Return Of The Shadow

A few weeks ago I received an email from a Bermuda-based clothing brand, and, in light of our current island-based miniseries, now is the perfect opportunity to address it. It’s also a follow-up to my essay on the “bro,” which I thought was posted not so many months ago, but in fact dates from last summer. Tempus fugit.

The email depicted a group of handsome, healthy young men dressed up in more-or-less traditional Bermuda kit —, at least that as practiced by Anglo-American types paying a visit to the island. Present are the gold-button navy blazers, the bright go-to-hell shorts, fun neckwear, and serious shoes. But a closer look reveals that while the general elements are present, the distinguishing details that link the look to tradition are desafinado, or, as the song goes, slightly out of tune.

The company is called Tabs, which bills itself as purveyors of The Authentic Bermuda Shorts.

I’m not entirely sure what the point is, as perhaps the images simply raise a lot of questions. Is it that they represent a bastardizing of tradition? Or are they commendable in their effort to maintain tradition, but simply sad in the execution? Perhaps the issue is simply mediocre taste. Which leads us to the notion of how intimately taste and tradition are intertwined. Perhaps a decline in tradition always brings about a decline in taste. Alan Flusser would likely agree, having pointed out that the average man of the ’30s was impeccably dressed by the standards of today, as the art he was practicing — the art of dressing  — was then “in form.” Tempus fugit, indeed.

Forgive me for sounding morose. Perhaps it’s because I’ve recently revisited Spengler. Or because, were I in the picture, I’d jump into that beautiful blue water before I even got my clothes off. Regardless, like neo-prep, this neo-Bermuda style is certainly a branch of the trad tree, though one whose fruit is not young and ripe with the blossom of springtime, but rather the overripe, gamy, fermenting fruit of late autumn. — CC

29 Comments on "Return Of The Shadow"

  1. Mitchell S. | June 29, 2018 at 6:16 pm |

    Tabs are basically GTH shorts. They have a nice floral lining (which no one will see) but a hundred dollars a pair is a little rich for my blood. It’s kind of sad that specialty clothing companies assume that their customers are all tech company billionaires. Not everyone on Nantucket or in Bermuda is super rich.

  2. Michael Brady | June 29, 2018 at 7:00 pm |

    When I visited Bermuda, I was impressed by the look of businessmen in lunch pubs wearing the real version of what is seen above. Maybe it’s a contextual thing, but what looked good there seems very contrived in the photo. Then again it could be the photo’s composition, which is amateurish at best.

  3. I hate to sound pedantic but aren’t loafers the proper attire for this ensemble?

    $100 for shorts…at some point it just boils down to the principle of a matter.

  4. As everyone knows, the devil is in the details: Wrong shoes, wrong socks, wrong shirts, ties found by a photo assistant rushing through a Kohl’s near the airport before catching the connecting flight to Bermuda. All the models have a look of “Am I doing this right? This look like I’m from Bermuda?” I’m likely being a little pedantic (such a great word, h/t to WFBjr) too; not feeling much love for the shorts.

  5. Agree with Doug.

  6. I’m continually amazed at how many people who have long held an interest in clothes still take fashion ads and runway shows literally. Like, you guys actually look at something and think the company is legitimately trying to suggest you wear their products in this way. How dense can you possibly be?

  7. Also, in before someone points to the “how to wear” page and not realize there’s something called marketing.

  8. “…how intimately taste and tradition are intertwined.”

    “…distinguishing details that link the look to tradition are desafinado, or, as the song goes, slightly out of tune.”

    Yes. Well stated, CC.

    It looks to be a another version of neo-prep…right? (honestly, not sure). It’s sufficient to inspire one to make a mad dash back to circa-’65 Ivy, leaving behind all the attempts at “bastardizing tradition.” The more I see of such attempts, the more committed I am to (what some might refer to as) purist Ivy. Old OCBD, tartan shorts, oxblood loafers please.

    I understand what 60s era Porsche 911 aficionados mean when they say any/all improvements to the first generation “have been disastrous.” Often heard phrase in other realms where change isn’t synonymous with improvement: “Just leave it alone.”

  9. Roger Sack | June 30, 2018 at 12:49 am |

    It looks to be a another version of neo-prep…right? (honestly, not sure). It’s sufficient to inspire one to make a mad dash back to circa-’65 Ivy, leaving behind all the attempts at “bastardizing tradition.

    Agree completely. However, as a practical matter, where does one buy circa-’65 Ivy?
    The new J Press? Never been there. The recent J Press? No.
    Brooks? Not for the past 20+ years.
    The Andover Shop? Probably. But it is on the block.
    O’Connells? Yes. But I prefer to try on tailored clothing.
    Not worth going to Buffalo from the Bay Area
    Cable Car- Maybe. But their stuff is a boring version
    of ’65 and egregiously over priced

  10. In my opinion, not a good idea. A man should look decent.

  11. Evan Everhart | June 30, 2018 at 2:55 am |

    Ive hear all of the marketing schpiel before, but homestly if the models look that uncomfortable, trite, and ridiculous, why would you want to either emulate them or purchase the product they’re pushing-I won’t call that marketing as ig lacks any subtelty. Also, with all of the shirts and ties in varying shades/tones with matching colors of spread collared shirts with double Windsor knotted neckwear. I am minded of Mr. Regis Philbin from the late 90s/early 2000s, or whenever that stylistic atrocity was being perpetrated (I cannot recall anything definite as I have used such extensive energy in blocking and excising that visual attrocity from both my conscious and uncomscious mind).

