What I Can’t Take Off: Denim—and Life After It

November 21, 2013

5EE41390-9CAB-4C6B-BB97-75B0FEA920FFIs there one thing (or three) in your closet that you keep going back to once the weather gets cold? Throughout all of fall and part of winter, that’s usually denim for me. That’s certainly the case this year, but are two other items that I haven’t been able to quit wearing.

  1. The first is an ultra-comfy terrycloth sweatshirt from life/after/denim’s line last year. Sadly, it’s gone from the lineup this year—although this one is similar)—but this year they’ve got an Iroquois cardigan that looks badass. (Between the two options, I dig the heather navy pattern.) Part of it’s even made out of yak.
  2. The second is this Faribault x Ebbets Field ballcap, which was given to me by my friend John Mooty from Faribault Woolen Mill (who supplied the wool for this bad boy). And I’m not even a hat guy. Or I wasn’t before this season.

Ball cap by Faribault x Ebbets Field; terrycloth sweatshirt by life/after/denim; “Suck it, Trebek” T-shirt; “Stanton” 14.5-oz selvage jeans by Rogue Territory; natural leather belt by Cause + Effect; “Desert Trek” shoes by Clarks Originals.

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Midwestyle’s Favorite Outerwear

November 13, 2013

If you’re anything like us, whether your city got snow yesterday or you’re excited to finally wear your winter coat, you’re itching to dig out the heaviest jacket you own. But before we close the book on autumn entirely, we realized that we’ve got a few old fall favorites that have been treating us well this year. Which made us curious: What’s one of your favorite pieces of outerwear that you look forward to wearing each year?

Here are some of ours.

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Seth: I ain’t got no shame, so I’ll admit it: When Jeff was still living in Chicago, and because I didn’t start off as the most adventurous wearer of clothes, I often jacked his style—even right down to seeing something new that he’d purchased and thinking “Ooh, I guess I could pull that off,” and having him pick up another one for me. That’s exactly what happened with this field jacket, which cost a mere 30 bones on sale. And just like Jeff, it has never led me astray. It’s what I always reach for when the wind picks up in the second half of the year. It’s got pockets galore. And the reinforced shooting shoulder reminds me of being back on the farm in Missouri with my trusted 20-gauge over-and-under. Field jacket by Levi’s.

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David: I picked up this “Skiff” jacket earlier this season because I’m a sucker for wool. But having worked through a few less satisfying coat purchases, I knew exactly what I was looking for this time around. After having spent the end of summer trying to justify much more expensive options, this snap-front, fitted-but-not-too-fitted lil’ getup came into my life. It wasn’t cheap, but I’ve made enough mistakes in my life (clothing related and not) to feel good about fall-ing (get it?!) for a new go-to. With this, this, and this already in my closet, lord knows another navy blue jacket better be pretty close to perfect. I never loved my double-breasted peacoat, and anything with a collar that won’t stand up and cover my neck is going to be disappointing. So far the Skiff jacket has been very satisfying. The cut is slim enough that layering requires some creativity, but it’s totally worth it. Skiff jacket by Wallace & Barnes x J.Crew.

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Garrett: Call me a purist; call me a traditionalist; call me boring. When it comes to my favorite piece of outerwear, my go-to is my Spiewak Dugan peacoat. This thing is as throwback British navy as you can get. I picked this baby up three years ago for $6 at Urban Outfitters. Yes, $6. Sale + sale + discount = magic. The reason this is my favorite piece is because of it’s versatility. I’ve rocked this with wingtips and a suit as well as my destroyed denim and some NB’s. It’s tight like a tiger but hugs my curves in all the right ways. It keeps me warm on cold nights and when those Chicago winds pick up, the collar goes up as well. It’s a staple in my winter lineup, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Wool peacoat by Spiewak.

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Jeff: The ideal shape and texture for a leather motorcycle jacket for me is a little shorter than usual and a little rigid. I found this bad boy in either Kansas City or Chicago—I honestly don’t remember but I know that I paid under $20 for it because…it’s already had some mileage on it with the paint brush. A paint brush you say? Take a closer look and you’ll see dancing skeletons and flames on it. Yeah, I bought it to paint over it but never ended up doing it. Whatever, man. They grew on me. Vintage leather jacket, maker unknown.

