The women in my life tell me that men have it easy when it comes to packing for a trip. And I understand why they say that, since a man will never look out of place with a button shirt, slacks, plain black shoes, and a blue blazer—and, ideally, something black and stylish to sling over his shoulder to carry his dopp kit and laptop. The trouble is finding just the right blazer, shoes, etc. I have spent the past few months road-testing some new gear, and I believe that I have found my almost-perfect outfit.
Bluffworks Travel Blazer and Pants
You may have heard of blazers that are wrinkle-proof and stain-resistant, but machine washable? The Gramercy Blazer ($250) is made from slightly stretchy, breathable, quick-dry polyester that mimics the looks and feel of wool. I have used mine as a pillow on an overnight flight to London. I have spilled an adult beverage on it at the Pink Sands Club in the Grenadines, then hand-washed it in my hotel room and wore it the next morning, dry and wrinkle-free. The multiple pockets, including a couple of hidden ones, round out this all-purpose blazer.
Bluffworks brings the same technology to its line of pants—Original ($78), Chinos ($99), and Gramercy ($125), the latter of which can be paired with the matching blazer to form a casual suit. I recently took my pair of Originals and Chinos on a long weekend to Charleston, South Carolina. The moisture-wicking fabric kept me cool and comfortable whether I was strolling the gardens of Magnolia Plantation on a hot, sunny afternoon or enjoying a flight of local brews at Craftsmen Kitchen & Tap House in the historic district.
Next up from this travel-savvy company—the Meridian Dress Shirt ($125), which, like the pants and blazer, is machine washable and wrinkle-free, with the added element of being anti-microbial, so you can wear it up to five days without washing. I cannot begin to tell you how well that works—yet—because the shirts are so new they won’t ship until December 29. But you can pre-order now.
Ecco All-Purpose Shoe
I travel often, and not always under the best circumstances, so I have learned to travel very light. I never, not ever, check a bag. But that begs the question of shoes, because they take up too much space for a carry-on, so my rule of thumb has been to take only the shoes on my feet. But it’s difficult to find one pair that will be equally practical for hiking a volcano trail or dining in a fancy restaurant.
I think I have found the shoes that fit that bill: the Men’s Soft 7 High GTX from Ecco ($190). They are technically high-top sneakers, but the rich black leather upper belies the shoe’s light weight and sporty feel. Plus, they have a waterproof Gore-Tex lining. I gave these kicks a workout in November while on assignment in New Orleans. Whether I was dodging the current construction on Bourbon Street, pedaling through Tremé and Bywater with Freewheelin’ Bike Tours, or enjoying turtle soup and blackened redfish in the elegant dining room at Brennan’s, the Ecco Men’s Soft 7 were sturdy, comfortable, and good-looking.
Black Ghost Nubuck Shark Backpack, from Sprayground
When I go into the city for meetings and press events, I usually stow my laptop and notepads in a small backpack, but most of the bags that I have owned either look like they were made for a high school kid, or designed for an adventurer bent on conquering Kilimanjaro. Recently I found something in between: Sprayground’s Ghost Nubuck Shark Backpack ($80 from Nordstrom). Its sleek profile paired with generously padded straps and ergonomic back support make it both stylish and comfortable. The top handle-strap is a thoughtful touch.
But it is the pockets that you will love. There is one for sunglasses lined with velour and an outer zip-up pocket that is perfect for train tickets or other grab-in-a-hurry documents. I never worry about my Macbook Pro when I slip it into the padded inner laptop sleeve. And the black rubber shark’s mouth design is super cool, yet subtle.
Subtlety is not the norm for Sprayground’s line of bags and luggage. In fact, the usually bright colors and street-hip designs are hallmarks of this up-and-coming manufacturer. Maybe next time I’ll go for something a bit more outrageous—like a pair of Mission to Mars gloves that Sprayground developed in collaboration with Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Talk about travel clothes!