Fighting the chill: A November weekend in Michigan

Editor’s note: For more travel-centric blog posts, click here.

The sun sets on a crisp fall Saturday in Grand Rapids.

The sun sets on a crisp fall Saturday in Grand Rapids. View courtesy of my friend Chris’s apartment.

As I explored the lovely city of Grand Rapids this past weekend, I was struck by how lucky I am to have lived and grown up in such a beautiful state, and to have such great friends. The opportunity to travel back is, of course, not lost on me either.While it was tricky to balance working from Brooklyn and hopping on a flight back to Michigan after a whirlwind week of Timberland-centric press work, I did indeed manage to make it in one piece! And it was truly a great time in Grand Rapids, the home of famed festival ArtPrize and also some decent brews (to say the least). This was all in spite of the fact that I was greeted, in characteristic Michigan fashion, by a bit of brisk weather. Luckily though, I had proper style gear on-hand to brave the elements.

Stumbling upon cool murals was a highlight in a city known for its burgeoning art scene. Slim denim by Mott & Bow. Down jacket by JACHS NY. Sunglasses by Randolph Engineering. Leather chukkas by Timberland.

Stumbling upon cool murals was a highlight in a city known for its burgeoning art scene. Slim denim by Mott & Bow. Grey jacket by JACHS NY. Sunglasses by Randolph Engineering. Leather chukkas by Timberland. Dive watch by Invicta

To get home, my Satchel & Page Slim Mailbag and Navali Weekender were  more than durable, yet that wasn’t my primary concern! Packing gear to beat the cold while also in transit was the bigger ordeal– how to pack light yet layer up and stay comfortable? Answer: A terrific pair of Mott and Bow denim with stretch built in,  plus some solid outerwear. It’s pieces like these that can make your travels a heck of a lot easier in terms of comfort (UNIQLO also offers somed nice stretch denim at a different price point). To complete my travel get-up, I went with a striped J. Crew henley — always a rugged style suggestion for fall — underneath a quilted yet surprisingly lightweight down coat from JACHS NY. The jacket was comfortable to get around the airport and not too hot — it would be a good travel pickup as you look to bundle up and hit the road this holiday season.

Just a look at some of the cold-weather gear I packed, including my Reef x H.D. Lee workshirt, Iron & Resin gloves, American Trench merino watch cap and black Reef chukka sneakers.

Just a look at some of the cold-weather gear I packed, including my Reef x H.D. Lee workshirt, Iron & Resin gloves, American Trench merino watch cap and black Reef chukka sneakers.

Complementing my travel outfit were my trusty Timberland Coulter Chukka Boots — I’d also recommend you pick up a nice pair of leather chukkas for fall. To say they go with everything – even a T-shirt and jeans – is an understatement. To keep things simple packing-wise, I opted just to bring one watch — my ever-reliable Invicta 8926 Pro Diver (still ticking!). However, I loaded up on a few pairs of comfortable and stylish American Trench socks, plus my nice watch cap from the brand. The cap was a huge help, and though I had hoped it would be temperate enough to forgo them, my Iron & Resin gloves also proved invaluable in the cold.

Exploring Beer City U.S.A was a highlight. Workshirt by Reef x H.D. Lee. Slim Travel Jeans by Bonobos. Navy henley by United By Blue. Merno watch cap by American Trench. Black chukka sneakers by Reef. Glasses by Warby Parker. Photo credit: Jesse O'Brien.

Exploring Beer City U.S.A was a highlight. Workshirt by Reef x H.D. Lee. Slim Travel Jeans by Bonobos. Navy henley by United By Blue. Merno watch cap by American Trench. Black chukka sneakers by Reef. Glasses by Warby Parker. Photo credit: Jesse O’Brien.

