Makers and Riders Trousers

I recently grabbed a pair of Makers & Riders Wool Trousers to try out for business casual garb at the office — specifically, the ‘4 Season AeroDri Wool Trousers F16’. I’ve long wanted to try a pair of Makers & Riders pants as they are well known as a merino wool brand, and well loved by many travelers.

I’ve been testing these pants now for over a month, and overall they are very good (especially given the price) with a few quirks about them.

Material

As I mentioned these are merino wool pants, and while I question how much one needs merino wool in pants, these are a blend. They come in at 190gsm, composed of 46% Merino Wool / 51% Polyester / 3% Spandex — and I’ll tell you up front that the spandex stretch feels non-existent in practice.

The pants themselves are very thin, with a lot of breathability. I would say these are my coolest wearing pants of everything I own and are very comfortable. The material itself is billed as being “soft touch”, but I find that hard to back up in person. The pants felt slightly scratchy, like wool of old — these are not luxuriously soft like most merino you are used to. They aren’t bad, but they are not sweatpants feeling either.

The material itself seems hardy, and in all the days of wearing them, I never once came into any issues with durability — I would guess they will hold up just fine. Further, the drape on them is exceptional, much better than any synthetic pants I wear.

Performance

Instead of commenting on how many wears you can get, I’ll just say that it is more than cotton. My pants never really develop smells, so multiple wears with pants is more about staining, and I had no issues with that.

When it comes to travel there’s three key metrics: comfort, wrinkle resistance, and how fast they dry. Let’s start with the later: they dry crazy fast. The material is thin, and has a high wool and synthetic content. As for wrinkles they do wrinkle, but those fall out fast. I only experienced wrinkles when packing them, not when wearing them.

Comfort is a whole different beast with these. If it is cold (cold being what feels cold to you) you need to know that a breeze will cut right through these. They will not keep you warm. The stretch isn’t there, and the lack of a gusset in the crotch means they don’t move as well as any other performance pants I own.

But in the heat, when it’s really hot, these are my favorite to wear. They wear cool, they breathe, and the pockets are mesh-like which keeps moisture from building up around the pockets.

In other words they are not my pick when I think I might be stuck on a plane, or in meetings sitting in conference chairs — they would need far more stretch. But if I need to be battling heat, and looking sharp, I’d grab these.

The only other factor in the comfort matrix with these is the scratchiness of the material. It’s not ideal, and I mostly feel it on my thighs when I sit. If you are sensitive to wool scratch, stay away. If you mostly are not bothered, you’ll be fine.

Fit and Style

Most of the pants we review have more modern cuts and tailoring. The pants legs generally are slim, or with a strong taper, and the rise is generally shorter than higher. With these trousers the cut is far more classic. It’s not boxy, it has subtle tailoring to it, but they are strongly classic.

The rise is also very high on them, higher than any other pants I own — this might be the biggest deal breaker for people and something you need to try at home. I actually initially ordered my standard size 34 waist and found I couldn’t button these. I returned them for a size 36 and I find those about a half a size too large for me. So size up, but know that the sizing is a little off for me on these. I wish they had more size options, like a 35.

I mention my sizing issues because I think the 34 fit every part of my body better, with exception to the waist. So if you really wanted a pair of these, tailoring might need to be budgeted.

Otherwise these pants are stealth. No one will think they are anything other than standard wool trousers, because they basically are. There is a hidden zip pocket, but it’s well hidden. Nothing to see here, move along.

Overall

I do also want to say that these pants are well made, and I point that out because they are a bargain at $118. The closest, most comparable pants (looks wise) that I own are the Ministry of Supply Velocity pants (our review). For me, the Velocity pants are better in every way except for durability.

There’s a choice to be made here, between price & durability, or comfort & performance. For me, I’d stick with the Velocity pants, but it is very hard to fault the Makers & Riders trousers. If the cut had a lower rise, I would probably wear them far more, and when the hot and humid weather returns this summer, I will likely wear them a fair bit.

Find them here.

Makers and Riders Trousers

Taylor Stitch The California in Olive Hemp Poplin

Ever since I got my first shirt from Taylor Stitch, I’ve been keeping an eye out on their “Workshop” and “Last Call” sections. These are great spots to grab good deals on items from Taylor Stitch.

