The high watermark of the Ivy League Suit in America coincided with the Kennedy years. J. Press opened its first street level New York store on 16 East 44th Street during the high times of Camelot. Nobody who was anybody was clad in anything but a natural shoulder suit.
During my salad days in the family business all America wore suits. Our genre was one of a kind. The J. Press style was copied throughout department stores and Main Street specialty stores from coast to coast. Few J. Press competitors matched the munificent natural shoulder selection tailored to our unique requirements. All of our ready to wear suits and sport jackets were standard in cut and tailoring, with single breasted three-button front, high notch lapel, natural shoulder and steep center hook vent. Trousers were plain front, slim cut featuring 20 inch knee and 17 inch bottom.
The 2,000 suits hanging on the racks at the 44th Street store fell into ten categories. Textbook breakdown: Milled Worsted Glenurquharts, Clear Cut Pure Wool Worsteds, British Six-Ply Lattice Weave Worsteds, Saxony Worsted Glens, Striped Worsteds, Flannel Finish Pure Worsteds, Milled Worsted Herringbone, Worsted Twists, British Saxony Worsted Tweed Herringbones, narrow and thick wale combed cotton Corduroy and Cheviot Worsted Tweed Herringbones.
Further illustrating the perennial vogue for past and present classics, bestselling Striped Worsteds were available in muted 1/8” pinstripe in deep blue, muted 1/4” pin stripe unfinished worsted in midnight gray and top of the line muted 1/2” chalk stripe flannel finish worsted in dark gray or dark blue.
The Man In The Gray Flannel Suit beyond the famous Gregory Peck cinematic portrayal nevertheless retained its 1950s popularity justly regarded by the well-groomed cognoscenti of the times as the all-purpose indispensable suit. Plain shades of Oxford Gray and Clerical Gray were standard fare.
Never to forget Whipcord Twists in tan mixtures that several years later were Frank Sinatra’s favorite he purchased in bulk. Cheviot Tweeds remained popular remnants from J. Press campus stores at Yale and Harvard. Singular in their stereotypical campus appeal via their rugged resilience and unusual colorings in Moorish shades of Lovat, Heather, Clerical Gray, Bracken and Black Briar Brown Hollywood ready paired with New Haven Owl Shop Bulldog Pipes.
The target J. Press customer in the Heyday of Ivy had at the least five suits in his wardrobe requiring significant replacement every Fall season. We offered both newcomers and our hardy clientele an encyclopedia of choice.
Let the suit trumpets roar once more.
Great memories. Still great style. Thanks
Thanks for sharing your memories of the great family tradition.
Nothing like pure nostalgia!
The quintessential “double-breasted suit man” of the Camelot era was Clark Clifford.
Great memories. Thanks.