Caught On Camera

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Last night’s evening news featured the rare appearance of a suited man on television not wearing the American Boardroom look we associate with politicans, newscasters, and virtually everyone else on television.

Pictured in buttondown shirt, conventional rep-striped tie and tortoiseshell glasses is NTSB spokesman Robert Sumwalt.

Can you guess what part of the country he’s from? — CC

51 Comments on "Caught On Camera"

  1. TheHighCockalorum | May 19, 2015 at 9:59 am |

    It appears that he frequents Ben Silver in Charleston, South Carolina.

  2. I wonder about his shoes.

  3. Ward Wickers | May 19, 2015 at 11:52 am |

    He’s from the south — South Carolina. His shoes are a dead give-away.

  4. I love this site, so do not take it the wrong way, but it really has been depressing lately. Ivy, prep, WASP, etc are all dead. It only lives in the south etc… But I could not disagree more.

    Take a stroll at 8-9am or 4-8pm in Midtown (42nd-59th) on Park Ave and you’ll see every other guy headed to work in similar attire. (Financial industry)

    Head to the Upper East, Park, Madison, and Fifth anywhere above 62nd and you’ll see this as a common uniform. Yes the south may have a more widespread wearing of it than the North. But that is because the Hedge Fund world has taken over many prominent areas of the NE. But in New England this look thrives as much as it does in the South.

    The reason everyone thinks it is dying is because it is not as mainstreamed as it was. But ask yourself, would you rather have scum shopping next to you, smacking his lips while chewing gum and cursing every other word. Or someone who was raised to be a gentleman.

  5. (Financial industry) was meant to reference midtown bankers and advisors. Not hedge funds, which I am aware are a part of the FI.

  6. August west | May 19, 2015 at 6:23 pm |

    Where do you see his shoes?

  7. August west
    Couldn’t find any images of his shoes with the exception of field boots in the field. 😉

  8. Ward Wickers | May 19, 2015 at 7:58 pm |

    @ August —

    Just making a joke, mate.

  9. I’d like to see his frames a bit higher on the bridge of his nose and a few mm wider to compliment his face. Nice frames.

  10. Ward Wickers | May 19, 2015 at 9:58 pm |

    @ M Arthur —

    Agree with you on the size of the frames. Just a tad larger would be perfect. They are very nice. I am guessing these were also from Ben Silver. I think LaFont P3s.

    One thing I noticed is that he is a government official and is wearing a red-white-blue tie. Sometimes red-white-blue doesn’t come off all that well, but I think he looks good. He is waving the flag in a very classy way.

  11. Those frames’ largest lenses are 50mm, at that the length is barely over 5 inches across.If one has a large head like Robert Sumwalt and MAC, at 50mm they still look too small. 😉

  12. Boring clothing. He’s also puffy.

    “Or someone who was raised to be a gentleman.”

    You must be kidding. Frat boys who ape this style are as likely to be closeted rapists as gentlemen. Read more.

  13. Anglo 406 | May 20, 2015 at 1:18 am |

    Those frames make his already round face look even rounder.
    Unfortunately, many of us feel that we are obliged to wear P3 frames as the only “properly Ivy” frames, and simply wind up looking like fat owls.

  14. Bluchermoc | May 20, 2015 at 9:44 am |

    I like the glasses. I have a fat head too but these frames are comfortable, give the guy a break. I’ve been dressing like this all my life as I’m sure he has too and I’m too old to change now

  15. Ward Wickers | May 20, 2015 at 9:53 am |

    The Anglo American model 426 is a good-looking alternative to the P3.

    Shoot me if you like, but I would never feel obligated to wear anything just because it was the only ‘proper Ivy’ choice. That would make me feel most uncomfortable.

  16. Trad from NC | May 20, 2015 at 11:43 am |

    Lot’s of debate and some dribble over the wardrobe, but what about the content of the wearer’s comments? Isn’t the WASP/Ivy League dress suppose to deflect attention from what one has on in order to focus attention on what one is actually about? Mr. Sumwalt probably has not given any thought to whether his glasses could/should be bigger, and that is probably why he is being given air time to express his thoughts while all of us are not.

  17. Christian | May 20, 2015 at 11:51 am |

    Quote: “Isn’t the WASP/Ivy League dress suppose to deflect attention from what one has on in order to focus attention on what one is actually about?”

    You went through all the documents in our Historic Texts and Historic Images categories and this is the conclusion you came to?

  18. Trad from NC | May 20, 2015 at 11:56 am |

    No, I really didn’t give that much weight to your blog as being authoritative about anything. Instead, I spoke from the point of first-hand knowledge. Thanks kiddo.

  19. Ward Wickers | May 20, 2015 at 12:15 pm |

    @ Trad from NC —

    I’m having a bit of trouble understanding your point. Are you saying that on a blog oriented to clothing, style, and dress we should be discussing the transportation safety issues of Metro North and the Northeast Corridor near Philadelphia?

