“People are wearing fleece, which is a hard fabric to be angry in.” — Carrie Brownstein, on whether "Portlandia" is offensive to Portlanders.

John Helmer Haberdasher in Portland

I found myself puttering around downtown Portland on a recent morning, and decided to type “menswear” into my phone and see what came up. Luckily enough for me, the answer was John Helmer Haberdarsher.

Helmer is the kind of old-school men’s clothing store you find in the downtown of most major cities. It’s been on the same location for nearly a century, its ownership is in the hands of its third John Helmer, and the staff are a mix of young guys in bow ties, old guys in bow ties, and women who would wear bow ties if that were a reasonable and tasteful option.

Walk into Helmer and you’ll find the right half of the store taken up by hats of every shape and size. Sadly, it’s tough to find a really fine hat these days at retail, and the best of these was only fine, but there truly was a selection to beat the band. After putting on and taking off a summer hat by the German brand Mayser about a dozen times, I resolved to buy it. I recently cut my hair quite short and the sun in Los Angeles is unforgiving.

On the left-hand side of the store was traditional haberdashery fare. Rep ties, Southwick sportcoats, and a clerk helping a customer with a custom order of Bill’s Khakis. Behind glass was a beautiful selection of Alden shoes - I had to restrain myself from trying on a pair of shell cordovan plain-toed bluchers.

The service at the shop was uniformly excellent - you could tell that this was what these folks do, not just a summer job. The styling was uniformly, well, dad-ish. Maybe grandpa-ish… but if you expected something different perhaps you thought you were down the street at the high-end department store Mario’s. John Helmer Haberdasher offers a comfortable place to shop for traditional clothes, and next time I’m in Portland, I’ll pop in again.

Over the holiday, my wife and I fretted over what to buy for my brother-in-law Daniel, who’s 18 and a senior in high school. My in-laws suggested a piece of luggage, and we figured a duffel would be the most useful for someone his age - light enough for very short trips, large enough for long trips.
We wanted something simple and classic, and after much research, we went with a piece from Beckel Canvas in Portland. Beckel manufactures traditional tents in addition to bags, and their price point, while reflective of the high-quality, Made-in-the-USA product they offer, is set for people who will actually use their products, not shoppers at Bergdorf Goodman or Fred Segal.
It ended up arriving a few days after Christmas, so when Danny came to visit this weekend, I got to see it for the first time in-person. Not only is he delighted with it (if you can get a teenager to willingly pose for a photo, you know he’s excited about something), it really is a lovely product. Heavy canvas, handsome styling and rugged hardware. Dan will get to use it for years to come, and my wife and I are very happy with the purchase.

Over the holiday, my wife and I fretted over what to buy for my brother-in-law Daniel, who’s 18 and a senior in high school. My in-laws suggested a piece of luggage, and we figured a duffel would be the most useful for someone his age - light enough for very short trips, large enough for long trips.

We wanted something simple and classic, and after much research, we went with a piece from Beckel Canvas in Portland. Beckel manufactures traditional tents in addition to bags, and their price point, while reflective of the high-quality, Made-in-the-USA product they offer, is set for people who will actually use their products, not shoppers at Bergdorf Goodman or Fred Segal.

It ended up arriving a few days after Christmas, so when Danny came to visit this weekend, I got to see it for the first time in-person. Not only is he delighted with it (if you can get a teenager to willingly pose for a photo, you know he’s excited about something), it really is a lovely product. Heavy canvas, handsome styling and rugged hardware. Dan will get to use it for years to come, and my wife and I are very happy with the purchase.

This guy, photographed by the Portland street style blog Urban Weeds, looks quite nice.  If there were an award for looking presentable while wearing Kenneth Cole shoes (no mean feat), I would give it to him.  I have quibbles with the outfit, but only minor ones.  He is a testament to the power of keeping it simple.
The part that really takes the cake, though, the part that makes this worth posting, is the pin in his lapel.  You can’t see it at this size, but according to the description on the blog, it was awarded for perfect attendance.  BRAVO.  BRAVISSIMO, even.  Can someone please, please, please get me one for punctuality?

This guy, photographed by the Portland street style blog Urban Weeds, looks quite nice.  If there were an award for looking presentable while wearing Kenneth Cole shoes (no mean feat), I would give it to him.  I have quibbles with the outfit, but only minor ones.  He is a testament to the power of keeping it simple.

The part that really takes the cake, though, the part that makes this worth posting, is the pin in his lapel.  You can’t see it at this size, but according to the description on the blog, it was awarded for perfect attendance.  BRAVO.  BRAVISSIMO, even.  Can someone please, please, please get me one for punctuality?