Cross-country: Heading West for a weekend in L.A.

Polka dots popping out. Taking my favorite Saturdays Surf NYC shirt and my trusty Navali Stowaway Weekender Bag. Luggage tag by Frank & Oak.

Polka dots popping out. Taking my favorite Saturdays Surf NYC shirt and my trusty Navali Stowaway Weekender Bag. Luggage tag by Owen & Fred.

Editor’s note: For more travel style dispatches, head here.

Out of the major American (and international) cities I’ve visited, I have perhaps the fondest memories of Los Angeles — and I only spent about twelve hours there. The last time I was in the L.A. area was, without question, one of the best weekends of my life — a trip West as part of a graduation gift to watch my beloved Michigan State Spartans take down Stanford in a legendary Rose Bowl game. I slept on a hotel room floor, edited stories from my phone as part of my work at The State News (MSU’s student newspaper) and basked in the glow of a historic school moment. Spending the next day driving around L.A. with my newspaper colleagues was particularly momentous after such a great win. But I quickly realized the city had more to offer — and when one of my best high school & college friends headed West earlier this year, I knew I had to make it back. So that’s where this weekend is set to take me — and as always, I resolved to travel in style despite the promise of pretty sweltering Los Angeles weather. (Let’s call this trip #StyleGuideLosAngeles, shall we?)

Three options for hot weather, pictured top to bottom -- lightweight JACHS NY grey chinos, flexible Mott & Bow dark denim and lightweight linen shorts from Frank & Oak.

Three options for hot weather, pictured top to bottom — lightweight JACHS NY grey chinos, flexible Mott & Bow dark denim and lightweight linen shorts from Frank & Oak.

I’m bringing along a good mix of product to combat the heat, starting with some linen shorts from Frank & Oak (as pictured above and detailed in this April post). I’m also bringing along a pair of Banana Republic khaki shorts and my Pistol Lake French Terry Sweatshorts, a seasonally-appropriate pickup from a brand that just happens to be based in L.A. They should pair nicely with one of my Pistol Lake V-neck tees. And that get-up should in turn go well with my ever-reliable GREATS Brand Rosen sneakers, a pair I’ve come to rely on in all sorts of situations. They’re exceptionally comfortable and work to dress down a blazer and T-shirt (a combination I’ll likely be wearing on the plane, as I’m heading to the airport after a half-day at work — #WheelsUp!). And should those sneakers need some time out of the rotation, I’m sure my GREATS Brand Wilson sneakers in White will definitely get the job done with multiple pant options.

Travel essentials for a cross-country trip. Russel Baseball Jacket by Grayers. Navy sneakers by GREATS Brand. Socks by American Trench. Leather chukka boots by Timberland. Leather watch by Daniel Wellington. Dive watch by Invicta. Vintage ballcap by Goorin Brothers. Dopp kit by Baxter of California.

Travel essentials for a cross-country trip. Russel Baseball Jacket by Grayers. Navy sneakers by GREATS Brand. Socks by American Trench. Leather chukka boots by Timberland. Leather watch by Daniel Wellington. Dive watch by Invicta. Vintage ballcap by Goorin Brothers. Dopp kit by Baxter of California.

On that front, I’m anticipating the weather to be quite hot — so my Mott & Bow dark denim should pair well with my Rust V-neck from Pistol Lake (check out that shirt here) and my navy GREATS sneakers. However, I’m ready to sub in my JACHS NY grey chinos, which are about the same weight as a Bonobos Washed Chino, should the situation call for it. I think the dark denim in particular will also team up nicely with two shirting options I’m bringing — my polka-dot Saturdays Surf NYC Esquina Oxford (from the Spring 2014 line), and my Michael Bastian x Uniqlo polo, featuring a nice royal blue color and a thin striped collar The polo in particular (seen more closely here) has a nice bit of stretch and a breathable fabric, key in the heat. My Mott & Bow denim should also do well in that regard. In case the weather does turn cooler, I’m bringing my trusty Russel Baseball Jacket from Grayers (as seen above), which should provide a crisp, versatile outerwear option. On my head, I’ll be throwing on my Goorin Brothers vintage ballcap — a favorite from a brand that really does know how to make great hats. To round out my apparel, some standout socks from American Trench (as discussed in this week’s Style Q&A) will definitely prove breathable and comfortable. Of course, no trip would be complete with a great timepiece — I’m expecting my stainless steel Invicta Pro Diver 8926 and my Classic Bristol Leather Watch from Daniel Wellington to work interchangeably with footwear I’m bringing (particularly my well-worn brown leather Coulter Chukkas — courtesy of my day job repping Timberland).

