Gentlemen Of The Press

There are several bits of J. Press news to report. First off, a reporter — or what was once called, possibly ironically, a gentleman of the press — for the New York Times visited Squeeze’s new New York store. For those who think “The Gray Lady” is an old hag, there’s plenty to quibble about, including the term “preppy drag” in the headline. There’s also the self-indulgent tone of the piece, though that is likely by design (it’s part of a regular column called The Critical Shopper). Of course the most odious is the use of the word “aesthetic” in place of, say, the more direct monosyllable “look.” Allow me to explain why I find the term so bloviatingly pretentious. There’s something about it that causes compulsive usage in certain people, like a kind of Tourette’s Syndrome in which profanities are not spewed out, but faux genteelisms. I once had a colleague – then a graphic designer in her twenties — who used the term regularly in her speech, by which I mean not just daily, but every third sentence.

Then there’s the line that several layers of editors allowed to pass: “Old money, which is to say the generation that considered the East 50s posh.”

But according to store associates, the story brought in quite a bit of traffic, which is a very good thing indeed.

And speaking of store associates, on Friday I had a long chat with Tom Davis. Many of you will recognize the octogenarian — or at least his name — as the genial gentleman who worked at Brooks Brothers’ flagship for just 12 months shy of 50 years, where he ran the made-to-measure shirt program. He’s in the same role at J. Press part-time, and expect the long-overdue interview with the legend to appear here soon.

Finally, here’s a head’s up for those of you in the tri-state area, or who’d like to be on January 24. J. Press will be having a cocktail party event featuring a talk by Richard Press. Stay tuned for official announcement. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

41 Comments on "Gentlemen Of The Press"

  1. Tristate Trad | January 14, 2018 at 3:52 pm |

    Cocktail party sounds great – keep us posted.

  2. Yes, do keep us posted on the J.Press talk. It would be fun for us locals to attend.

    That’s interesting that you bristle at the word, “aesthetic.” I use “aesthetic” in regular speech at work. It may just be more common in the design world just to avoid saying “this look” or “that look.”

  3. Read the article. Unfortunately, it was not about J Press.
    I was about the author’s psycho-social- sociological evolution
    with reference to what the store represented to the author.
    Instead we got a “novel”. Some of us who shopped there over
    the decades and had been disappointed with their offerings
    in recent years, eg square shoulder tweeds that felt like cardboard,
    have been looking forward to finding out whether Press’s latest
    incarnation is closer to the “Old Press”.

  4. Curious to know why the Times reporter failed to mention that the store is located in the Yale Club?

  5. What did anyone expect from the failing Jeff Bezos Amazon New York Times?

  6. @More Right – note: not so right, Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post not The New York Times.

  7. Although generally positive and favorable to the new J Press store, it is a disappointing effort by an author experienced in writing such reviews. Especially disappointing is all the mention of the college clubs on 44th Street without reporting that the new store actually is in the Yale Club, a perfect location, in the space where The Shirt Store and the Shoemaker used to be located. Looking forward to visiting the store next time I am in NYC.

  8. whiskeydent | January 14, 2018 at 7:37 pm |

    You’d be surprised by what a boomlet of sensible criticism can do. They might not run one letter, but it could lead to a make-up.

    So look over the NYT rules for word length and write a short, snappy letters to the editor (by email of course). Copying them to the editor of the section can help too.

    Don’t attack the paper in general or the writer personally (idiot) or professionally (hack). Criticize what he wrote. Check your grammar, spelling and punctuation. No Trumpese.

    So go put the Squeeze on the NYT.

  9. whiskeydent | January 14, 2018 at 7:44 pm |

    Should be letter instead of letters and it instead of them.

  10. @JWK They are so indistinguishable that it almost doesn’t matter.

  11. Not as many layers of editors as once there were.

  12. Written by the trendy, for the trendy. The man admits he knows very little about J. Press or tailored clothing, and apparently feels intimidated by those who wear it.

    We can, at least, hope that some (like him) who need to be told what to wear will hit the store and find out that’s what they’ve really been looking for.

  13. Click on the author’s bio and scratch your heads, gentlemen. As he writes, back in college, he walked by the Mt. Auburn Street store a couple of times a week: “Born in Brooklyn in 1975, Mr. Caramanica received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard and did PhD work at University of London, Goldsmiths College.”

  14. Thanks for the link. A welcome real world break from the groupthink of internet style blogs.

  15. What about this howler: “It would take years before I fully understood the panache on offer at J. Press, which began on Yale’s campus more than a century ago, and became a default outfitter of the northeastern elite.”

  16. Groupthink? Certainly not here, which is well known for rabid disagreements.


    Yes, “aesthetic” would appear to be an everyday term, possibly compulsive, by people who work in design and those around them. See Paul Fussell’s remarks on syllable inflation in “Class.”

  17. Sartre! Welcome back!!

  18. I was so outraged-actually dumbfounded- well outraged and dumbfounded that I did not buy the Sunday crossword edition. I stopped looking for something to read in it long ago.
    This article does a good job of representing why the NYT is unreadable. It seeks to express a very narrow self-consciously lefty hip viewpoint. Here old NY is elitist. Their Harvard educated writer is so unobservant he missed the iconic store at school altogether.
    I do wish they would announce events further in advance. I’d love to plan a trip that included a Richard Press conference.

  19. “I tried on a cheeky pair of wool pants in a black and white check ($330), but the legs were 1990s wide”.

    So a real classic pants,not one of those skinny things.

