Review – Dooney & Bourke – Florentine Medium Duffle

“Good morning Glen. So, do you plan on skipping town after work?” said a colleague of mine as I entered the department at work. The Dooney & Bourke Florentine Medium Duffle is so robust, one has to ponder if “medium” is an accurate descriptor of the aforementioned travel companion. Now, before I venture too far ahead of myself, please allow me to rewind the story for proper context. Approximately three weeks ago, I was contacted by a public relations representative with some intriguing information: Dooney & Bourke, leading American designer of fine accessories in leather and fabric, was revitalizing and reintroducing their men’s collection from the mid 1970s. Furthermore, I could inspect and review a selected piece of merchandise for my reading audience.

Honored and overjoyed by the invitation, I perused their current inventory and decided the Florentine Medium Duffle Bag would be an excellent choice for a gentlemanly evaluation. Not too familiar with the brand with the exception of purses and handbags, I was thoroughly impressed by the exceptional quality and craftsmanship upon opening the package. After its arrival, I resolved myself to traveling with it to my base of employment to gauge the reaction of other gentlemen. Capturing a photograph with my Samsung Galaxy and sending it to a few male coworkers; it was likened to an oversized purse. Unfortunately, the bag’s true scale was not sufficiently captured by my camera phone. Full disclosure: Founded by Peter Dooney & Frederic Bourke in 1975, gentlemanly accessories were a part of its introductory collections before women’s accessories became a signature for the brand. And so, with Florentine in hand, I stepped out onto the 4th floor in my building, looking to prove the naysayers incorrect in their assumption, and examine its style and practicality.

So, first, allow me to examine a primary point of concern that most gentlemen share when purchasing a duffle bag – functionality. In other words, the duffle bag of a gentleman’s choice must be able to comfortably house all of his clothing and small personal effects – fair enough. The Florentine is billed as a duffle bag that will satisfy the needs of the gentleman traveler through any particular weekend. Perusing my own wardrobe, I thoughtfully selected a group of clothing items that would surely test the Florentine appropriately. In the interest of context, I excluded items such as socks, underwear, neckties, and other small items because it would have little to no effect on maximizing the capacity of the Florentine.

Proceeding with the theory that I am working with a three-day weekend trip (Friday, Saturday, & Sunday), I packed the following: 1 pair denim jeans, 2 pairs of khakis, 1 wool crew neck sweater, 2 cotton shawl collar sweater, 4 long sleeve sport shirts, 2 pairs of pajamas, and 1 pair of casual shoes. I wanted to pack bulky and heavy items to gauge if the holding capacity was sufficient. Of course, the selection of what one may choose to pack would be dependent upon lifestyle. I reside in Michigan, and right now the weather begs for items that retain warmth and comfort, hence the addition of sweaters and long sleeve sport shirts. The bag was full, but not tight and could still be zippered without issue.

Now, filled to capacity, a gentleman may have issues with any attempt to stuff the Florentine in an overhead bin during air travel. Although its dimensions – H 13.5″ x W 8.5″ x L 21.5″ – are less than the total allowed maximum of 45 inches, the weight may play a factor as well as the Florentine’s shape as it is packed, given the lack of fixed size like a small suitcase. It would be prudent to verify this information and travel policy according to your airline of choice. Personally, I would check the duffle bag and perhaps employ a stylish book-bag as a carry-on for smaller items, as it does come standard with a luggage tag in addition to a lock & key.

Cosmetically speaking, the Florentine boasts a buttery smooth leather exterior. Soft and pliable with no unsightly creasing, the leather has all the attributes to age with character and charm. The interior and exterior zippers are solidly constructed with a dual closure across the top. Embracing a minimalist approach with its design, the only noticeable embellishment resides with its extended zipper closure on each opposite end that button down the side. The are two pockets on both sides of the body, one zippered and the other a straight jetted pocket. The leather handles are assisted by a buttoned leather closure that affords a comfortable grip, as some duffle bags utilize velcro to keep both handles together or shun a closure entirely.

Now, I absolutely love the design of the handles, as they are not attached directly to the bag’s body, rather, the upper handles are attached to square metal links which in turn are attached along the upper sides. This should provide much-needed support surrounding this area of concentrated stress due to bearing the weight of its contents. Sporting plaid fabric on the inside, the interior is equipped with 1 bifolded compartment, a regular jetted pocket, and a zippered deeper pocket.

