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

 

Go Take A (Day) Hike

DSC 0614 Go Take A (Day) Hike

Now that the endless winter weather that has gripped much of the Northern hemisphere appears finally to be receding, it’s time to head outside for some much needed sunlight and fresh air.  One of the great pleasures of outdoor activities, apart from actually being active, is acquiring new equipment and gear designed for your back-to-nature inspired endeavors.

Purpose-built bags, clothing, and accessories help to orient your thinking and get you in the mood for day hikes, longer runs, or just an urban adventure to the cool section of town.

We have had the pleasure of recently checking out a few pieces from three great performance-driven brands; Granite Gear, Vasque, and Timex.  While they do possess a certain color-coordinated outdoor performance look, it was pure – if inspired – coincidence.  And, although each has great technical eye appeal, what ultimately matters is how the products perform.

DSC 0607 Go Take A (Day) HikeWe have actually been testing out the Timex Expedition Shock Chrono Alarm ($58) for about two months and find it to be a fantastic timepiece for everyday informal and active wear, be it working out, running, hiking, or any other activity where the possibility of deliberate or accidental watch abuse exists.

The moderately-sized watch is very lightweight but also sturdy and extremely comfortable on the wrist.  Its soft rubber strap is flexible, unlike the G-Shock’s, and gently hugs your wrist, keeping the watch in place without bulk.  A pleasingly functional case, clear and easy-to-read negative display, and one-touch Indiglo illumination, all make this a true favorite.

The Granite Gear Athabasca 24 day pack ($129.95) is another item that combines technical capability with functionally cool style.  First and foremost, this company makes gear for use in the actual great outdoors.

Athabasca 24 Go Take A (Day) HikeEvery strap, tab, zipper, pocket, and loop on this bag is there for a reason and built to withstand the abuse of serious backwoods tracking.  At the same time, their days packs are infused with features that work in a more urban, less mountainous environment.

The sturdy hip belt, perfect for supporting a fully loaded back for an afternoon on the trail, is also removable for everyday commuter use.  There is a sleeve designed for a hydration insert that doubles a secure slot for a small laptop, and an easily accessible outer pocket is equipped with key lanyard and assorted pockets.

A good pair of sturdy shoes is vital to a comfortable and safe trek, whether on a trail or down the block.  These Vasque Grand Traverse kicks ($129.95) are a nice hybrid multi-sport shoe designed to handle true back country trails and daily errands with ease.  It’s the performance of a hiking boot wrapped in the comfort of an athletic shoe.

The dual-density EVA footbed and molded EVA midsole provide superior support over rough terrain while the Vibram® Ibex sole gives you stability and grip, even on wet pavement.  It’s even a comfortable choice for going sockless and walking the dog on a warm evening – we’ve tried it.

DSC 0605 Go Take A (Day) Hike

DSC 0611 Go Take A (Day) Hike

Watch pack detail Go Take A (Day) Hike

 

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.

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