February 27, 2014
Product Review: J. Crew “Bowery” Classic Fit Dress Trousers
Many of the product reviews out in the blogosphere seem to center around expensive high-end products or new items from small companies. These can certainly be helpful, but there are still many people that want to find great products that are a bit more accessible (which is why sites like Dappered are so popular). For that reason, I’m going to try and balance my reviews with products that can be easily found anywhere but still provide a good value to me. 
In the past I have written about how much I like Howard Yount trousers; I stand by that review, but there are many people out there (including myself) that would prefer to not spend $100-$200 on dress pants. I splurged for some nice wool flannels since those are hard to find at lower prices, but for more traditional cotton and worsted wool pants there is a broader spectrum of prices available. 
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I had been keeping an eye on J. Crew’s Bowery trouser for a while, and when one of the inevitable 25% off full price item sales came along I grabbed a cotton pair in hickory. 
My first impressions were very good - of course, this is definitely a mass-produced garment and won’t have the attention to detail that you will see from smaller brands, but they are made well and feature solid materials and traditional details. The fabric is surprisingly nice; it is a mid-weight cotton that has some softness but isn’t heavily washed to create a “lived-in” feel like many chinos. These are dress pants, and the fabric reflects that. The fabric is also significantly better than Uniqlo’s celebrated Vintage Chino. The two pants are very different stylistically, but in terms of material and construction quality the Bowery trousers are much, much better. The trousers feature a cotton shirting liner on the pocket and waistband and have a metal clasp and zipper closure with an interior button as well. 

The pants do come with some extra fabric at the bottom to extend the length, but it’s worth noting that in my cotton ones there is already a very slight wear mark, meaning there might be a line if one were to lengthen them. If you are in between inseam lengths it’s probably better to size up and remove material than to do the reverse. 
As for the fit, these are very similar to my Howard Yount flannels (bought before the fit changed slightly). Mine are tagged 31x30 (my true size), and measure 8” across the leg opening. The rise is fairly “classic” and sits higher than most chinos on the market, which makes them good for tucking shirts into. There is a bit more room in the thigh than I’d prefer, but this is the case with almost all trousers I own because my ectomorph legs need a bit of work. Most guys will probably find the leg space reasonable.
I tried the Bowery Slim fit trousers, and although the thigh is a bit slimmer, they taper too much past the ankle for my tastes (and the rise is a bit lower as well). They may work for some, but are a bit trendier than what I look for in dress clothes.
All told, I think these are a great everyday business casual work pants for the guy who doesn’t need high wool counts or hand-stitching in their workhorse office clothes. With the frequent 20-30% off full-priced items, the cotton Bowery classics come to $56-$64 and the wool ones are $90-$102. Prices can dip even lower if the items themselves go on sale.

Product Review: J. Crew “Bowery” Classic Fit Dress Trousers

Many of the product reviews out in the blogosphere seem to center around expensive high-end products or new items from small companies. These can certainly be helpful, but there are still many people that want to find great products that are a bit more accessible (which is why sites like Dappered are so popular). For that reason, I’m going to try and balance my reviews with products that can be easily found anywhere but still provide a good value to me. 

In the past I have written about how much I like Howard Yount trousers; I stand by that review, but there are many people out there (including myself) that would prefer to not spend $100-$200 on dress pants. I splurged for some nice wool flannels since those are hard to find at lower prices, but for more traditional cotton and worsted wool pants there is a broader spectrum of prices available. 

