White Christmas: Bucks, Flannels And A Shaggy Dog

With 10 days before Christmas with not a snowflake in sight, this bright and sunny day in New York with a high temperature of 47 is perfect weather — for those of us not office bound — for white bucks and grey flannels.

Unlike penny loafers and khakis, white bucks and grey flannels is one of those youthful combinations from the Ivy heyday that didn’t survive. Busting it out these days is neither for the fuddy duddy reactionary nor the neo-prep hipster, but someone in between. That’s probably why the two bloggers who’ve written about it on several occasions include myself and Joe from An Affordable Wardrobe.

Last year someone broached the topic at Andy’s Trad Forum, where the idea wasn’t met with much sympathy, especially from the Southerners.

Perform a Google search for “white bucks grey flannels” and you get some interesting results. In addition to mentions from me and Joe:

• Bucks and flannels were elements of the uniform for Brown University’s acapella group The Jabberwocks. The Jabberwocks are still around, though their clothes, along with their material, has changed a bit.

• The book “Secret Riches” by John Alan Masters includes this passage about Yale in the heyday: “Most of my classmates wandered around in white bucks, grey flannel trousers, and J. Press jackets.”

• The 1954 stage comedy “Father’s Been To Mars” includes specific costuming for a student character, who’s  to be clad in grey flannels, white bucks, and “a conservative tweed sport jacket.”

Pulling off something unusual comes down to attitude. With white bucks and grey flannels, people might think you’re stylish. Then again, they might think you’re from another planet. — CC

26 Comments on "White Christmas: Bucks, Flannels And A Shaggy Dog"

  1. Chens,

    I thought you had abandoned lace-up shoes and moved to loafers? What gives?!


  2. Any recommendations in the way of white bucks? And grey flannels while your at it?

  3. White bucks come in many price points, you can spend a lot or not so much. If you never worn them before, go with a decent less expensive brand. I’ve always worn Walkovers, haven’t bought any for decades, they were once inexpensive, now they are about $250.

    I personally have no problem with “winter whites”, but I’ve never broke out the white bucks till Easter and put them away when the fall weather got bad, there’s always dirty bucks (tan).

    Which brings us to how you prefer to wear your white bucks, Virgin or not. If you prefer virgin, invest in an expensive pair of aviator sun glasses for sunny days, darker the better. If not, throw the buck bag away and just wear the shoe or ash them.

    Ashing is a practice we used in high school and college to make the white bucks not look like brand new shoes. It’s lightly sprinkling cigarette ashes on the shoes and dabbing with a terry cloth rag or clean paint brush. I know it’s an affectation, but WTF the bucks are going to look that anyway unless your anal about keeping them pristine.

  4. are going to look that way anyway, unless your anal about keeping them pristine.

  5. White Bucks in spring and summer. Tan Bucks in fall and winter.

    If you have some need to stand out, I say go big! Wear your Seersucker suit in winter that will turn heads!

  6. hey, that original poster on Andy’s Trad Forum was me!

    I’m famous!

  7. I wonder if Oxford grey flannels wouldn’t be better than charcoal here?

  8. could you share the name of the retailer of the sweater? it looks nice. or at least material i’s made from.


  9. I just bought the same gray Shaggy at Press for my winter wardrobe. Love it. You may have just inspired me to break out my bucks, too. Great post!

  10. G. Bruce Boyer | December 15, 2012 at 7:34 am |

    You forgot the reference in Count Basie’s great “Harvard Blues”:

  11. Roy R. Platt | December 15, 2012 at 8:00 am |

    I’m happy with my Bass White Bucks, which were around $70.00.

  12. Interesting idea Christian. This serves a lesson to all those who think that dressing classically means that you can’t be creative. I don’t think I could do it, but hats off to you for being brave. Please post a pic of the rig in action.

  13. @everyone

    The shoes are by Bass. Can’t imagine paying a lot for bucks. I use them for swing dancing, so they get beat up pretty fast.

    As for flannels, Ralph Lauren makes the best.

    The sweater is from J. Press and is actually a kind of tan/oatmeal color, not light grey.

  14. “Then again, they might think you’re from another planet.”

    Yeah, I’m used to that reaction by now, regardless of what I wear.

  15. Never had a pair of white bucks. When I was in college, I used to wear the identical outfit (tan/oatmeal crew neck sweater) except for the white bucks and argyle socks. I didn’t want to advertise my size 13 shoe size.

    I started wearing argyles about 20 years ago. I’ll want to be buried in a pair. They’ll help to cheer me up a bit, on an otherwise somber occasion.

  16. Wooo hoooo! Nice mark down at Jos. A. Banks!!


  17. Yes, the light gray Shaggy Dog is a good choice as it conveys a bit of elegance.

  18. Your sweater looks kind of pilled. Can you do anything for it – brush it or something?

  19. @Christian

    Where is the best place to find the RL flannels? Do you go through their website, or to one of their retail location? Or do you procure yours from some other source?

  20. @AggieK

    Look up “Shaggy Dog” on this site and get sussed.


    I have a couple pairs. One I bought a few weeks ago at the Rhinelander store. The others might have been eBayed; I don’t remember.

    Odd question, as the items are available from multiple retailers’ stores and websites. Get ’em wherever you want.

  21. As mentioned in the post, Southerners aren’t exactly keen on this idea. This morning I received the following email from a Southern judge (in other words, a professional rules enforcer):

    Sir: I enjoy your blog and read it weekly. Include me, please, with those who object to the wearing of white bucks except when in season. The rule steadfastly held to by Southern lawyers is as follows: bucks may be worn to Easter services if one is below the Mason Dixon Line but not until Memorial Day if one finds himself to the Line’s north. They may be then worn until Labor Day to include fireworks displays that night and regardless of one’s geographical location. This rule applies in like manner to straw hats and seersucker. Sartorial principles stand between us and anarchy. Sometimes alone.

  22. What a fantastic combination. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  23. Back around 1980, I ordered 2 pairs of seersucker slacks in March. Around Easter that year, I was chomping on the bit so much to wear them, that I wore the blue ones with a navy blazer to a night club. Several people came up to me chastising me for the impropriety.

    I did know about white shoes, straw hats and other forbidden practices, but that night, I just couldn’t help myself.

  24. Wiggles
    The only ones getting special dispensation on the seasonal rules for white shoes are jazz sax players, the shoes must be Italian made with a pointy toes.

  25. EvanEverhart | January 25, 2018 at 11:38 pm |

    I just procured a pair branded as Saks 5th Ave., from the 1930s, from a friend. Near new condition. I love this article so much that I’m going to wear them with my flannel trousers and navy blue blazer to work tomorrow! Friday-Fun-Day! Thanks for the idea/inspiration!

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