Preppy Chic: Free & Easy And Stocking Up For Summer


I was photographed for the latest issue of Free & Easy, which has a big feature on Allen Edmonds. They shot my Kenwood and Walden loafers, and I posed for the camera in my neighborhood. The shooter liked the American flag on the house across the street, and with that penchant for formulas characteristic of the Japanese, I was asked to hold a bag. They’d already shot my satchel, so I suggested my new golf “Sunday bag,” the one I use when I just need a half-dozen clubs. It’s a deadstock Wilson I found on eBay for a song, apparently made in Scotland and probably dating from the ’60s. I tried to look like I was waiting to be picked up for some golf practice, but the result doesn’t exact smack of verismilitude.


Mixed with the AE loafers is the “preppy chic” concept I’ve been toying with lately, wearing my off-white canvas five-pockets from Stafford Prep, a black polo from J. Crew, black rope belt from Kiel James Patrick, and Ray-Ban Clubmasters. Most of my new summer gear is in the same vein, including (pictured at the top of this post), Sebago Docksides in midnight blue.

Continuing with the footwear, at a recent Paul Stuart shindig, custom department manager Mark Rykken was wearing a DB suit and monogrammed velvet loafers from Edward Green. As we chatted, he told me a story about Ralph Lauren in the early ’70s, when the designer had just become hot. There was a party at a major retailer and everyone came super decked out, as if to impress him with their retro-inspired boulevardier regalia. Ralph, however, opted for understatement in charcoal flannel single-breasted suit, plain white shirt, and blue satin tie. And to further add an air of calculated nonchalance, wore black velvet monogrammed slippers.

That’s a bit much for me (ditto precious Belgian Shoes, which Rykken’s assistant was wearing at the time), but inspired by the outfit I got the idea of searching for black suede tassel loafers, which I ended up finding from Shipton & Heneage:


I grew to like the idea so much I even scooped up some black suede Weejuns for sockless loafing, dyeing the heels and edges black:


  I found several things this season at Lands’ End, including the Drifter v-neck in gray (see bottom photo), and these swim trunks in a “neat” pattern, because I love the idea of swimming in a pocket square:


There’ll be more on poolside prep in the next post. But summer isn’t all fun in the sun, so from Kamakura here’s a solid navy tie made of English twill:


Which pairs easily with this white linen pocket square with navy trim, and an inexpensive Timex on a grey crocodile band:


And finally, the preppy chic concept embodied in my sport watch, which now has a watch band in black and kelly green:


There were plenty of purges to counterbalance the new stuff, since I’ve always been motivated more by refining than acquiring. Have a stylish summer while you still can. We’ll be melting from humidity soon enough. — CC

80 Comments on "Preppy Chic: Free & Easy And Stocking Up For Summer"

  1. Mitchell S. | June 16, 2014 at 9:54 am |

    Tassel loafers are often seen worn with suits by lawyers in Boston.

  2. So I’ve read, along with “[breaking] unwritten rules should be your guide.”

  3. A Timex that looks like a Sub. Nice. Too bad we don’t have American Trad shops here in Germany. Great attire btw…

  4. Etymologue | June 16, 2014 at 12:17 pm |

    Can anyone identify that Timex with the Roman numerals?

  5. Christian,

    Do you mostly wear the J. Crew polos?

  6. I recall you stating – in a matter of fact way, about a year ago – that suede tassel loafers were ‘hideous’. While the snuff ones you were reacting to certainly weren’t, these black ones sure are….(and those Weejuns are beyond terrible…). And, when your watchband is worth more than the watch, you know you need a new watch…..

  7. I have a wide range of polo makers. I think that’s currently my only J. Crew.

  8. @AEV

    $50 watches on $100 bands is one of my favorite formulas. Always gives me a chuckle.

    Liked your latest GOMI post on FEC, BTW. You were clearly inspired.

  9. FEC is, in a word, inspirational. What inspired you to do a 180 on suede tassel loafers?

    Cheap watches on dandied-up gents always gets a chuckle out of me too.

  10. Christian | June 16, 2014 at 1:15 pm |

    Whenever I’m feeling flush I’m always tempted by a Cartier tank. But then I’d do the opposite formula and put it on a cheap band.

  11. Waldo Walters | June 16, 2014 at 6:08 pm |

    Lisa Birnbach said she used to wear black polo shirts at her pre-TOPH Village Voice job in order to look both prep and downtown.

  12. I was curious about Christian’s allusion to AEV on FEC. I searched the said FEC, and without realizing it, arrived not at the blog, but at an interview.

