My first flight in two years was to NYC. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Feel free to read the essay while listening to my podcast episode about the experience! Both recap the trip, but each one gives a little something extra. I particularly like the intro song MJ came up with for the pod 😉
I will always be an LA person. I love driving (when there isn’t traffic). A/C is pretty great. The quietness of the suburbs makes it quite easy to write and podcast to my hearts content, with the “real” city only 30 minutes away for when I want it. The only down side is that LA and SoCal life makes people lazy. People are content to stay at home, even before the pandemic. It is that reason that I am quite envious of NYC. With all the photos that grace my jealous eyes, it almost makes me want to move there. Almost.
As you’d probably expect, I have quite a few friends in NYC. Some of them work directly in the menswear industry; others are guys who happen to like wearing classic and vintage menswear. With each year, the list in both camps gets larger and larger, and as someone who likes to just grab a drink (could be boba or a cocktail at this point), it makes me yearn to see them. You guys know how much I love a good menswear hang; I’m using quotation marks because it’s just…guys hanging out who happen to be related through a mutual interest in menswear.
My Discord knows just how difficult it is for me to see my own “local” friends. It may look like I do it often, but it really is quite rare. That’s why so many of my vacations involve simple hangs with internet (turned IRL) friends! I did it in France, London, and Japan. Sure, I might be due for a lazy vacation some day (think of a day at the pool, but expanded to a week), but what I really want to do is to hang out, drink, and eat with my friends. In short, a NYC visit was due.
The last time I was in NYC was three years ago. God, I was a different person back then. Sure, I still worked at Ascot Chang and didn’t have a beard and long hair, but it’s more than that. I was still quite a bit giddy. I was still figuring out my style. I wanted to see everything. That last trip was packed to the brim and took so much out of me. A return was long over due, especially since I now had new friends to see, a better grasp over what I want to wear, and perhaps most importantly, a non-retail job that gave me the freedom and a bit of income to truly enjoy myself on a trip. I was ready.
I was actually a bit glad to have done this trip solo instead of try to organize a few other people. The pandemic taught me that I should be intentional with my time and what better way to do that than to just buy a ticket to NYC and see what each day brings! No real plan was made, other than checking what days museums and stores were open during my time there (5 full days). I only let a few people know that I was heading over, simply because I didn’t want to overwhelm myself (which can happen easy because I tend to have a large social battery). This time I just wanted to be loosey-goosey: a handful of stores and a handful of friends. I was there to enjoy myself!
Since I kept my trip a bit lowkey, a few people were actually surprised to see me in town. But in the end, as you’ll see in the recap below, I was able to get the most of out it. Not only was I able to try on a few grail items (menswear has improved greatly since I was last in the Big Apple), but I was able to meet up with friends old and new. It has been the best trip so far, rivaled only by my trip to Japan.
And yes, plenty of photographs were taken, on both digital and film (I even sent them off to get scanned in order to get them sooner). Enjoy!
To fully maximize my time during the trip, I took a half day on Wednesday and had a red eye flight to JFK. I assumed that five hours of sleep on a plane would be enough, but it clearly wasn’t. I got off the plane nauseous, exhausted, and hungry; however, I had a full Thursday to enjoy.
Jason and his girlfriend Tamara were very kind enough to let me crash on their couch for the duration of my trip, and so my first stop after getting off the plan was head to his place in Queens to shower and change into a more “menswear” outfit (I was wearing a tee shirt and jeans for my red eye). The 7 train into Manhattan was certainly much better than using PATH buses, which is what Spencer and I used the last time (we lived in a cheap Airbnb in Jersey). An unlimited 7-day metro pass was just what I needed for the trip.
After I was able to get a bit of shower and coffee on/in me, we had a late lunch at a local diner. The ambiance reminded me of the iconic Boyer editorial that Fred Castleberry shot a while back. You probably know the one I’m talking about.
The fit for that day was nothing special. I knew that I was going to have some menswear “errands” on that first day, so I decided to keep things rather simple and slouchy. I also didn’t want to overpack, so versatility was key. My spongey dark brown plaid balloon was the jacket of choice here, providing an earthy compliment to the rest of my green ensemble, made up of my rayon westerns shirt and M43 HBT pants. It’s a bit more monochromatic than I’d like, but my moods have been simple lately, especially for fits that don’t utilize a tie.
