Member Profile: James Darley – Ivy Chief Of Staff

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.

 

James Darley did not dress like that for the photo. You could papparazzi (I know, not a verb, I will correct it when Dean emails me about it) this guy all day long and it would be all day long Ivy.

 

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.
But he really means it.
You read Chief Of Staff just then, and you thought Leo on West Wing.  Don’t tell me you didn’t.  You are gonna write down below that you didn’t.  But we both know you did.  So did I.  My next question was, “You mean like Leo in West Wing?”  To which he answered:
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.
His bona fides:
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.
Well now.  That kinda helps explain this:
Mr. James Darley around the holidays. Or an oddly decorated post.
Let’s get to the clothes, shall we?
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 said degage.  Now I REALLY like him.
Ok, he said degage, and you get points for that. But I still have work to do. That shirt could be untucked. Let the comments roar.

 

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.
Ok, back to the clothes for a second.   He’s got a Master’s in Arts History.  Where did the Ivy come from?
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.
The socks. This man’s sense of style is a breath of traditional fresh air.
A few more notes.  His wife likes how he dresses, and when he told me that he described her own dress style as “snazzy.”  I love that word.   He starts building his outfits with the shirt.  I asked him about bow ties, he wears them once in a while but loosens his collar between meetings so…
You need, as I read about two more variants heading our way in the fall while I fill my tank, to know people who are going to hold us up a little.   Mr. James Darley is one such person.   His dress is the same as his drive – authentic.  The guy wants to help make a better world, for real.    I asked him his biggest accomplishment so far at work:
My biggest work accomplishment has been to help and assist individuals throughout the pandemic. Since 2020, the Assemblyman’s office has aided thousands of New Jersey residents with their unemployment claims and rental assistance needs during a very difficult period for our State and our Nation. Unfortunately, our unemployment system was not made to handle the caseloads that were experienced during the pandemic creating a bottleneck for many residents. Ensuring that each case was handled became our responsibility and hearing the joy, once those we worked with received their benefits, really brought joy to my heart and all of the other staff members at the office.
… and that’s James Darley.
JB

42 Comments on "Member Profile: James Darley – Ivy Chief Of Staff"

  1. Awesome! Thoughtful, interesting post on a thoughtful, interesting individual. Could see myself grabbing a G&T with him and being right at home.

    • Thank you! James is the real deal. Always fun to interview the real deal 🙂 And you could have a G&T with him and be right at home.

    • James Darley | June 21, 2022 at 8:59 pm | Reply

      Jim, thank you very much for the kind words. Truly humbled that someone would find my work, interview, and style both thoughtful and interesting. Would always be down to grab a G&T with anyone in this group.

  2. Great piece! Cool guy, for sure. But what are his pronouns?

  3. He seems like a good, modest young guy. And I like his style a lot. Two questions, though:

    – been practicing law for 20 years, and don’t know what “FBG” means?

    – does Darley have an M.A. in History, or a Masters in Art History? I ask not to be a nitpick (the article states it both ways), but because it seems like his and my lives ran in parallel up to a point (similar high school, college major, legislative work, etc.), but then diverged, so I’m just curious.

    • FBG isn’t a legal term, but “hereafter referred to as…” is a legal phrase. 🙂 I will ask about the other.

    • James Darley | June 21, 2022 at 9:14 pm | Reply

      Hi Paul. I have an M.A. in History from McGill University. I’d be curious to hear what you are doing nowadays since the divergence.

  4. James Darley seems like quite a skillful and accomplished person. I like his take on serving as a generational bridge with his style choices. It takes a certain emotional sophistication and awareness to communicate with a wide variety of people on that unspoken level, a trait that no doubt serves him well in his job (a job which sounds just exhausting to me!).

    • James Darley | June 21, 2022 at 9:19 pm | Reply

      Nevada, you are very kind. The job is exhausting at times, but being able to make a small difference in someone’s life makes it worth it. Every time that I feel exhausted, I think about the people that are reaching out who can barely make rent or are living from check to check and we are their last resort to vital State resources. That brings it all back into perspective.

