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Tim Foolery

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Stitch Fix Review – December’s Men’s Box

It’s that time again, time for a Stitch Fix Review.  I received my December box this weekend.  My excitement level wasn’t too high, considering I returned EVERYTHING from November.  I was hoping my response and reviews of that fix would guide my stylist in a better direction. As a reminder, my focus for Stitch Fix is more casual clothes.  My office transitioned to a fully casual environment a few months ago and after years of building up a business and business-casual closet, I needed some help.  I get all of my dress shirts custom made from a tailor in Hong Kong and they are perfect.  My pants are mostly from Banana Republic.

With a much more casual dress code now, I need to revamp my closet.  Enter Stitch Fix.  I’ve been using the service off and on for a few months now, with relative success.  Read more about my previous boxes herehere and here. My fix arrived this week – let’s jump in, shall we?

Stitch Fix Men's Box

Anticipation and excitement. What’s in the box?

In The Box

  • Bixby Nomad – Straight Fit 5 Pocket Pant – $68
    • Liked the style, the fit and the color. Keep
  • Alesbury – Denali Two Pocket Doublecloth Workshirt – $60
    • This was interesting.  Didn’t LOVE it, but I also don’t have anything like this. Undecided
  • Flag and Anthem – Schenectady Dobby Shirt – $49.50
    • Loved the pattern and the fit was almost perfect.  Sleeves were a a perfect fit, but I know they will shrink a bit after the first wash. Keep
  • 01Algo – Heathered Knit Blazer -$128
    • A deconstructed blazer with good weight that actually fits?  Keep
  • Alesbury – Keaton Thermal Henley Hoodie  – $49.00
    • This hoodie looks like long underwear and fits like a glove, perfect for layering.  Keep
Men's Stitch Fix Box

The contents of my December Stitch Fix Box

Initial Impressions

I tore into this box and was pretty impressed.  The burnt orange pants really sang to me.  I ripped them out of the box and tried them on immediately and they were perfect!  The Hoodie looked like something I’d never buy on my own, but thought it was a great layering item for a cold Chicago winter.  When I saw the blazer, I thought it was going to be another blazer from these guys that just fit poorly or fit poorly and was expensive, not at all in this case.

The Decision

This month, I decided to KEEP everything. While I wasn’t COMPLETELY sold on one shirt, I did dig it well enough to keep.  Plus keeping all five items gives you an additional 25% off the items. Basically, if I bought all the items, it was cheaper than buying four of the items.  Kooky, I know.

My results aren’t all that consistent with StichFix, but I’m still digging this whole process.  I was offered free styling for a year for $49.  Without this offer, each month, you must pay $20 styling fee, even if you return everything.

Do you use Stitch Fix?  Give me your Stitch Fix Review. Guys – what other services like this do you use and recommend?  Or do you just prefer to walk into your local Banana Republic and grab stuff off the racks?

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Brass Heart – Fine Dining Chicago

Brass Heart is Chicago’s newest Fine Dining Restaurant.  Taking the place of 42 Grams, the stellar Two-Michelin-Starred Restaurant in Chicago’s Uptown Neighborhood. We loved 42 Grams from jump, and I was personally surprised at its abrupt closing.  You can Google more about that, but I refuse to support a chef with abusive tendencies, no matter how amazing the food is.

Brass Heart opened in late August and I’ve been looking forward to popping over for a while now.  Deciding to pull the trigger before it becomes impossible to snag a reservation, I searched just four days ahead of time and found an early spot for two on a Saturday.  While 17h30 is usually too early for me, I figured I would make an exception this time.

Unlike 42 Grams, which was fully BYOB (YES! A 2 Starred resto and BYO to boot), Brass Heart has a lovely cocktail and wine menu.  While not outrageously extensive, it was very respectable and the prices are perfectly in line with the neighborhood and the City as a whole.

