Stella Cidre Throws a Party

Stella Cidre on Display Stella Cidre Throws a Party

One of the hallmarks of having personal style is knowing how to have a good time like a grown-up. So, when global brewing brand Stella Artois invited OTC, along with writers from around the country, to Chicago to help celebrate the recent launch of its new premium apple cider, Cidre, I gladly accepted.

The event was a genuinely fun time that reminded me about the importance of taking advantage of exciting and new opportunities. Did I think about what to wear? You bet, and Paul Watson at Ledbury made sure I had on the season-perfect cotton and linen blend checked button down. What to tote my stuff around in? Thanks to Frank Clegg for the messenger bag, which everyone eyed and asked about. As expected, it wound up being a fun evening with some good friends, stylish guests, and time to relax and connect.

Stella at EPIC Chicago Stella Cidre Throws a PartyThere is actually a back story to the Stella connection that made this a sort of full-circle occasion. Several years ago, I had the opportunity to tour Stella’s main brewery in Leuven, Belgium. It was an amazing time – meeting with company executives to discuss global marketing, visiting the main control room that looked the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, and tasting Stella Artois right out of the gigantic holding tanks. This was all before the beer had really arrived in the United States, so even now I have a “knew it when” soft spot for the brand.

As with fashion, the spirits industry has its trends and flirtations with coat-tailing what’s popular at the moment. For example, flavored beers are becoming more accepted, apple being on-trend right now. So, a cider product from Stella Artois sounded interesting.

Not sure what to expect, we all were pleasantly surprised with Stella Cidre’s crisp and refreshing lightness which has a clean and simple reference to apple. It’s distinct, but not at all overwhelming or effete. The consensus among our group was decidedly positive. We had more.

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Tasting Stella Cidre at EPIC Chicago Stella Cidre Throws a Party

Now, this is no food site, but we do know branding. Stella has positioned this product as a premium alternative to light beers or white wine – on a warm summer evening, for example. It was served in an white wine-styled stemmed glass, with an etched Cidre logo. They were also serving Stella Artois lager in traditional branded chalices. The Cidre product itself is presented in an oversized bottle akin to a limited edition microbrew or other small-batch spirit.

Cidre Logo Stella Cidre Throws a PartyThe setting was equally fun. Chicago is a stellar city with a distinctive sense of style and its own swagger.  Call it Chi-Town, The City of Broad Shoulders, or The Windy City, but Chicago has a charm that gets me every time I visit.  Perhaps it’s the geography; it has the vibrancy of a true metropolis but the relaxed attitude of a Midwestern town.

EPIC is an open air rooftop lounge that comes with its own boule court and stage. For the evening, our venue was transformed into a skyline orchard and Stella Artois-themed park. It was fun, crowded, and lively. We also ran into a bunch of sharp guys and even one cool hipster photographer.  As it turn out – and this should remind us that substance always matters more than mere style – that photographer was none other than Brian Powers.  Brian is a former staff photographer for the Chicago Sun Times, and when he all the other Times’ photogs were recently let go as part of cost-cutting, CNN commissioned him to profile each one of those exceptional documentarians.

Brian, we raise our glass to you.

OTC at EPIC Chicago Stella Cidre Throws a Party

Stella Glasses Stella Cidre Throws a Party

Stella Photog at EPIC Chicago Stella Cidre Throws a Party

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Stella Cidre -Made with Hand-Picked Apples

Compensation was provided by Stella Artois via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Stella Artois.


OTC & Indochino Team Up in DC: Free Suit

Indochino TravTailorEvent OTC & Indochino Team Up in DC: Free Suit

Indochino, the web-based purveyor of custom suits and shirts, literally revolutionized the online marketplace for custom clothing.  When the company launched its first website in 2007, Indochino quite literally created a new menswear retail segment from whole cloth.

Read on to learn how you can win your own custom Indochino suit!

Indochino has since grown and matured; improving product quality and quality control.  Refined designs, new offerings, better construction, and higher quality fabrics have moved Indochino into a position of bona fide market influencer.  Now, the company is moving in new territory: bringing the tailor to you.

