Imagine this for a moment:
You’re in a small, candle-lit Roman trattoria. Your lover is sitting across from you. Wine glasses and half-eaten bowls of pasta crowd your table.
What are you wearing?
Probably something nice, right?
Well, what if I told you this mental image I painted for you was a scene from my honeymoon a few years ago? And what if I told you I was wearing a t-shirt with a hat-wearing alligator playing a saxophone and “New Orleans” written in comic-sans across the front?
Not exactly what you pictured, eh?
You were thinking something more like a simple, relaxed suit. A balance between formal and informal. Something sharp enough to look classy, but comfortable enough to jump on a vespa and ride into the night.
Yeah, well, I didn’t know about Bluffworks at the time.
(Now you’re saying “sure, you didn’t know about Bluffworks. But why’d you wear a shirt with an alligator playing the sax?” Let’s just say a giant bottle of olive oil exploded in my backpack and destroyed everything I owned. Except that stupid shirt.)
Bluffworks gave me the chance to try out their Gramercy suit, plus their dress-shirts, chinos, and tees.
I’m no stranger to performance menswear brands, so they know I won’t go easy on them. Still, they were confident I’d love everything they sent along.
Read on to see if they were right.
What Is Bluffworks?
Bluffworks aim to make clothes that can fit in with the fashion of New York City, but hold up in the toughest travel scenarios.
Since 2012, the brand has been adding performance menswear staples to their collection. Bluffworks started their journey with performance chinos, but they offer so much more now.
And it all started with the founder, Stefan Lobel. He’d spent a lot of time travelling throughout Asia, and after a few days soaking in regular cotton clothes, Stefan saw the appeal of performance fabrics.
Upon returning to NYC, Lobel had the desire to bring the sweat-wicking, stain-fighting, stretchy comfort of technical fabrics to everyday office attire.
So he designed a pair of pants.
They were a big hit—even gaining the backing of Shark Tank star Barbara Corcoran.
Since then, Bluffworks has added jeans, trousers, t-shirts, dress-shirts, polos, vests, jackets, and blazers. Oh yeah, and a whole women’s line.
Like I said, my closet is filled with performance menswear brands that are aiming for a similar style as Bluffworks.
They were so confident in their clothes, they sent me some of their bestsellers to try:
I’ve been rocking all of it for three weeks and my verdict is in.
The first thing that jumped out at me when scrolling through the Bluffworks site is their a la carte travel suits.
The Presidio Suit
After the success of Bluffworks’ Gramercy Suit, they set out to outdo themselves and make another suit with even lighter fabric that’s more wrinkle-resistant. Thus, the Presidio Suit was born, and is once again offered as an a la carte pant and blazer combo.
The Presidio Blazer stays in step with Bluffworks’ ethos: lightweight clothing, great for travel, wrinkle-resistant, machine washable, and loaded with security pockets.
Similar to the Gramercy Blazer, the Presidio Blazer accomplishes all this primarily through its polyester fabric. When I think of 100% polyester fabric, it’s hard for me to not think about an Adidas tracksuit worn by an Eastern European man, smoking a cigarette.
The Presidio fabric couldn’t be further from that.
While it drapes and wears like wool, the fabric has a light, cool texture that moves easily. I’ve always wondered how James Bond sprints and punches bad guys in the teeth while wearing a fitted suit—maybe he was wearing Presidio fabric the whole time.
This lightweight fabric also has the benefit of drying and wicking moisture quickly. The photography studio in which I tested out this suit and took photos doesn’t have air conditioning, and given that it was midday in the height of summer, it felt a bit like being in a giant oven.
The last thing you want to do when you’re already sweating is put on a heavy, stifling suit, but I was pleasantly surprised by the Presidio Blazer. Despite having a dress shirt and blazer on, I hardly felt hotter than when I was bare chested, sitting in front of a fan to try to cool down.
I was also impressed by how few wrinkles the suit had straight out of the shipping box. Sure, there are a few here and there, but so few that I didn’t bother to steam or iron them out.
I’ve gotten other suits shipped in boxes before that have made me question if the suit would ever look normal, due to how wrinkled and frumpled it was. The Presidio Blazer barely had an issue in this department, which made me confident that I could chuck it in a checked bag and wear it immediately after getting off the plane.
Regarding fit, the Presidio Blazer has identical sizing options to the Gramercy Blazer. If you know your chest measurement and whether you need a short, regular, or long cut, you can order a blazer that should fit well.
