And now for…Fly-Belts

 

Fly Belts2 And now for...Fly Belts

And now for something completely different.

Have you ever been stuck on a delayed flight, crammed into a too-small airline seat and wondered to yourself, “why hasn’t anyone made belts out of these seat belt buckles?”  Well, wonder no more – it’s been done.

Fly-Belts has taken the ubiquitous airline “lift to release” seat belt buckle and converted it into a clever belt for your trousers. Let’s be clear; this is fun and somewhat ironic belt, and one clearly not intended for for your favorite suit. It’s not an interview belt – even if said interview were at Southwest Airlines.

And that’s fine; this is meant to be something different and whimsical. Don’t take it too seriously and just appreciate the fact that someone actually did what so many of us pondered while in the air or sitting, interminably, on the tarmac.

Fly Belts3 And now for...Fly BeltsEach belt is named after a unique destination, denoted by the color of it’s commercial-grade webbing strap and comes in two sizes; one airline standard and the other, a smaller lady’s model. The buckle itself is custom designed for the company and based on actual airline buckles, but is not airline issue.

We actually found our Fly-Belt, the Tokyo, to be not only a great conversation starter, but also quite comfortable. The ability custom size the belt is a nice feature and any frequent flier will both recognize and appreciate the easy-open aluminum buckle. A slide tab keeps the extra length of strap neatly at bay.

Fly Belts Header And now for...Fly Belts

Fly Belts Sizes And now for...Fly Belts

 

Totally Unique: Da Luca Watch Straps

DSC 0543 Totally Unique: Da Luca Watch Straps

Handmade and totally unique, Da Luca watchstraps are one of a kind. Sourced from new and vintage leathers, they are equal parts  investment and a celebration of craftsmanship. Each watch strap is one of a kind – literally. Every one of this San Diego-based company’s watch straps is an individual creation, never to be duplicated. While there are certain styles and patterns used as guideposts, each Da Luca watch strap is its own singular creation and when it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

That’s one thing that makes our Cabrone strap so special. At 22mm wide, it perfectly fits our 44mm vintage pilot-inspired mechanical timepiece from Avier, the micro brand founded by Jeff Bernard, of Bernard Watch. Crafted from American alligator, the strap is thick and substantial, balancing the watch and creating a harmonious sense of scale and proportion.

DSC 05482 Totally Unique: Da Luca Watch StrapsThe skin is finished in a slightly dulled gloss that highlights the exceptional detail while keeping the look elegantly subdued, instead of flashy.  Stitching is self-colored to maintain the simple, uniform  design.

The clasp is polished silver of a Panarai design and includes the small Da Luca hallmark; the only visible concession to branding on the entire strap.

In appearance and execution, Da Luca watch straps are a great alternative to the often generic options out there. Our strap has begun to break in nicely and is comfortable to wear. Because it is such a thick watch strap, it’s going to take a little while to soften up, but that’s fine. The length is just right – not too short or too long – and the keeper holds the strap snugly in place.

Da Luca sources their leathers from some pretty unusual places. In addition to traditional virgin leathers, their line of Vintage straps come from old bomber jackets, ammunition pouches, belts, and even worn out shoes. The worn-in nature of such leathers makes perfect sense and the one-of-a-kind production model means that these limited sources are not a problem. To the contrary, such a dearth of unique and interesting materials and finishes adds the the brand’s cache and value. While not inexpensive, the Cabrone went for US $180.00; for what you get, it’s a fair price indeed.

In addition to its ready-to-wear straps, the company can also craft you a made to order watch strap. You can choose the type of skin, width, length, and even the strap’s thickness. Da Luca also offers a variety of other strap styles, including some amazing and colorful suede NATO straps, belts, and a selection of small leather accessories.

While we don’t say this too often, companies like Da Luca straps are one of the reasons we founded OTC to begin with. Total commitment to their craft, a dedication to excellence and quality, made in America, and products that live up to the expectation. Such companies should be celebrated, and that’s what we do.

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Basics 101: The Blue Blazer

Prince Harry and NAcho Figueras Navy Blazer Basics 101: The Blue Blazer

Perhaps more than any other male garment, the traditional blue blazer is the backbone of any serious wardrobe. As versatile pieces go, it stands head and shoulders above almost any other piece of tailored clothing, and with good reason.