To get around Grand Rapids, I layered up in a nice, insulating ribbed cotton henley via the fine folks at United By Blue (you might remember that piece as this past week’s Style Pick, in fact). I layered that underneath a brushed flannel workshirt from the new Reef x H.D. Lee Shelter Supply Collection Holiday capsule. You might recognize H.D. Lee as Lee Jeans, and the brand teamed up with noted surfwear retailer Reef on a seven-piece offering that you won’t want to miss if you love American heritage style (and who doesn’t??). Look for more on the workshirt this coming week on the blog, as it was a durable-yet-cozy layering piece that’ll quickly become a winter essential.

A superb burger paired with a nice stainless steel dive watch by Invicta.

A superb burger paired with a nice stainless steel dive watch by Invicta.

And as far as tough style goes, that was definitely in play from location to location. I had the chance to check out the legendary Stella’s, a Grand Rapids icon that serves more whiskey than you can shake a fist at – and oh yeah, their burgers also took home a pretty prestigious prize from GQ in recent years. A stop there for a late dinner Friday night was followed by trips through the tasty Mitten Brewing Company and a stop at Long Road, a great distillery that serves up excellent crafted cocktails (a tip: try The Machine, a coffee-and-vodka combination). To round out the night, we hit up The Winchester, another great bar with an easygoing vibe and plenty of Michigan beer on tap.

After all that, um, activity Friday night, we needed a bit of a pick-me-up on Saturday morning, so clad in my trusty Reef workshirt, we headed to Grand Rapids Brewing Company for an incomparable Bloody Mary bar (can’t beat $4), and a little Saturday college football action featuring our beloved Michigan State Spartans.

Ben Sherman US

I paired the workshirt with my Bonobos Travel Jeans in a fall-appropriate shade of light brown. and the combination worked seamlessly with some new black chukka sneakers, also via Reef. Having the option to take off and add layers while navigating around the city (and namely, from brewery to bar and back) was quite crucial. As to travel style — if you haven’t explored the potential of tossing on a workshirt in place of a jacket, either via Reef or another lower-priced option (like this number from UK clothier ADDICT), I’d advise you do so! Workshirts can be layered over chambray shirts, or worn on their own atop a henley, and the results scream rugged style. When you consider that it can be worn as a jacket or as a true shirt on its own, it’s worth paying a bit more than for your average flannel.

A reverential approach to beer (the brewery is housed in an old funeral home) keeps things classic at Brewery Vivant.

A reverential approach to beer (the brewery is housed in an old funeral home) keeps things classic at Brewery Vivant.

For yet another night out on the town in Grand Rapids on Saturday,  I met up with my best friend Chris, the unfortunate guy who accidentally sat next to me on the bus heading to my first day of kindergarten. So it was awesome to catch up (look for Chris running absurdly fast at your next marathon). The option as to what to do or where to go was pretty easy – being in Beer City U.S.A. makes things rather easy in that regard, so it was excellent to stop into the revered Brewery Vivant. If you want outstanding beer in a beyond-cool environment, I’d recommend you hit up that spot. (Of note: the Farmhand Farmhouse Ale is excellent.).

Stops through a series of Grand Rapids bars followed on Saturday night, including The Meanwhile, an eclectic bar that wouldn’t be out of place in Brooklyn. We also managed to make it for a nice beer at the relaxed Harmony Brewing Company to round out a nice night filled with great times and great friends.

The Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts features a relaxing loft space filled with Herman Miler pieces. Slim denim by Mott & Bow. Leather chukka boots by Timberland. Striped socks by American Trench.

The Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts features a relaxing loft space filled with Herman Miller pieces. It’s the ideal spot to stop and recharge as you explore the city. Slim denim by Mott & Bow. Leather chukka boots by Timberland. Striped socks by American Trench.

Of course, Grand Rapids is about more than beer though – it’s got a bustling arts and culture scene, and if you’re familiar with the massive, citywide art fair and installation that is ArtPrize, you definitely know it’s worth the trip. And the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts fits right in with the city’s cultural scene. My friend Chris and I had the chance to explore it on Sunday, and the tranquil setting, crisp design and engaging artwork definitely made an impact on me.  The city, of course, also has a nice mix of up-and-established large-scale entertainment entities (like the VanAndel Arena), and it’s on the come-up as they say: construction is booming, new apartment complexes are popping up left-and-right and the city is hanging onto its reputation as being family-friendly. Other outposts like Madcap Coffee, a world-class downtown spot, helped make an afternoon spent exploring the city all the more enjoyable.

