The Brooks Bros. Bar

December 10, 2010

The Brooks Brothers’ holiday gala was held December 8th at the firm’s Manhattan flagship store, 346 Madison Avenue (namesake of the clother’s “346” line of menswear). Chief among the night’s grand unveilings was the Brooks bar, a lounge and pool hall on the fifth floor of the shop.

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The Prince Albert Slipper-y Slope

November 22, 2010

Prince Albert slippers are uniquely situated in the haberdashers’ galaxy for their uncanny ability to do for men what threshers do for farms: that is, separate the wheat from the chaff. Or the boys from the men.

Or, more to it, the men from the much more WASP-ily effete men. But if effected Brahmin effetism is a crime, then your staff is (with apologies to Wm. Shakespeare’s Henry VIII) “the most offending soul alive.”

In our defense, we’re in good company. Specifically, Bobby Kennedy. And Ralph Lauren. And Dean Martin. And, of course, His Royal Highness Prince Albert, who married Queen Victoria in 1840 and lent his name to the slipper as his wife lent hers to the era. 

"Specifically, Bobby Kennedy."

Gentlemen of Victorian England, ever exemplars of propriety, refused to wear their shoes indoors. The behavior likely owed as much to the poor condition of Victorian streets as to manners: shoes (and feet) of the period took a daily beating at the hands of mud-slick cobblestones and street grime.

So Victorian men, indoors, changed into house-shoes. And Victorian gentlemen, in shodding, preferred Prince Albert slippers. Today, the slippers are as much acceptable outdoors as in. “Some young people are starting to wear slippers outside,” observed Richard Edgecliffe-Johnson, chairman of London’s oldest bespoke shoemakers, W.S. Foster, recently. “A young, dapper-looking Australian fellow who works for one of our graphic design firms came to the office this summer in a pair of velvet slippers.”  

The Prince Albert slipper, above, is loafer-shaped and pulls on; there are no laces. They’re made of velvet and have a raised leather heel, so that they can be worn lightly outdoors. They come either unlined or lined in quilted silk.

The more rakish also come embroidered: monograms across the toe are popular, as are coats of arms. American makers Stubbs & Wootton and Del Toro, both of Florida, offer more whimsical fare: slippers embroidered with martini glasses, skulls-and-crossed-bones, dollar and euro signs, sail boats, and that sort of thing. Del Toro in particular seems intent on cornering J. Crew’s embroidered critter market.

Brooks Brothers offers a model in black velvet, with its emblematic “BB” in gold script across the toe, and couturiers Ralph Lauren and Paul Stuart each sell a take on the Prince Albert.

“We’ve noticed a growing interest in our men’s slippers, especially from America.” That’s Hilary Freeman, managing director of Edward Green & Co., boot-makers of Northampton, England since 1890 and purveyors of Alberts. “This is slowly moving west to Europe, then Russia and onwards. We are even starting to see interest in Japan.”

And there, the defense rests.


Observed In New York

September 18, 2010

Via the New York Observer, by John Pompeo:

For everyday New York men who strive to be reasonably well dressed, it can be a daunting experience shopping for clothes that won’t make you look like an ass.

Simply traverse the labyrinthine corridors of Barneys, Bergdorf and Bloomingdale’s, where the all-over-the-place mess hanging from the men’s racks is enough to induce migraines: Are pink ties metro or macho this week? Should slim-fit jeans really be this tight? Why do these scruffy flannel lumberjack shirts cost $300? And what’s with all the crazy stripes and extra pockets and ridiculous eagle prints? Things aren’t any simpler inside the showrooms of up-and-coming men’s wear designers, a casual survey of which might make a discerning fellow ponder whether he’d rather look like an urban vampire (Robert Geller), a coal miner (Gilded Age) or a confused sailor (Rogues Gallery).

All of which helps explain the current appeal of American “trad,” short for traditional: an Ivy League–inflected style that’s managed to retain an old-school sensibility without seeming dated or costumelike. Trad is, quite simply, a safe haven for sartorially selective gentlemen amid the ever-growing chaos of department stores and runways. 

