One of the most practical and usable accessories to have in the wardrobe is a grosgrain ribbon watch band. These three from J. Press are the ones that I use most often. Top to bottom: red and navy stripe, blue white and red stripe (reversible to a red,white and navy side) and a solid light blue band. The latter actually gets the most wear, as it will go with almost any clothing combination.
J. Press grosgrain watch bands retail for $18.00 to $29.00, but they currently have a 40% off sale. As much as I’d like to find these in a thrift store, it’s nearly impossible. So I wait for a good sale to buy the ones I want at a discount. Maybe it’s a lot of fuss over what will support a very cheap Timex with a visibly scratched face, but I’m just quirky that way.
For more about the place of grosgrain ribbon watch bands in preppy culture (and their recent resurgence in men’s fashion), check out Ivy Style.
I have a very old sweatshirt from the Yale Co-opthat I bought as a grad student in New Haven in the early 90s. It is full of small holes here and there and is fraying badly on the collar and cuffs. It’s 100% cotton – very soft – and I wouldn’t part with it. I’ll wear this sweatshirt until it falls apart. Unfortunately, the Yale Co-op, which served generations of students, is no longer around. They had to file for bankruptcy in 1999 and went out of business the following year.
This shot was taken with a forward facing camera on my iMac, using Photo Booth, and then modified with the oil paint filter in Photoshop, experimenting with a few things there, I guess. Also visible is the collar of a frayed Brooks Brothers button down shirt (thrifted: $2.50). I have on a Timex watch with a red, white and blue striped grosgrain band from J. Press and a pair of P3 “tortoise shell” (acetate) glasses from Coastal.com. They have great deals on glasses. I got the frames with progressive lenses and had them shipped for a total of $149.00.
“Hi, my name is Preppy Croc, and I’m a tie-o-holic.” If you’ve never been to this meeting before, the correct response in a very affirming tone would be, “Hi, Preppy Croc!” You’re just seeing the top layer of my tie rack. There are several layers more underneath this one. 52 ties total. All but four were thrifted, some for as little as .99 cents. Most are Brooks Brothers and 100% silk or linen/silk blends. Some are 100% cotton madras. None contains polyester! You may also consider me a tie hoarder. Not so bad. In fact, much better smell-wise than cat hoarding. I sense a new reality show on the horizon, but that would be a decidedly unprep. Hmmm.
My latest thrift purchase was a nautical flag belt – embroidered on leather with a webbed cotton backing and a brass buckle. The belt was made by Zep-Pro, a company I had no heard of before. The low price ($3.99) and overall good condition made this an excellent find. It always pays to check the belt section. I often find motif belts in excellent condition by Leather Man Limited that are typically priced under $5.00 vs. $45.00 or more at retail.
Zep-Pro is based in Pembroke Park, Florida and makes a range of belts and accessories, including ribbon on webbed cotton, collegiate belts and keychains as well as motif pet collars and leads. By the preponderance of deep sea and fresh water fish motifs, it’s safe to say they cater to the angler.
I can’t access the Zep-Pro price list, which requires access to a secure server by request only. Odd. I’d estimate the price falls in the range of $45.00 to $60.00. I think this belt will go nicely with my Nantucket Reds.
As fun as it is to find well-made, classic clothes at bargain basement prices, I also believe in supporting local retail clothiers – particularly when certain items are difficult to find otherwise. High quality bow ties of 100% silk or cotton are perfect examples. Recently, I stopped by Rush Wilson Limited in Greenville, SC to look at the current selection of bow ties, with a particular eye for the madras variety.
In this video, store owner Rush Wilson III demonstrates the correct way to tie a bow tie. He is a very friendly gentleman and will spend time answering each customer’s questions. His father – Rush Wilson, Jr. – founded the Greenville store in 1959, having opened his first store in Davidson, NC a few years earlier. Over the years, he developed very close relationships with the community. You can tell that Rush III has continued that way of doing business. He cares about the people who shop there and wants them to look their best.
In an era of mass-marketed style, it’s nice to see a traditional men’s shop thriving, one where the sales associates know you by name. Aside from offering clothing of superior quality, Rush Wilson Limited’s long-term success is based on getting to know each customer in order to best meet his wardrobe needs, rather than trying to sell him just anything. If you’re ever in town, you should definitely stop by. You don’t find this sort of unique and personalized retail experience every day – so don’t be in a hurry.
Interior view of Rush Wilson Limited in Greenville, SC.
Some accessories are just hard to find in a thrift store. One example is this navy and maroon grosgrain watch band which supports a cheapo – but very accurate – Timex watch. I bought the band at J. Press for $9.00. Grosgrain watch bands come in many colors and various stripes. They are quintessentially preppy, and some people change them frequently depending on ensemble. I think the navy/maroon band works well with the Brooks Brothers tattersall shirt (thrift store purchase: $5.00), green L.L. Bean wool sweater (thrift store purchase: $7.00) and navy Ralph Lauren duffle coat (outlet mall purchase: $279.00). With a little more patience, I probably could have found a duffle coat in my size in a thrift store, but the weather in NYC turned cold, and I paid the higher outlet mall price for mine. It’s very warm and has a hood. I’m all prepped out and layered up!
At my favorite thrift store again tonight (Unique in Riverdale, NY), I found several items that I thought worth showing. L to R: Nautical belt from Leather Man Limited in Essex, CT ($6.99), navy surcingle belt from Dockers ($4.99)…not a preppy brand per se, but passable, dirty bucks with brick red soles from Bass ($12.99), crew neck heavy wool sweater from L.L. Bean (19.99), no name white 100% cotton scarf ($3.99) and a pair of no name 100% cotton, plain front khakis embroidered with whales ($12.99)…though I thought the whale motif just a bit too large. Total cost of all items: $66.94. My guess is that these items would retail for around $300. So what items did I buy? I got the L.L. Bean sweater. It was a large and a perfect fit, made in the USA of 85% wool and 15% nylon for strength. It will be great for winter. I also got the navy surcingle belt. Again, a perfect fit. The nautical belt from Leather Man was such a great find, but not the right size. It was the third belt from that maker I’ve come across in the last month. The Bass shoes were unfortunately 1/2 size too small. The embroidered khakis were not my size either. I passed on the sarf. The shots for this trip were taken inside the thrift store under fluorescent lights (please excuse).
The workmanship on the Leather Man belts always seems of the highest quality, and I wouldn’t mind making a trip to their factory/store. It’s about 90 minutes from where I live.
I’ve been looking for a while now for a pair of dirty bucks, but I can never seem to find them in the right size. I wear an 11 and these were 10 1/2. They were in especially good condition, which is rare for thrift store shoes. One guy in the store tonight had found two pairs of perfectly fitting canvas Sperry Topsiders. Most of the time I buy my shoes at factory outlet malls (Sperry, L.L. Bean, Bass and Cole Haan all have stores at a nearby outlet). I’ve also found leather Topsiders, Clark’s Desert Boots and Cole Haan leather, cap toe dress shoes for 50% off at Marshall’s.
Follow Up Note: All of the items that I did not buy on this trip were GONE the next day.
My wife and I were at an estate sale in New Canaan, CT a few weeks ago. She found a small Vineyard Vines tote with a whale motif for $1.00. We saw the same item later that day at the Vineyard Vines store in Greenwich for around $30.00. I found a pair of classic leather Sperry Topsiders for $2.00. Several men’s suits from The Andover Shop were on sale at $10.00 each. Although the suits were an amazing find, I had to pass on them. They were a size too small. Heartache. I should have bought them to resell.