Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Reader question: Sneakers & Hoodie?

First reader question!
Nick M. asks: “I’m in college, so I still find myself wearing sneakers to and from class, usually with a hoodie or Northface [jacket], but some days I feel like a slob. Is this okay to wear to class or errands?” 

I think the dress/casual dichotomy is a battle most men struggle with. They feel they either have to wear something dressy (typically for work or when a girl forces them too), or they just blindly throw on the first thing they grab from their closet.

Fortunately, there is a way to dress down the middle, to look put together without being stuffy or over-dressed (though it’s always better to be over-dressed, rather than under-dressed. Unless you’re a stripper). Below are three pictures of Shia LaBeouf dressing like what I’d typically see on a college campus. 

It’s a look that says, “Don’t respect me. I just rolled out of bed and care so little about myself that I couldn’t take the time to get decent before leaving.” How can people respect you if you don’t respect yourself? Sneakers don’t have to be done this way.
Like I mentioned here, sneakers can add a youthful feel to any look. But because they’re so common, it’s easy to overstep your bounds into any one of the rapper/hipster/sports-enthusiast type shoes that exist out there. Tips on the look:
 Go with something classic and understated. Neutral colors, classic fabrics, etc. (do you see I’m repeating this a lot here at MD? It’s a trend.) GQ’s Style Guy said it well, “My rule is, if kids will wait in line for it, if Turtle would wear it, forget it.”

It shouldn’t look like it came from outer space. This isn’t a shoe you’d run a marathon it. 

Most people on campus don’t dress well. They dress like bums. When you’re out and about in the real world, sneakers stand out. Balance the look. When wearing an outfit with sneakers, the shoes are accenting the look with your personality. Starter combinations include:

                     Slim jeans and a V-neck sweater
                     Chambray shirt and chinos
                     OCBD under a crewneck with slim jeans
                     Button-down shirt under a tipped cardigan (my favorite)
The combinations are limitless, but I’d suggest sticking to something put-together on your upper-half. Look at the difference in these two pictures from GQ

Answer: Yes you can wear a hoodie with sneakers, as long as the hoodie is a layer of your outfit, and not your outfit itself. The above picture makes that distinction clear. On its own, a hoodie can look sloppy, like you just rolled out of bed. Over something more put-together... 

It’s perfectly fine. Like I’ve tried to stress, balance is key. Sneakers are youthful and fun. The rest of you should look clean-cut and well-dressed.
PS- Dan over at The Style Blogger just did a post explaining how to mix hoodies and jackets. He incorporates sneakers into some of his looks here, if you want to take a peak.

More news as it develops,


Monday, February 27, 2012

Help Wanted- send me your suggestions!

I’m constantly looking for ways to update my blog. If you’ve got trends or topics you want my opinion on, email me. It’s free.
I’m also looking for ways to upgrade my blog. If there’s any aspiring photographers, graphic designers, or IT people looking to break into blogging, or any other web-media, contact me as well to work out a possible relationship (nonsexual of course. Unless you’re a girl and you’re a redhead, preferably busty, then we could work something out).

Lana Del Rey- I'd play her video game any day
Also, if you are a company or brand looking to stake your claim in the menswear market, please get in touch. I am always interested in trying new and unique pieces, and to help establish emerging companies. I can lend my fresh perspective on products and even pay for them from time to time if Quintiles is having a paid-participant study. Check out my review of Everlane here to get a sense of what I'm talking about.

More news as it develops,


Friday, February 24, 2012

Designer Profile- Mark McNairy

There’s been a lot of buzz in the past year about Mark McNairy and his brand, New Amsterdam. He was just listed in GQ as a top designer of 2012, but he’s been in the spotlight seemingly since he started work in 08. He also kind of looks like Ben Linus from LOST, doesn't he?

Designer Mark McNairy

LOST character & overall weirdo Ben Linus

I love stepping out in a fresh pair of shoes and have a weakness for buying them in crazy colors (when I got a pair of Topsiders, I got these). I like Mark McNairy because he’s taking the variety of color combos we’d normally see on sneakers and using them to turn the dress-shoe world on it’s head.
Sting Like A Mot**rf**ker- sweet name, right?

Yes, you can pull off a pair of green chukkas.

A saddle shoe stands out. Two-tone saddle shoes kick ass.

Brogue boot, detailed at Park & Bond

Shoes are a place where people last expect to see a splash of color, so it provides an opportunity to stand out from the crowd and express your style in a flashy, personal way, without being overly distracting like a loud shirt or pair of pants would be.  

Check out what other quality products Mark (can I call you Mark? We're friends right?) has at his site here.

