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

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

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

Travel Clothing is a Ridiculous Trap

One of the reasons this site came to be, is because both Steve and I found ourselves traveling a lot for both work and leisure. And when you start traveling a lot, you start to look at how you can pack fewer items — this seems almost universal, as humans are generally uncomfortable out of their normal habitats and thus you really want to know you have the right clothing. Which means you inevitably google something like “best travel clothes for X”. And you get back a big mix of some really weird clothing.

The truth is, most travel clothing is some Frankenstein mix of stereotypical retiree clothing and hiking clothing. This type of clothing is marked by:

  • Zip-off anything
  • A lot of pockets, with some very dedicated pockets
  • Zippers, like a lot of zippers
  • Polyester or nylon

Some, but not all, of the above describes even some of the clothing we talk about here on this site, but if you look closely the clothing we really like is that which most people can’t even tell is anything out of the ordinary. But what’s really odd is that anyone who has spent time traveling knows exactly the clothing I am talking about.

There’s always a bunch of people wearing zip-off pants, button down shirts treated with bug repellant and with mesh venting. Pockets galore and more. People really seem to buy into these travel clothing traps, and I cannot understand why.

These clothes look terrible. And they also generally perform terribly too. In most cases you would be better off with blue jeans and a pair of swim trunks than you would with any zip off pants. There’s a few reasons why:

  1. You have to wash most of those travel pants more than blue jeans.
  2. You can’t swim in zip-off pants.
  3. You’ll never use all the pockets.
  4. Cotton will hold bug spray just as well as that bug treatment on your clothes.
  5. You look like a target because you are specifically wearing travel clothing when you are traveling. So it’s not hard to target you.

But more than anything else, if these clothes are so good and so versatile: then why don’t people wear them everyday? Why only relegate them to travel?

It’s because you don’t want people you know to see you wearing this stuff unless you have a specific reason to wear them. Because they look terrible.

That’s why you read both Steve and I praising Outlier’s Futureworks (our review). These are nylon pants with a gusset crotch, stretch, and are highly breathable while also resisting some light rain. And yet you can’t tell it’s a technical pant. They drape well, make no noise and only have a zipper on the fly. They are stealth and superior to all other business casual/chino like pants I have tried to date.

They also aren’t marketed for travel, and that makes them hard for a lot of people to find.

My goal when I started down the rabbit hole of finding better clothing was to merge the two aspects of my life. What I wear everyday should be what I wear when I travel. It should perform to really high standards, because that’s just convenient for me and comfortable as well.

I don’t wear this clothing because I travel a lot any more. I don’t wear it because I write here at this site. I wear it because it’s more comfortable than any other option, while looking just as good.

So don’t fall into the travel clothing trap, and avoid anything with zip-off extremities.

Travel Clothing is a Ridiculous Trap

Proper Cloth Performance Shirt

The market for men’s button down shirts seems split on what ‘performance’ means. To some companies it means stuff it in a suitcase and wear it anywhere. To others it means building a shirt that is quietly more comfortable to wear. Proper Cloth seems to be in the latter camp. Their big claim to fame, if you will, is making fully custom sizing for their shirts.

I decided to take one of their more ‘standard’ sized shirts for a spin, and it’s quite interesting.

Material

First, Proper Cloth has many shirt materials ranging from standard to ‘performance’. And then when you get to performance there are many varieties which makes this review tricky. The shirt I ordered is the ‘White Performance Twill’ which is listed as 95% nylon, 5% Spandex. You can find it directly here.

This material is not like any other I have encountered. It has no sheen or noise to it. It is incredibly thin, to the point where it is opaque at times. It is very smooth and crisp looking. It looks like a really nice cotton dress shirt, but feels like not cotton. The stretch is solid, but not earth shattering — it’s enough to be comfortable but not enough to be the type of shirt you feel you could do anything in.

Fit and Style

Ok, so style with these shirts is basically whatever you want it to be — to your hearts content. There’s a ton of options for the collar, cuffs, front yoke, and on and on. So style is always going to be exactly what you want.

Fit is where Proper Cloth looks to own the market, and I am impressed. I decided to take a lazy approach, and what I mean is that instead of sending in all my measurements I went with a ‘standard size’ which is nothing like most standard sizing. The reason I did this is because this is likely how most of you will buy these shirts, and my measurements were also close to their standard sizing.

