31 January 2019

January Pick Ups

Arket - Thermore Padded Nylon Blouson
(Size 46 - 184cm - 68kg)

The sleeve pocket is unfortunately a touch too narrow for my usual notebook.

Fred Perry - Twin Tipped Polo

Hoka One One - Hupana Slip
(second image not very colour accurate)

I have been the process of clearing my wardrobe out, but I still managed to pick a few things up in the end of the year sales. I thought it might be interesting to write about my impressions of, and experiences with, each piece thus far.

Arket Padded Blouson

I wanted to pick up a lightly padded jacket for the in-between seasons, because I sold my previous jacket. I actually had my eye on this jacket for around a year, because it had been, and apparently still is, languishing in the Arket sale section for several months. Now when a garment has been in multiple seasonal sales and is still not sold out, I do get curious as to whether it is actually just hot garbage. But I thought that it was worth trying out, because I could simply return it without any issue if it was indeed basura. And I am most certainly glad that I did, because I really like this jacket.

The reason that I had not pulled the trigger on it sooner, was because of the colour - I kept going back and forth between thinking it was a beautiful colour, but then thinking that it was too much colour for me to wear. Once again, it was that "insecurity black" way of thinking, and so I knew that I had to try it. The matte nylon plays with the light quite nicely, giving this piece an almost metallic sheen. In fact it almost reminds me of a 3M reflective material, without actually being properly reflective. And it might just be me, but I get a bit of a Haider Ackermann vibe from the colour, if not the garment itself. What I will be interested to see is how the colour changes when the jacket gets a little wet, because I can imagine the fabric getting darker as rain hits it, giving the colour an even greater depth.

I like the way that the material sounds in movement, because while there is a lot of rustling as you would expect from nylon, it is quite smooth rather than overly obtrusive. The Thermore lining makes it nice for cooler days, although with the weather here in London right now being so cold, I am waiting for milder weather before I break this out properly. The padding is lightweight and thin, as you would expect from Thermore, and given past experience with the material, I know how insulating it can be. I was pleasantly surprised with the fit, simply because I have tried on quite a few Arket pieces and found the cuts inconsistent. I went true to size with a 46 (Small), and was happy with the fit - it feels snug, but you could still rock a hoodie or slightly thicker jumper underneath without too much issue. The sleeves and waist have two button adjustment, so you can get a tighter cuff and waist accordingly, which is always nice.

I thought the notebook and pen pocket on the sleeve was an interesting touch, especially against a folded collar, rather than the elastic ribbing of a flight jacket where you would usually see this detail. I do actually carry a pen and notebook in my jacket or coat at all times, and while the sleeve pocket is a touch too narrow for my everyday pocket notebook (a Rhodia mini 75mm x 120 mm), I was not really expecting it to fit anyway. There are two internal pockets, along with the two waist pockets, so storage is not an issue. Overall I think it is a really nice piece, especially at the sale price.

Fred Perry Long Sleeve Polo Shirt

I have had a long sleeve polo shirt on my shopping list for about three years now, but kept putting it off after trying out some generic store versions and being disappointed with the fit and quality. I do not wear short sleeve polo shirts, because they remind me too much of a PE teacher, which is not really my style (then again fleece reminds of Geography teachers, and I wear that, so I am not against all teacher-inspired swag). The right polo shirt really can be a truly versatile piece, and given the smaller size of my wardrobe, I do prefer pieces that can pull double duty. What surprised me is that my father saw me wearing this and remarked on how smart it looked. He never usually compliments my clothing, so clearly this has dad certification too, which is not to be sniffed at.

Once again the price on this piece was really good, and so I thought that I might as well pull the trigger and see. I went true to size because I wanted to get a proper idea of the cut and fit of Fred Perry, not having really bought much from them before. I usually struggle with sleeve lengths, because I am narrow but tall, however these fit spot on. I like the cuffs because they hold their elasticity, allowing them to be pulled up and down frequently throughout the day without them bagging out. Personally I wish they had a split side seam, just for a bit of room around the waist when pulling it over a belt (I wear my trousers pretty high up), but the fit is fine overall. I like the pique fabric, which has a surprisingly smooth and soft feel on the interior side that touches the skin, and the collar has a nice shape to it. I went for the all black, because I do not particularly like obvious logos, and thus far the colour has held up well with two washes.

Hoke One One Hupana Slip Trainer

A Crohn's flare means inflammation, and for me that means grating knee pain on top of everything else. I have been on the hunt for some comfortably cushioned shoes that I can wear on bad knee days for a while now, and finally settled on these from Hoka One One (apparently pronounced "Oh-nay oh-nay") that I picked up for a good sale price. Hoka are known for their more extremely cushioned running shoes, to the point that some of them look like platform shoes to me, but these slip ons are relatively sleek and super lightweight. The midsole is made from a foam and rubber material by Hoka called RMAT, which provides a smooth ride with high-rebound. I have been wearing these for around three weeks now, for everyday walking rather than running (although hopefully within in a few months I can run!), and have to say that they have been an absolute delight on my feet and knees.

I find the soles cushioned and responsive, with none of the mushiness I experienced in the other cushioned shoes that I tried. I appreciate the fact that the cushioning is also not so much that I lose ground feel entirely, which actually helps me feel a little more stable on my feet. They have a good bounce to them, and feel great even after long walks and a full day on your feet. They provide a neutral ride, with a heel-to-toe drop of 5mm - apparently other people have had issue with it being far more than that, but I would say there is a noticeable difference to other shoes I tried with an advertised 10mm drop. I most certainly prefer this sole to the React cushioning by Nike (I tried the Epic Reacts and was not sold) for everyday wear, just because it does not feel as unsteady to me. I have found the wearing shoes that do not provide sufficient stability actually help to gradually increase my anxiety over the course of the day. Please do bear in mind that I am using these for walking thus far, and not running, so obviously your mileage will vary.

I went true to size with these (UK 10/US 11). The fit of the shoe is narrow, but given how narrow my feet are, I actually find them one of the better fitting shoes I actually own, which I was not expecting from a slip on. I would say people with a wider midfoot might not be too comfortable. But otherwise there is a decent amount of room in the toes, and generally slipping my feet in and out of these is easy, especially with the pull tabs. I was also surprised by how well locked down my heel felt, and have not experienced any slipping or rubbing when walking. The stretchy upper is breathable without making my feet feel particularly cold in the current Winter weather, and I assume once I switch from thicker socks to thinner socks that these will be equally comfortable as the weather warms up. Thus far these shoes have done nothing but impress me, and my knees are certainly thankful.


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