More news as it develops,


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Midwest-Dressed gets Interviewed

Last week I was contacted by Jacob Elyachar, of, to talk about my views on menswear, the media, and blogging. I was only slightly hungover, but he still did a good job of not making me sound like the rambling mess I'm sure I came off as. 
We talked over the phone, but might as well have been in a bar. At least on my end.
 "JE: In your opinion, what are some of the biggest fashion mistakes that men make? 
NL:  I think that the biggest (mistake), and this is a very broad generalization, is 'not caring.'  In my opinion, I think a lot of guys are turned off by the word “fashion” because they feel it's not macho or masculine. They see girls worried about fashion and they don’t want to be like that, they want to be the antithesis of that.   To dress well and look good is not only beneficial because you will look better and feel better about yourself, but it's also not hard."
You like what you see? Of course you do. Read more here, and check out more of Jacob's stuff. 

More news as it develops,


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Kiss Me Through the Phone- Phone Etiquette

New news. Today's post is a guest entry by my friend Blake Vanderbilt. Blake currently attends a large non-descript University in the middle of Illinois, where he attempts to maintain moderate levels of decorum daily. His hobbies include being polite, sending friendly yet strongly worded emails, not leaving voicemails, maintaining impeccable taste with the budget of a homeless man, and magnets.

Hopefully he'll be a reoccurring contributor, so read up and enjoy:

"I want to take a few minutes today to talk about phone etiquette. Listening to my friends make phone calls recently has left me absolutely appalled at the way they interact with people. Before the silicon age made human interaction almost completely unnecessary, phone calls were the way to get things done. Business moved at the speed of your voice, and personal relationships were make or break on the phone.
Let’s get to it.
Think the conversation over before you have it.
Who What When Where Why
First off, who are you calling?
This is less important if you’re calling a shop or a business, but if someone gave you a business card or a direct phone number, make sure you know who’s (likely) going to answer.
Second, why are you calling?
Are you making an appointment? Are you inquiring about a service or a product? Is it time sensitive?
Third, is this the right time to call?
Unless you’re calling your bookie or a drug dealer, calls after about 10 PM aren’t usually acceptable, and most businesses won’t be open.
Be clear and concise.
Have a firm hold on what you need out of this call so you can accomplish it. People answering a phone are there to help you out, not to listen to you think out loud about why you called. So don’t waste their time. If you get tripped up, or are given a choice you’re not ready to make yet, don’t feel bad about saying you’ll call back, It’s substantially better than wasting someone’s time.

Be polite. You can win more friends with honey than vinegar. Being an asshole only motivates people if you’re R. Lee Ermey.
Listen for them to introduce themselves (if they do) and use it
“Hey this is Christa, thanks for calling Barney’s, how can I help you?”
I can’t stress the polite card enough. Saying,
“Hey Christa, I really hope you can help me.” 
Gets you substantially further than,
“Hey, I need to return a sweater.”
People are very receptive if they think that they can help you out/they are in the advantageous position. Asking for help shows that you recognize that they have something you need.

Always end with a thank you, even if the person was less than helpful or didn't give you the response you had hoped for. There is no reason for rudeness, and if this is a situation where you may have to interact again, they'll remember you. Don't be that guy.

I can’t overstate the importance of good phone etiquette. People have good memories, and at some point you will very likely have to deal with them face to face. You only get to make a first impression once, and sometimes, that first impression is a phone call.
Some specialty notes for business calls-
Even though caller ID is almost guaranteed these days, introduce yourself,
You may know you’re awesome but not everyone does.
Before you get fully into your spiel, make sure this is the right person to talk to and not their secretary
Ask if they have a minute to talk. You may have caught them at a bad time, give them an opportunity to get out of the conversation early to avoid getting shut up later."

Thanks for reading,
Blake Vanderbilt

Monday, February 20, 2012

Gilt Shirt Sale

Gilt is having a sale on shirts. Good time to snag another business shirt or something more casual. Here are my recommendations:

Original Penguin Long Sleeve Plaid Shirt- $25

Calvin Klein Point Collar- $29

Original Penguin Cotton Blend- $39

Ben Sherman Cotton Button Down Check Shirt- $39

Bonobos Cotton Spread Collar Shirt- $39

Ben Sherman Cotton Twill Check Shirt- $45

Bonobos Inglefield Stripe Shirt- $49
Neuw Denim Cotton Birdseye Button Down Shirt- $49
Vanishing Elephant Lotte Linen Shirt- $72

Relwen Plaid Woodsman Workshirt- $75

Spurr Chambray Work Shirt- $99

Relwen Windowpane Shirt Jacket- $95

And some other good stuff. More news as it develops,


Friday, February 17, 2012

Buy an Everlane shirt. Now.

