Pushing Buttons: York Street Revives The 4/3


JPress 4B

In the reliably lively commentary on the last post, commenter “Oxford Cloth Button Down” called attention to a couple of four-button jackets in the latest York Street collection. As divisive as York Street is, the jackets will no doubt fan the flames of distaste.

But what appears as another case of youth-market flippancy actually has its roots in the J. Press archives. When I first saw the York Street jackets, I was reminded of a post I wrote back in 2009 about a 4/3 roll jacket from J. Press featured in a 1952 issue of Gentry:

jpress 4_3

The Gentry article calls the 4/3 a reference to the 1920s, and I think there is a specter of ’20s influence at work in the York Street jacket. With its half belt, flapped breast pocket, and military-style pointed pocket flaps, it looks like a cropped, nipped version of a half-Norfolk shooting coat.

[yop_poll id=”28″]

All this thinking of 4/3 jackets has me wondering how a traditional four-button coat would be received today if it was re-released by J.Press, unaldulterated, as it was in 1952. Is it an obscure classic that deserves a comeback, or an abomination that needs to stay dead? Cast your vote. — ZACHARY DELUCA

imagesZachary DeLuca is a freelance writer who also operates Newton Street Vintage. He was recently appointed Ivy Style’s assistant editor.

70 Comments on "Pushing Buttons: York Street Revives The 4/3"

  1. Where’s the shot of that Beat poet in a 4/3? I thought it was Neal Cassidy but am not finding him via the search window.

  2. I’m not opposed to new and different things. I think with the right button stance and fit, it could look perfectly fine. To disregard simply because it has an extra hidden button is a little prejudicial.

  3. The J. Press 4-Button Jacket from the mid-50s was utilized for a season or two mainly to accommodate a brief Norfolk Jacket revival that was short lived.

  4. The idea is interesting, but the York Street execution looks terrible. The too-long sleeves, prole gapped collar, bunched up waist suppression, and too short length = he’s wearing a ladies’ jacket. They should just reverse the button/buttonhole sides and get it over with.

  5. The lapel on that top jacket is out of control in my opinion, but that could just be due styling. Let’s pretend that it is. I also have a feeling that the bottom jacket was made for cool weather so I am not sure that the linen/cotton blends serve the have the same purpose.

    I won’t rain York St.’s parade as I know that I am not their target audience. I am far too boring.

  6. An extra button is not a sin. Silly clothes are. Reggie

  7. Taliesin
    Like I’ve said before, this is a great season for women and very short men to buy blazers.

  8. The styling greatly lacks compared to the original 50s Press 4 button blazer. But still, I was really never a big fan of the 4 button jacket. Just looks to awkward to me.

  9. Terribly tied necktie. Unbuttoned, affected collar. Sleeves too long. 3 strikes before we even get to the 4th button.

  10. The thing looks like it’s begging to be an overcoat. In fact, with the second image, I can’t tell that it’s not. I don’t really care for true 3-button jackets, especially ones with such a high buttoning stance, so I’m starting off rather more prejudiced than I usually am.

    Haven’t studies showed that an odd number of items look more pleasing to the eye? We clearly need to push this to five buttons and find out.

  11. One could argue why 2, 3, or even 4 buttons? All you need is one when it gets right down to it. The others are ornaments.

  12. Looking forward to seeing some authentic ivy style on Ivy Style.

  13. Oxblood Ruffin | February 13, 2014 at 8:55 am |

    Armani did these around ten years ago in navy blue. He totally pulled it off. I hope J.Press moves on this, especially in tweeds.

  14. Maybe…with the right cut, style, and proportions a 4/3 would work. The 3/2 is basically a 2 button because you’d never button the top button even thought it has 3 buttons. If that’s true, a 4/3 would act as a 3 button, and, last I checked, it is socially acceptable to wear a 3 button jacket.

    As for the jacket, shirt, and tie on the model. I think think the person who put these clothes on the model should be fired. The tie is too loose, the shirt collar a bit too big, and the size of the jacket is wrong all over (collar gap, waist, sleeves).