    Asked to expound on the state of fast fashion,” FEC states authoritatively: “The state of fast fashion is tragic in the sense that it is not built to last (very unpreppy).” This reminds me of another sage connoisseur of the tragic, Yogi Berra, who is said to have said: “It’s very difficult to make predictions, especially of the future.”

    Apropos of nothing, a few months ago I heard a sports commentator on local radio say that the team’s strategy has been “brought to fruitition.” Just today, a commentator on the same channel, who must have misheard his colleague, said “brought to fruitation.”

  13. Vern Trotter | June 16, 2014 at 7:26 pm |

    Expensive watches are the third biggest rip off we males are expected to endure. The two more egregious are weddings and funerals. An arriviste often feels he must spend the equiviliant of a new car price for something just to tell time.

    Timex makes several that are very nice and you can change the bands at your whim.

  14. Waldo Walters | June 16, 2014 at 7:46 pm |

    One of my favorite things about cellphones is that I no longer need to wear a watch. The sensation of having something strapped to my wrist is annoying.

  15. Christian | June 16, 2014 at 8:39 pm |


    Exactly, but that guy spending that much isn’t getting something just to tell time.

    Watches are a very divisive topic on the men’s forums, but I’m on the side that thinks they need merely tell you the time (objective) and look stylish (subjective). Others feel they signal success to one’s peers, and therefore one’s manhood and value as a human being.

  16. I know it is not your first, but I have to say that being featured in Free & Easy is pretty darn cool even if they don’t always get it.

  17. Felix Castaneda | June 17, 2014 at 10:24 am |

    I love that Sunday bag!!

  18. Wearing expensive clothes and a cheap watch is the equivalent of driving a beat-up Geo Tracker in a $2,000 suit. (Or parking your $50,000 Mercedes in front of your rented one-bedroom apartment.) There’s a mismatch. People get chafed about expensive watches because it’s a lot easier to save up the $200 to buy a pair of Aldens on eBay than it is to get five or ten grand together for a good watch. Which frustrates those who are into projecting an image at odds with their lifestyle.

    The implication that someone who literally writes (and ostensibly thinks) about clothing, style, and fashion for a living is somehow above signaling to one’s peers is laughable.

  19. Yes, it’s always the guys who don’t own nice watches who want to rant about what a ‘waste of money’ they are (not unlike the average guy on the subway in flip flops who believes spending more than $89 on shoes is insane)….meanwhile, CC’s running ads on this blog from companies like Nettleton who are selling calfskin tassel loafers for $700.00.

    Quality watches are complex, mechanical instruments….many are also beautifully designed (with high quality materials). They represent quality craftsmanship in much the same way $500-700 loafers do. Sure, a cell phone tells the time and Chinese made Bass loafers will protect your feet, but thankfully many of us understand the difference between the strictly utilitarian and the careful, well-crafted, well-designed article. Odd that the guy running the style blog doesn’t get that….perhaps a 180 on this subject is also right around the corner….

  20. @dwdry

    I’m certainly signalling to my peers about taste and style, as all of us are, I’m just not trying to impress them with my purchasing power, which is hardly impressive anyway.

    And in your example, if you have to save “five or ten grand for a good watch,” I’d say you can’t afford it, and should put that money to something else. $5,000-$10,000 watches are for guys who can afford $5,000-$10,000 watches.

    Straining and saving to get one, as you point out, is a mismatch.

  21. Saving money for a large purchase means you can’t afford it? Huh?

    A nice watch isn’t just about ‘purchasing power’ – it’s about knowing the difference in quality and craftsmanship between a piece of junk and a non-piece of junk…..not at all unlike the difference between Alden and Bass shoes….

    Fine, you can’t afford a $10,000 watch. But, you could certainly afford something far nicer – and of higher quality – than a Timex. A nice vintage mechanical Swiss watch can be had for around $2000.00…..same as a few pair of Nettleton loafers.

  22. Saving up to buy an impressive watch is very middle class.

    Which is another way of saying not preppy. Preppy is either inheriting a good watch, winning one in a tennis tournament, or praciticing Yankee frugality with a Timex and leaving conspicuous consumption (under the guise of craftsmanship) to the arrivistes.

  23. I didn’t buy my expensive watch, so I guess I am very preppy and special indeed. (Also, if you’re the expert on middle-class matters, perhaps consider founding a new blog.)

    My point is not that straining and saving is the way to go about buying an expensive watch–though it is certainly a better investment financially and otherwise, and therefore worthier of straining and saving, than the clothing many of your readers/you strain and save to buy.

