The Velvet Touch

There’s breaking news today in the world of men’s footwear.

That’s right: it’s not often that velvet slippers make headlines, but last night at the President’s speech before Congress, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross took a piece of “winter White House” style with him from Palm Beach to DC and donned slippers from Stubbs & Wooton with a custom crest depicting the seal of the Department Of Commerce.

Mr. Ross has a BA from Yale and an MBA from Harvard.

While his audacious, rich-guy gesture was loaded with FU inappropriateness for the occasion (kind of like wearing white in the evening in February), it wasn’t full-on GTH as Ross apparently wore socks.

And of course the only thing more amusing than Ross’ footwear choice is the faux-outrage backlash, which is full of headlines pointing to the slippers’ $500 price tag (they actually cost more than that, assuming he paid for them). As if all the other shoes worn in that room didn’t cost $500.

And that’s chump change compared to the price of the some of the Democratic presidential nominee’s outfits. Or what environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio paid to fly someone to LA to manicure his eyebrows before the Oscars, though apparently that was fake news.

I say cheers to Mr. Ross for this eminently Ivy/preppy/WASPy/Palm Beach gesture. Now if we can just get him in tapered trousers, buttondown collars, and three-button jackets. — CC

80 Comments on "The Velvet Touch"

  1. Chewco L.P. (Non-Taxable) | March 1, 2017 at 1:35 pm |

    I love this! It’s so funny. There hasn’t been more of a blatant display of “IDGAF” in history since Howard Hughes smashed Ava Gardner “in the goddam face” (to quote William F. Buckley Jr.)

    Yeah its ironic how one moment the [mainstream media] praise Hillary Clinton for her sense of style and for her $5,000 Ralph Lauren Collection “pantsuits.” And next this billionaire is shamed for his $600 shoes.

    P.S. Those green alligator shoes Hilary Geary is wearing cost at least a million billion.

    [Full Disclosure: I am a “Rockefeller” Republican in case my opinion is waxed a little biased]

    P.P.S. I apologize if my comments come off a little off-putting. The market is up today and I am a little giddy.

  2. Marc Chevalier | March 1, 2017 at 2:09 pm |

    The same “mainstream media” shamed President Obama for daring to wear a tan-colored suit. Horrors!

  3. Chewco L.P. (Non-Taxable) | March 1, 2017 at 2:26 pm |

    I am personally offended by his parachute pants. Where’s the outrage there? I am sure they are pleated too. He is the best-worst dressed (or the worst-best dressed) person in my recent memory.

    Jokes aside, I actually am a big fan of the cream/off-white silk pants look (wool or linen is just as fine). He looks as though he summers in Annapolis, MD.

  4. He looks great! The shoes are clever and demonstrate his pride in his new job. Of course, as he is a Republican we have to endure the faux_populism of the fake media. Of course John Kerry’s trappings of wealth all derived courtesy of his wives while Mr. Ross made his own pile. We should be thanking him for taking the time to work on behalf of our country.

  5. In a typical MSM attempt to deride anything anyone connected to the President does, they brought attention to the sartorial splendor of this man. When will they learn that their incessant nitpicking is divisive and petty?

  6. Marc Chevalier | March 1, 2017 at 3:32 pm |






  8. Marc Chevalier | March 1, 2017 at 4:03 pm |


  9. The MSM did not shame Obama the same way they constantly seek to shame members of the Trump administration. I was just reading coverage from the tan suit debacle and most articles pointed to random people on Twitter who were confused by his perfectly appropriate summer suit.

  10. Chewco L.P. (Non-Taxable) | March 1, 2017 at 4:28 pm |

    I just googled “Obama tan suit” and the top 3 results:

    “The time Obama wore a tan suit and Twitter freaked out.”

    “Obama’s tan suit: Stop freaking out Internet, it’s actually stylish.”

    “Barack Obama’s Tan Suit: A Necessary Defense.”

    If a Martian landed on planet earth and saw that he would say “eh, that sounds a bit biased, doesn’t it?”

    I have no problem with tan suits, tan parachute pants or even tan $1,000 velvet slippers… but don’t pretend there isn’t a double standard here.

    (BTW, if a Martian landed on planet earth, Christian would prob. make love to it… based on his comment October 7, 2016 at 8:27 on this post:

    I never forget!

  11. Chewco, amen to all of your statements except what you wrote in parentheses. I like summer wool flannel pants, like old tennis whites. Very hard to find, however. But Mr. Ross’ pants do need just a little tailoring.

  12. Marc Chevalier | March 1, 2017 at 5:29 pm |

    I just googled “Obama” and “tan suit”, and this showed up near the top of the list. A Republican Representative just had to include the tan suit in his rant:

  13. Chewco L.P. (Cayman) | March 1, 2017 at 5:42 pm |

    dude… in the video you just linked to the guy said he didn’t care about the suit multiple times. He literally said “he could have worn whatever he wanted.” (at 1:40)

    I think the guy took issue with what Obama was ‘saying’ and not what he was ‘wearing.’ But that’s just me. I must be crazy. Maybe you’re right.

