Spring Style: Out and About

OTC in DC Spring Style: Out and About

As warmer Spring weather finally begins to settle in, it’s time to head out into the city, take in the cherry blossoms and take care of a few errands.  Here, along Washington, D.C.’s 14th Street, NW, you will find some outstanding furniture, decorating, and accessories stores as well as a growing selection of exciting gastropubs, restaurants, and gelaterias.

For this day’s excursion, we opted for a casually simple and comfortable outfit that worked with the unexpectedly warm, breezy weather.  Remember, every day doesn’t have to be an exercise in Ivy League interpretation.  Sometimes, you just want throw on an easy outfit and head out the door.

Here, the vintage cotton J. Crew button down allows for freedom of movement and long sleeves for when the sun goes down.  The shorts are from Ecoths and while classically neutral in cut and color, they also have some nice urban touches, like a handy smart phone pocket. The ECCO BIOM Walk shoes are incredibly comfortable and lightweight – perfect for extended city roaming.

Athabasca 24 Spring Style: Out and AboutWe also took the opportunity to test out the Athabasca 24 day pack from Granite Gear, a maker of serious outdoor equipment.  Designed for use by both everyday consumers and avid hikers, this bag was just right for hauling purchases, snacks, and personal necessities.

Backpacks are best suited for casual outfits and practical needs.  Regardless of intent, a backpack – certainly a outdoorsy one -  never looks right with a coat and tie.  And, we are daily commuters, so we understand why people opt for them.  Remember to match your bag to your wardrobe and the level of formality, or informality, you are projecting that day.

Luckily, this day’s outfit was decidedly casual and the Athabasca was the right bag for the job.  It sat comfortably on the back and also stayed in place when slung over one shoulder, even filled-up.  The pack actually comes with an integrated hip belt for long day hikes, but we left it at home, opting for a slimmer, urban profile.

 

 

Accessories: The Money Clip

Engraved Hallmark Sterling Silver Money Clip Accessories: The Money ClipWe are unabashed fans of the wallet.  An expertly crafted billfold, whether for the back pocket or housed in a jacket’s confines, it is a portable filing cabinet and easy safe-house for your currency, cards, receipts, and notes.

There are times, however, when less is more and leaving your wallet at home is the best choice.  Heading to the beach and going light or attending a black tie gala and seeking an unencumbered evening are but two examples of where the humble money clip plays to its strengths.

Taking the essentials – ID, a card or two, and some cash – is an easy fit for most clips.  And for some, the money clip itself has replaced their wallet altogether.  For those who seek a minimalist approach to life, it’s the perfect alternative to a billfold of any kind.  The options are myriad and depend only on need, taste, and material.

The classic sterling silver money clip is iconic in its own right.  Engine turned, plain, or monogrammed, this timeless accessory is always appropriate and often a prized gift.  And, after a lifetime of dings and scratches have imparted a personal and worn patina, it is also transformed into a cherished heirloom.  One shortcoming can be the potential for loss of grip, especially if it is used as a wallet alternative subject to repetitive overfilling.  Regardless of your cash on hand, keep the contents to a minimum to maintain its proper shape and spring.

RC Fibers Black CF Money Clip Accessories: The Money ClipA modern take on the classic form is opting for a carbon fiber money clip.  These slick clips are light yet incredibly strong and often block RF signals that could potentially snatch credit card data.

While less traditional in material, the overall style is still classic.

Carbon fiber clips are practical and pair well with a more urban, contemporary sense of personal style.  We recently tested one from RC Fibers and found it to be a great choice when traveling light.  Nearly indestructible, the clip never lost its spring and kept everything in place.

Another option is the leather money clip.  Typically secured with a magnet, these are best for cash only – particularly in the United States – as it may adversely affect a credit card’s magnetic strip.  This style is inherently more casual and well-suited for daily use.  The magnetized closure also reduces the potential concern about the clip losing its strength.   The money clip shown below is a beautifully crafted example from Frank Clegg, a preeminent leather craftsman based in Massachusetts.

Frank Clegg Shrunken Leather Money Clip Accessories: The Money Clip

Generally speaking, we don’t like the awkward hybrid wallet-money clip creations.  They never seem to be particularly practical and we find them almost always to be lacking aesthetically.  However, as with any personal aspect of style, it’s all about individual taste and preference.  Whatever you choose, find something that speaks to your tastes and needs and hold on to it for a while.

Below are a few more examples of money clip we find particularly attractive, including a remarkable one that belonged to Marilyn Monroe’s make-up artist, Whitey Snyder.

Monogrammed Money Clip 1 Accessories: The Money Clip

Sterling Silver Hallmark Money Clip Accessories: The Money Clip

Modern Sterling Money Clip Accessories: The Money Clip

Marilyn Monroes Gift Tiffany Money Clip Accessories: The Money Clip

 

OTC: What We Carry Everyday

What I Carry Picture OTC: What We Carry Everyday

OTC was recently asked to contribute a photo to the British site Everyday Carry UK showing what our editor-in-chief has in his bag and on his person any given day.  As bags and the stuff of life have always been a big part of OTC, we were happy to oblige.

