A college student and Ivy Style reader recently submitted this article on TV pundit Tucker Carlson. Mr. Carlson was kind enough to respond to the young man’s email asking about his clothes. And it’s no surprise he’s a trad dresser: Carlson grew up affluent and has quite the preppy education. He even married the headmaster’s daughter.
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In today’s political climate, characterized by supercharged rhetoric and an unwillingness to listen to others, it is a rare delight when two or more people who on political beliefs could not be more different can civilly discuss and appreciate something as seemingly trivial as a prominent figure’s sartorial choices.
And one can find no better representative in adhering to the rules of traditional American clothing than Tucker Carlson, who hosts an evening news show on Fox. The trained eye of an Ivy style fan can immediately recognize several staples, from his 3-roll-2 sack suits to his vibrant rep and club ties. Searching for images, one finds Carlson in tweed sport coats and LL Bean’s distinctive Norwegian sweater, alongside other outfits featuring Barbour Beauforts and needlepoint belts.
In a world of fast fashion and dismal clothing choices by some of our top public figures, it is comforting to find an adherent to classic style in such a prominent media position.
Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a shock to learn Carlson was privately educated at the prestigious St. George’s School in Middletown, Rhode Island, a school mentioned in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first novel, “This Side of Paradise,” as being “prosperous and well-dressed.” After graduating from the super-preppy Trinity College with a BA in History, Carlson launched a career in print journalism before joining CNN as its youngest anchor ever, where he was appointed co-host of “Crossfire.” Longtime viewers of the show may remember young Carlson’s prolific use of bow ties, a practice that died out after he transferred to MSNBC in 2006.
“If you wear a bow tie, it’s like wearing a middle finger around your neck: you’re just inviting scorn and ridicule,” Carlson once said. “The number of people screaming the F-word at me… it wore me down after a while, so I gave in and became conventional.”
Since his days at CNN and MSNBC, Carlson has climbed the ranks at Fox News to host the coveted 9 PM time slot. Nevertheless, Mr. Carlson took the time to comment on his sartorial choices. “The key to my fashion sense is not having any,” Carlson told Ivy Style via email. “I hate shopping so much that I just buy exactly what I’ve always bought since high school. Fewer decisions to make that way.
“I get my shirts from a place called Mercer & Sons,” he continued. “They’re made in the USA and not too expensive. Best shirts I’ve ever had. In fact, for the past 20 years they’re the only shirts I’ve had: they last forever. David Mercer is an absolutely terrific guy.”
Though you may disagree with Tucker Carlson’s political views, aficionados of classic style will have to admit he does dress damn well. — GARRETT BOYD
This post was long overdue.
This is amazing, love Tucker and his style. Oddly enough, I didn’t see this post coming, however.
Chewco, agreed! Tucker is a breed of his own in that he is grown-up preppy but not quite full-adult Ivy. I also like how he always wears point collars with his suits and never button down collars. As for his politics, I find him to be very moderate which is probably how he has worked for CNN, NBC and Fox.
Tucker is a good guy, and as the article mentions well-dressed. The man writing this comment is someone who does agree with his politics. I would love to see Tucker bring the bow tie back, if just once in a while to give somewhat of a f…. you back to people who criticized that. Maybe we should not apologize for expressing our opinion or for having some class, just because it goes against “liberal” from and function. Nice article.
Why do I think that if Tucker – Rush refers to him as “Chatsworth”- were a left wing disciple of Chuck Schumer we wouldn’t see the words “you may disagree with Tucker”?
Wianno, because the author of this article is a college student, most of whom are liberal. I too am a college student but consider myself more conservative, at least in comparison to today’s left. I like Tucker and find him very moderate and reasonable for someone on the right.
Why do I think that if Tucker – Rush refers to him as “Chatsworth”- were a left wing disciple of Chuck Schumer we wouldn’t read “you may disagree with his political views”?
I have no doubt the bows will return as he gets on in years. They distinguish a noticeably older man but are somewhat dangerous for a younger one
While I rarely watch network or cable, Tucker is worth tuning in for. He’s a magnificent-bastard of the first order.
