The Tom Ford Cleanse


A variety of things come to mind when I think of Tom Ford. A heady over pour of virility. A languid transatlantic (???) drawl. An almost lifelike brow. And that’s just appearance. By now, his dogmatic convictions are almost as sentient as he is. He’s condemned everything from wearing shorts in the city, and his son’s “tacky” dinosaur shoes, to chewing gum in public. He is as deft as he is fastidious, and it seems every photo I see of him has him sprawled out, spread eagle, and on a chaise lounge.

I've always found this network of information compelling because, typically, unrelatability has a direct correlation with appeal. It’s universal. This curiosity is the basis of why Shark Week, serial killers, and the concept of childbirth are all enthralling while Ryan Reynolds, pants with an elastic waistband, and marketing emails that address me by my first name bore me to death. This intense curiosity drove me to gain insight into his lifestyle, because who wouldn't want to live like Mr. Ford?

I started with the most accessible window to his soul: his diet and daily regimens. For structure, I looked to another ITG cleanse centered around folding a successful person’s habits into yours—The Oprah Cleanse. After reading every interview with him the internet had to offer, I ended up with a week-long crash course. I present to you the Tom Ford cleanse.

The general parameters:

-Punctuate a very healthy diet with junk
“I try to stick to a diet of fish and vegetables, but my one remaining vice is cheap candy and baked goods... Hostess Donettes are my weakness.”

-Cold beverages only
“I don't like warm drinks of any kind.”

-Only consume scentless foods
"I don’t eat onions or garlic. Ever. Fresh breath is important."

-Take baths instead of showers
"Yes, I still take my baths all day long. They’re meditative.”

-Only use Tom Ford Beauty products
“Naturally, I use my own beauty products.”

-Look your best in order to be your best
“Put on the best version of yourself when you go out in the world because that is a show of respect to the other people around you.”

The folklore surrounding Tom Ford purportedly taking five baths a day has been around since, well, Tom Ford. While the exact number of baths he currently takes is unknown, I make it my goal to take at least two baths a day (but bonus points for more!).

6:30 AM
Tom Ford said in Harper’s Bazaar that his day starts at 4:30 a.m. I set my alarm for this time and, after snoozing my alarm for two hours, give up on waking up that early for the remainder of the week. I begin drawing my first bath.

I make a giant iced coffee and lower myself into the water where I sit in cannonball position until the water reaches my chest. The feeling is as unfamiliar as it is initially unpleasant. I briefly wonder if I will get heatstroke.

8:00 AM
I drain the tub, brush my teeth, shave, and draw my second bath. This time with soap. I am running late for work because I have taken more baths this morning than I have in the past decade. I bolt to work.

9:20 AM
For breakfast, I have a scoop of bran cereal, half a banana, and several slices of pineapple. An archetypally Tom Ford breakfast. I almost never eat breakfast because I am always nauseous for the first several hours after waking, but I enjoy taking the time to collate the ingredients into a bowl and pick at it while I begin work.

9:45 AM
Second breakfast: two Hostess Donettes. In case you haven't had one of these recently because you don't grocery shop at gas stations—they are soft, delicious, and taste nothing like doughnuts. Here, the word "donettes" is used to indicate that they are not real doughnuts in that way that the words "cheez," "froot," and "Cap'n" are used to distinguish between real cheese, fruits, and Captains.

I get powdered sugar all over my slacks.

12:00 PM
Lunch is catered at my office today, so I stand in the lunch line and sniff each platter looking for entrees that don’t have onions or garlic. I end up with a scoop of dilly orzo, potato nubs, three balls of mozzarella, and several florets of raw broccoli.

6:50 PM
I prepare for a bath the second I get home. This time, I shower beforehand. Cheating, I know, but I am unable to mentally surmount the idea of atmospheric grime seasoning tonight's bath.

9 PM
I drink a banana, peanut butter, and almond milk smoothie with a bendy straw for dinner.

Total bath count: 3


9:15 AM
Breakfast: a half-banana smile with two Donette eyes. I fashion a nose out of a pineapple chunk.

12:20 AM
I order an expensive vegetarian burger for lunch. I throw out the onions and eat in complete silence at my desk. I chase it with a shard of dark chocolate.

