Heading Back Home: A winter weekend in Michigan

Dressed with brewery-hopping in mind. Indigo Plaid Shirt by Abercrombie & Fitch., 505C Denim by Levi's. Sutter Boots by CAT Footwear. Waterbury Chrono by Timex x Red Wing Heritage. Stocking cap by JackThreads. Glasses by Frameri.

Dressed with brewery-hopping in mind. Indigo Plaid Shirt by Abercrombie & Fitch., 505C Denim by Levi’s. Sutter Boots by CAT Footwear. Waterbury Chrono by Timex x Red Wing Heritage. Stocking cap by JackThreads. Glasses by Frameri.

It’s not every weekend that I get the chance to head back to my home state of Michigan — and that’s normally not the case during the busy fashion week season in New York City. But as luck would have it, the fashion calendar was on my side this time around, and that presented the perfect opportunity for another Style Guide road trip to the beautiful Mitten State. Coming off a whirlwind four days in New York City checking out the illustrious New York Fashion Week: Men’s, a trip back to Grand Rapids was just what the doctor ordered. It was a fun — if chilly — weekend filled with brewery tours, visits with friends and the birth of my brother’s two daughters (so, my two new nieces!). It was definitely a happy scheduling coincidence that worked out perfectly! Of course, I dressed to meet the cold, and as always, I was more than happy to bring along my favorite #menswear for the trip, too.

Travel essentials fit for hitting the road and fighting the cold. Chamois Shirt by Abercrombie & Fitch. Explorer's Cap by Huckberry. Messenger bag and 810 Wallet by Brothers Leather. Calypso Watch by MVMT Watches. miUSA 585 Sneakers by New Balance. Magazine by Gear Patrol.

Travel essentials fit for hitting the road and fighting the cold. Chamois Shirt by Abercrombie & Fitch. Explorer’s Cap by Huckberry. Messenger bag and 810 Wallet by Brothers Leather. Calypso Watch by MVMT Watches. miUSA 585 Sneakers by New Balance. Magazine by Gear Patrol.

If you’re a dedicated Style Guide reader, it should come as no surprise that I was more than able to pack up my Owen & Fred Voyager Waxed Weekender with all the rugged winter accessories needed for a weekend with temperatures in the teens.  My packing haul included handy pieces like my Brothers Leather Supply 810 Wallet — fitting given the company’s Grand Rapids headquarters — plus the brand’s durable and effective Roma Messenger. Having recently tested out that gear during my birthday weekend in Brooklyn, each piece proved more than ready for a quick flight out of NYC. I packed up some trusty men’s grooming essentials in my Herschel Supply Co. Chapter Travel Kit, too. And with travel style and effective cold-weather gear in mind, I layered a comfortable, slim-fitting Abercrombie and Fitch Chamois Shirt with the soft, breathable Flint and Tinder Marled Long-Sleeve Henley – it’s a durable and rugged combo. I finished off that ensemble off with a pair of reliable, warm Abercrombie and Fitch denim. For a mix of versatile style and surprisingly good traction on the icy streets, my  Danner x New Balance miUSA 585 Sneakers proved tough and effective, while my Huckberry Explorer’s Cap is a new travel favorite.

In all, the winter travel ensemble worked like a charm for my afternoon arrival in Beer City, U.S.A. I quickly followed my flight with a few tasty, rich beers with friend and fellow Michigan State alum Jesse O’Brien at the massive, recently opened Knickerbocker Brewpub and Distillery, the new Grand Rapids outpost of New Holland Brewery. Just a tip: The Polish Pepperoni Pizza isn’t a bad match with the bourbon barrel-aged Dragon’s Milk Stout. You can’t go wrong with The Poet, the brewery’s oatmeal stout, either. Given that I needed a bit more sustenance to go along with my craft beer, dinner with my close high school friends was in order at the famed DNKY, a Mexican taqueria known city-wide for its delicious, ample selection of tacos – you can’t go wrong with the Gringo Taco. Crucially, I didn’t even have to change out of my travel outfit – that’s what you call versatility. And the nearby ELK Brewing made for a good, quiet nightcap.

