Flowers Never Hurt: Buying Roses Online

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OTC doesn’t always promote holidays – no particular reason, but too often it can feel a bit forced. However, this Valentine’s Day, we did decide to have a little fun. Hence the recent, “you already missed it, but here are some post-Valentines’ gift ideas” post.

We also partnered with online florist ProFlowers to see what their flowers-by-UPS would be like. In this day and age, everything seems to come over the web, so roses direct to your door for this all-important day seemed both convenient and, of course, fraught with potential disaster.

Not this time. The ProFlower roses that arrived right when they were supposed to. They were fresh, perky, and, frankly, just plain beautiful. And this wasn’t some product review in a vacuum; the recipient was Mrs. OTC. She was very happy – a good sign, given that she had no idea what was happening – and gave a thumb’s up to whole endeavor.

The flowers were (36 long-stem roses) were carefully wrapped in two bunches, each with its own hydration pack. Fitted into the delivery box was a surprisingly lovely cut glass vase that will actually see future use, two packs of flower food, and some easy to follow directions. All in all, a darn good operation.

The final verdict? ProFlowers indeed delivered. We would happily use them again.

Now, back to menswear!

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Post Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

It’s too late – you forgot. Or you procrastinated. Or plan “A” fell through.

For whatever reason, Valentine’s Day is here and gone. And, you need to track down a little something that tells your man that you love him. We’re here to help. OTC rounded up a few ideas that have classic appeal coupled with some modern touches that won’t break your bank.

Citizen Eco Drive ProMaster Air

 

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This is a classically inspired chronograph reinterpreted by the folks at Citizen. If an IWC Aquatimer Galapagos Edition is not on your short list at the moment, the ProMaster Air is an excellent everyday alternative. Good down to 200 feet it also has an internal timing bezel, and Citizen’s eco-friendly EcoDrive. Features include a 1/100 second chronograph, world time in 30 cities, split lap time, and a 99-minute countdown timer.

What we really like about this watch is that with an MSRP of US$400.00, it’s not too expensive, but delivers the style, feel, and quality of something more costly. It’s 44mm wide, which projects a certain pilot watch persona, with the capabilities to match. At the same time, it’s overall design is clean and modern with just a touch of functionality. It’s also comfortable on the wrist – a pretty important feature on its own.

 

Eu De Lacoste L.12.12 Rouge

Lacoste-eau-de-lacoste-l-12-12-rougeYes, the vaunted iconic sportwear brand also does scents. And they happen to do it well. And yes, that’s really it’s name. Not typically the sort of thing we get into here at OTC, but we like a good cologne and when it comes to Valentine’s Day, it’s a great, simple gift that gets everyday use.

Inspired by the original Lacoste “L.12.12″ white polo shirt designed by René Lacoste in the late 1920s, Eau De Lacoste L.12.12 Rogue “captures the transformation of the iconic polo shirt into a fragrance.” We like because it’s a scent that reads both active and breezy.

 

Bull+Moose Tie Anchor Tie

 

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Bull+Moose makes great ties that are both modern and classic at the same time. In addition to this great nautical themed motif, B+M crafts some killer bow ties and pocket squares. A tie may be the “safe” gift for a guy, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring or forgettable.

B+M also has a great story. A veteran-run company that was created with the goal of giving back to great organizations. – in this case, Got Your Six. We have a bunch and recommend the brand any chance we get. Like now.

 

Two (or more) from KP Bags

KP Faceoff BagBear with us here. OTC has always been big into the search for the perfect bag. Sometimes that bag is a leather satchel, sometimes a tote, sometimes a backpack. We are even working on the review of a handmade Italian box-over-lid briefcase; very old school. In this case, we are talking about the FaceOff messenger from KP Bags.

Kind of urban-meets-street-meets-techie? Sure. Not your typical OTC fare? Maybe. But the cool thing here is that KP Bags created a well-organized and well-made messenger that you can customize with a variety of purpose-built flaps. So, you buy the body in either grey or black and then choose from a bunch of different cover flaps. When in place, the covers are rock solid and match perfectly.

We actually love the one with all the tech pockets – seriously. Took us by surprise too. Really a great bag.

 

Style to Your Door: Bespoke Post

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Curated and customized style boxes delivered to your front door via subscription are very much a thing right now. As with most brands competing in a commoditzed market, first movers have the advantage of establishing themselves as brand names which often represent the whole segment. Some services are spot-on, some average, and some forgettable.

