Ivy Notes S2 E10

The Wall Street Journal is paywalled, so all of the following are interesting, but paywalled. And thank you to The Amazing Tom for sending these in. (Mitchell also sent in the first article, not not first – it’s not a race, just trying to give credit where credit is due.

First, there’s a pretty good article on what to wear when you are expecting a recession. From this, can we assume that the Wall Street Journal is expecting a recession? The article talks about the return to the standards (it calls out white shirts, etc.). I think perhaps it is a tad more stoic than the article makes it. Perhaps we return to the classics in times of less abundance because they work better, and are actually more versatile. That we turn to them, by the way, proves they are classic.

Then there’s a discussion of how much you should be spending on your clothes. Their approach is to step away from flashy brands and then they go through the market value of shirts, pants, etc. Not to be all disagreeable, but this is a mighty relative thing. And an individual thing. I never got worried when I heard Michael Jordan lost a million on a putt, he has many more where that came from, right?

My friend James (a reader here I met who lives near me) sent me a hilarious note about the way politicians are dressing. I wish I could reprint it, but I don’t do politics. But it was hilarious. Then The Amazing Tom sent me this article from GQ about the state of congressional dress. I don’t do politics but I do do articles. This one is not paywalled (you have to create an account but it is free) – and is also pretty funny.

Finally, there is this article in the Times about John Fetterman getting a new suit to be sworn in because he made a big deal out of saying he only had one suit.


Without any mention of affiliation. ANY politician that purposely denegrates the act of dressing for the office (the position not the building) is (1) not that saavy ’cause now you have to work with everyone who is dressed up and (2) is showing an odd disdain for the history that got us here and (3) doesn’t understand wearing suits.

Ok, remember. This is the “Civil corner of the internet.” Go.

CIVIL corner of the internet…

26 Comments on "Ivy Notes S2 E10"

  1. I agree with the Journal that we are definitely heading towards a major recession, if not Jimmy Carter, 70s style “stagflation”. Classic menswear, including patchwork design is poised to make a major comeback in menswear.

    Also, don’t forget, John, that it was Mitchell who first coined the phrase: “Ivy Style is the most civil corner of the internet”.

    Sadly, I wish that I had trademarked that phrase, since I could use some extra royalty income to buy the $200 OCBD that The Wall Street Journal featured in their paywalled article.

  2. whiskeydent | January 17, 2023 at 2:57 pm |

    I have worked with politicians for 36 years and believe that most of them think that some sector of the electorate (usually mythical but real to them nonetheless) might penalize them for personal expressions of style while no one will fault them for not standing out.

    Don’t color outside the lines! Dull it down!

    They make these kinds of political calculations in every single thing they do on every single day. That’s what makes them politicians.

    • That comes from “Dress for Success”, which seems to be aimed at the high school grad looking for his first gig. That book essentially eliminated anything except the ugly blue interview suit. Yes, I read the book while bored out of my mind, in the most austere conditions.

      All things considered, Fettermans new suit looks pretty good, although it is customary to fasten the top button, at least for photos.

  3. Link to the GQ article is wrong, links to the WSJ article. Should (probably?) be this one instead: https://www.gq.com/story/house-speaker-vote-menswear-report.

    Without reading the NYT article or getting into partisan politics, Fetterman’s voters didn’t elect him because he looked or acted like an average politician. Makes sense that he’d feel uncomfortable dressing like one, too (or, at least telegraph a much!)

  4. Trevor Jones | January 17, 2023 at 6:05 pm |

    Per the first two articles, Bruce Boyer mentioned that his dad used to say: “I’m too poor to own cheap shoes.”

  5. SteveSiffing | January 18, 2023 at 2:11 am |

    Paywalls are almost enough to turn a Republican into a socialist.
    If I had a subscription to the WSJ, I’d copt-paste it and share it with readers of this site.

    • And violate WSJ’s copyright? It’s their story, not yours.

      • Ken Goodwin | January 18, 2023 at 9:36 pm |

        For some of us, sharing with visitors to this site is far more important than WSJ’s “copyright”.

