Let Mister Mort School You In The Way of Technical Gear
New York’s most eccentric style photographer, Mister Mort, née Mordechai Rubinstein, loves traversing the city looking for his next subject to capture. He focuses on characters who are not necessarily bold-faced names but who are still iconic in their own way. He finds unsuspecting style stars who are adorably nebbish dads, or gold-toothed passersby, or his Hasidic neighbors. The foppish creative, who got his start working in retail at Kate Spade in Soho, would go on to document these style discoveries on his own wildly popular Mister Mort blog. Its success would lead him to host his own Know Wave radio show “Voices In My Head” and author a soon-to-be-released coffee-table tome, Dead Style: A Long Strange Trip Into the Magical World of Tie Dye, dedicated to the psychedelic panache of Grateful Dead fans. His own personal style is a wild panache of haberdashery, tie-dye, and berets, all of which come together to pay tribute to New York’s madcap streetlife. But where does a son of the city go when a pandemic closes his canvas?
Last week on the phone he told me the answer: to a sleepy beach town in Maine. The dapper lensman has hidden himself and his family there for the time being and while it’s been a peaceful escape he misses the action of city life. “I’m just super curious because I have FOMO, like everybody,” he said. “The grass is greener and it’s nice to be in Maine, but there are so many little things that I can’t do here like going to corner stores, or watching people on the streets, or just sneaking out for a walk.” I’m sequestered in Brooklyn and I remind him that he’s missing nothing and besides, Maine is the perfect place to sport his newest sartorial obsession, technical gear, or as he refers to it, gear.
For anyone who needs a crash course in the portmanteau and its accompanying style phenomenon, “gear” refers to the utilitarian threads and trappings of outdoor brands–Patagonia, North Face, Arc’teryx, Merrell, et. al.–that have become staples for fashionable city dwellers. Historically they were made for mountaineers who are exploring rugged terrain, but menswear fanatics like Rubinstein have discovered that gear works quite well on the concrete pavement of New York. But now that he’s surrounded by rocky, open stretches of sand and chilly temperatures of 30 to 40 degrees, Rubinstein isn’t merely curating a look, but he’s embracing gear in a whole new way.
Rubinstein says before he and his wife quickly decided to decamp to Maine, he scooped up two North Face down sweaters, a Norwegian sweater, two pairs of pants, a couple of t-shirts, and one extra pair of shoes. It was the lightest pack he’s ever done. But his Instagram timeline shows that he’s piecing it all together very nicely. The shocking green down sweater is thrown over the printed Norwegian sweater and sparsely dotted trousers in one image, while he trades out his Patagonia beret for a crisp blue L.L. Bean hat in another. He says, “I don’t want to say I pretend I’m somewhere else because I love to get dressed in New York, but here I feel it’s more real because I’m actually sitting in the grass in the backyard, playing with my daughter and I know I’m going to get these jeans dirty. It’s a good feeling. In New York, I’d cry if I got dirty. Here, I look forward to it.” He admits he’s still learning how gear works and sometimes turning to the dog walkers of the Upper West Side for style inspo, but he’s a fashion nerd who has picked up enough do’s and don’ts over the years to fill out our recent Technical Gear sale and offer wisdom on how to learn the system of this new strand of style. Read on as Rubinstein breaks down the 1’s and 2’s of high-performance gear, from sizing to coloring to seasonal transitions.
Creating A Town & Country Balance
“I’m a very town and country guy. I like stuff that works in both places, and it’s not the easiest because I’m drawn to all the colorful technical gear. But I don’t want to look like an Aspen ski jerk in the city, I don’t want to look like I’m just coming off the mountain when I’m in Brooklyn. Even though I like a little bit much, there’s a fine line.”
Having The Right Gear Is A Must
“I wish I had Gaiters for walking by the beach because I’m wearing New Balance sneakers and the sand is getting in there, and it’s fine, it’s like, ‘Who cares, dude? It’s just sneakers.’ But no, I want the right gear. I want to be able to get in the water, even at 40 degrees, and I’m not surfing. I want to not care that I’m getting soaking wet.”
Beware: Gear Can Lose It’s Function Though
“I like Large or Extra-Large but if you get technical outerwear too big, it loses a lot of the function because the wind can blow up your back, and snow can go down your pants.”
The Perfect Piece of Patagonia
“The Patagonia down sweater is perfect, perfect, perfect, perfect. To some people maybe it’s a coat, but really it’s a sweater–a sweater with a zipper. You need the shell over it and I just finally got my first shell. I’ve had so many where the rain just goes right through and they’re a joke. And whether I’m pushing my daughter to school in a stroller or taking a walk in Fashion Week, I don’t like getting wet, you know? Who does?”
High Vision Colors Are Perfect For Social Distancing
“Even though walking on the beach we’ll only pass one dog walker, you still want to social distance and it’s much easier. I didn’t think about that when we were packing. I was just like, Oh, green, orange. These are the jackets I wear all the time. And now it’s like, Oh wait, no, I’m glad I brought orange because it’s like look at me colors, which is safe.”
Women Can Flex The Technical Gear Too
“My wife is wearing my brand new shell and it makes me cry. I love that she’s like, ‘Oh I want to wear it.’ We have three jackets amongst us. She just bought one online, so four. She wears all my clothes.
Technical Gear Still Works In The Summer
“One of the best things about the Patagonia down sweater is to push the sleeves up–if you’re riding a bike in a down sweater, you can push the sleeves up. It’s like a T-shirt. You mix that with some shorts and you’re feeling nice. Obviously, on a 100-degree day in New York, you don’t need it, but it looks pretty damn good with a pair of shorts. You tie that around the waist, and you don’t even know it’s there. The same thing with the lightweight fleece that you wear all year, the synchilla vest.”