The Button-Down Mind Set

GQ’s Style Guy advice column once had the following curious exchange apropos of our collar of choice. A reader asked columnist Glenn O’Brien the following:

I heard somebody refer to a button-down-collar oxford shirt as “middle-management” the other day. I always thought the oxford was the great American shirt. Have I been sending the wrong message all this time?

First off, the reader sounds like he works in some kind of “American Psycho” milieu. “Middle management” is probably a fair epithet if your ambition is to be a Master of the Universe.

O’Brien’s response to the reader was this:

Some say that JFK wore button-downs with suits until Jackie crticized him for it, and then he began to get on the case of the guys on his team, like Bobby Kennedy and Paul Fay, telling them they looked too Ivy League. The button-down is the shirt equivalent of the loafer. You can wear it with a suit, but only when you’re dressing your suit down.

Fair enough. The content of this part was possibly found from, which supplies 18 of the top 20 Google results for the search query “JFK button down oxford.” But hey, that’s what we’re here for.

He went on to write:

Many American men mistake the button-down-collar shirt for a dress shirt, especially when it’s white, and this misjudgment is often found in high places, from corproate suits to Congress.

You can see why I thought you guys might enjoy sinking your teeth into this one. If only more businessmen and politicos wore oxford-cloth buttondowns! Perhaps they’d start wearing natural-shouldered suits to match, and we’d all have more to choose from.

And yes, the buttondown oxford may have been a sport shirt for polo players in England 120 years ago, but we — or rather Brooks Brothers — made it an American dress shirt.


I think the button-down-dress-up thing started as a preppy affectation.

I can certainly see what he’s suggesting. The shirt probably was embraced for its rumpled casualness, but why must that be an affectation? I think the entire WASPy/preppy/Ivy approach to dressing — being relatively dressed up with casual attire and relatively dressed down with formal attire — is one of its greatest virtues. Can’t that simply emanate from a set of values, one in which the shirt’s heartiness and longevity, not to mention versatility (dress it up, dress it down, wear it over a polo when a sweater would be too much) speak to WASPdom’s reverence for utility?

Besides, affectation is almost unheard of among the original arbiters of oxford-cloth buttondowns. And when they paired them with whale-embroided chinos, they were being whimsical but they were also being “correct.” There’s no such thing as WASP irony or affectation — save for the affectation of being unaffected.

Speaking of “button-down mind set,” which is the title GQ gives to the Q&A exchange, it’s high time we acknowledge Bob Newhart and his best-selling 1960 comedy album “The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart.” My dad had this and I discovered it as a kid when I first started sifting through his record collection. I was too young to appreciate it, but I remember liking the driving instructor bit:

Here Newhart discusses how the album came about, and how he needed Warner Brothers, who had chosen the title, to explain it to him. They explained, of course, that it was a reference to the men of Madison Avenue who worked in fields like advertising and all wore buttondown collars. — CC

147 Comments on "The Button-Down Mind Set"

  1. It’s a sports shirt…

  2. It’s a sporty dress shirt.

  3. Perfect FInancial Sector | August 20, 2012 at 9:54 am |

    It looks good on the gf as a temp lingerie substitute. Buy more pastels for these special occasions.

  4. Craig Sevde | August 20, 2012 at 10:22 am |

    The OCBD is a daytime business dress shirt. But hey! I love the OCBD for all occasions. And I live in FL where they consider being well dressed in wearing a polo shirt. America is losing it’s style!

  5. Craig Sevde | August 20, 2012 at 10:32 am |

    You cannot fully appreciate the OCBD unless you were brought up in it.

  6. Usually people don’t appreciate what they were brought up with. It’s only much later as an adult that I realized how fortunate my upbringing was.

  7. Craig Sevde | August 20, 2012 at 10:44 am |

    I have to find a part job or something. Since I retired I go nuts reading blogs about Ivy Trad/Preppy.
    Up until today (Claudio may change it tomorrow) there is only one acceptable OCBD for the true gentleman. It’s the B2 traditional cut oxford cloth button down. Yes, colors are limited. Live with it!
    And if you ever grew up in a military academy you know what they call the “West Point tuck”. So you can look slim and trim even with a traditional cut.
    I happen to prefer the heavy starch/fold from my cleaner. Makes you looks crisp and clean when you board that airline for the NYC Princeton Club.I have to stop now… You young guys just don’t get it!

  8. NaturalShoulder | August 20, 2012 at 11:02 am |

    While Mr. O’Brien’s position that an OCBD is not a dress shirt can find support based on its sporting origin, it is certainly accepted practice to wear them as dress shirts in America. While my preferred shirt for suits is BB tennis collar, I enjoy wearing button down shirts with suits and am wearing a pin point button down with a suit as I type this message. Many men would look better if they traded in their spread collars and windsor knots for some BB OCBDs with a nice repp tie.

  9. You know, I’m in the USAF and therefore nearly all of my civilian attire is casual wear. ei. OCBD, chinos, polos, and on rare occasion 501’s. my peers constantly ask me why I’m so dressed up. I was raised to, when in public, always wear a collar. period, dot. young men in America have lost nearly all sense of style, ratty t shirt and jeans that look older than the man child wearing them, is apparently acceptable attire no matter the situation. I wear a sport coat and my friends ask me if im going to a funeral.

    a touch off topic, but will there ever be an end to wearing gym shoes (obscenely expensive ones) outside of the gym? but now, im ranting.

  10. I thought BB took a English polo OC shirt and BD-ed it.

    I have a gut feeling, that OCBD in the photo is manufactured by Gittman Brothers shirtmakers.

  11. Gentleman Mac | August 20, 2012 at 1:43 pm |

    I nearly exclusively wear button down collars because they look better on my neck; they stay higher than the spread collars (even when those are buttoned) and are more versatile after work when the tie might come off but the coat remains.

  12. I believe, Newhart was an accountant prior to entering the entertainment industry.

  13. Amen, Austin!

    I actually wear casual ties with my button-downs (and a jacket, of course) on my own time, like on weekends, in the evening after work, and on vacation. I have thrown on a jacket and tie just to go to the store.

    I am fortunate that I am almost never asked why I’m so dressed up, or if I’m going to a funeral. On the other hand, I think my attire is seen as an eccentricity more than anything else (*sigh*).

    Like you, I choose to maintain standards, regardless of the slobs around me.

  14. The OCBD was not intended to be a dress shirt, but many things turn out differently from what was intended.

  15. If you are U, then it’s like wearing GTH trousers with a tuxedo or a Barbour over a suit. You know it’s casual and you don’t care. If you’re not U, you were actually brought up to think that button downs are dressy and middle management is the best you can hope for. No one who is really U would ever confuse a button down shirt with a dress shirt.

  16. Ivy style is a lifestyle not just clothing. We are not defined by what we wear but by the depth of our character. We can wear a button shirt with a suit, tie, and wingtips or we can wear it with a pair of khaki’s, tie, sport coat and loafers.

  17. I prefer the non-oxford Brooks Brothers button down collared shirts. I think they’re called the “polo shirt.” They’re more acceptable by the pathetic industry’s standard.

  18. MAC, your gut serves you well. I too suspect that’s a Gitman. The narrow tie space gives it away. And that TTX label.

    New England Shirt makes a great OCBD.

  19. what Perfect Financial Sector said!

  20. I only wear button downs, except at formal occasions. And by formal, I mean white tie/black tie. As has been established, I’m a junior high school teacher, and so button downs are pretty much the least casual as I get in any kind of work environment. If I was a high-priced, New York attorney, maybe my collars would be stiff and unbuttoned, my suits made in Italy, and my shoes pointy enough to make me look like an elf. But I’m not not.

    No, the OCBD was not a dress shirt when it was created. But when it was, we had collars like that stood straight up. Or extremely thick club collars. Something like my great grandfather wore at the turn of the century:

    I wouldn’t want to teach all day in that!