Think Oxford button-downs (and that’s real button-downs, meaning collars that button down, not simply dress shirts, to which the term is often misapplied). Natural-shouldered blazers. Flat-front khaki trousers. Loafers. Bow ties, rep ties. Polo shirts in solid colors. Lots of madras plaid. Early Brooks Brothers. New England WASPs. F. Scott Fitzgerald.“Trad is sort of the antithesis of what’s happening in fast fashion right now,” said Michael Williams, 30, who obsesses over classic American men’s clothing on his blog, A Continuous Lean. “It’s like the opposite of what all the men’s wear designers are doing,” Mr. Williams continued. “It’s not fashion; it’s clothes.” 

THE ORIGINS OF trad date back to the turn of the century, with the founding in 1902 of the New Haven–based men’s clothier J. Press, considered the epitome of the style. The look became prominent on the Ivy League campuses of the 1950s and ’60s, as documented in the Japanese book Take Ivy, a rare photo collection first published in 1965 that’s enjoyed something of a revival in the past year. The term trad itself is said to have been coined by the Japanese, who have also been driving the current fascination with obscure U.S. clothing brands and Americana that’s taken hold at various men’s boutiques, department stores and on a handful of blogs akin to Mr. Williams’. (J. Press was acquired by a Japanese company, Onward Kashiyama, in 1986.)  

Perhaps you’ve noticed Lacoste polos, Ray-Ban eyewear, bow ties and hand-sewn camp moccasins on the streets of Billyburg?

Those who embrace the look say subtlety is key. 

“When done right, it should almost be invisible,” said John Tinseth, 52, an insurance broker and longtime traddy who’s been writing a blog called The Trad—anonymously, until now—for the past two years. He was on the phone from his West 57th Street apartment, dressed, he said, in L. L. Bean khakis and moccasins and a yellow university-stripe Oxford by Rugby.

“A guy should walk right by you and he’ll have the whole thing down and you won’t even notice,” Mr. Tinseth said. “That’s when it’s done perfectly.”

‘Imagine your best-dressed uncle throwing open his closet for you to frolic around in.’—David Wilder of J. Press

In New York, ground zero for trad is the J. Press store on Madison Avenue and 47th Street, one of the company’s four U.S. retail locations. (The others are in New Haven, Boston and Washington, D.C.)

There, you will find David Wilder, a polite 41-year-old sales associate and trad guru to scores of Manhattan males.

On a recent Friday afternoon, Mr. Wilder, who is tall and broad of build, with thin blond hair and Joycean spectacles, was toggling between register, rack and fitting room, stopping every so often to chat with familiar customers, who greeted him brightly by name.

He was trying to find a properly fitting $595 navy blue wool blazer for a young buck headed back to school at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.“I think this one’s going to be a lot better,” Mr. Wilder said, sliding a size 41-long onto the studious shopper’s shoulders.

Mr. Wilder grew up in Greenwich, Conn., “surrounded by Madras jackets and what we would call ‘go to hell’ pants, which are heavily patterned,” he said on his lunch break, over a quiche and a bottle of Canada Dry ginger ale at a sandwich shop across the street from the store. “The type of stuff you’d wear to the Belle Haven yacht club.” He was wearing tasseled Alden loafers; English-made J. Press over-the-calf socks; American-made J. Press khakis with a one-and-three-quarter-inch cuff (the trad standard); a Lewin striped shirt purchased on Jermyn Street in London (a bit racy for a trad ensemble, he said); a flat-knit solid navy blue necktie; and a natural-shouldered navy blazer by David Cenci. (His J. Press jackets were at the cleaners that day.)

 AT YALE, Mr. Wilder studied 18th-century American and European history, and spent several of his summers working part time at the J. Press store in New York. “It was like working in your eccentric uncle’s genteel closet,” he said fondly. “Imagine your best-dressed uncle throwing open his closet for you to frolic around in. Like an insiders’ club for people who love the Ivy League look.”

After that, Mr. Wilder helped run a high-end personal stationery business, Therese Saint Clair, that his parents founded when he was 9 years old, and that he eventually sold in 2001.

About five and a half years ago, after a stint working as a concierge at the Delamar Greenwich Harbor Hotel, Mr. Wilder sent his résumé to the New York J. Press store on a whim. He was hired shortly thereafter, he said, and has been shilling trad style five days a week ever since.What is the difference between trad and preppy, The Observer wondered?“Preppy is a little broader than trad,” he said. “It’s more eccentric, more colorful.” (All those duck prints!)Trad’s entire purpose is to defy and transcend the whims of fashion, but inevitably some elements will be seen on the runways this week—likely during Thom Browne’s show on Sunday, Sept. 13, at his Hudson Street store (Mr. Browne got a massive plug when Vogue editor Anna Wintour recommended him to David Letterman on her Aug. 24 Late Show appearance).Since 2007, Mr. Browne—otherwise best known for encouraging men to expose their hairy ankles—has been designing a trad-oriented specialty collection for Brooks Brothers called Black Fleece.