    The point is rather that this opposition to expensive watches–as opposed to expensive shoes, expensive clothing, expensive vintage caricature drawings, whatever–cannot be general opposition to expensive, useless things intended to project an image, since all of the aforementioned accomplish that and are intended to do so. Instead, it’s likely based on the fact that one subset of expensive, useless things is broadly accessible and the other is not.

  24. @CC – that’s one of the silliest, most ignorant things you’ve ever typed.

    Frugality must not be separate and distinct from an appreciation and knowledge of quality. You can be frugal – i.e. responsibly save for a well-priced (e.g. vintage, tax free, otherwise discounted), high quality mechanical watch – and still own a full range of high quality items…..whether they be loafers, suits, oxford cloth shirts, cars, golf clubs, or watches. (it should be noted that among that list, watches are by far the best investment….) While my ‘nicest’ watch was passed down to me, I’ve added to my small collection in a relatively frugal way myself….

    You have a shitty watch (multiple shitty watches, actually), so of course you want to believe spending money on a nice watch is a waste…..again, this is very odd indeed coming from a man who spends so much of his time and money on disposable and non-durable do dads like belts, watch bands, loafers, shirts, jeans, hankies and swim suits…’d be more stylish – and frugal and credible – if you purged your closet of 90% of that junk and used the money to buy a single nice watch instead….

  25. @AEV “that’s one of the silliest, most ignorant things you’ve ever typed” – I was thinking the same of your latest FEC rant/post on GOMI?

  26. ^ Well said, Christian.

    Buy what you can afford. If you can afford a Patek, that’s wonderful. If you can’t, then buy something classic. I’ve recently become a Seiko addict and I get more compliments in my Seikos than I did on some of my other more expensive watches. And, from a purist’s point of view, Seiko movements are all designed in-house: a necessity for the common “watch snob.”

    I just picked up a new Seiko SKX175 which Bob Redford is seen wearing in All Is Lost. It hasn’t left my wrist since I got it a few weeks ago.

  27. Christian | June 17, 2014 at 1:36 pm |


    You’ve illustrated for us beautifully the kind of personality type who gets hung up on the value of wristwatches.

  28. The watch debate is always a fun one. While I feel that a man should buy what he likes, whether it is a Timex or Cartier, he should know he has options.

    There are quality Swiss watches to be had for between $400 and $1000. You pay so much for the marketing with Rolex et al. Lesser known brands have great bargains.

    Personally, I have a 1960s Omega Seamaster. It is all I need for less than a grand.

  29. Christian, you have yet to make a response that isn’t an ad hominem or straw man. What’s the logic to spending lots of money on clothing and no money on a watch? Aside from, obviously, the cost.

  30. Christian | June 17, 2014 at 2:06 pm |

    Alas Flusser wears a $100 Seiko. But he has a house in the Hamptons, so he can afford to wear a cheap watch.

  31. >> What’s the logic to spending lots of money on clothing and no money on a watch?

    Because my iPhone doesn’t cover my nethers.

  32. Mitchell S. | June 17, 2014 at 2:34 pm |

    @CC: I disagree with your comment on preppiness: “Preppy is either inheriting a good watch…” It seems that you are conflating preppydom with WASPiness. Dressing preppy today is a lifestyle choice, available to anyone who is willing to spend $60 on a Polo shirt. It’s no longer confined to old-school WASPs who inherited their furniture (and wrist watch.)

  33. Wow CC: To think wearing a fine watch would evoke such a reaction from you (manhood, value, etc) surprises me as well. You might as well supplant watches with cars, boats, bikes, golf clubs and so on because the same judgement can be passed upon those. Be careful about playing Pebble Beach, folks may take you for being pretentious. Stick with muni’s, more preppy?

  34. Christian | June 17, 2014 at 2:40 pm |

    Since 2006 trads on the web have celebrated the great preppy tradition of a cheap Timex on a fun band. And to think I thought you guys would get your boxers in a bunch over black suede loafers or midnight blue boat shoes!

  35. They do make me wince, Christian.

  36. This is the reason why iGents on the interwebs who care way too much about clothing, “preppyness,” “WASPyness”, “Anglo-Italian”yness, etc. don’t have expensive watches: They cannot afford them.

  37. @CC – …I know the quick zinger is always tempting, but it’s most effective when it makes sense and you’re not in the midst of a hypocritical argument about all non-inexpensive watches being needless, showy, and wasteful but dozens of pairs of loafers (etc., etc.) being ‘stylish, frugal, and preppy’…(and the other one where you recently claimed suede tassel loafers were hideous, but now you own and pump them on your blog.)

