Living Like a Billionaire, if Only for a Day



One of the co-founders of Clifton Charles was on the front page of the NY Times website recently. This article was copied from the New York Times website (


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“I HAVE a major problem: I just glanced at my $45,000 Chopard watch, and it’s telling me that my Rolls-Royce may not make it to the airport in time for my private jet flight.

Yes, I know my predicament doesn’t register high on the urgency scale. It’s not exactly up there with malaria outbreaks in the Congo or street riots in Athens. But it’s a serious issue, because my assignment today revolves around that plane ride.

“Step on it, Mike,” I instruct my chauffeur, who nods and guides the $350,000 car into the left lane of the West Side Highway.

Let me back up a bit. As a reporter who writes about Wall Street, I spend a fair amount of time around extreme wealth. But my face is often pressed up against the gilded window. I’ve never eaten at Per Se, or gone boating on the French Riviera. I live in a pint-size Brooklyn apartment, rarely take cabs and feel like sending Time Warner to The Hague every time my cable bill arrives.

But for the next 24 hours, my goal is to live like a billionaire. I want to experience a brief taste of luxury — the chauffeured cars, the private planes, the V.I.P. access and endless privilege — and then go back to my normal life.

BESPOKE The Times’s Kevin Roose, right, is fitted for a suit by Clifton C. Berry, a high-end tailor in Manhattan.

The experiment illuminates a paradox. In the era of the Occupy Wall Street movement, when the global financial elite has been accused of immoral and injurious conduct, we are still obsessed with the lives of the ultrarich. We watch them on television shows, follow their exploits in magazines and parse their books and public addresses for advice. In addition to the long-running list by Forbes, Bloomberg now maintains a list of billionaires with rankings that update every day.

Really, I wondered, what’s so great about billionaires? What privileges and perks do a billion dollars confer? And could I tap into the psyches of the ultrawealthy by walking a mile in their Ferragamo loafers?

At 6 a.m., Mike, a chauffeur with Flyte Tyme Worldwide, picked me up at my apartment. He opened the Rolls-Royce’s doors to reveal a spotless white interior, with lamb’s wool floor mats, seatback TVs and a football field’s worth of legroom. The car, like the watch, was lent to me by the manufacturer for the day while The New York Times made payments toward the other services.

Mike took me to my first appointment, a power breakfast at the Core club in Midtown. “Core,” as the cognoscenti call it, is a members-only enclave with hefty dues — $15,000 annually, plus a $50,000 initiation fee — and a membership roll that includes brand-name financiers like Stephen A. Schwarzman of the Blackstone Group and Daniel S. Loeb of Third Point.

Over a spinach omelet, Jennie Enterprise, the club’s founder, told me about the virtues of having a cloistered place for “ultrahigh net worth individuals” to congregate away from the bustle of the boardroom.

“They want someplace that respects their privacy,” she said. “They want a place that they can seamlessly transition from work to play, that optimizes their time.”

After breakfast, I rush back to the car for a high-speed trip to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, where I’m meeting a real-life billionaire for a trip on his private jet. The billionaire, a hedge fund manager, was scheduled to go down to Georgia and offered to let me interview him during the two-hour jaunt on the condition that I not reveal his identity.

I arrive several minutes after the billionaire, breaking the cardinal rule of private aviation: never be later than the owner of the plane.

Still, he lets me board. I walk to the tarmac and straight onto the Gulfstream IV, before settling into a supple leather armchair that swivels 360 degrees and reclines to flat at the push of a button. A flight attendant greets me by offering me coffee and a yogurt parfait.

I’m outfitted for the day in a navy pinstripe suit, picked out by Clifton C. Berry, who outfits Wall Street workers with his own line of bespoke menswear. It’s probably the best I’ve looked all year. But I’m way overdressed for a meeting with the billionaire, who is wearing a sweater, jeans and sockless loafers.

During the trip, I ask the billionaire what it’s like to be among the richest people in the world.

“Look,” he says. “I think all it does is make things easier.”

