Today Troy Patterson, Princeton man and longtime linker to Ivy Style in his work, wrote a piece for The New Yorker on Robert Mueller as style icon, linking to this post from last summer.
Within the community of men passionate about preppy clothing, there’s a lively conversation around Mueller’s preference for starch in his oxford-cloth shirt, a choice evident in the unusual curvature of the roll of his collar, which bulges where you’d expect it to arc gently. It takes a certain sort of prep to starch his oxford cloth. There is a school of thought that holds that this material looks appealing when wrinkled and creased, and Mueller pointedly does not attend it.
Breaking news suggests that recently appointed special counsel Robert Mueller may have quite the work load ahead of him. But no matter the outcome of his Trump investigation, the American people can expect Mueller to appear thoroughly, idiosyncratically trad.
Or at least the recent cover of Time Magazine suggests so. Mueller graced it wearing an aggressively rolling button down collar with an intense and puzzling bulge circling around the top:
I launched my own investigation into what could cause such a collar condition, and received the following statement from Bruce Boyer:
What the photo appears to show is a traditional pinpoint oxford cloth button down (from a traditional maker) which may or may not have light starch. A preference for starch would be unusual, but not unheard of. The shirt is accompanied by as Ivy an outfit as you can get: small patterned silk foulard and discreet striped worsted suit. This outfit is exactly the sort of thing worn by Elliot Richardson. Archibald Cox, on the other hand, was known to have mainly worn tweed jackets.
Note to our millennial readers (including myself): Eliot Richardson and Archibald Cox served as Attorney General and special counsel, respectively, during the Watergate scandal.
A quick Google image search reveals that Mueller, a former marine and FBI Director, has a definite penchant for buttondown collars, foulard neckties and pinstripe suits. In fact, I could not find a single image that showed him wearing any other type of collar. Yet even when going tieless, Mueller’s collar’s still affect that bulge at the top. I guess it’s just the way he rolls. — ERIC TWARDZIK
A Princeton man:
Mueller’s collar roll may be a little odd (I think it’s b/c he is tilting his head and crossing his arms) but he dresses much better than Trump. Richardson and Cox were both trad dressers. Cox was a Special Prosecutor (not counsel) for Watergate and frequently wore bow ties. Richardson and Cox were fired by Nixon, which is what Trump would desperately like to do with Mueller.
In any event, Mueller appears like he is starting to move on Trump. It’s about time. Clear out all the lies, fake assertions, authoritarian acts, collusion with Russia, money-laundering and all this inane MAGA crap–who wants to go backwards? Trad will beat flashy nuevo riche any day. Popcorn is a-popping in anticipation of indictments, arrests, jail time, etc. Who knows, we might even see the death penalty if treason comes into play. Mueller Time.
Various OCBD collar rolls illustrated:
A Milano with a Four-in-Hand and no tie with an OCBD never fails.
What my 96 year old mother would call “an old buck”.”Who really thinks he’s something”.
Most probably wearing one of the best button downs in the business since there are so very few good ones left: Mercer and Sons. Why, because their collar is a tad longer than Brooks Brothers. Probably regular finish with starch(yikes) because of the long days and tedious work. Just a guess, but with the longer points and starch, collar would have a tendency to “roll’ as such.
seriously, Valien, do we have to bring politics into this site? Can we not simlly admire Christian’s purpose here? Isn’t there enough space on the web for political postings?
Yes, we have to bring politics into this: Ivy/Trad style is about tradition, propriety, and values. Trump is not.
The collar roll on Bob’s shirts look like those on BB shirts in the recent, since the mid 80s, past where if you were lucky enough to get a good trad roll it was just an accident. In contrast now, Mr. Mercer’s shirts have the pre 80s BB collar roll, in part, due to the longer collar point.
OCBD collars, by the way, do not care if you belong to the trad wing of the Republican Party or the agitprop, apparatchik version of today’s Democrat Party. Archie Cox, when I would run into him at the old Ritz Bar, Locke-Ober, or on the now defunct, Eastern Shuttle, always wore a bow tie. Eliot Richardson, often seen in the same venues, of course, had perfect Ivy credentials but always seemed to dress a little too smoothly, perhaps influenced by the many DC based positions he held; still how can you object to such a venerable denizen of the Tavern Club. Eliot was not often in OCBD, as I recall, with one famous photo exception.
@Valien – nuevo riche? Do you mean nouveau riche?
Judging your tone, I imagine you typed your comment with one hand.
Jim – I wrote nuevo riche purposefully.
