TSY STYLE HALL OF FAME | TOM WOLFE THE ORIGINAL THIN, WHITE DUKE

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“There are just two classes of men in the world, men with suits whose buttons are just sewn onto the sleeve, just some kind of cheapie decoration, or—yes!—men who can unbutton the sleeve at the wrist because they have real buttonholes and the sleeve really buttons up.”

The Secret Vice, by Tom Wolfe

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In 1952, a promising young pitching prospect out of Washington and Lee University showed up for a tryout with the New York Giants (the baseball Giants, that is– they hadn’t yet decamped for San Francisco).  The prospect made a decent showing: three innings, three men on base, no runs scored.  Good screwball, nice sinker, not much heat.  “If somebody had offered me a Class D professional contract,” says the prospect– whose name was Tom Wolfe– many decades later, “I would have gladly put off writing for a couple of decades.”  But the Giants cut Wolfe after two days, and he became a giant of another kind. (Via)

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From the desk of Contributing Editor, Eli M. Getson–

Recently, in the wake of the recession, Wall Street greed, and the wreckage of Lehman Brother, Merrill Lynch, Bear Sterns et al, the term “Master of The Universe” keeps getting thrown around to describe these fallen titans of Lower Manhattan.  Whenever I hear this term I always think of the man who penned it, my nominee for the TSY Style Hall of Fame, Tom Wolfe.

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1970s, New York City — Author Tom Wolfe — Image by © Bob Adelman/Corbis

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Cultural Chronicler is another term that also gets thrown around a lot– I mean one well reviewed novel and Bret Easton Ellis was the voice of his generation (I remember I lived through it), but few American wordsmiths can actually lay claim to writing about the people and events that shaped a lot of the last 50 years of the 20th Century as a largely inside observer, and in the process coining some phrases that became part of the popular lexicon.

Tom Wolfe always managed to get underneath the surface of events and reveal the most primal of human emotions-greed, arrogance, courage, humor, longing-and come up with phrases like “Radical Chic”, “The Me Generation”, “Social X-Ray”, “The Right Stuff”, and one of his favorites “Good Ol Boy” which he used to describe the racecar driver Junior Johnson.

Other than being an avid reader of Wolfe’s work I have a somewhat personal connection.  For a few years we lived in the same NYC neighborhood and while I can never say I spoke to him, he was impossible to miss.  A tall man, with an aquiline nose Wolfe was always decked in an immaculate white suit, high collar Jermyn Street custom dress shirt, splendid tie, pocket square that screamed dandy, white shoes, and occasionally white hat.  His style was very much like his writing, elegant but with a sense of humor and irony.  I mean who dresses like that anymore!  Yet Tom Wolfe looked crisp on the hottest of days.

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Tom Wolfe — the American journalist, pop critic and novelist, 1980. — Image by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS

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TSY x GQ ITALY

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I’m very pleased and proud to announce that THESELVEDGEYARD will now be a regular VINTAGE feature in GQ Italy.  TSY debuted in the March 2010 issue, selecting 10 timeless, real men of style– and we look forward to a long and prosperous partnership filled with lots of authentic goodness.

So friends– please brush-up on your Italian and follow along.

Ciao,

JP

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Marlon Brando relaxing at home with typewriter, and furry little friend.  –Image © Murray Garrett

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James Dean on the set of “Giant” — Image by © Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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Steve McQueen displaying his signature, perfect balance of allegiance and rebellion.
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THE TRENCH COAT MAFIA | ICONIC OUTERWEAR THAT’S ALWAYS IN STYLE

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“The trench coat is the only thing that has kept its head above water.”