Sunglasses by Randolph Engineering. Delicious, creamy Oatmeal Stout by Founders Brewing.

Sunglasses by Randolph Engineering. Delicious, creamy Oatmeal Stout by Founders Brewing.

To cap off a whirlwind weekend, we made a stop at yet another revered beer institution, Founders Brewing. The space now features heated outdoor seating, and a relaxed vibe plus some excellent beer was a tremendous way to cap off the trip. The beautiful weather and eclectic mix of new and tried-and-true spots made for an awesome weekend reconnecting with some great friends and exploring a bit more of a city I hadn’t seen in a while. When you travel there, I’d of course recommend bringing some cold-weather travel gear – but more than that, I’d recommend you simply enjoy your time in a city that’s a fine example of the Midwest.

What do you think of these cold-weather style picks? More importantly, have you been to Grand Rapids before, or are you traveling there soon?

Shop the latest in Men's styles Under $50 + get FREE Shipping on orders over $100 at Frank & Oak!

Reader Giveaway Opportunity: Iron & Resin

Read on to find out how these stellar Iron & Resin gloves could be yours. Photo courtesy of the brand.

Read on to find out how these stellar Iron & Resin gloves could be yours. Photo courtesy of the brand.

Editor’s note: This giveaway is now closed, but thanks so much to everyone who participated! And congrats to @UberOwen, the winner via Instagram of a great pair of Buffalo Bobber Gloves.

There are certain products you see on store shelves that you’re left thinking about when you walk away. I had the great fortune of attending a fall boot collection launch event at the Wolverine Company Store in NYC back in August, and while there, I stumbled across a stunning pair of gloves sitting on a shelf. How no one snapped them up, I’ll never know. Of course, they fit right in next to the rugged boots on display. And even just picking them up, I could instantly tell the leather was extremely high-quality, and the production value moreso. That night, in short, kickstarted my interest in Iron & Resin. This is one US-focused company that’s doing right by keeping its production and product assortment extremely close to home.  I’ve had the chance to write about them for VOUCH Mag and Effortless Gent, and I’ve been mightily impressed after diving into their Web site and learning more about the brand.

They stock an assortment of stellar third-party lifestyle, apparel and home goods, including accessories from the likes of Owen & Fred, alongside ridiculously sturdy-looking jackets and other gear made by the brand itself. It’s all fit for the open road — literally. It’s that commitment to great journeys, places & people — and to great USA-made goods — that’s helped the brand carve out such a niche. You can find everything from indigo shirts to surfing gear to those famously durable, made-in-America gloves on the brand’s newly revamped Web site.

And with winter on the way for many of us, it’s those incredible gloves that’ll likely come in handy (literally) out there  They’ve got superior abrasion resistance and a rolled cuff for ease of movement, so they’ll certainly stand up to whatever winter brings your way. Heck, you might never need another pair of gloves — they’re made for motorcycle riding, so they’ll stand up to your commute just fine. So without further delay, read on to find out how you can win the excellent Buffalo Bobber Gloves from Iron & Resin.

Best of luck to those entering!

  • Head to my Instagram and be sure to follow myself and Iron & Resin — they have an absolutely beautiful feed, and plenty of followers to prove it!
  • Like either Wednesday or Thursday’s Iron & Resin-themed photo, and in the comments, tell me how you plan to get out and explore in your new gloves this fall & winter! Use #IronAndResin, as well.
  • Be on the lookout for a winner announcement through an IG message on Thursday night!

Best of luck to everyone entering and as always,

Stay stylish,

-Beau

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 1

The view from a small boat to Santorini, Greece.