The sportcoat was quite practical during the trip, holding my wallet, COVID vaccination card (LA doesn’t have the smartphone wallet component), and my phone, but I also brought along my faithful custom tote. The tough canvas and zip top protected my camera (one digital, two film) all day and even held a book that I casually read between subway stops. The only downside is that the handles are a bit too small to comfortably hold on your shoulder purse style. After five days, my hands were calloused to shit.
Anyway, Jason joined me for the more uptown part of my Thursday. We stepped into J. Press to peruse the new merch collection they had, which featured sweatshirts/pants and tees from different ivy leagues. I considered getting one, but I felt like I’d be a bit of a poseur, especially since this is new merch rather than vintage.
We later walked to Belgian Shoes NYC where I struggled to find a pair that fit me. I really want to commission a tuxedo at some point and a good pair of shoes would be nice to have for that moment- Belgians at least are a bit more versatile than opera pumps and could conceivably be worn outside of evening wear. Unfortunately they lacked my size in the one I wanted (black suede) and they wouldn’t get a new shipment in until Dec or January, a month after their planned price increase ($490 to $550).
Belgians just weren’t in the cards for me! Looks like my money would have to be spent elsewhere.
Jason and I parted ways when I met up with my friend Emily (from SAI) at a coffee shop in Tribeca. She was on the tail end of her NYC trip, and it was fun to have a little SoCal meeting in New York.
After we finished our tea, I walked over the the Armoury where Alex and Stephon (who is new to the Tribeca team) were quite delighted (I hope) to see me arrive. Luckily the store was quite slow during this time (it was about an hour until closing), so the boys let me try on just a bit of everything. They were just as excited as I was to talk some menswear, especially as many of their clients tend to be more occasion based. Still more discerning than the typical finance bro, but they aren’t nerds about this like we are.
After buying Ring Jacket USA pieces this past quarantine, I was quite curious to see how the sizing compared to the AMJ, especially the new models which have come out in the three year span last my last visit. I have also gained a bit of weight since 2018 so its good to be sure. As I expected, I was a 38R in the AMJ across the board, with perhaps a bit of letting out to get the really full, draped look I wanted; for reference I am a US40/EU50 in the Ring Jacket USA block. I also liked their Model 101, which is only available as custom order. Being into the 60s-70s has let me loosen up on padding and nipped waists, so perhaps this would be something to try deep into the future. I still want slouchy soft stuff, at least for now.
I also made sure to try on some of their Badouins, as I was determined to finally get some evening shoes. The Armoury Sagans lacked the distinctive bow, but they still looked great- a very elevated slipper with a rubber sole and leather midsole. Unfortunately my troubles were only just beginning. The size 40 felt like it had a shallow toebox which felt quite odd to me. I also felt like it was scrunching my toes slightly. The 41 felt better around the toes and sides but the heel felt a bit big. To make matters worse, I tried the display model which was a size 40 and had been stuffed with a shoe tree for a few months. It fit great, leading me to believe that if I just break them in, a 40 would be just fine. However, my indecisiveness and distrust of my feet (what if my feet felt weird after walking all day?) lead me to pass on them for now.
They also had one model of their Bowhill & Elliot pumps that I actually really loved. As luck would have it, they were an 8.5 UK, which was just a half size (or so??) too big. I guess evening shoes would have to wait.
For dinner, I met up with Nick Roberts of Lawrence and Co., the one-man PR firm that has handled The Armoury, Drake’s, Knickerbocker, and Grand Seiko. Nick is an incredibly kind guy who has allowed me to help on some of his projects! He’s been in this world for a while and it was fun getting to chat about the menswear/lifestyle world. We actually met randomly during my 2018 trip when he was at Drake’s buying a tie. I recognized him from IG and immediately introduced myself; you gotta do that if you wanted to make connections, which actually worked out as he later advised me on my own career choices. I’m very grateful for that meeting and I’m glad to call him my friend!
I also think that he (along with Aldous) are quite responsible for my growing interest in watches. My poor bank account!
The dinner went quite long (good times require no limit) but I’m not complaining, as there was a pretty hefty rain/thunder storm that happened while we ate amazing Italian food. It flared up again during my train ride, but it abated by the time I got to a bar in Hell’s Kitchen where I got to meet up with Jason as well as Ivan and Max, two rather young Patreon members. If the name Ivan sounds familiar to you, it’s because he’s been a frequent guest on our Twitch livestreams.
