We Got Roger Stone: An Ivy Style Exclusive Interview

After the publication of Friday’s story on political supervillain Roger Stone, contributing writer Eric Twardzik received an unexpected call from Stone, leading to an exclusive interview in which the Machiavellian manipulator discusses his interest in tailored clothing, which includes a deep appreciation of traditional American style.

* * *

ET: In the documentary “Get Me Roger Stone,” you’re seen wearing a patch-madras sportcoat.

RS: It is one of two that I own. Finding it in three buttons was a challenge; it’s actually from Joseph Banks and is my favorite. I don’t have any single-breasted jackets at all that are not three-button, but most of the time I wear double-breasted suits.

ET: Do you wear the madras to be bolder and to fit into a persona, or has that always been something you gravitated towards outside of your public persona?

RS: I don’t really know where I come by this. I come from a blue-collar background and grew up in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Neither of my parents went to college. But when I first started going to elementary school I told my mother I wanted a button-down, all cotton Brooks Brothers shirt and corduroy slacks. And the whole idea of any non all-natural fabric being on your body has always turned me off.

When I was younger I had 44-inch shoulders but a 31-inch waist, which meant you could never buy a suit off the rack. So I started having things custom made. That’s a slippery slope, because pretty soon you realize that you can have ticket pockets and watch pockets, and peak lapels and I made a bunch of things with three buttons but peaked lapels. For a while I was having things made for me by Anderson & Sheppard in London, and then I discovered Alan Flusser. Throughout the ’70s and ’80s he made most of my clothes. “Look good feel good” is one of my rules.

Madras is not only great looking, in the heat of Washington DC it’s very comfortable. And patchwork is great cocktail party stuff. I also have a lot of pants made out of the same thing, that you wear with a blue blazer or a bottle green blazer. Washington is, of course, the home of the worst-dressed men on the face of the planet. Nobody there cares about looking good. Nobody thinks about what looks good in terms of either cut or color. It’s a wasteland, always has been. There is a J. Press store there, but that’s a positive development that’s fairly recent. To shop you’ve got to go to New York. I used to go to Chipp, I have this unbelievable kind of sunburst jacket. I wore it to a party that Milo had last weekend. I don’t want to be like everyone else. I’ve got my political style and the way I dress is really the same, in a sense.

ET: Conservative American style has become almost a counter-cultural statement.

RS: Kind of the pure American style — like the Kennedy brothers, Jack and Bobby and Ted Kennedy were all incredibly well dressed. At the same time, they all looked like they never put a second’s thought into it, it was just natural. Jack Kennedy is essentially the guy who popularized the two-button suit. Ironically, the first one he had made in London when his father was the ambassador to Britain. Prior to that the three-button suit was the pretty standard model. Also, when he went to the inauguration in 1960 without wearing a hat, that’s it for men’s hats. Almost immediately, they’re gone as a fashion must-have. In the ’50s, no man would leave the house without his hat. By 1961, no man is wearing a hat. So politics, and kind of the showbiz aspects of politics, have changed entirely our perceptions of what’s fashionable, what’s stylish, and so on.

One of the great disappointments is that for presidential inaugurations every president used to wear a morning suit. That’s what the etiquette books called for. Reagan did, Nixon did, Johnson did, Kennedy did, Truman did, and they all looked great. And then they’d wear white tie at the inaugural ball in the evening. George Bush is responsible for ending that. He wore a dark business suit and a formal tie to his inauguration and that’s it. I tried to talk Trump into wearing a morning suit, and he said “no way.”

ET: You wore a morning suit to the inauguration, correct?

RS: Yes, because that’s what the etiquette book calls for. Now some of my critics said I look like a vampire, but who gives a fuck what they think. Today, rogerebert.com has a review of the film “Get Me Roger Stone” out, and he’s [film critic Godfrey Cheshire] trashing my clothes in it. Take a look at his pictures. This guy has no taste. He wants to attack my politics, that’s fine, don’t attack my clothing. You know nothing about it. You’re a tasteless fool.

ET: Is there something specific about Ivy style that you, as someone who did not come from a Kennedy-esque background, found attractive?

