Making the trip to Austin for South By Southwest (SXSW) is a great opportunity to see bands from all over the world. It's also a great excuse to drop by the increasingly trafficked South Congress corridor, home to great pizza, live music, and several of the best men's clothing stores in the country.
Navigating swarms of aspiring musicians and fans from all over the world, I slipped into two of my favorite stores—Stag and Service Menswear—earlier this week. I was in the market for a few accessories, but nothing too serious. It's easy to drop a few hundred bucks on single shirt at either one of these places, so I looked for items under $150 (mostly). Here's what I found:
1. Swedish Dream Seaweed Soap ($7 at Service Menswear)
I have sensitive skin. I can't go near most soaps during the winter months without dousing myself in a bucket of lotion afterwards. Here's a good alternative. Good for shaving or scrubbing, this mineral-rich soap is great for exfoliation, but won't dry out your skin. How do I know? I bought some.
2. Burroughs Beard Oil ($28 at Stag)
Just because beards are popular doesn't obscure the fact that they're also frequently gross. Your beard, like the rest of your body, needs cleaning and can get pretty dry. Treat it with some beard oil. If not for you than for anyone who might have the misfortune of running their hands through your dirt-laden scrub. When you hand over your cash, try not to think about how gross it is to pair the words "beard" and "oil" in a single phrase.
3. Nixon Watch ($125 at Service Menswear)
Admittedly, I'm a sucker for Nixon watches. I own three. They're durable, and their no-frills design often has a simple, classical look. The company has figured out how to make a gold-colored watch look understate. Best of all, they're not overly expensive. I've never understood the idea of spending more than a couple hundred dollars on a decent watch so long as it works and looks good.
4. Histoires de Parfums ($40—$130 at Service Menswear)
Ever notice how most colognes smell like they were engineered by the olfactory glands of a sex-starved adolescent boy? It's as if, during the R&D stage, cologne companies comission focus groups made up exclusively of virginal 15-year-olds determined to smell like a middle school dance floor in the mid-90s. It's that painful mixture of forced freshness, watery alcohol, and more than a hint of Hobie from Baywatch.
It's time to move on. The 90s are long gone and the name Davidoff sounds like it belongs to somebody who should be on the no-fly list." Not to mention, sweet little Hobie looks like this now. You don't want to smell like that guy, right? He smells like sadness pretending to be happy.
If you appreciate subtler smells, the kind that mold to your natural fragrance and evolve as the day wears on, take a test whiff of this line. I love some scents and find others rancid, but each fragrance is a complex medley of subtle insinuations, from pine to citrus to floral. I went with "1828."
5. Lzola Flask ($28 at Stag)
As far as I'm concerned, there are too many tedious functions in the adult world not to own a flask. This company creates cheap ones with semi-ironic (which is sometimes annoying, but sometimes cool) designs.
6. Ralph Lauren Bomber Jacket ($1,800 at Stag)
So yeah, this is an absurd amount of money to drop on a single jacket, rasing all sort of moral questions along the way. But it's still pleasing to look at, right?