Reader Mail seeks to answer life’s sartorial curiosities and other perplexing material issues.
What is a gentleman to do with his keys? I have two different keys for the home, two more for work, a car key, and a key to the bicycle lock. I have always kept them on a carabiner, but if they escape my back pocket, the resulting noises are akin to a janitorial mating call. I’m afraid that a gentleman ought to have a better solution than a carabiner, particularly for occasions requiring more formal attire. Any insight?
David — Stanford, CA
Great question, thanks for writing in. It is the little things, like keychains, that will stylishly distinguish you from your contemporaries and that can elicit the quiet victory of “where’d you get that keychain?”
Attention to detail says to the world that you have style and taste. It also says to people that you think about the inconsequential and will even, on occasion, read blogs about these certain meaningless little things. While carabiners are practical and fun if you are going camping, I would advise against them for normal everyday life, unless of course you are some sort of full-time scout leader or climbing instructor.
The first thing you should do is pare down your keys to the essentials. To keep the bulk of my keys down, I have always carried my car keys separately from my home and office keys. This practice of carrying two keychains is especially helpful to the good people of Los Angeles who vallet park frequently. We all know that the giant keychain is notorious for forcing people, like those in the janitorial arts, to go external. Once you have your keys slimmed down as much as possible you are ready to attach a man-appropriate key accoutrement.
Tiffany makes a classic keyring (pictured below) that is fairly small in size (one of the most important factors in my book) and nice looking. The sterling silver keyring is $90 and can be engraved with your initials. It goes without saying that monogramming is very gentlemanly.
Another option would be the leather zipped key case from Smythson of Bond Street. This beautiful leather case is a little pricey at $150, but it is something that — baring loss, theft or fire — you will own for a lifetime. This is an especially good option if you frequently wear suits and keep your keys in a jacket pocket.
The marine hardware company Wichard makes some really cool clasp keychains that are simple and affordable. The hook is not recommended to be fastened to your pants except under special circumstances, like riding a bicycle or jumping into the ocean fully clothed. Pictured below are three different variations that range in price from $14.95 to $39.95. The full catalog can be found here (PDF).
Another alternative is the non-keyring keyring. Cruise the hardware store for a nice and simple solid brass or steel ring to carry your keys. The simplicity here goes a long way and it is one less thing to take up space in your pocket. Most of the time I carry my set of keys in this manner. Very rarely will I opt for the cool but expensive ($100) Rogues Gallery anchor pictured at the top of the page.