Had lunch with G. Bruce Boyer and Eric Twardzik last week. It was fantastic. Wine, pizza and two hours plus of conversation. We covered a ton of ground, and I learned so much from these two veterans. But first, the mountainous challenge of what to wear to that. I mean, it is Boyer and Twardzik. Problem solved with Mr. Boyer asked about the Besnard shirt, so I wore that. This was the pregame collar roll:
So of course I get there, and the two Best-In-Class are dressed immaculately. Here, my shame:
I learned so much, I made notes on the train back. I will summarize: both of these guys are… good guys. They are encyclopedic about Ivy Style, but they are also hilarious and compelling. Eric Twardzic had these braces on, and it was like a permission slip for me. I am going back. And G. Bruce Boyer (look at those cuffs folks) has this way of looking like he was born in perfect combinations. I mean, there is no effort. And he had a bag. I wanted to sneak a look but I also didn’t want to be rude. I was going to check it out when we were walking about but I was thinking about the story I told about Sinatra saying that if Sinead O’Connor “wasn’t a broad I would punch her in the nose” at the Garden State Arts Center after she ripped up a picture of the Pope and refused to sing the national anthem. (I was there, he said it, I don’t condone it, but he did say it. You can ask the other 700 people or whatever)
If there is a next time, I am wearing a knit tie. As I say, we covered a TON of ground, but one of the things I got from our conversation that I didn’t understand was that while some are so precise about canonical Ivy, these were clothes that students threw on hungover to get to class. That should take the canonical blood pressure down a few points. I mean, if it works for you, good, but if it stresses you out, it might not be all that rigid anyway.
They are also both excellent conversationalists who asked me questions, which stopped it from being a full out interview. But as I say, if I get a next time with these fellas I am doing NO storytelling.
From our friend James Taylor at Waterhollow Tweed, a brief history of the Princeton English Shop.
Founded in 1951 by Eric P. Mihan and originally located at 5 Palmer Square (now the site of Chez Alice Cafe) The English Shop was one of what is now considered the Big Five Princeton clothiers; the others being Langrock, Harry Ballot, Landau, and, trailing in prestige, the Princeton Clothing Co.. (Interestingly, in the 1960s the Big Five were considered to be Langrock, The English Shop, Ballot’s…. and Douglas MacDaid, and Saks Fifth Avenue.) Next to Langrock–the undoubted flagship of Princeton’s Ivy Style–The English Shop was one of the original purveyors of the Ivy League Look in the 1950s and 1960s.
Adverts from the 1950s and 1960s proudly proclaim that it carries Harris Tweed jackets, flannel blazers, and worsted suits, the majority of which were cut in the distinctive Ivy League 3/2 sack style. The English Shop also carried Scottish shetland sweaters, tweed caps, English regimental ties, wool challis ties, worsted pants, tattersall shirts… the whole range of classic Ivy Style!The English Shop closed in December 1996. Indeed, with the closure of Landau’s none of Princeton’s original Ivy stores remain.
A little known piece of Ivy trivia: Eric P. Mihan also founded EMP Steins. This was a company that made beer steins, including commemorative steins for various schools. Appropriately, the first schools that these steins were made for were the Ivy Leagues, and (of course!) they were originally sold at The English Shop in Princeton. (I doubt that many Dartmouth men bought them there!) Apparently, EMP steins are now extremely collectible, with the original Ivy steins fetching premiums. I’ll post a picture of one here once when I unearth one on my vintage-seeking travels!