Grooming gear fit for the road ahead. Featuring Beard Oil & Pure Pomade from Doc Elliott, Shampoo from Baxter of Californina and the Wahl Grooming Stainless Steel Trimmer.

Grooming gear fit for the road ahead. Featuring Beard Oil & Pure Pomade from Doc Elliott, Shampoo from Baxter of Californina and the Wahl Grooming Stainless Steel Trimmer.

To round out my luggage and grooming situation, I’m hauling everything in, as ever, my Navali Stowaway Weeekender Bag and my hard-wearing Satchel & Page Slim Mailbag, both of which have provided formidable and tough options for carrying luggage across the globe. And as toiletries are just as key when traveling as at home, I’m rounding up some essentials to bring with me (in travel sizes, of course). My haul will include the Travel Essentials Kit from grooming giant Baxter of California, as well as some Pure Pomade from Doc Elliott and my Wahl Grooming Stainless Steel Trimmer. I’ll be lugging it all in the Baxter Quilted Dopp Kit, which should make things easy to access throughout the trip. While I’m looking forward to sampling the finest food & drink *namely beer, can’t forget about the beer* that L.A. has to offer, I’m also hoping to meet with a brand I admire and whom I’ve interacted with a bit in the past — the fine folks at Apolis. After seeing a press preview of a neat industrial design project they’re working on, plus profiling  them for VOUCH Mag and GearHungry, it’s a definitely a cool opportunity.
Florsheim
As always, look for the regularly scheduled Friday Read post before I jet-set, along with a new Style Pick of the Week. Follow me during the trip via Instagram and Twitter, if that catches your fancy! And look for more from out West next week.

And do let me know — what’s on your must-see list in L.A.? Best restaurants or spots to check out? Drop me a line via Twitter or give me a shout in the comments!

Ben Sherman US

The Product Review: Satchel & Page Slim Mailbag

Editor’s note: For more product reviews covering excellent #menswear staples, head right this way.

Fit for the hills of Greece and the NYC commute, too: the Slim Mailbag from Satchel & Page.

Fit for the hills of Greece and the NYC commute, too: the Slim Mailbag from Satchel & Page.

As you go about improving your sense of style, it only makes sense that the details take on an added importance — as they should. Style upgrades in areas both big and small definitely contribute to a broader package in terms of your personal appearance. And there are a surprising number of companies allowing guys to get great quality for those upgrades while supporting up-and-coming brands (blog favorites like Pistol Lake and Apolis definitely fit this mold). Satchel & Page has certainly made a name for itself doing that, thanks to an initial Kickstarter run of simple yet handsome bags that raised nearly $230,000. The product focus has expanded since that time to include leather jackets and more, but its staple products — especially its well-known Slim Mailbag — are just as high-quality as ever.

I had the chance to chat via phone with founder Daniel Ralsky as I hopped on a plane to Michigan last month, and I had the good fortune to get my hands on the Slim Mailbag as I also hopped through Greece at the start of August (check out more on that trip here). And it’s proven every bit up to the challenge of navigating both international air (and ground) travel and the rigors of commuting in NYC. (Editor’s note: Before we dive in, although this bag is available right away, certain products — like the brand’s new line of belts — do fund via Kickstarter or the brand’s Web site).

Another shot from beautiful Santorini, Greece. The Slim Mailbag alongside a Goorin Brothers vintage ballcap.

Another shot from beautiful Santorini, Greece. The Slim Mailbag alongside a Goorin Brothers vintage ballcap.

The bag is, generally speaking, remarkably well-made and will absolutely only get better with age. It’s the type of piece I’m excited to get more use out of, because thanks to the excellent, rich leather, it should tell quite the unique story. Already, the patina is changing and actually looking all the better for it. It comes with a lifetime warranty and crucially, it feels like it could stand up to that test. The leather is thick yet not too stiff out of the box, ideal for a bag that was asked to do a lot right away, including lugging around my laptop and Issara leather laptop sleeve, plus various notebooks. Contained within the bag are also compartments for an iPhone, pens and business cards. The body of the bag itself has broken in remarkably well, a testament to the quality of the leather.

A closer look at some of the sturdy hardware on the Slim Mailbag.

A closer look at some of the sturdy hardware on the Slim Mailbag.

