A Matter of Taste

De gustibus non disputatum est. In English we know this apothegm as “There’s no accounting for taste.”

Much of what is discussed on menswear forums and blogs comes down to personal taste. To illustrate the point, we asked a number of style writers, bloggers and forum posters to name their sartorial pet peeve.

One man prefers the Beatles and bourbon, while another the Stones and scotch. In the end, who cares? In the meantime, it makes for piquant reading.

Some of the participants are hip to Ivy style, others are more like your fashion-conscious or British-bespoke colleagues who give you funny looks each morning. All have a sharp eye for style.

Some respondents had such a lengthy list of peeves they couldn’t stop once they got started. We judiciously edited their response down to the item lambasted with the most colorful invective. Bruce Boyer has such profound contempt for the item he chose he completely ignored the fact we asked for an item from a traditional wardrobe.

It’s interesting to note what the pet peeve says about the man who has it. Some dislike an item for reasons of cut and proportion, others its aesthetic qualities, and still others what they believe the item says about its wearer.

Not surprising, Michael Anton had the longest and one might say most technical response. We commence alphabetically with him.

When finished, use the leave-comment feature to agree or disagree with our participants. And why not contribute a pet peeve of your own?

* * *

“No ‘classic’ is more poorly adapted to the male form than the true three-button coat, the kind with short, stubby lapels that buttons up to the chin. This cut shortens the short, widens the wide, elongates the tall, and makes all manner of men look indiscriminately wrapped in a bolt of cloth. A true hacking coat, actually worn on horseback and buttoned to the top, can keep out the chill without making the rider look foolish. But the instant he dismounts, he should take it off. Give me the Italian 3-roll-2.5 or the Boston trad 3-roll-2 any day.” — Michael Anton (manton), author, “The Suit”

“A breast pocket on a man’s dress shirt demonstrates the same taste as the bare calf showing above his sock.” — Will Boehlke, blogger, A Suitable Wardrobe

“I suppose my noirest of betes would be those ubiquitous, hyper-designed athletic shoes. These shoes — with their cartoonish patchwork of spandex lightening bolts, studded leather, rubber bumper-guards, and velcro fasteners — are the most unattractive and silliest footwear since the sequined, flatform pimp shoes of the ’70s. Surely both comfort and utility can be found in a more attractive package.” — G. Bruce Boyer, author and style savant

“Saddle shoes are the white flag of dignity. You might as well be wearing a clip-on bow tie and squirting carnation. Saddle shoes are for bowling alleys, Shirley Temple, and WASP 101. I’d rather wear flip-flops.” — Christian Chensvold, editor, Ivy-Style.com

“Embroidered cords, Nantucket Reds, and other such GTH trousers. They strike me as completely tasteless items sought after by those who have only a desire to make a statement but know so little about clothing that their only recourse is to find the loudest thing they see. Also, Vineyard Vines neckties: wide, pastel panels littered with cartoon seafood. There are some tasteless millionaires out there.” — Zachary DeLuca, contributing writer, Ivy-Style.com

“There are many parts of a trad wardrobe that work as accessories but should not be used as a focal point. Case in point: argyle sweaters. What is a charming bit of whimsy when worn discretely around the ankle turns into a self-conscious attempt to assert one’s style when worn around the torso. The fact that many of these items appear in color combinations bright enough to leave a retinal impression similar to a flash bulb only adds to the error.” — Effortlessly Trad, forum poster and comment leaver

“I can’t stand turned-up collars on polo shirts, paired with a sweater tied around the neck. In the ’80s this may have been relevant, but few things from the eighties are still relevant. It looks like ‘The Official Preppy Handbook’ turned into a Halloween costume.” — Giuseppe, blogger, An Affordable Wardrobe

“Some things just should never have been made, like rugby shirts with an elastic rib-knit bottom hem. Brooks Brothers offered these years ago, and they looked like leisure wear for the trad couch potato. Rugby shirts should be the real deal with rubber buttons: preferably your old school colors, or better yet, your old team uniform, so that even if you are prone on the couch from too many beers, you will look as if you might just surge out into the yard for a scrum with family and friends.” — HTJ, blogger, Heavy Tweed Jacket

“There are many items within the Ivy canon that I don’t wear, but there are none that bug me quite like the Albert Slipper. Perhaps it’s due to a deficient sense of humor on my part, but frankly I find them appalling. I don’t actually know anyone who wears Albert Slippers, but if I did I could easily find something about them to dislike.” — Longwing, blogger, The Long-Suffering Trad

“I’ve never understood knit neckties. A necktie should be sleek and silky and offer colors, patterns and textures unrealized in your other garments. Besides, they remind me of the members of the Students for America club at my high school, who wore them with plaid button-down shirts. There’s a difference between Tradsville and Squaresville.” — Michael Mattis, columnist, Dandyism.net

