Andrew Snavely is a renaissance man.
Not only has he single-handedly created one of the best websites for men around, but he’s also a downright nice guy.
When it comes to helping guys become better men, few online magazines do a better job than his site, Primer. Especially for the everyday, 20-something man who’s just out of college and ready to take on the world.
At that age, a lot of guys have trouble relating to bigger men’s magazines like GQ. And any aspiring gentleman worth his salt knows that there are better places to learn about life than FHM or Maxim.
I caught up with Andrew recently, and we chatted about two of our shared passions: style and cocktails.
TDM: First, why are you passionate about men’s style? Was there a moment in your life that triggered your interest in wanting to dress better?
AS: Dressing well has always been an important part of how I convey myself to others. Blame it on growing up with two older sisters, or a desire to make a statement with girls as a teenager, I learned early on that how we dress is one of the most important parts of how we present who we are to the outside world. And it hasn’t failed me yet.
TDM: What is the most common fashion mistake guys make?
AS: Many style guys will tell you that the biggest mistake men make is wearing clothing that don’t fit, but I think there’s a bigger fundamental issue. The most common fashion mistake guys make is not feeling confident that they can “pull” certain looks or styles off, and so force themselves to dress in this lazy t-shirt and jeans loop instead of branching out, experimenting, and allowing their real personal style grow.
TDM: If I’m going to build my wardrobe, what’s a good way to approach it? How should I think about it?
AS: Building a wardrobe, especially on a budget is all about intentionality. Don’t just go to the mall and walk around stores, buying things you find. Have some items in mind, and go out and find the best version at the price you can afford. Following sources like magazines, Pinterest and tumblr, or series like Primer’s Getups, is a great, easy way to nail down specific essentials like a blue oxford shirt, a nice pair of dark, straight or slim jeans, and brown boots. (Those 3 items are a great start for any man.)
TDM: Online stores like Trunk Club and Bonobos are thriving, but men also have access to in-person stores. Do you have any tips on how to make the most of online shopping vs. brick and mortar shopping?
AS: It all goes back to shopping intentionally. When you know what you’re looking for, you can scoop it up when you find it on sale, either online or in-store. For example, I’ve been eyeing a new pair of olive chinos for awhile, so I’m always looking at options when out or browsing online. Eventually I’ll find a pair that balances quality with a great price.
TDM: Do you have any stories about guys who’ve transformed themselves by improving their wardrobe?
AS: One of the most rewarding parts of running Primer is the amazing life-changing comments I receive from readers. I’ve gotten a ton of letters from guys who used the foundational information on Primer to begin dressing their age to impress either potential mates, academic members, or their higher-ups at the office, and found that the small change in altering their appearance has had invaluable effect on their lives. Whether it’s getting in to a coveted grad program, being seen in a new light by a boss, or scoring a date with a beautiful woman, the simple change in how these men convey themselves has significantly enhanced their lives.
TDM: Now for cocktails…What interests you about cocktails and mixology?
AS: Mixology interests me on a number of levels. To me, a great cocktail combines several strong ingredients into a smooth and enjoyable drink. That fascinates me the way art or culinary cooking fascinates others. I also think it’s important for a gentleman to understand and be able to mix a few cocktails, just as it’s important to convey yourself with your appearance, it’s important to be able to offer company (especially on a big date) a delicious cocktail instead of something lazy and less-than-optimal tasting like liquor combined with soda. It enhances the evening, allows everyone to drink more (since it doesn’t taste like gasoline covered with sugar syrup), and is an impressive skill many don’t have.
TDM: How do you see the role of the cocktail in social settings and even business settings? How does it bring people together?
AS: I think that in today’s culture, meeting over a drink is one of the few ways to casually instigate a social experience. Whether it’s meeting a person for a first date, or trying to get to know a boss a little better, grabbing a drink together is one of the only relaxed, obligation-free ways of doing that. And since enjoying a cocktail after a long day of work is incredibly relaxing, it doesn’t feel like work.
TDM: What one cocktail should every man know how to make for himself? What about for a ladyfriend?
AS: For me, my go-to is the Old Fashioned. It’s simple, with only 3-4 ingredients, and really brings out the flavor in the whiskey while softening the harsher parts. For a ladyfriend who isn’t big on whiskey, the Old Fashioned would be a bit too harsh. I actually think that there are 3 drinks a guy should be able to nail for entertaining women: the Manhattan, the Martini, and the Cosmopolitan. Simple to memorize, and since each uses a different liquor as the base, there’s one for every woman’s taste.
TDM: The resurgence of cocktails in the last few years…how has it changed things for the better or worse?
AS: I think it has changed things for the better. Prior to the resurgence, many people never had anything more exciting than a Jack and Coke. Now, mixology-level cocktails are everywhere, and it encourages people to experiment and try new things.