Signs of Light: A December weekend in Baltimore

Layered up for a pit stop at Artifact Coffee. Wool-Blend Topcoat by Old Navy. Snow Bridge Cardigan by Eddie Bauer. Denim shirt by JackThreads. Travel Jeans by Bonobos. Lockridge Moc Toe Boots by Cole Haan. Calypso Watch by MVMT Watches. Glasses by Frameri. Cashmere hat by Club Monaco.

Layered up for a pit stop at Artifact Coffee in Baltimore. Wool-Blend Topcoat by Old Navy. Snow Bridge Cardigan by Eddie Bauer. Denim shirt by JackThreads. Travel Jeans by Bonobos. Lockridge Moc Toe Boots by Cole Haan. Calypso Watch by MVMT Watches. Glasses by Frameri. Cashmere hat by Club Monaco.

As I traveled down the East Coast this past Friday morning, I was able to look back on a heck of a lot of things besides the crisp winter scenery. It was outstanding to reflect on a great year of work, of time with family and friends, of travel and a great year of celebrating some of my passions — including live music and menswear, all rolled into one. And it was as good a time as any for this Style Guide author to catch a great show and bring along some of my favorite men’s style essentials, yet again. My travels this time around took me to the unique and ever-changing city of Baltimore to see joyous indie folk rockers The Head and The Heart — that’s a definite recipe for success. I’ve been really lucky to be able to travel in style (of course) so frequently to see great bands, from an upstate trip to see Lucius to a weekend trip to Providence to see (perhaps) my favorite band, West Coast indie rockers Local Natives. So it was fitting that on one of the last weekends of the year, I took to the trail again. What did I bring with me? Only the best gear I could pack into my Owen & Fred weekender bag — you knew that bag was sturdy as heck and travel-friendly, right?

Rugged layers for a chilly weekend. Wool Shirt by Abercrombie & Fitch. Yosemite Shirt by Taylor Stitch. Donegal Trousers by JackThreads. Red Wing Leather Waterbury Chrono by Timex _ Todd Snyder. Ranger Gloves by Grifter Company. Glasses by Frameri. Cashmere hat by Club Monaco.

Rugged layers for a chilly weekend. Wool Shirt by Abercrombie & Fitch. Yosemite Shirt by Taylor Stitch. Donegal Trousers by JackThreads. Red Wing Leather Waterbury Chrono by Timex _ Todd Snyder. Ranger Gloves by Grifter Company. Glasses by Frameri. Cashmere hat by Club Monaco.

As seems to be the case with the weather across much of the country, the weekend was an especially frigid one in Baltimore — and NYC. For my train ride down the coast and a day exploring Baltimore, I layered up accordingly as seen at the top of the page, starting with my trusty JackThreads denim shirt. Of course, a stylish shawl cardigan proved a crucial layering piece given the chill, and I prepared accordingly with the durable, thick-knit and unique Eddie Bauer Snow Bridge Cardigan. I topped those layers off with the slim, warm Old Navy Wool-Blend Topcoat, an unexpected offering from a brand that keeps improving its apparel and outerwear game. For a blend of flexibility, comfort and style — crucial when sitting on a train for a few hours, then moving about the city — my trusty Bonobos Travel Jeans in Allegheny Oak fit the bill perfectly, and played nicely in terms of color off my sturdy, tough-wearing Cole Haan Lockridge Moc Toe Boots. You might recognize those boots from this site’s piece on how to dress for the first snowfall, and they’ve got plenty of weather-ready bells and whistles — they’re waterproof and feature the brand’s Grand.OS technology, for starters. When paired up with my reliable-as-ever MVMT Watches Calypso Watch and tough accessories like my Grifter Company Ranger Gloves, I was more than set to battle the chill.

I also brought along my trusty Brothers Leather 810 Wallet .It’s a beautiful, handmade and essential wallet — and you can get 15% off that wallet, or any Brothers Leather item, using the code ‘BrotherBeau15’! Seriously, look into upgrading your everyday carry ASAP. Know that the next time you hit the road to a chilly locale, you should pack as many durable winter accessories as you can, too.

The everyday carry for a quick road trip. Ranger Gloves by Grifter Company. Wallet by Brothers Leather (Get 15% off with the code 'BrotherBeau15'! Calypso Watch by MVMT Watches. Pen by Owen & Fred.

The everyday carry for a quick road trip. Ranger Gloves by Grifter Company. Wallet by Brothers Leather (Get 15% off with the code ‘BrotherBeau15’! Calypso Watch by MVMT Watches. Pen by Owen & Fred.