“I can’t stand the TV fold, white pocket handkerchief because it is a stiff, contrived look. The ‘puff’ fold is more casually elegant.” — Richard Meyer, forum poster and comment leaver

“I don’t usually speak disparagingly about a man’s personal style choices, but what’s with the Bass Weejun? I’m all for other classics like bucks or wingtips, but Weejuns are just too old-man looking, and not in the good way.” — Cory Ohlendorf, editor-in-chief, Valetmag.com

“At the risk of being stricken forever from the rolls of Ivy, the 3/2 roll jacket is on my list of unwearables. I find the unused reverse buttonhole unsightly. It can’t have been an intentional style feature, and must have started out when someone pressed the lapels of a three-button jacket to show a bit more necktie.” — OldSchool, forum poster and comment leaver

“The plain navy sportcoat, that underachieving cousin of the classic blazer, deserves banishment from any wardrobe. Neutral to the point of invisibility, it’s the uniform of a man who has settled into sartorial resignation, who can imagine the dazzle of brass buttons but only respond with an apologetic ‘Nope, not for me.'” — Robert Sacheli, columnist, Dandyism.net

“I hate wingtips. For 30 years this has been an unquestioned article of my religion: There shall be no broguing. There shall be no broad, running-board soles. I can’t understand how this item has found its way into the wardrobe of otherwise well dressed trads, unless it is a result of excessive fealty to the ’50s as a style benchmark.” — Sartre, blogger, Advice To My Sons

“Shoes made of shell cordovan. Reputed to be durable, it can develop unsightly welts at the slightest hint of moisture; these don’t always fade away. Reputed to be beautiful, it often takes on a hard, unsightly plastic appearance even when kept out of rough weather. Spare me the drama: I prefer plain old calfskin.” — Taliesin, contributing writer, Ivy-Style.com

“I despise visible shirt monograms. I’d rather a man wore a name tag. The monograms constant reminder is that I am dealing with a man of no significance.” — Toad, blogger, To The Manner Born

“I hate the sack-suit shape on 98% of men. It flat out doesn’t look good on most. The other thing I do not like are traditionalists that are unwilling to mix and match. If all you wear is super trad stuff, you end up looking too much like a character, like someone from central casting. Look at Glen O’Brien: He loves trad stuff, but it isn’t all he wears.” — Michael Williams, blogger, A Continuous Lean

This post originally ran in January 2009.

110 Comments on "A Matter of Taste"

  1. Wholeheartedly agree with Sartre: Wingtips are ugly.

    I’ve recently become hip to knit ties, though I’ve always admired that slouchy shot of Tyrone Power wearing one in Flusser’s “Dressing the Man.”

    The TV fold is probably not a good choice if you’re old and square. If you’re a jazz musician or a cast member of “Mad Men,” it looks more hip.

    Disagree with OldSchool: It’s the quirkiness and rarity of the 3/2 that makes it cool.

    Neutral on most of the others.

    Oh, and bourbon and Beatles for me.

  2. EffortlesslyTrad (FT) | January 2, 2009 at 6:50 pm |

    Man, there are some saddle haters out there 😉

    I don’t have much truck with leather saddles, but I will fess up to purchasing a pair of dirty buck saddles, which are for casual wear only. Ditto my brown brogues, though you couldn’t get me in a pair of black brogues if my life depended on it. Black Oxfords, plain cap, boring to point of Trad Zen.

    The knit tie is also a bit tricky. I think the square bottomed one’s are horrible, but I own three traditional knit ties. Again, the monochrome forces you to be interesting with the other parts of the ensemble. I also like the texture because it’s not silky (Not a fan of silk)

    What’s the saying about some trads becoming hard of hearing upon spying the wrong kind of shoe?

    Scotch and the Stones

  3. Sua cuique voluptas. (Every man to his taste). (Chacun a son gout).

    Thanks for introducing me to Valetmag.com

  4. I knew this list was going to be fun when I got the email to contribute. Good job, friend.

    -Maybe I’m a dork or something, but as an architecture student i ferequently find my shirt pocket full of pens. Its a pretty handy thing.

    -Sneakers should be made of cloth.

    -I love saddle shoes, but admit they are best used sparingly.

    -I’m all about the loud pants in summer, especially patch madras.

    -Argyle sweaters are gross.

    -Heavy Tweed Jacket, you nailed it. “prone from too many beers…etc.”

    -I’m very pro 3/2, but it has to roll softly.

    -Toad, that was great.

  5. Interesting sociological phenomenon. On the surface, the group is one; trad. But under the surface unique likes and dislikes emerge. Ultimately I suppose we become specific preference groups of one. Well, viva la difference. Good post.

  6. I agree, I am not a fan of popped collars. I’m still in college, and I see a lot of people doing this. In my humble opinion there is only one reason to have a collar popped; if you are a sailing instuctor in the middle of a harbor with no wind and no sun block. When you get back to shore, the collar comes down with the sails.

