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THE RUNDOWN: Topman

September 15, 2011
By now, you may be tired of hearing about Topman. The Chicago flagship store opened last week, and has been all the buzz around this store since long before that. Good thing we’re on a need-to-know-basis. Here’s what you need to know:
Personal shopping. Free. This is the only place we’re aware of in Chicago that’s offering a service where you can come in, plop down in a room that feels like your (more) stylish apartment, and be given the star treatment—for no extra charge. We caught up with one of the personal stylists, the always lovely Mel Muoio.
Here’s what she told us. If you decide to use a personal shopper, you get:
  • First dibs on new items.
  • That includes designer collaborations—if you’re into that sort of thing.
  • The right to reserve items.
  • Invites to special events. (And let us tell you: The British know how to throw a party.)
  • But most importantly, a style-savvy friend who’s not just out to make the sale, but to find what actually works for you. (Because if you don’t like it, you can take it back.)
On their card, it says: “This service is free with compliments of Topshop.” Ah, so British. In an industry where service and relationships are increasingly rare, this is a refreshing prospect.
The real estate is prime. On the corner of Michigan Avenue and Pearson Street, you get to see the city at its most scenic and commune in the ritual of downtown shopping.
But we’re not just talking about the store. With something like 55 styles for fall/winter 2011 that are specific to Chicago, there’s no need to worry about looking like the masses. Did someone say Barbour jackets? Somewhere in Logan Square, Jeff is reading this right now and fainting.


On Seth: Lavender block stripe shirt courtesy of Topman.
Granted, Topman isn’t for everyone. You may have to sift before you find something that works for you. But we’re finding that this anglophile’s haven has enough to satisfy both the experimental among us and, occasionally, the more classic.
(See below.)

AUTUMN 2011: From runway to cubicle, an intro to fall fashion.

September 13, 2011
With summer’s closure, we here in the Midwest get to play limbo each day with the ever-changing weather patterns. One day, you’re biking around the city in a tank top, the next you’re reaching for your scarf to throw over your chambray button down. Welcome to the Midwesterner’s fall.
But let’s…mix it up this year. Let’s talk fall fashions. I picked some looks that I found inspiring and accessible yet a little forward at times. Outfits and styling suggestions that you can conjure up in the morning and think to yourself, “Hey, I actually styled my look this morning and I feel pretty good about it.”

That’s how it goes. Look good, feel good, and then you’ll do good.
It’s just like that, people. So, here is your cheat sheet.

Let’s bring some of the runway to your office this morning, shall we?

Go ahead, log off the latest Lifehacker/Gizmodo/Reddit article and give this a glimpse.

Steven Alan Fall 2011 (style.com)
COLOR STORY: Olives, browns and greys. Simple? Yes. You (should) have these colors in your closet.
STYLING TIPS: Go ahead and duplicate this. It’s all safe, except tuck your socks back in. The white denim in the fall sounds like a good idea, too. Give that a go as well. Why not?
THEIR WARDROBE: Boots. Olive trousers. Parkas. Grey utility shirts. Bloody red pocket squares. Chambray button downs. Thick-and-chunky cardigans.
YOUR WARDROBE: Buy some boots; pass on the white denim if you must.
Shipley & Halmos Fall 2011 (style.com)
COLOR STORY: Light browns and camels, burgundies and wines.
STYLING TIPS: Please gentlemen, invest in a nice pair of nice, dark (selvedge) denim. Wear ‘em, beat ‘em up, they’ll look better. Mix yours navies, browns and burgundies.
THEIR WARDROBE: A navy peacoat, a well-loved leather jacket, a pair of cords, dark wash selvedge denim, colored denim, fair-isle sweater, toggle closure camel duffle coat, varsity jacket, plaid button downs.
YOUR WARDROBE: Get a nice jacket for fall, but ditch the varsity and colored denim if you must.
Marc by Marc Jacobs Fall 2011 (gq.com)
COLOR STORY: Camels, burnt orange mixed with navy and chocolates. Midnight blues and charcoals.
STYLING TIPS: Pairing browns with blacks with a touch of color. A nice tweed blazer over denim or trousers will look sharp, preppy and autumnal. A striped sweater can’t go wrong either.
THEIR WARDROBE: Black and brown wingtips, heavy-duty, fur-lined parkas, tweed trousers, leather totes, colored denim, printed ties, obnoxious sneakers.
YOUR WARDROBE: A charcoal, midnight or navy suit and big-striped sweater.

