Expansion And Contraction At J. Press

Last week I met with Robert “Squeeze” Squillaro, the new exec at J. Press, to learn about Richard Press’ new column. After that, talk turned to the new fall collection and where things are going. You could say it’s a story of expansion (“press”-ure, perhaps?), and contraction (that is, squeezing).

As soon as the fall brochure came out, readers hit my inbox with positive messages. Talk in our Facebook group was also bullish on the brand’s direction. Squillaro informed me there are a number of new tweeds, which began selling as soon as they came in, even though weather on the East Coast was still quite warm. Expect this trend to continue, including some exclusive tweeds in partnership with the Magee mill, details of which will come out later this month.

There are also more flannel trouser offerings, including dark blue and a brownish olive, plus a whole kennel of Shaggy Dogs — the most colors in many a year, and available in a slim cut as well as regular, for all you skinny puppies out there.

Spring of next year is when you’ll really see Squillaro’s effect on getting J. Press both back to its roots, as well as giving it more contemporary appeal. The jacket pattern is still getting tweaks to it, such as a modified lapel roll that will show more of the unfastened top button closure. Which leads us to the part about contraction.

Brace yourself, guys, as everything is going to get slightly trimmer, with lapels and necktie widths harmonizing at 3.25 inches. Three and a half is the industry standard, but some J. Press sportcoats over recent years have had lapels more in the 3 5/8 range, which can quickly start looking like 3 7/8, which is ’70s territory. J. Crew over recent years has been too slim at 2 7/8 or even less, while much of Polo has been at 3 inches. Personally 3-3.25 is just right for me, but that’s personal taste. You can see that the ties on the top of this page are listed as 3.25, whereas older ones are 3.5.

Think of it as a lean in the direction of the heyday. And speaking of lean, maybe it’s time for you to get your measurements in line with the new J. Press. — CC

40 Comments on "Expansion And Contraction At J. Press"

  1. Evan Everhart | October 14, 2018 at 2:43 pm |

    Thus is wonderful news and an extremely punny disclosure of the same! Most Excellent!

  2. Evan Everhart | October 14, 2018 at 2:45 pm |

    *This is wonderful news; thus spake I. Ha!

  3. Huntington Howell | October 14, 2018 at 3:56 pm |

    It’s time to get as many 3.5″ ties as are still available.
    I assume that the next “improvement” will be to increase waist suppression!

  4. Cuff Shooter | October 14, 2018 at 8:50 pm |

    I don’t mind having waist suppression, or even side darts. I just don’t like in-your-face front darts (and they are especially egregious on boxy jackets–what was the point?) and square shoulders. Some of these new offerings look pretty tempting.

  5. While my gripe is usually with the shrunken jackets that washed over everything post-Thom Browne, I think it’s the right move for J. Press to slim down ever slightly. I’d visit their Cambridge location (may it rest in peace) occasionally to try on jackets, but they always had the effect of making me look like a high school senior wearing his father’s jacket to graduation. I think a slight dial back in lapels is a good move, and I hope to see a slightly slimmer arm and higher armhole, too.

    I did just wear the new grey trim fit Shaggy Dog I picked up to replace a moth-eaten RL shetland, and it’s fantastic. Looking forward to many more chilly New England days with it sitting in my closet.

  6. John Gresholme | October 15, 2018 at 9:33 am |

    Time they got back on track.
    Will I return?
    Probably not.
    They pushed me into the hands of proper tailors by their substandard offerings and now their shoddy overpriced RTW just looks like a bad dream.
    Ivy has moved on and it has moved away from its home in RTW.

  7. 3.25 inches is the current tie standard for all three classic brands, Hermès, Drake’s, and Charvet. Personally I think it looks great.

    However, what does not look great in my view is this current trend you’ve seen everywhere over the past 24 months of short overcoats (5/8!!!). Many people in this community take issue with the 3/4 length that has dominated the market since the aughts, but this new 5/8 length that hits at the upper thigh is just absurd. They’re not flattering and almost look as if the companies are just trying to cut costs by rolling back fabric.