  20. Trad from NC | May 20, 2015 at 12:20 pm |

    If we did, the WASP/Ivy League culture might be resurrected from fad/fashion toward embracing, once again, something larger and more noble than just itself.

  21. I’ve got a large Irish head and a square jaw, I blame my parents, but what frames do you think I should wear? Times up, I wear what I want to and I wear 52mm Anglo American model 116. I don’t look like an owl, I look like a 210lbs Edith Head. Also, for you big headed guys Anglo American model 426 (P3) are available in 52mm.

  22. It appears he missed a button on his collar a la Fred Castleberry, which is a darn shame. Follow the rules https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Is0WVNqorHU

  23. Herb, if he missed a button, I’m certain it was inadvertent. There is nothing Castleberryesque about this man.

  24. @Trad from NC This is in essence a fashion blog…. So yes, we are paying attention to his clothes not content.

    @MAC Turn British! hahah. Jokes aside, try the tradition American Opticals. If you go to Warby Parkers website you can borrow up to five pairs of glasses at a time for $1.

  25. Christian | May 20, 2015 at 7:11 pm |

    “This is in essence a fashion blog”

    At least say “This is in essence a fashion blog — with a crossword puzzle.”

  26. Trad from NC, I have often used your point or a slight variation when advocating for the look. The part about it not being a detraction in a business setting not the part about not considering if something fits you.

  27. Herb
    He’s buttoned up! Thanks for the Gant link, clever how they did the 1950s PSA take.

  28. Ward Wickers | May 20, 2015 at 9:23 pm |

    “This is in essence a fashion blog — with a crossword puzzle.”

    Hey! Where’s the crossword puzzle? I can’t find no crossword puzzle.

  29. D.PS.IV
    I’ve owned AO aviators, but prefer the Ray Bans. I have three pair of BL Ray Bans from the 1960s plus two English Leather cedar boxes of parts, they were the Colonel’s.

    The Warby Parker frames are nice , but 48mm is tops. Like I said, large head, think TR.

    My next frames will be Savile Row Panto Beaufort with tortoise cable temples, they are expensive considering they were once the go to frames for the
    British NHS.

  30. http://www.bensilver.com/O22-Old-Finchleian-Christ’s-College,1346.html#.VV05Vip5mSM

    http://www.bensilver.com/Blue-Oxford-Button-Down,23482.html#.VV05pyp5mSM

    Ben Silver stocked these specs once upon a time:
    http://www.kalaeyewear.com/kala902.shtml

    The navy windowpane jacket is an “updated traditional” staple. Either Ben Silver, Paul Stuart, or some such…

  31. Anglo 406 | May 21, 2015 at 1:07 am |

    @Herb and Henry:

    I don’t think he missed a button at all. This is simply what often happens with unlined collars: one point had a nice curve, while the other lies flat. Can be corrected–to some extent–by moving the button on the offending collar point. Those of us who prefer lined collars avoid this problem altogether.

  32. Minimalist Trad | May 21, 2015 at 1:11 am |

    The ultimate minimalist frames for those of us with fat heads:

    http://www.ray-ban.com/usa/eyeglasses/RX8680-rb8680-gunmetal/805289518075

  33. @WW

    See post #1000 for the crossword. I felt lucky to get 19 correct. But I’m a poor excuse for a clothing hobbyist – I just wear them. I’ll even admit to liking the original York St. stuff from Press. And the Own Make line from BB. And even (brace yourself) suits from J. Crew. My classmates sort of see me as a WASP gone bad, or maybe made eccentric by too much education.

  34. Ward Wickers | May 21, 2015 at 8:37 am |

    @ lm —

    Thanks. I was a WASP gone bad the day I was born (too much Irish blood).

  35. Plenty of evidence, in the archives and out in the world, that clothing functions as a group marker, and that the slightest variations can indicate either that one doesn’t belong, or that one is innovating within the group language. Clothes as a social sign-system. (And the various boundaries have blurred quite a bit.)

    Much of it takes place unconsciously. Like grammar. You may know how to speak effectively, but not know what the subjunctive is. (I didn’t know that I was blending three patterns until I read Flusser at an advanced age.)

    That said, some people just notice clothes and others are indifferent.

    That said, whether you notice clothes or not depends on whether you notice clothes or not.

  36. Christian | May 21, 2015 at 9:11 am |

    @OCBD

    “Trad from NC, I have often used your point or a slight variation when advocating for the look. The part about it not being a detraction in a business setting …”

    Sorry, got to call ya’ out on that one, my young friend. You’re not really suggesting that your motivation for wearing this style is to look unremarkable and inconspicuous so that people will pay attention to your words and character?

    You run a clothing blog and post photos of yourself wearing clothes on the Internet. You’re obviously really into clothes.

    Also, in order for the clothes not to be a detraction (distraction?) in a business setting, it would require that everyone else be dressed the same. Obviously in a Silicon Valley tech firm — or most any other business in America — your dress would be highly remarkable, not unremarkable.