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February 12, 2014
Product Review: Howard Yount Chestnut Stick Umbrella
Having a passion for men’s clothing is a bit of an infectious disease; it begins with trying to understand the basic principles of fit and function, but if left untreated it can spread to an aesthetic affliction that applies to every possible purchase. Before you know it, every piece of furniture or kitchen appliance you acquire must be held to the same stringent criteria that are applied to your shoes and suits. Such is the case with me, and this is why I began looking for a handsome umbrella that would meet the trifecta of aesthetics, quality, and price; the “good deal” that we all strive to find.
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A high-quality umbrella had been on my list of upgrades for a couple of years now, and after a bit of research I decided that I would go with either Howard Yount or Kent Wang, both of which are known for offering solid pieces at fair prices. I included both umbrellas at the top of my holiday gift list, in hopes that a loved one would see the hint and act accordingly. Fortunately for me, my girlfriend has a keen eye and was able to pick out my not-so-subtle hint with great finesse. 
The shaft of the umbrella is made of a single chestnut stick; this is the part of the umbrella that I feel differs the most from your typical drugstore model. The wood handle is incredibly handsome, and feels great in the hand. Now, the finishing is a bit drippy in some areas and some of the notches in the wood are a tad rough; these imperfections would probably not be present on a top-tier umbrella like a Brigg or Maglia (or at lest the ones I’ve examined)**, but either of those options will cost significantly more. Moreover, I think that most people looking at Howard Yount umbrellas are looking to try a high-end solid stick umbrella for the first time, not add to their existing collection; these ones are definitely a huge step up from the common plastic and metal variety.
**EDIT: Vox says that in his experience, Howard Yount’s umbrellas are on par with the brands I mentioned when it comes to finishing and quality. He knows his stuff, so his opinion is worth taking into account.

The canopy is navy polyester, which may draw a gasp from some that have deemed synthetics unfit for anything, but I think this is a perfectly good use of the material. Natural fiber canopy umbrellas do exist (see the Maglia Francescos linked above), but they are heavier, don’t always perform as well as their synthetic counterparts, and still require a synthetic waterproofing coat. The umbrella shown here is the navy herringbone, and has a subtle ribbed texture. The fabric is well-attached and aligned to make a pleasing dovetail pattern along the ribs.

As for performance, the umbrella does exactly what it is supposed to do and keeps me dry. So far it has performed well in moderate stormy conditions, but as of now I have not used it in any severe gusts. Umbrellas are prone to self-destruction in harsh winds, and I can’t yet say for sure whether this one will perform better than others in strong storms. The metal ribs seem to be strong, but there is certainly no high-tech gust-proof technology in place. If you live in an area where high winds are a serious problem, it may be worth looking at Davek, who designs their umbrellas with this in mind and includes a lifetime warranty. I don’t think that the Davek umbrellas are as handsome as this one, but the warranty might be good for those that are prone to destroying umbrellas.
Also, it is worth mentioning the size of the umbrella - although I think the 42” canopy is fairly standard for cane umbrellas like these, it is larger than many other common umbrellas, especially the ones that fold up into a small bundle. It is definitely large enough to keep two people dry.

All told, it seems that this umbrella does what many of Howard Yount’s products do - combine many of the qualities of high-end products, but at a more competitive price. I do think that Briggs and Maglias are a bit better, but not by much; as far as I’m concerned, this is as deep as I need to go into high-end umbrella territory. 
As I mentioned before, it is worth noting that Kent Wang also has umbrellas available at this price. They are also built to the same specifications and in the same country; in fact, I have a hunch that they are identical products. I mention this because both e-stores are often sold out, so if the umbrella you’re looking for is unavailable at one then it may be worth looking at the other.

Product Review: Howard Yount Chestnut Stick Umbrella

Having a passion for men’s clothing is a bit of an infectious disease; it begins with trying to understand the basic principles of fit and function, but if left untreated it can spread to an aesthetic affliction that applies to every possible purchase. Before you know it, every piece of furniture or kitchen appliance you acquire must be held to the same stringent criteria that are applied to your shoes and suits. Such is the case with me, and this is why I began looking for a handsome umbrella that would meet the trifecta of aesthetics, quality, and price; the “good deal” that we all strive to find.

Read More

February 6, 2014
San Francisco is heading into several days of wet weather right now, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Not only will the rain help ease the severe drought we’re experiencing (although it’s just a drop in the bucket - sorry, couldn’t resist), but it also gives me an opportunity to put my new Howard Yount umbrella to use. I’ll have a full review up once I get some good use out of it, but so far I’m enjoying the umbrella immensely. 

San Francisco is heading into several days of wet weather right now, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Not only will the rain help ease the severe drought we’re experiencing (although it’s just a drop in the bucket - sorry, couldn’t resist), but it also gives me an opportunity to put my new Howard Yount umbrella to use. I’ll have a full review up once I get some good use out of it, but so far I’m enjoying the umbrella immensely. 

