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 29x34; 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.

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. Clubmaster sunglasses 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


BADASS TUESDAY: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

I know that being a badass is not specific to actors, but... this week, I'm giving you another actor: Joseph Gordon-Levitt. (Editor's note to Jeff: One more of these, and Cameron's out.)

When I started to think about badass dudes that were closer to my own age, I struggled a little bit. That badass distinction is often earned through retrospection of someone's life and career. Honestly, I think JGL has the earned the title. Why? First off, his meditated and careful acceptance of roles has manifested itself in a pretty stellar acting career thus far. He has the forethought to be judicious in selecting his roles, and I respect a guy who turns down millions for big budget films in lieu of smaller budgets and often more difficult roles. Quality over quantity.

Plus, he gets props for being a child actor who actually turned out to be a decent human being. That's rare enough as it is. You all saw "Inception." You've probably seen "500 Days of Summer." You might not have seen "Brick," but you should go see it ASAP. The man is good at what he does. At 30, he has successfully carved out a rather attractive niche in Hollywood. He's also got that quirky-handsome thing going for him, and he's sartorially sound. A future icon? Perhaps. A current badass? Absolutely.


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.


Thrifty Thursday: Varsity jacket

Ever since my friend Daniel told me that he and Ryan Plett picked up the Gant Rugger Homerun jacket, I've wanted to get my hands on one. (Red option or blue option, either would do.)
"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.

Wool and leather varsity jacket (thrifted, $9); White oxford button-down (retail, $50) by American Apparel, size small; Blue and yellow repp tie (thrifted, $1); Chambray Welt Pocket Pant (retail, $69) by American Apparel, size 31; Cap-toe shoes size 11 (thrifted, $5.99) by Bass; Women's "Boyfriend" gold watch (Target, $30?) by Merona.

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.

Photography by Jarred Donalson


midweSTYLE: Logan Square

Seeing as this is my visual debut, I should probably explain a bit about my life as a reporter-at-large. It's pretty much the best life ever: I'm my own boss, I only work on Pulitzer-worthy stories that I'm passionate about, editors of national magazines are constantly banging down my door, and the money is rolling in. (Pick which one of those things is true). Actually, this article sums it up pretty well, especially the bit about "mostly spending my days watching television, napping, noshing, strolling around, seeing matinees, playing The Sims"...except sub in FIFA for The Sims. Jarred once told me he envisions me sitting around smoking cheap cigarettes and not shaving very much.

Because my office is about 3.281 feet from my bedroom, it can, however, be a struggle sometimes to put pants on in the morning (a confession that once almost got me booted from this site.) Being a freelancer has its perks...namely the flexibility to work from home or pack up the computer and take it to an interview/café/coffee shop/bar/house party. I try to dress accordingly.

Wearing a tie, believe it or not, actually increases my productivity and results in better work. I know, I know—I scoffed, too, when Coach Musgrave made us wear ties on gamedays during high school soccer. But I started wearing them on test days in college, and much to my surprise, I actually did better on exams. So we'll see how they serve me in my post-collegiate years.

As for the loafers, they've pretty much become my go-to slip-ons, so they'll probably be appearing quite a bit.

Tweed blazer (thrifted, $6) , size "fits-like-a-glove" 36R; grid oxford button-down (gift) by J.CREW; "The Henley" (borrowed from Jeff) by Baldwin Denim, size 30; brown and blue-striped socks (Target, $2.50); woven and stitched loafers (thrifted, $3).

Photography by Jeff Kieslich


midweSTYLE: Springtime catch

It was 81º in Columbia, Mo. yesterday when I passed through on my way back to Chicago. Fitting for it being the first weekday of spring. Also fitting that when I drove by, the gentlemen who live at one of my old East Campus hangouts were out throwing the ball around after class.

When I look at this picture of Cam, I get this iconic, 1950s image of a dad playing catch with the ankle-biters after a tough day at work. An escape from the seriousness of adult life—or in this case, class in a stuffy lecture hall—and a way to return to carefree boyhood distractions. (Not that he has any idea what what the real world is like—he's still living in a college dreamland. Which reminds me: Cam, you're kicked off the site.)

Untuck that classic white oxford, roll up the sleeves, and pound the glove.

Spring's here. And soon, summer. Time to open the windows, air out the house, and let the breeze rustle the curtains.

Vintage, U.S.-made oxford (free, from dad's closet) by Gant, size 15-33; Broken-in chinos (retail, $65) by J. Crew, size 31; braided belt (thrifted, $3); laceless Top-Siders (retail, $70) by Sperry, size 10.

Photos by Seth Putnam.



They usually don't call you "The King of Cool" without good reason. McQueen's life reads a little bit like your favorite novel. Here are the Sparknotes for McQueen's journey into stardom:

Father abandons mother and son when he's six months old, mother is unable to raise son alone so she sends him to his grandparent's farm (which, in this case, was in Slater, Missouri), son is in and out of trouble, moves back in with mom, goes back to farm, joins the circus (no, I'm not kidding), reunites with his mother in the big city (Los Angeles), joins a gang, commits petty crime, gets sent to a boys reform school in Chico, graduates and eventually joins the Marines, receives an honorable discharge 3 years later, uses the money from his G.I. Bill to study acting, begins to race motorcycles on the weekend to make ends meet while playing small roles in play productions, works his way into bigger parts, gets launched into limelight after acting alongside Frank Sinatra in Never So Few, earns and executes an exceptional performance in his first starring role in The Magnificent Seven, the legacy begins, and boom goes the dynamite.

Note: McQueen used to demand bulk goods (jeans, electric razors, etc.) from the studios he did work for. It was later discovered that he would donate these items to the boys at the reform school he attended as a kid.