  15. @aev – great commentary. What do the tie and collar have to do with the jacket?

  16. Clearly this 3/4 photo should not have been included on the website and must have been overlooked. The full length photo does not show the styling flaws. Check it out. http://www.jpressonline.com/unstructured-4-button-travel-blazer-linen-cotton-navy/. I’m sure the offending photo will be replaced.

  17. @Christian,
    Here is the photo of poet Michael McClure wearing a 4/3 with patch breast pocket:
    from this article: http://www.ivy-style.com/where-all-the-angry-young-men-go.html

  18. @bimmer (really?) –

    Great question! The terrible styling of the outfit as a whole speaks to the general failure of York Street to “get it right”…and, of course, my comment included a critique of the jacket’s sleeves….which are too long and (along with the mis-tied tie and forced shirt collar affectation) detract from the effectiveness of the marketing effort put forward by York St. in an effort to sell this jacket.

    What does your commentary have to do with the jacket?

  19. @foster frost – the link/pic you referenced includes the exact same styling issues, plus additional ones (too short, rolled pants and sneakers).

  20. The 4-button coat is a holdover from Victorian times, especially on sporting garments where the wearer might reasonably desire to button up all of the buttons. Four button suit coats were de rigueur until about 1910, when both men’s and women’s garments started to reflect utility necessary for modern living (e.g., jumping on and off street cars and “els,” hoping in and out of cars and, of course, the introduction of quality heating). Other than Ivy purveyors like J. Press and Brooks Brothers, among others, most men’s suits by the 1920s were 2-button models. I believe that this is still the case.

    A 4-button coat today reflects nothing other than the designer/wearer’s desire to be different. Unlike pin stripes, which have a thinning effect, or tweed tartans, which provide warmth, the 4-button coat is simply anachronistic. I will leave the aesthetics debate to others.

  21. In real life this look (as opposed to some others) would be cool and would not cause eyebrows to raise at a summer cocktail party or whatever….some of the others may get pushed into the pool however(!)…but this look is good and feels natural and easy. In the full pic the tie looks better, the collar is buttoned…the shoes don’t bother me. To me there is nothing wrong with a little ankle in the spring time. I know that the traditional clothing crowd is a tough one, similar in tone to the opera crowd, who do not like new productions and love to boo opening night curtain calls. The thing I am troubled by (a little) is that CC has chosen to showcase this photo and this brand, thereby chumming the sharks with bloody meat. If I had not seen CC show optimism towards this brand in the past I would think there was more at play here.

  22. @ AEV – the post was asking opinions on the jacket so I guess I didn’t understand why you would mention the other points

  23. @Bimmer –

    Well, if that was where your misunderstanding existed (odd since my comment did indeed offer an opinion on the jacket), than I’m even more confused than you were regarding your comment on my comment….one that made no attempt whatsoever to offer your opinion on the jacket. Huh.

    But, of course, your real effort was to attempt to criticize my comment, not to seek clarity or understanding or, even, to offer your services as a comment section umpire (though you’d obviously be terrific at such a role). I think that worked out beautifully for you. You?

  24. @aev – I was not attempting to criticize your comment. I merely found it odd for you to comment on something that was unrelated to the post. Alas, you seem to do that enough with your seeming unending references to Mr. Castleberry on nearly every post. Perhaps you’re too busy coming up with your next fake Castelberry twitter post. Yeah perhaps that is the reason you missed the questions posed in this post and felt it necessary to comment on the overall styling versus the jacket itself.

  25. @foster frost –

    this look is “natural and easy”? there’s nothing natural or easy about purposely leaving one side of your collar unbuttoned, wearing a 4 button jacket, rolling one’s pants to achieve a feigned nonchalance, or seeking out reissue, vintage-y sneakers to complete some sort of thrown back, vintage ‘prep’ costume. this “look” is the dead opposite of ‘natural’ – it’s nearly as contrived as possible.

    moreover, the issue isn’t one of the “traditional crowd’ vs. anyone. the issue is one of dressing like an adult, with self-awareness and maturity. I don’t know what sort of cocktail parties you go to, but I’m in my mid-30s and wouldn’t conceive of throwing on a blazer and neck tie with sneakers and no socks (never mind the other affectations). it just doesn’t work. it’s hyper trendy, overthought, and juvenile in appearance…..you might not get thrown in the pool, but you certainly wouldn’t be taken seriously either.

