Style Pick of the Week: 5.11 Tactical Lester Long-Sleeve Shirt – The Best Transitional Shirt for Men

Best rugged workshirt for men.The

The best men’s shirts for spring add a nice touch of dual-fold utility to your wardrobe, be it one of the best chambray shirts for spring or an in-between, transitional workshirt like the 5.11 Tactical Lester Shirt. It’s crucial to remember we’re not out of the woods yet as far as blustery mornings and chilly evenings are concerned, and that’s where a rugged flannel shirt can still prove plenty useful (potentially into summer on cool coastal vacations, bonfire roaring away). And although 5.11 Tactical is known for making downright useful gear tested in the most adverse conditions — for first responders, law enforcement and other tactical adventurers — they make a mighty nice flannel shirt for everyday wear, too. The same can be said of the rest of the brand’s rugged men’s gear, including stretch pants and moisture-wicking base layers, but it’s the 5.11 Tactical Lester Shirt that’s our main focus today. And here’s the kicker before we go any further: You can get the 5.11 Tactical Lester Shirt for under $40, no code needed, today. What an outstanding deal, ehh? It gets better, folks.

The 5.11 Tactical Lester Shirt checks the proper boxes in terms of utility (note the helpful dual chest flap patch pockets, plus a pen guide pocket), yet the fabric has been designed with great care, too. It’s a 6oz. brushed, garment-dyed chamois, making for a remarkably soft feel that delivers great comfort against your skin (or when layered atop your favorite spring T-shirt, for instance). Purposeful design meets surprising style — that’s the name of the game with 5.11 Tactical.

Best flannel shirt for men.

Find your new go-to flannel shirt today

Shop 5.11 Tactical for rugged outdoor gear

Useful design features abound with the 5.11 Tactical Lester Shirt beyond just what you can — note the drop welt pocket behind the left chest pocket. The shirt itself also features the brand’s proprietary RapiDraw™ snap placket, and even the shirt cuffs on the 5.11 Tactical Lester Shirt are made to snap open with ease. Take it from your Brooklyn style writer, who’s worn this shirt throughout the winter into the early spring: It’s a very soft, comfortable and yet hard-wearing shirt, as ready to be worn with a waxed field jacket or a 5.11 Tactical men’s jacket as it is to be paired up unbuttoned with a soft cotton tee.

In an array of rich plaid patterns in neutral colors (like a deep Ranger Green Plaid or a more traditional Khaki Plaid), the 5.11 Tactical Lester Shirt is perhaps the perfect flannel shirt to wear with jeans. It’s got easygoing, rugged appeal, not to mention plenty of room to layer over a thermal henley shirt. The fit isn’t overly tailored, but it’s not overly baggy: I’d suggest you take your usual shirt size, or size down if you don’t plan to layer with the 5.11 Tactical Lester Shirt. So, we’ve got an ultra-soft yet useful flannel shirt, the kind you can wear as a workshirt or as a casual style move. Beyond that, it layers easily atop henleys and T-shirts. And last but not least, the 5.11 Tactical Lester Shirt retails right now for under $40. Sounds like it’s one of the best men’s shirts for spring, and it sounds like it should be yours ASAP.

Style Pick of the Week: Flint and Tinder Mill Jacket

Flint and Tinder Mill Jacket

Here’s your new favorite jacket — there, I said it.

Put it this way: The Flint and Tinder Mill Jacket could be the last jacket you need to buy for the rest of winter (and heck, next fall). Perhaps you thought your seasonal outerwear situation was all set? Not so fast. The Flint and Tinder Mill Jacket is the right way to refresh your winter jacket collection as the season rolls along, what with its classic blend of workwear style and durability. It’s a step down in terms of dressy style from, say, the Billy Reid Bond Peacoat, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t wear the  Flint and Tinder Mill Jacket every other time you need a tough, dependable jacket. It’s made in the U.S.A, a signifier of that extra attention to detail and quality for which Flint and Tinder is known across the board.

SHOP: The Flint and Tinder Mill Jacket

The quality behind the Flint and Tinder Mill Jacket starts with its construction and fabrication — for instance, it’s made with tough cotton canvas from North Carolina, a haven for excellent textiles. It’s there that the Flint and Tinder Mill Jacket really starts to take shape, from the cotton corduroy flip-up collar (a classic workwear touch) to the quilted interior lining.