  37. Point well made. Maybe the most salient of all points. It is a “remarkable” look. Amidst the array of options, Ivy sticks out. It offends a variety of sartorial (and cultural?) sensibilities. The young men who wore it for a passing season while walking campuses 50 years ago–they did so largely by accident. Because it’s what everybody else wore. It was to them what polar fleece, running shoes, Topsiders, and jeans are to today’s undergraduate population. Relaxed, comfy, sporty.

    The reasons why anyone would go out of their way (and it requires some effort) to buy and wear Ivy are replete with all sorts of stuff. From a mostly but not purely pragmatic perspective, few if any “dressed up” looks suit a man better.

  38. It’s interesting that different regions of the country, even the world, have parochial tics or slight variations of Ivy. The basics are always the same with slight variations. I noticed this as a military brat being transferred to mostly southern states, I took notice on road trips in college and as an adult traveling on business in the 1970s.

  39. Excellent points, S.E. I’d argue that something like Ralph Lauren’s modified Ivy League look is more flattering to a wider variety of men than “pure” Ivy (however one might define that), if only because darted jackets emphasize masculine shape better than sack jackets do. Beyond that, Ralph Lauren’s suit ensembles are a bit more dressed up than the Ivy League look (e.g., button down shirts & long wing Bluchers with a suit), and while that is more a matter of personal preference, it seems that most suit-wearing men agree that suits should, in general, be worn dressier than blazers & sport coats are.

    This should in no way be construed as an argument against the Ivy League look, nor against “dressy casual” American style (think Fred Astaire).

  40. Christian | May 22, 2015 at 11:28 am |

    Exactly. There are so many things to embrace in this genre of clothing. First and foremost it’s American. I can see BOTH the midcentury cool in it (like the English guys on Talk Ivy) as well as the tradition in it (like the trads on Ask Andy). There’s a sporty streak running through it that appeals to the athlete in me.

    And then there’s the, for lack of a better term, patrician disdain of it, wearing frayed collars, moth-eaten polo coats, and being deliberately dressed down compared to the collar-stay/non-iron neatniks and shiny ambitious American Boardroom types.

    And finally, in the months of summer, the offensively bright preppy rig that so offends it even offends one’s fellow trads.

  41. Yes.

    “Icon” is perhaps too strong a word, but there are a few who, for me, embodied the best of the look. Relaxed, sporty, comfy, nonchalant but still elegant.

    George Plimpton’s rank is high. And then there’s Warhol–who once at a hamburger:

    http://www.acontinuouslean.com/2014/06/02/andy-warhol-brooks-brothers/

    “Ivy irreverence.”

  42. SE
    I agree with you, but the two you mention are artist. I think a lot of how one’s level of nonchalance has to do with what you do for a living. One wears the gear appropriate for the job.

  43. Well, I’d include others–from the worlds of business and politics.

    James Baker stuck with what we’ve called old Brooks style well after other public servants had moved toward the overly shaped (middle-button-will-pop-off-any-minute) and high shouldered (is he shrugging non stop?) look. Ted Kennedy comes to mind. George HW Bush looked both business-ready and relaxed. Ditto, I recall, for

    A natural shoulder isn’t identical to unconstructed, no-pad-at-all look (think j. keydge

  44. No doubt the “look” is generally relaxed even in the boardroom and some wear a suit better than others. What I’ve always liked about the “look” is that it can be dialed up or down depending on the circumstances.

  45. Ward Wickers | May 23, 2015 at 2:36 pm |

    There are degrees, me thinks. In a corporate setting, you wouldn’t wear a frayed collar, loud tie, or surcingle belt–at least, I wouldn’t. Otherwise, it’s smart, nonchalant, and (conservatively) sporty. I was once in a business setting where there were several dressed in the Ivy-Trad manner, with everyone wearing suits. One, however, chose gray, New Balance running shoes for his feet. Although he was a key player in the room, his choice of shoes said, “Hey, I’m a kid.” And that is exactly how everyone treated him.

    Here’s my take on the glasses Mr. Sumwalt is wearing in the picture above: http://www.bensilver.com/Lafont-Light-Tortoise-Pantheon-Frame,12300.html

  46. I’m guilty of wearing frayed collars, to wash my car or mow the lawn. 😉

  47. Ward Wickers | May 23, 2015 at 4:55 pm |

    @ MAC —

    Let’s be thankful that the wheels of business don’t revolve around washing cars and mowing lawns!

    That being said, there are no better activities to wear a frayed collar than washing cars and mowing lawns.

    Regarding mowing lawns, I must say this: When I was a kid, my father hated to mow the lawn. Not far from us, someone paved over their lawn and painted it green! My Dad thought this was wonderful. Unfortunately for both him and me, my mother wouldn’t allow it!

  48. I know a guy in Little Italy,KC that has had his yard concreted over since the 1950s. From a half a block away or Google Satellite it looks like the perfect lawn.

  49. My home state, the Palmetto State.

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