Outlier Freecotton Button Up

Here at Everyday Wear we are huge fans of Outlier and the clothing they produce — they focus on exactly what we do: better daily clothing. I recently bought a Freecotton Button Up from Outlier (in white). My hope was to have a better white dress shirt from a company I trust.

The shirt is a cotton blend with a DWR treatment and stretch — specifically it is 68% Cotton, 21% Micro-nylon, 11% Elastane.

Comfort

While wearing the shirt it felt significantly more moveable than your standard dress shirt, as the stretch is more than any other shirt I’ve tried. Beyond that, it also doesn’t feel like a synthetic stretch shirt.

While the shirt resists looking dirty (which is a great attribute in a white shirt), it doesn’t breathe nearly as well as a merino button up, nor Bluffworks’ Meridian Dress Shirt (our review. While I moved fine in the shirt, it didn’t feel like a game changer over a standard cotton shirt with regards to breathability. It felt to me like a heavily starched dress shirt, without the itch.

Stink Performance

With this much cotton, there’s almost no winning. I get no longevity out of this shirt over a standard cotton shirt. I’ve only every managed two days of wear out of the shirt before the arm pits started to stink, and I was wearing an undershirt each time.

While my undershirts tend to have a slight smell at the end of the day, that goes away by the next day. With the Freecotton, any smell builds with each wear.

Issues

Here’s the biggest issue this shirt faces: it’s is mostly cotton but doesn’t quite look like it has cotton in it. There’s a distinct rigidity to the shirt, and a complete lack of a smooth pressed look. It’s not a casual looking shirt, so the inability for it to look pressed or even well ironed was a major issue for me.

Close up picture of the shirt after being washed and ironed. Doesn’t quite ever look smooth, and you can tell.

Resulting In…

I returned this shirt after having it for only a short period of time. It’s no doubt better than a standard cotton shirt to wear, but it doesn’t look quite right and that drove me nuts. Add to all of that the price of $165, and I have a hard time justifying, let alone recommending this shirt for anyone.

Outlier Freecotton Button Up

Pistol Lake One-Bag Henley

You may have gathered by now that we are fans of the Pistol Lake Eudae fabric. The two pieces we’ve previously reviewed (the Minimalist Performance Tee and Raglan) are both made with the Lightweight Eudae. The One-Bag Henley is made with Midweight Eudae (76% polyester, 19% Tencel, and 5% spandex).

Fabric


The Midweight Eudae is about twice as thick as the Lightweight. While not a heavy thermal shirt, this shirt is much more substantial than the Minimalist Performance line of shirts. I wouldn’t want to wear this shirt in the summer, but it would certainly be a top pick for any other season. As someone who gets hot during workouts, I could see this being a good shirt for hiking in the colder seasons, but would not want to wear it to the gym. Just like the other Eudae shirts, I can get quite a few wears before it needs to be washed. If I am getting sweaty, I can get about four wears, if it’s just normal wear, I can get about a week. This is better than I get with standard cotton or polyester, but not as good as merino.

Fit and Finish

As I’ve come to expect from Pistol Lake, this shirt fits me perfectly. It looks tailored with an athletic fit but is not too tight. The shirt length is also perfect, just a little longer than the usual. The raglan sleeves (meaning the sleeve extends in one piece to the collar, leaving just one diagonal seam under the arm) make for an extra comfortable shirt. These sleeves, along with the flatlock seams and odor resistance make this shirt live up to its “one-bag” name.

The only finish issue I’ve noticed is the bottom of the button placket was sewn slightly crooked — not something that is easily noticeable, but something I picked up on. I brought this to the attention of Pistol Lake, and as they are currently sewing a new batch, they will make sure to pay attention so no more go out like that. This, of course, is something that would be covered under their return policy.

Overall

The One-Bag Henley has taken a top spot in my wardrobe as a “nice casual” shirt — a step up from a long sleeve tee. It looks just like a nice cotton henley while performing better. While currently out of stock in almost all colors and sizes, this shirt should be back around the beginning of March.

