Member Focus: Baltimoron

Styleforum member Baltimoron is a regular sight on the SW&D subforum, where he posts regular contributions in the form of WAYWT photos and KPop gifs. Here, he talks about walking the long road from deal-chaser to designer-clothing-collector and general well-dressed dude.

I got interested in clothes because of my brother. I remember walking past his computer once while home from college one summer and asking him why he was on a site called Put This On. After he explained he was reading about clothes, I laughed and then walked immediately to my own computer to start reading Put This On, because brothers can’t help but imitate each other sometimes. In the beginning, I made all the mistakes that people that get into clothing tend to make. I chased deal sites, ordered cheap button downs from Land’s End Canvas, and read more lists about what clothing items I needed than anyone ever should.

Looking back, I was someone who was just trying to change how he looked by checking things off a list and emulating what was around me. I grew up in Northern California wearing band tees and cargo shorts, but attended college on the East Coast surrounded by boat shoes and button downs. Changing how I dressed was a way for me to try to fit into the new culture in which I had found myself, but it wasn’t something that I enjoyed beyond chasing check marks on lists. At some point I ended up on Styleforum, though the exact path has slipped from my memory (I’d hazard a guess I was trying to decide if I should put shoe trees in my boat shoes…oh man, what a painful thing to write).

When I started here, I browsed the Classic Menswear side much more frequently than Streetwear and Denim. I can think of two major factors that caused me to slowly transition to spending more time in Streetwear and Denim; a user named Parker starting the Dries Van Noten thread and a user named El Bert posting a series of links to Yahoo Japan in the “Someone should buy this” thread. The Dries thread was one of the first designer threads that I ever followed, and it left quite an impression on me. Up until that point, I’d never seen clothes with the types of prints, colors, embroideries, and elegance like I was exposed to in that thread. I remember thinking that the clothes made people look as if they were almost gliding across space in their elegance.

One of the wonderful things about the thread was that other posters like Parker, sipang, the Shah, and others had faithfully compiled a virtual lexicon comprising of videos, interviews, and pictures of past collections. It was a daunting experience at first, but having that much information forced me to move slowly, so I read and absorbed as much as I could from those posts before I ever owned my first piece of Dries. Even today, I’ll still sometimes go back to the first page of that thread just to read interviews or look at different collections again (personal favorites include FW11, FW14, and SS15).

The second major moment for me, however, made my interest in owning clothes from Dries more attainable. He doesn’t do it quite so often anymore, but El Bert used to post these semi-frequent lists of all the cool things for sale that he found on Yahoo Japan and Rakuten for others to see. Of course, I was most interested in Dries, but many of the listings El Bert posted were for brands that I’d never heard of before. Everytime I’d see him post a brand, I’d go searching through old threads here to read about different seasons and the pieces that other users owned. It’s how I first learned about Helmut Lang, Undercover, and many other designers. El Bert was also kind enough to answer my private messages about how proxy buying worked and to help introduce me to lesser-known brands (he’s still the best at finding cool stuff). This opened a whole new world of clothes to me. It offered a second-hand market for me to explore my interest in Dries, but beyond that, I found that hunting for cool clothes was just an enjoyable activity for me. Some of my purchases have turned out great, others have not, but all the way through I’ve been able to pursue the things that I’m interested in and control my own experience.

These days, Dries is still one of my favorite designers, but my closet has expanded to include influences from all over. I’ve found that the more time I’ve been on the forum, the more willing I am to try different things. I certainly wouldn’t have thought about wearing more voluminous trousers before seeing them on people like Parker or the Shah, but now my Issey Miyake trousers are some of my most worn (and comfortable) clothes. In this community there are always people to learn and take inspiration from. Seeing posts from people like diniro, conceptual 4est, penanceroyaltea, ghostface (whose blurred out faces I emulated when first posting), frankcowperwood and so many others continues to encourage me to think about my own personal style and how I might incorporate elements that I enjoy from others. This forum is one of my favorite places to be, and I credit the people as much as the clothes for making that so.