In summary, find a pair of boots, a suit, a sweater and fall jacket.
BONUS: Now only if we didn’t have student loans to pay back or rent to pay. 
Pringle of Scotland Fall 2011
Burberry Prorsum Fall 2011

Obnoxious colored outerwear? Yes. What’s your favorite?

THE GOOD GUYS: Blake in Bucktown

September 7, 2011
Meet Blake.

Blake loves writing. He loves food. Hence, he writes about food. A talented wordsmith and certified chef, he brilliantly combines the two in his professional life (magazine freelancer) and personal life with a blog called The Paupered Chef.
Blake and I get together for drinks almost weekly at a tucked-away neighborhood bar in Bucktown for the sole purpose of shooting the shit over cheap booze and reveling in the simple pleasures of Chicago. During these breaks from real-life responsibility, we mull over everything from style to food; business plans to literature; success to failure; and, of course, our unfinished ambitions.
But more than anything, Blake is full of thought. He considers everything carefully. And when he speaks, it’s not out of impulse. His words carry weight. And that’s one of many reasons I’m glad to call him a friend.
A few words about what Blake’s got on:

The belt, a distinctive eye-catcher, was a gift from good friend Max Wastler (of All Plaidout). It was in fact Max who introduced us over a quick drink at The Gage.

The bag, a Levenger, a gift from his dad eight years ago. Perfect for carrying plenty of reading material—and Blake’s an avid reader. The first few times we ran into each other, he sent me home with a couple of thick books by Fyodor Dostoevsky and Paul Auster. In turn, I loaned him Boss by Mike Royko. (When am I going to get that back, by the way?)

The shoes, hand-sewn in Maine.

“A week before I went on my honeymoon, I knew I wanted these shoes. The folks over at Quoddy were nice enough to rush the shipping ensure my travels would be comfortable and classic,” Blake says.

So here’s the deal: Over the next few weeks, we’ll be teaming up with Blake to produce a tiny cookbook of sorts. There will be four (count ‘em) recipes—one for each meal of the day—that will be constrained by situation (e.g. lunch while working from home), budget (e.g. $5, or maybe what you’ve got in the fridge) and time (e.g. you’ve got 10 minutes to throw an elegant breakfast together before heading to work.)
This is what you can expect: Beautiful photography, delicious food, and a few practical meals every guy should have in his repertoire. And it’ll all be styled.
Check back next Wednesday for the first installment.
On Blake: Slim olive chino by Wings & Horns; blue button-down by Gitman Brothers; summer gingham tie by J.Crew factory; hoof pick leather belt by Hickorees; “New Wayfayer” in tortoise by Rayban; leather satchel by Levenger, given to him by his father.

midweSTYLE: Whiny pants

September 6, 2011

Colored denim. You’re seeing ‘em on the ladies and some of the more trend-driven men on campus, in the streets, on the runways and in the magazines.

Cool? Sure.
Novelty? Yes.
Wearable? Totally.
Worth spending your money on? Your call.

For me, it is. How do I know?
Run through this checklist of questions. If you answer “no” to a majority of these, then I suggest investing elsewhere:
  • Do you have a well-loved pair of dark wash, selvedge denim you can wear every day?
  • Do you have a sharp pair of dark grey chinos to throw on for a change?
  • Do you have a slick pair of black jeans to pair with a classic desert boot?
  • Do you have a broken-in pair of corduroys you can toss on with a sweater?

If you don’t have any of the items above, I’d consider focusing on those before you stop at the front of the store with the “latest and greatest” trends companies are pushing.

I answered yes, so I found a cheap pair from Uniqlo. In this case, wine-colored denim.

Fresh cut, too. My stylist, Kara of barbara & barbara, threw it down with a master fade.
You also know you’re in good hands when your hair stylisy says,

“I’m going to geek out on your neck line for 15 minutes, cool?”




On Jeff: Slim-fit twill “Wine” denim by Uniqlo; two-button, notch lapel “Marine” cotton blazer by A.P.C.; slim-fit, short-sleeve button-up by rag & bone; leather desert boots by Clarks.

Photos by Haley Hastings.

Labor Day 2011

September 5, 2011

Happy Labor Day! Enjoy your extended weekend, friends!

So grab your (Boulevard) beer.

Round up your horse.

and kiss your horse summer goodbye.

Photography by Mallory Wiegers

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