This is what I wanted my trip to be about: to hang out with friends old and new. We ate fries, had some cocktails, and talked about everything, from how tough it is to find a job to why I’m so obsessed with button-pocket harmony. We eventually parted ways before midnight, as the storm reared its ugly head again.
That sleep was much needed. Thankfully I woke up on time to catch Tamara and Jason right before they left for their day job (managing the front and back-of-house for a menswear store). Since I spent most of my days out, this was the only time I was able to take a proper photograph of them. And damn, do they look good. Love the blousy shirt and belt. Jason has his MKG house peak lapel jacket (fully canvassed) in a wonderful green/orange window pane worsted against black wool trousers. The shirt and tie are J. Mueser, who has been behind the minimal mood I’ve been having in recent months.
After drinking quite a bit of their cold brew (I guess I drink coffee now), my first stop was The Armoury Westbury, their newest location on the Upper East Side. It feels right for their clientele, with a cleaner presentation of their artisanal menswear compared to the more lowkey Tribeca location. While I was there, I was quite certain a few finance bros and well-to-do New Yorkers stopped in to wear some Ring Jacket.
The Armoury team has always been very welcoming to me, even from when I was at Ascot Chang and a nobody (I still am tbh). Everyone inquired about my new career, which felt nice; a few even said that it made a good decision for me, as I was already starting to explore other outlets a while ago. Dan Quigley is a great example of the menswear renaissance man, as he told me how he’s been painting consistently. Not to sell, but just to get the emotions on the canvas. It reminded me that I need to get back to painting (or composing).
Brittney was a new face for The Armoury crew and I noticed her vibrant blue pinstripe suit immediately. We only had a few moments to get to know each other, but I learned that she studied advertising and previously worked at Paul Stuart! Like me, Brittney is Filipino, which only means that there are more of us in menswear.
I also got to catch up with Jim Parker, who was actually wearing the belt and pants from his own brand Tazewell. It’s only been a year since he first launch, but he was able to share with me a few of his secret plans for the future (as well as the struggles for starting a brand during the pandemic). Jim really looked quite slick that Friday morning, showing that western-ish clothing and casual wear still have a place among tailored accoutrements.
The highlight of the trip was getting to meet Elliot Hammer, the head of communications for The Armoury. You don’t see his face too often, but he’s the guy who has a hand in all of the amazing images you see on the website and instagram. As a true photographer, he was dressed for utility (they were doing some product shots when I stopped by), and he had on a well worn tee and some fantastic military fatigues. Maybe he saw me wear mine the day before!
To my surprise, Elliot offered to take some photos of me and John (who drove down from his home in Connecticut) out about. As a guy who gets photos via tripods (both metal and flesh), it is always a lot of fun to work with a talent photographer- I only wish I wasn’t as sweaty. I’m just not used to all the walking and humidity in NYC!
The Armoury Westbury is a stone’s throw away from the RL Rhinelander Mansion. I didn’t get to go the last time, so I was ready to make my first official pilgrimage. After all, SoCal only has mall locations for Ralph Lauren, outside of the converted gas station/garage that houses RRL over on Melrose. The closest I’ve gotten to this a fully RL retail location was in Tokyo- and Rhinelander blew it out of the water.
But first, coffee. Or more accurately, matcha! Elliot and Jim dropped us off at the front of the women’s store, which had a cart selling Ralph’s coffee. My friend Michael told me I had to try it. Tony, the RL barista, actually told me he hated matcha which of course led me to apologize for making him procure it for me (or perhaps I’m helping him by eating it and reducing the amount he has to see everyday).
After a quick perusal of the women and home section, we crossed over into the men’s shop. It was amazing. John and I have obviously seen a lot of RL styling, but its fun to see it in the brick & mortar space on mannequins rather than the typical editorial stuff we see on social media. It’s probably the most cohesive execution of personal style I have ever seen, with each section of the store styled very distinctly. Polo always feels like mall section, but Purple Label, RRL, and the main floor all look quite great. It’s hard not to feel the need for a DB or a tuxedo after walking through Ralph Lauren.
The next stop was ALD and Noah. We actually drove over in John’s car and played a bit of roulette to see if our parking spot was fine; thankfully no tickets were had that day. It was actually pretty crowded as the area was currently taken over by crowds of drinking and eating New Yorkers for the Feast of San Gennaro. It made everything lively.