If you’re just joining us (or just catching up to TSG), this dispatch comes to you from the high seas! Specifically, somewhere between Greece and Italy for a family cruise. The biggest takeaway so far: what a trip it’s been. I knew going in (and packing) for the trip that it was bound to be incredible — but until you’ve experienced the beauty of this part of the world, there’s really nothing like it. It’s been an unmatched experience, but thankfully, my wardrobe has withstood the test to this point. 

Exploring the port town of Civitavecchia, Italy pre-cruise with some comfortable Mott & Bow white denim. Brown leather chukkas by Timberland.

 
I’ve had the chance to try out a few different outfit combos and to date, I’ve found my Mott & Bow white denim to be both comfortable and versatile, perhaps the best pair of pants I brought along. They’ve proven a crisp option for travel when paired with brown leather chukkas, and that’s equally true of my unconstructed J. Crew blazer (get the scoop on other great blazer options here). My GAP chambray shirt, in breezier situations, and my Banana Republic khaki shorts (in hotter temps) have also fared well, as have the range of summer T-shirt options I  brought along –namely my Pistol Lake henley is a well-fitting yet breathable option, as is a lightweight H&M v-neck. And the Combatant Gentleman chinos I packed — soon to be featured as this week’s Style Pick — are casual yet tailored enough for dinner wear.

 

Shore style in Santorini. Vintage ballcap by Goorin Bros. Sunglasses by Randolph Engineering. Charcoal pocket tee by American Apparel. French Terry Sweatshorts by Pistol Lake. Sneakers by Athletic Propulsion Labs. Black rubber strap watch by Stuhrling. Slim Mailbag by Satchel and Page.

 
For a particularly strenuous shore excursion in Santorini,  I turned to my  Pistol Lake sweatshorts and sweet Athletic Propulsion Labs running shoes — hiking the mountains of Greece absolutely calls for it, yet thankfully, they’re futuristic and unique enough that they feel less like a running shoe and more like a new-age sneaker you’d see on a fashion runway. My Satchel and Page Slim Mailbag has also proven more than up to the test of tagging along for the journey, and it’s pretty neat to be carrying a bag that’ll only get better with age (full review of that in the coming weeks).

 

Kicking back in casual style. Vintage ballcap by Goorin Bros. Blue V-neck by H&M. Shorts by Frank & Oak. Glasses by Warby Parker. Stainless steel dive watch by Invicta. Sunglasses by Randolph Engineering. Beer by Heineken.

 
And in the rest of my downtime, I’ve found myself reaching for lightweight linen blends, like my Frank & Oak shorts or a Stock Mfg. Co shirt, plus crisp-casual accessories (like a versatile wool-blend Goorin Bros. hat or my trusty G.H. Bass brown leather loafers). My Orlebar Brown swim trunks (more on those here) are faring quite nicely, too. On the footwear front, my trusty GREATS Brand Wilson sneakers and Leather Wooster Slip-ons have also pulled some double-duty on shore trips and casual wear to date, and I’m excited to continue pairing them with the selection of chinos and denim I brought.

   

Hoping to strike it rich in my Combatant Gentleman double-breasted suit jacket, custom Black Lapel suit pants, G.H. Bass loafers and Combatant Gentleman shirt. Watch by Daniel Wellington. Italian beer by Peroni.

  
 For formal wear, I’ve mixed and matched my Combatant Gentleman Steel Blue Glenplaid Double-Breasted Suit Jacket with some custom grey suit pants, brown loafers and a crisp White Endurance Shirt from Combat Gent, and my Combat Gent chinos as seen above (with some Andre Coton loafers) are also working well. On the accessories front, my Daniel Wellington Classic Bristol watch is holding up quite nicely — the pared-down, minimalist design is a big benefit when packing and traveling.

