron’s skincare company)
- Chest Hair: Embracing Your Inner Tom Selek
- My ear and nose hair trimmer
- Aaron’s first appearance on Shark Tank and Aaron’s second appearance on Shark Tank
- My podcast with Frances Cole Jones about How to Wow
If you’re looking for actionable advice for regular dudes on how to look better, check out Aaron’s website and YouTube channel. Aaron is a solid, charismatic guy who really cares about helping guys look and feel better, and he knows how to have fun along the way.
Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)
Connect With Aaron
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Thanks to Creative Audio Lab in Tulsa, OK for editing and cleaning up our podcast!
Read the Transcript
Brett: Welcome to another edition of the Art of Manliness podcast.
Many of you have probably seen today’s guest on YouTube, his name is Aaron Marino, and he’s made a name for himself as a men’s style expert, with his often zany videos geared towards making men look and feel their best. Also, he’s got this under his belt, he’s a 2 time contestant on Shark Tank. Today on the show, Aaron and I discuss how an early business setback in the fitness industry led him to create an online empire in the realm of men’s style, and then we get into the nitty gritty of men’s style by discussing the common style mistakes that men make in easy and cheap fixes that will help you look like a million bust. This podcast is full of actual steps that you can start implementing today to look more stylish, and to make a better impression wherever you go. After this show’s over, check out the show notes at Aom.is/marino, that’s M-A-R-I-N-O for links to resources where you can delve deeper into this topic.
Aaron Marino, welcome to the show. You’ve got an interesting career, you are a style consultant, own some grooming products, you are a popular YouTube men’s lifestyle guy. You have 1.75 million YouTube subscribers, 2 time Shark Tank contestant. Questions like, what’s your story, how did you get to this point where you were creating these sometimes zany videos on YouTube showing guys how to look and feel better about themselves.
Aaron: Zany’s a good word Brett, yeah. It all started when I was young, there were sort of a few different facets to my life that I really can identify as pivotal moments in how I got to where I am, one of which is I grew up fairly poor. We didn’t have a lot of money, and this is the time of your life where you’re really focused and fixated on fitting in. One of the things that I learned to do very early on was stretch a dollar, all my clothes came from a thrift store. It forced me to get very creative with shopping and style and looking outside of the box. This is something that I still, to this day, really enjoy doing, is going to thrift stores and looking around, even though financially I can afford not to go to thrift stores, it’s still in my DNA. Combine that with my love of fitness, which sort of started at the age of, I would say, 13. I had 2 stepfathers that weren’t exactly the greatest, but my mother was incredibly supportive.
One of the gifts that she gave me is the gift that I feel changed my life more than anything, which was a fitness membership. No matter how bad my home life was, or how upset I was at home, when I went to that gym I felt incredible, I felt like a king. It’s where I really felt like my confidence was developed. For those listeners out there that exercise and take care of themselves physically, you know how dramatically it impacts everything else in your life. When you feel good about yourself, that’s really ultimately what pushes you forward in many different ways and many different areas of your life. At the age of 13, I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, which was own a fitness center. Everything I did up through graduating college was geared towards owning a fitness center, it was the only dream I had from the age of 13. My senior project when I was at West Virginia University was I started a fitness center.
I was so excited, I moved to Atlanta, I knew that I didn’t want to stay in Philadelphia, all my friends were selling cars and I knew that I was destined for fitness greatness. I moved to Atlanta, I met a guy, I was working at the time as a personal trainer at a fitness center, at Abally’s. I met a guy, he said, “Hey, I want to open a nutrition store, I’ve got a guy who’s willing to give me $40,000, are you in?” I said, “Absolutely.” It wasn’t a fitness center, but it was a business, and I really feel that at my core I’m an entrepreneur, I love business. It was my first opportunity. Went there, it was great, we expanded to 2 locations within the year, but we, or I ultimately decided that it wasn’t something I wanted to stay with long-term because the gentleman that I was in business with was actually selling drugs out of the back. I knew that I’d be popular in prison, but I would not thrive in prison.
