Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Shopping for Stylish Tech Accessories

I'll start off with a little background: As you all know, iPhone 5S came out recently, and the lines were out the doors and the shipping times through the roof. I was perfectly content to wait out the rush and buy mine in good time....until my iPhone 4 decided to stop charging. One day after all the new iPhones went out of stock. Long story short, I was stuck with a little candybar go-phone with no camera, no music, no keyboard, and feeling a lot like Stringer Bell with a burner (boom, 'Wire' reference). Fortunately, ATT way overestimated the time it would take to get me my phone, and a mere week later I had it in my hands.

Since I had the phone shipped to me, I didn't get a chance to pick out a case in the store. Lucky for me, I didn't have to look to hard to find one online. I bought my girlfriend a nice leather case from J. Crew last year, and I've been admiring their iPhone 5S cases for a hot minute, and voila, same day I get my phone, J. Crew Factory does a flash sale (something like 30% extra sale plus free shipping). Needless to say I was on that case like rainbows on an oil spill (I heard that line in Malcom in the Middle the other week and have been using it every chance I get). I ended up with this beaut of a case in navy leather:

From J. Crew Factory 
Pretty much two minutes later, one of my coworkers came over to announce he had just ordered his phone, and started to lament about his own search for a case. We quickly got into a conversation about how lame all of the go-to options are. If you walk out of Best Buy or and Apple Store with an iPhone case, chances are pretty good your phone is going to be twice as big, five times uglier, and look like it's wearing crocs. Somewhere along the line, all the big tech companies decided that everyone wanted their phones padded and wrapped in the ugliest rubber boxes money could buy.

So, the point is, these aren't your other options. If you know where else to look, you can get a functional and fashionable case, which is so nice, since your phone is one of those things you ALWAYS have and people are bound to see. Here are my suggestions:

First and foremost, don't look at companies dedicated to tech accessories. Their expertise is in making things work, not necessarily making them look good. They might try, but that's not where their training lies. And honestly, it's not that hard to make a case that works. Instead, go to the people who are experts at looking good. In other words, go to your favorite fashion and apparel sources. Nine out of ten apparel stores has an 'accessories' section, and if they do, you're bound to find some iPhone cases.

J. Crew, obviously, is one of my favorite sources. They have a good selection of classy and well designed cases for both men and women. On top of that, they are very reasonably priced (rarely higher than one of those ugly boxes from the super-store), and very often go on sale (or show up on the Factory outlet shop). I suggest picking one out online and then stopping by your store to pick it up (unless you get lucky with a free-shipping code like I did).

Jack Spade is another great option. They are already very well known for their protective but styling outerwear, bags, and luggage, so it only makes sense that they'd be able to do the same for phones. Their options run a tad bit higher, at about $40 a pop, but are still very reasonable. My favorite is this one in a 'book cloth' material (whatever that means, it looks nice).

From Jack Spade

If you want something with a print on it, try this guy from Original Penguin. Yeah, it's the logo, but I love penguins so I had to pick this one. I'm sure you can find some other options as well. This lil guy sells for around $40 also:
From Original Penguin

Back to leather, you can get a even classier with one of these options from Bonobos, which are made from Italian leather and have a great luster and depth to them (if that's your thing), but clock in over the $60 mark. These are currently only available in the iPhone 4 dimensions, but I'd expect to see options for the 5 and 5S arriving shortly:

From Bonobos

Keep shopping around and the opportunities are endless. You can even find cases in the uber-luxurious $300+ range from designer brands like Burberry and Saint Laurent (check out Mr. Porter for some of these as well). Have something really specific in mind? Last year I was trying to find a tweed covered case, searched all over in stores to no avail, only to find dozens of options on Etsy. I ended up sticking with the case I had for one reason or another, but I always keep Etsy in the back of my mind as another option.

Do you have the cajones to go case-less? If not, how do you protect your phone? Is your priority style and looks or functionality and ruggedness? Tell us about it in the comments!

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