One of the great things things about living in Washington, D.C., is that people come here from all over the world to visit. For some, it’s a life’s goal to stand in front of the White House and take in its iconic power and history, regardless of who is living there at the time.
Others simply take in the city, exploring our monuments and parks, famous sites and historic places. Nothing is quite a beautiful as the city awash in Cherry Blossoms.
Spring and Summer are the big travel seasons here and a chunk of the tourist influx inevitably comes in the form of school trips. While it is great to see all these wide eyed kids gazing upon the Capitol dome for the first time, many of them, with seeming parental approval, express a total lack of decorum. Clumps of high schoolers march off to visit their senator or congressman in baggy shorts, over sized tee shirts and flip flops. Flip flops.
Girls sport the equivalent of beachwear and guys look like they just rolled out of bed and into last week’s laundry. To be frank, it’s embarrassing and disrespectful. Now, we’re not stuffed shirts, far from it. However, there are times and places for showing sartorial respect. (See mom, we listened.)
How is it that America’s schools and their DC-bound chaperons can’t even muster up enough backbone to require decent clothes when walking though the Capitol rotunda, the hallowed ground where presidents and luminaries have lain in state. What happened?
My parents would have ground me into the floor if they learned I showed up for a White House tour looking like I was heading out to mow the grass.
Very often, the well-dressed visitors I do see wandering around this city are in fact from other countries. As Americans, we are embarrassed when we see this total lack of respect for others and for the dignity of our most significant public spaces. Why not require a simple collared shirt and khakis? Dressy shorts are fine if it’s warm out, and girls – no halter tops in the Smithsonian, please.
This year, the OTC Holiday Wish List has a great mix of interesting items, price points and functionality. Some of these brands may be familiar to you, while others may be something new. And that’s what we try and do at OTC – remind our readers of why certain brands are indeed great, and introduce new or smaller companies who deserve some increased attention.
In the coming weeks, you will be learning more about a few of the outstanding brands listed below, such as Lotuff Leather. We are in fact field testing a leather lock briefcase right now; safe to say they are not getting it back after the review! Recently, we had the chance to speak with the superlative Ira Neimark, former CEO of Bergdorff Goodman, and the man who’s vision created one of the world’s legendary stores. His new book, The Rise of Fashion and Lessons Learned at Bergdorf Goodman, should be required reading for anyone seeking to understand what it truly means to be an exceptional retailer or influencer of fashion. Be on the lookout for our review.
Explore, enjoy and Happy Holidays!
Classic White Oxford Button Down
Lumina Clothing Company
Raleigh, North Carolina
Needlpoint Ball Cap
A Man’s Watch: the Polar Surveyor Chronograph
Kobold Watch Company
Possibly the Best Jeans You Can Buy
Raleigh Denim Workshop
Raleigh, North Carolina
The Blue Crab Belt
Knot Belt & Clothing Co.
Lessons From a Master Retailer
The Rise of Fashion and Lessons Learned at Bergdorf Goodman
by Ira Neimark
Colored Dress Shoe Laces
hook + ALBERT
New York, New York
Leather Lock Briefcase
Purple Pinedot Tie
London, United Kingdom
Set of three, $10.80
The Arte Italiana Milord Fountain Pen
It’s that time of year again, when OTC looks back, forward and all over the place to try to track down some interesting ideas for holiday gift giving. So, whether you are looking for the right present for that special guy or just something for yourself, take look at our picks.
There are literally hundreds of things we could have put on the list, but what you see here is an edited, creative collection of items at varying price points that has a little something for everyone. Also, you may not recognize some of the names and that’s by design; meet some new brands and learn a little more about a few you may already know.
Travel Speaker from Tumi
We are not too big on gadgets here at OTC – and iPhone, Nikon D80 and laptop are about it. Maybe Santa will bring us an iPad?! Well, add one more thing to the list – this Tumi travel speaker.
This little thing is a wonder. Connect it to your iPhone/mp3/laptop and hit play; the speaker uses the hard surface on which it rests to create the rich, well-rounded sound.
There is only one speaker and that’s all you’ll need. It’s a pretty amazing little tool that we will make sure to have on the carry-on. And when you are ready to get going, everything zips into a handy Tumi ballistic travel case.
Have a whole bunch of old ties that no longer make the daily cut but you can’t part with? Here’s a pretty cool solution; pack ‘em up and ship them off to …quilts by kate… and she’ll create a custom quilt like this.
Something different, snazzy and kind of green too – it is a form of sartorial recycling. And you may want to put it down for a father’s day gift as Kate already has a months-long backlog.
Is this for everyone? No. But if you’re intrigued make sure to check her out because yes, she makes a darn cool quilt.
Elementum Ventus Sailing Watch by Suunto
Reviewed on OTC last year, this Suunto Ventus is a sophisticated yet elegant sailing timepiece with features that help predict upcoming weather, an advanced compass for navigation and a sailing timer for the perfect race start.
It’s digital and thoroughly modern looking but has ocean-tested functionality that makes it truly unique. Also, the leather strap is a work of art that helps bridge preppy and modern particularly well.