I decided to leave, and that was a very difficult decision. I ultimately ended up going back to personal training at a fitness center. During the time that I was at the nutrition store, I met a woman and helped her lose 100 pounds. She came to me one day when I was at the fitness center and said, “Hey, I didn’t tell you this, but I actually got certified as a personal trainer behind your back, and I want to open a fitness center.” The woman was older, she was established, she was a technical writer named Lynda. She now had this new found passion, and wanted to help other people like I helped her. We signed the lease to our location to open a personal training studio on September 11th, as in the September 11th. That should have been an omen as to how our business was going to unfold, but we tried making it work. We thought we were going to expand, and create this line of fitness centers for parents and children and all sorts of great things.
We raised money, there were all sorts of legal issues between one of our business partners and my partner, Lynda. Ultimately we ended up having to shut down the business, but something interesting happened when we were there. I met a guy who was one of my clients, who was getting ready for a date. He’s like, “Hey, I don’t know what to wear. What should I do?” I said, “Why don’t I just come over to your place and we’ll take a look at what you have, see what you need, go shopping, by the way your nose hairs are crazy, we’ve got to take care of that.” A week later, his coworker called me and said, “Hey, I love what you did with Steve, can you take my husband shopping?” I said, “Absolutely, it’s a lot of fun.” She asked me that question where it was sort of that light bulb moment, she said, “Well, how much do you charge?” It’s like, “Wait a second, maybe there’s a market for this.”
At the time my fitness center was exploding, I had to file bankruptcy, I didn’t have a plan B though. As an entrepreneur, and the way that I am, I never have a plan B. I’m so focused on plan A that I never stop to think, “Well, what if this doesn’t work out?” That’s never an option for me. At the time that I had to file bankruptcy, I was driving a beer cart on weekends just so that I could eat and put gas in my car. That was the point at which I had to decide, “Okay, what’s next?” I had done a few of these little mini makeovers on these people, and I thought, “You know maybe there’s a market.” This was back in 2006, and so I did a little bit of looking online and really found that there were 0 resources for regular, average guys like me, my dad, and my friends, just to get basic, solid style advice. Sure there was GQ Magazine and Esquire, but this wasn’t my reality and this wasn’t the reality of most of the guys I knew.
I decided to start an image consulting business, and cater exclusively to regular guys. 2008, got a video camera, long story shorter, the rest is kind of history.
Brett: It’s Alpha M.
Aaron: The YouTube channel is Alpha M, and the website is Iamalpham.com.
Brett: You’ve basically taken the style consulting, and you’ve brought it online to millions of men across the country and across the world. Let’s talk about style, because I think it’s something that boggles the mind of a lot of average guys, that are just like, “I don’t know what to wear,” or, “What things go together?” Let’s start big picture first, what’s your overall approach or philosophy to style?
Aaron: In terms of style, you really just need to find what works for you. When I say what works, it sounds so simple, but it’s what you feel good, and what makes you feel sexy. I know when most regular guys hear the term sexy, it’s like, “Wait a second, that’s for women.” It is, but you can still feel great about yourself. You’d never want to push your boundaries too far to where you feel uncomfortable, but when you get dressed you should dress with purpose. Everything you put on you should feel great wearing, it should fit you flawlessly, as flawlessly as you can find or as you can have tailored, without being overly tight. You really need to feel comfortable and own what you’re wearing.
Brett: That’s a reasonably interesting question there, guys, sort of that rejection or knee jerk reaction, like, “Oh, why should I care, why should I care how I look,” right? Why should men care about how they look?
Aaron: Because it has never been more competitive out there, in terms of professionally, it’s never been more competitive, personally, relationships, if your competition is paying attention you can’t afford not to. It doesn’t take that long to pay attention to the clothing that you’re wearing, just making sure that it fits you well, that it’s not worn out, that it doesn’t have stains, that it’s ironed, that it’s pressed. It’s about personal packaging, everything has a brand and we as individuals, we have a brand. Your image, your style, that’s letting the world know who you are and how you feel about yourself. If you’re presenting a confident, successful package, then the world is going to see that. As a result you’re going to be rewarded both professionally, and personally.
Brett: Your bread and butter are these makeovers, you do that 1 on 1 with people. You also do these makeovers where you film them, where you take just regular dudes, and I’ve watched these. They’re regular dudes, they’re guys who, they work in IT jobs, they look like a normal Joe, and then you do these makeovers. Can you share a story to some of the men you’ve worked with on how upgrading their personal style just totally transformed and improved all facets of their life?