Pistol Lake One-Bag Henley

Bluffworks Gramercy Pants

The Gramercy Pants are Bluffworks’ answer for a performance dress pant. The Gramercy line also includes a blazer, which we have reviewed. Made out of matching fabric, these pants share many of the same travel ready attributes. Being dress pants, these pair better with a jacket for a business event than something like an Outlier pant, which tend to look more casual.

Fabric


The fabric is 100% polyester but doesn’t look it. From afar, it looks like a nice textured wool fabric. It’s only when you get close that you realize something is a little different about the fabric (there is just a slight sheen). There also was no “swishing” sound with these pants, something that gives away many performance pants.

The fabric is not advertised as having any stretch. However, I never felt uncomfortable traveling wearing these, even without them having stretch.

The wrinkle resistance of this fabric seems above average. I did not notice any wrinkles from wear that didn’t drop out overnight. However, when I received the pants, there were a couple wrinkles. Bluffworks customer service provided special washing instructions (wash hot rather than cold for normal care) to remove the wrinkles, and that took care of them.

As far as these pants looking good as a suit with the Blazer, I question that after seeing the pants (I have not seen them together, however).

Comfort

I’ve worn these pants for a day of air travel as well as meetings and they were comfortable. Without much stretch, they weren’t as comfortable as my Outlier pants, but they were more comfortable than my traditional polyester dress pants.

I did have some issues with static on these pants, to the point where they were sticking to my calves and not dropping down after standing up. It is the toughest time of year for static (cold, dry, and windy), but I haven’t experienced this with my Outlier pants. Searching for solutions, I moistened my hands and ran them on the fabric where it was staticky — problem solved until I went back outside.

Extra Pockets

Some extra “travel” features these pants include are pocket zippers, a hidden pocket, and what Bluffworks calls a “security loop”.


Both front pockets have a zipper compartment (hidden about 1” in from the edge of the pocket). These are big enough for a passport, and I could see using them for that purpose. I found these zippers to be slightly annoying (they have a pretty large pull), and I made sure not to run my phone screen across them. If I were to make adjustments to the pants, I would have this zipper in only the left pocket and use a less obtrusive pull.

The right front pocket also has a “security loop”, which I guess you could clip your keys to, but I found it annoying, as my phone kept getting caught when trying to pocket it.


The left back pocket is completely closed by a zipper while the right back pocket is open.

Right below the belt line, slightly to the right of the right back pocket, there is a small unzipped pocket. I think the idea is to stow a phone, but I found it uncomfortable (but my iPhone X did fit).

Overall

The Bluffworks Gramercy Pants are worth checking out if you are looking for performance dress pants that look (mostly) like wool. I purchased these on sale for $125, but I think they are still a good value at $140. While not perfect, I have not been able to find better performance dress pants.

Bluffworks Gramercy Pants

Wool & Prince Blazer

This blazer was provided by Wool & Prince for review.

When shopping for a blazer, you will find wool is a common fabric. That probably doesn’t come as a surprise, but due to cost many have non-breathable linings or don’t use merino wool.

Enter the Wool & Prince Blazer. It is half-lined and made from merino wool. In fact, it is made with Pendleton merino fabric (one of the best wool mills in the world) and sewn right in the New York City Garment District.

Fit

While it is unusual for me to find an off the rack blazer that fits well, this blazer fits me very well. Your mileage will vary depending on your body shape, as the blazer only comes in slim sizes (S, M, L, & XL), rather than the more discrete standard blazer sizes based on your chest. I typically need a long jacket, but the sleeves on this jacket were just about the right length for me. Wool & Prince provides a size guide for some more information. For reference, I wear a L Regular in their button-downs and I have a XL Slim in the blazer.

In regards to how the blazer moves, since it is only half-lined, I never felt restricted — even when putting on or taking off my backpack. Of course, a wool blazer will never match the movement of a synthetic blazer but makes up for the lack of movement with a great drape.