Of course, those Friday night stops were just the tip of the beer-hopping, city-exploring iceberg with my oldest friend, runner extraordinaire and craft beer aficionado Mr. Chris Spyke. For a day around Grand Rapids, I layered up with the warm, vintage-inspired Johnston and Murphy Faux Shearling Aviator – it’s not too dissimilar from wearing a cozy blanket, really. It worked nicely to layer over my new Abercrombie and Fitch Indigo Plaid Shirt, an unexpected offering from a brand that continues to up its menswear game. My reliable-as-ever Levi’s 505C Denim provided a bit of edge that fit right in with the city’s craft beer scene, and I found myself reaching again for my rugged CAT Footwear Sutter Boots. That was I able to finish the look off with some stylish winter accessories from JackThreads was crucial given the cold. The day took us first to Slate Clothing, a new contemporary menswear store breathing some life into the city’s retail sector. With a diverse range of brands – from the minimally inclined VINCE to the rugged Filson and easygoing, classic Life/After/Denim – the selection is worth your time if you’re in Grand Rapids. You can even pick up some essential home goods while you shop for your new favorite casual shirt, too.  Again – put it on your shopping list in Grand Rapids.

Frank & Oak

The same can definitely be said for the great leather goods makers at Brothers Leather Supply Co. Given my Michigan roots, I’m always so pleased to be able to support homegrown brands that make high-quality goods with plenty of versatility and handsome style in mind – Brothers Leather gets it right on multiple fronts. I’ve found that to be true with the gear I’ve tested out – and traveled with – so far, and it’s always a treat to stop in and catch up with the brand. A heads-up: Among the company’s other wares, canvas bags are coming soon. In the meantime, I’d highly recommend you grab a unique leather growler before this fall comes and you need to dress for your next tailgate. Now, all that menswear shopping left us pretty parched – so a stop at Brewery Vivant was in order (after we polished off a Bloody Mary at Grand Rapids Brewing Company first, of course). Stopping at Vivant is always a highlight of any trip to Grand Rapids, and I can’t pass up sipping on an essential, easily drinkable Farm Hand (brewed on-site). The frites and beer cheese are must-haves, as well. Oh, and the reverent vibe – it’s a former funeral home and chapel – adds to the religious aura of the company’s beer (I’d say).

Beckett Simonon

In short, it was a great first stop and got us ready to check out the neat interior of Creston Brewery, a converted furniture showroom with plenty of colorful artwork on its walls. That the brewery does a nice job with unique beers – including one made with Michigan blueberries – is pretty cool, and its empanadas are a great afternoon snack. Because no trip to GR can end with just two breweries, I was glad I bundled up for a quick stop at the industrially appointed Greyline Brewing, followed by some excellent pizza – and a killer double IPA – at Mitten Brewing (seriously …. Order that pizza, folks). And lest we forget the city’s ever-growing beer scene – it builds up seemingly by the day – a stop at the Grand Rapids outpost of Atwater Brewery was in order to end the night. They make a heck of a hot dog, and they can do a spiced IPA (the Car Bomb IPA) with the best of ‘em. Oh, and the most crucial part about the day – I didn’t need to change my rugged leather boots or switch out of my plaid flannel shirt the whole way through.

Tough essentials to fight the cold. Faux Shearling Aviator Jacket by Johnston & Murphy. Snowbridge Cardigan by Eddie Bauer. Buxton Boots by G.H. Bass. Calypso Watch by MVMT Watches. Ranger Gloves by Grifter Company. Cap by Everlane. Messenger by Brothers Leather Supply.

Tough essentials to fight the cold. Faux Shearling Aviator Jacket by Johnston & Murphy. Snowbridge Cardigan by Eddie Bauer. Buxton Boots by G.H. Bass. Calypso Watch by MVMT Watches. Ranger Gloves by Grifter Company. Cap by Everlane. Messenger by Brothers Leather Supply.

Sunday dawned chilly and cold once again, bringing with it the end of my weekend trip – and a quick stop to see my two new nieces (congrats to my brother Nick and his wife, Chelsea!). It was astounding how well the timing of my trip worked out – doesn’t happen every day, for sure. While my menswear was definitely not the most important part of Sunday, I still layered up with my Eddie Bauer Snow Bridge Cardigan, my trusty Johnston and Murphy Faux Shearling Aviator Jacket and yet another Flint and Tinder Marled Long-Sleeve Henley. Crucially, I accessorized with the durable MVMT Watches Calypso Watch. Plus, a pair of refined-yet-casual Abercrombie and Fitch Flannel-Lined Chinos perfectly complemented my G.H. Bass Buxton Boots. For two flights and some cold-yet-relaxing time beforehand in Grand Rapids, the combo proved warm, stylish and easy to layer for travel. Luckily, I kept busy on the road with the latest edition of Gear Patrol – as we discussed in my roundup of the best men’s home goods, that magazine is packed full of beautiful photography, great writing, excellent stories and the spirit of adventure to which we should all aspire. If you couldn’t tell, I’m quite the fan.

