If you read The Style Guide with any regularity, you’re perhaps familiar with my love of live music, here in New York City and elsewhere. Even in these past few months, I’ve had the chance to pack up my favorite #menswear and hit the road to Portland (to see synth-pop rockers Future Islands) and Nashville (to rock out with Cold War Kids and Young the Giant). One of my latest Style Guide road trips also took me north to Boston, then back down to NYC, to see my favorite band, indie rock heroes The National. So, what did this past weekend bring? Why, a trip north of the border to see none other than The National, of course! They’ve been putting together a masterful tour packed with new jams, cool covers and old favorites as part of the September release of “Sleep Well Beast,” one of the year’s best albums. All told, the time was quite ripe for me to head to a brand-new city for an excellent weekend filled with delicious food, great coffee, stellar music and … my favorite #menswear! Join me for the ride (if you haven’t caught news of the trip on my Instagram, that is). Let’s rock!
My early flight into Toronto absolutely necessitated a crucial stop for refreshments at Rooster Coffee House, a unique blend of the rustic and modern complete with reclaimed wood furnishings and eclectic lighting. To navigate through the airport, across the border and right into a busy day of exploration, I dressed accordingly in some of the best men’s gear I could pack (and wear). That meant throwing on a versatile, travel-friendly men’s jacket — the edgy, cool Grayers Edgeware Coated Corton Moto Jacket, complete with plenty of room for everyday carry essentials. I layered it over the Grayers Arrowcrest Thermal Stitch Crew, a cozy, comfortable piece that nicely accented my Flint and Tinder All-American Jeans (made from stretch selvage) and a pair of classic suede chukka boots from Astorflex. The combo was simply perfect for travel-ready style. To get from Rooster Coffee House across Toronto to the seriously cool Graffiti Alley – a renowned “living canvas” alley protected by the city government — I wore a stylish Timex watch (in this case, a durable Timex x Red Wing Waterbury Chronograph). The next time you need to navigate a new city and an international flight, I’d urge you to reach for a durable watch, a slick, travel-ready jacket and versatile denim.
My day in Toronto wasn’t finished yet, though — not even close. I eventually made my way over to the renowned Kensington Market, a jam-packed 10-block neighborhood packed with market stalls and tasty food aplenty (enough to wow even the most discerning traveler). It was a busy, bustling area filled with diversity and the sort of authenticity it can be tough to find in bigger cities — with all that walking, I was glad my Astorflex chukka boots proved comfortable and stylish. I also managed to pop in the positively massive, music-filled Sonic Boom Records — it helped set the tone for a weekend packed with hit songs by my favorite band.
As the day turned to night, I made my way to Union, renowned cocktail bar & eatery with a quaint-yet-rugged, comfortable vibe — perfect for happy hour in Toronto. That wasn’t my only stop of the evening. Being the massive Harry Potter fan that I am, it was practically a Toronto requirement that I visit The Lockhart, a Harry Potter-themed bar that’s nothing short of delightful. It features stylish, cool decor and plenty of touches that nod to the books, the perfect place to spend some time with a tasty, tequila-and-cinnamon “betterbeer” and the aptly named Shacklebolt, a tasty concoction made with rum and ginger beer. From the subtle, detailed decor to the themed bathrooms, it’s a must-visit for HP fans.
It was high time to keep things rolling with dinner at Otto’s Bierhalle, a German-style beer hall that certainly caught my eye for its approach to delicious brews and entrees like the rich beef tenderloin. The next time you’re in Toronto, I’d suggest you hit up Otto’s, without a doubt. It was quite the long day, but I was glad I dressed in versatile style. In fact, several of my new favorite men’s style essentials came in handy, including my tough Grayers jacket and classic chukka boots.