        • whiskeydent | January 19, 2023 at 4:16 pm |

          You put this for-profit site at risk when you post copyrighted material. You ought to check out the site below and learn the potential financial and even criminal consequences of infringing on someone’s or some entity’s copyright.

          Will WSJ come down on Ivy Style? Probably not. However, you should also know that a publication must aggressively defend its copyright against infringement. Failure to do so could lead to forfeiture of the copyright. Good day!

      • Keith Langford | January 22, 2023 at 8:44 am |

        FLORENCE, Italy—At the semiannual trade show here that kicks off men’s fashion week, buyers, editors and orange-fedora-wearing hangers-on paced suit-filled booths on Tuesday as 4,000 miles away, the World Bank slashed economic forecasts.Global growth, the bank predicted from Washington, D.C., will slow to 1.7% in 2023, down from an estimate of 3% growth in June—leaving only the narrowest margin to avoid recession.Yet, at the 103rd edition of Pitti Uomo, the world’s largest men’s fashion trade show, spirits remained as elevated as a pair of high-waisted trousers.“Luxury does not get hurt” in a bleak economic climate, said Victor de Leon, the creative director of Gatsby, a high-end golf apparel brand. Standing against a backdrop of cashmere sweaters and plaid overcoats, Mr. de Leon, previously the managing director of North American made-to-measure for cashmere kingpin Brunello Cucinelli (a favorite of tech lord one-percenters like Jeff Bezos), confidently recollected how spending on fine suits and knits remained steady during previous economic downturns.Newsletter Sign-upWSJ. MagazineA weekly roundup of fashion, entertainment, design, food, travel, art, architecture and more. SubscribeClothing “is not an essential, but it’s a very easy escape route to pleasure when things are bad,” said Mr. de Leon.At root is the salesman’s belief—a belief shared by others at the fair—that while their finances may shrink, deep-pocketed luxury clients will still have plenty of capital to splash around on alpaca-wool cardigans and suede loafers. “On the high end, maybe [customers] will not buy the new house, maybe they will not buy the new plane, maybe they will not buy the new yacht, but they’ll still buy those $50,000, $100,000, $150,000 in clothing,” said Niccolò Ricci, the CEO of Stefano Ricci.  Shopping in the shadow of a possible recession has consumers embracing more trend-proof items.Photo: Getty ImagesThis unapologetically elite Florentine brand is what Richie Rich would wear if he hit it big in bitcoin. The company sells suede and crocodile vests at more than $30,000 alongside $1,350 wool and silk sweaters. And it sells plenty of them. Despite the war in Ukraine, sanctions on Russia (previously one of Stefano Ricci’s fourth-largest markets) and lockdowns in China, last year was the brand’s most profitable ever, according to Mr. Ricci.The fashion executive said he had little reason to believe this year would be any different. “We’re going to be conservative, but I think people are still going to spend that money,” he said, noting that sales thus far in 2023 were outpacing the same period from last year. There were a few people willing to raise an eyebrow amid all this silk-polos-forever sunshine.“You talk to different people and depending on their point of view, either everything’s going to shit or everything is going gangbusters,” said Josh Peskowitz, a veteran buyer and fashion director in the department-store world who now is working with Sannino, an Italian outerwear manufacturer. As he showed off a tidy collection of cashmere and waterproof wool coats, Mr. Peskowitz acknowledged that budget-conscious, middle-class consumers are likely to more cautiously consider their bank accounts before shelling out on a new coat this year. “As we’ve known for a while, it’s the midtier that’s really going to get squeezed,” he said. Mr. Peskowitz ventured that it’s not just those high-end brands that are safe from economic turbulence, but affordable mass-market labels as well, pointing specifically to the almost comically low-cost Chinese megabrand Shein, valued at more than $100 billion by selling $6 jeans and $3 T-shirts.Advertisement – Scroll to Continue Gitman Vintage, an American shirt manufacturer with a penchant for puckish prints, is one of those brands in that shrinking middle of the men’s market. This year, due to the rising cost of everything from manufacturing to employee healthcare to bolts of fabric, the brand had to raise its prices to around $215 per shirt, roughly a 12 to 16% increase.Increasing manufacturing costs are what brands most wish they could shake. The skyrocketing cost of leather production, in particular, was a topic of stress among many shoe and jacket companies at the fair, as they considered how to pass that uptick on to consumers. Pitti Uomo, held in Florence, kicks off men’s fashion week.Photo: Getty ImagesAs for Gitman Vintage, president Chris Olberding noted that so far, buyers haven’t balked at higher prices. “They’re going to see it across the board, right?” said Mr. Olberding, standing in a booth ringed by a rainbow of long-sleeve button-ups. “Everything’s more expensive.” Indeed, when a customer is used to paying more for a cup of coffee or a vacation, dropping more for a dress shirt than they did three years ago might just seem natural.Shopping in the shadow of a possible recession has consumers embracing those items that are more trend-proof, or at least, wearing opulent items in a less ostentatious way. “People are refreshing those things that they know they can always wear,” said Mr. Olberding, noting that boutiques have told him Gitman Vintage’s most elemental item, a white cotton shirt, is tough to keep in stock.A representative for French label Paraboot, which has been making shoes for 115 years, noted that its roughly $450 “Michael” shoe—an understated, two-lace leather lace-up commonly sold in black and brown—was so popular that it had to turn stores away from ordering them. And at Brunello Cucinelli, which occupied a grandly proportioned booth in the fair’s main pavilion, shearling jackets were one of the brand’s broadest categories this season—aiming squarely at consumers who want to feel luxurious on the inside, without flaunting it on the out.