Luckily, the weather’s proved sunny and warm, so I haven’t tripped up on not bringing outerwear — yet, that is. The rest of our trip calls for a bicycle tour and some town and shore exploration in Mykonos today, followed by stops in Athens and Katakolon! At any rate, check back here on Friday for the weekly Friday Read post, and swing back through on Saturday (if you feel like it) for the Style Pick of the Week. More coming from Greece next week on The Style Guide, too!

Stay stylish,

-Beau
Ernest Alexander

Ben Sherman US

Brand Profile: Baxter of California

One of the first men's grooming brands still gets it right today. Photo courtesy of Baxter of California.

One of the first men’s grooming brands still gets it right today. Photo courtesy of Baxter of California.

Here on The Style Guide, grooming has been a topic that’s been a focus occasionally, but not for the most part. Like other style upgrades though, the grooming game is one where guys can begin to set themselves apart – much like upgrading your home accessories or interior design. And in a similar fashion, smaller efforts go a long way toward a better overall picture (and appearance), and can really add up to a much better lifestyle all around. Again, it’s still grooming we’re talking about here. While upstarts like Brickell Men’s Products are absolutely getting it right on the newer end of the men’s grooming craze, there are some established brands that continue to deliver on product that really just works.

An inside look at one of the brand's most comprehensive kits -- the Best of Baxter box. Photo courtesy of Baxter of California.

An inside look at one of the brand’s most comprehensive kits — the Best of Baxter box. Photo courtesy of Baxter of California.

Baxter of California is one such brand that’s been at it for decades, revolutionizing its products over the years and really dialing in its approach. The brand’s roots are distinctly West Coast, right down to where they were founded five decades ago (its Super Skin Conditioner was specifically designed for protection from sea and salt air). The designs on the bottles and the packaging even now are clean and crisp, the fonts and colors stick to blue, black and white (a classic menswear combo if ever there was one), and the product – most importantly – delivers, too. If you’re looking for a place to start exploring an improved grooming regimen, Baxter is as good a place to start as any.

They’ve nailed it down to essential areas like Hair, Skin and Body Care products, although they also offer deodorant and candles, too. Plus, packages that combine the highlights into one are available for purchase – crucially, the Best of Baxter package boils things down into one essential set, as does the Travel Kit (soon to be restocked, I’m told, and which you can get a small look at below).

Just part of the spread from the Baxter Travel Kit -- a worthy pickup when it goes back in-stock.

Just part of the spread from the Baxter Travel Kit — a worthy pickup when it goes back in-stock.

Having got my hands on a sample of the Travel Kit in advance of a trip to Greece, I’m here to tell you it’s worth the investment for any trips you might take. For someone who hadn’t truly paid attention to many grooming products before this year, that’s a first. I had previously bought the Under Eye Complex from the brand, and while it initially struck me as a somewhat odd product to use, it definitely does its job well.

Prepped to travel with key essentials from Baxter. Notebook by Field Notes. Keychain by Apolis.

Prepped to travel with key essentials from Baxter. Notebook by Field Notes. Tan leather keychain by Apolis. Stainless steel dive watch by Invicta.

So that’s a worthy pickup (if $28 at first seems like too much for a small tube of cream, rest assured that it does last through multiple months of daily use, at the least). The Travel Kit expands on that value-for-size philosophy and rounds things up nicely into a getaway-ready package (much like other stylish travel accessories worth your time).

The kit contains everything you could ever need for hitting the road, including the brand’s Daily Protein Shampoo and Daily Face Wash, After Shave Balm and Oil-Free Moisturizer. I’ll admit I’m not much in the way of shaving my beard, but when the time comes, the Super Shave Balm (also contained therein) should do the job nicely.
Ernest Alexander
Much like Brickell Men’s Products, Kiehl’s, Jack Black or other grooming brands with an all-around focus, Baxter has a clear vision when it comes to product design, packaging and functionality. These are items that get the job done and do so in a way that’s not incredibly expensive. In fact, it’s fairly approachable. If ponying up for grooming products stretches the budget thin, simpler alternatives will likely do the job. But upgrading to an established name can absolutely yield quality that’s worth a slight investment – and a better appearance at the end (or the start) of the day.