    I am personally a fan of nantucket reds, but under limited circumstances…ie. summer BBQ at the yacht club.

  7. My first submission was respectfully rejected so I’ll submit a snippet here.

    In 2/3 of the US it is not uncommon to find BB’s best customers shod in cowboy boots, and/or big hat Stetsons. They may be a fitting regional variation, but still I can’t abide it.

    A happy New Year to you all.

    Great post C.


  8. I’m one of the invited commentators who falls into the “other” category of style colleagues. (That’s me throwing darts at those horrible navy sport coats.)

    I must diplomatically disagree with my fellow D.net columnist Michael on the appropriateness of knit ties. Despite (or because of) the fact that they were part of my grammar school uniform, I have lately found myself reaching for a knit tie more often. A silk knit can add notes of both textural richness and informality to a suit, and a patterned wool knit pairs nicely with a button-down denim shirt.

    I look at trad dressing as one of several options in my wardrobe, so I can’t speak with the full authority of others here, and I confess that I am a relatively recent convert to Nantucket Reds. But they’re amazingly comfortable, and in the right settings, as noted in another comment, they’re just the ticket. Wearing them, say, with a pair of Stubbs and Wooten slippers in Palm Beach may be a near-cliché, but for me it’s fun alternative to my usual style.

    Christian, I’ve thought of another item to add to the List of the Dammned:
    those snap-brim caps made of patches of tweeds or plaids. Ugly as hell and flattering to no one.

    And, if anyone cares to know, make mine a single malt and Bobby Short.

  9. EffortlesslyTrad (FT) | January 3, 2009 at 10:54 pm |


    Totally agree with you about navy sports coats as well as patched snap brims, but add trousers made of those damn patches. Trads should not endeavor to look like the king of the hobos.

    Love Bobby Short, but I’ve come to believe that the epitome of Trad music is Fred Astaire’s 1952 collaboration with Oscar Peterson and a quintet of other jazz musicians. Astaire didn’t have much of a voice, but he knew how to sing. I can bring a smile to the Mrs.’s face by singing “I’m Putting All My Eggs in One Basket” thanks to that album.

  10. Maybe this is silly, but I really wish Lacoste would make their current polo shirts about two inches longer. I hang them in my closet next to similar sizes from Polo and Fred Perry, and the Lacoste shirts are noticeably shorter and I can definitely tell the difference when I wear them. When wearing them in a casual, un-tucked circumstances with jeans, I’d prefer they didn’t reveal my boxers if I have to reach down to my feet.

    I’ve begun to seek out the more vintage cuts Lacoste sold for a while at Urban Outfitters, of all places. It’s a three button look as opposed to two, but they are slightly narrower and longer.

  11. You really hate my site, don’t you? Ha!

    –Richard, WASP 101

  12. Somehow, in some terrible moment, someone decided that it was alright for a suit jacket to double as a sport coat or blazer. I wince whenever I see this. Not only does it look silly, it can prematurely age the jacket relative to the suit trousers, if the jacket is bearing worn more often than the trousers.

  13. The only shoes a man should be wearing without socks are top-siders.

  14. ErrortlesslyTrad sent me to YouTube, and here are Fred and Ginger doing “I’m Putting All My Eggs in One Basket”:


  15. How can anyone hate the TV fold and knit ties? Madness.

  16. I’m not a fan of knit ties, but I do like grenadine ties. It mixes the best of both worlds for me with the texture of the knit, but – importantly – with a tighter weave, and a pointed finish.

  17. I like saddle shoes. And knit ties look like they’re made of chain mail.

  18. If’n you can find it: Jazz Time, Fred Astaire, Double CD. 39 Tracks recorded in 1952. Relatively recently issued by Proper Records (UK) but now discontinued. Originally about $12.

  19. In regards to shirt monograms, the particular grievance of Toad:

    Visible monograms smack of nouveau riche. For literary reference, see Gatsby, with his monogrammed silk shirts. Tom Buchanan, although a terrible brute, correctly pins him as fraud for his pink shirts.

    Let us also remember Julius Beaufort from ‘Age of Innocence’, another new money man of ‘dubious origins’, who stamps his initials everywhere, including his silk opera hat.

    This comment comes over a year belated, but I’ve only just been trawling the archives.

  20. Lots of differing opinions out there. I cant imagine why a dress shirt with a chest pocket is not stylish. Rarely seen them without a pocket except for Ralph Lauren shirts. I find the polo player logo kind of pretentious though.

  21. Saddle shoes are only for the gutsy. And I consider myself one of the more testosterone addled men I know.

  22. I really enjoyed this article and I enjoyed comments in the comment section. Thanks for putting this together.

    I am surprised to see that sweater vests did not make the list!

    There is just too much functionality in the chest pocket of a dress shirt to give it two thumbs down.

