Commodores Uniforms on the Gridiron in the 21st Century

Introduction

Uniforms are the best part of college football. They are about tradition, style, grace, and fun, and they divide a fanbase like little else. Sure, every uniform houses a school’s athletic logo and that school’s athletic colors as well as identifies players via numbers and usually name plates. But uniforms go above and beyond, also representing a university, community, and even state. Notre Dame’s golden lids are the representation of the Gold Dome at the heart of their campus. Arizona State’s alternate uniform incorporates copper color in reference to the state’s copper mines. Our “friends” to the east recently introduced a uniform color inspired by the nearby Smokey Mountains. At its extreme, uniforms define the team logo (looking at you, terrible NFL Cleveland Browns logo of a plain brown helmet). Without question, the design of a team uniform is of the utmost importance.

Over the past ten years, there has been remarkable attention paid to college uniforms and their designs—likely fueled by Nike’s work at Oregon. New helmets of chrome or matte have become popular at programs around the nation, as have ‘blackouts’ (or other color rushes), and teams everywhere have expanded their wardrobes to include alternates for special occasions or special games. Various uniform combinations are commonly seen as a recruiting tool as well as a way to drum up excitement among the fan base. Only the most successful/traditional schools have resisted this change. Michigan would never take the field without its winged helmets, just as Alabama wouldn’t dare to change having players’ number adorn each side of their headgear.

This brings us to the Commodores. As a perennially unsuccessful team over the past half-century, new coaches have used uniform changes to excite the fanbase and try to draw support. Due to this, Vanderbilt has rarely had a ‘consistent’ look. I won’t delve too much into the 20th century history of the Vanderbilt uniform (not much of it is particularly notable), but suffice to say helmets, jerseys, and pants have taken on a wide variety of logos, stripes, and colors over the years. For this piece, I’ll take a look at the most recent Commodore uniforms, assess what I perceive their strengths and weaknesses are, take a guess at how Mason has altered the standard Vanderbilt look, and how Vanderbilt could best update its uniforms in the future.

To make that much easier, the following Dropbox link contains a folder that has every combination of uniform Mason has worn since 2014 along with some popular 2012 combinations and the 2000, 2002, and 2008 sets for reference. If I missed a set from the past 3 years, please let me know and I’ll update the folder. Before reading further, I highly recommend taking a look at them. And yes, we’ve had no less than 5 uniform overhauls in the past 16 seasons.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/soc20n82ewq8yxw/AAD4NCPdQ0-XyMGfw-4WiLFMa?dl=0

2000 Gold-White-Gold.jpg

At the turn of the century, Vanderbilt was wearing gold domes with the arcing “VANDERBILT” nested in a V logo. Uniforms were sponsored by Russell, and were extremely plain. We had two jerseys as far as I can find: a white one and a black one. The jerseys lacked any adornment, with only the SEC logo and manufacturer logo on them. No VU logo nor player names adorned them, and there was no trim around the lettering. The pants had a bit of personality however. The gold pants had a single black stripe down the side with a plain, symmetrical gold V at the hip. White pants had a black stripe down the side with a gold star at the hip.

2002 All Uniform Combos.jpg

When Johnson arrived in 2002, he brought updated uniforms with him. Jerseys and pants came in black, gold, and white. White and gold jerseys all had black lettering and only a Nike logo on them, with one horizontal shoulder stripe at the bottom of the sleeve. All pants had a two-color stripe down the side, but no logos. The helmets were updated to the look we know today: gold base with a white stripe and black borders and the Star-V logo on the side. The current gold helmets are the longest-tenured helmets Vanderbilt has used in decades.

2008 Gold-White.jpeg

Uniforms were updated significantly in 2008 to one of Nike’s new patterns. The shoulder stripes were removed, and piping was added that dropped from the interior of the shoulder and surrounded the front player number. The Star-V logo was placed at the neck line and in the place of player names on the back. The numbers were also outlined in a contrasting color as well. White jerseys had black lettering with a gold outline, gold jerseys had white numbers in a black outline, and black jerseys had white numbers with a gold outline. The pants also received a change, adding a Star-V logo on the left hip and ditching the side stripes.

