Mens_Leather_backpacks_Ashley_Weston

Men’s Leather Backpack

Like I mentioned in my article and video about weekender bags, a leather backpack is a necessity for every man because it’s the type of bag that fills a lot of gaps in your bag arsenal – like when you work in a more casual environment and a briefcase would be a little odd. Or when you need a bag for groceries, going to the coffee shop or you’re going on a trip and putting your laptop and other personal items in a weekender bag won’t fit or will be a little too rough on them.

You want your backpack to do a couple of things:

  1. It should look classy and have a timeless design.
  2. It should work with dressy and casual outfits (not with suits, though, more on that in a minute)
  3. Hold at least a 15” laptop
  4. Should be comfortable – of course.
  5. Should last you a long time

I think a lot of guys assume that a backpack is the one bag they need, no matter what they’re wearing and doing. This is mostly true, but with two massive exceptions.

  1. If you’re wearing a suit or blazers often, then a backpack should never be worn with any of these outfits because the shoulder straps will ruin the shoulder pads and wrinkle your jacket all over the back. Wearing suits or Blazers = carrying your bag by the handles and never anything else – which means you need a briefcase. Unless you’re going for the IT guy look, please don’t wear your backpack (or messenger bag!) with these outfits. Even a nice backpack, like the ones I’ll be highlighting, won’t look right with those types of outfits.
  2. If you’re needing a backpack for camping, lugging around your camera equipment or things like that, then you’ll need a specialty bag/backpack. You wouldn’t take a sedan off-roading, so please don’t do the same with your backpack. So if you have specialty items you need to carry around or are wearing suits or blazers often, then you need a bag specifically designed for those contexts – like a briefcase or camera bag.

What Material Should Your Backpack Be?

If you’re looking for something classy and functional, leather is the only option. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen some nice fabric or nylon ones, but they just don’t look right in as many scenarios as a leather backpack and they’ll wear or stain very easily.

Remember, you want your accessories to show you’re a man who cares about the details, and wearing a great outfit with anything but an equally classy backpack just looks like you missed the mark a bit. Think of those college kids you see with their Swiss army backpacks and sloppy suits running around conferences.

What Color Should You Get?

I like black, gray or cognac. But remember, as I said in my weekender bag story, this is the only time you need to match your accessory to another accessory – so whatever your weekender bag color is, your backpack should be a similar color. It doesn’t need to be perfectly matching, but black for black, brown for brown, etc. The reason for this is because your backpack will often be carried with your weekender on short trips, so you want some cohesion here.

I would honestly go for black because brown tends to show a little more scuffs and scratches, but if you really want to work a nice patina into a backpack, then there’s definitely no substitute for a brown backpack.

The Best Men’s Leather Backpacks

So let me tell you the state of the classy and timeless backpack industry or genre right now: It’s pretty awful out there. There’s so much crap out there. I’m not kidding when I say that just in the last year, I’ve tested at least 50 backpacks from every major and minor designer out there. There are so few brands that make a clean, nicely-designed and sharp looking backpack that won’t look silly or dated within a year or two. Aside from the ones I’ll show you, every other backpack missed the mark in some way or another.

This Is Ground – Venture Backpack

venture_cognac_4_1024x1024_Leather_backpack_Ashley_Weston

Buy the Venture backpack

You might remember these guys from my wallets video/article and they’re back with hands down, the best leather backpack I’ve ever tested. The design is simple, classy and very well thought out. The Italian leather is really soft and supple with just enough stiffness to maintain the shape well. It’s just really nice to hold and use.

It has a lot of pockets and slots for all your items, including cables and chargers without feeling like it’s wasting space. It has two main compartments, one that is padded for your laptop and tablet or notebook, as well as some awesome pockets along the opposite side. Then the second big compartment is nice and wide open for whatever you want to put in there. I also really like this top zipper slot for your phone or wallet that is deceipity deep. My clients said they really liked this feature.

I know it sounds small, but their shoulder straps and back padding are the perfect width and very soft. I was worried that the thinner shoulder straps would dig in if there were some heavier items in the bag, but this isn’t the case.

A small point, but definitely a big deal for me, is where the shoulder straps are anchored to the bottom of the bag. See how they attach to the middle and bottom of the bag? This is awesome because it is supporting a good portion of the weight from the bottom of the bag, and not from the front side like most backpacks. I’ve definitely found other bags breaking, or the stitching coming loose at this exact point a few times, even after, what I’d consider, very light usage. While we’re talking about the straps, I love how they don’t have a bunch of extra slack on them. Even if you tighten or loosen them, you don’t have a bunch of excess strap flapping around. This is super annoying on a lot of other bags. Besides, your backpack should sit relatively high on your back, not on the lower part of your back or worst-of-all, your butt. I’m glad that This Is Ground knows this and doesn’t even give people the option!!

And if this bag wasn’t cool enough, it has a special, secret compartment in part of the bag for you to hide your valuables as well as the included Tile dongle, so in case you ever lose your bag, you can track it via the app.

I have it here in their cognac brown, which has such a nice, rich color and will just get better with age. But I also really like their charcoal black as well. Also, make sure to get the regular size, the mini size is small by a few inches and is much more geared for a woman.

Kill Spencer – Special Ops Backpack 2.0

Kill_Spencer_grey_leather_special_ops1_1_2_Ashley_Weston

Buy the Kill Spencer Special Ops Backpack 2.0

If you want a backpack with a little more tactical edge to it, then the KillSpencer Special Ops Backpack is right up your alley. Just like with their weekender bag, their leather is really damn good. I especially love that they have it in this really nice Charcoal Gary color, which matches their weekender’s color perfectly. They also have it in black, which I also like a lot, they also make a nylon version, so it’s a great leather alternative bag, as well.

A note on the color in the image above – watch my video showing this backpack because that’s the actual, true life color. For some reason these images don’t represent the color correctly.

Like all their products, the design is well-thought out and classy and just like the Venture Backpack, their zippers are buttery smooth and the rest of the hardware is great.

The big pocket on the front is nice to have, but I’m not sure how safe it is if you’re utilizing it in a crowd. I know I’d be a little nervous keeping some valuables there.

The lining is also water and fireproof, so if you spill something inside (hopefully not), it won’t be such a disaster, for the bag at least. Another nice touch is the mesh interior pockets, which allow you to see what’s inside them. It sounds small, but trust me, it’s a very nice feature to have.


Matt & Nat – Dean Backpack

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Buy the Dean backpack

If you’re looking for a leather alternative backpack, then I really like this one by Matt & Nat. Out of all the faux leather backpacks I’ve seen, this is definitely the best.

I really like the unique but not overbearing design and the hardware is surprisingly nice and smooth. It has a big top-loading storage area, with a laptop compartment and an extra pocket as well. It also has this outter pocket for some of your smaller items which is nice to have.

The only downside is that the woven straps feel a little cheap and I don’t know how durable this bag is in the longrun, but for a relatively cheap bag, this is perfectly acceptable.

I have it here in black, but I also like their brown color, which they call chili. So if you’re looking for a leather alternative backpack, this is the best I’ve seen – by far.


