Whit Stillman On Clothing

Filmmaker and Harvard alum Whit Stillman — known for the preppy classic “Metropolitan” — is just as opinionated as anyone when it comes to clothes. As he told Brookly-based The L Magazine:

“Take Ivy” looks terrible.

I’ve never worn sneakers or sweatshirts in my life.

I decided the moment I graduated from college that I would never wear blue jeans again

Normally, if you wait long enough, Ralph Lauren will bring it out.

I really like Bass Weejuns because they’re the cheapest leather shoes you can buy.

My favorite thing are comfortable, cotton trousers. I really like those sort of challenging colors. That summer of Nantucket look: men who are macho enough to wear pastels.

Head over here for the rest of Stillman’s thoughts, which include how mean people can be when it comes to clothes. 

36 Comments on "Whit Stillman On Clothing"

  1. Don’t get the aversion to blue jeans, sneakers and sweat shirts. He is right about shopping Raph’s sales, much of the coolest stuff doesn’t appeal to the mass market.

  2. I do wonder what he means by “terrible”–the rerference to Take Ivy.

    That four to six year period did represent an extreme. Decades previous, the lapels and trousers were wider. And decades after as well. The trim, tapered narrowness of the brief (’60 to ’65?) hardcore “Ivy” period might be deemed an aberration.

    Now that I think about it, I get what he means.

  3. Short,, too.
    So short–pants and jackets.
    Okay, I am convinced. Terrible.

  4. Ah the time I spend reading these articles and links….

    I tend to agree about the anti consumerism in theory, yet I constantly find something to buy or replace… Everyone Who visits our home wonders why I have so many white and blue OCBDs and burgundy loafers, all the same….

    The look is timeless indeed.

    Although I do think blue jeans are a staple of any American wardrobe… Jeans, penny loafers (no socks), and a white OCBD will make just about any man look classic and current all at the same time… The individuality of that look is in the belt of course…

  5. No socks? No thanks.

  6. Yes, but where does one buy Bass Weejuns in 2012?

  7. Thad, about any dept. store.

  8. I think Thad means where can one get a pair of Bass Weejuns that haven’t been corrected to hell and back.

  9. Confused, “corrected to hell and back”?

  10. Everett might mean corrected grain leather.

  11. It’s true the basics of the look are timeless. I too tend to collect OCBDs and Oxblood/maroon/burgundy loafers, both penny and tassel.

    We can only guess if the pejorative commentary on Take Ivy would be extended (by Stillman) to all the Ivy clothing of that particular moment in time. The excesses of the moment. Still, the fabrics were likely better than what we see today. Case in point: a circa ’63 Weejun was probably made of high quality leather. And the off the rack tweeds of Scottish Shetland–(sigh).

  12. Bass Weejun was the same shoe it is today. I believe still made in the USA. It is a well constructed loafer same as it ever was. They were always a inexpensive shoe. I think Bass has screwed up trying some different finishes, like antiquing .

  13. Weejun not made in U.S.A. Anymore….. Malaysia I believe… I just had a pair literally fall apart at a baseball game, not more than 6 months old… Ill chalk it up to a fluke… Now I’m deciding if I should stick with them or switch to something else…? Fool me once/fool me twice

  14. Negative, MAC. They are made in El Salvador now.

    Where to find a decent penny loafer for the price?

  15. I buy Cole-Haans for casual penny loafers. The’re not the price point of Weejuns, but then I remember Weejuns costing less than $25.

  16. The original Weejun is the Logan model. I don’t think they produce them ever year. They are non beef roll and only came in oxblood, black and scotch grain. Last I looked the only difference I could tell was rubber on the heel and padding in the insole.

  17. Old Trad, there was a time when Europe said that about the USA. In Ivy clothing this has been going on at least since the 70s. When did Ralph stop making his standard items in the USA, around 1980?

  18. Are you referring to the made in India Cole-Haans, Mr. MAC? Thanks.

  19. Thad, yes.

  20. Regarding Randy’s comments on weejuns, jeans, and no socks. I too love this look as well and have since the late 60’s. However, I cannot locate a pair of jeans with the following details: sits at thetrue waistline, legs neither too tight, nor too loose, and the hem being just right in width. Any suggestions out there on a brand and fit???

