Style Pick of the Week: Goorin Brothers Wool Flatcap

Editor’s note: Expect these posts weekly detailing one standout item coveted by yours truly. Sometimes, these fit within budgetary restrictions and other times, they’re expensive splurges worth saving for. For more Wish List items from Beau, head here, and to see other Style Picks, head here.

A flatcap -- best worn when the weather's cold. Elbow-patch cardigan by JACHS NY. Chambray shirt by GAP. Wool flatcap by Goorin Brothers. Stainless steel dive watch by Invicta. Glasses by Warby Parker.
A flatcap — best worn when the weather’s cold. Elbow-patch cardigan by JACHS NY. Chambray shirt by GAP. Wool flatcap by Goorin Brothers. Stainless steel dive watch by Invicta. Glasses by Warby Parker.
If you’re joining us today on The Style Guide, then you understand the value of a well-composed ensemble — and even moreso of a great accessory. Whether it’s a sharp leather dress watch or a nice pair of American-made socks, those little touches can go a long way in making an outfit. And that’s certainly the case with a nice hat. As we’ve talked about before on this blog, hats can definitely be divisive. Make the wrong pick and you might look a little more junior than you’d want. But make the right pick — and here you have it. So even though some aren’t partial to hats, its value as a finishing touch is still pretty solid. And that’s the case with this week’s Style Pick, from our friends at Goorin Brothers. The cold weather that whipped its way across the East coast did a pretty good number on all of us — and much of the rest of the country — so it’s high time to fix your hat conundrum and go for something that packs in seasonally appropriate texture and a dash of vintage style. That, my fellow #menswear fans, is where the Sammy Flat Cap comes into play.

A look at the inside of this wool flatcap --- made in America with a black suede underbill.
A look at the inside of this wool flatcap — made in America with a black suede underbill.
Goorin Brothers certainly knows what it’s doing in terms of crafting nice hats to suit every occasion, from standard knit hats to a dapper selection of top hats and bowlers for the adventurous among us. But there’s something a bit more level-headed, workman-like and versatile about a nice flatcap, especially one constructed from high-quality Woolrich wool, like this one. Heck, the newsboy cap style is one that’s long been associated with rough-and-tumble workers — and the lead singer of everyone’s favorite rock band — so you know it can stand up to new style combos you throw at it. The charcoal color of this flatcap is spot-on for wearing with a navy peacoat or even a charcoal topcoat (like this number here), and it even works when worn a bit more dressed-down — say, with a navy crewneck and tan corduroys. So it’s a piece that can at once finish off an outfit for some outdoor exploring, or add a bit of visual interest if you decide to rock it on a coffee date or, more likely, out drinking down by the docks (I kid, I kid).  Note that if you fancy trying one on in-person, Goorin Brothers has shops spread across the country, where they can easily fit you to your liking. And should you not find the one you want in your size, they’ve got a plethora of flatcap options. Plus, here’s the real kicker — they’re one of the few brands making hats like this in America, and this number right here is going for under $100. I’m not saying you should pick one up right now …. but I am saying your commute will be a whole lot more enjoyable wearing one.

Would you pick up a wool flatcap? Or are you in the no-hats camp?

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The Friday Read: J. Crew Sunglasses, American Apparel and Mark Zuckerberg’s Closet

Editor’s note: Expect these posts once a week on Fridays — consider this a jumpstart on reading for your weekend downtime. Expect a mix of style and non-style content. For more entries, click here

So this week was yet another exciting and fast-paced one — we’re knee-deep (or maybe neck-deep?) in planning for what should be a fun and enjoyable #NYFWM event for my 9-to-5 job working on behalf of Timberland. In particular, we’ll be hosting a styling suite and a “recharge” lounge for men’s style editors, writers and bloggers during the hustle and bustle of various runway shows (including those from Style Guide favorites like Todd Snyder and Billy Reid). It should be a fun couple of days, to say the least! In the midst of all that preparation, I was also thankful to check out some great menswear trade shows — so there’s certainly lots going on all at once! And that makes me even more grateful to get the chance to write about it through this blog and other platforms. With all that being said — time to log off, rest up and get ready for next week. In the meantime, enjoy this week’s Friday Read and check back here for the weekly Style Pick on Saturday.