I went with — Standard Size: 16.5 Collar, 35.5 Sleeve, Slim Fit. That nets out to:

  • Collar Circumference 16.50
  • Sleeve Length 35.50
  • Chest Width 24.50
  • Midsection Width 22.00
  • Shoulder Width 18.00
  • Shirt Length 32.00
  • Sleeve Width 9.25
  • Cuff Circumference 9.00
  • Bottom Width 23.50
  • Watch Allowance None
  • Shoulder Slope Normal
  • Forearm One Pleat
  • Shoulder/Armpit Full
  • Rear Pleats None
  • Back Darts None
  • Posture Normal (default)
  • Top Button Standard
  • Buttons on Front 8

So yeah, they have some detail on these shirts. When you get the shirt, it has very good info on how to send it back if the fit is not perfect. For me, the fit was surprisingly exactly how I wanted it to fit. It’s by far my best fitting shirt — if I had to change one thing I would add watch allowance to the cuff, but I didn’t realize that was an option until long after I had the shirt. Not a big deal.

Performance

This shirt is an odd duck for performance. It doesn’t do anything for odor resistance (wear once and wash it), but resists stink better than Ministry’s Aero shirts I normally wear. But this shirt is also wrinkle prone — more so than a cotton no-iron style shirt. You need to iron this shirt before wearing it, and then it stays smooth relatively well. Out of the wash, or after folding it, the shirt is a mess for wrinkles,which is odd for a performance shirt. That said, there’s more to this shirt.

For starters it is really comfortable. It dries very fast. The collar is excellent. But more than that the entire shirt moves and breathes very well. In the heat of Houston’s summer, it is easily the most comfortable dress shirt I own for that heat.

Where it falls down a bit is on the opacity, because I have to wear an undershirt to keep from my nipples showing through the shirt. I suspect a non-white color would remove that concern. The reason I chose white was simply because it’s not often a choice with the shirts I review, so I wanted to see if I could find something that would be a good shirt to wear with a suit.

Overall

This is easily the best white dress shirt I have found, and the best overall dress shirt if you want to take your wardrobe to the top end of business casual or wear something with a suit. I wear the shirt often, but I would wear it all the time if I had chosen non-white. The good news for me, I guess, is that I will be buying another one in a different color and style.

The thing about Proper Cloth is that they know the key to looking really good: tailoring. But tailoring has historically been a pain to do, and costly for most people. Here, you just need to buy a cloth measuring tape and you can get a perfectly fit shirt. It’s just icing on the cake that they make really nice performance fabrics too.

Recommended.

Proper Cloth Performance Shirt

Ministry of Supply Velocity Dress Pants

I’ve been wanting to try the Ministry of Supply Kinetic Dress Pants for a while now, but when I went to get a pair to try, I saw these new Velocity Dress Pants, and I decided to give them a go instead. They quickly became a go to part of my work wardrobe, so let me explain why.

Material

These are a very soft, stretchy, and thin pair of pants made up of: 61% polyester, 33% viscose, and 6% spandex. I’d swear there was more spandex in them than that just given how they feel — and I do believe it is 4-way stretch, if it isn’t I would be blown away. Additionally, Ministry notes that it has a curved back yoke to add in comfort.

The material itself is soft, with no sheen, and no noise at all. They are smooth, so if you think about a pair of athletic warm up pants, and take away the sheen and add stretch, that’s basically what these feel like. I’ve found that the drape is acceptable, which is was a pleasant surprise.

Fit & Style

I purchased the regular cut in these, and found them to be very slim — about as slim as I would want. The stretch means that you don’t want to order or wear a pair which is too large in any way. I wish these did odd sizing, but as it is the pair I got are comfortable all day long.

Overall, I think the pants look sharp. They don’t quite stealth pass for say wool trousers, but they won’t give the vast majority of people a second thought. The heathered pattern looks nice as well.

Silly double pocket.
Silly double pocket.

The only issue with the style is that the left front pocket has two pockets, neither of which close. The rear of the two pockets is shallow and small, great for keys or a pocket knife. The front pocket is the standard front pocket. This causes an issue with the pockets looking a little weird on the left side, and is super annoying when you try to grab something out of the front pocket. I always stick my hand in the wrong pocket.

