Sebastian Ward: It’s The Shirt

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There are a lot of shirt brands out there these days. And for the most part, that’s a good thing. Depending on your needs and budget, you can get bespoke, made-to-measure, or off the rack. Dress shirts now come in all manner of pattern, color, style, and fit. Indeed, you can pretty much customize and tweak just about every feature to make it just right for just you.

Not all shirts are made equal, however, and there are times when we just want a great shirt that doesn’t require too much thought.

Features like excellent construction, a good fit, and a design that blends classic shirting qualities with a fresh outlooks are hallmarks of a great “go-to” shirt. It’s the shirt that you want to wear, fits right, and somehow makes you feel especially put together. Often, the best ones are from a brand that does just shirts, is obsessed with shirts, and understands how a great shirt is the foundation of a great wardrobe.

We found that shirt, and its made by Sebastian Ward. Need some context? Think Gianni Agnelli meets Jay Gatsby.

Sebastian Ward makes a thoroughly modern shirt based on design philosophies of the 1920s sprinkled with some Victorian panache. Elements like high arm holes and a fuller cut body with back darting allow the shirt to naturally conform to your body. The longer hem and arms, ending in snug barrel cuffs, guarantee that your shirt stays tucked in place, even when moving around and stretching. While not particularly avante garde, you simply do not see this kind of detail, design, and quality in any other OTR shirt.

If Sebastian Ward shirts have a stand-out feature that makes them easily, and quickly, recognizable, it would be the collar. With a broad cut-away design that sits proud on your neckline, the collar’s elegant proportions are surely distinctive. Long points ensure that with or without a tie, everything stays stylishly in place below a jacket’s lapel while at the same time allowing for a beautiful collar roll. The unique, off-set two button collar – while visually interesting – also adjusts slightly the placket seam, shifting it off the center of your neck, allowing a tie to sit more comfortably.

And the fabric, sourced from Thomas Mason, is just amazing; silky smooth yet substantial. Thick Australian mother of pearl button and single needle tailoring round out the many features which put this shirt at the top of the stack.

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Cobbler_Union_George_1We recently introduced OTC readers to Cobbler Union, a new footwear brand that creates bespoke quality shoes at perfectly attainable prices. The company was founded by luxury footwear industry veterans who know what goes into shoes costing thousands of dollars. Using their powers for good, these fellows set about the goal of allowing any stylish gent to be well turned-out from the ankles downward.

After our impressive experience with the Francis II double monkstrap, we turned our attention to a pair of Cobbler Union boots – the George. Dress boots offer much of the same style and classic form as a pair of brogues, but have the added flexibility of working equally well with stylish, but less formal outfits. Boots can more comfortably dress up jeans or khakis in a way that dress shoes, even those built along informal lines, can’t.

The George combines a Goodyear welt construction with Norwegian stitching, which creates a strong piece of footwear that’s handsome without being too dressy. It’s a dress boot, yes, but with a bit more on the “boot” side of the scale. In fact, to highlight it’s versatility, we are showcasing a #WeekWithGeorge on OTC’s Instagram page.

Boots like the George,  a plain cap-toe with sturdy but low-profile Vibram soles, also have the added advantage of being able to brave inclement weather while keeping your feet dry and comfortable. With a casually refined urban silhouette that belies its work boot qualities, the George is meant to take daily abuse with aplomb. In short, they are built to last and become better looking while doing so.

 

Constructed on the SOHO last, the George provides comfortable, but not too pronounced arch support. The leather is a French grained country calf that wears well and handles the inevitable bumps, scars, and abrasions nicely. The aforementioned Vibram sole, while studded and practical, is also non-marking and blends seamlessly into the boot. In addition, the color-matched Italian leather interior, quilted foot bed, and neatly attached pull tab, are all hallmarks of Cobbler Union’s fixation on craftsman-focused detail.

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Flowers Never Hurt: Buying Roses Online

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OTC doesn’t always promote holidays – no particular reason, but too often it can feel a bit forced. However, this Valentine’s Day, we did decide to have a little fun. Hence the recent, “you already missed it, but here are some post-Valentines’ gift ideas” post.

We also partnered with online florist ProFlowers to see what their flowers-by-UPS would be like. In this day and age, everything seems to come over the web, so roses direct to your door for this all-important day seemed both convenient and, of course, fraught with potential disaster.

Not this time. The ProFlower roses that arrived right when they were supposed to. They were fresh, perky, and, frankly, just plain beautiful. And this wasn’t some product review in a vacuum; the recipient was Mrs. OTC. She was very happy – a good sign, given that she had no idea what was happening – and gave a thumb’s up to whole endeavor.

The flowers were (36 long-stem roses) were carefully wrapped in two bunches, each with its own hydration pack. Fitted into the delivery box was a surprisingly lovely cut glass vase that will actually see future use, two packs of flower food, and some easy to follow directions. All in all, a darn good operation.

The final verdict? ProFlowers indeed delivered. We would happily use them again.

Now, back to menswear!

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Post Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

It’s too late – you forgot. Or you procrastinated. Or plan “A” fell through.

For whatever reason, Valentine’s Day is here and gone. And, you need to track down a little something that tells your man that you love him. We’re here to help. OTC rounded up a few ideas that have classic appeal coupled with some modern touches that won’t break your bank.

