A Citadel Of Sartorial Elitism

You’ve probably noticed during the past two years of extreme polarization in American life that everyone can agree on one thing: the country is headed in the wrong direction. It’s just that each side of the debate — and increasingly within each side — has a completely different set of reasons. Part of navigating such an era is learning to accustom oneself to mixed messages, cognitive dissonances, contradictions, inversions, and general topsy-turviness, along with the usual bias, self-interest and hypocrisy that characterizes public life.

The news roundup in our last post featured a report on declining revenue and earnings at Ralph Lauren. RL is a huge company with multiple divisions, but the fact that it has been pushing a neo-prep revival has us paying close attention as to whether or not consumers are responding to it. In the comment section of the last post, Ivy Style contributor BC shared a link I found interesting enough to warrant further discussion, especially as it exemplifies this strange zeitgeist we’re living through in which everything comes down to interpretation.

The article in question comes from The American Spectator. Here are the relevant passages:

First, Ralph Lauren is a citadel of sartorial elitism. This image flies in the face of global bashing of so-called elites in India, Britain, France, and the United States. In general, people are fed up with elites telling them what to eat, how to think — and how to eschew wrongthink and be correct.

Indeed, Ralph Lauren is out of step with these times of class warfare and the curse of private enterprise, as espoused by the Left. Blue blazers festooned with patches and piping, regimental ties, and casual attire fit for croquet and mimosas on a long summer afternoon don’t quite make it any longer.

Second, and as I have written in these pages, Ralph Lauren has been hammered not just by the ascent of global grunge — but by the triumph of global grunge. From the cafes of Europe to Oxford Street in London to Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, the slovenly look is in. Indeed, grunge is not only in, but it is the new chic look for those who dress for success.

Today’s millennial generation, like other generations, is rejecting the values and structures of the preceding one. Period furniture, oriental carpets, and antique silver are not so much in demand — simple basic things are, and these are things that do not convey a sense of discernment or hierarchy. Indeed, why would a young socialist shop at Ralph Lauren?

Like virtually every other major corporation, RL has made a big diversity push in its marketing imagery over the past couple of years. So while the brand’s clothing still draws upon traditional Anglo-American class signifiers, now more than ever the message is that the clothes are for everyone. Moreover, Ralph Lauren’s house style is not the globalist-elite look the author decries, but rather, one could argue, its antidote. Nothing could be a better antithesis to global grunge-chic than American classics like khakis, oxfords, canvas sneakers, ribbon belts and polo shirts.

The author is correct that Ralph Lauren’s look is based on elitism, but it’s the old elitism, which makes it simultaneously elitist and not-elitist. Or rather “wrong-elitist.” This is because we’re going through a drawn-out paradigm shift regarding which displays of elitism are socially acceptable and which ones aren’t. The author suggests that RL should “dumb-down” its traditional and stuffy elements, while those in this corner of the web would counter that dumbing-down the trad look is precisely the problem. If RL is confused about how to merchandise at this present moment in time, it’s a reflection of the fact that we’re all confused. You can’t have things both ways, and yet we’re bombarded with contradiction every day, when every aspect of society seems to also carry its opposite. Yes we live in the age of Trump, but we also live in the age of Anti-Trump. The wisdom tradition provides us with the principle of polarity as a universal law:

Everything is dual. Everything has poles. Everything is a pair of opposites. Like and unlike are identical in nature, and different only in degree. Extremes meet. All truths are but half-truths. All paradoxes may be reconciled.

Undaunted and evidently determined to stick to its roots, this season Ralph Lauren is offering an Americana collection that in design is only a few degrees removed from the unabashed patriotism of its recent Olympic collections, and which includes items featuring stars and stripes at a time when the American flag is considered problematic. In an age of polarity, one thing’s for certain: the American flag has been, and will always be, a sign of the times. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

36 Comments on "A Citadel Of Sartorial Elitism"

  1. I have always liked decent clothes, yet not ostentatious. A smidgen of understatement is more to my taste. And THAT is what has always kept me at arm’s length from some clothing manufacturers, and some car manufacturers for that matter. To this day, RL shirts are priced higher than say Brooks Bros, yet RL shirts are just a bit “too bright.” I who tailor myself all shirts I buy (it takes just a few minutes for excellent fit) find RL sizing to be unpredictable. Same size RL can be an inch or two bigger or smaller one purchase to the next. I deal with it, but I don’t like paying extra for it. To me, RL shirts are like a Dodge Charger automobile in a field of two-seater sports cars.

