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

Western Rise Liberated Hemp Band-Collar

Note: this shirt was provided for review.

When it comes to shirts for warmer weather, the prevailing advice is linen but as all of us reading this know: there is more to it than that. There’s Ramie for hot and humid, there are various synthetic options, and so much more. Western Rise has their Liberated Hemp Band-Collar Shirt they feel warrants a go.

I tested this shirt in the hot and humid weather of Houston, TX in 90°F weather with humidity around 70% and a dew point sailing north of 70°F. In other words: I tested this in insanely hot and sticky weather when my body was hardly acclimated to the climate.

Material

This is a hemp blend shirt coming in at 170 gsm, which is heavier than you might think you want for a warm weather shirt. The blend is 53% hemp / 43% Repreve (Recycled Polyester) / 3% elastane — though it feels like a heavy cotton shirt to the touch. Look closer and you notice little pills on the shirt, like many fabrics made for hot weather — but a tighter weave than most hot weather shirts.

At first the shirt was scratchy feeling, but after one wash that went away to a soft but thick material. As for stretch, it is not very noticeable — I didn’t even realize it was there until I looked up the precise blend of the fabric this review.

This blend is stated to resist odors and wrinkles and to absorb 20% moisture while remaining dry to touch. It lives up to this.

Fit and Style

This is a boxier and looser fit with a polarizing band collar. I found it works best paired with a more casual outfit like linen pants, boxier chinos or a pair of clean shorts with rolled up sleeves. Since the weather here is very warm, I wore it with shorts and rolled up sleeves. I like the style of this shirt, and I think the band collar offers a nice departure from what most people wear — but if you don’t like it in the photos you will not like it in person.

Performance

The hemp blend performs in line with most linen shirts. The material has a tighter weave so it is not as breezy, but breathes well enough and dries fast. It’s not hot wearing — despite feeling heavier than a comparable linen shirt.

The most impressive attribute is the wrinkle resistance. Most shirts made of linen live to wrinkle, but this shirt stays flat and tidy most of the day. It doesn’t have much of the linen look — so if that has always kept you from linen, this is a fabric you should look into.

As for odor resistance I only get 1-2 days of wear out of it. To be fair, I have been sweating a lot in the shirt, but it still starts to stink after a longer wear. You can rinse most of the smells out, so that is nice to know if you plan to travel with it. And, importantly, it dries fast — faster than linen.

My unscientific analysis is that this shirt wears 25% warmer than Outlier’s Breezy Linen and about 5-10% warmer than my linen shirts from Banana Republic. It is warmer than linen, but it keeps it’s composure much better than linen such that I think it is a better choice overall unless you are comparing it to something like the breezy linen from Outlier.

Pit sweat is another interesting part. I was sweating a lot in this shirt and should have been pitted-out, but instead I never felt that wetness under my arms. And I never noticed pit stains. This likely has to do with the amount of water it can absorb, coupled with how fast it dries. I bought a car in this shirt, going in and out of the dealership with a lot of stuff going on — I was sweating, but the shirt never showed it.

A-plus.

Overall

I’m a fan. And if you want linen like performance but you can’t stand that linen wrinkles the moment you look at it, you should consider this shirt. I hope they use this fabric in more styles as I would love to see a short sleeve variant with this same fabric.

Find it here.

Western Rise Liberated Hemp Band-Collar

Guide: Shirts for the Business Casual Office

Note: some of these shirts were provided at a discount or for free, please see the original reviews for more information.

Finding the right shirt, a good performance shirt, for wearing into a business casual office environment can be quite the task. This guide walks you through each of the shirts we have tested, and how we think they fit into office environments. For this guide, we assume you are washing shirts after each wear, therefore odor resistance is less of a factor.

Outlier NYCO Oxford

Our review.

The Good: The pivot sleeve on this shirt is fantastic, the material is very durable, the collar is solid, and it has a flattering cut.

The Not Good: The look trends more casual, the short body length makes it hard to tuck in, and the heavy material can make it a non-starter in warmer climates.

Overall: While this is no longer made, it is worth mentioning as it is the perfect smart casual shirt, but doesn’t blend well with business casual. The body is cut shorter making it hard to tuck in, but the pivot sleeve is worth noting alone. The best way to think about this, is that if you can get away with wearing your shirt untucked, this shirt should be near the top of your list.

