Capital Style: A spring weekend in Washington, D.C.

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Just the right staples for a spring weekend in Washington, D.C. The Jack in Indigo Star Shirt by Taylor Stitch. Hayden Grey Jacket by Bridge & Burn. Dark blue denim by Mott & Bow. Chariot Runner Sneakers by Brooks Heritage.

 As I hinted at in this past Friday’s weekly reading roundup, I had the chance to travel just a few hours south via train to Washington, D.C. visit my great friend and former college roommate Ian Kullgren this weekend — and a lovely weekend it was. As it were, the last time we saw each other was back in East Lansing after graduation (home of our Michigan State Spartans). So, we had a lot to catch up on! Although the forecast threatened rain initially, the skies cleared up throughout the weekend and we were able to see a ton of Washington, D.C. I’d been to our nation’s capital back in November, but this time, the trip it was different – it was thankfully a lot warmer and sunnier, for one. And there was more to see given Ian’s location in the Woodley Park neighborhood of the city. So as the week wrapped up, I planned out what #menswear to pack and hit the road – planning ahead based on the weather and itinerary is something that’s gotten easier for me as time has gone on, (and hopefully, it’s the same for you!).

Easygoing gear for a weekend of adventures. Waxed Voyager Weekender by Owen & Fred. Legend Sneakers by SeaVees. Stringer Dune Shorts by Bridge & Burn. Sunglasses by Tom Ford. Navy leather card case by Issara. Brown leather watch by MVMT Watches.

Easygoing gear for a weekend of adventures. Waxed Voyager Weekender by Owen & Fred. Legend Sneakers by SeaVees. Stringer Dune Shorts by Bridge & Burn. Sunglasses by Tom Ford. Navy leather card case by Issara. Brown leather watch by MVMT Watches.

Having traveled to some pretty neat places across the past handful of months (including a stylish weekend in Florida and a trip to Detroit), I knew a great bag was definitely needed for this particular trip — we’re talking something that can hold up trip after trip (and you should look for a similarly durable piece). Owen & Fred’s new Voyager Waxed Weekender, as seen above, more than fit the bill. It’s sturdy as heck, made in the USA and finished off with tough 9 oz. leather straps from one of America’s oldest tanneries, Wickett and Craig. Seriously, this bag is a beast, and I could definitely go on — but the rest of the trip calls! (Look for a full feature on the piece in this site’s Style Pick of the Week series soon).

After a quick train ride down to D.C., we still had enough time on Friday to check out some D.C. haunts with our friend and fellow Michigan State Spartan Emily Wilkins. Our mini bar crawl of sorts took us to the always-great Capitol Lounge (an MSU haven) and the renowned Little Miss Whiskey’s, with enough rare beer on tap and in bottles to make your head spin. We grabbed a nightcap (hot dog, that is) at the renowned Ben’s Chili Bowl – that’s a great chili dog right there.

A casual, cool outfit for exploring Washington, D.C. Hayden Gray Jacket by Bridge & Burn. Indigo Denim Jack Shirt by Taylor Stitch. Dark denim by Mott & Bow. Chariot Sneakers by Brooks Heritage. Pilot's watch by AVI-8. Vintage ballcap by Goorin Brothers.

A casual, cool outfit for exploring Washington, D.C. Hayden Gray Jacket by Bridge & Burn. Indigo Denim Jack Shirt by Taylor Stitch. Dark denim by Mott & Bow. Chariot Sneakers by Brooks Heritage. Pilot’s watch by AVI-8. Vintage ballcap by Goorin Brothers.

Saturday proved a busy day that took us around D.C. on foot for long periods of time – in that respect, I was glad I packed comfortably and with versatility in mind (like the outfit you see at the top of the page!). For exploring everywhere from the National Mall to the bustling 14th and U Street areas, I grabbed some extremely comfortable (and sharp) navy, light blue and red suede sneakers from the Brooks Heritage line — the sport-inspired lifestyle line from Brooks Running. While the pair you see here is now unfortunately sold out, there are plenty of versatile options to be had — and something clean and simple like the GREATS Rosen Runner would also work just as well for travel adventures.