  2. The raison d’etre o RL was to democratize the look of the British-American Aristocracy. RL as much as the OPP made the look at once mainstream and accessible to the masses. By doing so, they tore down some of the old invisible barriers that evolved to separate the common from our kind. The ascension of RL meant one only needed to have enough money to pay for RL branded merchandise. Egalitarian commerce. Now the concept of “needing to have enough money” is seen as elitist and many premium brands are suffering as a result.

  3. whiskeydent | May 20, 2019 at 12:43 pm |

    Yeah, those Trump campaign rallies have some of the best-dressed people you’ll ever see. Polo ponies are always all over the place.

    Please.

  4. Carmelo Pugliatti | May 20, 2019 at 12:52 pm |

    Some thoughts:

    1-What the politics has to do with good taste clothes?
    A well cut jacket is a wll cut jacket,why it should be a symbol of “elites”?

    2-The Ralph Lauren problem is another; in the last times instead to sell good taste well cut clothes sell costumes.
    Some years ago if you wanted a well cut double breasted you went to Polo, now you find “preppy” costumes.

    3- why would a young socialist shop at Ralph Lauren?

    Why would a young socialist should have shop at Ralph Lauren in 70s,80s,90s,2010s?
    In the world are only young socialists?

  5. Rhett Hardwick | May 20, 2019 at 1:27 pm |

    Although there still seems to be somewhat of a class barrier, I am concerned about much of what I see. Hair of a color which does not occur in nature, men with hair styles known as “fades”, tattoos, piercings, etc. These are all antithetical to a Prep look. Unfortunately, these fads tend to move up the social ladder. I see middle class women with spots of pink hair. The French have a term for it “nostalgie de la boue”.

  6. Evan Everhart | May 20, 2019 at 2:23 pm |

    I salute you Carmelo!

    You’ve made the most sensible comments thus far!

    Socialists indeed! As we all know, socialist don’t purchase, they steal and call it redistribution, and they redistribute all of the resources and wealth of people who actually worked for what they had, until there is nothing left.

    Marxist drivel attempting to infect a discussion on clothing, yuck.

    Then again, the young fools/tools of this country who fancy themselves “socialists” and etc., typically do shop name brand fashions and products (on typically their parents’ dime – hating the “Man”, and the “system”, and their own country all while raving about it on their new iPhone 30 or whatever, and wearing their expensive new limited edition sneakers, and jeans).

    My friends and I used to refer to it as having being raised with a silver spoon, and a paper plate, the anti-societals who pretended to be poor to feel “cool”, or “alternative”, and edgy. Noxious indeed. Slumming is beyond tasteless.

  7. “Period furniture, oriental carpets, and antique silver are not so much in demand.” Great! Means more for me at a cheaper price.

    When there’s blood in the streets, buy property.

  8. Jonathan Sanders | May 20, 2019 at 2:56 pm |

    Maybe Polo’s just missing the mark. It comes down to the clothes as well as the distribution channels. Department stores are not the destination they once were. J. Crew has also been experiencing problems and they are another one who had a big mall presence. There’s a shift taking place but it’s not elitist vs inclusive. It’s still about product, positioning and price.

  9. CC- your analysis is spot-on in its response to the American Spectator article.

  10. Old School Tie | May 20, 2019 at 4:18 pm |

    I couldn’t care less who likes or buys stuff. If I like it and buy it, that is all I worry about. The problem isn’t RL or even elitism, it is the inexorable march of change itself. It’s like an ever expanding universe, capable of containing more and more. There are no fashions, no modes – everything is fashionable. The entire back catalogue of fashion history. Anyone can wear anything they like. That dilutes the tendencies of the moment. And following on from the principle of polarity, not only is everything fashionable but by definition nothing is unfashionable. And that creates problems for an industry that needs to turn a profit from selling the the new, the latest.