  8. frederick johnson | October 15, 2018 at 12:11 pm |

    I popped into the New Haven store recently to see some of the new stuff and indeed the lapels are a shade narrower and swelled edges do not seem to be a standard any longer. The reversible raincoat is fantastic as is the tweed hunting jacket.

  9. Benjamin, how funny: I saw one of those short coats yesterday and found it quite handsome. Dreamt of it all night and may have to get it!

    Of course, I also own long heavy hitters, like my polo coat. Seems like one could find a purpose for both.

  10. Charlottesville | October 15, 2018 at 1:16 pm |

    It looks like J. Press is moving a great direction. 3.25 inches is the width of my older Brooks ties, including the one I’m wearing today, and I very much approve. Hopefully the suits and sport coats will continue to be undarted and will not be too short or too pinched in the waist, but the 3.25″ lapel sounds fine. The fall selections all look great, and I am very happy to hear that the tweed coats are popular, which indicates that there is a market for high-quality, traditional tailored clothing. Go Squeeze!

  11. I have been holding at 3.75 for my ties.
    I am wide and wider ties look good on me.
    As for their tailoring, after years of failing to
    measure up to the time when the Press family was in
    charge, they decide tweak in the direction of
    Slim fit. Not a good sign.

  12. Vern Trotter | October 15, 2018 at 3:13 pm |

    I like the 3.75 ties also. Likely I have over 100 at this width, maybe several dozen at 3.5, so I will continue my boycott of skinny ties. The shorter coats I feel are because Americans live in their cars, unless you live in New York. It is common sense that longer coats keep you warmer and more dry.

  13. Alan Flusser asserted in Clothes and the Man (1985), his most Ivy-friendly book, that 3 1/4 inches is the ideal tie width. I think he was right then, and is still right.

  14. Old School Tie | October 15, 2018 at 4:09 pm |

    Frankly, you would have to have some nerve wearing a fair few of the ties on sale on their website as accessed by the link in the article. Wearing ties one is not entitled to is not just tawdry but distasteful. 3.25 inches, 3.5 inches, even 3.75 inches, whatever the width it will be wrong if you have no business wearing that tie.

  15. @Christian

    I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Unlike many of the purists here, I think 3/4 or just a tad longer actually is a great length because it’s more versatile for modern life, and looks good with suits, separates, and/or denim alike. Even the classic Polo coats today are 10” to 12” inches shorter than they were 10 years ago, with the change occurring (I believe) when they added the chest flap pocket. That being said, I read that this current 5/8 trend is helpful for the shorter man, coincidentally 5”8 or less, to not be drowned out in appearance by a long jacket.

  16. The overcoat is so short that it almost looks as if he’s wearing the dreaded, 3-button Bar Mitzvah/West Wing suit jacket style from 1998-1999 over his modern outfit; rather than an actual dress coat.

    https://www.brooksbrothers.com/Basketweave-Wool-Supersoft-Topcoat/ML00592,default,pd.html

  17. Old School Tie:
    Relax.
    This has been endlessly litigated since Americans had the temerity to wear British regimental ties. Context matters, in the US these do not mean what they mean in the UK. What a tired complaint!

    It is a point of pride that one of my final acts working at J.Press was to lobby heavily in favor of slightly narrower lapels and ties. For every one crab that came in demanding a 3.5″ necktie or lapel, twenty otherwise Ivy-disposed younger men left with nothing because the clothing didn’t look heyday, or modern, but dated. As in late (bad) 80s/early 90s dated. I believe there are other factors that make for a truly hey-day jacket including a lower gorge, a slightly wider collar in line with the lapel (you’ll see this on vintage J.Press ads and catalogues), and a higher but spaced button stance, to say nothing of the shoulder which is its own adventure. That said, this is a much needed corrective to Press’ path, I’m quite confident most complainers are past or passing their consuming years rapidly. During both the heyday and the early 80s revival, between 3″ and 3.25″ was the accepted standard. Anything outside of that range is an aberration.

    In my mind, the entire appeal of American tailoring is its emphasis on vertical line as opposed to accentuating the v-shape of the torso. This change in lapel and tie widths is entirely in-line (ha!) with that goal.

