Bow Tie & Badge: NYPD’s “Hipster Cop” Retires

Longtime J. Press New York employee David Wilder alerted me to the story of Detective Rick Lee, a plainclothes NYPD officer who retired this week at the age of 51. Lee became a minor Internet sensation because of his stylish clothes, earning the nickname “hipster cop” because “trad” is not part of the contemporary lexicon.

A hipster is characterized by an ironic sensibility and wears things that are wrong — out of fashion, for example — on purpose in order to make some cutesy twee statement. But Detective Lee gives off the impression of wearing his clothing with an earnest sensibility, though obviously he enjoys injecting some fashion flair.

He should’ve been known as Trad Cop.

The New York Times saw fit to report on Lee’s retirement from a style angle, writing:

[Becoming and instant celebrity] included scores of profiles and interviews, including one in GQ magazine about his fashion sense, which began when he was a teenager and that eventually developed into more of “an English country look” with a penchant for vintage clothing.

A slim man with a shaggy-chic hairstyle and cool-nerd eyeglasses, Mr. Lee stood out at Zuccotti Park, which was then dominated by demonstrators in casual or rumpled clothing and police officers in blue uniforms.

The detective would pad around chatting with cops and demonstrators alike, and used his sudden style popularity to become a crucial liaison between the department and protesters.

“How I dressed knocked a lot of walls down, and people found me more approachable,” said Mr. Lee, who as a plainclothes detective followed a longstanding department tradition of sharply dressed detectives but “updated it” with certain twists, he said. He wore tweed suits in the winter and seersucker or linen in the summer.

You can check out the full NYT story here, but before you go, allow Ivy Style to pay tribute with these style hightlights. I wonder what his act two will be? — CC

11 Comments on "Bow Tie & Badge: NYPD’s “Hipster Cop” Retires"

  1. Front Porch Life | February 24, 2017 at 1:41 pm |

    Age 51? He looks like he is a college sophomore! Very preppy indeed.

  2. Charlottesville | February 24, 2017 at 4:14 pm |

    What a cool cop. They should use him as the model for a TV detective. The Trad Trooper. The Ivy Investigator. I’m sure they can come up with better names, but what a great role model a well-dressed TV hero would be. Maybe he could play himself, like Audie Murphy in To Hell And Back.

  3. “Lee became a minor Internet sensation because of his stylish clothes, earning the nickname “hipster cop” because “trad” is not part of the contemporary lexicon.”

    A small example of the result of the recent/contemporary “education” establishment’s ceaseless jihad against any knowledge of American history and culture apart from (solely) the most negative.

  4. Amen to that, Mazama, it’s so sad that most people can’t recognize classic American style. It looks as though the NYT doesn’t understand his style either. They seemed to imply that wearing tweed in the winter and seersucker in the summer is a “twist.” Maybe I misread that portion but it sounded as though they considered that to be a spin of sorts on classic style.

  5. We could march in the streets to get “trad” the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year for 2017, but somehow I think the clear and early favorite is “nazi.”

  6. Good cop, trad cop?

  7. Coming soon: Dirty Rick, Dapper Detective.

    EXT: Street in front of upscale men’s shop.

    Rick stops and confronts suspected shoplifter (Perp).

    Rick: (as he reaches a hand into his sport coat) I know what you’re thinking. Does my shoulder holster match my belt and shoes? Well does it… punk? (opens jacket)

    Perp: I… ah… er… I guess it does.

    Rick: (draws .44 Magnum) What? I can’t hear you.

    Perp: Yes! Yes! Yes it does.

    Rick: You’re damn right! (begins handcuffing Perp) You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say or do…

  8. HH Huntington | February 25, 2017 at 12:53 am |

    It was interesting that he himself didn’t use “hipster”, “Trad”, “Ivy”, “Ivy League”, or “Preppy”, but chose “English country look”. Pretty accurate , apart from the saddle shoes.

  9. The mayor of NYC should appoint Detective Lee as Chief of the new Fashion Police.

    Offenders who wear sneakers with suits, socks with sandals, cheap perfume, fanny packs or crocs will be given citations and required to report to “fashion education” class taught by Tom Ford. Ex-offenders who pass the final exam will be given gift cards to the Polo store or to Barbour for that English country squire look.

  10. GS:


  11. I wonder if he was old enough to still be carrying an ” old school” Colt or S&W revolver?

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