Categorical Imperative

Categorical Imperative

Pardon my conceit invoking 18th century German philosopher Immanuel Kant regarding the current decrepit condition of American menswear. Kant’s Categorical Imperative defines the commands or moral laws all persons must follow regardless of their desires or extenuating circumstances.

Guy Trebay, New York Times writer, who covers the intersection of style, culture, art, and fashion with a special emphasis on menswear recently proffered the question whether Presidents Biden, Obama, and Clinton, appearing together at a fund-raiser in open neck shirts, look casual or “a little disheveled”?

His column continues, “Was civilization nearing its end? Or were we yet again being reminded of the inexorable march from casual Friday to casual every day, and to a world in which chief executives dress like field hands and the only people who can be relied on to sport a suit and tie outside a courtroom are bodyguards and limo chauffeurs?”

Time for an upgrade. Dressing well is the best revenge and although hardly unconditional Kantian moral certitude, the locution suggests one’s personal humanity reaching for a loftier realm.

Maybe if the above CEO (dressed as field hand) were to peruse the new
J. Press Spring & Summer brochure and from its florid pages gift himself, bodyguard, and chauffeur respite from their previously mundane appearance, offering one and all: button down cotton oxford shirt, silk repp necktie with complementary blue blazer over white crash linen trousers.


Categorical Imperative for a post-Kantian Age
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The decline in all the civilized proclivities seems to be an unfortunate consequence of a society of men choosing to move away from individual responsibility, Liberty, and constitutional government toward the nefarious notions of social responsibility, socialism, and democracy. Thank you for the great post! There will always be those who think and dress for themselves.

Russell F

What ho Richard!

The comment is spot on.

Men’s fashion among those who should know better or wealthy enough to pay to know better has gone to the dogs- e.g. Zuckerberg with the gray T for all occasions.

No tie, or better yet T shirts worn with a suit are just the tip of the iceberg.

Ditto women- both men and women think gym clothes are appropriate wear for night or day-no matter the context or occasion.

Old school never goes out of fashion.

Thanks Richard for reminding us!

Winthrop Gardner

Could not agree more. No one should apologize for looking appropriate. Was at Hillstone in NYC last week and was proud to see they have an “attire” code printed that befits their ambience. Thank you for allowing those of us who still “dress up” everyday (J PRESS of course IVY) and can still hold our heads high.

Wagner MD William

CEOs dressing like “field hands?” Thank you and well said! One day, I was attending a business meeting. The attire was allegedly casual. Nevertheless, I wore the aforementioned blue blazer, a pink “ocbd” coupled with a blue and green Repp striped tie. And, yes, I believe the trousers were gray tropical wool. If not, it was starched khakis where the crease cut molecules. I was challenged for my pink shirt at an allegedly casual business meeting. My response simply was why does the color matter when the vast majority of folks in attendance looked like they slept under a bridge abutment and could use a haircut, shave and a bath…no offense intended to those poor souls who may be forced to this lodging. Thank you, Mr. Press!

Gerald (Gerry) Malmo, III

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