The lightweight, comfortable Hayden Gray Jacket from Bridge & Burn topped off what’s perhaps my new favorite shirt, the Jack in Indigo Star from the fine folks at Taylor Stitch — versatility is key when traveling for a quick weekend trip, and this shirt (just like a classic chambray shirt) definitely nailed it. And no matter where you go, some crisp and classic dark denim is always a solid bet — particularly if inclement weather is potentially in the picture. I grabbed a pair that’s a personal favorite, my Mott and Bow Skinny Mosco denim (the brand also stocks classic dark denim in other cuts, too). They’re simple, slim-fitting and particularly effective for a casual trip.

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We covered a lot of ground, from strolling through the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Art to marveling at the National Archives and the Declaration of Independence – the first time I’d been back there since my 8th grade class field trip (no blog post covering that trip, sadly). We also made time to meet up with two old college friends (Go Green!), Gabby Saldivia and Colin Marshall, both talented folks who work at NPR – being around so many communications pros reminded me why I picked up that degree in the first place! If you fancy gobbling up some gourmet brews and delicious bites, Glen’s Garden Market is the place to do just that.  A post-dinner drink was definitely in order, this time at Smoke N’Barrel. Although we didn’t eat any of the restaurant’s famous barbeque, it looked mighty tempting.

Sunday's outfit grid for D.C adventures -- a Pima Crewneck Tee from Mack Weldon, Slim Light Mercer Denim from Mott & Bow and Brown Scout Chukka Boots from Thursday Boots. Customized Fairfield Watch by Timex.

Sunday’s outfit grid for D.C adventures — a Pima Crewneck Tee from Mack Weldon, Slim Light Mercer Denim from Mott & Bow and Brown Scout Chukka Boots from Thursday Boots. Customized Fairfield Watch by Timex.

For the rest of the trip, I brought along another trusty pair of denim from Mott & Bow, the all-new Light Mercer. Think of these as a step down from chinos and a …. step sideways from dark denim in terms of color and texture. That is, they can be dressed up like chinos or dressed down like denim — but you get a lot of comfort either way. For Sunday explorations, I also threw on a comfortable Mack Weldon Crewneck Tee. It’s admittedly simple and minimal, but the tee is comfortable and a great match for the color of the light denim. Crucially, the combo was also the perfect match for a terrific pair of Brown Scout Boots from the always on-point team at Thursday Boot Company.

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During my last trip to Washington, D.C., I also brought along a pair of chukkas from the brand, but I swapped out the Chocolate Suede Scout Boot for the brown leather boots you see here — and I was just as pleased with the results. They took me seamlessly around the city all throughout Friday night and on Sunday. The sturdy rubber sole of that chukka definitely helped for lots of on-foot trekking (and bar-crawling, if we’re honest with ourselves).I closed out Sunday with a quick stop in the D.C. outpost of Frank & Oak, one of my favorite men’s lifestyle brands — that was a real treat! And it was great to be able to grab a quick afternoon coffee at The Wydown, one of the city’s best coffee shops.

Sunday done right in D.C. Pima Crewneck Tee by @mackweldon. Slim Light Mercer Denim by Mott & Bow. Sunglasses by Tom Ford. Customized Fairfield Watch by Mott & Bow.

Sunday done right in D.C. Pima Crewneck Tee by Mack Weldon. Slim Light Mercer Denim by Mott & Bow. Sunglasses by Tom Ford. Customized Fairfield Watch by Timex.

Packing for any trip also requires some attention to the little things, the same sort of accessories you might wear at home — namely, a stylish casual watch or two. I was definitely pleased with the versatility and durability of my new AVI-8 Flyboy (similar to the model shown in the link), complete with a black leather strap that matched up just fine with my suede sneakers. And whenever I travel, my trusty MVMT Watches 40 Timepiece is also a frequent companion. Plus, my new Timex Weekender Fairfield (seen above) is sharp, stylish and a terrific value. A minimal leather watch can pair with everything from navy sneakers to brown chukkas, and it works with a blazer and khaki chinos if your travels call for something a bit more polished. So given the laidback nature of this trip, it worked more than fine for both travel and exploration.

I also prefer to bring along finishing touches that can make all the difference between traveling in comfort and, well… not traveling in comfort. In this instance, that means my dependable dopp kit from the Byrd x Richer Poorer collaboration, as well as a few everyday grooming essentials from the always-reliable Baxter of California. And additional pieces like a great pair of Mack Weldon boxer briefs and stylish-yet-understated American Trench socks weren’t overlooked in my bag — and they shouldn’t be in yours, either.

