The Wall Street Journal has piled on and it is safe to say now that we can stop posting articles about the comeback of “formal style” and just be grateful that the pendulum swung our way. Here’s their article, if you care to read it.
Articles by yours truly and others to the contrary, it should be noted that we are still in that embryonic stage of rebirth where any collar that buttons down and any tie under it is Preppy. Having worked on the subject a hot minute I see the difference very plainly, and it irks me that others do not. Especially those in the biz. But that’s for another day.
So we’re reborn, congrats folks. The Facebook Group is getting inundated with membership requests (we vet, so if it takes us a few to get to you, hang in, it is worth it), the articles are three a day, and any minute now I am going to get an email from Bastian. All good news. That said, what’s a real comeback vs. a blip?
In 1950 in Princeton, the scene was thus:
Mr. Robert M. Lichenstein was at Princeton then, and got interested in what the look was, and why people were adopting it. His findings, covered in an article in The Prince in 1950 by Mr. Geoffrey L. Tickner, might give us some relevant history to lean up against as we absorb that we are on a growth track here.
The odds of 40% of us wearing white bucks again are, what? I wouldn’t bet my daughter’s tuition on it, but by the same token, if you swap out the word “bucks” for “sneakers” it isn’t incredible anymore. 80% of those surveyed prefer single-breasted suits. Which makes sense, but then, because Ivy is a fickle mistress, Mr. Tickner goes on to illustrate his next point with Princeton Charlie in, you guessed it, a double-breasted suit. Here:
But it is Lichenstein’s findings about “confirmity” that fascinate the most. To quote Tickner on same:
Three Reasons For Conformity
Three reasons were given by the men who changed their pattern of clothing. By far the largest percentage of men said that they wanted to be just like you, Charlie. The next greatest group said that they wanted to conform to the style and the third bunch liked the pattern. Some of the men interviewed by Lichenstein said that their conformity was an unconscious process.
And when they noticed the difference in clothing habits, did they jump for you, Charlie! All seven of the private school men reoriented their wardrobes, and eight out of eleven of the private school Frosh changed the style of the clothes. Among the Seniors the percentages were about the same, although higher in the club member group.
Now we get to the specifics. Each man was asked what items he thought constituted the Princeton pattern of dress. The tabulation shows that the Seniors were able to pick out the nuances of the costume while the Frosh were only acquainted with the salient points such as white buckskin shoes and dark grey flannel pants. The Freshmen put the white shoes first while the Seniors,’both club and non-club, placed dark grey flannel trousers at the head of the list.
Other items consistently placed on the list were Oxford button-down shirts and sport coats. Almost half the men polled considered these articles among the clothing a man in the Princeton pattern must have. Also high on the list were khaki pants, sweaters, striped ties, argyles and tweeds.