  12. Evan Everhart | June 30, 2018 at 2:58 am |

    For the record, I like my Bermuda shorts cut trim, and cuffed, made up in either olive, “oyster”, or khaki, and only for Bermuda or the beach.

  13. Old School Tie | June 30, 2018 at 5:11 am |

    And those photos are precisely why I am such a big fan of flat lay. Yes, Doug is correct, but he left off possibly THE most important attribute – wrong legs.

  14. I applaud anyone attempting to bring back dressing better than todays slob look. These fellows depicted above look good, although not authentic. Like a retro designed car.

    I don’t care for the little brother look with the skimpy, ill fitting blazers.

  15. Just reread the post on the bro. Very interesting stuff, and well written. As Ned Racine commented to Edmund Walker, “I’m a lot like that.”

  16. Old School Tie | June 30, 2018 at 9:09 am |

    Dressing better, yet there are a hundred types of awful just in the shoe department. Do it. Do it right. Do it right the first time. They didn’t.

  17. The gentlemen in the bright blue shorts on the left in the second photo has buttoned both buttons of his blazer. This blows my mind.

  18. The shorts my be $100, but the emsebles look cheap; especially thanks to those awful blazers/terrible shoulders.

  19. Ensembles*

  20. Charlottesville | June 30, 2018 at 2:47 pm |

    I’m with Christian. The beautiful blue water is the best thing in the picture.

  21. Mitchell S. | June 30, 2018 at 3:35 pm |

    Bermuda shorts are traditionally red. This is a bastardized traditional take on Bermuda shorts.

  22. I don’t know… but the top photo with “bro” sporting the green shorts and a green tie, another with pink shorts with a pink tie and third in baby blue shorts with similar matching tie make me gag on my Dark & Stormy.

    I see staged advertising… not authentic Bermuda.

  23. Michael Brady | July 1, 2018 at 2:00 pm |

    I don’t see TABS’ advert for those shorts on the sidebar above. Chances are we won’t.

  24. Alright, so, I made my wisecrack comment above based only on the two photos in the post. In all fairness, I decided to reassess by going to the Tabs website for a tour of their complete product line.

    The company is in fact based on Bermuda, which I suppose makes them “authentic.” And, according to the website, they sell their wares at the Coral Beach and Tennis Club which is about as old-line as it gets.

    All the above said the shorts and polo shirts are a bit too sophisticated and fashionable for me. Four fabric choices for shorts, including Tencel – Performance. I have no clue what that might be.

    And, I’m not sure about the pattern of fabric used around the inside of the collar and buttons incorporated into their polo shirts.

    They do have a “how to” page But that is too much work for me.

    Think I need to pour another Dark & Stormy. And, in conclusion, I’ll stick with the good ole English Sports Shop.

  25. “…where does one buy circa-’65 Ivy?”

    Let’s begin with shoes. For anybody who loves the look of a classic Weejun but prefers a better leather, look no further than Rancourt. They’re not giving them away, but they’ll last for years and you can send them back for resoling. Plus, you’re supporting a great American business.

    Working our way up: socks. I like these:

    Khakis. This is easy. Bill’s, All American Khakis, Berle, etc. and etc.

    Shirts: Mercer, Individualized, and Skip Gambert. Gambert’s online presence is High Bar Shirt.

    Jackets: Southwick. Go MTM Cambridge model, adding specs (point-to-point, length, pockets style, etc.).

    Neckties: This is a challenge. Most neckwear makers are selling wider (relatively speaking) ties. I’ve used a couple of customer tie makers. What if there was a neckwear equivalent of Mercer (shirts)? A business that specializes in English silk repp ties of Heyday Ivy dimensions.

    Lots of sources for shetland sweaters, raglan raincoats, and Ivy accessories.

    It requires some commitment. But you’re committed to classic Heyday Ivy, it’s entirely possible. Sorry to say that when it comes to jackets and ties, best not to waste time with J. Press.

  26. *Rancourt offers a custom service, including choice of leather, sole, and stitching.

    Also: the Alden tassel is a Heyday era classic.

  27. I have to agree with Lee, when marketing they shotgun everything at you.
    I’ve mentioned before, as a kid in the South I’ve seen older businessmen pull this off very tastily. One needs to imagine your favorite way to wear a warm season sport coat or blazer only with the same fabric of pant cut as shorts and knees socks.
    Also missing in the images are white bucks or saddles or bow ties. A seersucker coat would be nice.
    Next time Tabs should call Lee and I as consultants for a two week paid vacation to Bermuda.

  28. Has anybody else noticed the reflection of the fellow on the left in the ocean scene? Mac’s and Lee’s consultative vacation may be to a studio in Newark New Jersey.


  29. Mac McConnell | July 2, 2018 at 1:11 pm |

    True, but we’ll be 30 miles from NYC.

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