  26. @Bimmer.

    Here’s your criticism of my comment: “I found it odd for you to comment on something that was unrelated…”. In case you missed it, that’s you criticizing my comment and characterizing it as odd.

    And, amazingly, again you’ve offered a comment with zero relevance to the jacket posting, while at the same time bending over backwards with concern that someone else might do the same (even when they didn’t)…..I hope you’re eating irony for lunch. In your bimmer and York St. gear.

  27. @ AEV – nah I prefer my irony for dinner. You however take yours for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Someone who is so against Mr. Castelberry yet poses for his blog, borderline stalks the guys every post (seriously, do you have a card catalogue on this man’ content) and then creates a parody twitter account to talk bad about him and his family. I’m assuming your dessert is irony as well?

  28. @Bimmer – boy, I was slow on that. Hi Fred; welcome to Ivy-Style.com. Slow day reviewing intern applications?

    No, again, I have nothing to do with the Twitter account. Nothing whatsoever. I’m not on Twitter and never will be. At least it’s not bothering you….

    Your not-so-new thing is to suggest that you’re afflicted with (only) a small handful of haters, who ‘stalk’ and dissect you….me being chief among them. As you and all of us know – and any casual perusal of GOMI or other platforms will confirm – there are hundreds of people who can’t stand you and see right through your bullsh*t. So, if you believe it helps your branding and online presence to compartmentalize and reframe your critics, ok….but, it doesn’t change your pathetic reality (as much as we know you love ‘changing realities’….). Go throw on a Rugby duffle coat, tweed vest, sweatpants, lizard loafers, and walk around Prospect Park…..you’ve got some art to create.

  29. @ AEV – lol, well this is not at all Fred but thank you for confirming my message. Good day to you sir.

  30. @Bimmer – great commentary. What does Fred Egan Castleberry or my comments have to do with the jacket?

  31. @ AEV
    @ Bimmer

    I find you both endlessly entertaining. Please keep it up! However, I tend more often than not to agree with AEV’s comments.

  32. @ AEV – absolutely nothing.

  33. @FredBimmer – You truly are the gift that keeps on giving. A sad, confused, outmatched, delusional, overconfident, laughingstock, failure of a gift. I truly hope you find a way to keep your little charade of a blog/’career’ alive….just enough fuel in the tank to keep the jalopy on the road. I’m practically begging – never give up.

    “Good day to you sir”

  34. @CC – perhaps you can confirm, as you have in the past for other commenters, that “bimmer’s” (Fred) IP address affirms that he’s in NYC?

  35. @ AEV – what is sad is a grown man obsessed with a blogger/stylist/photographer/whatever. So what if Mr. Castleberry throws paint on his paints, wishes he were truly brought up preppy, likes to wear too right clothing, hang out with college prepsters, go on fake sailing trips with the KJP clan etc etc. what difference does it make to you at the end of the day? Where does this trip you up in your daily life? It doesn’t take long to see or much research to know who he is and so be it if neo-prep teeny boppers want to drool over him. Let it go dude….let it go

  36. @Bimmer…..you’re hopelessly outgunned. Best advice is to give it a rest.

  37. Bimmer, darling, AEV isn’t behind the twitter account. The handle has a penchant for online slang and has terrible spelling. I’m fairly certain AEV would convulse if he ever attempted use words like “bruh” and “sick,” assuming he even used them correctly.

  38. @ Dan – I used to visit Unabashedly Prep years ago and AEV commented fairly often and did in fact use those terms. Of coure it would also make sense to speak that way on his parody account to further hide his identity. Trust me, AEV is behind the account in question. No one else on the internet is that obsessed with Mr. Castleberry to have as much ammunition as AEV.