  6. “They make these kinds of political calculations in every single thing they do on every single day. That’s what makes them politicians.”

    Well, this is the stuff of democracy– what, to be frank, Adams and Jefferson (and Hamilton…and Franklin, to a lesser degree) feared about democracy*: when “the people (citizens) rule” by voting, politicians are transformed into whatever the people (citizens) want/will them to be.

    This isn’t political per se, and it’s thoroughly bipartisan: all politicians do this, more or less. Democracy fuels the engine that is populism.

    Back to clothing: I’m glad he wore a suit, shirt and necktie for the swearing-in, as much as I dislike everything about all of it. I’ll try to be a civil as possible as I point out that it’s a very privileged trust funder who’s appealing to the citizenry’s sentiments as he eschews (mocks) suits. If you ascend high enough, the people who manage the funds in his trust have almost certainly worn suits. Probably nice suits.

    *“Democracy… while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” — John Adams

    “The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations.” – Thomas Jefferson

    I feel sure T.J. never said or wrote, “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51 percent of the people may take away the rights of the other 49.” I feel equally sure he thought this.

    • whiskeydent | January 18, 2023 at 2:26 pm |

      Humans invented democracy, so it is bound to be imperfect. That said, I prefer to be ruled by a mob than by a mobster.

  7. Charlottesville | January 18, 2023 at 1:06 pm |

    Mitchell — I hope we aren’t bound for another Great Recession, but if it must come, a return to classic menswear would at least be a silver lining.

    Hardbopper – Quite right. Politicians generally dress poorly. Even when I lived in Washington full time in the late 80s and 90s, the senior staffers often looked better than their bosses, especially the committee staff. Still, a drab suit and red or blue tie is preferable to the “Herb Tarlek” looks that too many congressmen sported in the 80s.

    Malloy’s Dress For Success, which I read when I was just getting out of school, was a font of bland, play-it-safe rules. It was too hidebound (even Brooks Brothers would pair a striped shirt and patterned tie), but considering that it originally came out in the peacock-and-disco era of the 70s, perhaps it was good advice for the average guy starting out at the time. For that matter, judging by the Pitti Uomo photos in the first article above, maybe Malloy’s advice is still timely after all. And, to be honest, the monochromatic suit-and-tie combinations that Cary Grant often wore with a white shirt certainly do look elegant, but then he was Cary Grant.

  8. MacMcConnell | January 18, 2023 at 2:47 pm |

    Pure democracy is a mob.

    Also, many politicians thirty years ago and longer were told what to wear by TV news producers, what looks good on studio cameras. In the mid=eighties I was interviewed by a TV producer days prior to a live sit down political interview. She told me what to wear, a charcoal grey suit, white shirt, solid or striped tie. I asked, “So what I’m wearing sucks?” She said, “For the cameras yes.” She continued, “You look like a million dollars, but the cameras won’t see it that way.” For the record I was wearing a doeskin navy blazer, blue university striped ocbd, Polo pasley tie and white linen pocket square.

