Party Prep Made Easy: Look & Feel Your Best This Party Season
Jeremy Langmead gives you a tight edit of quick-fix men's grooming products
Dec 03, 2022
About Jeremy Langmead
Jeremy Langmead is an editor and writer (a columnist for The Times and author of Vain Glorious: A Shameless Guide For Men Who Want To Look Their Best) and is currently a Senior Advisor to Humanery. Jeremy is the former brand and content director of MR PORTER, the online men's style destination. Previously he has been the editor of Esquire, Wallpaper and the Sunday Times Style magazines.
When I worked for a global menswear retailer, there were about 600 of us in the large open-plan offices in west London. So you can imagine the logistics of trying to organise the annual Christmas party: finding a venue and budget big enough to accommodate and satisfy everyone was no mean feat. And pre-pandemic, before working from home was an option for some, the flurry of activity and excitement as everyone prepared to go from work wear to party outfit was palpable.
The loos were heaving with employees of all genders vying for space in the cramped cubicles to change their clothes (this was a fashion company and dressing up for the night was taken very seriously) and jostling for room in front of the bathroom mirrors to add some finesse to face and hair. Even here, in a fashion-forward e-commerce company, where most employees were aged in their twenties and thirties, the men were more reticent and self-conscious about being seen to spend too much time on their hair, or applying a dab or two of concealer. The only grooming function they were happy to perform vigorously in front of others was applying liberal amounts of deodorant and brushing their teeth.
So over the years I worked out a tight edit of quick-fix products that would be easy to carry in a work bag and apply with speed and ease whilst perched in a cubicle with one hand holding an iPhone for a mirror. This is my from grim-to-glam in less than five minutes regime.
1. Your hair and eyes
Your hair and your eyes are going to be noticed the most at a party. Your mouth will spend most of the evening hidden behind a cocktail glass. So start with your hair. The chances are there won’t be a shower at work (and even if there is, the queue will be long) so you’ll need a small amount of product to add some bounce and lustre if it’s looking a little work-weary and flat.
The easiest way to get that clean, shower-hair back in an instant is hair powder (most brands tend to sell these in small portable containers). Hair powder will give you back some volume, disguise any oil or moisture your hair has absorbed during the day, and make styling it a little easier. You merely sprinkle a small amount of powder into the roots and lightly run it through your hair. Some people use this as a styling tool, too, but for sharper look for a party I tend to finish the job off with a small amount of matte hair clay. This adds some finesse and hold.
2. Make your skin feel and look refreshed
The second task is to quickly make your skin feel and look refreshed. Remember you’re sitting in a cubicle, away from a sink, so make sure you also packed some hand wipes so that you can clean the hair gunk from your hands before applying anything to your face.
First off, I use an all-over nourishing cream to add some moisture to the skin, help brighten its appearance a tad, and bring with it a light, invigorating scent. This will be the element of the regime that you should invest in the most, financially. A good cream will have short term as well as long term benefits.
Next-up, a tinted moisturiser if you want a little help to quickly even out your skin tones, disguise any blemishes, and give yourself a healthy glow under the party lights. Go for a light touch only, if you want it to appear natural, and you’ll be amazed at the subtle difference it can make.
Finally, an under-eye concealer will help hide dark circles or shadows around tired-looking eyes and make you appear more refreshed.
3. Tidy eyebrows
A defined and tidy pair of eyebrows will make more of a difference to your face than you would imagine.
Make your brows appear a little darker and stronger and somehow it helps lift your entire face as well as highlighting your eyes themselves. A tinted brow gel comb will effortlessly do all this for you. You can also use one of these to double up a a beard-rescue tool, too. It will help fill in any thinner areas of your beard or, if desired, darken any lighter or silver hairs.
4. Clean and happy teeth
You’re almost done. Open the cubicle, check the mirror in the full light of the bathroom to ensure that you’ve got the balance and application right, pop a toothpaste tablet in your mouth - easier to carry than a tube of toothpaste - brush teeth happily with all the others and then it’s time to get changed.
5. The final step - a crisp pressed shirt
Finally, if despite the above you’re still feeling a bit end-of-day-ish, the transformative powers of a freshly-pressed white or pale blue cotton shirt (worn over newly-applied deodorant) can not be underestimated. The crispness of the shirt somehow soothes your face, improves your stature, and energises your mood. It’s like sartorial Viagra.
The products mentioned here will not take long to apply, fit easily into your work bag, and really do deliver.
The ideal is to look as if you’ve spent some time getting ready for the party and then forgotten about how you look altogether.
Considered yet carefree. Enjoy the night.