With its cleverly themed boxes, quality products, and interesting collaborations, Bespoke Post stands apart from others.  They refer to themselves as a”box of awesome.” We have had our eye on this New York based company for some time and recently had a chance to try out its updated “Sweat” box.

More Midtown racquet club than college gym, this box is a good example of actual curating and thinking through details. As with most of Bespoke Post’s boxes, the contents are meant to tell a story and set a mood, both in style and personality.

See what goes into the making of the Bespoke Post Blue Claw Co. duffel.

With only two components, a fantastic duffel in which to carry your workout gear from craft bag maker Blue Claw Co., and a on-trend camo workout towel by lululemon (yes, they actually carry some excellent workout wear and gear for men), you might expect to feel a bit shortchanged. Not so.

Bespoke_Post_LogoThe bag and towel are both substantial and solidly crafted, and the combination is just enough to keep things classy in the gym. In fact, while the Blue Claw duffel clearly can handle the gym, it’s easily nice enough to be a casual work bag. Each box also comes with a crisp and clever booklet that gives you details and information about your new goods.

The simple combination creates a feeling of potential – workout in style or upgrade your commute. Or both. As a side note, we were particularly impressed with both the quality of the products and creative way in which they are positioned in each box’s story, including the fluid nature of the advertorial messages – like the product booklet.

While the workout towel is actually very cool, the star of this show is the heavy duty 15 ource navy canvas bag. With a whipcord striped lining and nylon taped seams, heavy nickel plated hardware, and beefy cotton webbed handles, it’s pretty amazing. This bag is actually an update from the one first offered as part of the Sweat Box, and possibly one of the nicest small duffel bags we’ve come across, period.

With each box running an even US$45.00 as part of a monthly subscription, and guaranteed to contain at least US$70.00 worth of interesting stuff, you are bound to be happily surprised. Skip a box whenever; and if you happen to like one but don’t want to be bothered with a subscription, no worries, they are only US$55.00 a la carte.

Bespoke Post even has an online retail store front filled with a carefully orchestrated selection of manly gear, ranging from leather knife rolls for calming your inner Tom Colicchio, to authentic casino playing cards, to spearmint basic scrub soap.

So, if you are looking for a good Valentine’s Day gift for your guy, Bespoke Post is a pretty good place to start.

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Gift Idea: The Nautical Hoodie

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Need some last-minute gift ideas? We have a few up our sleeves, including this great nautically-inspired hooded sweatshirt from Nantucket Brand. It’s a classic made-in-America piece of lounge wear that injects a little Ivy League fun into your informal wardrobe.

Soft and comfortable with a trim fit, this is a nice lightweight layering piece for hanging out at home, running a few errands, or grabbing a beer with friends. It’s a great gift idea for the guy, or gal,  in your life – or for yourself!

 

 

2014 OTC Holiday Gift List

It’s that time of year again!

OTC has scoured the market and checked in with our many brand friends, looking for new and different holiday gift ideas. We also sought out products that have a little fun and creativity to boot.

From bags to books, jeans to key chains, shoes to shirts, OTC has something for everyone. We also kept our eyes peeled for great goods at surprisingly affordable prices. So, don’t be surprised if some of our holiday selections cost less than you might expect.

Explore, enjoy, and have a happy holiday season!i

 

IN YOUR POCKET

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KeySmart Key Holder
For once, someone put their industrial design education to work for the benefit of mankind. This is a clever and compact way to keep your key keys in one place. Talk about an easy stocking stuffer that can make everyone happy. You cna also purchase an expansion pack to fit extra key, and other handy add-ons.

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Ulterior Motive Slim Wallet
While they make a wide range of wallets and accessories, we love Ulterior Motive’s stylish, slim, and practical card wallet. It’s big enough for four credit cards and a few receipts or some cash in the center pocket. Other than that, the minimalistic design makes carrying the essentials easy and Swedish-ly cool.

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Hodinkee Crocodile Watch Strap
The eponymous blog for all things watch-related has also become home to a growing collection of tightly curated timepiece accessories, including watch rolls for travel, Jewelers loops, and even a watch oriented blue blazer. We suggest you check out their impeccable collection of watch straps to dress up your own family heirloom.

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THE WARDROBE

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Beltcraft Custom Belt
Going custom is something that truly changes your life. So, compliment your MTM suits, shirts, and trousers with a perfect-fit belt. Beltcraft can pretty much create exactly what you want and for a very fair price.

