Knit Tie Hall of Fame

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.

 J. Press Knit tie

 

RICHARD PRESS    

6 comments

Gotta stay with my regimental stripped stuff…..

Arthur E. Lloyd III September 06, 2019

I would like to make a correction in my recent comments. Loomis colors are maroon and gray. Seventy three years away from the school has dulled my memory! In addition, I would like to nominate George H. W “Poppy” Bush, Yale ’48 to the Knit Tie Hall of Fame

Richard Pinto August 22, 2019

What a delightful note from Richard Pinto.

. . . The appearance of the multicolored knit ties as the winter of 1945/46 subsided and the spring of 1946 appeared was like the welcome blossoming of the flowers and shrubs around the campus. The knit ties became the happy symbol of the rejuvenation of the life of the University. Every time I see one of your colorful knit ties, it reminds me of that happy time in my life.

There’s a short story or movie to be written about this.

Matthew Ginn August 20, 2019

Your mention of Loomis, Norrie Orchard and Yale brought back happy memories of my time in Windsor (‘45) and New Haven (’48). Mr. Orchard made us memorize all of the English kings (I never figured that one out) in senior English. Mr. B. was still Headmaster when I was there. I know that I had a school tie at Loomis. I think maybe both knit and rep (silver and purple) which I proudly wore at all times.

When I got to New Haven in July of 1945, WWII was still on and there were large contingents of Army and Navy students in ASTRP and V-12 programs still on campus. The predominant colors on the campus were the khaki and Navy blue of the trainees uniforms. The war ended in September of that year and most of the military programs were phased out over the next few months.

At the same time, discharged veterans (including George H.W. “Poppy” Bush) started returning in October for the fall term. Yale was on a three term full year cycle at that time. The colors on the campus were still Khaki and Navy blue, but now, the khaki was in the khaki uniform slacks the veterans brought with them and the Navy blue was in the blue blazers (purchased from J. Press and other vendors) that many people were wearing. However, there was one additional color component on campus; the multicolored knit ties of the organizations, fraternities, societies and clubs that started up again with the return of the veterans and the return of the University to a more normal schedule. The appearance of the multicolored knit ties as the winter of 1945/46 subsided and the spring of 1946 appeared was like the welcome blossoming of the flowers and shrubs around the campus. The knit ties became the happy symbol of the rejuvenation of the life of the University. Every time I see one of your colorful knit ties, it reminds me of that happy time in my life.

Richard Pinto August 19, 2019

Chi Psi
My Yale Chi Psi knit has long since worn out!

Arthur A. Diefendorf August 19, 2019

My father always wore a knit tie. I adopted knit tie wearing as a nod to my father and Fred Pressman, I would nominate Fred Pressman of Barneys’s New York, to your hall of fame and also nominate his capable protege, Peter Rizzo.

Stuart Goldblatt August 19, 2019

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