Covid’s Opening Act Was Summer Fridays

This is my day today, started at 3:15, did the pages (I write three handwritten pages every morning, first thing – you know how you dump out the old grinds before you make new coffee, some of them hug the sides of the filter because it is wet and you have to rinse the filter because who wants to start the day with old grinds? – this is that), meditated, showered, protein shake (because Dylan) started work at 4:30.  At 7:20 The Package goes to school (that’s what I call my daughter if you are new here, it is not a demeaning name, she loves it, there is a story behind it that I’ve told a few times here, so calm down).  I literally had someone write me “Why on earth would you dehumanize a beautiful teenage girl by calling her The Package?  She is a person, with an identity and hopes and dreams and you as her father should want that for her more than anyone.  You are misogynistic and I can only hope your attitude gets corrected in our community.”  Then another person answered that comment with, “It’s a joke, mind your business.”

Anyway, 7:20 The Great American School Dropoff happens for which I am only along for the ride.  I am supervising a new roof being put on the church, today is the last day of that (please God) so that means some crawling around, a meeting standing in a parking lot, and haggling.  At 10:00 I train for an hour and a half (more Dylan), then work until 4 in the office.  Tonight I have a concert (I do live shows on Facebook) at 5:00 (why stay up if you don’t have to) and then sushi, more writing.  The Package is going to the beach for the weekend so there will be a lot of texting, then bed by 8:00.

It’s a Friday.  It is technically summer.

What does one wear on a day like that?

One wears shorts, even to work.  I said, hear me out.  I am only in the office half a day.  One wears an OCBD because one never wears short sleeves during the week.   And then one builds on that.

The argument for shorts.  First and foremost, comfort.  One of the things that we have to let go of as Ivy Style moves through the ages is the idea that comfort doesn’t matter.  It does, people are going to move towards it (duh) and Ivy, already a style based on loosening up, is going to have to loosen up.  Second, the transition.  Fridays in the summer have always been a thing I look at.  I am reminded of the joke that Manhattan is the only place where people work 60 hours a week just so they can afford to leave on the weekends.  Covid brought in its messenger bag many lessons and reboots, one of which is that we clearly do not like the office, or other people, as much as we said we did.  But Covid had an opening act.  Before virtue signaling came weekend signaling.  For years we have been telling each other we can’t wait to get out of here by dressing differently on Fridays.  I for one am going to start taking that on the nose.  Shorts on Friday.  I am only saying what you are thinking anyway.  Third, the variety.  Ivy as a style is in some ways the girlfriend you aren’t sure will say yes if you ask her to marry you.  You take her to parties and watch her looking at other guys.  She’s there but you can see the wheels turning – is there something different?  We only need permission to open the doors a little wider.  Shorts do that, on a Friday, in the summer.

I am going to sprinkle historical precedent all over this article.  I am aware the historical precedent is from two sources:  Take Ivy and JFK.  And I am aware that Take Ivy is college students.  And I am aware that JFK was technically on duty.  Remember what I said about loosening up?  Look down the hall.  Don’t you wish that the first person you see was dressed as well as the students in the Take Ivy photos?  And as far as JFK, well, style is never off duty nor are Presidents, potential Presidents, and husbands of Jackie O.

This picture never gets old. Yes, it is tucked in. Keep reading, I got that covered too.

 

What shorts am I wearing?  I found the perfect ones for a summer Friday at work.  My tastes run a little Southern Prep, because Southern Prep runs pretty Ivy.  Here.

The Duck Head 9″ Gold School Chino Short, in dark ivy. Dark Ivy. Click on the image. You want these.

 

The shirt.  It has to be an oxford.  There are as many ways to screw this look up as there are things that can go wrong when you let your 14 year old daughter go to the beach for the weekend (oh wait, did I write that out loud?).   One of the major ways to mess this look up is to not button your collar down.  It looks like you left your closet half dressed.  Ivy is purposely rebellious but with a finger on the trad scale at all times.  An unbuttoned collar in this ensemble is just sloppy.  Here.  See for yourself.

 

This nonsense gives casual Ivy a rash. Look up Trying-Too-Hard.

 

Instead, well, here.  The Master.

 

Don’t you always wonder what she was thinking when she was looking at him? I always drill it down to one of two: (1) Where are you going to be in an hour and a half and with whom OR (2) are you really gonna win this thing?

