Bit loafers are one of those polarizing items in the genre. But love them or hate them, they’re certainly a step up in sophistication from penny loafers (which is why the OPH calls them “strictly post-collegiate”). We last featured them on Ivy Style with this photo of Fred Astaire, who is surprisingly sporting them with double-breasted flannel suit, oxford buttondown and satin tie (a recipe for elegance right there).
On Tuesday Oak Street Bootmakers released its new bit loafer in black and brown. Made in the US of Horween calfskin, it is priced at $328. That’s a fair price for American-made footwear that shouldn’t polarize anyone. — CC
Yesterday fashion luminary Oscar de la Renta died at age 82 at his home in Kent, Connecticut. The Ivy Style team had been preparing a series of posts on the concept of elegance, and when news broke of de la Renta’s death, Richard Press quickly revised his latest column, once again showing that King Richard The Forty-Fourth has a connection to damn near every person of note from the past 60 years. And so, on an otherwise dolorous day in the world of glamor and style, Ivy Style herein commences Elegance Week.
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Yesterday saw the passing of of Oscar de La Renta, who happens to be connected to the subject of the column I was working on. His widow Annette is daughter of the late Charles Engelhard, Jr., who established the gold standard of elegance at J. Press.
Engelhard’s wardrobe alliance with J. Press began in the mid-’30s at St. Paul’s School, where he patronized the regular J. Press travel exhibits, continued at the Princeton shop on Nassau Street, nearly coming to a woeful end in 1957 at the J. Press second-floor store on the corner of Madison Avenue and 44th Street. Charles Engelhard, Jr. graduated from Princeton in 1939, joined the Army Air Corps in 1941, earning the rank of captain as bomber pilot during World War II. Upon the death of his father in 1950, he inherited the family business and substantially expanded operations in South Africa, South America and Europe, becoming one of the world’s leading refiners of precious metals.
In a 1969 feature, Sports Illustrated called him The Platinum King, mogul of a vast economic empire, who pleasured himself with Cokes, Hershey’s Kisses, and the operation of a multimillion-dollar stable that competes on three continents. Here’s a quote:
That morning in the Aiken, South Carolina stable Engelhard was sockless, his fleece dipped in fleece-lined hide boots. He wore two sweaters, a bulky scarlet and a blue which rolled and bunched over mustard slacks— disordered clothing that would hardly fit the image of an international tycoon.
Whenever Mr. Engelhard got off the elevator on 44th Street, Walter Napoleon made certain there were plenty of iced Coca-Colas and a bowl of Hershey Kisses next to the swatches.
One day, however, he had an experience much less sweet. Mr. Engelhard (as he was always called) was in the midst of his annual winter visit when a worker crashed through a fake ceiling with the air conditioning unit he was installing, both landing between Engelhard and Walter Napoleon, star salesman and manager of the New York store. Bolts of woolens together with piles of swatch books were strewn around the wreckage between the two, yet miraculously nobody was hurt. Walter kept his pad and pencil out and, not missing a beat, Charlie continued to mark and select swatches.
The 1964 James Bond movie “Goldfinger,” adapted from Ian Fleming’s spy thriller of the same name, brought Engelhard unwanted celebrity. A man for all seasons, Fleming was author, journalist and a former British investigator in World War II. He was also a longtime Engelhard pal familiar with Engelhard’s intricate mineral and financial machinations, and modeled arch-fiend Auric Goldfinger on Mr. Engelhard.
Naming the Engelhard Library at the JFK School of Public Affairs failed to amuse the Harvard Crimson, which alleged that Engelhard’s Goldfinger-like machinations had beat restrictions on the export of newly mined gold by manufacturing solid gold art items, such as pulpit tops, dishe and bracelets. Once legally exported, they could be melted down into bullion again. London tabloids one-upped The Crimson, disclosing that Engelhard partied in an orange Goldfinger sweatshirt and called the stewardess of his private plane Pussy Galore.
The Lands’ End “Drifter” sweater has been an old faithful for years. An inexpensive beater sweater that looks better as it fades, but is also easily replaced if ruined in an overly aggressive touch football match.
But the sweater’s most redeeming virtue was its saddle shoulder, a defining trad detail and what seperated the Drifter from the countless other cheap crewnecks from department stores and low-end retailers.
But have the Drifter and its saddle shoulder drifted apart? (Continue)
Yes, dear reader, that probably means you. Especially if you have “reactionary” or “curmudgeon” in your username. Or if you’re Henry.
Today a new film called “Dear White People” opens. Set at an elite college campus, the film includes a prepped-out black protagonist and assorted other characters who look like this:
On Tuesday The Chicago Tribune ran a feature on Brooks Brothers and its historic archive based in Chantilly, VA. Entitled “The Hidden Story Of Brooks Brothers,” you can check it out here. — CC