As for the finishing touch, the Florentine’s bottom arrives with metal “feet” or studs so your bag is never in total contact with the ground. And speaking of ground, there is approximately a 12 inch drop in strap length, so the bag is approximately 10 inches off the ground when holding the bag with one’s arm totally extended down. However, the audience should consider I am 6’1″ so that approximation will vary from gentlemen to gentlemen. So, to the unnamed gentleman that likened the Florentine to a woman’s purse; I humbly submit that you are woefully mistaken.

Retailing at $548.00, the Florentine is not an inexpensive travel companion. And many gentlemen with humble means will scoff at the price-point, and that is perfectly acceptable. Most likely, there is a duffle bag that will suit any lifestyle accordingly. Nevertheless, the Dooney & Bourke Florentine is designed for the cultivated gentleman that appreciates a refined piece of luggage that becomes more exquisite with age, exudes an understated presence of sophistication, and considers such a purchase a quiet investment in elegance. This bag should last a lifetime. After a long hiatus, resurrecting their collection of fine accessories for stylish, contemporary gentleman; Dooney & Bourke should be able recapture a market of men that will surely explore future collections with newfound excitement.

Please visit https://www.dooney.com/home for purchasing information.

Gentlemen’s Standard Approved
Disclosure: TGS was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes only. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

Review – Viktor & Rolf – Spicebomb

V&R SpicebombSo, during a much-required respite from the daily grind of work, I was partaking in a leisurely stroll through Von Maur for lunch when my nose detected an alluring fragrance cascading through the air. With my interest sufficiently piqued, I inspected the surrounding area to ascertain where the unexpected scent was emanating. Traversing my way across the department, I eventually landed near a glass sales counter where select fragrances were housed for display. A fellow gentleman shopper was a smidgen overzealous with his testing technique and blanketed the men’s department with the contents of Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb. Fortunately, by the time the scent gravitated and dissipated towards my section, I was able to receive much gentler notes than the initial blast radius. And speaking of blast radius, I would be remiss if I did not mention the cologne’s presentation – an imitation hand grenade. Sure, the display leans heavily on the adolescent side, however, that should not discourage a gentleman regarding the contents. And the contents…

Observations

Top Notes: Bergamot, Grapefruit, Elemi, Pink Pepper

Middle Notes: Cinnamon, Saffron, Chili

Base Notes: Leather, Tobacco, Vetiver

  • The introduction of the top notes is resoundingly deep and spicy. The warm scent can definitely be characterized as a heavier fragrance, but it is not too heavy to be deemed as overwhelming.
  • Slowly transitioning into the middle notes, the distinct presence of cinnamon, accompanied with faint hints of vanilla, can be appreciated for an extended period of time.
  • The scent settles nicely with sweet tones of tobacco and leather. However, the fragrance begins to slowly disappear after a few hours. Honestly, I wish the cologne’s finale lasted a bit longer.
  • Given that fact, a gentleman will be tempted to administer a few extra applications in the beginning. I would strongly dissuade a gentleman from taking such extreme measures. Given the relative strength of the top notes, applying too much in the beginning with aspirations of attaining a long-lasting ending will only result in a headache inducing nausea.
  • Therefore, I recommend dispensing 4-5 sprays from your glass replica hand grenade, and reserving its utilization for moments that don’t require an extended performance – a late evening engagement would suffice. Trust, it is a seductive scent, but don’t expect it to last from the early morning to late evening.
  • Spicebomb 1.7 oz  $90.00 or 3.4 oz $110.00 – Available at Nordstrom, Macy’s, Sephora, Von Maur or any fine men’s department store.
Gentlemen’s Standard Approved
Disclosure: TGS was not financially compensated for this post. Item was purchased for personal use. The opinions expressed are completely my own based on my experience.