As trips like these tend to go, it felt a bit too brief (such is life when trying to coordinate around the schedules of a journalist and a PR guy!). But I really felt like I was able to experience much more of the city than in past trips, from a stop through the National Archives that gave me some great historical perspective, to a walk through the National Gallery of Art and time spent along the bustling, hip U Street area. It’s a city that’s more varied than meets the eye – it’s not all tour groups and national monuments (although seeing those monuments made me feel pretty patriotic). There’s a burgeoning menswear scene, the dining (and local craft beer selection) is on-point, and it’s quite easy to get around – that’s just a handful of the major pluses I experienced in a quick weekend. I’d say it’s absolutely worth a visit – and if you’ve been before or you live there, you already know that! I’ll be back again. Until then, look for more on The Style Guide tomorrow covering a stylish spring outfit suggestion.

Thanks for reading!

-Beau

Florsheim

Style Pick of the Week: Mott & Bow Wooster Denim

Editor’s note: Expect these posts weekly detailing one standout item coveted by yours truly. Sometimes, these fit within budgetary restrictions and other times, they’re expensive splurges worth saving for. For more Wish List items from Beau, head here, and to see other Style Picks, head here.

What's in a name? Just about everything when it comes to the Wooster from Mott & Bow.

What’s in a name? Just about everything when it comes to the Wooster from Mott & Bow.

OK, I’ll admit it. I’m quite the fan of Mott & Bow denim. If you clicked this post and thought “Gee, I’ve seen that brand here before,” it’s because, well … you have. They occupy a fairly unique space in the style world — that of being an E-commerce retailer focused solely on denim — but the great thing about the brand is they do it so well. That is, they look to offer new washes and styles with regularity, they deliver on quality for the price and they throw in some nice added benefits, like a home try-on program that allows you to pick out the perfect size via free shipping. Admittedly, the jeans — particularly the Medium Blue rinse you see above — also made my Spring Style Wish List. Needless to say this writer’s certainly been eyeing them for a while. While Mott & Bow can definitely do raw denim well, and it delivers in terms of straightforward dark-wash denim, the brand also does a nice job with less-common varieties of denim. In the case of the Wooster Jean in Medium Blue, that would be a not-quite-stonewashed, not-quite-dark indigo pair of jeans that come with a truly remarkable amount of stretch — 35 percent, to be exact (35!). For comparison, the Mosco in Dark Blue features 2 percent. So, we’re absolutely talking next-level comfort here. Why should that matter to you, my fellow denim lover? Well, Mott & Bow simply gets the job done.

Black detailing -- like the back patch and rivets -- complements the unique wash of the Wooster from Mott & Bow.

Black detailing — like the back patch and rivets — complements the unique wash of the Wooster from Mott & Bow.

Namely, it’s in the details, some of which can be seen above. Specifically, these jeans (which I was lucky enough to receive for a review), are absurdly, remarkably comfortable (note that they’re available in Straight, Slim and Skinny fits). It’s tough to explain, but it certainly doesn’t feel like you’re wearing jeans. They definitely seem to get better and more comfortable throughout the day, as well.And yet, you still get all the styling potential of your favorite pair of denim, complete with a slightly more unique wash. We’re certainly advocates for the versatility of dark, inky blue jeans here at The Style Guide, but there’s also something to be said for incorporating something a bit more eyecatching and lighter in color (not to mention weight) for the spring and summer months. If you’re the type to wear heavy indigo denim everyday, these would be an excellent change of pace while still giving you the option to pair with several ensembles. These aren’t a decidedly dressy pair of denim (the brand’s dark blue-black Mercer fits that bill), but they can still be rocked with a navy blazer and brown wingtips — check out this visual example here for some style inspiration. They’d perhaps be at their best when worn on casual weekend outings, though — think a pocket tee and some colorful sneakers. Give these Mott & Bow jeans a try with nearly anything you can think of — given the high comfort level of this pair of jeans, you probably won’t want to take them off.

Are you thinking of picking up the Wooster from Mott & Bow? What’s your go-to styling move with lightwash denim?


2016 Spring Style Wish List

Editor’s note: For more seasonal style wish list pieces, head this way.