–Jack Lipman

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Having spent years ridin’ the rails on the commuter train in-and-out of Manhattan, there are clearly two leading outerwear icons that are inescapable– the Barbour Beaufort, and the timeless Burberry Trench. Both are must-haves for the Northeastern climate in terms of their functionality, versatility and style.  It’s not uncommon at all the see a Barbour over a sportcoat or suit, although I oft feel the length and proportions are somewhat off– not to mention I like to keep the Barbour waxed within an inch of it’s life, and therefore it’s not exactly the best companion for co-mingling with tailored clothing.  For me, there’s nothing better than seeing a seasoned, well put-together professional sporting the old school classic essentials– Ghurka bag, Burberry trench, J. Press suit, and cordovans.  The trench is tearin’ up the runway right now, but don’t buy it for the reviews– wear it for its epic merits.

Now, if only proper headwear would make a comeback– and I’m not talking about knit caps.

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1985– Artist David Hockney Smoking Cigar Outside Barn. –Image by © Michael Childers/Corbis

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TSY STYLE HALL OF FAME | FRENCHMAN JEAN-PAUL BELMONDO

Jean-Paul Belmon*

JEAN-PAUL BELMONDO

Jean-Paul Belmondo

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Jean-Paul “Bébel” Belmondo, sometimes hailed as France’s answer to Humphrey Bogart or Steve McQueen, took the international film scene by storm in Jean-Luc Godard’s 1960 classic Breathless. Check out a primer of his best films here. Belmondo, the sexy and stylish star of the Nouvelle Vague (the new wave of cult French cinema), worked with leading directors from Louis Malle to Truffaut, and was widely heralded for his comedic and action star talents (he routinely performed his own stunts)– but for some reason, he never really connected with the mainstream American audience.

Jean-Paul Belmondo’s seemingly carefree chic and sensational style were no accident– he had an innate sartorial talent that was light years ahead of his peers, and remains the benchmark for classic French street style.  In fact, he’s easily one of the most legendary style icons of our time– no doubt about it.

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Jean-Paul Belmondo

Jean-Paul Belmondo

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NOTES FROM THE SF UNDERGROUND | MAN UP, AND THE NEW MAIN STREET

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From the desk of Contributing Editor, Eli M. Getson–

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In the last few years we have been inundated by Washington and the media with news about the decline of “Main Street”.  I have to admit I have never been to this mythical place.  By the time I entered my consuming years, Main Street had long been shut down and all commerce was conducted at the rather impersonal confines of the local mall.  I imagine this mythical Main Street was a place with unique shops and businesses, where you not only went to buy a few things but catch up on local events, meet friends, and could even say hello to a proprietor by name (bit different then trying to get Hunter or Missy to help you at Abercrombie).  The customer mattered on Main Street; things were a little slower and had a lot more soul.  It was the opposite of the poor service, disposable products, and hassle that defines today’s buying experience.  I mean, I’m not for reckless consumerism, far from it– but shouldn’t buying something special for yourself be fun and painless?

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Worst Main Street, May 1951 –photo by Francis Miller

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The best way I can describe the Man Up pop up market that happened this past weekend is this– it’s part 1950’s trade association, part block party, part Hippie co-op (it is San Francisco after all), part European open-air market, and all punk rock garage band.  Having been in the menswear industry for the last twenty years, I’ll admit– I’ve become a bit jaded.  I thought what I would find were a bunch of hipsters, and I hate hipsters.  What I found were serious business owners– whose passion for their product was infectious, and who are strongly dedicated to producing well-made products that last, and make ‘em right here in the USA.   I found a new business model that cuts-out the middle man and creates a deep loyalty between the consumer, brand, and owner/operator.  I found business people who were generous, passionate, knowledgeable, and friendly.    I think I found Main Street in the age of social media.

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BUNNY ROGER | BRITISH STYLE ICON YOU’VE PROBABLY NEVER HEARD OF

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Legendary Style Icon Bunny Roger fiercely donned.  He invented the tight-cut Capri trousers while on holiday on the island in 1949, and by the 1950s he was sponsoring a neo-Edwardian silhouette – four-button jackets with generous shoulders and mean waists, lapelled waistcoats, high-cut trousers – for plain, checked and striped suits. Accessories, whether a high-crowned bowler or ruby cuff-links, were indispensable.