These are the uniforms Franklin had in his first year, but he added a black helmet to the rotation. The black helmet was the first black lid used since the script “Vandy” adorned the sides from 1979–83 (and featured in the Hall of Fame Bowl). This black helmet did not feature a centerline stripe. After a year with the program, the uniforms were overhauled before the 2012 season. This set (which I believe are the best set Vanderbilt has ever had) again came in black, gold, and white variants. New was the addition of a white helmet, the Commodores’ first since the 1986–1990 seasons. (An aside: For a brief time in 1987, these helmets also had “73” on the left side and an all-gold star-V on the right side!). VU Commodores has an excellent summary of the changes:

2012 All Uniform Jerseys.jpg

  • For the first time since 1994,”Vanderbilt” will be displayed on the front of Commodore jerseys. The name will be in all caps above jersey numbers.
  • A gold “anchor” emblem adorns the homeplate or front “V” neck of all jerseys. Last year, the Star V logo was stitched there. (Note that this anchor was not the anchor we use as an alternate logo.)
  • “Anchor Down” text is stitched in the interior of each jersey neckline.
  • Nike’s iconic “flywire” stitching is incorporated into the high impact shoulder area of each jersey.
  • The gold jersey top features black shoulder coverings, black lettering and black numbers. Last year (the 2008-2011 uniform), the gold jersey had white numbers.
  • All jerseys have an updated circular SEC patch stitched over the right breast. The Nike swoosh is over the left breast.
  • Star V logos will adorn each hip of the pants. In 2011, a lone Star V logo was located on the left front of the uniform pant.

In addition to these changes, the font used for the numbers was updated to be a little bolder and a little more unique (particularly the digit ‘5’). The type used to write “Vanderbilt” also matched the typeface that the university uses in its official wordmark, adding coherence to the uniform that bonded it to the newly-updated field and jumbotron.

Mason’s Updates

The Derek Mason era began with new uniforms as well, but I don’t think I need to remind anyone how that went. Mason first game featured new designs not seen before on a Vanderbilt uniform: A sublimated anchor pattern on the shoulder, a thinly weighted typeface, and black jersey that had gold lettering rather than white. On the pants, the hip logos were removed and the pants returned to displaying one Star-V on the front left hip opposite the Nike logo. The Star-V replaced the anchor on the neckline, and TV numbers moved to the top of the shoulder to accommodate the new shoulder pattern. They debuted with new black helmets, now in matte. Despite the updates to the black uniform, the gold and white jerseys and pants were not updated. Mason also tweaked the existing white helmet, removing the black and gold center stripe that adorned it in the previous two seasons.

2014 Why Did I include this I'm sorry.jpg

I’m so sorry I made you relapse due to this image.

Mason completely updated the 2015 uniforms to match the 2014 Anchor Down black set, with mixed success. First, the gold and white top and bottom were updated to match the black. The current gold jersey borrows its shoulder designfrom the previous gold jersey, adding black shoulder sleeve in the anchor pattern. It also continues using black numbering. The new white jersey added the black shoulder pattern present on the black and gold as well, giving these uniforms a unique look separating them from the solid white of the previous ones.

The most substantial changes happened to the white and black helmets. A chain stripe adorns the black and white variants, with our anchor secondary logo at the end of the chain in the back. The logos become monochrome, and the size of the star has increased.

2015 All.jpeg

The adage goes “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, but rather than keep a look we all associate with 9-4 seasons, Mason came in and put his own stamp on the program by switching up the uniforms after only two years. This is not a bad thing in and of itself, but it certainly wasn’t necessary. On the one hand, most of the uniform changes he oversaw reinforce the nautical/anchor theme we’ve been stressing since Franklin came in. Doubling down on the anchor iconography is good. “Anchor Down” is here to stay, and having the uniforms reflect this [legally] is a good thing. On the other hand, it’s not particularly necessary to replace what were ostensibly new uniforms. Each of the pieces have something that could be improved, particularly with typeface selection and the use of our primary Star-V logo.