Perhaps one of my favorite parts of being on the verge of a new season is the ability to look ahead and envision how you’ll style certain pieces and wear certain outfits. Of course, that goes hand-in-hand with looking ahead to all kinds of fun seasonal activities. In the fall, my mind drifts toward crisp autumn weekends exploring NYC’s parks — hence, the fall style wish list you see here. And in the spring, that has me looking toward slightly warmer days, plenty of patio beers (and food), and time spent checking out great menswear haunts around the city. Perhaps it’s much the same for you — who doesn’t love a great spring brew, after all? And that brings us to our primary topic of conversation today on The Style Guide — the below Spring Style Wish List. It’s a mix of brands old and new, some pricey and some more affordable — but all eyecatching in their own right as we deal with (hopefully) the last few weeks of winter weather. What’s on your style wish list this spring? Check out the below and let me know on Facebook or Twitter!

#1. Mott & Bow Skinny Wooster Jean in Medium Blue — $118

Available in two washes, the Medium Blue Wooster Jean on the left looks the most promising.

Available in two washes, the Medium Blue Wooster Jean on the left looks the most promising.

While I love a standout pair of dark denim year-round, there’s something nice about being able to occasionally mix in a lighter shade of jean — heck, it’s even a nice change of pace. Mott & Bow has been excelling at the affordable denim game since its launch a few years back, and it seems like they’re continually introducing new washes and styles. The Wooster in Medium Blue is built with the most stretch of any jean the brand has introduced — 35 percent, to be exact! That’s a comfortable pair of jeans fit for many a spring bar crawl, and the light wash looks excellent.

#2. GREATS Brand The Pronto in Color Block — $240

A unique but pleasing mix of color and texture in a low-profile runner. Photo courtesy of the brand.

A unique but pleasing mix of color and texture in a low-profile runner. Photo courtesy of the brand.

So right off the bat, these sneakers might not be for everybody. There’s certainly a lot going on in there in terms of color. But if you’re into a more retro-inspired look, then the silhouette and the color combo are actually going to be perfect. It’s the kind of sneaker you’d be able to pair up with the above lightwash jeans and a slim T-shirt for easygoing weekend style. They’re definitely pricey for sneakers (particularly in comparison to other GREATS runners), but the brand seems to continually step it up in terms of quality. And hey, there’s a reason why it’s a style wish list, right?

#3. JACHS NY Short-Sleeve Striped Chambray Shirt — $69

Stripes plus workwear details in a light blue chambray shirt? Sign me up.

Stripes plus workwear details in a light blue chambray shirt? Sign me up.

JACHS NY is another brand that’s been gaining a bit of steam on social media as of late, and they always do a nice job with standout seasonal releases — particularly shirting. Spring is all about shedding layers and lightening things up in terms of color and texture, so this shirt definitely keeps things headed in that direction. The addition of stripes to this light blue chambray buttondown is another solid design touch — it adds a bit of workwear edge to a piece that should work quite well with khaki chinos and white captoe sneakers.

#4. Grayers Reston Quilted Jacket — $165

A solid substitute for your favorite blazer -- a functional hybrid field coat of sorts.

A solid substitute for your favorite blazer — a functional hybrid field coat of sorts.

As with your shirting and denim in spring, the idea of lightening things up should also apply to your outerwear. There are plenty of instances where you need something functional in the rain or a slight chill — yet you still want something versatile and modern. The Reston Quilted Jacket looks to fill that niche perfectly. The quilted detailing and three patch pockets give it a bit of a military-inspired vibe, while the standup collar and nylon construction make it sturdy and ready to fight the rain. It doesn’t hurt that it’s cut like your favorite blazer — it should be able to pull double duty on your commute and at work, and at a price that’s less than a traditional J. Crew jacket.

#5. JackThreads The Daily Pocket Crew — $24

So much more than just a standard crewneck. A nice color and slim fit help this piece stand apart.

So much more than just a standard crewneck. A nice color and slim fit help this piece stand apart.

First off, why did a pocket T-shirt make this style wish list? They’re more visually interesting than plain ol’ crewnecks, and cut in the right fabric & fit, they can work on their own or underneath everything from a cotton-canvas jacket to an unconstructed blazer. At the rate that JackThreads pumps out seasonal style staples like this khaki pocket tee, things are only going to get better. The color of this piece is just different enough from a more normal white pocket tee, so it’ll stand out nicely against lightwash denim and colored kicks … like the ones at the top of the page. Plus, the price is very easily attainable — it might be my first pick-up of this wish list, in fact.