Developing Personal Style with @eddiemczee

You may remember Styleforum member @eddiemczee from a recent post on white denim, but as usual, there’s more to his story. Today, this CM member tells us how he first decided to upgrade his wardrobe, describes the pitfalls he experienced along the way, and reveals his secret to developing personal style.

My descent down the menswear rabbit hole begins with an umbrella.
In 2009, I received my first-ever Christmas bonus. It was also raining a ton and I needed a new umbrella. So instead of saving the money for a figurative rainy day, I decided to go all out on an actual one. I Googled “best umbrella” and after reading a few articles, settled on a Brigg. I knew nothing about the brand other that they had been around for a long time, so I hoped for the best.
When I received it, I discovered that “best” was an understatement. This umbrella became the nicest thing I owned. Made from a continuous piece of maple wood, the umbrella was both stylish and durable. Most important, it felt good to hold.
After that umbrella, the rest of my wardrobe paled in comparison. My closet consisted of cheap dress shirts, ill fitting pants, and squared toe shoes. I wanted to upgrade all my clothes.
I started to follow a lot of menswear blogs where I learned more about fit and construction. I discovered new brands and stores that I had never known about. Soon after, I found Styleforum.
My first Styleforum experience wasn’t on the forum. It was the 10th anniversary party in San Francisco.  At the event, I met Fok and a lot of the affiliate vendors like Epaulet and The Hanger Project. I also made quite a few friends. Afterwards, I made an account and kicked off my forum career with this brilliant thread:
developing personal style styleforum eddiemczee

I actually got helpful advice.

For a long time, I only posted in the Epaulet affiliate thread. I loved the brand and would get excited to see what Mike and Adele were up to next. It also helped that everyone who posted there was super friendly.
As I developed my style, I made some great decisions, but plenty of terrible ones too. My biggest mistake was not focusing on the fundamentals first. I tended to buy things that I thought looked interesting and were on sale. I had a small collection of loud, plaid sport coats but no navy blazer. Without a solid foundation, I created an incohesive closet that made it hard to get dressed.
developing personal style styleforum eddiemczee

When a #menswear closet throws up on you.

After spending way too much on clothes, I stopped buying things for a while and looked through my closet.  Out of all the many, scattered purchases, there were quite a few gems. Items that evoked the same feeling of excitement I had felt when I first bought my Brigg umbrella.
I started to sell a ton of things. As I went through my closet, I used my umbrella as my litmus test. Did this item feel as good as my umbrella did? I was performing the Konmari method before there was a Konmari method. (On a side note: it looks like I missed an opportunity to write a book on this).
developing personal style styleforum eddiemczee

Umbrella still going strong, eight years later.

By 2015, my closet was shrinking more that it was growing. Getting rid of clothes actually helped me hone my style more than any thread I could read. I was able to distill my unwieldy collection of clothes into curated wardrobe of items I loved. Things like a loden tweed sports coat, pebble grain dress boots, and of course, my Brigg umbrella.
The interesting thing was that all these pieces that I kept looked great when worn together. Turns out that I had figured out my personal style – I only had to get rid of the noise that was obscuring it. On the weekdays, I like to wear tailored clothing with sports coats to work. I spend my weekends in workwear and leather jackets. Sometimes I’ll even wear jeans with a sport coat!
Photo 4:
developing personal style styleforum eddiemczee

Current style.

I still browse online stores and read menswear blogs. When I buy clothes now though, I try to only buy things that fill in gaps or upgrade something I already have. I’m much more excited to wear what I already have and develop beautiful patinas.
Styleforum is a great place for a person in any stage of their menswear journey to come and hang out. I’ve since ventured out of my favorite affiliate threads and have even posted some WAYWT pics. I’ve made some good friends through the board and even in real life. A big shout out to Gus for planning all the San Francisco meetups.
Currently, I’ve been taking a ton of inspiration from posters in the WAYWT threads. My current favorite posters include Mossrocks, FrankCowperwood, StanleyVanBuren, and Gerry Nelson. Not only do they all have great style, but also their posts aren’t an endless parade of new items they bought. Instead, I’ll see them all re-wear their favorite garments over and over as we all should.
It’s fun (and expensive) to buy new clothes. But for me, I’m trying to enjoy what I have now versus what I want to get next.