RS: It’s so pure. First and foremost, it’s comfortable. Which is the purpose of clothes. Beyond that, it’s just pure. And it never changes. It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing a navy blue blazer in 1920 or if you’re wearing it in 2017, it still looks great. Fashion changes. But style never changes. Ties get wider, ties get thinner, but a mid-width tie will always look good.

ET: When did you first start dabbling in the Ivy League Look?

RS: I was making my mother get me these all-cotton buttondown shirts when I was in the first grade, and I wouldn’t wear anything that was a blend, so fairly early. I couldn’t afford quality things until I got out of college. I had a couple great tweed jackets when I was in college that I wore, a couple club ties, and mostly wore khakis. This was a time when nobody who was going to college ever wore a tie. I wore a tie to class everyday. It’s just part of who I am, I guess. If I hadn’t been in politics I’d probably be designing men’s clothes.

ET: When you were young, wearing ties to school, was there a particular haberdashery or men’s shop you would go to?

RS: This is just before the advent of Ralph Lauren. I wore Brooks Brothers stuff, mostly. This was before Brooks Brothers was destroyed. I moved to Washington in 1970 and I went to work for Nixon. There was a guy working for Nixon named Ken Reeds. I saw Ken Reeds wearing a Polo tie, a Ralph Lauren tie. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen. He also had Gucci loafers. So as soon as I could afford them I started buying Polo ties and got the Gucci horsebit loafers.

ET: Were those the original Ralph Lauren ties?

RS: Yes, with the horse themes. And I still have them. I never throw anything out.

ET: Are there retailers today that you think are doing a good job with the Ivy Look?

RS: Kamakura. They’re fabulous. Their spread collar shirt is what I wear with a suit, always. The quality of the manufacturing is just terrific. I don’t know how they sell that shirt for $79.99. I’ve recommended them to so many people. There’s a lot of younger guys approaching me about advice on building a wardrobe, and what are the basics. I walk through the fact that it’s better to pay a little more for quality and take care of the garment, and it’ll last you a lifetime, as opposed to buying something less expensive. I like to say, “Good things are not cheap. And cheap things are not good”

ET: Are there other contemporary makers that you’re satisfied with?

RS: It’s hard. You have to do a lot of shopping. You can still find a few things in Brooks that are pretty good. You can still find a few things in J. Press. You can certainly still find pieces at Ralph’s, from time to time they have something that is a must-have. But that’s about it. I like the Stubbs & Wootton slippers. I have custom monogrammed pairs in green, burgundy, black and blue.

ET: There is often debate over what president has best embodied the Ivy style. Some point to Kennedy, some say he killed it, some hold up George Bush the first. What are your thoughts?

RS: I think Kennedy’s the standard. Everything about him is effortless. That’s kind of his charm. He’s very low key and he doesn’t look like he’s put together. George HW Bush is buying his stuff from one particular haberdashery in Washington, its name escapes me. This is a guy who sore short-sleeve buttondown shirts with a tie, which should require the death penalty, as far as I’m concerned. I never thought he was a particularly great dresser, I only thought he was okay. And Franklin Roosevelt’s a great dresser, it’s not the Ivy Style so much as it’s a classic American style, but then he dresses it up with a naval officer’s cape, and those pince-nez glasses that have been out of style for 20 years. It’s almost a costume, or part of his imagery.

ET: Do you think American politicians can ever return to style? Or are people are afraid to look stylish because they’re afraid of what will be said about them?

RS: You don’t want to look like you’re above the voters, that’s the problem Reagan’s style worked very well for him. He had most of his suits made in the ’40s and ’50s, and he never threw them out. Nancy Reagan was always trying to get him to get rid of things. Particularly this one particular brown suit that he loved, and she hated. It’s a weird fabric, it had sort of a faint blue stripe in it. I used to kid him that it looked like the material in the seats of a 1959 DeSoto. He looked good in everything, because he was so physically fit. When he went riding he’d wear jodhpurs with his boots and Lyn Nofziger, his press secretary would always tell him, “you can’t wear that, you have to wear jeans and cowboy boots,” and Reagan would never relent.

