Sure it’s just stuff. But stuff can make life easier, more enjoyable, etc… Every so often we ask one of our favorite, style-appreciating people to rattle off their five favorite things. Sometimes those things will fit into the realm of “affordable,” and sometimes they won’t. We’re going for the favorites here.
Mark G. has been a member of the US Air Force for the past 15 years, serving 11 years on Active Duty and now a full-time member of the Reserves. Currently in Maryland, he enjoys a variety of hobbies, to include mediocre woodworking (he’s just skilled enough with his power tools to—at press time—retain all fingers and toes), hunting, as much travel as possible, and even occasionally badly impersonating a horse. A relative newcomer to the world of men’s style, he’s found a niche and rocks it whenever he can, from dressing for brunch in NYC to an Embassy black-tie party in DC.
Allen Edmonds Shell Cordovan Dalton Factory 2nds – $399 – $579
Like many other readers of this site, I’m definitely a boot guy. I stretch boot season well past what some of the self-proclaimed ‘experts’ out there say it should be, and I don’t apologize for it. These certainly aren’t my only pair of boots–or even my only pair of Daltons, for that matter–but for ease of maintenance (one of them was actually pretty scuffed by an errant cone and my lack of attention in Manhattan this past April; brushing is all it takes to remove) and just plain gorgeous looks, these bad boys are super versatile, extremely comfy, and were actually a “grail” shoe for me. I have a *LOT* of AE footwear (let’s keep that between us though), and there isn’t a pair I dislike. But of all my AEs, these are definitely top of the list and I ALWAYS take them with me if I’m going on more than a day-trip. Factory 2nds stock can obviously come and go, but if you get them during a mega sale like I did, you might end up very, very happy.
Haspel Cobalt Blue Check (sold out)
Haspel is the originator of the seersucker suit, and has been a staple of American-made menswear for well over 100 years. Of all the sport coats I have, this one has received the most compliments in the fewest wears since I purchased it. Second only to my Spier and MacKay green slub, this is probably my perfect spring/summer jacket. Quarter-lined (with seersucker, of course) and breezy as it gets, it looks striking with some light-colored linen trousers and a nice straw fedora, and a significant number of midtown Manhattan’s residents seemed to think so as well. I’m *VERY* glad I picked this up, and anticipate it becoming a staple of my summer wardrobe.
Black Lapel MTM Suit
I’m going to preface this with the disclaimer that I have several Spier and Mackay suits, and they’re all absolutely fantastic in every way (see Honorable Mentions). Yes, you can get a pair (or even three, pending a sale) of S&M suits for the price of entry into the MTM world. But hear me out; I was attending a Supernatural convention (as in the TV show), and had decided to enter the costume contest….but to do that, I needed a perfect recreation of a specific suit. So I saved up some Uber money, and made my way to NYC to get measured. I know that some fellas who’ve done the mail-order route have run into issues with fit here and there (the overwhelming majority of which were resolved with some slight tailoring, which Black Lapel will cover if you opt to go local for it) but having been measured by them, in their studio, things couldn’t have gone better. My only regret is knowing it’ll wear out faster than any other suit I have, simply because it’s the one I look to first. I sure can’t go full bespoke at my pay grade, and at a fraction of the price, I can say MTM (at least through Black Lapel) is absolutely worth it for those wishing to invest.
Franklin BBQ, Austin TX
I may be about to start a massive internet flame-war with this, because everyone has their favorite BBQ haunt (and serious offense has been taken for a lot less, especially in Texas). Keep in mind of course that I’m not bashing on anyone else’s favorite spot—I certainly haven’t tried everything yet, but am making it a mission in life to try as many as possible. My favorite just happens to be Franklin BBQ in Austin Texas. All the fantastic-ness of Austin itself aside (and if you go, also check out Family Business Brewing!!), Franklin has been a success story worth sharing. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 11am “until sold out” (usually 3-ish PM), with a crowd that starts forming a line at 6 AM (and yes I’ve been first on numerous occasions), they offer the gamut of smoked meats—but the brisket is king. When you sit down with a tray containing 10 times as much food as you could possibly eat in a single setting, and that juicy side of the brisket virtually melts as it hits your mouth….without a doubt, Franklin is my happy place, and you should definitely add it to your bucket list if you’re a smoked-meat enthusiast (or you just like *REALLY* good food).
Lamborghini Diablo 6.0
Hey it’s a favorites list, I’m a car guy, and anyone who says they don’t have a little “fantasy lottery list”–even if it’s just inside their head–is lying. I grew up in the 80s and 90s, and this car is possibly the last great “true” Lamborghini before Audi took over and started making them “more sensible” (relatively speaking of course). 6-liter 550hp V-12, 5-speed gated manual gearbox, all-wheel-drive, those trademark crazy doors, and the nuances that show it’s TRULY a very Italian car: the airbag label on the flip-down visor warns that “SERIUS INJURY” may occur (this was never changed during the Diablo’s entire production run from 1990-2001), and when the pop-up headlights were discontinued in 1999–rather than create their own–they went to Nissan and bought the headlights for the 300ZX and slapped them on, but added a small carbon-fiber trim piece at the top, whose only purpose is to cover the Nissan logo on the light housing. The speed, the looks, the sheer craziness of it all….I’d have mine in orange. (photo credit)
Bonus: Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC), Las Vegas
If I’m able to sneak a sixth one in (hey, Joe does it all the time with the sales tripods and handfuls!), I have to give a shout out to one of the most incredible parties on the planet. EDC is a 3-day electronic dance music (EDM) festival held at the Las Vegas Speedway. This year it’s May 18-20, and yours truly will be there. The entire racetrack facility turns into a massive carnival midway, with a dozen fixed and mobile stages, Ferris wheel and other amusement rides, an extremely expansive lineup of artists playing from sunset to sunrise, and the incredibly diverse crowd of people all there to enjoy the spectacle…..it’s something any fan of dance music should experience at least once in their lifetime. Tickets aren’t cheap this close to the event, but if you’re interested, get on the mailing list and get ready to be quick on the draw when the first bunch is available, usually late fall. (photo credit)
#1. Pretty much everything Spier & Mackay offers
If you’re one of the few who hasn’t personally discovered the amazingness of Spier, you owe it to yourself to take a gander. There’s a reason they’ve absolutely exploded the past couple years. As previously mentioned, I have a *LOT* of stuff in my closet with their label on it (such as the green slub 60% silk/36% wool/4% cashmere jacket pictured above), and often have a difficult time spending more money on something knowing they’re around. Fantastic quality, easy to tailor, and the first suit or sport coat can return for free to help nail down fit. Great company, service is top notch…..get with the program already! (Pro tip: check out the sale section—as of this writing, there’s currently a number of suits—all half-canvassed quality wool—as low as $200USD, upwards of about $400USD for a Guabello Super 130s Merino)
#2. Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Forest
I said it earlier, I’m a car guy. And being stationed on the East Coast, while not necessarily *everything* this Midwestern boy could ask for, does have some advantages. Michelin-starred food within half a day’s drive (or easier, a train ride and short walk for the wine enthusiast), and national parks hiding absolute GEMS of driving roads. The scenery, the winding mountain passes…..every car guy’s (and gal’s) delight. I made a weekend of it last fall (because if you’re going to only ever see it once in your life, fall colors are the ideal time) and what a trip. A couple short tunnels are very inviting for the automotive enthusiast to enjoy the aural bliss of an exhaust note echoing. Just behave….they *DO* enforce the speed limits.