please advise

Ask Chris Black: How Should a Guy Make His House Smell Good?

Photo: Yimmy Yayo

If you’re looking for the most powerful hair dryer or handiest chef’s knife, those things can be easy enough to find. Other objects of desire are a little more taste-based. What’s the next status water bottle or hand wash, for instance? Regular readers of the Strategist will know that we’ve turned to resident Cool Guy Chris Black (he’s a partner at brand consultancy Public Announcement) to help us answer both of those questions, and to get more of Chris’s advice, he’s now answering reader questions for us in a regular column. If you have a burning question about the next fanny pack or Noah rugby shirt, drop us an email with the subject line “Ask Chris” at

How should a guy make his house smell good? Do you have a favorite candle? Room spray? Diffuser oil? Dryer sheet?

First of all, don’t be a slob. Having a clean and fresh smelling home is crucial to success. I buy white lilies from the inimitable Sunny’s Florist in the East Village every week, they look great and smell even better. I get it though, most bros ain’t buying fresh flowers. Candles are the most convenient option. I have a lovely rotation that has taken years to perfect.

For the colder months, my mainstay is the Byredo Ambre Japonais, a blend of coriander seed and black pepper with a little bit of bourbon and vanilla on top.

When it warms up, I like Diptyque’s Patchouli. It doesn’t smell like the green room at a Phish show — it’s the perfect mix of woodsy and herbal.

If I am not burning those, I might have some Aoyama incense from Astier de Villatte going. It reminds me of Southern California — iris, patchouli, cedarwood, eucalyptus, and vetiver. If you need more options check out anything from Joya or D.S. & Durga. Another pro-tip: buy some potpourri from Santa Maria Novella for the bathroom. Trust me.

I’m still using the same Comme des Garçons wallet, and the zipper is literally hanging by a thread. What wallet has everyone else moved on to since then?

The zippered Comme des Garçons wallet is an absolute classic that I will not disparage in any way. But yes, it sounds like it is time to move on. Luckily, small leather goods are the perfect time to FLEX and align yourself with a designer brand. From cardholder to bi-fold, the options are truly endless … and relatively affordable.

I myself use a classic Thom Browne card holder, it’s black pebble grain calfskin. (Full disclosure: I work for the brand.) It’s understated and chic, two traits I strive for in every facet of my life.

Are you a classic black Prada guy? An iconic brand, an iconic logo. Plenty of room for all of your platinum credit cards.

Does a Gucci snake tickle your fancy? This isn’t for me, but maybe you like to eat dinner at Tao.

A signature black woven leather billfold from Bottega Veneta is always a good choice. Woven leather just seems durable, plus this larger size is great for receipt hoarding.

Something colorful from Loewe leans a bit festive for my tastes, but still gets the job done. Choose wisely, a quality wallet will be in your pocket for years. The older they get, the better they look. Wish I could say the same about myself.

What vitamins do you take?

After I stopped abusing prescription pills, I really stepped up my vitamin game. We all want to be operating at the HIGHEST level, and vitamins help you accomplish that. Optimized performance, baby! I am not an expert, but here is what I take to keep my temple well-oiled.

Rids the body of toxins. Apparently good for hangovers if you participate in that sort of stuff. Looks cool.

Healthy vision, skin, bones — crucial shit.

I am a 36-year-old man. Gotta keep the prostate healthy.

Brain function. I did a lot of damage over the years, anything helps.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

Ask Chris Black: How Should a Guy Make His House Smell Good?