A leather shoulder strap rounds things out comfortably, and thankfully, it’s not at all tiresome to wear. The rest of the piece is quite remarkable in terms of quality. The 6-8 oz. rich brown, full-grain leather gets its rugged good looks from a hot stuffing method using oils and waxes — custom made by the company’s tannery, to boot. As you can see in the above photo, the bag is already beginning to take on unique nicks and scratches, which only make it look better (in my opinion). If you’re looking for a sleek, boardroom-ready briefcase, this isn’t the bag for you — but those who need something stylish, rugged and effective at carrying around the essentials will be more than happy to hear it stands up to the test. Note that this bag is three pounds, so it’s by no means a remarkably light carry if you only have a few items (say, not even a laptop).

A side-by-side look at the Slim Mailbag next to a slightly larger Kenneth Cole messenger bag.

 
But for those who like some history with their everyday carry, this bag’s got that, too — it’s inspired by the same style of bag carried by the U.S. Postal Service in the early 1900s, so it’s certainly up to a rigorous commute.  Officially as far as dimension go, the bag runs 11″ by 14.5″ wide by 4″ deep (so those with laptops running at 15″ should probably look to the brand’s larger, regular Mailbag). Hand-hammered copper rivets and antique brass hardware also lend the bag a lived-in look.

An in-depth look at the inside of this bag -- well-constructed and with just enough space for everything you might need.

An in-depth look at the inside of this bag — well-constructed and with just enough space for everything you might need. Photo courtesy of Satchel & Page.

Like some of the brand’s other products, this bag isn’t cheap up front, but it’s certainly durable and long-lasting enough to justify the price. Note that the relatively similar-in-looks Montague Leather Satchel from J. Crew retails for about $100 — if you can’t pony up the cash right now, that’d provide a slightly flashier approximation. It isn’t, however, the decidedly more casual waxed canvas and leather laptop bag that J. Crew also sells, which goes for just under $100. Yes, Satchel & Page’s Slim Mailbag provides both more sophistication and higher-quality leather and hardware than its peers in the market (although Navali’s Mainstay Messenger Bag would be worth your time as well if an in-between option was needed).  

Greats
Not all will find Satchel & Page’s rugged bag appropriate for their commute or their office, or with enough space to lug everything around, but the durability and quality combination is to be commended. The leather is rich and durable, the fastenings and hardware are sturdy, and the space is, for my needs, more than adequate. It’s the type of bag that looks great now and will absolutely improve down the line — hopefully, in both looks and performance.
Ben Sherman US

Style abroad: Travels through Greece and Italy, Part 3

The lovely waters on the beach in Mykonos -- just one of the many excellent sights we saw on our trip. Setter Swim Trunks by Orlebar Brown. Sunglasses by Randolph Engineering. Stainless steel dive watch by Invicta.

The lovely waters on the beach in Mykonos — just one of the many excellent sights we saw on our trip. Setter Swim Trunks by Orlebar Brown. Sunglasses by Randolph Engineering. Stainless steel dive watch by Invicta.

The good news is that I made it back to the States in one piece! The bad news is that my family cruise to Greece is now done. It really was an absolutely amazing time though, from hours spent eating and drinking on the beach in Mykonos and Katakolon to days exploring the Acropolis in Athens and the legendary Olympia. Our trip also swung through the lovely and iconic island of Santorini – with its whitewashed houses, narrow cobblestone streets and old-world charm, it was a huge highlight of the trip. And luckily, I found the clothing I packed to be more than adequate, too! [You can check out a packing roundup, plus entries from Part 1 and Part 2 of the trip, here].

Getting out and about in casual style. Slim Mailbag by Satchel and Page. French  Terry Sweatshorts by Pistol Lake. Sunglasses by Randolph Engineering. Sneakers by Athletic Propulsion Labs.

Getting out and about in casual style. Slim Mailbag by Satchel and Page. French Terry Sweatshorts by Pistol Lake. Sunglasses by Randolph Engineering. Sneakers by Athletic Propulsion Labs. Guest appearance by a fellow tourist on the right.

I knew going in that the trip would present lots of options for what to wear – from casual days at the beach (and the cruise bar) to formal dinner nights and a bike ride that actually proved to be quite strenuous. Days spent at the pool also called for a versatile swimsuit, like my Orlebar Brown Setter Swim Trunks as seen above.

