We ran across Oros recently. They make outerwear with a NASA inspired aerogel (what they use for insulation in space suits) they call SolarCore. Looks like a neat new insulation technology at a compelling price (their parka is currently on sale for $250 with a regular price of $325).
Bluffworks is having a holiday sale with up to 20% off. They make some of our favorite synthetic business apparel, including the Gramercy Blazer.
QOR has an extra 20% off sale with coupon EXTRA20. We haven’t tried any of their stuff, but they do have both merino and technical options. They have a few pieces either insulated with Polartec Alpha or made of various Schoeller fabrics.
These pants were provided by Bluffworks for review.
The Bluffworks Chinos are billed as a better travel pant. Bluffworks sent me a pair of Navy Blue Tailored Fit 36×32 pants The Chinos themselves, upon first touching them evoke two responses: oddly softand incredibly lighteight. These pants weigh less (in actual weight) than any other pair of pants I own.
The fabric is simply listed as 100% polyester, which always causes me hesitation as you never know what you are going to get. These are a completely different fabric from the Gramercy Blazer, or the Meridian Dress Shirt, I’ve reviewed here — hey feel the most synthetic of the lot. While at the same time, it’s hard not to point outhat they weigh nothingwhile not being cold to wear.
The face of the fabric is soft to the touch, but not smooth — it has a bit of texture. I’ve found that the pants don’t quite pass for cotton when you are only a few feet away, but at the same time I’ve had chinos with a similar sheen to them. It’s hard to place your finger on it, but you’ll notice they aren’t “normal” pants.
The fabric has built in stretch, and Bluffworks bills it as comfortable stretch which I think is accurate. It is not enough stretch where you will feel free to climb a mountain, but it is enough stretch that you will be comfortable in the pants.
All of the above leads to the biggest question I always ask: how are they to wear all day. found them to be comfortable, but not the most comfortable. I would get the regular fit over the tailored fit if I did it again as I felt the pant legs were too narrow for me through the calf area.
Not accounting for the fit of this cut of the pants, I found them to be plenty comfortable throughout the day, but not enough that I wanted to lounge with them in the evening.
These chinos have travel pockets, with each front pocket having an inner zippered pocket, as well as the there being extra pockets on the seat of the pants. I used none of them, and while they might be handy for some when traveling, I think they would make for better peace of mind that stuff won’t fall out when on a plane. I didn’t find these pocket earth shattering, but they weren’t a detracting factor of the pants.
The biggest note on these pockets are the zippers: I wish they were wer profile you didn’t feel them as much when your hands were in the pockets.
The biggest issue with these pants is that they make a bit of a sound when you walk. In a perfectly quiet house, I found them to be too loud. However, when out and about I never once noticed them — thus I think so long as you leave your home, this is likely a non-issue. I will also note that after washing them, they quieted down a bit, and I wonder how much more they might quiet down over time. This was enough to bother me at first, but not enough to keep bothering me.
These chinos (at the time of publishing) are on sale for $99, and at that price they are hard to beat for a good entry level pair of travel pants. You’ll pay much more to remove just minor annoyances. Not accounting for price, they aren’t my favorite pair of pants ever, but when taking in the whole picture it’s hard not to be happy with them.
Lastly, the overall look of them is very nice. I found them to be cut well nd pair nicely with a button up. You could easily got to a business meeting in these — stepping right of the plane and not look worse for wear. They truly don’t wrinkle up and they’ll be comfortable. Not bad at all.
This shirt was provided by Pistol Lake for the purpose of review.
The Minimalist Performance Tee is Pistol Lake’s core product and is made out of their unique Lightweight Eudae fabric. The fabric is custom knit and the shirts are assembled in the US. Since developing this fabric, Pistol Lake has also developed a Midweight Eudae and an Eclon (their heaviest synthetic fabric). Their focus is on performance apparel that is at home on the road or in the woods as it is in the gym.
The Eudae fabric is 76% polyester, 19% Tencel, and 5% spandex. If you aren’t familiar with Tencel, it is a brand of lyocell fiber. This means it is derived from wood pulp. The Tencel brand is also know for its ecofriendly production process.
While the care instructions allow for machine drying, I’ve only machine washed and air dried the shirt. I have not seen any pilling or fading. This could be a nice benefit over merino for those who like to use a dryer.
This tee performs very well. From my experience, it is on par with merino in every category but odor resistance. While I can get 5+ workouts with merino, I can only get about 4 out of the Eudae. Keep in mind, however, I choose to wash my shirts when they start to get a little smell rather than let them get as bad as a standard polyester shirt is after one wear.
Fit and Finish
The fabric has great drape, looks like cotton, and doesn’t get staticky like many other synthetic fabrics. It is great to have a workout shirt that is very thin (but not sheer or see-thru) and breathable, yet still looks like a standard T-shirt. The fabric is completely matte and doesn’t have that “polyester sheen”, or even the slight sheen that some merino has.