    That aside, you’ve shown us the kind of person/personality who buys the buckets of cheap ‘preppy’ watches Amazon sells….to be sure, I had wondered what/who exactly their market was…mystery solved.

    @May – really? Another mystery (who, exactly, is Fred Castleberry fooling?) solved. Which part of my comment was ‘ignorant’?

  38. As usual, @AEV is correct.

  39. Folks, cut the guy some slack. He clearly can’t afford a watch in the price range you all are speaking of. I’m sure if he had the means he would purchase a non-Timex watch to accompany the alligator band.

  40. BrokeOldMoney | June 17, 2014 at 8:20 pm |

    What is ” GOMI ” , for crying out loud? Please provide a link so that I may read our illustrious Mr. AEV’s contribution. And Rolex is in the nature of baubles for the bourgeoisie. Wear with a fat and therefore more conspicuous Montblanc pen in the pocket pen whilst driving the new Mercedes.

  41. By buying a premium brand you may think that you are investing in a complex, mechanical instrument, beautifully designed with high quality materials and you probably are, albeit that equally good timepieces are available for a tenth of the price. Many premium brand watches retail at up to 20 times what they cost at the factory gate. This is because of middle man costs and the huge amounts that such companies spend on glossy magazine ads and sponsorship in order to associate themselves with glamorous activities like motorsport and yachting. If you want to buy into that fantasy, your choice.

  42. Excellent book on the history of and current state of luxury goods: “Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster” by Diana Thomas.

  43. @Woofboxer: Again, your entire comment could be written about any “premium” or “high quality” clothing, shoes, and accessories. So we’re still unable to draw any distinction with regard to watches, except that a luxury watch costs many times what premium clothing does.

    CC, we’re all still waiting on a substantive rebuttal.

  44. @dwdry ‘CC, we’re all still waiting on a substantive rebuttal’

    You might be but I don’t think ‘we all’ are.

    My comment could not be applied to ‘any’ high quality shoe or clothing. I don’t see Alden sponsoring any aerobatic teams.The disproportionate expenditure on advertising by certain watch manufacturers is well documented and all passed on to the inflated prices paid by their customers.

  45. Charlie Davidson, considered a paragon of taste by everyone in menswear, wears an exceptionally ugly black plastic Casio, perhaps the ultimate anti-watch.

  46. There are so many wonderful vintage watches out there. Not terribly expensive, well made, and, after all these years, still ticking. Some less expensive than–dare I ??–a Timex.

    “See that chap over there, wearing a Shetland homespun tweed jacket, Minnis flannel trousers, and a dated-but-intact Troy Guild oxford? That’s a hideous looking Casio in his wrist. Awesome, right?”

    Due respects paid, an ugly watch is an ugly watch, no matter how cheap or expensive. For business, a no-no.

    Sometimes irony is funny. Sometimes it’s not.

  47. Christian | June 18, 2014 at 3:00 pm |

    SE has finally hit the nail on the head regarding what separates many who embrace the cheap watch and those who abhor the idea: he said, “for business, a no-no.”

    Guys who stress the importance of a proper watch as a mark of a man’s character are likely in fields such as sales, law, or finance where presenting an image of success to clients, coworkers and superiors is important for career advancement. There’s an actual benefit to owning one, hence AEV’s remark that a good watch is worth saving for. This whole status symbol thing among men in competitive sales-volume-driven fields is brilliantly caricatured in the famous business card scene in “American Psycho.”

    But for those of us in the arts and humanities, you don’t save money to buy a watch, you save money to visit the Great Pyramid. And for those in the style business, style is valued more than, well, value.

    I tried to think of some of the people I’ve known long enough to know what watch they’re wearing. I mentioned Flusser wears a $100 Seiko, but I forgot to point out that when he found it he bought three of them. But we’ve established that he’s wealthy and so can afford to wear a cheap watch with no loss of status. Charlie D. wears an anti-watch, but he too is in the clothing business, not law or finance. He’s also has the dual influence on his tastes and values of jazz hipsters as well as Old Money, two sensibilities both opposed to bourgeois keep-up-with-the-Joneses. He’s too clever to be suckered into so obvious a totem of purchasing power as an expensive watch (he does, however, own property in Newport, so he has a place to stay during the jazz festival).

