Threading the Needle ~ Campus Corduroy
Alan Pakula, a years past J. Press regular and the 1976 director of the film All The President’s Men, made certain Robert Redford portraying Yalie reporter Bob Woodward appeared in a corduroy suit. Pakula at the time told me he was sending Redford over to the store believing the outfit discreetly suggested Woodward’s days at Yale. I dutifully sold him the suit on the balcony of our 44th Street emporium as he willfully ignored my attempts at social repartee. He was all business.
Despite the social discord, today if Redford might allow me the opportunity to show him cords, I could present him plenty more shades then the light tan we carried 46 years ago. A salesman has got to dream, boy.
Times have changed since our old-guard employees derisively referred to corduroy suits as “rags and bones for the scholarship boys.” Many Yale profs without a trust fund benefit supplanting their modest professorial paycheck, masqueraded their low professor’s salary in corduroy suits attempting parity with wealthier peers puffing Owl Shop Briar Pipe, brows perched by horn rim glasses unlike their peers parading around York Street in bespoke J. Press tweed.
My recent appearance at the new 262 Elm Street store occasioned the pleasure of toasting the event with Yale Professor Jay Gitlin, appropriately clad in 1950s Hollywood movie-professor gear. Professor Gitlin, Senior Lecturer in history, graciously invited me to lecture for the next winter term at his wildly popular class “America and Yale.” I had made a similar appearance years back and in 2012 escorted the professor and his class on a lecture-tour of the successful Fashion Institute of Technology seminar “Ivy Style.”
Prof. Gitlin expressed enthusiasm teaching the course in a Yale Historical Review interview: “Students don’t necessarily want to be the way old Yale was, but they are curious to know what it was like and how it has changed. And honestly, I’ve been here for such a long time, I’ve seen a lot of those changes, so it’s fun to teach. I get to hear great stories from people like….” Hope he includes my name after the winter class sermon.
The J. Press intramural relationship with Yale has been further established by our new shop adjacent to the Yale campus next door to Davenport College together with our premise on 44th Street side of the New York City Yale Club.
Bulldog, bulldog, Bow Wow Wow, Eli Yale
Speaking as a woman, a cord suit with matching vest is overkill, and somewhat humorous, but the pants alone with a wool jacket are sexy as hell.
Ripskidi-ay there; get there, stay there. Roka pika boka pika,
Bow wow boom boom.
Among the generous variety of tweeds, herringbones and worsteds to be found at J Press and its competitors, a corduroy suit was an inviting and relaxed fabric variation.
Some years ago on a Nantucket Main Street corner, a summer outpost of a
Press competitor – perhaps Lauren or Brooks – prominently featured a traditional shade corduroy suit in the display window. Such was the response that, on special request, a matching vest was available. Years later that location and the described
garment moved on to other locales in Manhattan and Cambridge. My 3 piece corduroy is now in a seasonal closet, but today’s cord trousers are readily available in a veritable rainbow of colors.
I love corduroy trousers. Not jackets and vests. And I think I will get me a pair of Press corduroys this winter; I have bought a pair of Brooks Brothers corduroys that, though beautifully made, were too narrowly cut. But I will wear them as casual trousers. But I love wearing corduroy pants with tweed sport coats.
There is a certain softness about corduroy fabric that made it especially fitting for the late ‘60s and early ’70s crowd of American college men—-those of us who hadn’t experienced the heavy Harris Tweed of our older brothers or the tattered proletarian look of our younger cousins. Country Corduroy was everywhere from Freeport to New Haven, and I was proud to wear it.
Sir: You have just described the Number 1, go to, show up and teach Hopkins Grammar School suit warn through the 60’s and 70’s. Just the jacket, just the pants, both if needed. These educators knew how to stretch a budget.