“Fashions fade; style is eternal.” — Yves Saint Laurent
A word about trends: Don’t worry about them too much. Well, let me qualify that: If you can tweak your current closet to be trendy, go for it. Want to pin your collar à la “Boardwalk Empire”? Go for it. Want to roll your trousers so your socks and shoes are a little more visible? Go for it. But don’t buy a brand new pair of pants with the cuffs pre-rolled and stitched into place just because it’s thing to do this year. That’s expensive.
Our style philosophy is this: Invest in a wardrobe that will last, not one that forces you to walk into your local boutique and buy one of everything each season.
Exhibit A: (Boom! Roasted!) The scientific graph above is the result of a thorough and legit studysurvey. Believe it.
The Spectrum of Style is a theme that keeps coming up in our conversations around the Midwestyle office. From Jeff to me to Israel (my brother/ideas man), there’s a pretty wide gamut to our personal style sensibilities.
Israel, for instance, lives in a world of relaxed-fit trousers. He rejects rolling up his pants on principle. “It’s trendy,” he says, like that’s a disqualifier. His world is not ‘Nam; there are rules. (Like no black with brown under any circumstances.) But when Jeff flounces into the living room leather belt tied around his sportcoat, I draw the line. (Don’t worry, fellas, I’m only ribbing you.)
On the “reserved” side of things, you run the risk of being governed by one era’s rules and becoming outdated, which is fine if you’re this guy, but we’re not elderly yet. On the “bleeding edge” side, you can be trail-blazing, but you also have to perpetually splash out cash and update yourself to maintain your runway cred. If staying current with the latest fashion is your hobby, knock yourself out. For me, there are other demands on my wallet.
If you shoot for the middle, you’ll be neither too wild nor too tame. Some would say that’s boring. I say you’ll look put-together, without making a spectacle out of yourself (unless that’s your game.) A way to liven things up, a way to keep it interesting, is to embellish the exoskeleton of your ongoing wardrobe. That blazer you bought five years ago will serve you for a long time. Add flourishes: elbow patches, colored thread around button holes, a flower in the lapel. That’s how guys like Gay Talese get by with suits they bought 40 years ago. The proof is in the details.
Now, don’t get me wrong: Experimenting with your style is important. Try new things. Work with different combinations. The world needs people who will blaze new territory, but I’d prefer to see the most avant-garde of it on the runway—not in my closet.
Two pairs of jeans: one – J Brand ($165), raw denim; the other – Levi’s (25.99) from Target. What happens? Is the expensive raw denim worth it?
A comparison. Israel/Seth.
Yeah, we know. Two blazer posts in one week? Two posts of Cam in one week? Two posts of Cam in a blazer in one week? Maybe a little excessive. But thanks to the weather, we won’t be able to feature these much longer (fingers crossed). The relevant detail to this particular post is the white linen blazer he snagged from a thrift store for about three George Washingtons. You read that correctly: $3.
The point here isn’t necessarily to show off cool clothes. It’s to demonstrate that workable style is doable on the cheap. After some very unscientific price-guessing, I’ll estimate that if purchased new, this whole outfit would push $775 retail. But what you see here cost less than $265. Plus, you’re not spending those numbers every single time you put on a set of clothes. Each piece of the pie can be mixed and matched with the other items in your wardrobe. Which allows you invest in the glasses, the boots, etc.—the stuff Cam’s wearing with several different outfit combinations.
By far, the biggest savings are coming from the jacket. Three dollars compared to the $150, $200, $300 you could expect to drop for a nice blazer? No contest. As long as you’ve got an idea of 1) what you need and 2) what looks good, you can find some great bargains at thrift stores. Of course, be prepared to not find anything, either. Only pull the trigger if it’s got a place in your closet.
Linen blazer (thrifted, $3) size 36; J. Crew broken-in chinos (retail, $60), size 31; brogue boots (Urban, $80), size 10; vintage, U.S.-made oxford (eBay, $10) by Gant, size 14.5-33; black cardigan (thrifted from Jeff’s closet) by Merona, small; tartan tie (outlet, $15) by J.Crew; Preston eyeglasses (warbyparker.com, $95) by Warby Parker.
Photos by Bethany Jones.
Everyone should have a “guy.”
went to a different one
beware: “original hem”
This week has consisted of rain, sleeping on the ever-so-unfortunate blow-up air mattress that is currently my bed, booze, more sleeping on my ever-so-unfortunate blow-up air mattress that is currently my bed, and work. The good news is however is that today is pay day. Which means I can order all of those (un)necessary items that have been stock piling up in my Amazon.com shopping cart, such as this mattress, steamer and this t-shirt.
But while we’re on the subject of necessary items, an umbrella is one of them.
This should be probably featured under “Thrifty Thursday” because that same “ex-roommate who gave me their dad’s friend’s briefcase” also gave me this leather-handled, khaki Ralph Lauren umbrella. This umbrella probably cost more than a student loan of mine and I’m okay with that.
Much like Cam, I’m a boots and blazer kind of guy.
Brown “8878” suede boots (Halls, sale $78) by Red Wing Shoes, size 11; khaki “RB15-X” corduroy trousers (Haberdash, $50) by Rag & Bone, size 30; leather and brass belt ($4.99) by J.CREW, size 30; green-striped oxford cloth button down (eBay, $15) by Gitman Brothers, medium; thrifted school-boy tartan tie ($1.99); thrifted grey and blue check wool vest ($4.99); grey sportcoat (Halls) by Billtornade, small; leather-handled khaki umbrella (ex-roommate’s dad’s friends) by Ralph Lauren.