    Boyer wears a ladies’ watch, but I’ve no idea the maker or its value. Matthew Karl Gale (Ivy Style contributor) likes to wear a ’30s-styled watch made by Orvis, but he’s an accessories designer. Another Ivy contributor, Dan Greenwood, wears a Timex on a striped band, but he’s a classical music singer. He’s been traveling in Europe a lot lately, and I’m sure if you suggested he save for a good watch he’d say he’s happy with his Timex and trips to La Scala.

    My girlfriend inherited a Rolex from her mother, but she seems to enjoy wearing her plastic Swatch a lot more. And even though she’s in business development, it’s in the apparel industry, where style trumps status symbol.

    In my nearly five years in New York I’ve mixed in a few tony circles. I volunteered at the Met Opera for a year, and worked at that Upper East Side society magazine (where a colleague, a Harvard grad, practically felt he had to apologize for his Cartier). I’ve never caught anyone snooping at my wrist, though 28-year-olds down on Wall Street may do that sort of thing (there are some great scenes about income and purchasing power among ambitious finance guys in “Margin Call,” a fantastic movie). Ironically one of my clients is the nation’s top independent luxury jeweler, with exclusive partnerships with Rolex, Cartier, etc., and god knows how many hundreds of millions of dollars in watch inventory. Never once in any meeting have they ever glanced at my wrist or casually asked what kind of watch lay half buried beneath my shirt cuff. What possible difference could it make for the editorial services I’m providing?

    I can’t believe I just remembered this, as it must be nearly a decade ago, but it must have made an impression on this bohemian-aristocrat for its sheer middle-class anxious striver pettiness. I was at a dinner once with a group of colleagues, and my editor for the gig had her fiancé with her. He was maybe 30ish and I think worked in insurance. He had one of those conspicuously large sport watches that caught someone’s eye and they asked about it. He had apparently just bought it and was quite proud, as I recall, as it was a pretty big “investment.” The brand was Raymond Weil, which I know nothing of and remember thinking “Why that brand?” Someone brought up the sticky issue of price, but he was again rather proud to say that he had spent $1,200 or some such.

    The problem with vintage watches (Elgin or Gruen or whatever) is that it can look like you’re trying to sport a “real” watch. That’s why I prefer Timex, as it’s blatantly an anti-watch that says “I’m not buying into the whole watch thing, you guys can have it.”

    I think my grey crocodile band, however, a stroke of genius.

  48. Hmmm.

    Okay, firstly. A cheap black Casio is awful, no matter who’s wearing or how much $ said person is saving on order to maintain a summer plot on the coast. Old Money, CC hints. Well. I think it’d be far more so to wear whatever it was your father or grandfather handed down. If your father handed down a plastic Casio, then, well…that’s another issue.

    I know men of exceptional taste who are rather into vintage pieces of all sorts. A colleague of mine likes his (three) vintage watches for the same reasons he likes older Parker Duofolds (he insists on the aeromatic fillers) and vintage neckwear.

    Reverse snobbery can be as much of an indictment of class consciousness as all-out, balls-to-wall, check-out-my-new Rolls-new Longines-new Montblanc-and-new McMansion snobbery. Few people like that guy, but how much better is the one whose pride taken in shabbiness borders on hubris? What’s that story about the try-real-harder who intentionally damaged his shoes so he might then tape them up so as to give off Old Money patina? Come on. Comic.

    Why not learn to appreciate the good stuff, no matter the era?

    I suspect a lot of fellows who have a sort of academic interest in style don’t actually buy a lot. CC’s claim has to do with a bohemian aristocracy. (okay). No matter, good taste is good taste and always in the eye of the beholder and a lot of really tasteful stuff (even luxe stuff like Escorial wool) doesn’t advertise the wearer as super rich.

    I’d prefer to save my $ for tweeds, worsteds, woolens, and the annual send-back-Alden-for- restoration.

  49. Oh, God, Christian. No.

    I know scads of people in publishing and fashion. Most of them have an expensive watch. None feel the need to apologize for it. Most, given the salaries in those fields, have independent means of support. Maybe your friend with the Cartier felt embarrassed by your making overt the class differences between you?

    Your stereotype of finance guys is hilariously out of touch with reality as well. No 28-yo working in finance would dare wear an expensive watch to the office, unless it was extremely discreet. Nor would they comment on someone else’s.

    And forgive me if I’m unimpressed by your reference to the fashion bloggers who freelance for this website as some authority to whom a great deal of credit should be given.

    Of course, your points about the signaling function of watches are irrelevant, given your clothing choices are both stronger signals and project to many more people (only a tiny subset of people notice or care about watches; a much larger group notices your clothing). Again, you make an argument that fails to draw any particular distinction, and therefore is unsuccessful.