  23. I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing: knit ties, longwings, madras patterns or anything red.

  24. I have since done a total 180 in terms of my stance on GTH pants. That quote is old. As Bob Dylan said, “i was so much older then. I am younger than that now.”

  25. Some great points and some others I don’t totally agree with, but no pockets on dress shirts? Madness!

    I have a mix of both with-pocket and without-pocket dress shirts, but with-pocket seems to be the standard almost everywhere.

  26. Ryan Biggs | May 21, 2012 at 9:55 am |

    Leave it to Will Boehlke to be bothered by something that never even occurred to me. Wonderful, another detail to obsess about…

  27. Ryan Biggs | May 21, 2012 at 10:35 am |

    OK, I know there will be few who agree with this one…but I can’t stand that old classic, gray pants with a blue blazer. Probably because it is such a standby, gray pants/blue blazer was the official uniform of my school choir in high school, and the unofficial uniform in Sunday school. When school kids get dressed up, their mothers put them in gray pants and blue blazer. Need proof? Go to your local thrift store and note the rack full of boys-sized blue blazers covered in bubble gum and chocolate milk stains. The look is ruined for me.

  28. The trick is not to obsess about anything, but find your own style. If you like ivy style clothing find your own personal style within that parameter.

  29. Ryan
    That’s funny, but I’ll give you something to obsess about, is grey a darker shade of white or a lighter shade of black?

  30. It’s personal preference, guys. Lemme put it to you this way: do you drink your coffee black, with cream, with sugar, or with cream and sugar? Do you drink tea, or a soft drink, or water, instead? As long as it satisfies you, it’s OK. Just don’t slurp, burp, or otherwise offend while you’re drinking it (isn’t that the essence of being a gentleman?).

    Having said that, it’s more about how you do it. Will doesn’t like pockets on shirts because they mess up the clean lines (I think). But can someone wear shirts with pockets and still look good? Yes. The same goes, mutatis mutandis, for the rest of the stuff.

  31. Purple polyester leisure suits! Oh, yeah, “traditional” item. But in Los Angeles–Yes! Purple polyester leisure suits! Nah, just kidding. This was fun, but life is so much simpler when old, fat, bald, retired. Else, how would I be able to read blogs?

  32. As far as I’m concerned, the only thing I wouldn’t wear is a black wingtip. If I absolutely HAD to wear a black loafer, I’d do it. But considering the lack of formality where I live, brown leather shoes are already a big deal.

  33. I really like saddle shoes but i agree with DALW: Saddle shoes are only for the gutsy. Particularly traditional black or brown and white saddles. They certainly do elicit comments. I am not wild about some of the ultra colorful, hipster saddles that are fashionable now.

  34. Worthwhile repost. Thanks.

    “Hate” is a strong word to use for anything. So, if/when a person writes that he/she “hates” the sack jacket on 98% of men, one wonders if there’s something just a tad personal at work. One wonders: is one able to “love” the good ol’ sack on the remaining 2% ?


    I think there’s a way to do (quote) “super trad stuff” (unquote) extremely well, but it’s all, as they say, in the details. A tartan pocket square here, an OCBD with longer points, silk-linen “tweeds,” shetland tweeds of colorful glen checks, pinning the tie to shirt with a gold safety pin, etc. and etc. and so on.

    When the sack is done well–elegant shaping (sans the hideous dart) through the middle, natural shoulder rounded at the sleevehead, long lines–nothing is more elegant. See Cary Grant in “Walk, Don’t Run.” See Cyrus Vance during the Secretary of the Army and Deputy Sec. of Defense years.

    I’ll refrain from indulgence in all-out hatred, but I’ll go far as to say that the hipster-designer spin on preppy looked mostly silly most of the time. Also awful: the bearded lumberjack sub-movement (you know–selvedge denim, buffalo plaid shirts, Red Wings, horn rims) within the larger urban hipster movement. Has that dissipated yet? We’ll have to make our way to Terminal 5 or Webster Hall for the next “show” to find out.

  35. When I was growing up, late ’50s-early ’60s the longwing brogue was THE Mr. Business shoe, found on just about every lawyer, banker, broker. But I’ve come to view it as not really formal enough for a dark suit on business, and a bit too “cityish” for more casual wear. It just looks out of place to me now, no matter where or how it’s worn.

  36. Enjoying all the commentary. This may be out-of-bounds, but I find the baseball cap worn backwards to be most hideous. More, hats or caps should not be worn inside a building, my father told me at an early age.

  37. Christian
    I had forgotten your disdain for saddle shoes. I guess we are even since I disdain bit loafers. 😉

    I’d have to say G. Bruce Boyer’s opinion concerning athletic footwear above is the only one that should be chiseled in stone, that includes golf shoes.