  21. Dickey Greenleaf | August 20, 2012 at 7:07 pm |

    A quintessential item of luxury, or the makeshifts of the dress shirt, so which one is it?…..wait for it…., it’s both, nothing say’s nonchalance like a button down collar shirt.

  22. I hope Kionon isn’t an English teacher…

  23. “It’s a sport shirt – period – and Mr. O’Brien is, frankly, rarely (if ever) wrong.”

    He is a f–king art critic, besides GQ is a metro-sexual fashion chasing rag, GQ wouldn’t know style if they tripped over it. Give me Esquire, prior to 1980. Man, like I need a guy, that wrote for Warhol and High Times, giving me advice about style.

    Gentlemen find your own Ivy style and taste. Learn the basics, you will make mistakes, you will not forget your mistakes. You will not forget mistakes, because they can be expensive.

  24. Johnny Reb,

    I am, actually. I admit, I don’t tend to proofread my blog comments. I had also just woken up (it’s 14 hours difference here in Japan). Believe me, if blog software would implement editing options, I would definitely use them.

    Of course, my job is not so much to teach the finer points of English grammar (unless a student specifically asks, or a particular government mandated lesson calls for it), and more to emphasise communication. If my students can manage a normal, every day conversation then I’m doing my job.

    I’m the equivalent of a French teacher or a Spanish teacher in the American school system. I teach English not as I would to American students (with a few rare exceptions, like the one student I have who grew up in Detroit, and I want to keep her on track for going to an American high school), but as a foreign language most of my students will never need to use on a daily basis.

  25. I shouldn’t have called you out for one grammatical mistake. Maybe the comment should have been more appropriately directed toward MAC…

  26. There are at least two I see, honestly. It isn’t the first time. It won’t be the last time. As I said, I tend not to proofread blog comments.


  27. Comment on my drift, not my grammar. I’m not writing English lit. essays, I’m dashing off comments on a blog. 🙂

  28. MAC:

    Grammatical errors are just as offensive as flip-flops.

  29. Orgastic future | August 21, 2012 at 1:02 am |

    If you feel it….wear it…..if you don’t……then your just faking it. No such thing as the OCBD police.

  30. GQ and Glenn O’Brien are so regularly off the mark, readers can calibrate their style steps by going the opposite direction as anything suggested by the GQ staff. They do at least provide good satire material for blogs.

  31. Yankee-Y-P
    But, their grammar is to die for. 😉

  32. Tankee-Wisky-Papa, I disagree. Well partially. While the fashions GQ as a whole generally presents are usually pretty far off into left field, Mr. O’Brien in my opinion is usually spot on. granted, a lot of what he gives advise on is shady at best, its always been my opinion the he is somewhat doing the best he can with what hes being asked. or as we say at work “polishing a turd”. Mr Glenn O’Brien himself, is almost always appropriately and, while not Trad/Ivy id say modern-classicly dressed (and anyone who wears a tux half as well as he, has the license to do as they please. seriously, google.)

    oh and im with MAC. this is a blog comment section. grammar be damned.

  33. Quote: “Brooks may try and sell them as dress shirts – they try and sell sorts of silly stuff to all sorts of silly folks.”

    You make it sound like some sort of marketplace-driven novelty, rather than a shirt that American gentleman have worn with jackets and ties for the past 90 years.

  34. To those of you who let their personal tastes be dictated to by those who are usually clueless, shame on you. How many times have you been criticizedfor your attire, by those who are dressed by their wives or girlfriends?
    I wear what I like and if some one disagrees, screw them. These folks often have no understanding that the way many of us dress, is a style unto itself and follows a totallly different set of rules and taste.
    Some would have you believe that you should only wear two-button suits with pleated pants, straight collar shirts, patterned ties, and cap toe shoes. Personally, I’ll take sack suits, button downs, rep ties, and wing tips any day. I grew up this way and will die this way and welcome the criticism of those dressed by trendy women in their lives!!!

  35. The OCBD is the ideal shirt to wear with the sack jacket (even when paired with pants), since the roots of the sack extend at least as far as English Drape, and, indeed, as far back as the lounge, and, further back, frock suit. Brooks did not “invent” the sack suit. Which means that New Haven Ivy styling way back when–borrowed directly (Mr. press says Rosenberg was the first to copy the Brooks no. 1 sack, if memory serves) from Brooks–was mostly derivative. Nothing wrong with that, since even the 19th century Brooks was tinkering with English soft tailoring.

    The sack–unpadded, mildly shaped through the middle, straight lined, natural shouldered, and, thanks to minimal sleevehead padding, rounded off–remains, when done right, an inherently casual (sporty) piece. It’s not a dinner jacket. The “business suit” styling–padded, heavily tapered, high shouldered–is more recent. Its roots aren’t “business” at all. Rather, military.

    What seems entirely out of place (to some of us) is a spread or medium spread point collar worn with a sack. If the person isn’t trying for irony, that is. Now, we don’t want to push the nonchalance thing too far (“why not a t-shirt with a sack if it’s so bloody casual?”), but history teaches us that the sack siimply isn’t a terribly formal piece.

    With respect paid to professional “stylists” whose opinions “really matter.”

  36. Are you seriously placing the OCBD in the same category as flip-flops? hilarious.

    Technically, I am more right than you observe becauese of the provisos included.

    The genesis of the London Drape/Blade is the 1930s. No doubt Brooks appropriate aspects of that styling in the years to follow, but the No. 1 sack predates the London Drape and, as I wrote, extends way back to lounge and frock suit eras.

    They were worn with soft collars, sir. Including rounded/club, also rooted in sport.

    Recent as the pairing may be, it’s absolutely appropriate.

    And it just plain looks better.

  37. AEV,

    If you’re going to go with old photos as proof, then your supposition sinks like the Titanic. The most famous fan and wearer of the Londonderry Drape (Scholte) was Fred Astaire, who dared to accessorize more often than not with a Brooks button-down.

    I’ll grant that the excesss of the English Drape suit–nipped waist and extended shoulders, as you correctly state–don’t exactly plead for the rumpled roll of a soft collar, button downed or otherwise. Most of Astaire’s suits could have benefited from something other than the OCBD, I think.

    But the real-deal sack jacket, reinterpreted by generations of men who prefer soft tailoring, does. It almost demands it.

    The lingering problem that won’t be addressed soon is that the vast majority of “sack suits” out there hanging on racks are not garments that have benefited from soft tailoring. That some have been designated “natural shoulder” is a sad joke. Mostly machine stitched, a substantial shoulder pad, way-too-heavy canvas, thick chest piece, a shoulder point-to-point that extends beyond the natural shoulder line, low armholes, and shaping in the middle that results in a skirt that flairs more than a sack should.

    Maybe they deserve a more formal collar because, even if they’re dartless three buttons, they’re not softly tailored sacks. Add the darts, and they look like Mid Drape jackets a la Paul Stuart…and, for that matter, Jos. a Bank. Machine made suits in factories–so much easier to make when you can add all the layers of padding and lining.

    It could be you’re right, after all.

  38. Londonderry? Make that London. God I miss typewriters.

  39. The proof is in the pudding, can I see a show of hands of the guys wearing OCDBs as dress shirts.

  40. Boy do I love Bob Newhart. I think I’ll go listen to him now…

  41. I’m curious what the other teachers wear… Educator? CL Young?

    Of course I wear OCBDs (or other types of button downs, depending on the weather) as “dress shirts” in terms of the required dress code for academic institutions. I’m not clear why (or if) AEV would object to that.

  42. Well, Glenn O’brien has determined the OCDB to be a sports shirt, so only ascots and bandannas are appropriate or maybe a studded dog collar in San Francisco.

  43. Wow. Just wow.

    Does anyone really believe that OCBDs are taboo for suits and ties? Do you realize that no one other than the people reading this fine blog even notice this stuff? Heck, even Cary Grant occasionally wore an OCBD dressed up.