  11. The ivy/trad look represented an elite once, yes… but it was also a symbol of social mobility and egalitarianism in the American ethos. Anyone could wear a sack suit and blend in with the masses of middle class American men of the post-war era. RL is the “high fashion” derivative of this style, giving it a tinge of elitist flair. But there is nothing wrong with aspiring to something better. I don’t wear RL clothes because I’m a broke recent graduate (and I’d probably never wear them because they’re too flashy for me), but after just having gone through four years of schooling at a large public university and spent my entire life in the US public school system, I’m put off by how much these institutions cater to the lowest common denominator instead of trying to inspire people to strive to better themselves intellectually and socially. This seems to be the prevailing shift in our cultural zeitgeist and it’s unfortunate. I’m the son of Soviet emigres, my parents and I have had to work hard to get to where we all are today. I’ve had nothing handed to me. We live in a society that trains its intellectual classes to be critics of injustice for criticism’s sake; we teach our future leaders to think in tropes and axioms of critique instead of to think for themselves and to think in terms of truth. Criticism of one vision without a coherent alternative is an exercise in futility and leaves one cynical and unhappy. We wonder why so many college students suffer from depression and anxiety today, why cultural pessimism is so high? This is why: in college we are taught that in order to change the world we must criticize it relentlessly and ruthlessly; mock, deride, and deconstruct the hierarchies (some real, some imagined) that hold up the social order around us until it can no longer stand. But what to replace it with? A world of abstract egalitarianism, of uniform diversity (sounds contradictory, that’s the point), and of justice that corrects the ills of the past. This is an incoherent future that relies on the minds of resentful, cynical, and ruthless people to be built, and of great power to coerce it into being, all masked behind a veneer of compassion and justice. I’m no establishmentarian; I don’t believe things are as they always should be, but I am also not quick to throw away all that is good and beautiful about the world we already live in, injustices and all. Simply decrying “elitism” is one of a myriad of tropes we use to abdicate our responsibility to think for ourselves and formulate a vision for a future that can integrate cultural and aesthetic traditions which provide people with a sense of rootedness and belonging, with progress that materially improves their wellbeing.

  12. Dan,
    Wow, I couldn’t agree more. These are the exact thoughts and feelings I’ve been having regarding the cultural Marxist’s compulsion to tear everything down. What exactly do these destroyers intend for our societies when all our institutions have been dismantled, what do they intend to put in their places? I have zero confidence that they have given it a moments consideration let alone have a coherent plant for their promised utopia. Life doesn’t exist in a vacuum though so something will take the place of Western civilization once it’s been swept away and my guess is that since they clearly have no plan, it will be chaos, followed shortly thereafter by barbarism.

  13. Elitist imagery or not, I still think RL is in the midst of recovering from massive over-saturation more than anything else. Why the hell would anyone buy a basic Polo shirt for $98 when they are perpetually available at every TJMaxx in the country for $29? And all of their “factory” stores.

    This happens to every brand that over-expands, re: Tommy Hilfiger, Coach, Tory Burch, Lacoste (two or three times), Michael Kors, and soon Vineyard Vines. Once you sell everywhere and open up outlets that self-cannibalize your core business, the brand inevitably becomes a bargain basement option in the mind of the consumer who will surely move on to the next thing. For all this talk about elitism, it seems to me that over-democratizing is often the bullet in the Luger.

  14. What really defines clothing as being “elitist” is the price tag. RL is a relatively cheap brand, with the exception of the few top lines that it carries, so isn’t it ridiculous to blame someone dressed in RL, as “elitist”? Besides, no one ever dresses like a Polo RL model. As a matter of fact, I don’t even understand how the company survives as I hardly ever see anyone dressed in something that would resemble RL (I live in New York City). There’s a Polo RL boutique inside Macy’s on Herald Square, and I often see young African American guys there. Does this mean they’re fond of the “white elitist oppressor” look, or do they just like the brightly colored shirts, socks, and sweaters with a cool logo? Any company that has any heritage and history could be blamed for being “elitist” (Fendi, Burberry, Dunhill, Chanel, LV, Hermes, etc.). As a matter of fact, the above mentioned companies are in fact elitist as they keep extremely high prices and the markup on their products is ridiculous. Yet, many many people wish to acquire “a piece of luxury” like an Hermes scarf or a LV bag. Yet, it’s RL that is often criticized for being “elitist” by certain politics-obsessed commentators. The good news is that 90% of people won’t think anything of your “Polo pony”-decorated clothing. So, wear what you want — most people don’t give a damn about you and clothes anyway.