A few months ago, I picked up their The California in Olive Hemp Poplin button-down shirt.

Material

This shirt is made from a 5-oz. 55% hemp, 45% organic cotton blend. The weight makes it a very versatile shirt, working well in the summer as well as the fall and spring.

The high hemp content gives the shirt a great texture that adds some interest to the shirt, and pushes the fabric solidly into the casual category for me.

The weight and medium color of the fabric also allow this shirt to be worn without an undershirt, a big plus for those warm summer days.

Fit & Style

Overall the fit works well for me. It seems like the Taylor Stitch shirts are cut quite consistently, which is not always a given. The body is trim but not slim and the sleeves have plenty of length.

While on the longer side, the length of the body lends well to wearing either tucked or untucked. I’ve only ever worn it untucked due to the casual look of the fabric.

The collar also lends to the casual look, as while it never spreads so far that it lays flat, it tends to spread out quite a bit.

Performance

Taylor Stitch bills this fabric as helping to keep you cool and dry when the temperature rises. Wearing this shirt since the end of the summer, I can say that this is true. I never felt like the armpits were wet and never noticed any sweat marks.

The shirt also does well with odor-resistance, as I am able to get a solid 2+ wears out of this shirt, depending on how much I was sweating while wearing it.

It also performs well for not having any stretch in it. I never felt restricted while wearing the shirt.

Finally, you will not get away without an iron here. When coming out of the laundry, it is very wrinkly. I even tried tossing it in the dryer and hanging it immediately, with no luck. While it does look good with some level of wrinkles, it is way too wrinkly after washing to wear.

Overall

I really like the shirt. The texture and weight of the fabric gives it a great look and it works really well for casual wear and the high hemp content lends to the durability and performance. While I’m not sure I’d recommend it at the full $128 price, it represents a good value at the marked down $89.

Taylor Stitch The California in Olive Hemp Poplin

Lululemon Down To The Wire Shirt

Lululemon has been making performance clothing for a long time, and are favorites among many people for their ABC Pants. Today though, I want to take a look at a performance button up shirt they offer. I recently picked up their Down To The Wire Shirt, and have been testing it for roughly a month. It’s not what I expected, so let’s dive in.

Material

The only specifics given on the fabric are “Technical Cotton fabric is sweat-wicking and anti-stink” and that it uses Lycra for stretch. Until I wrote this section, I thought it was polyester, so I am surprised to learn it is cotton based.

The stretch is there however, and some clever tailoring lends to great movement throughout the arms. It appears they have gusseted the sleeves to allow more movement. All in all, the shirt isn’t restrictive.

Performance

This shirt is billed as, breathability, stretch, and anti-odor. As I mentioned above, it moves pretty well all in all, especially given the slim fit. However, I don’t think it holds up to the odor test. You won’t stink after a day like with pure polyester, but you won’t likely be getting multiple wears out of this.

I think the biggest issue I found from a performance view is that it is highly wrinkle prone. To show that off, all images are shown after a day of wearing it. It’s on par with any thin cotton shirt — the sleeves and shoulders will get wrinkled. You won’t want to travel with this.

From a breathability aspect, it’s not the best and it’s not the worst. I wouldn’t mark that up as a strong selling point, but there’s nothing detracting either.

Fit and Style

Overall, the fit is quite good for me. The sleeves have ample length which is rare, and the body is cut rather trim. It looks sharp all in all, and the cuffs are fantastic.

There are two issues with fit. The body is a tad short, which lends to the shirt wearing well untucked, but wearing it tucked in can be tricky if you are sitting a lot. It is prone to coming untucked.

The bigger style issue is the sloppy collar. The button placement tends to allow the collar to spread open quite wide, and while it won’t lay flat, it does look unkept. It is sloppy, and overly casual.

Overall

At $108 I wouldn’t recommend it. I bought it for $79 and still I wouldn’t recommend it, standard cotton shirts with stretch will perform just as well and hopefully have better collars. It’s a solid shirt, but lags well behind the other performance dress shirts we have reviewed here.

Lululemon Down To The Wire Shirt

Choosing Cotton vs. Synthetic

Recently, I’ve been trying out a few button-ups (and a polo) that are either all, or majority cotton. This has shifted my thinking some when choosing a shirt to wear.