Aaron: It really boils down to confidence, and that’s the big takeaway. I’ve worked with so many, hundreds, thousands of guys, they’re all pretty much doing the same thing wrong. They don’t really have a firm grasp on what works for them, what doesn’t work for them. It is amazing to see the transformation in their eyes and in their confidence, in their body language when all of a sudden, at the end of a makeover, you turn them around, you let them see themselves in the mirror, and they finally for the first time feel incredible about themselves and the way that they actually are projecting and presenting themselves. In terms of 1 or 2, there’s so many, it’s men, when you feel better about yourself, when you like the person you see looking back at yourself in the mirror, everything gets better. You’re a better boss, you’re a better husband, you’re a better father, you are friendlier, you make eye contact more, you engage more. It all boils down to feeling good about yourself.
I joke with people that it’s actually confidence that we’re changing from the outside in. Sometimes, if that’s all it takes, go with what works. I don’t know if that answers your question, but …
Brett: Yeah, what I love about it, I used to be, when I was in college and I had a lot of free time, I watch with my wife What Not To Wear on TLC. I enjoyed it, it was primarily women, but for some reason I enjoyed it because it was always great to see the story. See how these people’s lives got better once they did that final makeover, I was like, “Man, I wish there was something like this for dudes,” and lo and behold there you go, you’ve got it. That’s the thing, I think what’s happening is you’re revealing, they talk about what not to wear, like you’re revealing the actual self, your best you that’s inside of you whenever you start dressing the way you should.
Aaron: I love that, I think I’m going to steal that. Was that that, was that Clinton and Stacy, Brett?
Brett: I think it was Clinton and Stacy, you should steal it, I don’t think they have a trademark on it. You mentioned, with these makeovers, you’ve seen the same mistakes that guys make. You mentioned that it’s just not knowing what works for them. What are some of the other more common style of presentation mistakes that you see men make?
Aaron: When I work with somebody, there’re a few things that right away you can change that make a dramatic difference in the way that you actually look. That is wearing clothes that fit you better. Everybody hears that and is like, “Of course, I’m going to wear clothes that fit.” Guys are a little bit hesitant, they hear fitted and they think tight. If you simply go from a regular fit shirt that is cut square like a box, and you put somebody in something that is a little bit more tailored or tapered or contoured to the body, all of a sudden they look 3 inches taller, and 20 pounds lighter. The same thing goes for pants, regular rise, regular width pants are something that you can modify that automatically makes somebody look taller, their chest wider, their shoulders broader. They look incredible, by simply changing the cut of the shirt and the pants that they’re wearing.
This goes for their business casual clothing, this goes for their casual clothing, jeans, shorts, shirts, t-shirts, everything you can modify and enhance somebody’s look immediately.
Brett: I love that, because I think a lot of guys, you’re right. They don’t know they can modify their clothing, they think, “Okay, I buy it off the rack, that’s how I got to take it, that’s how it’s presented to me, I’ve got to wear it like that.” They also don’t, where am I going, was they don’t realize that you can change these things.
Aaron: Absolutely, and that’s the other thing, is you’ve got guys that have a wardrobe, a lot of professional, successful men. I go into their wardrobe, and they’ve got thousands of dollars’ worth of incredible clothes, but all they need to do, instead of throwing out everything, is take the key items that you love and have them modified or altered. Take the shirts that are tailored, they’ll put a few darts in it, they’ll contour it a little bit better, and all of a sudden you’ve got an amazing new wardrobe that fits you flawlessly. They can do that with pants, they can do that with pretty much anything.
Brett: I think a lot of men prefer the baggier stuff, because they feel like it’s hiding maybe the belly they might have, but actually just accentuates it in a weird way.
Aaron: A lot of men confuse comfort with roomy, and they also think that by wearing larger clothes it’s going to make them look smaller, where in reality it does the polar opposite, it makes them look heavier, it makes them look sloppy and dumpy, when all they need to do is wear clothes that are tailored a bit more to their body, and that’s the other thing Brett, is that sure, guys that have a belly or that have a little bit of extra going on, they think that they need to wear bigger in order to camouflage and hide. They still should be wearing tailored clothing, and wearing clothes that are fitted as opposed to just regular and big and baggy.
Brett: This goes to my next question, easy upgrades. This is an incredibly easy upgrade, all you’ve got to do is take your shirts, find a tailor, there’s tons of them probably in your city, these little seamstresses, usually they’re Asian. Usually in my experience, every one I’ve went to is some nice Asian lady.
