Enduring Bland Appeal

Brooks Brothers made news in a rather dubious fashion this week. The magazine Garage ran a piece entitled “On the Enduring Bland Appeal of Brooks Brothers — and the Freaks Who Love It.” This is followed by the subhead “How has this brand been around for so long?”

Quotes the piece:

The titular man from Mary McCarthy’s 1941 story “The Man in the Brooks Brothers Shirt” buys said shirts “a dozen at a time.” He doesn’t relay to the narrator that there’s any special appeal regarding their fabrics, or their construction—just that they’re readily available in bulk. He buys everything at Brooks, a habit his wife finds “stodgy”; the only distinctive feature about shirts is the monogram on the wrist, which he only has because monograms are gratis when the shirts are custom-made. The shirts, it appears, just happen to him.

Tom Yarbrough is a white Nashville businessman with a salt-and-pepper beard and the disposition of someone who would, similarly, happen into a lot of Brooks Brothers. And he does. He has more than 100 Brooks Brothers shirts, in fact, in every color and stripe and plaid imaginable, though he often defaults to blue. They hang and lay around his home, “stacks of ’em,” he says, proudly displayed on the Instagram he dedicates to them, @glengarrysportingclub. And he bought all those shirts on purpose.

Brooks Brothers shirts are not particularly collectible. For the most part, the company’s wares are decidedly nondescript and mass-produced. Further, there isn’t a huge difference between the preppy shirts that Brooks makes and the ones produced by its numerous competitors: oxford cloth, button-down collars (O-C, B-D), business-casual vibes. But in that mundanity, Yarbrough found something compelling enough to keep him coming back, over and over and over. ”There’s a power that maybe an article of clothing shouldn’t have,” he told me.

So there you have it: one man’s bland is another man’s power. Check the piece out here. — CC

Image from Glen Garry Sporting Club

17 Comments on "Enduring Bland Appeal"

  1. This post again says nothing. It’s just a copy-and-paste of another writer’s work. There’s literally nothing added here.

    It really does feel like Christian has mentally checked out.

    I have to say, I worked in a corporate office for fifty years. Many days, if not most days, I didn’t feel like working. I wish I could have told my boss “I’m a creative person and have a dynamic personality.” Wasn’t the case when I was working. You get paid, you have to work. Not just copy and paste things that took you two seconds to find. I see plenty of advertisers on the side of this site. I imagine they’re paying good money.

    Disappointed in this site. Oh well.

    Is it possible to get more guest posts from Mr. Press and Boyer? They actually have interesting things to say. I think a good way forward would be for them to get paid, based off the Patreon and advertising money. They’re good writers, have interesting insights, and do more than throw up some images or links. They write.

  2. George Hoffman | March 16, 2019 at 5:55 pm |

    Jeez, just don’t come here anymore… or quit bitchin about it

  3. whiskeydent | March 16, 2019 at 6:41 pm |

    Hey Steve, it’s Saturday. You’re spending too much time on the web. You ought to get out of the house and stretch your legs. Do something to perk you the hell up and end the haughty, whiny posts.

  4. Boop McSnoot | March 16, 2019 at 6:44 pm |

    @CC – Seems to me like a better solution would be to abandon the one post a day resolution, if you can’t devote enough attention to it – no harm, no foul, as you have other projects. Instead, you could try to post a couple smaller posts discussing a recent article, clothing release, etc., and soliciting comments, which is where much of the action happens anyway. I’m also thinking of past posts on readers’ watches, etc., which can be fun to see and stimulate comments. Then, once a week or every two weeks, post a link roundup, the way A Continuous Lean used to do. That way you can still put these little items out there, even though they might not sustain an entire post on their own.

    The best articles on Ivy Style are valuable. The worst ones are dispensable. Surely a retreat can be made from this promise of one post a day, since it isn’t working, and we can get more value per post, as it has been in the past. The way it is now, it seems CC will get burnt out and the readership will just get annoyed.

  5. elder prep | March 16, 2019 at 8:49 pm |

    Steven,
    If you’re not enjoying the content, no one has chained you to the site, go elsewhere where you might be happier.

  6. Steven,

    Are you AEV/VEA?

    Cheers

    Will

  7. elder prep | March 16, 2019 at 8:51 pm |

    I concur with Boop’s suggestion.

  8. Grey Flannels | March 17, 2019 at 2:31 am |

    I look forward to the daily images and links.
    Ivy/Trad is not about originality, it’s about preserving.

  9. Being clueless, I Googled AEV/VEA and got this http://www.ivy-style.com/foot-of-the-charles-rowing-blazers-oars-pop-up-shop-into-boston.html I’m not sure what to make of things… I don’t know, it’s all ball bearings.

  10. Harrington Stevens | March 17, 2019 at 10:29 am |

    Steven: I suggest you visit FNB Talk Ivy if you want to find something to criticise. Even at its most uninspired, Ivy Style has something worthwhile to say.

  11. The linked article also has this article linked within it, entitled Prep Style Fascism, which I thought was good as well: https://garage.vice.com/en_us/article/594avd/prep-style-fascism

  12. This was next in the queue and I could have written Steven’s comment for him.

    Linking to outside content related to this topic has also been part of the formula since day one.

    Millennial Fogey has moved on, Richard is now a colunist for J. Press. Who would like to step up and write long analytical pieces?

  13. Old School Tie | March 17, 2019 at 2:12 pm |

    I think that the comments here have long been the main entertainment. You are missing the point if you don’t get that.

  14. Evan Everhart | March 19, 2019 at 10:53 am |

    I concur with the general consensus, and in particular with anyone who has realized and stated that the comments and discussions within the comments section are the main entertainment in most of the readers’ visits, aside from the more educational, and certainly typically fascinating information and references which this unique website and the community which has formed around it provide.

    That said, it is borderline incomprehensible that some people grouse about the substance of the articles on here when the articles are typically meant as jumping boards for discussion, which as stated above is why so many of us return to this “place” on the regular. If people don’t like it, don’t come, or give a real contribution via Patreon to support in depth articles. Just saying. Why not commission an article?

    Christian, why not have an entry for someone to commission an in depth article on a topic of their choosing, have people submit requests and bids 😉

    We can all vote on which is best, and then you write the sponsored winning article after a week or two hiatus and return with literary guns blazing.

  15. Christian, I think you’re doing a smashing job. I would have missed the Brooks Brothers article if you hadn’t posted it. Keep up the good work. I

  16. The missing pocket square makes it bland.

  17. Bland is beautiful, baby.

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