W. David Marx, who recently gave us his interview with “Take Ivy” author Toshiyuki Kuroso, today shared on Ivy Style’s Facebook page his Pinterest devoted to Japanese Ivy books he’s discovered. It’s another fascinating glimpse into Japan’s longstanding reverence for American natural-shouldered clothing. (Continue)
Recently we reported on the inexpensive trad stuff available at JC Penney via its Stafford Prep line, and now here’s a follow-up.
If you’re short, trad and broke, Penney’s has just the seersucker for you.
Yes, this suit jacket — which I have seen in person and assumed Sponge Bob was the fit model — is priced at a mere $60 and features such trad details as an undarted chest, patch pockets, and, believe it or not, a hook vent.
That’s right: The world is so upside down now that a sixty-dollar department store novelty jacket costs less than a Ralph Lauren pocket square, yet nails more traditional Ivy checkboxes than Brooks Brothers’ finest suit.
There is some shoulder structure, however, and it’s a two-button. But you could always pretend it’s from The Andover Shop.
There’s only one length, “regular,” and it’s Thom Brownish, so you’ll need to be a short to consider this. Not to mention parsimonious. — CC
It was the summer of 1982, not quite two years after Lisa Birnbach wrote “The Official Preppy Handbook,” and I got a call from my agent in New York. After several rounds of auditions, I (then known as Susan Dow) was cast in “Preppies” and was rehearsing at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Connecticut.
The show was being directed by Pete Masterson, a fellow Texan, and straight off of his hit “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” His oldest daughter, Lexi, was in the show and his younger daughter who was still in high school would come and visit on the weekends. I don’t think any of us would have guessed Lexi’s baby sister would go on to be the movie star Mary Stuart Masterson. After performing the show for future backers, our four weeks were up we said our goodbyes and headed back to Manhattan.
Twelve whole months would pass before I got another call from my agent informing me that they were now ready to do “Preppies” Off-Broadway. Of course nothing is easy in show business, and my agent informed me that the show had a brand new director/choreographer named Tony Tanner, and we would all be required to audition for him. After singing and dancing several times, I was cast as Lallie deForest. I was more than surprised to learn that I was the only one from the workshop that had been cast in this new production.
Some fun little tidbits about “Preppies” are that the music was written by a very young Gary Portnoy, best known for writing the theme song to the hit TV show “Cheers.” The cast, of course, was in head-to-toe madras and Lily Pulitzer, had taps attached to our Top-Siders, and even did a number in the show with flippers on our feet. You can find copies of both the script and cast album on eBay, and I understand that “Preppies” is quite popular with high school drama departments.
I always thought that our producer, Anthony Fingleton, was a true blue-blood preppy, but I did a little research to refresh my memory and discovered that Tony came from quite humble beginnings in Australia. But he did go to Harvard, and that probably counts for something.
I would love to wrap this story up with a wonderful opening night, rave reviews and a long run, but that isn’t the way this show turned out. “Preppies” received less-than-stellar reviews and closed within a matter of weeks.
But great things did come from being in “Preppies.” I made and remain friends with most of the cast. We all got along, which I will tell you is quite rare. The saddest thing about closing was not being able to laugh every day with those funny and talented actors. I became best friends with fellow castmate, Karyn Quackenbush, and two years later she would set me up on a blind date with a guy named Scott Bartlett.
Scott and I just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary and have two terrific sons. — SUSAN BARTLETT
Susan Bartlett — we kid you not — makes preppy clothes for dogs and sells them on Etsy (where she also occasionally sells vintage menswear). Her son Sam, a jazz pianist, graduates from SMU this spring and can be seen here performing the classic “Straight, No Chaser.”
There are several bits of news here in Tradsville, so let’s take care of them all at once.
First off is a new e-book by Sven from Gentleman’s Gazette. The book is on the style of the 1930s and includes a number of Apparel Arts and Esquire images you may not have seen before, several of which feature a university setting from the time when college men were considered among the best dressed in the country.