    I’m particularly tired of this idea that oxford cloth is “casual.” Since when does thick have to = casual? The fabric is comfortable in all seasons, wicking in summer and warming in winter. It gets softer with age. High thread count cottons feel like silk — not a manly feeling to me. Go ask five people in your office what oxford cloth is: They won’t know. So if they don’t know and don’t care then I get to keep wearing oxford cloth. In all settings.

    Now if only I could find a decent, unlined, non-fused-collared one whose cuff fit over my watch. (Mercer is pretty pricey if you need a closet full.)

  44. Five questions, rather.

    I’ll venture a guess regarding suiting cloth.s Your definitely a high supers guy. 120s? 130s? Higher?

  45. I’d venture Nearly 10 out of 10 old Firing Line episodes feature Buckley wearing an OCBD.

  46. Once upon a time, suits were worn by many men more or less all the time. At that time, there was the understanding that what one wore at the office needed to be relatively more formal, and what one wore on one’s own time could be relatively more casual. Also, certain work settings (such as finance) were recognized as needing greater formality than others (such as academia).

    Within this context, textured fabrics, such as heavy tweeds, corduroy, and yes, Oxford cloth, were recognized as casual relative to smoother fabrics. Similarly, the button-down collar was seen as more casual than a straight collar.

    And that is what is meant by an Oxford cloth button-down shirt being “casual.”

  47. Now to let my non-Ivy credentials hang out for the world to see:

    I believe that the white Oxford cloth button-down is a shirt without a purpose (in my wardrobe, anyway). I reserve white shirts for suits (for the most important occasions only) and evening; in neither case do I find a button-down collar appropriate.


    Having said that, I love Oxford cloth button-down shirts, and have them in several colors, both solids and stripes. Great with blazers, tweed, corduroy, chinos, and even (gasp!) without a tie.

  48. @ Kionon-I wear both BD and non-BD collar shirts to work with ties ( I also wear khakis most of the time, not grey flannel pants since Im a big fellow who sweats alot)-Back To School night, I usually wear a suit with a non BD collar-generally as you’ve said, academic dress is way less formal than the boardroom or a bank, which works for me!

  49. My theory is that if you can wear it with a suit, it’s a dress shirt. Are there more formal shirts than an OCBD, yes. Just as there are different degrees of “formal” in relation to suits, but they’re still suits. You can dress anything up or down.

    From a economical point of view, the OCBD is more versatile than spread collars. This is especially important for younger gentlemen beginning to build a wardrobe.

  50. W.F.B. probably Ayn Rand’s most ferocious critic.

  51. WFB real critique of Rand was her atheism. Most Republicans like Rand’s novels, but wouldn’t endorse her objectivist philosophy, if they are even aware of it.

    The Republican nominee Romney is left of WFB, so I don’t believe anyone needs to be amazed/sad/terrified. The party has a very big spectrum in it’s coalition. Everyone from the libertarian Kochs to social issue evangelicals and everyone in between.

  52. You are ignorant of WFB’s rhetoric and ideology.

    Let’s have an exercise in comparing campaign rhetoric with actual practice and performance of presidential candidates once elected. Let’s start with 2008.

  53. while we’re at it, let’s start with 1800 and that small govt hero Thomas Jefferson, who just a few years later bought Louisiana without any constitutional authority to do so

  54. I find it astounding that anyone could think that the current crop of Republicans, at any level, are “far right.” It betrays an appalling ignorance of history, and no recognition whatsoever of how much to the left the political middle has shifted, especially in the past four years. Such a view also fails to recognize that as the left has moved ahead with its program, the “right” has followed along.

    Consider this: immediately after his election, Obama did nothing about homosexuals in the military, considering the lifting of the ban impossible. Last year, when he did lift the ban, not only did the Republicans not stop it, they didn’t even raise more than a perfunctory fuss. However, ten or twenty years ago, only the radical left wing of the Democratic Party would have supported such a move; most Democrats, and probably all Republicans, would have opposed it.

    Regardless of one’s views on homosexuality (and I’m not discussing that, only using it as an example), it is clear that today’s Republicans are far, far to the left of yesterday’s Democrats.

  55. Educator,

    Many traditionalists both commend and condemn Jefferson. He was a complex figure. Yes, he was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, amongst other achievements, but he was also a backstabber who so betrayed Washington that once the latter discovered Jefferson’s perfidy, he never spoke or wrote to him again. Partly through his vicious attacks, Jefferson cost Adams a second term as president, and Adams did not resume correspondence with Jefferson until a dozen years after Adams left office.

  56. ‘ve been reading NR and WFB since I was 13 years of age, I’m 60 now. I’ve met and talked to him on four occasions. WFB more than anyone else defined the conservative movement. Besides, WFB never ran for office except on a flight of fancy.

    Political science scholars? You mean the ones that thought Reagan was too conservative and stupid to get elected president. Or more recently design registered voter pols with 8+ D sampling. Can I see a show of hands, anybody ever have a conservative political science professor. SPIN

    Why is the left so afraid of voter ID? Almost all states with voter ID laws have provisions for the poor and minorities. As close as this election might be why not insure it’s legitimacy.

    Pragmatist don’t lose Iraq to Iranian influence or triple down in Afghanistan, even Bush/Cheney refused to do that. How’s that pragmatic Arab spring working out? Two years ago Hillary assured us that the butcher of Syria was a reformer and Obama’s $ bundler at Vogue did an article on his fabulous wife.

    Domestically, Obama should run on that record.

  57. Do homosexuals wear button down collars?

  58. So what point did you address to me other than WFB? I don’t have a disdain for academics in general, only ones that call their field of study a science, when it’s not.

    In reality the Blue Model is doomed, it’s unsustainable. MATH, now that is a science. If we continue kicking the debt bomb down the road, one day we’ll look back on the current real 12% unemployment rate as the good old days.

  59. Yes they do.

  60. Maybe a good bit of it depends upon context. And culture. I was a teenager during the 80s. If ones grows up seeing men wear OCBDs and loafers to work–finance, accounts, and the like–one doesn’t give it a second thought.

    When I see a button-downed, repp-tied George Will sitting next to someone (on ABC’s This Week) who’s sporting a shaped 2b, spread collar, and one of those glow-in-the-dark solid ties, I don’t think to myself, “Gee, by comparison, George looks terribly informal.” A safe hunch is few do.

    I forget who said this, but it went something like “you can wear a button-down with a suit”–the point being to “dress it down.” Exactly.

    This is the spirit of Ivy. A dressed-down dressed-up look. Sprezza…whatever.

  61. And, for the record, I think point collars are, at best, low level management.

  62. AEV,

    Thank you for proving my point for me.

    Remember, I was not addressing whether or not Obama’s decision was right; I was addressing the change in the political climate.

    Also, your assumption that “conservatives” might want to live in the past is a left-wing trope that gets no airplay on the right. I read people who write from various viewpoints, and it’s only those on the left who accuse those on the right of wanting to return to the past. The adults on the right generally acknowledge that while our ancestors did many things correctly, they don’t want to go back to those days.

    As the Italians put it, “whoever forsakes the old way for the new knows what he is losing, but not what he will find.” The horrors of the French, Russian, Chinese, and Cambodian revolutions are instructive.

  63. Henry,

    You must not have many adults on the right currently in office. I believe the technical term for many of your current standard bearers is… oh… “batshit insane.” If they don’t adequately represent the “right” then the “right” is doing a pretty bad job at this whole primary thing. You’re supposed to vote for and nominate the best representatives of your views. If your views aren’t being represented by people like Bachmann, Ryan, Palin, and such, please, PLEASE stop nominating them and stop electing them!

  64. Four years of a trillion dollars plus deficits, who’s “batshit insane”? Math!, yes math scares the shit out of the Left. Our only hope is growth and budget cuts.

