Scott Fitzgerald was my literary hero in prep school guided by the storied Loomis (now Loomis Chaffee) head of the English department, Norris Ely Orchard. Mr. Orchard, a Yale man and aware of my J. Press roots, directed my Fitzgerald adolescent literary adoration. The particular drooling occurred when I spotted the book cover of Arthur Mizener’s 1951 Fitzgerald biography, The Far Side of Paradise.
The cover displayed Fitzgerald casually garbed in a sport coat over a button-down shirt garnished by his Princeton Cottage Club Knit Tie. The tie may or may not have come from J. Press, nevertheless, it adhered to the style originated by my grandfather, the eponymous J. Press (J for Jacobi) during his pre-World War I road-trips to the Northeast St. Grottlesex boarding school dominions.
The J. Press nationwide roster in the 1950s featured the same elite school alumni wearing their college, club or prep school ties à la Fitzgerald authentically procured by the same men who were privileged to wear them. The New Haven contingent included Yale colleges and clubs: Beta Theta Pi, DKE, Fence, St. Anthony, St. Elmo, York Hall, Zeta Psi, Haunt Club, Whiffenpoofs, Yale Broadcasting, and Yale Record.
On a personal note, York Hall was the Yale chapter of my Dartmouth fraternity Chi Phi. My dad, Paul Press, allowed me to gift my animal house brethren the York Hall sky blue narrow knit tie with red cluster stripes even though neckties were rarely worn in Hanover.
J. Press currently features over 20 colors and patterns miming Grandpa’s original 2 1/2 inch width, 100% silk knit ties, made in England and Italy, tailored with grosgrain band inside the tie where it rests on the shirt collar allowing for comfort and movement.
I like to think Mr. Fitzgerald might credit the newly revived J. Press Knit Club Ties a timely 21st-century riposte to the title of his first novel, This Side of Paradise.