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I have a confession to make: I don’t make my bed. I never saw the point in it; I’m just going to mess up the covers again that night. I don’t spend much time in my bedroom, and my guests don’t spend any, so it’s not as if anyone has to keep looking at my bed’s “disheveled” appearance during the day. 

I realize that not making your bed has a bit of slovenly shame associated with it. Making your bed seems more organized, more cleanly. In fact, when it comes to daily habits, it even has some cool cache. It’s the kind of foundational habit a four-star naval admiral could base a commencement address, and book, around, and even claim could very well help you change the world. It’s the kind of habit that makes you feel like a stoic soldier — an outward behavior that supposedly reflects the tidiness of an equally disciplined mind. 

Given this cool, cleanly cache, I felt surprised (and a little vindicated) when I came across the following passage while recently reading A Bachelor’s Cupboard — a manual for young men on how to live independently published in 1906:

A woman who, as the mother of several sons, has many young men as guests at her large country house, says she can invariably judge a man from the care he takes of his room. A young man who has been well brought up, she says, never fails to turn back his bedclothes [sheets and blankets] upon arising in the morning. If the clothes, sheets and all, are turned back smoothly over the footboard and the pillows placed near the open window in a convenient chair, she decides that the young man’s mother instilled into him that good breeding which makes neatness and cleanliness and care imperative to his comfort and that of his hostess. She further adds a few remarks on the ‘fine husband that man is going to make’ who remembers the little things, but they would be out of place in a bachelor book.

So, the standard for neatness and cleanliness a century back was the opposite of what it is today: rather than pulling his sheets and covers back over his bed up to the headboard, a well-bred gentleman was supposed to drape his bedding over the footboard, leaving both the blankets and the sheet-covered mattress entirely open to the air. Such an airing out was thought to promote freshness and good health (hence why you would also place your pillows by an open window).

One could chalk up this practice to outdated notions of hygiene. But it triggered a memory in me; I thought I remembered that there was modern research done some years ago that backed up this old idea.

I fired off a google search, and indeed, I had remembered correctly.

In 2005, a study was published which found that not making your bed may be better for you than making it.

More than a million dust mites live in your bed. These microscopic critters feed on the flakes of skin you slough off in your sheets, and thrive in warm, moist environments. 

When you make your bed in the morning and cover your pillow and mattress with the thick layers of your sweat-infused bedding, you better enable these cozy conditions. 

By leaving your bed open to the air and sunlight, you can create a drier, less hospitable environment for the mites. As the lead researcher on the aforementioned study, Dr. Stephen Pretlove, explained to the BBC

Something as simple as leaving a bed unmade during the day can remove moisture from the sheets and mattress so the mites will dehydrate and eventually die.

Sleeping with dead, dehydrated dust mites may not seem significantly more appealing than lying with moist, live ones, but it’s their fecal matter (yes, dust mites are pooping in your bed) that trigger allergies and asthma. In a week’s time, a single mite can excrete hundreds of allergy-creating fecal particles. Dry up the mites, and you dry up this supply of aggravating allergens, potentially allowing you to breathe better at night. 

Of course, to get the full, freshening effect of this, you should drape your bedding over the footboard of your bed, as The Bachelor’s Cupboard instructs, rather than leaving your sheets in a half-on/half-off rumple. Which does take a bit more effort, though not quite as much as making your bed. It’s unclear if this habit will help you change the world, but it will perhaps make it slightly less gross. 

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Skill of the Week: Throw a Boomerang

A man’s ability to adapt to any situation is an important part of his masculinity. We’re republishing an illustrated guide from our archive every Sunday so that you can improve your manly knowledge week by week.

The process usually goes like this: You buy a boomerang in a toy shop because it sounds interesting. You can throw it in an open field. Throw it half a dozen times, only to hear it crash to the ground about 20 feet from where you are standing. Place the boomerang at the back of the closet and forget about it.

It’s easy to understand why boomerangs frustrate. It’s not intuitive like throwing a football or baseball. The key to a successful throw is the correct grip, throwing motion and evaluation of your circumstances. Make sure you are using a “returning” boomerang. Many of them are only for decoration and fly around as well as snow globes.

Ted Slampyak, Illustration

The Art of Manliness first published the Skill of the week: Throwing a Boomerang.

