5/31/11

BADASS TUESDAY: Phil Jackson

With the big man finally coaching his last NBA game just a few short weeks ago, there comes an end to perhaps the most dominating professional coaching career in sports history. And with the beginning of the NBA finals at our fingertips, it seems fitting to look back on the man that is Phil Jackson.

As a fan of professional basketball, I'll always remember Phil Jackson as the most prolific, yet backhanded, trash-talker the game has ever seen. Phil always had something to say. A few words to the media to stir the pot for their upcoming series or a pointedly subtle insult aimed at his opponent's best player. Basketball may have been Phil's trade, but mind games were his specialty. Phil's trash talk wasn't a product of anger or intimidation as it so often is with others. Jackson opened his mouth to the media with a premeditated purpose to distract his opponents, to get in their head and throw their psyche off balance. Half of the fun of the NBA playoffs was checking SportsCenter to see what the Zen Master was going to comment on or even go on a rant about next. In a world where every player in professional sports seems to want to be friends the guys on the other team (or even plan an elaborate free agent trade to their side of the fence), Phil wasn't afraid to make a few enemies in pursuit of championship rings.

Ahem, eleven championship rings. The numbers speak for themselves. Eleven rings in just over twenty years. A 50 percent success rate for winning it all. And don't feed me any BS about how he had Jordan, how he had Kobe. With great talent comes great expectations and, moreover, huge egos. If anything, the guy deserves an award as the best manager of personalities the league has ever seen. And he thrived on making his best players peak at playoff time, when it mattered. Fanning the flame of their confidence when they needed it, humbling them when their heads ballooned, as they so easily do when you're busy three-peating all over the place. I'll remember Phil less for the triangle offense and more for his relational approach to coaching—the approach that built him a dynasty of success that doesn't look like it'll be surpassed any time soon.

The league's gonna miss you, Phil. And I will too.






jackson_090825.jpg (600×400)

5/30/11

midweSTYLE: Entryway

Since moving to Chicago, I've been fortunate to meet passionate people. I love meeting folks who are going after what makes them tick. It's a beautiful thing to meet someone who loves what they do and attacks it relentlessly. I've met a few of these types already—take roommates Drew and Anthony. Drew is a hairstylist and Anthony is a photographer. Here's how we met:

When I was jet-setting to Chicago for interviews in the tail end of what we all thought was winter in March, I bumped into Drew at a Thursday-night event that bridged our interests. His style was a little West coast, relaxed but put together, but the dude is from Wisconsin. We starting chatting about why he was wearing slim-fit, white rolled denim and why he is in Chicago. I asked him what he liked to do and he replied, "I cut hair and you need a hair cut."

Cool, I thought. I've got my guy to cut my hair. It's a thing that many don't have these days: "their guy" at the barber shop, at the menswear store, at the tailor, at the local restaurant. Their guy. Your guy who helps you out when you need the latest or a fixing. He knows enough about your life to ask how your family's doing. How work's going. What you thought about that thing that happened on the Blue Line the other day. I just moved here, and I've officially secured another year of not having to step into a professional salon. Glory, glory, glory. I can pay AND tip the hairstylist in booze, meals and bargains. Relief.

---

A month later when I moved to Chicago, I show up to Drew's apartment and met Anthony while I was getting my hair cut. I told Drew to do whatever he thought would work best. (It's hair. It'll grow.) Anthony is a rad man from Pennsylvania who has got a serious case of trigger finger. Dude's got the camera glued to his face, and when you get a chance to see his face past the scruff, he has a smile that stretches from ear to ear an reveals an enthusiasm to know you and your passion.



Anthony took some time off between shooting medical hip replacement surgeries and New York weddings to hang out with Seth and I. We got a little work done...


FAVORITE PART OF THE LOOK: Clashing patterns and prints. If these socks had parents, Mortia Adams and Beetlejuice would be a notch above in the family tree. Kind of a dark and quirky feel much like the set in Anthony and Drew's old apartment entryway. Mix these with a preppy and spring-madras bow tie, and it somehow works. Or maybe it doesn't. Give it a shot.