  • This piece comes to us from earlier this month, but it’s still newsworthy — what’s the classic distinction between a dress watch and a sport watch? And when and how should you wear one? The Wall Street Journal’s horological expert dives on in. (You can always click the following link for a slightly less complicated look at why it’s important to wear a watch, too).
  • Former American Apparel CEO Dov Charney is, as Esquire.com reports … “screwed” in the settlement reached this week by the company; it effectively cuts off his company stock and returns control of the company to its lenders — will this change things up design and product-wise in addition to a financial boost? We’ll see, folks.
  • Mark Zuckerberg gave the Facebook community (read: the Internet at large) a look at his famously minimal wardrobe when he returned to the office after paternity leave (spoiler: his closet is filled with hoodies and gray tees).
  • Style Note of the Week: We again turn to the fine folks at Esquire (lots of good stuff outta there this week) for another piece of menswear news for all you J. Crew fans  — the brand just launched its own sunglasses line, which includes nice styles that should prove versatile the whole year ’round.
Need to up your boot game? Or kill some more time?
    • Last but not least, I caught up with our friends over at Thursday Boot Company to cover the Natural Diplomat Boot — and why you need ’em — for GearHungry.



#OOTD: Wool Trousers for Winter Weather

Editor’s note: You’ve surely seen this hashtag lots of different places, including on Instagram. But how does that carry over to real life? The #OOTD series will take one great item and put together a versatile, stylish outfit around it. Look for these features regularly.

One of the best things about the menswear world these days is the general approach to mixing and matching style staples. White sneakers can be paired with blazers and chinos, sharp wingtips can dress up a slim pocket tee and denim — if you can dream it, it’s likely a combination worth trying. Such is the case with today’s #OOTD offering. Wool dress trousers could feasibly conjure up some not-so-great style memories, especially if you rocked yours with pleats, as I did back in the day. But as with most silhouettes across the board, the approach is now slimmed-down and smartened-up, making a sharp wool trouser easier to pair with staples both rugged and refined — as you’ll see in the outfit below. And sometimes, when the doldrums of winter start to hit, you just need to shake up your typical blazer-and-trousers combo.

A denim jacket + slim wool trousers = a whole new way to view your work wardrobe.
A denim jacket + slim wool trousers = a whole new way to view your work wardrobe.

The Trousers — J. Crew Factory Thompson Slim Suit Pant in Herringbone Wool, $49.99 — The staple of this outfit — slim, versatile and with some subtle pattern.

The Jacket: Taylor Stitch Long Haul Denim Jacket, $188 — The wild card of this outfit, it’s a supremely sturdy investment-worthy piece of four-season outerwear.

The Shirt: Uniqlo Slim-Fit Long-Sleeve Oxford, $29.99 (On-Sale) — Staying on-trend by pairing a deep blue shirt with an indigo jacket. If that’s not dressy enough, throw on a rich wool tie to top things off.

The Boots: Thursday Boot Company Natural Diplomat Boot, $199 — A refined take on the moc toe boot, complete with tough Natural Horween leather.

The Socks: Happy Socks Red Optic Sock, $8.40 — These socks provide a shot of color and pattern, and won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

The Belt: J. Crew Factory Reversible Brown Leather Belt, $26.50 — Two solid belts for an agreeable price — don’t worry too much about matching the shade of brown here exactly to the boots (being in the same color family works).

The Watch: Timex Waterbury Chronograph, $100 — A heck of a bargain for a rugged watch that lends another piece of visual interest to this ensemble.

Keep in mind that with the above outfit, I’d recommend throwing in a few choice winter accessories to fight the chill – and with all that being said, you should be well-set to tackle whatever the day has in store for you, be it some time in the office or time around town. Wear it well!

‘Til next time,

-Beau

Style Upgrade: The Slim Crewneck Sweater

Editor’s note: This is the fourth in an ongoing series covering quick and easy upgrades to dilemmas a guy might face once in a while. For more entries in the series, click here.

A close-up look at an upgrade worth making -- the slim crewneck. For more on this Pistol Lake piee, read on.
A close-up look at an upgrade worth making — the slim crewneck. For more on this Pistol Lake piee, read on.
Andddd…. we’re back! With the Style Upgrade series, that is. It’s been some time since an entry in this series ran (see past entries here), but the time is just right to talk at length about sweaters — something I’ve often said to myself daily this winter. While you can use a merino V-neck sweater as part of a high-low outfit combination — like this #OOTD entry — and you can wear the heck out of nice cashmere cardigan, certain styles are definitely trending in the marketplace and on the torsos of well-dressed guys everywhere. The crewneck sweater (or sweatshirt, in its more casual form) certainly isn’t what it once was — and that goes for its more casual iterations and its dressier counterparts. So with a return to form in mind, it’s time to refresh your wardrobe — or perhaps just pick up another sweater.