When it comes time to pull together these Wish List pieces, it can be difficult at times. Many a retailer that excels at winter gear (like Todd Snyder) also puts out stunning spring product — take these Todd Snyder x P.F. Flyers sneakers, for example. Certain brands that have sat things out in terms of style are also now starting to make a resurgence (lookin’ at you, Abercrombie & Fitch). And reliably stunning brands like Apolis and its Transit Issue Camerman Jacket just missed the cut. But there’s still plenty of great style to go around! I know I’m certainly looking forward to A) adding more items to my wish list as spring rolls on and B) checking some items off said wish list. For the time being…

Stay stylish,

-Beau

What’s on your spring style wish list? Any picks you’d poach from the above list?

 

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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Style Pick of the Week: Mott & Bow White Denim

Editor’s note: Expect these posts weekly detailing one standout item coveted by yours truly. Sometimes, these fit within budgetary restrictions and other times, they’re expensive splurges worth saving for. For more Wish List items from Beau, head here, and to see other Style Picks, head here. Note that this week’s pick is a new release!

The newest introduction from an affordable e-commerce denim brand.

The newest introduction from an affordable e-commerce denim brand. Photo courtesy of Mott & Bow.

Every so often, it’s nice to switch up the normal rotation of dark denim or chinos (or lightweight dress pants) many of us throw on during the warmer months. Branching out from there can lead one to lightwash denim, maybe even some chambray trousers. But it can take some warming up to throw on all-white denim (there are plenty of ways to wear it, as seen on DETAILS.com). Some cream-colored jeans (a la James Bond in Quantum of Solace) can also fit the bill. But if you feel like giving white jeans a shot and supporting an up-and-coming brand, check out the newest release from Mott & Bow. Their brand-new, sharp white denim is this week’s Style Pick of the Week (cue fireworks and emoji applause). The brand is doing things the right way, sourcing quality fabric from Turkey for this pair and others (you may recognize them from this blog, or more likely, from the pages of Esquire).

The Skinny fit of Mott & Bow's  new white denim features a trim 13 1/2" leg opening.

The Skinny fit of Mott & Bow’s new white denim features a trim 13 1/2″ leg opening.

Again, white denim is a pretty bold style move, but the best thing about this set from Mott & Bow is that unlike other designer brands or even smaller merchants like J. Crew, you won’t fork over an arm and a leg (or two legs in this case) to get them. At under $100, these should be a very solid buy. They’re available in a Skinny version featuring a 13 ½” leg opening, as well as Slim & Straight fits. From personal experience with the Skinny version, the style fits remarkably similar to a J. Crew 484 jean or a Uniqlo Slim Fit Stretch jean – and the 2% built-in elastic material in this Mott & Bow pair ensures comfort as you move around in the heat. These look to be the ideal jean to wear with … well, just about anything, from a khaki blazer or a polo to a navy pocket tee (especially the pocket tee) and some some solid leather desert boots. The look in the top photo is particularly crisp yet casual thanks to the navy blazer. Just keep the all-white get-up in the closet unless you fancy yourself a runway model, ehh?

What do you think of the newest release from Mott & Bow? How would you style white denim?

Ernest Alexander

The Product Review: Mott & Bow Denim

Mott and Bow denim

Getting full details on a newer denim brand — featuring the Skinny Fit Mosco jean in Dark Blue from Mott & Bow. Organic cotton pocket T-shirt by United By Blue. Glasses by Warby Parker. Stainless steel dive watch by Invicta. Olive leather slip-ons by GREATS Brand.

If you’re looking to upgrade your style, or even just refresh it a bit, there’s virtually no better place to start than buying a classic pair of dark denim.. especially from Mott & Bow. Take it from a guy who’s tried the brand, folks. The styling potential for a nice, inky dark pair in a slimmer fit is virtually limitless — in a business casual environment, they work just like slim khaki chinos worn with a blazer and chambray shirt. And the rest of the time, they’re a great go-to piece matched with a pocket T-shirt and slip-on sneakers in the summer (as seen above), or with a shawl cardigan in the fall & winter. Finding the right pair, built to last and at a decent price, has definitely gotten easier over the years, what with the popularity of American-made brands like Gustin,but if you’re able (or looking) to spring for something a bit further up the price ladder than that, Mott & Bow would be a nice place to start.

