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As long as we’re covering travel gear, I might as well make this a “Two for Tuesday”, and share some cool clothing from OTIGEAR. This is a company that makes “Crossover Apparel” – clothing for the man that wants to be able to go from the office to the outdoors to dinner with friends, without having to change clothes. Simple enough, except that you might need to carry your keys, phone, wallet, MP3 player, and sunglasses, plus maybe a GPS, pocket knife, a snack, or lip balm, depending on where you are going, and what activities you plan on engaging in. So how do you carry you stuff, and look stylish doing it? With OTIGEAR, of course.
They sent out three articles of clothing for review. I received a long sleeve Boulder Alberta plaid shirt, in a nice navy and brown, which complemented their Ridge Vienna twill chino pants in “Bark”, which is actually a chocolate brown. To top it off they included their Element Memphis jacket in black. Normally, I would have requested shorts and a short sleeve shirt, but that would sort of go against the whole concept of mixing business casual and outdoor wear. Each item is designed to be comfortable and functional, with plenty of clever little touches that separate them from your typical menswear. For any women reading this and considering OTIGEAR for their man, note that from a fashion standpoint, it’s more “Burn Notice” than “MacGuyver”.
We’ll start with the shirt. A 70/28% cotton poly blend, it’s soft yet durable. The other 2% is what gives it some stretch, perfect when throwing balled up paper at your pointy-haired boss, or playing fetch with your dog. Button down collars look tidy, but are considered more casual than a regular collar. OTIGEAR splits the difference with hidden buttons. It’s got another eight buttons running down the placket, so it looks good tucked in, or left out. They’ve even changed the spacing between the top ones so you can leave the top button undone without showing off your chest hair. (True story: most women don’t want to see your chest hair. At least, not in public) The cuffs are wide enough that you can get your hand through without unbuttoning them, keeping them neat when rolled up. Not readily apparent are two zippered chest pockets, each roomy enough for a five inch device such as a phone or iPod. Pen pockets are sewn in as well, but they didn’t seem terribly convenient for me. Other than that questionable detail, I really like this shirt. The cut is flattering, even if you’re not as fit as an ex- Special Ops spy, and it’s really comfortable enough for all day wear.
Smart design continues with the flat front Ridge Vienna chinos. The back pockets are offset, making them more comfortable to sit in if you keep your wallet back there. Each slash cut front pocket has an inner pocket as well, to keep items separate yet accessible. Below those pockets are hidden zipper pockets at the seam. Stash your valuables in them for safe keeping. A notable detail around the holiday season, your tailor will appreciate the back seam designed to be let out. Like the shirt, the peached twill is soft, even before the first washing. As someone that usually wears shorts or jeans, I found I had to order the next size up for best fit though. Other than that, these would probably be my first choice for those days when I have to dress a little nicer at work or family gatherings, and would certainly be perfect for travel.
Which brings us to the jacket. Waterproof polyester, this light jacket will keep you and your assorted gear dry. Roomy front pockets zip shut for added security, as do the lower interior pockets, while the upper ones are open at the top. Internal loops on both sides keep your headphones or headset wiring neatly routed, and there’s the obligatory pen pocket too. You’ll find pockets on each sleeve as well. Perhaps the best feature is the cut. It manages to look unstructured, yet slightly formal at the same time. Unadorned with any large logos, this jacket goes well over chinos or your favorite faded jeans. Dress up a bit, dress down a bit, it looks good either way. And unlike a polo shirt, this jacket looks good with the collar popped.
I’ll be the first to admit that I hadn’t heard of this brand until we arranged for a review. But now that I have had the opportunity to try some of their clothing, I can see the appeal. At $85 for a shirt, and $95 for pants ($120 for the jacket, and they do have sales going on) this isn’t necessarily your every day office wear. But if you travel, or aren’t into jeans and t-shirts, they’ve got you covered. And it goes without saying that if you like to have your gadgets and whatnot handy, this would be a great place to start. otigear.com