Aaron: Exactly, dry cleaners. Your mother, there are a lot of people, your wife … If somebody knows how to use a sowing machine, you can pretty much modify a shirt right at the sides, and nobody can tell. Find somebody that can do it. On some of the more complex garments, pants, jackets, those are ones that you’re probably not going to just take to your dry cleaner who says, “Yeah, I can do that.” A straight hem on a pant, if you want to make that pant a little bit shorter, no problem. The more complex, I would try and look for somebody who is a little bit more of a tailor or more well-versed in the art of clothing construction.
Brett: It’s not very expensive either, you think 5, 10 bucks.
Aaron: That’s it, that’s it, and the look, oh my goodness, Brett, I’m telling you, it brings tears to my eyes when I see these guys. Not really, but it’s so incredible, just simple little modifications like having your shirt tailored makes all the difference in the world in the way that somebody looks.
Brett: I buy most of my dress shirts from JC Penny’s, like the Stafford, Oxford shirt. The thing I do is I go find a tailor right away and have them tailor it, and it’s just a million times better. It looks like a custom shirt that you spent, 100, $200, even though it’s a $36, JC Penny’s shirt.
Aaron: That’s it, and I say this time and time again. You give me somebody, give me a $20 shirt and have it tailored that fits somebody incredibly, versus somebody who spent $200 on a shirt, the guy who spent $20 looks better, 90, 100% of the time, as opposed to somebody who’s wearing something that is ill-fitting.
Brett: That’s an easy style upgrade, what’s another upgrade that guys can make that have an immediate high ROI?
Aaron: Jeans, invest in a great pair of jeans, dark blush denim. It doesn’t get any better than that, it’s probably the most versatile pair of pants that you own. You can dress them up, you can dress them down, you can throw a sport coat and a button down shirt on, a sweater vest. You can throw on a simple, plain pocket tee and look incredible, a pair of boots, oh my goodness, it’s perfect. It’s like James Dean, and it’s such a simple thing. Finding a great pair of jeans, that is super high ROI.
Brett: I’ve got a great pair of jeans I wear, it’s dark denim. You’re right, I wear it all the time. T-shirts when I’m picking up the kids, with boots.
Aaron: Wonderful, the boots too.
Brett: You’ve got to do it, but then you can wear, like I’ve gone to a nice steak house when I’m entertaining clients here, just throw on a white shirt and a sport coat and I look fantastic.
Aaron: Exactly, incredibly versatile, timeless, it’s always going to be in style. That’s the other thing Brett, is that you really need to invest in clothing that is going to be stylish now as well as in 5 years from now. Talk about ROI, I see guys that buy trendy items or things that are very just now, and I think to myself, “Oh my goodness, that’s just money wasted, because next year you’re not going to be able to wear that.” Key takeaway to the listeners out there is invest in timeless styles, don’t go crazy with nuts patterns. Stick to the basics, build your wardrobe from there. That should be your foundation. If you want to experiment, step a little bit outside of your box and invest in a few other things, and go with some of the more trendy items, that’s fine, do that. Just know that it’s probably going to be out of style in a year, and so invest in the classics and you’ll never go wrong.
Brett: I think that raises a great point, because I think a lot of guys particularly are leery of style, because they think, “Ah, jeez, it’s going to be so expensive, I have to buy stuff all the time,” but you don’t. If you just buy a few good pieces it’s going to last you 3, 4, 5 years, sometimes 10 years. That $200 shirt, or I don’t know, I wouldn’t spend $200. $400 suit you bought, that looks great, by the time, 5 years later it’s been pennies a day, like that cost per use that you’ve done.
Aaron: That’s one of the ways that I justify purchases, like a leather jacket. I went to buy a new leather jacket 2 years ago, and it was a little bit more expensive than my budget. When I really sat down and did the math, I can wear this jacket because it’s just a brown motorcycle-inspired jacket, small little collar. It’s nothing outlandish or crazy with a lot of zippers or anything, I can wear it now almost every day throughout the winter, spring and fall, I can wear it for 10 years, it’s going to look better in 10 years because it’s broken in, when you break it down to a per cost wear it’s pennies, as opposed to that one item, that one jacket that you buy that you only wear 6 times, it may be a third of the cost but it’s much more expensive when you actually calculate and do the math that way.