A piece from a designer perhaps most known for revitalizing crewnecks -- Todd Snyder.
A stellar piece from a designer perhaps most known for revitalizing crewnecks — Todd Snyder.
Most menswear fans probably recognize the crewneck sweatshirt from its sportier beginnings, and the ways in which designers have taken the same idea and slimmed it down. Like the Reigning Champ Crewneck Sweater that was featured as this site’s Style Pick of the Week, there’s a lot that’s been done to a silhouette more commonly associated with Rocky films for years. And as this site has talked about previously, that’s due to a few forward-thinking designers who’ve made the style at once refined and still sport-inspired. If you’re looking to start your search for a crewneck sweatshirt at the top of the (reasonably priced) pyramid, Todd Snyder has exactly what you’re looking for. The designer’s crewneck sweatshirts, while simple at first glance, exemplify the idea of using high-quality fabrics to retool an older style, what with vintage-inspired stitching and added details like that chest pocket. Todd Snyder’s collaboration with Champion  is the stuff of legend (at least for this menswear writer). The pieces are well-crafted, heritage-inspired and timeless — plus, you can wear the heck out of ’em with everything from a chambray shirt and denim to tailored sweats.

Two crewneck choices from JackThreads -- one a dressy cashmere, the other a quilted indigo piece.
Two crewneck choices from JackThreads — one a dressy cashmere, the other a quilted indigo piece.
So that’s certainly one place to start. But some brands are taking this style essential and doing just as great of a job at slimming down the fit and changing up the fabrics. Take JackThreads, for example. The brand’s new menswear vertical is doing everything from a quilted indigo crewneck sweatshirt to its aptly named Daily Sweatshirt, all for excellent prices. And something like the Daily Sweatshirt, which strikes both a sporty yet business-casual vibe, can be paired with pieces you already have in your closet (look to stylist and menswear blogger Preston Konrad for some styling tips in this regard). Lest one forget, JackThreads has also amped up its fabric game — the brand’s cashmere crewneck sweaters are the budget alternative to more expensive alternatives. So that gives you two ways to go in terms of rocking a crewneck. However, the more standout style move might be picking up a casual crewneck and giving it a business-casual spin.

Contrast stitching adds yet another solid detail to this Pistol Lake piece.
Contrast stitching adds yet another solid detail to this Pistol Lake piece.
And as with other style staples that come up time and again on this blog — take henleys, for example — brands that are inspired by sportswear itself have turned their attention to this vintage piece. Style Guide favorites Pistol Lake, out of California, are producing a contrast-stitching crewneck sweatshirt in a versatile navy that’s been a hot seller this winter (the Heather Grey option is seen at the top of the page). Fellow made-in-America brands like Taylor Stitch and Buck Mason are also producing solid crewneck sweatshirts that can stand up to a campfire or a casual day at the office (considering that both can be equally treacherous). Reliable menswear stalwarts like J. Crew are also offering up an even more roughed-up take on the crewneck sweatshirt, turning to garment-dying for a lived-in look. They’re also offering a super-refined cashmere crewneck on the opposite end of the style spectrum.

So there are certainly plenty of options out there to go more casual with your crewneck, or a bit more dressy. On the lux end of things, Shinola has expanded its product offering into crewneck sweaters, drawing on perhaps the most vintage inspiration of all — Muhammad Ali’s signature style — for its “Cassius Clay” Sweatshirt. If you find yourself with quite a bit of cash to spend, know that Mr. Porter stocks crewneck sweaters from the likes of Brunello Cucinnelli — and that’s all the proof you need that the silhouette is mainstream! With such a variety of price points, it can be a bit daunting to pick out just one — even if it is just a crewneck sweater. It’s a style that shouldn’t be overlooked, though. The styling potential is on-point (be it over a blue Oxford or a simple tee), and designers have updated the fits and colors in new and unexpected ways. Toss in solid options for every price point, and you’ve got a style upgrade worth making.

