Black Fleece And The Debut Of 1818, The Brooks Brothers Magazine

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After a couple of posts already on Brooks Brothers, the fodder keeps coming, and discussion points keep popping up, so we may be on this topic for a while.

First off, today on the Brooks website I noticed a plug for the first issue of 1818, its new lifesteyle magazine. The overall feel, as we’ve come to expect, is very much international fashion brand (I don’t think any of you are in denial about that being where the brand is). However, there are some dollops of Americana here and there, including articles about Brooks’ dressing 39 of 44 US presidents. Michael Williams of A Continuous Lean also provides a piece on made-in-America, and Patricia Mears of the MFIT presents a piece called “The Ivy Style” that looks back at the museum exhibit and Brooks’ role in it.

Mears writes:

Purists may bemoan the ways in which Ivy style, now often referred to as “preppy” style, have been appropriated by the fashion world. Yet this classic look has stood the test of time and thrived for decades precisely because it is so brilliantly distilled and perfected; elements can be tweaked and even upended without losing its distinctive, spirited essence.

Now if your irony meter just started quivering, better hang on to your seat. 1818 Magazine also includes an interview with Thom Browne, head of the Black Fleece collection and whose ideas on proportion seem to be having an increasing effect on the brand as a whole.

Here’s some of what Browne has to say in a Q&A led by style writer Glenn O’Brien:

I think it will always stay true to what I set out to do at the beginning. That is to be a little bit younger version of what is true to Brooks Brothers. It’s always going to be classically inspired.

As an Ivy-Style.com comment-leaver recently pointed out, “everything is relative.” Perhaps in this case that old cliché is spot on. Point of view will determine whether you find Browne’s creations “classically inspired” and “a little bit younger,” or distortions of once-gentlemanly clothing by a conceptual artist.

Browne continues:

I definitely have to be true to the brand. It has to be a little more classic-looking, but still really more youthfully spirited.

On one of our recent posts, a reader asked if anyone has actually seen someone wearing something that is obviously Black Fleece. This illustrates the important point that the kind of person who wears it and the kind of person who asks such a question probably travel in different circles (though both may find themselves walking down Madison Avenue). However, O’Brien sees fit to ask Browne if he still gets excited seeing his clothes walking down the street:

I guess you eventually get to a point that you see it a lot. But I’m still, you know… not huge, so when I do see it, I get a kick out of it. The most important thing is that Black Fleece was really something that I set out to do that really fit within the store and it enhanced what Brooks Brothers had done for the last couple of hundred years.

The last line is the richest one for debate. Has Thom Browne “enhanced what Brooks Brothers has done for the past couple of hundred years,” or caricatured it — like Duchamp putting a mustache on the Mona Lisa — which Brooks has oddly enough endorsed because we live in a postmodern age in which ironic is the new normal?

Finally, O’Brien also asks Browne if there’s any chance he’ll get President Obama in Black Fleece, to which Browne answers he’d love to see it.

I’m not sure how the rest of us would feel seeing our nation’s leader in clothing that would undermine his authority not only at home but abroad. Brooks Brothers may have dressed 39 out of 44 presidents, but it wasn’t in Black Fleece. — CC

80 Comments on "Black Fleece And The Debut Of 1818, The Brooks Brothers Magazine"

  1. ” Black Fleece was really something that I set out to do that really fit within the store”, Yes they are little boy suits and jackets, they don’t take up much floor space.

  2. My only comment is, looks like J. Crew.

  3. I don’t love everything Black Fleece does, but I wonder if the majority of the people complaining about the proportions on Black Fleece has actually tried the garments on in the store? The suit pants come unfinished, so it’s possible to set the break at a normal length like I do with mine. The pants also do not have an excessively low rise, but YMMV based on your physique. Provided that you fit the clothes (I’m 5’7” and skinny), there is nothing that is “distinctive” (in a bad way) about black fleece suits in a conservative color.

  4. This looks ridiculous.

    the model looks like he’s going to work in his little brother’s first communion outfit.

  5. MZ and RP both have good points. At what point does Browne admit that more people will associate “his look” with J. Crew than with him? The tiny lapels are a particular sticking point and, in my opinion, the real deal-breaker for most BBBF stuff. MZ has a point in that some of the stuff isn’t THAT outrageous on its own, it is just styled like it’s two sizes too small. That being said, no I don’t think that Browne is really improving anything. It is creating yet another line that makes short jackets with skinny fits.

    I actually had high hopes for Black Fleece, not because I wanted the clothes but because I hoped that it would quarantine Brooks’ impulse to go the fashion brand route. If the conceptual, flashy junk could have stayed within that brand-within-a-brand then I was all for it. Instead, it has led to a continued decline of the overall quality and approach to their goods. The problem isn’t Browne, he is just doing his thing and if people want it, great. The problem is del Vecchio and his quixotic desire to lead the brand into competition with major fashion labels against which he has no hope of victory.