Honorable Mentions

Valextra V Line Backpack

VALEXTRA_Pebble-Grain Leather Backpack_Ashley Weston

Buy the Valextra V Line backpack

I liked it a lot, just like their wallets, but unfortunately it’s structure is too stiff and it looks like other designer bags that I just think look odd. It’s like wearing a box on your back, as opposed to something that’ll mold a little better to your body and it’s contents. It also just has one big compartment, with a pocket for a laptop and nothing else, which is a little annoying because then all your stuff will be banging around in it, or you’ll need some sort of organizer to then put into the backpack.

COTE & CIEL RHINE COATED CANVAS AND LEATHER

cote&ciel - RHINE COATED CANVAS AND LEATHER backpack Ashley Weston

Buy the Cote & Ciel Rhine backpack

It’s just a little too tactical looking for my taste. The front also looks like a little bit of a sad emoji. But for utility purposes, this bag is great! But it won’t fit a whole lot of stuff inside.

AER Fit Pack

Aer Fit Pack_backpack_Ashley_Weston

Buy the Aer Fit Pack

Even though it’s not leather, I really love this backpack because it’s so utilitarian. This is the perfect gym backpack, though, and even has an extra compartment for your shoes, which comes in handy a lot.

Mulberry Multitasker

Mulberry Multitasker leather backpack _Leather_backpack_Ashley_Weston

Buy the Mulberry Multitasker backpack

Love their leather products, including their weekender bag, and this one can be used as a shoulder bag and top handle bag, but it’s a little bit small in dimensions and just has a big pocket to put everything in. Organization isn’t so great with this one and it’s slight on the smaller side. While my top choices are 17” or more in height, this one is 15” which is right on the edge of looking like a girl’s backpack.

 

So that’s it. Those are honestly the best backpacks I could find – anywhere in the world. I’ve been working on this story for ages and I was shocked to discover these were the only ones good enough to recommend. Everything else was a weird size, didn’t have good storage, had a big ass logo on it, crazy contrasting stitching or just something was off about it. If you make leather backpacks and want to prove me wrong, then please contact me and prove me wrong!

Weekender Bag Leather Canvas Mens Leather Duffle Bag Ashley Weston

Weekender Bag

A weekender bag, or as some people call them – leather duffle bags – are an essential every man should have because like every wardrobe item and accessory you own, it should serve a purpose and look damn good at the same time. A weekender bag’s purpose is to fill the void left when a backpack would be too small and a large piece of luggage would be too big.

If you’re like a majority of my clients (and I, as well), who typically go on shorter trips of up to a week at a time, you’ll be using your weekender more than any other piece of luggage you own.

The requirements for a weekender bag are:

  • Clean, classic design that is beautiful and functional
  • High quality construction that’ll last many, many years
  • Meets the airlines’ carry-on luggage size requirements
  • Not have too many rivets, embellishments or a tacky logos all over it. 99% of weekender bags fail this test in one way or another by looking too utilitarian or like a billboard for the brand. A gentleman doesn’t need to advertise the brands he owns. It’s low rent.

When to Use a Weekender Bag

You would think this one would be simple, but I see a lot of guys using their weekender bags incorrectly. So let’s go over when you should and shouldn’t be using your weekender bag.

Do use your weekender for:

  • Going on shorter trips, up to a week at a time.
  • Any travel when you don’t need your full-sized checked luggage or when a backpack/messengers is too small.

Don’t use your weekender As A

Gym bag

I can’t tell you how many guys I see walking out of the gym with their weekender bags.  They’re way too big and nice to be shoving in and out of lockers. If you need a gym bag, get one, or, like I’d suggest, use a backpack instead.

Everyday or work bag

These are not to be used for work. There’s other bags, like a briefcase or messenger bag, that are built for this. And don’t use this bag in place of a tote bag for grocery runs, shopping, etc. it’s definitely not meant for that. You’ll ruin it!

Garment bag

If you need to carry suits or other delicate items, that’s what a garment bag is for. I’ve seen a few weekender bags that have garment bags built into the them and I have to wonder who would put a suit into their duffle bag, and THEN stack a bunch of stuff on top and on the sides of them?

You’re just asking for a horribly wrinkled, or worse yet, ruined suit by doing this. If you need to transport a suit or delicate clothing item, put it in a garment bag and carry it separately or pack it gently into your larger (not overflowing) checked luggage where it’ll have a little bit of space. Weekenders are not the do-all, be-all bags, so please don’t treat them like one.

What Color Should You Get?

Just like anything you carry, you want it to look amazing, so sticking with the clean, classic colors of black, brown or gray is what you want. Any other colors or crazy patterns will not age well and come and go as fashion dictates. If I had to choose, I’d say go with black because browns can tend to show scratches and marks a little more, where black wouldn’t show them as much, that way your bag will look newer for longer. But if you like the aged patina look of a brown bag, that’s perfectly fine as well.

How to match your weekender bag to…

This has been asked a few times, so I want to address how you would match your weekender bag to your other accessories or outfits.

Since we’re sticking to the clean, classic colors, I’d say your weekender should match (doesn’t have to be perfect, just close) your backpack’s color. The reason is because you’ll likely be carrying it along with your weekender bag more than any other bags you’ll own, so a black weekender and brown backpack wouldn’t look so cohesive. If you instead go for a briefcase/messenger bag and don’t have or use a backpack, it should probably match your weekender if you’ll be carrying it along on trips.

As for your outfit, don’t worry too much about matching it to your outfit or other accessories because it’s not part of your outfit like your shoes, belts and watch straps are so it won’t interfere with the cohesiveness of your outfit.

And if you were thinking about asking: Yes, your weekender will look great with casual or dressy outfits, that’s why I consider it an essential.

Quick Tip

When storing your weekender bag, I find that they’re great for storing your scarves, gloves, dress shoes and other items in. Since the bags I’m recommending have some structure to them, they’ll start losing this structure if you’re shoving them under your bed or into a dresser. That way, you can maintain the shape and utilize the empty space.

The best weekenders Bags

Please note that all my recommended weekender bags come in multiple colors (including brown), even though I’m only showing them in black or gray, so click through the link to see details and the color options.


Frank Clegg Signature Travel Duffel

Frank Clegg Signature Travel Duffel Weekender Bag Holdall Carryall Leather Black Ashley Weston

See details & buy the Frank Clegg Signature Travel Duffel

This is one of my all-time favorite weekender bags for a few reasons:

  • The styling is beautiful and classic.
  • The leather is gorgeous, supple, durable and it has just the right amount of structure to it.
  • The flap that hides the zipper really distinguishes it against the sea of similar-looking weekenders.
  • It’s zipper allows it to open extremely wide – this is very rare with most weekenders.
  • Their customer service is amazing (see the video or below for the story about this)

I had a client who needed a weekender bag super last minute for a press tour. So I called the number on the Frank Clegg website and was expecting a customer service person to pick up, because they’re not a small company, so a man with a super thick Boston accent picks up and says “Yeah, this is Frank”. It honestly took me a few seconds to say something because I was so surprised he actually picked up the phone! I explained the situation and he had a custom bag, including monogram out to me that afternoon for morning delivery. Talk about service!