While the sack may change based on need, style, and mood, what’s inside is fairly consistent.  When we tried to edit all the stuff down to a manageable representation of gear, one item inadvertently left out of the photo was a fantastic Chester Mox wallet that keeps his all-important Metro pass secure.  In addition, although out of view, the bag used that day was the Courier Messenger Bag from Frank Clegg.

This brief exercise reminded us of the many great brands, creative companies, and exceptional individuals we have met over the years.  We have linked to a few of those brands represented here.

Clockwise from top:

 

One Good Suit: Indochino

Indochino 1 a One Good Suit: Indochino
Indochino has been one of the single most important influences in the business of made-to-measure suiting.  The company was a first mover when it created the first truly viable online customized clothing model, a market that continues to expand everyday.

While ubiquitous today, when Indochino launched in 2007 the idea of actually spending real money for a custom suit bought over the internet and manufactured somewhere in China was at best, iffy.  But Indochino focused on a core message of customization at a fair price, speed, and the potential ease of reorders, allowing a customer to expand his custom clothing wardrobe.  A website that acts design and retail home base backed up by their innovative Traveling Tailor pop-up shops has kept Indichino at the front of the online custom suit pack.

Indochino Labels One Good Suit: IndochinoThis suit was actually selected during a 2013 Traveling Tailor event in Washington, D.C.  It is the Premium Gray Three-Piece Suit in Reda fabric, which was a special run and not always available.  The super 140 weight is just right for a three-season suit and the classic cut and color is appropriate for almost any situation.  We opted for two-button, notch lapel, side vents, working sleeve buttons, ticket pocket, and no cuffs on the trousers.

The quality of construction and design as quit impressive and frankly better than expected, given the business model.  As with all Indochino products, it arrived in purpose-designed packing, slickly branded, and ready to wear.  Except that it wasn’t.  Even though measurements were taken in person by an Indochino staffer, the suit coat and vest were both too tight.  To their credit, the company unquestioningly held to their satisfaction guarantee, fixed the issue, and quickly replaced both pieces, updating the online profile as well.

While certainly frustrating, such a situation is also to be expected with this kind of business model.  It’s part of the price when removing ongoing personal attention from a very personal craft.  In the end, mattered was how the problem was resolved, in this case very well.

The goal for this suit was to be the one go-to suit that works for most situations.  We feel the effort was a success; it’s a great suit of cloths that fits well, has comfortably slim cut that works dressed up with a tie or toned down with an open collar.  The trouser break is slight, so depending on the shoes chosen the look can be ankle flash mod or meeting-ready sober.

While having a big suit wardrobe may work for CEOs, lawyers, and other boardroom dwellers, the fact is that most men do not need more than two or three.

Wanting more is another thing, and a desire that Indochino is more than happy to satisfy.

Indochino 2 a One Good Suit: Indochino

Indochino 3 a One Good Suit: Indochino

Suit: Indochino
Shirt: Thomas Pink
Tie: Andrew’s Ties
Pochet: Alan Flusser
Shoes: Paul Evans

 

TADPraetorianHoodie gunsgear.tumblr.com  OTC Favorite: Triple Aughts Praetorian Hoodie

Triple Aught Design, based in San Francisco, is a favorite of OTC because they make unique and functional gear that works in the real worlda nd with real wardrobes.

A perfect example of this form-follows-function approach to TAD design is the Preatorian Hoodie.  As with most of TAD’s apparel, there is a decidedly tactical and military-inspired look to this layering piece.  That said, what really shines through with this 100% merino wool hoodie is it’s clean and straightforward design, functional details, and solid construction.

TADPraetorianHoodieFancy Asher OTC Favorite: Triple Aughts Praetorian HoodieAs with other TAD products, this one received many unsolicited compliments from guys who typically commented on its style, design, and overall wear-ability.

There is something inherently functional in all of their designs that speaks to a masculine aesthetic built on practicality and use.  These are core elements of East Coast style and the preppy ethos; stuff built for work that has been appropriated for everyday use.

Some of the key elements that we like in the Praetorian Hoodie are the trim but comfortable fit, study and smooth zippers, and solid feel of the merino wool construction.  Warming or cooling as needed, the wool has a natural stretch and softness that makes it a perfect, and dressier, sweatshirt stand-in.

The hoodie’s hood is big and deep, almost a cowl-line; but nonetheless practical.  The two hand warmer pockets are well-sized and have an angled shape that creates a safe spot for keys and your phone.  The zippered chest pocket is a great design element that is unexpected in a zippered sweater.  And, even with a smartphone in there, no sagging or pulling.

As with other active life tops, the Praetorian Hoodie’s sleeves end with discreet thumb holes in the even you want to take out for a cool weather run, layer under a shell, or just keep your wrists warm.

Lastly, one feature that really makes us happy, especially with this winter’s spate of cold, windy weather, is the elongated zipper that runs well up the neck to your chin, closing out the cold and keeping you warm.  This feature also explains the wider than average hood design.

When this hoodie arrived at OTC headquarters, it went right on and has been a daily choice ever since.  Part sweater, part workout gear, part travel buddy.  The Praetorian hoodie is another win from Triple Aught Design.

S14 PraetorianHoodie Slate Iso Image OTC Favorite: Triple Aughts Praetorian Hoodie

S14 PraetorianHoodie Slate Iso Hood Image OTC Favorite: Triple Aughts Praetorian Hoodie