 

I wear mine untucked.  There is simply no reason to tuck shirts into shorts anymore unless… Resort.  I have been working my a$$ off, down 4 inches on my waist and eating clean for half a year and I still like the line better on my body when the oxford is untucked with shorts.  And you should too.  Please though.  No shirts that are meant to be untucked.  That misses the point completely.  The goal is to gently rebel, not fly an awkward nautical flag logo near, well, your fly.

The way JFK Jr. dressed was always a sadness to me.  This look would have been so frigging perfect for him.  I shook hands with him once (don’t you hate it when people say they met someone that they really just shook hands with?) – and I can tell you this.  That man was every bit as advertised.  And I get it was the times, and I get what living in a shadow is, blah blah.  You Google JFK Jr in shorts and it is really, really hard to find him with any shirt.  There are no shorts and oxfords.

 

Yeah, it’s a tee shirt, but I was such a fan of this guy. And it is a summer Friday and this is a boat.

Finally, and this is important, the shoes.  The shoes are an opportunity to close the game with a strike or embarrass yourself.  You pick.  I choose the slider, right down the middle.  You cannot wear sneakers.   You are opting there for sloppy, not casual.  You cannot wear flip flops because it is work and the daytime, although you can wear them tonight at 5 to your live concert.  You cannot wear regular loafers.  Well, you can on Greenwich Avenue, I have, but that was before I read my own article on these:

 

Click on the image. This is my favorite shoe I own.

Why the Jay Butler loafer?  Because it is the perfect combo.  It has moccasin sensibilities and construction, so you don’t look like you are 10 minutes away from slicking your hair back.  On Greenwich Avenue.  There may be a photo or two of me doing that, as an FYI, but I have learned from my mistakes.  It’s not a strict penny loafer, which was always just a little too formal for this combo.  But it is a well made loafer, priced $100 less than its competitive cousins, it is just structured enough that people know you are wearing real shoes, but not overly built so people know you are not compensating with your feet the way you did with that sports car.

I did that too.  I remember bringing The Package home from the hospital.  I had a Porsche Boxster in the garage.  Mary Joe Fernandez won the Porsche Open sometime in the 90’s, and this Boxster was part of her prize.  Somehow I bought it.  At least that was the story the tennis pro told me.  When I bought it from him.  I looked at it in the garage and I had visions of  The Package flying out of the top of it, and visions of me needing the money for her college anyway, and it went.

So where did we wind up?  A vintage Brooks oxford (because it is worn, a little frayed, but holding on fine thanks), the Duck Head shorts, the Jay Butler loafers, a Citizen watch that I changed the band on and get more compliments on than I did my Omega, and now I gotta look at a roof.

Have a great weekend!

JB

 

43 Comments on "Covid’s Opening Act Was Summer Fridays"

  1. A mostly dark blue Madras shirt (tucked in) and khaki shorts, navy and orange ribbon belt, with well-worn leather dock-siders (and no socks) here today. Yes, I left the house like that (I know, I know. . .) when my wife took me to breakfast following the departure of The Young Master for his last day of school. A summer Friday as you suggest.

    Kind Seasonal Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich

    • I should rephrase. ON ME if I tuck it in, I look like a balloon with a rubber band around the middle. Some guys, and I am certain you are amongst them, pull it off perfectly. JFK did it, actually. Best to The Young Master.

  2. Gibson Gardens | June 10, 2022 at 12:51 pm | Reply

    Ivy gear?

    John Simons flogs the best.

  3. A Fine Sad Man | June 10, 2022 at 12:58 pm | Reply

    I had completely overlooked this thread and am indebted to John for drawing them to my attention in the first place.  Yes, a Johnny Simons favourite. There’s always something new to discover, rediscover and enjoy on here.

  4. Woofter Boxer | June 10, 2022 at 1:04 pm | Reply

    Ivy shorts were issued when I joined the police in the 70s, a lot of forces had them. You choice of outerwear was a double breasted gaberdine coat with a button-in liner or the shorts which was generally preferred as they open fly fronted and presented a cleaner look, it was also genuinely waterproof. You also got a cape which was very warm, but no good if you had to fight anyone, also kids shouted ‘Batman’ at you from a safe distance.

