Dream Space: A Study of Your Own

DSC 05471 Dream Space: A Study of Your Own

When the innovative technology company Dyson approached us and asked that we write about what a dream space means to OTC, we quickly agreed. Often, “dream space” is associated with the ideal female getaway, but men often want the same thing too. It can be described as an office, library, retreat, man cave, workshop, or even just “my room.” However, we prefer the the more refined and light-filled description of a “study.”

The label of study reflects a place of thoughtfulness and meaningful introspection.  It is not where you go to retreat from the world so much as a place to explore it; recharge and reflect on important ideas, thoughts, issues, topics, and pastimes. A study is not simply where you keep your stuff. It is akin to a library, yet not all libraries are studies. Where a library can sometimes be a mere repository of ideas and information, a study is a living, breathing place that feeds your creativity and curiosity.

No wonder then that the heart of OTC is a small, book- and sample-filled study.

DSC 05301 Dream Space: A Study of Your OwnTo us, a study is not simply a work space; it is a living place, a thinking place, a writing place, and a home base for ideas. Even though every study is personal and unique, they all tend to have some things in common.

Collections: One of the key purposes of a study is to serve as a physical repository for your ideas and passions. It is a home for important collections such as books, papers, pens, watches, or pictures – whatever they may be. Some studies are a study in precise order and control. Others are an explosion of color and stuff; a cacophony of objects that to an outsider have no meaning or cohesion. Yet, to the owner, everything has a purpose and a role. Every item is cherished.

To us, the study is very much a home for ideas and personal expression. It’s a place to keep your thoughts and materials together. The OTC study is home to hundreds of books, art, and a ton of collateral from brand that span the globe.  We have an extensive menswear library and piles of publications covering the menswear, luxury goods, and lifestyle markets. Our wall of books cover all sorts of subjects and disciplines, and many of them have been in the family for close on 100 years.

private study by karl683 d4u6tax Dream Space: A Study of Your Own

Art: Pictures and sculptures are something else that make a study more personal and interesting. Art is a true expression of personal interest, and each piece often has a story and meaning. For us, art is what makes a space and it is a physical way to express the things you value in life. The OTC study is chock full of old water colors and oil paintings, classic equestrian prints, family photos from the 1920s, historic keepsakes, trophies, globes, and even a cherished portrait of Napoleon.

Work Space: You need a place to write, stack, organize, and sort. A traditional desk, of course makes sense, but if you have the space, we also like the  idea of a large open work table. Position your work space near the natural light of a window or ensure that your task and indirect lighting provides proper illumination. Think about storage and shelving too, as organization is key to keeping your space clean and orderly.

Seating: Apart from your desk chair, a good lounge chair for sitting, reading, thinking, or researching is always helpful. It also has a way of transforming your room from a spare space to a true intellectual retreat. Here, her have a simple small club chair in a light tartan, but you can opt for something more substantial, like a beefy duck cotton or leather. If you have the space, and the budget, create a separate reading area in your study; a small sofa and coffee table or circle of occasional chairs,  make a nice place to sit and work.

Restoration Hardware Library Sofa 300x144 Dream Space: A Study of Your OwnFor our money, you can’t do much better than Restoration Hardware’s sprawling Kensington Sofa. Part leather couch, part daybed, it’s an ideal place to think and spread out – if you have the room!

Personalizing your space and making it comfortable and productive are essential tasks for creating a study that meets your needs.  Keeping it clean and organized are equally important to ensuring that your study evolves in a positive and useful fashion. To that end, we are running a very cool giveaway contest.

You can win your very own Dyson DC59 Motorhead vacuum. This flexible and efficient cleaning tool is perfect for compact spaces or general cleaning and it’s cordless design makes it that much more versatile. In fact, it’s the latest Dyson Digital Slim™ cordless vacuum and designed for maximum performance, ease of use and versatility, it has a direct-drive motor in the cleaner head.

Dyson on Wall Dream Space: A Study of Your Own

We are true fans of Dyson and are long-time users. The cool thing about the Dyson DC59 Motorhead is that it’s designed for floor-to-ceiling cleaning. The center of gravity is located towards the grip for easy handling up top, down low, and in-between. So, with a hand tool like that, there is no excuse for not keeping your study clean and organized.

To enter the giveaway contest, all you have to do is leave a brief comment to this post answering the question: “What is your dream space and what Dyson DC59 Motorhead feature do you enjoy the most?”