Although this weekend proved a whirlwind, it really was filled with the best things. Between incredible – yet too-brief – time with family and friends to the chance to shop great menswear and enjoy craft beer and outstanding cuisine in one of my favorite cities, it was a total treat! So, the next time you travel from chilly locale to chilly locale, pack your gear in a stylish weekender bag, bring your favorite pair of leather boots and layer up with rugged winter essentials like a henley and a shawl cardigan. Oh, and enjoy a beer or two for me. For now, I’m back in New York City and getting started on a busy week – but I’ll have fond memories of this trip back, and I’m plotting a return soon!

To my friends and family in the Mitten – see you soon!

To all you Style Guide readers ….

Stay stylish,

-Beau

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Pure Michigan: A weekend back in the Mitten

Editor’s note: Click here for more posts related to traveling in style.

Exploring Grand Rapids in style on a summer Friday. Plaid Poplin Shirt by JACHS NY. Slim Ludlow Denim by Mott & Bow. Freamon Sneakers by UGG. Flat Wool Cap by Bridge & Burn. Waterbury Chrono from the Timex x Red Wing collab. Glasses by Warby Parker.

Exploring Grand Rapids in style on a summer Friday night. Plaid Poplin Shirt by JACHS NY. Slim Ludlow Denim by Mott & Bow. Freamon Sneakers by UGG. Flat Wool Cap by Bridge & Burn. Waterbury Chrono from the Timex x Red Wing collab. Glasses by Warby Parker.

Although it seems like I was just in Michigan for a summer wedding yesterday, it’s actually been … well, only about two weeks. And yet, this past Friday, I found myself boarding another plane, this time to head to one of my favorite places in the state (that would be Grand Rapids) for my friend Andy’s bachelor weekend (and congrats on the upcoming nuptials, fella!). Now, the last time I was in Grand Rapids, it was for  a November road trip — so the temperature, weather and list of activities was just a bit different. Time flies by in New York City, so it’s always great to slow down, get back home and reconnect with … Pure Michigan (got that one out of the way). Of course, as with my other summer trips — including a stop upstate for a concert and a Memorial Day weekend in New York — I loaded up my bag with all the menswear I could possibly carry; in this case, that’s quite a lot.

Packed up to hit the road. Denim Shirt by JackThreads. Voyager Waxed Weekender by Owen & Fred. Natural Diplomat Boots by Thursday Boots. Legend Sneakers by SeaVees. Hudson Belt by Arcade Belt Co. Flat Wool Cap by Bridge & Burn. Waterbury Chrono from the Timex x Red Wing collab.

Packed up to hit the road. Denim Shirt by JackThreads. Voyager Waxed Weekender & leather luggage tag by Owen & Fred. Natural Diplomat Boots by Thursday Boots. Legend Sneakers by SeaVees. Hudson Belt by Arcade Belt Co. Flat Wool Cap by Bridge & Burn. Waterbury Chrono from the Timex x Red Wing collab. Millbrook Sunglasses by Steven Alan Optical.

Any great trip — to Michigan or elsewhere — starts with a great bag, one with plenty of room to carry your essentials and more. While I alternate between my trusty Navali Stowaway Weekender and my durable Owen & Fred Voyager Waxed Weekender, I chose my O&F bag for this trip. It’s made from premium Martexin waxed canvas and finished off with leather accents from fellow made-in-America purveyors Wickett & Craig. It has interior zipper compartments to hold all your gear, and in my case, that included my always-dependable Herschel Supply Co. Chapter Travel Kit, which I stocked with handy travel grooming essentials from brands like Tread for Men (their Traveler Sunscreen is a must in the summer) and Baxter of California — the Under Eye Complex is an underrated and handy piece to have when traveling. Elsewhere on the accessories front, I knew a hot Michigan weekend was in order. That meant my Steven Alan Optical Millbrook Sunglasses were just the ticket — seriously, we’ve got more than cold winters back home. I always appreciate the chance to rock a subtle, stylish hat when the sun beats down, and the Flat Wool Cap from Bridge & Burn is a nice upgrade to the typical athletic logo ballcap — it’s slightly refined and yet still casual.