  14. Marc Chevalier | March 1, 2017 at 6:01 pm |

    Duuuude…that’s because he was backtracking by then. His initial statement (to NewsMaxTV, whatever that us):

    “”There’s no way any of us can excuse what the president did yesterday. When you have the world watching … a week, two weeks of anticipation of what the United States is gonna do. For him to walk out —I’m not trying to be trivial here— in a light suit, a light tan suit, saying that first he wants to talk about what most Americans care about the revision of second quarter numbers on the economy….”

  15. Did you even watch the video you linked? CNN is defending Obama by giving the man examples of past presidents who wore tan suits. You’d have to be living under a rock to not detect the blatant media bias.

  16. Marc Chevalier | March 1, 2017 at 6:24 pm |

    And did YOU even read the “mainstream media” reports on Secretary Ross’s slippers? Try to find anything negative in here, for instance:

    At most, the reportage seems bemused by the anachronism.

  17. He’s a long way from the Boston cracked shoe isn’t he.

  18. Obama was gently mocked by the media, and wrongly so, for his perfectly fine tan suit in summer. But Trump’s sartorial gestures are seen as evidence of his lunacy.

    And Marc has put mainstream media in scare quotes twice!

  19. Wasn’t hard at all, the most neutral they get is simply pointing out just how expensive they are (saying they’re normally 495$ but his are custom so they’re even more expensive). The so-called “Gentleman’s Quarterly” took the opportunity to inform its readers about the history of the smoking slipper and, as is customary for the MSM, proceeded to bash a member of the Trump Administration. Check a little harder next time:

  20. Marc Chevalier | March 1, 2017 at 6:40 pm |

    His feet were the best two things in the room.

  21. You still haven’t proved your initial statement to be true, that the MSM “shamed” Obama for wearing a tan suit. Christian is spot-on.

  22. Marc Chevalier | March 1, 2017 at 6:45 pm |

    @GS: sorry, I must have walked by GQ (as usual). Does the old rag still exist? Best to stay away from it.

  23. @MARC


    I’m thinking that just about everybody on this blog is wearing shoes that cost more than $500. I also think his pants are perfectly appropriate for an almost eighty year old man.


  24. Chewco L.P. (Cayman) | March 1, 2017 at 6:56 pm |

    Marc, you must be a troll… you can’t be real.

    Anyway, I might get myself a pair of Stubbs now. I’ve been holding back and I almost got a pair of JP Crickets with my college logo on them… but wearing those now would seem extremely sophomoric.

    Are monogrammed Stubbs generally in poor taste today? What do you guys think? I am thinking of taking the plunge.

    Similar to this:

  25. Obama’s tan suit was one of the only things he got right in eight years. In my opinion.


  26. He’s almost 80? Talk about a rich old white guys administration!

    Is she wife number two or three?

  27. That would be trophy wife number three.


  28. Marc Chevalier | March 1, 2017 at 7:08 pm |

    Fair enough. Twitter media and a Republican congressman looking for media attention shamed Obama for wearing a tan suit. The “mainstream media” reported on the backlash, tried to parse it, and defended the suit’s tanness. (It seems that GQ trashed it, but mainly for the shoulders and sack fit. What a waste of paper and bandwidth.)

    President Trump wears ill-fitting suits, wears his tie too long, and is fond of embellishing said ties with tape. The good ol’ media (and most of America, including Trump’s fans) calls his sartorial spade a spade, and doesn’t pretend to like it.

    Secretary Ross, in a fit of whimsy (of a certain age), wears cute slippers to his boss’s speech, because he can. The media reacts by giving free publicity to Stubbs & Wootton –link to website included– thereby helping Europe’s slippermaking economy by way of Palm Beach.

    Can we all at least agree that the President needs a wardrobe tuneup? Consensus-building starts here.

  29. At least we all agree that GQ awful.

  30. And yes, Marc, we have not had a well dressed President since Bush 41.

  31. Cc…were you hitting balls at B.B. this evening? Was there to buy my young son a blazer and thought I recognized a celebrity, but was reluctant to approach.

  32. Marc Chevalier | March 1, 2017 at 7:21 pm |

    Agreed, on both points. Hurrah!

  33. Chewco, in the spirit of GTH buy yourself some smoking slippers with your initials. I’m thinking of getting a pair with a fox’s head on them as RFK wore and for my school’s mascot, the fox. However, I’m having a hard time thinking of what to wear them with other that black tie? Flannels and a blazer are the only other option that comes to mind.

  34. @HG

    Warm day and rain let up, so I was hitting outdoors on Randall’s Island.

