“You always wore bright colors.” — A Personal History

September 19, 2011
Editor’s note: This is the second in our three-part series looking back at the style (if you can call it that) of our youths.
Earlier, Seth. Now, Jeff.

I always had a thing for obnoxious colors.
You liked them,” said Trace (a.k.a. Mom) when I talked to her this week. “Everybody made fun of me for doing it, but you would just stand there in your Superman underwear and complain that you wanted to wear your bow tie, suspenders or bright shirts.
The other parents would say, ‘Why are you dressing him wimpy like that?’ But you were such a happy kid when you wore those colors and patterns and prints. And if you didn’t like what I laid out for you, you stripped down and refused,” said my mother on my sartorial decisions as a five-year old.
Those are my mother’s words. I just called and talk to her to make sure I didn’t misquote her. Gotta fact-check, y’all.
I grew up on the edge of the suburban frontier with a cow pasture at the end of my street and a general store a few blocks away. My wardrobe was a mix of function and fashion. Overalls to go down to the creek, but bright and obnoxious. T-shirts, jumpers and backpacks, but slathered in with colors and prints and anything that would be able to be spotted from a distance had I wandered off in the mall or down the street.
But first, let’s take a moment to look how effing happy I am in the first photo on that swinging horse with my bright pink Nickeldeon T-shirt.
Left to right: 1) Pure joy: obnoxious t-shirt, swinging on a horse, full of glee. 2) It’s no surprise that I was an early adopter of photo bombing. 3) Acid wash denim jacket? Yes. Do I have acid wash anything right now? Yes. I also feel like this similar pose has surfaced on the Midwestyle.

I guess you could say I formed my personal sense of style from my environment. I was a raised on healthy doses of ’90s television injected everyday with my buddies from Saved by Bell, Clarissa Explains It All, Rugrats, All That! and anything that covered serious issues involving tweens. Although my mom picked out my clothes in my youth, I took the reins once my brain began to form. Clearly my style didn’t change once I was able to pick out my own Osh Kosh B’Gosh patterned shorts and Bugle Buy jeans.

Left to right: 1) Comb over, blue blazer, white OCBD and paisley tie. Swag, ya’ll. 2) Being a little brother has its expectations and drawbacks, such as being the one suggested to stick your head in a crocodile’s mouth.
I always insisted that we have costumes whenever we played games out in the yard. I’d drag out sheets from the garage to make capes and cloaks for our neighborhood battle royales. Whether it was playing out in the neighborhood with Nerf guns in my elementary days or the yearly Halloween “What do I wear?” issue in my teens, I was always the first and eager to respond to this crisis.
Take notes on the business dress code in my preschool Christmas recital. Singing in front of an audience is a tough gig. Imagine not looking fly in a tie when you’re five. These were my early white boy problems, people. Paisley or plaid.

Left to right: 1) Bright colored t-shirt again along with oversized sunglasses before girls caught on to the bug eye trend. 2) Matching plaid pants and bow tie with suspenders. Mom, I love you.


Bow ties, dinosaurs, puka shell necklaces and Abercrombie & Fitch. The perfect formula of my school pictures documenting my late streak with puberty. It seems like yesterday I was praying that I would grown underarm hair. Presently, I’m still asking for some facial hair that or my mole on my cheek would share the spare hair.

“Girl Picture!” was shouted. Naturally, my friends and I assembled into the standard co-ed pose. Seriously though, you can’t put a group of freshmen college guys together expecting that they’ll pose normally. Sorority girl pose, anyone? Left to right: Glen, Jarred, Ryan, Chad, Patrick, Myself and Zach.

Notably, I’ve had various hair styles as well. Short hair, long hair, shaved hair, dreadlocked hair.
FUN FACT: My hair is actually wavy, not straight or curly. It’s also as thick as your dad’s back hair.
BONUS FUN FACT: When treated with endless swim practices of chlorine-saturated pools and the notion that swimming in a pool equates a shower, my hair only became more dirty/curlier.

CLOTHING MATTERS, people. To be more clear, your appearance and presentation of self matters. Those impressions and first looks carry weight for your future. Even at a young age when you’re playing the most epic game of Cowboys and Indians on 113th Street against the assholes down on 110th, you gotta look fly to out-win and out-do your opponent with the most epic draping and self-tied capes.

Friday Wrap-Up: Baby Pictures

September 16, 2011
Welcome to Friday. We’ll be spending the weekend at this place, because we heard there’s a big party there. You should probably come, too.
You may recall that I posted a personal style history a couple of weeks ago that referenced a lost red baseball cap. I found it. Well, pictures of it. Look at those steezed-out suspenders.
Now that’s over, here’s some salmagundi we found around the ‘Net:
  • Ryan Plett launches a new blog, Travel Well. (via GQ Style)
  • Would you wear this underwear? It says something about “keyhole technology,” which scares me. Also, I’m not sure I can trust someone who says it’s “comfotable.” (via MyPakage)
  • How to pose for pictures. (via Park & Bond)
  • A look at the Quoddy workshop (via A Continuous Lean)
  • Secret Forts gets a new website. (via Secret Forts)
  • “This is the one thing we do that we feel can really change the world we live in. You can’t buy everything made in America, but if you try, you can come close. If history has taught us anything, it’s that this great country of ours will be in even more trouble than it already is if we don’t support the work of our fellow Americans.” A short but thoughtful interview with Imogene+Willie about the beauty of American-made denim. (via Refueled Magazine)
Okay, that’s all. Now get outta here!


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?

Friday Wrap-Up: Topman

September 9, 2011
Okay, party people. It’s the end of the week. And what a week it was. Quick rundown, then you can get outta here!
Tuesday: Sneak preview of Buckshot Sonny’s, which will launch at a certain men’s market in the Midwest this weekend. Wastler looked like a kid at Christmas as he opened the bats, baseballs and caps that arrived in the mail.

Wednesday: An unexpected invitation to an exclusive party hosted by Sir Philip Green to celebrate the launch of Topshop’s new Chicago location on Michigan Avenue. Full write-up coming on that place, but for now, suffice it to say the night was insane. A few highlights:
  • Cocktails, dinner and an after-party at the Paris Club
  • Gerard Butler
  • Miley Cyrus
  • Miley Cyrus dancing
  • Miley Cyrus dancing in Jeff’s suspenders
  • You’ll have to ask him about that
  • Did I mention my quick chat with Rahm Emanuel?*
  • So, one of the most memorable birthdays ever
For more on the celebrity element, check out Ernest Wilkins’ read on the night for RedEye.

Friday: I’m hastily tossing some clothes in the Saddleback and hop in the truck for a casual road trip with Max Wastler and Joe Gannon to Minnesota. Why Minnesota? Oh, no reason…except that NorthernGRADE is this weekend. Next week, there will be a full recap of shenanigans, characters and adventures encountered there.
If you’re in Minneapolis, say hi—and come check out Wastler and Gannon’s new project, Buckshot Sonny’s.
Now go take on the weekend.

*And by “quick chat,” I mean: We made eye contact, and I said, “Hey!” He said “Hi.” Then he walked on.

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