Previously, all of my button-ups were either merino or 100% synthetic. Of course, I am able to get multiple wears out of the merino shirts, but the synthetic shirts either need a rinse or wash after each wear.

The synthetic shirts come out of my bag ready to wear, the merino sometimes need a steam in the bathroom. And when it comes time for a wash, the synthetic shirts are ready to go after hanging dry, while the merino shirts need a steam.

Now that I have some mostly cotton shirts in my wardrobe, I see some areas where they fit in. I’m specifically talking about a few from Taylor Stitch (The Short Sleeve Bandit in Heather Grey, our review and The California in Olive Hemp Poplin) and the Mack Weldon 37.5 Oxford. On the polo side, I’m talking about the Mack Weldon SILVERKNIT Polo (our review).

Being someone who often wears an undershirt under my button-ups, I’m able to get two wears out of each of these shirts. In the case of the Hemp Poplin fabric from
Taylor Stitch I’ve gotten two days of wear out of it even without an undershirt.

I find myself favoring these mostly cotton shirts in a few situations:

  1. When I need a casual shirt, these, specifically the Taylor Stitch shirts are perfect. They look normal, have great drape, and the small amount of linen or hemp blended in give them a little edge on performance.
  2. On my travel days, I tend to go for something a little more durable than a merino shirt. Synthetic was previously my go-to, but I found they could start to smell by the end of a long day of travel.
  3. When I want a shirt that just looks absolutely normal and simple, the heavy cotton of the Mack Weldon shirt gives that classic Oxford look and drape and the polo looks just like your standard pique polo.

While the Mack Weldon shirts do have some extra tech to up their performance to some extent, the Taylor Stitch shirts just rely on a small portion of other natural fibers to make them something special.

Wearing these shirts for a few months has made me more likely to give mostly cotton shirts a chance. There are many cases where cotton will suffice, or even be a better choice. If you’re looking for a shirt to wear once or twice before washing, and don’t mind ironing or steaming, merino might not be worth the extra expense and synthetic might not be the best for keeping fresh all day. For me, cotton blends come out on the top in these cases and if I’m going to spend a lot of time out in the heat, a blend with hemp or linen is my choice.

Choosing Cotton vs. Synthetic

KOY Gear KG Tee

Note: This t-shirt was provided by KOY Gear for review purposes.

KOY Gear is a relatively new Canadian tech wear company which came onto my radar through their current Kickstarter campaign. They currently offer a Silver Boxer Brief which was launched in 2018, and this campaign is to launch their KG Tee and KG Socks.

Diving into their mission a little further, their design philosophy of “Invisible Technical” stuck out as a good fit for what we look for here — they provide performance features that are ‘invisibly’ integrated into their clothing.

When KOY offered me a chance to check out their KG Tee, I was excited to give it a try. After a few weeks, I can say it lives up to the claims and has an interesting combination of technologies.

Material

The material on this shirt is packed with some interesting features. It is a 200 gsm 4-way stretch blend consisting of 47% Modal, 47% cotton, and 6% Elastane. The outside has a hydro-repellant treatment while the inside has a special treatment to make it highly moisture wicking (which combines with the special weaving pattern for breathability). The overall fabric is then treated with a silver ionization technology for anti odor.

With all of the mixed treatment and technologies in this shirt, I wasn’t sure if the fabric would live up to the claims of being soft and smooth. However, it really is extremely soft, smooth, and comfortable.

Fit & Style

The fit of the shirt is very slim/tapered. In fact, if you are looking for a true tapered shirt, this is probably most like what you are looking for out of all the t-shirts we’ve reviewed. KOY recommends sizing up if you are looking for a casual fit, and that is definitely true. I am at the upper end of the chest measurements for Large, and with an Extra Large, the shirt is even still a little more snug than I typically wear my shirts.

Style wise, this makes it different from a lot of performance tees with at most an athletic fit. Paired with the fact that the shirt has a substantial weight and looks just like cotton, it is certainly a fashionable tee that can easily go from the gym to everyday.

Performance

This shirt is described by KOY with five words — “comfort, odorless, antibacterial, stain resistant, and breathable.”