Performance

These pants are marketed to really perform well in two aspects: stretch and breathability. They knock both out of the ball park. They are the most comfortable pants I own, and that’s across any category. When I wrote my Outlier OG Climbers review I really wished I could wear those into an office, well the Velocity Pants are just as comfortable and work in an office.

Living in Houston breathable pants are a huge concern of mine, and these pants are plenty cool. Add to that the movement of them, and they are comfortable to wear all day long.

Lastly, I got stuck in an absolute monsoon of a downpour one day, wearing these pants, and I had to walk to the bus. When I got the the bus, they were soaked, but the time I got to my car, 45 minutes later, they were mostly dry. And by the time I got home, they looked like this:

Durability Concerns

If I have one concern with these pants it is the durability — I don’t think they are very durable. I haven’t had them long enough to know for sure, but I don’t think they will last me much more than a year. There’s two issues springing up:

  1. Snags. In more than a few spots I can see some snags on the material. Hopefully that’s a limited thing, but given how new these are, that’s not acceptable.
  2. Fuzziness. Across my lap, where my seatbelt rides, the pants are starting to look a little fuzzy. Now, I don’t notice this when looking at the pants at any other angle than simply looking down at them from the vantage point of me wearing the pants. Again, this really isn’t acceptable given the high price tag.

I wish these pants were more durable, but I fear that to do so they would be far less comfortable.

Snags like this all over.
Snags like this all over.

Fuzzy from seatbelts.
Fuzzy from seatbelts.

Overall

If you can’t tell, I love wearing these pants. They are very comfortable no matter what I am doing. The downside is the high price tag and the lack of durability I am seeing with this pair. But there’s one more downside: they never look as crisp and sharp as my Outlier Futureworks.

For now, I’ll keep wearing them because I have them already, but I wouldn’t spend my money on them again until they fix the durability. The Futureworks are almost as comfortable, far more durable, and less expensive at $148 vs $185.

Ministry of Supply Velocity Dress Pants

Triple Aught Design Latitude

I’ve been looking for a shirt that is a bit of a weekend warrior type of shirt. Something I could toss on for days when I am not certain what I might be doing. From playing with the kids, to lounging on the couch, to taking an impromptu hike, working in the yard — whatever. I was looking for that type of shirt, and so I focused in on the Triple Aught Design Latitude shirt for its warm weather properties, high UPF rating, and long sleeves (so I don’t get sunburn, I never remember sunscreen).

Material

This material is the same as the outer facing on the Triple Aught Design Catalyst Field Shirt I reviewed here, it is a 120 g/m² 100% Nylon Ripstop with a UPF 50 rating. The material is very thin and holds almost no structure. It has a grid pattern throughout the fabric as well.

The material is made to be light, breathable, and quick drying. You might assume durable, but there’s one main issue with this fabric that I have seen in both the Catalyst and this Latitude shirt: pilling. Even after just one wear and wash, there is light pilling throughout. It’s just a thing with this material. It cleans up easily, but if stuff like that bothers you, stay far away. What this does mean though, is that the fabric itself is quite pleasant to feel — that’s your trade off.

Fit & Style

This is basically a hiking shirt look. Though Triple Aught Design took care to make it look like a really great hiking shirt, the collar is slouchy and well, so is the entire shirt. The vertical breast pockets further exacerbate the hiking aesthetic.

However, you don’t go into buying a shirt like this called a ‘modern expedition shirt’ thinking that you will be able to sneak in out of board rooms unnoticed. You buy a shirt like this to have a button down to wear when you want to get stuff done. That’s the style here, take it or leave it.

Performance

My first go with this shirt was a tough one. I needed to go an unpack the items in my garage after moving. A garage in Houston is a special kind of place. The kind of place where it feels like all the humidity and all the heat all at once. If I had to guess the heat index in the garage that day was around 102°F — probably should have waited, but it needed to be done. I chose the Latitude for this task because I wanted to protect my arms from the boxes, and I wanted to try and stay cool.

Much to my surprise the shirt is very breathable, more so than even the Western Rise AirLight I recently wrote about. It never restricted me, and the material held up to a great many box edges sliding against the arms. And those mesh vents in the arm pits, thank you for those.