 

The jerseys are the best pieces of the set. The anchor shoulder patterns look nice and are distinctive. The gold color on each of them looks correct, and they look distinctive from our opponents’ uniforms. My main issue lies with the numbers. The 2012-2013 set had big, large, bold numbers that had great legibility. The current ones reduced the font size, which is never a good thing. Additionally, the “Vanderbilt” on the front got smaller and harder to read. For such a long name and for a school with uniforms or a logo not instantly recognizable to any random Joe Schmoe flipping through ESPN on a Saturday morning, legibility should be the most important aspect to these uniforms. The typeface no longer matches the typeface used on our home field, which is disappointing. I could do without the fly wire coloring in the collar as well.

The pants saw only a minor change. They return to only having one Star-V adorn the left pant leg, though now they have an additional star outline around them. The Star-V on each of the pants is either black or clear and the V takes the color of the pants the logo is printed on.

CLrSQsEWgAA5ahP.jpg-large.jpeg

The helmets are a mixed bag. Your opinion of these is greatly dependent on how much you like traditional helmet designs, and are the most hit-or-miss element of the new set. They feature large, monochrome Star-V designs, a chain stripe down the middle that ends in the secondary anchor logo, and “Commodores” along the base of the helmets.

The updates to the black and white helmets make the ‘traditional’ gold helmet look a little stale. It’s a classic look that will never look bad, but in about 10 years it could be the trendy chain stripe helmets that look bad. The only issue with not updating the gold helmets is that the gold no longer quite matches the gold used on the black and white jerseys. Because of the subtle gold trim used on the 2012-2013 set, the gold helmet looked good with both jerseys. In contrast, the gold on the 2015 jerseys don’t seem to quite match the gold helmet anymore. Hopefully that can be rectified soon, but for reasons I’ll outline later on, it may not matter much anymore.

Because of the inconsistent logo used across uniforms, combinations are possible that have three variants of the Star V logo visible at once. On the all-white look, you have a white field star with a black V on the helmet, the standard logo on the neckline, and the black field and white V (with no gold and a superfluous black outline) on the pants. Consistent this is not.

2015 Deep Water.jpg

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Deep Water uniforms introduced in 2015. Fan, recruit, and player reaction to these uniforms has been extremely positive, for good reason. The helmet here is the best of the bunch: it is glossy with a black-grey field with wave patterns and features a gold anchor on the side and a gold anchor chain. The uniform color is battleship grey (sweet) and while not black and gold, looks really good (so good in fact, that I would be happy if these replaced our white jerseys). The jersey features a big custom typeface that fixes my issue with the standard uniform: slim, hard-to-read numbers. The proper Star-V is in the neckline as well. The at numbers are back on the side of the shoulder rather than the top. The jersey and pants also feature some additional piping and stitching that give the uniform some texture and break up the grey. On these pants, the Star-V is shifted to the front right hip and “Anchor Down” is emblazoned where stripe would usually go along the side (we didn’t get in trouble this time!). The Star-V on the hip utilizes the proper logo, which is a nice improvement over the standard set. On these pants, it makes sense that the Star-V can’t be at the hip. The only complain that I can level at these is that the “Vanderbilt” typography is the same used on the default 2015 uniforms. If they were shifted to match the font used across the athletic department and on the football field, this set would be perfect.

Uniform Trends Under Mason:

Below I’ve tabulated each uniform combination worn since Derek Mason took over in 2014 along with some observations. Below the table are some of the overall trends I noticed and some conclusions we can draw from them.

 

In 2014, Mason was all over the place with uniform combinations. Adding to the debacle of the first game’s “Anchor Down” name plate, Derek Mason rolled out an absolutely awful combination for the following game against Ole Miss game: White-gold-white. In addition to not being able to coach the team on the field, he couldn’t even put colors together that visually represented Vanderbilt, or even looked good. He used 9 different uniform combinations in 2014, with only Gold-White-Gold, Black-Gold-Black, and Black-Black-Black repeated, leading to an inconsistent visual identity for the team. Black helmets were worn five times, followed by two each for the white and gold. Each helmet was worn at least once for a home game and an away game. The white jersey was only worn away (makes sense), and home games were 5 black, 3 gold. Black pants were also worn 6 times, but with no consistency as whether they were only home or away or only against SEC competition. It was a mess.