  15. You and your clothes*

  16. Plenty of Burkean conservative (redundant) sentiment here.

    Of all the dressed-up looks/styles out there, Trad-Ivy-Preppy (T.I.P.) is the most quintessentially American. There are other versions of American style that are decidedly less formal (jeans, cowboy boots, t-shirt, for example) and plenty of dressed-up styles that salute London, Milan, and Paris, but T.I.P. is dressed-up style at its American best: as CC has chronicled, T.I.P. is what happened when Brooksy Anglophilia made its way to college (and high school) campuses.

    The 20th century will be with us forever. Cloaks, cravats, breeches, and wigs won’t return, but OCBDs, khakis, blazers, and loafers will stand the test of time. I’m not exactly sure why. But here’s a guess: the Great Depression and WWII victory inspired us to believe the truth about ourselves: we were (are) exceptional and, by God, second to no one. (Cue the charge of jingoism). Before the second world war, we stood in the shadow of the British Empire and Germany. We emerged from the smoke and hunger and desperation a united Republic (Cue the charge that, because of discrimination, post-war unity was an illusion).

    Maybe-just-maybe that era–the 40s, 50s, and 60s–will be with us forever because it will forever call to mind the sweet scent of victory–the tingle of the soul produced by a lasting triumph.

    America was born in the 50s–all over again. A lucky few were “present at the creation” (nod to Dean Acheson). Our great, great, great, great grandchildren will speak of that era with a proud sigh. (Subsequent eras will be judged as less interesting and forceful). If the Civil War might be understood as essentially tragic (and it probably should), the 20th century conquests must be regarded (collectively) as a moment of lasting redemption. As a nation, we rose from the grave…and we’ve moved on–to fell a serious of demons.

    Which is reason to take a brief break from all the “we’re on the downward slope” talk…and hope for the best. While wearing quintessentially American clothes.

  17. Oh and by the way, those “plain gray t-shirts” Zuckerberg wears are $400 a piece and made exclusively for him by Brunello Cucinelli. The tech CEO hoodie cliche may go over the mainstream public’s head, but amongst peers, understated class postering (the hoodie is Loro Piana and 2k) is just as obnoxious as the over branded rapper, or buttoned-up private club member.

  18. “series” of demons, that is.

  19. Ezra Cornell | May 20, 2019 at 10:36 pm |

    Phew, someone open the window. All this huffing and puffing is fouling the air.

    It’s not the price alone that makes clothing “elitest.” It’s the social aspirations they propose. When the social aspirations are widely available (t-shirts, jeans), that’s called “democracy.” But when gatekeepers and orthodoxy stand between you and getting dressed, this inevitably leads to exclusion (and its twin: hypocrisy).

    There is simply no way to overlook that it was the “Greatest Generation” who fought violently to keep segregation, who put Japanese Americans in internment camps, who ran roughshod over African American voting rights (and on and on). So when George Wallace (468th Bombardment Group, Twentieth Air Force) is standing in the Alabama schoolhouse door in his 3-roll-2 sack suit, when professors in tweed and OCBDs gave segregation intellectual “legitimacy,” we can’t be surprised that people find the style a turn-off. That history doesn’t discount or destroy this style, but we have to be honest and face facts: this style has played a role in perpetuating hierarchies and enforcing conformity in ways that have put some people on the margins of American society. Simply huffing and puffing over that with overblown claims is whistling past the graveyard.

  20. Rhett Hardwick | May 20, 2019 at 11:40 pm |

    Just a thought, without a conclusion. I do “get around”, and I am trying to imagine a gathering where the RL model above would not appear to be “in costume”. Perhaps a private party, he could simply say “Yes, I am in costume. Fun isn’t it?”