Thanks to Dyson for sponsoring today’s discussion.

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 Dream Space: A Study of Your Own

 

Seeing New Things: EyeBuy Direct Glasses

2014 07 02 16.47.07 Seeing New Things: EyeBuy Direct Glasses

Glasses are a very personal thing. If you need them, then you understand how completely they impact your life. Eyeglasses are also very trendy at the moment, which is a bit odd to those of us saddled with taunts of “four eyes” throughout most of childhood.

The right pair of glasses makes life immeasurably better, and the right looking pair of glasses are that much sweeter. So, when the web-based company EyeBuy Direct reached out and asked that we review a pair of their glasses, and the service behind them, we quickly agreed.

The eyeglass market is moving into new territory, with disruptive brands like Warby Parker upending the stodgy and ridiculously expensive traditional limited-access retail model. Glasses can now be viewed through the lens, as it were, of a fashion accessory. Prices for perfectly fine prescription glasses are in some cases less than for plain old mass luxury brand sunglasses.

For those who must wear glasses to actually see, it is liberating to say the least.

2014 07 02 16.52.21 Seeing New Things: EyeBuy Direct GlassesHandmade horn frames will still cost you a small fortune, of course, but for everyday glasses things have dramatically changed.

The glasses we chose to try out, the Darcy, are a slimmed down version of the classic intellectual heavy black bookworm-ish frames. They are made from lightweight Ultem plastic and we found them to be well constructed. The lenses fit perfectly in the frame and overall, the fit and feel when worn are excellent.

With prescription glasses, the lens is all that really matters. We were curious to see the finished product, in part because these are progressive lenses, which are complicated to produce and if not expertly made, uncomfortable to wear. Buying online only increases the potential problems.

As it turns out, the lenses just fine; they transition smoothly and each prescription seems to be spot on. We have been very please with the finished product; from every angle.

Though provided to us at no cost, the final tab for these glasses was $138.00, including the progressive lenses, various special anti-glare and anti-streak coatings, and an option for extra-thin lenses. Shipping was included. At the end of the day, an absolute steal by any definition.

The Darbys arrived in about 10 days and we received regular automated email updates about the glasses’ progress, which was a nice touch that also helped put the wait in context.

The website’s selection of frames is good, but perhaps lacking in quirky, bookish character, which is what we look for in a frame design. While the offering may seem a bit generic, that’s not necessarily a negative. For the price, we were not necessarily expecting anything dramatic or exclusive. We went in looking for a good pair of everyday glasses and the ones we selected were exactly was was promised.

If you are looking to add to your eyeglass wardrobe, EyeBuy Direct is a great, fairly priced resource. Check them out.

Below are some images from the unboxing:

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DSC 05561 Fathers Day Find: The Quixotic Pocket Square

Creating a space for yourself in a crowded market is always a tough situation.  The menswear furnishing business is particularly popular right now, with new brands planting their stylishly vintage flags every day. Enter Quixotic, a brand that caught our attention for all the right reasons.

What better way to celebrate Father’s Day, or any day for that matter, with a company dedicated to, as they put it, “inspiring gentlemanly action.”  It’s a rousing thought and reminds us that dressing well does not make you a gentleman; that goal is reached through action.  In fact, they back up those words with action of their own.  If perchance, you somehow lose or sully your Quixotic square in the act of performing a gentlemanly service, the company will send you a new one.

After all, it’s the gentlemanly thing to do.  In addition, they also believe that companies have an obligation to give back to the communities supporting them. So, Quixotic has committed to donating 10% of sales proceeds to U.S. organizations addressing domestic violence.

The pocket squares themselves are classic and casually modern. They are also made in America, each with a discrete red circle stitched into the corner; a visual signal that you do your best to be a stand-up kind of guy.

We tested out the Monday and Wednesday squares and found them to be excellent companions.  In fact, the Monday square joined the party at our recent Art of Style event in Washington, D.C.

DSC 05531 Fathers Day Find: The Quixotic Pocket Square

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Fort Belvedere: Luxury in the Details

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Fort Belvedere is the storied historic residence of England’s eternally stylish but morally fuzzy former King Edward VIII.  It is also a new luxury goods brand recently launched by Sven Raphael Schneider, founder of The Gentleman’s Gazette.  As with Gentleman’s Gazette, the brand and its carefully selected collection of products are unique, elegant, and expertly crafted.

