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Arts and Entertainment

Learn To Dress Like A Grown-Up With ‘Put This On’

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Jesse "Dapper Don" Thorn / Photo by Adam Lisagor
The world wide web hasn’t had a series aiming to help men dress like grown-ups. That is, until tomorrow, when Jesse Thorn and Adam Lisagor premier Put This On in Pasadena. The new web series hits their website on Monday.

Typically when seen together, it’s been as the Monsters of Podcasting -- the Voltronesque live effort featuring both of their significantly downloaded podcasts. Lisagor’s You Look Nice Today is “a brilliant and highly acclaimed comedy podcast,” said Thorn.

Thorn’s hilarious Jordan, Jesse, Go! is as well, though it’s his second most popular effort.

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“For the last three years or so, it’s been distributed nationally by Public Radio International and airs on a lot of public radio stations around the country,” said Thorn of The Sound of Young America, a show he both produces and hosts.

“Though none here in Los Angeles.”

LAist recently had the chance to talk with these Monsters about dressing up nerds, style inspirations, and what might ensue if one of them wins a Razzie. (Unfortunately not much was uncovered about Thorn’s favorite IMDB credit of Lisagor’s: PredatorCam Operator: “Alien Vs. Predator Requiem.”)

LAist: Tell us about Put This On.

Jesse Thorn: It’s a web series for men about dressing like a grown-up. I wear a suit on stage when I do The Sound of Young America live, and I usually try, and put on maybe a tie and a sport coat when I’m doing an interview -- even if its in my home studio because it’s where I work. I found, once I gained a reputation for being kind of a dapper don, I started getting emails from people asking me really important questions, like what they should wear in their wedding. Literally one in five emails from the listeners was about what they should wear, and I realized there really wasn’t any media for men about dressing well.

Why now?

Jesse: I’ve thought about doing something like this for a long time, but I never did it because I knew for it to work, the aesthetics and quality of the production had to match the aesthetics of the clothes we were documenting. I never knew how I could achieve that, but Adam -- I am very lucky to have a friend in Adam -- has the skills to deliver something that’s reflective of what I imagined.

Adam Lisagor: Pride in presentation is on the upswing a little bit too. It seems to me the trend was more -- rocker style -- for quite a few years where cleanliness of presentation wasn’t necessarily a priority.

Jesse: I think people are starting to realize more that dressing well is not staid, boring, or conformist. If you want to be staid, boring, or conformist, you should put on an indifferent pair of sneakers, blue jeans, a t-shirt, and maybe a baseball cap.

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Adam "Dandy Andy" Lisagor / Photo courtesy Adam Lisagor
Adam, what does Jesse Thorn bring to this project?

Adam: The first time I saw him was at a live taping of The Sound Of Young America, and I thought, “wow, that’s adorable, Jesse really dressed himself up nicely for this event. He must be really excited.” Then the next time I saw him was a less formal occasion, and he’s wearing something just as fancy and just as fussy as he was before.

Somebody who that takes that much pride, and has that much passion for something -- anything -- is going to be interesting to a number of people, and so the ambition for this project is to let Jesse’s passion for dressing well communicate to people who either already know the love of dressing well, or want to learn how to dress themselves well. I think we’ve got equal parts of both in our target audience by virtue of our fanbase being a little bit nerdier.

Do your fans need much assistance?

Jesse: I think something I joke about with Adam is his, and You Look Nice Today's fanbase, is largely composed of a particular kind of person who really cares about fonts. I think that there are a lot of men out there with very keen and developed aesthetic senses who haven’t ever had the occasion, or the support of the opportunity, to develop that with regard to their clothing --

Adam: Or they do, and they just do it in a very peculiar way, like a very specific reference on a t-shirt. Usually people who are really into typography are really into really cool silk-screen on a t-shirt that’s maybe some reference to a web comic or something like that.

Who else would best benefit from this show?

Jesse: There’s a lot of men who are coming out of a Seth Rogen-period in their lives where their greatest concerns are bowl-related. They're realizing maybe the world would take them a little more serious, and they’d be proud of themselves, if they look good when they left the house.

Tell us about your launch party.

Jesse: We’ve got a really fantastic DJ who is going to be playing classic soul music. We’ve got classic American beverages. We’ll have that most classic of American beverages: Mexican Coke. And Miller High Life and gin punch -- the recipe for which I got from an issue of Gourmet magazine from the ‘60s. The store that we’re doing it in, Rising Sun jeans in Pasadena, is spectacularly beautiful. We were lucky that the owner agreed to let us use it for the party. The store is seriously super amazing. They have real leather floors.

