A confession: after I wrote the Oral History of Menswear Blogging, binging on every relevant Tumblr and blogspot in the process, I mostly lost interest in the genre. After three or four years of paying attention, I’d learned how to dress myself in a way I enjoyed and didn’t want to drop either the music journalism game or my rainy day savings on going full #menswear. I live in Los Angeles and I don’t work in an office, which makes wearing a suit or odd jacket feel generally uncomfortable, both temperature- and otherwise. I could get over it, but I don’t want or need to, and that’s what personal style is ultimately about: who you want to be, and what you need to provide to others. In blog terms, I’m glad I checked out: having finally caught up with music blogs on the path to social media-driven irrelevance, it seems like every week someone is having a state of the union panic attack. Because the complicated indie dramas of cred, genre and exclusivity warfare fall to the reaper of insatiable consumerism in the fashion world, GQ is smart enough to cherry-pick all the good shit anyway. Plus they have interviews!
With all that said, here are some clothes I’ve bought lately or want to.
Shirts: I stocked up last summer on Uniqlo short-sleeve button-downs. Some people don’t like short-sleeve button-downs; other people don’t like the Beatles. They have some splashy but monochromatic patterns this year for $30 — perfect for dudes on the anxious side — and there’s always gingham and tattersall. A smaller, subtle pattern is a nice step up from blue oxford cloth. Get a couple now and clear ‘em out during the next sale.
Pants: Jeans, especially my still-thick raw 511s, generate too much sweat for the Los Angeles summer or walking through Florence on the way to Pitti, for that matter. Chinos are great. For $58, the Land’s End Canvas 608s are perfect. Roll the cuffs, wear ‘em with boat shoes. Don’t think that hard about it. I’ll be picking up pairs in blue and khaki to add to my wintery green ones. J. Crew’s summer-weight chinos are good but you’ll need to have them tailored.
Socks: I’ve mentioned Pact. I will mention them again. The crew socks are light and airy for summer. Going to order the bright yellow ones and the red stripey ones next. Some friends have had issues with Uniqlo socks wearing out, but I wear my heather blue pairs every week and they’ve held up better than J. Crew or Banana Republic equivalents.
The entire Hill-Side catalog: I love ties. I love pocket squares. I rarely have an occasion or the energy to wear them. But I feel less dressed-up (which is to say, not over-dressed) when I wear a tie in a casual fabric or bearing a square bottom or clever print. The Hill-Side offers all of the above: denim, cotton, patterns, colors, the works. I bought this one and I will wear it with a plain blue shirt with the top button unbuttoned and a jacket left at home. With my new yellow socks, even. I bought this blue floral pocket square at NorthernGRADE and, given that I mostly wear navy jackets, almost regret not buying the tie version. Maybe I’ll take up an affectation and start stuffing it into my shirt pocket.
Jeans: I bought a pair of Baldwin denim, a one-wash, on sale at Stag in Austin. I have to get them hemmed about four inches and lose twice as many pounds before I really start wearing them; they’ll probably sit in the closet until fall. They’re beautiful, though. We’re at a nice point in made-in-America-Internet-brand raw denim where 5-10 great young companies all make basically the same pants, so you just have to find the pair that needs the least ridiculously expensive denim tailoring. The thing about buying expensive jeans: they’re fun to break in and they hold up better, definitely, but once you wash them a couple times? Congratulations on your particularly rugged pair of $35 Macy’s rinse-wash Levi’s. I’ll never drop $100+ again. The Baldwins were $80ish — between them and my selvedge 511s, maybe I’ll never buy jeans again at all. Fingers crossed.
Formalwear: I’m going to Europe this summer and why the hell not: I have my heart set on Italian double monks and an unconstructed blazer. My budget is low but my hopes are high. I’ll keep you posted.
Previously: my summer 2012 post, which talks more about shoes, t-shirts and some of the above.
NorthernGRADE, Los Angeles. April 7, 2013.
PACT is a San Francisco company that makes eco-friendly clothes. I picked up this pair of socks, made of soft, well-fitting organic cotton, in Austin. They’re on the thin side without feeling cheap — quite the opposite. Haven’t washed them yet, but the construction seems strong. I recommend them.
Related: I took off the #socks tag because there is so much fetish porn! Ugh, Tumblr.
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