Straight-leg "Mushroom" stretch chino ($175) by Nonnie Threads, small; brushed cotton navy button-down (900 Shops in Chicago, sale $30) by J.Crew, extra-small; spring-madras bow tie (Etsy, $20) by AnnaRuna; brown leather belt with brass hardware by J.Crew, size 32; black-and-green striped socks (sale $2.99) by J.Crew, one size; brown leather wingtips (Nordstrom Rack in Chicago, sale $40, reg. $140) by Florsheim, wool scarf (thrifted at Urban Mining in Kansas City, $8) by Pendleton; unzippered green canvas tote (eBay sale $50, reg. $90) by Filson.

Photography by Anthony Barlich.

5/26/11

Friday Wrap-Up: Spring into sales

Noteworthy Sales in the Midwest:
  • Chicago: Haberdash has their sale starting. 20-70% off Gant, Steven Alan and all things worthy to add to your menswear line-up of classic yet modern pieces. Stock up, son.
  • Chicago: Bloomingdales has their spring sale with an additional 40% clearance. Seth and I stocked up on some Gant shirting, along with crew necks that are going for around $20 when all is said and done.
  • Chicago: Also, while you're at the 900 Shops, stop by the Second Floor and hop into J.Crew. They're having an additional 30% already marked down clearance items. Great basics and shirting for around $10 to $20 a pop. Say hi to Austin, Drew or Raymond. They'll hook you up and find your size.
  • Kansas City: Standard Style Boutique is having their Memorial Day Sale with around 30% off and an additional 10% sale items. Stop by if you're around Leawood in the 'burbs or if you're trouncing around the Plaza. Say "hi" to Daniel and Angela when you stop by if you're down in Leawood. Tell them Jeff sent you. And send our love to Aaron and Josh once you've finished your lattes at Latteland around the corner on the Plaza.
  • Kansas City: While you're down in Leawood, don't forget to stop by Habitat Shoes across the street by the Apple Store. Please. Someone needs to buy those Rachel Comeys before I have them life-flight those babies to me. Size 11 if you want to do me a favor.
  • St. Louis: I'm not sure if there is a sale, but you'd be silly not to stop by the Cherokee Antique Row after our latest finds. Bow ties, top hats and wingtips for you dapper gents over at "Retro 101."
  • Everywhere: Our hometown hero, Anna (who goes to Mizzou), just launched her Etsy shop. Right now, she's got some sweet bow ties. But you've seen those already since you entered our giveaway. Wait, you haven't? Well get on it. We're picking a winner soon.
We usually don't do this, but one other quick thing for our New York friends (or anyone else). You may have heard about Joplin, Mo., which just got hit by an EF5 tornado that killed more than 120 people and destroyed about 30 percent of the town. Both Seth and our dear friend Cary Randolph Fuller both grew up in Joplin, and Cary's organizing a benefit in NYC next week. (You can read Seth's newspaper column to find out more about the devastation.)

If you feel so inclined, head to the Lounge at Los Feliz on Wednesday for margaritas, charity and beautiful people. Details below. We have it on good authority that Cary herself will be there. Lucky you.

5/25/11

The Pro-Files: Frank Muytjens of J.Crew

Jeff, with Frank Muytjens (head of men's design for J.Crew.)

Clothing is a narrative. A collection of well-placed hints about who you are, where you come from, where you're going. And you? You're someone with places to be. People should be able to know you when you get there.

At least that's how Frank Muytjens sees it. Frank is the head of men's design at J.Crew, where he went after working with Polo. Yet, the Amsterdam native is surprisingly down to earth for being an increasingly recognizable international gentleman in the industry. One of the kindest and most thoughtful heavy-hitters you'll meet.

Muytjens and la presidente, Jenna Lyons, were in the Second City recently to promote both a new men's shop and their fall line. It's a tall order to fly into Chicago to spend less than half a day on Michigan Avenue for a meet-and-greet the many admirers of your work, but no: Frank is as good a listener as he is a thinker.

And it's that kind of careful thought that has allowed the company to reinvent itself into a game-changer. See, the thing about J.Crew is, not so long ago you wouldn't have put it and "classic" next to each other in a sentence. But with Frank and Jenna at the tiller, that's exactly where the company has risen: to a look that's The Great Escape, not Dawson's Creek.

We caught up with Muytjens in the 900 Shops a couple of weeks ago before he and Lyons had to jet back to New York City where, if their current record is any indicator, they'll keep shaking things up.