Now I wanted to see these stores because of how influential they are to the current mood of menswear. Obviously most of my friends are on the more traditional Americana side, both in tailoring and sportswear/workwear/milsurp. However, I’d be lying if I said that the post-pandemic menswear look wasn’t something I was a bit interested in- it even lead met to develop an interest in merch!
ALD was up first and as you probably expected, there was a line to get in (there was also a section for their cafe). I was…disappointed in the store. I love the lookbooks and overall styling (I’ve discussed this on stream), but it’s clear that all of the best pieces were sold out- the store was only full of basics like tees, sweaters, and a handful of their two tone loafers. The crowd had more interesting fits than what was actually on the racks.
Noah was much better, which was actually pretty empty apart from the shop keepers. They too had two-tone loafers, but unlike ALD, they had more than just plain tee shirts and pants. John and I tried on their jacketing which is stated to be “oversized” but was actually TTS for vintage menswear guys like us. The overall fit was pretty spot on and the cloth was delightfully trad- the only downside was that the DB jackets lacked a breast pocket (Stoffa does the same thing on their DB suit), which marks it a no from me.
After our Soho trip, we went down to Tribeca for another Armoury visit. Not only did John want to catch up with Stephon and Alex, but I also wanted to try on the Badouins again for extra measure (no, I didn’t end up buying them). We had some extra time before our J. Mueser visit and dinner with the boys, so we went out for a proper fit pic session.
John rocks one of my favorite combos: a brown plaid jacket and jeans. It’s a bit Drake’s inspired, especially since he also has an OCBD, repp tie, and shell PTBs- it would be even more Drake’s if he had on some colorful sock. It’s a very easy look to throw together that I used to do during my days at Ascot Chang. It says “menswear” but it wouldn’t be considered too much for most people. After all, it is quite ivy, and ivy can be worn by anyone at any time.
His jacket is actually a Ring Jacket from the Armoury. Unlike me, he sized up due to his longer torso. The fit is loose but in a great way, making the Balloon fabric (wool + cotton) really look quite louche.
This was the most dressed up I got during my entire trip. Why? Because that Friday was my menswear day. I knew I was going to be trying stuff on with John but I also knew that I was going to visiting a lot of colleagues and friends- a tie was needed! You guys know that I don’t normally do the minimal color schemes, but there’s just something about my current mood that called for it. Maybe it was the fact that I was going to visit J. Mueser, where they have been rocking workshirts, solid jackets, and plain ties for a while. I still need to write about “matching energy”.
Anyway, I was a tiny bit concerned about matching non-jacket pieces (it can look like you’re wearing coveralls), but I actually love this combination of tobacco brown, black, and navy. It feels “on the pulse” and perfect for the menswear day I had planned. Shoes are still the LHS in shell, which actually didn’t feel too bad. A bit bulbous for this fit, but hey, I wasn’t about to bring my sharp Aberdeens just for one day! Forced Versatility and practicality, right?
Christopher St. over in the West Village was only a short drive away, which helped us out because it was a bit difficult to find parking. It was Friday evening and the streets were becoming even more alive with bars and restaurants opening up to get in on night shenanigans. It was here that John and I were to meet with the guys at J. Mueser after their last appointment at 6PM. Like I said before, J. Mueser has been quite inspiring for a few of my friends, especially as we are moving from a post-Drake’s mood. More suits, less separates.
I briefly got to look at the 2nd story atelier (where they host their custom appointments) before Chase led us to their walk-in store on the opposite side of the street. Its a small store (just as big as my old Ascot Chang place on Rodeo Drive) and it housed a bit of their RTW collection: suits, shirts, and ties.
Chase Winfrey, one of the first NYC guys I met and one of the best contemporary photographers I’ve seen, was completely in his element. He walked us through a lot of what he’s been working on at J. Mueser which as you’d expect from a small operation was…nearly everything. He told us about the tie cloths he was ordering (he was surprised that the cream knit tie did so well) to how he he decided to remove the collar button on the house OCBD (but kept the locker loop, if I recall correctly). He made sure to go through the different cloths (made up into various garments around the room), which was all quite fascinating; he even had a story about a patchwork jacket that we may or may not see on a rather famous menswear personality in the coming months. I was encapsulated by the knowledge and expertise that I only took a few shots while I was there.