  38. A Bridge Too Far | September 15, 2016 at 12:30 pm |

    Two things:

    1) Elevated pants. I know trad pants are suppose to have no break, but I don’t like it when pants are cuffed 2+ inches above my shoes. It looks like I’m ready for a flood. My first suit from J Press had the high-water pants and I was totally disheartened. From that point on, I knew it was always going to be a struggle with the tailors, but I’ve never had high-water pants since. I prefer pants to be cuffed with a very slight break.

    2) White collar and cuffs on a blue, pink or striped shirt. To me that’s just too dandyish.

  39. @Christian

    I generally agree with you about saddle oxfords. However, I used to pair my cordovan and black oxfords with a blue blazer, white button down shirt, rep tie and charcoal chalk stripe trousers. My father used to call it a “Full Norfolk” -not sure why. The ladies seemed to like it too. I was asked more than once if I was from D. C. when I wore that combination.


  40. De gustibus non est disputandum. Please note gerundive, not past participle following verb. ‘De gustibus…’ is also the title of a poem by Robert Browning. Please excuse pedantry.

  41. Oh dear, I find myself agreeing with you a tad too much, ABTF, but pants should always have a break, otherwise they flap and reveal too much sock. Classy shoes will always reveal themselves without your pants sailing an inch or more above them. And spookily, my other great gripe is white collars and cuffs on coloured shirts. Just ghastly. But finally, tie pins and bars. Worst of the lot. Sticking a pin through a collar is bad enough, but clipping your tie to your shirt always struck me as a thoroughly senseless act, like wearing a belt and braces.

  42. You are wrong about saddle shoes, Chensvold! Now recount your blasphemies or a shall be forced to insult you a second time! 🙂

  43. A Bridge Too Far | September 15, 2016 at 1:36 pm |

    You are definitely in trouble now! I’m not a fan of tie bars and pins either.

    I used to work with a fellow who routinely wore braces under his suit vest. It was the strangest thing. He always wore a very nice 3-piece suit and braces. You would see a hint of brace at the arm holes or when he reached high.

    Maybe I’ve been sheltered, but I’ve never see it again since, and don’t really want to.

  44. Charlottesville | September 15, 2016 at 3:09 pm |

    It looks like on any given day, I am likely to annoy at least one of the site’s contributors and commenters. Like Christian, I sometimes wear pinned club collars and knit ties. Most of my suits and sport coats are 3/2 sacks, but I have 2-button, darted models as well. I tend to wear a TV fold with a business suit, and a puffed hankie with sport coats, thus being an equal opportunity offender. My closet contains saddle shoes, shell cordovan long-wing gunboats, black cap-toes and penny loafers. I find braces necessary with a vested suit, because seeing a belt poking out under a vest is at least as bad as a bare leg showing above the sock. However my braces are not likely to be spotted peeking out of the arm holes of my vest, because I generally do not remove my jacket at work. I could not agree more with Messrs Boyer, Anton and others regarding the hideousness of bulbous, pimped-out athletic shoes, button-3 coats with tiny, pressed-down lapels, and Thom Browne-style short suits. The Ivy classic that I personally like least is going sockless with tassel or penny loafers. I find it uncomfortable, although I don’t mind if someone else wants to do it. The fashion of showing an inch or two of shirt puffing out under the bottom coat button, and above the low waist of the trousers is probably my current pet peeve, and I don’t care that Brooks, Press and Ralph Lauren all endorse it. It makes the wearer look like a Christmas present that was opened and hastily rewrapped by a child. But the worst offense of all is the slovenly blight of t-shirts and cargo shorts that has blanketed the country. Compared to that, the rest of these are mere quibbles, and I shall try not to shun anyone for wearing the wrong tie or shoes (except for gaudy sneakers as mentioned above).

  45. The Loafer Lawyer | September 15, 2016 at 3:45 pm |

    CC – The saddle shoe? Oh my. I don’t currently own a pair, but have been trying to find the right pair for weekend wear. I must, of course, disagree. I think my pet peeve would be embroidered motifs that do not match the wearer’s reality. A crab motif in Omaha? Not so much. A hunter’s motif for someone who would never consider owning a firearm? Truly odd.

  46. Oh look…a bunch of putz internet bloggers playing costume dress up wrote their “pet peeves” of style. Yawn.

  47. Those who are puzzled by button-down shirts without pockets must be too young to remember when Brooks’ dress shirts NEVER had breast pockets. Did they start adding them in the late 70s? Don’t remember and don’t like them.

    And to Ryan Biggs, I agree only if you’re talking about really light grey trousers with blue blazers. Awful. But if you wear flannel trousers that are too dark (i.e. charcoal) with a blue blazer, it looks like you’re wearing a suit. That’s not what you’re going for.

  48. Cranston Hughes | September 15, 2016 at 4:33 pm |

    You’re all heathens.

