|Leather journal, thrifted sportcoat, J.Crew button-down, Saddleback briefcase, thrifted Giorgio Bruttini loafers and Corona portable typewriter from the mid to late 1920s.
Some of these items are called into action daily. That blazer fits me almost as well as if it had been tailored…one of the best coats I’ve owned, and a steal at $6. The elbow pads actually serve a utilitarian purpose for all the days I’m hunched over my desk. When the coat finally craps out on me, I’ll take it apart and see if I can’t make a pattern from it.
The kind of writing I do (mainly the electronic, 21st century kind) may not be best accomplished on a manual typewriter. But it helps to have one around, if only for the inspiration. Same reason I’ve got pictures of some of these guys (hi-ya, Faulkner) hung around my office. And every so often, I light up my pipe, pour a glass of scotch and thwack the 90-year-old keys to get some thoughts in ink on paper.
The typewriter was going to be a July birthday present for my then-girlfriend, also a writer. I was spending the summer as a reporter in sweltering Mississippi, where the heat is so heavy the lakes become hottubs by the end of June.
I hunted for the damn thing for weeks, finally finding it in a junk shop deep in plantation country. The owner—an old, penny-pinching, Southern fella—was reluctant to part with it and asked for about twice what it was worth. We ended up making a deal we were both unhappy with, which I suppose is the sign of a good trade.
I took it back to the antebellum house where I was living and spent a few hours cleaning it up, oiling it, making it maybe worth what the old fella initially wanted for it. Summer ended, and the word-machine came with me to a big-city newspaper where I covered politics. Now, I’m in Chicago—an even bigger city with different stories—and I’ve still got that old typewriter.
Seth and I went looking for a suit with our friend Oliver, who’s visiting from Kansas City. We talked about life and love and happiness—ya know, much like the rest of us who are meandering through this twenty-something phase trying to find purpose. You would think finding a slim-fitting suit would be an easy task. However, we’re trying to find one that isn’t going to break the bank. Student loans and entry-level jobs don’t help the situation, but you need a suit for the interview, son.
ABOUT THE LOOKS:
Oliver is decked out in all J.Crew except the 1901 saddle shoes by Nordstrom.
But, why ALL J.Crew?
Because J.Crew provides menswear apparel that is affordable, accessible and good-looking. That, and his house burned down a few months ago, forcing him to start his wardrobe over from scratch. J.Crew has played a large part in nailing the essentials.
It’s still cold as hell (that doesn’t make sense) in Chicago even as we are nearing the end of March. I wanted to be warm but still have some compartments to carry my wallet, keys, chapstick and iPhone.
But can’t you just carry those items in your pants like a normal person, Jeff?
You think I can fit a dime in this size 28 selvedge denim, let alone a wallet? Please.
To keep warm, I decided to rock the Patagonia Down Sweater under my thrifted J.Crew utility jacket. A little pop of red under my utility jacket—you know I dig it.
Jeff (left): Khaki utility jacket (thrifted, $6.99) by J.Crew, extra-small; down sweater (retail, sale $150) by Patagonia, small; green and white striped oxford (eBay, $20) by Gitman Bros Vintage; “The Henley” dry selvedge 14-ounce ‘Karabo’ fabric (Standard Style, $198) by Baldwin Denim, size 28; blue and green repp crest tie (thrifted, $1); cheap sunglasses I
found in my car one day stole from Seth; blue suede bucks (Nordstrom, sale $44) by 1901.
The Midwestyle Boys reunited on Park University’s
campus (where none of us went). We mixed up classic looks and pieces with something fresh, new and unexpected:
Chambray pants, Dad’s old jacket and a pair of Red Wing boots.
A blazer to dress it up, a varsity jacket to keep cool and a windbreaker for purpose.
WHAT JEFF’S WEARING: A clean varsity jacket matched with chambray pants is an unexpected look I’ve grown to like. Instead of the regular denim, I often try to see how I can incorporate these chambray pants into a look. I think it turned out well, even when blending the textures and patterns.
WHAT SETH’S WEARING: When wearing a lighter jacket, it’s not a a bad idea to create a high contrast. The dark denim suited him well against his Dad’s glorious “Mizzou ’68″ windbreaker. Pair this look with a neutral tie, and you’re looking sharp. Is he breaking the black/brown rule? To that we say, “What rule?”
