Zach Stone: On Clothing and Friendship

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"We all like presents. I love giving and receiving gifts. The other day I was reminded of one of the nicest presents I have received in a while: a bow tie from Hermes. It was not a memorable gift because it was from Hermes- even though it is likely to be the only thing I ever own from that venerable establishment- but, rather, because of the giver. I moved to Wadham in January 2010 when I was appointed as a Sub Dean. As part of my job I received partial SCR membership and occasional lunch rights. I distinctly remember quaking in my boots the first time I went to SCR lunch. Not because the Wadham Fellows are notoriously mean, closed, or tradition bound- happily the opposite in fact- but simply because I was a) a grad student and b) a Yank. I lived in utter terror of cutting the cheese in the wrong manner and being forever scorned as an uncouth American. Luckily for me, one of the tone setters of Wadham’s SCR happens is among the kindest men I on planet earth. I hindsight, it was probably painfully obvious I didn’t know anyone as it’s hard to hide when you are a 6-4 bearded American in a room of Oxford dons. Nevertheless, he dragged me from the end of the table into the thick of the conversation and generally ensured that I always felt welcome and was introduced to people and so on and so on. Switching gears, I wear neckties a lot. Basically, I find it much easier to be productive during the day when wearing a tie. It makes me feel grown up I guess. Moreover I have a predilection for bowties for many reasons, reasons I lack the space to delve into at this time. Remember, I am a rather noticeable person being large, American, and at the time quite beardy. Anyhow, friends recognized my affection for the bowtie and commented on it. It became a sort of college joke. One day I arrived at my pidge to be greeted by parcel of an unmistakable shade of orange. Attached was a note that said something to the effect of: ‘This was a gift to me, but I don’t wear bowties but you do. I thought you might enjoy it.’ Needless to say I was moved. I will not lie, it is a stylish piece of neckwear and I appreciate it as such. However, much like my boots, the physical act of donning and wearing it never fails to remind me of treasured memories. Especially at a phase in my life when I am again feeling insecure and venturing out into new, at times scary, environments. My friend’s real gift was friendship, as I warmly remembered when we bumped into each other yesterday as I was wearing the said bowtie and had a quick but encouraging chat."

-Zach Stone

Read more from Zach here.

(Image Source: Hermes)


  1. Mr. Stone,
    i just read your lovely little vignette on your Hermes bowtie via Culture Keeper this morning, and was inspired to write to you saying how much i enjoyed it. i recieved my first Hermes scarf in a similar fashion (a gift from a close friend marking my transition to college) about 9 years ago, and have been an avid collector of the beautiful silk carres ever since. as a 17 year old with little to no knowledge of the French couture house, it seemed to me to be an extravagant present---too extravagant, for the Converse wearing ponytail flaunting me, that's for sure! my $6.99 cotton scarves from Target were sufficient enough for me before, how different could this one be from the others? but as my eye for beautiful handmade things developed, so did my collection. yes i still wear Converse sneakers, but i'll never forget the feeling of carefully opening up that beautiful orange and brown box, and catching the glimpse of my grandmother's proud smile of approval. for me, they are truly works of art (and i'm an art historian so i KNOW what i'm talking about :) and my first piece of grownup-ness. so, mr. stone, here is to your bowtie, and the memories it carries.



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