January 21, 2014
As a native Oregonian I grew up loving the rain, and it’s unfortunate to say that California just hasn’t been getting enough of it. Our state is deep into a drought, but the good news is that we had a day of showers recently, and that gave me the opportunity to wear my rainy day gear. 
All told, I’d say that this is a good example of how I like to dress - neutral colors and fairly classic proportions. I’m not much of a risk-taker when it comes to clothes, so I try to stick with simple things that are hard to mess up.
Blazer - Suitsupply | Tie - Kent Wang | Trousers - Beckett & Robb (part of a suit) | Shirt - Proper Cloth | Pocket Square - the Tie Bar | Shoes - Loake | Trench coat - Club Monaco | Umbrella - Howard Yount

As a native Oregonian I grew up loving the rain, and it’s unfortunate to say that California just hasn’t been getting enough of it. Our state is deep into a drought, but the good news is that we had a day of showers recently, and that gave me the opportunity to wear my rainy day gear. 

All told, I’d say that this is a good example of how I like to dress - neutral colors and fairly classic proportions. I’m not much of a risk-taker when it comes to clothes, so I try to stick with simple things that are hard to mess up.

Blazer - Suitsupply | Tie - Kent Wang | Trousers - Beckett & Robb (part of a suit) | Shirt - Proper Cloth | Pocket Square - the Tie Bar | Shoes - Loake | Trench coat - Club Monaco | Umbrella - Howard Yount

December 26, 2013

Post-Christmas Sales - Some Quick Picks

I’m not sure how I feel about the idea of post-Christmas sales, but I can’t deny the fact that there are some good deals to be had. There are many sales going on right now, so if you’ve been eyeing something online it may be worth looking to see if the price has dropped. If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are some items that caught my eye:

Ralph Lauren - 25% off sale items with MERRY25

The famous cable-knit cashmere sweater is on a surprisingly deep discount ($158 from $398). Lots of colors and sizes available. I own this one and I can say that in my experience it is higher quality than the similar offerings at J. Crew and Brooks Brothers. Expensive, but a good deal; this is the lowest that I have seen them go.

Also, these suede jodphur boots ($112 from $198) were popular last time they went on sale, and they’re $5 less now. Jodphur boots are definitely an acquired taste, but if you’re into them then this is a great deal.

Howard Yount - sale prices as noted

Stock and available sizes are all over the place, but there are some good finds. Some of the flannel trousers are priced at or below $165, which is as low as they will go. I’m a big fan - you can see my review of Howard Yount flannels here.

Mr. Porter - up to 50% off

Most of Mr. Porter’s offerings are too rich for my blood, but some of their accessories can come down to accessible prices during sales. For instance, this navy/white dot shantung silk tie by Drake’s ($85 from $170) would make a great staple tie.

Brooks Brothers - End-of-season Sale + 15% kicker

As I’ve mentioned before, using the multi-buy discounts can be beneficial here; oxford shirts come down to $51 (from $95) if you buy three. Also, check out the sale section for other items with large reductions (like these Supergas at under $50).

December 9, 2013
One Year Later: Howard Yount Flannel Trousers
As I’ve mentioned before, men’s clothing enthusiasts often tout the importance of buying high-quality products, an ideal that I generally agree with. Of course, few of us have the funds to buy the best of the best of everything, so the process of finding and purchasing clothing and accessories becomes more of a decision of when to save and when to splurge. Even then, cost does not inherently imply quality, so determining where money is well spent can be difficult. This is a series of posts that show some of my purchases (both expensive and affordable) after a year or more of hard wear in order to display how they have held up over time. Only you can decide what is worth spending on and what isn’t, but the more information you have the better-informed your decision will be.
Finding nice trousers can be a challenge. There are endless options for casual chinos, but things get trickier when you’re looking for something a bit more dressed up. Moreover, they can get expensive very quickly - with made-in-China wool trousers from J. Crew going as high as $250, it’s hard to figure out what a reasonable price for a good pair of odd trousers is.
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It’s reasons like this that have made Howard Yount’s trousers the celebrated choice for many bloggers, including myself. Although they are not cheap, they are honestly priced and carry less brand markup than a similar item from other brands like Ralph Lauren or Incotex. Howard Yount’s wool trousers are made in Italy or the USA out of high-end fabrics (Vitale Barberis Canonico, in this case), and feature all the great details you would hope for. I had been eyeing a pair of flannels for a long time, and eventually bit when the sale price hit $165. To this day, that remains the most that I have ever spent on pants. Add on $35 in tailoring (hem, cuff, and waistband adjustment), and it was by no means a cheap purchase. Nonetheless, I enjoy them immensely and have no regrets whatsoever.

