Thirty-year-old Eli Naeher founded Inland Clothing in Chicago last year with the idea of selling high-quality, classically-styled men's basics at a fair price—and all crafted in the U.S. The one-man operation has an online presence only, and ships all orders out of its Chicago warehouse, but Inland has shown up at pop-up markets like NorthernGRADE and this past Sunday's Dose.
Naeher seeks out the best small-batch manufacturers across the country (New Jersey-based Individualized Shirts provides Inland's men's dress shirts, the only item they have made in-factory for 50 years) but keeps it local too (Chicago-made clothing from Domestic Workwear.)
"Well-made clothing shouldn't be a luxury," says Naeher. "It should be accessible to everyone."
Closet fixtures like bridle leather belts and twill work pants are easy on the eyes, but it's the no-frills pocket knife and rubber-duck-yellow duffel (pictured) that will stop you in your mouse clicks. The humble bag's durability will not let you down, and Inland's collection is sure to follow suit.
$70 at inlandclothing.com
As with many slightly dandy-ish fashion pieces—bow-ties, cufflinks, seersucker—I go back and forth on vests.
The right one, with the right fit, can be a showstopper. The wrong one, well, hello grandpa. Or worse, with the dreaded sweater vest, paging Rick Santorum, and could you please point me to the driving range?
The trick is to pick the right cut, the right pattern, and—apologies to the ab-challenged—have the right frame. Vests can be unforgiving, especially when they’re too tight.
Those caveats aside, this smart, urban-stylish waistcoat by John Varvatos, constructed of 55 percent linen and 45 percent cotton, has an all-over barstripe pattern, with vintage nickel zippers and five cordozo buttons running down the center for a look that’s edgy, not stodgy.
$198 at johnvarvatos.com
When it comes to fashion, I’m not often a fan of things that include the word “novelty” in the description. To me, this conjures images of fake vomit and adult store unmentionables. But I make an exception when it comes to cufflinks.
In the past, these little end-of-the-sleeve clasps were the domain of the stuffy—to be worn with French-cuffed shirts under suits only. Just like with bowties and gay marriage, however, attitudes have evolved. Today, casual cufflink-dependent shirts work great with jeans—no blazer required. This is where you can get creative, and where Mag Mouch (not to be confused with the Mag Mile) shines.
Whether you fancy a night at the symphony, at the poker table, or simply want to show your love for all things smart, the British company once known for spats, braces, and buttons has become the go-to destination for funky cuff bling.
As a sometimes fan of the ponies, I’d have no problem sporting these horse racing cufflinks. Packaged in Mag Mouch’s gorgeous signature tin, they’re handsome, comment-worthy, and, who knows, maybe even lucky.
$14 at Lord & Taylor or lordandtaylor.com
Even though the sun is out today, we Chicagoans are a weather-wary lot. Which means we can always find use for a cardigan.
Enter the Stafford from AllSaints. With a sleek, narrow collar trim and ribbed cuffs and hem, this spring sweater looks good worn open or closed. And, made of lightweight gauge cotton (in light gray and charcoal) it does indeed offer the “clean finish,” that its designers promise, even as it wards off the chilly April goosebumps.
And if things get really nasty again (which, let’s face it, they likely will) it’s also available in a hoody.
$145 at AllSaints Spitalfields, 700 N. Michigan Ave., 312-283-0400
As with the color white, linen fashions for men once hewed to the silly and fairly arbitrary not before Memorial Day rule. Thankfully, in the same way that politicians’ positions on issues great and small seem to be “evolving,” so too have views on the immensely practical, highly comfortable, mercifully breathable fabric that has long been a summer staple.
Take this stylish, classically styled linen blazer from H&M. Fully lined and textured with lightly brushed linen (and available in four colors), it’s the perfect for this seemingly endless ’tween spell in which our souls daily cry out for spring, but the weather stubbornly refuses its full cooperation. The only thing better than the look is the immensely reasonable price—it’s cheaper than most sunglasses.
$70 at H&M, 840 N. Michigan Ave.
