Money Well Spent: Gentleman Still Wears J. Press Sportcoat He Commissioned in ’65

When Robert Cahill commissioned a custom sportcoat from J. Press in 1965, legendary house tailor Felix Samelson said “This jacket will outlive you.”

So far the jacket and the customer are neck-and-neck. Mr. Cahill, whom I had the pleasure of meeting last week at the J. Press store in New York, is some 85 years of age and still proudly wears the plaid sportcoat.

As you can see, the color and pattern are very much of the mid-sixties period. Mr. Cahill opted for a ticket pocket, and the jacket also appears darted. It has been relined once or twice over the years he said, and had suede elbow patches added a couple of years ago to cover up a small tear. Yes, it’s not just a legend: there are actually a few men out there who have suede elbow patches that serve a pragmatic repair function.

Mr. Cahill still takes delight in clothes, popping into Press just to browse and chat. He also has a sharp eye, immediately noticing that the collar on my buttondown oxford was clearly unlined, and asking where one could get such a thing. The savvy team at JP immediately stepped in to say they can make such a shirt, and Mr. Cahill proceeded to place an order for a crisp white buttondown with unlined collar. As he’ll be getting exactly what he wants, the shirt, along with the jacket he commissioned 52 years ago, will be money well spent. — CC

40 Comments on "Money Well Spent: Gentleman Still Wears J. Press Sportcoat He Commissioned in ’65"

  1. I may be about time for a trading “post” for the the site’s devoted followers to swap and or sell some of their beloved Ivy clothes and accessories.

  2. I’ve never understood the aversion, by some, to buying vintage clothes. The best jackets I have are all heyday originals. At a fraction of the price.

  3. Some of us vintage are still out here and loyal readers. Unfortunately, I have not retained any of my vintage jackets. I think my spouse would have removed them from the house, she having a trendier sense than I.

  4. I own 2 J. Press sportcoats that have to be at least 30 years old, have outlasted many of my new purchases, and are the only items of clothing I get compliments on.

  5. Charlottesville | December 5, 2017 at 4:26 pm |

    Congratulations to the dapper Mr. Cahill for maintaining his excellent taste and trim form over the past 52 years. The quality of vintage clothing from Press and Brooks is truly impressive. My own patronage did not begin until around 20 years after the heyday, but today I am wearing a BB tweed sack sport jacket from roughly 1987 and it still looks as good as new. My relationship with J. Press began a couple of years later when they opened the Washington, DC store, and it is heartening that they are still providing high quality traditional clothing there and on 44th Street today.

  6. Carmelo Pugliatti | December 5, 2017 at 5:37 pm |

    I like J Press darted jacket; very British in the Anderson & Sheppard school.

  7. Carmelo Pugliatti | December 5, 2017 at 5:40 pm |

    Note as the darts not interrupt the pattern.
    More,the wide of the lapels are very classic; in USA in 1965 lapels were very thin.

  8. What fabulous sensibilities. The only thing better than the “good ol days” are the “good older days”.

  9. Wished I could still fit into the many-many sport coats and suits, I once owned from one of my all time favorite men’s stores: Huntington Clothiers from Columbus, OH. Over the years they all ended up as donations to our local vet’s shelter, which was a great place for them to end up!
    Formerly signed off as Jim, but will now use Jim McG, due to another participant using just Jim.
    P.S. If you search Huntington Clothiers, C.C. has a story from one of my old HC catalogs I sent to him.

  10. Richard Meyer | December 5, 2017 at 6:12 pm |

    My oldest articles of clothing are a dinner jacket from 1966 (Weatherill) and a sport coat from 1965 (Huntsman).My oldest American made item is a 1982 sport jacket from Chipp. Fortunately, I’ve kept my weight down. Replaced some linings, buttons tightened.

  11. Jon V DiBenedetto | December 6, 2017 at 8:35 am |

    The jacket looks great and he wears it very stylishly.

  12. whiskeydent | December 6, 2017 at 9:53 am |

    I recently stumbled into a vintage JP black-white herringbone 3-button sack at a Good Will in Austin, which is about like finding a good plate of greasy truck stop enchiladas in Manhattan. The fit is nearly perfect. That was a few bucks well spent.