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Member Focus: Protagonist Style with WBaker

WBaker is a denizen of the Streetwear and Denim subforum, and mostly favors brands that make him look like a movie protagonist. Here, he tells the story of a moment that made him think about the way he dresses, and even the way he thinks about clothing.

“Your jackets’ on inside out”

‘Chayyim’ is the code word. Take a left out my front door and you’ll trip into the block’s corner bar, a busy basement where the going rate for a stool is half an hour on the curb. You say ‘Chayyim’ to the door guy. Chayyim is the owner, so he’s not to be confused with the toast ‘l’chaim’. Once you’ve ‘Chayyim’d’ yourself past the door guy someone will sherpa you down a flight of stairs that make you realize how bad stairs can be. The door at the bottom opens to a low-ceilinged, bowling-lane-sized bar. The stools are for people who waited on that sidewalk; you’ll stand on a perfectly empty two square foot plot of land at the edge of the bar. I see this as a plus, drinking to the point of oblivion on a bar stool comes without the buckling and bending alarm system thoughtfully provided by the legs.

One late night, drink in hand, I stood alone following protocol. Saying ‘Chayyim’ doesn’t guarantee a plus one. On this night, however, a friend of a friend’s roommate’s landlord – a random lady – decided she was my plus one.

I like my two by two at the bar because it looks like I got in trouble and people aren’t supposed to talk to me. Mind you this isn’t that ‘saucy bad boy’ type of don’t talk to me, rather its that ‘I might talk at you about Japanese Blade Runner Blaster model kits for three hours’ type of don’t talk to me. When I go to a bar alone I talk to my drink, and find most beverages to be well spoken.

“Your shoes are all ‘GQ’, how much did you spend on them?” she said, taking perhaps her first stab ever at talking to another person.

“Tomenosuke used way too light an amber tint in the resin for their blaster grips, considering how well they got the knurling…” I gurgled into my drink.

She called my cardigan ugly. Asked if it was on inside out. Suddenly I felt like I was on the receiving end of some negging pickup routine ala The Game: See How You Like It.

“I mean if they’re gonna get the underside of the Steyr .222 bolt action dead-on with a working receiver, why cop out on a spray gun paint job over vacuum metalizing…” I said, abiding by the cone of silence that is Chayyim’s 2×2.

She was setting up this point about, to quote her, how “A portrait is any painting in which there is something wrong with the mouth”, thereby meaning she liked my outfit because the cardigan was wrong. She spoke with this bullshit-meter-ticking ‘just thought of that’ tone. I’ll admit to listening to Radiolab and stealing its better talking points for casual conversation with friends, so maybe the devil met the devil that night.

wbaker styleforum member focus

She said she was an artist, and to prove it she gave me a business card that did in fact say “Artist” on it. I want to get business cards that only say “You just gave me a business card and I didn’t want you to feel left out”.

I’ll have to talk with Chayyim about upgrading to a three by three one day. Maybe Geller will make a “do not pet” vest I can don like a service dog.

Like a top 5 song, the portrait shtick bounced around my head for a week or two after. I’m hasty to mistrust others so I did some googling and it’s a quote from John Sargent, a new-to-me turn of the century American painter. Oh sweet nirvana! Not only did I learn something new, but my reflexive mistrust had been vindicated. There are only so many days in one’s life where you can both learn something new and be proven right. I’ve learned to hold dearly to those fleeting moments.

As I first got into dressing myself with gusto I made the error of becoming obsessed with the individual garment. I’d hunt for these epic-overdone-protagonist pieces because when they’re draped alone on a white plaster mannequin they seem like the solution to life’s problems. I got into garments that excited me from the hanger without even thinking about the outfits they’d be Frankenstein’d into.

I started posting outfits onto Styleforum around 2011 to mostly negative response, and rightly so. Once combined, my “über-cool” pieces were a muddled mess. Without strangers on the internet and even stranger ladies in bars I’d still dress like The Dude got hired by UPS:

wbaker styleforum member focus

Mr. Sargent’s words capture how visually satisfying it can be to defy a base reality. Hearing a trite line about portraits broke my habit of dressing in a way that was putting sprinkles on my sprinkles. I found my outfits more exciting when the effort I put into the crazy stuff was matched with the effort I put into my basics. Basic button downs, trousers, and T’s can make a better canvas for when I wanna wear that single button belted officer jacket and cream side-zips.

