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