Looks

Made with merino wool, this blazer looks just like a standard wool blazer. It drapes just as expected and the fabric has great texture. The patch pockets on the front definitely make it a blazer (so don’t try to match it with pants for a suit). While not as versatile as the classic navy blue, the charcoal grey of this blazer looks great.

Performance

The half-lining lends to the performance. It allows the merino to work its magic in regards to odor resistance and temperature control. I wore this blazer with a Wool & Prince Button-down and a merino undershirt in weather just above freezing and did not feel too cold walking between my hotel and car. If it were much colder or I was going to be spending time outside, a jacket would have been necessary. Typically, a blazer this warm would be too hot inside, however, this was not true with the Wool & Prince blazer. I was very comfortable in a day-long meeting as well as while traveling. I even wore the blazer to an Indian restaurant, and it did not have any hint of spicy smell when I left.

As far as wrinkle resistance, the blazer arrived folded up in a box with only one slight wrinkle. I was able to give the jacket a light steam and the wrinkle fell right out. The fabric can pick up small wrinkles in the elbows with wear, but they fall out easily overnight. While traveling, I was able to fold the blazer and put it in the overhead bin or on my lap without any issues. I imagine if it was jammed into a bag, it might come out with some wrinkles, but that could be easily fixed with a steamer (or a steamy hotel bathroom).

Small Details

This blazer has four pockets — one exterior breast pocket, two patch pockets, and one interior breast pocket. The patch pockets work well for holding my iPhone X, however, it sticks out of the exterior breast pocket (and the interior pocket comes sewn shut, but you can open it by cutting the thread).

The construction of the blazer is excellent. The half-lining is over the shoulder blades across the back, down the sleeves, and down the sides of the jacket and part of the front. The unstructured shoulders lay nicely. Also to note, the sleeve buttons are non-functional. This makes it easier for a tailor if you need to have the sleeve length adjusted.

Overall

This blazer is an amazing as an all-around piece for any wardrobe. It could be dressed down with jeans or dressed up with chinos or dress pants. The fabric looks, feels, and performs extremely well. I can’t imagine finding another wool blazer that I would prefer to wear over this one. Other than needing the extreme wrinkle resistance of synthetic, this blazer deserves top consideration.

The Wool & Prince blazer has become my new go-to for any occasion. I love how it helps regulate my temperature and resists odors. It makes a great travel companion or to dress up for a night out on the town.

Wool & Prince Blazer

Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoodie

We don’t typically talk a lot about hiking specific clothing, but we are nerds when it comes to new fabric technologies. So with that in mind, when I recently picked up the Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoodie, I decided I should review it here. It’s one of the few items with a new type of insulation, Polartec Alpha Direct. Unlike the old Alpha insulation, there’s no inner layer between the insulation and your body — in other words, the inside of this jacket is soft and fuzzy.

This material has one purpose: to keep you warm, while allowing for a lot of breathability so don’t overheat while active. Originally, of course, it was designed for military use but is finding its way to more consumer products. Typically this is called “active” insulation, and there are many different flavors (from your typical fleece jackets to newer products like The North Face’s Ventrix lineup).

The Jacket

I bought this jacket on sale, as I wanted to try the Alpha Direct insulation, and in the couple months I’ve had the jacket, it has become one of my most worn jackets. It has an athletic cut and the hood stays mostly out of the way (they have a model without the hood). The pockets are nice, but don’t secure so they are good mostly for hand warming.

It’s been my favorite layer to grab when I need to head out and know that I might be spending time indoors — which I’ll get to next. In general, I really like the jacket itself, however I find the colors offered by Outdoor Research to be not great. They are all contrast, and thus project a very outdoorsy look — which I get away with in the Pacific Northwest, but might be problematic in other areas. I’d love for them to offer a solid charcoal version of this jacket, I’d switch to that instantly.

Warmth / Alpha Direct Insulation

In one word, the insulation in this jacket is phenomenal. I’ve worn this jacket working out with my heavy backpack on and building quite a sweat up during the work out and yet, I didn’t have to take the jacket off to stay comfortable. It breathes really well, and when you really start building up body heat, you don’t overheat. That’s not to say you aren’t uncomfortable, but in a situation where you’d rather not fuss with taking off the jacket, it excels.