Do you have a go-to grooming company or product? Have you ever tried out Baxter of California?

Ben Sherman US

What To Wear Today: Travel in Style This Summer

A blue Oxford cloth buttondown -- just one of the many style essentials you should pack this summer. Shirt by Bonobos. Weekender bag by Navali. Luggage tag by Owen & Fred.

A blue Oxford cloth buttondown — just one of the many style essentials you should pack this summer. Shirt by Bonobos. Weekender bag by Navali. Luggage tag by Owen & Fred.

It might only be Wednesday right now, but my mind’s already thinking ahead to the weekend — I’m hitting the road for a family wedding in the lovely and historic city of Charleston, South Carolina (one of the home bases of my friends over at creative lifestyle site Brothers & Craft, in fact). And I’ve also been brainstorming how to pack in style while getting from fast-paced NYC to the decidedly more laidback Southern locale. Traveling and looking good is definitely something that should be top of mind for all of us as we hit the road the rest of this summer, too. Sharp travel accessories are one thing to elevate your overall game — but what do you wear while traveling and once you get there? Here’s a look at what I’m packing, and what you (maybe? possibly?) should throw in your bag, too. (Editor’s note: Unless you’re a real jetsetter, let’s assume you’re just packing for a long weekend away in a temperate climate – if it’s hotter or colder than that, layers could be added or subtracted). 

The Shirt: A Go-Anywhere Oxford Cloth Buttondown [+ Slim, casual T-shirts & polos]

Versatile and ready for anything -- the classic blue Oxford cloth buttondown from Buck Mason.

Versatile and ready for anything — the classic blue Oxford cloth buttondown from Buck Mason.

Although that shirt seen above is sold out online (and it’s easy to see why), it’s the perfect stand-in for the type of shirt that would be perfect to wear when traveling — and to have once you get where you’re going. On the cheaper side of things, Old Navy offers up a version at a pricepoint that could allow you to get one in both white and blue. The classic Oxford cloth button-down is the ideal mix of casual-meets-crisp style; it can be paired with a lightweight spring or summer jacket or a blazer in dressier situations, and it works with chinos, stylish shorts or denim (as long as the fit is trim and the shirt doesn’t hang too low when untucked). On the more casual side of things, a polo or two also wouldn’t hurt — this year’s Michael Bastian x Uniqlo polos are affordably priced and feature a wide spread of colors and patterns. On the even more toned-down side of things, slim pocket tees are your friend for casual travel style — in a slim fit, the right tee can even be worn under a blazer.

The Pants: Slim chinos or dark denim [+ laidback shorts]

The Standard Issue Utility Chino from Apolis offers the right color and fit for easygoing, polished travel style.

The Standard Issue Utility Chino from Apolis offers the right color and fit for easygoing, polished travel style.

The slim khaki chino is an all-American classic that’s been freshened up as of late and can be worn just about any way you please (for at least five variations, see an Effortless Gent piece I penned last fall). Dark denim is every bit as versatile, too — either can go with pocket tees or polos, plus that trusty Oxford cloth buttondown shirt. The same goes for matching with different types of footwear, too (more on that below). And assuming you’re heading somewhere slightly warmer than where you are now, tailored shorts in a neutral color are a good pick — perhaps these Club Monaco shorts might do the trick, in fact. If you want something with some stretch and mobility, J. Crew Factory’s Stadium Shorts would be a wise wardrobe addition.

The Shoes: Crisp white or navy sneakers and brown leather loafers

Two pairs of shoes styled two different ways. White sneakers done up casually and leather loafers ready for dressier wear.

Two pairs of shoes styled two different ways. White sneakers done up casually and leather loafers ready for dressier wear. On the left: Printed shirt by Saturdays Surf NYC. White sneakers by GREATS Brand. Patterned watch strap by The Knottery and watch by Timex. On the right: Blazer by GAP. Leather loafers by Bass. In both looks: Lightwash jeans by J. Crew.

