Light Motif: WSJ On The Witty Embroidery Trend


There was a time when you could only get critter-embroidered clothing from a small number of clothiers, such as Chipp. The bespoke blazer above, with embroidered golf clubs, was made in 1971 and is currently for sale on Etsy for $500.

But today, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, critter litter is a rising fashion trend infesting every item in a man’s wardrobe. Current fashion designers “… have traveled sartorially to Greenwich, Long Island or Nantucket, where tiny embroidered anchors, whales, lobsters and the like have decorated men’s shirts and shorts for generations.”

The article continues:

Trousers featuring a more outlandish, all-over embroidery appeared as part of post-WWII East Coast country club culture—which took the symbols of leisure-class exclusivity and multiplied them for a distinctly American notion of casual wear. The martini glasses and whales embroidered on Nantucket reds and seersucker shorts followed.

Check out the movie “Barry Lyndon,” in which Ryan O’Neal wears a pair of emblazoned breeches — with what, I can’t tell — that might have been the 18th-century precursor to the critter pant. — CC

14 Comments on "Light Motif: WSJ On The Witty Embroidery Trend"

  1. I think I’ve seen that coat above on Etsy for about a year now, if only it was in my size you would never have seen it here.

    Anyway, if people are interested in a bespoke critter pants I recommend going to they are pretty great and supply companies abroad and locally (including J Press). Speak with Andi and she will help you out.

  2. A solid tie would be my call with this distraction, er, jacket.

  3. M Arthur
    No, I’m thinking a fire engine red ground club tie with golf balls. 😉

  4. That is a seriously ugly jacket.

    Yeah, yeah, I know, all you East Coasters think it’s the bee’s knees. Please, be my guest—wear it, live it, love it. That’s fine by me.

    Doesn’t change my opinion of it.

  5. In my humble opinion crittered clothing looks very cool on older men, primarily cords.

  6. I don’t mind critters or skiers or golf clubs but the skull & bones are tacky and stupid. I get the “club” at Yale but I highly doubt this is the reason for this to be embroidered on pants, ties etc. I feel like a lot of the non traditional brands that provide embroidered clothes (Gap, Target) automatically go to the skull & bones which I think is a dead giveaway.

  7. Etymologue | March 20, 2013 at 8:26 pm |

    Which category does this jacket fall into: Ivy, Preppy, or Trad?

    I would argue that according to Japanese usage, it’s Trad because the Japanese seem to be unable to distinguish between Ivy and Preppy. According to the usage of this blog, it’s Ivy, because the policy of the blog seems to be to include purist (Ivy) and iconoclastic/adolescent (Preppy) under the general heading “Ivy”. According to some orthodox Ivy followers, it’s most certainly Preppy.

  8. East Coaster | March 20, 2013 at 10:16 pm |


    Re: “…I know, all you East Coasters think it’s the bee’s knees.”

    If not the cat’s pajamas.

  9. Barnabas Smedley | March 21, 2013 at 3:44 am |

    Rene Lacoste gets credit for introducing the crocodile-embroidered tennis shirt in 1927. His sport shirt had a soft, knit collar that could be turned up to prevent sunburn.

    The Wall Street Journal published an article recently on a trend from the 80’s making a strong comeback: the popped collar:

  10. This is one fugly looking item!

  11. My fear would be entering the Clubhouse and all my buddies hollering FORE!!!

  12. Of course, I love that jacket. But if he gets $500 for it, I’ll never wear anything but Dickie’s and white t-shirts again.

  13. It was ironic that yesterday evening, as I left work, I saw a young man on Pearl St., just off Fulton, in downtown Brooklyn, wearing trousers that would have quite closely matched the coat in the post above. In all other respects the embroidered-trousers-wearing young man’s attire was typical of the young men one mostly sees around the Fulton Mall area, so he cut an interesting ghetto-preppie hybrid figure.

  14. @Cameron
    As if preppy weren’t bad enough, we now have ghetto-preppy hybrid?

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