Stop number one on my trip? Of course, a stellar coffee shop — that’d be Artifact Coffee, and I’d absolutely recommend a trip of your own if ever you get to Baltimore. It’s a rustic backdrop for a tasty egg-and-bacon English muffin and a rich cup of coffee, plus some quiet writing and reflection. Properly caffeinated following an early train ride, a stop at one of the city’s neat menswear shops was in order. 16Tons — not a far walk from Artifact — is packed to the gills with vintage menswear, including sturdy tweed blazers, stonewashed denim jackets and a fair selection of tough moto boots. With my fill of menswear shopping, it was time for a much-needed burger at the lauded Abbey Burger Bistro — add the Guinness cheddar to your burger and top it off with a local Union Red Foxy IPA. I walked off the burger with a stroll through the neat Inner Harbor and Federal Hill areas of Baltimore, filled with beautiful red brick historic homes.

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With a great lunch and a great day of exploration around Baltimore behind me, I was more than ready for a long-awaited show from The Head and The Heart — seeing as I missed the band’s NYC tour stop in October after years of listening, it was high time I got around to seeing them. Looking back on 2016, the group’s stellar third album, “Signs of Light,” was one of my favorites for its joyous, uplifting message, powerful harmonies, subtle pop influences and soaring guitars. It’s the kind of music we need a bit — or a lot — more of, and it resulted in a stunning live show that was a joy to watch.With a full day to look ahead to the show, I was beyond excited — and because I packed light and relied on style staples like the tough-yet-comfortable Cole Haan Lockridge Moc Toe Boots and the durable MVMT Watches Calypso Watch I was able to transition from day to night and fully enjoy the concert.

Checking out a new music venue in a new city is always a neat endeavor, and a packed Ram’s Head Live didn’t disappoint. The buzzing,  multi-level venue also drew a nice crowd for folk rock trio Joseph, themselves a group quickly on the rise and capable of producing some powerful songs in the vein of Lucius or HAIM — yes, they’re that good.  And they nicely complemented a beautiful performance from The Head and The Heart, who absolutely didn’t disappoint. I’d recommend you see them as soon as you can — the band’s beautiful vocals and soaring songs — soaring is the only way to describe it — were incredible. From the opener “All We Ever Knew” to a huge rendition of “Rivers and Roads” and stirring, fun versions of “Lost in My Mind” and “Shake,” it was among the better shows I’ve seen this year — and that’s saying something!
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With an amazing live show in the books, I looked ahead to an excellent Saturday of Baltimore, including an amazing brunch & Bloody Mary at Baltimore institution Miss Shirley’s. Of course, a delicious, rich Nutella latte from 3 Bean Coffee was also in order. With chilly temperatures in the forecast yet again, I went with sturdy layers to fight the cold.. Namely, my slim and refined JackThreads Donegal Trousers provided a bit of a high-low style complement to my heritage-inspired Abercrombie & Fitch Wool Shirt. Given the blustery, frigid weather, I also threw on my much-loved Taylor Stitch Yosemite Shirt, as seen at the top of the post. It’s a soft, warm and essential layering piece. And on the watch front, it doesn’t get any better than my rugged and durable Timex + Todd Snyder Red Wing Leather Chronograph, all of which helped me navigate Baltimore in warmth and good time — seriously!

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Unique, versatile layers for a blustery Brooklyn day. Wool-Blend Henley Sweater and Belted Shawl Cardigan by Abercrombie & Fitch. Kinzie Jeans by Mugsy Jeans. Sutter Boots by CAT Footwear. Red Wing Leather Chronograph by Timex + Todd Snyder. Socks by To Boot New York. Wallet by Brothers Leather (get 15 percent off Brothers Leather goods with the code ‘BrotherBeau15’!

Unfortunately, my trip was over much too soon, and it was time to head back to  NYC. The ceaseless cold weather showed no signs of relenting on Sunday, so I again reached for critical layers, starting with a brand-new, rugged-and-refined Abercrombie & Fitch Wool-Blend Henley Sweater. It’s a rich addition to any wardrobe, affordably priced and featuring a neat blend of sport and heritage-inspired style. For an afternoon spent exploring Williamsburg, I accented the sweater with a distinctive Abercrombie & Fitch Belted Shawl Cardigan — you can expect to see a lot more of this unique, comfortable layering piece soon. On the footwear front, I found myself reaching once again for my durable, tough CAT Footwear Sutter Boots — the brown burnishing is a handsome and classic design touch. And whether in cold weather or on a warm, sunny day, you really can’t go wrong with the ridiculously comfortable Kinzie Jeans from Mugsy Jeans, made with a ton of stretch for ease of movement. I complemented the ensemble with the Timex + Todd Snyder Red Wing Leather Chronograph yet again — it’s a tough watch to pass up wearing!