I’ll tackle each in turn, starting with comfort. The fabric has enough weight to not feel clingy and is very soft and smooth. This, along with the flat lock stitching and 4-way stretch, makes the shirt extremely comfortable.

Of course, odor resistance is something we look for in a performance tee. The (antibacterial) silver treatment does a great job at keeping the shirt odorless. In fact, I was able to wear it as many times as I can a merino tee for working out. After 4-5 wears, I washed it, but probably could have gotten more wears.

When it comes to stain resistance, the shirt does a great job repelling water, so I can see it repelling any spills you throw at it.

Typically, cotton with as much water repellence as this shirt has can feel stiff. Not so here. I didn’t feel that the breathability of the shirt was impacted by the treatments or weight.

One other feature of the shirt that I was surprised by was the moisture wicking interior. Even when sweating profusely from a hard spin or row, the inside of the shirt would get wet, but you could not see that wetness through the face of the fabric. In principle, this sounds like it could be uncomfortable, but I never felt like the fabric was weighted down or felt clammy from the moisture. This seems like it could be a good feature if you get sweaty when biking or walking but want to show up at your destination looking dry. The only caveat is that the shirt tends to stay moist longer than a synthetic shirt (I’d compare it to a merino tee).

Overall

The KG Tee is full of a combination of interesting technologies. If the unique features and the fit of the shirt are compelling, the price is right at the retail price of about $30. It will stay in my rotation for active pursuits.

Unfortunately, the Kickstarter is sold out of rewards with just the t-shirt, but for about $37 you can get the tee with two pairs of their KG Socks. Pledges are open through October 17th, with a retail launch in 2020.

KOY Gear KG Tee

Patagonia Long-Sleeved Capilene Cool Daily Shirt

I’ve worn Patagonia Capilene baselayers for a long time now, but never had tried any of their lightweight shirts until recently. Before a camping trip in the hot and humid southeast this summer, I decided to grab one of the Capilene Cool Daily shirts. I had heard a lot of praise, so I had high expectations.

Material

This shirt is made from 100% polyester, with 50-100% recycled content depending on the color. The version I have is treated with Polygiene odor control technology, however, they just launched them with some new treatments: miDori bioSoft for added wicking and softness and HeiQ Fresh for odor control.

Even without the softening treatment, I found this fabric to have an excellent, smooth hand feel. Even better, it was also extremely lightweight while still maintaining a UPF 50+ sun protection rating.

Despite the lightweight nature of the fabric, I saw no indication of pilling from my GORUCK bag, which I have seen in the past on some of my other outdoors shirts. I typically don’t have issues with my GORUCK bags, but the combination of sweat and hours of exertion can take their toll. I suspect the silkiness of the fabric helped here.

Fit & Style

Patagonia lists this as a “Regular Fit”, however, I found it to be cut on the smaller side. In my normal Patagonia size (Large), the shirt was tight. I’m guessing they use their base layer sizing here, so that is understandable. If I were wearing this as a baselayer, Large would be the correct fit, however, wearing it as my only layer, I prefer the fit of an Extra Large.

As far as style goes, there isn’t much to say. It’s a technical-looking shirt, so I’m not picking this up for the looks. However, there is almost no sheen to the fabric — quite impressive for 100% polyester.

Performance

The shirt performed very well when it came to wicking away sweat. The shirt did get wet, but never felt heavy, and in fact, I think the sweat evaporation helped keep me cooler.

Secondarily, the UPF 50+ sun protection rating kept me from having to worry about sunscreen on my arms, which was initially why I wanted to go with a long sleeve shirt. Ultimately, I also appreciated the sleeves because I no longer had sweat running down my arms and dripping off my fingers.

When it came to odor resistance, the Polygiene did not work for me. The shirt stunk after just one day of hiking. Unless the new odor treatment is better, this is definitely a one wear shirt despite any claims.

The silky nature of the shirt also helped prevent chafing. If you are a hiker, you will be familiar with the dreaded nipple chafing — none of that here.

Overall

Overall I was impressed with the Capilene Cool Daily fabric. The wicking exceeded my expectations, and even though the odor treatment did not seem to work for me, I still think this is a great fabric.