  6. …nothing screams, “please don’t take me seriously” like a wool suit and tie with no socks.

    need proof?:

    http://unabashedlyprep.com/up-posts/Dress%20Code/Entrenched/fecastleberry20111021_0321a.jpg

  7. The thing is very simple:
    Anyone spends money for buy that suit is crazy or idiot.

  8. This look is great for young children, who have no reason to be taken seriously for anything. Anyone who would wear something that looks and fits like this to work, should never be taken seriously.
    This pick looks like something that Angus Young of ACDC would sport, were he to wear a suit with long pants instead of shorts. You know, the “Dutch Boy” look.
    Why is it that BB’s and it’s world citizen del Vecchio, cannot seem to offer something good for both the old and the young? I don’t care that they offer this junk, but why not also make available a line of sack suits and other classics as well? This would make all of us happy campers and not constantly disappointed by their newest lines of clown wear!

  9. For some reason looking at this brings to mind the idea of Brooks Brothers lederhosen. If they were “novel” enough they might make the Paris runway. Think Brooks lederhosen in a conservative chalk stripe. I’d pair the lederhosen with a short sleeve OCBD, bow tie, of course, and storm welt bluchers worn with a pair of those BB rep strip over-the-calf socks. (Fur felt hat with feather optional.)

  10. With all the money BB is throwing at these goofy outfits for fashion victims, I wish they’d introduce a line of resurrected sport coats and suits from circa 1964. No side vents, no two-button darted stuff, just the real, pre-Garfinkel’s articles. I think that stuff would fly off the racks. . .

  11. Good to see the return of the four inch cuffs. They were missed.

  12. if it will look dated at some point, I don’t want it ever.

  13. The best I can say is that they’ve produced some far worse stuff. (My original comment was going to be “Nauseating”, but I decided to be nice).

  14. Robert,

    Everything will look dated eventually. The question is, how soon? Thom Browne’s reinterpretation of Pee-Wee Herman is very much of the moment and will look dated shortly (many of us think it never looked good to begin with, but such are the vicissitudes of fashion). Classics are classic because they last from season to season, year to year, decade to decade. Although some style details from, for example, the 1930s, are very Thirties-ish and outdated, many more are still completely acceptable.

    AEV,

    Don’t forget the incongruous “ribbon-belt-with-suit” look, also guaranteed to make you look like a buffoon who has no clue.

    A.E.W. Mason,

    Bravo! I think the lederhosen with white short-sleeved shirt, worn with a long tie instead, would be excellent for that fast-food “restaurant” manager look.

  15. Isn’t the ribbon belt with a suit (navy pinstripe, as I recall?) part of the infamous Choatie outfit from the early days of Andy Trad? Didn’t someone create a graphic, that we later used here, based on a description of the outfit?

    Help?

  16. I’m 5’6″ and I have also tried on some Black Fleece jackets. I find the” BBalpha?” sizing on the Black Fleece line to be moderately bizarre and many of the plaid fabrics to be even more bizarre.

    I think that the suits that I got at Brooks Brothers in the ’60’s and ’70’s are better in every way, although I have to admit that I sometimes wear a ribbon belt with a suit, as my belt doesn’t show when I am wearing a vest, since my suits are the correct size.

    Fortunately, the suits and that I got at Brooks Brothers in the ’60’s and ’70’s will last for the rest of my life. I am uncertain if anyone buying a Black Fleece suit at Brooks Brothers now will get a lifetime of use from it.

    Even adjusted for inflation, the prices at Brooks Brothers now are much higher than they were in the ’60’s and ’70’s and the quality is much lower and the selection of suits and jackets is far more limited.

    The only thing that hasn’t changed at Brooks Brothers is the customer service. A few months ago, I wanted a shirt and the salesman, who wasn’t even born when I bought the suit that I was wearing (and was amazed when I showed him the “Special Order” label with my name on from 1976 in the jacket pocket), spent quite a bit of time finding the one remaining shirt in the the size and color that I wanted in all of Brooks Brothers, and had it sent to me from a Brooks Brothers store on the opposite coast.

    I still buy shirts at Brooks Brothers and I really like the No Iron Extra Slim Fit shirts.

  17. CC,

    I don’t know about that, but the unfortunate image seared in my mind of a ribbon belt with a suit is the fourth image from the top here: Alan Flusser wearing a black & white striped ribbon belt with a black pinstripe suit and a white shirt with horizontal black stripes.

    Dress like Alan Flusser writes, not like what he wears himself. His current personal style is charitably described as “clownish.”

  18. @AEV
    How about the unfastened monk strap buckle? A man with style. Take charge, can do look. Socks? Who needs them, one less inconvenience. I know I bought double buckled monks versus single, but I soon realized that buckling one is enough. I’m a man on the go! A player. Sprezzatura! A real Agnelli. Hire him!!!

  19. Looking at this picture, reminds me of watching the recent Burberry style show on the web. As usual, the women, and their clothes were beautiful. The men’s clothes looked just like this. Short pants, no socks, Pee Wee Herman coats. Do we see a pattern here? Are all the designers of the mens clothes, secretly wishing they are designing the women’s? Do they go to the same Roman Baths? Thats right, I am not being very politically correct. Have you seen the articles about the wacko that runs A&F, and his requirements for his male attendants on his jet?

    Although I am sad about whats happening to BB, I am equally sad whats happening to Burberry. I walk in, and leave with several things for my wife, yet can’t find a thing for myself (other than a tie now and then). Whats even more surprising, is the CEO is a gal from our area in Indiana, who is very bright and classy. I myself and her sister, who still lives in the area, both serve on a NFP board together. I have never met her CEO sister, but have often thought of drafting a letter for her to forward. In addition, a lovely young model from our area is approaching supermodel status, and walks the runway for Burberry, Chanel, and Ralph Lauren. (hence the reason I was watching that show on the web)

    I actually purchased a couple suits from Burberry, in Chicago, and they were wonderful. Still have them, but frankly I have shrunk 2 sizes smaller than them these days. (they have to be 10 years old now.) They don’t carry suits like that any more, I checked a couple weeks ago on a trip up.