Buck Mason - Timeless Design. Made in America.

All of that gear helped me pack & transition in style from an early flight out of NYC to a sunny evening in downtown Grand Rapids. As I always appreciate the chance to look sharp and travel in style, I grabbed the lightweight, casual and comfortable Green and Navy Plaid Poplin Shirt from JACHS NY. A well-fitting, casual basic like that works well when worn untucked (as you can see in the top photo) or when tucked in with a lightweight blazer. In this instance, it paired up well with the Slim Ludlow Denim from Mott & Bow. These jeans are built with a hint of stretch, ideal for a long day of travel.The light blue color also played well off my Hudson Belt from Arcade Belt Co. , ith its navy color and stretchy smartweave fabric. That was also the case with the very lightweight, very comfortable UGG Freamon Sneaker   — they looked great and worked perfectly for getting from the airport and around Grand Rapids. Yes, you read that right. UGG does men’s footwear, and they do it well — more on that later. And my tough, rugged and refined Timex x Red Wing Waterbury Chrono also provided on-point travel style. As far as getting around Grand Rapids, it was an opportune time to catch up with my great friend Andy and his future fiancée Courtney for a delicious dinner at Derby Station in East Grand Rapids (hint: Get the Adult Grilled Cheese and finish it off with a Farmhand from Brewery Vivant — it’s a light, crisp and flavorful French farmhouse ale that’s perfect for hot summer nights). With Friday off and running, we also had just enough time to stop into The Meanwhile, an eclectic spot that feels like it would fit well in Brooklyn — with gin-and-tonics available for $4, the prices would stand out back in New York City.

Taking on Saturday in sporty, casual style. Vesper Polo and Ace Short by Mack Weldon. Hayden Gray Linen Jacket & Flat Wool Cap by Bridge & Burn. Freamon Sneakers by UGG. Mod Watch from the Timex x Todd Snyder collab. Glasses by Warby Parker.

Taking on Saturday in sporty, casual style. Vesper Polo and Ace Short by Mack Weldon. Hayden Gray Linen Jacket & Flat Wool Cap by Bridge & Burn. Freamon Sneakers by UGG. Mod Watch from the Timex x Todd Snyder collab. Glasses by Warby Parker.

A fun Friday night led into yet another busy day on Saturday around Grand Rapids — and away from the city — with plenty in the works. To take on the day, I reached for a crucial style move in the heat: We’re talking here about the new, very breathable, lightweight Mack Weldon Vesper Polo. With a name inspired by the original martini sipped by James Bond, it was perfect in a figurative and literal sense for the  hot weather — seriously, the micro-mesh fabric and crisp Total Eclipse Blue color proved comfortable and sharp. The same thing goes for the Mack Weldon Ace Short — it’s another piece from the brand’s line of essential basics that fits & performs well, thanks to the French terry fabric and multiple discreet-but-useful zipper pockets. And that comfort proved essential for walking the city and grabbing a morning pick-me-up at the renowned Madcap Coffee, one of the top coffee shops in the country and a great place to catch up with my old MSU friend Pat Evans (he’s a heck of a writer and a beer aficionado to boot — grab his book on the history of Grand Rapids beer while you’re at it). We also had just enough time to swing by one of the city’s best new lifestyle shops, Brothers Leather Supply. They make ridiculously well-crafted bags and leather accessories, and they do it right in Grand Rapids — check out the photo below for a sneak peek, and look for more content on them on the blog  soon! Pat and I also took the time to hit up one of my favorite Grand Rapids stops, the renowned HopCat (purveyors of amazing beer and great burgers across the Midwest) before I reconnected with Andy and the crew for a vigorous round of foot golf in the Michigan countryside — it’s a heck of a workout if you’re used to sitting at a desk all day! Of course, all that activity meant that accessories like my Steven Alan Optical Millbrook Sunglasses and the Bridge & Burn Flat Wool Cap also proved quite useful.

One of Grand Rapids' finer menswear establishments, Brothers Leather Supply.

One of Grand Rapids’ finer menswear establishments, Brothers Leather Supply.