He looked like a modern version of the best 70s trad I could think of. A Khaki suit in linen (not cotton) was the suit of choice, being quite hefty- another example of late summer tailoring. The tie was what caught my eye first however, as I actually don’t have many multi-block stripe repps. The tame width and interlining made for a good match to the university oxford cloth spread collar, with one of the points slightly off kilter, a la Takahiro over at Liverano. I also noticed that he had belt loops, which makes for an ivy nod rather than the more streamlined side tabs that I favor. Oh, and he had some well worn suede LHS pennys (done sockless).
Matt and Jake came in later, just for a bit to say hi (Jonas was actually with us the whoel time, quietly in the back and sipping on wine out of a red Solo cup). Jake had a work shirt on with some black skinny jeans and green slippers; Matt was in vintage RL, with a needle cord westerner and a pair of denim trousers (yes you heard me right).
They told us a bit more about how this whole team came together, as Matt and Chase were fresh from Drake’s two years ago- a perfect moment for Jake who needed some extra help as the business expanded. The comment about their clientele was fascinating to me: while there can be the odd finance bro in the mix, a lot of their customers come from young, creative types. You can certainly see that in J. Mueser’s social media feed. It’s up to you to decide whether that is due to the relatively young demographics of the guys behind the brand or the demographics of the location itself. Either way, I’m not surprised as the entire Mueser aesthetic feels quite current, with a bit of an appreciation for the classics without being stuffy. I think creatives (like the occasional ones who read my blog) are attracted to that.
We were quite hungry after a full day of menswear. Thankfully, a few of my Patreon compatriots were free on a Friday evening and came to the village to hang out! We were originally planning on going to the Odeon or J.G Melon (for the menswear lolz), but we decided to just walk around. Joining John and I were Shane (thrifer extraordinaire) , Kevin, and later Ivan and Dave (of Atelier Fugue).
As you could probably expect, most of the restaurants in the Village were packed. One place said their bar was open, but when I walked in I saw that it clearly was filled to capacity (I did say hi to Jim Rash, the Dean from Community). In the end, we found a little pub called the Slaughted Lamb. It was completely empty, which was perfect for a few nerdy guys in menswear; the bartender even asked if we had just come from Wall Street. I had fish and chips and a sweet cocktail that had a pentagram on the foam. It was silly but quite tasty, keeping in the same slouchy vibes that my blog has come to curate. It was a great way to relax, especially after a full day of being in menswear; I was ready for a more relaxing menswear-adjacent vibe.
Kevin joined me by wearing a DB jacket, a navy fresco made up on the entry end of P. Johnson (a store I didn’t get to visit this time around); a plain button down collar, knit tie, and off-white denims finished off his look. Shane was pure trad. He also had an OCBD and plain tie, but in “Drake’s style”, he had a light brown (or is it grey?) plaid jacket with mid wash jeans and loafers. Ivan’s pinstripe DB, striped spearpoint, and repp tie was very Esquire man- quite a contrast to his more toned down, mid century outfit that he wore previously. Lastly, Dave showed up wearing a new commission from his own factory: a khaki worsted suit. It was accessorized with a bold stripe sport shirt and white
Shane left after the pub, but the rest of us decided to grab a bit more food. Shane said he knew a place in the East Village, so we trekked on through, passing through Washington Square Park where a plethora of NYU students were smoking (cigs and weed), skating, and blasting music. A very NYC night indeed. We ended up at a Japanese restaurant where I was able to snag some karaage and a peach+oolong tea cocktail.
John dropped me off in Queens around midnight and remarked that he decided to stay an extra day in the city.
John and I started our day in Brooklyn, as we wanted to hit up a few vintage stores in the area before going back uptown to our MOMA timed entry ticket. Breakfast was done at a foodhall, which reminded me of the Anaheim Packing House I frequent back in OC. Yung Chomsky met us there, wearing a vintage madras shirt and OG-107s- an easy going fit that I’m sure Spencer would dig very much.
The first stop was Front General store, which I had actually gone to before. It’s got a great selection of vintage, with quite a few rare things. It reminded me of the Rose Bowl Flea, by which I mean that there was a lot of casual clothing. Nothing bad about that, especially considering how casual I’ve become, but it just struck me as things I had seen before. A lot of it was in spectacular condition and rare, but the prices were just too high for me. Yes, basically deadstock rayon shirts are cool, but I already have a few of my own!