In the history of the Ivy League Look, Arnold Gingrich should receive honorable mention status solely based on his consideration of naming his fledgling magazine Town and Campus. He chose, however, to name it Esquire, and if that was were the story ended it would not be enough to warrant the virtual ink on this page. But Gringrich’s true contribution to Ivy is the nearly forgotten tale of his involvement in the launch of the Bass Weejun.
For much of the 20th century, American fashion was a top-down affair. Fashions were observed in places like Palm Beach, Newport, and swank continental resort towns, and reported in publications like Apparel Arts and Esquire. This reporting was accompanied by the artistic rendering of Lawrence Fellows and Leslie Salberg, whose illustrated men were bronzed and handsome. Whether on the beach or in the club these figures sailed through life with beautiful raiment and broad smiles that never betrayed a hint of the Great Depression. Theses images of the good life gave the merchant a look to sell and offered the customer a little respite in the same way their less-clothes-conscious contemporaries would flock to the movies for a dose of escapism.
If the average American was expected to ape the style of his social betters, the moneyed vagabonds that set the trends were completely unshackled. They sourced with impunity from vendors ranging from the carriage trade to local crofters. These style setters were inspired by both high and low culture and blended them effortlessly. They seemed to always incorporate part of the native kit wherever they traveled. Notable items brought back to the States included Aran knits, Breton red sailing trousers and striped jersey top, espadrilles and huarache sandals. In the modern vernacular it could be said that they were appropriating workwear to suit a life of leisure. The clothes of the indigenous fisherman, coal miners and peasants found a whole new appreciative market, and in the march to popular acceptance would travel far both in terms of geography and intended use.
The same trajectory can be seen in the story of the Weejun. In the 19th century, English sportsman began flocking to Norway to fish salmon. An especially popular fishing destination, according to J.P. Myhre, a bespoke shoemaker in Norway, was the Valley of Aurland situated in Sognefjorden. Myhre relates that by the dawn of the 2oth century these “Lords of Salmon” had taken to wearing a locally crafted slipon called a teser. These Norwegian peasant shoes would have remained the private vice of the well heeled angler, but forces were in place by 1935 that would shatter the shoes’ amenity.
Esquire representatives first saw the shoes at European resorts, followed by Palm Beach in the 1935/36 winter season. The shoes seen in Palm Beach were true Norwegian shoes sourced from two London shops; at the time there was no American maker of the shoe.
The tale of exactly how the Weejun came to be is still a little murky and has hints of sartorial skulduggery. It’s clear that Esquire saw the shoes in 1935; perhaps sensing their potential, Esquire partnered with the store Rogers Peet, which agreed to carry the as-yet-unproduced shoe. Esquire and Rogers Peet then commissioned Bass to make the Weejun. (Continue)
Yesterday I visited the Bass showroom and got a look at the new US-made Weejun due out this fall. Bass made some last year for the Weejun’s 75th anniversary, but these are new shoes that will be part of the standard Bass lineup.
The shoes are made in Maine, and while the sales rep was unable to verify which shoe factory is making them, there are only a couple possibilities. The shoes will be available in a variety of finishes, including the pebble-grain calf pictured (far left), and burgundy and black shell cordovan (right). The cordovan models felt a bit lighter in construction compared to Alden and Allen Edmonds, and also less shiny, which many of you may like.
Bass is making a huge leap from its current entry-level Weejuns into the premium category with these new US-made models, which are priced nearly the same as those of the aforementioned competitors. The calf Weejun is expected to sell for $350 and the cordovan for $650. They should be availble in October.
For the budget conscious, Bass is looking to move production of its entry-level Weejun from El Salvador back to Brazil, where the shoes were made before, which the sales rep suggested would bring an increase in quality.
Finally, on Monday assistant editor Christopher Sharp will present a fascinating article on the origins of the Weejun. — CC