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Some things just say summer: sweet tea; old, faded Nantucket Reds; a seersucker suit and Panama hat; and to us, a nice pair of neutral suede correspondent shoes. Also referred to as spectator and co-respondent shoes, these classic warm weather brogues are both a throwback to the golden years of menswear – generally given to be the 1920s through 1940s – and a modern statement on the value of classic style.

A fantastic modern adaptation of this iconic shoe is the new Conard Wingtip from Johnston & Murphy. Available in three colorways, we chose the tone-on-tone grey and off-white suede palette. It’s a more casual combination that can be dressed down or up as desired and, as they become more weathered, will develop a careworn personality that speaks to our Ivy League sensibilities.

We have partnered with Johnston & Murphy to give away a pair Conards to one lucky OTC reader – see the details below.

For a more formal option, the tan calfskin and beige linen model is an on-point example of how to reference classic flair in a modern shoe. It possesses a lawn party sort of glamor, but the contemporary shape and styling read “today” without sacrificing the style and texture that make this a truly classic shoe. Lastly, the Conard comes in a tan, all-calfskin model.

2015-05-18 14.16.37Johnston & Murphy also took the time to modernize the shoe’s interior, making it all-day comfortable. This is not a minor point. While men are becoming more attuned to the style and design of their footwear, they are not women. If the shoes hurt, back in the box they go; it doesn’t matter how cool they look. In addition to a lightly cushioned foot bad, the shoe has good arch support and a firm but flexible fit overall.

We quite literally took the shoes out of the box, put them on, and walked around the city all day. Broken in comfort right from the start.

The full leather lining makes going sock-less an option and, by the way, the suede model looks great with shorts.

Win Your Own Pair of J&M Conard Wingtips

How would like your own pair of summer wingtips? OTC has joined forces with Johnston & Murphy to make it happen for one OTC reader. So, throw your hat in the ring and you may be walking in warm weather style!

Entering is quick and easy:

  1. Leave comment telling us why you need some summer footwear swagger
  2. Like Off the Cuff on Facebook
  3. Follow Off the Cuff on Instagram
  4. Follow Johnston & Murphy on Instragram

That’s it! The giveaway closes on Friday, May 29, 2015.

 

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OTC x Honourmark

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Here at Off the Cuff, we have the privilege of meeting some pretty extraordinary craftspeople. The one thing they all have in common is a deep-seated desire to be the best in their chosen field of expertise. Suits, shirts, khakis, denim, leather goods, footwear, handmade bags, ties, and even grooming supplies.

We founded this site with the goal of helping men find a natural balance between classic, East Coast Ivy League style and the modern, contemporary life we all lead in the world today. To us, this is an expression of love and respect for tradition, combined with an appreciation for the realities of our modern lives. We see it as making the classic practical and even new again.

Unique among the many brands we are honored to call friends is a company especially tied to the original intent of OTC. So, in that vein, we are very exited to announce that OTC is the Brand Ambassador for menswear company, Honourmark.

Honourmark is obsessed with creating casually polished executive-level clothing that meets technical, performance level standards. To us, it’s the epitome of OTC’s mantra:“classic style meets modern life.”

We take this sort of relationship very seriously – which is why we are also publicly announcing it.

Honourmark’s goal, to create exceptional made-in-America garments that celebrate the Monday-Friday lives that all men lead, is born out in their dedication to craft the c-suite equivalent of technical adventure clothing. And yes, that’s a quote from our review of the British Motorcycle Jacket post on Honourmark’s homepage. However, we had nothing to do with it’s prominent selection (thrilled regardless).

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What this means for OTC readers is that, as we have been doing for some time, we will test and review various products, support the Honourmark brand through our social media channels, and occasionally promote special events, such as the current Father’s Day special during which you can save 30% on your order.

We also wear their clothes a lot, because we love their stuff, plain and simple. There is the potential for other OTC x Honourmark activations down the road. Should they come to pass, we will of course clearly disclose them.

While we have and will continue to collaborate with other brands that closely match OTC’s mission, this is our first formal Brand Ambassador relationship and we wanted to make sure you know about it.

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High Marks for Low Boots

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Sometimes we just want something different. As we finally exit the grip of the most recent never-ending winter, it’s time to transition from heavyweight duds to a happier, lightweight wardrobe.

Yet, Springtime is also a season of fluctuation – so the smart man hedges his bets and pulls out some intermediate clothing tools, like the low boot. They come in varying forms and styles – from full dress boot to casual desert suede – but all have the benefit of a design that works with warmer, but sometimes wet, weather.

