We head into the long holiday weekend with a grab-bag of news items, starting with the New Yorker cartoon above, from an issue earlier this month. The cartoonist takes the thread of time and bends it, thereby bringing an Edwardian woman and a contemporary young man onto the same subway car. She concludes that his casual attire, slouchy posture, and engagement with his electronic device make him prime genetic material for marriage and child-rearing.
Next up, we cement that the theme of this week is the casualization of dress (by the way, I’m well aware of G. Bruce Boyer’s recent essay “Dress Up,” which we’ll explore in full later this summer).
The BBC wonders if we’re finally witnessing the end of the necktie, now that members of parliament are going sans cravat:
The tie used to be a powerful signifier of social status – the regimental tie, the club tie and, above all, the old school tie were all used as symbols of authority and belonging, and as a subtle way of excluding those who did not belong.
It is a tradition that stretches back to Roman times, when soldiers would wear different coloured neckwear to denote membership of different groups.
In today’s workplace power games, however, the man at the top is very often the one without a tie. The Silicon Valley chief executive look – chinos and casual shirt, no tie – is a way of letting your underlings know that you are a true meritocrat, and not hidebound by stuffy rules.
Meanwhile, Vice Magazine has a solid think-piece (spotted by Ivy Style reader “Old School,” of all people) on the various forces driving us all to dress down:
Broadly, it can be grouped into two categories: codes designed to uphold traditions of a bygone era, and codes designed to push people to defy the everyday. In other words, today’s dress codes are mostly employed for totally opposite ends—even when their means can be very similar.
Both types largely impact men—perhaps because their wardrobe possibilities are less lawless and the daily results are usually less daring. A recent applicant at the 100-year-old, male-only Racquet And Tennis Club on Park Avenue, for example, described to me what he wore to one of ten admissions interviews: “A Ralph Lauren suit, which I fucking hate. It’s purposefully oversized. The jacket is supposed to go down to the cuticles of your thumb. And I had to buy tortoiseshell glasses and get a haircut. I’m like, what if I don’t want to do this? My dad’s like, well, you then won’t get in. And that would be horrendously embarrassing.” Now accepted—”which I absolutely wanted; I love squash and they have all these anachronistic things, like an oyster room with a door where you call the oyster men”—the member complies happily with the code: suits and ties in the lounge (turtlenecks are allowed on weekends), all-white to play racquets, tennis, or squash (black shorts are allowed in the aerobics room), and nothing in the swimming pool. (The Colony Club, an all-female social and athletic club which caters to a similar crowd, requires “suits, dresses, skirts, tailored slacks, blouses and sweaters” for its members.)
And finally, Billionaire.com reports that Jackie Kennedy’s childhood home is for sale, and you don’t even need to be a billionaire to afford it. — CC