Brett: Aaron, we’ve talked about some of the wardrobe essentials a guy could have, a pair of dark washed jeans is one of them. Any other wardrobe essentials that kind of build the foundation of a man’s wardrobe?
Aaron: Sure, I think that investing in a great pair of brown slip on loafers is a great option, something that is dressy that you can wear with jeans but you also could wear with a suit, a great pair of boots. Boots are one of those things that make a guy feel good, when you put on a great pair of boots you just stand a little bit taller, it gives you a little bit of height, I’m a short guy, and so every inch absolutely helps. Some other things is a great navy suit, nothing with pink lapels, just your standard notched lapel navy suit, you can wear it to weddings, you can wear it to funerals, you can wear it to interviews, you can wear it to business meetings, your tailored white dress shirt, another staple. I also would say, hey, if you’re going to get a white dress shirt, get a light blue dress shirt as well. It’s a little bit more color, it’s a little bit more playful, but it’s still professional.
You can wear it with a pair of jeans by itself, roll those sleeves up, you look great. I would say a leather jacket, I am a big fan of leather jackets. There’s sort of the perfect counterbalance to a great pair of boots where they just make you feel good when you’re wearing it, and women find it attractive, and so that’s a bonus as well.
Brett: Women do, fine attract, Steve McQueen.
Aaron: There it is.
Brett: Here’s a question, we’ve had people on the podcast and we’ve written a lot about formal style. I think people got that down, like, “Okay, I need a suit that fits well, a dress shirt that fits well, it’s iron or whatever.”
I think the thing a lot of guys have trouble with is how to look good in a casual setting, whether it’s at the office. There’s so many, your options just explode for casual wear, with a suit it’s just like you wear a suit and dress shirt and a tie, that’s it, not many choices. How can a man dress sharp in a casual setting when they have so many choices to choose from?
Aaron: It does boil down to, make sure that the pants that you’re wearing fit, all khaki pants were not created equal. It really boils down to you selecting better fitting, better styled items, I would say that invest in a few great pairs of chinos, one of my favorite pairs of pants is a grey pair of chinos, they’re incredibly versatile, you can dress it up with a button down or throw on, a great, lightweight v-neck sweater, or crew neck sweater, wear a sport coat with it, wear it with a pair of loafers or a pair of boots, it’s incredibly versatile. Pay attention to the details, layer sweater vests, I still think sweater vests are really cool. It’s a great way to just add another level of depth and dimension to an outfit. A lot of guys are just doing the basic slacks with a button down shirt, that’s it. Throw a sweater vest on top of it, or if you want to, a lightweight v-neck sweater is a great option.
Just to, like I said, add that next level of dimension to an outfit, but then pay attention to the details, the belt, the socks, the shoes, your watch. All these little details that make a big difference when you collectively put them together. It really is going to be determined by the corporate culture that you’re immersed in, and what is acceptable and what’s not. If you’re wearing polo shirts, if polo shirts are acceptable, or business casual. You can put away those peaked cotton polo shirts and invest in something that has a little bit nicer fabric, maybe a nice microfiber. Banana Republic, Ministry of Supply, there are a lot of great polos that are a little bit dressier, they’re going to hold their shape a little bit better than some of the standard “polo” shirts or cotton polos you’re going to get at Old Navy or The Gap.
Brett: That’s an interesting question, we can go there. Are there places or stores that you go to, that you can go there and you’ll always find something that will look great?
Aaron: Absolutely. As men, we don’t have the quantity and the options that our female counterparts do. When you go into a shoe store, like a DSW, look at the men’s section, look at the women’s section. Men get a row, the women get 37 rows. For men, there are really only a few options in terms of stylish clothes, from the casual department you’re looking at the Gap, J Crew, Banana Republic, that’s sort of the more expensive version of the Gap. You know that if you’re going to these places, that the clothing is going to be stylish and it’s not going to be too over the top or outlandish. Some of the boutiquey stores and some department stores will have sections that are a little bit outside of the box. I know that if I’m looking for a great outfit that’s going to be nice quality, the fabric’s going to be good and the fit is going to be more on the tailored side as opposed to the bigger, baggier side, I like the Banana Republic.
