Style Pick of the Week: Danner Mountain Light Boots

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.

danner-mountain-light-boots

Sturdy, reliable and durable boots with a bit of sleek styling potential thanks to the all-black silhouette.

There’s something about the depths of winter that causes you to take a look at #menswear pieces you might once have rejected. Not normally a fan of winter parkas? Maybe you’re considering getting one to battle the polar vortex. No need for durable winter gloves built for work? Think again. The same could possibly be said for alpine-inspired hikers. Unlike other stylish men’s winter boots, a hiker is quite distinctive in its silhouette — it’s not your average leather chukka boot, that’s for sure. Such is the case with the Danner Mountain Light, a classic pair of footwear that certainly means business when it comes to looking stylish in the snow.  It’s this week’s Style Pick of the Week for good reason — and not just because it’s the younger brother to the so-called “Bond Boot” — that would be the Danner Mountain Light II, as worn by none other than James Bond in 2015’s “SPECTRE.” Heck, our man Daniel Craig wore his Danner boots even when not on-camera. Now, the silhouette looks almost identical, but the Internet tells me the weights on these bad boys are different. There you go. So, why go for the Danner Mountain Light if you’re not a fan of hikers? Truly, you’ve got plenty of reason to give them a shot (functionality, toughness, alpine-inspired style) — and not just ‘cuz they’re sold via Huckberry.

Our main man Daniel Craig wearing the Danner Mountain Light II.... slightly different, but nonetheless worth channeling (maybe minus the handgun).

Our main man Daniel Craig wearing the Danner Mountain Light II…. slightly different, but nonetheless worth channeling (maybe minus the handgun).

In particular, the Danner Mountain Light is built with functionality in mind, through and through. Made in Danner’s Portland factory — that’d be Oregon — you’re getting all the hallmarks of quality and toughness you’d expect from a USA-made brand (plus a very Bond-ian silhouette). The stitchdown construction means you can resole ’em when the time comes — although you might not get to that point for a while. The Vibram outsole on the Danner Mountain Light — plus the brand’s custom last — also offer stability and support. That all means the Danner Mountain Light is the real deal — built for more than just strolling around the city. And if you’re not sold on the styling potential, take a cue from Bond — without the high-speed mountain chase. Slim black denim and rugged pieces like a shawl-collar cardigan and a marled henley are simple, effective complements to this rugged pair of boots — it’s practically an outfit tailor-made for getting around during a winter bar crawl. They’re the perfect pair of weekend boots, especially when teamed with simple, easygoing pieces like a classic crewneck sweater and beat-up blue denim. Even a simple piece like a sleek black bomber and black trousers are finished off reliably with the Danner Mountain Light — stealing  page from Bond’s playbook there. And of course, more technically inclined looks work just fine with a pair of boots that are tough, functional and yet uniquely stylish — your dad’s retro hiking boots, these are not. So, lace up and get climbing. Any thoughts on the Danner Mountain Light? Are you pro-hiker or anti-hiker? Let’s hear it in the comments below!

Thanks, as always, for reading — enjoy the weekend!

-Beau

Get the Danner Mountain Light now via Huckberry.

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Beckett Simonon

Mack Weldon: Underwear Upgraded

Telling you what you need to know about Mack Weldon. Photo courtesy of the brand.

Telling you what you need to know about Mack Weldon. Photo courtesy of the brand.

The more you learn about improving your style — heck, improving your lifestyle in general — the more important it is to realize the little details make a big difference. That’s what we talk about all the time at The Style Guide, and it’s always nice to get a reminder. That goes right down to what you’re wearing beneath your jeans or chinos — your underwear. Yes, that’s right. A great pair of underwear fits, feels and performs better — that’s what Mack Weldon has set out to perfect. It’s also why you should set out to upgrade your top drawer as soon as you can, as I’ve learned in testing out the brand over the past several months.

An array of colors and quality fabrics set 'em apart. Photo courtesy of the brand.

An array of colors and quality fabrics set ’em apart. Photo courtesy of the brand.

The E-commerce basics brand, a previous participant in this site’s Style Pick of the Week series, mixes the approach of a nimble start-up with the quality and attention to detail of a much larger brand — and the results show. Seriously, Mack Weldon underwear is what your top drawer needs, as soon as possible. The brand was founded on the process of simplifying basics shopping, and one look at the site makes it easy — pick your color, pick your size, a  few clicks and boom… new underwear. Much easier than the department store experience rifling through bin after bin.

And if retooling your underwear drawer feels daunting, fear not — the brand’s Try-on Guarantee implores you to just test it out. If the fit, fabric or feel isn’t right, the brand will issue you a refund or send you a different size, color or style — it’s that easy. You can even keep the pair you tried on. That’s how confident they are that you’ll love it. Not a bad deal, ehh?

Deconstructing the 18-Hour Jersey Boxer Brief.

Deconstructing what makes the brand’s product so useful. Photo courtesy of Mack Weldon.

Not that you can necessarily go wrong with something like the reliably made, comfortable 18-Hour Jersey Boxer Briefs. If you’re going to start with one purchase, make it these. Having tested them out myself through spring, summer, fall and winter in New York City, the fabric is durable yet extremely comfortable, the fit is great (particularly the Stay-Put Legs to prevent ‘em riding up) and touches like mesh cool zones help out immensely. I’ve worn Mack Weldon in the heat at Panorama NYC, I’ve worn ‘em tromping through the snow with a naval-inspired jacket, and the brand doesn’t let me down — that goes for pieces like its Merino Long-Sleeve Tee, too.