Years 2 and 3 under Mason have been much better with visual consistency, aided by having uniforms that were more coherent in theme. The Deep Water uniforms were worn twice in 2015 and once as a unit in 2016. The black helmet again came out six times, with each other helmet getting worn twice. Unlike Bobby Johnson’s sole use of the gold dome, we’ve seen over the past three-plus years a shift to the black helmet being the primary lid, which I hadn’t realized until doing this research.

Mason’s use of the white helmet has declined since the 2014 season, only being used four times in the last two years: @Ole Miss 2015, @Houston 2015, vs. South Carolina 2016, and @Missouri 2016. Why we did a white out at home for a football game when our colors are black and gold, I don’t know; I can only hope that it never happens again. What I can say is that the Deep Water Helmet + Black Jersey + Black Pants will always be remembered fondly by Commodore fans.

2016 DW-Black-Black.jpg

My Opinion:

With 3 different combinations of jerseys plus a Deep Water alternate, the question becomes when you wear which uniform. Mason wore the Deep Water set in the second home game of the year for 2015 and 2016, and wore an element of each uniform at the close of each season. My take is that they should be once-a-year uniforms worn on the first home game of SEC play. It’s early in the season, fan engagement should still be high, and it will look excellent on TV.

As for the helmets, the chain stripe is pretty cool and is cohesive with the anchor pattern on the jerseys. The anchor on the back is nice, though a little large. What bothers me about these helmets is the monochrome logo.  Vanderbilt has an excellent logo. There is no need for it to change needlessly on the most prominent location on the uniform ensemble, and yet that’s exactly what happened. The black helmets would look much better if they had a white V in them rather than a gold one. It would absolutely pop and highlight the white V on the black jersey when they were paired. The white helmet fares worse: it simply has a black star outline with a black V on a white field. The previous white helmets had the standard Star-V logo on them (gold outline, white “V”) and looked much better—and were much more legible and distinctive—as a result. The gold helmet is more distinctive to Vanderbilt in the SEC (especially since newcomer Missouri exclusively uses a black lid), and I would enjoy it regaining its prominence in the wardrobe lineup. White should be avoided where possible since it isn’t one of our colors. It’s disappointing to see it relegated to only 16% of our games per year. I’d at least like to see what the gold would look like with a black chain stripe and anchor. I’d love if we wore the gold helmet to all away games and kept the black helmet exclusively for blackouts at the non-conference season opener and Senior Night.

The pants are the saddest part of the 2015 uniforms in my opinion. I like the fact that they don’t have stripes on them, but that means that the Star-V must be done really well. They aren’t. The Star-V on the pants has a star outline on it, making it look like a Dallas Cowboys Star with a V in it. It isn’t very legible either, and isn’t even the right colors on the gold jersey: instead of actually being the Commodores’ logo (gold outline, black field, white V), it’s simply a black star and an outline with a V formed in negative space on the gold jersey. The logo is correct on the black jersey, and is monochrome instead of having a gold border on the white pants. The whole look with the outline is terrible, and I hope it gets fixed soon. I personally also enjoyed having a star-V on each hip, so I’m disappointed that it has moved to the front left quarter and has the Nike logo on the other side.

To be honest, I think that the weakest uniform pieces we have are the white pants and the white helmet. The black variations of those look better, and we have little to gain by wearing white. We’re lucky in that Vanderbilt’s colors don’t suck and that a neutral color like white (or grey) is needed to offer some color balance (look at Ole Miss and Georgia, who consistently use grey pants). Black is one of our school colors. We may as well use it. If we do keep the white helmet and black pants, it should have some more black and gold on it, as it did in 2012 and 2013 (and earlier for the pants). Another weak uniform combination we’ve used over the past two seasons is Gold-White-Gold on the road. This would be one case when breaking the “Rule of 2” (where at least two of the three uniform pieces should have the same base color) would be good, as a Gold-White-Black combo would look better.

The Court of Public Opinion

I have demonstrated how our look has evolved, noted recent trends in uniform selection, illustrated my thoughts on the uniforms, and provided some peanut-gallery commentary on how they could improve. But what do you all think? What are our best uniform combinations, or the worst? What combination do you loathe, and am I crazy for not being especially fond of the white helmet? Here are some fun questions to consider:

Should we replace white uniforms with battleship grey ones?

Do we really need a white helmet?

Should we update the gold helmet with the chain stripe?

