My Morning Routine

⇾ Peter Nguyen, Personal Stylist

My Morning Routine

⇾ Peter Nguyen,
Personal Stylist

Getting up, looking good and staying on task with a style insider

Personal stylist Peter Nguyen
 

Peter Nguyen is a guy after our own heart. One who sweats the details in order to help guys look and feel their best. The former menswear designer did tours of duty at several high-end labels along with his own line of luxury leather jackets. But after a decade of designing, he opened his own personal styling business, The Essential Man. Why? “Because I was just exhausted from ghost designing for celebs that didn't know anything about fashion,” he says. “And I'd spent enough time in dark, hot factories running my own brand.” Still, he wanted to be involved in the fashion world because he loved it. And he always had a calling to help. That's when a business mentor recommended a shift to services. He now works with men, refining their wardrobes and personal style—thankfully, he can do a lot through scheduled video calls and customized guides—so the quarantine hasn't slowed him down much. But it has adjusted his routine. Here's how the man gets it all done.

The Series

Those moments between turning off the alarm and getting into our work routine can be the most defining 60 minutes of our day. Benjamin Franklin set a day's worth of plans by 5 am and Steve Jobs asked a simple question: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" Our rituals are a reflection of us. So we've ventured out to discover how some of our most influential and fruitful peers get started.

Peter Nguyen illustration

My Routine

I don’t jump out of bed.

I usually wake up around 6:30 am, but I don't get out of bed until seven. That's when my wife's alarm goes off and she gets up. I don't sleep with an alarm because I find it so jarring—it tends to put me in a bad mood.

I like my sleep.

I aim for eight to nine hours every night.

My nightstand is quite bare.

There's a pot with dried grass my wife brought back from her trip to Morocco. A hippie energy rock. I also have my glasses and AirPods on there. I often sleep with headphones on listening to podcasts.

I scroll through social media first thing ...

Oh I know it's wrong, but it works for me. I pretty much sit up in bed and check out Instagram, Twitter and YouTube for a half hour. After my wife wakes up, I lounge on the couch with my coffee and breakfast, check my to-do list for the day, then scroll and tag my emails while half watching YouTube until my wife leaves for work. I always make sure to kiss her goodbye.

My theme for every morning is “calm.”

I hate feeling rushed. My best work is done between 10 am and 5 pm, so I take my time in the morning to get ready.

I set aside time in the morning to journal.

The first time I sit at the computer I journal using the Journey app and reflect on the previous day. After that, I'll try to get in a workout. That really sets the tone for the day.

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I need a strong coffee.

I'll make either an iced espresso or an oat milk cortado, both of which I make using my Nespresso machine. Sometimes I'll grab a cold brew from a local coffee shop if I go out for a morning walk.

And I like a solid breakfast.

Lately it's been a homemade egg McMuffin. But after a night of drinking, I need an everything bagel, cold brew and orange juice from my corner coffee shop.

Carving out calm, work-free “me time” is vital.

That free time before 10 is the most important part of my morning. Even if I have time-sensitive things I have to work on, I don't blast through or skip the free time block. If I'm feeing anxious about needing to use my free time for work, I take it as a signal that I need to reevaluate the projects and timelines I've given myself.

I've come to learn that you fill the time you're given. If I have seven hours to do work, I'll find seven hours worth of work to do. If I give myself 12 hours, I miraculously have 12 hours of work to do. It's dangerous to let work leech into your free time, especially when you work for yourself.

I schedule almost everything.

From writing blocks and client calls to dates with my wife ... it's all slotted into my calendar. And then I make a short checklist in Apple Notes that I use during the day.

Fitness is extremely important to me.

My apartment building has an amazing gym, and when it was still open I would normally go down and do my workout about an hour after coffee and breakfast. I'm a morning workout person. I know after mentally draining myself with creative work, the last thing I want to do at night is workout.

But since COVID, it's been a huge challenge for me, especially since I work from home and have a small studio. It's made me realize the mental benefit of going to a physical gym. Thankfully, I have a personal trainer, Chris Coulson, who programs my nutrition and workout for me, so I usually follow what he gives me.

