Father Knows Best: Free & Easy Dad’s Style Issue

The February issue of Japanese magazine Free & Easy is devoted to “dad’s style,” another term for trad, and includes a profile on me. Two correspondents from the magazine spent several days documenting me and a selection of my worldly possessions to the tune of eight pages.

Previously I’ve written in praise of the small wardrobe, and I’m constantly purging my closet of things that seemed adequate at one point but no longer cut the mustard. Following an unusually brisk December of acquisitions and purges, there’s stuff profiled that I know longer have and new things that would’ve made nice additions.

Of course no one in Japan knows me, but you guys do, so now I have to write all sorts of disclaimers about the stuff pictured. Where shall I begin?

Let’s start with the spread above. For my “on duty” photo, I was shot in the doorway of my office at Quest magazine. Opposite is my beloved polo coat, which I’ve worn all of once so far this season on account of the mild weather. Of the three ties they chose to shoot, the one on the left is my lone totally un-trad tie, a very Art Deco geometric tie by Ralph Lauren Purple Label that Bruce Boyer gave me. It’s a beauty and I figured I might need it someday for a Deco dress-up event. Those brogues were recently purged, replaced with Alden full-strap loafers. I’m just a slip-on kind of guy.

Below we have the roadster I sold for a song to a teenager when I moved to New York. It’s a Mazda Miata that I heavily customized with retro parts, mostly from Japan, and which nobody wanted. I’d planned to keep it until the day I died, but ended up selling it for what now amounts to a couple of freelance assignments from Yahoo! that I can bang out in an hour. But it was the recession and such is life.

Monk straps purged. When I say I’m a slip-on kind of guy, I mean no laces and no buckles. On the left is my “off duty” style, consisting of flannel-lined Lands’ End cords, a tartan shirt, Shetland crew from O’Connell’s, and Brooks Brothers quilted jacket. Free & Easy’s mantra is “rugged,” which is why my facial expression looks cantankerous for a change instead of constipated. I was trying to look like Steve McQueen on the cover of “Hollywood and the Ivy Look.”

Much of my stuff is still in storage in California, so they were really straining to fill the eight pages with accessories and had to resort to things like my utterly bland wallet and my razor. Though I haven’t busted out my grandfather’s pocket watch as I can’t find the right vest, I got a fob that’s kind of funny. I figured if you’re going to wear a watch chain you might as well do it with some humor. It’s from the early 20th century and features Uncle Sam leaning on a globe with the slogan “Always a winner.”

The suitcase was my grandparents’ and was the sole piece of luggage I took when I bought a one-way ticket for New York. It was completely destroyed in the process and now is merely a prop.

To my great embarrassment, one of the Sartego watches I wrote about here recently failed and will cost twice its value to repair, so I apologize to anyone who got one and had the same experience (though my other one is still running). I’m now looking at used Cartiers on eBay, which may be a safer bet.

This page includes an argyle sweater I got for golf but have since given away as something about it annoyed me. You’ll also see my letterman’s jacket from Cal State Disneyland, and the bicycle I ride over the Triboro Bridge to the driving range on Randall’s Island.

You’ll also notice in the bottom left my modest lodgings. When you sell your worldly possessions and give up The World’s Greatest Cat to start life over again at 40 in New York, you have to make some sacrifices. I was lucky enough to have an old high school friend hook me up with a roommate in Astoria, across the East River in Queens. So I’m in a furnished room and haven’t gotten around to moving yet, mostly because my girlfriend and I can’t decide between Park and Fifth.

Seriously, she has a few months left on swell pad in a luxury high-rise her company pays for, so I spend most of my time there. The ugly floor rug was scavenged as I needed a putting surface, and if you look closely in the very lower left you’ll see a delightfully lowbrow mirrored beer advertisement, which I also scavenged in order to tie my neckties. It says “Paris 1900” so I couldn’t resist, though it’s for something called Stella Artois. I don’t drink beer so I don’t know what that is, but I read somewhere it’s the favored beer of football hooligans.

Here’s my old place in LA; the objets d’art are still covered with dust and spiders in a storage unit:

My girlfriend informed half of Japan about the article, so I guess it was incorrect when I said earlier that noboby knows me there. Even her grandmother has read the piece. Reactions from her friends have ranged from “he’s cool” to “he’s dandyish,” and I suppose it’s possible to be both and still be “noble,” which one of them said. I didn’t ask whether she agreed with any of them. — CC

37 Comments on "Father Knows Best: Free & Easy Dad’s Style Issue"

  1. You don’t own a suit ? Or the Japanese did not see fit to include one in their spread ? I do see, however, that, true to Japanese stereotype of brand obsession, they have lovingly photographed every brand tag !

  2. Although the briefcase has been identified as Lotuff (& Clegg), I can’t find it on their website. Am I looking in the wrong place?

  3. Fantastic stuff! Congratulations, Christian. I love much about Talk Ivy but dislike the personal insults that you and others receive there (I hope this doesn’t ignite more vitriol), and I naturally find the whole spat tiresome. Remember to stay above it all and long may you continue to proffer Ivy Style on an international scale. Now I’m going to zoom in on those pages and then search for some of your clothes with a degree of obsession the Japanese would consider shameful! Regards Frank, England.

  4. Although I grew up in California, I’m not familiar with “Cal State Disneyland”. Please elaborate.

    What is the dive watch shown? It looks like my husband’s Heuer. It had a broken band so I bought a new nylon band but now he says it’s too big and heavy.

  5. @AggieK

    A bit of Googling would have answered your question:


  6. Congratulations! Great piece!

  7. This is incredibly cool, Christian.

  8. You’re a brave man. Prepare for the inevitable, if you know what I mean.

  9. Ahem, CC.

    Even before your girlfriend told “half of Japan,” unless you’re claiming I am “no one,” someone in Japan does indeed know you. At least during the times when I am actually in Japan (not at the moment, but I am on a fairly permanent basis, and will be back full time in June).

