Thanks for the memory serving well-dressed gentlemen on the floor of J. Press in antediluvian times, but my genes also recall the flawless wardrobe of my dad, Paul Press, often cited by local New Haven cognoscenti, “The Cary Grant of York Street.”
His distinct personal appearance complemented his flawlessly tailored custom suits over blue oxford or end-on-end combed cotton crisp point collar shirts with abiding single crease tight knotted cravat, carefully folded foulard kerchief for jacket breast pocket, and Scottish argyle hosiery gartered over bespoke Lobb footwear. Yale Bowl Portal 16 provided a public stance for Dad chatting up the football crowd draped in his 32 oz. Sandstone Scottish Melton British Warm Coat, English reversible silk/cashmere muffler, topped by Fritz Hückel signature Tyrolean hat accessorized with Gemsbart German Octoberfest feather hat pin. Paul Press may have graduated from University of Pittsburgh but his embellishment was Fence Club Eli Prime.
Utilizing the J. Press Made to Measure program, Dad’s past tailoring idiosyncrasies might today be translated for a customer’s personal style to include choices of jacket linings, differing lapel seams, side vent/center hook, two/three button style or single/double breasted. Suit, sport jacket and blazer pickings are backed to the hilt offering an encyclopedic selection of imported woolens and worsteds fabrics.
Attributing the demise of menswear to spiraling cost is phony baloney. Wall Street hedge fund billionaires interviewed by Fox Business in mailroom gear disproves the axiom. Add to the mix network newscasters costumed in costly dull black and grey as if lying on a bier at the Frank Campbell Funeral Chapel. Big time sports MCs show up between innings looking like Leave It To Beaver castaways.
H. L. Mencken’s jazz age metaphor,“ Sahara of the beaux arts,” pinpoints today’s fashion coverage featured in GQ or New York Times Fast Fashion.
Time for J. Press, an island unto itself, taking tasteful gentlemen back to the home of classic American Style:
Dressing Well Is The Best Revenge
I must say that I feel extremely fortunate to have known Mr. Paul Press—who often visited the New York J. Press Store back in the day when I worked there part-time, alongside my father, Hall of Fame Salesman Jerry Haber.One anecdote about Paul Press will always stick with me.One day, when I was working part-time at the New York store on a Saturday,a J. Press customer boldly exclaimed that Paul Press was such an amazing dresser that he was literally “A Walking Advertisement for the J. Press Store”.Hands down, Paul Press is easily one of the best-dressed men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
Just emailed this article to a nephew. I cannot tell you how important this article is especially for someone attempting g to enter either college or business. Its terrible to see how poorly some people dress for most occasions requiring appearance. I hope it has the influence intended.
Collars past and present
My own preference as an undergraduate began with the OCBD version, preferably when on sale at Strawbridge or John Wanamaker in Philadelphia. With the dawn of pinpoint and utter disregard for novelties in chambray, seersucker or linen (whisper broadcloth) I became a total, if temporary adherent of pinpoint. Totally in good taste, I returned permanently to oxford cloth in versions by Gitman, Gant, Mercer, Brooks (past) and the singular J. Press with or wthout pocket. As to who produced the coveted collar with the most enticing roll I hesitate to choose.
Well, in honor of this thread I wore a brand new Press blue w/white stripe OCBD with my 20+ year old tan Press cotton suit and it worked spectacularly well. Thanks again Richard!
Thanks for responding to my question about OCBDs and suits! Now I have the definitive answer!
I’m always SO glad when I see new entries of Threading the Needle.
Been a fan ever since my DC days. Also a proud Pitt Law grad. How did Paul press end up at Pitt?
The correct title of H.L Mencken’s classic essay is THE SAHARA OF THE BOZART — but the sentiment is the same: the decline of an elegantly masculine wardrobe and the pride of dressing well. The Sahara is a desert, a wasteland, where there is a plethora of sand — where, that is, a plethora is a dearth and a dearth is a plethora. Like the squalid neglect of being well dressed on college campuses and elsewhere. As Frank Hazard in his short story THE WINDSOR KNIT writes: “He explained that he was invigorated when he was well-groomed and ‘crisp’ and so was enabled to fit resolutely into his own presence and the distinctive image of himself that he imminently cultivated.”
Great ,civilized times,in dress,speech,table manners,
My J.Press blazers have endured the frays of administrative work in the nursing home business for 40 years and now hang happily elbow-patched in my closet. But my two Pressidential suits are in excellent condition and are ready for new found success as I come out of retirement!
It’s interesting that, I never really equated the club collar and collar pin look with the Ivy look. I usually thought more Mott Street or Canarsie. So, there we go, even that picture gives a little insight. Thank you.
Mr. Evans hits the nail sqaurely on the head, “sense of self and the courtesy it expresses to others,” this last so often overlooked.
It is a lovely photo and and memory of your father. Did you father enlist the services of your custom tailors to get the “Cary Grant of York Street” look?
It is astonishing that men have abandoned classic style and proper dress. Thank heavens there are still a few outposts of civilization!
In addition to Dressing Well is the Best Revenge, I would add Penury is No Excuse.
My dad often wore OCBDs with a suit following the example of many best dressed J. Press CEOs.
Many at the top of the old ivy establishment in various settings didn’t give a goddamn about a university other than to be keyed to their program; the ivies were a known quality and a good achievement and status but also fairly normal and usual.
Dressing well doesn’t take all that much to accomplish, provided that one is paying attention, nor does it require an abnormally large bank account. However, dressing well has to matter, at least in two senses: what it says about my sense of self and the courtesy it expresses to others. Good taste, restraint and modesty go a long way to put others at their ease.
Hi Richard. I’m very curious as to the oxford cloth shirts your dad would wear with a suit. We often hear that oxford cloth is too informal for suits and best left to sport coats. Would your dad just wear a lighter “pinpoint oxford” with a suit, or would he wear a traditional heavy OCBD with a suit as well? Thx!
As usual, well stated. No further comment necessary as there is nothing more to say.,
Thank you for another great reminiscence, Mr. Press. “The Cary Grant of York Street” is exactly the right moniker for the stylish gentleman pictured above. I especially love the pinned club collar, and note that my collar pins came from none other than J. Press.