I can see exactly why this is used in military applications.

Further, this insulation does a great job when you need something to grab and wear on your next trip to the store or mall. A constant struggle is what to do with your heavy jacket as you are moving in and out of warm stores — typically you undress and redress, or grin and bear being too warm or cold the entire time. With Alpha Direct, I’ve never overheated during those temperature changes, and you get the best of both worlds, mostly.

In wind, or really cold temps, you get cold if you are not moving. Layers can mitigate this, but this won’t be the one jacket you need, and likely this will change greatly with the surface material being used in conjunction with the insulation.

If you are climbing a mountain or hiking in cold weather, then this is the insulation layer you wear. In the past that was Polartec Fleece. I prefer Alpha Direct over fleece any day of the week, it does everything better (i.e. it breathes better, and insulates better, dries faster, and weighs less).

Overall

While I don’t love the looks of this jacket, I’m willing to overlook that and wear it a lot. It’s comfortable, very light weight, and packs away well. While down jackets stow well, but are warm and bulky, and fleece is comfortable but doesn’t stow well — this Ascendant jacket excels in both areas. It’s like a hybrid of fleece breathability and warmth, with the light weight and compression abilities of down.

Again, if the colors were less in your face, I’d say this is a crucial jacket to have in your closet.

Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoodie

Pistol Lake Minimalist Performance Raglan

This shirt was provided by Pistol Lake for the purpose of review.

The Minimalist Performance Raglan from Pistol Lake is the long sleeve (raglan) version of their core product, the Minimalist Performance Tee. Both are made out of their unique Lightweight Eudae fabric (76% polyester, 19% Tencel, and 5% spandex).

This quick review will focus on the fit of the shirt, as the fabric and performance is
covered in detail on our review of the tee.

Fit and Finish

This shirt is the best fitting long sleeve I’ve come across. It’s cut long enough and has an athletic (but not too slim) cut. The raglan sleeves get rid of the shoulder seams, this can make a difference if you’re carrying a backpack. The shirt also has a nice wide neck hole, which makes it even more comfortable than the tee. Even with the large opening, the neck never looks stretched out or puckered, like I’ve experienced with other shirts with this cut.

The only finish issue I found was a slight pucker where the tag is sewn in on the side seam. The Pistol Lake team is aware of this and will make a slight pattern adjustment for their next run to fix the pucker.

Overall

The Minimalist Performance Raglan has become my favorite long sleeve tee to throw on after work. If I wore long sleeves for exercise, this would also be my top choice.

Pistol Lake Minimalist Performance Raglan

Merino Wool Abrasion & GORUCK Bags

One of the big criticisms of merino shirts for general wearing is whether or not they can hold up to abrasion. Typically the concern is less about wearing a hole in the shirt and more about the shirt pilling when doing normal things (like wearing a backpack s of particular worry to those who like to travel in merino wool shirts — as most bags are heavy when traveling and abrasion can be really high. I am ling at this throughe lens of wearing this type of clothing while commuting and traveling — not while hiking and doing more outdoors oriented stuff.

The Test

In order to test what’s real and what is paranoia, I wore the same Smartwool 100% merino t-shirt while I rucked (working out by walking with a really heavy backpack on) for for weeks straight. A total of bout 60 miles of wear with a 30 lb GORUCK bag on my back. GORUCK’s bags are among the most abrasive bags on the market, and the added weight with the sweat from the workout makes it among the most adverse tests you can put these shirts through. During the course of the testing I only washed the shirt once per week and hung it to dry.

This should simulate the amount of travel the average person does in a year, or a partial commute with backpacks. Most people won’t travel with a backpack this heavy, but this should accelerate any issues with pilling.