White sneakers, especially in the world of men’s style nowadays, can be worn with just about anything — even a suit if you play your cards right. If you reach for a pair with a slim silhouette, like the GREATS Wilson, the styling potential is ready for just about any situation — short of a black tie dinner. Navy runner-style sneakers are an equally unique option that combine retro cool and modern flair as well. If the occasion calls for a dressier pair of footwear, a pair of classic leather loafers is virtually foolproof; functional and cooling with rolled chinos in hotter weather while still looking sharp. Rugged-yet-refined brown leather desert boots (like the Florsheim Jet Chukka) also strike the right note — and if you had room for just one other pair of shoes on your trip besides sneakers, they would be the best pickup.

Ernest Alexander

The Watch: Stainless steel dive watch (Or your favorite, versatile timepiece)

From sneakers and shorts to denim and  desert boots, a stainless steel dive watch is highly versatile.

From sneakers and shorts to denim and desert boots, a stainless steel dive watch is highly versatile.

When it comes down to it, space packing for a trip is limited, no matter how great your weekender bag might be. Packing one watch to meet a variety of situations is one way to free up some of space for souvenirs or another T-shirt or two. There are lots of options out there that fill the under-$100 price point and pack versatility into one package, and in a situation where you might have two pairs of shoes to mix and match with shorts, chinos and denim, ditching a leather strap (which would require coordination with your shoes and belt) is an easy fix. An interchangeable nylon-strap watch could easily stand in if the trip leans more casual (and you don’t mind coordinating with a blue dial).

The Jackets: A cotton knit jacket and a classic navy blazer

A lightweight knit jacket or a lightweight navy blazer (or both) keep things cool, crisp and stylish during travel. For more outfit details, check out my Instagram.

A lightweight knit jacket or a lightweight navy blazer (or both) keep things cool, crisp and stylish during travel. Cotton knit herringbone jacket by Grayers. Navy blazer by J. Crew For more outfit details, check out my Instagram.

While the Grayers Russel Jacket seen in the photo at left is down to just Large and Extra-Large sizes, Old Navy can be counted on here to offer up an equally sporty and equally stylish jacket (made from cotton).  In the right fit and with the right staples (like a chambray shirt), an outfit very similar to the one on the left could be worn to work and then right onto the plane. Likewise, an unstructured navy blazer fits the bill perfectly if the occasion calls for something more polished. In a more wrinkle-resistant and lighter fabric, that same blazer could  be worn from the office onto  the plane, too.

Ben Sherman US

The Rest: A reversible belt, versatile socks and a sharp swimsuit

A reversible belt, neutral socks and a striped swimsuit should finish things off nicely.

A reversible belt, neutral socks and a striped swimsuit should finish things off nicely.

Trying to coordinate different pairs of shoes together with varying types of bottoms is another hurdle that requires some packing expertise. The easy way out of that is a simple reversible belt — not always the highest-quality things on the market, to be sure, but effective nonetheless. That way, you solve that pesky space issue and pack (or most likely, wear) just one belt throughout the trip.  If space allows, a casual webbed belt could be a nice change of pace. Patterned socks are lots of fun, to be sure, but picking up a couple pairs in neutral colors — like grey, charcoal or navy — would work best for maximum versatility. And reaching for a swim suit with a slimmer cut, like any of the options from this site’s recent swimwear roundup helps you look good while hitting the water  (if that’s in the itinerary, that is).

So you’ve got some ideas from the above — what’s on your go-to list when packing? What would you add or omit from this packing suggestion? Give me a shout on Twitter!

Nunn Bush

Online Shopping Picks: Best Men’s Weekender Bags

The Navali Stowaway Weekender bag in Carafe. What are you packing this spring and summer?

The Navali Stowaway Weekender bag in Carafe. What are you packing this spring and summer?