Have run into him twice in DC; he wears his pomposity (of which there is a lot) with enough of a wink and a nod to make it entertaining. Shame to see him go from Crossfire to his current ‘gotcha’ gig for an audience that wouldn’t know WFB from Jeff Buckley.
I remember somebody–?–referring to the differences, admittedly subtle, between cocky and smug. For some reason we can embrace cockiness because of accompanying wink-and-smirk. Smugness is different. Lacking both self awareness and sense of playful mischief, the smug person cannot abide ridicule. Carlson is cocky in the same wonderful way WFB Jr. was. Smugness is almost never charming.
Related (well sort of) aside: a working theory of trad is that some degree a playful brashness is at work. The wearing of tweed jackets, OCBDs, and repp ties nowadays requires at least a wee bit of pluck. Something of a Wodehousian mentality at work, I think.
Anybody remember when Bill Weld and John Silber faced off an a gubernatorial race a few years ago? Cocky vs. smug.
Oh yeah — Cocky won.
The smug face and tired “gotcha!” persona ruin the otherwise decent attire. Before ditching the bow tie, Carlson looked as if his mum dressed him.
Sartorially excellent, intellectually strong. Politically? Not always my brand of gin, but as a moderate I consume all points of view and tolerate that all sides are a little nuts. That’s okay. It’s the great American experiment. And when In full flame it lights the world as a model. I do love when ivy style compared JFK and GHwB as the president who was most Ivy. Let’s see one on political pundits from both sides.
Author of the article here. Just wanted to clear something up, I personally quite enjoy Tucker Carlson and found him to be a thoroughly agreeable gentlemen in our correspondence. He was very quick to praise David Mercer of Mercer and Sons, and did not seem elitist in the slightest.
For the record I am as far away from Chuck Shumer as a person could get. Just wanted to write an article that appreciated a prominent figures sartorial choices. Hope everyone enjoys it!
Thanks, Garrett, for submitting this!
Now who’s the most trad guy at NPR?
And thank you very much Christian for publishing it!
Any idea where his suits and sportcoats are from?
I think a button-down would suit him. Goes with the overall vibe.
I just don’t see or hear smug. Cocky in spades. But not smug. The guy drove a motorcycle and listens to the Grateful Dead, for goodness sake.
Another example of smug vs. cocky: Faber College’s Omega Theta Pi and Delta Tau Chi.
PhillyTrad goodluck finding someone on the left who dresses that well these days.
Paul, I’m a fan of his and I can assure you I know the difference between those two Buckleys. His current “gig” is delightfully entertaining, you might learn a thing or two by watching it.
There’s a trad guy at NPR? Reflecting on the left–Howard Dean still wears sack suits, OCBDs, and repp ties, but one can easily/safely guess that’s because he hasn’t shopped for clothes since 1988.
What makes this article the most interesting Ivy Style offering in a long time is that we’re discussing someone who’s still dressing old Brooks/Press. It demands intentionality, self-consciousness, and a good bit of effort. Aside from the gents who haven’t bothered to shop since the 80s, nobody who’s still doing the Ivy thing consistently is doing so accidentally. Funny thing is nearly everybody did so accidentally during the Heyday, when it was (just) “what men wore.” You know, what was being sold at the clothing store a few blocks from campus.
There’s nothing more boring than people who are doing what everybody else is doing, which is why there’s such an enormous contrast (in taste and spirit) between the Ivy-wearing guy in 1964 and the Brooks/Press guy of 2017. The latter is a rebel.
Good start to an essay there, SE.
When placing my spring order for shirts from David Mercer, I told him that I thought that I recognized his work on Tucker Carlson. In his usual humble style, he confessed that Tucker was a customer, and had been gracious in crediting, and recommending Mercer and Sons to those who inquired.
Perhaps he will be sartorially inspiring to a new generation.