Should the gold return to being our primary helmet, or continue using the black helmet as our primary?

Are the uniforms perfect just the way they are?

On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you like them?

Owning the Apple Watch: Hardware

We’ve reached Part II of my five-part Using the Apple Watch series. Last time out I offered my perspective on the three basic tenants of the Apple Watch: timekeeping, activity tracking, and communicating. Here, I focus on something even more fundamental: the hardware itself.

In case you missed them:

Part III: Software

Part IV: Fitness

Part V: The Future

My Bulova next to my Apple Watch. I haven't had to charge my Bulova in a while, but it's keeping excellent time.

My Apple Watch next to my Bulova. I haven’t had to charge my Bulova in a while, but it’s keeping excellent time.

My Model

I opted for the 38 mm Space Grey Apple Watch Sport. It’s got a nice, clean finish that I really admire. I decided not to go for the larger 42 mm because, to me, it looked too much like a screen on my wrist rather than a watch. I had the same feeling about the silver Sport models; the design seemed too loud to me, even though for the past few years I’ve been wearing a silver watch with a black face. I also feel like the space grey may dress up a little bit nicer, but I may end up being proven wrong on that later once I get some other bands. I decided to go with the Sport model primarily because it costs less; I’d rather not pay a crazy amount for a Generation 1 product. The Sport models all come with the sport band, and I don’t really have any complaints about it. It’s a little weird to put on the first time, but it’s pretty comfortable. Grime, dirt, liquids, or anything else don’t bother it at all. The strangest part of the adjustment process to me is how light the Apple Watch is. My Bulova is pretty heavy, and it has been odd wearing a watch that lacks heft and doesn’t slide around my wrist like my Bulova does. The Apple Watch is smaller than it seems it would be on the website, especially the 38mm. Design-wise, the device itself is a pleasant boxy, yet soft and round shape that feels good on the wrist.

I think it fits my wrist perfectly, but I'm also used to having a small watch.

I think it fits my wrist perfectly, but I’m also used to having a small watch.

Interface Buttons

Here you get a nice view of the side buttons.

Here you get a nice view of the digital crown and the side button.

The Apple Watch has two physical buttons: the digital crown and the side button. The digital crown is what is primarily used to interface with the watch. It is used primarily to go to the home screen and pull up Siri with a long press. Like the whole enclosure, the digital crown is smaller than one would think, but it works well. Twisting the crown is used for scrolling and zooming. Scrolling can be done with a finger on the touch screen, but I’ve found that I use the crown all of the time to scroll—you simply can’t see anything on the screen if you use your finger. The crown spins nicely, and has a good bit of resistance to it. The side button is used for three purposes. A single press brings up the friend circle, while a double press brings up Apple Pay. A long press brings up the options to lock, enter Power Reserve (a mode that limits the watch to only display the time {only digitally, unfortunately}), or turn the device off.

I have very mixed feelings about the side button. As I mentioned in my previous article, I feel as though having an entire button solely devoted to contacting 12 of my most-used contacts is, frankly, slightly ridiculous, especially on a device with such limited screen real estate for on-screen controls. I do appreciate having the quick access to ApplePay, and that behavior makes sense, especially as ApplePay continues to roll out across the country. Ideally, the Apple Pay and Friend Circle behaviors would be the behavior only on the watch face and the home screen. I think certain applications would really benefit from having a hardware button. I’m never going to be running for time and want to call my mom on my watch. Having to pause mid-run is infinitely more likely. This is the same as the volume up shutter button function on iOS devices. If you didn’t know, you can use the volume buttons as a shutter button in the camera apps on iOS. Needing a stable way to take a photo is much more likely than needing to turn up the volume while needing to take a picture. I know that opening the side button to other uses on the Watch is opening a can of worms, but I think many watch users would happily make that trade of function and complexity at the expense of consistency. If not in watchOS 2, I hope third-party developers get access to the button via watchOS 3.