This year’s spring/summer line was heavy on the madras, seersucker and paisley, with a predominantly navy blue, white and gray color palette. (A photo that surfaced on The Sartorialist blog in April 2006 of a silver-haired gentleman wearing a slim, short-cut navy blue blazer, a light blue Oxford shirt and dark gray slacks with an ankle-length pant hem ran with the caption: “O.K., Trads, you’re really closer to the Thom Browne aesthetic than you may want to admit.”) Like Mr. Browne, Michael Bastian, who is showing at Exit Art on Sept. 14, is a breakout men’s wear designer known to dabble in trad pieces.“Pick up a Browne or Bastian shirt,” said Mr. Tinseth, “and you can feel the heft of it and know it was made with care.”But a true traddy might opt for the more economical and authentic route of getting his dress shirts custom-made, perhaps by a tailor like Alexander Kabbaz, shirt maker to Tom Wolfe, Mr. Tinseth said. Likewise, a traddy would buy a J. Press suit over one made by a trendy designer.

“This stuff lasts forever, which I don’t think fashion people like because they need to sell new stuff,” said Mr. Tinseth, citing a pair of cordovan shell Alden wingtips he bought in 1986 and still wears today.Mr. Wilder, of course, concurred.“Traddies want something authentic,” he said, taking a sip of ginger ale. “Not something that’s a riff on something authentic.”


Justice Is Blind, Decorum Is Not

September 7, 2010

There’s a place, the Wall Street Journal reports online today, where first impressions are even more important than at job interviews: court.

Doctors have, the author says, appeared to testify in their own malpractice trials wearing blue jeans, and one anonymous California judge admits to wardrobe considerations in her rulings: sloppy dress might bolster a case against a father accused of child neglect, she says; likewise, expensive shoes and earrings might undermine a lady claiming financial straits.

Jurors are likely even less judicial. Juries pass their service by hearing evidence, considering facts, and observing participants. That means demeanor, attitude, posture, and wardrobe. Is the alleged drug dealer in a coat and tie… or does he look like a drug dealer?

“Jurors notice everything,” says Patricia Glaser, a prominent attorney who counts Kirk Kerkorian and Conan O’Brien among her clients. “They notice the wedding ring, they notice if your hair is parted on the right or left, they notice if it’s an Italian-cut suit or a Brooks Brothers, they notice if your shoes are scuffed every day, just like they notice if you’re on time or not.”

Though it’s nice to see this article written, it’s disheartening that it had to be. If nowhere else, a courtroom in which your interests are being decided seems the place to look your best, or to at least do your best to look better than your worst. If not out of respect for the courtroom and the American judicial process, do it for yourself and your case.

John Gotti: Gambino boss looked the part.


Of Brooks, via Plimpton

June 1, 2010

Via the always well-stocked, if only occasionally well-worded Ivy Style web log… “Under the Golden Fleece,” by George Plimpton:

Asked to check out Brooks Brothers on its 175th anniversary, I thought it best to outfit myself for the visit from head to foot in their clothing. It was not too difficult, since I have been a patron for years, as was my father before me, and his father before him. I missed out only on the shoes. I have an unnaturally wide foot, a triple E, and their shoe department stops at a single E, shoes that would have caused a wince at every step if I could have squeezed into them.

But the rest was all theirs — socks, underwear, tie, a white button-down shirt, and a slightly rumpled seersucker suit, which was appropriate because it was a hot summer day. The blue flag with its legend attesting to “175 Years of American Style” hung listlessly in the heat over Forty-fourth Street.

The author at ease.

Once inside the pleasant cool of the store, I was taken in hand by Wayne Sheridan, a salesman on the first floor. He has been employed by Brooks Brothers for thirty-five years. That is by no means remarkable. Indeed, the employment record is held by salesman Joseph Mancini, who retired in 1992 after sixty-six years of service. Another salesman, Frederick Webb, worked in the store selling suits up through his eighties.

