With springtime thaw of hearts and rising temperatures hopefully not far behind, now’s the time for locals of the male persuasion to think about how to emerge from winter-hibernation looking presentable, and perhaps even approximating some kind of personal style. We’ve got the lowdown for you on where to find the crispiest fit, the most regally buttered dome, the flyest shoegame, the sweetest scents and the manliest spirits.
Where to go to get your head straight
If you’re like me and only get a haircut three times a year, you want to make sure you get the job done right. Get your head where the barbers are skilled, the ambiance is comfortable, and the conversation’s intriguing. Check out these spots:
Taylor & Colt
601 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor
Taylor & Colt describes itself as “a Barber Spa for today’s modern man, catering to every grooming need in a relaxed and masculine environment.” Customers enjoy complimentary newspapers, wifi, and a coffee bar. Whether you’re looking for a fade, pompadour, fashion-forward look, low-maintenance cut, beard trim, neck shave, razor shave, or deluxe hot steam shave, Taylor & Colt, promises to accommodate your desire.
Coach & Four Barber Shop
806 S. State St., Ann Arbor
This iconic old school barber shop has played host to the heads of countless Michigan greats over the years, from Gerald Ford to Red Berenson, Bo Schembechler, Jim Abbott and Jim Harbaugh. If you want to hear the latest Wolverine gossip or debate the play calls in the previous weekend’s game while you get your hair styled, surrounded by hockey jerseys, hockey sticks, autographed footballs and photographs of Michigan athletes, Coach & Four is undoubtedly your headquarters.
6 Nickels Arcade, Ann Arbor
Providing hair care and styling in Ann Arbor since 1917, Arcade Barbers (in the Nickels Arcade off State St.) is currently owned by Tiffany Lakes Royal offering reasonably priced scissors cuts, clipper cuts, flat tops, buzz cuts, fades, low fades, Mohawks, celebrity cuts, high tops, bursts, 5 star cuts, beard trims, shampoos and clean ups. There’s also a LEGO train to occupy the kids while you get your dome buttered. Walk-ins welcome. No appointment necessary.
President, Puffer Reds
At Puffer Reds, the key to success is synergy— the interconnected relationships between sports, music and fashion, particularly footwear. Thirty-eight years ago, the business started as a record store, but quickly branched into sneakers, boots, designer jeans and t-shirts. “We got into footwear in 1981,” says Puffer proprietor Eric Williams, “when Run DMC started rapping about Adidas.” The links between sports, music, footwear and clothing became even more vivid when musical artists appeared in videos wearing jerseys, hats, and sneakers that paid tribute to their favorite athletes. “Basically, it’s a lifestyle,” Williams explains. “Kids grow up and they want to be like those athletes – hoop dreams, football dreams – how many kids want to be like Mike? We used to base a lot of our business on music videos. We’d have them playing in the store all the time and we’d see what the entertainers were wearing.”
Puffer Reds’ ability to capture that synergy between sports, music and fashion has allowed it to develop a national presence and serve as a destination for numerous athletes and celebrities looking for their next fit. “We’ve had tons of artists here,” Williams says. “Ice Cube, Eminem, Jeezy, Monica, CeeLo Green, Outkast, you name it.”
All the notoriety has helped Puffer Reds become an Ypsilanti institution and play an important role in the community. “We do community things all the time,” Williams says. “We’ve done food drives where we collaborate with Food Gatherers. Every year, we do a customer appreciation cookout. We work with kids and have given out hundreds of pairs of shoes to kids who achieve in Ypsilanti schools. Part of being about a lifestyle means it’s about giving back.”