Vern – You are right (obviously). OCBD collars probably don’t care. Everyone understands that Trump and the GOP are trying to re-make America into a Putinchik, Soviet-style satellite, so the Trump crime family can profit bigly. It’s what Trump-Russia collusion is all about. Really, who ever heard of a president being under FBI investigation from the outset of his presidency? And it’s only gotten more intense. I guess that’s what making it great again is all about: make the US a Putin satellite.
Will – I typed that with my right foot and nose, if you must know. I thought the tonal qualities of my appendages tapping the keyboard was quite in tune, maybe a tad sharp.
Seems a good moment for this clip.
Something for everybody. CC will delight in Spock’s pinned club collar (accompanied by wool challis?). Note Buckley’s watchband (striped)) and long point collared OCBD. I’d guess 4″. The only way to find this collar nowadays is custom. And there are plenty of makers out there.
Spock’s clipped New England accent rivals Buckley’s lazy boarding-school-in-England cadence.
@Valien – That was a guess, but subtleties on the interweb often go over my head.
With all the collar-roll talk, I must admit that my take-away from the Time cover pic was: ‘why does his head look so enormous’? I also noticed the watch the face worn inside the wrist, like an actual combat vet.
Putting two-and-two together here (maybe): Mueller’s head looks so large for the same reason his collar roll looks odd – he is posed with his head is craning forward and down slightly. This: a) makes the head look out of proportion, since it’s closer to the camera; b) squashes his collar down, giving the odd appearance; and c) gives him something of an old-man neck waddle, which he doesn’t seem to have in other pics.
I think Mueller is a victim of Photoshop. I’m guessing the designer wanted his head to push up into the logo without his shoulders disappearing off the page (the dark suit agains a dark background would have left behind a floating head without the shoulders). Thus he or she enlarged the head only. This was an awful oversight by the editors.
I also think Mueller is an American bad ass. At the height of the Vietnam War, he joined the Marines and served with distinction. And it’s important to note that he entered the service AFTER he had earned undergraduate and graduate degrees. For most of his legal career, he served as a federal prosecutor, spurning the big money he could have earned in private practice.
Mueller is Trump’s nightmare.
Purely from a style point, and politics aside, I’m fascinated by the difference between the button-down and foulard tie world of Mueller and the NY slick, Brioni suit and satin tie world of Trump and his family and friends. How will this clash work itself out, and what will it all say about us? And, just as another aside, while we are consumed by having to pay attention to this mess, China will build another 20,000 miles of high-speed rail.
Bless your heart.
@Bruce: I don’t consider myself qualified to dissect it fully, but your question about the differences in style fascinates me also. I had a conversation once, long ago, about this exact topic. My friend and I lived in a mid-Atlantic city, each of us with direct Southern family roots, and we each wore ‘trad’ clothes and worked in traditional professionals, etc. We had a colleague, however, who was from a NYC suburb and was (in)famous for dark, usually pinstriped, double breasted suits (always buttoned!), and shiny satin ties (always jacked up tightly, even at happy hour!), french cuffs and a giganto watch. My friend suggested that, with his dress, our NYC friend was trying to project power. So the question remains, today as back then: ‘power’ comes dressed in may ways, but to whom does the “Brioni suit and satin tie’ especially convey that message?
Trump is obstinate and does not have the kind of dynamic personality that changes, grows and transforms. He picked up his dressing formula back in the ’80s and has seen no reason to evolve.
As for China, they may have high-speed rail, but they can’t read Ivy Style. Unless the government says it’s OK.
It was a bit mean-spirited, but I confess to having chuckled when I read Fran Lebowitz’ comment last year that, ‘Trump is a poor person’s idea of a rich person.’
I think the more a man tries to project power the less secure he feels about himself. It’s a defense system against being found out.
Also, don’t you just love the Mona Lisa smile on Muller’s face on the Time cover?
I’m not sure about the various theories already thrown out, but I saw the roll and my first thought was that his collar was simply a size too small.
Roll is due to a starched pinpont that fits a bit too snugly.
This is a Gitman Brothers OCBD with medium starch
The people of China cannot read anything unless their government says it is ok.
Conceited political dilettantes with some dubious educational pedigrees, that waste their time deliberating the perfect roll of shirt collar while trying to humiliate each other. Is not only pathetic and ridiculous, but sadly laughable. Utilizing material signifiers to categorize individual’s moral values, disguised as intellectuals’ discourse is the epitome of arrogance and bad taste. Only Mr. G. Bruce Boyer sensible, appropriate and to the point observations save the dramatism and posturing of this post.
Admittedly the president is not of the Don Draper Manhattan sartorial variety, but this site is hardly the forumn in which to debate his political or personal virtues. I am quite certain that if one commented on the previous president – who by the way was a fabulous dresser – in such derogatory terms, it would not be tolerated by the group.
I’m with BostonEd and CJ. My diagnosis of Mueller’s collar roll is that he has too much flabby neck jammed into it.
