Lainey Howard is an Ivy Style Folk Hero. I first met Lainey Howard on the Facebook Group. I am very pleased to report that a good number of our posts and comments are from women now, and so when I got Lainey’s request to join it was not as remarkable an event as it might have been a year or so ago.
Then she started posting. As you can imagine, some of the posts in the group are from Ivy professionals, people who have this stuff in their DNA, and they are finely tuned. Some vintage. Some adjacent. Even some degage. But Lainey started posting thoroughbred Ivy outfits, that she put together. Without the personal wearing them. Just laid out, like mine are from my butler. And they were right down the middle – all perfect, nothing over the top, nothing degage, all strikes down the middle of the lane. Ey. Lainey. Sorry. It was sitting right there.
Then one day she posted a picture of her husband, and said that he was wearing an outfit that she put together for him. This, a partner picking out another partner’s clothing, is rife for my disapproval. It never works when I say, “Wear a hot top,” and it never works when I hear “You don’t need the tie.” But there was something kind, mutual, in this. So I asked.
As it turns out, Lainey Howard is a loving, kind, devoted wife with awesome taste. Turns out she redid his entire wardrobe, over two years, as a gift. She started from near scratch, tossing everything except five dress shirts, and went from there. Piece by piece, over the course of two years, she redid his entire wardrobe. And she didn’t just throw money at it either (sorry, Westchester reflex, I am working on that) – Lainey’s husband is a professor not a hedgie (sorry, another Westchester thing) so she had to really curate.
This is the closet that she assembled for him over the course of the project:
“I wanted to do something special for him for his 50th birthday that he could enjoy every day. Not just on his birthday. I also wanted his 50th to be memorable.”
And what was her strategy, I asked?
“I read everything that you wrote on your site and in the group about Ivy Style, and I also read Richard Press. I followed Richard E. Press and his advice on how to build a wardrobe and what pieces to invest in as well as what colors to choose. For example, trousers are khaki, navy, brown and grey. Another helpful bit of advice is to keep the wardrobe to a minimum of key pieces. Use lots of accessories to create the desired Ivy Style “mix” such as neckties, bow ties, pocket squares, hats scarves and wrist watches.”
This is how hardcore she is. She calls her husband Dr. Howard. I am working on getting Gramercy to stop calling me John.
“He’s a professional so he does have to wear suits and I do those as well. I like adding in the separates to his wardrobe because I think it makes him more approachable on campus to Faculty, Staff and Students and he agrees.”
Not everyone is a clothes horse. Some people see it, some people don’t. Like anything. If you don’t see it, imagine having someone in your life who does, and who gifts you with their classic vision.
“I’m a self proclaimed designer. Menswear is my passion! I’m very concerned the classics and the art of dressing up will disappear. By the way, my first order of business was to fit him correctly in his attire. No easy feat. He is extremely hard to fit so it took a lot of trial and error to get it right. About six months. And he is a XXL which takes a little more effort to find in Classic pieces. Everything I have purchased for him has been “off the rack” so to speak and ordered online. Unfortunately, we do not live near many Custom Men’s shops. There are one or two but they were out of my budget. Custom fitted attire would have been my preference but not really an option. Also we are amiss of a men’s tailor in our community. Don’t even get me started on the lack of tailors and the sad state of affairs in menswear.”
She puts FIVE (that’s… 5. 6 minus 1. Four more than you need in a day. FIVE) outfits together a day for Professor Howard to chose from, with matching shoes.
“This is how I prepare his ensembles. I work on it ahead of time and put together a mix of suits and separates. Five at a time. I hang all these at the entrance to his dressing room so he automatically knows where to look when he is getting dressed. He checks his calendar for the day from home and based on what he has going on that day he will choose either a suit or separates. I also do a mix of neckties and bow ties which is his personal preference. He will also not wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row or suede in the rain so he gets a daily weather update to choose accordingly. Again, just his personal preference. These are pics of the 5 ensembles with coordinating shoes hanging in his dressing room today and what is on deck.”
Take a look, here is an example of the five she put together yesterday:
Another representative sample:
“As he wears one, I replace it with another. I work on it everyday. I also keep a few casual ensembles at the ready in the casual section of his dressing room.”
Lainey is very proud of the fact that all of this shopping and curating and composition has resulted in a wardrobe that rarely repeats itself, except for a few favorites. I had to ask for some of her favorites. Here is what she sent:
And this combo (Lainey is NOT afraid of the bow tie, it makes an almost every other day appearance):
Finally, a few of The Lainey Project’s Greatest Hits:
Lainey also puts together tremendous women’s outfits, but she won’t model them for us, yet. But I am going to ask permission to show some of those. In the meantime, Dr. Howard, I hope you are grateful. I am. For an example of a couple working together, filling in where the other needs it, with love and dignity.