Indochino’s innovative Traveling Tailor program puts its tailors on the road with pop-up shops in key US markets.  After a series of successful events in Chicago, San Francisco, and New York City, the next stop will be in Washington, DC.  Plan to swing by LivingSocial’s 918 F Street, NW venue where Indochino will be setting up shop from Saturday, March 2 through Sunday, March 10.

Indochino Ultimate Grey OTC & Indochino Team Up in DC: Free SuitAppointments will be scheduled in in 15-minute intervals from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. for men to meet with Indochino’s custom tailors and stylists.  It’s your time to get measured, check out the options, and go custom.  Explore suiting styles and customized details, and check out a range of shirts, collars, and cuffs.

And, even better, Indochino is offering guys who pre-book an appointment at the event two great deals.  First, everyone who pre-books an appointment will receive a FREE dress shirt ($79 value) with any suit purchase, one shirt per customer.

Win an Indochino Suit

Even better, OTC and Indochino are teaming us to help you win a FREE SUIT from their essentials collection (value $379). Here is the link.

Winning is easy as 1-2-3.  Here are the details:

  1. To enter, Like OTC and Indochino on Facebook and Follow OTC and Indochino on Twitter.
  2. You can add a bonus entry to win your free suit if you pre-book an appointment and comment on Facebook or Twitter during your appointment.
  3. The contest closes Sunday night, March 3.  We will announce the winner on OTC and Facebook Monday morning, March 4. (IMPORTANT: The prize (one, two-piece suit) can only be redeemed in person at the event.)

DF12 12.18 GQlo 104 GQ’s Glenn O’Brien: Setting Your Own Style Agenda

Recently, OTC had the chance to spend an evening with Glenn O’Brien, best known as GQ’s legendary Style Guy.  He was in town to celebrate the launch of the fall/winter GQ Style issue at DC’s elegant new nightspot, The Huxley.  Earlier in the day, we sat down with O’Brien at his suite in the Ritz Carlton.  While it is always fun to meet a well-known figure, perhaps the most impressive thing about Glenn is that style does not seem to impress him very much.

Without question, Glenn is on the inside of the fashion world.  He knows the people worth knowing and has access to the designers, brands, and luminaries we all read about.  Glenn is witty, wry, intellectual, and observant; traits which have served him well over the years.  However, for a “fashion” writer, he is an odd fit in the best of ways.  First and foremost, he’s a writer.  He is interested in people and stories, ideas and the world around him.  Glenn is far more curious about who you are than who you’re wearing.  If anyone has been there and that, it is Glenn.

Compared to the often overwrought dandies that populate the style blogosphere, Glenn O’Brien’s sense of style is wonderfully prosaic; suits, blazers, nice shirts, classic ties and jeans, and the occasional weathered biker jacket and Picasso beach shirt. He has a distinctive look and way of assembling these classic elements that reflect his own history and personality.  Glenn does not need to impress anyone with just-so outfits, skinny suits, or anachronistic dandyism.  Not that he is opposed to any of that, by the way; when asked about the landscape of today’s blog-driven fashion and vintage-inspired sensibilities, Glen embraced it all.  When is comes to trends and the vagaries of fashion, he’s very open-minded.  In fact, his favorite suit is actually from the mid 1990s.  “Yeah, it’s out of fashion, but I love it,” he says.

Scott S. The Sartorialist GQ’s Glenn O’Brien: Setting Your Own Style AgendaBlogs, he noted, have democratized the means by which style and fashion evolve.  “Say what you want about Scott’s [Schuman] site, but The Sartorialist has created a new way for people to explore fashion,” said O’Brien.  “The real-world nature of the photos is great; it allows you to experiment on your own and not rely on corporately constructed ensembles.”

That theme – the natural evolution of personal style, versus “assembled” style – was a thread woven throughout our conversation.  What the Style Guy appreciates most is personal expression and the willingness to value quality, construction, details, longevity, and patience.  Wear what you like and be proud of it.

This sentiment was best expressed when we chatted about mutual friend, the legendary menswear author and designer, Alan Flusser.  Alan, known for his impeccable style and ability to assemble beautifully classic wardrobes that best compliment the wearer’s coloration, physique, and personality, is also a fan of comfort.  One of his lesser appreciated skills is marrying the formal and informal – such as the day he sported a bespoke linen blazer and shirt, natty pocket square, electric blue Todd’s Gomminos, …and slate grey Nike wind pants.  Took about a half-hour to realize he was even wearing them because he made it work so seamlessly.