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Joe: I snagged this fella on sale last year, and it has easily become my most prized possession. The wool-cashmere blend is incredibly soft and warm, perfect for wintertime weather. Typically, a topcoat is worn over a suit as a dressier option for outerwear. However, given my obsession with it, I wear it very casually too (collar popped, of course). This year I want the same coat in navy and gray. Too much, you might ask? Maybe. But I’m doing it anyway. “Ludlow” topcoat by J.Crew.

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Chris: I recall when I was a young lad, and the big box lords of clothing deemed me “husky.” My parents fought hard to get me in a pair of jeans, however I vowed to wear nothing but sweatpants the rest of my life because of their forgiving fit. Then came that one day (of many) my mom took me shopping at our local Salvation Army. I will never forget my favorite purchase: a Levis denim jacket. I littered that thing with my favorite patches and buttons: TMNT, White Sox, Bears, Korn.

I’ve been on the prowl for a trimmer denim jacket ever since. During one of my late-night drunk Etsy searches, I came across the perfect item: “Vintage Levi’s denim jacket, size 34.” One week later, I received it in the mail, and it has proven to be the most versatile piece in my wardrobe. I know it’s true “vintage” because I did my homework. It doesn’t have lower hand pockets; it has single row stitching; and I have the Big E red tab with two pockets and vertical pleats on the front. I wear this layered under sport jackets and layer it over sweaters, vests, and ties. Denim jacket by Levi’s.

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Jonathan: I picked up this “slick” coat back in June, via the annual Steven Alan sample sale. Don’t remember what I paid for it, but all I can remember was, “Hey, SALE!” (Hands over credit card.) Although I couldn’t wear it as soon as I got it—which is always a bit deflating—I haven’t taken it off since the weather turned. Technically a rain slicker with a detachable hood, I’ve found it roomy enough to throw a sweatshirt + denim jacket underneath with ease (and for this I’m a fan…’cause options.) Slicker by Steven Alan.

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Cameron: Being the layer-er that I am, I’m not one for “coats” per se, which is why this Isaora down pullover has been so clutch for me when the temperature drops. I know, I know – I look like the Michelin Man, or an astronaut, or a guy who took a bunch of old bike tires and sewed them into a sweatshirt. I get it, the thing’s weird. It’s also deceivingly warm and stands well on its own, though often times I throw something on over it – be it a denim jacket, an oversized cardigan, or a zip-up fleece. While that final layering piece helps, it’s the pullover that’s doing the heavy lifting in terms of keeping me warm. I grabbed this guy on sale last winter from Isaora’s website and haven’t looked back. Down pullover by Isaora.

CELLAR & LOFT

November 12, 2013

There are few places I’d rather be on a windy, rainy, cold, overcast October afternoon: The first is on my couch next to the front window, drinking coffee whilst wasting time on the Internet. The second is in a warm brick cellar tasting whiskey with a good friend who’s as knowledgeable as the peat is smokey.

That cellar specifically being that of Cellar & Loft in the River Market district just north of downtown Kansas City (Missouri). Opened in 2010—well, it was originally opened in the Brookside neighborhood in 2004—and owned by former Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Eddie Kennison, Cellar & Loft has been working on its identity and slowly becoming an up-and-coming hot spot for wine and whiskey.

My aforementioned friend, Dominic Petrucci, is the newly appointed store manager and has been at the helm of buying spirits. This guy knows his stuff. He’s also very generous with his knowledge and his pours. As I walk through the door on this particular day, Dominic greets me with a smile and a firm handshake and say: “Come on. I have something for you.”

We saunter into the actual cellar, complete with original-to-the-building wooden plank floors and brick walls. Dominic disappears into a locked back room. When he returns, he hands me a glass with about two fingers of something delicious, very delicious. This elixir is Masterson’s 10-Year-Old Straight Rye Whiskey (Batch #005, Bottle 20397). Crafted with 100% rye from the Pacific Northwest, this Sonoma, California, rye whiskey is hands-down the best I’ve ever tasted (smooth, with notes of vanilla and cinnamon). It’s not a surprise that Whiskey Advocate named Masterson’s 10 the #1 whiskey earlier this year.

Then Dominic hands me a glass of Aberlour A’bunadh single-malt scotch. I’m very green at tasting sipping whiskeys, but this one was simply beautiful. Here’s how the Aberlour website describes it:

“A’bunadh, Gaelic for ‘of the origin’, is matured exclusively in Oloroso ex-sherry butts. It is a natural cask-strength malt whisky produced without the use of modern-day chill filtering methods or the addition of water.”

