News Roundup: J. Simons, JFK For Eternity, And Trying To Digest Cafe 346

Many of us take heart in knowing that the tradition of menswear illustration still lives, and last week the John Simons shop in London, longtime epicenter of Ivy in the UK, sent out an email promoting its summer sale with the illustration above. Across the pond what’s referred to as “Ivy” is often generic Americana, but now that the transatlantic online Ivy wars of a decade ago are largely over, we should more explicitly acknowledge that the English, like the Japanese, have not only helped preserve our cherished style, but created their own variations on it as well.

And when it comes to preservation, we’re going to need all the help we can get. Even though Brooks Brothers has been shedding its Ivy pedigree for decades, at least its Madison Avenue flagship stood as a reminder of what it once was. But recently Ivy Style contributor Peter Lavelle snapped these photos through the window of the new Cafe 346. Tables in that room used to hold oxford shirts and rep ties, and will now presumably hold kale salads and twenty-dollar hamburgers.

Moving on to other news, a faithful reader sent in this New York Times article on face masks as a new social signifier. Fortunately it’s blocked by a paywall as it must surely be an example of the old adage that ignorance is bliss.

Statues literal and metaphoric are in free-fall, but Esquire still acknowledges JFK as an “eternal” style icon, and recently ran a 40-pic image gallery showing Kennedy in everything from white t-shirts to black tie, and even a shaggy sweater by the swimming pool. Bet you’ve never tried that one.

There’s a lot of “misinformation” out there these days, so tread carefully. Esquire deems JFK an eternal icon, but he was also a wearer of Nantucket Reds, and the Wall Street Journal recently wondered if red pants are ever a good idea.

Over the years, Reds have become associated with New England WASPs, the country club set and the kind of entitled frat boy who might say, “Do you know who my dad is?” This is especially true when they’re worn with such traditional accompaniments as preppy polo shirts, boxy navy blazers, Sperry Top-Sider boat shoes or some unfortunate combination of the three.

But some Reds devotees insist that, if teamed with tops and shoes that aren’t yacht-club approved, the trousers can seem unstuffy—even cool. Jack Carlson, the founder of Rowing Blazers, a clothing brand dedicated to remixed preppy classics, proposed wearing Reds with a graphic T-shirt (like Aloye’s Memphis-style tee, below). Balancing pink pants with something more casual demonstrates a “certain cultural awareness,” said Mr. Carlson. In other words, it proves that you understand the unspoken rules of the East Coast dress code and can cheekily (and stylishly) break them. Mr. Carlson is also pro-Reds for the simpler reason that “the color goes with almost everything.” They are like a pair of jeans, he said, only “more interesting.”

Finally, something personal to lift your spirits. In the right-side tower you may have noticed a new ad with the tagline Spirit Of The Times, which will take you to my new column running in a couple of alt-weeklies covering Marin, Sonoma and Napa Counties. They’re snappy pieces based on ancient wisdom and the mysteries of the cosmos, which should get you to thinking about the timeless things that really matter, and help liberate you from the crazy times and feeling that nothing matters.

I’m off for a forest hike, and hope you all were able to get outside on this summer weekend and fill your lungs — and mind — with fresh air. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

17 Comments on "News Roundup: J. Simons, JFK For Eternity, And Trying To Digest Cafe 346"

  1. “[Brooks Brothers]…needs all the help it can get” is a vast understatement!

    The Garland shirt factory in North Carolina is set to re-open this summer but it appears that Brooks Brothers will not be a client.

    A BB sales associate told me that their “pilot program” MTM shirts are manufactured in China.

  2. I don’t mean to hog the conversation, but I feel so strongly about The Wall Street Journal’s menswear “reporting”, that I have to speak out.

    In my opinion, their menswear “reporting” (what I call disinformation) has steadily deteriorated over the years.

    The Journal is trying to capture a younger, higher income demographic and resorts to mocking, insulting, and name calling middle-aged men, such as myself.

    I had no idea that Nantucket reds could be so controversial: “snobby, stodgy, a country club clone” as WSJ put it.

    In an article about dressing to appear younger, the WSJ advised men to avoid the classic, ivy style clothes that Steve McQueen wore because it makes one look “old.”

    I have to respectfully disagree. An older man wearing the fashionable trendy “fashion victim” clothes that are advertised in The Wall Street Journal is ridiculous.

  3. Spartacus | July 11, 2021 at 8:15 pm |

    Mitchell, you’re not alone. The fashion column for the Journal is utterly horrible. Even for younger guys the advice is completely off the mark.