  49. I’ve never been a big fan of people who go waaaaay over the top with bright colors in the summer. For example, a lime green polo with pink/seersucker/critter shorts and a grosgrain belt.
    Oh and I’m not much of a fan of functioning button holes particularly if they are on a skinny suit. Well actually skinny suits are awful as well.

  50. Cranston Hughes | September 15, 2016 at 5:24 pm |

    A dart in any form is a GTH dart. I’m looking at you, 98%.

  51. What is “putz”?

  52. No camouflage: It’s appropriate in battlefields and hunting blinds, not the streets of your fair city.
    No logos: They don’t convey the status you so desire, but they do reveal that you were suckered into turning yourself into a manufacturer’s billboard. Polo (not the awful brand) shirts might be exempted. Might.
    No monogrammed initials: If your initials are not as important as JFK or LBJ, you are not important enough to wear them.

  53. I’ve a mind to wear my brown suede saddles tomorrow, along with argyle socks. And a plaid shirt and knit tie.

    Diet Coke and Dexter Gordon.

  54. This beats TV any day! Thanks, gang, enjoyed all. OK, going out on a limb here, but guys that don’t wear underwear. Honest, just a bit over the line, doncha thinK? Even for Texas. Also, anything formerly kosher by any American standard that is now made in China or India to feed a long-dead dream (e.g., Florsheim longwings).

  55. A Bridge Too Far | September 15, 2016 at 10:03 pm |

    Well, George. I have to ask — how the hell can you tell is a guy is not wearing his underwear?

  56. @Bags I don’t see how a tie held in place with a tie bar is as redundant as wearing pants with a belt and braces. There is nothing holding ones tie down, hence the need for a tie bar. Personally I don’t like them, but if I were ever to wear one, I’d follow the red Astaire rule of putting it on diagonally.

  57. As for saddle shoes, I want a pair of brown and white ones some day. I’m not sure if anyone still makes a quality saddle shoe anymore, sadly. One pair with a red sole and one pair with a leather sole. Like Buzzy here, yellow socks and all: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/255227503857970929/

  58. I think we can all agree on Mr. Boyer’s comments about flashy sport shoes but they seem to have only gotten more prevalent since this article was written 7 years ago. My one Ivy peeve would have to be longwing brogues. I think that they are the ugliest of all country shoes, they look like galoshes. However, it goes without saying that I understand that they have a place in trad style and I respect them and their wearers.

  59. A Bridge Too Far | September 16, 2016 at 12:31 am |

    Have to agree with BG (I know, a challenging acknowledgement, at best) — tie bars are verboten. Maybe they were a workable in the 1930s and 40s before the second world war when the wind blew ties helter-skelter. But today we have global warming and the breezes are all gone. There is no longer a need for a tie bar, slanted or otherwise.

    BTW, what is a “red Astaire” and its diagonal tie bar? Sounds like an Austrian posing as an Irishman in an Asian pub trying to walk straight but unable to do so.

  60. You’ve gone too far again, ABTF. From tie bars to global “warming”??? Leave your progressivism behind, for just a few minutes, please man. Can I remind you that this site is an escape for many of us, to get us away from the intolerables of life today, which is why, in case you were wondering, i expressed my disquiet above.

  61. I was going to wear my brown and white shoes yesterday, but I couldn’t find the white one.

  62. Fred Balthazar | September 16, 2016 at 5:36 am |

    I dislike any items that lack versatility – if it doesn’t go well with most of my wardrobe or I can only wear occasionally, maybe it’s not worth having. I know this sounds very vague but can be its color, shape or how it fits me. Vibrant and loud colors are particularly hard to combine, they also tend to give me headaches, therefore I steer clear from them.

    Recently I got a navy knitted tie 100% silk with horizontal white stripes and I’m in love with it.

    The Pretty Things’ first two albums and Jameson Irish whiskey for me.

  63. A Bridge Too Far | September 16, 2016 at 8:55 am |


    I will try and keep it ‘tied’ down for you.

  64. Monograms on stationery only. Logos on nothing–absolutely nothing. Bit loafers are dopey on men and women (very Muffy Aldrich). Although athletic shoes are not trad, they are as hideous as Crocs.

    Off topic, but is Miss Muffy still in business?

  65. Tuxedo Faux Pas.

    A Tuxedo with two buttons, flap pockets and notch labels is merely a black suit with satin facings. Failure. These are unfortunate the most popular models sold today (looking at you Brooks), and were so obviously a way for companies to cut costs by merely altering their suit offerings instead of creating new formal garments altogether.

    Tuxedos should have one button, slit pockets, a deep gorge, peak lapels or a shawl collar, satin or grosgrain facings, and matching trouser strips. The only exception is a double breasted coat that still strictly follows all of the above mentioned rules minus the single button.

  66. Attaboy, ABTF. Re “tied” down. I’ll have to resist the urge to prattle on about another of my great loves. Well perhaps just a few words: gorgeous knitted ones in cri de la soie, and sumptuous dusty ancient madder ones…with blades and tails flying free!