Making clothes make the man
Anyone can wear the casual Ann Arbor uniform— hooded sweatshirt, jeans and sneakers. But to stand out and take your threads game up another level, check out these styling spots:
The Victor’s Collection by the M-Den
307 S. State St., Ann Arbor
No reason to limit your Wolverines-inspired gear to a Go Blue t-shirt and a maize-colored baggy pair of sweats. The Victor’s Collection has you covered with a vast array of U-M themed button-down shirts (including a Brooks Brothers Red Fleece University of Michigan Seersucker Hooded Sport Shirt for $106), sweaters (step up to the ultimate level with a Brooks Brothers University of Michigan Navy Wool and Suede Cardigan Sweater for $625), outerwear (check out the Indiana Jones-esque Canyon Outback University of Michigan Eagle Ridge Brown Leather Bomber, $425), and even loungewear (Brooks Brothers University of Michigan Navy Plush Supima Cotton Robe, $215). If you’re into wristwear, you could indulge in the HAIL Brand University of Michigan Stainless Steel Watch ($349), or a set of University of Michigan 22k Gold Plated Cufflinks with Diamonds ($1200). As the official retailer of U-M athletics, a significant portion of each purchase goes to supporting U-M sports.
Van Boven Clothing
326 S. State St., Ann Arbor
Located in the Nickel’s Arcade shopping gallery, this upscale men’s clothing store was founded by Peter Van Boven in 1921, a former captain of the U-M baseball team, and carries clothing from high-end casual through formal, offered with a personal touch.
1203 S. University Ave., Ann Arbor
If you absolutely cannot let go of your hoodie and t-shirt bromance, fear not. Motivation can hook you up with cutting-edge fashions in your favorite tags. See how you look in an Only NY pigment-dyed OK hoody in vintage emerald ($88), a Belief midnight champion pullover hoody in steel grey ($70), or a lavender-toned 10 Deep competition hoody ($105). T-shirt-wise, you could try Belief’s berry-colored Atlantic long-sleeve pocket T ($40), Undefeated’s black burning trees T ($28), 10 Deep’s pink double-vision T ($34), two-toned purple and blue lawless camo split T ($52), or Stussy’s 80.17 FM white T ($28). There’s even a cool selection of casual hockey jerseys, jackets, baseball caps and, yes, warm-looking beanies including an ultra-nostalgic white, green and yellow Seattle Supersonics Mitchell & Ness with a white-green pompom that this writer might not be able to resist.
306 S. Main St. Ann Arbor
In business for over forty years, Renaissance carries fine gentlemen’s clothing and provides made-to-measure service for suits, sport jackets, trousers, shirts, overcoats and more.
Salesman and clothing expert, Van Boven Clothing
At Van Boven Clothing, it’s all about the 97 years of history. Check their memorabilia closet with pictures of the young Peter Van Boven in his Wolverine Baseball togs, a pair of ancient boxing gloves that presumably also belonged to the founder, and a number of other items that offer an authentic peek into the Ann Arbor of the early and mid-twentieth century.
“Part of the challenge,” according to Van Boven General Manager Tom Haney, “is we clothe everyone from students to corporate heads. While the store hasn’t really physically changed in 97 years, we have had to change with the times. We have classic clothes, but also pay attention to trends and we want to be on the cutting edge of that.”
Haney points to Hank Schoch, a salesman and clothing expert who’s been with Van Boven for twenty years, as the kind of person who makes Van Boven special. “We’re trying to bring super high-quality clothes and all the personal service that allows customers to walk into the store and be happy with their experience. You get a high level of attention to service and expertise. We’re old school.”
General Manager, Renaissance Clothing
If you’re like me (and the vast majority of journalists) and you need some guidance when it comes to picking out clothes that communicate a familiarity with respectable fashion, Bill Sizer is exactly the kind of guy you need to be talking to. Michael Phelps was smart enough to make that choice, while training at UM, when the record-breaking Olympian was set to do an interview with Roy Firestone on ESPN and he didn’t know what he should wear. “He walked in the store at 10 in the morning and needed a complete outfit by 2pm,” Sizer says. “I completely custom-measured and outfitted Phelps for that interview, and it wasn’t easy. His shoulders are huge and his waist as narrow as a middle-schooler’s.”