Citizen Eco Drive ProMaster Air

 

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This is a classically inspired chronograph reinterpreted by the folks at Citizen. If an IWC Aquatimer Galapagos Edition is not on your short list at the moment, the ProMaster Air is an excellent everyday alternative. Good down to 200 feet it also has an internal timing bezel, and Citizen’s eco-friendly EcoDrive. Features include a 1/100 second chronograph, world time in 30 cities, split lap time, and a 99-minute countdown timer.

What we really like about this watch is that with an MSRP of US$400.00, it’s not too expensive, but delivers the style, feel, and quality of something more costly. It’s 44mm wide, which projects a certain pilot watch persona, with the capabilities to match. At the same time, it’s overall design is clean and modern with just a touch of functionality. It’s also comfortable on the wrist – a pretty important feature on its own.

 

Eu De Lacoste L.12.12 Rouge

Lacoste-eau-de-lacoste-l-12-12-rougeYes, the vaunted iconic sportwear brand also does scents. And they happen to do it well. And yes, that’s really it’s name. Not typically the sort of thing we get into here at OTC, but we like a good cologne and when it comes to Valentine’s Day, it’s a great, simple gift that gets everyday use.

Inspired by the original Lacoste “L.12.12″ white polo shirt designed by René Lacoste in the late 1920s, Eau De Lacoste L.12.12 Rogue “captures the transformation of the iconic polo shirt into a fragrance.” We like because it’s a scent that reads both active and breezy.

 

Bull+Moose Tie Anchor Tie

 

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Bull+Moose makes great ties that are both modern and classic at the same time. In addition to this great nautical themed motif, B+M crafts some killer bow ties and pocket squares. A tie may be the “safe” gift for a guy, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring or forgettable.

B+M also has a great story. A veteran-run company that was created with the goal of giving back to great organizations. – in this case, Got Your Six. We have a bunch and recommend the brand any chance we get. Like now.

 

Two (or more) from KP Bags

KP Faceoff BagBear with us here. OTC has always been big into the search for the perfect bag. Sometimes that bag is a leather satchel, sometimes a tote, sometimes a backpack. We are even working on the review of a handmade Italian box-over-lid briefcase; very old school. In this case, we are talking about the FaceOff messenger from KP Bags.

Kind of urban-meets-street-meets-techie? Sure. Not your typical OTC fare? Maybe. But the cool thing here is that KP Bags created a well-organized and well-made messenger that you can customize with a variety of purpose-built flaps. So, you buy the body in either grey or black and then choose from a bunch of different cover flaps. When in place, the covers are rock solid and match perfectly.

We actually love the one with all the tech pockets – seriously. Took us by surprise too. Really a great bag.

 

Style to Your Door: Bespoke Post

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Curated and customized style boxes delivered to your front door via subscription are very much a thing right now. As with most brands competing in a commoditzed market, first movers have the advantage of establishing themselves as brand names which often represent the whole segment. Some services are spot-on, some average, and some forgettable.

With its cleverly themed boxes, quality products, and interesting collaborations, Bespoke Post stands apart from others.  They refer to themselves as a”box of awesome.” We have had our eye on this New York based company for some time and recently had a chance to try out its updated “Sweat” box.

More Midtown racquet club than college gym, this box is a good example of actual curating and thinking through details. As with most of Bespoke Post’s boxes, the contents are meant to tell a story and set a mood, both in style and personality.

See what goes into the making of the Bespoke Post Blue Claw Co. duffel.

With only two components, a fantastic duffel in which to carry your workout gear from craft bag maker Blue Claw Co., and a on-trend camo workout towel by lululemon (yes, they actually carry some excellent workout wear and gear for men), you might expect to feel a bit shortchanged. Not so.

Bespoke_Post_LogoThe bag and towel are both substantial and solidly crafted, and the combination is just enough to keep things classy in the gym. In fact, while the Blue Claw duffel clearly can handle the gym, it’s easily nice enough to be a casual work bag. Each box also comes with a crisp and clever booklet that gives you details and information about your new goods.

The simple combination creates a feeling of potential – workout in style or upgrade your commute. Or both. As a side note, we were particularly impressed with both the quality of the products and creative way in which they are positioned in each box’s story, including the fluid nature of the advertorial messages – like the product booklet.

While the workout towel is actually very cool, the star of this show is the heavy duty 15 ource navy canvas bag. With a whipcord striped lining and nylon taped seams, heavy nickel plated hardware, and beefy cotton webbed handles, it’s pretty amazing. This bag is actually an update from the one first offered as part of the Sweat Box, and possibly one of the nicest small duffel bags we’ve come across, period.

With each box running an even US$45.00 as part of a monthly subscription, and guaranteed to contain at least US$70.00 worth of interesting stuff, you are bound to be happily surprised. Skip a box whenever; and if you happen to like one but don’t want to be bothered with a subscription, no worries, they are only US$55.00 a la carte.

Bespoke Post even has an online retail store front filled with a carefully orchestrated selection of manly gear, ranging from leather knife rolls for calming your inner Tom Colicchio, to authentic casino playing cards, to spearmint basic scrub soap.

So, if you are looking for a good Valentine’s Day gift for your guy, Bespoke Post is a pretty good place to start.

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