S.E. I stand corrected, Howard Dean is a good example and probably hasn’t bought new clothing, unlike Tucker. He, as you point out, is a rare example of someone who is consistently dressing well and not by accident. However, most people couldn’t have been dressing this way accidentally during the hey day as the style had to be consciously formed at some point. Almost everyone knew that the collegiate style was fashionable as it was broadcast across America and helped by magazines like Esquire who heralded the style. The style was much copied from this point and that is probably when it became accidental for most. However, these days pretty much no one can do just that. Young men who wish to dress well these days face a challenge; most affordable clothing is trendy and of poor quality. If they manage to find Ivy style and wish to adhere to it they will find that it is no longer easy, or cheap, to dress this way. Ivy style succeeded and became subconscious for many because we once promoted such good style across the country. wonder if that’ll ever happen again…
Mark, I wish I could say Tucker inspired me but he does give me hope, at least. His ties are always nice.
“…most affordable clothing is trendy and of poor quality. If they manage to find Ivy style and wish to adhere to it they will find that it is no longer easy, or cheap, to dress this way.”
I wish it weren’t true, hate being right sometimes.
S.E. ….I guess this means Ivy has become the new counter-culture.
Now you can make it fair and balanced by writing an article on Chris Matthews of Hardball fame. Chris clearly dresses Ivy. 🙂
My favorite Tucker moment occurred when John Stewart asked Tucker how old he was – He responded by saying 35 – John said: “and you wear a bow tie?” That interview marked the end of Crossfire in my mind.
GS – I submit that “delightfully entertaining” is – like many things – in the eye of the beholder. I have seen his television show and, as someone else said, it ain’t my brand of gin. The shame of it is that he has recently gone so down-market from what we nerds might term a “heritage” program.
My personal experience with him – drinking and smoking (when you could still smoke) in the old Mayflower – was perfectly friendly. Still, the haughty outweighed the gracious.
Lest I be pegged politically here, I’ll chime in on another tradly-dresser mentioned above: my wife knows Chris Matthews personally, and assures me that, OCBDs and repp ties aside, he is thoroughly unbearable.
Prestigous – St. Georges? Lol.
I agree with S.E.’s point. It takes an intentional effort to keep the “lower lights burning” by the younger generations (X & Y or Millenials). Additionally you encounter excoriation in business today when you “over dress.” We literally had a guest exec at a symposium coach us against wearing gold buttoned Blazers as the CEO’s we’re consulting with might feel uncomfortable (I wear my 3/2 Southwick anyway and get compliments). I had an executive within the company make fun of me for wearing an OCBD to a cocktail hour (I held my ground). While there’s quite a few of seasoned pols that still walk the old paths it takes some work to find the 55 & younger demo walking them. I think those of us still holding long abandoned ground are doing so in the name of our forefathers; my father dressed this way and thus do I. I have capitulated some (primarily Ferragamo & Armani) but always feel a tinge of shame when I think of the Old Man’s grimace; mostly over the price paid vs. Stafford’s fall sale. The young Arch-Tories of the style world face intransigent opposition in the business world.
Excellent article! I guess William F. Buckley Jr. is not the only conservative with trad tastes.
I’m not sure I would agree with Mr. Carlson about much else, but we both agree that David Mercer is a great guy and Mercer shirts are exactly what they should be.
Too bad they don’t sell that hair at Brooks Brothers, J. Press, or Mercer & Sons.
I thought I read somewhere that he buys his suits and sport coats from J.Press. Which would make sense since they have a DC outpost.
Also he wears Alden’s shell cordovan.. no surprise. http://www.patdollard.com/tucker-carlson-to-replace-greta-as-temp-fill-in-brit-hume-winds-down/
Garrett – I enjoyed your article on Mr. Carlson as I have been a fan of both his work and style for many years. I do find him a bit cocky but I get the impression he doesn’t take himself seriously.
The soft Mercer collar shirts, reps ties, and 3/2 jackets standout from the mostly awful choices made by by other television personalities and even politicians.
Jon Stewart – Now there is the personification of smug!
ljmd, I like the way you think, new counter-culture indeed. Hopefully it catches fire with more youth.
Paul, I see your point but I think he’s winding down a bit but it’s nice to see that he still has a forum. Also, good to hear about Chris Matthews, although it doesn’t take an insider to know that he’s unbearable.
Trad, I too would like to know where he gets his suits and sport coats. I’ll have to do a bit of sleuthing.
NaturalShoulder, funny I got the same impression. I do enjoy the way he eviscerates the morons who he has on his show for debate.
