The always fashionable Caroline Crawford wore bold blue to the party, and let her husband, Ray, don the black.

My entire life is pretty much a "staycation." I live downtown, where there's always something happening nearby. I know a lot of really interesting people, and Jackson has a lot going on these days. I take full advantage of that. Add to that, I love clothes and use any excuse to dress up and go out. So I'm out and about a lot. That's what leads me here, typing.

Here's the deal: I'm going to take you along as I navigate Jackson's nightlife and fashion landscape. I hope you'll learn about some cool places and people, and I want to prompt you to get out and explore a bit yourself.

This past weekend was one of the parties I anticipate all year: the Jackson Free Press Best of Jackson. Every year, the party always has a true mix of Jacksonians: young and old; public figures and the girl and guy next door; entrepreneurs and artists. It's the perfect place to people watch. With the usual bounty of food and drink, and DJ Phingaprint providing the soundtrack, the party combined all my favorite things under one cool-looking, industrial space.

Since the party was Sunday night, I stayed low-key the rest of the weekend. That didn't mean I couldn't do HH (that's happy hour in layman's terms) Friday after work with some of my go-to folks at our usual spot, Parlor Market. I have plenty to say about that, but will save it. What I will say is if you haven't tried the restaurant's pre-prohibition cocktails, get yourself there and order a Corpse Reviver No. 2 immediately.

So about the Best Of party, two things at the outset: First, any party that includes purple uplights that inspire at least two of my companions to reference a strip club gets a thumbs up from me for go-for-it-ness. Second, it was raining. I had a "do I or don't I" debate about wearing suede boots (I did). Weather is no excuse to slack on fashion, unless it's bad enough for Al Roker and the Weather Channel crew to roll into town.

Before heading to the party, I watched some Screen Actors Guild red-carpet action. The ladies I loved at that event employed pops of color with their looks. The same held true for what caught my eye at the party. Basic black may feel safe, but I saw so much of it in the room I felt my seasonal affective disorder kick into overdrive. The one exception was the très chic JFP Advertising Director Kimberly Griffin, who shares my love of one-shouldered tops. She wore a perfectly draped black top and pants with sleek hair. The look was simple and modern but let her work the event comfortably.

Other than that, Best Of night is a great time to boldly declare your signature style, as did one hot mama, Caroline Crawford, who always reminds me of a vintage pinup girl, with her dark hair and bright-red lips. She was a refreshing burst of vibrancy in a short satin royal-blue dress with black tights and a vintage-inspired cameo necklace that she made herself.

Much like ladies in black, for the guys, generic social-event attire of any old blazer just won't do for Best Of. One of my favorite renaissance men (designer, cocktail expert and musician Arthur Jones) combined style and practicality perfectly for the occasion, wearing a dapper fedora, turtleneck and a vintage brown jacket that appeared to be leather. He later told me it was ... wait for it ... vinyl: stylish and water-resistant. Smart fellow!

The house held a number of hat-donning guys, and I give pretty much all of them a thumbs up. More hats, I say! (But not baseball caps. They are distinctly and importantly different.) On the opposite end of the vintage route is the "It's a special event, so go all out" approach to things. I support both approaches with equal enthusiasm. I give the chefs who ditched their white coat uniform in favor of blazers from Great Scott full approval. They get bonus points for pocket squares, too.

Lastly, a word on a trend that was in full effect at the party and will continue for the remainder of the month: facial hair. If you're asking yourself, "Did I miss a memo? Is the '70s porn-star look in for spring?" The answer, dear reader, is yes, and no.

Good-hearted (and good-humored) gents across the metro are growing 'Staches for Stewpot. (Learn more at the Facebook page or stachesforstewpot.org.) There's a rivalry growing between the crews of Mint the Restaurant and Parlor Market. While my pledge is, as of yet, uncommitted, the PM crew is looking pretty solid at this point. I'm hoping to see a sweet handlebar-style before the end of the month.

So there you have it: my take on Jackson's most recent red-carpet event. I'll continue to take you along as I get out and about town. You'll never know if I'm packing a camera, so dress to impress while you're out. Who knows, you may be next column's best-dressed!


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