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)
Bills Khakis, an American brand that made its name with sturdy chinos based upon military khakis from the 1940s, has released a new line inspired by the early origins of khaki cloth itself.
The new line, Tea Label, is geared toward a younger customer seeking a trimmer fit. The Tea Label trousers have a lower rise and trimmer leg than the company’s mainline offerings, and fabrics are distressed, garment dyed, and faded, in pastel shades as well as classic khaki hues. The name itself is a reference to British soldiers using tea-staining to camouflage their uniforms during the 1840s. (Continue)
A collection of six bow ties belonging to pioneering modernist architect Walter Gropius (1883-1969) are currently on display at the Harvard Graduate School of Design’s Frances Loeb Library.
Gropius, along with fellow modernist Le Corbusier, helped cement the bow tie as an emblem of nonconformist thinking, creativity, and architectural genius. The bow ties in the collection provide a glimpse into Gropius’ personal taste, his connection to Harvard, and his thoughts about the small accessory that makes a big statement. (Continue)
Since it first aired in 2007, “Mad Men” has been the point of origin of a nostalgic zeitgeist for all things mid-century. From hotels to haircuts, from two-inch ties to tiki bars, an infatuation with the so-called “Mad Men Era” has permeated fashion and design.
Now the trend may finally be reaching its inevitable end, at least according to Esquire Magazine. (Continue)