  20. He focuses on the aristocratic feel of the offerings and how that differs from his worldview, then at the end admits that the clothes at JPress are more affordable than what he prefers to wear.

    It seems to me that many people who keep up with fashion trends are just as exclusionary as traditionalists, if not more so.

  21. Thomas Mukherjee | January 15, 2018 at 11:47 am |

    What’s the hidden message behind the ‘prole gap’collar on the model. It’s so bad it almost looks Photoshopped.

  22. Greg Summers | January 15, 2018 at 12:02 pm |

    That model not only has a prole gap,but he needs a haircut and a shave.
    The photo at the top of the NYT article of the shop, was, however, a sight for sore eyes.

  23. If I may quibble with your complaint: You identify a self-indulgent tone that is communicated by the authors use of polysyllabics such as “aesthetic” instead of “look.” Permit me, in a spirit of friendly critique, to note in your own vocabuarly a similar self-indulgence (one to which I do not object, and to which I urge you not to object in others):

    “odious” (worst?)
    “bloviatingly-pretentious” (pretentious?)
    “compulsive usage” (over usage?)

    And that is just a selection of your words (and potential plain-speech alternatives) from the area around your critique of self-indulgence!


  24. William F Buckley had a sprawling, promiscuous vocabulary at his command. On the other hand, Strunk & White make good points about the preference for Saxon monosyllables over words that come to us from Latin.

    I suppose “aesthetic” is a pet peeve. Such as the use of “decadent” for hedonistic — or high-calorie.

    It could also be a case of do as I say, not as I do.

  25. G. Bruce Boyer | January 15, 2018 at 12:34 pm |

    I’m afraid I found the article rather lacking as well, mainly because it was more about Mr. Caramanica than about his subject. I’m really not interested in Mr. Caramanica’s wardrobe. But that’s The NY Times for you these days. It seems to be more interested in the mildly frivolous musings than in balanced, informed reporting, which I suppose is the sort of psychodrama that suits the spirit of our age.

  26. Minimalist Trad | January 15, 2018 at 12:38 pm |

    It is indeed a gap, but when first described by Paul Fussell in “Class”, it was called a “prole gape”, or more specifically, a “prole jacket-gape”.

    Illustration from the book:

  27. A bit off topic: Back in the day, the JPress and others had traveling road shows to get custom orders out in the hinterlands that lacked stores that sold Ivy. I’d assume the rise of Main Street Ivy stores outside the Northeast put an end to their success, but I could be wrong about that.

    But now that the Main Street stores are disappearing and BB is a ghost, could the road shows work once again? Especially if they engaged a certain blog devoted to an Ivy aesthetic (sorry, I had to) to gather potential customers? Those customers would be encouraged to bring friends interested in the Look. Maybe limit the events to an hour and hold them at semi-upscale bars during happy hour. Eliminate as much fuss as possible.

    Press could bring swatches of the current offerings and coats/pants in the standard sizes. Guys could try them on and order something. The tailoring (cuffs, sleeves, etc.) could be done by the customer’s choice in local tailors, but the work would be based on guidance provided by the Press sales rep.

    What do y’all think?

  28. Bit of a gape indeed, the model (who is a genuinely great guy that also runs his own menswear shop!) was posing with one hand in the pocket and one on the counter, most other shots he fit quite nicely into the sample size.

    Always great meeting readers in the store, come by and say hello!

  29. whiskeydent: STAY TUNED!!! : )

  30. CC,
    What do you think about J. Press’s use of “neckwear” for what Brooks Brothers (and The Andover Shop) call “ties”

  31. @Caramio What do you think of O’Connell’s use of “fine neckwear” for what J. Press calls “neckwear”?

  32. What do we expect from the failing Old York Times? The article was clearly written by a Millennial suffering from the prevailing liberal elite zeitgeist that looks upon WASP culture as a cruel hegemony and tantamount to slavery in America.
    These “costumes” are the product of a bunch of WASP poseurs that was revived in the 80’s by the likes of Ralph Lauren and now has seen a further renaissance as a result of the rise of Donal Trump. It’s just traditional clothing, get over it.

  33. After all these comments, I expected the article itself to be much worse: yes, it’s a bit snarky, but not awful; the author explained that he comes from a different place, style-wise, and is even a bit self-deprecating in places.

  34. #Cara Mia

    Better than “suiting” for suits or “blazer” for sportcoat, two prominent zits on the menswear visage.

    Crap, it’s starting…. can’t… control…. word usage…

  35. whiskeydent | January 15, 2018 at 5:12 pm |

    Now, now Christian. Too much self-excoriation for supercilious word usage could lead to omphaloscepsis.

  36. @Paul

    I was willing to cut the guy some slack until I saw that he was 42 years old. I’m not expecting him to break out in TNSIL fever or anything, but he’s old enough to have learned something more than hoodies and kool kid kaps before he accepts the moniker of “Critical Shopper”

  37. Rene Lebenthal | January 16, 2018 at 9:20 am |

    you gentlemen in NYC are all so lucky to have a JPress store Close to you.
    I’d love to have one nearby and drop in on the 24th for a drink or…why not two…

  38. @NCJack: “TNSIL fever”?

  39. @NCJack: “TNSIL fever”?

    I, too, am now looking for excuses to be in the city next week to share a dram with you all and listen to Richard speak.

  40. @CC, Caramio, and LED,
    Some minimalists would even object to “neckties” for “ties”, I suppose

  41. Anyone who wants to see how I use language in the free realm of fiction should get “The Disengage.” Tons of Latin-derived words there!

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