Like most of the wealthy people I’ve met while covering Wall Street, he plays down the effects of money. “I don’t think it changes you that much,” he said. “The happy guy who makes tons of money is still happy. If somebody’s a jerk before, he’s a jerk when he’s got a billion dollars.”

A raft of studies, including one in 2010 by Princeton researchers Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton, has underscored the fact that the rich are no happier than the merely comfortable, and are often burdened by the same problems: health and work issues, family concerns and worries about making ends meet.

I reached out to Dr. Jim Grubman, a clinical psychologist who specializes in wealth, to help me understand this idea that billionaires are, in essence, just like us.

“It goes against what we’ve been told our whole lives,” he tells me. “But it’s true.”

Still, two hours later, when the billionaire and I touch down in Sea Island, Ga., it’s hard to see the similarities. As we deplane, a classic Mercedes convertible is waiting. We jump in, and he ferries me around the resort, with its multimillion-dollar villas and perfectly manicured golf courses.

Everywhere he goes, he gets four-star service. Doors are opened, luggage is carried away wordlessly, and at one point, warm chocolate chip cookies magically appear. When his brakes sputter and his convertible starts spewing smoke, he picks up another Mercedes.

“Somebody’s got to live this life,” he says, gesturing to the pristine view from his penthouse villa. “God decided it should be me.”

Three hours later, after my flight back to New York, I’m greeted by Steve Rubino, a former police detective from Florida who has been hired to be my “personal protection professional” (read: bodyguard). Mr. Rubino’s company, Risk Control Strategies, is a major player in the world of high-end security, outfitting tycoons with fancy home security systems and protecting them while traveling.

“We have to train our clients sometimes,” said Mr. Rubino, who charges $250 an hour for his services. “It can be uncomfortable if you’re not used to having security. But people get used to it.”

Mr. Rubino, tailing me through Times Square, accompanies me to my next appointment: a personal training session at Sitaras Fitness.

Waiting for me when I arrive is John Sitaras, a former bodybuilder who has trained the former General Electric chief John F. Welch Jr., the hedge fund macher George Soros and Paul A. Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chairman. The 140-odd members of his gym pay upward of $13,000 a year to train among fellow moguls in a sparse, spotless 12th-floor facility.

“Let’s go, champ,” Mr. Sitaras said, after I suit up leisurely in the locker room. “No wasted time in here.”

One personal trainer might be good enough for a mere mortal, but Sitaras Fitness clients work with two-trainer teams. While Mr. Sitaras leads me in a set of upright rows, a second note-taker records my progress and fetches weights and artesian Voss water.

One thing I’ve noticed so far is that when you’re a billionaire, you’re never alone. All day, your life is supervised by a coterie of handlers and attendants catering to your whims. In the locker room alone after my workout, I feel unsettled. Where’s my bodyguard? Where’s my chauffeur? Why is nobody offering me an amuse-bouche while I shampoo my hair?

I asked Dr. Grubman, the psychologist to the wealthy, if a billionaire’s lack of privacy eventually becomes second nature. “For these people, being able to be alone and relaxed with those people who are around you is rare,” he said.

I feel bad admitting it, but my billionaire day has been stressful. Without an assistant, just keeping up with the hundreds of moving parts — the driver, the security detail, the minute-by-minute scheduling — has been a full-time job and then some.

When my night ends well after midnight, after a performance of Macbeth at the Metropolitan Opera and a raucous trip to a burlesque-themed nightclub called the Box, something funny happens. I realize that I’m experiencing the sensation that psychologists call “sudden wealth syndrome.”

The feeling is one of cognitive dissonance, a quick oscillation between repulsion and attraction. I’m drawn on one level to the billionaire lifestyle and the privilege that comes with it. But the lifestyle is so cartoonish, so over-the-top flamboyant, that I’m not sure I could ever get used to it.