When it comes to meeting your needs in a sartorial pinch, the navy blazer is chameleon-like. From casual cocktails to formal boardroom, a well-made, well-fitting blazer will get the job done.

When they hear “blue blazer,” many men tend to think “yacht captain.” The jacket sparking this dreaded stereotype would be the most classic version of the blue blazer, featured in any number of Ralph Lauren ads or episodes of Gilligan’s Island (see: Howell III, Thurston). Of course, this incarnation is also the most traditional execution of the form, and as such is a generally viewed as a particularly dressy garment.

A more accurate historical context of the blue blazer lies in its adoption by the crew of HMS Blazer as a means to smarten up their formal dress. Since then, the ethos of the blue blazer has always held fast to its nautical roots, even as it was adopted by rowing clubs which gave birth to myriad variations of color, pattern, trim, piping, and badges.

Its classic design and balance of dress and function, formality and functionality, make the core elements of the blazer universally appealing and long lived. It is one of the most iconic and enduring examples of male habiliment.

Rowing Blazers Facebook Image Basics 101: The Blue BlazerMost recently, that offshoot cousin of the navy blazer, the rowing blazer, has been celebrated in an extravagant new coffee table book, “Rowing Blazers.” Written by  champion rower, Jack Carlson, with outstanding photography by our friend F.E. Castleberry, it is a celebration of the jacket itself, and the culture and stylistic influence it has spawned in both the worlds of fashion and sport. Although it occupies a specific place of influence in today’s menswear, the blue blazer comes in a range of fabrics and styles that can work with almost anyone’s style – from lightweight linens to beefy flannels, in deep navy all the way to pale sky blues.

As the king of odd jackets, a blue blazer can also fill the gap when you need to dress somewhere between a suit and a sweater, regardless of the season. It is in that vein that we here at OTC generally tend to think of the blue blazer as an informal piece of clothing. While any sport coat or odd jacket is by cultural definition formal when compared to a hoodie, for example, viewed through the lens of tailored clothing or even office casual, a blue blazer’s versatility means that it can dress up jeans and a worn-out oxford or tee shirt just as easily as it can dress down khakis and a repp tie.

Styles vary as much as material. Some blazers have horn or resin buttons and they can come with single, double, or no vents. Single breasted jackets typically sport notched lapels while double-breasted versions should have only those of the peaked variety.

With its nipped waist and dramatic massing of buttons, a double breasted blazer naturally imparts formality and command. On the other hand, a single breasted sack jacket with no darting and patch pockets can easily project a more casual “drinks at the club,” New England estate look.

Classic Navy Blazer Look Basics 101: The Blue Blazer

When it comes to shoulders, the variations are typically grounded in cultural patterns. American blazers typically have a soft natural shoulder, while English tailors tend to prefer them padded and more structured. This is particularly true with double breasted jackets; the shoulders of which can increase (padded) or diminish (natural) its sense of formality. Historically, American makers such as Brooks Brothers are arbiters of the natural shoulder.

When shopping for a blue blazer, approach it as a major investment. This should be a jacket that can carry you for years to come and something that you are happy to reach for in the morning. A well-constructed blazer made from good fabric will be as comfortable as your favorite sweatshirt and its classic styling will conquer the vagaries of many fashion cycles. That said, you do not necessarily have to break the bank when it comes to finding one that’s right for you – unless you want to.

Mass market brands like J. Crew have spent years perfecting their version of the blue blazer and in the process have converted it into a $425 hipster cool must-have wardrobe asset. At the other end of the pricing and delivery time spectrum, bespoke clothier Jon Green can make you a perfectly fitted, hand-cut blue blazer for a few thousand dollars. You will never want to take it off, ever.

In the end, the blue blazer works because of its inherent versatility and balance between formal and comfortable. It’s one of those rare garments that both stands the test of time and evolves to meet the needs of each generation.