    I think camera optic must have improved, Tucker’s and Hume’s clothing looks great on camera.

  9. James Borkowski | January 18, 2023 at 8:04 pm |

    I am the “James” who sent John the note about the new Congressional Chic.
    I will not get into partisan politics here, but, suffice it to say, notice how so many members of Congress, of both parties, wear sneaker/shoes, with suits. I will not name names, but both the new Speaker, and many Democrats, sport these faux dress shoes.
    As John wrote in a recent post, one dresses formally because “This is important, and I respect you”. There is no service more important, and deserving of respect, than legislating on the floor of the United States Congress.
    Glorified sneakers, worn with a suit, cheapen the office.
    Please, buy one good pair of Aldens. Just as comfortable, and send the right message.

    • Charlottesville | January 19, 2023 at 11:44 am |

      James – So very true. The “dress” sneaker is an utter abomination, neither fish nor fowl, but merely foul. I see them everywhere, worn with coat and tie. I suppose allowances can be made for doctors or other professionals who are on their feet all day, but not congressmen, lawyers, judges, etc. It was the same in the 90s, if not nearly so widespread, with the occasional lawyer or Hill staffer turning up for a meeting in black leather coaching shoes. The look did not make a good impression then either.

  10. @ S.E.

    just an addition of thought:

    “If democracy is ruled by politics, and politics are driven by economics, and economics are controlled by money, and money is issued and controlled by privately owned banks, is there anything such as a democracy?”


  11. “Humans invented democracy, so it is bound to be imperfect. That said, I prefer to be ruled by a mob than by a mobster.”

    Not much of a difference, really. Jesus, for instance, wasn’t crucified by powerful aristocrats, patricians, governors– or kings. Neither Pilate nor the Sanhedrin can be held responsible. It was “the crowds of people” who shouted “Crucify!” The irony of democracy is that the vast majority of citizens in every known democracy have proven themselves to be thoroughly undemocratic:


    And, lest we forget, it’s “the people” who imagine, fashion, form, create, exalt, and honor dictators and tyrants. As A.N. Wilson and many others have recalled, you-know-who was doing little (nothing) more than cultivating the prejudices, bigotry, fears, and — fascist tendencies and habits of mind/spirit already present (alive and well) in-and-among “the people.” Had he received admission to art school, another power-seeking populist would have filled with that hideous void, nurtured entirely by the will of the frustrated masses.



    Democracy is extremely and deeply flawed. The Founders knew it; we’re still learning. Certainly it offers no supposed protection from mobsters.

  12. The mention of doeskin blazers (thanks, MacMcConnell) prompts me to recall that one of the truly old guard weavers is still making the GOOD stuff– they real deal:


    Southwick used Hainsworth cloth.

  13. Coincidentally, an undergrad stopped me in the library on Tuesday to mention that she appreciates it when professors dress to show respect and seriousness. As opposed to the “hoodies, jeans, and work boots” (her words), or some derivation thereof, worn by so many of my colleagues. . . It’s Michigan after all. Clearly, there are a few Gen-Z’ers who get it.

    Home today, but I might just wear a bow tie for tomorrow’s on-campus F2F retreat before we head north for an extended cross-country skiing weekend.

    Kind Regards,


  14. The mention of doeskin prompted not only Southwick’s use of Hainsworth, but also Ralph Lauren’s RRL line.

    Their midnight serge for blazers is legendary.

  15. Press is offering a doeskin blazer this year. It’s too shiny for my taste. I have one in flannel which is better imo, but it picks up lint like a magnet. I would like to get a slightly more casual, indoor/outdoor jacket made up in a lighter weight melton with some Anglo-American features, like maybe a throat-latch. I wouldn’t know where to source the cloth or the tailoring.

    We hear a lot about democracy, but I am intrigued by the idea of a constitutional republic. That ship has sailed.

    My taste in style as well as in governance seems to be out of fashion.

  16. His new suit looks better than most, I’d say. It appears to be a grayish blue, not neon blue, not shiny and not skinny.

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