Kurt Vonnegut, author, playwright and “cultural critic at a critical moment,” kept several J. Press Tuxedos in his closet. A longtime loyal customer, he was “waited on” and faithfully served at our 44th Street emporium in the last half of the twentieth century by longtime J. Press sales associate Ken Trommers. Vonnegut attended many formal events as one of New York’s great twentieth century literary celebrities. It’s unlikely he ever suffered the indignity suggested by one of his self-referential characters in his novel, Breakfast of Champions. “He dabbed at his Tuxedo with a damp rag, and the fungi came away easily…maybe they invited me because they know I have a Tuxedo.”
Formal occasions have become “de rigeur” for such a wide range of events today that the J. Press Dinner Jacket - appropriate for all-season formal wear - has become virtually an indispensible mainstay of a complete wardrobe. Over the years J. Press has set the rules and sometimes changed them. Note my grandfather’s advertisement, Dress Suits and Cutaways in the Yale Daily News, October 19, 1915. But nowadays Classic Black Tie Formal doesn’t even have to be Black Tie anymore as attested to by the Blackwatch Tartan Cummerbund and Tie combination worn under the J. Press Shawl Collar tuxedo in our current Fall & Winter Brochure.
The perceptible increase in the wearing of Dinner Clothes is reinforced by the viability of our Classic Shawl Collar tuxedo, tailored to our specifications, featuring jet black 10 oz. lightweight finespun dress worsted wool cloth, natural shoulders, satin facing, concealable pocket flaps, steep center-hook vent and plain front trousers. The classic J. Press superfine white mercerized cotton formal shirt serves appropriate accompaniment featuring a point collar, coat style with box center front, knife-pleated to bottom hem and double cuffs. A suitable longterm investment for all-season wear.
Twentieth century formal wear came full circle from its old money genesis at the Tuxedo Park Club in upstate New York Orange County to rather different circumstances at the Cotton Club in uptown Harlem. Comedian, singer, stride pianist Fats Waller let the good times roll with his 1935 top of the charts hit,
Gotta sew a button on my vest,
Cause tonight I’ve gotta look my best,
Lulu’s back in town.