Poor Richard

Richard Yates was one of those guys who adopted the Ivy look early in life and never let go of it. Whether due to good taste, lack of imagination, or being too impecunious to afford new clothes, Yates’ perennial style was described by Dan Wakefield (author of “New York in the Fifties”) as follows:

Yates never lusted for riches, and I can’t imagine him wearing anything other than his daily uniform of Brooks Brothers navy blue blazer, button-down blue shirt with rep tie, and gray flannel trousers. Whether I saw him in New York in the ’50s or Boston in the ’80s he was always dressed the same.

Those who use “The Official Preppy Handbook” as their literary canon as well as sartorial breviary will already be familiar with his novel “A Good School,” which is on the OPH’s recommended reading list. For those unfamiliar with Yates’ work, here are some places to start:

Wakefield’s article on Yates, from The Boston Globe. Yates at Amazon. Reviews of the “Revolutionary Road” film adaptation at Rotten Tomatoes. — CC

8 Comments on "Poor Richard"

  1. When I saw your post title, I thought, oh great…..another WASP 101 commentary (not that you have done one before……I am referring to Ask Andy). Anyway, I am enjoying your site, and I think you do a great deal of research before posting. Very nice !

  2. Last year I never wore anything to the university other than a navy blue blazer, button-down blue shirt with repp tie, and gray flannel trousers.
    I can assure you that that meant that I was far better dressed than the vast majority of my professorial colleagues

  3. Impecunious. Excellent.

  4. Perhaps a bit off topic, but The Key School in Annapolis could possibly be the subject of a book called “The Bad School.” See” https://www.keyschool.org/uploaded/Community/upload/RpJan28.pdf?1548712734614

    Listed in the TOPH as a private school of Bohemian leanings, it is now #keytoo for the unchecked behavior of male faculty which occurred during the time period book was published.

    The male faculty at Key during that timeframe most likely did not wear blue blazers… or rep ties.

  5. The Seinfeld episode “The Jacket,” in which Jerry meets Elaine’s father while wearing a new suede jacket that ends up getting damaged due to snowfall and his decision not to wear it inside out for fear of ridicule, is based on Richard Yates.

    https://www.theawl.com/2011/12/larry-davids-rough-night-out-with-the-aging-literary-lion/

  6. René Lebenthal | January 31, 2019 at 4:21 am |

    Funilly I started to read this book because I found it on the preppy handbook reading list.
    But never finished it…I will do now. Thanky you Chens.

  7. Grey Flannels | January 31, 2019 at 9:45 am |

    “daily uniform of Brooks Brothers navy blue blazer, button-down blue shirt with rep tie, and gray flannel trousers”

    Except for an occasional tweed jacket instead of the navy blazer, and an occasional white shirt instead of a blue one, what else could one possibly want?

  8. As a man who is beginning his 7th decade, I came late to Prep, Ivy and Trad clothing, Quel Dommage! Your site has been a great educator for me. Please continue the informative, educational and amusing articles, and commentary. BTW, I signed up supporting the site and encourage others to do as well. Quality writing is not free.

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