47 Comments on "We Got Roger Stone: An Ivy Style Exclusive Interview"

  1. Vern Trotter | May 15, 2017 at 9:01 am |

    Glad he mentioned FDR. The best dressed US president ever.

  2. Stone is a Westchesterite, not surprised that he dresses traditionally.

  3. Far be it for me to criticize, but with regard to the morning suit … it would appear to me as if tradition holds only so much sway over Roger’s sartorial choices given the rather non-traditional tie he’s wearing.

  4. Enrique Lopez | May 15, 2017 at 9:52 am |

    I don’t agree with his politics but his style is great. Really good sense of style and owns it–like JFK, looks effortless for him.

  5. Wow, he has a Joe Bank madras in 3 button? I wonder how old it is. They don’t offer that now, do they? I’d be surprised, because Banks’s been going down hill for a while, but has really dropped off the cliff in just the last 4 or 5 years.

    “Washington is, of course, the home of the worst-dressed men on the face of the planet.” Sort of agree, though at least they still mostly wear suits. I would say Washingtonians simply have zero sense of style.

    Ivy style is comfortable. Agree 1000%.

    That sunburn is painful to look at.

    “I don’t know how [Kamakura sells] that shirt for $79.99.” Because they alpha size.

    FDR was good, but I think Truman was the best; à chacun son goût.

  6. Kamakura’s shirts aren’t alpha-sized, but they are converted from centimeters.

  7. Great interview! In style as in politics, everything conservative is now the new counter-culture. Stone encapsulates this notion perfectly.

  8. Kamakura don’t assign letters to their sizes, but they have such a limited selection of neck/sleeve combinations available that they might as well be alpha-sized.

  9. Eric Twardzik | May 15, 2017 at 12:16 pm |

    I had the opportunity to visit Kamukura’s Tokyo shop last fall. The highly professional staff took my measurements, and then informed me in the most polite, Japanese way that they didn’t make anything that could fit me (I have a 15.5 inch neck and 36 inch sleeves)

  10. Yes, what cameron said: Not technically alpha sized, but they might as well be.

  11. Mitchell S. | May 15, 2017 at 12:40 pm |

    I always heard that DC men were the best-dressed in the country, not the worst. Case in point: Roger Stone.

    Boston guy are, without a doubt, the worst-dressed. Just ask GQ or anyone who has ever visited a college campus here or stood on a street corner for five minutes.

  12. Eric Twardzik | May 15, 2017 at 1:15 pm |

    @BostonEd Jos A. Banks does have an interesting, indigo blues patchwork madras sport coat on the site now. It’s two-button, and while I dig the colors I’d be concerned about quality.

    http://www.josbank.com/1905-collection-tailored-fit-patchwork-madras-sportcoat-big-tall

  13. A Trad Confused | May 15, 2017 at 1:22 pm |

    Just my .02 cents, if someone is kind enough to provide an interview, insulting him (Machiavellian manipulator) is of poor taste… IMHO. Regardless if what you think of his politics.

  14. He’d consider it a compliment.

  15. ATC Agreed, although I seriously doubt Stone would mind being called a political supervillain.

    He won me over when he called for that slob Bannon to be canned. Cheers Roger!

  16. The JAB indigo patchwork madras is a dual vent jacket. No thank you.

  17. His face matches his shorts. Nantucket red.

  18. Two observations:
    1. I possess two three button Banks madras jackets. The first bought in 1982 is perfect and predates their current status as a down market purveyor (they were upstairs and around the corner from Brooks in DC in those days). The second is OK and purchased only a few years ago. It does have the advantage over the former of being the correct size.
    2. Roger is one of the greatest living Americans