    Just curious: are you calling yourself a bohemian aristocrat now? Care to elaborate on how you qualify for either category? Or is it just that you need to feel–some way, some how–superior to other members of the class to which you belong as a coping mechanism for making less money?

    The fact that you have to choose between saving to visit the pyramids and having a nice watch proves the point. If it’s a matter of choice, you can’t afford it.

  50. Christian | June 18, 2014 at 7:15 pm |

    I just remembered another great anecdote. It also happened at the same place as the Raymond Weil (vile?) guy, the huge apparel convention in Las Vegas. Would be pretty amazing if it happened on the same trip.

    So there was a woman I had met through work and hung out with a few times. Her family had immigrated here, and so there was perhaps a pressure in her family or community to show that she had made it in America.

    She ran a women’s fashion brand that had great sales, but that’s a tough business with having to pay your contractors first but not get paid by the retailers for like 90 days. Cash flow was a major problem and she would say things like she was stressed out because she had to borrow $200,000 from her mother to tide her over for 10 days.

    One time she drove us to lunch in some top of the line BMW or something. We make small talk about it when she reveals that every year she leases a brand-new BMW or Mercedes. When I casually suggest that isn’t exactly the best value for her money in the long run, she says she HAS to drive a brand-new, current-model car. OK…

    So several months go by and I see her at the trade show. We’re sitting on a bench taking a break and she shows me her new watch and asks me what I think of it. I think it was a Chopard (not because I know watches, but because it sounds like Chopin). I sarcastically ask how much she spent on this little trinket. She says something like $15,000.

    Soon after that she lets out a wistful sigh and says, “I just want to be rich.”

    I tried to explain to her that one becomes rich not by spending money but by saving it, but it was clear that what she wanted was the APPEARANCE of being rich, not the self-denial involved in actually building wealth through the shrewd practice of parsimony.

    She was 30ish, extremely beautiful, and unmarried. She had stress-related health issues, and when she went into the hospital one time the doctor informed her she had had a small stroke.

    Watches and cars, apparently, can really fuck you up.


    The colleague had gone to Harvard, where he knew some Old Money types, such as JFK Jr., and we were working at a magazine that, while funded by glossy ads for things like watches, at least paid lip service to Old Money values. I got the impression he was expressing that it was obvious that to buy such a watch could be seen as gauche; I think he may have stressed that it was a graduation present.

  51. Mitchell S. | June 18, 2014 at 8:42 pm |

    This woman reminds me of a phrase I read in “The Millionaire Next Door.” In Texas they say that someone who is all about appearance and lacks substance, “all hat and no cattle.”

  52. Etymologue | June 18, 2014 at 10:11 pm |

    I like to think of my Timex T20501 as the ultimate minimalist watch.
    I’ve given away all of my more expensive watches. I may be a frugal New Englander, but a gentleman does not sell things on ebay, he gives them away. My Timex is the best watch I’ve ever had.

  53. Completely off topic, but the Japanese blurb says that you are German and studied journalism at San Francisco State. It also says your name is pronounced as though it were spelled “Jensvold.”

    Is any of that correct?

  54. Time for a poll of the readership?

    I’ve been wearing Timex watches for about fifteen years. I’m not in business or law, etc., which is an important distinction noted in previous comments. Indiglo is a major plus — you can find out what time it is if you wake up in the middle of the night. (But, I confess, there was a louche interval with a black Casio I picked up of necessity in an airport when a battery died; the romance ended when the rubber-plastic synthetic band tore.)

    Aside from the extravagant prices, while some of the expensive watches are elegant (one would have to go for those if high-end watches were part of one’s milieu), most are large, heavy, and gaudy, with more special effects than a summer blockbuster.

  55. Christian | June 19, 2014 at 9:54 am |


    I can create a poll. What exactly is the question you’d like to put to the readers?


    Yes my translator informed me of the errors, and I’ll have to give the reporter and earfull of the ol’ rancid. Obviously my name is missspelled. I’m not German (though part of the family background is German, along with English and Norwegian), but I was born in Germany on a US Air Force base. I could have been born in Thailand, where my father had also been stationed.

    I never studied journalism, but instead studied English at Fullerton, followed by one semester of grad school at San Francisco State in Comparative Literature, with a plan to focus on French bohemian-aristocrats.

  56. Your stories veer further and further from the point. You seem to imply that everyone with expensive things has striven for them. As if owning expensive things is itself proof of being obsessed with expensive things, is necessarily associated with projecting about expensive things, reveals a great deal of concern about having expensive things. I’m not surprised that a new immigrant to this country would feel a great deal of pressure to succeed, or in the absence of success, to project it. Nor that you’d come across someone living beyond their means and concerned with appearances at an apparel convention. What point that has to the place of nice watches in Ivy/preppy/whatever dressing and life is unclear.