  18. @Eric Twardzik

    I believe the issue when it comes to jacket length is derived from our yearning for versatility due to the trite golden rule we all grew up with about buying a navy suit first. Problem is, that rule doesn’t take jacket length into account when considering the very versatility it attempts to promote. For example, my tweed J.Press jacket looks great with dress pants, cords, khakis, lace-ups and a tie. But if you try to wear it open collar with fitted jeans and sleek loafers instead it has the same problem you get when guys attempt to wear a suit jacket as a separate. It’s just too long.

    While admittedly annoying on the wallet front, being 6”1, what I’ve found myself doing is sometimes buying the same jacket in both Regular AND Long sizes then wearing whichever one works better with the rest of my clothes that day. (I know that’s borderline obnoxious to even suggest, but I get the sense from your comments on this blog that you and I are on the same page here from a fashion perspective).

  19. I like a 3.25in tie width. My concern is if updating the cut(s) of tailored items also includes “trimming” of the cut. I have fought this battle with BB, and would hate to see JP go in the same direction. Not everyone wants to look like a Brooklyn hipster or Pee Wee Herman.

  20. Mitchell S. | October 15, 2018 at 5:32 pm |

    Alan Flusser wrote that the ideal lapel width is halfway through the length of the jacket. J. Press’s skinny lapels look out of proportion, juvenile, and like they tried to penny-pinch on fabric.

  21. Related to the discussion of topcoat length, Any suggestions where one can still find full-length wool topcoats for $600-$800 or under? The O’Connells ones ($1000+) are too pricey for my budget.

  22. @Benjamin
    I am the same height, I think we suffer from a similar malady: 6 foot 1 seems to be the very border of regular vs. tall. Last year I picked up a few sportcoats (42R) from RL that had seemed a perfect length when purchased, but with later wear I began to think were too short. Then I realized that I had been wearing them with jeans and chinos that were a lower rise, and once I invested in some jeans, chinos, and flannels that actually hit my waist their length looked more than sufficient. The way a trouser’s rise can make or break an odd jacket seems like an underappreciated topic in menswear to me.

  23. Old School Tie | October 16, 2018 at 4:35 am |

    DCG – yes, I appreciate that and understand the contextual differences completely. In the US it does not matter. Fine. Then why name the regiment? Why not just describe the ties as “green, navy and yellow regimental striped tie”? RL manage to produce excellent neckwear of this type without reproducing actual ties. Anyway, enjoy our ties, but take them off if you ever cross the pond – it is an offence to don regimental ties you are not entitled to as many a British Walter Mitty has discovered to their cost. None of this, of course, stops me from wearing any American stuff or indeed anything from the colonies as I see fit…

  24. “It is a point of pride that one of my final acts working at J.Press was to lobby heavily in favor of slightly narrower lapels and ties.”

  25. SE You bet! If 3.25” is traditional enough for Ben Silver, it’s traditional enough for everyone.

    Notice the gorge on the vintage ads and how it relates to the collar width? Tailor Caid has nailed this…very excited to see how it turns out…in a year…

  26. Btw SE I doubt my lobbying had any impact, Robert knows the right people to talk to and has personal relationships with a lot of the vendors. We do what we can.

  27. For what it’s worth, the move to narrower ties/lapels is in the precise OPPOSITE direction of where the underlying trend is headed — over the next few years, expect wide everything, in fact we’re already starting to see it. Of course, the fact that this is the ‘trend’ may be discrediting onto itself for many here, but it’s certainly a tad ironic; if J Press had stuck to its guns just a little while longer, it’s standard style would have come ‘back’ into fashion; now, as it chases the ‘modern’ look about 5-10 years too late, it will see it passing in the opposite direction.

  28. @Old School Tie
    I believe there is an unspoken rule that if one nation bails out another in two successful world wars, the residents of said “colonies” can wear whichever tie they please.