Unlike other underwear, the waistband is sturdy and doesn’t curl over — again, it’s the little details that make a difference. And it should come as no surprise  that the brand engineers its own fabrics — and generates great customer feedback along the way. It’s almost too easy to list out the things they do so well — quality, great comfort, top-notch fabric, excellent fit, an array of styles for every taste … that’s a win all around for stylish guys, and I’d bet you’ll be among those happy customers soon enough.

Consider adding a tee to go with your Mack Weldon underwear -- seriously. Photo courtesy of the brand.

Consider adding a tee to go with your Mack Weldon underwear — seriously. Photo courtesy of the brand.

They’ve taken the same nuanced technical and quality-oriented approach and put it to practice throughout the whole line. The brand’s Silver line of boxer briefs in particular makes use of another crucial and oft-overlooked design factor —  handy antimicrobial and anti-odor performance fabric in the way of Silver XT2. Yes, it’s made with a bit of actual pure silver woven into the fabric. Sound fancy? In short, you still get the same great fit and the ability to stay cool in the heat — or comfortable in the winter.

So from A to Z, Mack Weldon underwear gets it right — fit, reliability, comfort, performance and the brand’s word that you’ll love what you buy. Take my word for it and get shopping — will ya?

Editor’s note: Thanks to Mack Weldon for providing product for the purposes of this review. Thank you for supporting brands that support The Style Guide!

The Product Review: Owen & Fred Voyager Waxed Weekender

Editor’s note: Head here for a host of product reviews on menswear style essentials.

A navy twill interior and army green waxed canvas are complemented by leather handles from Wickett & Craig.

A navy twill interior and army green waxed canvas are complemented by leather handles from Wickett & Craig.

As luck would have it, it’s been quite some time since our last menswear product review here at The Style Guide. They were a fixture on this here #menswear blog for quite some time, and we’re back today with a review of the Owen & Fred Voyager Waxed Weekender. Past reviews have showcased a range of product, from an essential chambray shirt to a pair of classic chukka boots and beyond. Well, here’s another one — and just in time for summer travel season.  In fact, traveling in style could get a whole lot easier if you snag a durable, essential and stylish men’s weekender bag — perhaps one a heck of a lot like the option you see at the top of the page. Yes indeed, this bag has quickly become a big-time favorite at The Style Guide, and it’s accompanied me on a stylish trip to upstate New York, as well as a recent long weekend in Washington, D.C. (thanks to the brand sending it along for testing). Would I recommend picking one up the next time you hit the road? Absolutely. Why’s that? Read on.

Owen & Fred Voyager Waxed Weekender

As seen in this site’s roundup of the best men’s weekender bags. Photo courtesy of Owen & Fred.

Over time, the excellent men’s lifestyle and design brand Owen & Fred has won me over in a big, big way. They’ve been kind enough to participate in a few Reader Giveaways and provide this site with product for review, and I’ve been a fan of their approach to design even before that. They stock an essential selection of, well, essentials for the discerning guy — be it a sturdy brass bottle opener (a favorite on my Instagram) or larger pieces, like a durable canvas laundry bag (unfortunately sold out). The full product assortment is pretty extensive, yet all designed with refinement and style in mind, and that goes for everything from its shaving kits to intricate wall art. It’s with that approach — great design and quality first — that they’ve crafted the Voyager Waxed Weekender, and it certainly shows. In every situation, from those weekend trips to hopping around NYC, it’s performed very well, and I think that trend will certainly continue.

The Voyager Waxed Weekender in tow for a stylish weekend. Chapter Travel Kit by Herschel Supply. Slim Chinos in Light Stone and Jack in Indigo Star Shirt by Taylor Stitch. Heritage Tassel Loafers by Sebago. Leather lanyard by Tanner Goods. Waterbury Chrono by Timex x Red Wing. Adventure Log by Word Notebooks. Maximus Sunglasses by Sunday Somewhere.

The Voyager Waxed Weekender in tow for a stylish weekend. Chapter Travel Kit by Herschel Supply. Slim Chinos in Light Stone and Jack in Indigo Star Shirt by Taylor Stitch. Heritage Tassel Loafers by Sebago. Leather lanyard by Tanner Goods. Waterbury Chrono by Timex x Red Wing. Adventure Log by Word Notebooks. Maximus Sunglasses by Sunday Somewhere.

The specs are impressive and worth noting, for starters. The bag’s tough, rugged and versatile foundation starts with Martexin Original waxed canvas in an eye-catching shade of Army Green. It’s a different look and feel than the typical weekender bag, as that waxed canvas already has broken in beautifully during the production process. (If, on the other hand, you prefer a more luxurious bag, perhaps check out the last option in this site’s post on the best men’s weekender bags). But in this humble style writer’s opinion, that broken-in styling and feel really is a tremendous attribute in terms of looks. That also means the waxed canvas is more pliable than it is stiff, and that’s definitely a good thing if you tend to pack a lot of style essentials for the road, as I did as recently as a Memorial Day trip to upstate New York.
Frank & Oak
That’s yet another box that can be checked off when it comes to the Voyager Waxed Weekender — it’s roomy and comfortably fits two-three pairs of shoes, plus a weekend’s worth of #menswear gear. In the case of yours truly, that means versatile pieces like a slim chambray shirt, dark denim, brown leather chukka boots and indigo sneakers, for example. In comparison to my Navali Stowaway Weekender, it’s got enough room for about a day’s worth of clothes more (that is, an extra set of chinos or denim, plus a shirt and shoes). What all this boils down to are the bag’s dimensions — 22 inches in length and 12 inches in diameter.