Front also has a selection of thin belts (made by Tory) but they haven’t stocked my size (34, sized up from 32) in a while. I had hoped that they would have had some in person, but alas the website was right. No dice. At this point, I don’t think I had purchased anything other than drinks and food.
There’s not too much to say about our outfits that day. John only brought an extra shirt with him, and so he wore it (a brown striped seersucker) with his Nigel Cabourn jeans and shell PTB. A jungle jacket was thrown on as to not “oufit repeat” with the brown balloon.
I knew that we were going to MOMA that day, so I put on my typical artsy attire. My beloved black rayon sawtooth is my favorite shirt and it went well against my own brown plaid balloon and the trousers that belong to my cotton suit from Atelier Fugue. In fact, these pants and the brown ones from the previous day were both made by Fugue as I felt that wool might have been a bit too delicate for all the traipsing around I was doing in NYC.
You can see in my tote that I caved and picked up a few cheap goodies from that Williamsburg vintage store: a pink OCBD, two vintage ties (one club, one Bally), and a rayon scarf.
John then drove us uptown to MOMA where we hustled to enjoy four stories of art in two hours. I was excited to see that they had an exhibit on modernist photography in Brazil, which was quite apt as I was finishing up my book on Walker Evans. I always like to think that no matter the subject or style, there is always a bit of documentary contained in photography.
Jen and I ended up returning to the Village for dinner with a friend, where we enjoyed more Japanese food (I ordered curry) and a sweet cocktail.
I slept in on Sunday. I wanted to squeeze in another museum (as many are closed Monday and Tuesday), but I was just too tired from two days straight of hanging out. I ended up eating McDonalds with Jason and Tamara and edited the hundreds of photos I took from the preceding days. I actually forgot my USB mouse at home and let me tell ya, using sliders with a track pad just ain’t the business.
Anyway, Sunday was going to be another menswear. I’d even argue that it was the biggest one. No, not because of store visits, but because I was going to hang out with some of the other local menswear guys. The ones not in my bubble. Stephon reached out to me and told me that a few of the boys were heading out to lunch that day in Soho and asked if I wanted to tag along- I happily obliged. I had no idea what to expect as I only knew a few people that we were mutuals with. But god damn, this was a great group of guys.
First there was Sora, merchant at Todd Snyder who has been basically my spirit animal. He’s a born a bred New Yorker and carries a swagger that is the perfect encapsulation of the classic menswear with an easy, NYC attitude. He’s even quoted in a Wall Street Journal article about his take on the post-pandemic mood: Seinfeld, Friends, and the Sopranos is exactly where he pulls inspiration from. He’s just as vulgar as I am and despite wearing a tee shirt and jeans (pleated ones from Noah he literally got the day before), still exudes what I love about classic menswear. A big slouchy jacket, straight fit, high waist, perfect hem, and Alden shoes. It’s proof that classic menswear isn’t always about ties and OCBDs.
Elias, the founder of Team Cozy Boys (named because he was always sitting comfortable at menswear events), also has that vibe. Despite the heart shaped glasses and multitude of jewelry (there’s even one for the Cozy Boys apple logo), he still retains that classic menswear throughline. The faded red terry cloth shirt echoes the tinted shades, while the navy hopsack jacket and Polo RL denim trousers (again!) make a sort of elegant take on a tried and true denim + blazer combo. I actually talked to him the most during the excursion, getting his back story on the Team as well as his thoughts on ALD which according to him, lifts a lot of traditional New York style moves that you’d only really trace if you were born there.
Henry is a Parsons Masters student and Sid Mashburn alumn who yet again, is proof that you can be into menswear and not be trad. He too was in a navy hopsack blazer (from Sid), but he echoed Sora with the use of a tee shirt. However it was a tie dye tee, giving it a bit of a “Dead Head goes to an interview” vibe, which I love. It made complete sense, as he told us stories of a concert he went to and how he moshed the night away. His outfit was finished off with green tinted shades, worn 501s, and sockless penny loafers. If I learned anything, it was that I need to get on this tee shirt + jacket vibe. It’s such an 80s/90s move that actually makes more sense in LA than spearpoints and sportshirts.
John, The American Traditional, was in attendance. My friend Michael, who like John is also in law school, suggested that I hit him up, so I was very glad to be seated next to him during the improptu brunch. Brunch by the way was at Dimes, as Sora was adamant and not eating at an “Instagrammable food hall”. We ended up taking two small patio tables together and huddled close during our meal.
