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