The last thing that puts Frank’s bag head and shoulders above the rest is that all his items come with a lifetime warranty against any defects. If anything every happens to your bag and needs a repair, call or email Frank and they’ll fix it free of charge. I haven’t seen that with any of the other bags worthy of testing in all the years I’ve been searching.

KillSpencer Weekender 3.0

KillSpencer Weekender 3.0 Weekender Bag Holdall Carryall Duffle Leather Black Ashley Weston

See details & buy the Killspencer Weekender 3.0

Out of all the bags I’ve tested over the years, this is the best gray bag I’ve ever seen. The color is just the right shade of gray to not be obtrusive and I also really like the black handles and accents, so it allows you to choose a black or gray backpack to go with it, which are both great choices.

Like all their stuff, it has a little military edge but still remains timeless and classy.I really like that about them – it’s what sets them apart.

If you follow me on SnapChat, you saw Spencer gave me a tour of the production facility and showroom. I’m so impressed by quality of their leather and I honestly think this bag is worth more than they’re charging for it. I also like that it doesn’t have metal feet on the bottom, which can be an issue that I’ll discuss with my next recommendation.

The one unique thing about the bag, which I really liked, is this handle on the side. If you’ve ever struggled with pulling bags out of overhead bins, then you know how valuable this handle is in that situation.

I love that they manage to make high-quality products at an awesome price point.

Mulberry Clipper Leather Holdall Bag

Mulberry Clipper Leather Holdall Bag Ashley Weston Weekender Bag Black

See details & buy the Mulberry Clipper in Black or Brown

This is the first weekender bag I saw, before I was a Celebrity Menswear Stylist, where I instantly understood what people meant when they said luxury leather goods. Holy sh*t is this bag gorgeous in person. It also has that iconic weekender/duffle silhouette that’s never been done better. The leather is so soft and supple and dare I say… delicious?

The only knock I have against this bag is the metal feet on the bottom. You have to be a little more careful about what you set this bag on because if the feet become pitted or scratched, it start scratching any surface you put this bag on –  wood floors, tables or car roofs and hoods. A simple fix for this is to put a little electric tape around the metal feet every so often so they don’t get scratched up. To me, that’s a small inconvenience, that no one will ever see, for an amazing weekender bag.

Budget Friendly Options

Combatant Gentleman Black Leather Duffel Bag

Combatant Gentleman Black Leather Duffel Bag Holdall Ashley Weston Weekender Bag

See details & buy the Combatant Gentleman Black Leather Duffel Bag

At this price point, I haven’t seen a better leather duffle bag. The problem with most bags at a similar price point is that they have really bad designs because they don’t want to use large swaths of leather because that’s more expensive to source and produce. But I think this weekender toes that line very well.

There’s two small things I’d love to see changed on this bag, though.

  1. The zipper should go all the way to the end of the bag, so it’s easier to load and unload the bag’s contents. So when pulling out, say, your dopp kit for the security line, you’re going to have to pack it right in the middle, otherwise you’ll have a hard time pulling it out if it were on either end of the bag.
  2. It has metal feet, which, like I discussed earlier, can be a problem. But a quick fix is to put some black electrical tape on them.

Outside of that though, for the price, I wasn’t able to find something as clean looking or well-made. So kudos to the Combatant Gentleman team for pulling this off.

Everlane The Dipped Weekender

Everlane The Dipped Weekender Bag Holdall Bag Ashley Weston Canvas Black

See details & buy Everlane’s The Dipped Weekender

My second favorite budget-friendly weekender is the Everlane Dipped Weekender. The best feature of this bag, and why it’s the only canvas bag I’ll recommend, is the coated bottom. The problem with other canvas weekender bags is that if you set it down on a dirty or wet surface, this bag would look dirty or be completely soaked, including the items inside, very quickly. With the coated bottom, you avoid this.

Another major bonus is that it doesn’t have any branding on the outside, which plagues a lot of bags at this price point, and the stitching and leather is very high quality. And lastly, if you don’t know about Everlane’s 100% transparent business practices, you should look them up. They’re pretty revolutionary in this respect.

The major downside is that it doesn’t have a shoulder strap, but the two main handles are actually long enough to be used as a shoulder strap, so I wouldn’t consider this a deal-breaker.

 

Honorable Mentions

These are the weekender bags that just missed the mark for one reason or another.

Coach Explorer Bag 52

Coach Explorer Bag 52 Weekender Bag Holdall Carryall Leather Black Ashley Weston

See details & buy the Coach Explorer Bag 52

If you want a bag similar to the Mulberry Clipper but cheaper, this is the weekender bag for you.

Shinola Signature Duffle

Shinola Signature Duffle Weekender Bag Holdall Carryall Leather Black Ashley Weston

See details & buy the Shingle Signature Duffle

This one didn’t make the cut solely because it goes in and out of stock pretty regularly. The company has assured me that their stock problems will be fixed soon, but since it’s not readily available, it’s hard to recommend. If you can find it, this would very easily be near the top of my list.

Uri Minkoff Wythe Weekender

Uri Minkoff Wythe Weekender Weekender Bag Holdall Carryall Leather Black Ashley Weston

See details & buy Uri Minkoff’s Wythe Weekender

I like this one a lot, but I found it to be slightly expensive for what you got and I had two minor quibbles with the design:

  1. The way they reinforced the bottom could have been done better without using those big hunks of leather on each side.
  2. Even though the leather looks pebbled and matte in the above image, it’s quite a bit more shiny in person. Right on the border of being a little too much for my taste.

Matt & Nat – Artigan

Matt Nat Artigan Weekender Bag Holdall Carryall Leather Vegan Black Ashley Weston

See details & buy Matt & Nat – Artigan

This one’s a bit of an outlier because it’s very structured compared to the others, but I liked that about it. The main selling point is that it’s a very well made vegan bag option and has a great price point. So if you’re looking for a leather alternative or want something with more structure, then this one is for you.

 

That’s it, those are the best weekender bags I could find in many, many years of searching for the perfect ones.

Top 10 Men's Summer Essentials BeanBoozles Andew Snavely Wordpress Header Ashley Weston

Top 10 Men’s Summer Essentials – Bean Boozled Edition With Andrew Snavely from Primer Magazine

Andrew Snavely from PrimerMagazine.com joined me to compare our lists of the Top 10 Men’s Summer Essentials – with a disgusting twist.

If you don’t know the Bean Boozled Challenge, it’s a game where you have a 50/50 chance of getting a delicious jelly bean or one that’s flavored something like vomit, skunk, rotten eggs and a whole host of really vile flavors.

If our items didn’t match up, we had to spin the wheel of doom and see what flavors we got. I wish I could say this is the first time I’ve played this game, but unfortunately, I’ve had the pleasure of playing it before.

