Thinking Outside the Beltology

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Belts can be the bane of your existence or a signature style element of your daily wardrobe. It all comes down to fit and too often that fit is exactly, just not right. Either too loose or too tight, the traditional belt design based on pre-punched holes can be quite limiting.

Beltology_PackagingEnter Beltology. These clever and stylish belts are build upon the functional foundations of classic woven leather and preppy ribbon belts. They take features inherent to each – minute adjustability and easy expandability – and combine them in something new and interesting.

These pants-holder-uppers are both fun and practical, making Beltology belts a great choice for everyday casual and office casual wear. The basic design of the belts is neutral and timeless, allowing them to fit in well with many wardrobes. And, their variety of material options and ease of fit make them a natural first choice for most everyday needs outside of a jacket and tie.

The hallmark of Beltology belts is of course their stretchability. Each belt is crafted from a flexible, densely woven webbing of waxed cotton, leather, rayon, or polyester. We tried out several version that reflect each of these materials and were impressed not only by the solid construction, very important for accessories like belts, but also the quality of the materials. Each belt we examined was sturdy and flexible, well finished, and well proportioned.

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The core of every strand making up the belt is a strong elastic material that allows it to stretch up to two-to-three inches and return to its original length. The prong simply passes through the belt wherever it feels most comfortable.

We did note that due to the firmness of the belt’s webbing, too much of a stretch with too short a belt resulted in a snug fit that was sometimes uncomfortable. So, just order the next size up if you think it may be a possible issue for you. This strategy is especially helpful for guys who prefer a looser, more relaxed fit; just get a longer belt.

This is very much a local project; all Beltology belts are made in New York City. The belt buckles are constructed from a heavyweight alloy that comes brushed or polished, depending on belt style.  All the trim is full-grain leather. One of things we really like about Beltology is the wide-ranging collection of styles, patterns, and materials. All have the signature red keeper loop lining; a subtle but clever branding touch. And, for a mere US$55.00 to $65.00, that’s a pretty good deal.

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Win a Bull+Moose Bow Tie

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It’s no secret that we are big fans of tie-maker extraordinaire, Bull+Moose.

One of the things that makes this brand noteworthy is that its exceptional ties are truly affordable and even include free shipping.  And, B+M ties, with material and construction quality at least equal to the likes of Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren, could go for a whole lot more. The company is able to make high quality hand-made ties at such a disruptive price point because they cut out the middleman.

Bull + Moose is a small, veteran run operation that is fixated on making great products and has fashion heavyweight like GQ and Esquire singing its praises. Without the overhead or licensing fees of large fashion labels or wholesale companies, B+M can pass cost savings directly to customers while still being able to support to great causes like Got Your 6 – an important company goal right from the beginning.

Now, you can win your very own B+M bow tie – the same tweed one shown here on their brand ambassador-in-chief, polo star Brandon Phillips. Entering is easy as 1-2-3:

1. Like B+M and OTC on Facebook

2. Follow B+M and OTC on Instagram

3. Leave a comment here and tell us how you’d wear it!

The contest closes at midnight on Wednesday, April 1, 2015. So, hurry up and enter!

*While we have no doubt this tie will make you look extra dapper and even natty, OTC cannot guarantee you will transform into an international polo champion with perfectly rugged stubble and a smoldering stare.

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OTC Recommends: Christensen Bags

Christensen No13_1Most lifestyle brands seek to improve upon a time-tested design or known functionality; a better shirt, hipper jeans, or a cooler laptop case. Christensen Bags, the brainchild of a creative husband and wife team, took a path less traveled and we think it’s made all the difference.

Rather than mimic something obviously traditional, these mid-century inspired bags and folios are unique, well designed, and irresistibly useful. They stand out from the portage crowd for all the right reasons.

Christensen bags are a third space when it comes to holding things. Crafted from a dense twill waxed cotton canvas, they are minimalist and sturdy – built for the work of carrying. While masculine in overall form, the brand’s carryalls and satchels evoke a clean lined, artistic aesthetic that make them perfectly appropriate for men or women. At at the same time, the purposeful materials and robust construction call to mind something you would expect to find in the field or in the hands of an architect at a construction site.

More so than any other bags we have tested, Christensen’s perfectly straddle the line between form and function. Tough yet refined, rugged but clean, pragmatically functional and aesthetically compelling. These bags work equally well hauling papers to the office or hauling tools.

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The carryall line in particular exemplifies this dual personality. Depending on how you use the bag, its functionally minimalist design naturally adapts to the chores and at hand. We have used a No. 28 Olive Carryall at a suit-and-tie conference and for porting sports equipment; it blended into each environment with notable ease.

Our No. 13 Platypus Satchel has become a go-to everyday errand bag. It’s the perfect size; compact but just roomy enough to carry the essentials with space to spare. The design is casually cool and can work with shorts and a polo shirt or with smart office wear. As with the carryalls, a simple panel of pockets and leather pen loops keep smaller items at bay, while the large, open interiors hold more than you might expect.

Construction-wise, the bags are actually double-thick due to the black cotton canvas lining used in all Christensen bags. The carryalls have thick leather bottoms and handles, and an equally sturdy detachable shoulder strap. We are still enamored with the No’ 28’s clever leather wrap handle closure.

The unique tab and stud closure on the No. 13 is also part of its appeal. Distinctive and practical, it is a design element for sure, but also keeps thing well-contained.

Overall, these bags continue to engage our creative side and keep us looking for reasons to put them to use. The company’s stated inspiration of Danish mid-century modern esthetics carries through all its products and underlies their ability to always look like the right choice.

It comes as no surprise that we highly recommend Christensen Bags.

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As cold weather settles back in across the Northern hemisphere, let’s make sure to keep a little sunshine peeking through the clouds. Indeed, this time of year means wool sweaters and six-whale cords. Yes, there will be more time indoors and more flannels, tweeds, fleece, and hot coffee.

All good things to be sure; however, there is one brand that always makes certain we don’t take things too seriously.

Ntnady makes great, casually breezy belts that blend the practicality of East Coast prep with the laid back chill of SoCal surfing. Founder Napper Tandy is a native Brooklynite marketing exec turned LA craftsman, which explains the pitch-perfect match-up in styling.

Too often belts are a serious business that must meet the work-a-day requirements of understatement, sobriety, and conformity. Of course, when you sit back and look around, you’ll see that there are many occasions when you can loosen up your wardrobe choices and have some sartorial fun.

ntandy_oliveNtandy’s new crop of simply designed belts are a fun fit for your casual winter wardrobe and add some personality while still holding up your flannel-lined khakis.

The new belts add some traditional takes to his classic design: olive and navy nylon, a navy wool flannel, and a fun red/green belt version of Christmas fun pants.

All of the belts are, of course, made in sunny Southern California. The nylon belts are crafted from old-school board short material wrapped around 1000 pound test nylon climbing webbing and simple contrast stitching adds just the right amount of vintage style.

As Napper describes his belts, “I like to think they’re aesthetically part Birdwell Beach Britches, part 70’s Patagonia with a little nip off the flask of the old prep school ribbon belt.” We remember Patagonia from back then – unbreakable crunchy mountain hippy gear – and he’s spot on.

Check out the super fun ways ntandy customers sport their belts, it puts a smile on our faces every time we visit.

We regularly test out all sorts of stuff here at OTC, and Napper’s belts are simple, fun, functional, and plain old cool. They work worn-out old shorts and Sperrys in the summer and khakis and Bean duck boots in the winter. What’s not to like?

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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!