The long sleeve version I tested has the extra benefits of protecting your arms from the sun and helping keep you comfortable even when you are sweating profusely. I can see this shirt staying in my hiking lineup and becoming a lightweight baselayer for the cooler weather.

If you are looking for a durable, comfortable, lightweight shirt for active pursuits, I think the Capilene Cool Daily line represents a great value.

Patagonia Long-Sleeved Capilene Cool Daily Shirt

Y Athletics House Shorts

Note: these shorts were sent to us for review purposes.

A while back, Y Athletics contacted us wanting to send over some new shorts they had developed. These are a hybrid merino wool short, and called simply ‘House Shorts’. I’ve been wearing them for quite some time now, and they have become a regular part of my wardrobe.

Material

This is a 265 gsm double knit fabric with the inner face being a 70% Merino Wool (19.5 micron), 30% Nylon blend, and the outer being 100% Polyester. In a nutshell they are thick, heavy, and very soft.

On the website Y Athletics notes that this product is a single run and is being sold at a discounted price because “The face fabric of this garment is below our specified tolerance for abrasion. It is prone to pilling with no effect on performance.” Oddly I have not seen any of this pilling on my shorts, what I have seen is a lot snags. Both of the seam stitching and on the general shorts as well.

Lastly, the exterior fabric is very smooth with a slight sheen. I wouldn’t say they are shiny, but they are also not matte.

Performance

I still think shorts/pants made out of merino are a bit overkill. It’s not an area of your body prone to a lot of body odor, nor an area most people smell that often. However, I think the goal with merino use here is in moisture wicking and thermoregulation.

To that end these shorts need to be judged based on comfort. And so I will now say these are the most comfortable shorts I have ever owned. I have worked out in them, but I mostly lounge about in them. They are supremely comfortable, a mix between basketball shorts and sweatpants.

When I did work out in them they felt too warm, but it was also 90°F outside. At home I find them to be the perfect weight, and something I look forward to changing into after a long day at work. They are likely to be something I consider packing when I travel, which I typically wouldn’t worry about packing lounging shorts — but the luxury of them is hard to ignore.

Fit & Style

The fit on these is pretty odd. They are very slim fitting, with almost a little outward flare at the very end. They fit tight enough that I wouldn’t want to really be seen in public in them, nor do I think the style lends themselves well to outside of the house. I suspected at first the the flaring was more a byproduct of stretch from wear, but looking close at the product pictures I can see a similar thing happening.

I suspect that this is an optical illusion, but one that actually becomes a thing after wear. In other words the silhouette of the shorts is so close to the body at the upper portions that is is noticeable how loose they become at the opening of the shorts.

Overall

I love these shorts. The only comment my wife has ever made was: “Those look nice, a little like a wet suit or something, but nicer than basketball shorts”. I am going to mark that down as pretty high praise.

One thing I will also note is that the pockets have zippers, and generally I hate this. However in this case it makes sense and works to keep your phone from constantly falling out of your pocket. Given the discount of these down to $54, they are a no brainer. Good deal, super comfortable, great indulgence.


Steve’s Thoughts

For me, while these are definitely the most comfortable shorts I have for lounging, they run a bit too warm for me for the warmer weather. Hence, I haven’t gotten a ton of wear out of them yet, but I definitely see them becoming something I go for often this fall.

As far as the fit, I also agree with Ben. They are very slim, so definitely are relegated to house shorts.

Y Athletics House Shorts

Civic Jack Shirt

A while back Taylor Stitch created a sub-brand called “Civic” which focused heavily on selling Merino wool based clothing, using the brands classic but modern styling. The go to item in that collection is what they called the Jack shirt, made from Merino 4S fabric.

This shirt, which is on last call now, is one I have been wanting to test for quite so time. So I picked it up and gave it a spin, it seems the entire line is being discontinued so act fast if you want one.

Material

As I mentioned, this shirt is made of a custom Merino 4S fabric which is listed to contain: 70% merino wool/30% Sorona with a 220 gsm fabric weight. Sorona is a partially bio-derived synthetic fiber that is described as the best of polyester and nylon.

But to be honest, it could be 100% wool and I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, so good on them for reducing wool usage I guess. This shirt feels almost exactly like the Wool&Prince button down shirts we love (our review), with slightly less stiffness to the fabric.