I’m losing you, aren’t I? Anyway, all you need to know is that it’s a great whiskey. Thinking my tastings were over (as my only intention coming in that day was to say hello and to take photos for this post) he surprised me with one last pour: Laphroaig 10. What I’m trying to say here is that Dominic and the folks at Cellar stress hospitality to the utmost.

The atmosphere is warm and inviting, yet urban and cool. They have wooden lockers for members of their clubs (wine, whiskey, and/or beer) to store their personal caches of provisions whether it be liquor, beer, or cigars. They have giant plasma screens to watch your favorite game (ahem, 9-0 CHIEFS!). And they are currently in the process of finishing their upstairs pizza kitchen where they’ll make simple, traditional pizzas.

The bottom line is this: If you live in Kansas City, get thee to Cellar & Loft. If you’re visiting Kansas City, get thee to Cellar & Loft. And if you don’t have plans to visit Kansas City, you might want to reevaluate.

How To: Keep a good (and warm) head on your shoulders

November 5, 2013

Let me go ahead and cut right to the chase. It’s getting cold. You know it, I know it.

So, now the question: “What do I put on my head?” I’m going to give you a handful of options I think should encase the spectrum, whether you’re wearing a stocking cap for fashionz, or if you’re actually needing it because your head is cold. Oh, both you say? Good call. When it comes to throwing a new cap into the mix, there are basically a few groups: real affordable, the $100 range, or that luxe life.

First off, for the newly appointed genre of menswear…on that ramen budget. I’ve got you covered, #peasantmenswear types. (Thanks, Cam.) For this group, there are a good number of brands out there slingin’ hats (“like, whoa”) to keep you outfitted. MujiTopman, Carhartt, and American Apparel, just to begin—options on options on options. Here are a couple to highlight:
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Target: Merona did it again. A number of colors, and it’s hard to beat $4.99 #targetdoesitagain. It’s kind of like when those TY Beanie Babies were being considered “investments.” You kids of the 90’s remember that, right? Well, if you’re like Jeff and me, you’ll buy one of these Merona caps in at least 5 colors. I can’t say the return on your investment will be all that great, but compared to how it worked out for those Beanie Baby collectors, the odds are in our favor.

 

Zara has a slew of options (patterns, stripes, dots, you name it) under $20:
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For that next group not afraid to spring a little dough for something to cover your mug but also not trying to break the bank (cause beanies have a tendency to fall out of coat pockets when not on said head), you’ve got options: APC, Norse Projects, Journal Standard, Beams+, the list goes on. Here’s a few:

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Club Monaco : Kensington Cashmere (multiple colors, but this blue is the favorite), $79.50.
Italian cashmere with cuff detail, warmth, and comfort.
Pretty much everything one might need.

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Marc x Marc Jacobs, $120.
Merino wool that will provide warmth and comfort, and also let everyone know: “Hey, look at my awesome new hat!” (If you’re into that sort of thing, we won’t judge you.)

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And for those of you with the money tree in the backyard, or money just ain’t a thing (we’re not mad at ya), you’ve got some options: Moncler, Nigel Cabourn, or what’s that hat, Margiela? At a cool $295, this slouchy cashmere beanie does it all. Well, ok, so it really only sits slouches off your head. But hey, it will make you look cool, so there’s that.

 

Some final thoughts: All in all, I’m not big on the whole “beanie with a brim” thing. My mom always said if you ever have to second guess, “Just say no.” And I think that motto fits appropriately in relation to beans with brims.

 

As for the slouchy beanie, I think when done right it can be a good look. Keywords: “when” and “done” and “right.” I personally tend to go with something that has a little more form, but I think there are some good options out there if you want to get your slouch on. Urban Outfitters has you covered. Herehere, or here. Hey, what else says you’re channeling your inner Justin Bobby, Johnny Depp, or Becksy than a nice slouchy beanie?

 

What did I miss? Is there a brand or style of sharp looking, head covering awesomeness you find yourself loving/wearing the most?

WARBY PARKER: The Winter Collection

November 4, 2013

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Because Warby Parker makes some of our favorite glasses, we wanted to introduce the new Winter Collection, debuting today. We’ve long been fans of this transformational eyeglasses company, and they’ve gone and surprised us again with a tasteful offering for the chillier months, featuring brand-new colors as well as staples with updated cool-weather hues.

But enough from us. We liked this imagery:

“They make good companions for rooting around a bookcase, dashing through the snow, getting up to indoor mischief. The possibilities stretch on as shorter days give way to longer nights.”

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“Edgeworth” in Whiskey Tortoise, $95.


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