And it goes without saying that my Timex x Todd Snyder Mod Watch (currently on backorder but still a must-buy) was the perfect, sporty watch to meet the dual focuses of outdoor activity and indoor beer-tasting — it’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.  Truly, there aren’t that many watches that can look great and perform well when traveling, bar-hopping or hitting up the Panorama music festival, but that watch is one of them. Of course, the occasion called for comfortable footwear, too. That’s where the UGG Freamon Sneaker came back into play. Featuring the brand’s traction-focused Treadlite technology and a sharp white sole, the  Seal (or light grey) option sent courtesy of the brand (thanks, guys!) provided a dash of unexpected style alongside the blues in my outfit. In fact, you can look for much more from them this fall on the blog. . And to finish off the look, I reached for some comfortable, breathable striped no-show socks from Sock Genius — when you’ve got lightweight summer sneakers along for the ride, grab stylish no-show socks to keep your feet (and your sneakers) in shape.

A busy Saturday out and about led us to a night of sampling brews and bites around Grand Rapids — that included a stop through the renowned and quickly growing Founders Brewing Company, one of my favorite spots in the city. We also carved out time to check out the first-ever distillery in the city, Long Road Distillers — they make a mean gin-and-tonic and a refreshing array of craft cocktails. For those activities, I switched up my footwear and reached for the tough, sturdy and stylish Natural Diplomat Boot from Thursday Boots, and I grabbed my rugged Waterbury Chrono from the Timex x Red Wing collaboration — it’s the ideal mix of casual and smart, and it worked just as well throughout the weekend. If you have to travel with only one watch, that just might be the one to grab. The entire combination worked well for a fun night out celebrating our great friend Andy — and it’s got me even more excited to be back in Michigan in less than three weeks for the wedding! If you’ve still got a summer wedding on your calendar, here’s what you should wear.

Sunday's outfit grid for a day of travel. Denim Shirt by JackThreads. Slim Stone Chinos by Taylor Stitch. Natural Diplomat Boots by Thursday Boots. Hudson Belt by Arcade Belt Co. Mod Watch by Timex x Todd Snyder. Notebook by Word Notebooks.

Sunday’s outfit grid for a day of travel. Denim Shirt by JackThreads. Slim Stone Chinos by Taylor Stitch. Natural Diplomat Boots by Thursday Boots. Hudson Belt by Arcade Belt Co. Mod Watch by Timex x Todd Snyder. Notebook by Word Notebooks.

With a very busy Saturday night in the books, it was time to load up on coffee and hit the road for a relatively easy flight back to New York City (a welcome change from some past travel struggles getting back to Michigan). I still dressed in durable travel gear for the trip — my Thursday Boots Natural Diplomat Boot in particular was the perfect pair of boots to wear to get back to Manhattan; they’re rugged-yet-refined, and went well with my Taylor Stitch Slim Chinos in Light Stone.  And my Timex x Todd Snyder Mod Watch was again up to the challenge of traveling in style — each piece was offset nicely by what just might be my new favorite casual shirt, the JackThreads Denim Shirt. It fits slim, the light wash cotton denim is soft and moves well, and the styling potential is on-point (look for it in an upcoming #OOTD post, in fact). And with all that gear ready to go, it was time to hit the road back.

Yet again, it feels like this past weekend in Michigan was too brief. It was great to explore one of my favorite cities in Michigan, and I’m just as excited to return again. And of course, you really can’t quantify the value of spending time with lifelong friends. On the plus side, there’s another chance for me to get back to Michigan — I’ll be back in just three weeks (again!) for Andy’s wedding near my lovely hometown of Mason. That trip will be just as fun, and with just as many chances for … (wait for it)… Pure Michigan relaxation (yes, I went there again). If you’ve got questions on how to travel in style or just want to chat menswear, check out my Twitter account or hit the ‘Follow’ button over on Instagram.

Until the next flight boards,

-Beau

Fighting the chill: A November weekend in Michigan

Editor’s note: For more travel-centric blog posts, click here.

The sun sets on a crisp fall Saturday in Grand Rapids.

The sun sets on a crisp fall Saturday in Grand Rapids. View courtesy of my friend Chris’s apartment.

