Miles Off

Recently this photo came on my radar. Taken by Jean Pierre Leloir, it was attributed to the year 1946, making it quite surprising indeed. That’s a full eight years before Miles Davis got decked out in Ivy threads at The Andover Shop, yet here he is in a buttondown. I shared it on Twitter, saying it was the earliest known photo (to me, at least) of Miles in a buttondown.

I just sat down to post it here, with the planned headline of “Miles Before,” and stopped to do a quick fact check. Sure enough, it was incorrectly dated where I saw it, and is from ’56, not ’46, a full decade off. Style-wise, a lot can happen in a decade.

Of course it’s worth posting anyway. Just too bad we can’t see what the “Warlord of the Weejuns” was wearing on his feet. — CC

25 Comments on "Miles Off"

  1. Vern Trotter | June 13, 2018 at 5:23 am |

    Miles looks good. Yes, a lot happened with Ivy Style between 1946 and 1956. Mostly, I went from 7 years old to 17 years old. In 1946 the Cardinals beat the Red Sox for the World Series title. The Yankees beat the Dodgers in 1956.

    As good a spot as any. Tucker Carlson on Fox News wears a very nice straight point collar. I wonder where he buys them. Anybody know or make an intelligent guess? Ad hominems to the minimum, please.

  2. Richard Meyer | June 13, 2018 at 5:32 am |

    CC channeling the late, great George Frazier with Warlord Of The Weejuns. Duende, CC.

  3. Richard Meyer | June 13, 2018 at 5:34 am |

    @Vern Trotter: Methinks Carlson’s shirts are by Mercer. Chris Matthews are. Both are members of my D.C. club.

  4. Mitchell S. | June 13, 2018 at 7:19 am |

    In his later years, Miles did a complete 180 and wore the most garish, flashy, flamboyant silk shirts and jewelry.

    The photo above is a very simple monochromatic “downtown” look and shows that less is more. I love the narrow, silk black tie.

  5. Richard Meyer | June 13, 2018 at 8:11 am |

    Agree. Is that shirt foulard, or does the photo just look as if it is?

  6. Just Sayin' | June 13, 2018 at 9:25 am |

    Miles’s relationship to Ovy style is interesting. He wore buttondown and club collars for a while, and Weejuns… But he always favored the Continental style a bit more – even in the late fifties, we see slanted jacket pockets, etc. A logical step from there to the Italian suits of the 1960s. Of course, by the late 1960s his style was informed by the circle of friends he had, which included Jimi Hendrix (they were planning a collaboration, but Hendrix died – the same would happen with Prince, but in reverse, in the late 1980s/early 1990s).

    Miles had an extremely antagonistic relationship with what he viewed as “the establishment.” For him, style was a way of being a beautiful, powerful black man in a country dominated by racism. Hence his Ferraris, and hence his clothes. It makes sense that Ivy style in its purest form, however much we appreciate it, was far too staid and traditional for his tastes. I think it’s telling that he went to the Andover Shop rather than J. Press – he was never interested in pretending he’d gone to Yale (I suspect he would have seen that as a version of Tomming, something he was keenly conscious of). Of course, Davis was a relatively affluent, middle-class kid who went to Juilliard (though he dropped out). But, like Hemingway, he needed to look tough and dangerous, that was his ideal of masculinity. So I’m sure part of his style as he got older was consciously rejecting the cushiness of his upbringing and going for sharper edges, as it were.

    Roy Haynes is a very similar example of this style in jazz. He started with suits, even some Ivy-influenced things (making Esquire’s best-dressed list), then went way out. Now he wears big bug-eye sunglasses and cowboy hats… It’s not what I’d do, but more power to ’em.

  7. Just Sayin' | June 13, 2018 at 9:26 am |

    Typo in the first line – I’m slipping. Ivy style, of course.

  8. Tucker does in fact obtain his shirts from David Mercer. If I see one I like I order it myself.

  9. Grey Flannels | June 13, 2018 at 10:24 am |

    Testimonial from Mercer Website:

    “No one has a straight collar like yours. No one! Don’t ever go out of business.”

    T. Carlson Alexandria, VA

    (Could this be Tucker?)