The downside to Banana Republic is it is a little bit pricey compared to its more casual counterpart, the Gap. I am a big fan of the Gap for casual clothes. Department stores, you mentioned JC Penny earlier, great option, May Season, incredible. There are a lot of department stores that I absolutely love, because you can find different styles and different price points within one store. May Season’s probably my one go to store, just because it does have different levels and you can find something for everybody.
Brett: No Aeropostale?
Aaron: Not at this age, sir.
Brett: Not at this, okay, all right, Aeropostale.
Aaron: That Abercrombie, there are a lot of … The general rule of thumb is when you walk in, if everybody there could be your child then probably you’re in the wrong store for your demographic.
Brett: One I forgot about, for some reason I remembered, it was American Eagle. Remember American Eagle?
Aaron: Yeah, American. See, here’s the thing, American Eagle is still like, you can find some good stuff, even that would be age appropriate for guys in their late 20s, 30s, 40s, as long as you don’t have big logos you can find some decent standards, and that actually, American Eagle has some good prices on just regular denim. You can find items but you have to know what you’re looking for.
Brett: Got to know what you’re looking for. Let’s talk style for specific body types, you mentioned you’re a shorter guy. Any advice on sharp dressing for shorter men out there?
Aaron: Absolutely, you need to make sure that you are wearing, fit is even more important on a short guy than anyone else, just because it does make such a difference. The mid-rise pant is going to be much better than a standard rise just because you want to accentuate and elongate your legs, and another way that you do that is make sure that the pant leg isn’t too wide. Shoes, you want shoes that have a little bit more of an elongated toe box as opposed to something that is a little bit rounder and bulky, sort of think Doc Martin’s. Shoes, also can give the visual illusion of somebody being a little bit taller than they are. Shirts also, fitted, monochromatic is good for short guys. You really can’t go wrong with vertical stripes, you don’t want patterns too big, just because it’s going to make you look as proportionally small if your pattern is really big
Stick with tighter patterns, like small checks, small window pane. There’re definitely some smaller, tighter patterns that you should be gravitating towards.
Brett: I’ve seen this in action guys. I’ve seen Aaron in person, didn’t even really notice the height issue. You’re super confident, looked great and it was awesome.
Aaron: That’s the thing, and that’s one of the, I get asked a lot about being short and about height, and a lot of guys are super self-conscious. They treat it like it’s this devastating handicap, and there’s a good friend of mine, Brock, who owns a men’s style blog called The Modest Man. He caters exclusively to men of modest height or under 5 foot 8. I was on a podcast with him, and Tanner Guzy, who is another great podcaster and a blogger that does masculine style. Brock said that Tanner was asking us about being short and style. Brock said, “Well Aaron, nobody’s told them that he’s short yet.” It made me laugh, but it was a very incredible compliment, honestly, because being short is just, it’s like having brown hair, it’s like having brown eyes, are you going to miss out on opportunities, of course. Is it because you’re short? If you’re trying to date a 6 foot 2 Amazon, it could potentially affect that.
Men need to really just focus on all of the amazing things that they are as opposed to what they’re not, they’re not 6 feet tall. It’s okay, you just need to basically be as confident as you possibly can, dress to look tall, and just don’t let that be an excuse.
Brett: On the flip side, another thing a lot of men are self-conscious about is their weight. Guys who are larger, style tips for them?
Aaron: Dark clothes, monochromatic looks. Depending on what’s larger, some guys will have, and most typically, are going to have a larger midsection. What I would recommend in order to balance, I would go dark on the top, and then a little bit lighter color on the bottom. The dark is going to make you look smaller, the lighter, like a light cyan, a light grey, is going to make your lower half appear a little bit larger, but it’s going to offset the upper body. Once again, not super-big bold colors, not super-big bold patterns, you want to make sure that it’s subtle and subdued. Fit, once again, is going to be king. If you are wearing big, baggy pants and you’re a bigger dude, you’re going to look bigger, heavier, shorter and dumpier than you actually are. It does boil down to fit as well, but dark colors, clothing that’s fitted, small patterns.
Brett: Great advice there. Let’s move away from clothes, let’s talk about grooming. This is something, you’ve done a lot of content about it, in fact you own 2 men’s grooming companies. You have Pete and Pedro, the hair product company, and what’s the name of your new skin care product?
Aaron: It’s called Tiege Hanley.