6:30 PM
Tom Ford’s sixth grooming commandment, according to GQ, is “get a pedicure.” I’ve put this off for years as I am a germophobe, and am truly terrified by the idea of fungal infections. A friend recommends the ITG-approved JinSoon Natural Hand & Foot Spa’s Tribeca outpost, so I heed his advice and go after work. After checking in with the receptionist, I am offered a glass of prosecco, which I politely decline. (Tom Ford told Esquire that “becoming teetotal completely altered [his] life.”) I might as well give it a shot this week.

The experience is blissful start to finish. It involves me alternating my hobbit legs in and out of warm water dyed blue, droppers filled with fragrant tinctures, delicate trimming, and fervent sanding. I've been missing out! At some point, I have an out of body experience. I see myself, posturing like Jonathan Rhys Meyers as King Henry VIII in Showtime's Golden Globes-nominated drama, The Tudors—shirt unbuttoned to my navel—without even a hint of irony! I lean into this tableau, and when the technician offers me my choice of essential oils, I pick lavender.

9:15 PM
For dinner, I eat poached arctic char with peppers, plums, and eggplant.

11:00 PM
I graze my feet against each other until I drift off into a full night of uninterrupted sleep.

Total bath count: 5


8:30 AM
On my way to work, I exchange several messages with Emily Ferber, and we talk shop about Tom Ford Beauty.

An excerpt:
Emily Ferber: I have a skin illuminator that I don’t use but can’t get rid of
The dry body oil— I use it in my hair.
Or Gotham: Is there an actual difference between the body oil and the dry oil?
EF: The dry oil is a spray.
OG: Oh, like Pam!!!
EF: Lol like Pam.
I hope I get a cameo in your piece.
OG: I’ve already taken several screenshots.

10:00 AM
I pull my bare feet out of my loafers and interrupt my coworkers’ productivity to show them how pristine my feet are. They all coo at my wiggling toes as I do slow motion fan kicks in my desk chair.

12:30 PM
I plate several pieces of salmon sushi and get up to take a lap around the office. My coworkers question this behavior.

“For lunch, Tom Ford sometimes wanders around his office eating salmon sashimi off of a plate,” I explain to them, slinking off into the office's atrium.

I don't catch their reactions, but I assume they react to this statement with unbridled understanding and acceptance.

7:00 PM
I decide to try out Tom Ford’s Intensive Purifying Mud Mask. I wash my face with the Purifying Facial Cleanser which leaves my face feeling very clean. I then spackle on a thick layer of the mud. Its light citrus scent is pleasant. I smile, like the Babadook, at the mirror and sink into the tub. It is now Friday night, so for the first time this week I enjoy my bath with all the urgency of a glacier. I play Abel Korzeniowski’s score for A Single Man. A lit candle sits irresponsibly on the edge of the tub, filling the room with Neroli Portofino. I feel dour and cinematic in my nakedness—quintessentially Tom Ford. I soak long enough to let the water get cold and wash the mask off.

Spoiler alert: my skin looks very clear the next morning.

Total bath count: 7


10 AM
I sleep in because it’s Saturday. For breakfast, I have a sugared doughnut and two iced coffees. I spend thirty minutes doing calisthenics half-heartedly, start the crossword, and take a three-hour nap.

1:30 PM
I eat four pineapple spears and get indigestion.

6:00 PM
I begin preening before a friend’s birthday party in the East Village. Tom Ford directs us to use “cold packets” to get rid of eye puffiness. I have no idea what a cold packet is, so I rub two ice cubes around my eyes instead. I brush my eyebrows with Tom Ford for Men Gelcomb. Using a magnifying mirror and Tom Ford for Men Concealer in Medium, I begin covering my imperfections. I swipe it over my dark undereye circles, a broken capillary I obtained by abusing Bioré strips last winter, my eyelids, and the sizable area of pores flanking my nose. Checking my work in my bathroom’s catastrophically unflattering light, I realize I have screwed the pooch. The color is entirely too pale and very full coverage. I look casket-ready. I, however, was supposed to be there an hour ago, so I spray Neroli Portofino “everywhere” (Ford’s mandate!) and leave the house as is.

On the subway, I pray that people assume I am a RealDoll, rather than a highly-perfumed corpse.