    While we consider “correct ties”, ties are disappearing. That thought really intruded the other night while watching “news” from Atlanta. The “news babe” had an appropriate appearance; but, the two men wore suits without ties. At best, they looked “unfinished”. At my daughter’s “elite private school” everyone dresses in rags. What does this portend? I notice few of the parents attended private schools, perhaps they are conflicted.

  21. Carmelo Pugliatti | May 21, 2019 at 1:34 am |

    Ezra Cornell,why you throw away the child together the dirty water?
    let’s assume you’re right (and i not believe this,but which is only a politically correct delirium ),if a style is deeply associated with something of unpleasant,well you can vary the style.
    For exemple,if 3 roll 2 sack remember to you segregation and vietnam war, instead wear with sloppy rags you can choose to dress swinging london neo edwardians or smart continental Italian suits.
    If they seems still to much elitarian for you,well can choose Mods suits (the Mods were working class kids; can be fine,no?)
    Ah,Ezra,while you and your politically correct friends spoken about democracy,the Greatest Generation”‘s guy defeated nazis,fascists and japanese imperialists. Without those boys i don’t think that you could talk freely today.

  22. Anony Mouse | May 21, 2019 at 8:39 am |

    A side point that Ralph Lauren does not get much credit for is his early inclusion of diverse models in his ads. RL featured Tyson Beckford and other diverse models back in the 90s when you did not see many African Americans featured in top brands, sadly. Just like his own life, I think Ralph has always been about aspiration to the good life for all. A shame that such notions are out of favor.

  23. Various forms of inequality and exclusion are part of every system and society we’ve ever known–political, economic, and otherwise. We can (ought to) strive for a society where there’s as much equality of opportunity as possible, but let’s be consistently weary of attempts to impose it by force. Burke would remind us that the only thing worse than a lack of equality is the totalitarian instinct (among some) to institute it by way of coercion or violence. We have no idea what equality-by-decree would like. Orwell helped us imagine it, as have others. It would be a hideous, horrific, Godforsaken nightmare.

    There are plenty of ways I’m not awesome as lots of other people. I’m not as handsome, smart, hard-working, creative, imaginative, innovative, clever, charming, educated, or wealthy as plenty of people. And, for a variety of reasons, I am thankful for this. They should thrive and excel in ways I do not. Because, simply put, they are better. Just as I might claim to be superior to others in other ways.

    There’s nothing tyrannical or even undemocratic about the style we discuss here. I’ll stand by my theory that it will be with us for the foreseeable future because of the context out of which it arose.

    I question the notion that T.I.P. “has played a role in perpetuating hierarchies and enforcing conformity in ways that have put some people on the margins of American society.” I’m not sure any style/look has that much power. If anything, the look was adopted by a generation of men and women who (I’ll argue sub/un consciously) affiliated it with a moment of enlightenment–of rebirth. So, the logic is here is not causal (“we survived the Great Depression and defeated the Nazis because the best among us wore Brooks Brothers”); rather, it’s correlative (“That happened–then. And when we think of that (then), we remember this.”).

  24. Carmelo Pugliatti | May 21, 2019 at 10:07 am |

    Let’s face reality:
    “conformity” is only lack of taste.
    You can be out of the mass with a different tie or a different cut of jacket.
    For me in “the Ivy heyday” were more nonconformist Fred Astaire and Douglas Fairbanks Jr that all the bunch of counterculture ragamuffins,
    Astaire and Fairbanks dressed with classic proportions of ties,trousers and lapels even when all in USA had skinny ties,skinny lapels and sacks.
    Ralph Lauren at his best was never “conformist”.
    He is the guy that bring back wide ties,double breasteds,rich patterns,a non minimalist cut…conformist the world of Ralph Lauren?
    You joke?
    Elitarian?
    No,is the dream of high society/old money,but as you can dream it in a old Hollywood movie; is “Philadelphia story” or “The Thin Man”; not the real elite.
    And about elites,well now the new rich elites od Silicon Valley wear T shirt and jeans,so if you want be anti elitarian and non conformist go to good old Ralph and buy a double breasted.