    I guess, we just need more John Wayne, Steve McQueen, or Fred Astaire types to start designing the men’s clothing, or at least making the final decision.

  20. Was this the graphic of the suit and ribbon belt?

    http://www.ivy-style.com/preppy-forever-choate-on-prep.html

  21. That’s it.

  22. Why would someone pay this kind of money to look like Pee Wee Herman?

  23. No use my discussing the details of that suit. It just looks terrible. That jacket fits like the one I tried on at Goodwill last week. A 43L, I could just button it. (I’m growing into a 46L.) I still felt like buying it, though. It was a Masters green Bobby Jones blazer, for $ 3, like $ 600 on the website. The store label was from one of the most exclusive shops in Pittsburgh. I’d venture the jacket was a prize for a country club tourney or golf outing.

    I don’t know where anyone would wear a green blazer, except to the Masters or a golf related function. I’m glad it didn’t fit. I’d have bought it, and positively never, never wear it.

  24. Has Thom Browne lost his mind? As part of the Women’s Spring 2014 collection, a model was shown with smeared red lipstick, white face paint, and a bride of Frankenstein hairdo: http://runway.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/09/a-contemplation-of-insanity-at-thom-browne/?_r=0

    I associate Thom Browne’s menswear collection not with Duchamp, but with the ironic, surrealist painter, Rene Magritte. In his 1964 painting, “The Son of Man,” a man wearing a grey overcoat and bowler hat stands with his face obscured by a hovering, green apple (including a stem and some leaves.)

  25. I’ve no idea what would have become of J. Press had the enterprise not been purchased by a group of Japanese businessmen. (Do any among us?). With four stores going strong and a presence online, it seems J. Press is doing well.

    Which leads me to wonder: what if, at some point, Brooks Brothers had enjoyed the same fate? The Japanese eye for detail, including style/cut and cloth, is impressive. What if Brooks had been bought by a similarly “trad”-leaning group of Japanese businessmen, who, later, purchased the venerable natural shoulder clothing manufacturer Southwick?

    Imagine. I doubt 346 Madison would look like “an Italian department store.”

  26. It appears to me that the fabric of this suit is cheap. I can’t see any other reason why it would have shrunk.

  27. Brooks Brothers remains relevant only in so much as blogs like this continue to celebrate Brooks Brothers’ irrelevance. I think Brooks Brothers would sooner take its place alongside J. Crew and Banana Republic in that it cares more about being “of the moment” than it does about defining the moment. My generation would call that “selling out.” Shakespeare would liken that to “a coward who dies a thousand deaths.”

    Why don’t we just resign ourselves to the fact that Brook Brothers has officially become the white haired widow in a Faulkner novel: she has aged out and by attempting to stay in power she is sure only to spoil any/all past glory. Let’s look away from Brooks Brothers’ cowardice and stop faulting her for our insistence that she remain vibrant and verile, and let’s move on to something that is just that and well worth our time and energy!

  28. Browne is a charlatan. What he really does is make a classic look declasse’ by making it too short and too tight. Hopefully he will be a passing fancy of fashion, and will go back to Allentown.

  29. I would bet a hundred bucks that the more complaints he sees on blogs such as this one, the more “Del Wretchio” thinks he’s on the right track.

  30. I’m sorry but too tight, too short. And please no matter how “preppy” you want to look please wear socks (preferably black) with your suit. This belongs to the boys department in some store in rural Arkansas or Nebraska. Is this how low this “institution” has fallen? Shame on you BB!!

  31. This is vulgar; why do you do do this to yourselves, blokeys? In my country footballers dress like this.

  32. P.S. You are all responsible…

  33. P.P.S. Especially that fatuous Castlebean chappy.

  34. As others have said, I believe most of the commotion here is over the way the clothes are modeled. The model looks like he should be wearing a regular, but was shot in a short. I have two Cambridge jackets and they fit fine; the sleeve ends at my wrist and the jacket at my knuckles. The jacket is slim, which is good for my slight build and short legs. I would rather buy J Press jackets of course. They’re made better, on the North American continent, and have much cleaner, elegant lines and collar rolls. But their 38 fits like a 40-something and that’s the smallest size they make. So I get what I get.

    The fact that the models do in fact dress like women or Little Lord Founteroy just says something about the spirit of the times. Women are said to be out performing men in the university and the workplace, and youth is generally king everywhere (especially in tech where I work). “Middle-aged straight white man” is about as dirty a word as you can say, so who would want to look like one?

  35. @S.E.

    I agree that J Press is fortunate to have more traditionalist ownership. Although they haven’t entirely escaped from the ridiculousness that abounds today (York Street).

    Incidentally, Castleberry posted a love letter to York Street on his site today. The comments on the post are great and include the following gem.

    “Have left a comment on 9/24/2013 at 12:19 PM:
    Your writing, like your style, is so forced and studied its laughable. This site is either a brilliant bit of parody or a scream for help and direction.”