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Member Focus: Chocsosa

Chocsosa has been a Styleforum member for a long, long time. Over the years, he’s had time to hone in on an impeccable – and classic – personal style – no small feat when you’re 6’8. Here, he talks about the early days of hiding his frame, as well as what encouraged him to start down the road to where he is today.

My style has definitely changed over the years. In my earlier days, it was more urban stuff – I was a product of the 90’s. So, for me it was gear like Karl Kani, Tommy Hilfiger, FUBU, polo sweaters, and oversized champion sweat shirts. It was easier then for me. Everything was bigger and baggier and that worked for my frame. I was 6’8 (still am) and probably a buck 85 soaking wet. I felt the oversized clothing helped hide my frame. So, for me it was interesting when I had to purchase my first suit. It was for prom and the salesman could not find anything long enough, inseam wise. I ended up getting a suit that was three times my size just to get the inseam right. It was barely tailored, but that worked for me because the goal was to be in and out of this “monkey suit” within a couple hours, so I didn’t sweat it. Lucky enough, there are no prom pictures out there, because I can only imagine how crazy I looked.

College was no different. It was the late 90’s and I still was comfortable in the baggy clothing that was still in style then. I was a poor college kid on academic scholarship without two pennies to rub together. So for the most part I was still rocking the gear from high school. I think the only thing I added at this point were some butters (Timberland’s), some Nike Air Force Ones (all white) and some old retro Jordans that were gifted to me from a brother of a friend who wore the same size shoes that I wore, worked the streets and had more shoes than he could handle. I had one white button down shirt and a wide striped tie that I wore to college functions when dressing up was required. The clothing was important because I did not have much but I was able to blend in (as much as I could) when I was in and out of college. I was a student athlete that was trying to make it through. Between all my honors classes my freshman year and the strenuous responsibilities of basketball, I did not have much time to dedicate to my wardrobe when there was no money available.

After college was when I started my sartorial journey to where I am today. At that point I had added some pea-coats, dress shirts and slacks but I still had no idea what I was doing. I needed to dress well for work as I was in a client facing role, so I was trying to look as put together as possible. I researched everywhere. I found some good beginner information from the GQs and the Esquires of the world, but it was not enough – even though they gave you an elementary education on how some stuff should fit there was still a lot of information lacking, I felt. It was on a tip from the Style Guy column from the late Glenn O’Brien (R.I.P) that I googled Styleforum and ended up on its doorstep. It was earth shattering to me because there was an answer to any sartorial question I ever had right at my finger tips. 10 years in and I’m still here, and I still find it a valuable resource and an inspiration almost every day.

My style now is more based on structure than pattern mixing. I like a clean garment with very little pulling, moderately structured shoulders, a nipped waist, open quarters (not aggressively so), higher rise (not aggressively so) and two inch cuffs (where I can find them). I am not a loud pattern guy, but I do like more subdued colors and palettes that mix well together. In my casual gear I wear a lot of outerwear and blazers that are cut slim with slim chinos or denim and boots or loafers. I find myself always coming back to those choices all the time and my wardrobe purchases reflect that.

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Member Focus: KamoteJoe

You might be surprised to learn that Streetwear and Denim poster @KamoteJoe didn’t start his journey looking like a photo edit of impossibly cool Japanese brands. We all start somewhere, and Mr. KamoteJoe is no different. Follow along as he describes what brought him to his current, stand-out style, and what he learned along the way.

“Mixing similar shades of color in the same outfit?” was a question I posed to /r/malefashionadvice some 3+ years ago in the middle of my junior spring of college. My other open tabs most likely included TSBMen (now Articles of Style), Put This On, A Continuous Lean, and Fashionbeans. Though I had a penchant for rules and how-to’s, I asked this question because I often broke this “cardinal rule” of mixing blue and black together in my early WAYWT posts, much to the chagrin of others. My then go-to combo were these Black Heschung derbies purchased on ebay for $40 and a Diesel x Self Edge Iron Heart pair found in a Greenwich Village Goodwill for $10. I liked them for rather innocuous reasons: I got them for cheap and people online told me they were from quality brands.