Fit & Style

I picked this shirt up in Stone Green Chambray, it is a fantastic color which I have found overly difficult to pair with pants. It’s too medium in color, so much so that it is too close in shade to my khaki pants, and not quite light enough to wear with my darker pants. As it is I tend to wear it with dark gray Outlier Futureworks (our review).

The fit is very trim, with the 42 being just large enough for me to wear. I find the sleeves also barely long enough, and wish they had tall sizes. More than any of that, the body length on this shirt is very short, making it great to wear untucked, but a tad tricky to wear tucked in. Depending on what you buy this shirt for, this is awesome, or terrible.

For me this placed the shirt in casual, non-office, wear scenarios. It looks sharp for that.

In addition to the cut, the Merino 4S, is a bit slouchy in appearance. Such that the collar has a classic Oxford rumple to it, as does the placket and cuffs. This makes the shirt look more casual, even when steamed free of all wrinkling. Again, this fits with the cut of the shirt quite nicely.

This is one of my favorite looking casual merino button downs.

Overall

Typically we write a section for performance, but I’ll instead skip that with this shirt. It has no stretch, and is 70% merino wool — it performs like a 100% merino shirt. Generally you get a few wears out of it, and it doesn’t wrinkle too badly.

Instead, I will say that I am surprised to see these shirts being discontinued. The fabric and price points are great, the cut is even better. If they cut it in long, I could easily see this being something I wore to the office more. As it was the tail length was tricky to navigate commuting in a car and working in an office — too much potential for the shirt coming untucked.

That said, it will certainly be a shirt I toss in my bag when I am traveling somewhere an want a versatile button down shirt. I like it, and its too bad it is on its way out. That said, you can pick them up for a solid price right now.

Civic Jack Shirt

Faherty Brand Short-Sleeve Stretch Summer Blend Shirt

I recently reviewed the Faherty Malibu Short, along with them, I also picked up a linen-blend shirt, the Short-Sleeve Stretch Summer Blend Shirt. I’ve given it a good test through the warm end of the summer and while not necessarily along the lines of what we normally test, it is a nice shirt.

Material

The fabric here is a 76% cotton, 21% linen, 3% spandex blend.

While stretch is in the name of the shirt, I didn’t find it apparent while wearing, but being a short sleeve shirt, that isn’t a huge deal. However, when examining the fabric by hand, their is definitely a little stretch in the horizontal direction.

The high linen content gives the fabric both the loved and hated properties of linen. The shirt is very light and airy. Of course, this also means the fabric wrinkles if you just look at it. To be noted here — wrinkles in linen look great in a casual situation if they are wrinkles from wearing it, but not so great if they are from it being packed in your bag. So this shirt is simply not for packing (unless you want to iron).

Fit & Style

Faherty is one of the brands of shirts that seems to always fit my body. Once you find one or two of those, you’ll be happy to continue being a customer. Not to mention, I also think the build quality is also above average.

Style-wise, this is a nice casual button-down for wearing untucked with shorts. I find the Mint Buffalo color I got pairs very well with my Navy Outlier New Way Longs (our review). Additionally, the texture of the fabric, a combination of texture from the linen and the weave of the fabric also lends to the casual look.

Performance

This shirt is built for the heat. The fabric is built to be light and airy and the linen only improves that. I wore this shirt on some warm summer days and it kept me cool, the only thing that might beat it is something made from Ramie by Outlier like the Ramienorth Pivot (our review) or Mojave Shortsleeve.

As far as odor resistance, I can get about two wears here. The shirt doesn’t dry too quickly though, so don’t plan on washing the shirt in the sink and wearing it again the next day.

Speaking of washing, I found the shirt to come out of the washer quite wrinkly and even after hanging to dry, it needs an iron.

Overall

Overall this is a nice casual summer shirt. It’s not going to ever be a travel shirt for me (unless I’m planning to wear it just once and on the first day), but it’s a nice one to have in my lineup for weekends at home.

At a full price of $128 I can’t recommend it due to the high cotton content — for not much more you can get a 100% linen shirt. However, if it hits the Faherty sale, it’s worth a look.

Faherty Brand Short-Sleeve Stretch Summer Blend Shirt