  36. Well, he didn’t write that piece (must’ve been a new fall intern). Nice photos. True the store opened some time ago, and there’s no news angle to the post. I had a look at some York Street stuff last week and will do a JP/YS post as soon as we finish the Brooks stuff.

    Fred’s a fine chap in person, too bad criticism seems to be at such a high.

    But when you tweet things like this, it’s hard not to say you brought it upon yourself:

    https://twitter.com/FECastleberry/status/142798123088097280

  37. Andrew opines,

    “And please no matter how “preppy” you want to look please wear socks (preferably black) with your suit.”

    Black socks are for black pants, and black pants are for black (or white) tie.

    The default sock color for gentlemen is navy. Those who care slightly more try to match sock color with trouser color.

    Of course, there are worse ways to wear black socks than with a suit. You could wear them with sandals and shorts, thus looking like a German tourist from the 1970s.

  38. I do agree about the Cambridge model. I own several, all MTM, and, with adjustments (yes, you guessed it, to the length), the jackets fit really well.

  39. Now that I reflect, it is true. Add a couple of inches to the pant length and maybe an inch to the jacket (and shirt) length, and it’s a Heyday era sack suit. I mean, in fairness. The shoulder, weirdly, looks wider (point to point) and more angled than my Cambridge jackets, but, oh well.

  40. Master Castleberry may indeed be “a fine chap in person,” but the character he plays on-line is that of a doofus. He exemplifies all that is worst about fashionistos and their odd notions of what looks good.

    At an age when he ought to be dressing like a man, he looks like nothing more than a college dude. Like all such youngsters, he is still obsessed with dressing to fit in, albeit in his own way. After all, what could be more herd-like than eschewing socks, wearing double monks, and leaving one of those straps unfastened?

  41. I looked through 1818, the BB “lifestyle” magazine mentioned by CC at the beginning of this post. It’s worth looking at. It’s beautifully done for what it is. But Brooks has set itself the task, I think, of being too many things at once. There is an “Ivy Style” section, and it shows clothing more in keeping, I think, with what would be acceptable to many of us–although still somewhat updated. Decades ago, BB used to take a daily add in the New York Times on page two. It was always a drawing of a garment or accessory. It was understated and tasteful. It was as if a salesman was saying, “Perhaps you might like this coat,” or, “If it’s time to replace a suit, we suggest this.” Back then, a clothier like Brooks, or J. Press, didn’t need to suggest a lifestyle to its clients or feed them fantasies about who they could be (or pretend to be) if they wore a BB item. I think, to some degree, that’s because its clients knew better who they were, and that came about through substantive associations, aims, values and the like. And I do not mean it was attached to some kind of outsized wealth. Everything seems to be “image” today. “Buy this suit and you’ll be [fill in the blank].” It goes so far as to say, “Wear this stuff and you’ll be a part of our family–The Hilfigers.” It’s a shame, I think, that we’ve become so unattached to true personal relationships and influences, like the family, that we look more and more to suggestive images as guide to our identities. Yes, its always been there to some extent, but it seems to have gone too far in my opinion.

  42. “There is no there there,” Gertrude Stein.

  43. 1818: Dagocentrism.

  44. Re: Fred Egan Castleberry and @CC’s contention that he is “fine…in person” – For one, when I choose to describe someone I know as “fine”, it rarely suggests an exceptionally positive opinion. Given that he and his blog have a lot in common with Black Fleece, let me continue…. without feeling that I’m deviating from the topic at hand (bad taste and terrible style) too much:

    I find it very, very hard to believe that someone who blogs and tweets the sort of self obsessed, hypocritical, ignorant, defensive, patently false, immature, cringingly annoying, sad, misguided, borderline racist, evangenlical, pompous drivel that Fred does could possibly be “a fine chap in person”. In short, Fred’s online adventures reveal a person who is anything but “fine”. Let us not forget – he himself won’t let us given that he can’t reist utilizing them as marketing and self promotional props – that Fred is a 31+ year old absentee father of two young children….choosing to live in NYC so he can flit around with young 20 somethings, get drunk, generally not work, eat hamburgers with bowties on, go to Fashion Weel after Fashion Week, deal with his latent eating disorder, go on walks and bike rides, decorate and document his rental apartment, and do limited freelance work in places thet tend to be anywhere but NYC….all while his kids live in TX. The “fine” people I know – the ones that are dads – put their kids first and take a regular, active role in their fathering (and those that can live with/close to their kids all do). Instead, Fred has actively chosen to re-live his 20s and (finally) explore a big city (no, the Dallas suburbs don’t count). And, in advance of the chorus of supporters who will feign offense at my suggestion that Fred’s a bad father and an immture, selfish boy in a (awkward) man’s body, if Fred doesn’t want strangers forming opinions about his fathering skills than he should stop publicly tweeting and blogging (and Vining, Instagramming, Pinning….) about his kids nearly every time he spends time with them. He and his fan club seem to truly believe that he’s allowed to create a fictional and highly publicized version of himself without anyone who consumes his self-publicity having the right to react, criticize, or form their own opinions about him. No, that’s not how it works. There are lots of clowns on the internet – as far as I can tell, Fred’s somewhat unique ability to rustle up passionate criticism is born out of his brazen, hyperbolic, aggressive, personal re-branding and re-creation and an utter lack of self awareness.