Who are your personal style icons?

Jesse: Willie Brown, the former mayor of San Francisco. American politicians tend to be very poorly dressed, or at the best, just very boringly dressed -- as in the case of George Bush or Barack Obama. I worked in the mayor’s office briefly in high school and he dressed so spectacularly beautifully everyday. I mean this. I used to see him on the elevator. He was not a blue-blood, he was a field-hand and put himself through college and law school. The idea that someone like that could take such care of their appearance -- not because it was their ancestral birthright -- but simply because they wanted to look good, was very inspirational to me.

Adam: I value when people look like they haven’t paid too much attention to what they’re wearing but it feels that there’s an appreciation for the finer things without having fretted too much over it. I tend to value movie directors. I always worship Jim Jarmusch and Stanley Kubrick -- he always looks like a schlub, but a schlub with taste.

Do you have a favorite style website?

Jesse: Adam’s sweetheart runs a really amazing website called Nerd Boyfriend. It’s one of the most amazing things on the internet. It’s basically a very curated collection of photographs of amazing men looking their best with a few annotations. The annotations are places you can get clothing that these people are wearing, or some approximation therefor -- to capture the spirit of it.

Adam: It’s so good. It’s my favorite site. And more than anything, it’s for people to be inspired by the style of these heroes -- whether they’re style icons or not. It touched off a fascination for me a little bit to the things that make up our outfits.

What are some of your essential garments?

Jesse: Adam’s wearing an essential casual garment that I like, a lot right now which is the plain white t-shirt.

Adam: I’m a big fan. I’m wearing The Fruit Of The Loom, tagless. Fruit of the Loom, I find, doesn’t extend too long below the belt, which is important because I want my gut to have its fair day in the sun .... I also like to say you’re never fully dressed without a smile.

Jesse: I hardly think you can go wrong with Shrink-To-Fit 501s. I’m also a big fan of the Persol 649.

Adam: I think everybody should own at least one pair of Rayban Wayfarers.

Jesse: Everyone does. That’s why you shouldn’t.

Where in LA do you like to buy clothes?

Jesse: I like to shop at the Rose Bowl Flea Market. It’s sort of overwhelmed by Japanese vintage clothing dealers and their aesthetic, but you can still find good stuff there, and I’m a big thrift store shopper. My favorite thrift stores are the UCLA Thrift Sore and The National Council of Jewish Women Thrift Store.

Adam: I like the Hollywood Boulevard Goodwill, and Out of The Closet is sometimes okay too. So, that’s a hot tip for you.

Jesse: I find Out of the Closets disappointing. I think maybe its because not enough old people donate to them, or rich people. What you’re looking for in a thrift store is one that old people or rich people donate to.

What would you wear to the Oscars?

Jesse: He’s much more likely to be nominated for an Oscar than I.

Adam: For Best Podcast, you mean? .... I’d probably do something that’d make me some off like a douche. Like trying to be unconventional, like not wearing a tie. I really like the no-tie look.

Jesse: You’ll be surprised to learn that I own evening clothes despite the near total lack of black-tie events on my social calendar. By the way, if anyone wants to invite me, I’m ready to go. The Oscar’s of course are in the winter so I, of course, wouldn’t wear my white shawl collared dinner jacket. I have a double-breasted dinner suit from the ‘40s that I bought at Goodwill, and it has the usual peak-lapel and grosrain facings. I prefer grosgrain to satin, and I prefer pumps to oxfords. Those are my big formal wear positions.

What would you wear to the ever-dubious Razzies?

Adam: A giant fake beard -- bigger than my normal beard.

Jesse: He’s talking about beard-extensions.

Adam: Something that looks like I’ve been a recluse and the only reason I’m coming out is for being honored for being so horrible.

Jesse: Again, we differ here, not so much the general them, as on the finer points, as Adam doesn’t know how to dress himself -- I would wear a more classic ensemble, a beard of bees. I would cover my face in honey, stick my head into an apiary.

The Put This On premier and launch party takes places this Friday, October 30, 2009, at 8PM, at Rising Sun Jeans, 107 S Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena. It's free, open to all, and limited edition Put This On t-shirts will be available.

What do you like to put on? Comment Below!