Midwestyle: You've said before that story is a big motivator for you. How does it influence your creative process? ("It's important that the brands we surround ourselves with tell a story," Muytjens told Esquire last fall.)

Frank Muytjens: Well, you start with an idea.
You craft a story.
You pick a fabric. It's a very organic process. It's the creative struggle. It's always like a fight, but in the best way possible.

MWS: And it's that creative struggle that keeps your attention and enthusiasm.

FM: We're such a well-oiled machine compared to a couple of years ago. We know what fabrics work for us. We still get excited about touching fabrics. It's important to be childlike—to be excited about coming to work every day.

MWS: What about your move toward classic Americana? What are the stories and influences behind that?

FM: It's really all about history. I'm fascinated by what I see in the old movies. Tuxedos from the '30s. Army and Navy uniforms. Workers. The Gold Rush. Those things find their way into our design.

Oh, and here's a quick tip from Frank:

FM: Try denim under a sport coat. It's two basic items, but maybe you didn't think about them together. It's that combination of rugged and formal, vintage and clean. If you mix and match, you get a more modern look, by pairing unexpected things together.

To Frank, Jenna and the rest of the Crew: Thanks for stopping by and incorporating the Midwest into your orbit. Hope to see you here again soon.

Case in point: There goes Cam, being all unexpected again.

J.Crew photos and text by Seth Putnam. Photo editing by Carolina Rodriguez. Triptych by Bethany Jones.

5/24/11

BOW TIE GIVEAWAY from AnnaRuna

We've been rocking bow ties lately to add some personality and character to our looks. (Hell, we've been doing that with accessories, bags, tie bars and other quirky pieces, too.) Something subtle or something with a statement—that's the key to finishing off an outfit. A bow tie is one such touch. Our Midwestern lady friend understands this and wants to help fellow gents (or ladies).

Shirting by Apolis Activism, cardigan by J.Crew and madras bow tie by AnnaRuna.

Her name is Anna, and she's going to be a senior at Mizzou this coming fall. She and Cam and I grew up cannon-balling at the Willow Farms swimming pool, eating copious amounts of salsa deckside at the Hastings house and shooting off fireworks in the suburbs in front of the Flemings curbside detonation zone each Fourth of July. She's talented, sweet, tall/Icelandic and Midwestern. (Did we mention beautiful? If not, beautiful.) She makes bow ties and neck ties. She's not an East Campus dweller (yet) but she's a frequent dance party fiend at the 516 boys' house.


So here's the situation: We want to give you one of Anna's bow ties from her Etsy shop: AnnaRuna. Here's how you can snag something fancy for your neck...


Simply:
  1. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and/or Tumblr if haven't already. Don't forget to tell us which one(s) you chose.
  2. Tell us who in your life needs a bow tie and why. If it's you, that's cool. If it's your brother, great. If you're a lady and want to rock some camo steeze with your chambray button down and floral skirt, that's cool too, Cary.
We'll pick randomly, (but really whichever one is the wittiest and makes us laugh the most). The giveaway will close on FRIDAY at 5 p.m. We'll announce the winner on Saturday via Twitter and a small blog post. Sounds simple, I know.

Pick one, any one. We'll send it to you.

5/19/11

Thrifty Thursday: Camel suede chukka boots

If you're from Missouri, you're aware that there's this quasi-rivalry between St. Louis and Kansas City. It's natural, after all, seeing as they're the two biggest cities in the state and they're both furnished with competing major league sports teams. When you go to Mizzou, though, you're kind of forced become frenemies friends with residents of the other city. While it's unfortunate, it is necessary.

At any rate, some of my own St. Louis friends tricked me into actually going there under the guise of watching them run half of the St. Louis Marathon. I eventually took the bait, and in an attempt to make me think more of their hometown, they took me to The Loop. It was here that they fed me the delicacies of Pam's Chicago-Style Dogs, walked me past one of the Midwest's best music venues, The Pageant, and finally took me to some of the city's finest boutiques and vintage resale shops. It was inside of one of these shops—Avalon Exchange, to be exact—that I stumbled upon these mid top boat shoes for $15, in almost new condition.