  45. @ James

    Tell us how you really feel.

  46. A eMagazine version of the Brooks Brothers “1818” magazine arrived today. There is now a Brooks Brothers Tartan and there is a picture of someone wearing a Brooks Brothers tartan kilt (and “Scottish” outfit).

    Someone at Brooks Brothers should read Chapter Two, “The Highland Tradition Of Scotland” in “The Invention Of Tradition”, Hobsbawn and Ranger, Cambridge University Press 1983.

    I recently noticed that around 70 J Press-York Street items were on sale at either Gilt or MyHabit for around 50%-75% off. Does anyone care to speculate how soon any of the Brooks Brothers Tartan items will be on sale?

  47. @James, simply too much. Stop it.

  48. James, you laid it on so thick there I feel inspired to play devil’s advocate. Point by point:

    1) “self-obsessed” is fair, but borderline racist?

    2) “Let us not forget – he himself won’t let us given that he can’t reist utilizing them as marketing and self promotional props…”
    Yes, it can come across that way, which leads to your final line.

    3) However, half of America is divorced. “Absentee father” is an excessive moral condemnation. He happens to work in the fashion industry, which is headquartered in New York. He was offered a job here. Part of his parental duties is to provide financially. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to leave his kids.

    4) “get drunk, generally not work” Get drunk? And actually he seems like a workaholic, just that the work happens to be personal branding.

    5) “latent eating disorder” What?

    6) “go on walks and bike rides” ….

    7) “decorate and document his rental apartment” As plenty of people in the style business do (and condemning him for being a renter not an owner in New York really feels like straining)

    8) “Fred has actively chosen to re-live his 20s and (finally) explore a big city (no, the Dallas suburbs don’t count).” Again, your condemning him for coming to New York, often called the greatest city in the world? A more objective view would be that it takes pluck and grit to set up a life here.

    9) “boy in a (awkward) man’s body” What in the world is wrong with his physique? He has broad shoulders and a narrow waist, the masculine ideal since the dawn of Western Civilization.

    10) “Fred doesn’t want strangers forming opinions about his fathering skills than he should stop publicly tweeting and blogging (and Vining, Instagramming, Pinning….) about his kids nearly every time he spends time with them. He and his fan club seem to truly believe that he’s allowed to create a fictional and highly publicized version of himself without anyone who consumes his self-publicity having the right to react, criticize, or form their own opinions about him. No, that’s not how it works. There are lots of clowns on the internet – as far as I can tell, Fred’s somewhat unique ability to rustle up passionate criticism is born out of his brazen, hyperbolic, aggressive, personal re-branding and re-creation and an utter lack of self awareness.”

    Fair criticism, and I do think the last part is the root of the problem.

  49. Always a pleasure to read negative reactions to Brooks Brothers’ straying from the straight and narrow path.

  50. Excellent work, James, and excellent work, Christian.

    “Racist” is so overplayed that we probably ought to stop using it entirely. Besides, from what little of the Castleberry self-love website I’ve seen, it seems an inapt description.

    Yes, the fashion industry is centered around New York, but it was his choice to enter that field. If he had really wanted to do right by his children, first, he would have done almost anything to stay married to their mother (could anything be more reactionary than to advocate the primacy of the family?).* Barring that, he would take some job—any job—close to his children so that he could be as much a part of their daily lives as possible. Plenty of men have sacrificed themselves for their families; it surprises me not at all that the narcissistic Mr. Castleberry put himself over his family.

    Divorce statistics are often misinterpreted. Those who married in the 1970s (any coincidence that the majority of such marriages were among the self-obsessed Baby Boomers?) have the highest divorce rate at around 47%. However, divorce rates are lower for those who married in the 80s and 90s, and they continue to decline. Then again, the marriage rate has dropped as well.

    * Popular myths aside, the children of broken homes (remember that term?) do worse in every measure of social success than their counterparts from intact homes. One parent has to be beating both spouse and children daily before the meagre benefits of divorce outweigh its onerous costs.

  51. For god’s sake Henry, chastise the man for the affectation of going sockless in winter, but don’t say he should have spent his life in a marriage that wasn’t working.

  52. “One parent has to be beating both spouse and children daily before the meagre benefits of divorce outweigh its onerous costs.”

    [Citation needed].

  53. I say chastise the man for taking candle lit baths solo. NYC is too big a city with too much action for such behavior!

  54. For God’s sake indeed, Christian.

    Marriage is a sacred convenant entered into for life — “’til death do us part,” and all that. It’s supposed to be “for better or worse.” Traditionally, the only recognized reason for divorce was unfaithfulness on the part of the wife. Now, I don’t know the particulars of Mr. Castleberry’s situation, so perhaps my judgment was premature. However, since most divorces are for reasons other than adultery on the part of the wife (with some people staying married in spite of infidelity), perhaps his was as well.

    Also, it is a peculiar modern notion that we should be happy all the time. Doesn’t real life teach us otherwise? My own marriage has its ups and downs; so does my parents’, as did my grandparents’, and those of everyone I know.

    As it turns out, a recent study showed that two-thirds of those in an unhappy marriage had happy marriages just five years later. Happiness and unhappiness alike can be fleeting, but divorce is a permanent solution to what might have been a temporary problem. Reference here.