Finally, I tested the straps to roll up the sleeves and found them to be a nice touch when I was done with the boxes part.

Here’s the crux of the performance: by the time I was done in the garage I was soaked with sweat. The entire shirt was, but it wasn’t heavy and it wasn’t at all uncomfortable (well any more so than being soaked in sweat already is). And when I came back into the house, the shirt started drying out very quickly.

There’s no avoiding getting hot in a situation like that, but the Latitude shirt did exactly what I hoped it would: keep my skin protected from the boxes and my core temp as cool as it could be. After washing it I quickly noticed how fast it dried hanging in the laundry room. As a quick drying hiking and outdoors shirt — this shirt performs as good (if not better) than anything else I have tried. And it looks better while doing it.

Overall

Even though this is a button down shirt with a collar, it’s as casual to wear as a t-shirt. I’d wear it more if it wasn’t so casual, but as it is I generally wear it only when I want my arms protected. It is great to throw on, no regrets on the purchase.

For me though, the style keeps it from being an everyday wear item.

Triple Aught Design Latitude

Western Rise AirLight Short Sleeve Shirt

Note: this was provided by Western Rise for review.

It’s summer, which means in the performance apparel world there is an endless supply of clothing being made promoting it’s ability to keep you cool. To that end, Western Rise recently released the AirLight series of shirts in a variety of styles, and options.

I’ve been testing a short sleeve variant in the ‘fog’ colorway for a couple of weeks in the hot and humid Houston climate.

Let me tell you why this shirt is awesome.

Material

The material is a blend of 51% Recycled Polyester / 49% SUPPLEX® NYLON coming in at a featherweight 104gsm. It also boasts a UPF 30+ rating. The fabric is very thin feeling, but not at all see through which is something you always need to worry about with garments of this weight.

The material is also very soft when you feel it, and has quite a nice drape to it. It won’t look like cotton, but it also doesn’t have that weird ‘hiking shirt’ drape that a lot of shirts like this have. I have noticed that it will take wrinkles easily, especially when packed, and they don’t fall out quickly. A quick, and I mean very quick, steam is all the shirt needs to regain its smooth appearance. And that smooth appearance is an interesting one, this shirt almost lacks all texture. It’s matte, so kudos there, but it’s also oddly smooth looking, but not shiny smooth. Really hard to describe.

Fit & Style

Western Rise notes that this shirt can go “from business casual to summer parties” to which I say: perhaps. It certainly is a great casual shirt, but business casual is going to be situational at best. If you can get away with untucked shirts and jeans in your office, then you won’t stand out (in a bad way) with this shirt, otherwise I don’t see it passing muster.

That said, the general styling and fit of the shirt is one I really love. It’s cut very well for a smart and trim look. The collar is excellent, with hidden buttons to hold it in place so the collar can feel natural and look sharp. The hemline at the bottom is also great for wearing untucked with pants or shorts.

Performance

The thing about this shirt is that it performs at another level. Look, right now here’s the weather at my house: 90°F dew point of 72°F and 56% humidity for a feels like of 98°F — in other words, that’s a cooler day here. That’s the lowest temperature I tested this shirt in, and it’s one of two shirts I own that I actually look forward to wearing in this weather.

Quick hits of why this shirt is so great at performing in the heat:

  • It dries insanely fast. I soaked the shirt cleaning some chairs with the hose, it was dry before I thought about being wet.
  • The odor resistance is actually really good, and I really sweat in it. You can get probably two wears out of it on average, but it dries fast enough that washing it after each wear isn’t a chore.
  • The front pocket closure is kind of crazy. It’s this weird plastic snap thing that keeps the pocket cleanly closed, not bulky, but effective. I don’t know what this is called, but it’s really cool.
  • The stretch is really good, and is only noted as “mechanical” which typically means “not much stretch”. Here I was shocked to read there wasn’t like 6% Lycra in this. It is pretty stretchy.

Here’s the cherry on top with this shirt: it packs down to nothing. It weighs nothing, and it folds up very small. I feel like you could pack an endless supply of these shirts, not that you really need more than a few of them.