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As a menswear nut, I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit fawning over the sartorial splendor of the innovative, meticulous (and arguably neurotic) Prince of Wales.   And if you’re a true fan of the man credited with such style staples as turn-ups (trouser cuffs) and the Windsor knot (neckwear), you’d definitely be remiss in not knowing about the one and only– Bunny Roger.  Quite honestly, he’s definitely an acquired taste, and the dandy of all dandies– and now fabulously back in the spotlight with a recent inspiration nod from John Galliano.  Bunny Roger, with his epic style and fabled colorful persona is the definitely the yin to the Princes’ yang.  Bunny possessed a bold flair for tailoring and attitude that rivals his regal peer in terms of eccentricity, inspiration, and attention to detail.  To simply say he’s an original does not do the man justice.

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Circa 1951– Neil Munro (Bunny) Roger, (1911–1997), by Francis Goodman © reserved; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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From The Guardian–

Bunny Roger was probably not the most fearsome soldier the allied army has ever had in its ranks. Fighting for the British Rifle Brigade during the second world war, he went to battle wearing a chiffon scarf and brandishing a copy of Vogue. Once, when his sergeant asked him what should be done about the advancing enemy troops, Roger, who liked to wear rouge even with his khakis, replied, “When in doubt, powder heavily.” When he ran into an old friend in the hellish, bombed-out monestary of Monte Cassino in Italy he responded to his pal’s incredulous “What on earth are you doing here?” greeting with one word: “Shopping”. As dandies go, Roger wasn’t a massive spender – he bought a mere 15 suits a year from his London tailor, Watson, Fargerstrom & Hughes, but, boy, was he ever particular. He liked exquisitely cut tartans, Edwardian-style jackets in pale shades of cerulean blue, lilac and shell pink, sharply tapered at the middle to show off his astonishing 29-inch waist. Roger, like all proper dandies, rivaled Oscar Wilde in the one-liner department. When a gobby cab driver yelled from his window, “Watch out, you’ve dropped your diamond necklace, love,” Roger replied, in a flash, “Diamonds with tweed? Never!”

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Shots From the Sotheby’s catalog– Bunny’s (along with his brother’s) belongings were auctioned off back in ’98 where several of Bunny’s neckties were snatched up by none other that uber-smooth crooner Bryan Ferry.

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“I DON’T WANT ANYBODY IN HERE WITHOUT COATS AND TIES,” SINATRA SNAPPED.

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From the archives of Esquire magazine, featured in their 70th anniversary issue–

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In the winter of 1965, writer Gay Talese arrived in Los Angeles with an assignment from Esquire to profile Frank Sinatra. The legendary singer was approaching fifty, under the weather, out of sorts, and unwilling to be interviewed. So Talese remained in L.A., hoping Sinatra might recover and reconsider, and he began talking to many of the people around Sinatra — his friends, his associates, his family, his countless hangers-on — and observing the man himself wherever he could. The result, “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” ran in April 1966 and became one of the most celebrated magazine stories ever published, a pioneering example of what came to be called New Journalism — a work of rigorously faithful fact enlivened with the kind of vivid storytelling that had previously been reserved for fiction. The piece conjures a deeply rich portrait of one of the era’s most guarded figures and tells a larger story about entertainment, celebrity, and America itself. Here are a few choice excerpts from the original Esquire story– a link to the epic piece in its entirety, after the jump.

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Early 1960s, LA — Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Frank Sinatra. — Image by © Michael Ochs Archives/Corbis.

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I‘m for anything that gets you through the night, be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniel.”

–Frank Sinatra

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Frank Sinatra, holding a glass of bourbon in one hand and a cigarette in the other, stood in a dark corner of the bar between two attractive but fading blondes who sat waiting for him to say something. But he said nothing; he had been silent during much of the evening, except now in this private club in Beverly Hills he seemed even more distant, staring out through the smoke and semidarkness into a large room beyond the bar where dozens of young couples sat huddled around small tables or twisted in the center of the floor to the clamorous clang of folk-rock music blaring from the stereo. The two blondes knew, as did Sinatra’s four male friends who stood nearby, that it was a bad idea to force conversation upon him when he was in this mood of sullen silence, a mood that had hardly been uncommon during this first week of November, a month before his fiftieth birthday.