I also find the fit to be perfectly athletic and slim while not tight or constricting of any movement. Unlike many of my other workout shirts, the length is perfect (I usually end up with shirts that feel a little short).
The Minimalist Performance Tee has taken the top spot in my workout wardrobe. Once the warm weather comes around, I expect it to become part of my non-workout rotation on the warmest days. If you are in the market for something that can hold its own against merino, Eudae is up to that challenge.
I’ve been very impressed with the hand feel of this fabric. You’d not be alone in thinking that this was a standard cotton shirt, perhaps with some stretch in it. I really like it, it’s been a little too cold to wear it for me right now, but it’s going to be fantastic when the weather warms up. This is one of my favorite shirts yet, and it’s hard to believe it performs as well as it does.
This shirt was provided to me by Bluffworks for the purpose of review.
When I first got the Meridian dress shirt from Bluffworks, I was shocked by two things: it looks like a “normal” dress shirt and the material doesn’t suck. It’s quite hard to find a synthetic dress shirt which both looks normal and doesn’t feel like plastic. Bluffworks has succeeded on both accounts, so let’s dive into this shirt more.
As I mentioned above, I love the material of this shirt. It looks natural and is nice and thin as a dress shirt should be. It drapes nicely, breathes well, stays clean, and wrinkle free. But more than any of that, it doesn’t make any noise, a common issue with synthetic dress shirts.
The Meridian is not a loud shirt. It’s smooth, it’s synthetic, but it doesn’t sound or feel like most synthetics. It’s the best of both worlds: looks good, yet it doesn’t have the trade off of feeling bad or sounding loud.
This shirt is somewhere between a standard dress shirt and something with insane 4-way stretch. It’s far more comfortable than your standard shirt — more comfortable than most merino wool dress shirts — but not as comfortable as some of the dress shirts advertising full 4-way stretch.
The shirt moves fine, better than a standard cotton shirt. It breathes well and dries fast. All of this makes it very comfortable, but it won’t feel like a loose fitting spandex shirt — which in this case is good.
You could get away with this shirt in almost any office setting, and it could be paired with a suit as well. It’s a smart shirt with a sharp collar. Most won’t think twice about it, which is exactly what you want from a performance dress shirt. It’s there to make you look good, not to stand out on its own.
Wrinkles, Smell, And Dirt
This shirt stays pretty wrinkle free. When you pull it out from your bag, it’ll be fine. You might notice some creases form where it was tucked in, but that’s par for the course and hardly worth worrying about. Overall, it’s great at resisting wrinkles.
This biggest downside of synthetics is odor resistance, and the Meridian isn’t a magic solution there. It resists odors better than most non-wool shirts, but it will still smell after a while. The advantage is that you could wash it, hang it, and have it dry the next morning to wear. I would say you could get a couple wears out of this without issue.
When it comes to resisting dirt, I’ve been impressed. I loaded a car full of gear for a weekend away, then unloaded it. I’ve flown on planes where I eat messy snacks. I’ve held babies. None of that has phased this shirt. It’s a great performer for staying clean looking.
Moving into 2018, I’ve been thinking a lot about my button down and dress shirts — about how I might revamp that lineup, and the Meridian is absolutely going to be at the top of the list. They fit great, feel great, and perform well. But more than any of that, they look great. If you are a business traveler, do yourself a favor and get a couple of these.
The Convoy Tee is Olivers Apparel’s merino wool athletic t-shirt. I’ve been giving it a workout for the past few months, and I’m impressed. As part of what is becoming a crowded market (performance athletic t-shirts), the Convoy Tee can certainly hold its own.
The fabric is 18.5 micron (which seems to be the standard), 100% merino wool with a 165 gsm weight. This means the shirt is perfect for workouts, warm weather, and layering. I’ve sensed little scratchiness, and have been very impressed with how it has held up to workouts. I have yet to find any areas of pilling nor has the shirt become stretched out with repeated wears between washes.
Fit, Finish, and Performance
The fit of the Convoy Tee is athletic. I chose my size from the measurements on the website (I’m always a L or XL and ended up with an XL here), and the shirt fits very tight. The fit seems to be geared more towards a slim, rather than muscular build. It works well for exercise, but is too tight for me to wear for other purposes. If you are planning to wear this shirt for more relaxed, casual wear, you might want to consider sizing up one from where you land on the sizing chart (I could not do this as XL is their largest size). The shirt also seems to me to run a little short (at least for someone tall like me — I’m 6’ 2”), again OK for exercise, but not for everyday wear.
Note: I reached out to Olvers to discuss the fit and they indicated that the batch of shirts currently on the site turned out smaller than they had hoped. They’ve updated the size chart with a note to size up for a relaxed fit. They are working on updating their sizing chart with garment measurements.