Among his steady customers (”see you” patrons, in the jargon of the store) were members of the Morgan banking family. He served five generations of them during his sixty-five years of service. He could never bring himself to judge when the young Morgans reached an age when it was no longer appropriate for him to call them by their first names: no easy solution. So he simply continued on a first-name basis with Morgan family members throughout their lives.

Mr. Sheridan, being on the first floor, which features ties, shirts, and men’s accessories, does not have quite the “see you” patronage situation enjoyed by the suit salesmen on the fourth. But he told me he had once sold a button-down shirt to Joan Collins. He remembers John F. Kennedy in his senatorial days, walking past the tie counter with his hands in his coat pockets.

We walked over to his tie counter. I asked how many were sold on a good day, and he said upwards of a thousand. Noticing one with a pattern of seals balancing beach balls on their noses, I commented that I had expected only regimental ties.

“The animal ties do very well,” he told me. ‘They bring in the younger group.” He smiled. “Ralph Lauren started his career standing just where you are — selling ties. He worked here for two years and then started designing ties on his own. Paul Stuart up the street started selling them for him.”

“Why not Brooks Brothers?” I asked.

“His designs were before their time — at least that was the opinion among the marketing people: too wide they thought.”

Mr. Sheridan smiled again and asked if I’d like to take a crack at selling ties. He said he’d try to steer some Japanese patrons to the counter; there were bound to be a lot of them in the store. In fact, he went on to say, these days the Japanese head the list of foreign patrons. They carry their calculators with them, their eyes widen when they figure out what extraordinary bargains are available. The Italians come next. Giovanni Agnelli, the gentleman who runs Fiat, buys at Brooks Brothers frequently. “He buys lots and lots of shirts,” said Mr. Sheridan as he went off looking for some Japanese.

They wandered by eventually — a solemn-looking couple. “How about these seals balancing balls on their noses?” I said. “Very popular with the young crowd.” The pair inspected the tie gravely, and then moved on without a word.

I remarked to Mr. Sheridan that Ralph Lauren probably had had his bad days, and then I wondered aloud if his innovative design ideas would have been accepted by today’s marketing people.

“Oh, there have been many, many changes in company policies,” Mr. Sheridan said. “Many.”

A bit of background. The store was founded — “established” is the proper Brooks Brothers term — on April 7, 1818, by Henry Sands Brooks. A dapper dresser, he often traveled to Europe to supplement his wardrobe. What he brought back, especially his colorful waistcoats, was the envy of his friends. Considering that the bulk of his transatlantic luggage began to consist of materials, coats, waistcoats they had begged him to purchase for them, it was a natural step to go into the business professionally.

For $17,000 he bought a frame building with an arcade that stretched over the sidewalks of Catharine and Cherry Streets, on a corner near Franklin Square, then the center of New York’s mercantile district and within blocks of the more fashionable residences of the time. The articles that could be purchased ready-made were folded and laid out in neat row on tables. On pleasant days some of the suits were hung outdoors on hangers, flapping in a breeze like laundry on a line — a primitive precursor of the display window.

The store moved five times — each time farther uptown toward its present location on Madison Avenue and Forty-fourth Street and bringing with it traditions that became increasingly hallowed over the years. Throughout its history it catered to a clientele that prided itself on its sense of taste and its fastidiousness. Andrew Mellon, the banker and philanthropist, spent long minutes at the tie counter before selecting what he wanted —always black with small white figures — which he would invariably take outside to see how it looked in the sunlight. So staid was the organization that its credit department would not allow Rudolph Valentino — who fancied Brooks Brothers hats — to open an account at the height of his career.

In 1976, when the company lowered the top button on its suits by half an inch, it was considered a cataclysmic step by die-hard customers. All of this was very much in keeping with the principle laid down by the founder, namely “to make and deal in merchandise of only the best quality, to sell it at a fair profit only, and to deal with people who seek and appreciate such merchandise.”

This attitude of exclusivity was best summed up by Frederick Brooks, company vice president, in 1889. He closed the store on Saturdays because of the “outsiders” who crowded the premises on that day. “Who are all these people?” he asked. “We must save the merchandise for all our regular customers.”

Of course, it was exactly this brand of elitism, carried on through the years, that made Brooks Brothers a world-famous institution, and indeed lured “outsiders” into the store. Given this tradition, one might suppose that the company’s policies have remained rather rigid over the years. Not at all. The store — to the surprise of many — has often been a pioneer in men’s fashion.