Overall

I absolutely love this shirt, and likely will be picking up another one of them. This is superbly well done, it is my favorite short sleeve shirt to wear, and looks pretty sharp. It performs very well in warm weather and doesn’t freeze you out when you hit the AC.

I highly recommend this.

Western Rise AirLight Short Sleeve Shirt

Outlier Ramienorth Pivot

After reviewing Outlier’s Ramielust T-Shirt, I was waiting on the edge of my seat from them to drop some more ramie gear. They released the Ramienorth Pivot, Ramielight Breezy Pivot, Ramielight Camp Collar Shortsleeve, and Ramielight Mojave Shortsleeve. So many choices, I went with the Ramienorth for the heavier weight and better nipple coverage. I’ve now been testing it for many weeks and doing so in a climate the shirt was made for: the hot and humid summer of Houston, TX.

There’s something fun about wearing a long sleeve shirt when the feels like index hits 105°F and still feeling comfortable. Well, as comfortable as you can possibly be.

Material

This is straightforward, 100% Ramie woven in a 200gsm cloth. It is a really heavy fabric, and as such is not the most breathable fabric. I’ll get more into that later, but for now the fabric itself.

This shirt is very prone to wrinkles, similar to linen, but a different type of wrinkles. These are more along the lines of creases, which can be quite annoying. They drop out quickly if you steam the shirt, but release very gradually if you decide to just wear the shirt.

The big thing with this shirt is the hand feel. The Ramie is decently rough feeling, bordering on scratchy to some with more sensitive skin. I notice it when I put it on, but after a few minutes I don’t notice it again. One thing to note is that the Ramienorth is a completely different feeling and looking fabric than the Ramielust we tested. The Ramielust is like an open weave with a slight sheen, whereas the north is like an oxford workshirt with a true matte finish.

One nice thing about the weight of this, the drape is fantastic and the rigidity of the fabric gives a really nice look to the shirt.

Fit and Style

First, let me start with the Pivot sleeve. This is something only Outlier does, I believe they have a patent on it or something. Here’s the thing, it’s the best sleeve out there. Tons of motion without a need for stretch in the garment. It’s dangerous, because you forget you are wearing a light colored, rather expensive shirt and probably shouldn’t be moving around furniture and stuff. Anyways…

This shirt has a great cut and a fantastic fit. I have absolutely no complaints about any of it, top marks at every turn.

Performance

Here’s the big question: how does this shirt feel when you are wearing it in 95°F sunny weather with 78% humidity and a dew point hovering at 75°F (for those who don’t know, that’s pretty darn hot and leads to something feeling well over 100°F). This shirt works, and it works insanely well.

Ramie works better than linen down here in Houston, and not just because of the moisture wicking. Let me back up. This shirt dries absurdly fast, I would say it is the fastest drying button down I have, by a decent margin — even over synthetic shirts. It is almost wearable straight out of the washing machine, certainly wearable in a couple hours. Because of that, it keeps you really cool, but because of the weight you don’t get cold like you can with the Ramielust shirt.

Here’s the deal, in hot climates like Houston most of your time is spent quickly moving from one AC area to the next. With periods of “why do we live here, oh my god” in between those zones. Ok, yes, I did wear this around outside and all that, but here’s the thing. This shirt performs very well when you are in the heat, but where most ‘cool’ shirts fall down is back in the AC. Because you want to be comfortable inside and outside.

That’s where this shirt is a home run. When you come inside it doesn’t give you chills wearing this shirt. I suspect this is because it is not as breathable as the Ramielust, or even a standard linen shirt. That does hurt you a little in cooling outside (get the Ramielight to solve that), but it really helps you out once you get into the AC. Which is where I want to be anyways.

This is the best performing shirt I have found for Houston weather. Hands down.

Overall

My Twitter summary review then is: So good, I wish I could wear it to work. I partly bought the Ramienorth thinking it might be able to work in the office on say Friday. I don’t think I can, it’s to sloppy looking with the rumples and wrinkles the shirt gets. Just like how it is hard to pull that off with linen, it is hard with Ramie. That’s fine, because I wear this shirt a ton. I can only get about 1-2 wears out of it, but it dries so fast I simply wash it after every wear.

Highly recommended.

Outlier Ramienorth Pivot