  19. Charlottesville | May 15, 2017 at 4:01 pm |

    I’m not sure whether DC is any more poorly dressed than most cities. When I took a job there in the mid-80s, Brooks Brothers was still carrying its Makers 3/2 sack suits and sport coats in a wide range of fabrics, the shirts were great (if a bit roomy) and the ties were mostly standard repps, foulards and madders. This was the look for perhaps 20% of the professionals, as I recall. The rest ran the gamut from Jos. A. Bank to Polo, from Southwick to English-style custom tailoring, mostly in 2-button, darted models, but all respectably traditional. Whether you were a newly minted Hill rat in a navy blazer and khakis, or a downtown lawyer or lobbyist in pinstripes, you wore a tie and a coat, usually a suit. Shoes were from Alden, Allen Edmonds, Brooks or Church’s and were always shined by one of the dozens of shoeshine stands around town. You also saw a lot of penny loafers from Bass and elsewhere, which were the first “dress” shoe for a lot of young men of college age, but could be spotted regularly on older guys who never lost their taste for Weejuns. Jacket and tie were required, or at least the norm, at downtown restaurants, and the same was true for the Kennedy Center and other theaters.

    By the mid to late 90s, you had to search out trad clothing. Thank goodness J. Press had opened a local outpost, and some classics remained in the mix at Brooks, but the landscape was changing. Raleigh’s, Lewis & Thos. Saltz, Britches of Georgetown (the poor man’s Polo Shop) and other men’s shops that carried traditional clothing were gone. I probably still have at least one item of clothing from each of them. Washington remains a coat-and-tie town in pockets, but casual offices seem to be the norm even on K Street, and it’s a rarity to see so much as a sport coat in a restaurant or theater; mine is generally the only tie present. However, a stroll through midtown Manhattan most days does not yield a sartorial feast for the eyes either, New Orleans is a sea of T-shirts and tattoos, and I don’t think I saw a tie on anyone in San Francisco the last time I was there 10 years ago. I doubt any place has avoided the malaise entirely, but if there is such a place, please tell me. I may move there.

  20. Interesting interview. Stone is wrong about a great many things, but the one that’ll kill him is that Reagan didn’t wear a morning coat to his inauguration, but a stroller.

  21. @Charlottesville: there is one place of which I’m aware. Charleston. It is definitely more true of the women in Charleston, but many more men there also dress above the expectation. (Not surprisingly, it is also home to some great stores like Ben Silver, Berlin’s, and Grady Ervin.)

  22. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | May 15, 2017 at 5:41 pm |

    Three buttons with peak lapels?

    My initial reaction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6VSWCs7d1w

  23. Vladimir C. Stanojevic | May 15, 2017 at 6:09 pm |

    Testify brother Stone!

    @ Charlottesville Re DC– As a Georgetown grad-student in the mid-1990s, if you simply wanted to go out and get in – or even just get in the door for that matter – you had to be well turned out. Whether it was May – August at Nathans or the bright young things downstairs at the Gryphon Room, you weren’t going places in anything less than high prep.

    That exemplar of New England prep/trad fusion himself – and general manager of 1789/Tombs – William Watts even tried repeatedly to institute a “jackets required” policy for Saturday nights at F. Scott’s with, admittedly, mixed results.

    In fact, the only time I was ever picked-up before the start of the evening was waiting in line to get into F. Scott’s. I felt a hand gently caress my shoulder and turned to find a sweet young lady sheepishly remarking that she just loved the look and feel of my raw-silk jacket and simply couldn’t resist.

    Astounding that only 20-some years ago should seem like such a lost world. I’d hate to see what Georgetown out and about looks like in our new, impoverished age…

  24. Stone exemplifies the old adage “the better you dress, the worse you can behave.”

  25. GS

    Very interesting quotation. Do you recall who is credited with first making that statement.

  26. This is great. Not sure how the interview came about, but a good grab.

    “It’s so pure. First and foremost, it’s comfortable. Which is the purpose of clothes. Beyond that, it’s just pure. And it never changes. It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing a navy blue blazer in 1920 or if you’re wearing it in 2017, it still looks great. Fashion changes. But style never changes. Ties get wider, ties get thinner, but a mid-width tie will always look good.”

    yes. “Never changes.” I’ll venture a guess that by mid-width Mr. Stone is referring to a width around 3 1/4″. Personally I’m liking 3 1/8″ these days.