We arrived a few minutes before our reservation.  The space is small, and without a proper separate bar, we didn’t want to crowd the space….although, the only people there when we arrived were also dining at 17h30.  We were seated immediately upon arrival and were welcomed by several staff members.

When booking the reservation I selected the nine-course tasting menu, so our only real decision was beverages.  We could do the wine pairings or select individual cocktails, glasses of wine or bottles.  We obviously chose the pairings – we always do.

Brass Heart Chicago

Full Nine Course Tasting Menu

Brass Heart Chicago

Osetra Caviar, Pumpkin

Brass Heart Chicago

Osetra Caviar, Pumpkin

Brass Heart Chicago

Ham and Eggs

Brass Heart Chicago

Ham and Eggs

Brass Heart Chicago

Mulligatawny Soup – Ham and Egg Alternative

Brass Heart Chicago

Duck, Apple, Black Walnut

Brass Heart Chicago

Duck, Apple, Black Walnut

Brass Heart

Brioche, Fried Chicken, Honey

Brass Heart Chicago

Brioche, Fried Chicken, Honey

Brass Heart Chicago

Rice and Beans

Brass Heart Chicago

Rice and Beans

Brass Heart Chicago

Duck Fat Halibut, Celery Root, Matsutake

Brass Heart Chicago

A5 Kobe, Chanterelle, Pommes Souffle

Brass Heart Chicago

Quince, Acorn Squash, Granola

Brass Heart Chicago

Gateaux d’Epices, Paw Paw, Bourbon

Brass Heart Chicago

Petit Fours

Brass Heart Chicago

Petit Fours

The meal was stellar.  We loved every part of our experience.  The wine pairings were on point.  There were a surprisingly large number of Oregon wines on the wine list, which we all know is the quickest way to my heart.  The nine-course tasting menu is $125 per person, plus $75 for the wine pairings.  While this isn’t a cheap night out, it’s cheaper than most other fine dining options in Chicago.  My recommendation:  Make reservations NOW while you can still get in!

Have you dined at Brass Heart?  Did you dig the wine pairings?  Which course was your favorite?

Stitch Fix Review – November’s Men’s Box

It’s that time again, time for a Stitch Fix Review.  I received my November box this week and I was excited to see what new items may enter my wardrobe.  As a reminder, my focus for Stitch Fix is more casual clothes.  My office recently transitioned to a fully casual environment (perish the thought) and after years of building up a business and business-casual closet, I needed some help.  I get all of my dress shirts custom made from a tailor in Hong Kong and they are perfect.  My pants usually come from Banana Republic, but sometimes I’ll get bespoke pants too.

With a much more casual dress code now, I need to revamp my closet.  Enter Stitch Fix.  I’ve been using the service off and on for a few months now, with relative success.  Read more about my previous boxes here and here. My fix arrived this week – let’s jump in, shall we?

Stitch Fix Men's Box

Anticipation and excitement. What’s in the box?

In The Box

  • Fairlane – Ashley Suprima Cotton Dress Shirt – $74
    • Liked the style. Sleeves were too long. Return
  • Fairlane – 24/7 Shirt – $68
    • Again, liked the style, sleeves were perfect, but it was just too form fitting. Return
  • Save the Duck – Giga Hooded Packable Jacket – $148
    • A down alternative puffy coat that actually fit well, and seemed to be a nice late fall jacket. I just bought an equivalent jacket.  Return
  • Ralph Lauren – Washable Merino Wool V-Neck Sweater – $98.50
    • Standard Merino Sweater.  Fit nicely, but the color wasn’t doing it for me. Return
  • Fairlane – Refined Wool Straight Fit Chino – $98.00
    • The lower legs had such a flare, I felt like an extra from a 70s film. Otherwise the fit was perfect.  The fabric wasn’t as fine (it felt very polyester like to me). Return

Initial Impressions

As I opened the paper wrapping, I was excited. The shirts were my style and it’s nice to have a pair of pants that EVERYONE else doesn’t have.  Do you shop at Banana and find that you have the same outfit as your colleagues?  Unfortunately, the fit just wasn’t right on most of these clothes.  If I hadn’t just purchased a new light weight jacket, I’d have kept this one. Timing is everything.