  5. Great style, James Darley!

    On “made-to-measure LS Men’s Clothing Southwick sack suits”, where does LS now source MTM sack suits. Is Southwick not closed?

    I assume James’ excellent sport coats are Southwick via LS as well?
    The tan striped SC is a Magee Donegal? Very, very, cool, 3/2 with 2 button cuffs, swelled edges, welted flap pockets, etc. Hook vent?

    As James says, “subtle differences make a big impact. Perhaps, this stems from my rule breaking, experimental Prep days, but I enjoy being nuanced.” And later, “What appeared rigid from the outside, actually allowed for a great deal of self-expression.” All true. As one of my professors summed it up, structure stimulates creativity; Classicism > Neo-Classicism; Art History, composition, improvisation, etc. This explains the Ivy interest in good jazz, or perhaps better said, good musicians’ interest in Ivy Style.

    LS is mentioned a lot in another venue. If I recall correctly, on that other venue, a gentleman posted a fantastic piece about the subject of the sleeve-head on suit coats and sport coats. The sleeve-head is very important as it relates to “getting the shoulder right” and “TNSIL”.

    I may be wrong about this, but I think the author of that excellent post on another venue has, or had, a professional relationship with HF as well as with LS?

    I myself am guilty of confusing many times “shoulder expression”, and the “shoulder seam” with the “sleeve-head”. I’ve seen a “bald sleeve-head”, on television, only once.

    Can anyone here speak to these issues?

    • James Darley | June 21, 2022 at 9:27 pm | Reply

      Southwick sold their patterns to Hickey Freeman. LS now makes their “Southwick” MTM sack suits via Hickey Freeman in Rochester, NY. As for the sport coat, it is a J. Press Magee Donegal Mist.

  6. Nice article. New reader here. I’m just getting into the Ivy way of dressing. Like Mr. Darley, I didn’t go to an Ivy League school so I’m glad to know that I can still present as full-on Ivy without Ivy League cred. Thanks again for the great work!

  7. G. Bruce Boyer | June 21, 2022 at 12:01 pm | Reply

    A beautifully written piece about an interesting gentleman. The thought to put clothes into a wider context — by the editor in conversation with another intelligent, interesting person — is so appealing I hope to see more of that here. That’s the sort of thing that separates Ivy Style from the pack of hyper-trendy sites out there.

  8. A sharp looking man, who sounds very interesting. And dig those socks in the last photograph. Parenthetically, the top photo could be (and is) my go to air travel uniform. Braving that for the first time in over two years tomorrow.

    Kind Regards,

    H-U

  9. As I have admitted before, I work with political campaigns in Texas. My area is more on the messier, more public end of things.

    I just wanted to say I’ve met and worked with dozens of people like Mr. Darley over my 3,000 years in the biz. A lot of bright, motivated and ethical people are drawn to a job where they can make a positive difference in people’s lives.

    I think the public would feel a little better about their government if they knew people like Mr. Darley were part of it.

    PS Mr. Darley Are you up to date on all of your constituent mail this week?

    • I think you are right, we would feel better.

    • James Darley | June 21, 2022 at 9:35 pm | Reply

      The Assemblyman is lucky to have a diligent constituent services team in the office. They are absolutely phenomenal and respond to each and every request. All under the leadership of our phenomenal Director of Constituent Services!

      On the topic of luck, I truly feel blessed to work with some amazing policy staff at our partisan office. A few have their PhDs and are absolute whizzes when it comes to specific subjects ranging from health care to environmental justice. As you mentioned, there are a lot of bright, motivated, and ethical people in public service.

    • James Darley | June 21, 2022 at 9:42 pm | Reply

      Luckily, the Assemblyman has a fantastic constituent services team! They answer every single constituent message. All under the leadership of our Director of Constituent Services. I couldn’t be more grateful to have her.