The Result

In the first week I noticed pilling where the bottom of the bagand straps sat on the shirt. By the end of the test there was only minimal pilling on the back but it seemed to disappear on the shoulders. No holes or any otherwise noticeable problems with the shirt. After each wash, most of the pilling seemed to disappear as well.

Thoughts

Cotton shirts also pill in these areas as well, so a large part of the talk around this pilling seems to be paranoia as it will tend to happen to most shirts. However, it does give me pause when wearing a GORUCK bag and something like Outlier’s Ultrafine Merino T-shirt. Having said that, I don’t think there’s a ton to worry about, and I still don’t hesitate to travel with my GORUCK and merino clothing.

Yes, with a lot of use with an extremely abrasive bag, you’ll see some pilling, but certainly not enough to otherwise ruin a shirt. This isn’t the nature of 100% merino wool.

For instance, compare this photo of my Outdoor Research Sequence shirt which is a merino wool blend:

The pilling is far worse on this shirt, not just in the areas where my backpack wears during rucking, but in any spot where there’s friction. It’s a shirt prone to pilling. I have no doubt that some shirts pill more than others, but I have seen no evidence that 100% merino wool shirts are more prone to pilling, or less durable, than any other natural fiber shirts.

Merino Wool Abrasion & GORUCK Bags

Outlier NYCO Oxfords

My standard everyday attire is to wear a button down shirt, so I’ve been trying to find something more durable and perhaps — hopefully — something which still looks traditional. I picked up both the oxford blue and ligh gray versions of Outlier’s NYCO Oxford to test out. They are heavy, and certainly only for weather 70-75 °F and below.

Fabric

Outlier makes this shirt out of a 162 gsm 74% cotton, 24% nylon blend, thick, and feels like a indestructible version of a cotton oxford. The material is entirely treated with DWR, and that actually works quite well in a light rain. However, I’ve been less than impressed with stain resistance as I’ve noticed some light spatters of sauce when I cook with the shirts on — though a quick dab with a wet cloth typically pulls the stains right out.

The shirt is far more rigid feeling than a standard oxford, while maintaining a soft feel and look to the fabric.

Wrinkle & Smell Resistance

The biggest thing with this this shirt is the nearly 75% cotton make up of the fabric. Typically this means wrinkles and smell absorption. On the issue of wrinkles, this shirt does surprisingly well at resisting them. The shirt will tend to show some rumples, not wrinkles, in the inner-elbow and other areas where the shirt sees a lot of movement. And while it won’t resist all wrinkles — I’ve yet to need to iron or steam these shirts, even after washing. I’m impressed.

However, on the issue of smell resistance, it’s a normal shirt. If you can get away with a few wears in your normal cotton shirts, this will perform the same. On this issue, it’s very disappointing, but predictable for something with this high of a cotton count.

Fit

I love the fit of this shirt, it’s heavy and comfortable. It fits a bit smaller than other Outlier shirts, with shorter sleeves and tails. It’s not easy to tuck in for me, as the body is right on the edge of what will stay tucked into a pair of pants. However, the pivot sleeve construction is excellent, giving great freedom of movement for a shirt with no built-in stretch

Overall

What’s compelling about this shirt is that it is a baby step in the direction of much better clothing. It’s $98 and for that you get a better designed shirt, which is far more durable (DWR and NYCO) than most oxfords you find — all the while it looks nearly identical to standard oxford. It doesn’t have the s powers of merino wool, but it also doesn’t have the drawbacks: differing hand feel, special washing, and a general more delicate nature. You could wear this shirt doing anything — and I have — and it’ll hold up great.

I really like this shirt.

Outlier NYCO Oxfords

Bluffworks Chinos

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.

Fabric

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 f texture. I’ve found that the pants don’t quite pass for cotton when you are only a few eet 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.

Stretch

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.

Comfort

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.

Extra Pockets

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.

Sound

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.

Overall

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.

Bluffworks Chinos

Pistol Lake Minimalist Performance Tee

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.

Fabric


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.

Performance

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).

Overall

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.

Ben’s Thoughts

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.

Pistol Lake Minimalist Performance Tee