You can find a nice pair of gloves anywhere, but only at Fort Belvedere will you see a collection of exquisite unlined Peccary suede gloves, the very symbol of a stylish gentleman.  The tightly edited collection also includes unique bow and neck ties, collar pins and ties bars, a rotating selection of wonderful pocket squares, hosiery, and signature leather goods.  The offerings call to mind a more refined time when a man aspired to be a gentleman and when sporting attire included coat, tie, and fedora.

The two items we selected for the inaugural review are the signature business card case for men and feather light a wool challis pocket square.  The business card case is truly unique and something you are not likely to run across anywhere else.

The case is fashioned around a lightweight metal frame and opens in a traditional clam shell fashion.  It is covered in embossed long-grain leather and lined with beautiful, contrasting red goat velour leather.  The button clasp can be opened with one hand and the two interior compartments allow for storage of your own cards and those you receive.

2014 04 18 16.03.32 2 300x300 Fort Belvedere: Luxury in the DetailsWe are such fans of this little case that it played a prominent role when we recently introduced OTC’s new business cards, as you can see here.

We also fell in love with the 100% wool challis pocket square in orange with green polka dots.  The hand-printed English fabric is silky smooth and lightweight, sized perfectly for folding or arranging as you prefer.  The hand-rolled edges are expertly finished and the red-orange color is both striking and complimentary to many of our outfits.

It should also be noted that one of things which signaled the quality to come was that when our samples arrived, they were presented in a sturdy, gold embossed bottle green cloth covered box which has found a new home on the dressing table.  It has been happily pressed into service as a repository for our favored daily accessories.

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First Take on Summer Style

OTC Spring 2014 2 First Take on Summer Style

What often works best for men’s warm weather fashion is simplicity and classic style.  Basics can make almost any guy look and feel that much more polished, put together, and comfortable. Think of it as updated Ivy League or modern preppy without all the gimmicky noise.

Summer style – even though it’s technically Spring, it sure has felt like July recently – does not have to mean old shorts, a tee shirt, and worn out sneakers.  While all those things all have their place, looking nice when it is hot is actually pretty simple.

Here we have an easy, go-to look that is both straight-forward and sharp, in a casual and comfortable way.  While polished, this outfit is neither too dressy nor overly casual.  Instead, it strikes a nice balance between formal and informal.  It’s the kind of look that works very well when meeting friends for drinks, heading out to a nice brunch or dinner, or just Friday at the office.

To add some easy polish to this look, just toss on a blue blazer or lightweight sweater and swap out the driving loafers for cordovan slip-ins.

The components of this functionally classic ensemble are basics that every guy’s wardrobe should contain.

The checked button down shirt is from Richmond, VA, maker, Ledbury.  It is actually a super lightweight linen/cotton blend that is fantastic in warm weather.  The shirt shown here is a short run from 2013 and may not currently be available.  We are big fans of Ledbury and their decidedly American take on British shirtmaking.  The construction is excellent and their fabric selections are always impressive.  Regardless of where you get yours, a few blue, purple, and red checked button downs are invaluable to your wardrobe.

OTC Spring 2014 3 300x225 First Take on Summer StyleSeveral pair of well-fitting and properly hemmed khakis should also be a core staple of any guy’s closet.  These slim fit Daltons from Jack Donnelly are a great option.  This small brand has created an updated version of the classic tailored khaki.  That does not mean “dress pant,” although they do iron up quite nicely.  They are light, comfortable, nicely finished, and can handle almost any scenario short of needing a suit.  These pants have the construction and detail of dressier trousers, but the fit and feel of classic wear-whenever khakis.  And, they are sourced and handmade in America.

A great pair of driving loafers can serve you well all day long.  While Tod’s iconic Gomminos may have created the driving moccasin/loafer category, we also love these Austen Heller Kingston loafers.  OTC has written about this brand before and their new collection only reinforces our appreciation of their comfortable, fun, and easy to wear footwear.  Opt for classic brown if you want to keep it low key, or try out some of the more adventurous color combinations.

Warm weather dressing is also the time to have some fun with your accessories.  Belts from Tucker Blair are a great way to impart some personality and Ivy League needlepoint into you look.  Other than that, strive to pare down and use more color as the day only get warmer from here.

Ledbury Purple Parker BD First Take on Summer Style

Tucker Blair Nantucket Needlepoint Belt First Take on Summer Style

Jack Donnelly Dalton Pant 640x1024 First Take on Summer Style

Austen Heller Kingstons First Take on Summer Style