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.

 

Thinking Outside the Beltology

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Belts can be the bane of your existence or a signature style element of your daily wardrobe. It all comes down to fit and too often that fit is exactly, just not right. Either too loose or too tight, the traditional belt design based on pre-punched holes can be quite limiting.

Beltology_PackagingEnter Beltology. These clever and stylish belts are build upon the functional foundations of classic woven leather and preppy ribbon belts. They take features inherent to each – minute adjustability and easy expandability – and combine them in something new and interesting.

These pants-holder-uppers are both fun and practical, making Beltology belts a great choice for everyday casual and office casual wear. The basic design of the belts is neutral and timeless, allowing them to fit in well with many wardrobes. And, their variety of material options and ease of fit make them a natural first choice for most everyday needs outside of a jacket and tie.

The hallmark of Beltology belts is of course their stretchability. Each belt is crafted from a flexible, densely woven webbing of waxed cotton, leather, rayon, or polyester. We tried out several version that reflect each of these materials and were impressed not only by the solid construction, very important for accessories like belts, but also the quality of the materials. Each belt we examined was sturdy and flexible, well finished, and well proportioned.

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The core of every strand making up the belt is a strong elastic material that allows it to stretch up to two-to-three inches and return to its original length. The prong simply passes through the belt wherever it feels most comfortable.

We did note that due to the firmness of the belt’s webbing, too much of a stretch with too short a belt resulted in a snug fit that was sometimes uncomfortable. So, just order the next size up if you think it may be a possible issue for you. This strategy is especially helpful for guys who prefer a looser, more relaxed fit; just get a longer belt.

This is very much a local project; all Beltology belts are made in New York City. The belt buckles are constructed from a heavyweight alloy that comes brushed or polished, depending on belt style.  All the trim is full-grain leather. One of things we really like about Beltology is the wide-ranging collection of styles, patterns, and materials. All have the signature red keeper loop lining; a subtle but clever branding touch. And, for a mere US$55.00 to $65.00, that’s a pretty good deal.

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Win a Bull+Moose Bow Tie

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It’s no secret that we are big fans of tie-maker extraordinaire, Bull+Moose.

One of the things that makes this brand noteworthy is that its exceptional ties are truly affordable and even include free shipping.  And, B+M ties, with material and construction quality at least equal to the likes of Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren, could go for a whole lot more. The company is able to make high quality hand-made ties at such a disruptive price point because they cut out the middleman.

Bull + Moose is a small, veteran run operation that is fixated on making great products and has fashion heavyweight like GQ and Esquire singing its praises. Without the overhead or licensing fees of large fashion labels or wholesale companies, B+M can pass cost savings directly to customers while still being able to support to great causes like Got Your 6 – an important company goal right from the beginning.

Now, you can win your very own B+M bow tie – the same tweed one shown here on their brand ambassador-in-chief, polo star Brandon Phillips. Entering is easy as 1-2-3:

1. Like B+M and OTC on Facebook

2. Follow B+M and OTC on Instagram

3. Leave a comment here and tell us how you’d wear it!

The contest closes at midnight on Wednesday, April 1, 2015. So, hurry up and enter!

*While we have no doubt this tie will make you look extra dapper and even natty, OTC cannot guarantee you will transform into an international polo champion with perfectly rugged stubble and a smoldering stare.

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