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Hyannis Port, MA, Circa 1965–  Singer Frank Sinatra with then actress girlfriend Mia Farrow on deck of the yacht, Southern Breeze.  His look implies “Hit the road, Mac.”  –photo by Bill Eppridge for LIFE.

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Sinatra had been working in a film that he now disliked, could not wait to finish; he was tired of all the publicity attached to his dating the twenty-year-old Mia Farrow, who was not in sight tonight; he was angry that a CBS television documentary of his life, to be shown in two weeks, was reportedly prying into his privacy, even speculating on his possible friendship with Mafia leaders; he was worried about his starring role in an hour-long NBC show entitled Sinatra — A Man and His Music, which would require that he sing eighteen songs with a voice that at this particular moment, just a few nights before the taping was to begin, was weak and sore and uncertain. Sinatra was ill. He was the victim of an ailment so common that most people would consider it trivial. But when it gets to Sinatra it can plunge him into a state of anguish, deep depression, panic, even rage. Frank Sinatra had a cold.

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Dec 26th, 1976, Terrytown, NK —  Frank Sinatra is shown in his dressing room at Westchester Premier Theater in Sept. 1976 with (L-R, standing): Gregory DePalma, a defendant in the case; Sinatra; defendant Thomas Marson who was severed from the trial because of poor health; the late Carlo Gambino; and Jimmy (the Weasel) Fratiano.  Kneeling in front is defendant Richard Fusco. Others in the picture were hidden under to bolster the testimony of its key witness. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

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HOUNDSTOOTH, PIGSKIN & TRADITION | ALABAMA’S PAUL “BEAR” BRYANT

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Paul “Bear” Bryant (left) with baseball’s legendary A’s owner, Charles O. Finley or “Charley O” (right).

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From the desk of Contributing Editor, Eli M Getson–

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The other day I was watching the Philadelphia Eagles play an entertaining one against the New York Giants.  When NBC did the inevitable sideline shot of Eagles coach Andy Reid, I could not help but notice that he was clad in an all black nylon get-up emblazoned with Eagles’ logo that made him look like an NFL version of “Big Pussy” from The Sopranos.  This “NFL Licensed Apparel meets Sergio Tacchini track suit look” is pretty comical on such a big dude, and it made we wonder– why is it that coaches are not required to wear a coat and tie on the sidelines anymore for the sake of decorum?  It may help the guy who is in the midst of a 4-12 season keep his job–  or at least help him look more in control.  The sidelines have become another place where “Casual Friday” has spread its insidious reach.

Whatever happened to the tradition of the team coach actually getting dressed like a grown man?  It makes me long for the last guy who dressed with some style and respect–  like he was going to church. Maybe it’s because for him the sidelines were his church– Paul “Bear” Bryant.

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Legendary coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant in a familiar pose– leaning against the goalpost.

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With the Crimson Tide vying for the National title in the Rose Bowl on January 7th, it’s only fitting we pay homage to Paul “Bear” Bryant– a player and coach, synonymous with Alabama football.  He also did more for houndstooth than anyone short of the Scotsman who invented the pattern.  Bryant played “the other end” to NFL Hall-of-Famer, fellow Arkansan, and lifelong friend, Don Hutson on Alabama’s 1934 National championship team– and was second team all SEC that year.  After graduating in 1936, Bryant began his coaching career which finally led him back to Alabama in 1958.  “Bear” Bryant said about his return to Alabama– “Momma called.  And when Momma calls, you just have to come runnin’.” By 1961 Bryant had his first National title, and would lead the Tide to five more in ’64, ’65, ’73, ’78, ‘and ’79. Along the way he would coach such greats as Lee Roy Jordan, Joe Namath, Kenny Stabler, Ozzie Newsome, Slyvester Croom, and Dwight Stephenson.

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