In case you hadn’t heard, tomorrow is Tartan Day. To celebrate, we’re sharing a LIFE Magazine article from 1950 (scroll down to page 123) that showcased Yale students in plaid vests and Andover preps in plaid caps.
The article opens with this:
When the British caught wind of the fact that American men were developing a fancy for bright tartan dinner jackets, they were unhappy. In London, tailor and Cutter, the haberdasher’s bible called them “deplorable,” then was forced to backtrack when King George ordered a couple himself.
In this passage, Chipp (whose team is pictured above) and its role in pushing the whole concept of go-to-hell is further cemented:
Tartans have been worn for some time by a few individualists, mainly in the east and mainly customers of a New York tailor called Chipp.
Main Street, or at least urban department stores, soon took notice:
This winter the Florida resort season established them as a real fashion. Now the big department stores are about to break out with plaid dinner jackets for what is expected to be a wide market.
Below are some outtakes from the photo shoot from the LIFE archives. Have a great Tartan Day. I’ll be celebrating with Blackwatch boxers. — CC (Continue)
Today Brooks Brothers sent out an email blast with one of the coolest outfits I’ve seen from them in a while. Check out the guy on the far right.
Now the dark trousers will be too tight for many of you (they almost look like five-pockets), and the jacket won’t satisfy purists, but the outfit’s formula has a real heyday feel for me. White bucks, dark trousers (try gabardine), a light-colored sportcoat, blue buttondown and madras tie. It’s kind of the spring equivalent of this guy. — CC
We bring our double-breast-fest to a close with the all-important reader vote. Have your thoughts on them changed? And since they play such a tangential role in the trad wardrobe, how many of you even own one? Vote below.
Pictured above, incidentally, is the 1941 Yale swim team. Note DB with buttondown on the left, as well as odd jackets with striped trousers on the other fellas. — CC
Our double-breast-fest continues with this story I wrote for the current issue of The Rake. Not exactly Ivy-focused, but those with a general interest in menswear may enjoy it. Pictured above is Fred Astaire from “Funny Face,” in DB grey flannel suit with blue oxford buttondown and bit loafers, while below is me with ’80s hair and a heavy Tom Wolfe circa “Bonfire” influence. — CC
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Make Mine A Double
By Christian Chensvold
The Rake, issue 32
One of my more notorious contributions to the family photo album is a shot of me celebrating high school graduation in a double-breasted cream and tan checked silk sportcoat paired with a brown and white dot tie, looking every bit the preposterously precocious popppinjay. (Continue)
We continue our exploration of the double-breasted jacket’s place in the Ivy genre with these recollections from King Richard XLIV.
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The best-selling blazer in J. Press history was gathered by its roots from Aunt Florence.
Irving Press’s spouse was a lady who lunched at the fringes of La Cote Basque and other spots alongside Babe Paley, the Duchess d’Uzes, and other paradigms of ’60s New York Society. The reefer twill luncheon suit she wore on several occasions prompted a suggestion of versatiltiy she imparted to her husband: her suit might just be just the right material to make into a men’s blazer. Irving retrieved a swatch of the cloth from the dressmaker for Seymour Landsman, a principal at Linett, prime clothing provider to both Chipp and J. Press. “Get a hold of this material,” he commanded Landsman, “make it into a blazer, and confine it to J. Press.”
Adhering to the times, J. Press got high in the ’60s on Reefer Twill (the catalog image above is from 1969). The maritime history of the fabric was peacoat British, but the version J. Press devised featured distinctly rough-hewn, steep-ribbed twill, a startling departure from the soft hand of the flannel blazer classic. My personal favorite was a double-breasted forest green that flaunted two rows of Dartmouth buttons, but the preference of most Squeeze customers was the traditional single-breasted in navy.
Double-breasted suits and blazers at J. Press were tailored in the natural-shoulder style of our three-button model that departed from the single breasted version only via deep side vents. Reefer twill blazers were lined throughout in strident regimental striped Bemberg. Double-breasted suits and blazers never gained more than 10% advocacy at J. Press, but allowed us a response to detractors who called us stodgy and unbending.
In 1962, J. Press even attempted a foray into womenswear in our newly enlarged downstairs quarters on Forty-Fourth Street. The effort achieved scant success and quietly disappeared the following year.
Six degrees of separation, the merchandising and design savvy of a woman, the boss’s wife, inspired the greatest J. Press hit of the decade. — RICHARD PRESS
Prompted by our post on Roger Sterling’s “acid drenched swinger” look, contributor James Kraus sent us the above scan from a 1966 Sears Christmas catalog showing a couple in matching ensembles of double-breasted blazers and ascots.
The natural shoulder, double-breasted sack is a bit of an anomaly in Ivy, and one which fell out of vogue relatively quickly when compared to the more enduring tailoring styles that the look has to offer. Nevertheless I think it’s an interesting jacket. With its straight hanging lines, soft shoulders, and just the faintest hint of a peaked lapel, the Ivy appropriation of the double-breasted gives the jacket an easy, sweater-like fit. Note that the couple above is also wearing button-down shirts with their double-breasted blazers. (Continue)