  25. Evan Everhart | May 21, 2019 at 10:41 am |

    @ Carmelo Pugliatti: Sir, if we were in a debate hall, I would be giving you a standing ovation and rolling cheer! Thank you for saying what you did so very perfectly.

    I salute you, Sir! 🙂

  26. @Ezra Cornell, I’m not sure if you meant the term “Greatest Generation” literally, or if you meant it to encompass all US adults alive from the 1940s to the 1960s, but to be more accurate, the “Greatest Generation,” as termed by Tom Brokaw, or sometimes referred to in academic literature written on the topic of generations as the “G.I. Generation,” encompasses those born between 1901-1924. The generation largely responsible for the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII was actually the Missionary Generation (born between 1860-1882), of which FDR was a member (and probably that generation’s most famous person). The Missionaries were the generation in charge of the country through the Great Depression and most of WWII, and are to shoulder both the blame for the mistakes and the applause of the triumphs from a leadership perspective. In contrast, JFK and LBJ, both members of the Greatest (G.I.) Generation, were the two presidents responsible for pushing the Civil Rights Act through Congress. Plenty of the Greatest Generation were, of course, racists; however, it’s important to remember that that generation, at the height of its power, also accomplished great deeds which pushed the country further toward racial, ethnic, and cultural equality.

  27. Alberto Conti | May 21, 2019 at 12:07 pm |

    Carmelo,
    If, as you argue, conformity is lack of taste, then those of us who wear khaki chinos or grey flannel trousers, blue OCBD shirts, tweed jackets, cordovan penny loafers, and repp ties are conformists.
    I would argue that in this case conformity = good taste.

  28. Desk Jockey | May 21, 2019 at 12:08 pm |

    Oh man! So much navel-gazing!

    Here’s a couple hot takes to run with this one, I suppose in order:
    -if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail: if your perception of the world is inexorable decline, then quack away. So, if there’s always some new thing to complain about as the next “end of civilization” & we’ve made it through to the next thing to complain about then, well, it likely wasn’t the linchpin you’re looking for. If, rather, you hold that the essential output of history is change then you’ll likely live with a whole lot less agita.
    -one of the oldest critiques of the fashionability and propriety of men’s clothing is the evergreen statement that kids these days aren’t holding up the standards of the past; this is ridiculous. If the natural inclination is to dress less formally, then one would think that the regression curve is one straight to loincloths. Quite obviously this is not the case. There’s the ebb & flow of fashion but there are also fine reasons why I haven’t seen a pictorial on powdered wigs. Clothing trends fall by the wayside, there’s pearl-clutching & then the cycle rinses & repeats.
    -Ralph’s not doing too hot because, in this particular age of retail, they’re deciding that maximizing receipt nets is better than maximizing total receipts (“we’re not selling as much as we used to, so let’s up our price points to get the most we can out of each shopper”). It’s a death spiral & it’s happening all over the industry. Meanwhile, Indochino, Uniqlo & the like are cleaning up.
    -it doesn’t help that Ralph’s been doing this since the early 80s & it’s gotten tired. PRL, to borrow a phrase, seems more to me like a poor person’s idea of a rich person & not a rich person’s idea of what they want to buy.
    -clothes, some exceptions aside, are not expressions of politics & sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Source: I work in liberal politics… maybe I missed the memo, but I ain’t heard of a platform plank proposal calling for burlap sacks.

  29. Over the years, no designer has dominated my closet more than Ralph Lauren. Polo line specifically. When I enter their store and the salesperson asks, “May I help you?” My standard response is, “No thank you, I’m set with the basics, I enjoy searching for something new and different.” Fact is, there isn’t much RL can do to be new or different. The brand has run its course…

  30. whiskeydent | May 21, 2019 at 12:21 pm |

    In a cocktail bar last night (shocking!), I saw an illustration of how dumb the Specator analysis is.

    There were two Republican political operatives sitting at the bar. One was wearing a Lacoste polo and khakis; he looked the part. The other was in a dark, ill-fitting suit made in a cloth of questionable provenance; not even close to the part.

