Skip to main content

Key Chains: Functional Toys for Grown-Up Boys

SOME GUYS never get over their first rabbit's foot key chain. And who can blame them for holding the boyish trinkets dear to their hearts.

Key chains are one of the few character-exhibiting accents men can wield on a daily basis. Though the talismans are often tucked away in a pocket, when pulled out and tossed onto a bar, they can make for some revealing conversation pieces. The longer they chink-a-chink around, the more sentimental value they acquire. Oh, and they're just plain fun.

Clockwise from top left: Burger Needlepoint Key Fob, $38, brooksbrothers.com; Sports Car Key Ring, $68, coach.com; Double Golf Club Key Ring, $300, Asprey, 212-688-1811; Bulldog Steel Key Fob, $360, dunhill.com; Arrowhead Brass Key Chain, $75, sidmashburn.com

Douglas Hand, a New York lawyer, carries around a "zombielike" silver hand, which he feels gives his look a note of "pleasant incongruity"—and is a winky reference to his last name. "My appearance doesn't exactly scream 'death metal,' " said Mr. Hand. The accessory is also functional: The fingers catch the brim of his pocket. "It keeps my keys from bunching at the bottom," he said.

The key chain can also serve the same function as a charm on a woman's bracelet—to evoke a memory. Restaurateur Sean Meenan (Cafe Habana in New York, Malibu and Dubai) carries a gold boxing glove to conjure his days as a light heavyweight. Riad Nasr, a founding chef of Manhattan bistros Balthazar and Pastis, uses a horsetail switch key chain bought at a Utah dude ranch while on a riding trip with his wife.

Of the many varieties available, room-key fobs from fabled inns are among the most popular, sought for their nostalgia factor (few are made anymore), insider status and efficiently flat shapes. John Huba, a New York-based photographer, has one he bought from the Hotel Paisano in Marfa, Texas. "I was going to steal it but then discovered guests pilfered them so often they started selling them in their gift shop," said Mr. Huba.


Harking back to those rabbit's feet, designer-retailer Steven Alan considers the Star of David amulet on his key ring a lucky charm. It was a gift from his superstitious mother who purchased it for him eight years ago near Jerusalem's Western Wall. Said Mr. Alan, "When I'm behind the wheel of a car, I remember my mother's words when she gave it to me: 'Always drive with it.' "

Popular posts from this blog

Beware of Wombats & Other Vampires

You are surrounded by dangerous WOMBATS. They’re everywhere. Sometimes they hide in plain sight, easy to spot. Other times they are well camouflaged, requiring heightened awareness to identify them. You need to stay alert, it’s important to avoid them. WOMBATs resemble ordinary, productive tasks. However, they are vampires for time and resources, weapons of mass distraction.WOMBATs are seductive. Working on a WOMBAT feels productive.WOMBATs are bad for your career.WOMBATs are bad for your business.WOMBATs infiltrate your work day (and your personal time). Strike them down.WOMBATs may be be ingrained in your company culture: “We’ve always done it that way…” WOMBAT Metamorphosis Alert: A task or project that wasproductive in the pastcanevolve into a WOMBAT in today's environment.Your comfort zone is populated with WOMBATs.More on comfort zones, here.Some people are WOMBATs in disguise. Stay away from them, they are vampire WOMBATs.If you don’t control your WOMBATs, your WOMBATs will…

Taking Tips From a Younger Generation

Phyllis Korkki, an assignment editor at The New York Times, visited the garment district in Manhattan to interview designers as part of a story for the newspaper’s Snapchat account. Credit George Etheredge/The New York Times
What Could I Possibly Learn From A Mentor Half My Age? Plenty.

How on earth did I become an “older worker?”

It was only a few years ago, it seems, that I set out to climb the ladder in my chosen field. That field happens to be journalism, but it shares many attributes with countless other workplaces. For instance, back when I was one of the youngest people in the room, I was helped by experienced elders who taught me the ropes.

Now, shockingly, I’m one of the elders. And I’ve watched my industry undergo significant change. That’s why I recently went searching for a young mentor — yes, a younger colleague to mentor me.

How Randa and the Fashion Industry are Adapting to DIY

The term 'Do It Yourself' has turned into a phenomenon over the past decade and is continuing to gain momentum, especially in the fashion industry. From interactive design stations at Topshop, to custom shoes at Jimmy Choo, every level of the fashion industry is dipping their toes into the pools of DIY.

"Many industry insiders think it is just the beginning. Ask about the future of fashion, and the answer that is likely to come back (along with the importance of Instagram and the transformation of shows into entertainment) is personalization," says Vanessa Friedman from the New York Times.