    Perhaps that has been your experience–that the expensive things you own (and there appear to be many) are those you have pined for, are very proud of, care a lot about, are very concerned with, seel attention for, and notice on other people. That isn’t the case with everyone.

    Of course there are gaudy expensive watches. There are gaudy expensive houses, too. And gaudy expensive cars. There are also discreet and classic expensive watches, cars, and houses. The logic of “Hublot exists, and therefore a Cartier tank is vulgar” is the same as “Ira Rennert’s Hamptons house exists, and therefore Grey Gardens is vulgar.” The inability or unwillingness to notice such distinctions indicates either intentional blindness or a serious lack of sophistication.

    I think what your attitude reveals, more than anything, is a distinctly middle-class aversion to being perceived as middle class. Where, to the contrary, WASP/New England/Prep/Whatever culture has always celebrated traditional (upper, maybe upper-upper) middle class values: being a professional with a serious career, voting Republican, eating bland domestic food, drinking clear liquor instead of imported wine. It’s the opposite of twirling your imaginary mustache and laughing about the bourgeoisie.

  57. @ Christian

    Poll questions, I guess, would address concerns and preferences that have been voiced. First, what people are wearing, such as luxury, mid-range, or workaday. More than one?

    And maybe there should be a question also about occupation, profession, etc. to correlate the watch with the wearer.

    Another question: inherited or store-bought?

    Getting rid of: Ebay, give away, garbage disposal?

    How many people have more than one watchband?

    But let’s crowd-source this: what other questions would be necessary or useful?

  58. Like it, RJG. That’s not a one-question poll, but a survey. The Tradsville Watch Survey.

    Give us some time. I’m going to be traveling next week and Chris Sharp and I are working on another piece or original entertainment I think you guys will love.

  59. Mitchell S. | June 19, 2014 at 11:36 am |

    Poll question: What is the most amount of money you have ever spent on a watch?
    A) Under $100
    B) $100 to $500
    C) $500 to $1,000
    D) Only my accountant knows

  60. If you’re doing a poll, please include options for those who have either inherited or been gifted a watch.

  61. I think Christian’s veering “further and further from the point” is intentional. This argument- through the fault of no individual- has gotten off track. I’ll grant the argument’s greater purpose- essentially to discern the why and how of owning one or multiple exceedingly expensive timepieces- is an interesting sociological inquiry. However, the discussion has begun to slip into uncivilized territory. Ivy sociology is an intriguing topic into which this blog regularly delves, but right now, we’ve devolved into personal attacks (however thinly veiled). I have no interest in reading such petty arguments; I would much rather read interesting anecdotes, the likes of which I believe Christian is trying to share. I vote that we let him move the topic into more friendly (and not to mention, more universally interesting) territories.

    When I started my undergrad, my parents promised to get me a nice watch as a gift for taking my first big step into adult life. I was expecting a brand new Swiss watch or maybe even a vintage Omega or Rolex. Instead, I opened the package to find a vintage Young Indiana Jones Chronicles watch: a promotional item from the early nineties television show. As an extremely avid fan of the franchise, I found this watch to be a better gift than any watch I could have imagined. I was given a used Victorinox watch for actual wear (the Indiana Jones watch is for my collection). It’s still a beautiful watch and believe it or not, it has the time for me whenever I need it. In my life, this is perfect.

  62. (I think the survey is a far enough point to take the discussion)

  63. @CC – actually, my ‘remark’ was that I didn’t understand why you believe saving money for an expensive purchase means you can’t afford the purchase. I never said a good watch is worth saving for – I was, clearly, making a larger point. I also never came close to suggesting that a ‘proper’ watch was a mark of one’s character….

    I don’t work in sales, law, or finance. I don’t wear a quality watch for the ‘status’ any more than I wear quality shoes to for that reason. I tend to buy the highest quality I can afford in any category because I believe it’s a wise, efficient way to spend one’s limited resources (and time on earth). I also don’t believe that you can cleanly separate quality from style – if you’re knowingly buying/wearing junk to make some sort of point, I believe it detracts from your style and displays aggressively poor taste…

    Moreover, just like buying nice loafers doesn’t mean you also can’t visit the Pyramids, the same goes for a nice watch….the two aren’t, obviously, mutually exclusive. As has already been said, high quality watches can be had for the same price as a couple pair of Alden loafers (or a few of your over-accessorized outfits). Lord….