  5. Tradified Ivy | June 10, 2022 at 1:42 pm | Reply

    I have a friend who, back in 1978, was having his shorts made to measure.  He still has the shirts tucked in his garden shed.  When I reminded him of this (and he always dressed with style, even after marrying and raising children) he said, ‘I was a dandy, wasn’t I?’ A wry observation from a gentleman.Ivyists on the other hand, always dresses well ‘because we know no better..

  6. Has JFK got a Playstation controller in his hands?

  7. John, I see Rye’s forecast high is 78. You were smart to wear shorts and I hope they keep you from burning up.

    Down here in Austin, it’s supposed to be Mars: 102 with a heat index 8 or so degrees higher. I spied a 105 in the forecast a couple of days from now.

    In friction’ June.

    • Holy eff all. 102 in June. That IS Mars. But Austin is amazing right? I so want to go there. In maybe February.

      • Except we’ve had awful cold snaps the last two Februaries. Temps went into the single digits here two years ago and the power was knocked out statewide. A bunch of people froze to death in the dark in the nation’s energy capital (ahem).

        And then there are hurricanes, tornados, pestilence, old hippies, Californicators, goat ropers, and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in most of the other months. Late October-November and mid-March-April are the sweet spots.

  8. No spellcheck, it’s frickin’.

  9. Duck Heads were practically required when I was in college (88-92). They were generally worn with Sebago camp mocs. I’d love to see what watch you’re wearing.

  10. During the week, I wear shorts when no one will see me. So I either stay indoors or hit the bourbon and become invisible to others before heading out to ….

    On the weekends, I hardly ever wear long pants during the day and I always have my OCBD untucked. I own a couple of pullover polos – but they do not have a pocket for me to keep my fountain pen, or the random beach shells I pick up. I’m convinced they will break if I put them in the pockets of my shorts – the shells, not my fountain pen.

    I do wear a belt – it helps keep my shorts in place – never socks – usually shoes very similar to the Jay Butler model – or a pair of boat shoes – with a very natty stripe across the tip of the left toe from where I power washed them with the, well….power washer. Boats need love too!

    • Ok. A ton of questions. First, where are you? Second, what fountain pen? Third, what kind of boat?

      • In order of reply

        1. The sofa
        2. A Pilot E95. She’s been with me 6 years
        3. A Catalina sailboat. Swing keel for easy escape.

    • My OCBDs have no pocket (either classic B2 polos or M2M J Press, so I carry a Kaweco Classic Sport fountain pen in my pants pocket everywhere I go. It’s only 4 inches long when capped, so comfortably fits in the pocket and no risk of leaking. I highly recommend it.

      • @Roast – mine is similar – a Pilot that caps to about the same length. I could put it in my pants pocket – but my “money-wallet-speach” routine checks for my pen in a shirt pocket, i’d be thrown off otherwise

  11. “Ivy, already a style based on loosening up, is going to have to loosen up.”

    Probably. Almost certainly. Once upon a time upon a time, Ivy was headed in that direction. Two old(er) haberdashers fondly recall the Heyday (think early 60s) Norman Hilton and Southwick jackets. The former was soft and unpadded; ditto for the latter, and the tailoring was referred to as “Superflex.” The tweeds were light, weathered, shaggy Shetlands, and the the flannel was Viyella(dish) soft.

    This, of course, was the era of JFK’s covert endorsement of Chipp, who, with Winstons at the helm, recreated this relaxed, youthful (“vigah”!) style. He, somehow upright and at-ease simultaneously, embodied the sort of attentive lassitude that set standard for cool. I mean, he wore B&L (‘Ray Ban’) Echelons, for gosh sakes.

    Then the 60s happened and oh-dear-god-did-it-all-go-to-hell.

  12. * Viyella(ish, rather. As in the legendary wool-cotton blend.**

    ** that
    J. Press used for blazers

  13. I do not even own any OCBDs, although I have numerous oxford shirts.
    I sometimes wear shorts, but mostly jeans with Lacoste-type polos.
    In cooler weather the polos are long sleeved often from LL Bean.
    More important, I saw JFK, Jackie and the Radzwills, emerging from
    the long gone Le Pavillon restaurant in NYC in the early 60s. JFK
    and Prince Radzwill were in tuxes and Jackie and Lee in cocktail attire.
    I was with my future and present wife, a Seven Sister grad with a Phd.

