Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Putting business travel attire to the test

I have not flown on an airplane in several months, but found no better time than last weekend to determine the worthiness of some travel clothing I recently purchased from Orvis.

Now, I normally go through airports with simple sandals to take on and off easily at security checkpoints, and I usually wear jackets with zippered pockets to put my wallet, keys and loose change securely as the jacket can go through X-ray machines, and then I can arrange my belongings as efficiently as possible afterward. I wear comfortable clothing, but my appearance is hardly businesslike.

Time to fix that. I went to the Houston Hobby Airport wearing an Orvis Ultimate Windowpane Blazer, a navy with light blue check blazer that's 100 percent medium-weight wool. It has a zippered inside pocket. It has gusseted shoulders for greater mobility. It even has functional buttonholes at the sleeves.

The rest of the outfit went something like this: a navy Under Armour short-sleeve mock; Orvis tan khakis; and Merrell brown leather loafers with rubber soles. Normally, I'd wear a button-down shirt to complete the business look, but I opted for comfort (and a little attitude).

I wasn't too worried about how my outfit would hold up at the airport. My khakis are made of a durable cotton twill, the loafers are easy to get on and off. My Under Armour shirt has excellent wicking properties (it absorbs sweat and dries easily).

The blazer was my primary concern. All the sitting, standing, taking the jacket off, putting the jacket on, storing it overhead or under the seat on the plane. Would it tear? Would it wrinkle? Was it too hot for summer wear?

None of the above. In fact, the jacket's construction was well-made. It does not wrinkle easily, and it withstands a lot of jostling and tugging. The wool acts as an insulator against the air-conditioning of airports, making it comfortable to wear indoors.

Another staple in Orvis menswear, the Traveler's Hopsack Blazer, is a bit heavier than the Ultimate Travel Blazer and its polyester/wool blend has the advantage of being wrinkle-resistant and great in cooler temperatures. The drawback is it's less effective in warmer climates such as Houston, where it's also humid.

I can honestly say that the Ultimate Travel Blazer from Orvis does its part. It's made of 100 percent natural fabric, has a classic style, and is functional for travel. All due respect to my other navy blazers from Bill Blass, Versace, Burberry and Ralph Lauren, the Orvis version can withstand the test of tug. I'm not afraid to beat it up.

And I look good in the airport, too.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Remembering a joyful spirit from J. Crew outlet

I was stunned to find out about the recent passing of Noah Wapemba Jjemba on July 1.

I met Noah several months ago during one of my frequent visits to the J. Crew factory outlet store in Katy Mills Mall. He was unfailingly polite and positive person, and we would have enlightening exchanges during my visits to the store.

The last time I saw him, Noah had a few items held for me a couple of weeks ago at the store. I got word of his passing when I returned to buy them yesterday. I will always remember his kindness, his smile. I offer my deepest sympathies to his family.

Most assuredly, Noah, you will be missed.