Orange, amen, he is insufferable.
Matthews, Iike Joe Scarborough, does the updated traditional thing pretty consistently. Two button darted, point collars, printed ties. The occasional repp. Boring fabrics. Sort of a dumbed down Paul Stuart vibe. Typical of the D.C. crowd.
Come to think of it, various interpretations of Updated Traditonal rule the upscale men’s clothing market. Spread collars, trim darted jackets with some shoulder, Italian accessorizing– too formal for a campus setting, but it’s all supposed to suggest a higher degree of sophistication.
No one can easily imagine a college sophomore wearing suede monk straps to class, but then postgraduate (usually urban) life comes a calling. For most men, this means the adoption of what’s been marketed as a more refined, modern look.
I, for one, would love to see Carlson take the WFB chair in a PBS resurrection of Firing Line. I think he’d be much more appreciated & in his element there, rather than having to earn his supper by speaking over the heads of his current audience (or, sadder, lower himself to the language they speak). But I’ll have to dream on: intellectualism in American culture is dead, and so will PBS be soon.
Tucker’s preferred choice of loafer is the pointy-toed, full-strap 684. Along with the spread collars he prefers nowadays, I’d characterize his style as updated traditional. Basically Paul Stuart, even if he does wear undarted jackets.
I’ve known (as I suspect many of us have) older gents who still go out of their way to buy old school Ivy kit–sack suits, button downed oxfords, repp ties. As a breed, nearly extinct. I wonder about the suspicion they nurtured for updated traditional in its various incarnations. God knows it’s won the day. The modern-day rich have soft spot for British (Range Rovers, Jaguars, Barbours, Hunter Wellies…) and Italian goods. Begin with “It’s made in Italy” and watch the nouveau riche salivate. A brief glance at a Town & Country reveals the New Rich’s obsession with polished sophistication of this sort. Just try to find a shetland tweed or beefy oxford button down among that lot. They like their “tweeds” soft and their spread-collared shirts of super fine yarns. Luxury!
So far nobody’s attempted an Ivy Style piece about Clifford Grodd. Which is either strange or not, depending upon your perspective. If anybody is responsible for the Madison Avenue gent’s move away from sack suits, OCBDs, and club ties, it’s Grodd. When he began his tenure at Paul Stuart (early 1950s), the store looked a lot like Brooks. With the passing of time and the broadening of taste, Grodd took traditional clothing in a different direction. He stood athwart a Brooksian history, insisting on forward movement. Updated traditional is born– a fancy blend of “Savile Row, Connecticut living and the concrete canyons of New York.”
Years pass. Shaped 2-button suits, pleats, and “interesting” neckwear–they spread like gospel. They make their way to market floors, the hearts and souls of designers and salesmen, and, eventually, the hangers and shelves of your local men’s store. Stores like this:
Mr. Grodd’s know-how and hard work paid off. His vision was contagious, to put it mildly. Alongside Ralph Lauren’s runway sensibilities, “traditional” was reinterpreted for a new generation of men who had learned to look upon sack suits and button downs with contempt. Listen closely to the past–for snide, defamatory remarks like “frumpy,” “boring,” and “dowdy” uttered by the fashion-forward yuppies. Even if Grodd was borrowing bits and piece from a darted, padded-shouldered past, his achievements were unique and modern.
Nowadays, nearly everybody looks like they shop at Paul Stuart. Even if they’re actually shopping at Ben Silver or Billy Reid…or, for that matter, Jos. A. Bank or Men’s Wearhouse.
I’ll go on hating suede monk-straps, spread collars of too-fine broadcloth, tweeds that aren’t itchy or scratchy, flannel that weighs in under 12 oz. per yard, and overly-shaped jackets.
But I’m not entirely sure why. Just do.
Another reliably Trad/Ivy dresser I’ve noticed on the political journalism circuit is Jamelle Bouie. I don’t know much about him, but I have never seen him in anything but OCBD, odd jacket (frequently madras) and always knit or rep tie. I’ve often wondered to myself where he shops.
Paul, I believe Tucker did have a PBS gig at one time (early 00s, perhaps) back when PBS was taking pains to make a more balanced news lineup. I’m not sure it ever caught on with the PBS crowd, but it was more Charlie Rose than Firing Line if IIRC.
