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Ask Chris Black: What’s an Acceptable Wallet for an Adult Man?

Photo: Theis Mortensen

Chris Black has returned to The Strategist with a monthly column to answer all of your burning questions — from super-specific style predicaments and workout and tennis recs to foolproof host-gift ideas that will get you invited back to the beach house.

What is an acceptable amount of folds in a wallet?

Is this a trick question? The answer is none. Sitting on a fat wallet stuffed with receipts and credit cards is unbecoming and can cause back problems. The slim and straightforward cardholder is the only real option. There are so many great ones to choose from — none of which are made of aluminum or “military-grade materials” or advertised on podcasts. It holds everything you actually need. Cash — you should keep a minimum of $100 in 20s on you — can be folded alongside it and placed securely in the back pocket. I have laid out several options below. Choose your fighter.

I have used this cardholder for a few years, and it has proven sturdy and understated. It has plenty of space, and the subtle pebble leather is a nice touch.

The navy leather with a tasteful white contrast stitch feels classic, and it’s a subtle change from the standard black. The iconic grosgrain stripe is a nice touch.

If you drive a late-model Ford F-150, prefer brown leather, or watch every episode of Yellowstone, this one from Polo Ralph Lauren is for you. The ornate logo embossing makes it look pricier than it is.

If you want a statement piece that screams “I’ve got it” when the check hits the table, this lime green croc-effect leather card holder from the GOAT Tom Ford is perfect.

Recs for fresh, stylish business suits that don’t feel 2010s-era slim fit?

The skinny suit does feel like a relic in 2023, doesn’t it? Let’s leave the Topshop in the closet. You want something cool and comfortable but still office appropriate. I have ideas.

Cos always has nice, simple, well-cut, reasonably priced options, and this navy suit is no exception. Unstructured and lightweight are two keywords I look for, because it means the jacket will actually be comfortable. Three-button, single-breasted — you can’t miss.

I just got this chalk-stripe suit from my client J.Crew, and I absolutely love it. It’s 100 percent wool and more of a relaxed fit. Wear it with a tie and go super buttoned up, or pair it with a plain T-shirt. The price is right, too.

Black suits are tough. You don’t want to look like a waiter. This version from Cobra S.C. is as cool as it gets. The fit is distinctive and chic. It ain’t cheap, but you will have this one forever.

Skin-care routine for a guy approaching 30? Quick and easy preferred.

This is a great question I could answer by recommending classics like Cetaphil and Biologique Recherche P50. I could suggest you listen to back episodes of Dewey Dudes and get a facial from Raquel Medina-Cleghorn, but I thought I would phone a friend. Drew Stevens is my buddy from Toronto who founded a skin-care company called Margin. He has done years of extensive hands-on research and knows what works. I can’t believe I give this to you for free!

“The key to a great skin-care routine is consistency. While a world of ten-step routines awaits those willing to devote the time and energy, a simple three-step routine of cleansing, moisturizing, and applying SPF will deliver real skin benefits with minimal additional effort. Once you’ve got that routine on autopilot, you can focus on more targeted, supplemental steps that fine-tune your face via products like exfoliants, serums, and masks.”

Cleansing — a fancy term for washing your face — sets you up for skin success, removing build-up that can cause blemishes and providing a clean canvas for active ingredients to act upon. I am biased since it’s my brand, but I swear by the Essential Cleanser. Its low-foam gel is gentle enough to use twice a day without over-stripping the skin, made with plant-based surfactants and a high concentration of glycerin to help the skin retain moisture. (As a bonus benefit, it doubles as an effective shaving gel, leaving you with one less product to buy.) Use morning and night.”

“Moisturizing is a multifunctional step in skin care, hydrating, nourishing, and protecting freshly cleansed skin. As the weather gets cooler, Dieux’s cult-loved Instant Angel is a great barrier-boosting moisturizer, full of hydrating actives and skin-restorative ingredients that deliver a reduction in wrinkles and a gentle glow. One minor warning to those used to a lightweight lotion: This is a richer cream than you’ll be used to, but it’s still noncomedogenic. Use morning and night.”

“The most impactful preventative step in skin care is suncare, so the best SPF for you is the one you’ll consistently apply and re-apply. This option from the darling brand of dermatologists, EltaMD, is a broad-spectrum sunscreen combining mineral and chemical UV filters to deliver a sun-protection factor (SPF) of 46, exceeding the American Academy of Dermatology’s suggested minimum of SPF 30. With a lightweight texture and clear finish, it feels barely there when applied, earning it a spot in my tote bag, at my desk, and in my bathroom. They also offer a tinted version, which I use on dull days to punch up my appearance. Use morning, and reapply throughout the day.”

“Once you’ve got that routine on autopilot, you can focus on more targeted, supplemental steps that fine-tune your face via products like exfoliants, serums, and masks. Beyond the three-step system, here are two of my current routine boosters.”

“The OG vitamin C serum, this patented formula combines skin-care superstar vitamins C and E with ferulic acid at potent concentrations to create an antioxidant shield for the skin. Apply in the morning to protect against oxidative damage due to free radicals you’re exposed to in the environment, such as ozone pollution and exhaust.”

“Think of this multifunctional compound as a serum. It has shot to fame given its fast and visible results resurfacing areas of skin compromised by oxidative damage, reducing blemishes, and evening skin tone. Loaded with various exfoliating ingredients at low concentrations, the compound’s effectiveness comes from an encapsulated delivery system that targets damaged skin, reducing the concentrations of active ingredients needed to effectively treat the skin. The net result? It is an exfoliantlike compound I can use nightly without the irritation or overexfoliation risk of a product with a higher concentration of acids and retinoids. Use nightly.”

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: What’s an Acceptable Wallet for an Adult?