Flint and Tinder Mill Jacket

Also available in Grey, this jacket is complete with a functional quilted lining.

And as you can see above, it comes in both Grey and my personal favorite, a rich shade of Brown that wears well with all of your other favorite menswear essentials (think indigo denim and brown leather boots, for starters). The Flint and Tinder Mill Jacket also wears nicely with slightly dressier pieces, like slim olive chinos and a white Oxford (topped off with classic leather chukka boots, of course). And that versatility means this tough workwear jacket is much more versatile than you might think — try it with a denim shirt and grey chinos to head to a weekend happy hour or a casual coffee date.

What’s more, the Flint and Tinder Mill Jacket is pretty darn affordable considering what you’re getting — a dependable, warm winter jacket that you can wear for both work and play. The cotton canvas exterior is going to take on chilly weather and snow with ease, while even the YKK coil zippers get the job done in terms of durability. There really isn’t any downside to picking up the Flint and Tinder Mill Jacket, that much is clear.  What’s your take on this soon-to-be winter style staple? Feel free to chime in on Twitter!

SHOP: The Flint and Tinder Mill Jacket

The Product Review: Gustin Waxed Charcoal Chore Coat

Jacket by Gustin. Henley by Frank and Oak. Jeans by American Apparel. Boots by Palladium. Photo credit: Liz Todd.

Jacket by Gustin. Henley by Frank and Oak. Jeans by American Apparel. Boots by Palladium. Photo taken in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Photo credit: Liz Todd.

Although it’s been unseasonably warm in New York throughout October, in the past few days, we’ve really seen the start of what I like to call autumn. And with that change in seasons in mind, I reached for a recent wardrobe addition: Gustin’s Waxed Charcoal Chore Coat. A chore coat brings to mind strong workwear influences that have become so prevalent in recent years — once worn by those in real rough and rugged industries, everything from chambray shirts to sturdy work boots has gotten the high-fashion treatment from major retailers like J. Crew, whose Wallace and Barnes collection, for example, always draws heavily from functionality and utility. And these items have a timeless appeal that can be incorporated into many different looks (take, for example, the ever-versatile chambray shirt).

Chore Coat by Gustin. Henley by Frank and Oak. Jeans by American Apparel. Watch by Timex.

Enjoying the beautiful autumn weater. Watch by Timex.  Glasses by Burberry.

Gustin’s Chore Coat adds another rugged layer to workwear’s style-minded resurgence. The jacket was funded earlier this year using Gustin’s sourcing platform and shipped in mid-summer; until now, it’s been far too warm for such a hardy jacket. Thankfully, Gustin’s pieces (and this one in particular) are worth the wait. While the brand’s denim gets lots of love, they’ve expanded their offerings to chinos, chambray shirts and CPO jackets, and if they’re all done as well as this chore coat, they’d be worth a look. Unfortunately, this jacket isn’t available in the exact color seen here at the moment, but a relatively similar Honey Brown Chore Coat is being funded on the site now.

The Chore Coat uses a thick plain-weave waxed cotton (weight: 13.5 oz., if you’re keeping track), and it’s got some nice heft to it for fighting the chill of fall and winter without being crazy-heavy.  It also features two front patch pockets and one chest patch pocket; the right chest pocket includes a button flap. The waxed cotton feels sturdy and durable, yet moves well. It’s not overly stiff by any means; already through just a handful of times out of the closet, it’s beginning to break in at all the right places, including through the arms and across the shoulders. Although chore coats of old were cut wider and bulkier, the body of this jacket is nice and trim, as advertised. The sleeves are slim but provide enough space for layering sweaters or perhaps an additional jacket underneath, and there’s more than enough mobility thanks to the jacket’s high armholes (something feasibly not found on older chore coats).

Paired with clean, simple staples and some unconvential Palladium boots.

Paired with clean, simple staples and some unconvential Palladium boots.

This jacket should continue to break in exceptionally well, and thanks to such a trim cut, I can see it being worn in many different situations. The neutral color and workwear inspirations should lend a rugged vibe to seasonal shirt-and-tie combinations (like a chambray shirt and wool tie) or a casual sweater (like a navy crewneck) and dark jeans. It also complements traditional rugged staples, like the henley seen in these photos. I paired it with slim American Apparel black jeans and Palladium boots; although the Palladium boots are much more unconventional than a rugged pair of Wolverine boots, for example, they  actually grip quite well when on the move thanks to the vulcanized rubber sole. Additionally, the canvas upper is sturdy and thick, meaning that these could be worn well into fall (and possibly winter, too). Just like those Palladium boots, the chore coat should see significant use in the coming months — although it’s sometimes tough to find similar options out there, picking up a workwear-inspired coat in an updated fit is a great way to inject rugged style into your daily get-ups.

