HOW TO: Cargo

Don't wear cargo pants.*
But if you feel like your daytime activities merit compartments beyond the typical five pocket chinos, go forth.

A brief and personal history on cargo pants:
Cargo pants were notable in my adolescence as candy-smuggling, soda-pop-holstering, hazardous-when-running pants that you wore because you didn't want to carry a backpack. But let's be honest, everybody knew you had something in your cargo pocket because it jutted out like mad. As kids, we thought our cargo pockets were like Harry's invisibility cloak.

We all had our fun with our escapades to the local Barry Wood's 24 Cinema on a Friday night. You know, you stopped by the nearest Dollar General to stock up on snacks and chocolates and little diabetic comas neatly packaged in "fun-size" labels to hoard in those once floppy compartments fastened on the side of your American Eagle camo shorts.

Zippered, camouflage, frayed, bleached-stained or destroyed. You loved your cargo shorts. They were practical for your Midwestern youth, throwing and stowing loot and plunder from the creek. Many games of capture the flag they had served you well. Even provided that extra place to hide paraphernalia from authorities (parents, duh). Modern technology advanced at such speed that some cargo pants evolved into a hybrid cargo pants/shorts. You knew that kid.

For me, that kid's name was Jason, and his locker was two down from mine in sixth grade outside of Mrs. Merle's room. He had a pair of these convertible pants I coveted at the mere age of 12. One day in September, he complained that it was too warm inside in the New Mark Middle School's make-shift cafeteria, aka lobby of the school.

I thought to myself, "Jason, are you kidding me? They are pumping A.C. in here. I'm about to go to the nurse and ask to use the phone to call my mom to bring me up sweater because I'm so cold."**

The only logical response to the heat in the obviously temperate "cafeteria" was to show off his new transforming pants with zippers. Behold, the convertible pants into shorts. The middle-school boy's dream pant that you can wear all year long, enabling you to never shower again, which in turn allowed to you play Halo more. Duh.

Two days later, Jason got beat up and his pants were stolen.
Just kidding.
Actually, his dad bought them for him for camping purposes.
Me, I bought my own pair for candy-hauling, Friday night impish purposes—ya-know, the only kind of purpose a devious middle school boy can rationalize.

I digress with my nostalgic days of cargo pants.
Let's move on and talk about modern day, though, shall we?

Don't wear them... unless they are updated with a tailored cut. Examples as follows:

On Jeff: Slim "Trooper"cargo pant courtesy of J.Brand ; cognac "Lexington" wingtip by Florsheim; wool blazer by Billtornade (similiar); crisp white short sleeve button-down by rag & bone.
Levi's also makes a rad light forest green cargo pant that is fairly tailored as well.

Styling suggestions with your updated cargo pants:
  • Don't wear boots with your cargo pants.

  • Don't wear camo with your cargo pants.

  • Don't wear a bow tie with your cargo pants.

  • Don't pretend that you're not wearing cargo pants. Just be cool, okay?
On Jeff: forest-green cargo pants by Levi's; white "Authentics" courtesy of Vans; orange- and white-striped tee by J.Crew; light heather grey slub cardigan by J.Crew.

Photography by Seth Putnam and Anthony Barlich.

* Unless you're doing outdoorsy shit that would necessitate multiple pockets for the use of hauling game and bullets. I actually have a pair of cargo pants that's aren't tailored. They are for hiking, backpacking or something like that. They are from REI and are worn every summer when camping. I like the "idea of the outdoors" more than I like the actual outdoors, thus why my closet is overflowing with Patagonia synchillas in every color.
**This actually happened. She's brought me many clothes throughout my elementary and secondary education because I either peed my pants, threw up on them or was near frostbite. I love you, Mom!


Big Star: In Our Blood

Tacos. Almost from south of the border. Food moonlighting as Mexican, moonlighting Texican in Chicago? Sure, but better. It's more "inspired by" than pretend. And damn, this inspired food is good. See, the thing about Big Star is that it doesn't fail. It does exactly what it's supposed to do: brings a piece of the Texas border to the Midwest.

Not the whole thing. Just a little bit.

On Seth: "Stars" button-up by Scotch & Soda, Babe Lincoln.

On Jeff: Linen blend long-sleeve T-shirt from T by Alexander Wang; rolled khaki shorts by J.Crew; desert boots by Clarks; tan circle-frame shades courtesy of Topman; leather croakies gifted by Plett.

How sandy of you.