  4. Re: “a faithful reader sent in this New York Times article on face masks as a new social signifier.”

    With my compliments:

    On a recent Sunday night at Le Bilboquet, a see-and-be-seen restaurant in the Hamptons, well-heeled diners nibbled on $475 tins of Osetra caviar. A handsome man showed off his gold Audemars Piguet watch to his sparkly female companion. A party of 10 in polo shirts and striped rompers danced to a tropical house remix of Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It.”

    They were all unmasked, while the waiters, bartenders and other servers kept their mouths and noses covered.

    A similar scene unfolded at the Gucci store in East Hampton, where shoppers removed their masks upon reading the door sign stating that vaccinated customers could enter without face coverings. Inside, they were attended to by store clerks in blue-and-white surgical masks, per company policy.

    In the weeks since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its mask guidelines to allow fully vaccinated people to take their masks off in most indoor settings, a stark divide has emerged, particularly in wealthier enclaves where services are at a premium.

    Those who are still wearing masks tend to be members of the service class — store clerks, waiters, janitors, manicurists, security guards, receptionists, hair stylists and drivers — while those without face coverings are often the well-to-do customers being wined and dined.

    Employers are hesitant to discuss their mask policies, but there are sensible reasons for requiring staffers to keep their masks on.

    Just under 50 percent of people in the United States are fully vaccinated. And coronavirus variants, some of which are highly infectious and may be more resistant to vaccines, are on the rise, said Dr. Lisa Maragakis, an epidemiologist and associate professor at Johns Hopkins University.

    Food servers, retail clerks, grocery cashiers and other public-facing workers interact all day with customers, which can put their health (and the health of their customers) at risk. This creates not only potential liability issues for employers, but also could hamstring a business at a time of worker shortages.

    Even at establishments that give vaccinated employees the choice to take their masks off, many are keeping them on. “Who knows who has had their shot and who hasn’t,” said Michelle Booker, a store clerk from the Bronx who works at a Verizon store in Midtown Manhattan. She was wearing her mask on a recent Tuesday, although the company permits vaccinated employees to go without masks. “I don’t believe half of the people who come in,” she said. “I’m still terrified.”

    And from a public relations standpoint, seeing employees with masks sends a message about how management regards the health of its customers and staff. “Their workers are serious professionals who take safety seriously,” said Erin Vearncombe, a professor at the University of Toronto who studies the sociology of dress codes.

    The resulting class divide may not always be intentional, but it still can be jarring to see how masks have emerged as another symbol of inequality from the pandemic.

    At an Apple store in Midtown on a recent Friday, mask-free customers could be seen buying $1,500 iPhones from masked salespeople who may not make that much in a week. At a nearby Sweetgreens, food workers in black masks and matching aprons, and who were mostly people of color, prepared $14 berry and burrata salads for a largely white clientele.

    “It sends a message — one that’s been internalized on both sides — that the body of the mask wearer is ‘riskier’ than the body of the consumer,” Dr. Vearncombe said. “It shows that certain groups have, and even deserve, more civil liberties than others.”

    Some workers argue that the mask double standard — one rule for customers; another for staff — is not just discriminatory, but defies logic.

    “Customers have to be vaccinated to go maskless, but we can’t ask for proof,” said Jose de la Rosa, 26, who works behind the counter at the Juice Generation store in Times Square. “And we have workers who are fully vaccinated, can prove it and still have to wear them. It’s odd.”

    As more Americans get vaccinated, some establishments have adopted a single policy for both staff and customers, allowing anyone who has been fully vaccinated to ditch the mask.

    A diverse array of stores — including Louis Vuitton, Verizon, Dior, Target and Home Depot — have this policy at all their stores in the United States. Starbucks recently announced that vaccinated workers would be able to remove their masks starting July 5..

    But for now, a mask divide remains at many places. On a recent afternoon in Hudson Yards, Mark Pasektsky, 49, a public relations strategist, was shopping for shirts at the Theory store. The clerks that were helping him wore masks. He did not.

    “It’s weird, right?” he said. “On one level, you can’t completely blame employers. How do you comfortably institute a policy that protects everyone? You can’t answer it because there is no answer. But the psychology behind the other approach is very curious. Why are they making employees wear masks while the customers do not? Everyone is just confused.”