The Product Review: Alara Italian Indigo Denim Shirt

Alara's Indigo Denim Shirt. Tie by American Eagle. Pants by Black Lapel (Part of custom suit). Shoes by Banana Republic. Watch by Stuhrling.

Alara’s Indigo Denim Shirt. Tie by American Eagle. Pants by Black Lapel (Part of custom suit). Shoes by Banana Republic. Watch by Stuhrling. Photo credit: Liz Todd.

Mixing up high-and-low elements has become a popular calling card for #menswear fanatics in the past few years. Using unconventional, more casual items (like a denim jacket), paired with dressier items (like a shirt and knit tie) is probably the most commonly seen version of this style move. And the return in popularity of the chambray shirt, coupled with the fact that brands like J. Crew have brought them back into vogue as part of the ‘workwear’ revival, only highlights this fact further. The desire to break up more formal elements, like sleeker suit trousers, with unique textures and fabrics (like chambray or denim) is a movement that’s not losing steam, and that’s where a high-quality denim shirt comes into play.

The brand Alara has perfected using high-quality fabrics to craft both sport and dress shirts across the past two-plus decades, first parlaying that experience into producing house-brand shirts for major retailers and designers, and lately using their expertise to craft shirts under the Alara brand name. Based out of a Midtown NYC showroom, I had the opportunity to speak with the brand’s head of e-Commerce, Phil Davies, and the brand’s president and founder, Mehmet Ulu. Getting the chance to see so many well-crafted shirts in person was a real treat, as many are made with ridiculously soft Egyptian cotton. They were also gracious enough to provide me with their Italian Indigo Denim Shirt in Slim Fit, (part of their collection of Sport Shirts) for review.

This shirt pairs easily with dressier fabrics thanks to the cutaway collar.

This shirt pairs easily with dressier fabrics thanks to the cutaway collar.

What works so well about this particular denim shirt (and denim shirts in general) is that perfect mix of high-low styling. A denim shirt is inherently casual, with a more unique texture than the average dress shirt, along with a vastly different color. This shirt, with its lighter wash, is much the same; however, a cutaway collar instantly makes it a bit more formal (for some great examples of how to pull this collar style off, visit the fantastic site Men’s Style Pro). This shirt is a lighter-weight denim that’s equally fit for both warm and cold weather — it’s got a rugged look to it that brings to mind lots of workwear vibes that remain so popular in many menswear circles. And even though it’s a lighter-washed denim, I could see it pairing equally well with a v-neck sweater and a herringbone blazer in the colder months. Although the cutaway collar is more daring than a traditional spread collar or a more conservative point collar, a slimmer tie knot holds up well and doesn’t look too out of place.

Up-close and personal. Glasses by Burberry.

Up-close and personal. Glasses by Burberry.

The shirt is soft and breathable, making it easy to wear in the heat. And it has a relatively slim fit that’s not restraining — the armholes are decently high and the sleeves are pretty trim, both positives for an off-the-rack shirt. However, it’s not quite as slim as a J. Crew slim-fit shirt, for comparison, something that could be a drawback for some. The shirt does, however, live up to its Italian name — it’s got a nice sprezzatura vibe to it, something especially relevant given the inspiring street style seen recently at Pitti Uomo. Another instant positive about this shirt? The price. In talking with Mehmet at Alara and doing some research, similar shirts retail in the three figures. However, Alara sells this specific shirt for $78 — compare that to a lower-quality Express 1MX shirt, which retails for just $18 less at full price, and you realize you’re getting quite the deal for a well-made shirt. Of course, other budget options are out there too, like this more distressed and Western-leaning shirt from H&M.

On a final note, the summer seems like an especially perfect time to wear this shirt; it’s got an easygoing, laidback vibe that practically begs to be worn to a slightly upscale outing or a nice dinner, preferably outdoors somewhere. It could even serve as a layering piece, much like a workshirt, if the temperature dips during a beach weekend. Wear it as often as you like, dress it up, dress it down — this is one denim shirt that’s fit for suiting and swimwear.