    Hillary unleashed the “Birther” rhetoric, Obama pulled the race card on Hillary in 2008, who’s “batshit insane”.

    Obama wants to do for all industries what he did for GM, his words. At the present cash burn rate, GM will be bankrupt again in three years and back for another bailout, who’s “batshit insane”.

    Bill Clinton was a liberal pragmatist and competent, Obama is not. Obama is an old school pay to play machine politician, the Chicago variety.That could be excusable, if Obama was competent at anything but fundraising and running for re-election.

    The upcoming conventions will be fun. The Republicans will focus on the economy and the unsustainable present tract. They will be talking about freedom.

    The Dems will focus on scaring the shit out of old people and the poor and the “war on women”. Interestingly, Bill Clinton, an accused rapist and verified womanizer, will speak, along with every leader of the pro-federally funded abortion -contraception entitlement organisation. According to my good friend Kathileen at HHS, government funded abortion and contraception will save the government money in the long run. One wonders which Americans Kathileen believes should be getting these free abortion and contraception entitlements. Reminds me of the New Deal left that praised and funded a poor European country’s enlightened policies in the early 1930s. Personally I’m Pro-life, but abortion doesn’t matter in my life and the courts initiated the right, they aren’t going to let it disappear. But, if the Dems aren’t careful their convention is going to look like a death cult.

  65. MAC,

    I love our discussions clothes, but this is why I shouldn’t allow myself to be drawn into political debates.

    We live in completely different universes. Ivy Style must be on the part of the internet where all the universes exist at once, and you are from a universe were the GOP administrations never added to debt and where the war on women needs quotes because it doesn’t exist. You live in a universe where Sarah Palin is an effective administrator, Michele Bachmann is a moderate with well thought out views, and Barack Obama probably dropped out of school after smoking one too many doobies.

    Well, let me assure you, in my universe the GOP is just as responsible if not more so for the national debt, because of a combination of major overseas actions and tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and as AEV pointed out, women face restrictions on reproductive decisions the like we haven’t seen since Roe v. Wade was made the law of the land. Barack Obama went to Harvard Law School, is one of the most competent administrators America has seen in years, and about to trounce the combination of Romneybot 2000 and “Redefining Rape” Ryan.

    So, MAC, we should probably just stick to debating the proper amount of roll in a button down collar, because we might actually be able to find some sense of agreement on that point. As for politics? We’re literally worlds apart. We have to be. It’s the only thing that explains our differences. No way we’re members of the same reality.

    …it’s like an episode of Sliders.

  66. Kionon
    I didn’t bring up politics in the first place, but I don’t get offended by disagreements or angry. You and I have both been involved in politics, we are big boys. Gentlemen can agree to disagree.

    Enjoy your third recovery summer. 😉

  67. Yes, gentlemen can agree to disagree…

    BUT, about that collar roll, I admit I’m not pleased with most of my options. I have Ralph, Uniqlo, Tommy, and Brooks in my closet right now, but only the Tommy comes close to a decent collar roll. I was looking a dark red candy stripe JPRESS the other day, how’s the typical roll on their OCBDs?

  68. I never said it wasn’t.
    What deregulation of Bush are you speaking of? Banking? if so, I would research which president signed that bi-partisan legislation.

    Bush no longer owns those tax cuts, if my memory serves me well they were passed by the House and Senate and signed by Obama.

    TARP was passed to save us from the brink, not the stimulus. TARP was supposed to shore up the too big to fail banks’ balance sheets by helping drowning home owners, but instead Obama turned the program over to his Wall Street contributors and friends, they pillaged the fund and now the once too big to fail banks are 25% larger than before the crisis.

    The Stimulus was to pull us out of the recession, prime the pump, unfortunately it became a huge political slush fund.

    I’m not an apologist for Bush, he’s never been know as conservative or a small government Republican, nor was his father. But, chart government revenues after tax cuts, they sky rocket, unfortunately chart the expenditures by lawmakers that have no restraint. Chart Bush’s deficits comparing when Republicans controlled legislative action and when Dems did. Do the same for Clinton’s administrations.

    “Deficits don’t matter”, every macro econ professor told us that, “it’s money we owe ourselves”. That was true when deficits were less than 3-5% of GDP. But, guess what? Do the MATH.

    We grow out of this situation or we are doomed. The private sector does it or it won’t get done.

  69. Don’t mess with AEV, sirs. Chap knows his stuff. I stood face to face with him over button-downs, and had my you-know-what handed to me on a plate–with a side order of I’m-your-huckleberry daring. He reads, watches Charlie Rose, and wears tailored kit. Mind yourselves.

  70. So Commodities Futures Modernization Act cause a housing bubble, who knew? Corruption of the market place for over three decades by Freddie and Fannie had no part, who knew?

    I’m trying to remember what happened in 2001 that cause the economic down turn and therefore dropped tax revenues. Also, what bubble burst before housing causing a recession as Bush took over?

    Frank- Dodd will be overturned sooner or later it’s unworkable and too complicated. There are two a reason Frank and Dodd retired, Freddie and Fannie. Want to make Dodd sound like Arthur Laffer, re-institute the theater excise taxes.

  71. Anyhoo, back to the subject of shirts.

    But, first: AEV, respectfully: I actually quit reading clothing-related sites and blogs BECAUSE of the picayune. I admit to being a clothes detail junky — loving the nuance — but I’m not sure it makes me a better person. But here I am again.

    I’m going to leave aside the collar debate (OK, not really): Glen O’Brien is quite the fashion hound, that’s for sure. I don’t know if he’s right or wrong about buttondowns. I just know what I like. (And I like those picture of Astaire with the BB BD in all manner of suits — even (gasp) double-breasted. He made it his own, and he made it work. It’s not like we are talking about some shocking display here. You’d think we were debating face tattoos or some such.

    On the fabric: Oxford is terrific. Freshly pressed. A little wrinkled at day’s or journey’s end. On the woman who picks up your shirt to have something on while she sashays around the apartment. Softer over time. A good friend.

    You know what I did just to have a few non BD collars? I had spread collars in thick oxford made up at a place called Gambert Shirts in Milburn, N.J. Wearing one now. Nicely pressed blue. I could walk in to anywhere in this shirt. And I have.

  72. Gambert uses kick-ass Oxford cloth. I do wish he’d find a blue-white Oxford. The blue feels like (isn’t, of course) a 4-ply 60s.

  73. Not a chance. Respectfully.

    “Style consultants”?!? Oh my. And the obvious (according to website) allegiance to Italian cloth. In all humility, chances are good most “style consultants” know as much about tailoring and cloth as “business consultants” know about starting and running a business.

    If you’re into softer, high supers (which, for me, means anything over 80s) stuff, go for it. Not for me.

  74. I will continue to wear oxford cloth buttondown collar shirts even though it misleads people into thinking I’m a Republican.

    It takes a while for me to explain to them that preferring traditional style does not mean that I’m a selfish old codger with no concern whatsoever for my fellow human beings.

  75. Kionon,

    We had a pleasant exchange on another thread. However, here you’ve stepped into that particularly unpleasant modern mode of political “exchange” which involves name-calling.

    Please, stop. Grown-ups know how to debate and disagree without being disagreeable.

    I am not defending the Republicans (a.k.a. The Stupid Party) because, as I pointed out, they are a liberal party. They’re just not as far left as the Democrats (a.k.a. The Evil Party). I do agree with you that there are few adults in elective office, regardless of political affiliation.

    As for the “war on women,” this is left–wing rhetoric designed to demonize a position they disagree with. What those on the right are opposing is the requirement that abortions, contraceptives, and sterilization MUST be covered (bet you didn’t know that under the new law, sterilization is now “free” (i.e., paid by the insurer), too). While many who oppose this provision also oppose abortion, that isn’t the point of this part of their opposition to ObamaCare/the Affordable Care Act. The point is that they think it inappropriate for the government to mandate that every private employer, insurer, and university in the country provide, at no additional cost, abortions, contraception, and sterilization to every woman who wants them. It is tyrannical of the government to interfere this deeply into private institutions.