$15? Sold. Plus, nothing quite says spring/summer like a light-weight, light-colored pair of shoes. Canvas sneakers, white suede bucks, or in this case, tan mid top deck shoes.

St. Louis, you're alright in my book.

(Seth's note: The "Loop"? Chicago-style dogs? Sounds like St. Louis is just a Chi-wannabe. The thing is, I bet they like ketchup on their hot dogs, and that right there says it all.)



Also, while the Corter 'For Japan' bracelet is no longer available for purchase, you can definitely still support the one-man, Boston based leather goods operation. The single wrap leather bracelet is a favorite. Also, where else can you find a handmade in the USA, natural leather utility belt for under $50? Nowhere. Definitely check it out here.


Camel suede chukka boots (thrifted from Avalon Exchange, $15) by Anchor, size 10; red and blue plaid button-front (thrifted, $3) by L.L. Bean, medium; "The 77" straight leg dry selvedge denim (Standard Style, $198) by Baldwin Denim, size 31; natural leather "Corter for Japan" bracelet (retail, $20) by Corter.

Photography by Jarred Donalson.

5/18/11

STREET midweSTYLE: Drew on Oak Street

What's cool these days?
Zubaz, right?

So is street style photography, I guess.

Wait, I thought you only photographed yourselves, you narcissists?
We didn't get tired of photographing ourselves (or Cameron at least). We just wanted to mix things up. Other guys around town are keeping it fresh and doing their own style, so we'd like to shrine some light on those dudes: friends, classmates, coworkers, neighbors, roommates, drinking buddies, acquaintances and whoever else might be strolling down the road. Don't worry, we're not going to become "one of those street-style blogs" all of a sudden; we just thought we'd spice things up to keep it interesting.

Meet Drew. He's a sound sculptor and jack of all trades. I've run into this guy a handful of times since moving to Chicago and he's a rad guy to know. Good looks and great style.




Badass? Check.
Functional? Check.
Obnoxious color? Check.
Killer watch by Uniform Wares from Need Supply.




Why we like this look? Monochromatic palette with touches of color and print. We like that.


Polka dot short-sleeve shirt by Marc by Marc Jacobs; "100 series" yellow watch (from Need Supply) by Uniform Wares; grey suede desert boots by Common Projects; "Detroit" straight-leg grey pant by All Saints.

Photos by Jeff Kieslich.

5/16/11

Things Organized Neatly: The Bruiser

"You can't do that."
"Do what?"
"Wear black and navy."

"Says who?"
"You just can't."

Gentlemen, who gave us this no-black-and-navy rule?
Hell, who said you can't wear brown and black together? I'm sure they had every good intention of steering you away from being gawked at or accused of being color-blind (because hey, I know a few guys who are color blind.) But let's step back and reassess of our views on mixing black and navy.

For us Midwestern boys, we were told not to wear black and navy together because...
  • It's too dark.
  • It doesn't match.
  • It doesn't look "good."


Disagree. You can do it, and you can do it well.
  • It's too dark: Try breaking up the navy and black with some white, grey or another neutral—even olive or khaki. (Yes, those are considered neutrals.)
  • It doesn't match: That's the point. You don't have to match your belt to your shoes to your watch strap color. Although you can, you don't have to. You've heard the expression "matchy-matchy?" Yeah, let's avoid that in this scenario and roll with the bruised-looking palette, that's often how I look walking out the door. (A little black and blue, with a dash of purple or mustard.)
  • It doesn't look "good." Well, that's in the eye of the beholder. And I'm beholding you and telling you it looks sharp. You were probably told that you can't wear dress shoes without socks and that you can't wear white after Labor Day. Bullshit.
Feeling ballsy? Add a touch of yellow or an obnoxious pattern.

Grey straight-leg chino by Nonnie Threads, small; black trim fit waxed stretch cotton "Brayden" jacket (Nordstrom) by Comune, small; black-and-white-striped tee by American Apparel, small; navy cotton button-down by J.Crew, extra-small; Weekly-Planner Notebook by Moleskine; thrifted black leather belt with brass detailing; white "Authentics," courtesy of Vans.