A look at the waterproof qualities of the waxed canvas, plus the beautiful leather handles via Wickett & Craig.

A look at the waterproof qualities of the waxed canvas, plus the beautiful leather handles via Wickett & Craig. Photo courtesy of Owen & Fred.

Aside from its plentiful space (including two interior zipper pockets),  the bag is finished off with sturdy zippers and brass hardware that shows no signs of stress or giving way. The tightweave (removable) shoulder strap is fairly comfortable, although perhaps some leather reinforcement could be added (that could just be me being accustomed to my Satchel & Page Slim Mailbag, however). Speaking of leather — let’s talk about the detailing on this bag. The 9oz. harness leather straps that finish off the Voyager Waxed Weekender  on the handles and at the strap are coming at you via Wickett & Craig , one of the oldest tanneries in the country.
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That attention to detail shows, as these handles are soft and supple, yet sturdy enough to support a fully-packed bag. They’re also rich in color and contrast nicely with the waxed Army Green canvas (although this bag is also available in Charcoal). And down onto the navy cotton twill interior, this bag is something else. It’s a work of art — practically — that should carry everything you need for a stylish weekend away and beyond. It’s got a rugged-refined appeal that’s unique, eye-catching and classic, all at once. Whether you carry it alongside slim stone chinos and an indigo shirt, or stylish summer shorts and a pocket tee, it’s going to add plenty of practicality, function and classic style to all your summer adventures.

Get your own Owen & Fred Voyager Waxed Weekender now.

Florsheim

The Product Review: Todd Shelton Natural Chambray Shirt

Editor’s note: For product review on watches, boots, bags and everything #menswear, click here.

It can sometimes be surprisingly tough to find durable style essentials. That is, the type of piece you can wear over and over again thanks to its quality, reliability and yes, style. While there are a plethora of options out there for these types of things, from endless varieties of dark denim to great leather sneakers, how do you know which style or size or cut is right for you? That’s where Todd Shelton comes in — to take care of that guesswork for you, at least on the shirting front. You might be familiar with the brand — and this very shirt — from its inclusion in our Style Pick of the Week series, but we’re here today to go just a bit more in-depth. Why should that matter to you, my discerning menswear fan? For starters, the brand is all about the kind of style essentials this site (AKA yours truly) writes about in droves. For another, they’re a company that knows where its allegiances are forged — like a good number of stand-up, standout brands these days, that’s right here in America. And they sure do know how to craft a heck of an essential chambray shirt.

The chambray shirt on its own -- a slim fit and nice texture to the fabric make this shirt a keeper!

The chambray shirt on its own — a slim fit and nice texture to the fabric make this shirt a keeper!

That’s definitely what makes the brand worth a look — the knowledge and intuition to stick to doing great basics very well. And if you’re wary of ordering a chambray shirt like this one online, fear not. In fact, that’s a highlight of this review process. When the brand initially reached out to me late last fall, I myself was a bit skeptical of ordering sight unseen. However, that’s where Todd Shelton’s ingenious Fit kit comes in remarkably handy. You can either choose from basic fit options (which include the rarely found Small/Medium, Medium/Large and so on), or register for the Fit Kit. Once you fill in some basic customer information, a kit is shipped out to you containing what you might call a test shirt. You try on said test shirt and follow their instructions to record your measurements, before sending the test shirt and the aforementioned measurements back to the brand using a free return label (again, another small key that makes a big difference).

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The customizations even go so far as to include Stomach Taper, Sleeve Taper and options to add on a pocket. And after all those boxes are checked off, you get a shirt sent back to you within a matter of weeks, completely customized and, in my case, exceptionally well-fitting. It’s the little things like that — plus the big things, like made-in-America production — that warrant the higher price tag. And yes, $200 is a steep price tag for a shirt if you’re on a budget or want to spend less on clothes this year. But as always seems to come up, compare that price to what you might grab at some place like H&M — three or four or heck, five times over. That’s the silver lining, my friend.

Just one way to style this shirt. Charcoal blazer by UNIQLO. Floral pocket square and brown leather belt by J. Crew. Red knit tie by 15ties. Navy suede 1000 Mile Boots by Wolverine. Striped socks by American Trench.

Just one way to style this shirt. Charcoal blazer by UNIQLO. Floral pocket square and brown leather belt by J. Crew. Red knit tie by 15ties. Navy suede 1000 Mile Boots by Wolverine. Striped socks by American Trench.

Now as to the shirt itself. The Natural Chambray fabric has excellent texture to it, and the flecks of white in the fabric help differentiate it from a classic blue Oxford shirt. This makes it a little more rugged and unique-looking, but just because there’s some texture to the fabric doesn’t mean the shirt is scratchy or uncomfortable to  wear. In fact, it’s soft and breathes fairly well for a chambray shirt. I went with  a slimmer fit all-around, and it fits like a charm. The armholes are high and the sleeves and shoulders are trim but still comfortable. Be advised that if you do choose the Short length in terms of the shirt’s hem, it is indeed a tad on the short side (but again, that’s likely the result of human error from yours truly). In terms of other looks, the white buttons make it a bit dressier than the black buttons on my GAP chambray shirt, so it can be worn a bit more easily with a wool blazer.

