How did “close call” and “close shave” get to be idiomatically synonymous? Probably in ye olden days a duke nearly got his jugular nicked by his surgeon-barber and cried out, “Knave! That was close!” Having an accident with a straight razor, was, after all, a hazard of choosing beardlessness over burliness back then.
But if you take the term “close shave” at face value, that is, to mean neither a narrow escape or a close call but rather a nice, smooth jawline wrought by suds and steel, your close shave can be a true gentleman’s mark, a real thing of beauty. And not a drop of blood spilled. After all, you don’t have to take your life into your own hands to look smooth. And why rake the metal blades over your cold, stubbly face when you can hire someone to do a better job? Every gent can and should appreciate a little old-school barbershop pampering.
And so we rouse you to ditch the cozy confines of your bathrooms and get thee to the barber ASAP. Order up a classic shave. The hot towel, brush and straight razor treatment will grow some hair on your chest. (You can get it waxed off later; just book an appointment.)
Here are some locations you can get a sharp-looking jaw across the nation.
NYC.: NEW YORK SHAVING COMPANY
The décor: wood and leather, brass-studded chairs, brick, tile and auburn-colored wood. The New York Shaving Company offers the usual gamut of services, from a beard and mustache trim to a not-just-for-ladies shampoo and blow-dry. Like the bald-all-over look? The Ultimate Shave and Head Shave combo goes for $60. The New York Shaving Company’s Tonsorial Parlor also goes the extra mile, offering straight razor shaving classes so you can wield the knife safely in your own mighty fist. Lessons in straight razor sharpening and shaving go from $30 to $60. The New York Shaving Company also sells their own line of shaving creams, aftershave balms and more. Visit: NYShavingCompany.com.
WASHINGTON, D.C.: BARBER OF HELL'S BOTTOM
This joint looks great and feels better. The Barber of Hell’s Bottom is elegant and masculine all at once. The shop features traditional barber chairs, a beautifully tiled black and white floor, wood finishes and heavy mirrors. Other details, like a church pew and metal lamps, set the old-timey yet modern tone. A cut averages between $60 and $75 and a shave goes for $50. Like most barbershops, they’ll trim that hillbilly beard of yours, but they also offer a service known in the male esthetic industry as “gray blending,” which we assume is a your-dye-job-secret’s-safe-with-us hair tint. Visit: BarberofHellsBottom.com.
AUSTIN: FINLEY'S FOR MEN
This Texan barbershop is elegantly decked out with dark wood detailing and boxy, modern barber chairs. The joint’s all about simple lines and clean elegance. The “Ultimate Experience,” for $98, includes the Premiere Hair Package, Perfect Shave and Executive Hand Detail. Howdy, partner, you never looked so Southwest swanky. Visit: FinleysforMen.com.
L.A.: THE SHAVE BEVERLY HILLS
Head for the hills. At L.A.’s classic-yet-understated The Shave, you can get a quickie shave, otherwise known as the “Out in 30,” and the hilarious-yet-painful-sounding “Sweater Removal” à la 40-Year-Old Virgin, which bills for upwards of $50. (The cost varies, presumably, according to the wooliness of a gentleman’s “sweater.”) There’s also a family bonding “Dad and Lad” cut that goes for $100. The shop’s best deal? When you go in for a “Signature Shave” you get a complimentary drink—whiskey, wine, beer or sparkling water are all on the menu. Now that’s civilized. Visit: TheShaveBeverlyHills.com.
CHICAGO: STATE STREET BARBERS
Featuring everything from beard shaping to haircuts (and the cuts are dubbed such awesome monikers as “Gentleman in Training”), State Street Barbers do the classic hot towel, dollop of warm lather and just a smarting pinch of aftershave balm treatment. But they also offer some complimentary extras, like shoulder massages and hot beverages, ensuring you leave the barbershop feeling like a new man. The shop also books groups, so you can get your groomsmen mowed down and mopped up in time for the old ball-and-chain ceremony. Visit: StateStreetBarbers.com.
BOSTON: LUXURY BOX BARBERSHOP
This South Boston barbershop is on the not-so-pricey end, and it’s got a warm, down-home vibe. It’s the type of place you’d see Cheers’ Sam Malone sidle into, and of course they’d know his name. It’s classy, it’s sporty, it’s a shop for an unpretentious guy. Featuring leather chairs and flatscreen TVs, Luxury Box’s haircuts start at $18 and hot shaves go for $25. We call that a deal. Visit: LuxuryBoxbarbershop.com.