Miles Of Buttondowns

We haven’t looked at Miles “Warlord Of The Weejuns” in some time, so here’s a gallery of him during his buttoned-down years. As a finale, there’s a shot of him in a crested blazer I hadn’t seen before. This post was composed to the accompaniment of his 1958 green-oxford album “Milestones.” — CC

18 Comments on "Miles Of Buttondowns"

  1. Evan Everhart | January 6, 2019 at 8:12 pm |

    Heppest of the Cats.

  2. That six-period “ellipses” on the Milestones cover had always driven me nuts. …

  3. Just Sayin' | January 6, 2019 at 11:05 pm |

    Yeah, he sure wore those buttondowns for a couple years… It’s always weird to me that some people view him (like Steve McQueen) as some icon of Ivy, when he was never married to the style and had largely jettisoned it by 1959-1960 in favor of sharper Italian tailoring (and cars). Don’t get me wrong, he wore some great Ivy gear in the mid to late 1950s, but it’s very much arguable that this was simply a factor of its popularity among young people combined with its status – respect and dignity as a black artist were very important to Miles, so adopting signifiers of status would make sense (like his white Ferrari later in life). I’m confident he wore that crested blazer with a sense of bitter irony.

    The UK Ivy scene has propagated the myth that all American jazz musicians were Ivy afficionados spreading the word to the world. Going into the photo archives demonstrates no such thing – while they certainly wore their share of OCBDs and Weejuns, few black jazz musicians were real Ivy dressers because the style was foreclosed to them along with the Ivy League itself. What they did wear was simply common American sartorial parlance of the times. The musicians seen as most fashion-forward and sharply dressed (Miles, Roy Haynes, Monk, etc.) either never wore much Ivy or only became known for their standard of dress after leaving Ivy behind.

  4. Square End Knitted Tie | January 7, 2019 at 2:55 am |

    I’m one of those UK people and while wearing Ivy Style and enjoying Jazz, I certainly do not conflate the two significantly. The two aspects in the late fifties and early sixties represented the modern to some British youth along with other new cultural influences of the time. WW2 had interrupted elegance of the modern into British society which then flourished into popular culture quickly during the fifties, creating unplanned interesting combinations. This was sixty years ago with young people in a time of little media and they soon moved on. This sense of overly conflating Jazz and Ivy was a good of discussion about eight years ago and is long closed now. It ia talked abiut much more by USA Ivy wearers than here in UK anymore. There is little discussion at all of Ivy Style generally in UK bar a few groups.

    Perhaps the main person facing the accusations of linking Ivy Style and Jazz now works with a Japanese company in NY selling Ivy Style shirts successfully back to the USA. That conflagration of Ivy Style and a sense of fifties modern seems to be working for them. Some of us enjoy both Ivy Style and Jazz with a misty sense of what the modern used to embrace in that era. But that’s just nostalgia for an era really than a deliberate attempt to link Jazz and Ivy.

    Hope that helps.

  5. Square End Knitted Tie | January 7, 2019 at 2:57 am |

    Autocorrect on my phone changed ‘interrupted the emergence’ to ‘elegance. An interesting substitution.

  6. White Pinpoint | January 7, 2019 at 4:14 am |

    The myth that Ivy League style aficionados were at
    the same time jazz aficionados is still being perpetuated today.

  7. Straight Arrow | January 7, 2019 at 7:50 am |

    Perhaps some of the followers of this blog will tell us what they were listening to during the heyday if it wasn’t jazz.

  8. I’d like to know more about that beautiful woman he is speaking to in the seventh image. Nice hands.


  9. Sacksuit,
    That beautiful woman is Juliette Gréco.

  10. White Pinpoint: The myth that Ivy League style aficionados were at
    the same time jazz aficionados is still being perpetuated today.

    I’ve said as much here on occasion in the past and received some flak. There’s much on this site which I see as a romanticized version of the post-war period that I remember. Truth is, most of the younger gentleman here, if alive in the 1950’s, would not have been listening to jazz played by black musicians.

  11. Oh by the way — button-down’s are cool again.

    Evidence: the percentage of BD wearers at shows at places like Terminal 5, Bowery Ballroom, and Union Transfer. Further evidence: the fact that PJ O’ Rourke still wears them. Further evidence: The fact that the likes of Tucker Carlson, our president, the majority of Wall Street types (and members of Congress) do NOT wear them.

  12. MacMcConnell | January 7, 2019 at 12:45 pm |

    Button-downs have always been cool.

  13. Old School Tie | January 7, 2019 at 2:10 pm |

    And here was me conflating jazz and beatnik, which, by the way, has also offered some very interesting and influential style moments of its own.

  14. Richard Meyer | January 7, 2019 at 2:33 pm |

    The last picture is a club collar

  15. Indeed, and as mentioned, the last picture is the bonus crested blazer photo. I should’ve clarified that the final photo was to show the blazer only.

  16. No way could I pull off that shade of green shirt. I wasn’t around to listen to Miles, Dexter, Monk, Coltrane, and so on when they were making their music. (Well, I did catch Dexter after his “Homecoming” at the long lamented Keystone Korner.) Those sounds only resonated with me years later. Over the weekend I listened to clips of NPR’s jazz albums of the year. I’m afraid they left me figuratively scratching my head.

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