The versatility of this shirt means it's great for travel, too. Mt. Drew Duffle by United By Blue. Chocolate Suede Scout Chukkas by Thursday Boot Company. Adventure Log by Word Notebooks.

The versatility of this shirt means it’s great for travel, too. Mt. Drew Duffle by United By Blue. Chocolate Suede Scout Chukkas by Thursday Boot Company. Adventure Log by Word Notebooks.

The light blue color also makes it the ideal contrast to slim dark denim and a shawl-collar cardigan — perhaps one of my favorite ways to wear the shirt, as you can see at the top of the page. It can also be layered with ease over a white henley for a vintage-inspired look. And the color stands out well with some slim tan chinos, too. My guess is that it can also pair just fine with some great spring or summer shorts when warmer weather does roll around. So it really is a true four-season chambray shirt, as the texture and the nice roll of the buttondown collar help it stand up to beefier sweaters and dark denim during the fall and winter. When it finally does warm up, there’s plenty of potential to wear it with all kinds of outfits, as well. The bottom line is that if you’re initially on the fence about dropping a lot of cash on this shirt, think of it as a great investment (and it can be made even more versatile if you pick up the point-collar option). Plus, it’s not often you can team a made-in-America shirt with everything from khaki shorts to grey chinos and still stand out for the right reasons.

Get the Natural Chambray Shirt from Todd Shelton here.

Do you own anything from Todd Shelton? How would you wear and style this chambray shirt?

The Product Review: United By Blue Mt. Drew Duffle

Editor’s note: Click here for a plethora of product reviews on the right kind of gear to pack in your bag. P.S. Do you like The Style Guide on Facebook?

Taking the Mt. Drew Duffle from United By Blue around the country. Leather luggage tag by Owen & Fred.

Taking the Mt. Drew Duffle from United By Blue around the country. Leather luggage tag by Owen & Fred.

The more you travel, you more you realize that it just pays to have the right gear. That goes for simple, smaller things like your toiletries kit, all the way on up to the right pair of shoes  or sturdy outerwear. It goes without saying then, that the bag with which you transport all this gear is pretty essential. And like other considered areas of your outfit, a great weekender bag can add a solid, reliable touch to your travel ensemble — seriously. It’s an area that should be overlooked, so when you find one that gets the job done, you should hold onto it. I’ve been traveling quite a bit in recent months, from a Christmas trip to Florida to a work trip to Utah, and a nice bag has proven critical to get from point A to point B. With that being said, the United By Blue Mt. Drew Duffle that you see here has been more than up to the task of handling all of my style essentials.

Ready to hit the road with the Mt. Drew Duffle. Natural chambray shirt by Todd Shelton. Chocolate Suede Scout Chukka Boots by Thursday Boot Company. Adventure Log by Word Notebooks.

Ready to hit the road with the Mt. Drew Duffle. Natural chambray shirt by Todd Shelton. Chocolate Suede Scout Chukka Boots by Thursday Boot Company. Adventure Log by Word Notebooks.

United By Blue should be a familiar name if you read this blog regularly — they’ve popped up in our ongoing Style Q&A series, and they craft everything from the duffle pictured here to responsibly made shirts, henleys and swim trunks. And as with any purchase, you can feel great about picking it up — they remove one pound of trash from oceans and waterways for every product sold, and they bring along their employees as volunteers to do it. So it’s no ordinary company you’re buying from, and that’s a very good. Namely, it means the quality and craftsmanship of this bag can stand up to the commitment they’ve promised.  And it means that no matter which of the five available colorways you pick up, you’ll be getting the same quality (for the record, I ended up going with the Moss option).

Brass hardware pairs well with the dark brown genuine leather straps.

Brass hardware pairs well with the dark brown genuine leather straps. The waxed canvas should hold up quite well, too.

If you’re going to be lugging this around the country as I’ve been, durability is going to be crucial. Luckily, the 18oz. organic waxed canvas is a huge plus — the bag has so far stood up to being jammed in overhead compartments and carried around on the subway, and it hasn’t shown any signs of ripping or giving out (pretty critical with how much gear I’ve packed into it at times). Now, it’ll certainly see lots more use going forward, but initial signs are quite promising. Another big aspect of that durability component is the hardware, as you can see from the above photo. The brass hardware teams nicely in terms of aesthetic with the genuine dark brown leather, but it also feels quite sturdy when picked up, too.

That is, it doesn’t feel like the leather handles are going to give way on you, or like the shoulder strap (also padded with that dark brown genuine leather) is going to suddenly break off. These are all big bonuses, and signs you should check out right away when grabbing your own bag. The leather handles, while sturdy, aren’t too stiff to carry the bag with — while the leather isn’t buttery-smooth, with repeated use, they’ll stand up to carrying while looking quite nice. So overall, this bag definitely has solid durability going for it.

Enough space for two pairs of sneakers side-by-side (plus gear not shown).

Enough space for two pairs of sneakers side-by-side (plus gear not shown).

