Variety Pack

As time creeps to a standstill under the virus lockdown, I’ve taken to going through my email inbox. People have been sending me random Ivy stuff for over a decade, and there’s a lot I still haven’t gotten to. So going forward I’ll start mixing it in with the news.

Cue the soundtrack, which comes to us from The Who and an early song that invokes Ivy League jackets and white buckskin shoes:

No mention of buttondowns, alas, but for you omnivores of all things oxford-cloth (and who have a WSJ login), here’s a 2012 ode to the Brooks buttondown.

Over at The New Yorker back in 214, Chang-rae Lee wrote about the gastronomical challenges of prep school food.

Back to the present, and Rowing Blazers sold out of its vibrant-patterned face masks, in spite of — or perhaps because of — the label that sits on your cheekbone. No doubt it was meant to be cheeky:

But that’s for when venturing outside. While huddled at home in the fetal position, Lands’ End is ready to make you feel like a survivor in “the new power suit”:

GQ, however, thinks the virus will resuscitate dress standards, rather than kill them off entirely. A lengthy feature on “menswear 2.0” includes quotes from Americana advocate (and J. Press PR man) Michael Williams:

A second coming of tailoring and suiting was already well on its way, but now getting dressed up might feel like an urgent necessity—if not now, in our early days of Zoom, than in a few weeks or months, when your sweats start to feel a little cramped. “No one wants more of this loungewear bullshit,” says Williams. “They don’t want to think about being home on a Zoom call. People want to think about when they can wear a nice jacket and go to an event or be at a nice restaurant again.” In that way, buying suits, pleated trousers, and double-breasted blazers again won’t just be a way to help local businesses, a method to tone down cranked-to-11 fashion, or a sign of an impending new era of style—it’ll be a symbol of hope, too.

Perhaps in the next iteration of menswear GQ writers will learn what “suiting” means.”

Stay strong America and some day soon we’ll be able to smile and smoke cigars like the fellow drawn by Fellows at the top of this post. Maybe even travel. — CC

15 Comments on "Variety Pack"

  1. C,

    I enjoyed the 1960s Bermuda college week clip. Is that Jonathan Winters lighting his cig with flaming limbo pole?

    By the way, I guess the college students in that are all now in their late 70s – early 80s. Wow, time flys.

    Okay, I am going to pour a tall Dark `n Stormy into a Tervis and then watch it again.

    Cheers, BC

  2. elder prep | April 26, 2020 at 7:11 pm |

    As in BS’s comment, I frequently look at images here on the site of college students back in the heyday, earlier or later, and think how old they must be now and when I finish the calculation and arrive at the answer of ’70s and ’80s, I sit back, mildly stunned and smile to remind myself that’s how old you are now elder prep.

  3. Some trivial trivia. At 2:05 in the 1960s, Bermuda College Week Part 2 it a great shot of the Somerset Bridge. It’s the smallest bridge in Bermuda, connecting Somerset Island with the mainland in the western parish of Sandys, Somerset Bridge is reputedly the smallest working drawbridge in the world. 😉

  4. Old School | April 27, 2020 at 1:03 am |

    For those who don’t have a WSJ login, here’s the 2012 ode to the Brooks buttondown in full:
    https://www.ralphgardner.com/a-wrinkle-in-our-culture/

  5. Love the article on prep school dining fare. Brings back memories of smuggled in pizza from the local town pizzeria and warm Natty Bohs that we consumed surreptitiously in our dorm rooms after lights out. Good times.

  6. Justin Pitt | April 27, 2020 at 11:15 am |

    Where to find suitable socking?

  7. Charlottesville | April 27, 2020 at 12:17 pm |

    The vision of Lands’ End or that of Michael Williams? Will we go down the drain in soft, slovenly plush, or go out on the town, gratefully donning a proper coat and tie? Exactly the question I posed in a comment to the last post. I’m rooting for Mr. Williams.

  8. Keep in mind that the man holding a cigar in the Fellows ad was your average middle class fellow, not Gordon Gecko.

    The cigar, braces, and gold collar pin in the illustration must have influenced Alan Flusser when he was working on Michael Douglas’ wardrobe in Wall Street.

  9. To be extremely pedantic, while the “Zoot Suit”/”I’m the Face” single was certainly by The Who, it was originally credited to The High Numbers. Their manager at the time thought a name change was a good idea. It wasn’t.

    The Who’s first hit single, “I Can’t Explain”, also has a kinda sorta Ivy League connection. There was a group in London a the time, a vocal trio, called The Ivy League, and the members of that group were brought in as session musicians to sing backups on “I Can’t Explain”.

  10. @RichardPress: this morning, I enjoyed your ‘Brother Can You Spare A Dime?’ entry on the blog, and your starting it out with a UES/Yorkville reference jogged an old memory of mine that perhaps you and other readers can appreciate.

    About a decade ago, not long before he died, my dad invited my brother and me on a trip to New York, and we visited his old barracks on Governor’s Island, and some other old haunts from his days in the Army during the Kennedy administration. One such place, which he couldn’t believe was still open, was the Heidelberg at 86th and 2nd Ave. We ate our dinner at the bar next to an older lady with an Eastern European accent, drinking beer from a dainty glass. My father asked her if she had been coming there for long (she had), and whether she remembered a bartender named ‘Ernie’, who’d apparently often served my dad and his friends. She did – Ernie had been her departed husband’s best friend.

    I then asked her how it was that the restaurant had managed to stay open for more than 50 years. I expected her to say something about the quality of the food, the loyalty of the customer base, or some such. Her answer was far simpler: she said, “They own the building.”

  11. This has to be 1960-61, the height of the Twist craze. Note the gorgeous Betty Draper lookalike doing the dance at 1.10.48, part 2.

  12. NaturalShoulder | April 27, 2020 at 10:55 pm |

    @Charlottesville – I am rooting for Mr. Williams and trying to do my part to bring victory to the coat and tie side but, based upon comments made on weekly Zoom happy hours with colleagues who think one of the best things about shelter in place is the ability to wear nothing but sweat pants, I am not betting on it.

  13. Of course,J. Press is hoping for a return of dressing up. On the other hand, GQ has helped destroy the concept of dressing up with the leisurewear drek they have been promoting in the magazine and YouTube videos. I fear that a return to dressing up has collapsed with the situation we now have. I see all the home videos being shown on all platforms including TV and it’s not pretty.

  14. Too Much Johnson | April 28, 2020 at 5:12 pm |

    @NaturalShoulder & @Edward

    Timely, if not exactly cogent –

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/05/kill-the-office-dress-code/609070/

  15. Californian | May 5, 2020 at 7:26 pm |

    I for one wear a jacket every day in my Zoom meetings.

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