Have you upgraded your crewneck sweater (or sweatshirt) yet? What’s your favorite of the options listed here?
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The Product Review: MVMT Watches Brown Leather Watch

Editor’s note: For product reviews on outerwear, shirting, accessories and beyond, click here. Portions of this article use affiliate links, from which a small commission might be earned. The Style Guide only recommends and reviews products its editor loves and wears regularly.

A sharp blue dial and crisp markings make this MVMT Watches timepiece a keeper.
A sharp blue dial and crisp markings make this MVMT Watches timepiece a keeper.

The finishing touch that a watch can bring to an outfit is one of the small pleasures of the menswear world, in my mind. Throwing on a reliable and stylish timepiece day after day can become a nice sort of repetition — on days I’m not wearing a watch, it feels a bit like I’ve lost my totem. Whether that’s the case for you and you find yourself with a growing watch collection, or you’re just diving into the world of watches, looking for style and versatility with a budget in mind won’t let you down. Luckily for both the novice and experienced watch enthusiasts among us, a growing group of companies are riding the digital #menswear wave to put out watches that are stylish, affordable and reasonably well-crafted. Now, you won’t be getting a Patek Philipe from some of these brands, but that’s not what we’re going for. And among that set of brands producing sharp watches at excellent prices, MVMT Watches stands out.

The brand offers a variety of styles, including its simple-yet-slightly futuristic Classic line, and a series of Chrono watches that are a little more eyecatching — but the real pieces of interest (at least to yours truly) come from its 40 Series. The dials in the collection lean dressier thanks to the slim silver seconds markers, and the combinations — from rose gold plus brown leather to a silver dial with brown leather — are refined and yet easily wearable. With that being said, the brand was a new one for me before they reached out and were kind enough to offer this watch for review. I was admittedly a bit skeptical having not heard much about them (although their Instagram following is substantial). But after rocking The 40 – Silver/Brown Leather for the past month or so, I can safely recommend it as a bargain pick-up that wears a heck of a lot nicer.

The storage case is also a nice added touch from MVMT Watches.
The storage case is also a nice added touch from MVMT Watches.

The first standout quality about this watch is the color of that dial — I was initially a bit worried at how much I’d be able to wear a watch with a blue dial (we all know how much I love blue). But the rich dark brown leather of the strap, plus the slightly toned-down silver case markings, make this watch more versatile than, say, a blue strap and contrasting red dial markings might make it. In short, I’ve paired it as a complement to dark denim and navy chinos, and I’ve even paired it up alongside navy suede boots. So when worn in the right situation, it can add a nice complement to ensembles that at first glance might not work. And it’s to the credit of this watch that the durability surprised me even more than the style potential.

The blue dial lends itself surprisingly well to pairing with rich style staples like tan Chelsea boots (from ASOS) and an elbow-patch sweater (from JACHS NY).
The blue dial lends itself surprisingly well to pairing with rich style staples like tan Chelsea boots (from ASOS) and an elbow-patch sweater (from JACHS NY).

The great thing about this watch is that the dial should hit the sweet spot for a lot of us — similar to a  brand like Daniel Wellington, a 40mm case diameter is decently big enough so as not to look too small on a larger wrist, and it does just fine in terms of standing out on a small-to-medium size wrist (who knew wrist size would come up so frequently here?).  That’s where The 40 – Silver/Brown Leather falls on this spectrum, and it’s built to be worn with everything from suit trousers to a striped henley and cardigan. Crucially, the silver-plated stainless steel case feels fairly durable when wearing it, too — this isn’t a watch that feels too light on your wrist, or as if it can’t take a bump or two. Now, this isn’t a rugged dive watch, but the case is certainly thicker than a Daniel Wellington timepiece.

Another must-have when starting the day, besides a great watch -- delicious coffee! Brew shown here by Blue Bottle.
Another must-have when starting the day, besides a great watch — delicious coffee! Brew shown here by Blue Bottle.