    His reference to Brooks Brothers being “destroyed.” Has it ever been more bluntly (or accurately) stated? Fran Lebowitz stopped buying Brooks button-downs a few decades ago. (around the time they moved to Garland?…?) Add Stone to the multitude of disillusioned, embittered once-upon-a-time Brooks customers out there. Who said it has become a low-rent Italian department store? Oh, right. Boyer.

  27. JAB used to have many trad/ivy items. 3r2 suits and jackets, madras jackets and pants etc. I purchased a lovely navy linen 3r2 sack jacket, and blue oxford cloth trousers there in the mid 80’s. I believe sack suits were phased out in the late 90’s. House cut for wool jackets and suits was not quite BB, but was adequate. Shoulders were more built up, and button stance was lower. Before 3r2 sacks were phased out, the coats fit like they adapted a darted 2b cut to 3r2….removed dart and added a 3rd button hole. Their poplins and seersucker suits were sourced from someone else, and had more a traditional cut and fit. To a college/young post grad on a budget, Banks was a resource to be mixed in with BB.

  28. Mr. Korn, I heard that it was said by Jack Kennedy, which is probably apocryphal. After a bit of research I still could not find its author.

    S.E., do you know where Brooks’ OCBDs were made before Garland and who made them? Also, how long ago was their move to Garland? On another note, I was just measuring a tie I bought and it happens to be 3 1/8″. Most of my ties are 3 1/4″ and I can’t tell the different between the two widths, both look great.

  29. He admired JFK’s style, yet looks like a clown.

  30. J. Meador | May 16, 2017 at 12:08 am |

    Ol Nippy,

    Am I correct in assuming that you’re referring to his clown-like eyeglass frames?

  31. Not sure. But I think the oxford was beefier (contrasted with the fine yarned Supima available nowadays) and the collar points were a tad longer.

  32. I agree with the comments regarding style in Washington DC. I moved there in 1997 out of law school for my first job, and styles were still very traditional, if not necessarily Ivy. The change over the next two or three years was amazing – by 1999 or 2000, you had the feeling that ties were optional and that appropriate office attire was wool trousers or chinos with an open-collared shirt. Brooks started selling unusually-colored dress shirts and clothes with ‘stretch’ fabrics. Press seemed like a museum.

    I wonder if the style shift between 1997 and 2000 could be compared to the shift from 1967 to 1970. Different origins, but perhaps a similar effect.

  33. “pince-nez glasses […] have been out of style for 20 years”. I think that’s a typo. It should read 200 years.

    Anyway who on earth is this chap? In those shades he bears an unfortunate resemblance to Dr Nefario out of “Despicable Me”.

  34. Vladimir C. Stanojevic | May 16, 2017 at 9:23 am |

    @ Taliesin – Good question. I’d be inclined to argue that their origins were actually the same – the 1997-2000 shift being a generational echo of the 1967-2000 one as the children of those most affected by the earlier shift came into their own. This was occurring at the same time that the youth demographic became the sole driver of style and fashion in this country – something of a double-whammy from which recovery now seems impossible.

    Lucky me to have had a father born in the 1920s…

  35. Deskjockey | May 16, 2017 at 10:21 am |

    I’ve been wondering for a while now if he’s a styleforum/ask andy poster. Thoughts?

  36. Colonel Reader | May 16, 2017 at 11:30 am |

    General Reader,

    Even if Mr. Stone had gotten the tense correctly and said “had been out of style” rather than “have been out of style”, he would still have been wrong.
    In any case, they had certainly not been out of style for 200 years when FDR wore them, nor when Teddy Roosevelt did:

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/eb/T_Roosevelt.jpg

  37. Charlottesville | May 16, 2017 at 11:43 am |

    Drew — Good observation about Charleston being a cut above most of the rest of the world in matters of dress. Along with places like Christ Church [Episcopal] Cathedral and Galatoire’s in NOLA, one still sees ties worn with seersucker and white bucks in the restaurants and churches of Charleston. An altogether delightful city for food, architecture, good manners and general atmosphere, albeit a bit humid in the summers. Ben Silver has many lovely things, but the tariff is a usually a tad high for me, and some of the younger folks about town are a bit Garden & Gun hipsterish preppy, but better that than hoodies, cargo shorts and flip flops. Charlottesville still retains a bit of the old style as well, along with its share of nouveau prep and a solid men’s store called Eljo’s, but I am still likely to be in the minority when it comes to wearing a tie at dinner. As has been remarked on this site often before, I think the South generally holds to more traditional customs in dress than the rest of the country. I have not been north of New York in 20 years and so have no idea, but I certainly hope some spots in New England are retaining a bit of their heritage.