First off, the fabric on these is as nice as any other wool garment I own. This pair is a mid-weight flannel, but I believe Howard Yount now has trousers is several weights. Flannel is often praised for its soft, fuzzy hand, and although I enjoy that aspect of it, I particularly love the incredible depth of its color. These may be simple gray pants, but they look much more rich and complex with their lovely marled fabric.

In terms of durability, I have not seen any signs of wear or tear over the past two winters. It is true that flannels are a bit more fragile then some of their woolen counterparts (and woolen flannels moreso than worsted), but as long as you don’t wear them continuously for a whole season I don’t expect there will be a problem. I wear mine about once per week when the weather is appropriate, which could happen at any point in the year in San Francisco. Will Boehlke recommends giving flannels at least two days of “rest” before wearing again, and I think his advice is sound (as usual). I also try to minimize dry cleaning, both to increase longevity and save money. Once or twice per year is usually plenty.
As I mentioned, Howard Yount’s trousers are not inexpensive, but I feel that they offer a good bargain nonetheless. They are made in Italy of high-end materials from mills like VBC and Angelico, and feature signs of high quality like a split waistband (for ease of waist adjustment), hand stitching, knee-length liner, and belt buckle loop (like Incotex). I’m confident that these trousers are very similar to other great pairs out there, but without the brand affiliation and at a much lower price. 

I should note that the fit of the trousers has changed slightly since I last ordered - it looks like there is a bit more taper below the knee. I have no direct experience with this new fit, and although I like the fit of the ones I have, the new measurements don’t look too different. I’m planning on picking up a second pair soon, because these tend to disappear quickly. I’ll report back if the fit seems drastically changed but I imagine that they will still look and feel pretty dang good.
 The rest of the “One Year Later” series can be found here.

One Year Later: Howard Yount Flannel Trousers

As I’ve mentioned before, men’s clothing enthusiasts often tout the importance of buying high-quality products, an ideal that I generally agree with. Of course, few of us have the funds to buy the best of the best of everything, so the process of finding and purchasing clothing and accessories becomes more of a decision of when to save and when to splurge. Even then, cost does not inherently imply quality, so determining where money is well spent can be difficult. This is a series of posts that show some of my purchases (both expensive and affordable) after a year or more of hard wear in order to display how they have held up over time. Only you can decide what is worth spending on and what isn’t, but the more information you have the better-informed your decision will be.

Finding nice trousers can be a challenge. There are endless options for casual chinos, but things get trickier when you’re looking for something a bit more dressed up. Moreover, they can get expensive very quickly - with made-in-China wool trousers from J. Crew going as high as $250, it’s hard to figure out what a reasonable price for a good pair of odd trousers is.

Read More

December 8, 2013
It’s On Sale: J. Crew “Bowery” trousers
I’m putting the finishing touches on a review of my Howard Yount flannel trousers (expect it tomorrow), and in this review I complain a bit about how hard it can be to find nice wool trousers at a reasonable price. I was doing a bit of research to back up my claim, and in doing so I noticed that J. Crew’s “Bowery” Classic trousers are on sale for $82 +$5 shipping with the code “PRESENTS”. Not cheap, but reasonably affordable, given the alternatives. I have no experience with this exact model, but I’ve found that J. Crew’s pants are a fair deal when on deep discount. Moreover, my good friend La Casuarina is known to be fond of them, and he has access to some of the best brands in the world.
As of now, almost all sizes are available in all four colors. I appreciate that the color options are shades of gray and navy; J. Crew has a bad habit of taking a nice item and only making it in colors reminicent of sherbet. It should come as no surprise that I recommend gray trousers to start with.
Now, if you can manage to put $150+ down for wool trousers, I strongly recommend Howard Yount. They are much better, but they do have the disadvantage of requiring tailoring for hemming (and possibly waist alterations, since they are only available in even sizes). If you want to keep this purchase under $100, though, J. Crew could be a good deal.
This sale ends at midnight, but these 30% off codes appear almost weekly so there’s no need to rush the decision. 