That extra thickness helps it wear a little more casual than a standard dress watch (although DW’s watches can be dressed down, too). The dark brown genuine leather strap doesn’t feel cheap or flimsy, and it’s worn pretty solidly throughout the past month — again, that’s a positive for the price. And if you’re the type who doesn’t like the “tick, tick” sound you get with some other watches (lookin’ at ya, Timex), rest assured, the 40 in Blue/Brown Leather runs smoothly. It’s also water-resistant, so that should add another layer of protection to this watch. As far as other details, it boasts a quick-release feature at the buckle for the brown leather strap, so a new NATO strap could be swapped in with ease.
Florsheim
The final selling point with this timepiece revolves around, as it seemingly always does — price! MVMT isn’t charging an arm and a leg (or a couple wrists) by any means. While this isn’t Timex-level pricing, $120 is still an excellent price for a watch that can carry you through at least three or four different outfits a week (as I’ve found) — and that goes for sharp situations that call for Chelsea boots (as seen above), to more casual weekend days. A blue dial could be an interesting style plunge to take if you’re just getting into watches, but it could definitely pave the way for future purchases if you wear this timepiece with confidence. And that’s what a great watch should ultimately give you at the end of the day — confidence. And oh yeah — the power to be on time to that lunch meeting.

What do you think of MVMT Watches? Would you consider buying a blue-dial watch?

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Style Pick of the Week: Taylor Stitch Long Haul Waxed Canvas Jacket

Editor’s note: Expect these posts weekly detailing one standout item coveted by yours truly. Sometimes, these fit within budgetary restrictions and other times, they’re expensive splurges worth saving for. For more Wish List items from Beau, head here, and to see other Style Picks, head here.

The Long Haul Field Jacket -- another stunning crowdfunded piece up for grabs from Taylor Stitch.
The Long Haul Field Jacket — another stunning crowdfunded piece up for grabs from Taylor Stitch.

There are some items that you see online and immediately think — or in this case, exclaim aloud — “WHOA.” The item that did that for me this week is the crazy-sweet jacket you see at the top of the page — and that’s almost not even a good enough adjective to describe it. Yes indeed, the Long Haul Jacket in Field Tan Waxed Canvas is the latest in a growing line of exceptionally stylish and durable-looking product releases from the made-in-America purveyors at California-based Taylor Stitch. If you’re not familiar with the brand, take a moment to acquaint yourself. They stock both a regular rotation of everday Essentials  — things like chambray shirts, Oxfords and their famous Standard Issue Chinos — in addition to the crowdfunding they use to produce products (like the jacket you see here) in small batches. That model is clearly working, as the Long Haul Jacket is a runaway hit to the tune of being more than 350% funded as of press time. They’ve become a Style Guide regular (check out a past Style Pick feature here), and that’s due in large part to the strength and style potential of their product, which is timeless and well-crafted. The Long Haul Jacket would certainly seem to stand up to that test at first glance — and that first glance is a stunner (or is it just me?).

The jacket comes complete with the brand's signature map lining interior, not to mention a host of other durable design features.
The jacket comes complete with the brand’s signature map lining interior, not to mention a host of other durable design features.

This rather beastly-looking jacket is crafted from 7 oz. Martexin waxed canvas designed to repel water, and comes complete with tonal Brisbane Moss corduroy-lined cuffs and collar for an extra bit of vintage style inspiration. The flap chest pockets and front-welt hand-warmer pockets (along with the silhouette in general) call to mind a classic denim jacket — except a denim jacket won’t pack nearly the punch that this thing will. The copper rivets and buttons look sturdy, an underrated point of emphasis that can make a big difference — don’t want any buttons falling off, eh? So the design features appear at first glance to be exceptionally solid. And of course, the styling potential for this jacket is nearly through the roof. The weight and water-repellent functionality should make it a terrific spring jacket — that’s perfect, given that it should ship in late March after pre-funding and production. And the color and sturdy waxed canvas mean you can wear it into fall with solid layers, too. It’s the perfect jacket to toss on over a grey henley and black denim, and you can mix up your office style by pairing it with a chambray shirt and a navy knit tie. And about that price — for a jacket that you can wear that much, the pre-funding mark of $148 is a downright steal. Get on it, and get excited for spring.

How would you style this field jacket? Do you have any experience with Taylor Stitch?

The Friday Read: Pitti Uomo’s Best-Dressed, Ball & Buck Denim and Alexander McQueen

Editor’s note: Expect these posts once a week on Fridays — consider this a jumpstart on reading for your weekend downtime. Expect a mix of style and non-style content. For more entries, click here

I’m not sure about where you are, but the big topic of conversation here in NYC revolves around snow this weekend — how much we’re supposed to get, how much other areas of the country have gotten so far, and so and so forth. It’s enough to make anyone want just stay inside and read a good book — I’m personally hoping, however, for a bit less snow than predicted, and the chance to get out and check out some nice #menswear haunts around the city. Meanwhile, the promise of summer music festivals and the like keeps growing even as it gets colder and colder — have you snapped up your tickets for Governors Ball or Firefly? Both two festivals with positively GREAT lineups. That’s certainly keeping me going through this chilly winter weekend. And as for what to do in the meantime, I’d suggest: A) Checking out the below Friday Read and B) Hopping on over to my #menswear Pinterest page for some winter style inspiration. Stay warm!