  29. @ DCG – Sorry, but I can’t agree with you that Ben Silver is traditional. They may have a contemporary take on prep and trad, but they go heavy with a pastel palette in their sport coats with a look that is a bit too studied and distinctive for my taste. I’ll use the word: inauthentic.

  30. @Jim – Might that greater color palette be chalked up to its Southern trad roots?

  31. Vern Trotter | October 16, 2018 at 3:42 pm |

    I wore skinny ties 50 plus years ago when I was skinny. Then of course for decades and decades I let Brooks Brothers, my former employer, decide such things as tie and lapel width and never gave it a second thought. Then every thing, of course, went to hell with Brooks and here we are. In disagreement over what was never discussed and never a part of Ivy style argot. I have still more clothes than I can ever wear but am sensitive about trouser bottom width.

    I still can testify as gospel truth, from personal experience many, many years ago, that we should not wear British regimental or club ties in the UK. Here in the US, do what you like. But in New York you will now and then get a challenge about it.

    Still wondering who is more overpriced, Ben Silver or Ralph?

  32. @Eric Twardzik – You may be absolutely right. I’m simply not qualified to make a call on Southern trad. And it’s by no means a knock on Ben Silver. They’re consistent and know exactly what they’re doing. I’ve been a customer for 20+ years, have visited the store but have pretty much just bought Crockett & Jones shoes, Chrysalis coats and lots of ties until they went to 3.25″.

    I’m just saying that to my New England sensibilities, the colors in their sport coats are too adventurous for my provincial taste.

  33. To be clear, 3.25” is NOT narrow. 2.75” or less is.

    3 to 3.25 is the standard for which fashion trends swing away from in either direction, RE: 2.5” 2011-2015 or 4”+ circa West Wing 1998-1999.

    I never wear my 3.5” Press tie, probably because that extra .25 creates an almost triangular look in the drape from the knot down that I just can’t stand.

  34. I wore a Ben Silver tie tonight to a meeting of menswear connoisseurs. It’s a motif tie with medieval-looking griffins. Not sure if Old School Tie would say I have the right to wear it, though a DNA test shows I’m 1/1024 griffin.

  35. @ Christian – I have that tie, too. Also have the rampant lion and Welsh dragon from Ben Silver along with similar patterns from Benson & Clegg and T.M.Lewin (from the 80s). Very versatile. What we called club ties in the 60s are now labeled motif or emblematic.

    @ Benjamin, I wear 3.5″ (max) ties BECAUSE of the ‘almost triangular look.’ They have shape and definition. For me, 3.25″ and less has no shape.

    “You’re right from your side. I’m right from mine….” – Bob Dylan, ‘One Too Many Mornings’

  36. 3.25” = width of 80s Brooks ties. It’s a moderate, yet flattering width that suits most body types. Unimpeachable in my view, and well within the bounds of classic style.

    Unless the tie is cut with a significant taper (certain European makers seem to do it well), 3.5” seems too wide to me. I used to have one or two, but the extra width made me feel like I was donning an Edwardian cravat and not a modern necktie.

    That said, I’ve seen plenty of (mostly older) gentlemen wear them well. De gustibus, I suppose.

  37. Looking forward to this change as ties are one of the few J. Press items I can reliably budget for, and 3.5″ was too wide for me. The tweeds I’ll buy on ebay in 20 years at a fraction of the cost when my current circa ’80s coats give out. If anyone is willing to part with them, that is.

  38. Increasingly there is not much too wrong with J. Press after their wilderness years, unlike Brooks Bros.
    All Press’ tailored clothes need to be altered unless you are very lucky. Whatever happened to good off the peg / ready to wear?
    Always factor in the cost of alterations when buying off the peg clothing. You may well find that made to measure or custom clothing makes sounder economic sense. Also you will have your choice of materials, cut and detailing.

  39. Is there a mailing list on which I may be placed? I am a great fan of bleeding madras & am rendered giddy when happening upon a true example… especially a piece that fits AND is wearable. I am a Cherry Creek/Colorado transplant from Ba’ Ha’ba’ and Cambridge; there’s no going back to the good ol’ days & real cars with a set of fins (Remember fins? PLEASE!)

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