Brett: Tiege Hanley. Let’s talk about grooming, where do most men skimp on their grooming routine that they should be spending more time on?
Aaron: It’s funny, right, because well-groomed is so all over the board. What well-groomed means to me is not what it means to my father. The one thing that a lot of guys don’t pay attention to is neck care and chest hair coming out of their shirt. I’m not saying that you should remove your chest hair, I’m not saying that you should remove your back hair if that’s your thing. Make sure that you take a little bit of the length down if it is curling outside of your shirt. Another thing is ear hair and nose hair, it blows my hand that with all of the jokes, all of information that is out there that guys still, it’s like, “Hey, if I don’t see it looking directly in the mirror then it’s not there.” If I had a dollar for every guy who had super long ear hair, I would be a rich man. Those are 2 areas, ear and nose hair that guys really skimp on. Eyebrows are another thing, you don’t need to shape them like a woman.
As we age, the hair on our eyebrows starts to get exponentially longer. Just trimming them up, when you go in to get a haircut, if you are going to a good barber or a good stylist, they should take a look around and help you out and trim those crazy strays as well.
Brett: I can attest to the nose hair and ear hair thing. I’ve suddenly, it’s in my consciousness now, my wife, because I remember I’ve checked that, I’ve never had a problem when I was younger. Now I’m in my mid 30s, they’re starting to peak out like a grandpa. It’s insane, my wife’s like, “You need to get an ear and nose trimmer,” so I’ve had to buy one on Amazon. It makes the world of difference. On the chest hair, man, I like the Tom Selleck look.
Aaron: No no no, I’m saying, here’s the thing, no. Chest hair is fantastic, it’s amazing. It’s just when it peeks out of a crew neck shirt, and it goes out, that’s what I’m talking about. Chest hair, go for it. Everybody who’s listening to this, I think absolutely, you’ve got the audience Brett. Guys that come to me, a lot of them are younger guys that are still trying to be Abercrombie models.
Brett: I’ve given up on that.
Aaron: Exactly, exactly.
Brett: I’m done. I think another thing that a lot of guys skimp on is nails.
Aaron: Oh, yeah, yeah, feet, nails, feet.
Brett: Feet especially.
Aaron: Feet, oh my goodness, yes, oh lord. There is nothing that is more repulsive than looking down at a guy wearing flip flops or sandals and the nails are incredibly overgrown or discolored. You need to take care of those feet, I’m not saying to go get a pedicure, but pay attention. When you trim your fingernails, trim your toenails.
Brett: I’ll tell you too, women don’t like to have a man claw foot scraped in the middle of the night. When I got married, my wife was like, “Goodnight,” she’s like, “You scratched me with your hideous big toenail.” I was like, “Okay, I’ve got to pay attention to this stuff now.” Any other place? Skin care, I think there’s a lot of, I don’t really think about that, but you’ve got the skin care product. Why should guys care about their skin?
Aaron: Because once again, it boils down to wanting to age gracefully. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look good, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to age well. The sun is incredibly hard on our skin, it’s why I wear sunglasses outside, it’s why I put on SPF moisturizer. I’ve had loved ones that have had skin cancer, you need to take care of your skin. Drink plenty of water, it goes beyond just applying eye cream. It’s just about using a moisturizer, cleaning your face once or twice a day to remove that dead skin, exfoliate the grime, the grit. You want to make sure that you’re bringing that new, fresh, healthy skin up to the surface, and reducing the amount of black heads and blemishes due to excess oil and all the nastiness that builds up. It’s just about looking good and feeling great. I don’t know if that answers your question.
Brett: No no, it answers it. The thing is, you don’t be fastidious about this.
Aaron: No, not at all.
Brett: I think a lot of guys feel like they avoid it because they think, “Oh, it’s just like I’ve got to be girly about this,” but you don’t have to.
Aaron: No, absolutely not. There are many products out there that have a nice, masculine odor or scent, there are grooming companies that sell skin care exclusively for men. It’s something where I think our grandfathers might not have done it, but I think using just a daily moisturizer is becoming a bit more mainstream. It’s definitely something that a lot more men are being more conscious and diligent about.
Brett: Let’s shift gears here, we talked about personal presentation as far as grooming and style. I’d like to get your insights into this, because you, I think, have some really great insights. You are a 2 time Shark Tank contestant, and this is one of the most intense pitches a person can ever make. You’re in front of …
Aaron: It doesn’t get any worse.