But I've learned to have a bit more empathy for myself during these times and have accepted that some of my goals—like fitness—have to take a backseat.

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I’ve tried a lot of grooming products.

And these are what I've found really work. Some are high-end, others are simple drugstore finds.

I don’t grow much facial hair.

I'm blessed (or cursed) with Asian genes. But I try to keep it trim and only need to shave every two weeks. I prefer a little stubble as going clean shaven de-ages me a good 20 years. I use a Philips Norelco multigroom trimmer, one of my favorites that I've tested through the years.

Peter Nguyen's favorite grooming products

Clockwise, from top left

Cream pomade,
$22 by Benjamin by Frank's Chop Shop

Advance Whitening toothpaste,
$3.09 by Arm & Hammer

Peppermint lip balm,
$3.27 by Burt's Bees

Antiperspirant wipes,
$18.99 by SweatBlock

Mojave Ghost hand cream,
$43 by Byredo

Melatonin gummies,
$10.99 by Natol

Fortifying shampoo and conditioner,
$7.39 by Dove Men+Care

PREVENTION+ moisturizer SPF 50,
$44 by Image Skincare

Multigroom all-in-one trimmer,
$19.95 by Philips Norelco

Mojave Ghost cologne,
$180 by Byredo

Peter Nguyen's favorite grooming products

Cream pomade,
$22 by Benjamin by
Frank's Chop Shop

Antiperspirant wipes,
$18.99 by SweatBlock

Mojave Ghost
hand cream,
$43 by Byredo

Fortifying
shampoo
& conditioner,
$7.39 by Dove
Men+Care

Melatonin
gummies,
$10.99 by
Natol

PREVENTION+ SPF moisturizer,
$44 by Image Skincare

Multigroom
all-in-one
trimmer, $19.95
by Philips Norelco

Mojave Ghost
cologne,
$180 by Byredo

Peppermint
lip balm,
$3.27 by
Burt's Bees

Advance Whitening toothpaste,
$3.09 by Arm & Hammer

“I layer this under my normal deodorant”

Clockwise, from top left

Cream pomade,
$22 by Benjamin by Frank's Chop Shop

Antiperspirant wipes,
$18.99 by SweatBlock

Mojave Ghost hand cream,
$43 by Byredo

Fortifying shampoo and conditioner,
$7.39 by Dove Men+Care

Melatonin gummies,
$10.99 by Natol

PREVENTION+ moisturizer SPF 50,
$44 by Image Skincare

Multigroom all-in-one trimmer,
$19.95 by Philips Norelco

Mojave Ghost cologne,
$180 by Byredo

Peppermint lip balm,
$3.27 by Burt's Bees

Advance Whitening toothpaste,
$3.09 by Arm & Hammer

I don’t grow much facial hair.

I'm blessed (or cursed) with asian genes. But I try to keep it trim and only need to shave every two weeks. I prefer a little stubble as going clean shaven de-ages me a good 20 years. I use a Philips Norelco multigroom trimmer, one of my favorites that I've tested through the years.

I actually don’t plan my outfits.

I usually keep it simple if I'm working from home. It's usually some button-up shirt, comfortable chinos from Bonobos (the Weekday Warrior is my go-to) and if it's chilly, a functional jacket’usually an ACNE chore jacket. If I'm out meeting a client, I'll dress up a bit more with some type of tailored pant or suit. But I pick it out based on the weather in the morning.

Don’t Leave Home Without ...

Don’t Leave Home Without ...

Face mask of course. And hand sanitizer (big fan of Aesop's, the only one that doesn't smell like Gin). Earlier this year I splurged on a pair of AirPods Pro. I'm a fan. The noise cancelling makes you realize how much ambient noise has been polluting your eardrums.

NOTE: Items featured in this story are independently selected. Purchasing via our links may earn Valet. a portion of the sale, which helps fund our editorial mission.

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