Which reminds us: Even if we only speak the language instead of having the heritage, "Mexican" food is part of us. Yeah, the place might be crowded. Might be hipster-ish. Might be just a dollar or two more than we want to pay, but once that $3 whiskey and those tacos hit our lips, you're not going to catch us complaining.

Nope. Just tossing our heads back, sliding our arms around friends, saying salĂșd and buen provecho in perfect American mimicry.

Tecate with lime, empty shot glasses, bad good decisions.

However, if you're in Columbia, Missouri, go to Taqueria El Rodeo.
Hands down, the best Mexican food in Columbia at a third of Big Star's price and three times better service. Such amenities include: using your debit card and being called, unironically, "amigos."

The only other better thing? Having neighbors who are actually from Mexico turn your backyard into a mirth-filled celebration of carne asada, beisbol and la risa. You may have to move to my neck of Logan Square for that one.

Don't go, verano.


Thrifty Thursday: Broped

The sign in this photo summarizes many things:
  • The chances of dating Cameron. Sorry ladies, he's already got a lady.
  • The journey to find the dress shirt that fits perfectly off the rack.
  • Seth's chance of finding shoes in his size.
  • My hopes of finding a Starbucks that will put whatever I want in a Trenta.

While Seth was playing bridesmaid groomsman this weekend in Glen's wedding, Cam and I took our high school senior pictures drove around the streets of East Campus on his roommate's moped.

This shoot embodies our formula for menswear, blogging and style:
A lot of laughing, some Blue Steel and/or Magnum, and a little spooning for dear life on the back of a two-wheeled murdercycle.

Cameron: Jeff and I were trying to play off the classically American motorcycle feel in this shoot. Unfortunately, we didn't have, say, a Triumph Bonneville on hand. We did, however, have a moped (read: scooter). It tops out at a little over 35 mph... downhill. Masculinity? Stripped. Dignity? Somehow, still intact. Needless to say, Jeff and I underwent a bonding experience unlike any other.

You know what I love about mopeds? You can wear whatever you want because you already look a little out of place riding the damn thing. Riding a moped is a lot like going to Vegas; you can wear whatever you want and everybody nobody judges you for it. Right? Probably not.
You get the point though? Probably not.

Rudd approves of riding doubles. I love you, Cam Man.

Photography by the moped owner himself and roommate, Zach McSpadden.

On Jeff: Confetti white button down ($70 sale in NYC) by rag & bone; indigo striped "Mickey" shorts (sale $30) by Club Monaco; tan circular sunglasses courtesy of Topman; tassel loafers (thrifted, $4) by Allen Edmonds.

On Cam: Plaid button-down (retail, $65) by J. Crew; army-green "Enlisted" chinos (UO, sale $20) by Penny Stock; military "Weekender" watch (online, $40) by Timex; eBay'd black Florsheim PTBs (eBay, $25); copper cuff (eBay, $4).


midweSTYLE: Gwynn Hall

You can always tell who the freshmen are on Mizzou's campus because everything they own is fresh, rigid and brand new.
Like, fresh-from-the-factory fresh, tag-recently-plucked fresh.
Fresh-faced ladies with their fresh backpacks and fresh dreams, majors, aspirations and hopes.

Oh, the ladies.
With their monogrammed monograms and pearls upon pearls and coral lips strolling through the Quad.
Toned and crisp, all tanned and sun-kissed from their summer trysts at "the Lake."
Their sun signed noses with freckles from their hours spent crosswording, reading but mostly latte-ing.
Skinny jeans that hug, hug, hug, cropped above those sky-high pumps for nights out, clutch in hand.
Bright planners peep out from Longchamps & Speedys to say hello for all their appointments, events, dates.
Oh, ladies.

I digress.


If I were going back to school this fall, I'd stick to my "I-need-to-be-awake-but-put-together" with a button down and chinos. Something that says to my professor, "I enjoy your lectures and your intelligence—and I would like to meet with you after class...to not talk about class over beers at Shakespeare's."

One of my favorite parts about this unique short-sleeve button down is the middle seam that runs straight through the middle of the garment. Quirky? A little. It's a nice touch in breaking up the shirt, making it subtle and casual.

One of the better-fitting pair of chinos I own is the "Davis" Chino by Club Monaco. Slim cut, medium rise, chino-style pockets. I sized down in these and am surprised at how well they hold their fit and feel. I'm definitely stocking up on them when the new fall colors come out. For me, it fits better than J.Crew's Urban Slim Fit, and I used to swear by those.