  67. GS
    The white and brown saddles you linked to are Ralph Laurens, he does them every couple of seasons, they are made in England and worth the $.

  68. @ABTF you’re telling me you haven’t heard of Red Astaire? He’s Fred’s twin brother, they looked and dressed exactly the same, many say Fred developed his sense of style from Red. Well, I tried but I still don’t think that I sound as insane as you, declaring that there are no more breezes due to global warming. Here in the Hudson River Valley, we have plenty of breezes because of our proximity to the river, therefor a tie bar is in order on most days. At least Ol’ Bags and I can agree on something.

  69. Mac, I know that Ralph used to offer them but he hasn’t in a while, believe me I’ve been checking. None this year so far.

  70. @Jacqueline Muffy is still in business, her blog is now called “Salt Water New England” it’s much different. Mostly pictures now.

  71. @Jacqueline I’ve heard plenty of insults for bit-loafers but “dopey” is a new one, how can you explain them as being dopey? Like clownish dopey?

  72. @GS: “Dopey” is a dopey adjective that I use now and then, but I am usually referring to someone’s “dopey” look (e.g. baseball cap worn backwards), which makes more sense than applying it to shoes. I think I picked it up from “Leave it to Beaver.” Bit loafers are silly looking to me.

  73. @Jacqueline Ah I see, that makes sense. To each his own.

  74. I have two peeves I would like to mention:
    1.) The intentionally left unsecured collar button on any OCBD, etc. Buttoning down one’S collar is not that hard to remember and not doing it does not equal sprezzatura.
    2.) Any tie clip or bar positioned too high on the shirt so that it could not possibly perform its intended function and instead is obviously being used by the offending party to say “look at me, I am wearing a tie clip and am so cool and special.”

  75. Saddle shoes are great, very versatile. Easy to dress up or dress down. Every man should have at least one pair.

  76. @Jacqueline,

    Muffy had far better taste than to wear bit loafers.

  77. On Muffy, they’d look good.

  78. @Philly Trad
    “Far better taste…”??? I suggest you try arguing that with the Italians, who invented bit loafers and are still the finest dressed people on the planet.

  79. The 1930s will always be the golden era of menswear. Nothing is more elegant than a chalk stripe suit and a paisley tie. Your site is the best, CC. A refuge for passionate menswear aficionados.

  80. Italians are far from the best dressed people on the planet, especially because they don’t wear bit loafers. WASPs adopted them for their own.

  81. Well GS, if you’re saying that Italians are far from the best dressed because they don’t wear bit loafers, I emphatically disagree with you. If they’d never invented bit loafers they’d still be the best dressed people on the planet, as they always have been…well in my lifetime, anyway.

  82. @BG I was partially joking, I like bit loafers but I think that Italians dress too trendy. They’re always ahead of the curve and are always changing their style, I feel. Where’s the loyalty? Look at Ivy Style, it’s the same. I do believe that Italy is home to quality in craftsmanship wholeheartedly, however.

  83. Italians are known for being stylish, that is true, but stylish means always changing according to trends. I like style that is old, tried and true which is what attracted me to ivy/trad style.

  84. When I talk about the finest dressed, GS, I talk about Luciano Barbera and many others who I don’t think I even need to begin to describe.

  85. Bags, I have never heard of him, I looked him up but he dresses the way I imagined. I still say Americans during the ivy heyday were the best dressed. Now not so much, maybe the Italians win the title for modern day best dressed.

  86. I don’t know whether I’d admit to not knowing who Luciano Barbera is on such an august sartorial website, but hey-ho. I’d describe him as an Italian Bruce Boyer…but with his own menswear business. His clothes and his style are exquisite. And so ends the debate.

  87. Well pardon my honesty, just because I am a commenter doesn’t mean I have to be a menswear expert. Some of us are here to learn, what an ignorant comment. I still say Italians are too trendy and have no loyalty to style. Maybe you should go on an Italian menswear website with likeminded individuals, this is website is about American style.

  88. Italian Pitti Uomo costumes are about the dopiest things I have ever seen right up there with Thom Browne’s PeeWee Herman getups. Incidentally, isn’t he doing zoot suits now?

  89. @sacksuit thank you, those “Pitti Peacocks” are what come to mind when one mentioned Italian style. This Bags character needs to be directed to another website, one that finds that’s sort of “style” appealing.

