In what probably hasn’t been done in half a century, GQ has endorsed the sack suit — sort of.
The March issue features a one-page primer on the Ivy League Look (more or less), though it avoids the term “Ivy” and instead opts for “sack suit.” The Ralph Lauren suit pictured appears to be dartless, but certainly doesn’t fit like a sack, which is good or bad depending on your point of view.
First off, let’s give three cheers for our traditional homegrown style, especially in a magazine whose first 20 pages are devoted to glossy ads by European luxury brands. And remember that the trendier this stuff gets, the more variety we can expect to see, however temporarily. The best thing about the piece is the endorsement of natural shoulders, something we’d all like to see more of.
Now for the nitpicks.
First off, considering the piece points out what differentiates American suits from English, you’d think they’d feature a rep tie with the stripes going in the American direction, not British.
The piece also extols the virtues of the 3/2 roll button stance, with an arrow pointing to the “hidden third button.” Yeah, so hidden it’s not there: The suit sure looks to be a two-button. Of course, two-button is what JFK preferred, not a 3/2 sack suit, which is what they’re talking about. Things are all a bit muddled.
It also credits tailors — and now designers — with the practice of rolling over the top button, whereas the practice more likely derived naturally from regular guys wearing clothes. Marc Chevalier, a vintage clothing collector and amateur historian who wrote a piece for us on one of his Langrock jackets, theorizes that students in the ’20s, probably at Princeton, first began rolling back the lapels on their three-button jackets in order to show off more of their neckties. It was only later that tailors and manufacturers began making jackets that way.
Another curiosity is the encouraging of trouser cuffs at two-and-a-half inches. Clothing is all about proportion, and evidently your cuffs should be the same width as your necktie.
Which leads us to the final observation, that the piece seems to equate narrowness of tie, lapel and collar with all-American style. Then again, the headline is “Wear It Like a Kennedy,” not “Wear It Like Carter.” — CC