Today is the publication date for “True Style: The History And Principles Of Classic Menswear,” the latest collection of essays by Bruce Boyer. There’s a chapter called “Ivy Style,” and as I was preparing to choose a passage to quote, I got a text message from the Millennial Fogey to meet him at our neighborhood coffee shop. I grabbed my super-privileged advance press copy of the book and headed out the door.
But there, on what is surely day 100 of wearing shorts and polos together in our sweltering little corner of New York City, I found the fogue reading his very own copy of the book, which Amazon had already delivered before the official release date.
When I placed mine on the table, DCG said we looked like a study group. It was a droll observation that made for a quick photo and tweet. But it was even more pointed as that’s precisely what ensued.
We poured through the Ivy chapter together, each at his own pace. Periodically one of us would read a passage aloud that had caught his eye, and we would discuss and debate.
Usually we just get curious looks from our neighbors for our trad attire and pasty legs, or for our lively banter, which ricochets back and forth between current events and — “what the F are those guys talking about?” — men’s clothing. But this time everyone behind a laptop had to contend with the sight of two guys engaged in animated discussion over words — eloquent ones, at that — printed on paper and packaged attractively.
You should start your own group; it’s fun. As for a teaser, how about this:
… while the [Ivy League] wardrobe itself was relatively simple, there were intricacies of cut and quality to these basic items that belied their straightforwardness. The true Ivy-style sports jacket, for instance, is characterized and distinguished by a detailed quarter-inch stitching along the edge of the lapels (and sometimes the edge of the collar, pocket flaps, and seams as well). It’s a tellingly sporty touch — and it’s little details like these, nuances that are so obscure, so overlooked by the novice, that are so tellingly important for the aficionado. That knowledge, furthermore, is really what separates the members of the club from those who merely wear clothes. As novelist of the [Eastern Establishment Elite] Louis Auchincloss pointed out in one of his novels (It must have been Manhattan Monologues, since that’s the last one I’ve read, “To the untutored eye all the horses look alike from the stands, and sometimes even to the tutored.”
Here’s one important thing to know about the book: the chapters are arranged alphabetically. Though Boyer is a throwback to a kinder, gentler (or at least more formal) era, he is not suggesting that building a classic wardrobe begins with ascots. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD