It’s On Sale: Filson Products

Filson has a 50% off sale going on right now. Their apparel typically fits a bit full, but they recently came out with a slimmed down “Seattle Fit.” Unfortunately, not everything is labeled - such as this pocket-heavy anorak I really like - so you might have to order things to try them out. If you want to avoid fit issues, you can always stick to their bags and accessories. This laptop sleeve is available right now for $70. 

Barbour Alternatives

Although they’ve become a bit trendy in the last few years, I think there are few better coats for fall than one of Barbour’s waxed cotton jackets. As I mentioned over the weekend, their two most popular models are the Beaufort and Bedale (the Bedale being the shorter of the two). Both have waxed cotton shells, corduroy collars, sewn-in throatlatches, and storm cuffs for added protection against the elements. These look at home in the countryside when you’re out for a stroll, or if you’re in the city going to a flea market. I also just like to wear mine over sweaters whenever the weather is a bit wet and cold.

The problem is that they’re a bit expensive. Full retail runs $375-400, and many people find they have to pay an additional $50-70 to lengthen the sleeves. You can find a second-hand one on eBay for between $150-250, depending on the condition, but sometimes these will come with a musty smell. They can be cleaned, but that service can run you another $75-100, all costs included.

On the upside, there are a number of more affordable alternatives. Here are a few that I found:

  • Orvis: Orvis has a few Barbour-ish looking pieces on sale, including this unwaxed Ventile field jacket, dry waxed canvas field coat, and waxed moto jacket. There are also these dry waxed “heritage” coats, Sandanona jackets, and barn coats (granted, the last one isn’t very Barbour-y, but it’s close enough). Note, Orvis’ outerwear tends to run big, so it might be good to either size down when ordering or stop by your local Orvis shop to try things on first.
  • LL Bean: Like Orvis, LL Bean is another good, classic outfitter for outdoorsmen. One of their most famous garments is their barn coat, and while it’s again not exactly Barbour-ish, it’s somewhat similar. These come in both waxed and unwaxed versions, with the unwaxed one being a bit slimmer fitting (I have one and like it, although I wish it were lined the sleeves). They also have something they call an Upland Field coat, which comes in two versions. This one with orange detailing is on sale.
  • Brooks Brothers: If you’re open to a bit more experimentation, Brooks Brothers has this waxed cotton coat with metal clips.
  • Lands End: Ever the stand-by for affordable clothing, Land’s End has a very Barbour-y looking coat for just under $100. In the past, these fit more like Barbour’s Beaufort than Bedale. 
  • Gap: Gap has a decent looking model this season for $128, though it might be a good idea to stop by one of their stores to first inspect the quality (sources say it’s not actually waxed). They do sales pretty often, so you can probably grab this at 25-50% off if you wait for a coupon code.
  • J Crew: J Crew has a waxed cotton field jacket and barn coat this season. The fabric on the barn coat isn’t as robust as the LL Beans, but on the upside, it fits slimmer than the originals from which it takes inspiration. 
  • Eddie Bauer: Eddie Bauer’s Kettle Mountain StormShed Jacket isn’t inexpensive at $300, but my guess is that you can probably get this at a deep discount if you wait long enough.
  • Filson: This cover cloth weekender coat is unlikely to be discounted much, but it looks nice and Filson’s quality is very good.
  • Debenhams: Savile Row’s Patrick Grant recently did a collaboration line with Debenhams. I haven’t handled any of these pieces, but the Dalston hunting jacket and Renbold quilted jacket (available in olive and navy) look pretty good for the price. Like the ones by Gap, J Crew, and Brooks Brothers, you can expect these to be slim-fitting interpretations of the more utilitarian designs by Barbour, LL Bean, and Orvis.
  • Campbell Cooper: Some of these designs admittedly look a bit iffy, but after some “antiquing,” one StyleForum member made his look pretty good.
  • John Partridge: An old British maker of hunting jackets, only theirs are always made in England (Barbours are sometimes made abroad). The quality is good, but the fit is full. On the upside, you can find these for pretty cheap on eBay. Here are some in navy and brown. You’ll want to get garment measurements before actually ordering. 
  • Hoggs of Fife: Another old British country outfitter. I’m unsure of the sizing, but you can browse some of their jackets at Ardmoor, Scot Web, and Fife Country
It’s On Sale: Ralph Lauren Canvas Briefcase
Lord & Taylor is offering 15% off regular and sale items, and 20% off clearance items, with the checkout code SAVINGS. One of the clearance items includes this Ralph Lauren canvas briefcase, which comes out to $99 with free shipping. Having handled it in person, I can say the leather quality could be a bit better, and the canvas material used isn’t as stiff and heavy as one might find on a Filson. The buckle strap detailing might also be slightly cumbersome if you always need easy access to the contents. Still, it’s decently built, looks pretty nice, and if you’re on a budget, not a bad buy for $99. 

It’s On Sale: Ralph Lauren Canvas Briefcase

Lord & Taylor is offering 15% off regular and sale items, and 20% off clearance items, with the checkout code SAVINGS. One of the clearance items includes this Ralph Lauren canvas briefcase, which comes out to $99 with free shipping. Having handled it in person, I can say the leather quality could be a bit better, and the canvas material used isn’t as stiff and heavy as one might find on a Filson. The buckle strap detailing might also be slightly cumbersome if you always need easy access to the contents. Still, it’s decently built, looks pretty nice, and if you’re on a budget, not a bad buy for $99. 

It’s On Sale: Filson Briefcases
Joe’s Sporting Goods is holding a sale. Until July 4th, you can take $10 off any purchase of at least $50, $20 off $100, $30 off $150, or $40 off $200. Just use the code 4JULY13 at checkout. 
The code seems to work on Filson’s 256 and 257 briefcases, both of which I can highly recommend. Tan and green are nice if you want to show off the leather strap detailing. Tan will show dirt a bit more over time, while green will fade. Dark brown is good if you don’t want the look of the bag to change too much over time. I own both models in tan and they’ve been some of my favorite bags.
(Note, Brooks Brothers will sometimes have these for cheaper during their 25% off Friends and Family sale, but Filson is not always included. Their next Friends and Family sale should be sometime around late-October/ early-November if you want to take the gamble). 

It’s On Sale: Filson Briefcases

Joe’s Sporting Goods is holding a sale. Until July 4th, you can take $10 off any purchase of at least $50, $20 off $100, $30 off $150, or $40 off $200. Just use the code 4JULY13 at checkout. 

The code seems to work on Filson’s 256 and 257 briefcases, both of which I can highly recommend. Tan and green are nice if you want to show off the leather strap detailing. Tan will show dirt a bit more over time, while green will fade. Dark brown is good if you don’t want the look of the bag to change too much over time. I own both models in tan and they’ve been some of my favorite bags.

(Note, Brooks Brothers will sometimes have these for cheaper during their 25% off Friends and Family sale, but Filson is not always included. Their next Friends and Family sale should be sometime around late-October/ early-November if you want to take the gamble). 

The Transitional Shirt Jacket

The weather’s still pretty chilly where I live, but in a month’s time, it’ll hit those cool temperatures that’ll remind us summer’s not too far away. If you have a very casual American sense of style, a good garment to rely on for such transitional periods is the shirt jacket. The term “shirt jacket” can be pretty nebulous. I’ve seen Italians use it to refer to things many would just consider outerwear. Here in the States, however, it commonly refers to shirts that fit like jackets, and have a certain outdoorsy, workwearish, lumberjack-y feel. They’re not for everyone, to be sure, but if you want something very casual to wear with jeans and boots, these can be fairly useful on casual nights while strolling through the neighborhood.

The most well known in this field is probably Pendleton’s board shirt, which from my experience fits kind of baggy, but you can have a tailor take in the sides a bit. Filson’s Jac-Shirt is somewhat similar, but is made from a more substantial cloth. For something a bit more “fashionable,” you can consider Apolis, Orlebar Brown, Barbour, and United. Engineered Garments and Woolrich Woolen Mills can also usually be relied on for good options, although this season, I’ve only seen ones made from shinier fabrics (which may or may not suit your style). I also like Aspesi’s many takes on classic military designs. They’re slimmer fitting than what you’d typically find in military surplus store, and while they’re inspired by military garments, they won’t leave you looking like Robert De Niro from the film Taxi Driver.

All of these brands are a bit expensive, but they’ll come down 50% or more by the end of the season. If you’d like something more affordable now, there’s Club Monaco and Penfield. The second is particularly good to check in with every once in a while if you’re on a tight budget and in need of some outerwear.

Another option is to just use a moleskin or chamois shirt as a layering piece. LL Bean’s mainline has a very well priced one, and it fits surprisingly well. I’m a size 36 chest and fit nicely into their extra-small. My only complaint is the tonal buttons, but you can easily swap those out to something more agreeable if you’d like. Filson also seems to have a nice moleskins option, though I’ve never tried it. If you’d like something slimmer, you can try LL Bean Signature’s chamois shirt. The cloth isn’t as heavy or thick as their mainline chamois, and the cut is considerably shorter, but it could give a slightly more fashionable look to someone with a slim build. Epaulet also has a really nice looking moleskin jacket, though I admit I think people should at least give the LL Bean’s moleskin shirt a spin before they jump on a pricier option.

It’s On Sale: Filson Bags
Joe’s Sporting Goods is having a one-day 25% off sale all Filson products, with free shipping to boot on orders over $75. That puts the Filson 257 at $206.25 and the smaller Filson 256 at $168.75. I have the 257, and there’s ample room to stuff almost anything you might need in there. If you just have a laptop and a few books, the 256 may serve you better. 
(Thanks to tcmorris for the tip)

It’s On Sale: Filson Bags

Joe’s Sporting Goods is having a one-day 25% off sale all Filson products, with free shipping to boot on orders over $75. That puts the Filson 257 at $206.25 and the smaller Filson 256 at $168.75. I have the 257, and there’s ample room to stuff almost anything you might need in there. If you just have a laptop and a few books, the 256 may serve you better. 

(Thanks to tcmorris for the tip)

How I Travel
I travel a lot for both work and pleasure, and in my time traveling, I’ve learned one cardinal rule: pack as light as possible. These days, I try to only bring a carry-on and one personal item (my briefcase, which always contains my laptop and some reading material). In my carry-on is a small set of clothes – two grey trousers, four light blue or white shirts, one navy sweater, and a sport coat. I find that this is enough to get me through a few days before having to do laundry, especially since we’re not also counting the clothes I’m wearing onto the plane. Other things, such as shaving razors, soaps, and shampoos, can always be bought at the destination.
I like bringing a few superfluous things that make the trip more pleasant, however. For one, instead of wearing a sport coat onto the plane, I use a travel jacket I bought from Herno. It looks a bit like this one from Woolrich, but it has a hidden zippered pocket and no epaulets. Zippered and snap button pockets are useful for making sure things don’t accidentally slip out when you take off your jacket and carelessly carry it around. The idea of being in a foreign country and suddenly realizing that you’ve lost your papers, credit cards, and money just seems really, really bad. So I wear a travel jacket. Woolrich and Boggi have one this season (you may need to call Boggi’s actual stores to order), but you could also just wear anything lightweight and of a similar design. Just search around for “field jackets.”
I also use a travel wallet. These help keep my important documents and cards all in one place – passport, green card, identification papers, credit cards, health insurance card, boarding pass, and little slips of paper on which I’ve jotted down my hotel, flight, and train information. Having them all in one place gives me a peace of mind and some convenience. Many airports these days have multiple checkpoints where you have to show your papers to some official, so it’s convenient to have them ready and on hand. My travel wallet is by Chester Mox, who is running a Father’s Day promotion until Thursday, but you can also find some nice ones by Saddleback, Aspinal of London, Filson, and Tanner Goods.
There are a few other things I find helpful. Sleeping pills can get you through a long flight, but they also leave you feeling drugged. So instead, I eat Tianwang Buxin Wan, an all-natural, root-based pill that relaxes me enough to go sleep. It’s great on the plane and for when I’m trying to recover from jet lag. I also wear Bose noise cancelling headphones that a friend generously gifted me, and either soft suede driving shoes or a pair of canvas plimsolls. Feet tend to swell up during flight, which makes wearing hard bottom leather shoes extremely uncomfortable. Even if you take off your shoes, your feet can swell so much that they can be hard to put back in. Should you find yourself in such a situation, I recommend using my credit card trick.
And that’s basically how I travel - a carry on and my briefcase, along with a travel jacket, travel wallet, pair of soft shoes, and some things to help me go to sleep. These are enough to get me through fifteen to twenty hour travel schedules and still land in reasonably good form. 
(Pictured above: My travel jacket, travel wallet, and laptop at JFK airport)

How I Travel

I travel a lot for both work and pleasure, and in my time traveling, I’ve learned one cardinal rule: pack as light as possible. These days, I try to only bring a carry-on and one personal item (my briefcase, which always contains my laptop and some reading material). In my carry-on is a small set of clothes – two grey trousers, four light blue or white shirts, one navy sweater, and a sport coat. I find that this is enough to get me through a few days before having to do laundry, especially since we’re not also counting the clothes I’m wearing onto the plane. Other things, such as shaving razors, soaps, and shampoos, can always be bought at the destination.

I like bringing a few superfluous things that make the trip more pleasant, however. For one, instead of wearing a sport coat onto the plane, I use a travel jacket I bought from Herno. It looks a bit like this one from Woolrich, but it has a hidden zippered pocket and no epaulets. Zippered and snap button pockets are useful for making sure things don’t accidentally slip out when you take off your jacket and carelessly carry it around. The idea of being in a foreign country and suddenly realizing that you’ve lost your papers, credit cards, and money just seems really, really bad. So I wear a travel jacket. Woolrich and Boggi have one this season (you may need to call Boggi’s actual stores to order), but you could also just wear anything lightweight and of a similar design. Just search around for “field jackets.”

