Quoc Pham, Patagonia Nano Puff, and the Rapha scarf

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You keep asking. I keep answering. No, It’s not like me to discuss this stuff publicly, it’s just clothes and stuff… I do enjoy the search for beautiful things that work (hmmm, sounds like a tag line) and I am happy to share. In the end, find stuff you love and wear it down to a nubbin.

I don’t know where I first learned about Quoc Pham‘s shoes, but I loved the simple bike friendly design. And without going over the top, they fit into the office wear easily. (In case it hasn’t become clear, that is a persistent theme “clothes and products that work on and off the bike”.)

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They were not sold through any “stockists,” as the Brits say, here in the US, and I decided that working through a 3rd party internationally was going to be a bad idea for shoes, but not too long after Quoc wrote saying he’d updated his website and I could order shoes directly from him. One of the joys of working with small companies and individuals—essentially “direct trade”, is that there’s a person there and they give a darn. Strange that personal attention from someone selling a product is of note.

The shoes are elegant looking and functioning. You can’t see the pedal ready support or the just enough flexibility for comfortable walking. The sole’s slim profile hides the mechanics of the shoe and supports the sensual lines of the last. The stitching and finishing work is excellent. The heel cup is right on. There is a slash of reflective material on the back of the heel, but it doesn’t intrude or scream bike shoe as much as some. The tongue is attached on one side and Quoc reviews lacing on his website. He makes other colors and styles, go get yourself a pair.

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Recently I mentioned the Patagonia Nano Puff. This piece’s purpose is simple. It fits beneath virtually everything I wear as outerwear, it can be worn by itself since it has a DWR coating, is very warm for its weight, and can be packed into its own chest pocket, which has a loop so that you can hang off any handy clip (or a ‘biner). Plus, it’s orange! You can’t go wrong with orange.

A word about the warmth. I used to be “the warm guy” requesting the seat under the air conditioner vent at work. I used to walk about with nothing more than windbreaker for most of the winter. But since I started cholesterol meds and aspirin I’ve been cold a lot of the time. I wear sweaters in air conditioned spaces all summer. Clothing that is warm and lightweight has become very important to my ability to focus on anything other than “I’m cold.” So when I say warm for its weight, it’s important to me that it has a slim profile, doesn’t weigh much and is warm. Warm and bulky is easy. Warm and light is not.

Now you’re going to have forgive the picture, as I grabbed this snap in a mirror on my way out the door at 6 o’dark this morning with phone camera… and I was also trying to display the Rapha scarf I got as a gift form my wife a year or so ago. I can sometimes pull off wearing it in an “of course” sort of way. Other times I rip it from my neck as I realize with horror that I look like a popinjay. This picture leans in that direction, but not when I actually zipped up the jacket to go out, only in my attempt to display it. It does a great job of filling the space between collars and neck, and quiets the drafts wonderfully well. But it is well executed, in terms of size (not too large, not too small) and the simple gear pattern that form the background. BTW, I’m not alone in my appreciation of the scarf.

As always, you’d know none of this if you saw me walking down the street. And for my sense of comfort and style, that is also key.

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