Review – Psycho Bunny – Necktie

IMG_2484If you have been following my blog for any considerable length of time, you probably recognize that I have an unhealthy love affair with neckties. I readily confess, the quantity of neckties in my collection is dangerously bordering on insanity. Nevertheless, one might observe that I collect neckties just as a stamp collector procures stamps, or a sports card collector amasses his assortment of trading cards. At least that is how I rationalize the insanity with myself. With consideration towards material, pattern, and style; I am always on the hunt for that one necktie that conveys both sophistication, character, and charm. That being said, I was presented the opportunity to scrutinize a most unusual necktie under the Psycho Bunny brand. Now, you may ask: What in the world is a Psycho Bunny? Well, I am happy that you asked. Let’s jump into some background. Continue reading

Review – Lacoste – Lacoste L!ve

Lacoste L!veOnce again, I have the distinct pleasure of reviewing a new offering from the Lacoste brand – Lacoste L!ve. Launched in July 2014, Lacoste L!ve promises to deliver a fragrance that embodies an irresistible energy that bustles with creativity and uniqueness. Housed within a six-sided, multicolored cube; the modern design is intended to compel the user to step aside, step back, and see life from a different angle. Now, before I humbly submit my opinion regarding Lacoste L!ve, I must first state that the flacon’s presentation belies its fragrant composition. Sure, the design appears to be playful and jaunty, but the scent is actually more serious than one might anticipate. So, with that bit of information on the record, let’s dive into details shall we?

Observations

Top Notes: Lime, Saffron

Middle Notes: Green leaves, Aquatic accord

Base Notes: Guaiac wood, Sandalwood, Dark licorice

The top and middle notes are very light and gentle in nature, as they seamlessly transition, almost unnoticeable, from the top note to the middle note. The lime is the most distinct scent during this introduction, as the citrus stands out without being too overbearing. The base note is definitely the strongest as it arrives at its destination swiftly and remains anchored to the wearer for a good portion of the day. The hints of wood are very pleasant, although I do solemnly swear that subtle notes of cinnamon are tucked away in there as a surprise note. I could be mistaken, and it is simply my body chemistry working in tandem with the base notes to produce the sweet notes of cinnamon. Nonetheless, the results are most welcome. As previously mentioned, the overall scent is more sophisticated than the bottle might lead you to believe. Lacoste L!ve would probably work best during the afternoon and evening times. It is very understated, so one can be liberal with the application – test and gauge what best works for you. If you are in the market for a new summer cologne, Lacoste L!ve deserves your perusal.

Lacoste L!ve 40 ml $42.00 and 100 ml $69.00 – recommended retail price at Macy’s, Dillards, Kohl’s, Sephora, Lacoste boutiques, and http://www.lacoste.com/

Gentlemen’s Standard Approved

Disclosure: TGS was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes only. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

Review – Mission Belt Company – The Gentleman’s Belt

Mission BeltUnder the sartorial microscope today, I will be closely scrutinizing a standard gentlemanly accoutrement with an unexpected twist. Now, the gentleman’s belt is an indispensable accessory whose sole pragmatic function is securing one’s britches at an acceptable level, thus preventing the undesirable sight of dingy undergarments or ashy butt cracks. Dreadfully – it could be a combination of both. The standard issue belt arrives simply as a flexible strip of leather, dotted with incremental holes, with a buckle attached to one end so that a gentleman can fasten it around his waist. And so, that brings me to the product I am examining today. In the interest of fairness and honesty, when I first spied Mission Belt Company on the television show Shark Tank, I was thoroughly skeptical. A belt with no holes? I was not sold on the idea.

So, it was very surprising when a representative from Mission Belt Company reached out to me for a review. It was the perfect opportunity to address my skepticism. Perhaps my initial assessment, albeit by way of television, was unfounded and without appropriate merit. Could a belt absent its signature holes actually be worth the investment? Sure, there are hole-less belts on the current market in the form of d-ring and braided belts. However, this particular belt, with its unique ratchet mechanism, was unlike anything I have personally utilized. So, I decided it was worth a fair perusal.

Now, I would be woefully negligent if I did not mention the “mission” portion of Mission Belt Company. I don’t want to butcher their vision and mission, so what follows is their philosophy for the company:

“Here at Mission Belt Co, we don’t just want our customers to look good – we want them to feel good too.  That’s why a dollar from every belt sold goes to fight global hunger and poverty.  Having lived and worked across the globe, we’ve seen firsthand the struggles of those who aren’t as fortunate in their circumstances through no fault of their own.  There are so many industrious, motivated men and women striving for a better life for themselves and their families. Sometimes, the only thing holding them back is a little capital to get started and break the poverty cycle.  A few hundred dollars to buy a cow, a few chickens, or supplies to sell, can mean the difference between unemployment and a productive, independent business.