It’s On Sale: J. Crew “Bowery” trousers

I’m putting the finishing touches on a review of my Howard Yount flannel trousers (expect it tomorrow), and in this review I complain a bit about how hard it can be to find nice wool trousers at a reasonable price. I was doing a bit of research to back up my claim, and in doing so I noticed that J. Crew’s “Bowery” Classic trousers are on sale for $82 +$5 shipping with the code “PRESENTS”. Not cheap, but reasonably affordable, given the alternatives. I have no experience with this exact model, but I’ve found that J. Crew’s pants are a fair deal when on deep discount. Moreover, my good friend La Casuarina is known to be fond of them, and he has access to some of the best brands in the world.

As of now, almost all sizes are available in all four colors. I appreciate that the color options are shades of gray and navy; J. Crew has a bad habit of taking a nice item and only making it in colors reminicent of sherbet. It should come as no surprise that I recommend gray trousers to start with.

Now, if you can manage to put $150+ down for wool trousers, I strongly recommend Howard Yount. They are much better, but they do have the disadvantage of requiring tailoring for hemming (and possibly waist alterations, since they are only available in even sizes). If you want to keep this purchase under $100, though, J. Crew could be a good deal.

This sale ends at midnight, but these 30% off codes appear almost weekly so there’s no need to rush the decision. 

December 2, 2013
A Holiday Gift Guide for the Menswear-Inclined
The holiday season is once again upon us, and now that we’re done spending too much on ourselves during Thanksgiving sales it’s time to think about the other people in our lives that deserve our gratitude. This list is for the #menswear among us - maybe it’s a brother, a father, a friend, a husband, or something else entirely; no matter what relation, here’s your unequivocal menswear gift guide for this holiday season.
For this list I tried to select items that add a lot to a complete wardrobe but often get overlooked. I also tried to steer clear of items that rely heavily on sizing, since that can make gift-giving difficult. He may not think of getting these for himself, but he’ll sure be glad that you did.
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1. A nice umbrella. Nothing destroys the powerful look of a nice suit like the plastic sheen of a cheap umbrella stick. Any guy walking down the street with a solid stick umbrella automatically goes from “Person in the rain” to “Person too important for the rain.” A chestnut-stick umbrella with a subtle canopy (think dark, subdued colors like black, navy, and burgundy) will always help elevate professional attire. These options from Howard Yount and Kent Wang are essentially identical - take your pick. If you’re looking for something a bit more luxe, buy your guy this Talarico from No Man Walks Alone and he’ll never lose his umbrella again.
2. Socks. Yeah, socks used to be a lame gift, but not anymore. A couple of pairs of over-the-calf merino or cashmere socks will do wonders. Pantherella on Sierra Trading Post is always a good bet - wait for 35% off.
3. Nice hangers. We often talk about the beauty of an article of clothing, but rarely do we reflect on the even greater visual impact of a well-organized closet. A though-out wardrobe on display is greater than the sum of the parts. Keep your guy’s too-expensive sportcoats in tip-top shape by giving him a few high-quality hangers. It’s something he’ll never get for himself but will use every day. The Hanger Project makes the best stuff, but there are more affordable options at Sierra Trading Post and Wooden Hangers USA (the latter two come in one size only, though).
4. Gordy’s camera strap. You don’t want your guy out there bloggin’ with his nylon Canon strap on, do you? Set everything right with the best place to get a hand-made, high-quality, and affordable strap. It’ll go much better with his Alden tassel loafers - trust me.
5. A really nice tie. Ties can feel a bit played out, so if you go down this route make sure that it is very high quality and not too loud; something that he can wear every week for the next decade. There are lots of good places making great handmade ties right now; Vanda, Panta, Yellow Hook Neckties, Viola Milano, and Conrad Wu come to mind, but there are plenty more.
6. A new belt. Yeah, I know he’s spent $2k on shoes this year, but have you seen his ripped-to-shreds split leather belt? It’s terrible. I highly recommend Equus Leather for classic bridle belts; Narragansett Leathers is also a good bet, and if you don’t have time for a custom option then Allen Edmonds and Brooks Brothers are solid choices as well.
7. Shoe care accessories. Speaking of shoes, make sure that he has all the necessary tools to keep his prized possessions in great shape. The Hanger Project has the whole range of Saphir products, and you can get shoe trees at Sierra Trading Post for cheap.  This shoe valet from Brooks Brothers is also a great kit for the real shoe fanatic.
8. A dope dopp. Are you shopping for a guy that geeks out over selvage denim and American construction? Get him this dopp kit from Black House Project (made in San Francisco) and let him get his toothbrush fades on. Ernest Alexander has great dopp kits as well - made in the USA from waxed canvas, and 25% off today.
9. A cashmere scarf. If the weather warrants it, a nice cashmere scarf can be a way to wear a luxe material without spending too much. My cost-effective favorites are these at Sierra Trading Post, from Moon Mills. I mean, check out that houndstooth one! What a winner. With the inevitable 35% off code these clock in at under $40.
10. A night out. Your menswear loved one probably spends too much time on the internet, anyway. Give him a reason to dress up. Get him out of the house, for a change.
(photo by Gerald Waller for LIFE magazine)