    The fact is that no mainstream organization is speaking out against birth control (or sterilization); no one is prohibiting contraception. While pro-life forces are making it more difficult to get an abortion, it’s still legal in all 50 states, and will remain so as long as Roe v. Wade stands.

    This is not a “war on women.” It is opposition to government impositions and ballooning costs.

  76. Old Trad,

    Your baseless assault on Republicans, for the “crime” of holding political views contrary to your own, is reprehensible.

    Your approach does nothing to further the political process. Quite the contrary: it shuts it down. You smear your opponents as inhuman, and if your opponents are inhuman, then there’s nothing to discuss.

    Politics is dead. All we have now is monkeys flinging feces at each other.

  77. Speaking of button downs…

    …anyone tried the Black Fleece OCBD?

    How about the RRL selvedge OCBD? A friend of mine swears by it.

  78. OK, two things; OCBD with a suit does somewhat dress it down. fine for a normal day at the office, but if youre having almost any relatively important meeting, one might consider a spread or club collar (im speaking from a real-estate?remodeling-design standpoint). OCBD is my go-to shirt its what i casually wear almost everyplace i go. yes its sport/casual wear but it CAN be dressed up for buisness if need be.

    oh and S.E. both the Black Fleece and RRL selvedge OCBD are nearly perfect. i find B.B.Black Fleece to be a bit to fitted but great if im wearing a highly “tailored” suit (like, the JCrew Ludlow for example) and RRL selvedge is somewhat of my go to casual shirt. ive got probably 5 of them in the boat house.

  79. @Henry

    Government exists to serve the people, not to serve the interests of selfish Republicans. This is not a baseless attack; nor is it smearing. The fact of the matter is that the Republican party does not care about the poor, about education, or about the arts. Thanks to the Democrats, you are free to support the GOP and its “ideals”, but why not admit that you are primarily concerned with looking out for Number One?

    Now, you’ll object to my “thanks to the Democrats” statement, but why not also admit that Republicans are in favor of a one-party state?

    While you’re at it, have a nice day.

  80. Old Trad:

    Enlighten yourself~

  81. @Tabor Kid

    Opine Needles? Enlightenment?

    Think Right? Reads more like Think White.

  82. @ Old Trad, Henry, Tabor Kid:


    There are those of us who follow this blog because we’re interested in traditional style, not squabbles between Communists and Fascists.

  83. Henry,

    I did nothing of the sort. All of my comments were said with a smirk, and then humorously pointed out that this is why political discourse is difficult, especially on what is essentially a style blog.

    I mean, for God’s sake, I made a Sliders reference! How anyone can take that seriously is beyond me.

    Now, back to the collar roll. Have any suggestions?

  84. I have no idea what the Sliders reference was. In my world, a slider is a very small hamburger with grill onions, two pickles, mustard and small bun. If you like sliders and find yourself north of the river in Kansas City stop by Hayes at Antioch and Vivion. You will thank me.

  85. Sliders was a television show where the protagonists discovered a way to open wormholes to parallel universes, “where it’s the same year, and you’re the same you, but everything else is different.”

  86. Did I mention New England Shirt? Too bad their OCBD wasn’t included in the best Oxford contest The Trad organized a few years ago. Alden collar, but longer. Trust me.

  87. Re: Old Trad

    Trad has a buttondown brain. Always dismiss sweeping generalizations about (Republicans) turnips, preps or anything for that matter.

    Trad may find himself traduced or worse if he keeps it up.

  88. @Fones

    Stating indisputable facts about the Republican party and those who vote for it can hardly be characterized as making a sweeping generalization.

  89. Old Trad:

    Now is when a Democrat would pull the race card, isn’t it?

  90. @Tabor Kid:

    No need for Democrats to pull the race card. Everybody knows that in addition to being opposed to spending a penny on education and the arts, Republicans oppose every program that would help cure social/racial inequality in this fair land of ours.

  91. Panic is starting to set in, the cascade may be happening earlier than thought. Micheal Moore, ” It’s time for liberals to start practicing saying “President Romney'”

  92. Buttondown Lefty | September 2, 2012 at 11:47 pm |


    If Romney wins, it might speed up the People’s Revolution!

  93. Main Line Philly | September 2, 2012 at 11:56 pm |


    Once upon a time, we had civilized presidential candidates in this country of obese, unlettered, flipflop-wearing plebes.×3.jpg

  94. MLP
    So far the only thing this election cycle has sped up is the speed at which Dem candidates have distanced themselves from the Lightworker, smells like 2010.

  95. Main Line Philly | September 3, 2012 at 5:46 am |


    The Republican Party has distanced itself from social justice. Imagine a party that uses the word “liberal” as a slur.

  96. Nothing says “social justice” more than having a job.

  97. @MAC

    And nothing says eliminating jobs like the Republican Party.

  98. Judging from a European viewpoint, I conclude that the US are considerably lagging behind in the evolution of civilization. Oldfangled and counterproductive elements (e.g. religion, fear, concept of ‘evil’) are much alive. Yet whilst not particularly approving of this situation, I enjoy this sense of excitement that is afoot around here. Compared to my safe homeland with its exceptional quality of life, living in the US feels like a genuine challenge.

    I congratulate y’all for your capability of survival in these harsh circumstances!

  99. The Republican party has never distanced it’s self from the classical liberalism of Locke and others, that inspired the American Revolution and Founding. But, if by “liberal” you mean the practice of Folk-Marxism that sees every thing through the prism of the oppressed and oppressor, whether it be race, gender or economic class. There are probably more classifications of the imaginary “oppressed”, I can’t think of all off the top of my head, but I am sure they’ll be pointed out this week at the DNC and celebrated.

  100. If by “liberal” you meant the latter, then yes it’s a slur and rightly so.

  101. If Republicans are responsible for the present unemployment why is Europe at 11+%. Couldn’t be spending or debt as a % of GDP or monetizing them? Could it be that regardless of who has been in power, the blue model has revealed it’s self to be a false economy built on fiat currencies and lack of government restraint.

  102. You know, I would have thought the debt crisis in Europe would put a damper on the smug superiority thing, but apparently not.

  103. I’m not sure how pointing out that we share their similar problem of a debt crisis is being a “smug superiority thing”, sounds like solidarity to me. Maybe “smug superiority’ doesn’t mean what you think it means, but nice try.

  104. I was referring to Simon’s comment, MAC. 🙂

  105. Dan, I apologize, sorry. 🙂

  106. @Dan,

    Understandable thought. Europe’s smug superiority, however, doesn’t stem from some kind of special financial situation. For that matter, the US have outperformed Europe ever since my parents were born. Instead, rather than money, the aim at a more harmonious and peaceful society is responsible for this oh-so-typical feeling of superiority. The utter facts that guns are for sale, health insurance is not for everybody, and incarceration rates are 5-8 times higher than European countries, play a role. The more recent wars on terrorism have provided a boost.

    And then, Europeans identify themselves more historically. For example my home country The Netherlands arose after an 80-year during independence war against Spain, for religious freedom as well as economic reasons. Compare that with the so-called ‘Boston massacre’ in which 5 civilians lost their lives. Is that a joke?

    Don’t get me wrong though, I think America is a blast. Not in the least the women are still traditionally feminine, and simply more is going on. I don’t necessarily mean civilization in a positive sense. I think it often is coupled by stagnant boredom and conformism, which probably drove us to America in the first place. I’m personally considering obtaining an American M.D. and settle in New England. 🙂

    @ AEV,

    Thank you for your most interesting views. I think the general consensus is that Obama is responsible and continues to further the deficit. Maybe he should throw some ads out there to blame the GOP!