  • As part of its campaign chronicling #TheNewStyle, Esquire snapped portraits of some of the best-dressed men at Pitti Uomo — and the results are a great argument for refined understatement in dressing.
  • Premium shirting company Corridor NYC is having a sale this week, and the fine folks at Well-Spent want you to know all about it — in particular, the blue plaid shirt (option number two) looks stunning.
  • Ball and Buck, yet another purveyor of excellent, American-made goods, just launched its first run of denim, as Inside Hook writes. For what it’s worth, those indigo jeans look sturdy and mighty promising (if you feel like test-driving another pair first, grab a pair of the Mott & Bow Norfolk raw denim).
  • Style Note of the Week: So, a biopic on legendary designer Alexander McQueen is in the works — DETAILS.com offers up their casting recommendations, which look quite on-point (no spoilers here!).

Run out of things to read? Head over here for more men’s style coverage:

  • If you’re hitting the slopes (and have some extra cash to spare), check out the Alps & Meters Shawl Collar Jacket, as covered by yours truly for GearMoose.
  • Read up on another, decidedly cheaper outerwear option (and the subject of my latest GearHungry post) — the Ketums Bondy Jacket, equally inspired by heritage style details.


Reader Giveaway Opportunity: Doc Elliott Grooming

Read on for details on how to win your own set of winter beard-care essentials from Doc Elliott Grooming. Photo courtesy of the brand.
Read on for details on how to win your own set of winter beard-care essentials from Doc Elliott Grooming. Photo courtesy of the brand.
Editor’s note: Thank you to all who participated! And congrats to the winner, Christopher C. Thanks, as always, for reading.

Now that winter’s fully upon us (if it happens to be warm where you are, lucky you!), hopefully you’ve got all the great winter gear you need — from a  warm topcoat to a stylish peacoat and tough winter boots. But with the ever-advancing chill comes the need to turn to another area of the men’s lifestyle department here at The Style Guide — grooming. If you’re among the bearded set out there, it’s crucial to take care of your beard in the winter — it’s one of those little style details that can go further than you think. After all, no one wants to look like a cast member in The Revenant. And it’s with that thought in mind (seriously, groom your beard!) that today’s reader giveaway opportunity comes up. Doc Elliott Grooming, based out of Austin, Texas, certainly has you covered in that regard.

I first stumbled across the brand thanks to a timely 2014 Christmas gift from Santa, and I’ve been a fan of the brand’s Pure Pomade ever since. Their focus is equal parts rugged, refined and vintage-inspired (hence the tagline, “Honor Your MANcestors”), and they like to focus on heritage, authenticity and quality ingredients — that goes for their products across the board.

Its beard care game is equally on-point, and that’s what we’re giving you the chance to enter to win today, my friends. One lucky winner will get the Beard Care combo pack (that’s the brand’s Beard Balm and Serum), plus the brand’s Edge Wax and a fun graphic tee. That entire combo will have your grooming game upgraded in no time, trust me.

To win — simply follow the instructions in this link(Editor’s note: Contest runs until 12 a.m., January 21, 2016).

Stay warm out there and stay stylish!

-Beau

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The Product Review: Issara Leather Laptop Sleeve

Going in person with a leather laptop sleeve from Issara. Classic Bristol leather watch by Daniel Wellington. Adventure Log by Word Notebooks. Pennant by Three Potato Four.
Going in person with a leather laptop sleeve from Issara. Classic Bristol leather watch by Daniel Wellington. Adventure Log by Word Notebooks. Pennant by Three Potato Four.

It seems as you get more into menswear and dressing well, you begin to appreciate the nuances of clothing design, trends, colors — the whole nine yards. That translates, at least for me personally, into a greater interest in the deeper nuances of everyday life – things like home design, accessories, better-tasting coffee,  a greater appreciation for craft beer and nice food … you get the picture. And so it makes sense that lots of sites – and individual companies, from Huckberry to Bespoke Post and beyond, are catering to guys who are interested in nuanced style and lifestyle upgrades all the way across the board – not just in menswear. That’s created a trickle-down effect, and an opportunity, for companies who appreciate and practice craftsmanship and quality, particularly in the smaller areas of life – like leather goods, for example.