Such expressions of personal style are indeed personal, and they don’t work for everyone.  That’s OK; such is  the beauty of true style and importance of personal expression.  Real sartorial skills take time to learn and experience to develop.  Truly good style requires personal honesty, and when achieved is distinctive, admired – sometimes mocked – but often noteworthy.

We asked about something Flusser often states; that today there are no real male role models when it comes to style.  While there are celebrities who dress well, these stars are often outfitted by others who have mapped out a sponsored image for them.  Or, they dress by contract; disinterested in style themselves and playing the role of living mannequin to paying brands.

Alan Flusser 2011 Dennis C. GQ’s Glenn O’Brien: Setting Your Own Style AgendaGone are the days, says Flusser, when the likes of Cary Grant or Gary Cooper embodied the values of male sartorial attention to detail.  They had a keen appreciation of tailoring and personal expression and they understood the power of projection sophistication coupled with nonchalance.  True, notes O’Brien; but they also had the benefit of being studio actors who had at their disposal dedicated wardrobe departments.  Today’s celebrities are essentially freelancers, solo brands out to define and effectively telegraph their public persona – often for a fee.

When asked to name some leading male style role models, The Style Guy said that, frankly, the best dressed men he knows are often civilians – doctors, lawyers, businessmen. They simply have the interest, ability, and inclination to learn what works and what they actually like.  These everyday guys are not embarrassed to care about the details of fashion, and they appreciate its impact in their professions and how they are perceived.  That said, he did mention the likes of Andre 3000 and Rolling Stones drummer, Charlie Watts, as examples of well-known sartorial class acts.

Glenn is old school, and that is one of his strongest assets.  He is ecumenical when it comes to the breadth and depth of fashion out there today.  Never disparaging, he defended the popular “Made in Brooklyn” meme that is beginning to spawn its own bit of mockery.

“I’m tired of hearing about ‘ironic’ mustaches or ‘ironic’ Brooklyn shops.  There is no irony as far as I see,” he says.  “These folks looked around, saw the future, and said, ‘we don’t want that; we’re heading in the other direction.’  Good for them.”

All those handmade satchels, small batch suits, custom shirt makers, vintage fabric bow ties, and hand-welded city bicycles are what’s driving the resurgent interest in menswear and American urban style.  They are making real things that consumers want, and all that “irony” is being riffed on by the big corporate brands…ironically.

DF12 12.18 GQlo 117 GQ’s Glenn O’Brien: Setting Your Own Style Agenda

Watching Glenn work the room at DC hotspot, The Huxley, it was clear that he is someone comfortable in his own skin.  Overall, he was surrounded by a stylish crowd, although some guests were trying a bit too hard to be GQ-awesome while others appeared to have opted for a cautious DC law firm look.

Looking somewhat professorial in a simple Anderson & Sheppard grey suit, blue checked shirt, and yellow tartan tie he wore his famously inscrutable expression with aplomb.  When informed that we were chatting with O’Brien, Alan Flusser responded without hesitation, “Glenn is one of the few forces for intelligent manners and intelligent fashion.”

Gentlemen, all the way around.


Tennis Turns To Fashion Week

DSC 0257 1024x685 Tennis Turns To Fashion WeekOTC’s trip to New York City, with the plan of covering back stage access to the US Open Women’s Final hit its first bump before the plane even left.

We sat on the runway for more than two and a half hours because of “weather issues” at LaGuardia.  Typically, these assertions can mean anything – or, to often, nothing.  But this time, I had an inside line to LGA.  My seat-mate, a youngish looking ex-military guy, had a friend in the tower who kept him abreast of the actual weather problem: tornadoes.

When we finally did make it to New York, I was whisked into the city and deposited at my hotel.  After freshening up, it was off to lunch at The Smith Midtown and meeting up with my fellow bloggers.  Then, we learned that the women’s final match had been postponed until late Sunday afternoon.  So, what to do?

Without missing a beat, our host had a new itinerary lined up in a flash: American Express’ private New York Fashion Week sky box.  So, off to Lincoln Center and through the back door into the tents.  We passed by the Mercedes Benz pavilion and turned down an unremarkable corridor, stopped at an unmarked door and, after appeasing security, passed through and entered the land of Amex.

