Why did I buy this stuff?
We’ve all been there. That shiny something glitters in a shop window or glints behind a glass case. You have to have it, whatever it costs. And then, a week or month later, it strikes.
What was I thinking?
I’m no different. I’ve bought a ton of stuff that seemed like a good idea at the time, only to end up regretting it. But, even so, I thought I’d come clean and share some of the worst purchases I’ve made.
1. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540
I’m a fan of nice fragrances. From the approachable Polo Green to the aspirational Spice and Wood, one of my favorite things about fragrance is there’s always something new to discover. As I was going down one of my fragrance “rabbit holes”, Baccarat Rouge 540 by Maison Francis Kurkdjian captured my attention.
I’d never smelled it. I’d never even seen it in a store. But, it had the allure-a beautiful crystal bottle, lovely hotel in New York where Robin and I have enjoyed a few too-expensive cocktails, that kind of thing.
Of course, having no idea what it smelled like, I read and watched every review I could to convince myself this was a good idea. Some said it was “orange-y, a little on the sweet side.” Not my thing.
But, others said it was “transparent.” Hmm…intriguing. I couldn’t say I’d ever experienced a ‘transparent’ fragrance before. So, I pulled the trigger. It was a totally blind buy, and I spent way too much on it.
I should have gone with my gut. I just don’t like how it smells on me. But, it’s not a total loss- Robin gets plenty of use out of it, and I do like how it smells on her.
2. Brooks Brothers Black Fleece Tartan Pants
When I look back at some of the worst purchases I’ve made, I’m comforted to know I made them early in my style journey. I suppose it’s an unavoidable mistake everyone makes- we want to show we’re “into style” and we try way too hard to do it.
When I was first getting into the style world, one of the sub-brands I gravitated to was the Black Fleece line from Brooks Brothers. Designed by Thom Browne, it had fantastic off-the-rack shirts. And, the jackets were all kinds of funky. But, this isn’t a story about the jacket. It’s about these tartan pants.
I just never wore them! Sure, I broke them out at the holidays every now and then; but for the most part, they were just too loud, too crazy, and too hard to combine with much else.
3. FujiFilm X100S Camera
While I’m fortunate to work with Rob and his arsenal of cameras, I do like photography myself and do occasionally need to take them when he or Robin aren’t available. So, I do need to have a decent camera myself.
I was in the market for one back in 2013-14. I was looking for something under $1,000, but could still take quality photos-basically, a nice point and shoot.
We’d gone on our first brand trip as guests of Persol, and while his usual camera-a Canon 1DX Mark II is amazing, it’s just way more than I need or care to deal with. But, he did bring a FujiFilm X100S along to take some video. It’s a small, powerful, good-looking camera he really liked, and the one I ended up buying.
I hated that thing. Maybe it takes a certain kind of photographer to use it, but I could never get it to do what I wanted. I can’t count the number of times I was disappointed in the photos or when I saw an opportunity for a good shot and it just failed horribly. I tried to get better with it, but it just became more a prop in the end.
4. Cheap Racing Wheels
Not style-related at all here, but still a lesson to be learned. When I was an elite cyclist, I was very particular about my equipment. Better brakes, calipers, shifters, or tires make a huge difference when you’re stacked up against competition about the same ability level.
I was looking at a set of Zipp 404s, but they are quite pricey. I decided, instead, to buy a cheaper set from a guy in the local cycling community selling his own wheels.
As soon as I got them, I knew I’d make a mistake. They were light (which is good), but to the point of cheapness and not confidence-inspiring on the bike.
The next weekend was a road race. My job was to attack and break away early, making the field chase me so a teammate could sit in and launch a counterattack once the field caught up. I did exactly that- but at the expense of one of the more harrowing breakaways I’ve ever done.
The wheels were supposedly trued (aligned so they’d rotate properly), but they wobbled like crazy on this fast, downhill course. I thought they were going to snap or fall off the bike. Imagine that heading downhill at 50mph.
I did buy those Zipp 404s in the end. The quality upgrade was worth it.
5. Porsche Design Sunglasses
Sunglasses can be tough for me. I’ve got a narrow face and many of today’s popular styles are just way too big. Some, like the Persol 649 and 714s, come in smaller, 52mm sizes and end up working out okay.
I did, however, see stylish guys like Angel Ramos, Matt Hranek, and Steve Knorsch of the Snob Report wearing a pair of Porsche Design by Carrera sunglasses. They just looked so…cool.
I looked into them and found, to my dismay, they typically run quite wide. But, vintage versions tend to run smaller. So, I hopped on eBay, looked for some labelled “small”, and found a few pairs at a pretty good price. They weren’t too expensive, so I rolled the dice.
Definitely not for me.
The takeaway from my worst purchases, though, is even though you might do the research and think you’ve covered all your bases, you can still buy things you regret. I’ve definitely made more than what I’ve shared here. But, we learn from these mistakes and get better. We get smarter and learn what works for us and what doesn’t. In the end, it helps us develop our unique sense of style.
What are some of your worst purchases?