  90. So not satisfied with calling my comment ignorant, I’m now “this Bags character” who “needs to be directed to another website”. You’ve arbitrarily (though patently emboldened by “sacksuit” and his enlightening comment) decided that I don’t fit your Ivy profile.
    My dear GS, “Pitti Peacocks” may come to your mind at the mention of Italian style, but not mine. Repeat, not mine. Luciano Barbera, and sophistication, come to my mind. You really should read this: https://www.lucianobarbera.com/style/how-to-wear-suit

  91. @Bags Groove

    Stiff upper lip old bean. I would agree with you that some Italian dress looks cool. Case in point, most Michelangelo Antonioni movies from the fifties and sixties come to mind. Thinking about Monica Vitti in l’avventura would be the best reason to see it though. WOOF! Marcello Mastrioni in Fellini’s 8 1/2 and la dolce vita too.


  92. Italians seem to be the most naturally stylish and the best dressed era was Hollywood/London/New York of the 1930s.

  93. Slings and arrows of outrageous commenters, Will, old boy, all part and parcel. But I must disappoint viz Italian cinema. I was never a fan, electing to experience Italy’s riches di persona.

  94. Well, Bags, you seem to think that Italians are the best dressed when I say that they are too trendy. I simply stated that this site is about American style and perhaps you would prefer a site dedicate to Italian style. I would say that most older Italian men dress well enough seeing as they wear suits. Sorry that you took offense to my remarks but I didn’t care for your insinuation that one needs to be a menswear expert to comment on or read this site’s articles.

  95. Also, I opened the link you sent and noticed that all of those sport coats shown in the illustrations are too short. If you look closely, the entire hand of one of the drawn figures is past the bottom of the sport coat. This is why I say Italians are too trendy, the short-suit trend is a peeve of mine.

  96. Long arms, or maybe duff artist? I give up. Oh, and I’m far from offended. Just disappointed.
    I’ll leave the last words to Dickens: “My dear if you could give me a cup of tea to clear my muddle of a head I should better understand your affairs”.

  97. or Shakespeare via Wodehouse,

    “exit hurriedly pursued by a bear.”

  98. Disappointed that an 18 year old doesn’t know about some Italian style icon of yours? I am here to learn and luckily I have learned a lot, not everyone here is an expert and I doubt that you are either.

  99. Eighteen??? Only eighteen??? I’m getting on for Luciano Barbera’s age, for heaven’s sake! What a huge pity you didn’t say earlier. Please ignore everything I said. I’ve not felt so foolish in a very long time.

  100. @Bags you are forgiven, yes I am eighteen and I know that it is rare for someone my age to care about how they dress or to be attracted to classic style. I consider myself lucky.

  101. Nothing rare about it, GS. At eighteen I cared desperately how I dressed, in what turned out to be a lifelong quest for the natural shoulder. Ivy’s soul.

  102. @Bags amongst people my age these days, I consider it rare. But what mainstream style guides do people my age have to rely on? GQ and Esquire? I used to read GQ but I then realized that it was pure materialism with a few good pointers. My first true lesson in style, as laughable as it soon, came from the Official Preppy Handbook as well wearing Polo.Then I stumbled upon this site and found a treasure trove of answers to my sartorial questions. I once was lost but now I am able to define my personal style: classic.

  103. Well you’re in the right place, GS. Ivy’s your heritage. I was always digging it at arm’s length, though I made up for that in time spent on the East coast. All we got to do now is get you into your other great American heritage: jazz. For Limey-Ivy types like me the two are inseparable (sadly, to the irritation of some). As for Ivy-Style, treasure trove of answers sums it beautifully.

  104. I agree, finding Ivy was like finding myself. Living in the Hudson Valley, I have always been surrounded by those who live and dress in the classic, American style. I never noticed it nor was I able to appreciate the rarity of it until now. As for limey, my grandmother is a actual brit and is the most trad person in my family. She embodies old WASPy values of frugality and simplicity that I now cling to as they make so much sense to me. Also, I love old music, I count Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra among my favorite singers. I know that they may not be pure jazz but the Great American Songbook is what I love.

  105. That’s terrific. Plenty of good foundations there, GS. May they stay with you for life.
    At heart Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra were jazzers. You can’t go wrong with guys like those…and the Great American Songbook. I was raised on Frank particularly. Fly Me to the Moon (with Basie) always guaranteed to brighten the gloomiest of days.

  106. I won’t be letting go of them any time soon. As for music, my knowledge is growing…

  107. I don’t know why a blue shirt with a white collar is only mentioned as having white cuffs as well. My own uniform is a 3/2 Sport Coat and a blue oxford with a white club collar. That’s a world away from a point collared collared shirt with white collar and cuffs – which to me would be most at home worn by a guido at a club where bottle service was a thing.

  108. Argyle socks with a suit. Printed foulard tie with a blazer. Ecru oxford cloth shirts. Navy blue pants. Shiny calf-skin shoes. Navy blue buttons on a navy blue suit.

  109. leaving the terminal button undone on the surgeon’s sleeves of a suit or blazer.
    We all see that you are a proud little peacock- now button it up please.
    Thank you.

  110. Maybe not relevant on ivy style but swivel back cuff links immediately disqualify anyone from being well dressed.

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