  14. Jay Butler loafers are just short of a miracle. I know of few other items that can work effectively with shorts and polished chinos, maybe even a suit of the right kind. Comfortable as all get out as well.

  15. “One of the things that we have to let go of as Ivy Style moves through the ages is the idea that comfort doesn’t matter.”

    Thing is, though, while it’s true “comfort matters,” it doesn’t matter more than other priorities. God have mercy on any culture that prioritizes comfort (and, related, leisure) above all else. This idea, like other ideas, can be taken to ridiculous extremes. Is my friend’s son, who wears “Baja hoodies,” Birkenstocks, and soccer shorts to most social gatherings, Ivy? Nope, not a chance. Not even a little bit, no matter how honest, hard-working, industrious, good-hearted, and/or “hip” he is. Now, when he replaces that Jeff Spiccoli-impersonating top with a shetland crewneck, the Umbro’s with a pair of 8″ inseam chinos, and the “Birds” for a pair of old loafers, he’ll be Ivy as heck. Still oozing with devil-may-care nonchalance, but Ivy. As always, it’s always about the details.

    Ultimately and finally, for all of the forward-looking improvisation, Ivy is, well, a very particular style. With parameters. Like it or not, the style is mostly frozen in time in that it always-and-forever takes its cues from a few decades during the last century–during which JFK lived and worked, it just so happens. A.K.A. The Heyday.

    JFK repeatedly performed the Ivy miracle: look “dressed up” (even formal) and elegant while simultaneously looking unstuffy-and-relaxed to the point of outright insouciance; stately yet relaxed. Cary Grant pulled off the informally formal thing, but very few have done it with the panache of JFK. He really-and-truly was an original.

    • JFK did it that way because he was comfortable. If Ivy puts much in front of comfort, well, it loses the war to the track suit.

  16. “Birks,” rather. As in the sandals with straps. German, I think.

  17. Harkness Tower | June 11, 2022 at 3:47 pm | Reply

    S.E.
    Yes, Birkenstocks are German.
    Maybe you can help me understand why some people don’t use Google, instead of ending a statement with “I think”.
    Just wonderin’.

  18. In defense of the Trying-Too-Hard Guy – His watch is appropriately sized.

  19. Anyone else notice the number on the side of JFK Jr’s boat?

  20. I didn’t notice it, until you pointed it out. Thanks for the reminder. “It was unintentional. They sank my boat.” Classic JFK.

    • I daresay that JFK’s remark was a lovely example of the understatement that New Englanders share with Brits.

  21. Woofter Boxer | June 12, 2022 at 9:08 am | Reply

    @ Roger Sack

    I’m sadly coming to the conclusion that, if one remains interested in clothes beyond a very basic, very limited, level, JFK can’t be ignored. Something else always beckons with a bony finger, even if it’s being sold on Ebay.  I’ve made three purchases already this week and it’s probably only lack of storage space that prevents more buying. 
    I’ve never formed the impression that anyone into Ivy attempts it – in fact, quite the reverse. 
    I’m a pushover for JFK.  Have been for a long while.

  22. No to the shorts; no to the loafers.

    Yes to Alden LHS’s. Yes to Hertling shorts — khaki.
    Both sans whatever product JB used to slick back all that hair.

    What did the Princeton undergrad in the pic and JFK have in common? When they went to work, they wore …

    … suits.
    Which, when we’ll tailored of good cloth, are comfy.

  23. Those summer casual photos perfectly depict the effortless confidence and self-possessed nonchalance we all know that both JFKs, the elder and the younger, had in spades. A shallow form of it can come from a life of detatched privilege, but a truer form of it is seen in people who build an authentic confidence through aging into a life well-lived. I also believe it helps to be able to spend at least as much time in one’s body as in one’s head. I’m certainly still working on both.
    Doubtful I’ll ever look as cool as those guys did. …Probably because working at it means I’m already doing it wrong. 🙂
    I rarely wear shorts but have a couple of pairs I like. It is true that letting the shirt tails of an OCBD fly free while wearing shorts provides a decent facsimile of the desired impression. Unfortunately, the shirttails of a lot of newer Oxfords don’t have the dramatic “scoop” they once had, which quite mutes the effect.

  24. Rene Lebenthal | June 13, 2022 at 2:48 am | Reply

    Just got a new seersucker short from the french brand “Breuer”. And I love it !!
    Wishing everyone a great start in the week here from Paris, France.

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