A Holiday Gift Guide for the Menswear-Inclined

The holiday season is once again upon us, and now that we’re done spending too much on ourselves during Thanksgiving sales it’s time to think about the other people in our lives that deserve our gratitude. This list is for the #menswear among us - maybe it’s a brother, a father, a friend, a husband, or something else entirely; no matter what relation, here’s your unequivocal menswear gift guide for this holiday season.

For this list I tried to select items that add a lot to a complete wardrobe but often get overlooked. I also tried to steer clear of items that rely heavily on sizing, since that can make gift-giving difficult. He may not think of getting these for himself, but he’ll sure be glad that you did.

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November 20, 2013
Last Saturday was a very #menswear day - I spent the day attending trade shows, trying on nice clothes, drinking scotch, talking about the value of handwork in shirts, and so on. This is what I wore - nothing too fancy. These are some of my favorite items to put on so it’s a look that I’m often seen in. Classic FStB.
Blazer - Suitsupply | Tie - RLPL (ebay) | Trousers - Howard Yount | Shirt - Proper Cloth | Pocket Square - the Tie Bar | Shoes - Sid Mashburn (ebay) | Trench coat - Club Monaco

Last Saturday was a very #menswear day - I spent the day attending trade shows, trying on nice clothes, drinking scotch, talking about the value of handwork in shirts, and so on. This is what I wore - nothing too fancy. These are some of my favorite items to put on so it’s a look that I’m often seen in. Classic FStB.

Blazer - Suitsupply | Tie - RLPL (ebay) | Trousers - Howard Yount | Shirt - Proper Cloth | Pocket Square - the Tie Bar | Shoes - Sid Mashburn (ebay) | Trench coat - Club Monaco

November 14, 2013
I’m leaving for NYC tomorrow. I’m counting it as a vacation, but I’ll definitely be doing a lot blog work while there - meeting with vendors, trying on awesome clothes, taking pictures, writing - sounds terrible, doesn’t it?
Oh, and since I always get so many questions about where each item comes from in these posts, I’ve included product links when available. Keep in mind, though, that none of these items were bought at full price and many were bought used.
Here’s what’s going with me:
Two wool blazers - one brown, one navy
Trench coat for inclement weather
Two blue striped spread collar shirts
Three button-down shirts - two blue oxfords, one blue chambray
Gray flannel trousers (I’ll bring a second pair if I have room)
Raw denim
Navy knit tie
Unassuming pocket square
A simple cashmere scarf
Two crewneck sweaters - one shetland, one cable-knit cashmere
Suede oxfords
Suede chukkas
A great brown belt
Hopefully I’ll get to meet some of you all while I’m there! You can find my other packing posts here.

I’m leaving for NYC tomorrow. I’m counting it as a vacation, but I’ll definitely be doing a lot blog work while there - meeting with vendors, trying on awesome clothes, taking pictures, writing - sounds terrible, doesn’t it?

Oh, and since I always get so many questions about where each item comes from in these posts, I’ve included product links when available. Keep in mind, though, that none of these items were bought at full price and many were bought used.

Here’s what’s going with me:

Hopefully I’ll get to meet some of you all while I’m there! You can find my other packing posts here.