With a decades-old reputation in footwear, Merrell has only been designing apparel for a handful of years. Well-familiar with its hiking boots and increasingly stylish lifestyle shoes, a couple female SNEWS team members snagged a few garments and quickly assessed that the company’s Ophelia long-sleeve shirt is a winner on the road and around town.
The lightweight, button-down blouse is made with the Merrell’s Opti-Wick and Ionic fabrics. The Opti-Wick is the predominant fabric on the front, back and part of the sleeves, and gives the shirt a nice silky look albeit with a more matte-like finish. The Ionic fabric, similar to the hand of a soft tee, is found just on the underarm and side panels.
Both fabrics offer a bit of stretch and dry quickly as our testers can attest after multiple washings in the machine and even a few sinks abroad. It washes well and dries quickly -- mainly damp when pulled out of the machine, then ready to be worn in a relatively short amount of time (a couple hours or so).
Having now been on numerous U.S. and international trips, it’s become a great travel companion, coming out of many a suitcase looking fresh and un-wrinkled, ready for the day. We found the side panels help it fit well and also accommodate travel demands. It has an inside snap at the bust line to avoid that front-panel pucker (ladies, you know what we’re talking about) and is just plain-old, super-smart thinking.
The Ophelia also has a well-positioned hidden pocket, lined up on a seam and placed low on the back. It proved ideal for holding a hotel key card or a couple spare dollars.
Available in multiple colors -- blush pink, plum, oyster, black and undyed white -- we had the deep plum purple. Not only did we like the color in general, but it also well-hid those travel oopsies that seem inevitable on planes and jostling trains.
But what really struck us was the flattering fit the Ophelia offered different body types. It has a semi-tailored look and feel with nicely stitched lines, well-placed chest pockets and three-button cuffs. From a petite frame to a wider-shoulder build, each tester equally adored the fit and thought it was very flattering for her body silhouette.
Now is it “cool” looking? Each tester had her own take. While one was very pleased with the look the Ophelia provided, the other, more of a globetrotter traveler, said, no. She noted that the collar is just too big for cool, and would love to see a version with all the great features but a slightly different neck styling. On a recent jaunt to Europe, she said, “It has struck me here how ‘so American’ it looks!” C’est la vie…
As testing goes, though, it’s not every day that multiple women of varying body sizes have such a similar, and pleasant, experience with an apparel piece.
SNEWS® Rating: 4.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $59
For more information:www.merrell.com