Thanks you, Garrett. Very nice article with great pictures. On the bow tie front, there may be some good news. For years, I was the only one in my office who ever wore a bow tie, aside from evening dress. Over the past few months, several of the younger guys (20’s/early 30’s) have started wearing the occasional bow, and a few of the 40’s and 50’s set are also joining in once a week or so. Probably just a hipster-generated fad finally trickling down to the hinterlands, but I like it. The undergrads too seem to be wearing more bow ties with their blazers and khakis when dressing up. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
Really nice article, Garrett – many thanks.
Have to admit I do like those point collar oxfords – might have to give it some thought.
S.E. – Great observations.
Backing OCBD – that was a fantastic observation. I like much of what PS has to offer, but it is interesting that among dressier gents, that’s the look. I like a lot of what Sid offers – and Harrison, Ltd., Ben Silver – but yes.
We’re all Paul Stuart now.
SE, why don’t you expand on that a tad more and I’ll run it as a post?
In reference to S. E.’s comments, Paul Stuart was never a poor man’s Brooks Brothers. It was rather for the New Money Guy who didn’t have the inbred panache or courage to wear the frumpier EEL [Eastern Establishment Look]. Paul Stuart was a little more Savile Row sleek. Ralph Lauren, being the non-WASP boy from the Bronx that he was, preferred Stuart to The Brethren. And, by the way, the unspoken and forgotten hero in this tailoring tale is a man named Roland Meledandri, who had a shop on East 53rd, if I remember correctly. and had brought that look Stateside: jackets had a natural shoulder, nipped waist, and deep side vents.The sort of thing Astaire wore in his later years. Lauren loved Meledandri’s clothes and took his ideas from him. Meledandri himself had been inspired by the Savile Row firm of Huntsman.
The tailor in Manhattan who also perfected this more shaped Anglo-American look was Morty Sills, a cantankerous but warm-hearted character beloved by his customers. Some will remember the line in the film “Wall Street” referring to him.
Tucker IS a great guy and happens to be well-mannered in addition to being well-dressed. Much like WF Buckley, you can expect a correspondece in return if you write him. Much of his political stance is rooted in classical liberalism and Americanism, which one might be more accepting of if given to a more reflective ear and not the combative posture so charecteristic of our age.
Cheers to you Garrett for a fine article.
Re: Tucker’s bow tie
“At MSNBC, the producers had spent months asking Carlson to abandon the tie, because they felt that it encouraged the audience to view him as a character, or perhaps a caricature. ”
The remark that Prof. Boyer referred to above:
“Buy a decent suit. You can’t come in here looking like this. Just go to Morty Sills; tell him I sent you.”
GS says ” …. reasonable for someone on the right.”
I just find it adorable how people must express this sentiment when talking about non-progs.
Maybe it is the pics you chose, but notice no Button downs.
To Mr. Boyer: Huntsman was maybe the inspiration for nipped waist and deep vents(Ralphs were somewhere above 12″. But at a trunks show I attended years ago that featured all clothing labels SAKS carried, I had a conversation with the Huntsman rep. Looked at FDR’s pattern and the wild plaids. Their shoulder, however, was not natural or sloped. The first clothing I sold from Polo in the late 70’s and early 80’s was shirtsleeve round, soft and sloped. Made in the Lanham factory. The clothing then would stand up today.
Senator Whitehouse (D – Rhode Island) is not always clad in Ivy pieces, but he will often nod that direction. He gets his fair share of camera time in Judiciary Committee hearings, and typically has a very good collar roll.
Could somebody tell me where Tucker gets his ties? Brooks Brothers, or Ben Silver from Charleston, South Carolina? Ben Silver seems to have the best selection of authentic rep ties….but maybe there is a better source?
I adore Tucker’s views most of the time but he must be color-blind and unable to pair patterns, as his taste in clothing has deteriorated to tacky…a light blue and white vertical striped shirt with a navy jacket is fine…then he adds a green and gold diagonal striped tie!!! Did his wife leave him or something? If so, it shows and he needs a pro dresser before putting him on air.