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Thrifty Thursday: ex-roomate’s dad’s friend’s briefcase

In college, I lived all over East Campus in Columbia:

  • Sophomore Year: 1323 Anthony Street Apt. A, B & C
    Statistics: 11 guys, one house, three floors and a dog—a Boxer named Anfernee.
    Highlights include: Throwing bottle rockets under the bathroom door while someone was taking a dump, the summer Seth Putnam came to live with us from the wretched JBU, and having the bright idea of creating an “Orphanage” where we put two bunk beds and a single bed, totaling five people in the one room with AC over the summer.
  • Junior Year at 1403 University Avenue Apt B
    Statistics: 2.5 guys, one floor and a big-ass porch.
    Highlights include: Killing a blood-sucking bat with a wiffle bat, drinking beer each M/W/F before my 19th Century American Women’s Poetry taught by an Emily Dickinson scholar, and my roommate assuring me that vodka would heal a rash.
  • Senior Year at 516 S. William Apt A & B
    Statistics: Five guys, one house and an attic.
    Highlights include: Dance parties with strobe lights, chain-smoking on the porch into the wee hours of the night while working on my senior thesis, and deciding that I never wanted to leave East Campus to graduate.

When you’re moving around from house to house and roommate to roommate, your clothing, accessories and belongings all get mixed up, thrown away or just generally disappear. But if you’re lucky, your roommates will just give you things when they are moving out. That’s what happened with the briefcase.

My roommate told me, “Hell, kid, I’m not going to be using this.”
Well, I used it.
And I did use it for a job interview.
And that job, I was offered.
And that job offer, I accepted.
Thanks, EK.
“The Stockton” navy blazer (Standard Style, $199) by Shades of Grey by Micah Cohen, small; white oxford (retail, $69) by American Apparel, small; Wallabees (Cargo Largo, $40) by Clarks, size 11; destroyed khakis (Halls winter sale, $68) by Gant by Michael Bastian, size 29×34; ex-roommate’s dad’s friend’s briefcase (Elliot, free); throw-away of black sunglasses I stole from Seth (Seth’s note: Finally. Getting some respect around here.); grey wool tie (URBN, $9.99) by BDG.

Photography by Seth Putnam.

Tools of the trade

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.

Photography by Jeff Kieslich

midweSTYLE: Old Watertower, Chicago

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.

Oliver (right): Grey utility shirt, small slim; wool University coat, small; Timex vintage field army watch; plaited blue cardigan, medium; Oxbow madras spring tie; 484 raw slim selvedge denim—all by J.Crew. Clubmastersunglasses by Rayban; “Saddle Up” oxfords (Nordstrom, $99) by 1901, size 9.5.

Photography by Seth Putnam.

midweSTYLE: Campustyle

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).


Cam (R): Suede Irish Setter boots by Red Wing Shoes; faded khaki chinos (Urban Outfitters, $50) by Paul Frank; navy “Captain’s Blazer” (thrifted, $10); pink plaid “Sunday’s Best” tie (thrifted, $2).


Photography by Jarred Donalson

FAVORITE: Shearling-lined Bean Boots

(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.