On Jeff: White short sleeve buton down by rag & bone; the "Davis" chino by Club Monaco; thrifted Allen Edmonds; ivory straw hat with chambray fabric from Target; camper watch by Timex.



I'll be honest: I've been a fan of Paul Rudd ever since he first appeared in Friends as Mike Hannigan, Phoebe's longest love interest and eventual husband, and in Clueless as Josh Lucas, Cher's ex-stepbrother. Minor roles, sure, but I loved them nonetheless. Then there was Wet Hot American Summer. Before long, Rudd was acting and starring in some of the funniest comedies in recent history: Anchorman, 40-Year-Old-Virgin, Knocked Up, I Love You Man, Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

Beyond all that, Rudd is something of a hometown hero. Having moved to Kansas City when he was ten, Paul remains a regular visitor to the city and a huge Chiefs fan. Hell, he even narrated their season of Hard Knocks on HBO. In interviews, you can sense both his humility and his humor. He's a professional who never makes the mistake of taking himself too seriously. As he once told Nylon, "I hear people talk about 'the craft,' and I just think, 'Oh, you're so full of shit.'"

Also, he's pretty damn good looking. As one Elle writer once wrote, Rudd is "better looking that your neighbor but not so gorgeous that he couldn't play your neighbor in a movie." Plus, we're pretty big proponents of men who are just as comfortable in a week's worth of unshaven scruff and T-shirts as they are in a tailored suit. Paul, of course, is one of these men. He's also a Jayhawk. While that is something that we're willing to overlook, his swagger is something we simply cannot.

*Try not to stare into those eyes for too long, ladies.


Weekend Review: Late August

The Midwestyle Boys reunited in Missouri again for yet another weekend wedding.

But first, let's congratulate Seth. After ushering three weddings, Seth was promoted from Usher to Bridesmaid Groomsman. Well done, Seth! And while Seth was slinging back brews with bros at bachelor parties and watching baseball, Cam and I took a moped for a spin. Booyah.

Yes, that's a moped.
Yes, those are my scrawny legs.
Yes, we are spooning.

Noteworthy news we're excited to share with you:

  • Seth, Brad and Max were named among the cutest men's style bloggers in Chicago. (Refinery 29) Why was Jeff missing? Blame the scale. Where was Ryan? Blame it on Yeezy.

Dear Snarky,
You're right. Our clothes aren't real. We actually spend a lot of time rehearsing and practicing our poses with DJ Khalid stroking our egos. I force Seth to rehearse every evening by walking over a flaming pile of tie clips. I also make Cameron not shave for weeks on end and tell him he's not perfect until he looks like Phillip Crangi.

I'm a slave driver, Anonymous. You found out our secret: We're models pretending to be real people, and we run a tight ship around here where everything is forced, the deadlines are insane, and our editorial calendar is so packed that we're thinking about quitting our (real) jobs so we can be more authentic for you. These are not the droids you're looking for.

Hope you had a great weekend!


Back to School....Or Work.

We Mizzou alumni (and current Tiger) are beginning to gear up for fall.
So, we rounded up some goods we wouldn't mind getting our paws on.


What's on your Back to School Wishlist?
Or if you're in the working world, like Seth and I, what are you treating yourself to in celebration of fall?


"You'll grow into it." — A Personal History

A red baseball cap is the first thing I remember about clothes.

It said "Little Slugger" (Sluggard?), it had elastic on the back, and it was the best. When I lost it in Jo-Ann Fabrics while my mom was shopping for costume patterns, I cried. I probably even untucked my shirt in red-eyed frustration. That, of course, would have been a major infraction in the Putnam household. If we were "going in to town," my shirt tails better have been secured.

So, this was me as a little kid in the early 1990s: Collared, short-sleeve shirt held hostage by my waistline, navy or khaki slacks, and classic blue Keds.

Pretty standard if you're homeschooled.

On the farm in the rolling hills of southwest Missouri, it was a different story. I had some autonomy, most of which was exercised on Big Smith overalls, double-layered flannel shirts, and oversized, knee-high mud boots.



No, your eyes are not deceiving you. There are two flannel shirts in this picture. Yes, one has cut-off sleeves.

As the youngest of four kids, hand-me-downs dictated the contents of my dresser drawers. We thrifted often—Goodwill on 32nd Street in Joplin was mom's favorite designer store. "You can find Dockers," she'd say. "Banana Republic's there, if you look hard." Yes, Mom, the cream of the crop.