 

Straw Panama Hat

Nick Fouquet Straw Hat

Borsalino Straw Hat

J. Crew Paulmann Panama Hat with Indigo

Rag & Bone Sewn Straw Fedora

Rag & Bone Panama Hat

Zara Straw Hat

Brixton Pacific Fedora

Tortoise Shell Sunglasses

Tom Ford Snowdown

Tom Ford Frank

Ray Ban Clubmast Flash Lenses

Ray Ban Clubround

Persol Classic

John Varvatos Prince

John Varvatos Bond

Warby Parker Ames

Tote Bag

Frank Clegg Tall Tote

Jack Spade Canvas Tote 

Jack Spade Dipped Coal Bag

Saturdays NYC Reece Tote

Stanley & Sons Leather Tote

Herschel Tote Bag

Uri Minkoff Tote

Boat Shoes

Bottega Veneta Intrecciato Leather Boat Shoes

Sperry Top Sider Authentic 2 Eye

John Varvatos Schooner Boat Shoe

John Varvatos Star Boater Clip

Polo Shirt

Designer Options

John Varvatos Black Silk Cotton Hampton Polo

Sunspel Charcoal Jersey Polo Shirt

Tom Ford Navy Polo Shirt

Burberry Navy Silk Cotton Polo

Theory Black Boyd Polo

Budget-Friendly Options

H&M White Cotton Polo Shirt 

H&M Black Cotton Polo

Uniqlo Navy Dry Pique Short Sleeve Polo Shirt

J.Crew Black Pique Cotton Polo

Unlined Sport Coat

Brooks Brothers Seersucker Sport Coat

Brooks Brothers Herringbone Irish Linen Sport Coat

Givenchy Slim-fit Cotton-Blend Seersucker Blazer

J. Crew Ludlow Blazer in Italian Linen

J. Crew Ludlow Blazer in Italian Cotton

Loro Piana Ecru Woven Wool Silk & Linen Blend Blazer

Loro Piana Blue Toledo Slim-Fit Stretch-Cotton Blazer

Oliver Spencer Blue Theobald Slim-fit Linen & Cotton-blend Jacket

Saturdays x Mr. Porter Lumax Blazer

Theory Blue Rodolf Slim-fit Stretch-cotton Blazer 

Zara Linen Blazer

Swim Trunks

Everest Isles Daupner Short

Everest Isles Jacktar Trunk

Everest Isles Mayol Trunk

H&M Solid-Color Swim Short

Joe Fresh Men’s Board Short

Joe Fresh Men’s Board Short

Saturdays NYC Colin Boardshort

Saturdays NYC Danny Boardshort

Saturdays NYC Grant Offset Stripe Boardshort

Zara Basic Classic Swimsuit

Zara Basic Fashion Swimsuit

Chino Pants

Designer Options

Rag & Bone ‘Fit 2’ Slim Fit Khaki Chino

RRL Slim Fit Sand Chino

Tomas Maier Slim Fit Sand Chino

Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Navy Slim Fit Chino

Burberry Slim Fit Stretch Navy Chino

Rag & Bone ‘Fit 2’ Slim Fit Army Green Chino

Burberry Straight Fit Taupe Chino

Todd Snyder Navy Straight Fit Chino

Z Zegna Straight Fit Beige Chino

Budget-Friendly Options

Uniqlo Navy Men Slim Fit Chino

H&M Beige Chino Slim fit

JCrew Straight Fit ‘1040’ Navy Chino

James Bond Cardigan Chino Pants Quantum of Solace Header Ashley Weston

James Bond Casual Style

This article & video is part of the Celebrity Style Inspiration Series, where Antonio Centeno from RealMenRealStyle.com and I pick out great outfits from movies and tv shows and demonstrate how to recreate and incorporate them into your wardrobe. 
As Antonio and I discussed in our other video about James Bond outfits to emulate, I really love the casual outfits Daniel Craig wears, so I wanted to recreate this one from Quantum of Solace, because it’s clean, simple and looks amazing on every guy, regardless of his age or body type.

Unlike the other video, where I switched out some items for more practical options, this one is already very practical, aside from the shoes. But we’ll get into that in a moment.

Here’s the full outfit I’m going to recreate. Apologies for the blurriness, but they don’t show this outfit for very long and the full-length shot is focused on a woman in a bikini to the right of Bond.

JamesBondQuantomOfSolaceChinosCardiganOutfitAshleyWeston

The Cardigan & Shirt

JamesBondQuantomOfSolaceChinosCardiganOutfitAshleyWeston1

Daniel Craig is wearing a black shawl collar cardigan which is so warm and comfy. I certainly wouldn’t advise wearing this during summer time, but for any other time of year, there’s nothing better than a shawl collar cardigan. I put my model in one from Todd Snyder, but check the outfit details at the bottom of this page, because Todd Snyder no longer makes that cardigan, but I included a very worthy substitute.

Now, with the shirt, you can either go with an Oxford button down, like I have my model wearing below or you can go with a semi-spread collar dress shirt.  if you wanted to dress it down a bit more, you can go with a white v-neck t-shirt, like Daniel Craig also wore in Casino Royale.

JamesBondCasinoRoyalCardiganSweaterVNeckTShirtAshleyWeston

Pants, Shoes & Sunglasses

As for the pants, tan or sand colored chinos are perfect here. Just please make sure that they fit properly, otherwise it won’t look so great.

In the full length image at the top of the page, you’ll see bond is wearing brown suede chukka boots, which as I mentioned in the companion video to this one on Antonio’s Real Men Real Style channel, I’m not the biggest fan because they get gross and dirty quite quickly. So instead, I’d go for something like brown oxford dress shoes. That way, you’ll keep the same general profile as the original outfit and you hopefully already have these in your closet, so it’s a perfect way to incorporate them into a more casual outfit. I find a lot of men have a problem with mixing their dress shoes into more casual outfits and this is a perfect example of when it’s appropriate to add them in.

The final piece of the puzzle is the sunglasses. Daniel Craig is wearing aviators by Tom Ford in the film, but whether you should be wearing those or another style is dependent on your face shape. Since my model has a more oval face shape, I went with squared Tom Ford wayfarer-style sunglasses instead.

My Version of this outfit

I also wanted to mix a more budget-friendly piece, like the chino pants, with less budget-friendly items, because for some reason, a lot of men think that if they’re wearing an expensive item, everything else has to be equally expensive or it just won’t look right. Well, hopefully you see that this couldn’t be further from the truth.