    More on point to Dan’s question is this paper on the effects of divorce on the family, especially children. From the summary:
    _____
    Divorce detrimentally impacts individuals and society in numerous ways across all major institutions.

    * Family: Divorce permanently weakens the family and the relationship between children and parents. It frequently leads to the development of destructive conflict management methods, diminished social competence, the early loss of virginity, diminished sense of masculinity or femininity, more trouble with dating, more cohabitation, greater likelihood of divorce, higher expectations of divorce later in life, and a decreased desire to have children.
    * Religious practice: Divorce diminishes the frequency of worship of God and recourse to Him in prayer.
    * Education: Divorce diminishes children’s learning capacity and educational attainment.
    * The marketplace: Divorce reduces household income and deeply cuts individual earning capacity.
    * Government: Divorce significantly increases crime, abuse and neglect, drug use, and the costs of compensating government services.
    * Health and well-being: Divorce weakens children’s health and longevity. It also increases behavioral, emotional, and psychiatric risks, including even suicide.

    …overall it causes a temporary decrease in an individual’s quality of life and puts some “on a downward trajectory from which they might never fully recover.”
    —–
    QED.

  55. I’m fairly new to the online world of style blogs and I don’t know who “Fred” is. I assumed, however, from all the vitriol this person elicits, that he must be the commenter who left these remarks:

    “Are all the designers of the mens clothes, secretly wishing they are designing the women’s? Do they go to the same Roman Baths? Thats right, I am not being very politically correct. Have you seen the articles about the wacko that runs A&F, and his requirements for his male attendants on his jet”…”I guess, we just need more John Wayne, Steve McQueen, or Fred Astaire types to start designing the men’s clothing, or at least making the final decision.”

    Please help me out here: is patent bigotry and homophobia preferable to unfounded, hearsay on these sites? Perhaps you can’t see the forest for the shoe trees, folks.

  56. Henry, you’re so far to the right I can’t tell if you’re in another century or another universe.

  57. I also have no idea who “Fred” is, but I’m, starting to suspect “Henry” is a sock-puppet operated by “Fred” to get people to talk about him.

  58. Thank you Cameron, but no. I was the winner of the 10,000th comment contest, so CC knows that I am most definitely not Fred Egan Castelberry’s sock puppet.

    For those who are wondering, the aforementioned Mr. Castleberry runs a blog, Unabashedly Prep, that (as far as I can tell) mainly features shots of himself goofing around NYC and its environs, all while dressed in the most juvenile sprezzatourette fashion. I personally don’t have a problem with his attempts to re-invent himself, and I am honestly impressed by his success. At the same time, I am appalled by it, because I see him as a narcissistic clown. See also James’ comments above, as well as AEV numerous criticisms.

    CC, my views on marriage are perhaps old-fashioned, but only as far back as the middle of the 20th century (isn’t that the time period that this blog celebrates?). Once upon a time, divorce was stigmatized; now, it is almost celebrated (and sometimes is: I’ve seen “divorce parties,” as though an abject failure were somehow a cause for celebration). I view marriage as a sacred covenant—a view that was commonplace until quite recently. If someone is unhappy with their marriage, they have only themselves to blame, for people enter into marriage freely. They could have chosen someone else, or to stay single. Once you’re in, though, you should be in for good (an attitude which tends to lead to a stronger marriage—go figure).

    What if our Brave New World notions of what is proper—notions that are entirely out of synch with all of human history up to now—are wrong? Why do we assume that the way we do things now are necessarily better than the way they have always been done?

    No time or society is perfect, but some are much better than others. I consider Western civilization to be undergoing a significant decline, perhaps even headed for another fall, and I am hardly alone in this assessment. I will not celebrate the destruction of an edifice that has brought so much good to the world.

  59. I have always mocked his act, and the way he takes very staged, “pretend” pictures, especially of the “caught me not looking” variety, usually of him looking down and to the left, hand behind his head & elbow in the air, smiling, as if to suggest it was a natural, candid, unguarded shot. (as if to suggest the chosen picture was an uncontrived, natural outtake of a larger sequence.) (“I am going to look down and to the left, I want you to take a picture of me, and I want it to feel like I didnt know you were there”)

    I have never given much thought to his absenteeism as a father, but it certainly seems the dress up he plays in NYC could have been done in Dallas. At any rate, he certainly seems to have outgrown the caricature he attempts to portray on his site.

    A thirty-one year old desperately trying to relive his twenties sums it up brilliantly to me. I remember Chris Rock one time talking about the guy that’s “too old to be in the club. He isn’t really old, he’s just a little too old to be in the club.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IFwWEBFWZk

    I dont know what this says about me, but I take a weird satisfaction in participating in the ridicule of Thom Browne and Fred Castleberry. They just both seem to deserve it.

  60. While I appreciate your link, I wasn’t looking for (absolutely valid) evidence to the detrimental effects of divorce on children. I was asking you to support the statement that I quoted, which is: “[b]One parent has to be beating both spouse and children daily[/b] before the meagre benefits of divorce outweigh its onerous costs.”

    I ask this because it seems that one would have to review meta-analyses of both the effects of child abuse and the effects of divorce and somehow weigh the consequences of both to determine which was potentially worse. I do not believe you have done the research to determine that. Frankly, I doubt there are many who would be presumptuous enough to make such a heady determination, and I work and study in this field.