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Sunday Firesides: Protect the Sanctum Sanctorum of Selfhood

The innermost chamber of the temple of the ancient Israelites was known as the Holy of Holies – the sanctum Sanctorum. Here, according to legend, heaven and earth met. The curtain that separated this sanctuary was only opened by the High Priest, and when he walked out, it was said his face would glow.

Soren Kierkegaard, the philosopher, believed that everyone should have their own sanctum sacrum – a private sanctuary in his mind/heart/spirit which offered a haven to his “private persona” and barred all interlopers from entering.

We live our lives for, by, and with others in almost every aspect of our life. We are motivated either by the literal or imaginary gaze of an audience. We act to avoid embarrassment and gain affirmation. We take in opinions from all corners of the cultural landscape. Peers influence us long after we leave adolescence.

This social structure can bring about a lot of good.

There must be a place in your self where you can stop being so porous. You can use this space to house your unwavering convictions, sacred values, and creative visions that you want to remain untainted by all that’s stupid, degrading and profane.

It is important to have a special place in your soul, one that is not based on other people’s frameworks. This sanctuary should be where you can retreat and chant the incantations of your choice.

Stop converting people into brands and their lives into content.

You cynics need to get out.

You need to get out of this room with your attempts to call good good and evil evil.

You must have a place in your innermost self that you can close the curtains behind you to commune with the most sacred thing on earth, unadulterated personality.

The Art of Manliness published the article Sunday Firesides: The Sanctum sanctorum of Selfhood first.

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A Guide to Shrinking Levi’s 501 Shrink-to-Fit Jeans

I would not call myself a denim head, but I appreciate a good pair of jeans.

Raw denim jeans are a type of jeans I have experimented with before.

What is raw denim?

The majority of denim jeans that you purchase today have undergone a pre-washing and treatment process known as “sanforization”. This is done to soften the fabric, prevent shrinkage and stop indigo from rubbing off. Raw denim jeans (also called “dry” denim jeans) are jeans that haven’t been pre-washed and treated.

Raw denim jeans are a great choice because they begin as a blank slate that can be customized to your liking. Raw denim jeans are different from mass-produced jeans, which have faux distressing and fading that is identical for each pair. The distressing and fading of raw denim is determined by the body type you wear and the way you wear it. Raw denim is also tailored to fit your body. Each pair is unique, and has a custom-made look.

Levi’s 501 STF jeans are the best way to get raw denim jeans at a reasonable price. This is not a sponsored or affiliated post. It’s an American classic. Your grandpa likely owned a pair. They only cost $50 and will last a lifetime.

501 Shrink to Fit jeans are not pre-washed so you will need to undergo a special shrinking and sizing process to get the perfect fit.

Levi’s offers some guidelines to help you with this. They were mixed in results.

Here are the results and tips that I learned from my experiment to shrink Levi’s jeans 501 STF.

Levi’s 501 Jeans Shrink to Fit: How to size them

Understanding the Levi’s 501 Shrink to Fit jeans sizing process is key to getting a perfect fit. Your choice of size will be determined by the shrinking method you intend to use. Levi’s offers the following options-dependent guidelines.

Wear them in the tub and keep them on to dry. For those who wish to wash and dry their jeans in a machine, we recommend ordering a size up. Increase your waist by 1″ for sizes 27″-36″, 2″ for 38’’-48’’, and 3” for sizes 50″. For your inseam you can increase it by 3′” for sizes 27’’-34’’, and 4’’ for 36’’. They should be bought true to size.

To determine which method of sizing/shrinking produced the best results, i tried all three. Here are the results.

The old-school shrink-to-fit method

The traditional shrink-to fit method calls for you to purchase 501s in your true size at the waist, but two sizes larger in the length. Then, you wear them in the bath and let them dry.

This method requires me to buy 501s in 33×34. I normally wear 33×32 jeans.

I chose a more complex process I saw on other menswear websites that claimed to produce the same results without the need to wear wet jeans or drip indigo around the house. Here’s the step-by-step:

Step 1: Soak Jeans

Fill up your bath with hot water. To minimize the loss of indigo during soaking, turn the jeans inside-out. Place the jeans into the tub and make sure the water is hot enough to cover them. Allow the jeans to soak in hot water for 45 to 60 minutes.

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