Ivy Notes S1 E14 – The World’s Oldest Pants Are High Rise and J. Press Has Oxfords On Sale

These are the world’s oldest pants.  They are high rise.  So all fashion is cyclical.


These pants are 3,000 years old, which I think is before the internet, right? If you sat me down today, with electricity, the internet for how to videos, and a climate where cotton grows I could not make pants in 3,000 years.


From the article in Ars Technica:

With the help of an expert weaver, archaeologists have unraveled the design secrets behind the world’s oldest pants. The 3,000-year-old wool trousers belonged to a man buried between 1000 and 1200 BCE in Western China. To make them, ancient weavers combined four different techniques to create a garment specially engineered for fighting on horseback, with flexibility in some places and sturdiness in others.

Here’s the article, written by Kiona N. Smith.  

J. Press is running a sale on Oxfords, which is timely.  Here’s the sale.

Ok, I won’t bog you down with my whole Brooks Brothers is in the business of debt service speech.  Nor will I repeat myself from 2021 when I wrote that Mr. Bastian is going to have to throw everything at the wall to see what sticks, and yes they are going to offer the standards but the standards are going to be in the back corner of the website while the throw-against-the-wall stuff is going to be front and center.

Featured on the Brooks website. Front and center.


There is going to be the reader here who says, “Hey JB, this collab makes sense to me, I am sure there is overlap.”  To which I say this, collaborations (take the J. Press x Todd Snyder work) only make sense when they bring out the best of both brands.  Like salt.  This looks like an infection of one brand by another.

There is the most bizarre article in the LA Times about bow ties, authored by a Mr. Dave Shilling, who’s self-describing paragraph at the end says, and I quote, that he “… has written sharp, witty and hilarious criticism about the joys and peculiarities of fashion in Southern California, including an ode to exposed chest hair…”

I have never read a funny writer who wrote that they write anything sharp, witty and hilarious.”   I think because writing that makes whatever came before it… not so funny.

Anyway, his article, which you can find here, this titled: “The bow tie can set you free with tastefulness.  But this is not a tasteful time”  (before you get on me, the LA Times left off the last period – happens to all of us).  He literally talks about how bow ties class up a tux.  Ok, only if laces class up shoes.  Then he talks about how Denzel Washington didn’t wear a bow tie to the Oscars.  In fact, all he writes about really are the Oscars.  His ultimate advice is to wear a bow tie with a tux at the Oscars because Jack Nicholson did (how is he doing, anyway?).

If I was going to write a piece about bow ties at the Oscars, I would talk about how Chris Rock’s stayed on.

I offer to the Jury Exhibit A. You will note that Mr. Rock, who should change his last name to Clutch because he was amazing, please notice that his bow tie barely moves. You will also note that Mr. Smith, at whom I will not take a shot because I think there is something more going on there than he just being an ass, is not wearing a bow tie.

Finally, because the weekend is upon us and this comes from Harvard and I have a thing for happiness, a great article about the pursuit thereof here.  



20 Comments on "Ivy Notes S1 E14 – The World’s Oldest Pants Are High Rise and J. Press Has Oxfords On Sale"

  1. Hardbopper | April 8, 2022 at 9:41 am |

    Once again, thank you for perusing the Brooks Brothers website, so we don’t have to.

    That is the Comment Of The Year so far – JB

  2. Lainey Howard | April 8, 2022 at 11:02 am |

    I really enjoyed this article! Thanks John (especially the bow tie!)

  3. Indeed! Priceless and on a level with some of the better cartoons in The New Yorker. Another chuckle that will keep me going all day.

    Kind Regards,


  4. Those ancient Chinese pants are in better condition than the 19th-century Levi’s found in the dirt by some abandoned mine (I’ve forgotten the specifics of that story, but it was one Levi’s was fond of telling about a decade or so ago). Does that speak to superior construction?

    Do the whackadoo things Brooks is up to lately sell well? If so, I suppose I can hold my nose while I sift through it to get to the good stuff, a small amount of which they still make. I have confidence in Mr. Bastian’s powers and savvy to eventually bring back the core good stuff.
    …But the Vilebrequin items, for the most part, are amazingly garish. Who are these for?