Dr. Grubman assured me that if I were an actual billionaire, I would resolve the dissonance in time. Luckily, I don’t have to. When I wake up the next morning, my Timex watch, bought on sale a couple of years ago, goes back on my wrist. I put on my unshined shoes and slip on my blue jacket, the one with a hole in the pocket.

On my way to the subway, I stop in at my local coffee shop and order a cappuccino. It’s slightly burnt, like always. But this morning, in the haze of my hangover, it tastes rich. Really, sublimely rich.


This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: April 6, 2012

An article on Thursday about a reporter’s spending a day living a billionaire’s life, misspelled, at two points, the surname of his one-day personal trainer. As the article correctly noted elsewhere, he is John Sitaras, not Sitaris.”

Cufflink Confusion

As we all know, certain accessories disappear from the fashion scene because they are either impractical or outdated. However, some of these items are slowly but surely reappearing. Think about for example of pocket squares, French cuffs and cufflinks. After such a long absence from the scene, most guys do not how to pick or wear cufflinks. Fortunately, we found a very interesting article on Everyguyed to help you with this.

French cuff

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Cufflinks are designed for wearing with French cuff shirts. As opposed to most everyday shirts that are equipped with button cuffs, French cuffs are a lengthened piece of fabric folded back on itself to create a cuff: a more formal option, these shirts have no cuff fasteners, and as such need cufflinks to be held in place.

Though button cuff shirts are more convenient, a French cuff shirt adds a very urbane, high-class element to your look. The cuffs are folded either as kissing cuffs, forming a teardrop shape, or barrel cuffs, with the cuffs overlapping like on your standard button cuff shirts. Kissing cuffs are more common, but barrel cuffing your shirt is no faux pas either; it’s really up to personal preference and what you feel looks best.

Types of cufflinks

There are two types of cuff fasteners used today: cufflinks, and silk knots. Cufflinks are the most formal, common, and traditional type of cuff fastener; made of steel, gold, or other precious metals, they add a touch of understated class to an outfit. There are essentially four types of cufflinks

Torpedo cufflinks

The most common, available at nearly any and every men’s retailer. They’re made of a decorative face, backed by a plain clip to keep them in place. Just push them through, and snap the clip into place.

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Chain link cufflinks

A more formal choice. Made of two decorative faces connected by a chain, they’re not commonly seen in everyday wear anymore. Usually paired with black-tie, they’re limited by availability and often, occasion. If you need a pair, you’re likely going to need to buy them as part of a stud set.

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Bar cufflinks

The simplest of all, involving two decorative balls connected by a bar. The halves are usually very plain, but sometimes include striped or pallet-shaped designs. Unlike chain and torpedo cufflinks, there are no moving parts here, making them a very simple push-through cuff fastener.
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Silk knots

Also known as monkey’s fists, are a more low-maintenance option. Silk knots are strands of elastic, tied to form two equal knots joined together. No longer made of silk due to reasons of cost and durability, newly purchased French cuff shirts usually come with a pair in the cuffs as placeholders.

A perfectly acceptable choice for day-to-day wear, they should be left at home on dressier occasions. Available in a variety of colors, use them to compliment your necktie, or pocket square for an extra bit of flair.

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Additional Cufflink Advice

– A French cuffed shirt is traditionally only worn beneath a suit. The cuffs are awkward underneath cardigans, and their formality doesn’t match a sportcoat’s casual nature.
– Metals on your body should match – and this includes cufflinks. If your belt buckle’s gold, your cufflinks should have gold elements as well.
– Avoid novelty designs on cufflinks; this is an element of more formal style.

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How to Look Good in a White Suit

beach wedding blonde lg How to Wear a White Suit

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White suits are a nice respite from the otherwise daily navy blue and charcoal gray suits. The color is known for reflecting sunlight and therefore keeping you more cool than when dressed in darker colors. Fabrics suitable for this type of weather are linen and cotton, which will keep you more cool than for example flannel or wool.