So we decided to start a company that is so focused on fighting world hunger and poverty, that you’ll know about our “Mission” from the second you hear our name.  We’ll be the first to admit that our no-holes belts are pretty awesome, and you’d probably want to have one regardless of our Mission.  But even more important than producing the world’s sleekest, most stylish, and most comfortable belts, is making sure we can do it in a socially responsible way.  Every time you put on your belt, and hear the ‘click click’ of the perfect fit, you can remember that you too are a part of the Mission.

So that we can focus on making our world-class belts, we searched around for a well-known and respected organization to work with, and found just that in Kiva (www.Kiva.org).  Kiva is a non-profit, peer-to-peer ‘micro-lending’ organization that helps provide opportunities to support economic development and entrepreneurship, mostly in developing countries, as part of its efforts to alleviate poverty and create more economic opportunity. Before you think we’re loan sharks, Kiva doesn’t collect nor pay us any interest on our funds.  Rather, we help to increase the supply of credit for borrowers who might not have access to traditional banking services in their home countries.

As stewards of our time, talents, and resources, we take our Mission seriously.  We aren’t Sally Struthers preying on people’s emotions and we aren’t charity-tourists taking a trip around the globe to hand out school supplies to starving kids. We’d rather avoid the airfare and the photo-ops, and get the most bang for our belts by focusing our Mission on three key aspects: sustainability, transparency and impact.”

Honestly, I think their mission is very admirable. I cannot speak to its impact or magnitude, but its concept is admirable nonetheless. For more information regarding Mission Belt’s social entrepreneurship, please visit HERE for details. Now, on to the observations.

Observations

  • True story: Upon unearthing the mission belt from its package, I jokingly remarked to Stephanie that it smelled and felt like real leather. And to my amusement, as I turned the belt over for inspection, engraved on the underside: Yeah…it’s real leather. I surmise Mission Belt anticipated the doubt. Clever.
  • So, addressing the quality of leather, it is definitely soft and extremely pliable. This is certainly not some stiff, plastic piece of imitation leather that you will be securing your trousers with.
  • The stitching is tight with no noticeable frays or loose threads.
  • For leather selections, the standard register of business colors are available: black and brown. For more adventurous, fashion-forward gentlemen; colors such as red, blue, and even gray can be purchased.
  • The buckles are seriously heavy-duty. A gentleman is presented with options of brushed stainless steel, gold, or brass. The designs are varied, yet simple; ranging from plain solids to colored solids to a three bar design with color.
  • The underside the belt is embedded with a small rigid track that “catches” a small metal clip that is housed within the belt clip. Think of a roller coaster on its ascent, you can hear the belt clicking as you insert it into the belt buckle.
  • To release the belt and remove, there is a small lever that sits on the side of the buckle. Pull the lever away from the body, and the belt easily releases.
  • If a gentleman loses a little weight, the buckle can be removed, and the desired length of leather can be cut off to accommodate the difference in waist girth. Simply re-attach the buckle and you are good to go. This is probably cleaner than punching more holes in a standard belt, or perhaps just going to buy another. However, once you cut that leather, it is no going back. So, if you are a gentleman that has weight fluctuations, it may not be a good idea to go slicing your belt.
  • Speaking of width, there are two belt widths currently available: 35 mm and 40 mm.
  • A gentleman can expect to pay between $26.99 (kids) to $34.95-39.95 (adults).
  • Usage is relatively simple. Just insert your belt to fasten, and then pull the release lever to loosen. While the buckle is really sturdy, the release lever could be prone to wear and tear if your touch is heavy-handed.


In conclusion, I think Mission Belt Company has presented the gentleman with a great alternative to the standard belt. Given a gentleman does not change out belts that frequently, the investment could be worthwhile. The leather is quality and the sturdiness of the buckle and the ratchet mechanism should provide dutiful service without breaking. Again, be aware that if one does decide to size down due to weight loss, any leather cut off cannot be recovered – so tread lightly. So, despite my initial doubts, I have to give Mission Belt Company a thumbs up for a quality, innovative product. Check them out for yourselves: http://missionbelt.com/

Gentlemen’s Standard Approved

Disclosure: TGS was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes only. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

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