15 Things Every Man Should Have – Not According to Tom Ford

Tom Ford's 15 Things


Editor’s note: A week ago, Warren Sandefur saw a list by Tom Ford of “15 Things Every Man Must Have” and was angered by it. Tom’s list includes a lot of pretentious items in his opinion. So he wrote a list of his own. He recruited a couple of friends, Lauren Hale and Jess Howard, to help and together they came up with the following list to counter Tom’s list.

Here is their list:


What Every Man Should Have:

1. A handkerchief you carry.

2. A quality flashlight.

3. A pocket knife.

4. A set of jumper cables.

5. A functional toolbox filled with the necessities including duct tape.

6. A rifle, a shotgun, and a pistol with which you are intimately familiar.

7. A working knowledge of compasses, maps and topography.

8. Rope and a tarp, because someday you might need them.

9. Books on your nightstand.

10. A hobby. A real hobby. Something which energizes you and makes your heart race. Your hobby should add to your life and give you character. Oh, and be able to school anyone about your hobby without using the internet.

11. Honor and Respect. Honor your word. Respect those who deserve it.

12. A family. Make it one that is eager for and deserving of you.*

13. A sense of direction. You know that little voice you choose to ignore? Stop ignoring it.

14. Scars. Tattoos aren’t scars. Scars are your personal reminder of where you’ve been, what you’ve done, and what you’ve learned.**

15. Progeny. You’ve lived life. Pass it on.

16. Faith. Be it a faith in God or something else, cling to it fiercely. Focus on life and remain reliant on this faith. Know what you believe and why you believe it.

17. The ability to know when to laugh, particularly at yourself. Life is not always about being serious. Life won’t take you seriously so don’t give it the satisfaction.

*”Family” does not necessarily indicate blood relation.
**All scars are not physical.


What do you think? What are the things every man must have?


books nightstand


Photo: Flickr/Charles Williams


  1. Yeah and to everyone who disagreed with #6 (guns), with you 100%. Firearms just are not necessary unless demanded by your line of work (agriculture, defense). As for faith, I would replace that with reason. Every person (of any gender or sex) should possess the ability to reason, criticise and analyse, and should actively maintain that faculty.

  2. I don’t understand why this list applies only to men…

  3. List 1 is wanky in the extreme.
    List 2 harkens to an age that is gone. Way gone.
    Fine if you adhere to either. Don’t embarrass yourself in the belief that either Maketh A Man.

    If you have to look on the internet for a specific list that will let you know when you’re a Full-Fledged Man (TM), you’re in trouble. Why is there the need for every Dick, Tom and Harry to assume they have discovered the perfect recipe for life?

  4. There’s a lot of anti-“pretentious” pretension in your counter-list.

  5. I’ll give them half credit for faith, but only half. If you’re talking about living by the golden rule (basically, don’t be an asshole), that gives you half credit. But sorry, I just don’t buy having an invisible friend, and the myth supporting organized religion is just that – a myth. Myths and Invisible Friend? No way.

    And guns. Really? REALLY? It’s insulting to men that firearms are on the must-have list. Really??

  6. Perhaps we need to be a bit less ambitious. Some of these lists are getting awfully long. So, here’s a question. What do you carry about with you, in your pockets, a man bag, on your person. Here is my list.

    1. Wristwatch (to tell the time, day, and date);
    2. Alicia Klein Taxi Wallet with bills, coins, credit card, debit card, drivers license, health insurance cards, and credit card receipts;
    3. iPhone;
    4. Pen and battered notepad of the field-book variety;
    5. Hearing aids, batteries, remote control;
    6. Handkerchief (to wipe my nose);
    7. Keyring with keys to office, home, car, mailbox, deceased father’s house and frequent shopper tags; and
    8. Spectacles.

  7. I’m very happy that my husband doesn’t wear cologne.

  8. Allan Mott says:

    Gotta say that Tom’s list is a lot more practical to me than the new alternative. I’d much rather invest in nice clothes than firearms and I’m not about to put myself in any situation where GPS is unavailable and I have to rely on a compass. I’m guessing both lists would be better labeled as “A Bunch Of Things I Like and Think Make My Life Better and You Will Benefit From”.

  9. I don’t think the Tom Ford list was meant to spark a debate over the role of faith and guns in our lives. Just a practical suggestion on basic lifestyle necessities. Obviously, atheists can live happy, productive lives without lying to themselves, too.

    Here’s some real advice:

    These are pictures of “go bags” that people carry on a daily basis, so you can get some idea of what you might want to carry around with you:

    This is a set of videos talking about issues of style and clothing for men. Really useful.

  10. I find the Tom Ford list way more practical. It doesn’t demand or presume. I know some of the items, like the watch, are things I don’t use, so I ignore them. Some of the items, like the newspaper, are symbolic. I read the news and stay well-informed, but not with paper-and-ink. The advice on basic wardrobe is useful and I’ll keep it in mind (but not follow it slavishly).

