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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Men’s Grooming Original: American Crew

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While not our typical focus, OTC does on occasion highlight grooming products that make life a little easier and help you turn out in your best form. Being aware, educated, and confident when it comes to your hair and skin is very much a part of leading a well-rounded and stylish life.

American Crew is a stalwart brand that carved out a niche in the men’s grooming space way back in 1994. Founder David Raccuglia started with his original Daily Shampoo and it’s now back, featuring a new and improved formula that uses naturally derived cleansing agents to break down and gently rinse away your hair’s excess oil. According to the American Crew crew, the new formulation gives hair softness and manageability without build-up, while Sage Leaf and Chamomile extracts provide shine and reduce bacteria. Sounds pretty good to us.

We have indeed testing out this new and improved Daily Shampoo for a few weeks and feel that, in fact, it really does do a better job that some other brands we have have field tested of late. It’s a solid performer that is worth the money.

As we are also product design and branding junkies, we delved a bit into American Crew brand value and positioning. The overall branding and product imagery remains in place and projects a masculine, confident image.

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The label and bottle design reference a manly spirits bottle, think hip flask or small-batch bourbon. The overall appearance and brand value is that of functional reliability underpinned by a sense of heritage and simple quality – all attributes that appeal to the core menswear market that doesn’t want too many flowery extras when it comes to grooming products. In fact, the American Crew lineup has significantly expanded to touch on all facets of men’s grooming, from haircare and styling , to skincare, and shaving.

They are even getting into the scent market; but then again, who isn’t?

Sold primarily through salons (U.S. customers can also purchase through a dedicated online retail site), the label is marketed as limited-access professional quality styling products. When it first hit the shelves, most men were more than a decade away from even thinking about men-focused grooming products. That prescient move by Mr. Raccuglia helped position American Crew as a core player in men’s grooming long before other brands even thought about the space.

While often viewed as being middle-market, it’s not positioned as a luxury line, American Crew’s price points are solidly in the salon product-purchase range. And, to our honest surprise, we feel it performed better than some other super niche-y men’s grooming brands that cost at least twice as much.

 

OTC x Jack Spade

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OTC and influential menswear lifestyle brand  Jack Spade teamed up as part of the recent Georgetown Blogger Crawl, a viral marketing event to promote and celebrate the storied and historic retail hub of America’s Capitol City. As part of the #GTBloggerCrawl, OTC was honored to be the brand ambassador for Jack Spade’s DC presence.

The event was conceived and executed by NeuProfile and the SCDC Agency. While we had the chance to explore and promote the best of Georgetown, Jack Spade is a universal brand that represents a classically turned out sense of urban style.

In fact, Jack Spade has long been a particular favorite of ours. Founded with a deliberate and prescient nod toward the principles of function, durability, practicality, and simplicity, the brand staked out an early role in the American workwear movement.

GTBloggerCrawlLookBook5(OTC)Even though founder Andy Spade has moved on to new and equally impressive endeavors, Jack Spade’s well-known focus on the refined intellectual urban preppy market remains strong as ever. Like Jack Spade? Then you probably have opinions on geopolitical instability, college rowing, and how the Romans co-opted Greek architectural principles. It’s just that sort of brand.

Their iconic bags and purposeful accessories have been joined by an elegantly simple collection of menswear staples, including suits and overcoats, denim, and classic oxfords. Walking to into Jack Spade’s Georgetown store makes you want to teach a university level art history class followed by an evening of brewing your own beer. It feels a bit like a cross between a private club and the city apartment you always wanted; cozy and airy all at the same time.

We were especially appreciative of the very kind gift of a Waxwear Davis Brief, a signature Jack Spade bag. It’s quickly become a personal favorite; perfect for casual toting and everyday portage. The Halley Stevensons waxed canvas fabric will get better with use and abuse and soon enough it will have that worn-in look and feel. We will be showing you more of this great bag soon.

If you’re in town, make sure to take some time and wander through Georgetown’s historic sites and check out the ever expanding roster of menswear shops, pubs, and old-school retailers. It’s a great please to live, visit, and hang out with friends and the occasional ambassador, world famous reporter, Supreme Court justice, or Vice President of the United States.

More pictures from Jack Spade’s DC outlet are below, many shot by the talented Sebastian Marin.

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The Noble x Bulleit Barrel-Aged Jeans Project

As many of you may recall, OTC is part of a very cool experiment being conducted by craft distiller Bulleit and premium jeans maker Noble Denim.

Cincinnati, OH, based Noble made us a pair of their fantastic jeans that were then specially aged in well-worn barrels, located somewhere out in the Tennessee woods, normally used for making Bulleit whiskey. This project is especially fun because while the idea was a great one, no one had any clue as to what the end result would be.

These jeans were made in a very small limited-edition batch, and we should be receiving the final product soon. We are particularly excited because, frankly, we have no idea what to expect. Once the jeans were assembled, into the barrels they went for a couple of months. When we get these truly unique jeans in our hands and see how they turned out, we’ll make sure to show them to you.

We are also happy to announce that in addition to their classic 13.75 Cone Mills denim hand-cut and sewn in Tennessee, Noble will be offering a Holiday limited edition jean made from a 15 oz. Japanese denim, available in the Truman Regular and the Earnest Slim fits.

We would be remiss if we did not also point out that Bulleit Bourbon, Rye and 10-Year also make great gifts and stocking stuffers. The Bulleit brand continues to set the bar for rye-forward whiskeys that are perfect for sipping on the rocks or mixing into classic holiday cocktails.

Check out some great images from the Noble Denim x Bulleit Barrel Aged project:

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