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6 black tees (or TTTTTT)

Got Wang taste but a Hanes budget?

Dude, I understand. I got you. No sweat. These tees won’t show it either.

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L to R: Angled hem ($28) by Urban Outfitters, Crewneck ($15) by Everlane, Drop-tail rounded neck ($28) by Urban Outfitters.

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Viscose ($10) by American Apparel, Wide-neck ($18) by Urban Outfitters, Le Big ($30) by American Apparel.

Different cuts, fits, necklines and fabrications give the old Hanes a break. I personally dig the Viscose one from American Apparel right now. It’s very lightweight and has a good hang to it. Plus, it’s on sale. And while you’re at it, pick up two.

–Do you have any favorite tees that aren’t under shirts?

Out of season & in my price range.

Shopping out of season has it perks. Sure, you can’t buy it now and wear it now. But good things come to those who wait and such, or at least that’s what I chose to follow when I was in Los Angeles last year. I made my annual stop at Opening Ceremony to snatch up all the discarded and left for the dead items that denizens of Los Angeles decided weren’t good for them that winter. I mean, you live in L.A. why would you own anything but bikinis, crop-tops and jellies, right?

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Beautiful leather, great color and rather comfortable. It was a style that I wasn’t sure how to wear, but managed to pull them off by placing my pants completely over them and at times, yes at times, I’ll do a slight back tuck so the front part just shows. It’s a look, but hey I’ll give it a try until Seth disapproves. More importantly, I scored these leather jodhpur boots for 75% off, which made cheaper than a pair of selvedge denim. Worth it, man.

In Favor Of: The Quilted Sweater

I’m a big fan of the quilted sweater, whether it’s a crew-neck pullover or a shawl collar cardigan. If you’re looking for something that’s a little different than your traditional staples, head this way. It’s accessible and shows you’re open to a little detail. Props to Club Monaco for making a quality, comfortable and affordable on-trend piece that’s not so over the top.

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Cardigan ($130) and sweatshirt ($100) by Club Monaco

Midwestyle’s Favorite Outerwear

If you’re anything like us, whether your city got snow yesterday or you’re excited to finally wear your winter coat, you’re itching to dig out the heaviest jacket you own. But before we close the book on autumn entirely, we realized that we’ve got a few old fall favorites that have been treating us well this year. Which made us curious: What’s one of your favorite pieces of outerwear that you look forward to wearing each year?

Here are some of ours.

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Seth: I ain’t got no shame, so I’ll admit it: When Jeff was still living in Chicago, and because I didn’t start off as the most adventurous wearer of clothes, I often jacked his style—even right down to seeing something new that he’d purchased and thinking “Ooh, I guess I could pull that off,” and having him pick up another one for me. That’s exactly what happened with this field jacket, which cost a mere 30 bones on sale. And just like Jeff, it has never led me astray. It’s what I always reach for when the wind picks up in the second half of the year. It’s got pockets galore. And the reinforced shooting shoulder reminds me of being back on the farm in Missouri with my trusted 20-gauge over-and-under. Field jacket by Levi’s.

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David: I picked up this “Skiff” jacket earlier this season because I’m a sucker for wool. But having worked through a few less satisfying coat purchases, I knew exactly what I was looking for this time around. After having spent the end of summer trying to justify much more expensive options, this snap-front, fitted-but-not-too-fitted lil’ getup came into my life. It wasn’t cheap, but I’ve made enough mistakes in my life (clothing related and not) to feel good about fall-ing (get it?!) for a new go-to. With this, this, and this already in my closet, lord knows another navy blue jacket better be pretty close to perfect. I never loved my double-breasted peacoat, and anything with a collar that won’t stand up and cover my neck is going to be disappointing. So far the Skiff jacket has been very satisfying. The cut is slim enough that layering requires some creativity, but it’s totally worth it. Skiff jacket by Wallace & Barnes x J.Crew.

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Garrett: Call me a purist; call me a traditionalist; call me boring. When it comes to my favorite piece of outerwear, my go-to is my Spiewak Dugan peacoat. This thing is as throwback British navy as you can get. I picked this baby up three years ago for $6 at Urban Outfitters. Yes, $6. Sale + sale + discount = magic. The reason this is my favorite piece is because of it’s versatility. I’ve rocked this with wingtips and a suit as well as my destroyed denim and some NB’s. It’s tight like a tiger but hugs my curves in all the right ways. It keeps me warm on cold nights and when those Chicago winds pick up, the collar goes up as well. It’s a staple in my winter lineup, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Wool peacoat by Spiewak.

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Jeff: The ideal shape and texture for a leather motorcycle jacket for me is a little shorter than usual and a little rigid. I found this bad boy in either Kansas City or Chicago—I honestly don’t remember but I know that I paid under $20 for it because…it’s already had some mileage on it with the paint brush. A paint brush you say? Take a closer look and you’ll see dancing skeletons and flames on it. Yeah, I bought it to paint over it but never ended up doing it. Whatever, man. They grew on me. Vintage leather jacket, maker unknown.

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Joe: I snagged this fella on sale last year, and it has easily become my most prized possession. The wool-cashmere blend is incredibly soft and warm, perfect for wintertime weather. Typically, a topcoat is worn over a suit as a dressier option for outerwear. However, given my obsession with it, I wear it very casually too (collar popped, of course). This year I want the same coat in navy and gray. Too much, you might ask? Maybe. But I’m doing it anyway. “Ludlow” topcoat by J.Crew.