A slim, tapered fit allows this pair of jeans to sit nicely over slip-on sneakers for the summer months. Denim by Mott & Bow. Sneakers by GREATS Brand.

A slim, tapered fit allows this pair of jeans to sit nicely over slip-on sneakers for the summer months. Denim by Mott & Bow. Sneakers by GREATS Brand.

Founded by University of Michigan engineering grad Alejandro Chanin, who grew up around a family of denim producers, the brand has expanded aggressively thanks to a Kickstarter campaign that shot very quickly past its goal last year. Mott & Bow has set out to perfect what it calls “denim science” using fabric sourced from Turkish mills, and the brand does a nice job of walking you through the steps in its process on its website. As an added perk, Mott & Bow offers a home try-on program with free shipping both ways — an ideal way to test out a pair. I had the chance to catch up with Alejandro earlier this spring for a chat about M&B, and he was nice enough to provide me with a sample of the brand’s Skinny Fit Mosco Denim in Dark Blue for review (also covered in a shorter piece on GearHungry).

Wear these jeans with everything from a pocket tee to a blazer. Braided leather belt by Target Merona. Stainless steel dive watch by Invicta.

Wear these jeans with everything from a pocket tee to a blazer. Braided leather belt by Target Merona. Stainless steel dive watch by Invicta.

The brand itself differentiates between its models through a neat touch — the street names of its NYC home. The Mosco is one of 6 models in its Comfort Denim line, which features jeans with 2% elastane stretch built in. Slim and Straight fit options are available, both of which still look nice and tailored, but the Skinny option (with a narrow 13 1/2″ leg opening) was the pick for me. Overall, Mott & Bow jeans fit and feel quite similar to a pair of Stretch Slim Fit Jeans from Uniqlo; if you’re into a pair of heavy selvedge denim, the Mosco and some other options likely won’t be for you given their lighter weight and hint of stretch. However, the Rivington, a raw, never-been-washed offering, comes in Slim and Straight fits for the company’s standard price of $96. And it’s also worth checking out the Norfolk Raw Slim if you want a sturdier jean in a slim fit.

A sturdy leather patch and simple back pocket stitching complete this pair.

A sturdy leather patch and simple back pocket stitching complete this pair.

The color of the Mosco in Dark Blue is rich and deep, although pre-faded options are available replicating everything from 2 months to 18 months of daily wear (the Waverly in Light/Medium Blue would be ideal for spring & summer). Colors like Dark Gray and Black can also be picked up for $12 more. The fit on this Skinny pair is excellent — akin to that of a pair of Bonobos Slim Tailored Jeans or even something from J. Crew’s 484 line. Mott & Bow definitely gets  a lot of things right. The tapered leg sits nicely over chukka boots, while it can also be rolled a few times (as seen in the photos above). The hint of stretch keeps these comfortable, too. The rivets and back logo patch have sturdy placement, small details that upgrade it from similarly stretchy, but cheaper, pairs.

No wild stitching or branding from Mott and Bow -- just a clean logo across the interior back waistband.

No wild stitching or branding from Mott and Bow — just a clean logo across the interior back waistband.

Wearability with a new pair of denim is key. These Mott & Bow jeans feel so comfortable thanks to the resin rinse process — designed to replicate raw denim — that there’s no break-in time needed. In a size 34×32, I’ve found I can also cuff them if needed. The simple detailing and nice color make these the ideal pair of dark denim — I’ve worn them with a khaki blazer  and a casual shirt, as well as a long-sleeve henley.  The delivery presentation of the denim itself is also well-done — custom black tissue paper and a large ‘M’ emblazoned on a black box change things up from the standard brown box presentation some brands go for, as you can see below.

The packaging and presentation on a pair of Mott & Bow denim.

The packaging and presentation accompanying a pair of Mott & Bow denim.

The one drawback might be that price — at just under $100 for a regular pair, it’s a good deal more than other options.  Of course, cheaper pairs are out there, but the fact that Mott & Bow focuses exclusively on great-fitting denim means the brand is putting everything it has towards that product; the results reflect that. For now, sticking to a tried-and-true pair of Levi’s is a safe option if you’re on a budget, but  if you want to switch things up and add to your dark denim rotation, Mott & Bow could be just what you’re looking for.

Do you own any Mott & Bow denim? Have you ever considered buying from the brand?