For the Average Guy Making a Casual Foray Into Menswear
For the past few years, men’s interest in style and fashion have grown steadily. With this growing interest, more and more of my bros come to me with their clothing queries. “Is this a good brand?” is a question I’m asked quite often, yet it’s one that I usually have difficulty answering (mostly because I don’t want to sound like a menswear snob). The truth is I’m a menswear snob picky guy when it comes to clothes and I look for certain qualities of both design and construction. Many of these qualities are over the heads of my peers and not really the kinds of qualities they look for anyway. What I’ve concluded is that my current involvement in men’s fashion is much deeper than the average dude. Thus, I have a higher standard for what I choose to wear and a deeper appreciation for what I wear.
But most guys aren’t super nerdy about this stuff like I am. Most of you aren’t looking up geeky sartorial lingo like “shirring” or “fusable interlining”. Maybe you have more of a mild interest in menswear or maybe you don’t care about it at all. And that’s totally fine. Depending on your level of involvement in menswear, you’re going to look for certain things when you buy clothes.
I liken this to buying cameras. There’s a whole market of cameras that span a wide range of customers, each category of camera having it’s own set of capabilities. Some of these categories include point-and-shoot, entry-level DSLRs, mid-range DSLRs, and professional DSLRs. If you’ve never owned a camera and you’re looking to take snap shots of your upcoming family vacation, a simpler camera will get the job done just fine. Why would you spend thousands of dollars on a camera if you don’t know anything about photography, let alone what any of the buttons do? Though, I do know there are plenty of people out there who have the cash to splash and just want the best of everything.
On the other end, you might be a professional concert photographer wanting a new camera that can handle low-light situations without too much noise and a lens that’s sharp and fast. Similarly, if you really care about the work you put out, why would you settle for an entry-to-mid-level camera and lens setup that will only get you okay images? (On a photographers note, though, you can get some amazing images with whatever camera you have).
Getting into menswear and quality clothing, or any hobby for that matter, isn’t much different. Folks who have been in the menswear game a little longer and have a propensity toward geeking out over sleeve shoulders and collar rolls are the same folks who will go beyond the mid-range for something a little more special, even if nobody else notices. Others who are perhaps just getting started or just want a decent garment without proclaiming to be a menswear enthusiast are the ones who will go for something that gets the job done adequately. And again, that’s completely fine.
So what do you do if you’re one of those guys who just wants to look good with the added confidence of knowing that his clothes aren’t completely sh*tty? I say shoot for the mid-range brands. Though brand name alone isn’t enough to qualify a garment as being decent, particular names have better overall reputations amongst menswear enthusiasts.
And what are some solid, mid-range brands? Long story short, J. Crew, Brooks Brothers, and Polo Ralph Lauren. Each of these brands produce very decent garments with good styling and solid construction for the price (most of the time). There are plenty of other worthy names out there, but the ones I’ve listed here are great starting points for a lot of guys. And if you find yourself getting deeper into menswear, they’ll be great places to transition too since they also offer higher-end garments often times made in collaboration with other well-respected brands.
Menswear has been making a big comeback for a while now and will hopefully continue to get better. So if you’re new to the game or just a casual player, welcome.
This past Memorial Day weekend I went on a road trip with some friends up to Portland. We had great coffee, amazing food, and met some pretty cool people in town who were more than happy to show us around and even share a little about themselves. Colton Tong of Tanner Goods pointed us to beamandanchor, my new favorite store.
It’s a beautiful rustic space with great lighting (mostly thanks to the soft Portland light) located in an industrial part of town on the east side of the Willamette river. The creative workshop takes up the top floor and the retail space is located on the bottom floor. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to visit the workshop, but the retail floor alone was enough to make this the highlight of my trip.
Inside you’ll find everything from hand-thrown ceramic mugs to vintage Japanese boro fabrics amidst succulent plants and the various scents of Juniper Ridge. Everything is made with a high level of craftsmanship placing an equal emphasis on form and function. The Portland area itself is home to many makers and you’ll find that a good amount of them are within the walls of Beam & Anchor including Maak Lab which makes soap using local and natural ingredients. The owners, husband and wife Robert and Jocelyn Rahm, have curated their brands beautifully taking a wide range of design aesthetics and merging them together to form a creative lifestyle that’s cohesive without feeling forced.
If you’re ever in the Portland area, Beam & Anchor is a gorgeous space with plenty to see. And even if you don’t plan on buying anything, don’t be surprised if you leave the store with a new tote, a copper mug, or maybe a vintage Japanese martial arts jacket.