7:30 PM
Luckily, the bar is dark, so no one comments on my appearance.

Total bath count: 10


11 AM
The sheer number of baths I’ve taken this week has dried my skin out considerably, so I counteract this by squirting several streams of Neroli Portofino Body Oil directly into my bath water. I immerse myself into the very expensive scented water and try out every repose depicted in The Land of Cockaigne by Bruegel. Immediately, I feel like a 1990s mogul.

Scented baths are one of the several commodities (along with limousines, the sweater department at Barney’s, two-day shipping, and mint Milanos) that were once regarded as luxuries and have lost their clout over time. In the December 2008 issue of Details magazine, Tom Ford says “time and silence are the most luxurious things today.” His statement holds up. It becomes clear that the multi-bath ritual was never about compulsive cleansing but rather about the accommodation of those two indulgences.

My bathtub remains dangerously slippery for the next day and a half.

1 PM
For lunch, I eat two poached eggs over a frisée salad in the West Village. The waiter comments on my fragrance neutrally, which I attribute directly to the fact that I am wearing too much.

"Tom Ford?" he not so much asks as broadcasts, sniffing the ether above me.

I nod uselessly and vacate the premises.

10 PM
I forget to eat dinner entirely and put on Nocturnal Animals before bed.

Total bath count: 12


8 AM
I skip breakfast and get an iced coffee on the way to work.

6 PM
I get an email that the Fruit of the Loom undershirt I had tailored to make my arms look more attractive is ready for pick up. The sleeves were hemmed just above my triceps to mirror Tom Ford's "off-duty" uniform.

There is a strong correlation between successful people and people who get their clothes custom-fit. It’s the kind of permanent adjustment that balks in the face of 30-day return policies. One of the reasons successful people look, well, successful is that their clothes fit them exactly. There’s no cuffing, or bunching, or billowing. Simply going to a tailor is a status symbol within itself because it says “I can spend $20 getting this $3.58 undershirt professionally altered.”

7 PM
I change into it the second I get home and study myself in a full-length mirror. Any improvements to my appearance are imperceptibly mild. (My arms, however, are unremarkable to begin with so I write it off as user error.)

7:15 PM
I keep my bespoke Fruit of the Loom shirt on and plaster the mud mask on my face.

8 PM
Dinner is grilled branzino with radish and parsley.

Total bath count: 15


9:10 AM
I arrive at the office, sweating profusely because I am wearing a turtleneck. I head to the restroom and give myself another spray of cologne in case I smell like a damp ox.

11 AM
For lunch, I eat sushi. I’m exhausted by the amount of fish I’ve consumed in the last week. I’m sure Tom Ford doesn’t face this problem (because he doesn’t get sushi from the cafeteria-style “premium” lunch hubs that pop up around New York City like gophers) but I’ve had a low-grade stomachache all week.

7 PM
When asked about his last meal, Tom Ford said it would be salmon with "Hostess Donettes around the outside of the plate.” (It is in this same interview that he says Hostess sends him a box of their confections every time he mentions them to the press, his eyes gleaming behind his Snuffaluffagus lashes.) I decide to have this as my last meal of my cleanse. Rather than cook the salmon myself, I order it on GrubHub. It arrives an hour later. I plate it and encircle it with Donettes before squeezing lemon onto the ingot of salmon. Its appearance is grandiose and frightening like a TOILETPAPER magazine spread. I eat all of the salmon and six of the doughnuts.

10:30 PM
I take my last bath and my stomach is lurching.

Total bath count: 16

11 PM
I have an early meeting tomorrow morning, so, I end my week like Ford (who relies “completely...on sleeping pills and tranquilizers”) and pop two OTC non-habit-forming sleeping aids.

In an interview with CNBC, he’s described himself and, through transitive property, the Tom Ford Man as international, multilingual, well traveled, and possessing disposable income. This week, I didn't even remotely get closer to obtaining any of those traits. I did, however, gain a deep sense of respect for his obsessive level of discipline, even without wearing his trademark suit. But, the way I see it, if I'm not a Tom Ford Man now, I was never one to begin with—or at least that’s the story I’m sticking to.

—Or Gotham

Photographed by the author.

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