As I explored the lovely city of Grand Rapids this past weekend, I was struck by how lucky I am to have lived and grown up in such a beautiful state, and to have such great friends. The opportunity to travel back is, of course, not lost on me either.While it was tricky to balance working from Brooklyn and hopping on a flight back to Michigan after a whirlwind week of Timberland-centric press work, I did indeed manage to make it in one piece! And it was truly a great time in Grand Rapids, the home of famed festival ArtPrize and also some decent brews (to say the least). This was all in spite of the fact that I was greeted, in characteristic Michigan fashion, by a bit of brisk weather. Luckily though, I had proper style gear on-hand to brave the elements.

Stumbling upon cool murals was a highlight in a city known for its burgeoning art scene. Slim denim by Mott & Bow. Down jacket by JACHS NY. Sunglasses by Randolph Engineering. Leather chukkas by Timberland.

Stumbling upon cool murals was a highlight in a city known for its burgeoning art scene. Slim denim by Mott & Bow. Grey jacket by JACHS NY. Sunglasses by Randolph Engineering. Leather chukkas by Timberland. Dive watch by Invicta

To get home, my Satchel & Page Slim Mailbag and Navali Weekender were  more than durable, yet that wasn’t my primary concern! Packing gear to beat the cold while also in transit was the bigger ordeal– how to pack light yet layer up and stay comfortable? Answer: A terrific pair of Mott and Bow denim with stretch built in,  plus some solid outerwear. It’s pieces like these that can make your travels a heck of a lot easier in terms of comfort (UNIQLO also offers somed nice stretch denim at a different price point). To complete my travel get-up, I went with a striped J. Crew henley — always a rugged style suggestion for fall — underneath a quilted yet surprisingly lightweight down coat from JACHS NY. The jacket was comfortable to get around the airport and not too hot — it would be a good travel pickup as you look to bundle up and hit the road this holiday season.

Just a look at some of the cold-weather gear I packed, including my Reef x H.D. Lee workshirt, Iron & Resin gloves, American Trench merino watch cap and black Reef chukka sneakers.

Just a look at some of the cold-weather gear I packed, including my Reef x H.D. Lee workshirt, Iron & Resin gloves, American Trench merino watch cap and black Reef chukka sneakers.

Complementing my travel outfit were my trusty Timberland Coulter Chukka Boots — I’d also recommend you pick up a nice pair of leather chukkas for fall. To say they go with everything – even a T-shirt and jeans – is an understatement. To keep things simple packing-wise, I opted just to bring one watch — my ever-reliable Invicta 8926 Pro Diver (still ticking!). However, I loaded up on a few pairs of comfortable and stylish American Trench socks, plus my nice watch cap from the brand. The cap was a huge help, and though I had hoped it would be temperate enough to forgo them, my Iron & Resin gloves also proved invaluable in the cold.

Exploring Beer City U.S.A was a highlight. Workshirt by Reef x H.D. Lee. Slim Travel Jeans by Bonobos. Navy henley by United By Blue. Merno watch cap by American Trench. Black chukka sneakers by Reef. Glasses by Warby Parker. Photo credit: Jesse O'Brien.

Exploring Beer City U.S.A was a highlight. Workshirt by Reef x H.D. Lee. Slim Travel Jeans by Bonobos. Navy henley by United By Blue. Merno watch cap by American Trench. Black chukka sneakers by Reef. Glasses by Warby Parker. Photo credit: Jesse O’Brien.

To get around Grand Rapids, I layered up in a nice, insulating ribbed cotton henley via the fine folks at United By Blue (you might remember that piece as this past week’s Style Pick, in fact). I layered that underneath a brushed flannel workshirt from the new Reef x H.D. Lee Shelter Supply Collection Holiday capsule. You might recognize H.D. Lee as Lee Jeans, and the brand teamed up with noted surfwear retailer Reef on a seven-piece offering that you won’t want to miss if you love American heritage style (and who doesn’t??). Look for more on the workshirt this coming week on the blog, as it was a durable-yet-cozy layering piece that’ll quickly become a winter essential.

A superb burger paired with a nice stainless steel dive watch by Invicta.

A superb burger paired with a nice stainless steel dive watch by Invicta.

And as far as tough style goes, that was definitely in play from location to location. I had the chance to check out the legendary Stella’s, a Grand Rapids icon that serves more whiskey than you can shake a fist at – and oh yeah, their burgers also took home a pretty prestigious prize from GQ in recent years. A stop there for a late dinner Friday night was followed by trips through the tasty Mitten Brewing Company and a stop at Long Road, a great distillery that serves up excellent crafted cocktails (a tip: try The Machine, a coffee-and-vodka combination). To round out the night, we hit up The Winchester, another great bar with an easygoing vibe and plenty of Michigan beer on tap.