    What a difference not wearing a shiny red tie makes. I’m sure you all noticed it. A loyal reader sent me a link to this piece:

  35. Good on him for doing what he wants. And you are correct, ragging on the guy for wearing shoes with a price tag undermines the fact that everyone else’s lace ups cost $400 and up too.

    He could narrow the pants a bit though.

  36. Marc Chevalier | March 1, 2017 at 7:52 pm |

    @CG: great article, and spot-on. The President’s attire was greatly improved. He looked quite good, and deserves the credit for it.

  37. GS
    I like the fox slipper idea, but I’d have to buy a smoking jacket. Haven’t owned a tux for a decade.

  38. Chewco L.P. (Cayman) | March 1, 2017 at 8:28 pm |

    Aye GS,

    I hear you. However, Mac’s idea of pairing them with a smoking jacket will have to go into my “visually-appealing-but-hard-to-pull-off” list:

    Courtesy of Paul Stuart:

  39. Mac, I have wanted a smoking jacket before I knew anything about style. However, that would be even more impractical to try to wear than smoking slippers. I’ve also been looking for a tux, it’s hard to find any off the rack that conform to the Black Tie Guide’s rules.

  40. And there’s another thing s can agree on, the President’s bar stripe tie was very nice. Almost Reagan-like.

  41. Chewco, I’d take that jacket in red velvet. What were you thinking of wearing smoking slippers with?

  42. Chewco L.P. (Cayman) | March 1, 2017 at 8:43 pm |

    What was I thinking of wearing slippers with? Anything I would normally wear to work. Exactly like this –

    Courtesy of Ralph Lauren:

    I like the tie + slacks + sockless slippers look. Its the modern “GTH.”

  43. Yes, I don’t have a lot of ideas as to what I would wear them with. That’s an interesting example, wouldn’t think to wear them sock less but the Secretary of Commerce is doing the same. Thanks!

  44. Marc Chevalier | March 1, 2017 at 9:07 pm |

    Wear them with black silk lisle socks … and a tasseled smoking cap.

  45. Ah yes I forgot about the fez cap. Thanks for the reminder.

  46. I burned a bunch of my semester’s budget on a smoking jacket when I was a junior, and I was at a Cal State school for goodness’ sake. A testament to my flights of fancy and the power of smoking jackets, I guess.

    I still have it and even though I dislike burgundy, I guess I’ve decided that this is the one item in my life that I will not edit out.

  47. My father had a smoking jacket he’d gotten in occupation Japan. It was tanish gold with Japanese icons woven in the silk fabric, it had a wide shawl collar. I remember him wearing it around the house, smoking Camels and reading the evening paper. Sometime around 1960 he quit wearing it. I asked him about it just hanging in the closet and he gave it to me. Unfortunately, one of my older sister stole it when she left for college, never saw it again. I forgave her, it meant more to her than me, she was born in Kyoto I wasn’t.

  48. T. Harkness | March 1, 2017 at 10:10 pm |

    Most inappropriate!

  49. Yikes, creepy on many levels. While money seemingly has brought him his position, it can’t buy him class or a decent trophy…

  50. Sugar Daddy style

  51. Christian, what shop sold smoking jackets?

  52. I like to see the guy having a good time. If it happens to rub liberal fur against the grain, so much the better. Pink blazer! Dude’s got stones!

  53. Dictionarist | March 2, 2017 at 2:46 am |

    It’s not a question of being a liberal; it’s a question of being a conservative, rather than a clown, where matters of style are concerned.

  54. Vern Trotter | March 2, 2017 at 2:50 am |

    Yes, he should do something about those pants, IMO. I never wear my Stubbs outside my own secure bolt hole. He does because he, like our President , long ago could care less about what others think. I see men of a certain age wearing them at places on the UpperEast. And he has had this wife for a while now. She looks very nice on his arm.

  55. Vern Trotter | March 2, 2017 at 3:05 am |

    I forgot, yes he is 79 years young. His second wife was Betsy McGaughey, our former Lt. Governor here in New York and now the fine Op-Ed columnist for the NY Post.

    Why is this important? Well, youth wants to know.

  56. The slippers were probably a gift from Ross’s wife. They are certainly less expensive than, say, John Kerry’s John Lobbs.

    The “outrage” seems like a combination of lack of familiarity with this style of shoe, status anxiety due to the style’s aristocratic vibe, and head-shaking at the seeming frivolity of paying $600 for shoes that aren’t very durable.

  57. GS
    No, the jacket was structured like a sport coat with no shoulder padding. Imagine this image with no quilting and in a very light gold almost tan body. The icons woven in the silk were very small like a club tie.

  58. If you’re going to wear feminine shoes, you might as well go all the way and wear what my sister used to call “palazzo pants”.