Proof Performance Oxford

Our Review.

The Good: The collar stands up nicely, the stretch is very impressive, and the price is worth noting.

The Not Good: The colors are less than ideal, the buttons don’t quite contrast correctly, and the material is slightly too stiff to pass for a standard oxford.

Overall: Take a standard cotton oxford, add some DWR to resist light water and stains, and then add a ton of stretch. That’s what you get with this, and it is impressive. It doesn’t perform as well as the others in general, but it does have that cotton look to it that many do want if you can be OK with a stiffer (like starched cotton) drape. If you want to stay as stealth as you can, this is perhaps the best option, but I do wish they had a larger selection of colors as I find the offering very limited.

Wool & Prince Button Down

Our Review.

The Good: Comes in a variety of classic styles and sizes, the merino wool is thin and wrinkle resistant, and the performance of the fabric to manage your body temperature is amazing.

The Not Good: While good, the wool is still wool and not as luxurious feeling against your skin as other options, the shirts look great, but don’t quite look standard. Overall the cuts also trend towards a boxier look, which can be tough depending on your body shape. No white option.

Overall: Classic style and a classic cut, this is the most conservative of the options and the most odor resistant. It’s 100% merino, but not obviously something non-standard so it blends in quite well. It is perfect for travel and multi-day wear. It resists wrinkles well, and unlike some of the others I have yet to see it actually look dirty. It is the most performant shirt here.

Ministry of Supply Aero

Our Review.

The Good: The shirt is incredibly light, and the vented armpits really make a difference. The material looks fantastic and blends in well, a wide variety of styles and cuts. The collars are top notch and unmatched on this list. The cuts are very flattering and more modern.

The Not Good: It picks up odors faster than others on this list, and can often start smelling after an active 10 hour day, so if you commute that’s something to note.

Overall: The cuts, collar, and style options are robust and cannot be ignored. The shirt is also extremely comfortable, especially in warmer environments. The only downside with these is that they pick up smells quickly, but if you can, or are OK, with washing a shirt after each wear, these are hard to beat. They never wrinkle and the collars always look crisp as do the bodies of the shirts. Great shirts.

Bluffworks Meridian

Our Review.

The Good: There is no better fabric on this list, it feels amazing against your skin and drapes and looks perfect. There is a large offering of cuts so that you can find something that fits you well.

The Not Good: The collars tend to lay out after prolonged wear and don’t stay as perky as others on this list, and the lack of styles is a big issue.

Overall: If someone can tell by looking that this is not cotton, then they are someone worth talking to. This is a quietly performant shirt. If the collar was button down this shirt would be at or near the top, but as it is it doesn’t hold its place as well as others. The comfort of this shirt is fantastic and it won’t stink too bad after a day, but will require a quick rinse to rid the smell if you want to wear it again.

Mizzen+Main

Our Review.

The Good: Lots of size and style options, with a larger variety of louder styles and brighter colors. The stretch is awesome in these and makes the shirt quite comfortable.

The Not Good: The cuffs and collars are overly thick, and the material has a synthetic look and the shirts pick up odors very quickly — even odors from exterior smells like a BBQ place.

Overall: Looks crisp, but also doesn’t look like cotton. The collars and cuffs are thick and a turn off for many. While the shirt stretches well, there are better options out there.

Outlier S140 One Pocket

Our Review.

The Good: Luxurious feeling merino wool, smart cut, and pivot sleeve.

The Not Good: Expensive, limited color options, and a very causal look.

Overall: The cut and styling is perfect for the office, as are the color options. However the fabric is soft and has a heavy drape which makes it look more like a pajama shirt than a crisp office shirt. While I like the fabric and the fit of the shirt, it is almost athleisure levels of casual.

Outlier Albini Hidden Placket

Our Review.

The Good: The material is amazing, and odor/wrinkle resistant. The cut and fit is fantastic.

The Not Good: The price is very high, and the style of the shirt overall lends itself to a more casual untucked environment.

Overall: The fabric is amazing, but the style pulls it more towards casual and an untucked approach which doesn’t work well in offices. The shirt is very thin, and silky smooth, so it is worth considering if your office is more jeans and t-shirt levels of casual.