Bluffworks makes no promises that their blazers or pants will fit perfectly out of the box, and is clear in saying that their suits can be tailored, so long as the tailor is comfortable working with polyester fabric.
That being said, I was very surprised with how well the Presidio Blazer fit. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this blazer fits better than some jackets that I’ve had custom made. I’ve been told I have a fairly generic body shape, similar to a mannequin’s, so this might just be my experience.
The shoulders could be taken in slightly, and the chest a tiny bit larger to avoid that ‘X’ crease when the top button is buttoned, but for a suit I ordered online it was good enough to wear out on the town that evening.
The Presidio Blazer has a single vent back, which isn’t my favorite on slim cut suits. In this case however, the cut of the blazer isn’t so form fitting that the single vent splays, which would typically give me more of an hourglass figure, or make it look like I’ve got some muffin top going on.
I don’t mind the single vent here, but I wish they gave the option to have the double vent instead.
Another draw for this blazer is the fact that it’s machine washable. Taking items to the dry cleaner is time-consuming, and being able to chuck this in for a quick wash and dry is a game changer for me, especially while traveling.
Unfortunately, pickpockets and thieves are a factor of traveling almost everywhere you go. Since Bluffworks’ clothing is meant for travel, they’ve taken matters into their own hands and outfitted this blazer with a Secret Service level of pockets.
The Presidio Blazer has a total of 8 pockets, 5 of which are on the inside. The exterior pockets are your typical front and chest pockets. The interior features two deep stash pockets, one ticket pocket, a buttoned pocket on one side of the chest, and a zippered pocket on the other.
I’m a sucker for interior pockets, so this won big points in my book. I like to develop a system for the specific pockets that my everyday carry items go into, and this blazer makes it easy.
I also like that the top interior pockets are secured—not even Ocean’s Eleven-level pickpockets are getting in there.
Overall, this is a great blazer. The $340 price tag will be hefty for some, but I think the anti-wrinkle, moisture wicking fabric, the fact that it’s machine washable, and the security pockets make it worth it.
The other half to this travel-equipped suit is the Presidio Pants.
Like the Presidio Blazer, these pants are made with 100% lightweight polyester. These feel light like pajamas, but drape and wear like summer wool.
Traveling often requires some acrobatics and flexibility to get in and out of tight spaces, and there’s few things I dislike more than trying to do that with a restrictive, hot pair of pants. I’ve been traveling a lot recently, and am unfortunately quite familiar with the feeling.
I was curious to see how the Presidio fabric would do in a similar setting, and was pleased to find that it wicked moisture away fast enough to avoid the sticking sensation commonly experienced with jeans.
Standing up or sitting down was a breeze, and didn’t drag my boxer briefs along with it, which would normally cause me to have to readjust. While this is behavior you would expect out of straight cut suit pants, the Presidio Pants accomplished this in a slim cut, which won big points with me.
Apart from choosing a regular or slim cut for these pants, Bluffworks lets you choose your waist and inseam length. I know my general size well at this point, but was still surprised by how well the pants fit right out of the box.
The waist was a perfect fit, allowing some room for shirts to be tucked in, and the length allowed for a tiny break at the ankle. In other words, a perfect fit.
If you do need to have these tailored, however, the Presidio Pants are made with a curtain waist and blind hem to allow for easy tailoring.
When I travel I’m not regularly in the habit of taking a garment bag for my suits, so the fact that I can fold these pants up and put them in a checked bag without having to worry about them being wrinkled is a big plus.
I’ve also been known to spill or drop food on my pants, so the ability to throw these in the washer at a moment’s notice gives me some peace of mind, especially while traveling.
If you thought the Presidio Blazer had an excessive amount of pockets, just wait until you combine that with the Presidio Pants.
The Presidio Pants feature another 8 pockets, 3 of which are zippered. There are two regular pockets in the back, one of which is zippered, and also Bluffworks’ signature phone pocket, which is a slot pocket up near the waistband.
The front includes your typical slash pockets, but each of these has an internal zippered pocket, and the right side also has a patch pocket.
Bluffworks cuts no corners when it comes to security, and I appreciate that.
I was worried that all of these pockets would bunch out slightly and create a lumpy side profile, but all those pockets rest surprisingly streamlined.
These pants are great for traveling, and form a handsome ensemble when paired with the Presidio Blazer. If you’re someone who travels frequently or is just interested in a lightweight, quality suit, I recommend checking this one out.
The Presidio is a handsome, lightweight suit and its security pockets, anti-wrinkling properties, and moisture-wicking fabric make it a joy to travel with, particularly in warmer weather. If you’re someone who travels frequently or is just interested in a lightweight, quality suit, I recommend checking this one out.
