This year, OTC went looking for some great classic items that add to your sense of style, fill a real need, and posses the kind of quality that lets them last a good long time. When we looked for this year’s choices, we turned to some brands yo know and some we hope you’ll get to know. We also made a point of focusing on the basics, the stuff that sometimes gets lost along the way as well as some uniquely exceptional gifts for your self.
Regardless, a once-in-a-lifetime bespoke suit, a great pen, an exceptional tote, or some killer earphones can each make a big difference in your day-to-day life.
- Happy Holidays from the OTC team!
We have had a chance to check out several gift box subscription services and the one which consistently stands out from the pack is Birchbox.
These folks always seems to find truly unique, useful, and stylish stuff for guys. Our most recent box contained a set of whiskey stones to keep our Blanton’s Original Single Barrel bourbon chilled, a lovely little flack for a snoot on the go, and a sharp Rumba diver watch on a jaunty nylon strap. And, for $20 a month, it is indeed the gift that keeps on giving.
A Jon Green Bespoke Suit
“Bespoke” is a term that every online MTM site seems to throw out with abandon. You know how many of those “custom tailors” actually turn out anything remotely resembling bespoke? None.
Bespoke is a defined, established code of exacting craftsmanship achievable by only a rarefied few. The making of a true bespoke suit takes time, money, patience, and a willingness to focus on what works for you and your physique. In the United States, one of the finest bespoke clothiers around is Jon Green, of New York City. Jon is both an obsessive craftsman and engaging gentleman.
Starting around $7,500 for a two-piece suit, these are not for everyone. But, if you demand truly customized perfection in your garments, and you have several months to spare, Jon Green will provide you with the suit of your dreams – and your life. And, when you look at it the context of your life, that is a fair price to pay for something you will always want to put on, year after year.
Baltz Exemplar+ Writing Instrument
A good pen is a lifelong companion. With time, it’s useful functionality is gives way to familiarity and comfort. It becomes part of your kit, your stuff; those things that go with you wherever it is you go.
Baltz Writing instruments are handmade in Raleigh, North Carolina, by former college pals, Bart Creasman and Cass Baltz. They are dedicated to creating unique pens that stand apart from the masses, perform flawlessly, and through their distinctive design create a sense of expectation. Ranging in price from $175 to $280, they are an affordable luxury, and cost just enough to make sure you never misplace your pen.
Frank Clegg Signature Working Tote
Anyone who reads OTC knows that we are huge fans of Frank Clegg, and have profiled several of his iconic pieces. Frank’s commitment to handmade excellence is well-known, and owning a Clegg bag is a lifelong investment.
If there is one Frank Clegg bag that embodies both practical function and timeless style, it’s his Signature Working Tote ($680). Beautiful and sturdy, this is a tote bag that you can use every day; from the boat to the boardroom.
Frank is more than the name on his bags’ very discrete labels. If you have any questions, call the workshop and chances are, Frank will be the guy on the other end of the phone.
Hugh & Crye Shirts
The guys who run Hugh & Crye out of their Georgetown, DC, home base – Pranav Vora and Philip Soriano - are passionate about their shirts, getting guys to to try them on, and developing the perfect fit. In fact, Pranav and Philip are so passionate about what they do that American Express highlights the company in its small business TV commercials.
Hugh & Crye shirts (around $85) are cut for a generally athletic build, are solidly constructed, and made from outstanding fabrics Pranav and and Philip source themselves. Their ever-expanding selection of business and casual shirts are work well with your favorite jeans or your best suit. Hugh & Crye also carries a growing collection of small-batch neckties, pockets squares and other natty accessories.
Austen Heller Loafers
Austen Heller loafers bridge the gap between dressy and casual dress shoes. They are decidedly dressy but in a relaxed, deconstructed way; part American boat shoe, part European driving moccasin.
Started by a guy who simply could not find the kind of shoes he wanted, Austen Heller combines old world craftsmanship with distinctive style. The shoes are handmade in Europe using premium leathers, with a simple design that focus on style, comfort, and quality. And, with a price tag of $195, picking up some practical footwear flair won’t knock you off your feet.
Timex Ironman Run Trainer GPS
Our editor-in-chief has been working pretty hard for the past couple of months to drop about 30 pounds from around his middle, and running has played a big part in the effort. For the past several weeks, the new Timex Ironman Run Trainer GPS ($275) has been a regular companion and helped make all that running count for something.
Ironman is the de facto king of training watches, and with reason. They are built like tanks, do what they are built to do, and – during down time – speak to one’s athletic predisposition.
The new GPS model has moved the brand in an upscale, more technically polished direction. It can track your workout progress, monitor your heart rate, and split laps. But it can also dress up a casual look with sporty flair that says, “yes, in fact I really do work out.”
RHA MA-350 Earphones
RHA is a small British company that makes some great headphones and ear buds. In fact, Apple thinks enough of them to carry the brand in its stores. We had a chance to check out the MA-350 ear buds ($39.95), and are pretty impressed.
The aluminum bodies are light and sturdy and the signature fabric-wrapped cords reduce annoying tangles. These are just earphones, so there is no microphone or volume control, but we don’t care. The sound is what matters, they sound great. They also make excellent in-ear running companions – our preferred test method. Pick up a pair for yourself.
Mack Weldon Underwear & Tees
We were recently introduced to Mack Weldon, a new men’s collection ($19.50 to $32) that features tee shirts, undershirts, underwear and socks; fundamental pieces to create the base for any outfit.
This is an undergarment brand that is solely devoted to producing top-notch products that perfectly combine luxury and performance features to create a one-of-a-kind item. And we wholeheartedly agree. Their undershirts are best we’ve ever tested and the tee shirts fit, well, perfectly.
Kiel James Patrick Lanyard Hitch Bracelet
Our friend Kiel James Patrick continues to build on his brand’s preppy, wind-tossed reputation. And while it may seem his days are spent lounging around scenic photo ops and strolling along deserted beaches, bear in mind that he built KJP with his (and girlfriend Sarah Vicker’s) hands.
The brand has been a success both because of his perpetually photogenic visage and the obsessive amount of energy that goes into creating his made by hand, made-in-Rhode Island accessories.
Case in point is the new Lanyard Hitch collection ($40). Available in classic solids and preppy patterns, they are simple, manly, and easy to wear; even if you’re not at the beach.
And as we were recently shown by an industrious four year-old, these bracelets can also be used to hang a Christmas stocking off of a ladder, decorate a newel post, and tie together some favorite toys.