Dopp Kits: A Nice Accessory for the Traveling Man

Dopp kits are designed for men who need something to hold their toiletries while they travel. They were invented by Charles Doppelt, a German leather-goods maker, sometime in the early 20th century. Doppelt scored a contract with the US Army during WW2 and provided millions of American GIs with them while they fought abroad. When these soliders came home, they brought their dopp kits with them and thus began their civilian use. 

Now, unless you’re off fighting a war, nobody needs a dopp kit. You can get along fine by triple bagging your toiletries in plastic bags when you travel. Unless you’re hanging out with really lame people, nobody’s going to judge you for it, assuming they even notice. However, these pouches are still nice to have. There’s something about them that help you feel a little less like you’re living out of a box, and they inspire a better sense of organization. With plastic grocery bags, even if I bring my nicest ones, my toiletries randomly wind up on different tables in my hotel room. As well, dopp kits just feel a bit more “grown up,” and that’s what this site is all about, right?

So for readers who travel, I thought I’d run through some dopp kit options. I’ll separate this out into three price tiers.

Over $100: Mulholland Brothers sells some nice basic models in both waxed canvas and leather. Nothing fancy here, just your standard dopp kit in great materials. If you want something a bit more interesting, there’s this Kenton Sorenson, which will darken to a beautiful patina over time. Jack Spade also makes some. My personal dopp kit is by Jack Spade and I love it, but I’ll admit that I think their products are slightly overpriced for what they are. However, Jack Spade dopp kits go on sale every once in a while at Gilt and Nordstroms, so check there. Lastly, there is Col. Littleton, which looks amazing, but is pretty expensive. 

Between $50 and $100: As with a lot of things, Filson and Orvis always makes very nice mid-priced items. There’s also this leather piece by Buxton Accessories, which has one of the nicer organization systems I’ve seen. 

Under $50: If you’re on a tighter budget, there are many dopp kits priced under $50. The first is Lands End’s SeaGoing and Square Rigger models. The SeaGoing is designed for really wet environments (perhaps if you’re bringing your dopp on a boat) while the Square Rigger is a bit more traditional. There are also affordable waxed canvas options by Marc New York and J Crew, as well as a leather model by Dopp Delegate. Additionally, Potterybarn has one you can monogram. I’ve handled this one before and wasn’t very impressed with the leather but - well - it’s $39. Lastly, MUJI has a variety of affordable options - this one’s $17. Jesse uses a MUJI bag not unlike this one and recommends them, and I can see the hook coming in real handy for situations where you can’t take up a lot of counter space. There are more here.

As for what to pack in your dopp kit? For me, I work off of this list:

The Essentials: Travel size bottles of shampoo and conditioner; toothbrush and toothpaste; floss; nail clippers; facial scrub; lotion; hair products; Q-tips; hand salve; a comb; deodorant; sunscreen; and a shaving kit. 

Optional: Lip balm; Band Aids; Tylenol; $20 bill; LintUps; breath mints; ear plugs; Emergen-C; condoms; and my own soap (since hotel soaps usually suck). 

Also, be sure to squeeze out the air from your travel sized bottles. This will help make sure they don’t explode during the flight. You can buy travel sized bottles at almost any Longs Drugs or Walmart, or online through Flight 001

Lastly, a word of caution when selecting your dopp kit. The goal here is not to get the biggest sized bag you can. It’s much wiser to know what you typically bring and buy an appropriate sized bag for your gear. If you get something too big, it will just take up unnecessary room in your luggage, so know thyself before buying. 