You can see just how refined John’s taste is. It’s tonal and much less bold than the previous guys. It feels delightfully midcentury, with the use of a V-neck sweater, camp collar shirt (running away through the neck opening), and straight leg (but pleated) trousers. You can see in the detail shot below that the trousers have a faint check pattern; I assumed they were silk, but they were actually fully wool. It reminds me of a few of the rayon-wool pants from the 1950s that I’d occasionally see in LA vintage shops. These pants with the white socks and penny loafers (they almost look like Sagans) make for a relaxed, 2020s take on casual midcentury sportswear.
I didn’t get to talk much with Thomas, but I could see just how cool he was with his fit. The washed denim sawtooth is certainly enough to get Spencer’s nod of approval, where as the pleated olive-brown trousers make me happy (though I obviously wear sawtooths too). I loved the leather slippers. No idea what they are, but they seem really comfortable. In fact, I was surprised to see that many of these guys were going sockless. My feet would’ve been covered in blisters and callouses after just one day.
One thing I thought was funny was how Thomas remarked that he had finished Ametora for the first time when the conversation shifted to rules and heritage. “First time??”, came out of my mouth so loudly that I had to blame it on my morning margarita. He later admitted that he was indeed late to the party; I said that the book is probably due for a fourth reread.
You may remember Derek from one of the first podcast episodes. He is an active member of r/MaleFashionAdvice and was actually one of the first guys in my menswear group chat; the chat was later dissolved but the idea eventually became the Patreon Discord. Derek is on his way to becoming a dentist, but he did tell me that he occasionally dreams of opening a menswear store back in his home town of Toronto. It’s the same town that menswear guys like Aldous, Zane, and Mr. Cavaliere are from. With the demise of the Leatherfoot Emporium a few years ago, I’m sure Toronto is ready for another menswear haberdashery.
Derek’s attire that day is quite Casual Ethan, in the sense that he’s using non-traditional tops and bottoms to exude the ideas of tailoring. The cream safari jacket (purchased during one of Crowley’s yard sales) is perfect replacement for a typical linen or Palm Beach Cloth sportcoat in a similar shade. The loose fit and bellowed pockets are just perfect for slouch. The trousers are vintage military ones that he thrifted somewhere. I love the massively high waist and full leg, which come down to a perfect hem just over the ankle bone. An unbuttonned OCBD, repp tie, and suede loafers (a theme for this group), bring in the trad menswear.
After lunch and the fit pics were done, we walked back to Noah, since a few guys were intrigued by Sora’s amazing pleated jeans. Henry and I tried them on, but they were a no go on me (a bit odd in the top block); Henry ended picking them up in the white wash. We then went to another restaurant for dessert and more drinks before calling it a night.
Not wanting the Sunday to be over so quickly (the Cozy Boys and I parted ways around 7PM), I went down to Brooklyn to see Dave. It’s crazy to me that despite my ordering of five suits, he and I still haven’t had a proper friend-to-friend conversation. He had dinner plans so we met up in the evening for drinks (I ate my first bacon-egg-and-cheese before coming down). I had a cider and a shot of Fernet Branca. 2018 Ethan would’ve balked at how much I’ve been drinking!
You can bet that Dave is going to be a guest on the pod at some point, because he’s just a cool guy. We talked about a lot, from my Christian upbringing to how we got into our far-left political views. Not only has he made a few of my favorite suits with a great house cut, but he’s also a very talented musician composing beats and playing gigs around NYC. You can see here just how easily he can wear his own tailoring (a linen jacket) against classic casual pieces: a Breton striped tee, 501s, and some Vans authentics.
Monday was my last full day in NYC. AKA, it was my last full day to do anything fun, both menswear and friend related. As such I dressed pretty comfortable and practical: white bucket hat oversized jungle jacket (meant to be worn like a Barbour), chambray workshirt, and some raw hemmed Levis and sneakers. To my surprise, the Vans actually gave me more callouses than my LHS pennys! It was ideal to trek around the city, as I had run out of things I had planned.