James-Bond-Cardigan-Quantum-of-Solace-Ashley-Weston

Rag & Bone Avery Shawl Cardigan
Brooks Brothers Red Fleece White Solid Oxford Sport Shirt
Uniqlo Mens Flat Front Slim-Fit Chino Pants
Tom Ford Black Snowdon Sunglasses
Salvatore Ferragamo Remigio Cap Toe

Designer Options

 

Brooks Brothers Shawl Collar Cardigan
Dolce & Gabbana Shawl-Collar Virgin Wool Cardigan
Brunello Cucinelli Slim-Fit Button-Down Collar Cotton Oxford Shirt
Burberry Check Detail Cotton Oxford Shirt
J Brand Brooks Slim Trouser
Burberry Slim Fit Cotton Chino
Allen Edmonds Park Ave Cap-Toe Oxfords
Christian Louboutin Greggo Balmorals
Tom Ford William Silver sunglasses

Budget Friendly options

 

Club Monaco Shawl-Collar Elbow Patch Merino Sweater
J. Crew Cotton Cardigan Sweater
Topman White Oxford Long Sleeve
J. Crew Slim Thomas Mason for J. Crew
Uniqlo Mens Flat Front Slim-Fit Chino Pants
J. Crew Broken-in Chino 770 Fit
Johnston & Murphy Melton Cap Toe
Aldo Anniex Cap Toes
Ray Ban Aviator Classic

Outfit Inspiration For Cardigans & Chinos

Mens Undershirts Crew Neck V-Neck Accessory Essentials Header Ashley Weston

Best Undershirts For Men

If you own any of the collared shirts I recommend in my Men’s Wardrobe Essentials Series, specifically the Oxford Button Down Shirt and a Semi Spread Collar dress shirt, you need to own some crew and v-neck undershirts. And before we get into it, there’s no scenario when you should ever wear a tank-top undershirt, AKA a wife beater – ever. You’ll see the lines underneath any shirt you’re wearing, and it just looks terrible. So let’s talk about the best undershirts for men and why you should own them. 

Undershirts are essential because

  • They provide a barrier between your sweaty, oily, deodorant-riddled skin and your dress shirts.
  • Due to this barrier, you may not have to get them cleaned as often, which will prolong their life.
  • They make dress shirts, specifically light-colored ones, look much better by not showing your skin and/or nipples through them.
  • They add another layer to your outfit for a little extra warmth or moisture wicking – depending on the weather.

How to Wear an Undershirt Under a Dress Shirt

You would think this is simple, right? Me too, but it’s very rare when a client knows how to wear an undershirt properly. A good undershirt is not something anyone should ever notice. If it’s noticeable, you’ve failed.

These are the 2 rules for wearing an undershirt:

  1. If you’re wearing a collared shirt without a tie, with the top button or two open, you need to wear a v-neck undershirt. Remember, no one should ever see your undershirt – even a bit of the collar.
  2. If you’re wearing a tie, you have to wear a crew neck undershirt. Otherwise, you’ll be able to see the v under the shirt and it looks like crap.

When should you go without an undershirt?

The only time I’d suggest not wearing an undershirt is if you’re wearing a white collared shirt. If you’re a lighter skinned guy, this is more geared toward you. Because most other undershirts might be seen through. But you can still try wearing a nude or gray undershirt to see if it’s not visible.

This problem isn’t as bad if you’re darker-skinned and wearing a similar-colored undershirt. That said, if you have darker nipples or nipples that tend to stick out a little bit, then an undershirt is required for you no matter what. Just make sure it matches your skin tone relatively closely.

Are Undershirts Supposed to be Tight?

A lot of my clients ask this question and the short answer is:
Sort of.

They shouldn’t be skin tight, but they should absolutely fit close to the body. Ideally, you want an undershirt to fit this way in the body and sleeves so you don’t see wrinkles or creases underneath your shirt. If the sleeves or body is loose, you’ll definitely see the line under the sleeves and wrinkles in the body – no matter the color of shirt you’re wearing over it.

Are Undershirts Supposed to be Thin?

Yes! They should be thin because they’re an underlayer and a thinner shirt will feel better and not add bulk to your frame. You don’t want this to happen regardless of your body type.

Should I have only white undershirts?

Not necessarily. I always have my clients wear undershirts that are closer to their skin tone. So if you’re darker skinned, you can go with a darker gray, brown, or black undershirt. Lighter skinned men should stick with light gray or white. A warning though, if you’re lighter skinned: a light gray undershirt under white or light-colored shirts is ok, but honestly, I’ve tried this a few times it and it tends to make the dress shirt look dingy or kind of faded. It’s not a good look, so I usually say to go without an undershirt in these instances.

Another quick note while we’re talking about white undershirts

I see this often with guys – if I can see exactly where your undershirt starts and ends around your neck or sleeves, (this only happens with light blue and white collared shirts), this means your shirt’s fabric is too thin and/or you need to change the color of your undershirt to match your skin tone better.

The Best White and colored Undershirts

These are the best undershirts that my clients and I love the most. Having tried all the major ones out there, these are my favorites:

Tommy John Second Skin Undershirts

Buy Tommy John’s Second Skin Crew and Deep V-Neck Undershirts

TommyJohnMensCrewNeckUndershirtsAshleyWeston12

Second Skin Crew and Deep V-Neck undershirts are my favorites. I like these a lot because they fit snugly on all body types and the fabric is super soft and has a little bit of stretch to it, so they won’t leave winkles showing through your shirts. But these niceties don’t come cheaply. Unlike their underwear, though, which I discussed here, they are very durable and will last you a good long while. They also make a nude and black colored undershirts to cover most men out there.

A quick note about their V-necks. Their images aren’t quite accurate and their titles are misleading.

Their “Deep V-Neck” is actually a regular v-neck length, so get that one and don’t waste your time with the regular v-neck, because the regular one is way too high and will absolutely be visible if you wear your collared shirts unbuttoned. I know the pictures look like the v is quite deep, but trust me, in person they’re not that deep.

RibbedTee Tri-Blend Undershirts

Buy RibbedTee’s Undershirts

 

RibbedTeeMensCrewVneckUndershirts Ashley Weston1

RibbedTee makes some of the softest, most comfortable undershirts I’ve tested. My clients said it was like wearing a soft fluffy layer of air. Their gray undershirts are great for lighter skinned guys, too, but they make many colors. You honestly can’t go wrong with any of their undershirts, but my clients were partial to the Tri Blend, Supima cotton and their Evo Tencell ones.

Calvin Klein Undershirts

Buy Calvin Klein Undershirts

CalvinKleinMensCrewandVNeckndershirts Ashley Weston12

For a budget-friendly option, I really like Calvin Klein’s Cotton Classic undershirts because the fit is great and the fabric is not too thick or thin, which is a problem with most other undershirts in this price range.

I like them because they also have different fits based on your body type – like slim and regular – which fit my larger or taller clients very well. They also make a similar undershirt to Tommy John called Body Modal, but I say just spend the few extra bucks and get the Tommy Johns instead because they’re just all around better.

Spanx Undershirts

Buy Spanx Cotton Compression Crew & V-Neck Undershirts

SpanxCrewVneckMensUndershirts Ashley Weston

I mentioned these in one of my AskAW videos because my clients who wear these LOVE them. If you’re looking to slim down your waist, belly or chest area, these are perfect. I like to say that they are like visual airbrushing tools. They’re not so snug that it feels like you can’t breath, which is important because I think a lot of men assume they’ll be too restrictive, but they’re just a little bit tighter than your average shirt, but they will literally drop you down a waist or shirt size in most cases.

Alright, that’s it. Those are the best undershirts for men – period!

Best Boxer Briefs Ashley Weston Mens Essential Accessories Underwear

Underwear – The Best Boxer Briefs

So let’s talk about your twig and berries, well… not really, let’s talk about the thing they go into – your underwear.