The famed Golden Fleece has been Brooks Brothers’ trademark since the 1850s. Often jocularly referred to by the saIesmen as a “pig in a sling,” it is in fact a sheep suspended in a ribbon. It was a symbol of British woolen merchants, and before that of the Knights of the Golden Fleece, founded by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. Each knight wore the emblem over his heart; it symbolized the Lamb of God.

The logo has become such a familiar status symbol that it apparently has value even when it isn’t attached to anything. There are stories of customers buying the least expensive item in the store bearing the Brooks Brothers logo and then transferring the Fleece to something more substantial — perhaps to a suit of inferior make. “An empty gesture,” a salesman informed me. “That certainly wouldn’t fool us.” He went on to describe a man who nervously asked for an athletic supporter and then turned it down because it did not have the Brooks Brothers label.

“So it’s safe to say that the logo itself is responsible for many of the sales,” I suggested.

“Oh yes. A cap with the Golden Fleece insignia on the front is a big seller,” he told me. “Pique-knit sports shirts with the logo on the front sell easily over a hundred a day.”

I asked about the colors the patrons of different nationalities seem to prefer and was told that the Italians buy the entire spectrum available but that the Japanese shy away from the reds, the hot pinks. “They stick to navy, black, and white and only rarely venture into color.”

“Do they buy seersucker suits?” I asked.

“Very American,” the salesman said obliquely

“I trust you’ve noticed that I’m wearing a Brooks Brothers seersucker.”

“Without a doubt.”

The fourth floor is the sanctum sanctorum where customers are introduced to the Number One Sack Suit. A suit at Brooks Brothers these days costs anywhere from $295 to $895 (the readymades, popularly described as “of-the-rack”) on up to $1,600, the so-called “special order” where the suit is tailor-made to the client’s specifications.

Often as many as fifteen new orders are made during the day, and, of course, customers come in to have second and third fittings as well. The fourth floor remains very much as I remember it from my first visits — the cavernous room almost ecclesiastically quiet. I said to a salesman that it looked about the same. He shook his head. “There have been changes,” he said emphatically.

I went up to the executive offices on the eighth floor to hear about some of them with William Roberti, who has been in charge of operations at Brooks Brothers since January 1990. We met in his office — a comfortable corner room, complete with fireplace, quite clublike in tone, which in fact does not reflect Mr. Roberti’s background at all. He admits to not being a tried-and-true customer, though to my unpracticed eye he appeared to be wearing a Brooks Brothers suit. I asked, and he was. A powerfully built man, he is a lieutenant colonel in the army reserve, and indeed had just returned from maneuvers. A no-nonsense character.

“What we’ve tried to do is make the store more customer-friendly,” he explained. ”The notion for years was that Brooks Brothers was a private club, and that doesn’t make good business sense. The fact is that the only denominator is good taste, good quality, and good value. And that means for everybody.”

I asked how one went about removing the Ivy League stigma.

“Well, expansion, of course, is part of it,” he said. “We have expanded the operation not only nationwide but around the world. There are fifty-eight regular stores in this country, not including twenty-two “factory outlet” stores in places like Freeport, Maine. Then there are forty-five stores in Japan, and over a hundred· odd locations in Italy that sell Brooks Brothers products.”

“Hardly Ivy League territory,” I said.

“Exactly. Then we are getting involved in licensing operations — home furnishings, eye frames for glasses…”

I asked if the Golden Fleece was carried on the eye frames.

“Of course,” he said. “On the inside, rather small. But it’s there. What is is important,” he went on, “is never to stand still. No business can. The secret is to add products and not mess with what works.”

When I asked about the new products, Mr. Roberti mentioned pigment-dyed washed-twill sports shirts, Brooks blue jeans (”years ago could you imagine that Brooks would one day carry blue jeans?”), and more recently a baseball jacket — what is referred to as the “varsity jacket” — snap buttons down the front and available in burgundy, bottle-green and navy.

I asked him what he thought the founding brothers would have made of all this — the varsity jacket, the blue jeans, and the most radical change of all, getting into the wholesale business.

‘They were traditionalists but also practical.” He smiled. “I think they would have come around.”


