The idea of a handsome young man with an Ivy uniform entering public life when they have other, more lucrative options. Remind you of anyone?
I met James Darley at a J. Press event. I mean, I knew who he was before that. He had posted some really good images in the Facebook Group, hereafter referred to as “FBG” (sorry, lawyer joke), particularly about his love of tweed. There is not a lot of flotsam in the FB group (although yesterday was a day – geez) so to stand out you really have to know what you are doing. Darley does.
He walked up to me and introduced himself, eye to eye with a very good handshake. You know when you meet an Ivy person with a few decades on them and they have that “raised right” air about themselves where their word is their word, jokes are funny nonsense isn’t, and they wear the clothes rather than the clothes wearing them? That was (is) James Darley. Here.
Darley is… exactly what I am talking about. Ivy values that are culturally relevant and contemporary.
We talked a lot, because he is interesting. Typically American, I asked him what he did.
Born in New York City, but raised in New Jersey, I am the Chief of Staff to a New Jersey State Assemblyman. It is a position that involves being out of the limelight and one that is not typically well understood by those outside of politics. So much so that I’ve had to develop an elevator speech as I’m constantly asked “What’s a Chief of Staff?”On a basic level, it is being a manager and overseeing the Assemblyman’s other staff members. More prominently, the position is all about policy – ideating, directing, and developing his policies and transforming them into legislation. With stakeholders, lobbyists, and other elected representatives all looking to have their causes advanced, it is my responsibility to act as his gatekeeper. It entails deciding what is a true priority and what is not. Once legislation is introduced, it becomes all about messaging and pinpointing potential allies in Trenton to move the bill forward. It’s a position where relationship-building and emotional intelligence is key and one that is extremely fulfilling because the end goal is to create a stronger and fairer State for all.
I hope Ivy-Style readers don’t hold it against me, but I have never had the chance to watch the West Wing. My boss does since it is his favorite TV show.
For high school, I attended St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, New Jersey. After Prep, I went to the College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale, New York, where I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in History and a minor in political science. Graduating during the height of the Great Recession, I opted to go to graduate school rather than face the bleak prospect of finding a full-time job. Two years later, in 2011, I graduated from McGill University with a Master of Arts in History with a focus on international relations and diplomatic history.
In a world where suits have moved slimmer and shorter, I find that my made-to-measure LS Men’s Clothing Southwick sack suits create a bridge with previous generations and garners compliments from my peers. For individuals over the age of 60, my sense of style seems familiar and whether warranted or not has given me the reputation of being organized, put together, and professional.From my peers, I am constantly asked for style advice. In a sea of grey and blue suits, I make every effort not to stand out, but I’ve always enjoyed how subtle differences make a big impact. Perhaps, this stems from my rule breaking, experimental Prep days, but I enjoy being nuanced. Instead of forward point collar shirts, I wear tab collar shirts. Rather than dark, somber ties, I’ll play with scale and pattern. In lieu of navy or charcoal socks, I’ll add in elements of purple, dark orange, and mustard.After all, life is quite boring without experimentation.
Politics may be one of the few remaining conversative professions where a suit and tie are mandatory. On average, I find myself wearing a suit three times a week. On days where I don’t have a meeting, fundraiser, or a Trenton day, I live in my navy blazer, Brooks Brothers repp tie, ocbd, and khakis. I find it to be just the right blend of comfort and elegance.As for ties, those who know me will have a chuckle, but I’ve always found ties to be uncomfortable. The great irony is that I wear one approximately 95% of the time. The rare exception is on Fridays since the Assemblyman prefers not to schedule meetings.Between Zoom and in-person meetings, I’ll go full degage. My jacket will be on the back of an empty chair. I’ll roll up my sleeves and unbutton my collar. It becomes all about comfort to get the work done.
Darley is an extraordinarily modest man. I pressed him on his ambitions, and they all netted out in the I’m-worrying-about-making-a-difference-this-week category. He is a young man, I pressed him on how he rose to such an esteemed position this early in his career, and I think he genuinely did not know what to say. I asked a few times, a few times, about a high point in his career. I finally squeezed this out of him:
In April of this year, during a car ride back from a Trenton committee day, we received a phone call from a Central Jersey Hatzolah member. The day before a Manchester Township man had targeted the Orthodox Jewish community in Lakewood and Jackson. In a period of five hours, the perpetrator had attacked three members of the community, including a brutal stabbing.The reason for the call was simple. It was to tell us that a law passed earlier that year, one that the Assemblyman had championed, was the reason the victim of the stabbing was alive.That law was A6132, also known as the “Hatzolah Bill.” The bill signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy on January 18, 2022 allowed a Hatzolah paramedic, who was on the scene in just 30 seconds to begin rendering aid. Prior to its passage, New Jersey state law prohibited volunteer paramedics from administering treatment to a patient without the presence of a second paramedic, or if the paramedic was not in uniform. If it were not for the “Hatzolah Bill” that same paramedic would have had to wait 7 minutes for a responding ALS unit to arrive on scene before rendering aid or he would risk losing his paramedic certification. By then, the victim would have bled out and a family would be without a father. Luckily due to the new law and the heroism of the Hatzolah paramedic that did not happen.It is not everyday that a bill can be lifesaving, but this one was.
I credit my time at St. Peter’s Prep for planting the seed. Our day to day dress code required us to wear a sports coat or official school cardigan along with a dress shirt and tie or a turtleneck with school logo, dress trousers, dress socks, and dress shoes. Any deviation from the dress code or perceived sloppiness in appearance was punished by detention.What appeared rigid from the outside, actually allowed for a great deal of self-expression. Since we did not have a uniform, but rather a dress code, each of us experimented with different collar styles, sport coat and dress trouser combinations, and tie widths and designs. And just like most teenagers, we pushed the boundaries. From wearing a mock neck or turtleneck with the school logo under a dress shirt to circumvent wearing a tie to unbuttoning the collar for added comfort and risking detention, all were small ways to rebel against the dress code.It was my time at Prep that laid the foundation for my current style. A style that many of us call the Ivy League look.