I also use a travel wallet. These help keep my important documents and cards all in one place – passport, green card, identification papers, credit cards, health insurance card, boarding pass, and little slips of paper on which I’ve jotted down my hotel, flight, and train information. Having them all in one place gives me a peace of mind and some convenience. Many airports these days have multiple checkpoints where you have to show your papers to some official, so it’s convenient to have them ready and on hand. My travel wallet is by Chester Mox, who is running a Father’s Day promotion until Thursday, but you can also find some nice ones by Saddleback, Aspinal of London, Filson, and Tanner Goods.

There are a few other things I find helpful. Sleeping pills can get you through a long flight, but they also leave you feeling drugged. So instead, I eat Tianwang Buxin Wan, an all-natural, root-based pill that relaxes me enough to go sleep. It’s great on the plane and for when I’m trying to recover from jet lag. I also wear Bose noise cancelling headphones that a friend generously gifted me, and either soft suede driving shoes or a pair of canvas plimsolls. Feet tend to swell up during flight, which makes wearing hard bottom leather shoes extremely uncomfortable. Even if you take off your shoes, your feet can swell so much that they can be hard to put back in. Should you find yourself in such a situation, I recommend using my credit card trick.

And that’s basically how I travel - a carry on and my briefcase, along with a travel jacket, travel wallet, pair of soft shoes, and some things to help me go to sleep. These are enough to get me through fifteen to twenty hour travel schedules and still land in reasonably good form. 

(Pictured above: My travel jacket, travel wallet, and laptop at JFK airport)

Lotuff and Clegg: A Review

Lotuff and Clegg contacted me about reviewing one of their products, so I agreed to have them send me their English briefcase. I received the bag some time ago and find it to be absolutely incredible. The vegetable-tanned leather is exceptionally handsome, with a lot depth and richness to its color, as well as a bit of texture to its skin. It’s also very soft and pliable, but still resilient. I’ve noticed that it doesn’t scuff or scratch as easily as many high end bridle leathers. To secure its construction, there are pure brass buckles, rivets, and clips, which together not only make the bag more sturdy and reliable, but also more beautiful. 

Styling wise, the briefcase is modeled after old-school, English schoolboy, book bags. Instead of the centered, buckle flap closure you would find on most briefcases, this one has two straps that wrap fully around the bag, and then buckle down at the front. Inside is a typical organization system: two leather separators that create four large compartments for your books, laptop, and notebooks; a zippered pocket for your miscellaneous items; and some small pockets for your pens, calculators, and business cards. On the outside, there is a large pouch so that you can have easy access to things while your bag is closed. All in all, it doesn’t carry an extraordinary amount, but I can fit a laptop, two books, some papers, and a notepad. I would liken it to a Filson 256’s carrying load. 

The only downside is the price. At $950, it’s a pretty pricey, to say the least. Whether this is a smart buy for you is largely dependent on your budget, but I can tell you about some other options around this price point, so that you can have comparisons. North of this is Swaine Adeney Brigg’s Wrap-Around document case, which costs roughly $1,500-$2,000. Having handled this bag, I can tell you that it’s indeed superior to anything else on the market. The problem is that it’s so spectacularly romantic in its workmanship that unless you’re carefully dressed to match its class, you will look like the bag’s accessory. South of Lotuff and Clegg’s price point is Filson’s satchel, which costs between $600 to $800. The quality of this bag is a bit less opulent, so it’s easier to carry for everyday use, but its thicker bridle leather tends to wrinkle more. This is especially evident in the folds of the accordion, where Filson has glued and stitched two slabs of leather together (compared to SAB’s one slab of leather). The result is a kind of wrinkly, clump near the base of the bag, instead of the nice folds you would find on a SAB. Lotuff and Clegg’s bag has the same problem, but since the leather is a bit textured, it’s less noticeable. Filson’s also feels like a rugged version of the SAB, whereas Lotuff has a more refined, but casual, sensibility. 

In the end, I’ve found the Lotuff and Clegg bag to be just easier to pull off than other similarly high-end messenger/ satchel styled briefcases. I bring my bag into classrooms, libraries, and cafes, and something like this is much more suitable. It’s superbly handsome, and will age better than a Filson and keep things much more casual than a Brigg.  I liked it so much, in fact, that I bought the sample they sent me (which they kindly sold to me at a discount). It’s quite an expensive purchase, but if you’re on the market for a high-end bag, and considering things like the SAB or Filson, I think Lotuff’s model is well worth your consideration. 

(By the way, Bruce Boyer recommended me the book shown in the picture above - The Craftsman by Richard Sennett. I’m nearly halfway through the book and am really enjoying it. You can read a review of it here to see if you’d like to also pick it up). 

Addendum: Jesse and two readers (Michael and Joe) reminded me that there some other really great companies that make this style of bag - Saddleback LeatherNarragansett Leathers, and Custom Leathers. They’re much more affordable than the ones discussed above, so be sure to check them out as well. 

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.