Space is also a key when packing up a bag for weekend or long-weekend getaways. This bag packs a surprising amount of room (pun intended). I’ve repeatedly been able to fit two pairs of shoes (one pair of suede chukka boots and one pair of sneakers, for example) inside, along with various other knits, sweaters and pants. Compared to my Navali Stoway Weekender Bag, it definitely feels roomier inside, which is somewhat surprising given that the Navali Weekender utilizes more interior pockets and compartments. Note that the official measurements on the United By Blue bag are 24” Wide x 15” Height x 11” Diameter, compared to that Stowaway Weekender, which measures 22″ Wide x 12″ Height x 8 1/2″ Diameter). So this is really more like a three-or-four night bag as opposed to just a weekender bag (that is, if

Fit to carry all kinds of seasonal accessories. Leather luggage tag by Owen & Fred. Buffalo Bobber Leather Gloves by Iron & Resin.

Fit to carry all kinds of seasonal accessories. Leather luggage tag by Owen & Fred. Buffalo Bobber Leather Gloves by Iron & Resin.

 

One drawback might be that if you like things ultra-organized inside your bag — that is, divided up by compartments or sections — this bag doesn’t quite have that. There is an interior zipper pocket however, but that’s it. But given the bag’s roominess, I’ve always found that my gear fits in comfortably without things getting too jumbled up. As with any accessory you’re going to be bringing with you lots of places, looks are absolutely key, too. I’ve found the rich Moss color of this weekender to be a neutral complement to all sorts of travel outfits (again, style’s in the details!). It strikes the right balance between being unique yet not too outlandish. Any of the five other color options currently available would do much the same thing — particularly the rich Nutmeg color or the handsome Chocolate color. The lighter shade of tan even calls to mind a Filson bag.

Which brings us to a key differentiator between an expensive weekender and this one — price (not too hard to figure out there, ehh?). For a bag of this quality and styling potential, the price is just right. That’s particularly true when you consider that the Navali Weekender runs about $30 more expensive. It’s critical that this bag provides more space, more color options and a thicker waxed canvas (not to be overlooked when searching for something long-lasting). Keep in mind that if you were looking for something more smaller and more like an overnight bag, J. Crew Factory is currently offering up its Carson Duffel Bag for just $68.50. And on the slightly more casual front, J. Crew’s Harwick Weekender Bag is going for $148 (but that piece features nylon versus waxed canvas). Were you to go for something on the pricier side of things — like a true Filson weekender — know that the price is going to hop up significantly.

So when it comes to combining craftsmanship, quality and price with the right kind of looks, it’s tough to go farther than this United By Blue Mt. Drew Duffle. The Moss color in particular is rich and eyecatching, the hardware is solid and well-crafted, the leather straps and detailing will break in nicely over time, and the price is on-point for what you’re getting. Heck, you might yourself making more excuses to use this bag than you thought.

Do you own the Mt. Drew Duffle from United By Blue? Or is it on your Wish List?

The Product Review: Thursday Boot Company Diplomat Boot

Editor’s note: For a full set of product reviews covering everything #menswear — from watches to chinos — click here. Click here to shop boots, too. 

Getting out and about in NYC with the Color No. 8 Diplomat Boot from Thursday Boot Company. Slim tan chinos by Banana Republic. Striped henley by J. Crew Fisherman Cardigan by JackThreads. Merino watch cap by American Trench. Buffalo Bobber Leather Gloves by Iron & Resin.

Getting out and about at the High Line in NYC with the Thursday Boot Company Color No. 8 Diplomat Boot. Slim tan chinos by Banana Republic. Striped henley by J. Crew Fisherman Cardigan by JackThreads. Merino watch cap by American Trench. Buffalo Bobber Leather Gloves by Iron & Resin. Glasses by Warby Parker.

If you peruse the pages of this blog from time to time, certain brands definitely tend to pop up consistently for their mix of affordability, dependability and, in the case of Thursday Boot Company, seasonality. Without a doubt, there are certain pairs of men’s boots that can’t be beat. That is to say, in the depths of winter for a lot us, you need sturdy, tough footwear that can carry you through slush and snow to your car (or the subway), and then wherever the heck else you might need to go — be it a concert, a date, you name it.  So that’s what we’re looking at today. The brand’s men’s boots have been featured here prominently before, including a review of the Chocolate Suede Scout Chukka and the dearly departed Roughout Captain Boot. First launched as a Kickstarter project not even two years ago, the brand continues to make splashes with well-timed and well-executed releases — including its more premium Black Label line and unique silhouettes like the hiker-inspired Commander. But one boot in particular is the focus of today’s post — the Color No. 8 Diplomat Boot.

Florsheim

The silhouette definitely calls to mind the classic Red Wing Heritage Moc Toe Boot, yet the Thursday iteration is sleeker and more refined. There’s something to be said for that, despite the fact that it’s a moc toe boot. This pair forgoes the classic yellow laces in favor of sleeker flat-wax laces, just as the Roughout Captain Boot. And the sleekness and quality of this pair for the price is evident as soon as you get them out of the box. Looking for a boot that’s just different enough than a captoe boot or a chukka boot — yet still versatile and sufficiently sharp — is a somewhat tricky endeavor, but these boots fill that void nicely.

Unboxing the Diplomat Boot from Thursday Boot Company. Big fans of these guys.

Unboxing the Diplomat Boot from Thursday Boot Company. Big fans of these guys.

Crucially, they make use of renowned Horween leather in that covetable Color No. 8 shade that’s popped up on everything from boots to watch straps in recent years. The change of pace from a roughout leather or a dark brown or black boot is refreshing, yet it’s not as distinctive as, say, a Dr. Martens Boot. These also look similar, in a way, to the much more expensive and revered Alden Indy Boots, another set of men’s boots worth buying.