My early interest in clothes originated from two sources: the Styleforum Thrift and Discount Bragging thread and my being in a northeast liberal arts college where oversized fisherman sweaters and vintage Reyn Spooner Hawaiian shirts dotted my peers like a Dunkin’ Donuts on the I-91. Back then, I barely knew what it meant to have a personal style. I was an international student starting a new life in the USA – and culture shock was the best way to describe my confusion with American customs and values. How could I communicate that I was beginning to understand these things? Through clothes of course! I made a habit of checking out the local Goodwill and frequenting ebay for cheaper clothing that allowed me to try All-Black, Vintage Americana, and the MFA uniform. I even started a photoblog with a dear friend as an excuse to skirt more pressing responsibilities. There was so much information out there that I never envisioned being able to narrow the endless possibilities into a concise vision of what I wanted for myself.

The time came for me to pack my belongings and head home to the Bay Area for post-graduate life. Because a “real job” was not waiting for me, I continued this thrifty approach until my breakthrough moment in the fall of 2015. I purchased a Kapital denim ring coat off /r/rawdenim with barely any knowledge of the brand and its offerings. Upon its arrival, I remember spending an hour trying to figure out the button configuration and how the heck I was supposed to wear it. It was the first non-form-fitting jacket I had ever owned and I could have easily passed it on as another expensive mistake in my style journey. But I didn’t bend this time.

Slowly but surely, I began trading my white sneakers, slim button downs, and bombers out for unconventional and wider pieces from more niche labels. One thing led to another and, feeling empowered to build up my wardrobe, I continued to scour Grailed and local consignment stores for the brands I wanted. As my style started changing, the impulse to purchase something based solely due to its label had waned. That’s when I thought to myself So this is what it means to have a personal style. It was no longer a question of what to wear but what would I wear.

To this day, dressing up in the morning is one of the things I look forward to when I wake up. There’s a consistent sense of pleasure that I derive from knowing that I’m wearing some of the best-made clothes out there. If you went and told my 2014 self that “Made in Japan” would dominate the care tags of my clothes, that I only wear slimmer fitting pants on a night out, and that I do not even consider wearing any tailoring except for special occasions, then 2014 me would have probably closed all those clothing tabs and chosen another hobby. It’s been a journey rife with mistakes and mishaps, but my fashion identity would not be what it is without this learning experience.

You’ll notice that my wardrobe leans towards Japanese Americana: Kapital, Engineered Garments, and Nepenthes labels (Needles, South2West8) to name a few. These are clothes that may seem normal from afar but there’s always a detail or two about them that makes them very unique. Kapital’s mantra of wearing clothes that make you happy really resonated with me and it’s made this hobby less about impressing and more about wearing clothes that are an extension of my personality. Looking to the future, I might venture into more Junya and artisanal label territory but I wouldn’t want to make any sort of compromise on my lifestyle because I still buy clothes that are meant to be lived in. What’s a garment without the story that the owner passed onto it? You carry your stories, values, and experiences on the clothes you wear – might as well enjoy them! I am still on an inexplicable honeymoon with clothing that has led me to the most knowledgeable, kind, and genuine people inside and outside this community. I cannot thank the Styleforum community enough for helping me find a unique way of expressing myself.

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My Signature (Winter) Look: Gerry Nelson

We can always count on Gerry Nelson for consistently great outfits and great insight to go along with them. This week, we figured that you, just like us, would be sick of the heat, so we turned to our friend from down under for a glimpse of cool-weather style, and what (hopefully) awaits those of us in the Northern Hemisphere 2-3 months from now.

We’re particularly impressed with his ability to choose garments that are both versatile and interesting – he does a great job of mixing and matching seemingly-complex textures or patterns that others might find daunting, and can always be counted on to put his own twist on otherwise simple outfits. Below, he details his signature look, and in the process gives us all some great inspiration to keep in mind when autumn collections begin to hit our favorite stores.