  59. PS – nobody in Annapolis dresses like that.

  60. Palazzo pants roomy enough for his Depends!

  61. Chewco L.P. (Non-Taxable) | March 2, 2017 at 9:13 am |

    From that Dailybeast article: “Let’s talk about the “bra strap” dress that Ivanka Trump wore to her father’s first address…”

    Let’s not.

    Ivanka is beyond reproach.

    They absolutely dress like that in Annapolis (maybe minus the slippers and the curtains-for-pants). That’s what I see whenever I visit… walking down Main St. past Chick & Ruth’s Delly.

  62. “Minus the slippers and the curtains-for-pants” leaves a blue blazer. So you got me there: those of us who live and work here, and visitors too, sometimes wear blue blazers on Main St. Although if you showed up at Chick & Ruth’s in a blazer, they’d think you’d walked in by mistake, and instead send you down the street to AYC!

  63. Chewco L.P. (Non-Taxable) | March 2, 2017 at 9:30 am |


  64. @Gerlando

    Nordstrom had some under its house label in ’92.

  65. Marc Chevalier | March 2, 2017 at 10:17 am |

    … back in the day when Nordstrom also sold black silk lisle socks for evening wear. Knee-length, no less.

  66. Sometime in the late sixties or early seventies I bought a Pendleton (yes, the same company that makes Indian blankets) Smoking Jacket at either Silverwoods, Desmonds, or Mullen and Bluett (all of which were near each other on the “Miracle Mile” section of Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles).

    It’s royal blue wool with a black wool velvet shawl collar and was made in the USA. I still have it.

  67. Charlottesville | March 2, 2017 at 11:05 am |

    I have a couple of pairs of Stubbs & Wooton velvet slippers, and black velvet slippers with gold fox heads from Church’s. None were custom made, all are several decades old, and I enjoy wearing them with black tie or flannels and a blazer, but only at home or in a resort. What works in Palm Beach can feel a bit awkward elsewhere, to me at least. But if I were a 79 year old billionaire, I might feel differently about this and many other things as well.

    Marc – I thought the word lisle was exclusively applied to the thread in fine cotton socks, and that black socks of either lisle or silk were appropriate with black tie. However, perhaps lisle can refer to any fine thread used for socks. I guess that is a question for someone like Mr. Boyer.

  68. Marc Chevalier | March 2, 2017 at 11:26 am |

    Charlottesville – I should have spoken more precisely. Lisle is indeed made of cotton. By “silk lisle”, I was referring to a silk and lisle blend: lisle with silk clocks or stripes.

  69. MacMcConnell | March 2, 2017 at 11:45 am |

    In the 1960s and 70s Pendleton was still make some nice sweaters and wool BDs. I still have one of their Blackwatch wool BDs, they might still make it. Their sweaters had raglan shoulders, instead of the sewn on arms now so prevalent.

    I think everyone in my HS owned that Blackwatch shirt or a navy Pendleton CPO.

  70. I wouldn’t count on Nordstrom to stock anything I would purchase these days, it’s all trendy now. Such a shame.

  71. Mac, it almost sounds like a smoking jacket made of a kind of kimono fabric. Very interesting.

  72. Charlottesville | March 2, 2017 at 12:17 pm |

    Marc – Thanks! I have learned something new. It’s amazing how far into the weeds some of us clothing geeks go, but I enjoy it.

    MacMcConnell – I still have a Pendleton wool BD shirt that my wife gave me for Christmas perhaps 20 years ago. Heavy wool, but remarkably comfortable. I don’t know what the current products are like, but I remember my mother wore Pendleton sweaters and skirts in the 70s, and I think I had some of their crewneck sweaters in that era.

  73. Bernie Sanders is more Ivy than this guy.

    And in a post “Ivy League Dilemma” world, degrees from the aforementioned schools mean nothing vis a vis WASPyness or style.

  74. Funny, he would’ve been in school smack dab in the middle of the heyday.

  75. He went to Brooklyn College, I read, but I’d picture him as more of a radical type student.

  76. @Christian

    “Smack dab in the middle” Nice Joe Williams reference.



  77. I want ten Cadillacs and a diamond mill, ten suits of clothes to dress to kill, a ten room house and some barbeque, and fifty chicks not over twenty two, then throw me smack dad in the middle.


  78. .weston.pecos. | March 5, 2017 at 9:31 am |

    He has a foot problem that makes it painful to wear standard business dress shoes. It is just not possible for him to wear those kind of shoes anymore. Given his wealth and age, he can get away with the slippers and be thought of merely as a “rich guy who doesn’t care what you think”. But as you may find out yourself when you are his age, some people can not wear dress shoes, even custom made dress shoes. And, if you’ve ever had foot surgery that left you in the same amount, or more, pain, you will understand and be thankful that Secretary Ross set the “fashion trend” that you can now follow.

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