Snapshots at My 26th

Guess I gotta find some healthcare now!

This might be the wildest “event” I’ve done- and it was all under one roof.

So this past weekend was my 26th birthday party, celebrated a few days in advanced since my actual birthday fell on a weekday. Usually I don’t do anything quite crazy. It’s just dinner with my core group friends and maybe an outing; there’s even an essay (and bonus podcast episode) about what I’ve worn to previous birthdays which funnily enough, echoes my tastes and life stage at that particular moment in time. This one is no exception.

Before I get to too far, let me just say that 2020-2021 was an interesting time. Candidly speaking, it sucked for a lot of it. I was laid off from my job due to retail closures and since I was already not making much money (and still at home) it was a bit depressing. I didn’t get to see many people, whether it was my friends or potential romantic partners. I spent my days applying for jobs that seemed hell bent on rejecting me- maybe starting a post-grad job in menswear isn’t the best for expanding horizons and getting a “regular” career. It seemed all too apparent that I was stuck. But then, as if by chance, everything changed.

I got a job in a cool industry, where a future (and security) feels more certain. I gained an amazing partner. Spencer, Mj , and I made the jump to podcasting more regularly and launched a Twitch and Patreon Discord to engage with more menswear guys in a fun way (that also gave us something to look forward to). I started to write about the “why” behind my mode of dress much more often, leading to pieces on slouch, authenticity, and POV, all of which are things I’ve always wanted to put to paper. I started to drink coffee and alcohol (still only occasionally). And lastly (and perhaps more importantly), I’ve met so many cool people, both online and IRL.

I’m not sure if that’s a positive side effect of the pandemic (along with the fact that I no longer was restrained to retail hours), but it was such a big turning point. I had always felt hardstrapped for friends. Now I’m happy to say that I’ve been fortunate to meet a great group of people (some menswear, some not) who all share a similar approach to life. This, along with my job, has given me so much confidence to be who I want to be, which has certainly lead not just to some great essays but has really shown in my own approach to clothing. Funny how holistic everything seems to be!

Anyway, to bring it back to the topic, this was probably the first time that I’ve ever had the opportunity to invite more than 10 people to an event. I mean at the time, I thought my 24th at the beach (because I live at home and can’t host anything) was a big deal. Maybe it’s the pandemic making everyone itching for a big hang out, but to my surprise, quite a few them even agreed to come!

To celebrate this momentous affair (of me losing my dad’s healthcare), I was able to host it at my mother’s apartment while she was out of town for the day. It’s a nice apartment near the West Side and represent a place I could only hope to afford on my own. As a nerd, I’m not one for a house party, but I definitely wanted something different than the beach or a park- something where people can freely sit down inside (it’s hot after all), wear some cool clothing (if they wanted to), and drink/talk in peace; maybe a Smash Bros. game could be played. My mom’s place came in clutch!

The entire party really felt like a culmination of everything I’ve done so far. Friends both into clothing and not came together for good, wholesome fun. If you’re a keen eyed follower of mine, you’ll notice a lot of familiar faces, from Michael the law student to the p0cketman himself. It’s proof that you can be into menswear and not be stuffy about it; one might think that this is what it would be like if I lived in New York or if I went to Pitti. In retrospect, the part feels aa bit more “adult” than historical hangs, what with me getting rip-roaringly loopy after some shots of vodka, but perfectly in line with what I’m comfortable with. After all, I’ve done quite a few things during those pandemic hangs.

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Before I just dump a photo recap of the shenanigans that went down, let me talk about my outfit. Like the party, it feels like a natural progression of everything that I’m into. Everyone knew I was going to be extra (I do like tailoring more than any of my menswear friends), so I didn’t have any holds barred. I originally went through a few variations of what I wanted my party attire to wear, ranging from a tie fit to an aloha shirt (or western) with a slouchy runaway collar. I obviously didn’t go with either of them. The pandemic hangs have spoiled me in that I had nothing in my backlog that was waiting to get out- I’ve been wearing exactly what I want too often.

I’ve been feeling a slight late 60s-70s mood for the past year and so I decided to lean into it for my party. I’ve done similar looks before, but this is the first time I’ve tried some “new” style moves. No, I’m not referring to a navy blazer and white pants (a dangerous choice for a party), but the fact that I’m wearing a dress shirt without a tie. You guys know how much I love wearing ties- whether its a spearpoint or an OCBD, I love how long unlined collar frames a tie. If I don’t want to wear a tie, I tend to wear shirts that can’t support it: polos, sportshirts, and tees. If I wear a dress shirt without a tie, it tends to be a bit bizcaz to me (which I hate). Doing that look with white pants and a blazer just ends up looking basic to me. It’s very….Pitti normie.

However, this black base bandana from Kapital (gifted by my lovely girlfriend) was just what I needed to make the look more “Ethan”.. If you look through the pandemic hang essay, you’ll notice my friend Jay (who unfortunately couldn’t make it to the party) rocking a bandana in almost every look. The repeated hangs and his naturally photogenic demeanor finally had an effect on me, which culminated in what is probably my best birthday outfit thus far. The abstract geometrics (echoing my taste in ties, even worn with a striped spearpoint) feels a lot more interesting than a regular bandana pattern, making it look more sartorial and less workwear/Americana. It really lets me get my groove on, without being too ascot-y. It even matches the monochromatic look quite well!

I can’t think of a better time than my birthday to start a new style move. It’s new, but feels right at home, especially considering all the evolution I’ve had recently. Menswear nirvana.

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Alright, now enjoy all the photos. It seems that even when I’m the man of the hour, I can help myself from walking around and photographing my friends. Maybe this is just proof that my love of photography isn’t just about taking photos nor is it just about menswear- I just like taking pictures of my friends because I really do think they are some of the coolest people on the planet. I’m very grateful that they decided to spend a Saturday eating chips and watch me get increasingly loopy.

Seriously. This was the most I’ve drank in my entire life. I was never really opposed to alcohol, but most situations where there was booze just wasn’t my jam. Maybe that’s the effect of being around cool people for once.

At least it didn’t stop my photography prowess 😉

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MJ rocking my old cotton-linen jacket with chelsea Docs and a black base aloha shirt. Going out attire indeed!
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Been loving these wide wayfarers. Feels quite 60s to me.

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She hates me.
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Relaxing before I got wasted.
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He’s my oldest friend.
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First drink of the day.
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Can’t be a party without Portos.
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Spencer has his trusty USMC HBT chore coat and a spearpoint workshirt from Mister Freedom.
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Michael is a big fan of post-pandemic menswear, pairing a checked sportcoat with a tee, along with his grandpa’s old cap.
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Marco!
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Good lighting.
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If Nikki looks familiar, maybe it’s because you read Articles of Style.
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Do you guys remember Vincent?
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Drink #4 I think.
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Filipino boys.
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Emily has a great metal tee.
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An Ethan party.
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By 5PM I was gone.
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The best garlic knots.
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Old sport.
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Soon there will only be one host of Style & Direction.
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Why is it that so many menswear enthusiasts are also punks?
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Add Nikki to the list of menswear guys who shoot film.
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We lost this balloon.
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You can’t see it, but Rov has a cool shirt that has a half placket front a a ribbed collar (similar to a bomber jacket).
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Jonny made it!
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White socks and black shoes.
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Thot squat.
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I love them all!

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget that you can support me (or the podcast) on Patreon to get some extra content and access to our exclusive Discord. I also stream on Twitch and upload the highlights to Youtube.

Always a pleasure,

Ethan M. Wong

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