When it came to writing a piece about my signature winter look, one template stood out to me. A chunky, shawl-collared cardigan, a thick shirt (or thin turtleneck sweater), some warm trousers and textured shoes are all I need. What draws me to this outfit time and time again is how comfortable and adaptable it is. I have a few of these cardigans now and wear them when the weather gets cooler, but it’s important that they fit well. The baggier they are, the greater the chance you can end up looking fuddy-duddy.

For example, if I’m relaxing at home or it’s cool outside, the cardigan over a shirt is more than enough. If it’s a little colder, I add a scarf, and if it’s colder still, I can throw on a roomy coat. Sometimes, I even wear a vest underneath. What I like is that this feels completely comfortable to wear at home, at work or even when I’m out for the weekend.

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Do yourself a favor and follow Gerry on Instagram

My Signature Look: Erik Mannby

Erik Mannby is a long-time member of Styleforum, and has been a contributor to the Styleforum Journal. He’s now the Editor-in-Chief of Plaza Uomo, which means he’s even more of an Instagram star than he already was. He’s also a genuinely stylish fellow, and a great person to look to for your own inspiration.


When asked about a “signature look,” I really had to think about my go-to’s. Do I have a personal style? In that case, what does it look like? I guess I actually do, and if I would narrow it down, I’d say ‘casual classic,’ with a few signature garments.

I love safari jackets and field jackets in a variety of designs and shapes. Therefore, it feels quite natural that I should include this as a signature garment. I also like high rise trousers, earthy colors, and hats and caps. It’s next to impossible explaining why one likes a certain aesthetic, but I guess the casual take may have something to do with my personality in general. I like comfort and purpose in my everyday wardrobe, but almost always in a classic cut (something that actually increases comfort). The two examples below offer a nice summary of what I would call my ‘signature.’

erik mannby signature look styleforum member inspiration
Picture by Fredrik Sellberg

Here, I’m wearing a safari style jacket in brown linen, that I actually made myself. The sunglasses are by Nividas, the butcher stripe MTM shirt by Shirtonomy, and a green tie with medallions by Spacca Neapolis. The linen/wool pocket square is from X of Pentacles, the watch by Kronaby, the MTM off-white linen trousers by Luxire, and the brown single monks by Carlos Santos for Herring shoes.

erik mannby signature look styleforum member inspiration
Photo by Fredrik Sellberg.

Here, I’m wearing a reproduction of a WWII Khaki Drill Jacket, as worn by the British Army, while the linen newsboy cap is by Stetson. The polo is an Eidos ‘Lupo, and the scarf is a silk/wool pocket square, again by X of Pentacles. The same off-white trousers by Luxire and brown single monks by Carlos Santos for Herring shoes round it all out.

Follow Erik on Instagram

A Cream Suit for Summer with @Andy57

We’ve featured @Andy57 before, and always admire the ease he brings to tailored clothing. We also think he brings impressive panache to daily life, in a way that we could all learn from. He’s also the resident master of the cream jacket – whether as part of a suit or worn separately – so take notes. We asked him to detail his signature summer look: the outfit he returns to during the warmer months, and why he enjoys wearing it. 

I would say that my signature summer look, such as it is, would be the cream or ivory linen suit. It’s a look I’ve been iterating on for several years, learning a little from each attempt.

My first foray into wearing a cream suit was a three-piece Brooks Brothers off-the-rack linen suit. As I wore it I started to realize that there were fit issues that I couldn’t ignore and style issues that bothered me increasingly. My second effort was also from Brooks Brothers, and was a jacket and matching trousers from their “Gatsby” collection from a few years ago. I preferred the style, but it was made from a herringbone linen. I have found herringbone linen to be too soft to make successfully into trousers that can keep their shape even slightly.

About a year ago I purchased a suit length of a Fox Brothers vintage bolt in a very lightweight ivory worsted wool cloth. I had this made into a lovely double-breasted suit that I wore extensively last summer. As nice as it is, and it is still in heavy use during the warmer months, I still wanted that cream linen look that I had in my mind’s eye.