Related aside: two retailers who sold Troy Guild oxfords back in the 50s and 60s have shared that today, adjusted for inflation, the shirts would easily exceed $125/. There was the added observation that they were “exceptional in every way” and (therefore) the market was small. Ditto for Norman Hilton clothing.
If CC is right about “High WASP,” then certainly Haute Ivy was an actual something. I wonder how many “Ivy” shops specialized (or even dabbled in) Haute Ivy.
Probably very few.
If the previous president was a “fabulous dresser”, I’d be fascinated to know where that leaves the likes of G. Bruce Boyer.
I’d say that Obama’s dress was as bland as the next American politician’s. The difference was that Obama was tall, lean, and had excellent posture—those qualities prevented him from ever looking sloppy or slouchy, qualities that afflict almost all other politicians.
Very funny website. Men argue about a man’s ‘flabby neck’ puts a crush on collar and who is the ‘fabulous dresser.’ Are you really men?
@Hong Kong Joe: are you lost? Did you find this blog by mistake? If the discussion of collar rolls, plain fronts versus pleats, and the like upset your sense of masculinity, I’m afraid you’re in the wrong place.
Hong Kong Joe has a bit of a point. I have also wondered from time to time about the sex of some of the posters on this site. Hong Kong Joe may be a woman for all I know.
That being said, my wife recently commented that I have more clothes and shoes than most women. I pointed out that much of my wardrobe is over a decade old. My ten or so Troy Shirtmaker’s Guild shirts in white, blue and university stripes are old world craftsmanship and have plenty of useful life left.
Regarding being tolerated by “the group”, I sincerely hope this site does not turn into a safe space.
Paul – Yes, came by mistake. Not about masculinity. In HK, many of us wear the ivy clothes because of England influence, but never talk about men’s neck flab or who is fabulous dresser. That would be considered too strange. We have many better thing to discuss.
Do you talk about such things with men where you work or only on anonymous website?
Will Sacksuit – Funny. I thought you a girl from you saying ‘bless your heart’. Do men usually say bless the heart to other men in America? Bless the heart and drink a beer, lol. To much neck flab, no beer for you! lol. Different culture.
@Hong Kong Joe: call me shallow or persnickety, but amongst certain like-minded friends, I will absolutely discuss why someone’s clothes do or do not fit properly, as much in person as on this blog. And while I don’t know what men in HK discuss on the street, I feel compelled to point out that here you are, discussing it with all of us. Just sayin’.
Also, take it from someone with a mother from the American South: in context, “bless your heart” means “go f*** yourself”.
The man with a problem, is the man who cannot bring himself to compliment another man. Especially when he deserves it.
Here’s another southern saying: “You must not be from around here.”
That translates to “you’d better haul your ass out of here before we kick it for you.”
I see. A closed society. And threats, Mr Wiskeydunt. I guarantee it, you won’t kick my ass. You may try, but I hope you like hospital, lol as you would be severe broken.
And, of course, before I go I must wish those who say so many southern saying: Fuck you to.
@Hong Kong Joe
I wouldn’t be surprised if whiskeydent got a case of the vapours with that last comment. You sound like a trip.
sorry, Mitate, not sure what you mean. I just thought BHO looked superb in his suits . Mom taught me to say something nice about everyone.
And so goes our brief visit with the accidental tourist, Hong Kong Joe: in like a lion; out like a lion. Joe, we hardly knew ye.
Your superlative greatly overstated the case. He wears a suit well would have sufficed. And your Mom would still have been proud of you.
Mueller simply is dressed in the new uniform that allows him to follow his masters marching orders and destroy the lethal threat Trump represents to the Brahmin class of self styled leaders of American society. Ivy Trad is the dress of English aristocracy wannabes. Actually if you have to wannabe something English aristocracy is a very spiffy model.
Vapors? Perhaps. But only those of the finest whiskies.
Single malt scotch — I presume
Will, what I meant was that criticism of the current president is accepted in most any circles, but criticism of the most recent president is considered inappropriate. Quite the double standard, and neither appropriate for this gentlemen’s blog space, IMHO
Criticism, when well reasoned and deserved, is appropriate for all presidents. Eight years of Obama was like being beaten to death with a bag of oranges. Eight months of Trump, with all his many faults, has given me a more positive feeling about my country.
BTW neither look fabulous in a suit.
Seems you and I do agree about their poltics if not BHO’s sartorial ability. Cool
@Paul: Looking at other photos of Mueller, he always wears his watch with the face inside. It’s a Casio-style watch. I like that – it’s a utilitarian touch works nicely with the old-School public servant ethos projected by the FBI agent’s white shirt (he makes a point of wearing white shirts, see interview on politico.com) and the prep school / Ivy background evoked by the collar roll and suit. Just what Trump doesn’t have.