The number of times overalls appear in these pictures is proportional to the percentage of my wardrobe they occupied in the early years. I wish I could say that I never wore overalls in to town. I wish I could say that I didn't wear overalls almost every day in sixth and seventh grades. I wish I could lie.

Right around high school, things took a turn for the confusing. As the grudging victim of a dress code, my wardrobe was converted to trousers and collared shirts. I lusted for full-price jeans from the coolest store in Northpark Mall: American Eagle. Every once in a while, we'd splurge.

Proof that I was a master of this picture-pose long before I'd ever even heard of Oak Park High School. Not sure what's going on here: Cargo pants, polo, camo, misshaped cowboy hat? And I'm pretty sure that's a "Vote for Pedro" ringer T-shirt underneath. I wish I could confidently say this was a spirit day at school, but it's not far enough outside the realm of possibility for normal 11th-grade attire. Except the hats, obviously. Those weren't allowed. And that lunch box was one of the sweetest things ever.

Fairly standard, ill-fitting suit option for a school formal. At least I wasn't wearing a pastel tuxedo like the other guys.

But mostly, my closet was stocked with the cast-offs from my brother's school attire from nine years earlier. (Remember what I said about hand-me-downs?) Threadbare Arrow shirts, khakis with a 32-inch waist.

White collar. Blue undershirt. Lookin' good.

Mom and Dad's explanation? "You'll grow into them, son." Made sense at the time. Buying a size larger was hardwired into my purchasing decisions. But the joke was on me; I stopped growing right around the time I turned 15.


One time, at JBU: Free at last from high school dress codes, my freshman year was mostly characterized by trucker hats, T-shirts, light-wash jeans, flip-flops, and Jack Johnson.

College was the first time I ever wore sweatpants to class. I fell asleep. I began to wonder if what you wear actually does affect your performance. Back in high school, that was the administration's reason for the seemingly oppressive dress code, but I never believed them. Until I started wearing a tie on exam days.

Then I noticed the way my 40-year-old brother dressed for work. Shirt, tie, pants that weren't too big. His care with his appearance showed his care for his work and his family of four. I noticed kids whose pants were closer to their knees than their waists. I noticed that a man dresses differently than a boy. And I noticed a difference when I tried it on for size. I was more alert, more put together, more effective. The mental pumps were primed.

When it comes to what you wear, you're presenting yourself. Sure, it's an opportunity showcase your individuality. But more importantly, it's a chance to say "Here I am. Expect this."

Style? It's an extension of reputation. You grow into it.


midweSTYLE: Fullerton

While I was in New York last month, I did some damage. 

Single twenty-something guy who is caught up on most of his students loans and was looking to get some transitional pieces for my fall wardrobe. Plus, I had a really great month in sales. So, on Thursday night I decided I was going to pull some strings*, jet set to New York in the morning for the weekend. It was my first time to see the city for the first time. (First time? I know, right)

 Let's just say I walked away with a head-turning prize from Opening Ceremony (post to come soon) and an armful of goods worthy of asking, "Can you ship this?" back to Chicago from rag & bone. 

Rag & Bone was among the brands that caught my eye the most when it came to their inventory, that and the price was nice, considering it was their end of season sale. It also didn't hurt me either considering all the malnourished gentlemen of New York City missed out on grabbing the leftover smalls, 36 chests and 28 waists. Because this guy did. 

Two of my many finds were:
  • A midnight (read as: navy) medium rise seersucker trousers.
  • A white button down that looks like confetti frosting.
    (You can't really see the color speckled through the top in these photos, blame Seth.)

I feel classy, polished and fresh when I wear the navy and camel combo. Something about it pairing these colors together channels a very relaxed yet refined vibe that adds a pep in my step. A clear and fresh face along with catching the L train just before it departs doesn't hurt either.

On Jeff: Feather suede jacket (thrifted $15) by Lanvin; confetti white button down (sale $70, reg $200) by rag & bone; navy seersucker trousers (sale $90, reg $300) by rag & bone; Lexington oxfords (sale $50) by Florsheim; leather clutch (yard sale $2) by Coach; 

*My cousin is a flight attendant. Cheap flights. Bingo.


Thrifty Thursday: Coated

Whenever I make a purchase, I think about whether the item is an addition to my wardrobe as a basic (button downs, denim, tees and other layering pieces) or if it's going to be a specialty piece.