Finally, last winter I bought a suit length of a London Lounge heavy Irish linen, in a rich cream color and had it made into another double-breasted suit. Finally I have a linen suit made from cloth heavy enough that it does not wrinkle, it keeps its shape and has that perfect summer vibe to it.

I’ve worn it with a shirt and tie, but my preferred look is to wear it with a Marol shirt with their “holiday” collar, which has that perfect roll and can only be worn open, having no collar button. Worn with spectator shoes, a cravat, and complimentary pocket square, I have my signature summer look.

Editor’s take: when made up in linen, a cream suit really hits the perfect summer note.  It’s also particularly versatile in the warmer months, when it can be worn during the day or at night (although we feel @Andy57 would be inclined to put on a dinner jacket).  And, as it is definitely not a conservative or business-ready color, cream garments encourage wearing for pleasure. 

Want more great cream suits? Follow Andy on Instagram.

Styleforum Member Focus: ChetB

Styleforum, meet ChetB. He flits between CM and SW&D so easily you’d think he was an Internet ghost, but like many of us, he just has a lot of interests. This week, he tells about the lows and highs of online menswear hobby-chasing, and how he ended up where is today.

Luxury Sweatpants (Or: What I Wore While Wasting My Life)

I saw the the best minds of my generation dressed by the internet, starving for 15% off codes, dragging themselves through the Mr. Porter sale section looking for an angry fix (preferably something blue from Japan).

Like other millennial dudes who grew up in the age of the internet, I too have suffered for #fashion. Questing for sick fadez, I sat in a bathtub with jeans on, the cold blue water swirling around me, as clouded as my judgment. I bought suede jackets from Belgian designers too expensive and delicate to wear in the kind of weather you need a jacket for. I wrote eBay listings with phrases like “pit to pit” and “plenty of life left.” I learned to tell forward pleats from reverse pleats and barely wince when I hear “shirting” or “trousers” or “pop of color.” I collected quote-unquote wardrobe essentials the way 80s kid–me collected baseball cards. At my lowest, I searched for cool walls to stand in front of while my wife took pictures of my outfits, which I then posted to the internet in order to farm thumbs from people named “Jet” and “Mr. Moo,” blurring my face to hide the shame.

I used the words “luxury” and “sweatpants” in the same sentence, in consecutive order. I sized down two. I sized up one. I wore shirts made from seven other shirts.

How did I get here? How did we get here?

Slip-Sliding the Slippery Slope

The answer, for me, is a question: “How should my suit fit?”

That’s what I asked Google a decade ago. I was starting my first job out of college and didn’t know how to dress for it. I landed on a site called Styleforum, a place where, among other banalities, grown men fight about how best to fold small pieces of silk. Years later, I’m still down the rabbit hole, exploring all the nooks and hidden passages, emerging only occasionally in chunky baller knits and/or drop crotch pants.

For as far as things have come, they started out slow. I spent a lot of time at first scouring dusty thrift shops, scooping up Paul Stuart ties, vintage Oxxford suits, and L.L. Bean boots. At that point clothing wasn’t so much a hobby to enjoy as it was a problem to solve. As if once you collected all the essential ingredients your closet was “complete.” Like beating a video game or something.

Things changed in a dingy thrift shop in rural Utah, when I happened upon a black Maison Margiela suit. It was like that scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey, when early man encounters the mysterious black monoliths. What’s with all the numbers on the tag? Why the exposed white stitches on the back, and the weird cut? Though I didn’t know what to make of it all, for $10, I took it home.

My tastes didn’t change overnight. But now I wondered: what else is out there? Soon my wardrobe of “sensible basics” started looking like a sea of boring, the blue Brooks Brothers collars rolling in like tiny waves. I was ready to start having more fun.

Dreeze Van What?

I never get the chance to talk about fashion IRL. (Except for once, at Costco, when a guy asked me if my Blue Blue Japan jacket was Engineered Garments, and if I knew where the taquitos were). Which is fine with me. I’d probably flub the pronunciation of my favorite designers’ names anyway.