WHAT CAM’S WEARING: Navy blazer and khaki chinos are a pretty standard go-to outfit, but we mixed it up with some boots. Preppy but practical. That’s what we like.
Jeff (L): Varsity wool & leather jacket (Wild Man Vintage, sale $9) by Butwin; Chambray welt pocket pant ($69) by American Apparel, brown captoe shoes (thrift, $5.99) by Bass; blue and yellow repp tie (thrifted, $1); gold “boyfriend” watch ($12.99) by Target.
Seth (C): “Slim Jim” dry black-coated denim (Standard Style, sale $75) by Nudie Jeans; wool skinny tie (Urban Outfitters, sale $9.99) by BDG; retro “Mizzou ’68′” windbreaker (father’s jacket in college); brown woven-and-stitched tassle loafers (thrifted, $9).
(I topped the whole thing off with this here waffle henley. Hey, it’s casual day at the office.)
I’ve had these puppies less than a week, but they’re fast becoming a huge favorite. Spring may have gotten here on Sunday, but it’s still colder than a well-digger’s ass in January, so I’m getting everything I can out of these boots. And I’ve been waiting long enough—when I ordered them earlier this winter, there wasn’t a pair to be had until March. (Something about the demand being through the roof…L.L. Bean had to make more pairs.)
I first came across the 10-inch shearling-lined Bean Boot
about a year ago in Minnesota when I saw hot-mess-and-theologian-in-training Marta Douglass
flouncing around the cold Rochester streets in them. (She’s since fled the country to be with some Englishman, but I have no doubt the boots are serving her well in the London fog.)
At $149, they’re admittedly pricey. But quality is worth a Benjamin to me. In the review section, a guy posted a picture of his 30-year-old boots next to his brand new ones, and the only thing noticeably different was that the old boots had weathered character. Seems like a fair price for kicks that are going to last me three decades.
A word to the wise: Bean Boots run huge. Per the site’s instructions for half-sizes to order down, I selected the 7. When they showed up, they were still about two sizes too big. (My brother, a size 9, fit into them comfortably.) Thing is, the 7 is the smallest men’s size available. Womp, womp.
I’m not one to sacrifice fit, so I called the company and exchanged them for a women’s size 8. Let it be known: L.L. Bean’s customer service is fantastic. They took the order with zero ridicule about my baby-man feet, and shipped them off about a month faster than promised.
Marta wore them rolled down like so:
She totally pulled it off, and L.L. Bean advertises the roll-down as one way to wear them, but I’m not sure it’s for me.
10-inch shearling-lined “Bean Boots” (llbean.com, $149) by L.L. Bean, women’s size 8–I’m over it; “1969″ jeans (retail, sale $44, reg. $64.50) by Gap; grey waffle henley (Walmart, $5) by Fruit of the Loom.
“But Jeff, didn’t you have a varsity jacket in high school?“
The answer: No, I didn’t. I didn’t take myself seriously in high school athletics to merit awards that could be worn on my jacket at Friday night football games. Womp, womp. When the Jostens mafia came to my school to sell class rings, I opted for a class ring like any other kid who hated the weight room, lacked any athletic finesse or “swagger.”
Moving forward, I finally got my varsity jacket in Lawrence
after a tip from Katy of Kansas Couture
at Wild Man Vintage
. I walked in and went straight to the jacket rack and found this beaut sitting right at the end beckoning my name.
$18 for a size 36, wool and leather varsity jacket. No tag. It fits so damn well, and it’s in fairly good shape. A little short, but hey, I’m 6’2.
I haven’t taken it to the dry cleaner yet, although I probably should before I skip town…
Oh, and get this: It was 50 percent off jackets that day since they are trying to flush through their overstock of winter apparel, so I picked this guy up for 9 bones. That’s just more than a Chipotle burrito, friends. The jacket boasts a slim cut made of wool and leather, much like the Gant Rugger.
I wanted to mix up the look and throw on my chambray pants instead of a chino or denim. I’ve also been trying to find a way to wear these pants differently. My chambray pants are my dress-up sweat pants: They feel comfortable but look sharp. The sizing is a little off since they are from American Apparel with one inseam (31) and have a high rise, which is surprisingly flattering, gentlemen.
Oh yeah, and then there was that one time I came home with a gold watch from Target only to discover that my dear friends Emily and Molly had purchased the same “boyfriend” watch the week before. Whatever.