  39. Ha, I just caught myself with an unbuttoned collar point. How cool I am. Thank you for validating me, York Street.

    I did fix it though. Maybe next time.

  40. I’m more troubled by the fact it is at least two sizes too small and his tie and stomach are sticking out of the bottom.

  41. I wouldn’t say it’s merely two sizes too small. It’s both too small and too big – too short thru the body of the jacket, but the sleeves are too long, and the collar area is too roomy, creating a gap.

    Longish sleeves coupled with a short, fitted, waist-and-hip emphasizing jacket body. Defining characteristics of a ladies’ jacket. Like this one from BB, which they at least clearly mark as being in the women’s department:


  42. More New York hipster crap. Go figure.

    Only women’s clothing should suffer from that sort of tapering.

    Plus–and this is the real kiss of death for the line–the shoulders appear to be roped, even if a bit. What a mess.

  43. Just noticed the rounded flap on the chest patch pocket. Hideous.

  44. @Bimmer (Fred) –

    No, I’ve never used the slang terms “bruh” or “sick” – not now, not ‘years ago’….and, again, I’m not behind the Twitter account. To be frank, I wish I’d thought of it (or understood the value/use of Twitter enough to conceive of it) as it’s hilarious. But, I can’t take credit.

    Have fun snapping photos of old Rugby colleagues at fashion week, bruh.

  45. @ AEV – once again, not fred here.

    @ CC – feel free to validate the orgin of my IP

  46. @Bimmer – Huh. One of Fred’s sons?

    Do you have any idea what a cringe-inducing handle “bimmer” is?

  47. @ AEV – here you come with your personal attacks. I knew that wouldn’t take long given your history.

  48. @Bimmer –

    Quick recap:

    1. I commented on this jacket post, including relevant critiques of the jacket itself and the general ensemble. I made no mention of Fred Egan, his kids, or anything related to him.
    2. You criticized my comment, expressing concern that it wasn’t relevant enough. Your comment was directed personally, at me, and included zero commentary on the jacket or the post.
    3. I pointed out this irony, questioned why you’d criticize my comment for no obvious or good reason, and – after your failed to offer a sensible clarification – made it clear that you’re a sad, confused, ignorant patsy (for Fred).
    4. You don’t like being wrong and don’t know when to quit. So, you kept up your commentary…..all of it focused on me, not the jacket posting.
    5. Finally, when you don’t know what else to say or do, you accuse me of personally attacking you. How about that!

    If you weren’t so grating, I’d feel bad for you. Whatever you do, don’t stop using the term ‘bimmer’ – knowing what I now do about you, it’s perfect and will be providing many people with pleasure and humor for years to come.

  49. @ AEV – thank you sir

  50. @Bimmer

    Since your back-and-forth has taken up nearly a third of the comments here, and since that back-and-forth is not specifically directed towards offering opinions on the York Street jacket pictured above, or on the idea of a 4/3 jacket in general, I will ask, speaking only for myself, that you take it elsewhere. I don’t know, or care, about “Castleberry,” any more than I knew, or cared, about “WASP101” when that blog was a frequent off-topic obsession at Ivy Style. I also don’t care about faux i-Gent bonhomie, so I’m going to be blunt – in my opinion, you are both being tiresome and annoying, and are undermining this attempt at a discussion by gumming up the works with your petty, pointless squabble.

  51. @Taliesin,

    I hope your perceived high road is as straight and narrow as you believe it to be. Just stop: our comments in no way “undermine this attempt at a discussion”. They just don’t…..in any practical or conceivable way. So, stop pretending to be annoyed or tired – it’s a blog comment section, not a congressional hearing.

  52. The funniest part of this discussion has to be Taliesin’s chump-speak. Most of the time the folks who preceive themselves to be on the high road are far far far from it. What really needs further discussion of the York street jacket?

  53. A.E.W. Mason | February 14, 2014 at 1:58 pm |

    The 1952 J. Press jacket has an almost Edwardian look about it. I wouldn’t feel comfortable in it. However, the natural shoulders on it are perfection and by contrast show how current J. Press shoulders are somewhat constructed.