  5. Charlottesville | April 8, 2022 at 12:09 pm |

    I think I would be more likely to wear the ancient Chinese trousers than anything pictured from the Vilebrequin collaboration. Neither is made in the US, but least the pants are made of wool. April Fools Day seems to have been extended this year.

  6. Brooks should bring back Own Make. I think that a collection of half Bastian pieces and half own make archive items would be a big hit.

  7. “…make sense when they bring out the best of both brands. Like salt. This looks like an infection of one brand by another.“

    This is so spot on. “Infection.” God, that really gets to the heart of the matter.

    The Brooks brand/label will be bought&sold—prostituted, really— by a series of corporate pimps who possess the typically American aptitude for selling shabby, poorly manufactured goods at a premium to striving, hollow-souled bourgeoisie.


  8. Imagine what Brooks could have become had a group of smart, creative Japanese traditionalists bought it way back in, say, 1980. We’ve caught a glimpse — Onward’s takeover of J. Press. There were plenty of subpar years, but moving in the right direction.

    The obsession with expansion, aesthetically empire-ish, politically Wilsonian and fueled by self righteous hubris, finally brought the once tweedy Goliath to its wrinkle-free fabriced knees.

    “Infection.” Harsh but true. What a slow and horrible death. If only there was a hospice for gasping franchises.

    Meanwhile, smaller is better: two local stores are thriving, as are O’ Connell’s and Ben Silver. Quality wins with quality people.

  9. Boston Bream | April 9, 2022 at 3:15 pm |

    I tried in vain to find a must-iron OCBD on the BB site.
    I was ready to settle for the non-iron version when I discovered that it was made with stretch fabric.

  10. @boston bream: just type OCBD or Oxford cloth button-down into the search field at the top of Brooks’s website. Took about five seconds to find must iron ocbds.

    @S.E. There is a hospice for gasping franchises. It’s called Lanier Apparel, or Oxford Industries.

  11. Posted before I was done. The OXM comment is very tongue in cheek. With maybe one exception.

  12. Boston Bream | April 10, 2022 at 1:43 am |

    I followed your advice.
    There was one must-iron, non-stretch OCBD shirt, but it was short-sleeved.
    There was also one solid color must-iron OCBD, but it was stretch “big and tall”.
    Please post a link, if you’ve found solid color, non-stretch, must-iron OCBDs.

  13. AndrewK247 | April 10, 2022 at 2:45 am |

    @Boston Bream – here is the link

    I bought one, they are actually pretty nice but only come in alpha sizes.
    They are a very roomy fit, so if you take Regent fit you should size down one.
    If you take Madison or Traditional, you should order your normal size.
    I’ve found that it’s generally worth scrolling through the customer feedback, as BB sizes are not consistent.

  14. AndrewK247 | April 10, 2022 at 2:52 am |

    P.S. It is not a regent fit, it’s actually a very full fit. The solid ones were mislabeled. Found that fact in the customer reviews so I was able to order the correct size on the first try.

  15. Boston Bream | April 10, 2022 at 3:06 am |

    Thanks for the link and for your comment.
    I’ll try one, although alpha sizing is not my cup of tea.

  16. The J. PRESS OCBD is a winner: all the specs, including (unlined, unfused) collar and back collar button. 3.5″ collar.


  17. I ordered a bunch of the Press OCBDs; I’m ordering more– gifts. They’re that good, and at this price, maybe the best value of anything in the Ivy universe.*

    * admittedly smaller than other universes

  18. “J. Press is running a sale on Oxfords”: I read that line and thought that J. Press had a sale on shoes. Follow the link, and it turns out to be shirts, Oxford cloth shirts.

    Or… look at the link. Turns out to be pictures of shirts, Oxford cloth shirts. It’s a headline. You are supposed to dig a little deeper. Did you buy one? – JB

  19. Dig a little deeper? I read the whole piece before commenting. And I wasn’t referring to the headline, but to this line in the body: “J. Press is running a sale on Oxfords, which is timely. Here’s the sale.”

    Did I buy one of the shirts? Not recently, but I do have five J. Press Oxford cloth shirts in my closet already (blue, white, yellow, and two different stripes). I like them very much.

    I still maintain however that “Oxfords” are shoes.

    oxford: “a low shoe laced or tied over the instep.” Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 1974.

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