    Finally, to continue to suggest that nice watches, uniquely and always, “are a thing” (e.g. all about status, overpriced, etc.), but deny that designer clothes and accessories are frequently flaunted, marketed, aspired to, and displayed in the exact same manner, is to undermine your credibility and holy tone. You run a style blog with ads for $700 shoes – I’m not sure how bohemian and arty you believe you are, but there’s little on here that anyone would consider high-culture….

  64. Christian | June 19, 2014 at 3:39 pm |

    Am going to the ballet next Sunday. Very excited to see Nijinsky’s famous choreography for “L’apres-midi d’un faun.” I’ll be sure and do a post. It’s the Boston Ballet, so there’s sort of an Ivy angle.

  65. I’m a classical musician & love ballet: I’m looking forward to your post, what you saw & heard on-stage, and also off-stage sartorially. I think your Timex with the gray croc band is beautiful. I have 4 Timex and 1 Tiffany, all very good timepieces. My favorite, because it’s the most beautiful, is a woman’s gold-tone date with mother-of-pearl face and a deep burgundy croco-embossed leather band–indeed to me it’s the most beautiful watch I’ve ever seen & it brings me much pleasure to look at it when wearing it. The only thing I would change is to have stitching on the band. The pictures here almost do it justice, but not quite:

  66. Enough of this nonsense; the only proper watch for a gentleman about town is the Rouchefoucauld World Complication; the thinnest water resistant watch in the world, singularly unique, sculptured in design, handcrafted in Switzerland and water-resistant to three atmospheres. For the man on the go it tells time simultaneously in Monte-Carlo, Beverly Hills, London, Paris, Rome and Gstaad. Anything else is just… a watch.

  67. CC:

    May I suggest you wear this to the ballet vs the Timex?

  68. J Kraus for the win!

    Confession: I own a couple watches nicer than my timex, I just never wear them. Also haven’t made it to La Scala yet, but I’m lucky enough to be working this summer in Switzerland…c/o Rolex.

  69. Etymologue | June 20, 2014 at 12:14 am |

    The Gold Tone version , T20491, is also available. Unfortunately, it has a black, rather than a brown band, but that can be easily changed:

  70. James Redhouse | June 20, 2014 at 2:07 pm |


    That Timex with the Roman numerals is model no. T2N540.
    A very handsome watch, indeed.

  71. “Where, to the contrary, WASP/New England/Prep/Whatever culture has always celebrated traditional (upper, maybe upper-upper) middle class values: being a professional with a serious career, voting Republican, eating bland domestic food, drinking clear liquor instead of imported wine. It’s the opposite of twirling your imaginary mustache and laughing about the bourgeoisie.”

    This is so true. Cheap whiskey especially. A milk-water-bunch, and God bless them.

    But don’t tell the up-and-comers. If they cling to the notion that members of the Old Guard have always been staunch supporters of all things haute (cuisine, art, wine, exotic destinations), so be it.

  72. There is nothing wrong with having a cheaper watch if that is what is comfortable. Cheap whiskey can make ya dance the same way a finer whiskey can

  73. Fascinating that the man whose style I greatly admire, GBB, wears a ladies’ watch (and I’ll wager it’s a good’un). I’ve always favoured small watches, be they cheap or expensive. But of all the watches, in all the towns, in all the world, the JLC Reverso in original 1931 size has never been surpassed.

  74. I’m going to say this & get off this web site forever b/c you people are too much………..

    I own a Rolex, a Movado, several Seikos & 2 Timex’s. I also own several Louis Vuitton bags, a couple of Coach bags, several Dooney & Bourkes, 2 Kate Spades & 1 Gucci……in addition to several Italian bags with names no one would recognize. I’ve always loved watches, shoes & purses b/c they can make or break a $40 outfit.

    I’m not rich but people who don’t know me personally assume that I’m from a ritzy area in CT, CA, NY or WDC. Those who know me know the answer – but like a woman’s age & weight – I’m not telling. LOL

  75. Minimalist Trad | September 2, 2014 at 2:34 am |
  76. Front Porch Life | December 20, 2016 at 12:17 pm |

    Maybe I should have been born a millionaire?! The watch debate is always one that baffles me as I cannot justify spending multiple thousands of dollars for a watch. Sure, it is a style statement but some of us display our social status and style in different ways. Some folks display their class though clothing, others own beautiful estates, and many people spend time and energy on luxury cars. If only we could all afford to be sophisticated in each of these areas.

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