Below are some additional examples of how you can take the blue blazer from street, to office, to drinks, to country club:

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Modern Take on Blue Blazer Basics 101: The Blue Blazer

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Belt One Out With ntandy

ntandy Belt Orange Belt One Out With ntandy

Too often belts are a serious business that must meet the daily requirements of understatement, sobriety, or at least a degree of conformity. The good thing is that when you sit back and take a look, there are many occasions when you can loosen up your wardrobe choices, put away the earth tones, and have some sartorial fun.

ntandy makes great belts for those times. Especially in the warmth of summer, these colorful and simply designed belts add some unmistakable personality while still holding up your pants. The great thing about them, at least from an OTC perspective, is that they happily straddle the line between outright fun and preppy functionality.

While they clearly reference a purposeful and utilitarian past, they also are just plain cool belts that speak to founder Napper Tandy’s laid back California lifestyle. It’s like Ivy League guy meets surfer dude, and they totally get along.

ntnady Logo Belt One Out With ntandyThe belts come in five colors and are all made from old-school nylon board short material wrapped around 1000 pound test nylon climbing webbing. The simple contrast stitching adds just the right amount of vintage charm.

As Napper describes his belts, “I like to think they’re aesthetically part Birdwell Beach Britches, part 70′s Patagonia with a little nip off the flask of the old prep school ribbon belt”

Worn traditionally, the belt’s loose end hides ntandy’s cool minimalist label. However, Napper’s got you covered; click here to learn the “triple fold” and let your inner preppy beach bum shine.

Seriously, we test out all sorts of stuff here at OTC and without question, this simple, fun, functional, and plain old cool belt is a hands-down favorite.

ntandy Belts Belt One Out With ntandy

2014 07 19 16.32.32 Belt One Out With ntandy

 

Emmett London Navy Linen 3 Emmett Shirts: English Style Meets British Flair

Typically, when one considers Jermyn Street, London’s storied home to menswear’s bespoke luminaries,  a particular expectation comes to mind. Elegance, craftsmanship, detail, and tradition. While all of these traits still hold true for the area’s established labels, some are working hard to bring Jermyn Street a little excitement, to boot.

Emmett Shirts is one of those firms that infuses classic style with contemporary flair. Nothing crazy, mind you; their business shirts are of a modern but perfectly acceptable cut. However, Emmett’s casual shirting typically sports unexpected elements, such as a signature contrasting under-cuff fabric. Founded in 1992 by tailor Robert Emmett, his designs seek to uphold the traditions of Jermyn Street tailoring, while at the same time embracing a fresh approach to dressing modern men.

Each shirt range is offered in a limited edition of 25 and new styles are introduced weekly. In addition to it’s ready-to-wear shirts, Emmett offers a popular Made to Measure service (in-shop only). In addition, they sell fine accessories, including handmade leather goods, ties, cufflinks, and even boxer shorts. The company has three stores in London and a robust e-commerce portal on its website.

OTC was already familiar with Emmett when they reached out for us to review some items; the British X Factor’s Dermot O’Leary being a customer. Emmett sent along a slim-fit navy Zepher Linen casual shirt and a buttery soft green leather wallet. Both items easily met and exceeded our expectations in terms of craftsmanship, quality, and usefulness.

The navy Zepher Linen shirt with a contrasting black under-cuff is a perfect casual summer shirt that balances dressy and casual. And, the slim fit is indeed slim, but proper washing and air drying prevented any shrinkage.

Emmett London Green Folding Wallet 1 Emmett Shirts: English Style Meets British FlairThe wallet has become a true favorite. Hand crafted in Florence, Italy, it is a classic eight-card model with two currency pockets. A unique feature is the divider for the currency pockets; typically grosgrain with leather trim, this one is completely leather. A functional, as well as stylistic, touch that increases durability and adds a measure of craftsmanship, since it some creates no additional bulk.

This is the kind of brand we love to hear about and promote, because it has a sense of personality and individuality. At the same time, there is a respect for history and quality and a dedication to craft. Last but not least, Emmett may be rightly serious about it’s reputation and products, but it does not take itself too seriously.

Emmett London Navy Linen 2 Emmett Shirts: English Style Meets British Flair

Emmett Business Emmett Shirts: English Style Meets British Flair

Emmett Open Collar Emmett Shirts: English Style Meets British Flair

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