Issara is one such company that’s emphasizing quality and nuanced design in its pieces, creating premium offerings that can offer a style upgrade to an area you might not think about. Exhibit A: your laptop sleeve. I myself used a freebie I got back in college for the longest time – but when founder Rosh Govindaraj approached me last year about learning more about her brand and reviewing a sleeve, I began to think about the idea of larger upgrades as a whole, from a laptop sleeve to a nice leather bag to small home goods from the likes of Owen & Fred and beyond.

And Issara’s story is an attention-grabbing one, too – the brand’s name means “freedom” in Thai, and its roots stem from Govindaraj’s love of travel – and her search for well-made leather bag that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. So the brand was born, and its focus on working with two small workshops to produce its leather goods – including beautiful leather bags and minimal wallets – echoes the commitment to craftsmanship that so many are taking an interest in nowadays. The company’s emphasis on social responsibility and improving the lives of its workers is again a welcome change from headlines you tend to see across the fashion industry.
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With all that being said, I can say that after taking the company’s Navy Laptop Sleeve across the globe and packed in my trusty Satchel & Page Slim Mailbag for daily work commutes, I’d recommend you look into making a similar upgrade yourself (budget permitting, of course).

Just enough room in this Issara leather laptop sleeve to carry some nice essentials. Orange notebook by Shinola. Grey notebook by Public Supply. Wooden earphones by Woodbuds.
Just enough room in this Issara leather laptop sleeve to carry some nice essentials. Orange notebook by Shinola. Grey notebook by Public Supply. Wooden earphones by Woodbuds.

Again, we’re not talking about something you can readily see, like a sturdy pair of everyday boots or tough chinos – but in the same way that those items can be used time and again, a dependable laptop sleeve can go with you everywhere, every day. Issara’s version in particular, while pricey at $129, is an investment that lives up to the price – and size options allow you to hold something as small as an 11” laptop or as large as a 15” laptop (like the sleeve hown here). Note that if you’re looking for something a bit different, Saddleback Leather also has a selection of tech sleeves. The navy color of this Issara piece is a nice neutral that stands out in a sea of plain black laptop sleeves (it also comes in a beautiful shade of Cognac). If you believe (like your humble author) that style is in the details as much as the overall product, then here’s a nice example.

Another way to accessorize a monogrammed Issara leather laptop sleeve -- with a tasty brew after a hard day's work. Watch by Timex. Horween Chromexcel Color No. 8 watch strap by Form-Function-Form. Tan leather keychain by Apolis.
Another way to accessorize a monogrammed Issara leather laptop sleeve — with a tasty brew after a hard day’s work. Watch by Timex. Horween Chromexcel Color No. 8 watch strap by Form-Function-Form. Tan leather keychain by Apolis.

It’s lined in slate grey twill, so that’s a neat touch with a bit of #menswear roots. The option to have your sleeve monogrammed for $10 extra is a customization that again can set you apart from the masses in a good way. The sleeve is sleek and stylish – it’s not often at all that you can say that about a laptop sleeve. While the price might seem a lot compared to the lower-budget options available, the protection and the thickness of the sleeve is solid, the Japanese zipper (with a leather pull) has proved sturdy, and the interior side pocket is just large enough to carry a 5” x 8” Public Supply notebook and a few pens.
Florsheim
This Navy Laptop Sleeve will definitely look handsome alongside everything from a standard leather briefcase to a durable satchel, and mine personally has stood up to being lugged around through airports and the subway just fine. The great thing about the sleeve itself is that it has more than enough room for a folder or two within, plus your laptop. And, as seems to be the case with people looking for more minimalism in their lives, you could feasibly carry the sleeve sans bag without it clashing at all alongside an #OOTD ensemble.

Ponying up that amount of money up front for a laptop sleeve might not be achievable at the moment for everyone, but like those dependable winter boots or a warm topcoat, it’ll feel great to use it as often as possible. And when the color and styling of a laptop sleeve falls in line with the sort of style you’re looking for in the rest of your outfit, that can only be considered a positive.

Would you consider making this style upgrade? Or will you stick to what you’ve got in your bag right now?
Ben Sherman US