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On today’s docket, we have a small company in Chicago selling “solid colognes”. Ever heard of it? Neither had I. Unsolicited reviews are a tricky beast here at The American Classic; our policy is typically that we’ll take a look at whatever you’ve got but there’s no guarantee you’ll get a review. We’d much rather talk about the things we love and think you should love, too, rather than dwell on negative things. The gents from Alfred Lane reached out a few weeks ago for a review and following our policy, they’ve found themselves with this review because their product is fucking cool. Based in Chicago, these guys have released a line of compact, solid colognes that are designed to be thrown in a bag and reapplied whenever. They’re unobtrusive, packaged in a super slick vintage-inspired sliding tin, and provide an easy way to apply with zero mess. Read the full article here.

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Let me preface this whole thing by saying that your nose is the most subjective tool in your arsenal of senses. Not everyone smells the same things and sometimes scents can conjure up weird memories (ex-girlfriend perfume) or trigger adverse reactions because of personal tastes. On another note, there are over 15.7 million results on Google for “how to apply cologne”. There’s a right way and there’s a seriously absolutely never-do-this-again wrong way. The right way: if you have a spray bottle, spritz it lightly on your neck or just below your shirt line. If you have a dab-bottle (just a plain ol’ bottle of liquid), dab it lightly around the same area. If you have these solid colognes, apply to this area as well. Here’s the wrong way: spray it on your wrist, in the crook of your elbow, around your shoulders and chest, and behind your knees. Don’t ever do that. Too much cologne is a very, very bad thing and while a little common sense goes a long way, people mess this up regularly.

Currently Alfred Lane offers three distinct scents: Brio, Bravado, and Vanguard. I’m a man of simple tastes when it comes to scented products; I wear Portland General Store‘s Tobacco cologne which is spicier than anything I’ve worn before. I typically go for the cleanest, simplest smells that I can associate with my body. These guys have nailed the spectrum pretty well in terms of finding a range of flavors for all types of dudes. A major factor that Alfred Lane has going for it is how portable this is. Not only is the cologne solid which means very little chance this stuff will leak all over the place, but it’s neatly packaged in a metal tin for portability (though I found that I didn’t have to reapply at all through the day). I was at a wedding last fall and I half-drunkenly spilled 1/2 of my PGS cologne on my watch and belt. Not only is that a crazy amount of money down the drain, but now my everyday-wear items perpetually smell like the cologne. Not a bad thing, could have been some nastier substance but it sure was a bummer. Something like the solution that Alfred Lane has here eliminates that from ever happening. These are also super affordable with each scent ringing in around $18.

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Brio is the most traditional “cologne” smell of the bunch. It’s spicy, it’s interesting, it’s manly. It’s got a certain muskiness to it that smells great after a slow release on your skin. Alfred Lane describes it as “pure vigor and vivacity. The mossy, woody fragrance is musky and warm; a blend of vetiver and spicy top notes”. I had to look up vetiver and it’s an essential oil extracted from a type of grass so if that guides your vision of this smell at all, there you have it. I tested Brio in a blind smell test with some friends and of the guy crowd, this one had the most votes for the best smell.

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Bravado’s a clean yet interesting partner to Brio; I say clean but there’s an undertone of something much more interesting: sandalwood, a hint of bay rum, and more complex things that I can’t quite identify. I’d say this is the most interesting of the bunch; not the least traditional in the cologne world but the one that’s the hardest to pin down. Alfred Lane describes it as “woodsy…seductive and complex with spicy notes of nutmeg, sandalwood, leather, and tobacco”. Sandalwood, leather, and tobacco. I’m fucking sold. Those are some of my favorite things. For all you lady-pleasers out there, this was my lady friend’s favorite.

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Vanguard was my favorite. It reminds me of that awesome feeling of wet shaving (which I do rarely) and taking a hot shower, leaving the bathroom full of steam and clean smells of simple bar soap, shaving cream, and after shave. This one you had to get pretty up-close to get the full effect. It’s not a strong smell but it’s a damn good one. Alfred Lane describes it as “spicy, sweet…refreshing, a fresh and fruity blend of sweet spice and woods”. I dig it. This one wins in my book, though smell as I have found over the years is the most subjective sense.

All in all, I recommend giving these guys a shot. $18 for a tin is a super low investment and you can get all three for less than most small bottles of high end cologne. Pick ‘em up at their website or one of their stockists.

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