Brett: You’re in front of Mark Cuban, you’re in front of, what’s his name, Mr. Wonderful. It’s on in front of millions of people, watching this on TV, so super intense. How do you prepare for a pitch like that?
Aaron: I joke with people, by the time I actually walk out of those doors, and the one thing, Shark Tank is such a great show. People think that there are cuts and takes, there’s not. If you screw up, you screw up, they leave it in and you keep going. There’s no cutting when you actually go out there and pitch. The other issue is that you’re out there for much longer than you see. The second time I was out there for an hour and a half, and they cut it to 12 minutes. I joke with people that by the time I go out there, I’ve been in that room 6,000 times. It really comes down to, for me, I am a big fan of visualization and practice. I could recite my pitch in my sleep backwards in Latin, I practiced and practiced. What I’m going to actually do is, I would try and get myself nervous when I would practice. I could get myself so amped up, and just put myself in there as much as I could that I would try to simulate or duplicate the anxiety that would come along with actually doing that.
The one thing that I wanted to make sure is, that I could just recite it, that it was almost like the alphabet, I didn’t want to think about it because I knew that I was going to be dealing with a lot of other things. Funny story, the first time I go out, and I’m getting ready. When you go out there to pitch, to make it even more just intense, when you walk out there’s a little x on that oriental carpet. They say, “Okay, you’re going to walk out and you’re going to stand there, and then you’re going to stare down the sharks for 30 seconds in complete silence.” Everybody is out there, and you go out and you stand there. You’re just looking at these people, nobody’s talking. All of a sudden you hear a voice come over the loudspeaker, says, “And pitch.” You go right into it. The first time I was on there, I’m standing there, getting ready to pitch, I’m super nervous, butterflies are crazy.
All of a sudden, Barbara looks over to Robert and says, “Oh my gosh, look at his ears.” All of a sudden, this woman is looking fun of my ears, because they are a bit Spock-like. I thought to myself, “You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m about to pitch for my life, and you’re making fun of my ears, awesome.” Just practice, practice, practice, practice, practice.
Brett: Know your stuff for the questions.
Aaron: That’s the other thing that blows my mind about Shark Tank, and you know what questions they’re going to ask. Brett, you’ve never been on, but you know what questions they’re going to ask.
Brett: I know exactly what they’re going to ask, every single time. “What’s the revenue for a month, what’s profit, what’s this?” There’s people just like, “I, blah, don’t know.”
Aaron: Know your numbers, Shark Tank 101.
Brett: Any pitch, practice, practice, practice.
Brett: Visualize, and then just know your stuff, know your numbers, everything inside and out. Hey Aaron, this has been a great conversation, and I wish we could continue because there’s a lot more we could dig into. Where can people find out more about your work?
Aaron: My website, Iamalpham.com, is where all of my videos are, or you can just search in YouTube Alpha M, M as in male, and find more than you wanted to. I talk about pretty much anything, nothing’s off limits. I just have a lot of fun, and yeah. YouTube is probably where I’d be most proud if people went and checked me out there.
Brett: He does get into everything, there’s some questions that you’d be surprised, he’ll address it in his YouTube video.
Aaron: I do it as diplomatically as possible.
Brett: You do your job, and you keep it fun, and you keep it fun.
Aaron: Thank you, thank you. I’m like blue cheese, at first you might not like me, but if you watch a few more I may grow on you a bit.
Brett: Aaron Merino, thank you so much for your time, it’s been a pleasure.
Aaron: Brett McKay, absolutely, and thank you.
Brett: My guest here was Aaron Merino, he is a men’s style consultant, style expert and owner of several businesses. You can check out his amazing style content on Iamalpham.com, or just go to YouTube and search I Am Alpha M, and you’ll find his stuff. Also check out the show notes at Aom.is/merino for links to resources where you can delve deeper into this topic. That wraps up another edition of The Art Of Manliness Podcast, for more manly tips and advice make sure to check out The Art Of Manliness website at Artofmanliness.com, our show is edited by Creative Audio Lab here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. If you have any audio editing needs or production needs, they’re the place to go. You can find out more information about them at Creativeaudiolab.com. As always, I appreciate your continued support, and until next time this is Brett McKay telling you to stay manly.
Last updated: December 5, 2016