Alerts

There are two key elements of the watch not available to the naked eye: Force Touch and the Taptic Engine. Force Touch is another way to interacts with applications. Similar to the Force Touch trackpads on the recently-updated MacBooks, the Apple Watch’s display is now pressure sensitive, and can determine when extra force is exerted on the screen. This allows for additional options to appear, such as a “Clear All” button on the notification screen. It feels weird to tap, and then press harder into the screen, but it certainly works. The Taptic Engine is, in my opinion, the ‘killer feature’ of the Apple Watch. Whenever you receive a notification, the watch just taps you. You can’t hear it. No one else will know but you. And sure enough, as you raise your wrist after that tap, there’s the new notification, waiting for you to act on it. It’s awesome. Because of this, I see no reason not to keep the Watch on mute at all times.

The Charger and the Battery

This is one of the major sticking points of the watch. Let’s get this out of the way early: You’re going to have to charge this every night maybe, and every two nights definitely. For me, it’s certainly nightly. I’d say that, on average, I have between 10% and 25% battery left over (wearing it from about 0630–0000 every day). There have been a couple of times where it has dipped below 10%, but these were very long days. A big part of the battery drain is working out. As you might imagine, using the heart rate monitor on the back takes some juice, so the more you workout with it, the faster it will drain. However, if you turn it off altogether and don’t really use it for fitness tracking, I wouldn’t be surprised if it lasted for two days. Note that all of these numbers are for the smaller one, which has a smaller battery capacity than the 42mm. Battery life isn’t terrible, but it isn’t great either.

The Watch is charged via a magnetic inductive charger, bringing to mind memories of the MagSafe charger on MacBooks. The cord is a solid 2 meters long it seems, so you won’t have any issues reaching the bedside table with it. However, the watch just begs for a stand, and I’ll soon be investing in the TwelveSouth HiRise for Apple Watch. I don’t want to get my first scratch on this thing by haphazardly knocking the thing off of my desk at 0530 in the morning.

Watch + Water = ?

The Apple Watch and water get along great, pretty much. I wear it in the shower every day (gotta get credit for that standing goal!) and have had zero issues with it. Hand washing? The watch shrugs it off. Attacked with a hose? The watch sneezes in its general direction. Heck, even Siri and dictation work in the shower. I’ve sent text messages in the shower, and yes, it is the future. The main caveat? Capacitive touchscreens don’t work in water. This gets us back to the “it would be great to use the side button for something other than seeing tiny pictures of my close friends and family” discussion, but there’s nothing that can be done with that at this point. For a far more in-depth look at the Apple Watch and water, check out these super cool articles. Both do an excellent job at putting the Apple Watch through its paces (or laps, as it were), and it does better than you think it will:

Durability

The Apple Watch Sport can really take a beating. You can find any number of torture tests on the internet, but none of those are really realistic for everyday use. Two weeks in and my watch looks spotless; no scratches on the glass or on the aluminum body. I’ve heard that the stainless steel scratches pretty easily, but that isn’t really a surprise to me. Scratches on stainless steel is one of those ‘character-building’ type things, like wrinkles in leather. However, if the thought of scratches scare you, there are already cases out for the watch, and of course stainless steel can be buffed.. I certainly will not be getting a case, though I may get a screen protector before I report on board my ship next year. Please don’t be that person with a case on their watch.

Bands

Just press the button, and the band slides right out. Piece of cake.

Just press the button, and the band slides right out. Piece of cake.

One of the best things about the Apple Watch is how easy it is to take on and off bands. I only have one right now, but I am certainly looking to get more later on. Third Party companies (and China) have already started making them, so finding knockoffs of Apple ones or crazy new designs is only a click away. The main issue that I have with the bands is that most of the ones for the 38mm are too small for my wrist. I use the Large sport band, and I’m right between the 4/7 and 5/7 holes for it. Apparently, that’s slightly too big for the vast majority of Apple’s other bands for the 38 mm. Based on Apple’s sizing chart, my wrist won’t fit in the two bands that I want the most: the Milanese Loop and the Modern Buckle. I really, really hope that Apple eventually makes bigger bands for these, but I won’t be holding my breath. (I have to struggle to slip the Milanese loop over my hand, but it is possible. I’m thinking about getting it anyway.) I’m hoping that there will be some high-quality third-party alternatives, but I’m seeing too many cheap-looking knockoffs on Amazon right now to feel comfortable purchasing one. Still, the modular nature of the band clasp and the ability to quickly switch bands is fantastic, and I look forward to getting nicer ones down the road to dress up the look of the watch a bit.