The Gramercy Suit
I was shocked to learn that the Gramercy Blazer is made almost entirely out of polyester (the thread and buttons aren’t polyester, but that’s it).
A lot of performance blazers on the market right now have a middle-aged ladies pant-suit vibe going on due to the stretchy fabric.
If I hadn’t done research beforehand, I never would’ve been able to tell the Gramercy wasn’t made with wool. The brand uses texturized polyester that both looks and feels rich.
Now, the Bluffworks blazer isn’t as stretchy as other performance menswear brands out there, but it has the same wrinkle and stain resistance you’d expect to find. That’s not a dig at Bluffworks by any means. You have the best parts of a performance suit, but it looks like its high-quality wool.
Unlike other dress-performance brands, the Gramercy Blazer comes in suit sizing, rather than the generic ‘small, medium, large’ sizing. So if you take your measurements, you can expect to have a blazer that fits well right out of the box.
And I have to say that my blazer fits better than any of my other suit jackets (even though it doesn’t cost as much, and I didn’t alter it at all).
I picked up a slim cut which presents a neat silhouette without too much fabric sticking out toward the back. The blazer didn’t create that strange “X” you see when you button the closures on a jacket that’s too tight.
So the fit, look, and feel were all excellent. But there are a few extras that, in my mind, put the Gramercy Blazer over the top if you travel often for work.
This is what my jacket looks like after I crumpled it into a ball and stuffed it into my backpack overnight.
You can see a few creases here and there (mainly in the right arm). If you did this with a wool suit, it’d be a disaster. I’d like to show a picture of that to illustrate, but I don’t want to spend the time getting the suit pressed and redone. You just have to take my word for it.
Also, check out this nifty hidden pocket.
This is the perfect storage place for your passport or extra cash when you’re travelling. If you’re worried about thieves or pickpockets, they all know about the money belt. But they don’t know about the Bluffworks secret pocket. Stay one step ahead.
The Gramercy Pants use the same rich material as the blazer, and while Bluffworks sells them separately, buying both gives you a complete travel suit.
Again, the pants come in two different styles: regular, and tailored (slim). I got the tailored fit, and they were nearly perfect.
The fit is excellent around my waist and through my thigh, but I have a small issue with the width of the leg-opening.
I typically like more taper below my knee than the Gramercy Pants have, so I’m going to have that altered.
But that brings me to my favorite part of this suit: it fits well enough to wear right out of the box, but to get it to fit perfectly, I just need to go get one of the cheapest, simplest alterations done.
Never have I had a suit-buying experience where there weren’t at least three different alterations that needed to be done to have it look tailored.
And if you feel you need more secure pockets, these pants have you covered. I’m hesitant to say how many pockets the pants have. I feel like I discover a new pocket every time I try them on.
But at my last count, there were seven pockets, three of them zippered with heavy-duty YKK hardware.
These pockets create a very slight bulging around the hips, but it’s hardly noticeable unless you know to look for it. Otherwise, the designers have done an excellent job in adding security features while keeping a modern silhouette.
Bluffworks created an unstructured suit and it's our new favorite travel item. The relaxed blazer, paired with trousers loaded with hidden pockets and secure zippers make this suit an indispensable addition to our wardrobe.
Chino and Shirts
The suit may be Bluffworks most popular offering, but it’s not the only thing the brand makes. I also had a look at their shirts and chinos.
In the same way that the Bluffworks Suit can pass for wool, you’d have a hard time noticing the difference between the Ascender Chinos and standard cotton chinos.
While they have a bit of “swoosh” in the leg, which is a slight downside for all technical fabrics, these chinos are built to go the distance.
The gusseted crotch eliminates the main reason I don’t wear chinos—I feel like I’m sitting on a tightrope all day. Not the case with the Ascender. Overall, these fit well in the waist and through the thigh. Again, I’ll probably narrow the taper below the knee by a half-inch, but that’s my preference.
These chinos win the “William Barton Award for Sneakiest Pocket.” (Trust me, it’s a thing.)
Not only do they have the same seven pockets (with three zippers) as found on the Gramercy Pants, but they also have this hidden gem:
No pickpocket will find that unless they literally steal your pants right off you.
Bluffworks offers the Ascender in a variety of great colors, including your standard khaki, navy, and grey. They also offer a mars red, a unique gold, and these Boulevard green chinos.
