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The folks at Outlier Tailored Performance Clothing recently sent us a pair of their “summer shorts” to try out.
Outlier “is about classically tailored garments made with the best technical fabrics around. Clothing that looks great no matter where you are in the day, riding to work, meeting with clients, or out on the town.” Basically, athletic clothing that doesn’t LOOK like athletic clothing — stuff that is just as presentable on a bike as it would be in a casual office atmosphere. Best of all, they’re sewn up right in New York City. Sounds intriguing…but what are these shorts all about?
The pair of shorts I got to test were in the grey “summerweight” fabric — a Swiss fabric called Schoeller 3XDry. It is stain- and water-repellent on the outside with a subtle woven feel and look, and perspiration-wicking on the inside. This fabric stretches and feels incredibly lightweight, yet is surprisingly durable. The pockets are made out of lightweight Supplex and feel great next to the skin…smooth and cool. The shorts are impeccably stitched — nice, even stitching and flawless construction throughout. There are handy waist tabs to cinch the shorts a bit tighter if needed.
The inseam of the shorts measures a bit over seven inches…which to me felt scandalously short (at least initially). I’m more of a knicker-length cutoffs sort of guy — with about 20 pairs kicking around the house and year-round wear here in Florida, I felt like I was wearing hotpants at first. Once I was able to spend some time in them and noticed just how much cooler they felt than heavy, canvas-y knickers, I didn’t mind the shortness at all.
Outlier claims that these shorts can be worn as both cycling shorts and as swim trunks…and of course they claim they are presentable in the office. Well, MY office wouldn’t allow such a thing, but I was able to test the shorts on the bike and in the pool. I wore them on several hot commutes (changing into work clothes when I got to my office) and to a couple of pool parties. Although the shorts have seams in all the usual places and no “cycling liner” to speak of, I didn’t notice any chafing on rides up to about 10 miles. I would not want to pedal all day in such shorts, of course — longer rides necessitate some sort of chamois or padding down there for most people. Even on hot days, the shorts never felt stifling — the moisture-wicking effect of the shorts sure seemed to work on some very steamy days.
In the pool, they served admirably as swim trunks. Outlier claims that these shorts dry really fast, and while they did dry quickly, it wasn’t nearly as fast as Outlier’s ad copy might suggest. Despite the lightweight construction, I felt a bit clammy down below for a bit longer than I like. The weirdest thing about the shorts is that even when soaking wet, water still beads up on the outer surface. Freaky!
Perhaps my only real gripe with the construction of the shorts was the waist tabs…particularly the material used to make them. The grosgrain webbing used is really lightweight and a bit prone to slipping through the chromed D-rings. Since the webbing is so lightweight, the D rings would also rotate and jam up the works…eliminating the quick-adjust feature without considerable fiddling. A slightly thicker/stiffer webbing would cancel that problem and wouldn’t add appreciable weight to the shorts.
On the way to a jam:
Here’s the other, perhaps more important kicker: the price. Many of our fellow commuters tend to be fairly thrifty. Spending $120 for a pair of non-cycling-specific shorts is a bitter pill to swallow for a lot of us. Sure, the shorts are made in America, exquisitely crafted and incredibly comfortable and lightweight, but still… I do know that here in Florida, where on-the-beach weddings are a common occurence, I will have a finely-tailored pair of shorts to wear to the ceremonies (and I’ll bet I’ll be the best-dressed guy there, groom included). It’s a tough call for the rest of you…
So, if you’re looking for a well-made pair of shorts that performs like athletic wear should…but without the athletic-wear “look” — go no further and visit Outlier’s web store. If you have a hard time stomaching such a steep price tag for summerwear, you may want to look elsewhere.
Outlier also makes full-length trousers in the same lightweight fabric…and these would be completely acceptable for most office applications. I may just look into a pair when the cooler weather comes.
And, if you’re on the fence about these shorts and want another opinion, please visit our friend Bike Snob NYC for his irreverant take on the shorts review. It’s a hoot!