Men's Stitch Fix Box

POW! My fixes for November…hmmmm

The Decision

This month, I decided to return everything.  It’s a fine line between fit and style and I don’t want to compromise on either.  You shouldn’t have to.  That’s the beauty of Stitch Fix, if you don’t like the stuff, you just toss all the clothes into the USPS bag (that already has postage) and give it to your mail carrier. Easy Breezy.  You only bay the $20 styling charge (and there is a way around that too – I’ll tell you the secret next week).

While I didn’t have the greatest results this month, I’m still happy with the service and we’ll see what comes up in December.  If December turns out to be like November, I’ll probably put the service on hold until spring.

Do you use Stitch Fix?  Give me your Stitch Fix Review. Guys – what other services like this do you use and recommend?  Or do you just prefer to walk into your local Banana Republic and grab stuff off the racks?

Experiencing United Airlines New Boarding Process

Recently the United Boarding process was tweaked.   Their plan was to make the process and boarding area more clear. Instead of having five groups of people lined, up, only two groups would line up first then after those groups boarded, the next groups would line up.

In theory this makes sense, but as I mentioned before, I was pretty sure that people would still line up and it would be a mess. This change also altered which flyers were in which groups. This second change was what really concerned me. I usually only travel with a roller bag and I was afraid I’d get stuck putting my bag well behind my seat, meaning I’d have to fight through the crowd to collect my bag upon landing.

United Airlines' New Boarding Process

United Airlines’ New Boarding Process

Last week I took my first flight with this new boarding arrangement. I flew from Chicago to Toronto and the process was quite smooth. I chock this up to a few things 1) My flight didn’t have many elite flyers, so I ended up being the 6th person on board and 2) Canadians are nicer rule-followers. My bag was directly above my seat too.
In the boarding area people the Group 2 boarding line was relatively long, but Group 1 was very short. All of the seats in the boarding area were taken and no one was crowding the boarding door either. I’m not sure this will happen on a flight without courteous Canadians making up most of the manifest.

How have you fared in the United boarding changes? Have you been screwed out of overhead bin space at all? Do you think it makes the process any better?

Why I Love Toronto

I spend a bit of time each year in Toronto.  Coming from Chicago, Toronto is a very easy city to navigate.  While I do find the comparisons between these two cities to be pretty accurate, there are some things that I think Toronto gets right and Chicago fails.  Here’s why I love Toronto.

Both cities have really great food scenes.  From fine dining to casual street food you can’t go wrong in Chicago or in Toronto.  Canoe, in Toronto has an amazing view that is only matched by the food itself.  The Michelin Guide doesn’t visit Toronto, so you can’t find any official Michelin Starred restaurants, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have great options.

The transit in both Cities is great.  I don’t have a car in Chicago and I’ve never needed to rent one in Toronto.  I get everywhere I need to go by foot, streetcar or subway.  Worst case scenario, taxis, or ride share options are plentiful.

Why I Love Toronto

The 3D Toronto Sign in Nathan Phillips Square

Why I Love Toronto

The one thing that I love about Toronto, much more than Chicago, is the diversity.  Both cities have a few million people and a strong immigrant community.  When walking around Toronto, I often hear several language.  Not only do you frequently hear English and French, but it isn’t uncommon to hear Arabic, Hindi and Mandarin.  While these language exist in Chicago, I never hear them when I’m walking around in the central business district.  This worldliness gives Toronto a more cosmopolitan feel than Chicago.  This is really why I love Toronto.

What do you think about Toronto?  Is there just one thing that you really dig about the City that you can’t get back home?  What’s the one thing you suggest to people visiting Toronto?