What do I mean by that?
You can buy button down shirts, trousers and denim year round, generally in the same fit, fabric or wash. You can walk into a men's store at any time and find those pieces. Great, those are your basics in your wardrobe. But each season a brand releases a new jacket or a familiar one but in a different wash or fabric.

Those are your speciality pieces. They are typically higher in price and are trend-driven or not something you'd find everyday. A jacket would be one of those pieces.

Let's talk jackets. You can never have enough jackets. But seriously.

Wait, what?
Most great outfits have three pieces to them. A top, a bottom and a jacket.

Why buy more jackets or blazers? Do my shirt and pants not do the job?
If you look at a majority of our shoots and daily outfits, you'll likely find a third piece. And that third piece is typically a jacket. A jacket pulls an outfit together with the top or bottom. It cleans it up and finishes it off. Throw a blazer in the back of your car or carry a cardigan in your bag.

And that third piece is usually more expensive because it's special and thats where the dollars start to add up. However, those dollars were not on this piece.
Nope. About four-Chipotle-burritos' worth of dolla-dolla-bills-y'all were spent on this jacket.

"The Braydon" Jacket by Comune.

It's a nice, structured-but-soft, slim-fitting jacket with high-cut arm holes, which is tough to find when it comes to getting a jacket off the rack. I sized down and got a small, but the medium fit well also. Quite a deal for a great alternative to a blazer and a different take on a denim jacket, thus making it "special."

STYLING TIP: Throw this jacket on with a pair of dark wash denim, tailored pair of khakis or do the monochromatic look. My style is generally pretty preppy, but this was too sharp and filed under "specialty" pieces that will instantly pull my look together.

It's available at:

File this one under: a monochromatic look, too.

On Jeff: Coated black denim jacket (sale $32, Nordstrom) by COMUNE; handmade yellow striped bow tie ($20) by Annaruna; grey pin-stripe straight leg pant ($175) by Nonnie Threads; refurbished white leather topsiders ($30, Nordstorm Rack) by Sperry; cotton grey button-down by J.Crew.


TRY THIS: Monochromatic

Let's talk color. But not color blocking or adding a "pop of color" as the kids like to call it; rather, monochromatic colors.

What is a monochromatic look?
An outfit built around one particular color story.

Try these:
  • Navy, dark grey, slate and midnight.
  • Khaki, tan, ecru and nude.
  • Black, heather grey, charcoal and steel.
Some examples:

For some, it's fairly effortless to throw on one shade of a color since that what is what is in your entire closet. (Cough, Seth, cough.) All one color. For others, it will be a little more difficult knowing their colorful tendencies of wearing a ton.

But we say: Why not give it a go? Especially with a little on a print or pattern in the same color story.


midweSTYLE: Bridge

REAL TALK: I rarely have a very good reason to wear a tie. Honestly, events that necessitate ties in my life are few and far between. I mean, outside of the occasional wedding or sorority formal, opportunities to appropriately don neckwear are fairly infrequent. That means that when I wear them, it's typically for no reason at all. I'm not going to the office, I'm just going to class. If Mizzou were a little more Ivy, that may be normal. But in a place where T-shirts and sweatpants reign supreme, I figure most people just assume I'm a professor.

Now, switching gears, the comment we tend to get most when it comes to buying from thrift stores or vintage resale shops goes something like this: "I just don't have the patience to sift through all the inevitable crap to find what I'm actually looking for." While thrifting often leaves you frustrated and empty handed, I think I've come to realize why I genuinely enjoy it to the degree that I do. The prices are obviously the biggest draw, yes, but there are secondary elements to the thrift store experience that make it something that is, while tedious at times, still very worth while. For me, I love that it harkens back to a time when United States manufacturing was still king, before outsourcing apparel construction became the new black. There's something strangely satisfying about putting on a piece of clothing whose tag reads, "Made in the U.S.A." You guys know what I'm talking about, right?

LASTLY: Sorry for going YouTube crazy. Also, we're a handful of followers short of four digits on Twitter. Lets do this, team.

On Cameron: Blue oxford (thrifted, $2) made in the U.S.A. by Arrow Brigade, 15.5 neck; striped tie (gift from a lovely woman) by Kincora Irish Tweeds; brass tie bar (thrifted, $2); woven belt (thrifted, $4); chinos (UO, sale $10) by Dockers, size 31; desert boots (Christmas gift '09) by Clarks, size 10; "Preston" eyeglasses (online, $95) by Warby Parker; rope bracelet (homemade).

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