  13. I recently found a J. Press sportcoat almost identical to Mr. Cahill’s in a charity clothing shop. $25, including matching vest. Excellent condition.

  14. Londonderry Heir | December 6, 2017 at 11:47 am |

    I am not going to be my curmudgeonly self, but must say that the darts and the fit certainly don’t suit Mr. Cahill–a fine gentleman.

  15. Let’s see how you look in your clothes 52 years later when you’re 85.

  16. Carmelo Pugliatti | December 6, 2017 at 1:56 pm |

    For me,the dit is very good still today.

  17. Carmelo Pugliatti | December 6, 2017 at 1:56 pm |

    For me,the fit is very good still today.

  18. Looks as though Mr. Cahill is wearing an unlined OCBD already, Brooks perhaps?

  19. Fun item to read, and a man to emulate.
    May I pick a nit, though? I just don’t care for the word “commissioning” when it comes to having clothes made. It just seems a bit much.

  20. Don,

    What word would you use instead?

  21. It’s a great looking jacket, even with the darts. But here’s the (by now oft repeated) thing–that amount of tracing/shaping can be easily achieved (by a good tailor) without the addition of darts. I like the ticket pocket–A nice, bespoke(ish) touch. Add a detachable throat latch and, well, terrific.

    From the angle at which the picture was taken, the jacket has a Scholte/London Cut/Drape vibe. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  22. SE
    In the Midwest we call a “detachable throat latch” a “storm tab”.

    I think a lot of athletes moved to darted jackets in the late 1960s. The reason being that even with a decent tailor am off the rack sack looked like a lab coat on a guy with a very large chest and a 32 inch waist. A Tailor can only take so much out of the sides.

  23. Mac

    I have the same issue 43 chest and 33 waist (college wrestler). Cannot wear a coat without darts.

  24. Londonderry Heir | December 7, 2017 at 12:04 am |

    I certainly won’t be able to wear my clothes 52 years later at the age of 85; they’ll be a least two sizes too small. Mr. Cahill is in far better shape than I’ll ever be, but he looks as if he can’t breathe, and the jacket looks like it will pop open and reveal a huge gap once unbuttoned.

  25. It looks nothing of the kind, Londonderry. The jacket not only fits perfectly, it still looks absolutely wonderful.

  26. A fine example of what we have largely lost.
    The recent making of a custom shirt caught my attention as did the original commissioning of a bespoke jacket, even in 1965.
    Ivy was always primarily ready to wear. However, it is good to see the true “clothes horses” come out of the closet one by one to show that the style once had far more personal taste involved in it than the “dumbed down” conception of the style that we often see depicted elsewhere.
    Why not a ticket pocket?
    Why not side vents?
    Why not darts?
    Ivy is largely American Anglophile in origin so why not reap all the advantages of that heritage transfigured by the inspiration of the New Word tailors like Brooks & Press?
    Here’s to the diversity & beauty of Ivy.
    This elegant gentleman is a lesson to us all.

  27. Charlottesville | December 7, 2017 at 10:40 am |

    Nice sentiment, Wentworth. I agree that the English influence on Ivy is sometimes underappreciated. Most of my wardrobe is regulation Ivy, and I wear OCBDs far more than any other shirt, but I also enjoy wearing a Viyella Tattersall shirt with a spread collar under a tweed coat. And snuff-colored suede wingtips or cap-toes look great with gray flannel. My few custom suits all have darts and double vents (dual exhaust as a friend calls them), and some have 2 rather than 3 button fronts. I even wear a double-breasted blazer occasionally. More Cambridge, England than Cambridge, Mass. in inspiration perhaps, but not at all out of place in an Ivy closet in my opinion.

  28. Atlanta Pete | December 7, 2017 at 5:07 pm |

    If you Google Mr. Cahill:
    Chair, Investment Subcommittee and Member, Development Committee of Bread for the World. Board member of Alliance to End Hunger and Gregorian University Foundation. Board chair emeritus, City Harvest, New York City perishable food program. Former chair of board of trustees, Loyola School. Chair, Morality in Media. Former managing partner, Conklin Cahill & Co., members New York Stock Exchange, 1963-1989.