The Measure of a Man

June 25, 2009

Regular internet sartorial searchers are already well abreast of the explosive trend in men’s bespoke (custom) fashion forums, discussion boards, blogs, and e-mail lists. Gentrystyle.com explains: “[Online custom clothing forum] The London Lounge, and to a lesser extent American sites such as Ask Andy and Style Forum, provide a nonthreatening space in which to demystify the bewildering array of choices and protocol that you face when you visit a good tailor. The London Lounge can teach you how to identify peak and notch lapels, double and single vents, besom and patch pockets, ghillie collars, floating canvas and raglan sleeves.”

tailor

Of course, all of this is important. As previously noted here, taking care in appearance is very important because appearances are often first indicators of deeper characteristics. An attorney with untied shoes might write equally sloppy briefs and motions. A doctor with stains on his cuff might be equally lazy about washing his hands before surgery. And so on. The thinking is: industry, care, attention to detail, and cleanliness, if present within, will be reflected without. The same holds true of their absence.

As also previously noted here, however, the importance of appearance as an indicator is in hinting at deeper values, not as an indicator of appearance itself. Tying your shoes doesn’t make you a good lawyer any more than wearing boots makes you a cowboy, unfortunately, and clean cuffs won’t make you a good surgeon any more than a magnifying glass makes you a detective. Dressing well is fine, but dressing to purposely evoke an image is worthless without also acting in the values and traditions of that image. Absent the actual identity, you’re only wearing a costume.

Bespoke London: Savile Row.

Bespoke London: Savile Row.

 Men used to wear button-down Brooks collars and repp ties with khakis and Alden loafers because it’s what they’d grown up with, and the clothing was a uniform which was, like all uniforms, incidental to their jobs. And like uniforms, their clothing was habitual. For example: an army officer wears a brown shirt because it’s part of his uniform. He may own 10 identical brown shirts, and take one down to wear every morning without a second thought. A civilian who asks his tailor to make him an expensive brown shirt, and takes it down in the morning and obsesses over the buttons, the epaulets, the creases, the medals, and then wears it very self-consciously because he wants to mimic the army officer style… isn’t an army officer.

In Evelyn Waugh’s classic Brideshead Revisited, Charles Ryder’s cousin Jasper gives him some advice on dressing for Oxford. There isn’t much detail… certainly less than can be found daily on the fashion blogs. Commentator Michael Anton explains: “Forty years ago, when a father introduced his tailor to his son, they probably both thought, ‘This is something we do, but let’s not dwell on it, because that would be unseemly’. They’d look at the level of interest on these internet forums as going way beyond what is appropriate.” Clothes are a means (appearance) to an end (respectability), not an end unto themselves.

Here, two competing schools of thought emerge. In the first corner is a disdain for costumes and affectation. For those born to a station which includes a certain look, that look comes without effort. Men from certain backgrounds reach for the Sperry brand boat shoes because it’s what they know, not because an internet discussion board said they should. Those who put in effort to look a certain way must not have come by that look naturally. In the second, competing corner: a great sigh of relief that men think it worthwhile again to be aware of proper dress and try their hand at it, even if the effort requires, well, effort. Surely we can’t be any worse off for more men wearing ties and actually caring about how to knot them, and it beats the hell out of more denim shorts and Bluetooth headsets.


Tying One On

May 5, 2009

From the Saint Louis University law library, a hasty and urgent dispatch:

Bow ties are cool again.

Made from such little material, the bow tie can speak volumes, and lately it has. The neck wear, once only the domain of either the staid and stately or the faculty club, is on the rise: bow ties have shown up in concerts, on athletes, and in Gossip Girl.

Traditional menswear bastion Brooks Brothers has always carried bow ties, and today continues to sell an assortment. They can be had in patterns like madras, rep stripe, polka dot, plaid, seersucker, and more. Brooks Brothers neckwear manager Richard Cristodero couldn’t be happier: the house’s retail stores around the country report bow ties flying off the shelves, in record numbers weekly. They’re reportedly the only item that is selling better than it did last year.

An image of sophistication and security might be behind the re-emergence; in times like these, we like to look smart, assured, and secure. Yet there’s a rake-ish quality to them, something a little less respectable despite its elevated station; the raffish associate, caught with the secretary, maybe.

Also experiencing a re-birth: narrow ties, cardigans, and vee-neck sweaters. That is to say, basic East Coast college chic, although “chic” is the opposite of the look.

Winston Churchill, and bow tie.

Winston Churchill, and bow tie.