The Necktie Series, Part VIII: Taking Care of Your Collection
For the final installment of my special series on neckties, I thought I’d end by talking a little about how to maintain your collection. At this point, I’ve hopefully convinced you that quality ties are worth purchasing over cheaper ones. So let’s talk a little about how to make your purchases last. 
Removing your tie: Always untie your tie in the same way you tied it. Never yank on the tail until it comes through the knot. If you do this, you will stretch out and misshape the interior and exterior fabrics, which over time will cause warping. Also, make sure your nails are nicely trimmed when you reverse the knot. Especially for some silk ties, such as diamond weaves by Charvet, a loose nail can pull the silk when you dig your fingers in. 
Every once in a while, some new member on StyleForum will confess that they leave their ties knotted and just hang them up by their loops. This is terrible. First of all, it robs you of the pleasure of tying a knot, which is really enjoyable once you become good at it. Second, by keeping your ties knotted, you misshapen the blade and create really nasty wrinkles that will be hard to get out. 
Removing wrinkles: Some people iron their ties with a towel between the hot iron and silk. I’ve seen a few ties ruined this way, so I can’t imagine ever doing this to one of mine. Instead, I recommend just hanging up your tie after you wear it. If you buy quality ties, the interlining will be made of wool, so the fabric will naturally relax. If you’re in a pinch, try hanging the tie up in the bathroom while you take a hot shower. The soft steam from the shower should help the process along. 
Storing your ties: For most of my ties, I hang them up after I wear them so that the fabric can relax. Then the next day, I fold them in half, so that each pointed end is touching each other, and then loosely roll them up. For knit ties, I skip the hanging part because they don’t wrinkle, and are more likely to warp if they’re hung for too long. Those just get loosely rolled up when I get home. 
You can store your rolled up ties in a drawer with or without an organizer (I personally use one like these). Woodlore also has some nice cedar equipment, which you can buy for pretty cheap through Meijer. 
If you have a large collection of ties, or don’t wear yours that often, it may be better to just hang your ties up instead of rolling them. I’ve found that when ties have been stored rolled up for too long, they can retain a bit of a curve once you unroll them. It falls out within about an hour’s wear, but I suppose the problem can be avoided altogether by just hanging your pieces. 
Cleaning: Jesse wrote a great post about how to clean ties. I strongly agree with his TieCrafters recommendation. They’ve done wonders for the ties I’ve accidentally damaged. They can also do alterations on your ties - making them shorter or skinnier - if you need them to. Just remind them that you don’t want your ties pressed, otherwise you’ll lose the nice soft edges. 
Traveling with your tie: I’m a graduate student, so I only need one tie when I travel. As such, I wear mine on the plane. For people who need more ties when they travel, you can try rolling up your ties and putting them in your shoes, which you then pack into your luggage. This can be unpleasant if you have stinky shoes, however. For those people, try these leatherette roll cases (with or without a button clasp) or Col. Littleton’s No. 12 tie case. I’ve never tried any of these products, however, so I can’t attest to their quality. 
So that’s it. I’ve talked about how ties are constructed and what makes for a quality piece. I’ve also recommended the basic styles that you should start with and talked about how to best tie a knot. With this final post about how to maintain your collection, I think you should be well on your way to bettering your collection. To review the previous installments of this series, click here. 
I’m currently working on a similar series for custom shirts, and I’m really excited to say that it’s even better than this tie series. Keep an eye out for it. 
(photo credit: Sartoriana Antiquitus)

The Necktie Series, Part VIII: Taking Care of Your Collection

For the final installment of my special series on neckties, I thought I’d end by talking a little about how to maintain your collection. At this point, I’ve hopefully convinced you that quality ties are worth purchasing over cheaper ones. So let’s talk a little about how to make your purchases last. 

Removing your tie: Always untie your tie in the same way you tied it. Never yank on the tail until it comes through the knot. If you do this, you will stretch out and misshape the interior and exterior fabrics, which over time will cause warping. Also, make sure your nails are nicely trimmed when you reverse the knot. Especially for some silk ties, such as diamond weaves by Charvet, a loose nail can pull the silk when you dig your fingers in. 

Every once in a while, some new member on StyleForum will confess that they leave their ties knotted and just hang them up by their loops. This is terrible. First of all, it robs you of the pleasure of tying a knot, which is really enjoyable once you become good at it. Second, by keeping your ties knotted, you misshapen the blade and create really nasty wrinkles that will be hard to get out. 

Removing wrinkles: Some people iron their ties with a towel between the hot iron and silk. I’ve seen a few ties ruined this way, so I can’t imagine ever doing this to one of mine. Instead, I recommend just hanging up your tie after you wear it. If you buy quality ties, the interlining will be made of wool, so the fabric will naturally relax. If you’re in a pinch, try hanging the tie up in the bathroom while you take a hot shower. The soft steam from the shower should help the process along. 

Storing your ties: For most of my ties, I hang them up after I wear them so that the fabric can relax. Then the next day, I fold them in half, so that each pointed end is touching each other, and then loosely roll them up. For knit ties, I skip the hanging part because they don’t wrinkle, and are more likely to warp if they’re hung for too long. Those just get loosely rolled up when I get home. 

You can store your rolled up ties in a drawer with or without an organizer (I personally use one like these). Woodlore also has some nice cedar equipment, which you can buy for pretty cheap through Meijer

If you have a large collection of ties, or don’t wear yours that often, it may be better to just hang your ties up instead of rolling them. I’ve found that when ties have been stored rolled up for too long, they can retain a bit of a curve once you unroll them. It falls out within about an hour’s wear, but I suppose the problem can be avoided altogether by just hanging your pieces. 

Cleaning: Jesse wrote a great post about how to clean ties. I strongly agree with his TieCrafters recommendation. They’ve done wonders for the ties I’ve accidentally damaged. They can also do alterations on your ties - making them shorter or skinnier - if you need them to. Just remind them that you don’t want your ties pressed, otherwise you’ll lose the nice soft edges. 

Traveling with your tie: I’m a graduate student, so I only need one tie when I travel. As such, I wear mine on the plane. For people who need more ties when they travel, you can try rolling up your ties and putting them in your shoes, which you then pack into your luggage. This can be unpleasant if you have stinky shoes, however. For those people, try these leatherette roll cases (with or without a button clasp) or Col. Littleton’s No. 12 tie case. I’ve never tried any of these products, however, so I can’t attest to their quality. 

So that’s it. I’ve talked about how ties are constructed and what makes for a quality piece. I’ve also recommended the basic styles that you should start with and talked about how to best tie a knot. With this final post about how to maintain your collection, I think you should be well on your way to bettering your collection. To review the previous installments of this series, click here

I’m currently working on a similar series for custom shirts, and I’m really excited to say that it’s even better than this tie series. Keep an eye out for it. 

(photo credit: Sartoriana Antiquitus)