    @rl1856 – Absolutely right about the old JAB. I started shopping in their Richmond, Virginia store and through their catalog when I was a fresh-faced lad learning the difference between oxford and broadcloth, and into the early 80s at least it was still a bastion of sack coats, must-iron OCBDs and other trad staples of decent quality for a fraction of the cost of BB. I have a bullet-proof Harris tweed sport coat and a gray flannel suit from that era, both purchased on eBay last year and both 3/2 sacks. Like so many other things, including popular music, wine prices and my hairline, I wish JAB were now as it was once.

    Taliesin – Our memories overlap, even if our eras were roughly a decade apart. When I started at a law firm on Connecticut and L in 1985, the conference rooms still had ashtrays, cocktails were served once week beginning at 5:00 and wine was customary at business lunches. That too was gone at some point in the 90s, along with the ties and polished shoes. I suppose our health is better because of it, but I do have some fond memories of that time.

  38. I was watching a documentary on the Nixon tapes that were released in 2013 and noticed John Dean’s impeccable outfits during the Watergate hearings.

    Sack suit, 2 buttons on cuff, collar pin, etc. He was a Brooks customer, though, if I recall. He didn’t shop with us.

    http://media.gettyimages.com/photos/john-dean-presidential-adviser-and-watergate-conspirator-testifies-a-picture-id576831854?k=6&m=576831854&s=594×594&w=0&h=LBUJhHsGP2ew_sPKUsdcxuhuHozMncfzPTPYcpMV3vw=

  39. Forgot to mention above that this interview was a great “get”. Very enjoyable.

    Regarding this statement: “George HW Bush is buying his stuff from one particular haberdashery in Washington, its name escapes me.” I bet he is referring to Arthur Adler, probably the only trad DC clothier not yet mentioned int he comments.

  40. Charlottesville | May 16, 2017 at 4:11 pm |

    BostonEd — Arthur Adler! Of course. I bought a Southwick suit there around 1990 and had forgotten about that great shop. I recently sent the suit to Goodwill after nearly 30 years of wear. Not a bad return on an investment of a few hundred bucks.

  41. Stone is undoubtedly one of the best dressed & most successful political operatives. He is the standard bearer for “updated” traditional clothing. If they are being honest, most pinkos on the left of the isle will agree.

  42. Foghorn, how is his style “updated” traditional? Honest question. Stone dresses traditionally which, to me, is simply timeless.

  43. GS-
    I think Stone simply tweaks the American classic look with a bit more color, texture, & updated tailoring. For example, I noticed that in lieu of machined 1/16″ or lap seams, he chooses pick stitching.

  44. Foghorn, I see his style as an amalgam of British/European tailoring and American classics with a dash of old Hollywood. He keeps his looks fresh and unique by combining these timeless styles. I guess you could call it updated but it certainly is traditional.

  45. Mr. Press

    John Dean attended and graduated from Staunton Military Academy in Virginia with his long time friend Barry Morris Goldwater Jr. A few years back I heard Mr. Dean speak. I recall he was very well dress — blue blazer, white OCBD, rep tie, chinos & dirty white bucks. I recall the bucks quite vividly. The man is definitely Shoe.

  46. “Nixon by Nixon: In his own words” is absolutely must watch film for any history or polysci buff. His hubris is jaw dropping in retrospect.

    “You know, I always wondered about that taping equipment but I’m damn glad we have it, aren’t you?” Nixon, days before the televised Senate hearings began.

    Regarding Stone, I “quote” from one of Reagans favorite films:
    How do you solve a problem like Roger?
    How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
    How do you find the word that means Roger?
    A flibbertijibbet! A will-o’-the wisp! A clown!

    Great work on getting the interview.

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