Two weeks ago, the Polo flagship on Fifth Avenue, which opened last fall, created a new section in the store called the Haberdashery. It’s where you’ll find all the ties, dress shirts and cashmere sweaters — and all in the spring colors you’re anxious to wear.
There are also plenty of sportcoats in spring fabrics, such as wool/silk/linen blends, with patch pockets and three-button stances.
Like other clothiers (Brooks Brothers, for example), Polo has adopted names for its various fits. A clerk gave me an employee “product knowledge” handbook (which he probably shouldn’t have), which describes the Morgan as the slimmest fit, though it is also supposed to have the softest shoulder. The Polo 1 Custom is the middle fit, and the most generous cut — which is also supposed to have a bit more shoulder — is called the Bedford.
Within those three fit categories are various jacket models, three of which are named for Ivy schools. The primary difference seems to be the pockets, though they may have different linings as well. The Harvard model is a three button with patch-and-flap pockets, while the Yale has patch pockets but no flaps. The Princeton has patch-and-flap and also a patch chest pocket. The Yale seems to come with partial, butterfly-back lining.
Yesterday, while we were posting about Brooks Brothers’ home collection, another publication posted about the brand in a much more far-reaching way.
Billionaire.com presented an interview with Luca Gastaldi, CEO of Brooks for Europe, The Middle East and Africa. As far as the big picture goes, this is the choice passage:
“It’s a good thing to have the originals in so many menswear items, the many copies of which just make the makers of the originals stronger,” he argues. “But there’s a danger when a [clothing] company culture is too tied to those classics, when you can’t see how dress is changing. One advantage of our international expansion will be that we’ll have people working in different regions challenging that American culture to adopt what is new while also being consistent with Brooks Brothers. It’s good to provoke our design teams. Sometimes there’s resistance within the company itself. Some people are scared by change — we’re all human. But we’re ready to exchange ideas, even if that means the process takes longer than I would like. Even very traditional customers like the idea of bringing something fresh to their wardrobe.”
In others words, while there are still customers for that American style of suit (roomy and broad-shouldered, a long way from Gastaldi’s preference for a figure-hugging, unlined, cardigan-style of jacket) and while that style may still be the preference for Brooks Brothers’ bedrock of US customers, he sees the future in a more ‘European’ mode.
This week a member of Ivy Style’s Facebook group shared a pic of himself doing his best version of Ivy-inspired-on-a-budget, while noting that he is a police officer. I thought it very interesting and asked how he came to the style, why it appeals to him, and how others view him. Here’s what he had to say. — CC
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Like many people who work in Washington DC, I am a transplant. However, I don’t work for a congressman or a law firm. I walk a foot beat in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods as a member of the Metropolitan Police Department.
I grew up on the South Shore of Massachusetts and credit my personal style largely to my late grandfather, who himself worked a blue-collar job for 25 years with the Bay State Gas Company. But in his personal life he dressed like a Kennedy. In high school, when many people my age were wearing American Eagle graphic tees and basketball sneakers to school, I was wearing LL Bean OCBDs and Sperry Top-Siders. Even my own mother seemed a little perplexed by it when she took me shopping for my Confirmation outfit when I was a sophomore in high school. I picked out a blue blazer and gray flannel trousers instead of a garish four-button ventless suit that was in fashion at the time.
I graduated from the police academy in April, 2012 and am presently assigned to a very busy district with a high rate of violent crime. As a result, I end up in DC Superior Court for trials and other matters at least once a week. In the beginning I wore my police uniform for most of my court appearances. However, after being flagged down one too many times for various nonsense, I decided quickly to wear professional attire to court to blend in a little more easily.
It didn’t take long for word of my buttondown collar shirts and Weejuns to spread among my fellow officers and the attorneys. I am now affectionately known as “Penny Loafer” or “The Professor.” Jokes aside, my style does elicit many compliments from people, and I actually think it may help me when appearing before a jury, as they can see me as a person like they are and not just a cop.
Of course, as a civil servant I have to buy on a budget. But I keep an eye on thrift shops, eBay, outlet stores, and online stores such as Lands’ End and LL Bean. But I’m hoping to make detective later this year ,and I’m told investigators get a healthy clothing allowance.
While my style is referred to by many as Ivy or preppy, I personally think of it more as simply New England or Yankee. When people ask me why I dress the way I do, I often quip, “Where I come from, this is how people dress.” People from all over the world come to Washington, bringing their cultures and traditions, and my manner of dress is just my little thing that tells people where I’m from. I think I also do it to honor my late grandfather. Sadly, he didn’t live to see me become a police officer, but I think he’d be very proud that I dedicated myself to this honorable profession.
It’s a tough time to work in law enforcement right now, but I do my best to use my position to remind people that police work is all about helping people. That’s what I set out to do every day when slip off my boat shoes and lace up my boots to start another shift. — DC COP
We start the week off with a rather motley miscellany. Above, a 1958 novelty tune called “Ivy League Clothes” from a little-known doo-wop group called The Gaylarks. Damned if I can tell what the hell they’re singing about, save for “why, oh why?” Something about Ivy for girls.
It’s from a time when the trunk of the Ivy tree was strong and robust as opposed to termite-ridden and in danger of becoming petrified. But the song is still a cultural artificact riding the contemporaneity of the Ivy League Look’s popularity, which means it’s the ’50s equivalent of today’s fully blossomed branch known as modern prep.
“We grew up constantly around sailing communities, fishing communities, yacht clubs, country clubs, golf courses,” says Shep. “We use icons of what we call the ‘good life': boats, Nantucket, golf, tennis. It’s very classic American—prep school meets Wall Street. People just want a little bit of fun in their wardrobe. When we started, we said, ‘Why not help people dress for those great life activities?’”
“Prep is essentially an upper class look. There is a lot of desirability behind it, to dress the part of the higher society that goes yachting and plays polo,” says Francesa Munson, head of retail and product analysis at WGSN. “There are wider implications to the healthy, outdoorsy lifestyle.
I think we should all applaud upper-class-for-the-masses look. It’s so much more refreshing than the “prole drift” as Paul Fussell called it, of lower-class taste for the middle class, which is the driving force behind popular taste in everything today.
Another mainstream company, this time one that’s prepped itself out, is Abercrombie & Fitch, the once legendary manly supply store located just down the street from Brooks, Press, Chipp and Paul Stuart on Madison Avenue. Bloomberg has a cover story on the company subtitled “From clueless prep to sullen teen.”
And speaking of Abercrombie, here’s a Hoosier writing in the school paper on “The Politics Of Preppy,” apropos of A&F’s hijab lawsuit.
And finally from the diluted Ivy files, as we were prepping this post a leaf fell from the tree into our inbox. You probably got it, too:
It’s from Lands’ End and plugs new washed-oxford shirts called Sail Riggers, “in a length just right to wear untucked.”
OK JFK did that, but not when he was at work. — CC