    I take no issue with your second clause, which may have been the point you were trying to make. However, I find your phrasing of the sentiment glib at best, and offensive at worst. I ordinarily would support your views on traditional marriage; my alma mater was so conservative that Creationism was taught openly. But throwing around loaded statements like that, either as fact or as exaggeration, is something I cannot get behind.

  61. How and where are you seeing/reading all this stuff about ‘Fred’? Is he so totally ubiquitous in the U.S that he’s completely unavoidable? Or are the whiners about his utter failings as a human being secret ‘Fred’ watchers. My experience so far with the internet is that there are buttons you can press to avoid seeing things which disturb. ‘Fred’ sounds like something which might easily be avoided. Should one choose to do so.

  62. @CC – In reply, point by point:

    1) “self-obsessed” is fair, but borderline racist?

    Yes, borderline racist. Fred has tweeted some amazingly awkward zingers about things as cringe inducing as his minunderstandings of hip hop to his musings about black models being predictably late to photo shoots. He grew up in TX, is an evangelical, and went to a small Baptist college. I’m not surprised.

    2) “Let us not forget – he himself won’t let us given that he can’t reist utilizing them as marketing and self promotional props…”
    Yes, it can come across that way, which leads to your final line.

    3) However, half of America is divorced. “Absentee father” is an excessive moral condemnation. He happens to work in the fashion industry, which is headquartered in New York. He was offered a job here. Part of his parental duties is to provide financially. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to leave his kids.

    I have no problem with him or anyone being divorced. He moved to NY for a job that he had for less than a year. Since losing that job 12-18 mons ago, he’s done more “work” outside of NY than he has in the city. It’s about priorities in the face of selfless self promotion and utilizing his children as props.

    4) “get drunk, generally not work” Get drunk? And actually he seems like a workaholic, just that the work happens to be personal branding.

    Personal branding as work? huh? Attending parties and meeting friends for cocktails is now considered “personal branding”? I’ll let my boss know that ASAP and see how he takes it.

    A workaholic? You can’t be serious. Fred is a freelancer. Naturally, he posts/tweets about all the work he gets….I’d say he has 1-3 jobs a month, tops…it’s all out there and documented. His other ‘work’ is blogging and tweeting and “launching” and online store that’s been in the works forever (and unsuccessfully trying to get a book about crew blazers published)….. oh, and he had 4 interns ‘working’ with him all summer.

    5) “latent eating disorder” What?

    Fred tweets frequently about food, wanting it and not eating it, eating 1 (maybe 2) meals a day, craving it, exercising and counting calories consumed and burned, and so on. Just weird stuff to be broadcasting to the world. I call eating disorder….generally linked to his self obsession and hyper-vain personality.

    6) “go on walks and bike rides” ….

    Banal stuff for sure. But, he sure likes to tweet about it! I suppose it’s part of his workaholic personal branding too…..

    7) “decorate and document his rental apartment” As plenty of people in the style business do (and condemning him for being a renter not an owner in New York really feels like straining). I

    ‘m not condemning him for renting….though it is odd reality for a 31 year old father who considers himself an expert of the finer things in life (and shares all his expensive clothes and things with the world on a regular basis). That aside, my point is that taking and sharing pics of one’s home is not work. It’s pompous and irrelevant…..especially in a rented apartment. It’s all part of the total lack of self awareness.

    8) “Fred has actively chosen to re-live his 20s and (finally) explore a big city (no, the Dallas suburbs don’t count).” Again, your condemning him for coming to New York, often called the greatest city in the world? A more objective view would be that it takes pluck and grit to set up a life here.

    No, I’m not condemning him for moving to NY. I’m generally criticizing his choices because they seem wildly selfish and immature. ‘Pluck and grit’ would be taking care of his kids and finding a way to work near them…..not going to polo matches, hooking up with and dating lists of young women (amazing but true), taking long bike rides, shopping, attending crew regattas, and organizing the frames on his walls with the help of his interns. It’s clear he has some personal/psychological issues, but I’m not getting a workaholic, pluck and grit vibe.

    9) “boy in a (awkward) man’s body” What in the world is wrong with his physique? He has broad shoulders and a narrow waist, the masculine ideal since the dawn of Western Civilization.

    …perhaps it’s the skinny jeans, male camel toes, too short blazers, rachel maddow hair/face/glasses, odd poses, and so on that distort his physique…his weight also fluctuates wildy, a result of his latent eating disorder.

    10) “Fred doesn’t want strangers forming opinions about his fathering skills than he should stop publicly tweeting and blogging (and Vining, Instagramming, Pinning….) about his kids nearly every time he spends time with them. He and his fan club seem to truly believe that he’s allowed to create a fictional and highly publicized version of himself without anyone who consumes his self-publicity having the right to react, criticize, or form their own opinions about him. No, that’s not how it works. There are lots of clowns on the internet – as far as I can tell, Fred’s somewhat unique ability to rustle up passionate criticism is born out of his brazen, hyperbolic, aggressive, personal re-branding and re-creation and an utter lack of self awareness.”

    Fair criticism, and I do think the last part is the root of the problem.

    Yup.

  63. “He grew up in TX, is an evangelical, and went to a small Baptist college. I’m not surprised.”

    So much for liberal tolerance,

  64. Fred elicits both irritation and pity…..the former for obvious reasons and the later because I can’t imagine going through life wanting so badly to be something that you’re not.

