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

*

“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

*

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)

___________________________________________________________________________


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.

*

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

*

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.

*

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

*

Continue reading

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

*

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.

*

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.

*

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

*

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!”

*

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.

*

Continue reading

BEST IN CLASS FOR BUILT TO LAST | CHIPPEWA BOOTS

*

Circa 1939, Ola, Idaho — Farmers turned Loggers with a load ready to go to their self-help cooperative sawmill, started with a Farm Security Administration loan.

*

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

The thing about great American design is that, for the most part, function is the driving element.   It’s this functionality that’s ultimately the true spirit of what MADE IN AMERICA stands for.  It ain’t about being pretty; it’s about being tough and working the way it’s supposed to.  A lot of it harkens back to a time when Americans toiled long and hard outside, with their hands, and demanded gear that could hold up to their hard-scrabble lives, and unforgiving the elements.  The gear was simple, honest, and true.  You got your money’s worth.

Our forebears would probably be more than slightly amused by the fact that many of today’s American workwear brand purists are not loggers, miners, and metal workers– however, the quality, core values, and classic designs behind these brands still resonate deeply within us.  I believe down inside, most of us value the dignity of hard work, quality goods, and simpler times.  There’s something honest and pure that’s sadly missing in the daily gadget grind of our increasingly disposable lives.  It’s like some of us have a primal itch that we just can’t scratch– so we gird our loins with garb from days gone by, to pay tribute to a life and times we’ll never know, but long for so badly.

*

Circa 1908– Lumberjacks in Northern Minnesota –Image by © Minnesota Historical Society

*

Recently I had the honor of sitting down with Clark Perkins, brand manager for legendary Chippewa Boots.  Full disclosure– I am not exactly Charlie Rose, I am a cultural observer and men’s wear guy who gets excited about a lot of different things, especially product I use and love.  I traffic in hyperbole, but in this case everything I pen about Chippewa boots is 100% true!  Ok, maybe a little opinion is thrown in there, but when I interview brand managers, merchants, and design folks I admire, I melt into the form of  a 13 year old girl watching Twilight than an objective observer, but what the hell.  When you’re talking about ‘best in class’ products, respect is due.

*

Circa 1930s– Loggers (or Lumberjacks) working every muscle in their body, and living off the land.

*

Tell me a little about the Chippewa Story?

Continue reading

TSY STYLE HALL OF FAME | MILES DAVIS

*

Trumpeter Miles Davis and saxophonist John Coltrane  performing at Jazz club Cafe Bohemia in New York City, ca. 1956.

Miles Davis and John Coltrane performing at Jazz club Cafe Bohemia in New York City, ca. 1956.

*

Miles Davis had style for miles, so to speak…  Yeah, we’re walking a fine line of being tediously cliche, but the fact remains that whatever Miles did — music, women, heroin, dressing — he did it to the fullest. And like a true artist, his style was always evolving, innovative, relevant, and definitely full of surprises. You may not have always understood him, but you could appreciate his artistry.  Sometimes, that’s all a man can ask for.  People may not always appreciate how you go about things, but you can’t be denied if what you deliver at the end of the day is special.  Go ahead and read into that whatever it is you want…

*

Miles Davis' style was always very thought out, there were no accidents -- every detail said something about him and was there for a reason.  It's easy to look at this picture and miss the subtle, but very telling, details.  Note-- the absence of a breast pocket on the sportcoat, or buttons on the sleeve, and the rounded club, or penny collar..

Miles Davis' style was always very thought out, there were no accidents -- every detail said something about him, and was there for a reason. It's easy to look at this picture and miss the subtle, but very telling, details. Note-- the absence of a breast pocket on the sportcoat, or buttons on the sleeve. The smooth, uninterrupted lines of the soft, almost invisible drop shoulder, close-notched coat collar, and the rounded club, or penny, shirt collar. It all adds up to a pretty specific look.

Continue reading

Summertime Separation Anxiety | Living Without Boots

In all honesty, Summertime is not my favorite time of the year for several reasons.  

First off, extreme sun is not my friend.  I just wasn’t built for it.  I’m Irish (read: fair) with skin that burns like nobody’s business.  It ain’t pretty.  

Secondly, I prefer Winter dressing over Summer slacking– always have.  What can I say, I’m just not a shorts and flip-flops kinda guy.  

My lust is for layers of patinated denim, old worn-in oilcloth, chunky woolens, beaten & abused leather jackets, belts and boots.  So come Summertime, I hold on to wearing my favorite boots, jeans and jackets for as long as I can– before it’s just too darn hot.  I usually make it to July, then come back in September. What do I trade ’em in for?  Clarks suede desert Chukkas, what else?  Maybe a Chuck or Jack Purcell here and there on the down low.  Might even breakdown and get crazy with some sandal action on the side– when my guard is down and it’s just us chickens, that is.  

And in all seriousness guys– listen up, and never wear flip-flops or sandals on the job.  Your co-workers (especially the ladies) should never have to be exposed to the sight of your messed-up cheetoes.  Keep ’em under wraps, bro.  Please.      

 

An old worn-in pair of Chippewa Engineer boots and an arsenal of vintage Levi's 501s, with a helping of RRL thrown in for good measure.

An old worn-in pair of Chippewa Engineer boots and an arsenal of Levi's 501s and RRL denim thrown in for good measure. Had the Chippewa Engineers for about 10 yrs now-- you can't buy what can only come with time.

Continue reading

“IVY LEAGUE TODAY” 1975 | VINTAGE RALPH LAUREN POLO

*

Heavy Tweed Jacket has one of the most amazing archives of vintage Ivy menswear publications, catalogs, etc. anywhere. Hands down.  It’s a daily read for inspiration, education & nostalgia.  Last week HTJ ran an amazing vintage spread on Ivy Today – 1975 via “Men’s Club” magazine. The pics are truly priceless– including a great ad for the then relatively young brand, Polo Ralph Lauren (est. 1967).

*

men's club magazine 6-1975

Vintage 1975 Polo Ralph Lauren ad

*

A young Ralph Lauren, via Men's Club 1975

A young Ralph Lauren, via Men's Club 1975

*

Continue reading

A LESSON IN MONK | JAZZ & SNAZZ

*

thelonious-monk-monks-musicMONK STRAP SHOE FOOTWEAR

*

thelonious monk

*

Thelonious Monk is guy who’s music & style you either get or don’t.  In falls in the realm of atonal jazz, which some consider to be not so friendly on the ear at times.  I think it’s brilliant, and invites the listener in to experience the music in a unique and very personal way.  Thelonious played with such reckless beauty, and his phrasing was at times more suggestive than literal– I swear, sometimes I hear notes that aren’t even there.  He composed around 70 original pieces and recorded them over and over, so it’s possible to have a huge collection of different arrangements with different flavors.

His personal style of dress also had a lot of savory flavor–

*

Continue reading