Brooks Brothers Fall 2015 Preview

Sun 22 Feb 2015 - Filed under: 1990-present,Clothes — Christian
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I was unable to attend last week’s Brooks Brothers preview as I was battling a virus — a computer virus. So I’m falling back onto Women’s Wear Daily for the coverage.

Writes the paper:

At Brooks Brothers, Harris tweeds, soft tailoring that enables layering, an “into-the-woods” color palette and unorthodox pairings are some predominant messages for fall.

As the first U.S. retailer to sell Harris tweeds, starting in 1909, Brooks Brothers advanced the tradition by offering men’s accessories and footwear, including wing-tip sneakers and field boots, in Harris tweeds that matched up with the jackets.

The woodsy appeal is rooted in earth tones including an array of moss, loden and bright greens, and Harris tweeds in colors seen in camouflaging.

Head over here for the full report. — CC

Fifteen Shades Of Grey

Fri 13 Feb 2015 - Filed under: Clothes — Christian
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Today the film adaptation of the international sensation “Fifty Shades Of Grey” opens. I don’t know about you, but I like my neckties far too much to risk tearing the slip-stitch by using them as bondage tools.

Recently I wrote about acquiring a number of items this season in olive, but the bulk of my new loot was in shades of gray.

Always an assiduous editor of my wardrobe, last fall I finally gave up and gave in to the primary sartorial influence I’ve had since my early twenties — Brummelian restraint. While I enjoy colors in my golf and tennis attire, I always seemed to reach for the same items — and same formula — when putting on a jacket and tie. I take comfort in the notion of refining things down to a formula of bold simplicity, as Beau Brummell did. That as hardly the same as following narrow genre parameters, but rather of rediscovering what I’m most comfortable in.

The photo above contains 15 shades of gray in items large and small. Highlights include a Brooks Brothers Chesterfield from the current season; sportcoats in camel hair and cashmere from Polo; charcoal pinstripe scarf and houndstooth cap; grenadine tie from Chipp2, silk knit from Lands’ End and satin from RL Purple Label; Levi’s 508 jeans and a cashmere V-neck; vintage Timex on charcoal alligator band; gray pocket square with navy pin dots and white Paul Stuart handkerchief with gray trim.

Enjoy the weekend. Who knows? Between Valentine’s Day and the movie opening, many couples out there might just tie the knot.  — CC



The Rise Of Modern Prep: MRket Trade Show Recap

Mon 9 Feb 2015 - Filed under: Clothes — Christian
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The concept of modern prep may really be nothing new. Use the term loosely enough and you could say it goes back to the 1920s, when the Ivy League Look first began to codify.

A couple of weeks ago saw another edition of the big menswear tradeshow known as MRket, and this time there was a new section of the show floor called Modern Prep. Given that there’s an enormous area devoted to Italian style, I thought it was a great move on behalf of the show producers to recognize American brands flying the tradition-with-a-twist flag.

The very “Rowing Blazers” image above was used throughout the show on signs and other marketing materials. It was also part of the show guide/brochure for Modern Prep: (Continue)


Why Not Take Olive Me

Fri 30 Jan 2015 - Filed under: Clothes — Christian
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About a year and half ago I wrote a piece about olive and gray — the olive part didn’t exactly go over well with some readers.

I forgot about the colors for a while, but when I did a more stringent than usual closet purge this fall, I rediscovered the color I’ve always been most comfortable in since my twenties: gray. Not bland IBM gray, more like Grant and Astire gray: charcoal trousers with a light gray patterned sportcoat. Perhaps a black knit tie and black cordovan tassels from Alden.

At the same time I decided to make olive my primary earth tone (in other words, what to wear with brown shoes). Above is some of what I scooped up in various shades of olive and green. In the center, the MTM olive herringbone Ivy-styled sportcoat from H. Freeman, which I’ve had for a few years, is joined by cords from Lands’ End, ties from Ralph Lauren Purple Label, a sweater from Paul Stuart, Polo scarf with lavender overplaid, gloves from Barbour, and other items.