It’s a real tool watch, something that was purpose-built and made to be used and we love that. Typically, we wax poetic about the mechanical Swiss thing, but in this case it’s all about Finalnd, because that’s where each one is made.
Classic silk pocket squares from Drakes London
Pretty much anything from the workshop of Micheal Drake is worth having, so if you have the opportunity, have at it.
His accessories are especially outstanding and these hanks are both exquisitely crafted and timelessly classic. In fact, Drakes makes some of the ties and square carried by the likes of Alan Flusser. And the company is modern enough to have partnered with Monocle magazine on a few items for their retail shop.
These pocket squares, or ‘hanks’ to you Anglophiles are a great example of the Drakes’ standard. They will never go out of style, work with everything and give you that touch of flair to pull your outfit together.
Expensive? Yep. Worth it? Yep.
A couple of new Dot Pois ties from Andrews Ties
This improbably named tie maker from Milano is probably one of the best deals out there you’ve never hear about. Most of their hand-made all silk ties are $49. Yes, that’s the correct price.
Weighty, densely woven and well-proportioned, these are darn good ties. Keep an eye peeled for an outlet near you. And if you’re passing through Washington D.C.’s Union Station, check out the surprisingly large shop near the Amtrak counter.
The No. SS0921 from S&S Apron and Bag Company
Stanley & Sons was founded in 2008 and makes some pretty amazing bags one at a time – to order. That means each one is unique and honestly one-of-a-kind. Take the SS0921 over here – it’s made from old conveyor belts.
Now that’s re-purposing with a purpose. It also means they’re not many to be made, so hurry up and get your order in.
Stanley Grodzki, the founder’s grandfather owned the original Apron & Bag Company and this new Brooklyn based incarnation adheres to the original focus on quality and construction.
Washed Saturday Wear shirt from New England Shirt Co.
Custom, vintage-inspired and American heritage shirts are all over the web these days. Shirts seem to be the new jeans – a style and make for every taste.
The New England Shirt Co., however, seems to have a real sense of honest history behind it, and it shows in the product. Vintage enough to be cool but modern enough to have the fit and detail of something twice the price.
And these guys are the real deal. As they like to put it, “In our 200 year-old factory in Fall River, Massachusetts, skilled craftspeople work very hard to create beautiful, honest, long-wearing shirts with a strong thread of integrity running right through them.” Amen.
Contrary to popular belief print is not dead. It’s in the process of reinveting itself into something you cherish, come back to and carry around in your bag just so it’s nearby.
Both Monocle, with its world view approach and outstanding cultural reporting, and THE RAKE, with its elegantly detailed examination of menswear and sartorial life, are must-haves for any regular OTC reader.
Both of these subscriptions are by no means cheap, but if you follow Monocle’s weekly podcast, you are already versed on the future of print publishing and are happy to support the cause.
Where Monocle is witty, urbane and very neo-moderne, THE RAKE is a celebration of male peacockery. THE RAKE is that magazine – the one you always said should have been made and now, finally, is.
Panerai Luminor GMT from Bernard Watch Co.
For anyone looking to make a great impression on OTC, here’s a hint – send along a Panerai Luminor GMT.
It doesn’t even have to be brand new; check out Bernard Watch Co., one of the leading secondary watch market sites. OTC has worked with Austin, Texas-based, owner Jeff Bernard on numerous occasions and he’s a class act. Bernard offers some of the best Swiss timepieces on the web at fair, market-based prices. The 40mm version is just fine. See, we’re easy.
A 360 Roller Ball Pen from Omas
Italian pen maker Omas makes some of the most distinctive writing instruments out there. And of their entire line, the 360 collection is the most striking.
The triangular-shaped barrel and cap are stunning in their simplicity of line and complexity of execution. Though we clearly have fountain pen pictured here, and it is a great picture, the roller ball is the most practical version for most guys. Regardless, any of the Omas 360 writing instruments will say a whole lot about your personal sense of style when pulled out at the board table.
Alden Longwings from J.Crew
Alden is an American classic; based in Middleborough, Massachusetts, and about as old school a footwear company as you can get. Think they were excited to have J.Crew come calling about a partnership? No so much.
Head J.Crew menswear designer Frank Muytjens told me that they had to call back three times and explain to the owners who J.Crew was and why on earth they wanted to sell Alden shoes.
Well, thank god they did, because these are beauties. Classic but updated in an elegantly casual way – something that J. Crew has gotten very good at under Mr. Muytjens watch.
Here is what you have a chance to win: All American accessory brand Kiel James Patrick is offering up a belt and bracelet of your choice and British maker Smart Turnout is giving away one of their signature cricket sweaters (size L).
How to win? It’s easy (…if you follow OTC on Twitter @OffTheCuffDC, you already heard about this yesterday). And, because Smart Turnout has joined in the fun, you now have until next Tuesday, November 30, to join in!
1. Friend us on Facebook (facebook.com/OffTheCuffStyle)
2. Leave a quick comment on the stocking stuffer giveaway post. Tell OTC why you should win either the KJP or Smart Turnout swag!