5/13/11

Friday Wrap-up: Technical difficulties

Editor's note: Well, we got jobbed (as I'm sure many did) by Blogger's downtime this week. Our Thursday post was deleted but is now back up...hopefully your regularly scheduled programming will continue without any hiccups next week. Thanks for being patient. — Seth

To send you into the weekend, here's some of the best stuff we've seen all week:
  • All of Max and Joe's disgustingly aesthetic iPhoneography during their trip to Nashville. Follow them on Twitter at @AllPlaidOut and @JoeGannon.
  • @caryrandolph wrote three brilliant short stories to celebrate her mother last Sunday. They're sweet, funny, poignant and full of character all at the same time.
  • Our once-hometown magazine Vox featured us last week. Check it out.
  • Mr. Porter published an insightful feature with J.Crew men's designer Frank Mutyjens on Tuesday.
  • Speaking of Frank, he and Jenna Lyons (la presidente) stopped by Chicago that very same day for a fĂȘte at their store in the 900 Shops on Michigan Avenue. We hung out, had an interview, and will be posting said exclusive next week. Stay tuned!

5/12/11

midweSTYLE: Safety pins and butterscotch brogues

Yeezy likes safety pins, I like safety pins.
Yeezy is from Chicago, I live in Chicago now.
Yeezy wears Celine tops, I sell Celine tops.
We're practically the same person.


Eat your heart out, Wooster.
I, too, can rock a safety pin tie clasp.
(Thrift #1.)


Oh hey, green grass on this beautiful day.


New butterscotch brogues, ya say?
(Thrift #2.)
Well, not new. But new to my feet. I picked these up at Nordstrom Rack for $60. Not too bad for a pair of leather Florsheims, too bad I've been breaking these in for the past couple days sans sock. After dual bleeding achilles and scratched ankle bones, I'm nearing the home stretch of these being supreme comfort.


Butterscotch brogues (Nordstrom Rack, sale $60, reg $100+) by Florsheim, size 11; wine colored silk tie by rag & bone; "Made in USA" leather belt with brass detailing (Country Club Plaza, sale $4.99) by J.Crew, size 32; "The Henley" Kurabo 14-ounce dry selvedge denim (Standard Style, $198) by Baldwin Denim.

5/11/11

SOLUTIONS: Warped Belts


Stop me if you've heard this one.

I've had this old belt since 2003 when I encountered the double-hole model for the first time and thought it was so cool that I wore it every day to keep my baggy, boot-cut jeans up while I worked on the farm. There's a sharp bend in the leather because every time I've worn it in the past eight years, I've sent it through my belt loops on the left side. Creature of habit, I guess.

Maybe it's because I never spent much time thinking about waist-cinching tips, but I had a facepalm moment the other day when a guy told me he's got an eye-rollingly simple solution for belts that bow and warp: Alternate which side you send through your belt loops. If you usually go left to right, flip the belt over and thread it right to left every other wear.

A basic fix, to be sure. But sometimes you don't think about the most minor problems. Although, perhaps this "problem" doesn't need solving at all. Thoughts, gentlemen and ladies?

5/9/11

Things Organized Neatly: Winter to Spring

Spring? Oh yeah, it should be here by now.
But it's not.
Welcome to Midwest weather.

How does one make it by, yearning for spring but still in the cold?
These are my digs that I've pleased to be incorporating into my wardrobe. It can be 40s in the morning but then hike up to 60s in the afternoon. So I'm prepared with a great mid-weight, unlined jacket and a mid-weight pant. Throwing in a madras tie beckons spring, so try that, too. And if you're still cold when the sun sets, end your evening with a night cap.


Slim straight leg, front cargo pocket mushroom pants (retail, sale $20, reg. $68) by Levi's, 30x34; short-sleeve button down (Standard Style, sale $50 reg. $140) by Apolis Activism, small; graphed "Balsam Fir" notebook (Renegade Handmade, three for $10) by Field Notes; brown leather belt with brass hardware (sale $4.99) by J.Crew, size 32; unlined brown canvas utility jacket (Michigan Avenue Levi's, sale $32 [$44 - 30% sale] reg. $198) by Levi's, small; plaid tie (thrifted, $1); bottle of Knob Creek (refrigerator) courtesy of my roommate's wallet, size weekend.
Photo by Seth Putnam.