That’s a very good thing — these look sporty thanks to the ridged Vibram Christy sole, yet I still found they paired comfortably with tan chinos and a striped henley for exploring around Manhattan. I did find (and I’ve found with other boots in this style), that the leather breaks in easier than other leathers — and because of the shine of this pair, it shows creases more easily (as you can see below). However, it’s nothing some well-timed leather care can’t fix, and it definitely doesn’t detract from their wearability.

Lining them up after a few weeks of wear. With some care and treatment, the Color No. 8 Diplomat Boot should hold up just fine.

Lining them up after a few weeks of wear. With some care and treatment, the Color No. 8 Diplomat Boot should hold up just fine.

That’s another area in which this pair of rugged leather boots excels — the versatility, erm, department. I’ve broken them out with a slim chambray shirt and a wool blazer, and I’ve rocked them with the aforementioned tan chinos, too. A trim pair of denim breaks just right on the bend of the boots, making for a pretty sleek look (something that can help everyone out). I could definitely see them working well with some wool trousers and perhaps a navy crewneck sweater on a more casual day at the office. The burgundy color would also pop nicely with some trim black denim (more on that later this week), and they’re going to fit right in with lightwash jeans in the spring, too. Seriously, the best leather boots for men can take you just about anywhere.

One of two other options in the brand's Diplomat silhouette, this one made out of Natural Horween leather.

One of two other options in the brand’s Diplomat silhouette, this one made out of Natural Horween leather.

The white ripple sole might cause some to shy away from these boots — after all, it’s different than what we’re normally accustomed to seeing in the way of boots. But that again makes it a nice style move. It’s not as if these boots are absurdly priced, so if you’ve been looking to try something different, this is but one way to go. The Diplomat line  also features a pair of Natural Horween leather boots with a Goodyear-welted sole, and a pair in Brown leather. So, the Color No. 8 pair is just one way to make an impression.

And yet, it’s the pair I’ve found myself gravitating toward the most. Thankfully, the other details work out as promised. The eyelets and laces have held up well trekking through the Brooklyn snow, although the lack of extreme traction could be a bit tricky in some instances. However, the Vibram sole is also as comfortable as advertised, even when worn for long periods of time. They run true to size, so there was no slippage (or cramping up of my feet, conversely) with some striped socks. Some have had issues with stitching imperfections or other problems around the sole, but there were no major problems with this pair — again, one reason why it’s worth it to pony up for a pair of these as opposed to something from, say, H&M.

They’re nice enough that if you were feeling adventurous, you could rock them with a slim grey flannel suit and a chambray dress shirt. Make sure you nail the break of those trousers and you’re all set. And that’s about all you can ask for from a sub-$250 pair of boots, especially ones made from Color No. 8 Horween Chromexcel leather. From chinos to jeans to wool trousers, they can do it all. Even on days besides Thursday (see what I did there?).

For more of my favorite boots, check out Taylor Stitch, shop the pages of Huckberry or find another pick for men’s leather boots here.

Have you tried out some boots from Thursday Boot Company yet? How would you style this pair?

Elevated Basics. Grounded Price.

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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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

The Product Review: Thursday Boot Company Suede Scout Chukka

Editor’s note: Click here for last-minute holiday gift ideas. And if you’d like to read more product reviews, head here. Be sure to check out more of the best chukka boots for men here, too. 

These boots were made for ... reflecting? Going in-depth with the Chocolate Suede Scout Chukka from Thursday Boots. Custom suit trousers by Combatant Gentleman. Turtleneck by UNIQLO. Glasses by Warby Parker. Charcoal socks by American Trench.

These boots were made for … reflecting? Going in-depth with the Chocolate Suede Scout Chukka from Thursday Boots. Custom suit trousers by Combatant Gentleman. Turtleneck by UNIQLO. Glasses by Warby Parker. Charcoal socks by American Trench.

Curiously enough, this review hits just before Christmas and yet across large swaths of the country, it’s been unseasonably warm — a pair of the best chukka boots around are still fair game as a last-minute gift for guys, though. Now when it takes as long for winter to start as it has this year, it can be somewhat easy to get into a style rut. The weather’s not heavy enough for thick winter boots, yet you might be a bit sick of wearing sneakers. So what’s a good intermediary between these two extremes? As you may have read before on this site, it’s the chukka boot. It’s swifter and sleeker than a winter boot but it’s a little less cleaned-up than a Chelsea boot, so it can wear both more casual or a tad dressier for the late fall and into early winter and beyond. The best men’s leather boots are simply a must-have, and I’d urge you to give these (or one of my other picks) a shot. Crafted in rich suede like the option you see here from Thursday Boots, it’s the perfect go-to for when it’s time to change your footwear without going into full-on thick boot territory. There sometimes can be a tendency to skimp a bit on quality when it comes to a shoe like this (after all, brands like H&M sell chukkas for lots less), particularly if a suede chukka isn’t your go-to everyday footwear option. It’s wise to shell out  more though — with Thursday, you’re getting both a fair price and a really solid chukka boot.

You might recognize the Chocolate Suede Scout Boot from a recent Style Pick of the Week, and it’s been in solid rotation over these past few weeks (which, coincidentally, have remained quite warm in NYC), thanks to its quality and looks. Thursday Boots, if you’re unacquainted, has made a name for itself in the men’s footwear market through a fall 2014 Kickstarter launch that positively blew up, as the investors might say — and their recent product additions have proven nothing short of eyecatching. That goes for the brand’s chukka boots, as well as its superb-looking Chelsea boots and some tough hiking boots. Those are on top of its more premium and higher-priced Black Label Collection featuring rare leathers, and its Captain Boot silhouette (of which the Roughout Captain Boot as seen on this blog was a part).