    And don’t you think that the historic conviction that a house is the optimal investment, as well as the unconditional governmental bail-outs are mayor non-Republican causes?


    If I recall correctly, European unemployment has historically always been higher than US’ rates. Apparently it took the Grand Old Party to set this straight. 😉

  107. Very nice graph, note the footnote, “not harmonized”. Their governments are the source of the data and they don’t account for unemployment like we do. Nothing wrong with that as far as trends go, but not really comparable between counties. Always a problem of comparing stats between the USA and European counties

  108. Politics is fun, if nothing else. Check out this response to Eastwood’s empty chair routine.

  109. Simon,

    I could not agree more with regard to the American Revolution. With a few exceptions (quartering act, for example) most of the reasons behind declaring independence were pretty tenuous.

  110. Most people haven’t a clue why the Boston Massacre is significant to American history. It certainly isn’t an event that we point to today to justify the Revolution; rather, it was integral to garnering popular support from the average colonist leading up to the outbreak of war. I remember how my fifth grade textbook described it-so overly-patriotic and biased. I think most historians agree that a few unruly civilians were verbally provoking throwing rocks at a British sentry and some of his buddies came to back him up. The mob kept attacking the soldiers, and when one fired into the crowd, the others followed. The reason it’s so famous is because Revere’s engraving and sensational newspaper headlines that called the incident a “massacre” roused anti-British sentiments and foreshadowed the war. Besides, ours was one of the cleanest and most graceful revolutions in history. Compare it with the French Revolution.

  111. Sounds like Kent State. Makes me long for some hippie music, not revolution. 😉

  112. Sorry for the delay in getting back to this thread (not that most (any?) of you care).


    Since when did “batshit insane” not qualify as name calling? And somehow, I didn’t see your smirk across teh Intarwebs.

    Old Trad,

    Your assertion that “the Republican party does not care about the poor, about education, or about the arts”–which you characterize as “indisputable facts”–is appalling. Your approach to political disagreement about the proper role of the government–a legitimate topic of political debate–is to dehumanize people whose values are not the same as your own (after all, only horrible, inhuman monsters don’t care about children, right?). The Nazis dehumanized Jews and other “undesireables”; the Communists dehumanized landowners and other “capitalists”; the Khmer Rouge dehumanized “intellectuals” (e.g., people who spoke French, or wore glasses). Millions died in the wake of that groundwork. All the vitriol being spewed towards Republicans and conservatives is horrifically similar to all that.

    Recently, Dan Savage said, “I wish they [i.e., the Republicans] were all f***ing dead.” Your assertion differs only in degree, not kind. If it were only you and AEV and Dan Savage making such disparaging and dangerous statements, it would be nothing. However, since such vitriolic rhetoric is disturbingly common, I fear we are approaching a new wave of Jacobin-like mass murders of the politically incorrect.

    Congratulations for being part of it.

    P.S.: You claim the Republicans want one-party rule? What are you, a stand-up comic on the side? The only would-be tyrants around here all have “D” after their names.

  113. So Henry, please tell us, how much exactly does the GOP care about the poor, education, and arts? And what are the concrete plans to advance their well-being? For the short time I’ve been here, as a visiting scholar at Columbia, I haven’t heard much GOP chatter on promoting these topics, particularly the poor and the arts.

    Please, bring this debate to a higher level, enlighten us and disclose the humanized side of your party.

  114. The US government is not supposed to “advance (the) well being ” of the “arts”.

  115. I wish I could get passionate about (or even believe) either side.

  116. Go with the man who wears the OCBD.

  117. Simon,

    First, I’m not a Republican, but I care when they are so viciously attacked.

    Second, as Joey said, it is not the government’s place to advance the arts. This is not to say that the museums in DC are somehow inappropriate. After all, creating repositories to preserve our culture and history is a proper function of the government. However, funding “the arts” is not.

    Most conservatives (etc.) would agree that welfare does more harm than good (see Great Britain for a leading example). Many would point out that communities did have private charities that took care of the poor before the government moved into the arena, and many would point out that we still have private charities that provide for the poor. They’re a darned sight more efficient than the Federal government, too. There are also far more efficient ways for the government to take care of the poor than those currently employed (too involved to get into here). So, conservatives (etc.) do care about the poor; it’s just that they have different ideas than liberals as the best way to do it. Liberals, of course, want more clients dependent upon the State, and since they are the party of dependence on the State, they are happy to bamboozle more suckers into voting for them by hooking them up to a governmental teat.

    Education is another place where the situation that existed before the government interfered was superior to the current situation. Read Milton & Rose Friedman’s “Free To Choose” for details. (Way too short summary: private institutions without government funding get better results at lower cost.)

    Conservatives (et al.) are not anti-statist; rather, we oppose the monstrous hypertrophy of the state, far beyond the bounds envisioned–and written into law–by the Founding Fathers.

  118. Worst thing about a button-down? The collar. You hear people rhapsodising about the so-called “roll”. What it basically looks like is a collar where someone accidentally sewed the buttons on too high, so you get this ugly effect of the collar arching up around the tie knot.

    Just to address this complete idiot who has commented above. No sir, don’t “look to Great Britain” as an example, except as an example of where the government realises it has to make up for what it’s economic policy creates. Look instead at great welfare like our NHS which shames the U.S.’s joke of a health system, and which is suffering now only under the sort of privatisation hell you claim makes things better. Look back at your own country and see how the religion of neo-liberal capitalist idiocy has created a situation where so many people are brought down to the level of requiring welfare support (which they likely won’t receive anyway – so off to cardboard city).

    The assertion concerning education is laughable. Until a state school system existed – or state sanctioned scholarships – there was no equality of opportunity in education. It’s still completely out of balance. The tiresome assertion that private money creates better results has been proven a failure time and time again, it has failed where adopted in other countries, but is trumpeted as a success, which it most certainly is for shareholders, investors and the managers who keep everthing in profit by being ‘discerning’.

    Forget the ‘founding fathers’. They presided over a U.S. that was a rural backwater and didn’t provide any insight into the nature of a highly complex industrial societies. Conservative brains keep struggling with this problem because they fail to see this hard fact.

  119. Roger,

    I hope I am not being presumptuous when I think your comments directed towards “this complete idiot” are directed at me.

    Starting your diatribe with name-calling is both juvenile and inappropriate. Grow up and act like a man. Debate ideas, not personalities.

    Second, you seem to be unaware of how bad the NHS is. Here’s an overview:

    You also fail to understand that government involvement in any field increases costs and decreases choice. Health care costs in the US started to rise much higher than the rate of inflation after Medicare was instituted (part of LBJ’s failed “Great” Society program).

    There are more people on welfare now because it is easier to get it than it was in the past, and because a broader range of people are eligible for it than in the past. As always, when the government subsidizes an activity, you get more of that activity.

    But here is your masterpiece:

    “The tiresome assertion that private money creates better results has been proven a failure time and time again”

    I submit that you are out of touch with reality. There are those areas, such as national defense and diplomacy, where the government should be the sole provider. However, when it comes to everything else, there is nothing that the government does better/more efficiently than “private money.” Nothing.

    And finally, the roll of a proper Brooks Brothers button down collar is a thing of beauty. How can anyone take seriously the driveling of someone who cannot see this?

  120. I’m not unaware of anything in the NHS sonny boy. I use it. I know there is a campaign to smear it in the U.S. and the current conservative-led coalition government is assisting this whilst they are busy trying to lever in privatisation. Numerous ideologically-driven policy decisions for the NHS since the early 1980s have been to undermine the service. I think as both a user and a former employee of the NHS I know a lot more about it than either you or a ‘çity’ magazine peddling a line extrapolated from rumour.