My Everlane order came in. First, I want to commend their exceptional service. Everlane offers free shipping for 24 hours after first you sign in, but it was still fast. I placed my order on Feb. 11 and it arrived the 15th. I am incredibly impatient and hate having to wait for things to arrive in the mail. The only reason I didn’t get a Russian mail-order bride was because it (she I guess, if we're being formal) would have taken so long to ship. Check out my montage:

Men's V in muted grey

Second, incredible quality. The supima cotton is awesomely soft, and sliding into the shirt for the first time felt like having sex using my whole body. I have some “broken-in” cotton v-necks from J. Crew, and I already prefer the Everlane after just putting it on. It doesn’t hurt that it was only $15 either. 
The muted grey is a lighter, almost more charcoal-infused gray than what you’d typically find in t-shirts. It's kind of like the color of this font. Needless to say, I’m already a big fan of Everlane and I’m excited to see what else their brand has in store.

More news as it develops,


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Barney's Strange Spring Campaign

Photos from the Barney’s New York Spring Campaign went out yesterday. Check them out if you like pictures of future serial killers doing weird things. This is what I imagine hipsters doing in their free time. 

There’s fashion in there somewhere…

This is why I do what I do. How accessible is this to the common man? How many normal guys are following #NYFW? The key to dressing better starts with basic steps, and kudos to the guys willing to take the initiative everyday, not just in front of the camera.

More news as it develops,

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Proper Shoe Care- Winter Version

What do you know? It actually snowed this winter, although I thought it never would. As it turns out, I was finally able to trudge through the snow and slush in my boots (featured here), so I figured it’d be a good time for a post regarding proper shoe care.

First, prevention. Do your best to properly care for your shoes before they actually get dirty. A good prevention system not only protects those valuable shoes you invested so much in, but it also makes cleaning the inevitable mess that much easier. Start with a water-repellant. I have used silicone sprays in the past, and found them to work okay. Really it depends on the shoe and material that seems to determine their effectiveness. (This post is regarding more casual shoes, like ones you wouldn’t normally polish. For nicer leather shoes, I’d recommend talking to someone at the store you bought them. Leathers can require either wax or oil, depending on their exact material, and the process for upkeep is much more labor intensive).

Available on Amazon for $8
I have used this lately, and I'm not sure that I'd recommend it. I purchased it back in November, expecting a winter onslaught, and liberally applied coats to every pair of shoes I thought I would wear. It seems to do a pretty good job on leather shoes like these Nike sneakers.

Nike Vandal Low in Orange/Red

Nike ZOOM Stefan Janoski Boat Shoe

It does an okay job on canvas and suede, and seems to be least effective on my boots (which ironically, I’d need the most in crappy weather, and which the spray says it’s best suited for).

Nordstrom 1901 Carson Oxford in Charcoal

Urban Outfitters Slim Sole Suede Oxford

W.C. Russell Moccasin Co., vintage
Maybe it’s the age of my boots and the type of leather, but it seems to be absorbed, rather than to actually bond to the shoe and form a protective barrier. I’ve also found this product darkens your shoes when you spray it on them (the bottle says some marketing BS, but really it just makes them darker. This is a danger on many shoe sprays, so be warned before you use it).

The take away: find a good protective material to coat your shoes, weather a wax, oil, or synthetic spray. You want something that is water-repellant at least, but hopefully it can stand up to something stronger. It won’t just be snow and water you’ll be dealing with. There’s salt, sand, and that brown gunk you find in curbs. Spot-test it before applying a full coat to see how it affects the color of your shoe, the follow the directions as labeled.

Check out NeverWet silicone spray, expected to be available by the middle of this year. If this works as good as it seems in this video, I’ll be stocking up on cans as soon as it comes out.

After you get home, sopping wet from stomping through sludge all day, you next need to treat the problem. You want to dry shoes, especially leather, as soon as possible to prevent the material from shrinking. If it shrinks, it will stretch next time you wear it. Do I need to explain how this will ruin your shoes? Place them on their side (to evenly dry both the sole and the outers) in a warm (room temperature) area where air can circulate into the shoe. Don’t overheat the leather, it’s just as bad as leaving it wet. I find it’s best to lay them near a fan in a warm room, or a fan that’s near a vent. 
You’ll also want to severely invest in some shoe trees. Shoe trees (preferably cedar) serve several purposes: they soak up any moisture within the shoe, help the shoe maintain its shape, and leave it smelling nice and clean, like the lumber yard at Home Depot. Ideally you’d have shoe trees for every pair of nice shoes you own. If not, do your best to cycle them through your shoes until you can acquire more (more shoe trees, less real trees!). Slide them into your wet pair, and leave them in for at least 24 hours (sometimes they need a bit of massaging around the toes to make sure they’re all the way in). If your shoe trees are losing some of their vigor, try lightly sanding them to reveal fresh wood.
Stains: Time is of the essence. Don’t let a stain set it, because it’ll be harder to remove. Get rid of dirt and salt with a quick brush off, and you should be fine. You can also wipe them down with a damp cloth, then a dry one. 
The take away: Dry your shoes as soon as possible with warm, circulating air. Stock up on shoe trees and use them.
Lastly, recovery. Let your shoes relax with a day off. Continual wear on the same pair will lead to their destruction, so try to mix it up by wearing something else the next day. Also look for a leather moisturizer so the leather remains supple and to protect it in the future. Try this (which I just bought to hopefully restore those boots to their former glory. I'll let you know how it goes). 
This same generally plan can and should ideally be followed before any occasion where you expect foul weather near your feet. A good prevention/treatment/recovery system works just as well against snow and sludge as it does against spilled vodka tonics. 