      On the subject of luck, I feel blessed to work with someone excellent policy analysts. Many of which have their PhD and could be making a ton of money in the private sector, but are dedicated to make a difference. As you mentioned, there are a lot of bright, motivated, and ethical people in the public sector.

  10. Fabulous article, pure Ivy essence.

  11. Izzy @ LS Clothing is using H. FREEMAN & Coppley.

  12. Inspiring. Truly. Gives me hope.

    He’s wearing a Magee Donegal Mist. Irish Donegal yarns complimented by a modicum of mohair and a wee bit of cashmere.

    • James Darley | June 21, 2022 at 9:36 pm | Reply

      S.E., you are too kind!

      Yes, I am wearing my J. Press Magee Donegal Mist. One of my favorite fall and winter jackets.

  13. @Griff “I didn’t go to an Ivy League school…”

    Good for you. The Ivy’s ain’t very Ivy anymore.

    Just returned from a party where a guy was wearing old Brooks blazer, loafers, repp tie, and khakis. Late 50s. Whiskey drinker. Curly flow (surfer dude-ish) and drives an FJ62 Land Cruiser. Lives with his Irish Setter, visits his girlfriend western CT weekly, fly fishes (“I wet a line twice a week”) and collects duck prints and decoys. Lives in his 30 year old Barbour jacket and “visits J. Press a couple of times a year— for Sunday clothes because Sunday is church.”

    He dropped out of Penn State after three years. Has been painting houses, doing odd (repair) jobs, and fixing lawnmowers since the mid 80s. He ties his flies and

    Guessing he makes more annually than my dentist (Amherst) and lawyer (Brown) combined.

    • Sounds like, my type of guy,a little on rumpled side but maintaining a unique Ivy interpretation reflecting his personality. Ivy psychobabble?

  14. NaturalShoulder | June 21, 2022 at 9:50 pm | Reply

    Enjoyed the interview and learning about the origins of Mr. Darley’s interest of the style. He looks very at ease in the pictures posted and is well turned out.

    This quote sticks out to me “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.” Amen to that.

  15. “Guessing he makes more annually than my dentist (Amherst) and lawyer (Brown) combined”

    Probably not more that my Oral Surgeon whose going to collect upwards of $20K from me for
    implants, etc. in the next few months

  16. Mr Darley, you look terrific. My grandson, who is entering college this fall and in interested in
    going into politics, having already interned with his Congresswoman, is oblivious about
    clothes, so far. He looks good in the one suit he owns, so I have hope. Re: LS Clothing ,
    I’ve heard good things about them. However, living in CA, I am reluctant doing MTM from
    this distance, having had issues with MTM from Chipp decades ago. Will LS modify an Ivy
    jacket of the sort you wear with side vents and the like? Thanks.

    • James Darley | June 22, 2022 at 8:34 am | Reply

      Mr. Sack, thank you very much. Wishing your grandson all the best as he embarks on his journey. As for LS, I’d suggest reaching out to Izzy. He will be able to answer any of your questions.

      If that doesn’t work, then I’d suggest Divij Bespoke. Their pricing is quite reasonable and they are based in California. While not strictly Ivy, they are very accommodating.

  17. Justin Morgan III | June 22, 2022 at 2:54 am | Reply

    As expected, my comment was deleted. That does not negate the accuracy of my comments.

  18. Nice piece and the last outfit pictured is a solid rig.

  19. You’ve probably considered it, but I recommend that you post in Style
    Forum. I will be refreshing to see a young professional who personifies
    the elegance of Ivy/Trad style. This would be a welcome counterpoint to
    the prevalence of Neapolitan and British bespoke on the site which is
    beyond the budget of most members.These days most of my tailored
    clothing is Italian w/ natural shoulders like Ivy, but not bespoke.When
    I was around your age I shopped at Chipp, Paul Stuart sometimes
    Press, and also wore Norman Hilton.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*