For a long time, men have viewed underwear as an afterthought. They were made of white cotton, reached up to your armpits, looked like you had a perpetual load in your pants and were bought in a 50 pack that’d last well into the next decade (or five, if you’re like my grandfather).

Other than shoes, underwear will impact your overall comfort more than any other garment. It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing on the outside, if you’ve got ill-fitting, bunching underwear, you’ll be annoyed and uncomfortable.

There’s a reason rough, uncomfortable clothing has been used for thousands of years as a form of torture.

The 2 Rules of Underwear Every Man Should Live By

Before we get into details, whether you go with my recommendations at the bottom of this page or not, these are the 2 rules for you should adhere to:

  1. Color is very important.
    Just like I mentioned in my 10 Style Mistakes Ebook regarding socks, you should never wear (or own!) white underwear. It’s gross looking, stains easily and reminds everyone of their father or grandfathers – and not in a good way. So stick with the dark, solid colors like black, brown, blue or charcoal gray and you’ll be fine.
  2. Avoid logos as much as possible.
    With some brands, including the ones I think you should own at the bottom of this story, it’s almost unavoidable, but please, please refrain from the ridiculous tommy logos and other crap like that. It’s just trashy.

Why You Should Only Wear Boxer Briefs

Underwear is an item of clothing that, if it’s doing it’s job correctly, shouldn’t be noticed. If you’re thinking about your underwear, even a second after you’ve put them on, that’s a problem.

There’s 5 major types of mens underwear

  1. Briefs
  2. Boxers
  3. Boxer Briefs
  4. Trunks
  5. (Technically, there’s thongs too, but… no)

Underwear should not do the following

  • Bunch or dig into your leg or crotch.
  • Cause any chafing.
  • Create visible panty lines (VPL’s) – this is a problem for men, too!
  • Turn your undercarriage into a cheese factory.
  • Remind someone of their meth-cooking father or grandfather.

In my experience, there’s only one type of underwear that has the least amount of the problems listed above: boxer briefs.

This is why I only recommend the best boxer briefs to all my clients. They’re the holy grail of underwear for the following reasons:

  • Most comfortable fit
  • Great breathability
  • Keep your plums secure
  • Flattering on any body type which is important because you want a woman to still think you look sexy when you’re just in your underwear
  • Won’t show through clothing and/or create VPL’s.

The Best Boxer Briefs

Here’s the brands I recommend to all my clients, based on their needs and preferences and what I’d consider the most comfortable underwear for men.

Ex-Officio Give N Go Boxer Briefs

Buy Them Here

ExofficioDropCrotchBig
There’s two different pairs from Ex-Officio that I recommend. The Give N Go’s are the ones my clients love the most. I’ve never seen them get so enthusiastic about a brand, but they really do love these.

Pros

  • Super comfortable, soft fabric.
  • Moisture wicking, breathable, synthetic blend material.
  • Generous, almost drop-crotch fit.
  • Very little stretching after extended use.
  • Extremely durable – I’ve seen them last over a year of regular wear with very little breakdown in quality or fit.
  • They don’t bunch.
  • I like the smaller waistband a lot, since it won’t be sticking out the top of your pants as much as some other brands.

Cons

  • They definitely look “sporty”, especially with the logo on the waistband.
  • If you prefer natural fibers, these are synthetic.
  • If you really like your plums held tightly in place, like with briefs, these will feel a little loose in that area. They feel more like boxers since the crotch is cut lower.
  • Some clients don’t like the odd angled stitching along the butt, they say it feels a little weird. But others say they prefer it.
  • The pocket access is through the side, which is the norm, but there’s another brand that I think does this better, which I’ll get into shortly.

Ex-Officio Give-N-Go Sport Mesh 6 or 9 Inch Boxer Briefs

Buy Them Here

 

ExOfficioSportMesh

These are similar to Give and Go’s, but my clients that didn’t like the regular ones, preferred these because:

  • The material is softer and silkier, but some of them also noted that this silkyness led to some bunching around the upper thigh as the day wore on. The best way to mitigate this is by getting the 6 or 9 inch versions depending on how tall you are.
  • The pouch/pocket in the front is smaller and tighter. These are their sport version. So if you really like your plums kept snug, these are better for you.
  • The downside is the loud colors and contrasting stitching. I personally think it’s a bit much, but my clients loved the fit and material so much that I’m willing to make an exception here because I want you to be as comfortable as possible. Just make sure to get the black ones with the red stitching – the other colors are way too loud.

Tommy John Second Skin Boxer Brief

Buy Them Here

TommyJohnLogoBlendIf my clients didn’t like the Ex-Officios, they gravitated towards these, instead.

Pros

  • Super soft material – the softest of the bunch, by far.
  • A top-loading pocket design that’s easier to use at the urinal.
  • Very breathable.
  • Comfortable waistband.
  • Snug applebag fit.

Cons

  • They’re pretty damn pricey – $30+ a pair.
  • They don’t retain their shape very well after extended wear, which can lead to a little bunching in the legs. To avoid this, I’ve had clients go down a size, but after a little bit, they’ll stretch out perfectly.
  • Not as durable. You’ll definitely have to replenish your stock more often than with Ex-Officio. These usually last about 8 -10 months with clients before they start wearing thin in areas.
  • They are made of thinner material, which is kind of sheer, which adds to the less-than-durable point I just mentioned.

H&M Cotton Stretch Boxer Briefs

Buy Them Here

HMBoxerBrief

I’m sure some of you are looking at the prices of my recommendations above and think I’m crazy. If caring about your genital comfort is a crime, then arrest me now!

My, let’s just say… “budget-conscious” clients prefer these over the other brands for the following reasons:

Pros

  • They’re cheap – $18 for a 3 pack.
  • Decent cotton fabric – not the best, but not the worst, either.
  • Doesn’t bunch as much.
  • No branding/logos- which is a big plus.
  • Did I mention they’re cheap?

Cons

  • Not as soft as other brands.
  • Not as durable and have a tendency to fade quicker than other brands.

Honorable Mentions

These just barely didn’t make the cut, but I wanted to include them as well. For their price, they’re great, but durability and longevity is always an issue at these price points. But if you really don’t want to pay a lot, these are right up your alley and hit the color and no-logo points perfectly. Just please replace them when they’re faded or holey. Typical usages was anywhere from 6 months to a year.

Uniqlo’s Airism Mesh Boxer Briefs

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Uniqlo’s Supima Cotton Boxer Briefs

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Kirkland Boxer Briefs

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That’s it, those are the honest-to-goodness best boxer briefs that I use with all my clients. So get your sh*t together and start wearing the most comfortable underwear for men – boxer briefs! Your psyche and gentleman’s sausage (that’s 4 euphemisms for male genitalia, if you’ve been keeping track!) will thank you!

Phone Mobile Cases Wordpress Headers

Phone/Mobile Cases

Just like with your wallets, a phone is something you’re probably carrying on a daily basis. So let’s make sure your case is as classy, well-designed and functional to meet your needs.