    Also, I am guessing Free & Easy asked you not to post the page in a higher detail? It’s much too small for me to read that darn thing like this.

  10. Nice read. I really liked your writing style in this post.

  11. Nice Article! Great to see you featured

  12. @becephalus

    I don’t currently own a suit and all my plans for future H. Freeman MTM stuff will be jackets.


    That case may have been discontinued by the new Lotuff Leather, but I’m sure there’s something similar.




    The dive watch is a vintage Timex.


    I have higher-res scans if you want to email me.

  13. I was hoping that your disclaimer would have gone something like this: “I was asked by a magazine to allow them to take detailed photographs of my possessions to be and published with lengthy descriptions about each. Naturally, I declined the offer.”

  14. Great piece, Christian. Thank you for sharing. I hope that you can endure the inevitable nonsense that will follow.

    I enjoy your self-deprecating humor with this article that could easily puff an ego.

    Here’s wishing you continuing, and greater, success in 2012!

  15. Dickey Greenleaf | January 8, 2012 at 8:17 pm |

    Heroic attitudes transforms into great accomplishments, so I’ve heard, may God be with you my friend.

  16. Christian

    Your professional and personal transformation since I first came across your blog when you were in CA has been awesome. Congratulations on following your dream and being successful while others – e.g., the OWSer crowds – just whine and beg the government to rescue them from… themselves.

    I really miss the 50-60s era albums you used to conjure up and comment on.

  17. Congrats!

    F&E is a magazine for connoisseur and the shop of Mr. Onozato is a staple, not only in Japan.
    Mr. Onozato is a Sir and his job to share knowledge from is personal clothing archive is impressive.
    Me too I was pictured a couple of time in their Mr. Denim man articles 🙂

    Your stuff is great and this article is very fine, so, once again, congratulation and thanks for the good job you make everyday with Ivy Style!

  18. @Mazama

    Way to turn a nice compliment for CC into anti-“Occupy” screed that made you come across as a pathetic uninformed idiot.

  19. @Mazama

    It slipped my mind what OSW stood for just then. I thought you must mean the financial industry when I first read your comment (“just whine and beg the government to rescue them from themselves”). Yes, success in derailing the focus of the thread with your own ridiculous whine. Friends like these. Anyway, well done CC.

  20. Got my terminology wrong. I meant to say “blog entry” rather than “thread.” I’m not the most technologically-savvy person.

  21. Fabulous. Congratulations Christian!

  22. Christopher Landauer | January 9, 2012 at 9:11 am |

    Marvellous! Both your “Dad Style” and “Off Style”!

    A historical post connecting Eastern and Western Trad!

  23. Christopher Landauer | January 9, 2012 at 9:21 am |

    Congratulations, too!

    I’m not sure if I understood that bit about Dadstyle… Is there something on the way, Christian?

  24. Christopher Landauer | January 9, 2012 at 9:25 am |

    I meant to say good “on style” and “off style”…

    the letterman varsity jacket is a little bit too much, maybe, especially with that F letter…

    What does it stand for?

  25. Thanks for the kind words, everyone.

    CL, “dad’s style” is the theme of the issue. I’m not expecting a child, if that’s what you were implying, though my girlfriend and I have really bonded over a stuffed snow monster.

    The letterman’s jacket was certainly not “a little too much” when I was strutting around school as the BMOC conference champion.

    The F stands for Fullerton, a small liberal arts college in New Hampshire.

  26. @OldSchool:

    Greg from Lotuff Leather here. Just wanted to send along the link to that briefcase you were inquiring about:

  27. Christopher Landauer | January 9, 2012 at 10:17 am |

    Thanks, I really thought for a moment, you’re wife or girlfriend must be pregnant or you’ve just become a father, when I saw all the Congratulations.

    So it wasn’t a hint.

    It’s Trad, dad!

  28. I like the car…can you do a post on cars? In my opinion, they really sum up one’s style.

  29. You mean like “What’s the most trad kind of car?”

  30. @Austin In my opinion, probably a BMW 2002 or 3.0CSI

  31. Christopher Landauer | January 10, 2012 at 3:02 am |

    I’d love to dress in this beautiful Japanese “dadstyle”. I’m glad that you don’t have be actually a father in order to wear these clothes.

    The most authentic “dadstyle” probably has a patriarchalic aura, I’m sure.

    Only a family car works with “dadstyle”!

  32. A car post would be nice. Although I own a Cadillac, my favorite ride is a 76 Dodge Royal Monaco I bought new. It’s aging and deteriorated, but it’s my time machine. I could afford a more desirable “antique” car, but how many can say they bought a 36 year old car new? A real conversation piece at every occasion.

    Is the Dodge an Ivy vehicle, probably not. However, it follows the Ivy principle, keep things forever. Al Bundy cherishes his old Dodge, wears button down shirts and looks more prep and Ivy than most people. Is he Ivy material, no!

    Food for thought.

  33. Michael Mattis | January 10, 2012 at 6:32 am |

    Town Car, driven by someone else.

  34. Perhaps the most dad’s style* piece of clothing in the world is the cardigan sweater.

    I proudly wear mine. My children don’t seem to mind.

    *”Dad’s style” as it makes sense to an American ear.

  35. @Henry

    In case you hadn’t noticed, cardigans have been hip with kids for a few years now. These things come and go.

  36. I hadn’t noticed–I don’t get out much, what with young children and all–but thank you for the information.

    I had noticed that they like stingy-brimmed trilbies, though.

  37. e24 BMW is my vote.

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