We seem stuck in that ’tween season—winter one day, spring the next. The weather forecast calls for 60, but the fog and chill descends to crush our April longings like a batter squaring up a fat pitch from the Cubs’ Carlos Marmol.
The winter jackets have been put away, even the light ones. So what to wear until the sun decides it’s time to stop messing around and start bestowing a little real spring benevolence?
I love this waist-length khaki jacket from the Gap. Constructed of 85 percent cotton, 15 percent polyester, it’s durable, washable, and versatile. Wear it with a T-shirt or plaid shirt for a casual look. Dress it up with a dark-blue denim shirt and knit tie. Rock it with jeans, light or dark. Throw on some aviators—maybe stick a pack of Marlboros in your pocket—and tell the cold it can go freeze itself.
$80 at the Gap, 555 N. Michigan Ave., 312-494-8580
If you peeked into my closet, you’d know that I love a good pair of brogues. Or a good 10 pairs.
Why not? They’re stylish. They’re versatile. They can be dressy suit shoes or—as is the case with this pair of House of Hounds ‘Lester’ kicks—funky and fun, perfect with jeans or seersucker.
Crafted from brown leather with echoes of a spectator shoe, this long-wing version has natural linen detail on a crepe sole with matching brown laces. Perfect for spring—if it ever really arrives.
$160 at Topman, 830 N. Michigan Ave., 312-280-6834
A good trench coat belongs in any man’s closet. But make no mistake: like the pea coat, this staple has morphed into something far different than the calf-length, collar-popped, Humphrey Bogart stereotype.
Trenches are shorter now, for starters, the more stylish coats often stopping a few inches above the knee. They’re also meant to be worn closer to the figure rather than the looser look of yore. Neutral colors still rule, though a much more varied palette has seized the fashion day this year. Salmon, even burgundy or navy blue, can add pop.
I’m partial to this tried and true beige, with some interesting features to freshen the look. This Javelins Double Breasted Trench Coat caught my eye. It sports an oversized convertible collar with leather buckle straps, front slant pockets, and an on-sleeve zip pocket. The adjustable waist belt is removable. The best part? Because it’s made of a cotton/polyester blend, you can throw it in the wash. Talk about a welcomed April shower.
$398 at Nordstrom, 520 N. Michigan Ave., 312-464-1515
It’s an old dilemma—when the April showers come, what footwear do you don to keep you looking like May flowers?
Galoshes are great—for the garden. Gortex hiking boots are nice – for Saturday. But what about having to splash through the streets to that important business meeting, that night at the opera.
Check out these sleek shiny Raidie black casual pull-on fashion ankle rain boots by Hugo Boss ($195 at Bloomingdale's) 900 N. Michigan Ave., 312-440-4460.
Made of shiny rubber, they give the appearance of patent leather-- perfect for tux or suit. When it rains, their good looks pour.
With the sixth season of the venerable AMC television series Mad Men set to launch in April (it somehow has managed to not jump the shark yet), it’s time to give kudos to Banana Republic's line of clothes that pay homage to the stylish show.
In its spring MM collection, the store is featuring a tailored-fit brown plaid cotton two-button sport coat. It’s a beautiful piece that will look great with bone white chinos, khakis or jeans. Add a rose-colored dress shirt, some penny loafers (no socks) and a pair of spiff sunglasses and stroll the Mag Mile Don Draper-style.
$198 at Banana Republic, 744 S. Michigan Avenue
About this blog
Style Sheet is Chicago magazine’s blog devoted to all things stylish. Every weekday our trusty columnists track down the best offerings in men’s and women’s apparel, beauty, and grooming so you can just sit back and click.
Carly Boers | An associate editor at Chicago magazine, Boers loves a bargain and is addicted to new jeans and cute accessories. Look for her $100-or-less Cheap & Chic pick on Tuesdays.
Heiji Choy Black | Always on the hunt for the new, the exceptional, and the avant garde, Black edits Chicago magazine’s fashion coverage. Look for her Fashion Forward pick on Fridays. Twitter: @heijiblack