Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Style Icon


Daniel Patrick Moynihan came up in the comments section last week, and as he was an academic as well as politician, he fits the bill for our Professor Style Week.

For a tradly guy you’ll see a far-reaching embrace of the genre, including straight as well as buttondown collars, desert boots, double-breasted seersucker, olive poplin, cardigans, and neckties that range from clubs and reps to Churchill dot, solid knit, and of course plenty of bows. — CC

File_795, 1/8/08, 1:07 PM, 16C, 6332x7766 (122+424), 112%, Custom, 1/20 s, R33.1, G15.1, B39.7










Bonus image: coincidentally today Salt Water New England (formerly MuffyAldrich.com) also has a Moynihan tribute from personal archives. Here’s a screenshot:


Photo credit: second image from top by Richard Avedon

24 Comments on "Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Style Icon"

  1. Excellent post. In my opinion Buckley, Moynihan, George HW Bush, and George Plimpton form the Mount Rushmore of Ivy Style, and DPM is the all-time greatest.

  2. If New York needs anybody from the past, it is Patrick.

  3. Was he a J.Press man or BB? Anyone?

  4. Bill Canfield | September 29, 2015 at 7:41 pm |

    And the great but lamented Tim Russert was DPM’s press guy in the Senate before he left for NBCNews. Tim simply owned Meet the Press and his sucessors, David Gregory and a Chuck Todd are unworthy of that chair, IMHO.

  5. Bill Canfield | September 29, 2015 at 7:42 pm |

    I saw DPM in the Press store in DC on numerous occasions.

  6. Is it Moneyhan (al sharpton’s barb from way back) or George Plimpton who wrote the famous letter to BB complaining about the quality of some recently purchased socks? He was the rarest breed, a true scholar/politician

  7. NaturalShoulder | September 29, 2015 at 10:33 pm |

    Educator – it was Moynihan who wrote the BB letter.

  8. Charlottesville | September 30, 2015 at 1:48 pm |

    I lived near DPM for a few years in the 90s (in neighboring DC condos, not in NY), and he was truly one of the great dressers. As the pics above show, he was even able to wear a DB seersucker suit, and still look old school trad. I, on rare days, do the same, but have never been able to pull it off with quite the panache of the good Senator, and my DB gets only a few outings each summer. Maybe this will be the inspiration I need for next year. Like WFB Jr. and Bush Sr., he was not a slave to “the rules” but they certainly shaped his look, and he always looked comfortable in whatever he wore.

  9. Irish Catholic Ivy Style, a topic to explore? As the progeny of a lapsed member of the former faith but with remnants of the latter and all the Irishness still there, I’ve certainly noticed it, especially in DC among lawyers. Perhaps the laity seek soft collars to balance all those stiff clerical ones.

  10. It’s a safe guess that DPM relied heavily on the in-stock kit at Brooks–the New York and D.C. incarnations, more often than not. I can’t imagine he went MTM often. Not to burst the bubble I helped inflate, but chances are good that, now that Brooks is a sea of stiff collars and darted jackets, a modern-day Moynihan would have long since succumbed to the here-and-now. Put more succinctly, he’d be wearing whatever he found on the shelves and hangers.

    I wonder what % of men out there actually continue to give a damn about clothing that calls circa ’65 Brooks to mind.

  11. S.E.

    I believe the hope among many here is that such clothing will return to hanger and shelf presence, at least to some small extent, so that the guy who just walks in the store looking for something that seems good has a chance of picking up Ivy and perhaps finding he likes it.

  12. NaturalShoulder | October 1, 2015 at 10:43 pm |

    Diogenes – Brooks is likely the only large retailer at which it would be possible. Given their current offerings it seems highly unlikely to come to happen. The hope is that men who might be drawn to discover or rediscover the look as the case may be discover O’Connells, Andover, Silver or the othe small retailers or MTM options.

  13. Those goddamn Papists.

  14. S.E., I disagree with your assessment of how a modern day DPM would dress. I say that because if you look at the most recent pictures (early 2000’s) he is still wearing the look. The way he is put together lead me to believe that he knows what he wants and that is not just what is offered.

  15. @ OCBD–

    You may be right. I tend to think that by the early 2000,s (he was well into his 70s or maybe even 80s, right?), he had long since stopped buying new clothes. It’s a safe guess that he was wearing (repeatedly) what he bought many years previous–the 80s and further back.

    Related: I remember the early days of the Brooks Brothers outlets. I’m talking the early 90s. Amazing. The stock was NOS (new old stock). I remember the oxford button downs, polo shirts, sack blazers and sack suits, the 3.25″ blade repps, the USA-made boxers, the shoes marked irregular/imperfect. This was before the change.

  16. “The change.” Things went to hell in the mid to late 90s, and then off the cliff in the 2000s. I see the “Own Make” collection includes a few good looking jackets. Too bad they’re so short and limited in sizing. It’s a nod, but not a salute. Definitely not the old, straight-hanging sack.

  17. @Diogenes

    I have doubts. Hard-wearing British cloth, a staple of the look, is expensive. Most men who have to dress for work will buy whatever’s convenient and cheap. Most men who go custom or even MTM want to look “tailored” and fitted–thick through the chest and shoulders and thin at the waist.

    It’s amusing. A lightly padded, natural shoulder jacket with little or no shaping through the middle and high armholes is comfy as hell. As in all-day comfy. Much more so than the heavily padded, overly shaped (through the middle) stuff out there. But it’s not “sleek”– nor does it create the illusion of a Davidic athletic form.

    So, it’s doomed.

    “Brooks was a fixture in affluent urban and suburban life, when clothing was meant to be comfortable, non sexual and signaled that you were a member of the right circles.” –FNB

  18. universitystripe | October 2, 2015 at 1:16 pm |

    Everyone is so pessimistic. America is full of gentlemen wearing navy blazers, chinos, and repp ties.

    If Ivy lacked staying power, it would no longer be altered in subtle ways. You will know Ivy is dead when designers quit playing with it each season.

  19. @S.E.

    Thank you for considering my argument. You make very some good points. There is something about that desert boot picture that makes me think that he had a style that a store couldn’t define.

  20. Good point, Oxster. That photo exemplifies the theory that style has something slightly off. That’s an individual example; when applied as a theory by a group with shared values, you get things like wearing a pink oxford with a tuxedo.

  21. Yes.

    There are several clips of an older DPM wearing spread collars and darted suits. Perfect with the suede boots. I think he tended toward Anglophilia. It worked for him.

  22. UniStripe: Saw many older gents with blazers and repp ties on their way to papal events last week, guessing mostly Irish. Pessimism isn’t always a bad thing, however.

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