5/5/11

Thrifty Thursday: Steven Alan Parka


Granted, this is a small stretch on the word thrifty. This jacket, as it were, cost me $70. Keep in mind, however, that it retailed at $400. So, getting a $400 Steven Alan hiking parka at 83% off, we register that as thrifty. More accurately, we call it being a boss. A bargain boss. We gave you folks a quick heads up on these a few months back when eDrop-Off listed a few of these bad boys on eBay. Turns out, I couldn't quite turn down the price myself.

A lot of you are probably thinking, "Wow, that's an awfully bright orange." Or maybe it's closer to, "Man, I really hate that color." Either way, if you're thinking one of those two, I've accomplished my goal. If fitting in was my jam, I'd go buy a jet-black North Face like everybody else in the Western Hemisphere. An orange piece of outerwear, on the other hand, makes you react. Orange evokes emotion. And I like emotions, because I'm an emotional guy... okay, that backfired.


"The 77" dry 14-ounce Kurabo fabric (Standard Style, $200) by Baldwin Denim, size 31; madras button-down (eBay, sale $15; reg. $65) by J. Crew, medium; hiking parka (eBay, sale $70; reg. $400) by Steven Alan, small.

5/3/11

midweSTYLE: Tee time

Because I had to make some tough sartorial decisions for the advancement of my manhood, I decided to leave all of my pashminas and scarves back in Kansas City. So like any older brother would do, I bestowed those gifts on my younger sister, because let's be honest: Most of these scarves had some kind floral pattern or brocade print on them that could have easily passed as something you would get from XXI, not the antique stores, swap meets and coastal vendors like where I had originally acquired them.

I thought, I'm moving to a big city. I'm not a dirty, liberal-arts undergrad who spends his days engaged in philosophical debate, chain-smoking Parliaments outside of Kaldis or killing pitchers of Fat Tire at Shakespeares anymore! No more scarves! No more chain-smoking! And certainly no more deep V-necks!

So I did—I left my beloved scarf collection back home for my sisters to adorn themselves.

But then I forgot how much I dig a scarf around my neck. Hetero-normative masculine sartorial presuppositions aside, I like scarves. And you know what, that's okay.


What are you thoughts on the scarves? Rather, scarves with ties?


I snagged this feather suede LANVIN Paris blazer at Seek Vintage on Chicago, just west of downtown. I was surprised and relieved to finally find a "vintage" store that actually had vintage apparel that was well-curated. Unlike other locations that heaping mounds of shit under the notion of the place being a "vintage" retailer, Seek Vintage curates housewares, apparel, accessories and a cornucopia of goods from all over the world. The staff is friendly, and the store is thoughtfully merchandised. I've visited a handful of times already and still have yet to walk away empty handed. I like this place.


Camel-colored suede blazer (Seek Vintage, $15) by LANVIN Paris, size 38; green-striped, button-down oxford (eBay, $18) by Gitman Bros., medium; "The Henley" 11.5-ounce dry selvage (Standard Style, $198) by Baldwin Denim, size 28; brown leather "Wallabees" (Cargo Largo, sale $40; reg. $120) by Clarks, size 11; plaid tie (thrifted, $1); golf club tie bar (thrifted, $3); coral wool scarf courtesy of rag & bone; red replacement shoelaces (J.Crew, $2); ex-roommate's dad's friend's brown leather briefcase (gift!).
Photos by Seth Putnam.

5/2/11

SALE: Patagonia at Urban Outfitters

When I first moved to Chicago, Seth was kind enough to let me crash in his igloo apartment until I found a place of my own. We had many a great times watching Arrested Development, shivering and chattering our teeth into slumber, getting Niko'd, meeting Peter Gallagher, starting fires in the corner to keep warm, shenanigans in Wicker Park, getting drinks at Violet Hour, '90s hip-hop dance parties at the Whistler, losing a finger to frostbite, and day drinking.

It was so chill great to live with Seth for two weeks—and I wanted to share with you what enabled me to survive enjoy my stay. This is what I wore to survive in the refrigerator apartment, and it's on sale for a steal of a price.

Patagonia Down Sweater sale $119, reg $200

And this is what I wish I had whenever I was just wearing a t-shirt in Seth's ice chest apartment:

Patagonia Down Vest sale $99, reg $150

Plus, obnoxious colors/detailing are always grade-A in my book.
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