  5. Countalma | July 12, 2021 at 3:25 am |

    Mask-wearing staff, servers, etc. is currently a uniquely New York City feature. Nowhere else I go outside New York City, be it NJ or Westchester county, do I see business employees wear masks. Seeing workers in masks while customers are maskless is sad. It clearly is a discriminatory policy. It should be a matter of personal choice at this point. Anyone in the country can get the vaccine for free, so the argument that “poor people”, somehow, can’t get it, is just senseless. In any case, this all will be over very soon.
    Speaking of Nantucket reds, they are just that – pants in coral color. Some like them and some do not. Nothing wrong with wearing them. Just make sure the occasion and the setting is right. Nothing “wrong” with being a country club member (or appearing like one) either. What’s wrong is being snobby, arrogant, inconsiderate, and conceited. There is nothing inherently moral or immoral in being a country club member. I know members of some of the most elite clubs in New York, and they are the nicest, most approachable, helpful, and easy to deal with people, and I know terrible people who aren’t members of any clubs. All that being said, I am personally not a big fan of this style of pant, although, skinny jeans do offend my taste way more.

  6. Totally off-topic, but does our editor – or any long-time readers/contributors – know what has happened to our brothers in Los Angeles? In particular, the below post popped up this morning, and made me wonder about what happened to “R.P”? I always enjoyed his curmudgeonly postings, but I looked him up once on social media, and his overall situation sounded somewhat precarious. I also always enjoyed contributions from “Evan Everhart”, but haven’t seen him post anything in quite awhile.

    Would love to know that our West Coast friends are alive and well.

  7. Congratulations on the new column. Spirit of the Times is directly on the mark.

  8. Charlottesville | July 12, 2021 at 10:29 am |

    Mitchell, et al. -I could not agree more that the WSJ’s clothing advice is dreadful and has been so for several years. Confusedly chasing fleeting, over-priced style trends which are as out of place on a young man as on those of middle age or older, the have become camp followers of the new-money fashion scene.

    Linkman and Countalma – Down here, the masked servers vs. unmasked clientele dynamic has just started to fade. At dinner on Saturday evening, my wife and I had the pleasant experience of being served by unmasked bartenders, managers and waiters for the first time in well over a year.

    Paul – No information to contribute, but I too would like to hear more from Evan, R.P., Henry and our other west-coast friends.

  9. Nothing snobby, elitist, or condescending about calling someone else “snobby, stodgy, a country club clone,” no sir.

  10. The WSJ has not been an arbiter of taste to my knowledge. My experience from the 80’s onward has been that it has always been aspirational/neuveaux. Conspicuous consumption pays well.

  11. @Ben:

    WSJ is the king of menswear reporting, the Bible of men’s fashion. Years ago, they had more of an emphasis on classic menswear. Mr. Chensvold is a former WSJ guest columnist, in fact. His columns on golf style and matchy-matchy clothing are some of the best articles the WSJ has printed.

    As of late, there is little to no separation between their advertisers and their editors. I remember when the WSJ used to have integrity.

    Now the headlines read “Why you need a $10,000 Givenchy trench coat” or “Avoid dad style like the plague!” (As if classic clothes makes one look old.) They just pander to whomever pays the bills or sends them the most swag.

  12. Editorial fashion has always been pay to play. GQ and Esquire always featured advertisers in the editorial section. I was a cost of business just like using Thomas Gambino’s trucking company.

  13. Roy R. Platt | July 12, 2021 at 1:54 pm |


    The answer is out there.

  14. Grumpy Trad Lives!

    @Roy: I’m glad to see that you’ve kept body and soul together, that The Cube is still in operation, and that you continue to document California railroading!

    Now, has anybody seen Evan?

  15. Oddly, if I Google “Cafe 346” I’m shown a list of local Thai restaurants, none of which seem related to Brooks Brothers in any way. Maybe there’s some hidden meaning to 346 that I’m unaware of. Like how I suspect that stoners who go around chuckling about any reference to 420 are secretly Nazis who are referring to Hitler’s April 20 birthday. Not really, of course, but their reaction when you say, “OMG! Are you a Nazi?” and then explain your reasoning can be priceless.

  16. MacMcConnell | July 12, 2021 at 5:56 pm |

    329 is the Alden full strap dress penny loafer model design by and produced for Harold’s men’s shop. Harold’s was founded in 1948 at 329 W Boyd, Norman, Oklahoma by Harold Powell.

    The Alden model 329 was very popular in my high school here in KC. I owned a pair in cordovan.
    The shoe,

  17. Henry Contestwinner | July 13, 2021 at 10:23 pm |

    The NYT article on the “class divide” of mask wearing is, like so much drivel coming out of that organ, little more than warmed-over Marxism. Furthermore, the editorializing in the article is shameful.

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