Last week, we traveled up to New York City for the invitation-only party to celebrate the U.S. launch of the new book Rowing Blazers. Held at the newly inaugurated Polo/Ralph Lauren flagship store on Fifth Avenue – opening only days earlier – the event was a fun, crowded,  and sartorial cacophony of colors and patterns.

Penned by award-winning oarsman Jack Carlson and with principal photography by F.E. Castleberry, Rowing Blazers is a celebration of the historic garment upon which that most classic of men’s habiliment, the classic blue blazer, rests.

2014 09 24 23.42.11 OTC at the New York Launch Party for the Book Rowing Blazers

2014 09 23 16.57.54 OTC at the New York Launch Party for the Book Rowing Blazers

Not only did we spend the evening among 700 smartly dressed folks, we also had the pleasure of whiling away the afternoon beforehand with our friend and mentor Alan Flusser (above). It goes with saying that his outfit for the evening aptly reflected Alan’s mastery of color, pattern, and personality.

We also had the honor of OTC’s editor-in-chief being highlighted in Hodinkee’s watch spotting roundup of the Rowing Blazer event (below). For those who don’t know about Hodinkee, it is the web’s premier resource for watch news, product launches, in-depth industry reporting, and fascinating insights into the world of horological curiosities. Only one watch publication was invited to actually attend the Cupertino launch of the Apple Watch: Hodinkee.

Rowing Blazers 49 OTC OTC at the New York Launch Party for the Book Rowing Blazers

Rowing Blazers 48 OTC OTC at the New York Launch Party for the Book Rowing Blazers

Rowing Blazers Hodinkee Crw OTC at the New York Launch Party for the Book Rowing Blazers

A big thanks also goes out to the brand partners who outfitted our E-in-C for this fantastic event. Bonobos provided the Windsor single vent blue blazer and Heritage Washed Chino khakis; both trim, modern updates of preppy classics. We again joined forces with Deo Veritas to create a custom dress shirt, this time in a light purple gingham check. Still the best online custom shirts we have found. Eye Buy Direct provided us with new glasses and sunglasses for the trip. And to answer the question many folks were asking, yes, that was Frank Clegg’s Courier Messenger Bag in shrunken leather into which our copy of Rowing Blazers went.

Now, on to some great images from the September 23, 2014, New York City launch party for the new book, Rowing Blazers.

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Rowing Blazers FYG Shoes OTC at the New York Launch Party for the Book Rowing Blazers

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Rowing Blazers Pants OTC at the New York Launch Party for the Book Rowing Blazers

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Rowing Blazers Checv. Flusser OTC at the New York Launch Party for the Book Rowing Blazers

Rowing Blazers PRL Display OTC at the New York Launch Party for the Book Rowing Blazers

Rowing Blazers Bulldog Blanket OTC at the New York Launch Party for the Book Rowing Blazers

 

 

The Polo Shirt: An American Classic

Lumina Navy Polo 1 The Polo Shirt: An American ClassicFor generations now, the polo shirt has been a cornerstone of any classic, Ivy League-inspired wardrobe. While most people who hear “polo shirt,” tend to think “Polo ™” shirt, the first branded version was actually developed in 1929 for tennis legend Rene’ “Le Crocodile” Lacoste.

Lacoste wanted a comfortable shirt to replace the traditional, but impractical, dress shirt and tie worn by tennis players at the time. In doing so, he unwittingly gave rise to one of the most versatile garments ever conceived. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

With its unique ability to straddle the elusive line between casual and formal, the classic polo can carry you from the office to the country club with little difficulty. Of course, while it’s not always right for every occasion, when paired with a sharp outfit the polo shirt pretty much has you covered for anything short of a black tie dinner. Jeans, grey flannels, Nantucket Reds, and shorts all play well with polos. It’s more dressy than tee shirt, yet less formal than an oxford button down – itself another shirt that has universal serviceability.

JFK Polo and Khakis The Polo Shirt: An American ClassicThe genuinely timeless combination of a well loved polo shirt and khakis is about the most classic look you can opt for and usually works just fine for most situations in which you need to be presentable. In fact, it’s so versatile an outfit that it works equally well with worn-in, beat-up favorites or pressed and crisp, off-to-cocktails-on-the-lawn togs.

Pass on overly logoed or pre-aged polos and instead opt for classic solids or simple stripes. While the hyper-preppy look might work for image fixated teens, simple and timeless is what makes the polo shirt so universally useful and why it continues to be such a wardrobe staple of East Coast adherents.

We are particularly partial to Lumina Clothing’s Carolina Garment Dyed Polo in navy (shown at top). It’s a nice blend of classic styling and an easy, everyday modern design. The fit is trim but comfortable while the shirt’s rougher finishing is casually informal. With hemmed sleeves, a longer three-button placket, and finished collar, this polo’s look is less tennis court and more JFK sailing off Hyannis.

When going “nice” casual, keep the overall feel less stuffy by choosing clean boat shoes or penny loafers and a woven leather or ribbon belt. For a more business look, try a dressy belt with a silver monogrammed buckle, blue blazer, and high-grade slip-ins from Alden. A black polo paired with a grey or pinstriped suit is actually very sharp, in a George Clooney sort of way. If you are going to give that look a try, make sure to opt for a fine-gauge shirt in a silky finish, like KP MacLane’s Signature Men’s Polo.

One of the best things about the polo shirt is its versatility. It comes in a variety of styles and almost any color under the sun, from basic white to jet black, solids or preppy stripes.