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Luckily, the outfit I had pulled together for the US Open also worked for Fashion Week (I had a little Fred Castleberry going on with the shirt).

Shirt:    J. Crew Washed Adler Tattersall
Pants:   Alpha Khakis by Dockers in navy blue
Belt:      Kiel James Patrick Hortock’s Compass Rose
Socks:  Dahlgren Metro Argyle
Shoes:  Remastered Converse Jack Purcell, by J. Crew
Bag:     Frank Clegg Signature Tote

After champagne and Tod English-catered appetizers (this is Fashion Week after all) we started with VLUV’s menswear show, not quite my or OTC’s taste, but exciting to see nonetheless. Then, we took a break to chat with Mimi Lombardo, style and fashion editor for Travel+Leisure magazine.

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After that came the major show of the evening – Monique Lhuillier.  Anyone who has ever watched TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress” should recognize this name.  Obviously not my forte, but the experience was pure New York glitz and glamor and a whole lot of fun for my female counterparts.

One thing I could not help but notice was the audience, above which we were perched, ensconced in luxury, and served by waiters (how many times in life will I get to say that?).  The women were for the most part decked out to the nines; elegant and trendy, no detail left to chance.  Even the more pedestrian attired ladies had a functional, classic feel to their ensembles.

The men, hover, seemed to embrace a “sloppy is cool” approach to their wardrobe with few exceptions.  Tees and jeans with fancy shoes seemed to be the rule.  Some were dressed quite smartly, but for the most part it was surprisingly schlocky for such an elegant affair.

That said, I did see a number of younger hipster dudes with the chunky Clark Kent glasses.  Their just-so college professor-inspired outfits were too often precious and overly scripted.  Cool, in a way, but forced; like they would go home and slip into some D&G black duds to loosen up.

Within the Amex Sky Box, it was a fun mix of people both enjoying the sights and sounds of Fashion Week and, for us at least, missing the US Open a little less.  Tomorrow – brunch with the charming and fascinating Richard Press, former CEO of the iconic J. Press.

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Alpha Khakis and the US Open

us open tennis logo Alpha Khakis and the US OpenWe are actually combining two things here: a product review and collaboration announcement.  It’s all about Docker’s Alpha Khakis and US Open tennis.

OTC is excited to announce that we will be covering the women’s final match of the US Open this coming Saturday.  OTC is partnering with American Express to give our readers a behind-the-scenes look at Flushing Meadows and one of the biggest matches in the sport of tennis.  So keep an eye on OTC, our Twitter feed, and Facebook page over the next couple of days, because we are gearing up for a really cool time.

As part of this outstanding opportunity, we are pulling together an outfit appropriate for the sporty elegance of an evening tennis match that draws the likes of Jay Z and Ralph Lauren, not to mention the ever dapper Roger Federer – on court or off.  We’ll be looking to mix sport with casual elegance and with some thoughtful assistance from American Express, will be adding a couple of pieces to the OTC wardrobe.  First thing on the list? A pair of navy Alpha Khakis by Dockers.

Dockers has gone through a revival of sorts; from baggy office park casual Friday wear to a refreshed and resurgent brand now on the style radar of anyone looking for a solid pair of pants.  The Alpha is Dockers’ answer to the question of what to wear when you don’t want to wear jeans.  And, they nailed the answer.

alpha khaki gravel tiles Alpha Khakis and the US Open

Dockers likes to tout that Alphas are where, “jeans end and khakis begin.”  In many ways there are spot on.  The fit and feel of these pants is far more jeans thank khakis and the cotton itself feels dense and durable.  The fit is slim and the pants fit slightly below the waist – definitely a jeans-inspired waist.  The slim silhouette carries through to the seat and thigh, ending with a tapered leg.

For some the fit may be too slim, uncomfortably so.  So, don’t kid yourself; in terms of fit, think khaki jeans.  That said, we love them and get regular compliments for the clearly modern styling and overall neat and contemporary look. While not the best match for dressier occasions, when looking for a jeans-alternative, they are a great option and one we are happy to have.

And don’t forget to check out how we put our navy pair to work for the US Open.