It’s not often that J. Press snags a mention in the New York Times, especially in a fashion context. But it did recently when the gentleman above was profiled and said he had just been shopping at Squeeze. It was part of a piece on stylish personae spied at the antiquarian book fair held at the stately Park Avenue Armory. The exchange with the Churchillian Mr. Crichton (of Brick Row Book Shop in San Francisco) goes like this:
How do you dress for something like this?
Casually. Comfortably. You’re here for a long time.
But you’re still in a jacket and bow tie.
Bow ties are comfortable.
Your bow tie is cute.
Thank you. This came from a store in San Francisco called the Hound.
Are you loyal to a particular brand of oxford shirt?
I just bought this yesterday from J. Press here in New York.
I’d call your look library chic. Is that fair?
Yeah, I like that.
I just happen to have been at the fair. I was doing my chess tutoring with kids and one of the other volunteers mentioned the fair. I think it was in the context of what I was dressed up for and doing afterwards. I was so fully dressed, in his mind, I even had on “a vest.” In fact it was a v-neck sweater, which, paired with the usual suspects — tweed, flannels, oxford, knit/rep/club — and I thought it futile to explain that the sweater actually dressed me down rather than up.
Anyway, I had no particular plans in town, and remembered his mentioning of the fair when I came up from underground. I popped in and it was quite the scene, apparently the most prominent of its kind in the world. Countless thousands of exquisite volumes going back through the centuries. Who in the world drops $200,000 for some obscure work on science? It’s not like it’s Newton’s notebook.
As I strolled the aisles a dealer stopped me. Yes indeed, I confessed, I’m the editor of Ivy Style. He said he was a loyal reader and immediately asked me for advice. No, not the kind whose answer is “integrate your shadow,” but a clothing matter I’d never encountered before. Seems his shirts are custom, and his jackets have had the sleeves altered to show precisely 1/4 inch of cuff. However, his shirt sleeves keep riding up, driving him almost to the brink of madness. What was the point of paying for custom shirts if they don’t even work properly? He had resorted to wearing rubber bands on his arms in an attempt to keep them in place, but the trick offered only modest improvement and he fidgeted with his shirt cuffs compulsively.
All I could suggest was that a quarter of an inch doesn’t offer much leeway as soon as one ceases to stand at attention and starts actually going about the business of living, and that perhaps the ’80s-era Brooks tweed he was wearing had low armholes that were tugging on the shirt from up in that region. We ended up having a nice long chat and he told me all about the marketplace for costly old books. Apparently in this age of digital millionaires there’s still interest in obscure old tomes.
As for the sleeve issue, perhaps he needs to integrate his shadow after all. Perhaps underneath that perfectionist persona (I’ve got some of that, too), is a dying-to-get-out part that just doesn’t give a damn. — CC