I’m feeling the green, white, and yellow combo this year (I’m calling it early—that’s the spring and summer 2020 color combo of choice), so I decided on the Boulevard green.
One thing I love about technical fabrics is that they don’t lose color easily. It will take up to 10x as many washes until it fades as cotton does. For that reason, these chinos will probably look brand new in six months, even after wearing them every week.
Meridian Dress Shirt
I also picked up a Meridian Dress Shirt in Highland Grey Check.
I have a few other performance dress shirts that have a similar pattern, but this one is the most interesting to me. I like that the shirt includes brass collar stays—as some of us know, a collar stay is one of those items that only the best-dressed people in the room know about. It’s one of the small details that keeps you looking sharp.
The fabric of the shirt is comfortable and doesn’t get itchy like some other brands I’ve tried. I haven’t spilled hot sauce on it yet, so I can’t vouch for its stain fighting capabilities, though I’ll take Bluffworks at their word.
The Meridian can be tucked or untucked, so depending on your preferred style, you can go either way. Paired with the Gramercy Suit, I stay tucked. But when I wear the Meridian with jeans or my Ascender chinos, I usually go untucked (but as you can see from the pictures, it looks great tucked, too).
Yes, I have been getting to the gym more often. Thank you for noticing.
If you’re like me and you rely heavily on your casual wardrobe, a premium tee will elevate your style. I’m not saying that Bluffworks makes the best t-shirt out there—you can find amazing options from a few different brands—but the Threshold feels like it was made specifically to make me look more buff than I am.
So it’s my favorite.
I wear casual clothes a lot more than business-casual or office attire. So t-shirts, polos, and oxfords are my mainstays.
While I’ve known for years that investing in a few quality items goes much further than buying a lot of crap, for some reason I hadn’t applied that logic to t-shirts.
But over the past year, I’ve picked up three or four premium quality t-shirts. And let me tell you—it’s worth it.
Premium t-shirts have that “bulking” effect (on me and a lot of guys I see out and about), which is why I won’t ever buy another cheap 12-pack bundle shirt.
I still have bargain bundle shirts that have been sitting at the bottom of my drawer for years. Yes, they were cheaper, but I get more value out of my premium shirts.
My Overall Thoughts
What I Like
Suit sizing on the blazer ensures you’re getting the best fit possible. On top of that, Bluffworks has spent a lot of time on their designs and the result is a modern, stylish silhouette.
None of these performance fabrics look or feel like performance fabrics. They fit in perfectly in the world of wool and cotton. They just last longer and allow you to move around comfortably.
If you’re worried about the security of your phone, wallet, keys, or passport, the pants and blazer have some neat pockets that are super-secure.
Being able to throw both the suit pants and blazer into the washer is great for traveling, when you might not have the time or ability to take them to a dry cleaner.
Being able to throw both the suit pants and blazer into the washer is great for traveling, when you might not have the time or ability to take them to a dry cleaner.
What I Don’t Like
Even with the slim and tailored fits on the Gramercy Pants and the Ascender Chinos, the leg opening was a bit wider than I prefer. I’ll take them and have more taper added below the knee because I like both pairs.
While there are many performance menswear brands on the market, Bluffworks has created a niche all of their own by staying true to their vision: turning classic menswear staples into versatile travel clothes.
They’re most well-known for their travel suit. And really, after testing it, there’s nothing else like it.
I’ve tried other performance blazers in the past, and while I’ve liked them, I felt they looked too “techie” to really work in a day-to-day setting. While the Gramercy Suit isn’t the best choice for more formal events like weddings, it’s an outstanding option for travel and office attire.
Because it’s wrinkle resistant (you saw that photo earlier, you know what I’m talking about) you don’t have to worry about smashing the entire suit into your bag. It’ll be fine.
And if it’s not, just throw it in the washing machine. Yes, throw your Bluffworks Suit in the washing machine. As I said, it’s in a league of its own.
As for the other products I tried, the brand nailed it. I like the fit and love the extra security from the zippered pockets featured in the Ascender Chino. The Meridian Shirt is excellent for business-casual, and the brass collar stays are a nice touch.
I’ll have a difficult time not wearing my Threshold T-shirt to the gym, doing curls, and staring at myself in the mirror. But I think that’s a good thing.
The only issue I had across this wide variety of clothes was that I prefer a little more taper below the knee. It’s a very simple and inexpensive fix, but it’s worth noting. I’d call these pants slim-straight, rather than true ‘slim.’ If you prefer a straight cut below the knee, I’m confident you’ll take to these pants right away.