    Meanwhile, your avowed liberal — just like the polo shirt Republican — was prepared for the low-90’s heat in a pink linen button-down, olive linen-cotton blend pants, and tan deck shoes (no socks, of course.)

    Bottom line: you can’t judge a pol by his label — or his taste.

  31. Nevermind the fact that the new elites wear Patagonia vests and Allbirds sneakers.

    Old school elites look like business casual office workers…money in disguise.

  32. Carmelo Pugliatti | May 21, 2019 at 3:27 pm |

    Alberto Conti
    Are many shades of grey flannel,many types of cottons for khaki pants (with many feasible cuts),
    a blue OCBD can have many cuts and rolls and can be wear with collar tips buttoned,unbuttoned or with a collar pin (as the old good Fred Astaire).
    Repp ties have a lot of patterns and combination (and you can find interesting striped ties in different types of silk,for exemple raw silk).
    Penny loafers can be in many type of leather or suede ,and in many shade of brown.
    You can play it with solid,striped or argyle socks.
    A suit can be cut in many styles and with cloth of many patterns.
    Even a undarted sack suit can be unshaped,with a light waist suppression with a marked waist suppression and with various kinds of lapel roll.

    Comformity,aka uniform,is for peoples that not care about clothes and not enjoy to wear suits.
    If the society requires gray flannel sacks and skinny navy ties all in the same style they dress in this way,if requires T shirt and jeans is the same.
    Comformity and lack of taste killed the classic.

  33. Ezra Cornell | May 22, 2019 at 12:02 am |

    @RWK
    I appreciate the thoughtful response. I’m not going to convince you, and you’re likely not going to convince me. But for someone in the commentariat on this site to say, as you did, “plenty of the Greatest Generation were, of course, racists,” well, I consider that something like progress.

    My intention is not to tear down any generation. Every generation is “great” while also having a good number of duds. For every Kennedy you have a Wallace. In the end, however, there’s no sense in the term “great generation” at all.

    But my point is: if we’re wondering why “kids these days” reject this style to which we’re attached, we’re more than willfully blind to ignore how it was connected to a number of catastrophic blunders (the “best and the brightest” anyone?) both foreign and domestic. There is a good reason why many women have no desire to return to the days of casual sexual harassment, discrimination and blighted career opportunities, or why African Americans are not nostalgic for the time when they only way they could get a welcome on some college campuses was as jazz musicians, and so on. As I said earlier, this doesn’t mean the total rejection of any sartorial style. But to simply push it all away and loudly shout that the problem is OTHER people, well we’re not being very principled or even historically aware. We might begin any evaluation with Matthew 7:1-5.

  34. Orthodox Trad | May 22, 2019 at 12:48 am |

    @Carmelo Pugliatti,
    Allow me to disagree: Conformity did not kill the classics, it allowed them to survive; that’s why we can still find them.
    By the way, many of us still choose one shade of grey flannel, one type of cotton material and one cut for our chinos and our OCBDs. We certainly don’t wear our collar points unbuttoned or with a collar pin. We wouldn’t dream of wearing a raw silk necktie or suede penny loafers. We also stay away from striped socks and know that there is only one proper cut for a suit. Marked waist suppression is unthinkable for us. We wear a Trad “uniform” because of our respect for tradition and rules. That “conformity” marks us as individuals in today’s U.S.

  35. Carmelo Pugliatti | May 22, 2019 at 10:40 am |

    Yes Orthodox Trad,
    but please note that is a “tradition” which dates back to 1952 circa.
    Before the war and immediately after you would have found in the “Ivy” temples many more variety and less “conformity”.
    I have see many amazing vintage clothes from Brooks Brothers and JPress from 30s and 40s; for exemple a wondeful sport jacket, darted, custom cut by J Press in 1936 that seemed come out from Anderson & Sheppard or Rubinacci.
    I not think that the customer was a conformist,and for sure was very elegant.

  36. Dan Christensen | May 24, 2019 at 12:31 am |

    Carmelo,
    In 1952, I was 9 years old.
    Today, I’m 76.
    Please don’t tell me that 1952 wasn’t a long time ago.

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