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As I bundled up heading back through Brooklyn, it was great to be able to reflect on a stellar weekend. It featured some of my favorite things — live music, menswear, travel and a requisite helping of craft beer and great burgers! It doesn’t really get any better, especially packed into the span of a few days. And any time I get to spend at my favorite spots in Brooklyn is also time well-spent. It’s been a whirlwind month of December — and a whirlwind year — but I’m really thankful to get the chance to travel, see great shows and bring along stylish menswear in the process. If you’ve got your own holiday travel coming up, I hope it goes well — and if you’ve still got gifts to buy, check out our men’s holiday gift guide, along with the women’s holiday gift guide. Happy shopping!

Thanks as always for reading — stay stylish!

-Beau

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The Product Review: Bonobos Travel Jeans

Editor’s note: In the interest of full disclosure, the author interned with Bonobos this past summer. This review is completely impartial and in no way influenced or sponsored by Bonobos. 

Reviewing a much-loved pair of jeans from a much-loved company.

Reviewing a much-loved pair of jeans from a much-loved company.

This time of year, it’s easy to get into a style rut. We’re long into a chilly winter — and most of us are probably jealous of those in warmer climates! The novelty of wearing thicker winter fabrics could very well be getting old, and even reaching for dark denim might not provide enough style inspiration on most days. Fear not, though; plenty of options are out there for changing up how you start your outfit — namely, with your pants. If you’ve had any experience with Bonobos, you know the drill. Renowned for the fit of their chinos and increasingly known for their relatively recent expansion into tailored wear and  other stylish items, Bonobos’ Travel Jeans have generated lots of buzz, too.  

As renowned for their presentation and customer service as the fit of their pants.

As renowned for their presentation and customer service as the fit of their pants.

In fact, they’re about as tough to beat for a pair of versatile jeans as any on the market. And that versatility starts with the huge array of color options they offer — absolutely essential to shaking up a winter wardrobe with some different shades. In particular, their Allegheny Oak Travel Jeans provide great cold-weather color and an outstanding fit. Offered in four different fits (Slim Tailored, Slim Straight, Straight Leg and Boot Cut), the full spectrum offers something for just about everyone. And the colors are completely on-point as far as fall and winter dressing — from a rich burgundy to a slate green color to a nice faded tan (or “sand” color), several options should go well with other shades like charcoal or deep navy this time of year.

The Allegheny Oak shade would pair up perfectly with other fall & winter shades.

The Allegheny Oak shade would pair up perfectly with other fall & winter colors.

These travel jeans live up to their reputation, as well. The fabric has a nice thickness to it, yet retains more than a hint of stretch — the folks at Bonobos had easy transport in mind, clearly. This specific pair comes in the Slim Tailored cut — after trying a Slim Straight cut in the same size (and in the more summer-appropriate Bering Blue) last year, there was slightly too much room in the waist and thigh for my liking, thus leading to the Slim Tailored option. The fit is exceptionally similar to their Slim Tailored Washed Chinos.

A closer look at the detailed label now sewn into newer Travel Jeans.

A closer look at the detailed label now sewn into newer Travel Jeans.

And this iteration of the Travel Jean is superior in other ways, too. There’s a detailed label sewn into the back pocket, along with white stripes on the interior of the brown pockets. The fit is, of course, more tailored than the Slim Straight option, making it easy to wear and move around in. As far as versatility goes, these strike the ideal balance between being too dressed-up and too dressed-down. The five-pocket construction, while not incredibly formal, would work in business casual settings with a well-tailored blazer in multiple shades — from light gray to a heightened blue. Because these jeans are a lighter brown, they would even coordinate well with darker brown leather — like these sneakers or virtually any of the options discussed here.  These jeans are also made for wearing with a shawl or color-blocked cardigan and, say, a navy henley casually. Last but not least (and perhaps more importantly for those of us on a budget), most of Bonobos’ Travel Jeans are going for $78 on-sale (knocked down to under $50 with a 40% off code). That’s a terrific price for a pair of pants that are more versatile than a standard pair of dark denim — well worth it given Bonobos’ quality.

Own any Bonobos Travel Jeans? Or their Chinos? Thoughts? Leave it all below and thanks for reading! 

 

 

Style Suggestion: The Chambray Shirt

It’s been a while since it got truly cold in most parts of this country, but that doesn’t mean we don’t all need a reminder on the certain types of textures and fabrics that just work well in the winter. The key here is to continue to look for items with a rougher texture, things that just seem to blend nicely with stark, cold landscapes.