Low boots are often the forgotten child of men’s footwear, occasionally saddled with the style stigma of the 1970s. But when we think of low or short boots, we think of classics like the Clark’s Desert Boot, a legendary shoe that works with virtually every type of outfit you can put on. So, cast your gaze a little wider and add some truly transitional options to your shoe lineup. (And, by the way, they work just as well in the summer…)

2015-02-24 14.14.10-1Some of our hands-down favorite low boots were made especially for OTC by New York’s Paul Stuart. These made-to-order beauties fit perfectly, of course, and are a pleasure to wear. While such footwear is for many a true luxury, they are also an investment that maintained properly will serve you well – and fit you well – for decades to come.

To be sure, made to order footwear from the likes of Paul Stuart comes not only with a certain cache, but also the attention to fit and design that mark the difference between wearing simply nice shoes and wearing shoes that fit your foot, gait, arch, and shape. As with most things customized just for you alone, it’s  hard to go back to the rack.

Perhaps the most comfortable and stylistically versatile low boot is the iconic Clark’s Desert Boot. From khakis to jeans, shorts to a summer suit, these boots are the one piece of footwear that literally goes with almost anything. The classic suede back is of course the most well know, but these shoes now come a wide variety of finishes, like waxed leather, and colors, including electric blue.

When the weather turns and spring showers take over, a reliable pair of waterproof low boots, like the Rockport City Smart Waterproof Chukka, is a solid companion. The classic design fits with most dressy casual outfits and the innersole shock support technology by Adidas offers cushioning that protects the heel at impact. Rockport says they are, “perfect for the urban professional on the move.” Actually, we agree; these waterproof boots get the job done in comfort and style.

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Finding a special gift for the holidays can often be a challenge. Mother’s Day doubly so.

Of course, OTC is a site dedicated to menswear and the many facets of everyday style, carryology, and accoutrement. But, we all know that for many men gift giving for something as pressure-filled as Mother’s Day is particularly stressful.

San Fransisco-based Waffles & Honey has decided to help out – which is good, because you are almost out of time. Founder and globe-hopping jewelery designer Karina Harris has created three special one-stop-shopping Mother’s Day boxes that take the guesswork out of shopping for something unique.

Each box (priced at $79.95) has a special theme that captures Waffles & Honey’s signature bohemian chic style and celebrating the idea of enjoying some well-earned down time. Harris’s work has been featured in the likes of Vogue magazine and each box is built around a handcrafted charm necklace decorated with a single initial and small collection of indulgences. The box also includes a hand-written enclosure card with a short message of your choice.

Our box for Mrs. OTC (shhh, it’s still a secret) is really very special. It’s thoughtfully assembled, and the charm necklace is a simple classic piece of jewelry that lasts well beyond one day. So, while it may not exactly appeal to your masculine menswear sensibilities, a Waffles & Honey Mother’s Day gift box may very much appeal to those of the much-deserving mom in your life. Remember, being thoughtful of those you love is very much part of being a stylish guy; clothes get you only so far.

And, in case you were curious, Waffles and Honey were the names of Harris’ beloved childhood pets. Hurry up and get your order in – the countdown has begun!

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There is a common truth among men who wear dress shirts for a living: most undershirts are terrible. Too heavy, loose, baggy, boxy, or ill-fitting. They bunch, and they don’t really fit all that well. Our friends at Underfit have worked long and hard to develop a better undershirt, and by all accounts, they have succeeded.

Underfit developed a technically advanced made-in-America undershirt built to keep you comfortable and stylish all day. Now, building on that achievement, the company is set to add some additional innovations to their signature shirts.

A Kickstarter campaign was recently launched, and although we don’t typically promote these sorts of efforts, we are big fans of Underfit, their product, and their story. Please consider backing this great brand and innovative menswear company.

The updated design will have a deeper v-neck for when you wear open collared dress shirts, an even better quality fabric and additional fit adjustments. And, at about US$25.00, these are still a good deal when it comes to performance underwear.

The new Underfit design incorporates a blend of 95% ProModel and 5% spandex. It’s a lightly stretching material which offers a close and light body-hugging fit. While not compression shirts, they do feel closer than other undershirts we have tested, but in a soft, non-constricting fashion.

Underfit the-fit-no-buttonThe shirts are wider at the shoulders and chest and narrower by the waist, which follows the true shape of most men’s bodies. This design reduces bulk and under-shirt billowing. The shirt also has an extra three inch drop, which helps keep these undershirts stay tucked in all day long.

The fabric used by Underfit is made by Lenzing, a leading specialty fiber manufacturer, and employs modern technology to make your day a comfortable one. It is exceptionally soft, provides temperature regulation, moisture absorption, and due to its particular moisture wicking features, is even odor resistant.

The ProModel fabric also possesses a high tensile strength, which means it is hard to tear, retains its shape, and lasts for years.

We have already tested both the v-neck and crew neck versions and found each to be comfortable and well-fitting. After a couple of months of wearing and laundering, we see no signs of weakness. So, take a look, back the effort, and get some shirts.