A Note about Apple Care

Get it. Don’t even think about it, just factor it into the cost of the watch upon purchase. Why? Because if you break the screen without AppleCare, the replacement cost for the display panel is around $280 for the Sport, and $315 for the standard model. Basically, the cost of the thing. With Apple Care? A much-easier-to-swallow $59. Just get AppleCare. Even the employees at the Apple Store were surprised at the cost of the repair fee, and overwhelmingly recommended it.

Overall

The Apple Watch is not cheap, and it is not cheaply constructed. I can’t speak to Apple’s other bands, but the fluoroelastomer Sport Band feels nice to the touch and is both well designed and durable. Both buttons click cleanly and satisfactorily, and the digital crown has the perfect level of spin. The screen is vibrant and easy to read, and responds to every touch and flick of the finger. The device is light, yet sturdy, and smooth to the touch. I can unequivocally call the Apple Watch a fashion and engineering success.

The Apple Watch, Revisited

Hopefully you saw my last piece on the Apple Watch. In it, I argue for the standard model of Apple Watch, primarily based on on the argument of higher durability. But after visiting the Apple Store earlier this week and trying some on, I’ve decided that the 38mm Space Grey Sport may be the way to go.

There are a number of advantages to getting the Sport model. The cheaper price of entry is a benefit that can’t be overlooked. The lower price of entry allows for a number of options with the newly-freed cash. It would lead to a lower cost of entry for a later model. It would also soften the blow in case it got irreparably damaged. The savings could also be used to justify the purchase of AppleCare (always a good idea), additional bands (the space grey only comes with a black band, and that white band looks all too showy/sweet for me to avoid), or even a bedside stand such as the TwelveSouth HiRise. As for the size, the 42mm looked too much like having a screen on my wrist rather than having a watch on for my taste.

Going with the space grey Sport is not without its drawbacks. First and foremost, the Ion-X glass isn’t as strong as the sapphire of the higher-end model. An additional downside is that the attachments for many of the bands are stainless steel, rather than aluminum; this won’t be the cleanest of looks. Hopefully, this is something that third parties will be able to rectify.

Ultimately, it’s a balance of cost, desire, looks, projected longevity, and environment. If you want one, you’ll have to ultimately judge for yourself what works for you. But recently I’ve been seeing just how often people check their phones, and paying attention to my own habits. I really think I can benefit from it. I definitely encourage you to try one on if you can—it’s your first glimpse of the future.

Update: One thing I forgot to consider is the smaller battery of the 38mm. I’ll have to think about that some more and maybe give the 42mm some more thought. Battery life is critical, and with the recently announced watchOS 2 with native apps, battery life will be even more of a concern.

Family Heirlooms

No matter what the item, be it accessory or article of clothing, family heirlooms are always cool.

Back in 2007, my Great-Grandfather passed away. I didn’t know much about him; only that he was a General in the military and traveled abroad often. He was the kind of guy with a lot of stuff, and when he died my dad and I went over to his house in Texas and picked up a number of things (like a fishing boat). We grabbed a number of other things, but I was entering 7th grade and really didn’t have an appreciation for anything that was there. (Now, I’d love the opportunity to go back and see if there are any old jackets or blazers that he had. It’s a great way to add a healthy boost to any closet.)

One of the smaller items that my dad received from his grandmother was Grandpa’s gold(en) watch. It was too small for him, so he handed it to Clark, my younger brother by 13 months. As it turns out, the clasp didn’t work, and he didn’t care to fix it. He didn’t like the small dial either, and eventually passed it to my youngest brother Winston. He didn’t care for it either. None of us wanting to throw it away, we simply let it wander around from place to place; abandoned and timeless. 

Fast forward to Summer 2012, and I’m looking to expand my wardrobe with my influx of graduation money. I looked at some watches, but any decent watch starts at least around $100. I’m not a big watch guy like Clark, so I later moved on to other things. Earlier today, I took another look at the watch and tried putting it on. It looked nice, but the clasp was still broken. I grabbed a hammer and hit the lip back into place, and lo and behold, it was back in wearable condition. But it was still dead. Imagine my surprise when I found out that it was a wind-up watch! this made it that much cooler.