If you work in a more physically-intensive job, where utility trumps everything else, then use whatever case meets your requirements for the week and then grab one of my choices below for the off-hours or weekend. Because there’s nothing worse than seeing a guy with a big phone bulge in his front pocket, or worse-yet, a big ass phone clipped to his belt – yuck.

The goal with anything you carry, and especially your phone case, is to provide protection, while still looking sharp and being as small/minimal as possible. Believe me, I’ve tested a few hundred cases over the years and these are by far the best that my clients and I all agree about.

Quick note: Even though I’m demonstrating cases and showing pictures of cases for iPhones, I do my best to provide Android options wherever possible.

The Veil XT by Caudabe

Caudabe Veil XT Ashley Weston Phone Case

Buy it for iPhone | Similar for Samsung phones
This case is so awesome that not only do I recommend it to my clients, but I use it myself.

It protects the back and sides with the slimmest profile I’ve ever seen. Also, here’s a point I especially love – It doesn’t have some gaudy logo all over it.

It’s made of a flexible but hard plastic that has a rubbery matte texture, so it isn’t slippery like other cases. There’s lot of similar cases out there, but I like this one because it covers the bottom and top parts – which most others don’t. In my tests, if this type of case doesn’t cover all sides, the edges will catch on your pockets or fingers and the corners will chip off easily and become jagged, which is very annoying to hold.

The only downside to this case is it doesn’t provide any screen protection, so it’ll be sitting on the screen if you lay your phone face down. If you need screen protection, see the next two cases.

I also like that the case is still a little pliable. Most similar cases are very brittle and my clients broke a few of them trying them out for me. This one has come off and on numerous times and looks good as new and hasn’t warped yet.

Frost and Wisp are my two favorite colors.

Ringke Air & Slim Cases

RingkeAirSmoke RingkeSlim

Buy Ringke Air (A.K.A Fusion Air) | Buy Ringke Slim (both are available for Android phones)

Before I discovered the Veil, I recommended and used Ringke cases for years.

The Air case is made of a polyurethane material so it’s soft and flexible. The main advantage of this case is it has a little bit of a lip around the screen, so the screen is protected if you lay your phone face down or drop it. I also like the dust and lint flaps for the headphone and power plugs. They can be annoying if you use these plugs often, so definitely grab the Slim case instead, as it doesn’t have them.

The Slim case is the hard plastic version of the Air case, but, as I said above, without the dust and lint flaps.

I like the crystal clear as well as the smoke black colors for both because they show off the beauty of your phone without looking gaudy.

Bellroy Phone Case – 3 Card

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Buy it here

If you’re looking for a relatively small leather case that can hold 3 cards as well, then grab the Bellroy 3 Card Phone case.

It’s made of the same leather as their wallets and feels really nice in the hand. It’s definitely the smallest phone/card case I’ve seen. They also make a version for 1 card, but what’s the point of that? And their similar case that holds no cards is just too bulky for such a single purpose item.

The major downside to this case, aside from the somewhat bigger size, is the price. It’s quite expensive at about $65, but again, it’s the best leather style case I’ve tested.

I holding one in Blue Steel in the video above, but I also like their Charcoal, Black and Java colors.
So those are the phone cases I recommend to my clients and personally use. Have any cases that you love and you’re not trying to hawk your own product? Leave a comment so myself and others can see. I’m always on the hunt for awesome products!

Mens Wallets Wordpress Headers Ashley Weston1

Leather Wallets

Like I said in the series Intro Video, the things a man carries on his person projects and influences his life and personality in ways he may not notice. And this is no more true than with the little piece of leather or fabric that he carries every single day – his wallet.

I’ve seen it all when it comes to how men carry their cards and cash. I’ve had clients with no wallets who just carry a bunch of loose or rubber-banded cards and cash in their pockets, while others carry these massive monstrosities that I wince at just thinking about how uncomfortable it must be to sit on something like that all day.

As I mentioned in my 10 Most Overlooked Style mistakes ebook, full pockets ruin perfectly good outfits. I see it all the time. The sad part, is a lot of wallet manufacturers continue to sell these massive and bulky things they call wallets. I often wonder what man would see these and think this is something they should carry everyday for the next decade.

I’m going show you the different wallets I recommend to my clients.

There’s a few things that every gentleman’s wallet should be:

  • Clean & classically designed
  • As thin or small as possible
  • Understated in color and material

So let’s get into the different types of wallets that are best for you and determine what to have and why.

Bi-fold or Bill Fold wallets

These are the ones you probably envision when thinking about wallets. These typically go in the back pocket, but some men carry them in their front pockets. I don’t advise this, though, because it’ll leave a very noticeable buldge and, depending on the pants, a very odd square fading on the leg.

Valextra – Simple Grip Spring

Valextra Simple Grip Spring Wallet Ashley Weston

Valextra Simple Grip Spring Wallet Open Ashley Weston

Buy the Valextra Simple Grip Spring Wallet

The only word that comes to mind when I hold this wallet is luxury. The textured leather and construction feels, pardon my french, so f@#$ing good. I really love the classic design.

This wallet is the thinnest of all the billfolds I’ve seen, which is important because if a wallet is thick while it’s empty, imagine what happens when you start filling it?

The thinness is made possible by nixing the bill slot and using a spring-loaded money clip in the middle. There’s other wallets similar to this by other designers, but they were either not great quality, had a logo all over them, or just had an odd pattern or design.

If you want something almost as thin as a card wallet, but with the ability to hold cash, this wallet is the best I’ve ever seen. That’s on top of it’s impeccable attention to detail, like the hand lacquered piping along the edges that’ll keep this wallet looking new for a long time. If you can’t tell, I love this wallet.

In the video, I have a special edition Petroleum blue, but I also love their dark blue, black and gray colors, as well.

Buy the Valextra Simple Grip Spring Wallet

Bellroy – Low Down

Bellroy Low Down Wallet Ashley Weston

Buy the Bellroy Low Down Wallet

If the Valextra wallet isn’t your speed then definitely go for the Low Down.

I’ve recommended this wallet to a few friends and clients and they’ve held up amazingly well, even after a year of daily use.

The tapered corners and shorter height help make it feel less chunky and big. And the leather is sturdy yet supple without a hint of shiny or glossy-ness which plagues a lot of wallets.

There’s one thing that bothers me a little and it’s the contrast stitching. I wish it was the same color as the rest of the wallet, but it’s an admittedly small quibble since it’s close enough in color that most people would never notice.

The black and charcoal are the colors you should go for. I normally like brown, as well, but their brown and blue colors were too loud.

Buy the Bellroy Low Down Wallet

Octovo – The Purist

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Buy The Purist Wallet by Octovo

The Purist is constructed of thin, high-quality leather and features a simple but efficient design.

I love the angled slots, which diminish bulkiness and make it easier to access the cards. Even when full, this wallet is still quite slim.

I’m not the biggest fan of the two-toned leather lining, but it’s not enough to sway my recommendation.

My only concern with this wallet is the outter leather. Shiny leathers, like this, tend to show every little mark or stain on them. If you’re a little rougher on your wallets, I’d probably go with the Bellroy.

I’d recommend getting their black and chestnut colors.