Lately, it is not that easy for guys to wear a white suit appropriately and stylish. It looks quite ostentatious and flashy on people like Diddy, symbolizing wealth and excess. At the same time, on others like Tom Wolfe, it can look smart and demonstrate refinement and decency. To succeed in achieving the latter as opposed to the former, we have some guidelines and recommendations for you to use when you want to wear a white suit.


Most men choose the khaki suit to wear in the summer. Probably not just because they like the color, but also because they do not know how to wear a white suit in the right way. Rule number one is to only wear white suits in warm weather. As soon as the thermometer hits 72°F, you will have the perfect reason to wear a white suit. When you live in a warmer climate, you can really benefit from having a good white suit or two.

Special occasions often call for something different to wear than the usual. Open air summer parties, weddings during the day, and the Labor Day white party are all great times to get use out of your white suit. Not to mention the perfect opportunity to show off any color suit at the regular Clifton Charles events or parties.


We recommend to keep the shirt under your white suit quite simple. The goal is to complement your already attention-getting suit with the perfect shirt. With a white suit, the shirt will stand out more than paired with a darker suit. Choose a solid light pastel color  to create a nice and cheerful summer effect. Another option would be a white fabric with a pen stripe or a flat slate gray. For the more informal events, consider a pale blue gingham check.

We want to discourage you from choosing white, because first of all it is pretty rare to have a perfectly matching white colored shirt. Secondly, a white suit combined with a white shirt can be too formal and when standing in front of a bright light even look luminous.


The rules are pretty simple. Don’t get tempted to wear your heavy, dark dress shoes that you would normally wear with a navy or charcoal gray suit. Choose a lighter shoe to stay in the summer theme, like light tan leather or a light gray suede. The cut of your shoes should be the same as the shoes you usually wear, unless you really feel for something different. If you would like to make a fashion statement, try black suede high tops. Stay away from patent leather lace-ups, because they tend to make your look a lot more formal. Make sure the color of your shoes matches or complements the color of your shirt or with your tie if you’re wearing one. Furthermore, not wearing socks can add the desired casual flair to the look and keep your feet cool.

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A wise option would be to leave the tie at home, since the white suit is associated with summer heat. However, if you feel like wearing a tie, pick a simple and basic one that complements your shirt. Don’t be afraid to go for a brighter colored tie, like aqua blue or fuchsia. If nothing else seems to work, a solid, thin black tie is always an option. Another great addition to the white summer suit would be a classy summer hat, which will – besides being a nice accessory – protect your head against sunburn. Light tan would usually be a good choice, especially when combined with shoes in a similar color.

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Summer Solstice

Summer solstice is  almost upon us, it will be on June 20th this year. This will be the official start of the summer, as well as the longest day of the year. The weather has been quite warm already, but it can even get hotter than what we’ve had until now. Summer time in New York city: the ultimate moment to enjoy rooftop parties, many beautiful parks and lovely beaches. But also a fair excuse for American men and tourists to wear white or pale colored evening jackets. Appropriate occasions are of course semi-formal outdoor events or indoor venues where the guests are able to spend time out of doors.

Trending this summer is to break up a suit and wear the pieces independently of one another. This way, men can mix and match patterns and create a more individual look. As most of you are in the possession of a dinner suit that is not very heavy, getting ready for summer is quite simple. One only needs a summer jacket in a nice light weight fabric.  Possible fabrics for the warmer seasons are gabardine, linen, silk and worsteds. Funny fact is that although we might consider the cummerbund an accessory for semi-formal black tie occasions now, it was originally invented as a less warm alternative for the waistcoat.

If you are one of those men that only wears suits to work and casual clothes outside of the office hours, we would like to give you a little piece of advice. We understand that you do not want to shock your friends and family by making a fashion statement right away, so start incorporating a blazer into your leisure outfits once in a while. Blazers can be worn in a stylish way when combined with a nice pair of jeans and a polo or dress shirt. The trick is to start creating opportunities to show off your more fancy outfits. Surprise your girlfriend or wife with a romantic dinner once in a while or take your mom to that theatre show she keeps talking about.

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