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Sebastian Ward Dress Shirt
While there are many makers of dress shirt on the market these days – from OTR to MTM to full bespoke – Sebastian Ward is something different. It’s a thoroughly modern shirt based on the design philosophies of the 1920s. Elements like a slightly fuller cut in the body, an extra long hem to stay tucked in place, longer arms ending in snug barrel cuffs, and a higher collar stance all make this it an indulgent shirting option. And the fabric – it’s just amazing.

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Cohen & Sons Crew Neck Tee Shirt
Lots of brands claim to make the best tee shirt in the world. As far as we are concerned, Cohen & Sons can back it up with the goods. Classic but trim-ish, super soft, and the perfect fit. We’ll wear ours until it falls apart.

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Bonobos Heritage Chinos
Call them chinos or khakis, but these are some fantastic pants. Classic and traditional on the one hand, but modern and fit-focused on the other. Bonobos is famous for its great fitting trousers and for good reason. These are not grand-dad’s khakis.

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Noble Denim Jeans
Founded by Chris Sutton, Noble Denim is recognized for making some of the finest hand-crafted Made-in-America jeans. Order off the rack, or they can make a custom pair of jeans to fit you perfectly.

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Cobbler Union Shoes
For what you pay, you will simply not find a better pair of shoes. Cobbler Union makes shoes and dress boots that could easily sell for twice what they charge. An affordable slice of genuine luxury and craftsmanship.

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Mountain Khakis Yak Shirt
Yes, a shirt made with Yak wool. It’s warm, comfortable, and feels a bit like Merino wool. It’s also perfect for hanging out by the fireplace with a nice single malt on a cold winter evening.

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MyVice Brooklyn Sweatpants
Whether you plan to head over to the gym or hang out at home, a great comfy pair of sweatpants is a necessity. MyVice makes great fleece pants that that are part sweats, part lounge wear. Loved by celebrities and average folks alike, they come in a plethora of designs and fabrics. We prefer the classic grey Brooklyn.

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CARRY YOUR STUFF

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Benchmark Bags Briefcase
Ever try and find a simple, well made business bag at a fair price? Seek no more, Benchmark Bags created an excellent entry-level briefcase that pairs well with most professional job descriptions. Soft full grain leather outside and a smart collection of pockets and sleeves on the inside; all for a very fair price.

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Sprayground Backpack
Just hear us out. No, this is not the sort of brand you would normally find on OTC. However, crazy skater interior graphics aside, Sprayground make a great everyday backpack for cruising around the city. The smart pocket layouts, big laptop sleeves, a solid build, and thick nylon impressed, and surprised, us. Stick with the solid colors and pass on the Spongebob one; that’s just wrong.

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Frank Clegg Executive Buckle Satchel
Frank Cleggg is the final word on American leather craftsmanship. One of the best out there, Frank designs and crafts his bags and accessories for customers across the globe. The president of the United States even carries a Frank Clegg briefcase. This elegant but masculine day bag is the perfect answer for porting your essentials in style. Beat it up a bit and it will look even better.

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Triple Aught Design Dispatch Bag
For many guys, commuting is a way of life, and finding a good work bag that fits their laptop and sense of style can be a challenge. One of our hands-down tactical brands, TAD created the Dispatch Bag – a perfect balance of operator cool and everyday practicality. Built for the field, it handles your daily office trek with 13 pockets, PALS webbing, and real world-friendly looks.

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FOR THE BOOKSHELF

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Rowing Blazers
Jack Carlson has done more in his young life than you did this morning. As a champion rower and trained archaeologist, he also did it in style. Rowing Blazers is an equally wonderful addition to the library of any fashion aficionado, sports historian, or cultural observer. The stories behind the iconic blazer are interesting, the rowing culture is eloquently captured, and the beautiful photos are timeless.

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Men in This Town
Street fashion photography changed forever when Scott “The Sartorialist” Schumann launched his now omnipresent blog. While many aspiring photographers have sought to emulate his particular brand of in situ framing, few have succeeded. Enter Giuseppe Santamaria, an Australian with a masterful take on menswear. With a masterful eye and quick shutter, his book examines men’s style in London, Tokyo, Sydney, Milan and New York. It’s must have.

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Cartier in the 20th Century
Few brands possess the global cultural force of Cartier. From jewels to timepieces, the name Cartier evokes dreams of luxury and stories instantly that translate into almost any language. Even the iconic red box so associated with the brand is in and of itself an ambassador and advertisement. This book beautifully captures the history and impact of Cartier throughout the 20th Century and is an invaluable resource for those looking to appreciate what brand value really means.

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