    You’re another one who fell for the scam of “choice”. There is only one bottom line and it concerns the cost of healthcare. Give me a rational explanation of how so many people in the U.S. have been unable to afford health insurance or costs when there are so many providers offering so-called “choice”. Where’s the sense it two dozen plans if only one tier of society can even afford it? That’s not choice it’s product/service repetition for purely business reasons. You’re completely naive.

    The dark truth about government subsidy is that the bulk of it goes to many middle-class families (middle-class as defined outside the U.S.) and wealthy families as payments to children, tax-relief, employment credits etc. Whenever it is cut however, it is targeted at those who gain least benefit.

    I’m afraid it is you who is out of touch; if you ever were actually ‘in touch’ in the first place. You certainly pull of a decent show of understanding how current economics really operates, but it doesn’t fool me. The U.S. is full of people who think reiterating Reaganomics makes them an expert.

    You might want to compare the second sentence you wrote to your final sentence and then ask yourself whether you ought to be taken seriously.

  121. Roger,

    You just can’t engage in debate without using insulting language. What’s wrong with you?

    If you had clicked the link I provided, you might have realized that that “smear” of the NHS was written by an English physician, Theodore Dalrymple. Perhaps you should read the article. Here are some choice facts:

    * Of the health systems of the 14 advanced countries surveyed, the NHS ranked worst for five-year survival rates in cervical, breast, and colon cancer.
    * The NHS has the worst 30-day survival rates for two types of stroke.
    * The death rates of men in the highest and lowest social classes has widened since the inception of the NHS.
    * The NHS has kept costs down by rationing care (via long waiting lists) and not investing in new equipment and hospitals.

    The author also notes the widely believed propaganda that the NHS provides excellent care at reasonable cost and is a paragon of “social justice.” (How, exactly, does “social” justice differ from actual justice? As a true believer in the NHS, perhaps you could enlighten us.)

    “Give me a rational explanation of how so many people in the U.S. have been unable to afford health insurance”

    Milton & Rose Friedman provided just such an explanation: when the government gets involved, the costs go up. (Hmm, that sounds familiar. Where did I read that before?)

    Another factor that has caused medical costs to skyrocket is that the government mandated that everyone who shows up at a hospital has to be treated, but did not provide the payment. Now, I believe that hospitals should treat emergent cases regardless of ability to pay, but forcing them to pay for the indigent, many of whom are illegal aliens, has not only raised costs (estimated at $1 billion per year in California) but has also caused hospitals to go bankrupt and close their doors (at least 84 in California, and probably more). Those costs have to be covered somehow, and that is done by passing them along to those who can, and do, pay.

    But don’t worry, Roger! The purpose of Obamacare is to destroy the medical insurance business in America and turn the US into a single-payer country. Soon, our standard of care will fall, and because neither drug companies nor medical equipment manufacturers will be able to stay in business, your standard of care will fall, too. See more here:

    I do not claim to be an expert in economics, but I certainly know something you don’t: choice creates competition, and competition creates lower costs. In contrast, both monopolies and monopsonies (like single-payer health care) cause prices to rise. Perhaps I am “completely naive,” but at least I’m not blinkered by ideological blinders, as some on this site appear to be.

    “You might want to compare the second sentence you wrote to your final sentence”

    You might want to check that final sentence yourself. I called your writing “driveling,” but that’s an attack on content. You, however, have personally insulted me. While that’s sadly typical for what passes for “debate” nowadays, it is still unacceptable and a mark of intellectual and emotional immaturity.

  122. @ The Henry & Roger Show

    What has this got to do with the must ıron vs. non-ıron oxford debate?

  123. Henry
    You are wasting you’re breath, all one needs to do is look at the British population’s teeth, Christ, the NHS has had since 1948 fix the problem. The NHS is making progress, they are now shooting for a goal 18 weeks wait to see a practitioner.

  124. MAC – Be aware that “American teeth” are sneered at in England. Having “a porcelain fender” is considered a lower class (Essex) indicator. Bizarre people, the English. Check photographs of the late Queen Mother’s teeth to see aristocratic English dental style.

  125. I’m a conservative Englishman who has lived and worked in the USA on and off for 30 years. I am very patriotic, but I really love the USA too.

    a) the nasty anti-English racism is an unpleasant feauture of several posters on this site
    b) flawed though the NHS is, I can assure you that it is held in reverence by the vast majority of the British people, regardless of their political stripe. It’s genesis was in the concept of a “Land Fit for Heroes” after the privations we suffered in the war.
    c) British, and Europeans that I know tend to be quite surprised that the USA has an apparent “devil take the hindmost” attitude towards healthcare
    d) however, whenever I have had recourse to US health professionals I have been pleased with the service, but certainly no more or less impressed with it compared to what I receive at home in Great Britain.
    e) “socialist” with a lower case “s” can be ok, and is perfectly compatible with ‘one nation tory-ism’
    f) My US girlfriends seemed perfectly happy with my teeth, as I am/was with theirs
    g) Leitmotif and MAC – hate to rise to the bait/lower myself to your level, or whatever — but what a pair of unpleasant, sneering smart-arses you seem to be.

    Over and Out.

  126. Spats
    It is related to non-iron oxford, because phemaldehyde is used to process non-iron oxford. Phemaldehyde is also used in embalming dead human bodies. Dead bodies is what the H&R discussion is about, which system provides them or doesn’t provide them more efficiently. Get it? Well, it’s just a theory right now, I’ll get back with you. 😉

  127. Over and Out
    Not sure how anything I posted can be construed as racist since the British aren’t a race. “Racist” doesn’t mean what you think it means. Possibly, you meant Anglophobe.

    I really could care less how Britain operates their NHS, but I am happy you and your lady friend are perfectly happy with each other’s teeth.

    The British and Europeans, EU, have enough of their own problems without taking precious time to concern themselves with our attitudes about healthcare. I’d probably be more concerned about the deterioration of free speech, sovereignty, and other “PC” issues.

    But, I must say the Brits still make some very excellent motorcycles, shoes and woolens. I am a fan of the Queen and Mrs. Thatcher.

    Thanks for taking the bait, cheers.

  128. MAC,

    I know that Roger is probably beyond hope. However, I don’t want any young, impressionable minds to be fooled by his demonstrably false assertions. (P.S.: You’re one of my favorite commenters, too.)


    Comments, like normal conversation, take a life of their own, and veer off into (interesting?) tangents. This side track started with Old Trad’s unjustified and indefensible attacks on Republicans/conservatives.

  129. @Henry


    Are you talking about the vile attacks launched by the Mutt of the Year?

  130. Read the thread, Spats.

  131. Funny how it carries on when you’re off doing important things…

    Again I see the “false assertions” nonsense levelled by people without the brains to fully understand what they are typing. You Henry are a prize twit. Milton and Rose Friedman are untrustworthy corporate lackeys. How can you seriously put this people forward as providing anything like a balanced assessment. So foolish.
    Dalrymple was someone I used to enjoy reading, but he’s become something of a narrow-minded fool (no guesses for why you cited him). He purports to be one of those ‘facts only’, straight-talking (retired) physicians. What he really comes across as is a little Englander with the sort of medical opinion someone like Michael Crichton used to come out with. Take it with a pinch of salt.

    That list of misinterpretations and basic lies about the NHS you provided is old news. It’s the common list provided by deluded Americans like you who carry on with the fantasy that American healthcare is not a complete failure as a nationwide provider. It’s not just the economic and affordability question either. Even with all that money American healthcare does not dominate the world in terms of research. The NHS doesn’t either, but it does in certain areas it excels, as do places like Iran and Australia. You spend so much time patting yourself on the back for something that isn’t even there. It’s excruciating to see, yet also amusing.
    When Stephen Fry broke his arm travelling the U.S> the costly U.S> doctor completely misdiagnosed and underestimated the severity of the problem. Back in the UK the free NHS doctor quickly ensured huhs arm didn’t get to the point of being lost. So much for fantastic choice.