More on gray next time.  — CC

Headline reference explained.


The Ghost Of 346 Madison

Sun 25 Jan 2015 - Filed under: 1990-present,Clothes — Christian
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Daniel C. Greenwood’s debut Millenial Fogey column on Brooks Brothers certainly stirred up discussion. It especially stirred up Chris Sharp, Ivy Style’s normally circumspect and disinterested assistant editor, known for his well researched historical pieces. He found himself inspired to lay his heart bare to the brand so dear to him that he recalls shopping excursions more vividly than otherwise more important days in his life.

* * *

Daniel C. Greenwood’s recent piece, “Why do we get so worked up Over Brooks Brothers?” is well timed coming after New Year’s, as I am still in throws of a lingering Auld Lang Syne-style emotional hangover. His piece is certainly a reminder that I hold Brooks Brothers partially responsible for my condition.

Like a Dickensian ghost, an image of a lost Brooks Brothers executive haunts my subconscious. He asks me, “How can Brooks Brothers be relevant in 2015?”

“I’m afraid I don’t know how to be relevant myself,” I reply. Then I offer the phantasm this: “But I can tell you how to be Brooks Brothers, in case you’ve forgotten.”

It seems that Mr. Greenwood pounding on his keypad is answering the same ghost. He is among the millions of fingers on keyboards expressing frustration on websites and Internet forums. A legion of middle-aged men and young fogeys who are telling Brooks Brothers how to be Brooks Brothers. The problem for us is that Brooks Brothers does not seem to be answering that question.

In that case, a more to-the-point query might be, “Why does it sometimes feel like we care more about Brooks Brothers than Brooks Brothers itself?” But answering that might take a team of mental health professionals. It is certainly about us, how we feel about the past, and how we view the future. I am reminded of the Annie Tempest cartoon in which an airchaired old curmudgeon says to his pal over a glass of scotch, “The future’s is not what it used to be, Dickie.” (Continue)


The Millennial Fogey: Why Do We Get So Worked Up Over Brooks Brothers?

Wed 21 Jan 2015 - Filed under: 1990-present,Clothes — Christian
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bbfaceDaniel C. Greenwood (“DCG” in the comments section, and the singer in our Christmas recital video) herein debuts the first in a series of musings on the current retail landscape for trad clothing. He brings a fresh and young voice to Ivy Style, being under 30 yet with a great interest in this style’s long history. Having had the face of a 35-year-old since before he started shaving, Greenwood’s column will go by the name The Millennial Fogey.

* * *

Sitting on the train recently something stole my attention from my better half. As I furiously hammered away at my smart phone, she asked me if everything was OK, and was suprised I said of course. Apparently she thought I was dealing with some terrible emergency.

In fact I was commenting on a Brooks Brothers social media post describing dressing up sweatpants with a navy blazer.

In my increasingly excited state, I rattled off a whole list of changes I wanted to see: taking the lining out of the oxford collars, fixing the fit of Own Make and bringing the price down, improving the design of its paisley ties, the rise and finish of its khakis — I could have gone on all day. My ever-patient girlfriend rolled her eyes and watched me chew out a billion-dollar apparel company on the Internet.

Strange how I don’t have the kind of arguments with my girlfriend that I do with Brooks Brothers.

What is it about Brooks Brothers that inspires such passion in us? More to the point, why has the relationship between traditional menswear consumers and Brooks Brothers gotten so dysfunctional? Naturally there are men who were Brooks Brothers customers in the good ol’ days of the Ivy heyday through the late ’80s, and can quickly list everything they miss about the Brooks of yore. There are also younger menswear enthusiasts who comb through Internet archives, photographs, illustrated catalogues, and other evidence of this once beyond-reproach institution of American style and can’t help but agonize that we were born too late. (Continue)

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