  54. Katzenjammer | February 14, 2014 at 2:47 pm |

    @A.E.W Mason:

  55. Katzenjammer | February 14, 2014 at 2:48 pm |

    ooops, lol. Well my question is, have you (A.E.W Mason) seen any of Mr. Paul Winston’s m-t-m jackets? I’m wondering if those are natural shoulders close to “perfection.”

  56. @AEV: To me, wading thru the pointless and irrelevant “Castleberry” posts by you, Bimmer and others to try to find the substantive posts is tiresome and annoying. I’m not pretending, and I won’t “just stop”.

    Ninety percent of your posts in this thread have no relevance to a larger group – they are an argument specifically between you and Bimmer on an off-topic subject. Find somewhere else, perhaps email or a local boxing ring, to continue that discussion. The speed of your response – 8 minutes after my post – suggests that you have too much time, and perhaps too much aggression, on your hands. Deal with those things elsewhere.

    And as far as the “high road” goes, asking two people to stop disrupting a minor discussion on a lady-jacket does not seem to me to be a very high road – that’s a pretty low standard.


    “Chump-speak”? That doesn’t mean anything.

  57. @Taliesin –

    I am sure I can’t afford your armchair psychiatry, but thank you for the diagnosis. As I believe I was clear about, my initial comment was decisively relevant to the post – the remainder were defending myself against @bimmer’s transparent attack. I don’t need your approval or permission to defend myself.

  58. Can somebody post a link to this parody Castleberry twitter account?

    Now I’m curious.

  59. @AEV
    Do you have your own blog?
    Would like to see if you walk the walk.

  60. @Hans Graf –

    Hell no I don’t. Nor would I ever. I don’t have any appetite in sharing and plastering my life all over the internet. I think it’s deplorable that so many people do…..it’s an epidemic of vanity, insecurity, bravado, and regret.

    That said, in an effort to ‘walk the walk’ I did allow Fred Castleberry to photograph me for his blog (for a week) a few years ago (after repeated dares and taunts to do so by him and his supporters)….you can go find them on his blog if you’d like.

  61. “I don’t have any appetite in sharing and plastering my life all over the internet”.
    Proceeds to post 2 old links to exactly this point. EPIC!!

  62. @aev -love your pictures! You should consider your own blog to show how grown up men with style looks like. Your obsession with UP is obvious though. I only learned from your comments about his existence.

  63. Oh @bimmer, you using ‘epic’ just made my evening. Thank you. To be clear, I posted the links because it would have been impossible for @Hans or anyone to find the postings given how Fred archived them (anonymously)….so, I didn’t want to be accused of offering access to pics no one could actually locate.

    Thank you for your braces expertise. Priceless.

  64. @ AEV – impossible to find the postings? I just went to unabashedly prep and simply typed “AEV” in the search bar and the “Whale Watching” post is the first that returns on the list. You are truly pathetic sir. I suppose “priceless” is more trad than “epic” so my apologies there. Good evening.

  65. @Bimmer (you’re really still going with that, huh?) –

    You’re something…and appear addicted to being dressed down. Searching ‘AEV’ on UPrep doesn’t bring my week of profiled posts up. It brings up posts where my initials happen to be in the comment section multiple times…..it’s a total coincidence that the ‘whale’ one comes up….not a single one of the others do (as you already knew since they don’t appear anywhere in the search results).

    Stop using ‘sir’ – you sound like a clown (and/or Fred, who also happens to use that word all the time….just like he uses ‘bimmer’ all the time too. Huh.).

  66. My comments on the four button jacket in Style Forum back in 2010:

    The late and sainted Roland Meledandri, a major influence in high-end menswear in the 70s
    till his untimely death, wore four button suits during the Ivy League style era in the late
    ’50s -60s. At the time he worked at the pioneering clothiers, Calsual Aire and Men’s Town
    and Country in Greenwich Village and later the East Side, where the merchandise pushed
    the “Ivy” envelope. He also sported a magnificent handle bar mustache. I had one of his
    tweed suits. It only had three buttons.

  67. The whole Four Button Thread from Style Forum:


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