For active-casual wear, I found myself consistently reaching for my Pistol Lake French Terry Sweatshorts and my Athletic Propulsion Labs sneakers. The futuristic slant of the sneakers made them feel like less of a running shoe and more of a cool-casual sneaker option, while the sweatshorts (as seen here in a Style Pick of the Week entry) were comfortable and breathable. For those situations where I had to turn to dressier yet cool clothing, my Banana Republic khaki shorts and Michael Bastian x Uniqlo polo were more than adequate, while a pair of linen-blend shorts from Frank & Oak also worked quite well.

Relaxing in casual style leaving Katakolon. Swim Trunks by Orlebar Brown. Printed T-shirt by J. Crew. Leather Wooster Slip-ons by GREATS Brand. Stainless steel dive watch by Invicta.

Chatting with my dad (on the far right) and relaxing in casual style leaving Katakolon. Swim trunks by Orlebar Brown. Printed T-shirt by J. Crew. Leather Wooster Slip-ons by GREATS Brand. Stainless steel dive watch by Invicta. Beer by Newcastle.

I found my footwear options to be adequate as well – I wore a pair of Timberland Coulter Chukka boots (courtesy of my day job) for travel, which proved comfortable and effective. The two pairs of loafers I brought along, one by Andre Coton and one pair by G.H. Bass, also saw use during casual and formal dinner situations alike, particularly with my Combatant Gentleman Sky Blue Chinos. My trusty GREATS Brand Wilson sneakers also proved durable and comfortable for exploring Athens and the Acropolis, and worked for dinner later in the day, too!

A look at some of the accessories I brought along for the trip. Vintage wool baseball cap by Goorin Bros. Sunglasses by Randolph Engineering.

A look at some of the accessories I brought along for the trip, pictured specifically in Olympia.. Vintage wool baseball cap by Goorin Bros. Sunglasses by Randolph Engineering.

If anything however, I brought along one too many long-sleeve shirts – while I wore my GAP chambray shirt, I didn’t get the chance to wear my Gustin Spring Plaid Shirt, as I often found myself reaching for more laidback short-sleeve options to pair with white denim or my Taylor Stitch chinos. On the accessories front, my black rubber strap Stuhrling watch was a sporty choice to pair with my sweatshorts and sneakers for strenuous shore excursions, and my Daniel Wellington Classic Bristol leather watch worked well with lots of dinner outfit combinations in particular. My stainless steel Invicta dive watch, a personal favorite, was a solid option with which to hit the beach, and I frequently reached for my Goorin Brothers vintage wool baseball cap (currently sold out online) – it was comfortable and breathable, crucial in the heat of Greece.

For those exploration-filled shore excursions, I took along my Satchel and Page Slim Mailbag – it’s proving to be very durable, sturdy and well-made (plus, who doesn’t love the smell of new leather??).

A formal look for the final night of the cruise. White Poplin Endurance Shirt and Steel Blue Glen Plaid Double-Breasted Suit by Combatant Gentleman. Glasses by Warby Parker. Watch by Daniel Wellington.

A formal look for the final night of the cruise. White Poplin Endurance Shirt and Steel Blue Glen Plaid Double-Breasted Suit by Combatant Gentleman. Glasses by Warby Parker. Watch by Daniel Wellington.

And my Randolph Engineering Concorde Flash Lens sunglasses worked excellent to combat the sun’s rays too. On the toiletries front, my Baxter of California Travel Kit was convenient, easy to pack and of course, very useful! For formal wear, my Combat Gent White Poplin Shirt and Steel Blue Glen Plaid Double-Breasted Suit were sharp, well-fitting and also able to be mixed and matched among the jacket and a separate pair of custom grey suit pants from Black Lapel.

Definitely one of the highlights of the trip -- checking out the amphitheater at the Acropolis in Athens.

Definitely one of the highlights of the trip — checking out the amphitheater at the Acropolis in Athens.

While the process of getting overseas was lengthy (to be expected!) and the time change was a somewhat difficult adjustment at first, I found the whole adventure to be beautiful, serene and highly enjoyable – Royal Caribbean and its staff are friendly, helpful and very gracious, too! It’s certainly a cruise I would take again, and I found several areas I would love to visit again, too.

I’m definitely grateful for the opportunity and the time spent with family as well – and of course, having the chance to work with a few excellent brands on trip gear was pretty neat, too! We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled content here on Wednesday (a product review of the aforementioned Taylor Stitch chinos), but if you’d like to check out more trip photos and content, check out #StyleGuideAbroad via my Twitter and Instagram accounts. Until next time, Greece!