  10. Bernard Faber | June 13, 2018 at 10:56 am |

    What is the history of how The Andover was discovered by Jazz Musicians?

  11. Bernard Faber | June 13, 2018 at 10:59 am |

    Am I being stiffle by failing to genuflect to C C?

  12. Bernard Faber | June 13, 2018 at 11:00 am |

    sorry about error in typing Do not use this error to disparage me?

  13. Michael Brady | June 13, 2018 at 4:40 pm |

    That does look like a foulard or ancient madder shirt on MD. What a great look. Everything about that ensemble is right for him and timeless in style. Oh yes…he also plays trumpet well.

  14. Vern Trotter | June 13, 2018 at 8:09 pm |

    By accident, I was on Miles Davis Way today. West 77th Street between Riverside and West End Avenue. Some way should be found to have his tunes playing in the air.

    Thanks, all. I remembered I already have a few of those Mercer Shirts. I have always worn them with bow ties which Tucker no longer wears, now that he is an adult. And the best debater around.

  15. Trevor Jones | June 13, 2018 at 10:02 pm |

    @Just Sayin’ ….one of the best comments I’ve ever seen. Amazing analysis. You sold me.

  16. Just Sayin' | June 13, 2018 at 10:38 pm |

    @ Trevor – thanks. Glad I was able to put some of my useless knowledge to good use!

  17. @Richard Meyer

    It’s a fact the Tucker Carlson wears Mercer. I was so informed when I ordered a straight collar; apparently not that many do.

    I’m skeptical though about Chris Matthews. His buttondown collars have almost no roll. If you see him at the club, tell him Ivy Style readers want to know!

  18. Richard Meyer | June 14, 2018 at 5:45 am |

    @RJG: Matthews wears the short point BD’s from Mercer. I agree-I prefer long points.

  19. Down Tradden | June 14, 2018 at 7:18 am |

    Bernard Faber wrote:

    ‘What is the history of how The Andover was discovered by Jazz Musicians.’

    I’m not sure if you mean this, but a case can be made (and has been made) that Modern Jazz musicians made Ivy famous. Had it been merely the uniform of American schoolboys and students, it would have had much less impact on the world stage and would not have encroached on mainsteam fashion to the point where on his visit to the US, to source stock for his storein the 60s British Ivy icon John Simons noted that Ivy was ‘everywhere’. Without Miles and co., it would not have been.

  20. I always enjoy the discursive nature of the comments section. CC starts out with a great anecdote in MD and we find ourselves flummoxed with conjecture concerning Tucker. Interesting to note MD’s UWS home was divided into 6 apts selling for around $500k (700sq ft). Might pass by today just to see where this legend once worked.

  21. Roger Young | June 14, 2018 at 9:22 am |

    @ WFBjr
    ‘Enjoy’ is not the verb that I associate with behavior that ignores the opportunity to discuss MD and instead relishes in speculating about the shirt choices of one who did not have the courage of his convictions to keep wearing his bow-tie.

  22. Richard E. Press | June 14, 2018 at 2:08 pm |

    All that jazz. Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn didn’t go to Yale, but they still patronized J.Press

  23. Just Sayin' | June 14, 2018 at 3:07 pm |

    Duke Ellington is a far cry from Miles Davis as far as relationship to the establishment. Nothing wrong with wearing J. Press, being black and doing so, etc. But I think Miles was interested in louder status – status that couldn’t be ignored by those in power. As I said, hence the Ferraris – he liked flashy cars and flashy clothes because they were a very visible “Fuck you” to a white establishment. He speaks about it in numerous interviews. So I can understand why he moved away from Ivy-aligned style into Italian tailoring and then into his later styles. Different strokes for different folks.

  24. @Richard Meyer

    I didn’t know Mercer & Sons made short-point buttondowns!

    @ Richard Press

    Billy Strayhorn has a slowed-down piano solo of “Take the A Train” that is heartbreaking. I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned here before; it is very special. You’ve probably heard it, but if not…

  25. To Just Sayin: Trying to catch up on the site. Your Comments about Miles made me take out photos of his concert in Atlanta as he went back to touring. Think I will iron a pink button down for a ribbon cutting event in the morning. I enjoy your comments

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