More news as it develops,


PS- check out THIS ARTICLE for how to restore shell cordovan leather

Monday, February 13, 2012

What Not to Wear vol. 3

Not the best picture. I couldn’t find it on the web, so I had to resort to a camera phone shot of a newspaper. But just a quick fashion tip:
Don’t wear this.

Frankly, I’ve never seen a yellow sports coat done well. You end up looking like this:

Not a good look for a governor, no matter what party he belongs to. Unless he was going for a look that says, “I love to party!” in which case he succeeded.

It's party time. P. A. R. T. Why? Because I gotta!
More news as it develops,

Friday, February 10, 2012

Another Money Clip Alternative

I recently had a post on the benefit of carrying a slim wallet. While browsing Uncrate the other day (one of my favorite sites to find cool things I never knew existed, but which I have to own), I stumbled upon a money clip designed to hold both cash and cards all at once, thanks to its “intuitive” multi-fold design. A cool alternative to a slim wallet:
Available here for $50

In your free time, check out Uncrate.  They’ve got a great team that highlights new, interesting, and downright awesome gear. You’ll definitely find something you want to buy.
More news as it develops,

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Guest Post at The Bizi Bee

My friend Bizi has let me write a guest post for her blog, The Bizi Bee, detailing a few things guys like to see girls wear. She gave me free reign (which she probably regrets).

 "What do guys like girls to wear? I personally prefer that a girl wear a combination of boyshorts and the shirt I was wearing the night before, and I think most guys would agree. But I realize you girls can’t wear that out on the town, and I also appreciate that you dedicate most of a day to finding that one perfect outfit to step out in and shine. That being said, I can’t really speak to what will impress your girlfriends (which I know is important), but I can tell you some simple things that guys take note of in women (and some things they don’t)..."
Click here to read more
More news as it develops,

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Shout Outs & Updates

It’s been a crazy first month here at MD. A lot has gone on and there’s been a few changes, so I thought I’d update people on what's new.
First, a shout out to my man Adam. Luckily we were both in town this weekend and he was able to get some photos of me. Expect to see updated page designs in the coming days. 
Second, a big thank you to my friend Bizi. I admit I was a bit skeptical about the blogging thing at first, but if other menswear blogs are an inspiration for this site, she’s the foundation that got it started. If you’re not reading her blog, CHECK IT OUT HERE

Also she is letting me guest blog about what guys like girls to wear, so keep your eyes peeled for that.
Lastly, some site updates. I’ve reached out across social media, adding a Facebook page and a Twitter. Follow and like both to stay updated on posts. Eventually, I’ll add more content to these with mini-posts, pictures, and commentary.
Also, check out the Email MD button on the side bar. It took me like two hours to figure out how to code that so it'd open a new email when you click it, so if for no other reason, click it just to make me happy. I’d also appreciate comments or questions (I promise, no spam or junk mail offering increased “package” size). I’ve got one reader question which I plan on posting later this week, but I’m always happy for more. 
As always, thanks for reading, and keep checking in. There’ll always be new content on the way.
More news as it develops,

Monday, February 6, 2012

Park & Bond Winter Sale

Big winter sale still going on over at Park & Bond. Use some of that Christmas money your grandma gave you to ring in the spring in some fresh duds.

MD's picks:

Patrik Ervell cotton & linen blazer: $175
Fred Perry merino wool V-neck: $25 (a complete steal. If you don't own a dark V-neck already, BUY NOW. It's a classic sweater and frames any face well)

Calvin Klein skinny tie: $26
Calvin Klein wool slim suit: $767 and a GQ editor's pick as well
Alexander Olch, The T.W. Tie: $28. Great buy for your heavier fabric suits and blazers
J. Crew slim fit chinos: $13
Lacoste tipped cardigan: $31
Florsheim wingtip brogue oxfords: $299
And a ton of other great finds. Hurry on over, because a lot of this designer stuff is marked down as low as 80% so they can make way for spring collections. As always, buy smart.
More news as it develops,