After all that, um, activity Friday night, we needed a bit of a pick-me-up on Saturday morning, so clad in my trusty Reef workshirt, we headed to Grand Rapids Brewing Company for an incomparable Bloody Mary bar (can’t beat $4), and a little Saturday college football action featuring our beloved Michigan State Spartans.

Ben Sherman US

I paired the workshirt with my Bonobos Travel Jeans in a fall-appropriate shade of light brown. and the combination worked seamlessly with some new black chukka sneakers, also via Reef. Having the option to take off and add layers while navigating around the city (and namely, from brewery to bar and back) was quite crucial. As to travel style — if you haven’t explored the potential of tossing on a workshirt in place of a jacket, either via Reef or another lower-priced option (like this number from UK clothier ADDICT), I’d advise you do so! Workshirts can be layered over chambray shirts, or worn on their own atop a henley, and the results scream rugged style. When you consider that it can be worn as a jacket or as a true shirt on its own, it’s worth paying a bit more than for your average flannel.

A reverential approach to beer (the brewery is housed in an old funeral home) keeps things classic at Brewery Vivant.

A reverential approach to beer (the brewery is housed in an old funeral home) keeps things classic at Brewery Vivant.

For yet another night out on the town in Grand Rapids on Saturday,  I met up with my best friend Chris, the unfortunate guy who accidentally sat next to me on the bus heading to my first day of kindergarten. So it was awesome to catch up (look for Chris running absurdly fast at your next marathon). The option as to what to do or where to go was pretty easy – being in Beer City U.S.A. makes things rather easy in that regard, so it was excellent to stop into the revered Brewery Vivant. If you want outstanding beer in a beyond-cool environment, I’d recommend you hit up that spot. (Of note: the Farmhand Farmhouse Ale is excellent.).

Stops through a series of Grand Rapids bars followed on Saturday night, including The Meanwhile, an eclectic bar that wouldn’t be out of place in Brooklyn. We also managed to make it for a nice beer at the relaxed Harmony Brewing Company to round out a nice night filled with great times and great friends.

The Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts features a relaxing loft space filled with Herman Miler pieces. Slim denim by Mott & Bow. Leather chukka boots by Timberland. Striped socks by American Trench.

The Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts features a relaxing loft space filled with Herman Miller pieces. It’s the ideal spot to stop and recharge as you explore the city. Slim denim by Mott & Bow. Leather chukka boots by Timberland. Striped socks by American Trench.

Of course, Grand Rapids is about more than beer though – it’s got a bustling arts and culture scene, and if you’re familiar with the massive, citywide art fair and installation that is ArtPrize, you definitely know it’s worth the trip. And the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts fits right in with the city’s cultural scene. My friend Chris and I had the chance to explore it on Sunday, and the tranquil setting, crisp design and engaging artwork definitely made an impact on me.  The city, of course, also has a nice mix of up-and-established large-scale entertainment entities (like the VanAndel Arena), and it’s on the come-up as they say: construction is booming, new apartment complexes are popping up left-and-right and the city is hanging onto its reputation as being family-friendly. Other outposts like Madcap Coffee, a world-class downtown spot, helped make an afternoon spent exploring the city all the more enjoyable.

Sunglasses by Randolph Engineering. Delicious, creamy Oatmeal Stout by Founders Brewing.

Sunglasses by Randolph Engineering. Delicious, creamy Oatmeal Stout by Founders Brewing.

To cap off a whirlwind weekend, we made a stop at yet another revered beer institution, Founders Brewing. The space now features heated outdoor seating, and a relaxed vibe plus some excellent beer was a tremendous way to cap off the trip. The beautiful weather and eclectic mix of new and tried-and-true spots made for an awesome weekend reconnecting with some great friends and exploring a bit more of a city I hadn’t seen in a while. When you travel there, I’d of course recommend bringing some cold-weather travel gear – but more than that, I’d recommend you simply enjoy your time in a city that’s a fine example of the Midwest.

What do you think of these cold-weather style picks? More importantly, have you been to Grand Rapids before, or are you traveling there soon?

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