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine (and blog reader) asked me about recommendations for great weekender bags. It got me thinking – now that winter is finally thawing out, I’m sure lots of us have our eyes on spring or summer getaways. While hitting the road for a vacation  is always fun, a big part of the process is how you’re getting there & what you’re packing. And if you’re kitted out in a stylish get-up for the road, you need a bag that’s equally as sharp. Backpacks and sports duffle bags, although functional, don’t provide nearly enough room or the looks needed for longer travel. And while formal briefcases or suitcases work for business trips, the weekender bag is all about providing enough room for the essentials — and doing so in an easygoing fashion. Here are 5 great bags for the road ahead.

#1. Navali Stowaway Weekender Bag — $159.99

The Navali Stowaway Weekender Bag comes with a lifetime warranty, and should last a good long while.

The Navali Stowaway Weekender Bag comes with a lifetime warranty, and should last a good long while.

First seen on this blog back in August of last year, the Carafe color pictured here is now gone – but it’s been replaced with an equally stylish washed navy option or a spring-like “Sand” shade. The blue cotton canvas contrasts nicely with the brown leather fastenings, but it’s not all for show. Exterior pockets with strong buckle fastenings, tough zippers, a thick & comfortable shoulder strap and just enough for the essentials make this bag worth the price. Dimensions are 22″ width, 12″height, 8 1/2″ diameter.

#2. J. Crew Abingdon Weekender Bag — $198

Deep olive. Waxed cotton canvas. J. Crew's Abingdon bag.

Deep olive. Waxed cotton canvas. J. Crew’s Abingdon bag.

It’s tough to go anywhere on Siblings with Style without finding a J. Crew item in a shopping roundup — this is one company doing many things exceptionally. The Abingdon is slightly bigger than the Navali above in terms of height (17 1/2″), width (26″) and diameter (9 1/4″), so it can certainly carry more goods & take a bit of a beating. The waxed cotton canvas construction should age very nicely with increased usage too.

#3. Everlane Twill Weekender — $95 

Everlane's simple, clean take on the weekender.

Everlane’s simple, clean take on the weekender.

Everlane delivers a much more minimal, modernist (and cheaper) take on the weekender bag. The brand keeps things simple with a grey cotton twill exterior and black leather fastenings — no aged waxed cotton here, folks. Everlane’s bags really put the brand on the map and continue to be quite popular. Having used an Everlane twill weekender pretty extensively across the past summer in New York, these bags can definitely take quite a lot for the price.

#4. Filson Large Duffel Bag — $358

True heritage quality — and an heirloom-worthy price.

True heritage quality — and an heirloom-worthy price.

Filson has something the other brands on this list don’t — real, true heritage when it comes to make hardy outdoor gear. Only in recent years has the brand become known more among the fashion community, but it’s got years of experience outfitting hunters, fishers and outdoorsmen. Its bags are crafted from the same durable mindset. This duffle is a true beast of a bag, guaranteed for life and by far the most substantial weekender listed. The olive & tan versions are backordered, but navy and brown are in stock.

#5. Shinola Signature Duffle — $1,250

Exceptionally expensive. But also exceptionally well-made.

Exceptionally expensive. But also exceptionally well-made.

So this post isn’t really advocating you go out and drop more than A GRAND on a single bag. But, it’s always worth it to scout out what options are out there – and maybe keep a goal in mind for a future investment. This particular bag looks beautiful and features outstanding Horween leather and is individually stamped and numbered — those are the kind of details that bring the price up. The hardware is solid brass, and despite being leather, this bag should not only hold up but also age exceptionally well (it better for that price!). Available in black & brown, with a cognac number coming soon.

NOTE: Other bags that just missed the cut here include J. Crew Factory’s somewhat smaller but very affordable Carson duffle bag, Navali’s Waxed Stowaway Weekender in Olive and Frank & Oak’s Genuine Italian Leather Weekender. JackThreads is also stocking quite a few weekender bags for low prices at the moment.

What’s your favorite from this list? Any idea what you’ll be buying for your travels?

Ernest Alexander