There’s still much news in Tradsville to catch up on, so here’s a double-shot of your favorite titans of the Old Guard. Earlier this month Troy Patterson, who has linked to Ivy Style several times over the years, attempted to unravel the mysteries of business casual for The New Yorker. The piece ends with J. Press and its surviving patriarch, Richard Press:
Last week, I warily approached J. Press. I had been a bit embarrassed by a response this shop—“a default outfitter of the northeastern elite”—had to the Goldman memo. (“J. Press remains hip to the new order,” a promotional newsletter read. “Our millennials often head over to SoHo House, a three-minute walk from the High Line, where suit and tie is no-no.”) But a visit encouraged a sense of perspective. The shop had just ordered a new print run of “Rebel Without a Suit: The Not-So-Casual Road to Casual Friday,” a brief history of the business-casual tradition, by Richard Press and Joseph Cosgriff. The authors’ account ranges from the pivotal “Aloha Fridays” of nineteen-sixties Hawaii to Dockers’s guileful direct appeals to nineteen-nineties H.R. managers and a sartorial correction that followed the 2000 Nasdaq crash, when more than a few large companies rescinded their casual dress codes, even if only temporarily. “Rebel Without a Suit” warns that “whiffing on Casual Friday gives your company another possible reason to fire you, or at least slow down what you once believed to be your meteoric rise to the top of the corporate ranks.” At first I misread that “meteoric” as “meritocratic.” That ominous note sounds like the ring of opening bell on a rag-trade sales day. There is only one rule of business-casual dressing, and it is the rule of fear.
Note in the photo above that Richard is wearing a pinstriped suit with a striped ribbon belt, a classic combo we posted about last month. He’s also wearing the expression he would shoot back in the day when a customer would ask, “Is this on sale?”
As for G. Bruce Boyer, he recently sat down with Pedro Mendes of The Hogtown Rake to discuss the heyday of the Ivy League Look. It’s a treat you won’t want to miss, and you can find it right here. — CC
Disappointed to hear Bruce’s thoughts on mid-late ‘60’s music, very happy to hear his thoughts on everything else! Looking forward to ep. 2.
That NYT article is utterly ridiculous and could not have been written by anyone more clueless. It is amazing that these shops survive all the bad press, though Mendes on Boyer is a bright spot for sure, even if Boyer comes across uncharacteristically as a bit of a crank in trashing the late 60s so uncritically. Certainly if nothing else it made his decision to wear the clothes he did a self-conscious choice rather than an automatic uniform or an attempt to fit in with a group–a bit of individualism and (in context) eccentricity rather than sheer conformism, which arguably is more appealing in a man of letters.
I was just perusing the J. Press website and am shocked to see a very limited selection of blazers (minimal sizing options) and no ‘real’ shoes. I did not see any loafers, penny nor tassel, aside from a suede option. Possibly their website is not properly built out or a sign of something worse. Per the website, there are no Alden shoe offerings. Hopefully, the issue is simply website troubles and soon to be fixed.
A sheer delight listening to Prof. Boyer.
Still looking forward to the film of these two gentlemen in late April.
Out of admiration and respect, I cannot imagine Mr. Boyer’s name appearing in the same sentence as the word “crank”.
Re: trashing the late 60s: What else would one expect from a gentleman of refined taste who actually lived through that period?
Actually, someone used the term “crank” in conversation last night regarding the interview….
Perhaps “crank” is the new term for someone who knows what he’s talking about.
Just listened to the whole thing again.
Enjoyed it immensely.
Bruce’s comments about hippy-style garb at colleges and Woodstock were spot-on.
One point of disagreement: apart from my introduction to Ivy League style, folk music was the best thing I remember about the Sixties.
What a terrific interview. I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Boyer’s thoughts on clothes and cannot wait to hear the next installment. Incidentally, I was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania in the Lehigh Valley, near Bethlehem where Mr. Boyer grew up. Bethlehem Steel was a big employer in those days, but as he notes there were a number of colleges in the area as well. My family moved when I was quite young, but my eldest brother would no-doubt recall the shops and the world he describes. He had a part time job at Hess Brothers department store when he was in high school, which Mr. Boyer would surely remember from the 1960s.
So glad to hear how much everyone is enjoying the podcast. I have to admit I feel extremely privileged to be able to spend so much time with Bruce, grilling him about his past. The next few episodes are recorded and I’m just editing them now… so many great stories, so stay tuned.