  21. I bought the “Leavitt” model at the Bass outlet for $38.00 yesterday. Do these shoes qualify as passable Weejuns or just crap? I believe that the soles are synthetic, although they look like leather. Thanks again.

  22. Jim, Levi 501, buy the darkest blue, not the stone washed. Don’t buy the original shrink to fit, if you’re asking this question you will miscalculate what size to buy.

  23. Thad, for $38 you can wash you car in them. 😉

  24. Jim, I would try a pair of Levi 505s. Being a classic dresser I always rely on good old Levi’s. I think I haven’t worn other blue jeans for the last 30 years of my life.

    505s are extremely comfortable, but not too baggy or relaxed. They sit higher on the waist than 501s, and they have straight, not too narrow legs. And they are a lot cheaper than those ridiculously priced designer jeans. Look great when worn with weejuns, matching belt and a tucked-in RL pastel-colored polo shirt.

  25. Bluecaff, I though 505s were just zippered 501s. I’m getting old, I remember when a pair of 501s cost 7.50 a pair and were made in the USA. Designer jeans!, most are just copies of Levis, either feminized or pre-wornout.

  26. Thanks guys for the advice. I’ll check out the Levi’s 505’s!

  27. Tom Conroy | April 30, 2012 at 4:23 pm |

    No one who graduated from a Northeast college in the 1970s wears sweat shirts, jeans or sneakers in public. We all know this.

  28. Levi’s are not made in the USA anymore, but they are still the best you can get for 30-40 bucks. Compare that with the price of RL jeans. It’s a laugh!

  29. karl anglin | January 27, 2013 at 2:27 pm |

    After 4 years of wearing bue jeans in the US Navy.
    I decided never to wear blue jeans again. And I
    never have.

  30. Johnny Bravo | October 1, 2018 at 11:53 am |

    Damsel’s In Distress is unwatchable…what was he thinking?

  31. Minimalist Trad | February 19, 2021 at 12:13 pm |

    I’ve never heard of Whit Stillman or “Metropolitan”.
    Am I alone?

    I certainly liked what he said about jeans, sweatshirts, and “Take Ivy”.

  32. Too Much Johnson | February 19, 2021 at 12:58 pm |

    @Minimalist Trad


  33. I’ve never heard of Whit Stillman or “Metropolitan”.
    Am I alone?

    You are alone. He is a brilliant film maker.
    In addition to Metropolitan, Barcelona, and the Last Days of Disco
    are classic depictions of the post college lives of graduates of elite
    Northeastern colleges. As an Ivy grad of a somewhat older cohort,
    I find that his insight into this group quite extraordinary. The films are
    also very funny in an understated way.

  34. His recent, public appearances reveal a very “updated traditional” vibe (gross). Not surprising.

    I’m not sure any proud Manhattanite (and of course he is) can resist the allure of anything that’s supposed to be (or marketed as) sophisticated. The irony is that most Americans who go for that haute urban cosmopolitan vibe end up looking slightly silly because… well, they are, after all, American (not French or Italian).

    When Ivy is done carefully and well with the best of tailoring and cloth, it triumphs.

    Millbrook is definitely woodsy— out in the country. Cozy, lovely campus. Beautiful part of NY.

  35. @S.E.

    Whit should know better. Hell, he does know better. Dress Ivy and you look as great at 60 as you do at 16. Your body is guaranteed to betray you. Don’t let your clothes add insult to injury. Maybe it’s all those years in Paris.

  36. What some are missing is that the New Left wore denim on college campuses in the late 1960s — Whit Stillman talks about this at length in “Metropolitan”. He even talks about the previous generation abandoned the detachable collar for supposed convenience. The people pictured in “Take Ivy” had already adopted the leftists who were upending everything preppies (those who prepped) held dear like dancing, Debutante balls, civility, or connection to Tradition and the continuity that links things with the past. Clothes were a reflection of this. It’s all over his Trilogy including the aforementioned film and “Barcelona” and the “Last Days of Disco”.

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