  65. Assaults of character grounded in what may or may not be true about a person aren’t necessary for the sake of this discussion, which, broadly speaking, has everything to do with a new generation of “stylists” employed by Brooks and other retail conglomerates.

    I do wish somebody at Brooks would wise up and realize that you don’t need Brooklyn-based “stylists” to create a great product, and, related, great brand.

    We all know the big names. Some are online presences–obsessed with Americana (made in America Americana, at that). Others invent new looks and styles (who’s the guy behind the Brooks striped neckties that feature one stripe at the blade and another at the other end?) that flatly fail to emphasize what Brooks once did: Superb British cloth that would stand the test of wear and time, and top drawer tailoring.

    What’s lamentable is that so much of the stuff that’s being peddeld is so awful. So cheap, yet so expensive.

    It’s so simple. Buy up some good cloth (plenty of online sources for tweed, including Harris and Donegal and Shetland), take it to someone who takes pride in making good clothing (a local master tailor), and there you go. Save lots of $ on overpriced brands (yes, even the American ones) and own something that will last a liftetime and beyond.

  66. http://www.magee1866.com/donegal-tweed-c36/tweed-c31

    http://www.harristweedshop.com/tweed-index.html

    http://bandjfabrics.com/fabric/wool-shetland-tweed

    Looks to be old Reid and Taylor shetland:
    http://campbellkilts.co.uk/department/tweed_fabric_/

    For suiting:
    http://www.huddersfieldbespokecloth.co.uk/

    Save $ on cloth by buying direct from the weaver, take to a tailor, and skip the nonsense that retail shop “stylists” push.

  67. @James – While I do find FEC pretty much only good for a laugh, the alleged, intimate knowledge you have of him “dating lists of women”, “not working”, “going to polo matches, “eating hamburgers while wearing a bowtie” is actually making me mad jealous. Like Christian said, looking like he lives a carefree lifestyle probably involves crazy hours and a lot of stress yet you seem to be throwing wild accusations around based purely on his Instagram feed. He must be doing something right to elicit what Patrice O’Neal coined “real hate.” Just do you. Don’t spend so much time getting mad at the fake man on the internet.

    Also, that Thom Browne stuff is ridiculous. Living in NY, all 20-30 year old guys I see wear J.Crew because that’s what they can afford. 40+ still wear the baggy, double-breasted, black or grey suits they bought at Mens Warehouse in the mid-90’s. No idea who’s buying this high end stuff?

  68. Dan,

    Point taken. It was a glib bit of hyperbole, designed to shock the reader into reconsidering his views on divorce. We have gone so far from where we once were in our understanding of the deleterious effects of divorce on children that I think it will take something shocking to get people to realize the harm.

    I hope that you will be “presumptuous” enough to do the metastudy you outlined.

    James,

    Just for the sake of argument, let’s assume that black models are more likely to be late than those of other races. If this is true, then it is not “racist” to observe this fact—is it? Or are you going by the modern definition of “racist,” which seems to include “saying anything unflattering about a non-white group, even if it is true”? Is it “racist” not to like, or to misunderstand, rap music?

    Halby,

    I haven’t the ability to read men’s hearts, but I don’t see any hate, real or otherwise, directed towards Mr. Castleberry around here. I see criticism, some of it harsh, perhaps, but nothing that I would consider hateful.

  69. OK, this is pretty weird. The top four Google auto-fills for Fred are “wife,” “divorce,” “twitter” and “instagram.”

  70. Oh the joys and mysteries of googling Fred. Throw an ‘Egan’ in there and spend some time in the images….a giggle inducing trip back to the late aughts and his his last ‘personal branding’ exercise….

    I, for one, am excited to see what Fred’s next personal brand will be. Cowboy? Harley enthusiast? Skater (like his kids – think of the cute group pics!)? Police officer? Hunter?

  71. I would like to see cowboy…that would be the most hilarious of all hahahah

  72. AEV, whatever FEC’s next “personal brand” will be, you can count on it being whatever he calculates will make him most popular, most noticed, and most marketable. It will have zero to do with integrity or self-awareness.

    I imagine that while he feels he must refrain from commenting on, or about, this thread, inwardly he must be doing nip-ups to have garnered so much “publicity.” “Disapprobation” would be a more appropriate term, of course, but for the narcissist, either will do.

  73. AWaspySoutherner | September 27, 2013 at 6:24 pm |

    The simple fact that BB has a section on their website that is labeled “Made In America” sums up all of the problems I have with the company.

  74. And I just thought he was an idiot….

  75. I think the ivy-style comment blog is where Fred gets his most publicity on the internet.

  76. Fred has been developing a new persona lately, I call it “The ultimate hanger on”… You can find him in any given guest bedroom.

    The truth is that Fred has become the internet pied piper of the wannabe “Prep”, the blind leading the dumb. I suspect as this fad fades, so will Fred. Most likely he’ll pull another Tom Ripley and morphe into the next soup de jour.

  77. I believe the question was posed who actually wears Black Fleece.

    The character “Blaine” on Glee wears almost exclusively wears Black Fleece.

    The male host on Fashion Police on E! occasionally wears Black Fleece.

    Those are the only instances I have seen Black Fleece being worn.

  78. “Blaine? His name is Blaine? That’s not a name, it’s a major appliance!”

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