After quite the busy Friday getting around Toronto, starting Saturday off with a jolt of much-needed caffeine at Rooster Coffee House was once again critical — as was layering up with with a Kenneth Cole topcoat, a sleek piece of warm outerwear that more than stood up to the challenge of a crisp Toronto day. Oh, and as it was the day of another great concert by The National, my LSTN Sound Co. headphones from Bespoke Post were a crucial companion. I paired up the jacket with the Taylor Stitch Indio Star Jack Shirt, a longtime favorite that provides reliable style and go-anywhere looks — you can wear the Indigo Star Jack Shirt tucked in or layered up on your next trip, too. I accented the combo with handy everyday carry essentials — including a handsome plaid Banana Republic scarf — and my Abercrombie & Fitch Langdon Slim Jeans, featuring a tailored-yet-mobile fit. That combo proved durable and versatile for more on-foot exploration, this time through Toronto’s ultra-cool Distillery District. For lunch and a tasty brew, Mill Street Brewery was among my stops during the day, featuring deliciously rich food like the Smoked Meat Poutine and brews like the 100th Meridian, an organic amber lager. It was tough to keep moving after all that great food, but I managed … somehow.
The day still held plenty of promise before an amazing show by The National — I had to squeeze in some menswear shopping undoubtedly! That meant making my way to the seriously cool Lost & Found, a clothing store-coffee shop hybrid that stocks Style Guide favorites like The Hill-side alongside excellent coffee and a cool vibe. With my fill of menswear for the day, I set out for one last pit stop at Amsterdam BrewHouse (I recommend the BoneShaker IPA or the 3-Speed Lager). Filled with great vibes, delicious craft beer and the promise of an extraordinary show by my favorite band on the horizon, the beautiful Sony Centre for the Performing Arts was my next stop. Once again, The National absolutely did not disappoint. I’ve been fortunate enough to see several shows by The National recently, from two intimate performances at Basilica Hudson (an old glue factory in upstate New York) to the historic Forest Hills Stadium in NYC — the Sony Centre held a different type of modern splendor, making for a very special evening.
A timely seat upgrade put me just five rows from the stage, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The National powered through a slew of hits and fan favorites, including gems like “Slow Show,” “Graceless,” “Conversation 16” and “Bloodbuzz Ohio.” The venue felt surprisingly intimate, complete with great acoustics and an excellent view. It was, in short, an absolutely banner night, made all the more unforgettable by the encore closer, an acoustic take on the amazing “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks.” Talk about a lifetime night!
Sunday gave me time to indulge a few more of my passions before hitting the road home. I layered up in suitably rugged winter style for an extremely chilly December day, starting with a Frank and Oak flecked overshirt and a cozy Original Penguin Shawl Collar Cardigan. On the footwear front, I had to reach for durable leather boots once again given the chilly weather. My Thursday Boots Grizzly Wheat President Boots proved a stylish, versatile pair for getting around Toronto, and they matched up quite nicely with my Original Penguin Stretch Five-Pocket Pants. The combo was more than ready for a delicious coffee at the quaint Red Rocket Coffee near my AirBNB — my classic Timex watch again proved helpful when it came time to head to stop number two … brunch. The hearty, rich spread at Rose and Sons called to mind a classic diner done right. If you go, get the All-Day Breakfast, featuring three eggs, schmaltz hash and sausage — it was amazing (and filling!).
My day wasn’t done yet — I managed to pack in yet another craft beer-centric stop! Never one to pass up a great pour, I made it a point to hop over to the acclaimed Blood Brothers Brewing, a Toronto staple that brings a workman-like approach to craft beer. In short, I was right at home enjoying a rich and rustic IPA or two. It was time to head back to NYC all too soon, though — the flight back proved so quick, I had the urge to turn right around and head back! Toronto was a lovely city, complete with eclectic, diverse food, cool and unexpected menswear and of course, plenty of standout music by The National. It was neat to experience the city as so many think of it — during a chilly winter. And the backdrop was made all the more enjoyable by the chance to pack my favorite travel style essentials while seeing my favorite band! It’s not the last time I’ll be seeing The National on this tour, either … but more on that later!
For now, stay tuned for tomorrow’s new #OOTD post and enjoy your holiday travels!
Thanks for reading,