FAVORITE: Filson Tote


In my undergraduate years, I often carried a North Face backpack like any public university student. It was practical: It held my Nalgene bottle, protected my laptop and hauled my books. It was "normal" to have one. However, when I was pretending to be important in my liberal arts classes, I often carried a briefcase, tote or leather bag. 

 Once I graduated, I knew I wasn't going to carry around my beloved North Face backpack to coffee shops and travel, let alone to job interviews and formal outings. I needed a new bag that spoke to my "not-so-professional-but-I-want-to-be-a-young-professional" stage of life.

Filson tote provided that transition. Practical, functional, and it looks sharp. I can carry it to coffee shop and pretend to look important. I can carry it to a less formal job interview to house my portfolio and laptop. Or even throw some clothes in it and jetset. It's one of my favorites.

Small tote bag ($90 retail, $45 on eBay) by Filson; Salmon puff "lifejacket" vest (thrift store, $4); "The Henley" 14-ounce Karabo dry selvedge (Standard Style, $200) by Baldwin Denim; Classic Lifestyle boot in Java 8878 (Halls, sale $78) by Red Wing Shoes; Button down (retail, $12.99) by J.CREW; Natural leather belt (retail, sale $4.99) by Urban Outfitters; Camper watch (Amazon, $18.99) by Timex.

photography by Jarred Donalson


Thrifty Thursday: Jack Spade & ties

It had been a while since I really scored at Cargo Largo. Cargo Largo, you say? Why yes, my friend. Cargo Largo. The artist formerly known as "RSO" in the lovely Independence, Missouri. Surely you've heard of this city before in the Midwest. Noteworthy mentions of Independence:
And Cargo Largo. In short, it's the island of misfit toys that were damaged freight, marred, on clearance or something to the effect of "Well, I guess we can sell it here." Enter the glass case in the designer/boutique selection. Overcrowded and scratched, the glass cases house many treasures and bargains. Jack Spade waxwear canvas dopp kit? Alright.

WHAT & WHY SO MUCH? What's wrong with it? I mean, my last Dopp kit was a Ziploc bag. Regular: $145, sale $60. I'll have this thing for the rest of my life. It's sharp looking.

BUT WHAT'S WRONG WITH MY ZIPLOC BAG DOPP KIT? I know. How embarrassing. That was my travel Dopp kit. Until I got this bad boy. Organized, clean—and I'm not going to throw it away at the end of the weekend.

THE ICING: These ties. Cheap, cheap, cheap.


midweSTYLE: Gazebo

With the warm weather being ushered in each week, we're ready for spring.
Then it snows. Then it's sunny again the next day to melt the snow, followed by another snow.
Welcome to weather in the Midwest. The weather is what you will it to be. Throw a cuff in your khakis and a tie on your button down.

We proudly roll our chinos occasionally. Gotta keep up with the times. Wanna learn how? Check out the Gilt MANual.

Shawl-collar cardigan ($60) by J.Crew; deadstock tie (eBay, lot of seven for $14); khaki pants (Urban Outfitters, $60) by Paul Frank, chestnut Longwings (thrifted, $4), size 10; "The Paulie" Chambray three-quarter sleeve shirt (Standard Style, $90) by Baldwin Denim.

If you tumble, check out our tumblr: www.themidwestyle.tumblr.com

Photography by Jarred Donalson,
great day for a great shoot by a great photographer.


midweSTYLE: Jayhawk territory

Last Friday, I went to Lawrence, Kan., for work to drop off promotional materials on campus.
And by work, I mean, I visited sorority girl houses. I dressed for the occasion and needed to blend in. Know your audience, right? Red and blue tie? Sure.

Being a graduate of Mizzou, I am required by law to dislike the state of Kansas, University of Kansas, KU fans, ChickenJayhawks, red and blue and anything related to the likes of supporting KU.

However, I do enjoy the town of Lawrence and college towns in general. Cool vibe, great local eats and unique shopping experiences. I had a tasty lunch with Mallory and Carolina at Free State Brewery and scored a sweet leather and wool varsity jacket that should be featured on Thrifty Thursday soon...

ABOUT THE LOOK: The schoolboy tie complements the crisp white button down and shrunken sport coat. It just looks sharp. A golf club tie bar adds a little quirk to the outfit, along with the Sperrys to keep it casual. I also particularly like wearing the unwashed and finely aged denim with the dark sport coat.

WHAT THE CLUTCH: When you wear slim jeans like I do—the only kind that look good on my frame mind you—squeezing a wallet or an iPhone in your pocket completely kills the profile. I carry this aged leather clutch as my big wallet. Essentially, it holds my wallet, Field Notes, iPhone, pens and keys perfectly. Go ahead and hate on, haters, but the pouch is convenient for me.

Seth's edit:
WHAT THE TIE: Good morning, Jeff. What's going on with that tie? Do tell, por favor.

Red and blue silk schoolboy tie (thrifted, $1.50); Grey sport coat (Halls, reg. $680, sale $220) by Billtornade, small; Golf club tie bar (antique mall, $5); "The Henley" 11.5-ounce dry stretch selvedge (Standard Style Boutique, $198) by Baldwin, size 30; Brown leather Top-siders (thrifted, $6) by Sperry, size 10.5; vintage leather clutch/dossier/pouch/document case (garage sale, $2) by Coach; White button-down oxford (retail, $60) by American Apparel, small; Camper watch (retail, $19) by Timex; Brown leather belt (retail, $4.99) by J.CREW.

Photography by Mallory Wiegers.
Next time I visit, let's grab some free food & dessert at your sorority house, mkay?
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