In fact, the desire to change things up in terms of outfits and texture can be quite tempting this time of year, but there’s something to be said about doing what works, time and again. Filling this gap is, surprisingly (or not) where something like a chambray shirt comes in. It’s been written about and suggested on this site a good number of times, but with good reason. On a personal level, a chambray shirt in the rotation (as pictured below) is becoming a frequently worn item because of its versatility — they exist in that perfect space where they can be dressed up or down.

J. Crew's chambray shirt. Nice texture for winter, without a doubt.

J. Crew’s chambray shirt — dressy with a workwear feel.

Notably, chambray shirts are the perfect antidote to a look that might be too dressed up. In some cases, a crisp white shirt worn under a more casual, rumpled cardigan might just look too stark. Or with a more casual patch-pocket blazer, for example, the white shirt just might stand out a bit too much, even if it’s a white OCBD. Enter the chambray shirt. In a lighter shade like blue (like the J. Crew option pictured), it works in just as many different outfits as a blue Oxford cloth button-down might work. (See option #1 here for a reminder). If you’ve got a v-neck sweater under a navy blazer, throw a lighter chambray shirt in there to flip the look on its head. Wear it on its own under that same blazer, too.

Heck, GQ is even a proponent of wearing it under a suit (a bolder move, but one that definitely works). The texture of the shirt is the key here — it’s marled and weathered, and it’s got a great workwear feel to it. More importantly, it’s a item that’s trendy yet most likely won’t die out anytime soon — it’s become, in some ways, the modern-day version of the OCBD, as it exists in an older dimension with a workwear vibe and yet is cut slim for current times. It can be worn under layers in the cold, and it’s the perfect type of shirt to pair with a thicker-weight tie. A wool tie (or a knit tie) has more going on texturally than a silk tie, so the combination just works well together. Underneath the odd vest or a heavier blazer, (as seen in the photo below), the chambray shirt falls right in line with a lot of different textures going on.

The base layer on the top here is a nice chambray shirt.

The base layer on the top here is a nice chambray shirt.

For what it’s worth, many (including J. Crew’s head of menswear) count the chambray shirt as an essential, a highly versatile item that lends class and a rugged feel to any outfit — two things highly difficult to do at the same time. If you’re into it, it’s also got a very old-time Americana feel to it in terms of style — details like the tab collar option on the J. Crew shirt and the front-button pockets lend itself to that. Look for one cut slim and in a lighter color, and it might even continue to be worn into the spring and summer months. That’s the definition of versatile style right there.

Winter Style Suggestion: The U.S. Navy Peacoat

One of the great things about menswear is that so many outfits start with simple, classic pieces. These are likely already items you might have hanging around your own closet, and if not, there are definitely affordable ways to make it happen. Something that you would feasibly wear everyday is a good place to start in terms of classic looks, and in the dead of winter, a strong, substantial peacoat won’t leave you out in the cold.

The right peacoat can pass any muster test, particularly when it comes to standing up against snow or rain (and if you’re in peacoat country, those are probably the two types of weather you’re apt to run into most). We’ve seen a trend of dressing up outerwear — and that outerwear actually functioning as a stylish upper layer — but if you’re looking for classic function over form, there’s hardly a better place to start looking than a U.S. navy peacoat. In fact, substantial evidence suggests that these coats are probably out there in droves at surplus stores and Goodwill-type places, making it a downright steal for a coat that’s thick, warm and highly durable.

A classic. The U.S. Navy Peacoat — as authentic as it gets.

A classic. The U.S. Navy Peacoat — as authentic as it gets.

The Siblings With Style Michigan hub was lucky enough to score a substantial upgrade from a beaten-to-shreds Express peacoat (something like this minus the colorblocking), to a coat that’s authentic and incredibly historical. Now, this item wasn’t tracked down at a surplus store, but this time around, it’s the real deal. Worn by my great-grandfather during his time serving in World War II, it has an unbelievable history of being passed down through multiple relatives, and it’s held up incredibly well for a jacket about seven decades old.

Interesting details on the jacket's front buttons.

Interesting details on the jacket’s front buttons.

That certainly means it’s somewhat delicate, and will probably be mixed in with other outerwear options as opposed to extreme degrees of everyday wear. However, the fit is spot-on. It actually fits trim but not tight, leaving room for layering. The buttons are heavy and substantial, the collar is thick enough to stand up to Michigan winters, and the coat has  kept its rich navy color, making it easy to pair with about anything.

Certainly, it’s an item that has more historical value than a typical peacoat found at a surplus store, but it falls in the same ballpark quality and looks-wise. It’s a jacket that’ll do just fine in the Michigan winter and then some. And, although this one was a family-related upgrade, chances are fantastic that a similar option is out there at a surplus store (or thrift shop?) near you. Happy hunting.