But I’m happy that there’s a community online where it’s not weird to talk about how pants should “break” or why epaulets are lame. A place where people understand my excitement at finding a Hunstman of Savile Row shepherds check tie at Goodwill for a dollar (which, incidentally, I wore at my wedding a year ago) or a vintage shop coat or a Brioni jacket.

As time goes by, I find myself becoming less and less prescriptivist and narrow-focused and instead learning to enjoy all the vast possibilities. It feels sometimes like you’re supposed to pick a team: “I’m a Neapolitan tailoring guy,” or “I’m a workwear guy,” or “I’m a 90s sportswear guy” or “techwear is my thing.” But things are more interesting when you don’t pick a side.

Have fun. Experiment. Don’t be uptight about it. It’s just clothing.

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Member Focus: Penanceroyaltea

Penanceroyaltea largely patronizes the Streetwear and Denim side of the forum, where he’s become known for his love of floral prints and whimsical brands. Here, he talks about his journey from boring, pre-Styleforum life to his current, glorious incarnation.

Up ’til college, clothes were just a social necessity for me. Being in college meant finally being freed from a uniform, and having the chance to wear whatever I wanted. My initial foray into clothes would be considered nothing short of disastrous by Styfo standards – think garish printed shirts, baggy distressed jeans, and sneakers.

This was before the time I knew clothes on the internet existed, that people actually discussed (passionately) what they wore, took pictures of themselves (!) and submitted themselves to possible ridicule from the peanut gallery. I didn’t read about fashion, in print or on the web. No one really cared about style in my social circle, and where I’m from, it is a desert of t-shirts, cargo shorts, jeans and flip flops.

It was my during second year of college that I travelled to Tokyo for the first time, and man was my mind blown when I was there. Never had I felt so underdressed, poorly coiffed and shabby. All these Japanese men with perfectly manicured, gravity defying hair, ineffably styled outfits, those narrow pointy shoes, and manbags! I could never get over the manbags.

Suitably inspired, I revamped my little wardrobe of garish printed shirts and baggy distressed jeans with… more garish printed shirts and baggy distressed jeans. Paul Smith, Ted Baker and Buffalo denim were my grails and I stunted on multi colored, paneled leather Japanese Alfredo Bannister sneakers.

After graduation, with a disposable income during the advent of the #menswear movement, I decided that I had to have a suit. Mr. Porter had just come online and I was a proud founding member (and bargain-basement-end-season-sales-only-shopper). Style to me was a navy blazer, white shirt, blue jeans, brown brogues and aviators. The most clichéd of Mr. Porter tropes, if you will.

And this brings us at last, to Styleforum. On the hunt for a better fitting suit (yes, another one of those stories!), Google had led me to an Iris Tailor thread on SF. I lurked on CM and SWD for a year before finally setting up an account and posting. SW&D back then was quite a different place, much more hostile, heckling and intimidating. My first fit pic was a white Rick Owens aviator, black jeans and Balenciaga high-tops – what I gleaned was “in-line” with SWD sensibilities of the time. I also spent nearly half a year wearing a white t-shirt, ball-crushing APC petit-standards, bomber jackets and white sneakers.

The most clichéd of SW&D tropes, if you will.

I never truly “found” my style until I stumbled across Engineered Garments though; that was for me, when everything clicked. The whimsical florals, irresistible patchwork prints, and laid-back, rough-around-the-edges feel encapsulated everything I liked and wanted in clothes. Okinawan taxi-driver, I remember, was how I wanted to describe my look.

EG led to quirkier brands like Needles and Kapital, and from there I have branched out to more louche labels such as Dries van Noten and Junya. My current tastes and sensibilities have largely been informed from reading SF threads (with @Parker and @Conceptual 4est being my greatest inspirations), Japanese mags, look-books and selected runway shows. I still gravitate towards lurid prints and florals and distressed denim, as you can tell from my photos, but I do think they are in slightly better taste now.

Clothing to me is a fun, easy form of personal expression and an outlet for some creativity. Most days the weather here only permits a blazer, t-shirt or shirt and pants of some sort, so I try my best to have some fun with it. And there you go! Thanks for reading.

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