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Chris: I recall when I was a young lad, and the big box lords of clothing deemed me “husky.” My parents fought hard to get me in a pair of jeans, however I vowed to wear nothing but sweatpants the rest of my life because of their forgiving fit. Then came that one day (of many) my mom took me shopping at our local Salvation Army. I will never forget my favorite purchase: a Levis denim jacket. I littered that thing with my favorite patches and buttons: TMNT, White Sox, Bears, Korn.

I’ve been on the prowl for a trimmer denim jacket ever since. During one of my late-night drunk Etsy searches, I came across the perfect item: “Vintage Levi’s denim jacket, size 34.” One week later, I received it in the mail, and it has proven to be the most versatile piece in my wardrobe. I know it’s true “vintage” because I did my homework. It doesn’t have lower hand pockets; it has single row stitching; and I have the Big E red tab with two pockets and vertical pleats on the front. I wear this layered under sport jackets and layer it over sweaters, vests, and ties. Denim jacket by Levi’s.

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Jonathan: I picked up this “slick” coat back in June, via the annual Steven Alan sample sale. Don’t remember what I paid for it, but all I can remember was, “Hey, SALE!” (Hands over credit card.) Although I couldn’t wear it as soon as I got it—which is always a bit deflating—I haven’t taken it off since the weather turned. Technically a rain slicker with a detachable hood, I’ve found it roomy enough to throw a sweatshirt + denim jacket underneath with ease (and for this I’m a fan…’cause options.) Slicker by Steven Alan.

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Cameron: Being the layer-er that I am, I’m not one for “coats” per se, which is why this Isaora down pullover has been so clutch for me when the temperature drops. I know, I know – I look like the Michelin Man, or an astronaut, or a guy who took a bunch of old bike tires and sewed them into a sweatshirt. I get it, the thing’s weird. It’s also deceivingly warm and stands well on its own, though often times I throw something on over it – be it a denim jacket, an oversized cardigan, or a zip-up fleece. While that final layering piece helps, it’s the pullover that’s doing the heavy lifting in terms of keeping me warm. I grabbed this guy on sale last winter from Isaora’s website and haven’t looked back. Down pullover by Isaora.

Q&A: Meet the Niche

By now, it’s been a couple of months since we met these cats, Grant Legan and Kara Dykert. And we’ve discovered that they just keep getting better the longer we know them. Separately, they’re amazing people. Together, they’re unstoppable. So, it’s a good thing for artists in the Midwest (and beyond) that they’ve joined forces and established a home for imagination here in Chicago. It’s in the form of a website that turns the camera lens on designers, visual artists, wardrobists and more. But honestly, they tell it better than we do, so we’ll toss it over to them. Meet The Niche.

Where are you two from?
Grant is from the suburbs of Chicago. Homegrown in the midwest.
Kara is from Holland, MI. Moved to the Chicago area during college.

How’d you meet?
We actually met through Twitter. I (Grant) was doing an editorial through a local menswear company in Chicago, and Kara was one of the models. We bonded over whiskey and both being 7s on the enneagram personality test.

What is The Niche?
The Niche is a community for creatives living in Chicago. It’s also a voice to share the stories of creatives who are passionate about growing their art form and working hard at it every day.

Why start the Niche?
When we met, we realized we were so proud and humbled to know so many creative people. We began a bubbly conversation about one artist who was creating something fantastic, which spooled into endless tangents of creatives we had come to know over the years who were making such amazing things right in our own city.

When you look at the Niche, what do you see?
A place where we can learn from the other passionate people around us. A place where we can grow together and realize that we all want to help each other out. If you think about it, we all want the same thing: to be living a creative life and making things that make us happy as artists.

Favorite [experience or relationship] that has resulted from The Niche so far?
I think our favorite experience thus far is the personal interaction we get to experience with each person we feature. We get to step into their lives for a minute and see what makes them tick and how they got to be so amazing. They share with us some of their own inspirations, and we are able to then continue that conversation with others. We love the honesty and vulnerability that the people we’ve interviewed have shared with us. We really love being brought into their story.

What places, objects, or people do you look at for inspiration?
Grant: I personally pull inspiration from the people and conversations happening around me. I pull inspiration from my own day-to-day emotions—and from music and dreams. My mind morphs with music, and it feels with experience.

Kara: I am 100 percent a people person. I am inspired in my relationships—by my friends and family who are doing things they love and using their gifts and talents to better other people. I pull inspiration from being tactile, by using the things around me to create. I’m a total repurposer; I love taking what’s around me and recreating with it. I pull random ingredients from the kitchen to create fun meal. I pull “trash” to recreate furniture, to decorate, or to design with. I like to see the potential in things, and that inspires me.
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Have you ever thought about combining the powers of the creatives you’ve profiled so far into an event or trip?
Our long term goal for The Niche is to continue to discover these creatives that are hiding in pockets all over the city and across the world. From there, we hope to bring creative minds together and create “story branding” for companies we are passionate about or that have a wonderful story as well. I mean, collaboration is everything.

What would you like the Niche to become?
We would like it to be a community that works on creative collaborations. We would like to continue creating beautiful work and telling stories. Our form hasn’t become concrete; it’s still growing. Its been a pretty organic process so far and we’re excited to see what it becomes.

Who’s on your wish list to profile?
There are many greats out there. We are moving in a pretty organic way, for now. We enjoy being surprised by each new person we feature and each new relationship or contact we gain from that moment on. We both really love and respect people who are genuine and kind and talented. We don’t necessarily have a wish list of creatives, but we do want to keep meeting people who inspire us and are willing to share a part of their lives with us.

Follow The Niche: Website + Instagram + Twitter
Get in touch with Grant: Portfolio + Instagram + Twitter
Get in touch with Kara: Portfolio + Instagram + Twitter