This watch fills a need in my jewelry collection: all of the jewelry I wear is silver: my ring, my cross necklace, and my 16th birthday watch. But my much-beloved Clubmasters are gold. Mixing metals isn’t cool. In addition, when I dress up, I tend to wear black with gold accents [cufflinks and studs] (for Distinguished Young Gentlemen events as well as Vanderbilt colors). Again, silver ring and watch not helping. This gold watch, on the other hand, helps to that situation. 

In my opinion, any jewelry that a man wears should have a purpose. I don’t like frivolous jewelry on men (or in general, really). My watch was a present from my dad when I turned 16, and my ring is from Guatemala, my first mission trip. If I was to get a gold ring, it would have to be at/for some sort of special occasion; not simply because I see a pretty one. At least, that’s the case for me.

Here’s a look.

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Sunday Somewhere Glasses

As many of you know, I absolutely love glasses. Sunglasses, optical, anything. To me, [sun]glasses are an under appreciated way to add a unique stylistic flair to an ensemble. I’m sure the pair that most of you are familiar with are my white “Korea Glasses” (that I so dearly love). I’ve also recently expanded my optical collection with my venerable Ray-Ban Clubmasters.

As I was strolling through the internet today, I stumbled upon a relatively new glasses brand: Sunday Somewhere. The ultimate [last, linguists] paragraph of the ‘About’ section of their website says this:

“Sunday Somewhere’s aesthetic is influenced by both the past and future. With references to classic vintage frames, intricate modern detailing and futuristic materials, the finish is practical, a wearable modernity. This ‘classic with a twist’ collection makes Sunday Somewhere fresh, covetable, timeless.”
 

I think it’s awesome. And upon going through their website, I’ve found some styles that have made me forsake my Ray-Ban allegiance without a second thought. Now at the top of my list of glasses to get: the Sunday Somewhere Heeyeh.

 

So. Beautiful. They come in black as well as a lighter brown, but these are just something special.

Now, they’re pricey at $220 AUD ($225.4 USD) + $25 USD for shipping. To me, that’s a totally reasonable price. Just thinking of all of the fun conversations that those would spark already has me excited to try a pair on. Because they’re new and upscale, naturally there’s no reseller in town; I’d have to order them online.

Well, Christmas is coming. Looks like I’ve got some decisions to make.

Seersucker

One of the greatest fabrics for the summer months is seersucker.

Traditionally a fabric seen in the South, It’s 100% cotton and very breathable. The traditional season for wearing it is between Easter and Labor Day. It’s almost always striped (and if not, then checked), and the most common color combination seen is light blue and white stripes. Occasionally you’ll see a light brown, green, pink, or other light color. It’s very comfortable. Better yet, put the iron away boys; seersucker gains a certain charm when it’s wrinkled.

For men, it’s usually seersucker shorts or pants, and is also seen as a full suit. Because seersucker is usually white + another color, it’s pairs really well with light, solid tops (either a polo or button down). I highly recommend that anyone who doesn’t have at least one seersucker item grab a few garments.

You should be able to grab items for a reasonable price; I was able to grab these shorts on sale for only $27 from Macy’s. Happy Hunting!

Seersucker shorts with a solid pink button-down. Nice and harmonious.

Clubmasters

A few months ago, I mentioned my wanting for some good sunglasses; specifically some Ray-Ban Clubmasters. I’m happy to say that a couple of weeks I was able to procure some. I lucked out and found them for $50 off retail at a Sam’s Club. They’re extremely well-built, sturdy, and they’re my school colors. I’d say go get some, but my favorite quality about them is that while they are recognizable, they’re not cliché like Aviators or Wayfarers. The only issue with them that I have is that I think that the color-scheme isn’t too versatile—especially since I only wear silver jewelry. If I was to get a second pair, I’d really want the wire to be silver, not gold. A tortoise-shell color would also be a nice change of pace. Now the question is: Do I build up a collection of Clubmasters, or a collection of Ray-Ban sunglasses?

A shot of me in my Clubmasters.

Update: How about this one? http://www.ray-ban.com/usa/sunglasses/rb4175/879-n1 Update II: Or this one? http://www.ray-ban.com/usa/sunglasses/rb3138/001