Bonobos Tech Stretch

Product.

The Good: It’s cotton, so you can get it in crisp white, and there is also stretch so it is slightly better than a standard cotton shirt.

The Not Good: There is a general lack of wrinkle resistance despite it claiming otherwise, and it can be more difficult to get the shirt to press flat.

Overall: If you are scared by everything else, this is a cotton shirt with stretch and a more comfortable option, but not worth the up charge over a standard cotton oxford.

My Pick

My pick is the Ministry of Supply Aero without a doubt. The cut and wide variety of options while keeping the price in check makes these shirts a good bargain for any office worker. They offer both button down, and poplin styles which increases the versatility of the shirt. While they are designed more to keep you cool than warm, they still layer quite well.

Bluffworks would give the Aero a run for its money if they offered a wider selection of patterns, and perhaps added a button down collar option. Likewise, Wool & Prince would be hard to beat if they offered trimmer cuts to their shirts.

When I want to look sharp in the office, I grab an Aero dress shirt and pair it with my Futureworks.

Some Other Options Not Reviewed

  • Ministry of Supply Composite Merino: Not tested, but looks rather casual. If this is the same fabric as the Composite Polo, it is definitely too casual for a business casual environment.
  • Ministry of Supply Apollo 3: I previously had one, and found the drape to make the shirt look too casual. However, the fabric is stellar from a performance and comfort perspective.

Getting Started: What to Buy

I would recommend starting with three shirts, with this base you should have no problem handling a full work week and could even get away with only washing a load of laundry once in the week. Here’s what I would buy:

  1. Bluffworks Meridian in Highland Gray Check: this is one of my most worn shirts. The coloring will stand out a bit but it goes with everything and hides any potential stains/dirt well. It can be dressed up a touch for business or dressed down easily for evenings.
  2. Ministry of Supply Aero in White: The thing about this shirt is that it rocks in the heat and dries insanely fast. You could have just this shirt and wash it every night and hang it to dry and wear it the next day. That’s the bonus of a white shirt, everyone assumes it is a different one because they assume you own a few. I linked to the polyester not the nylon version, as I have yet to try the nylon.
  3. Wool&Prince Button Down in Light Gray: versatile color which will work well for the evenings and the day. This shirt can be worn 3+ times in a week without washing and still smell and look fresh. My only complaint is that I bought a patterned color when solid would have been a smarter choice.

Those are the shirts and colors I would start with to build a wardrobe for business casual — they will serve you well.

Guide: Shirts for the Business Casual Office

Proof Nomad Pants

Proof is owned by Huckberry, and they have been making the Nomad pant for quite sometime. For most of that time, it was a fabric very similar to Olivers Passage Pant, or Outlier’s OG Fabric. That is to say, it was very technical, stretchy, and had a hard time passing for business casual. And then, quietly, Proof updated the pants and it caught my eye as something I should get right away to test.

So, here we are…the new Nomad Pant.

Material

Proof now makes the Nomad Pant out of Toray Polyester Stretch Twill which is 100% polyester — when first released Proof simply noted these were a Japanese Twill, so I am glad to see the refined explanation for what they are. Now, you likely think 100% polyester, no thanks, but you should look past that because the fabric content tells a lie about the material performance.

These pants are the stretchiest pants I own, and par with Outlier’s beloved OG Fabric. They are also very smooth both in looks and hand feel with a subtle twill texture to them. The only part that belies the polyester nature is the slight sheen the pants have. Fortunately there are no sounds associated with wearing them.

Fit and Style

The style of these pants is very chino in nature, and the slant pockets make for a dressed up look that is easily worn in business casual environments. The fit, even for the straight variant I ordered is slim, so if you are looking for a very slim pant the slim version of these is likely to be your cup of tea.

From a style and fit perspective I love these. They would be near perfect if they had a matte finish, but it is hard to find fault with them. The drape is also aided by the thickness of the pants, and gives a very nice look.

Performance

Performance wise, these are among the most comfortable pants I own. Even the waistband has a lot of stretch, and they never feel restricting. Which is why they are now my go to pant to wear on a plane, as they are easily the most comfortable pant I have worn for travel.