The finish on this shirt is excellent. The fabric lays nicely and the seams are all comfortably sewn. My favorite aspect of this shirt is how the sleeves and shoulders are constructed (Olivers calls it a “reverse raglan sleeve”). I find this sleeve style gives excellent range of motion — I don’t get the constriction and bunching that sometimes comes with standard sleeves.
I’ve been extremely impressed with the odor resistance of the Convoy Tee — I’ve worn it for at least 5 sweaty workouts before washing every time. Hanging it up to dry and air out seems to work magic along with the 100% merino composition of the fabric.
I purchased this the Convoy Tee with the intention of having it as a multipurpose (casual and exercise) shirt, however due to the fit it has become an exercise only shirt. The fabric and construction are excellent, and I’d imagine I would love it even more if I could size up.
There’s no shortage of merino wool sweaters, and while I have a few, I didn’t have one I loved. So when I picked up the Outlier Doublefine Merino Pullover, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought it may be more like a sweatshirt, but it is a sweater. Dressier than any sweatshirt, and just as comfortable as a sweatshirt.
My first impressions of the pullover immediately focused on how smooth and soft it feels while also being substantial. It is something you could wear to dress up any outfit, but still not be out of place in more casual settings.
Like all merino goods, it’s very comfortable to wear throughout the day, and I found it to err more on the side of not being warm enough than being too warm. Paired with a warmer t-shirt, or even a button down, you’ll be able to withstand weather nicely.
The cut is well tuned to wearing as a layer for your wardrobe. The sleeves and body have enough room to fit another shirt under it, though there will be a few dress shirts which may not work if the sleeves are not narrow enough at the armpit. Also, the collars of most my button downs don’t work well that’s the only hang up I have with it — it’s hard to wear a button down under this as a layer.
One note about the pullover is that it will shrink the first time you wash it (even if you hang dry, even if you wash it in cold water), the pullover will shrink in the length of the body. Mine fit perfectly new, but after washing it, I find it to be barely long enough for me. Hopefully it won’t shrink any further, because I do like it.
This is something to keep in mind, if like me you have a longer torso — you might not be able to make this work. It’s on the cusp for me.
The Sizing is Weird
Speaking of the length, the sizing on this garment is odd. The sleeves and body length are shorter than you would expect from other Outlier goods. Your Ultrafine Tee will stick out well past the bottom. I’m sure there’s good reason for this, but I wish it was about an inch longer, as I find it harder to figure out what to wear under it.
At nearly $200, this is not an inexpensive merino pullover. It is though, the nicest I’ve come across — which is about what I expect from Outlier’s Doublefine lineup. This will get substantial rotation this fall and winter. It’s very nice, but you pay the price for that — and luckily the return policy is solid enough to mitigate the odd sizing.
I asked around on Reddit for opinions on a good lightweight sport coat to travel with. While there were a lot of the standard answers, there were far more people advocating wool over the other “travel” oriented options. Torn on this, I picked up the Taylor Stitch Telegraph Jacket in charcoal.
The Telegraph hits a nice price point, with wool, linen, and stretch built into the jacket. While they make several colors of this jacket, confusingly each color is often a different fabric, so these thoughts only apply to the charcoal jacket.
I would characterize the overall fit of the jacket as slim — had I chosen this jacket before I lost some weight, I don’t think I would have liked it. But given that I did lose that weight, the overall fit is quite nice. Use their sizing guide, as I find it to be spot on. I do wish they offered odd sizes, but that’s a minor nitpick, especially at this price point.
Fabric and Style
This feels and looks like a more casual jacket. It’s not a suit jacket, it’s a sport coat. The pocketing is very casual and there’s no lining or shoulder pads. The fabric looks normal. Yet, given the blend, the jacket breathes and moves exceedingly well.
I’ve worn the jacket around Houston (in the winter, still 90 degrees though) with my Wool & Prince shirts and while I was warm, I was not dying. It’s a fantastic layer for dressing up your look.
I don’t find the stretch mind blowing, but I do find the breathability to be awesome. Overall, I really like the fabric as it offers great hand feel and warm weather performance.
There are two things that make this jacket casual. The cut and the pocketing, also the complete lack of lining. At first I did not like that there was no lining, but I’ve since come to really appreciate this.
The Bluffworks Gramercy Blazer is a great jacket to use as a layer when the weather is cooler. The Telegraph, on the other hand, is perfect for warm weather.
Mine spent two flights rolled up and stuffed into different bags. It was generally abused and I can’t find any sign of wrinkles — certainly nothing which lasts. It’s comfortable to wear and packs down small.
Initially, I bought this jacket for date nights, to dress up my standard button down and Slim Dungarees. Generally though, I like the Gramercy much better for the cool weather in Washington. However, this Telegraph jacket is an instant winner for any warm weather — travel or not