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Ask Chris Black: Do You Have a Favorite Fragrance?

Photo: Aaron Bengochea

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 previously turned to resident Cool Guy Chris Black (he’s a partner at brand consultancy Public Announcement) to help us answer both of those questions. For 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

You’ve told us about what you use to make your home smell good, but what about what you use to make yourself smell good? Any favorite lotions, oils, scents?

Unfortunately for you, I don’t use any Tom Ford body oil (YET!). I take my scents seriously, though; it’s a simple way to feel confident and make an excellent first impression.

For the last few years, I have worn Comme des Garçons Wonderwood, and I get compliments on it often. It’s relatively affordable and easy to find. They describe it as “elegant, masculine, and sensual” — who doesn’t want that?!

I also love Sunday Cologne from Strategist-approved Byredo. It’s citrusy, mellow, and poised (much like myself). Also, don’t forget the Byredo Vetyver bar soap. Your hands should smell good too!

Kiehl’s Musk is a sleeper classic for both men and women (designer Jenni Kayne is also a fan). It can be overwhelming — the bergamot nectar and orange-blossom top notes hit HARD — but I love it in winter.

And a little secret is the original Aesop spray-on deodorant, which smells incredible and mixes well with almost everything. Layering isn’t just for clothes!

We got the lowdown on the best white T-shirts, but what about the best button-down shirts? What are some options that, like a good white tee, will keep me comfortable but looking classy?

The simple Oxford button-down shirt is a wardrobe staple. As a basic, southern-born white male, I, of course, own several. I often wear a beat-up light-blue one from Uniqlo that I have had for eight-plus years. I have even had it repaired, which is insane since it costs like $30. Anyway, like all classics, there are levels to this shit! You can cop at any price point your heart desires.

If you want to go a step up from Uniqlo, you cannot go wrong with Brooks Brothers. The Regent Fit Oxford Sport Shirt (which is also available in light blue) is heavy-duty and cut a little slimmer, making it a smart choice. Brooks Brothers invented this shirt; your dad probably has a closet full of them!

Also, check my hometown hero Sid Mashburn, which opened in Atlanta before sprouting satellite stores in Dallas, Houston, L.A., and Washington, D.C. I also wear this one myself; it’s cut perfectly for tucking in for those who want to show off their ugly designer belt or newly svelte waistline.

And here is the Uniqlo one I spoke of, which can’t be beat for the price. As I mentioned, it comes in light blue and other colors, too. That said, Uniqlo doesn’t have some colors in a ton of sizes right now, but since the shirt is a basic, it usually restocks with regularity.

Maybe you are into FASHION. If so, how about this absolutely bonkers take from JW Anderson. This shit has two sets of cuffs! Go off!

Or, perhaps you like fashion but, at your core, you’re a classic man. The Oxford from Thom Browne (where, full disclosure, I am on the payroll) is conceived from durable poplin, a fabric I love. I also wear these often — I’m a size 3, which equates to a large — and have gotten used to the slim fit. I would go so far as to say it’s even a slimming fit. Who doesn’t want that?

Recently you helped a dude out with his first “interview” outfit, but what about the ladies? Can a girl get some ideas for some appropriate and affordable things to wear to make a standout first impression?

I am not a woman or a person who has ever had a real job. So I decided to hit the CB Bullpen and bring in my closer, Rachel Tashjian. Rachel is a brilliant writer at GQ who also possesses incredible personal style — in fact, she was one of the cool people whom you recently asked about the best button-down shirts for women. I will let her guide you from here.

“A lot of people will tell you the secret to a great interview outfit is to look COOL but inoffensive, but the truth is that a great interview outfit is one in which you feel totally at ease. This does not mean comfortable. Rather: You shouldn’t have to think about whether your shoes are bothering you, or if your statement necklace is making too much noise, or if your buttons are coming unbuttoned. You’re too smart for that! That leads us down the Path of Beautiful Résumés, straight past the Creek of Smart Casual, to the banks of the River of Two Options.”

“For the creative ninjas and rock-star content creators: Everything in the world revolves around a good jacket and a great pair of shoes. You really can’t skimp on these items, and if you choose to buy, say, this extremely on-sale Calvin Klein blazer from Barneys Warehouse, or a lightly worn pair of Manolo Blahnik pumps from the Real Real (the ones shown are a size 9.5, but there are dozens of other styles), you will live a life of zero regrets ever. You can wear a totally pointless nonentity of a black dress under these things with little gold earrings and I — a stranger on the street — would beg you to do my taxes and run my advertising campaign.”

“But for the luxury-basics lovers among us: Pull that sleepy Theory suit out of the back of your closet (or invest in a new one like this), and study how cool Diane Keaton looks in Baby Boom wearing a wardrobe of generic suits. She belts the suit. She has a great shoulder bag in addition to the fuddy-duddy briefcase. She makes a standard button-up into a Gucci pussy-bow extravaganza by looping a scarf under her collar. Find a great pair of Bally or Ferragamo shoes on Etsy or the Real Real and let a cobble give them a Clueless-level makeover. (“I’M GONNA BE A SUPERMODEL!”) Make those personality-free garments work for you.”

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Ask Chris Black: Do You Have A Favorite Fragrance?