    The second list is useless. I don’t even know what a handkerchief is for. I carried a pocketknife for years until it was confiscated by the TSA and never used it once. I have no use for a single weapon, much less three different firearms. I’d rather spend that money on a new laptop. The part about progeny and faith is just creepy.

  11. Another Kevin says:

    Given some of the responses to this, I would add:

    The understanding that not everything is meant to be taken literally.

    And I particularly like 17.

  12. Must have:

    1 – Belief in something greater than oneself
    2 – Health
    3 – People (family/friends/family-by-choice -blood is not thicker than water, love is deeper than blood)
    4 – Time in the wilderness (open to explore, open the mind to be curious, use imagination)
    5 – Individual thinker (his own man, on the side of fair play and honesty)
    6 – A dream, a cause, a purpose (using his God-given talents to create, build something from scratch)
    7 – Air, water, food, shelter (resourceful, foresight, resilient, persistent)
    8 – Superb personal hygiene (solid self-esteem/respect, secure, self-preservation, confident, happy)
    9 – Love of friends, family, and a good romantic partner (play time is so important to a balanced life)
    10 – Common decency (towards all)
    11 – Steady income (a vision; succeed, the world needs you)
    12 – Integrity, honesty, man of his word (being true to your authentic self)
    13 – Learning from mistakes and growing and learning and not repeating mistakes
    14 – Interested to live life and soak in all the adventures this beautiful world has to offer
    15 – Good hearted (compassion, humility, understanding, anything outside of creating love is vanity)
    16 – Laughter
    17 – Lots of sleep
    18 – Be strong, physically and psychologically, mentally stable, emotional mature, gentleness, transparent, warmth for human kind, lend a helping hand, smile
    19 – Anticipation is a wonderful thing
    20 – Having people be enthusiastic to hear your name, your voice, your walk, in seeing you …
    21 – Be safe to be around, no hidden agendas at the cost of someone else, what you see is what you get

  13. These lists are prime examples of the two extreme subcultures of manhood which have defined our place in America for far too long. On the one side, the wildly successful snob, loaded with cash, an individual polished to a sickly sheen, whose value as a human being comes from his place as financial provider and power over the lesser classes. The other firmly fits into that lesser class, the rugged, bearded “man’s man,” an equally absurd ideal, the emulation of which leads many men into attitudes of intractable misogyny, ruthlessness, and intolerance, and who often has no patience for any other form of manhood.

    You know, I have a list, too. It has one item on it.

    1. A personal, comfortable understanding of your own manhood*

    *Whatever form that might take, whether in a tuxedo or a bandoleer.

    Isn’t the idea of this site, which I love and read often, to expand and deepen the understanding of what it is to be a man, and not to squeeze it into a box?

  14. It is amusing and irritating to encounter the implicit notion that “Man” will apparently always depend on suits and tools (guns being a subset of tools ). I think of my father, who never owned a tuxedo or a gun, but was one hell of an auto mechanic. Funny, I never thought he was missing anything. Interesting notions, though, and I found useful things on both lists. But something hit me wrong: I have no use for tuxedos or guns, because I’m not James Bond. Nor do I want to be. Does that mean as a man I am an incomplete set? Fortunately, the people who love me do not think so.

    • Lauren Hale says:

      Kevin –

      No, it doesn’t mean you are an incomplete set.

      For me, the goal behind creating a different list was to show that not all men are created in the same form and sometimes, what one man needs is not what another man needs. I think it is far more important for a man to be aware of his reputation, his honour & respect, his sense of humour, for instance, than it is for a man to have any material thing.

      Material things cannot go with us. They do not MAKE us who we are as they cannot live inside our souls. But our attitudes, reflection, dedication, those things leave an everlasting impression on those we hold dear. And therefore, those are the things which matter most.


      • Kenneth P. says:


        Are you saying that this is ‘a’ man’s list then? I understand it was a response to Tom Ford’s, but I still thought you were presently an actual list for every man, vs. just making a point on that terminology.


      • Hi, Lauren! I agree with you on material things. They can define us and trap us. The tropes of guns and suits, though, is what I find truly saddening, those being ‘traps’. I am fortunate that I am in a position to move beyond these things because I am getting a better grip on myself and my notions of masculinity. I am also blessed with an amazing partner and friends who support me in my searches.

  15. Sorry but you completely lost me at #6. Exactly why must I possess and have experience with these firearms? I don’t hunt & a gun is a lousy defensive item (try blocking a bullet with a gun).

    I’ll add compassion & empathy to my list.

    • Although I own a gun, I was thinking the same thing. Its comical that this list asks that you be “intimately familiar” with you gun, but the only requirement of your tools is that they be “filled with the necessities including duct tape.” Guns don’t make the weaker strong, they make the stupid dangerous.

  16. “16. Faith. Be it a faith in God or something else, cling to it fiercely. Focus on life and remain reliant on this faith. Know what you believe and why you believe it.”


  17. A good pen and notebook of quality paper filled with thoughts and experiences

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