After having lunch uptown with my two NYC coworkers (my boss offered to pay since it fostered camaraderie), I decided to have a bit of a solo day. I wanted to go to Nepenthes but right by the N train was a surprise: Todd Snyder. I’ve been wanting to check out their stuff, especially after his Blamo! episode and seeing his collabs with L.L Bean and Wooden Sleepers. The store felt very….J. Crew (or Sid Mashburn) in the sense that you could easily get fully kitted out in Americana/trad in a contemporary way. The tailoring (and short collars) are obviously not my taste, but I appreciated the curation. And yes, I actually did like a few of the L.L Bean stuff.
What I really liked was their collection of shoes. There were a few Aldens that were standard, but I noticed that they had Rubinacci Belgians and a handful of Paraboots. I ended up trying a few of the latter in order to figure out my size, as I had never actually tried on a pair before. Unfortunately both of them were only available in a half or full size too big; the fact that they aren’t done in typical US sizes only made it more nebulous. Instead, I walked out with a pair of clear Moscats with green tint. If the NYC gang taught me anything, it’s that designer sunglasses + tailoring is quite the move. I’m sure you’ll see these shades on my IG sometime. I may just have to write about frames next year!
Nepethes was definitely a bit left field for me, though not as bad as it would’ve been a few years ago. I’ve obviously gotten more into different styles of fashion over the years and I can appreciate the vague menswear throughline that permeates through different brands. Even under all the skate and designer influence, there is still something for me to glean. For example, they had a bunch of Engineered Garments jackets that could feasibly fit into my wardrobe (if they were long enough). A few other pieces approximated chore coats, military jackets, and sweaters which would honestly look quite cool with a tailored jacket or wide legged pant. It might be a bit GQ or TF at this point, but it’s still nice.
What I really liked were the shoes! I didn’t take many pictures (I probably zipped through everything fairly quickly, as I didn’t try anything on), but the shoe selection (Sebago, Trickers, Alden, and Needles) was something I could potentially wear. I don’t think I’m buying any of them any time soon, but hey, at least I can visualize it!
The last part of my evening was spent with friends. I saw Jen for a drink in the Village (again!) after we had hit up Strand Bookstore and an “anarchy store” called Search & Destroy.
At the former, I found two books on Photography Criticism; I guess I’ve been on a roll after reading that book on Walker Evans! I honestly find it fascinating to read books about photography- not photobooks and not ones on technique. It has definitely framed how I think about menswear and social media, which is no surprise since photography places a very big role in both.
The latter was an edgy experience. It’s a rock and roll, punk store that is filled with edgy things? Profanity, vulgarity, violence, sex, you name it. There’s a reason why they say you can’t take photos inside the store. I clearly had no idea what to expect because when I walked in I saw vintage clothes on all the racks. Sukajans, leather jackets, milsurp, 80s tees. And to my surprise, an L.L Bean sportvest in a size 40. It came at a perfect time, because I kept thinking that the one I actually owned was just a wee bit small. Now I can take the 40, MJ can have the 38, and my girlfriend Isabel can have the 36. I also picked up some merch tees to commemorate the day!
I finished off that evening by getting KBBQ with Tamara and Jason. It was the least I could do for them letting me stay with them for the past week. Unlike the KBBQ I’m used to in the suburbs of LA, this one was not AYCE- however, it was delicious just the same. It was a fun time spent with my
hosts friends where the conversation quickly turned to comedy, where we all admitted that we enjoy watching the film Horrible Bosses. In fact, after getting boba across the street (Jason unfortunately did not enjoy it), we decided to end our evening by watching the film together. It was a great way to end my NYC trip.
To be clear, my trip technically ended the next afternoon on my Tuesday afternoon trip back to LAX. I still had time for a quick brunch downtown with my friends before heading back to pack all my wares away. Who would’ve thought that dirty laundry, two books, and a few extra clothes would prove difficult to stuff in a carry-on?
I left feeling, well, a mixture of things. I really missed home. NYC just has this energy that makes you want to keep going, to keep seeing people and stay out all night. But that’s all a fantasy. By the end of the trip my friends had to go back to work and so did I.
Maybe this is all due to the fact that I’m finally around people where hanging out and drinking makes sense. Early in this blog, I always felt that wasn’t me. Bars were for other people. But now I am in that group. And so are my friends. I don’t think anything really changed, other than confidence and comfort level. With all my friends in LA going back to school, it was nice to be at a place where its easy to hang out with people. To get an easy drink. To casually get dressed the fuck up and eat some food.
Now I’m back to working. Until next time NYC! Let’s see what other menswear adventures you bring the next time around.
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Always a pleasure,