Beyond the stretch, the fabric is rather thick, though they breathe decently you won’t be finding me wearing these much about 80 degrees F. They repel and shed water and other spills admirably, and stay looking clean basically at all times. The caveat to that, is that they are prone to picking up lint at times — especially from tissues.

One great thing about the fabric weight is that they hide what is in your pockets better than many other slim fitting pants. There is also a hidden pocket in the right pocket which is very well done and luckily not at all visible.

I do have two gripes about this pair of pants:

  1. The zipper tab for the hidden pocket gets in my way more than I would like. I think if they reversed the direction of the zipper this would be much better (pull up to unzip instead of down), which should also make it even more hidden.
  2. The back pockets are secured shut with a snap button in the center. I hate this. It means you cannot put your phone in your back pocket as that pocket has metal in it, which is beyond annoying.

One last thing to mention: these dry faster than any pants I own. Which is quite impressive.

Overall

Here’s the last thing you need to know about these pants: they are $98 at the time of writing. So even with the small issues I have with the pockets, for that price these pants are very hard to beat. As long as you don’t need pants for really hot weather, I don’t see how you can go wrong with these. They dress up well, as can be dressed down equally well — just like chinos. I snagged the navy colorway, and am very happy with that.

They won’t replace Futureworks for me, but if I didn’t already have two pairs of Futureworks, I would have two pairs of these Nomads — they are very good and very inexpensive.

Proof Nomad Pants

Outlier Ramielust T-Shirt

Note: this item was sent by Outlier for review.

It is common knowledge, that when the weather gets hot, you should wear more linen because it will keep you cool. As many of you know there are some merino wool shirts which will also help, such as the Dreamweight I recently reviewed. But there is also something called ramie, and it destroys any other fabric for keeping you cool in hot and humid weather. Of course, Outlier brings us this unique fabric in their Ramielust T-Shirt.

Let’s dive in…

Material

This is a tough one, because it is ramie. But what is ramie? Outlier tells us: “It’s a nettle plant native to Southeastern Asia, the stalks of which can be processed into a fiber quite similar to linen.” So this is a 100% ramie shirt at 200 gsm — a shocking weight for a shirt made to be worn in hot and humid weather. Which is why I will also quote one other thing from Outlier’s description of this material: “For cold and humid this stuff is actually dangerous…” And Outlier is very serious about that statement because they also include a special card in the box to further warn you of this.

Exciting stuff, at least for clothing materials.

Style & Fit

If you are familiar with Outlier’s Ultrafine T then you know how this will fit. Slightly boxy, with good length. These shirts actually run longer, but they shrink after you wash them the first time and roughly come back to the same length as the Ultrafine.

The material itself has a slight sheen to it, and a hand feel that is a little rough because the weave makes for a strong texture. I got the purple and it is a great color, a nice change from the typical gray/black/navy hues you find in most performance shirting. When you hold the shirt up to light, you can see through it, as the knit is very open, but not enough that I had any issues with it being see thru.

Looking through both layers of the fabric at the window behind.
Looking through both layers of the fabric at the window behind.

For me the fit is excellent, and the shirt doesn’t stand out as anything out of the ordinary when wearing it.

Performance

Ramie is all about performance. I tested this shirt through theme parks with a backpack on and I was impressed. It lives up to the hype Outlier surrounds it with. At Seaworld I got wet, sat in the hot sun, sweated and all in all the shirt performed better than any shirt I have ever worn. This is inclusive of all performance hiking and athletic shirts. It breathes insanely well, it sucks moisture away and dries rapidly.

For a 200 gsm shirt it felt very cool, at times I was running a little cold. In fact, I was able to get two wears out of the shirt as it had accumulated no smell. And when I put the shirt on, after it hung in a closet in my air conditioned room, I thought the shirt was actually damp somehow. Because the room was cold, and the shirt made it colder.

Outlier is not joking when they warn not to wear this in cold weather, its like wrapping your body with an air conditioning unit when you are in a colder environment.

Overall

I was not excepting this shirt to perform this well, because not everything lives up to the hype. I think this shirt exceeds the hype around it, and it immediately had me looking at all the other ramie offerings Outlier has. Definitely two thumbs up on this, so if you are looking for a good summer shirt as the weather heats up, get this — but only if you live in the hot and humid climates.

Outlier Ramielust T-Shirt