@ Paul, I have come back to Fran’s comments time and again myself. I think her comment speaks to much of his popularity.
Quite the range of comments from last year. Staying with the mysterious starched OCBD for a second, that was definitely the look at Washington & Lee and UVA down here in Virginia in the 1980s. Not sure why, but heavy starch was standard, and you could probably have played handball off the average preppy’s collar in these parts. Same with the sharply creased khakis. I did that for a while, and found that the look was also common in Washington, D.C. when I worked in a law firm there in the later 80s and 90s. Perhaps it was a southern thing, due to the tendency of collars to wilt in the humidity, and Mr Mueller may have picked it up during his time in Washington.
I still like to have the collars on my OCBDs pressed, at least when I am wearing them with a tie, and my local laundry generally does a good job. However, I no longer go for starch. The softer button-down collar not only looks better, but feels much better as well.
I’m sorry I failed to answer your question about my whiskey choice. I am indeed a scotch drinker most of the year. On special occasions, I’ll drink a single malt such as McCallen or Glennmorangie (sp? for both). Dewars and water — known as durzzenwater to my friends here in Texas — is my daily.
However, I cheat on scotch in the hot months and sleep around with a particular dark rum, Flor de Caana, and a particular Mexican mineral water, Topo Chico. With a squirt of lime, it’s quite refreshing on a 100-degree day.
Charlottesville- I agree with you on the starch issue. No starch allows better collar roll, especially with unlined collars. Btw, I’m an attorney also.
Lived in Philadelpdia from January through May of 1968. Heavily starched OCBD collars were the norm among well-dressed lawyers.
This old thread reminds me that Will is, was, and always will be the consummate far right snowflake.
Excited to see more indictments.
Thanks, John Carlos. I’m wearing one today from BB; lined, unfortunately, but it rolls okay with an old BB repp tie.
Grey Flannels – That’s interesting about Philadelphia lawyers wearing heavily starched collars in ’68. It was definitely the case among Washington lawyers, lobbyists and Hill professionals in the 80s and early 90s. I gather that your time there was brief. What was the OCBD style other places that you lived?
Totally ordinary Ivy collar roll. One of many.
The only other places I’ve lived have been Oakland, East Lansing, and Los Angeles.
Believe me, you really wouldn’t want to know how people dressed in any of those places.
Grey Flannels — I can well imagine. I like LA for many reasons, but clothing is not the town’s best feature. Pasadena used to be a rare exception to the prevailing California casual style, but I have not been there in 15 years or more. It is hard to imagine now, but up until The Great Unpleasantness, a/k/a the summer of love, I have read that San Francisco enjoyed a reputation for sartorial excellence. I believe that Lucius Beebe described the opening of the SF Opera circa 1955 or so as the dressiest spot in the country, with white tie for men and long gowns and jewels for women being the standard. Alas, my first visit to the city was sometime in the late 80s and the most notable experience I recall was seeing Wavy Gravy, the Georgie Jessel of the Woodstock generation, at the bar of Jardinaire. He was complaining that his car had been locked in some municipal parking garage and he needed a ride. At any rate, I hope you have a good weekend wherever you now make your home.
Joel, you think about me entirely too much.
Mueller and his left wing lawyers are engaging in an investigation looking for a crime, it’s really despicable if you think about it. You may loath Trump and everything he stands for, but while Hillary and Liawatha (Warren) were out there hawking their theories on why the Dems should have won the election, the party’s callous indifference toward working Americans was the proximate cause. Exchanging sweetheart deals and hobnobbing at elite cocktail parties on Martha’s Vineyard was more interesting than campaigning to a bunch of dirty, deplorable proles. Now they are parading a porn star onto 60 minutes for a riveting interview in hopes of discrediting Trump. I don’t think that I need to remind all of you that when Bill Clinton was festooning a certain 21 year old intern’s blue Gap dress in the oval office, Hillary was upstairs, turning a blind eye to it all, biding her time in order to someday realize her God given destiny of presiding in that very room. Given the expense and frivolity of his quixotic quest, Mueller’s collar, with its patrician roll, should be exchanged for a slowly tightening noose…
Mr Bravo orifammic comments are phelmatic. Clearly from the limited acumen of an addlepate. Mr Clinton just exercised swag in his tour de force.
anyone have any idea what brand/make of suit Mueller wears?
Over the weekend, I made the mistake of putting on a BCBD (broadcloth button-down) which had been starched. The body and arms were impeccable. The collar was… not. No roll. No bell. No dome. No way. My collar looked like Mueller’s. Press your button-down collars, gentlemen. NEVER starch them.