Finding the right clothes for people is not just a job, but a passion for Sizer. He loves to make other people look good. “Clothing helps an individual represent himself,” he says. “I’m not so interested in people looking good for others, but in making themselves feel good. I want to make it so when someone buys something, it looks like it belongs to them.”
Have you got spirits?
After hooking yourself up with a fresh fit, some fly shoes and a fade, maybe it’s time for a drink. We’ll cover all the incredible options for craft beers in June in our summer beer guide, but If you’re looking for something beyond a beer, check out these spirited spots:
Siris Restaurant and Cigar Bar
207 N. Main St., Ann Arbor
Named after the Mesopotamian goddess of beer, Siris offers over 300 spirits in addition to 120 craft made brews. Add a very manly menu including the $20 Filthy Mac (creamy mac-and-cheese with chicken, pork, bacon and sausage, topped with spicy breadcrumbs and fried onions) and a fully stocked humidor with dozens of different high-end cigars, and you’re looking at a ‘no-doubt can’t miss’ evening.
Ollie Food + Spirits
42 E. Cross St., Ypsilanti
Billed as a “cozy space to enjoy the bounty of the Eastern Heartlands,” Ollie offers exquisite food and hand-crafted cocktails. Each drink is carefully calibrated for maximum smoothness, balance and taste. Innovative offerings include the Ghost in the Dawn (thai tea infused navy rum, firefly, cardamom spiked ginger liqueur, ancho reyes, condensed milk syrup, egg), the Rusty 49’ER (rye, sweet vermouth, orange bitters, turbinado, lemon, fernet branca, yukon jack, fall cherry), and the Old Tyme Mem’ry (rye washed bib bourbon, MI. maple syrup, vanilla, angostura, art in the age root, sarsaparilla).
Ann Arbor Distilling Company
220 Felch St., Ann Arbor
Because they grew tired of “industrial-grade spirits that taste more like butane,” the folks at Ann Arbor Distilling Co. set up shop to build spirits from scratch. They currently offer original creations of seasonal gins and vodkas, as well as a coffee liqueur and cherry eau de vie. All spirits, many of which have been recognized with national awards, are created from Michigan-sourced ingredients.
The Ravens Club
207 S. Main St., Ann Arbor
With over 150 American whiskeys stocked at the bar, The Ravens Club offers a full slate of classic cocktails including an Adirondack with bourbon, tarragon honey syrup, fresh grapefruit and salt; a House Manhattan with rye, amaro, sweet vermouth and bitters, and a Hand-pulled Old Fashioned with bourbon, house made Old Fashioned bitters and sugar. Add a top-notch food menu and live music three nights a week (plus a DJ on Thursdays) and you’ve got the recipe for a thumbs-up man’s (or man-with-woman’s) night out.
Shaping up your shoe game
Look, it’s 2018. You can’t neglect quality footwear. Here are a couple places where you can find what you need:
113 W. Michigan Ave, Ypsilanti
Located in historic Downtown Ypsilanti, Puffer Reds has an almost four-decade commitment to offering premium-level streetwear brands and the most exclusive sneaker releases. Whether you’re looking for Adidas, Under Armour, Fila, Reebok, Puma or Vans, Puffer Reds offers a varied, sweet-looking selection at reasonable prices. Established in 1979, by Eric Williams as a place to find the latest hip-hop, R&B and jazz music albums, it has grown from a small record shop into a well-known shopping destination for nationally known celebrities, musicians and athletes.
2517 Jackson Ave., Ann Arbor
At Mast Shoes, the key is comfort. Style, is of course, crucial as well, but at Mast the staff, including, Molly, a Certified Pedorthist, make sure each shoe sold is constructed well, fits well and is comfortable. With over 10,000 pairs of shoes in stock – from dress shoes to work shoes to boots to sandals – Mast promises high quality, structurally sound, good-for-your-feet stylish options.