    Cancer survival is patchy in every country. The problem with the NHS is not access, but number of cases to be dealt with. Deluded as you are it never occurs to you that in a system like the U.S. where some people don’t even get to go for a breast or colon examination or scan that the number of patients could never overwhelm the system in anything like the same way. In England people die of cancer while under treatment, let us now count up the number of people in the U.S. who die because they couldn’t even access treatment. If we can even find them.
    I think I already explained to you the central problems of the NHS, which is not the concept of shared cost, but that this model comes into conflict with the economic entity inside which it operates. The other is that it struggles to promote preventative care in a society that is poisoned by idiotic ideas about ‘the right to smoke’, drummed up by tobacco lobbies and problems encouraged by the food industry. Illnesses as a result of work and social organisation come a close second. The difference for the NHS is that it has to guarantee care and can’t just dismiss people from insurance policies or just ignore them anyway because they have no insurance or money to pay.

    The question of cost is actually that if everyone is included into affordable healthcare provision, which is always a large scale enterprise requiring protection from the whims of markets, genuine shared cost is always more cost efficient. In fact it always is for this sort of thing, the same sort of idea behind Rotary Club and Oddfellows funding. Stupid people never make the link.

    I’ll ignore the tired ‘Obamacare’ silliness. Anyone who even confuses that with anything less than a few tweaks to the existing insurance system needs psychiatric help (which will not be available via the U.S.’s notoriously poor provision for mental health services).

    Spin the basic textbook principles of choice and competition all you want, those with more insight know that reality doesn’t, and never has, matched what really goes on in capitalist markets. You see, that
    is the problem with the mass of people who think like you (and I use the word ‘think’ very loosely indeed), labouring under the foolish idea that the reality of economic activity somehow tallies with the textbook models. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so dangerous.

    Please save your breath with all that guff about ‘insults’ and how the state of debate has become less gentlemanly. I assure you, any self-respecting gentleman gives an idiot short shrift.

    I expected the usual rounds of ‘bad English teeth’. Isn’t it about time to put this myth to bed? Most English people have ‘healthy’ teeth, which is not always ‘visually perfect’ teeth, the two are not identical. Sometimes the two even coincide. I fail to see how having half the youth trussed up in braces to try and engineer visual dental perfection is anything to do with healthy teeth. It’s an obsession with visual perfection. In any case it reflects again the same issues because there are lots of people in the U.S. with horrible teeth, they have no insurance, limited insurance, or are trying to save it for ‘real healthcare problems’.
    Of course in the U.S. other subnormal misapprehensions about Europe and the UK abound, like ‘lack of personal hygiene’ and ‘no deodorant’. Why should anyone take seriously anything else uttered by people who put out this kind of nonsense?

  132. Roger
    First, no one on this side of the Atlantic gives a shit about the NHS, we have problems of our own.

    Secondly, you end by saying, “Why should anyone take seriously anything else uttered by people who put out this kind of nonsense?” Unfortunately, you start out disparaging Milton and Rose Friedman’s scholarship. You are the first I have heard ever call them “corporatists”. You might look around economic plight of the EU, America and for that matter the world, tell me how the Friedmans were wrong.

    Lastly, you need, like others here, to acquire a sense of humor. For the most part, we here at Ivy Style only care about our cousins of the Lost Empire to do Ivy style correctly, if WE could ever agree on it.

    Carry on and all that,


  133. Vern Trotter | May 14, 2018 at 11:45 pm |

    This has to be one of the longest threads.

  134. Ya, this was, IS, a great thread! The “controversy” is driven by the definition of terms. Strictly speaking, the OCBD is not a “dress” shirt, but has become the definitive business shirt, which transitions easily to business casual and casual. If one refers to it as a dress shirt, that’s cool, we know what you mean.

  135. Old School Tie | October 20, 2020 at 9:56 am |

    I like them because they keep the tie knot in place and the collar points do not transgress the boundaries of the neckline of one’s sweater. Next thing someone will say that wearing a sweater with a suit is wrong…

  136. So, yes, I wear an OCBD with a suit.

  137. FYI the pictures shirt is Gitman. Probably a lined and fused collar.

  138. Charlottesville | October 20, 2020 at 6:04 pm |

    Is an OCBD a dress shirt? Not really. Do I wear one with a suit? Sure, especially with a 3/2 sack suit, repp tie and tassel loafers or longwings, or similar old-school “Ivy” outfits. However the OCBD is not really formal, and on an occasion that calls for a “wedding tie” and cap-toe oxfords it would not be appropriate. I also don’t think it is right with a DB or English “City” suit, but those are not my usual kit anyway. However, with a poplin or seersucker suit in summer, I would be unlikely to wear anything but an OCBD, or perhaps a tab collar, and might even wear penny loafers as well.

    These days, of course, distinctions in levels of formality for suits, blazers and sport coats are pretty much lost on the average man, and a polo shirt or fleece vest and khakis are considered perfectly acceptable office wear. When I first really started paying attention to clothes, the local professional men in my part of Virginia usually wore button-downs and suits, and that was still true in Washington when I started practicing law in the mid 80s. I saw a lot of this look in New York in those days as well. Still, it comes down to personal preference, and one can find pictures of well dressed men wearing OCBDs with double-breasted suits, and others wearing French cuffs with sport coats, so wear what you like as long as it looks good and makes some sort of sense to you. Better than a t-shirt and hoodie.

  139. Charlottesville | October 20, 2020 at 6:07 pm |

    Berkeley Breathes – You beat me to the “Post Comment” button re DBs and OCBDs. Fred Astaire is exactly who I had in mind.

  140. Charlottesville | October 21, 2020 at 1:23 pm |

    Berkeley Breathes – Quite right. I would love to see prominent men dress like that again. Alas, that breed no longer exists in any number, although I still see some sack suits and OCBDs around occasionally. Keep setting a good example like those you named!

    These days, the glimpse of a well-fitting suit or sport coat of good cloth (darted or not), leather dress shoes, cotton shirt (BD or not) and non-goofy tie is an all-too-rare breath of fresh air, including in mid-town restaurants, theaters, university campuses, law offices, churches, weddings and funerals, and I don’t think the current plague is likely to improve the situation much. And so, I am thankful whenever I see someone who is at least trying, whether the shoulders of his blazer pass strict Ivy muster or not.

  141. The shirt in the photo was made by Gitman Brothers for The Andover shop. You can find them on the stock website, Great shirts and fair prices for Made in USA

  142. michael powell | January 2, 2021 at 8:38 pm |

    Hardbopper – OCBDs are “business” shirts. Excellent definition.

  143. In this entire discussion there was nothing distinguishing between an actual OCBD and a button-down collar shirt in, say, broadcloth or poplin.

    I wear OCBD’s with almost anything, including a blazer. But on the rare occasion I put on an actual suit anymore, it is a shirt in a thinner fabric and button-down collar. Formalwear of course is an entirely separate discussion.

    In response to the assertion that the white OCBD is useless – I say nothing looks and feels better under a dark-colored sweater. Or a blazer for that matter.

  144. michael powell | March 20, 2021 at 3:07 am |

    Andrew, maybe we should call them BCBDs -Broadcloth Button Downs. My blue BCBDs are exactly the same blue as my OCBDs. And I’ve got a couple veeery pale pinks. White shirts? I haven’t worn a white shirt with a suit in 30 years.

  145. Michael, I like that – BCBD! I also prefer the blue you are probably referring to with a suit.

    But I confess to owning a couple of white shirts because I think they look crisp under a sweater. Per recent pics in the news, that seems like a preferred look for the Royal Family, so I can feel fancy as I work from home, haha!

  146. Philly Trad | June 30, 2021 at 1:21 pm |

    Republicans showed their true colors when some occupied the Capitol building and the rest were reluctant to condemn what they did.

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