Polo shirts also happen to age very well. So, that beat up old polo at the bottom of the shirt drawer – the one with the seriously frayed collar and torn hem – will look just great at a clam bake with some faded khaki shorts and a cold beer.

Rene Lacoste 1 The Polo Shirt: An American Classic

JPM Tennis White Polo The Polo Shirt: An American Classic

JPM Black Polo The Polo Shirt: An American Classic

Stacked Lacoste Polos The Polo Shirt: An American Classic

 

Halibut Shirts: Italian for “Fun”

Halibut FIFA Oxford 2 Halibut Shirts: Italian for Fun
Halibut is an Italian shirting brand that combines a genuine love of design and craftsmanship with an equally disarming sense of fun and whimsy.  Their name is a bit quirky and the logo seems destined for sandy beaches somewhere, but don’t let that party schtick fool you; Halibut makes very good shirts and the company takes its business seriously.

Founded by five friends, the company is based in Padua, not too far from Venice. All their shirts are designed in-house, crafted in Italy, and sold through the brand’s e-commerce site. With varied international backgrounds, the team focuses on fabric development, design tweaks, and a particular attention to detail that sets Halibut shirts apart form others in “dressy casual” space. The shirts’ designs are grounded in traditional American and European sensibilities, but possess a fresh and innovative streak that is evident right away.

Halibut Logo Halibut Shirts: Italian for FunCase in point is our FIFA World Cup 2014 tribute oxford.  First off, let’s take a moment to appreciate the fact an oxford shirt was created to pay homage to the world’s most important football (or soccer, depending on your preference) match. Hats, balls, shoes, and tees? Of course. An American style preppy dress shirt? Now, that’s something interesting. Rendered in a dense, smooth cotton, the unique hand – gently worn-in and instantly comfortable – is a hallmark of Halibut’s fabric-centric touch.

The clever pattern of embroidered national logos is at once cute and casually stylish. We see this as an international version of Brooks Brother’s iconic preppy fun shirt. Since the shirt itself is decoration enough, it’s best worn open collared. And the collar itself, a form of hybrid club, compliments the casual form of the shirt; unstructured yet substantial and its smaller size nicely balances the garment’s informal, slim cut. The fit is indeed very fitted. Described as a slim cut, the body is quite lean but the sleeves are well proportioned and comfortable.

The third button down is an enameled riff on the company’s swirl logo and again points to a certain deliberate irreverence. However, the shirt itself is no joke. With a growing selection of styles, from solids to checks to washes, Halibut’s clear focus on material, design, quality, and construction make for fun, casual shirts that are also all business. Even if that business is just kicking the ball around in your yard with a nice cold drink in your hand.

Halibut FIFA Oxford 1 Halibut Shirts: Italian for Fun

Halibut FIFA Oxford 3 Halibut Shirts: Italian for Fun

Halibut FIFA Oxford 4 Halibut Shirts: Italian for Fun

 

RPMWEST: Japanese Selvedge Denim

RPMWEST makes classic denim in the truest sense. Crafted from premium Japanese dry selvedge denim and cut and sewn in California, they are built to last for years and will develop unique fades as they break in and age. Birthed on Kickstarter, RPMWEST is growing into a unique and quality-driven brand.

The jeans feature minimal detailing, giving them a timeless look that goes with everything,  and are built for hard wear. Features include tucked belt loops, ​chain stitched​ ​leg openings, ​and made-in-America trimmings. They come in two silhouettes, slim and straight leg fit.

The slim fit – which we tested – is lightly tapered, but not constricting. As with many of these small batch, high quality denim brands, the jeans come in a fixed length, meaning you either do the hipster turn-up or have them hemmed to your preference. Taken in full, the feel is classic denim, combined with a modern, thoughtful design.

The fit of our RPMWEST jeans is very comfortable and features a natural waist with a lower rise; something we like. And the pride and commitment to quality construction shows in the finished product. Overall, these are one comfortable pair of jeans that we plan to wear for a long time.

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RPMW 4 selvedge RPMWEST: Japanese Selvedge Denim

RPMW 10 tryon RPMWEST: Japanese Selvedge Denim

RPMW 14 jeans RPMWEST: Japanese Selvedge Denim

 

And now for…Fly-Belts

 

Fly Belts2 And now for...Fly Belts

And now for something completely different.

Have you ever been stuck on a delayed flight, crammed into a too-small airline seat and wondered to yourself, “why hasn’t anyone made belts out of these seat belt buckles?”  Well, wonder no more – it’s been done.

Fly-Belts has taken the ubiquitous airline “lift to release” seat belt buckle and converted it into a clever belt for your trousers. Let’s be clear; this is a fun and somewhat ironic belt, and one clearly not intended for for your favorite suit. It’s not an interview belt – even if said interview were at Southwest Airlines.

And that’s fine; this is meant to be something different, whimsical, and a bit irreverent. Don’t take it too seriously and just appreciate the fact that someone actually did what so many of us pondered while in the air or sitting, interminably, on the tarmac.

Fly Belts3 And now for...Fly BeltsEach belt is named after a unique destination, denoted by the color of it’s commercial-grade webbing strap and comes in two sizes; one airline standard and the other, a smaller lady’s model. The buckle itself is custom designed for the company and based on actual airline buckles, but is not airline issue.

We actually found our Fly-Belt, the Tokyo, to be not only a great conversation starter, but also quite comfortable. The ability custom size the belt is a nice feature and any frequent flier will both recognize and appreciate the easy-open aluminum buckle. A slide tab keeps the extra length of strap neatly at bay.

Fly Belts Header And now for...Fly Belts

Fly Belts Sizes And now for...Fly Belts