A look at the versatility of the Chocolate Suede Scout Boot (more on that in a bit). Dark denim by Mott & Bow. Baseball jacket by Grayers. Gloves by Iron & Resin. Henley by Pistol Lake. Vintage ballcap by Goorin Brothers. Watch by Invicta.

A look at the versatility of the Chocolate Suede Scout Boot (more on that in a bit). Dark denim by Mott & Bow. Baseball jacket by Grayers. Gloves by Iron & Resin. Henley by Pistol Lake. Vintage ballcap by Goorin Brothers. Watch by Invicta.

So for all the range the brand has, it’s a good thing the quality doesn’t suffer, at least to this style writer’s eye. The Chocolate Suede Scout in particular features a Goodyear welt that doesn’t have any noticeable imperfections or issues in terms of the stitching. And while that’s a selling point, perhaps the first thing you notice is the quality of the suede — it’s smooth and soft, unlike a more casual Clarks boot, which sometimes has a rougher feel and a more noticeable nap. That smoothness makes these Thursday chukkas quite easy to dress up — even with suit trousers and a turtleneck. The premium round wax laces are also trimmer and sleeker than laces on some other leather or suede chukkas, helping with that elevated feel (it helps that the laces are the same color as the suede itself).

The boot hits higher on the ankle, a refined touch that stands out --in a good way. Fair Isle socks by American Trench. Baseball jacket by Grayers. Dark denim by Mott & Bow. Watch by Invicta.

The boot hits higher on the ankle, a refined touch that stands out –in a good way. Fair Isle socks by American Trench. Baseball jacket by Grayers. Dark denim by Mott & Bow. Watch by Invicta.

Another noticeable and rather defining feature of these chukkas is the height of the boot itself. Whereas some chukka boots like Clarks hit a little lower on your heel, these extend ever so slightly higher on the ankle — just slightly below the height of an ASOS suede Chelsea boot, for reference. That difference might seem subtle, but when combined with the brown suede and full glove Italian leather lining, it lends a continental feel to these boots (exhibit A: James Bond rocking brown suede chukka boots). So given that bit of contrast, it felt right to pair them with a dressier ensemble for Thanksgiving, and yet they also paired perfectly well with a more casual henley-and-denim ensemble for exploring Washington, D.C.. I’ve gone so far as to pair them with an elbow-patch cardigan and navy chinos, as you can see here.

The suede has held up well over time, so there should be plenty more adventures to come. Dark denim by Mott & Bow. Weekender bag by Navali. Leather luggage tag by Owen & Fred.

The slim profile of this pair makes them highly versatile, fit for adventures on the road ahead. Dark denim by Mott & Bow.  Weekender bag by Navali. Leather luggage tag by Owen & Fred.

On top of versatility, the comfort of these stylish leather boots is absolutely a big selling point, too. Some have had issues with the quality of Thursday Boots or the comfort, but I’ve experienced no such problems. The studded rubber outsole has provided good, noticeably solid traction for getting around NYC on the weekdays and weekends, and the heel hasn’t worn down despite the miles I’ve put on them. It’s a comfortable walking experience from toe to heel, and one would think the full glove leather lining plays a large part in that. Everyone’s footwear experience is different, to be sure, but I also found that a size 10 runs true to size on my feet. That works out well given that the toe shape of these shoes leans much slimmer than your average chukka boot. Again though, that’s another feature that makes them dressy and wearable in a variety of situations. Versatile leather boots sound unstoppable, right? Right.

Crucially too, the quality of the suede has held up quite well. I certainly don’t baby my shoes, although I do use a suede brush and waterproof spray (I’d recommend you do the same, and Thursday Boots has you covered with a boot brush on its site). They do have a few scuff marks, but nothing outrageous given how I’ve been wearing them — and there were no issues as far as suede quality right out of the box, either. It really was one shoe that I couldn’t wait to start wearing, and I’ve been happy to get the chance to continue wearing them this winter. It’s worth you looking into them — brown chukka boots can be worn right now with dark raw denim or burgundy cords, and you can wear them into the spring and summer with white denim and light blue chinos. A pair like this can dressy, too — charcoal flannel trousers and a nice elbow-patch crewneck would blend in seamlessly with this continental style, and you could mix in some high-low style with navy cargo trousers and a grey crewneck sweater.  And with the quality they pack, you could find yourself reaching for them again and again.

Do you own the Chocolate Suede Scout or any other pairs of Thursday Boots? What’s your experience been like, and how would you style them? Looking for another pair of the best men’s boots? Click that link. 

Ben Sherman US

The Product Review: Reef Outhaul Lux Chukka Sneakers

Editor’s note: For a wide range of product reviews on everything from watches to jeans, click here.

Styling black chukka sneakers for travel. Slim denim by Mott & Bow. Grey shirt-jacket by Addict UK. Sunglasses by Randolph Engineering. Black rubber strap watch by Stuhrling.

Styling black chukka sneakers for travel. Slim denim by Mott & Bow. Grey shirt-jacket by Addict UK. Sunglasses by Randolph Engineering. Black rubber strap watch by Stuhrling.