Buy The Purist Wallet by Octovo

 

Folded Card Cases

I didn’t include these in the video because they’re a little more niche than a bi-fold wallet or regular card case since they fold like a wallet, but can’t hold much cash. I still like them a lot and some clients prefer them over the non-folding card cases, so I thought best to include them.

Louis Vuitton – Pocket Organizer

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louis-vuitton-pocket-organiser-interior

Buy the Louis Vuitton Pocket Organizer

With smooth, coated edges and the different interior pockets, my clients really love this wallet. I’ve even given them as gifts a few times. I think the design, pocket placement and textured leather really stands out and feels great in the hand. Just a warning, it’s a little thicker than the other card cases, so if you’re looking for super small and thin, you won’t get it with this one. It feels more like a wallet than a card case.

Buy the Louis Vuitton Pocket Organizer

Valextra – Folded Card Case

Valextra Folded Card Case Ashley Weston

Valextra Card Case

Buy the Valextra Folded Card Case

Just like with their bi-fold wallet and regular card case (below), the leather is awesome and the design so classic and thin that it’s hard not to love it. I especially like how they keep the logo very small and out of the way, unlike some other brands…

Buy the Valextra Folded Card Case

Coach – Card Wallet

Coach Crossgrain Card CaseCoach Crossgrain Card Case Opened

Buy the Coach Card Wallet

If the other options are a little pricey, you will love this one. I love the textured leather and the construction is quite good. A lot of times, Coach misses the mark, but they nailed it with this card wallet.

Buy the Coach Card Wallet

Card Cases

These are for the guys who want the slimmest wallet-ish thing possible and don’t have the need to carry much cash. Or, as I’ll touch upon later, as a secondary, going-out wallet.

Valextra – Card Case

Valextra Card Case Ashley Weston

Buy the Valextra Card Case

Just like their bi-fold wallet. This card case is super luxurious, thin and well-constructed. There’s not much else to say, I actually like this one because it has 6 slots, so you won’t have to stack a lot of cards in it. Most other card cases have 3 or 4 slots so you’ll have to dig through your cards to find the right one.

Buy the Valextra Card Case

Bellroy – Micro Sleeve

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Buy the Bellroy Micro Sleeve

If the Valextra isn’t your thing, this is a great alternative. Just like their bi-fold wallet, it’s a super durable, thin and features a unique and logical design.

The card slots with different orientations, make it’ easier to pull out your cards and squeeze the sides to expose the center pocket’s contents. I also love the curved edges since it’s easier to slip in and out of your pocket and not catch or snag on anything.

Just like with their Low Down wallet, though, I wish the stitching wasn’t so contrasting. I only like the black or blue steel colors because the other options are either two-toned or really loud.

Buy the Bellroy Micro Sleeve

Octovo – The Slice

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Buy ‘The Slice’ by Octovo

Soft, supple leather and classy as hell. Unlike with their bi-fold wallet, I actually like the two-tone top pocket because it’s just a little nice surprise and doesn’t scream at you.

Black is the best color for this wallet, and just like with their bi-fold wallet, I question the durability of the leather if you’re rougher on your wallets, but I really, really like the clean and simple design.

Buy ‘The Slice’ by Octovo

 

Phone Wallet

If you’re looking for a wallet that holds you cards, cash and phone, these are for you. Let me warn you, though, they’re the opposite of slim wallets. If you wear suits, carry a bag often, or don’t mind carrying your wallet in your hand, these are right up your alley.

I’ve had clients explain to me the joy of carrying their phone in their wallets – where it takes a little more effort and time to get to their phones. They say it makes their actions more deliberate and less reactive and schizophrenic. It’s almost like an excuse to take their time. One client explained the opening/unzipping his phone wallet like a sort of ritual. Like rolling up your shirt sleeves or doing something methodically.

I looked long and hard for good ones and even though there’s a lot out there, I found most of them to be lacking in one major area or another.

Bellroy – Phone Pocket

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Buy the Bellroy Phone Wallet

Like Bellroy’s bi-fold wallet and card case (above), the phone pocket is made from the same leather that is very scratch and blemish resistant with a buttery smooth zipper and an equally logical and well-thought out design. My clients who use this wallet really love it.

I love the pocket layout, where the phone fits in the main compartment and your cards fit in a bit of a floating divider, making everything easily accessible. It also has slots for extra SIM cards, small pens and a place to put your house key. They literally thought of everything.

They make two sizes – for larger and smaller phones. I only like the black, though, as the other colors have odd-colored zippers and pull tabs, and/or the color is just too loud and not befitting a proper gentleman.

Buy the Bellroy Phone Wallet

This is Ground – Stash, Phone Wallet

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Buy ‘The Stash’ Phone Wallet

After scouring the web for months trying to find other great phone wallets, I was so happy to find This Is Ground. Turns out that they’re located less than 5 miles away from my office! I got to visit them and they showed me all their goods and I was very impressed.

If you don’t like the Bellroy Phone Pocket, then go for this one. It cuts out all the extra frills and gives you just the essentials. Which is not a bad thing at all. Some clients noted how they preferred how this one opens flat over the taco-style opening of the Bellroy.

The leather is so supple and nice to hold that it really sets itself apart. It’s not as scratch/blemish resistant as the Bellroy, but this wallet will age and mature with you and have a much nicer patina.

The only downside is that the zipper tends to stick a little for the first week or two. My clients were definitely spoiled after using the Bellroy, but they all said it smoothed out after “working it in”, so it’s a minor quibble.

I love the Smoke (black) and Cognac colors the most. The Cognac looks amazing in person. The Stash comes in small and large phone sizes, as well.

Buy ‘The Stash’ Phone Wallet

 

So which wallet(s) should you own?

For my clients, I normally recommend they get a bi-fold or phone wallet and then a card case for when they don’t need to carry as much – like when they’re going out for the night or to a premiere or after-party, where seeing pocket bulges is a big no-no.

For a guy that likes his phone and wallet separate and needs to carry a decent amount of cards/cash with him, I’d say get a bi-fold and get a card case for when you’re going out for the night or just don’t need to carry all your stuff with you.

If you want to carry as little with you as possible and hate added bulk, get a card case. But don’t delude yourself and cram 15 cards into a card case and still think it’ll be slim. If that’s the case, you should just get a bi-fold, as it’ll do a better job of distributing that bulk in your pocket.

If you’re a guy who likes to carry everything all together, or doesn’t want to sit on a chunk of leather and cards, then the phone wallets are for you.

I think a man should have a regular, everyday wallet that can be placed into a breast pocket in your blazer or suit jacket and some form of a slim wallet that can slide into a front or back pants pocket when you don’t need everything – like when you’re going out for the evening, etc.

Just like with keys, you don’t need to and shouldn’t have to carry everything with you at all times. Most men/my clients love to say “But what if I need something in the wallet?”

The argument quickly crumbles when I ask them:
“So you’re going out for drinks with your friends, and need your gym, library, membership cards in case you need to go work out while reading a book at 2am?”

Most men know what kind of night they’re going to have, so don’t pull that BS of needing your tactical wallet with you at all times.