After Spencer, it was only natural that I get to canonize MJ.
He was here first after all!
For the past 20+ years, MJ has been my best friend. I think you can tell just based on all the photos we take together!
Even though we live in different cities and went to different academies and churches, we did (and still do) a lot of things together. He comes with me to check out art exhibits and see the Philharmonic or my favorite band. I go with him when he wants to go to Anime Expo or the local card shop to play MTG; he’s also the main reason I still play video games or tried out airsoft. He doesn’t mind a coffee or boba hang, even if we’re doing different things while we’re there. He and I joined SAI (the wholesome Asian American Discord I talk about frequently) and used it to expand our social group after college; there’s even a joke that if MJ is there, I’m probably close by. We both have AMC A-List, so we routinely see movies together. MJ and I are the best ones to bring to KBBQ because we’re going to get our money’s worth.
It’s not that we feel obligated to do the same things just because we’ve been friends for a long time, but rather the opposite. We have been best friends because of how our similar worldview, which definitely leads to a few similar hobbies. Trying new things and expanding our interests is a natural part of that and it comes out in different ways; this is because he’s one of the most positive, curious, and “full send” people I know. I like to think that I’ve been very lucky to have a friend that isn’t just due to being similar, but that we both push ourselves to do what we enjoy and perhaps inspire each other to try it for ourselves. We’re almost like brothers (sorry Camden).
And that definitely came into play with menswear. But that didn’t happen for a while. Someone who doesn’t know us well might have assumed MJ was dressing right alongside me, but no, menswear wasn’t on his radar.
As you may recall from my Standing Out essay, my friend group was predicated on being a positive space where each of us could be ourselves. Yes, we had a lot of shared hobbies, but we were also encouraged to also do our own things (provided we don’t over-proselytize), which kept the friend group from becoming too homogenized. All of this is to say that until I met Spencer, I was the only one wearing a jacket and tie. And that was okay– menswear was not necessary for anything I do and certainly not a requirement for being my friend. Obviously, at some point something changed and MJ started to develop his own interest in clothing. And eventually he was dressed up with Spencer and me as if he was doing it with us the whole time.
This is why I wanted to interview MJ in this new podcast episode. I’ve talked a lot about the philosophy behind dressing, but that mainly applies when you already have an interest in this hobby. MJ’s journey represents the stage before that, the how behind the interest. In the pod, he specifically mentions that he could see the passion emanating from Spencer and me; MJ knew that this “thing” we did made us happy and was incredibly fun which was the main draw for him to do it for himself. It was just like me seeing how fun MTG, airsoft, or a niche video game made my friends and being interested to join in.
In the episode, you’ll hear how he forged his own fashion identity through interactions with Spencer and me, how he navigates through his own contexts, and where he thinks his style will go.
MJ’s approach to menswear is even more interesting when you learn that he doesn’t even have the same vintage starting point that Spencer and I have. MJ’s passion for clothes isn’t even predicated on tailoring or Americana. It may involve elements from those genres, but his POV is based primarily on what he enjoys from clothes in general. It’s funny– despite MJ owning similar garments to Spencer and me (in some cases, actual pieces from my closet), he wears them in a way that is unique to him, meaning that he doesn’t just copy outfits from us.
This mainly comes out in his use of layering and color. The former stems from his need for practicality, presumably brought on by his interest in tech, gorp/techwear, and airsoft; he loves vests, jackets, and pants with many pockets. The latter seems to have a root in his geek interests. Characters from fandoms tend to have a strong use of color, so naturally, he applies that to his own fits whether it’s by being monochromatic or creating an eye-catching palette. As you’ll see below, this is more than just socks to MJ: he routinely wears bold pants, shirts, and jackets.
Both of these differentiators definitely lead MJ to appreciate and get inspired by a wider berth of men’s fashion that isn’t really in Spencer or my wheelhouse. That being said, there are quite a few similarities. This includes the use of wide fit, high-waisted trousers, long shirt collars (and collar bar) and a love of loafers, not to mention a shared mindset on intentionality and Agency of Occasion.
Now that I think about it, I consider MJ as an inspiration on how to dress, simply because of his positivity and openness to experience things that comes out in how he puts outfits together. He just has such a precise view of what he wants to look like and he executes this expression well, a quality that I think make up what a “good” outfit is. After all, without a vintage POV, he’s free to do combinations that I’ve never even thought of as well as try out brands (like EG or 18East) that I don’t necessarily feel the need to own. He also has no qualms with wearing this stuff outside of menswear hangs, as he often gets dressed up for his MTG gatherings or to hang out with his other friends I don’t know. Perhaps it’s our fraternal bond (this is a joke, we aren’t actually related), but it does sometimes feel like I’m able to live vicariously through him; maybe MJ is what I would have been like if I didn’t get obsessed with vintage and tailoring at the start.
What’s even more interesting is that MJ isn’t close to being done with his menswear journey, at least compared to Spencer and me. One mitigating factor is that he currently works retail, which has its own restrictions on dress code. But that’s why I’m excited to see where his journey will go. He is proof that interest in self-expression through clothes comes from passion rather than pragmatism and that it can be fun. MJ is the ultimate person the blog is written for.
And when you look at his style, he definitely represents the original name of this blog: Street(wear) x Sprezza.
Anyway, you can listen to his interview below. I think it was definitely important to canonize his thoughts as well as provide some context behind a few of the takes he’s shared in previous episodes. It’s all about him this time and he finally has my express permission to be on mic for it.
12:35 – Guest Intro
16:16 – Origins of Interest
29:52 – Starting the Style Journey
39:41 – Style Inspiration(s) and Thought Process
49:27 – Talking About Co-workers
52:33 – Pulling From Styles Outside of Menswear
1:00:57 – What’s Next for MJ?
1:16:18 – Goodbye
Thanks for listening and reading along! Don’t forget to support us on Patreon to get some extra content and access to our exclusive Discord. We also stream on Twitch and upload the highlights to Youtube.
The Podcast is produced by MJ.
Always a pleasure,
Big thank you to our top tier Patrons (the SaDCast Fanatics): Philip, Shane, Jarek, Henrik , and Alexander.