The great thing about personal style is that it’s always changing and developing, shifting according to your tastes, your lifestyle and current trends in the marketplace. This has been no more true than for yours truly across the past few weeks – namely, in my footwear preferences. I love a great pair of boots, and I certainly love sporty sneakers, too. But in the midst of that, I’ve found myself drawn more and more to black footwear – be it side zip or moc toe boots or, in the case of this post, black sneakers.

Perhaps it’s NYC starting to rub off on me, but there’s something quite crisp and sleek about black footwear – and it’s a trend that’s been coming back in a big way in recent years. Witness Bond himself rocking several pairs of expensive and sleek black footwear in the latest franchise installment. And in turn, this has brought me to another style crossroads –wearing and styling black chukka sneakers (not as fancy as what 007 wears, admittedly). There’s an unexpected brand that’s doing a nice, comfortable take on the sneaker, and it’s one you should consider when you fill up your shopping cart next time.
Ben Sherman US

Now before a few weeks ago, I wasn’t familiar with Reef as either  a surfwear brand or an apparel brand, period. But when I got the chance to check out a pair of the brand’s sneakers thanks to the brand’s great PR team, I took the opportunity to dive in headfirst. And like the brand’s apparel (particularly a new workshirt from a collaboration with Lee Jeans), I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the quality, comfort and durability of these particular sneakers – the Outhaul Lux in Black, to be specific. It’s a style that’s been a remarkably hot seller from the brand’s fall line, too – Amazon does have a better range of sizes available as of post time, though.

Another casual way to wear these sneakers -- with a sturdy workshirt, slim denim in a fall-appropriate shade and a nice watch cap. Workshirt by Reef x H.D. Lee. Slim Travel Jeans by Bonobos. Merino watch cap by American Trench. Glasses by Warby Parker.

Another casual way to wear these sneakers — with a sturdy workshirt, slim denim in a fall-appropriate shade and a nice watch cap. Workshirt by Reef x H.D. Lee. Slim Travel Jeans by Bonobos. Merino watch cap by American Trench. Glasses by Warby Parker.

I definitely love a great pair of sneakers, especially from a brand like Brooklyn’s own GREATS, but now there’s some competition in my closet. Reef has been known more in the past for its surf-focused offerings, but they’ve certainly done a nice job with these sneakers. I’ve worn them to work with a plaid shirt and grey crewneck sweater, and I’ve also thrown them on to do quite a bit of exploring across travels to Grand Rapids and Washington, D.C. these past two weeks. Thankfully, they’ve been up to the challenge.

Crucially for sneakers, the first noticeable thing about these guys is the comfort level – the outsole features solid traction, something tough to get in a black leather sneaker on occasion, and the injected molded insole adds another layer of cushion and durability. For being a chukka sneaker, they’re quite light – that’s another positive that’s made these a solid choice for lots of walking.

One way to style these sneakers -- with a solid baseball jacket (via Grayers), a vintage ballcap (via Goorin Brothers) and a dependable weekender bag (by Navali).

One way to style these sneakers — with a solid baseball jacket (via Grayers), a vintage ballcap (via Goorin Brothers) and a dependable weekender bag (by Navali).

The premium full-grain leather upper makes for a pretty slick look and decent styling potential, too. As you can see from these photos, I opted to style them in two casual, rugged get-ups – notice my love of grey workshirts and henleys, namely. So they’ve been a very solid casual sneaker. Granted, they’re not as dressy or quite as versatile as a shiny black leather sneaker, but the monochrome color still makes them quite sharp. The nubuck leather is of good quality, too – it hasn’t shown that much wear and tear or creasing, a factor that’ll allow them to be worn in more high-low situations (think a navy blazer and slim khaki chinos plus these sneakers).

A closer look at the diagonal stitching that runs up the side of these Reef chukka sneakers.

A slightly closer look at the diagonal stitching that runs up the side of these Reef chukka sneakers, which some might not like.

However, just as they’re not as dressy as a black leather sneaker, the slightly rounded toe makes them less sleek – and thus less versatile. But, they’re definitely still able to function as a business-casual sneaker, albeit in a bit more unique fashion. The chukka-style cut is a nice change of pace from lower-cut sneakers. Those types of kicks definitely have their place in spring and summer, but a chukka sneaker screams fall style to me – perhaps it’s the shifting weather or the switch back to higher-cut boots as the temps drop and leaves fall, but a chukka sneaker is a lighter way to convey a similar style. The padded ankle makes these more comfortable than boots, too (as it should be with sneakers!). Plus, the higher cut aligns well with slimmer pants that have minimal break, creating a nice silhouette. And again, that sleek black color is probably best to wear casually at first — rotate them in as you might a pair of suede chukkas, or regular low-cut sneakers, and more styling options will definitely start to open up.

The one thing some might not like about these sneakers is the diagonal detailing stitched onto the side of the sneakers. It’s an almost tribal-like pattern but as it’s done up in black stitching, it doesn’t detract from the sneaker too much for me. Elsewhere on the shoe, waxed laces that have some nice stretch are a welcome touch.

The price on these is pretty solid, too – at $95, it’s always refreshing to see a good sneaker sold for under $100. GREATS and more classic sneaker brands like Vans might have them beat price-wise, but for a company known for its surfwear offerings, this is a solid sneaker effort that’ll continue to get good wear through fall and into the early part of winter.

Have you picked up sneakers from Reef? What’s your take on the black chukka sneaker in general?

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