    • whiskeydent | December 7, 2017 at 5:59 pm |

      Is this getting to the difference between Ivy and Trad? Is Mr. Cahill more Trad than Ivy? Is Ivy a subgroup of Trad or is Trad an offshoot from Ivy?

      I remain confused about the differences in these styles. None of the comparison charts I’ve seen drew a line between them that was clear enough for me.

      I get the distinctions with Preppy style, I think. It’s more frat boy bro. Trad and Ivy are for grownups. Unless of course, I’ve got it wrong.

  29. Have you read “The Official Preppy Handbook,” published in 1980? I don’t think the term “frat boy bro” existed then, nor was it used in the 1970 film “Love Story.”

    • @CC

      The book came out a long time ago, and I don’t think it’s particularly relevant today. It was pre-Vineyard Vines (which sucks) and no-iron cotton shirts.

      I made up “frat boy bro” as I wrote it this afternoon. Perhaps it was not all that accurate, but it was the best I had at the moment. I was once a frat boy myself. You wrote about bro’s awhile back, and I borrowed from both.

      All that said, I think there’s a big difference between today’s Prep and Trad/Ivy. I think age, maturity and confidence are the primary dividers. But, again, I could be wrong. I’m seeking knowledge.

  30. By the way CC, “my Cahill?”

  31. @ Charolttesville (a fine town).
    In my personal opinion Ivy is the American re-imagining of English tailoring.
    The New World brought verve, energy and a more relaxed elegance to the traditional forms of the traditional English tailoring style.
    It’s only a personal opinion.

  32. @ Whiskytdent

    I would suggest that it is worth considering where all these relatively recent terms for classic American style come from.
    Once people would call the style Brooks.
    Later it would be Press and Brooks.
    Then came all the main street “Three Button Shops”.
    The style is the style.
    Japan still tries to invent new names for various subsections of the style: “Rugged Ivy”, for instance.
    That way madness lies.
    Ivy is classical American tailoring, inspired by England, but transfigured by the genius of freedom loving America which took the old English forms in their own direction.
    Ivy might be the best name we have for this, although it is still not perfect.
    “Preppy”, “Trad”; Where does it end?
    The style may as well be called “That Wentworth Look” and then we can all settle down to enjoying our mutual taste in clothes.

  33. Natural shoulder. It also refers to the style as a whole.

  34. @whiskey

    It was unclear whether you were tallking historical definitions or contemporary nomenclature in 2017.

  35. Charlottesville | December 8, 2017 at 3:58 pm |

    Again, well said Wentworth. In my mind, Trad is a bit broader than purely Ivy. I think of Ivy as the classic 1954-67 (roughly) 3/2 sacks, OCBDs, rep ties, etc. one would find at Brooks, Press and the like. Of course even then BB and Press carried 2 button suits (with natural shoulders, of course) and shirts with standard pointed collars. I think that the latter, and the more English look I associate with 80s Polo would still constitute Trad, of which Ivy is a subset. However, I admit that I am making this up as I go along. Today, inspired by Mr. Cahill’s darted jacket, I am wearing a darted, 2-button, gray flannel suit that I bought at J. Press about 15 years ago. At that time, I was unaware that Press carried anything other that 3/2 sacks. I simply walked in, picked out a gray flannel from the rack, and had the tailor mark it while I chatted with him and the salesman. It was not until I picked it up and wore it a few weeks later that I realized it was not a 3/2 sack. However, whether Trad or Ivy, it still looks great.

  36. @ Yuca

    The most important defining element of the totality of the style. I like it!

    @ Charlottesville

    let’s pause to consider Paul Stuart.
    A fine clothier with a fine shoulder line. In their mix, two button jackets and darts do not phase them.
    Are they Traditional American? 100%.
    Are they Trad/Preppy /Ivy? I’d feel a fool asking them.
    Would I dare walk into the Andover Shop and also use these silly names? Assuredly not.
    When I feel the need, the need for Tweed, I focus on what counts. Silly names do not bother me, and I suspect that you are also free from such entry-level considerata.

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