Rereading The Guns Of August, Barbara Tuchman’s 1962 bestselling treatise of the events leading to World War caused my hair to stand on end. The Tuchman critique of prewar opéra bouffe French army uniform mirrored her unrelenting take of turn of the century Europe.
“Not to excuse the British Empire adopting khaki after the Boer War,” Tuchman notes, “Germans were about to make the change from Prussian blue to field-gray. But in 1912 French soldiers still wore the same blue coats, red kepi, and red trousers they had worn in 1830.”
Le pantilon rouge c’est la France!
The Battle of the Marne cancelled that slogan. The outfits in the French trenches changed to meet current needs. It doesn’t take a History PhD to identify the quantity and quality of American change. Camel cigarettes and three-piece suits at the office? Assuming there’s still an office. The British army adopted khaki to meet the mark and J. Press follows the changing of the guard with Churchillian vigor. Here is a personal example.
Samuel Press Goodkind, great-great grandson of J. Press founder Jacobi Press provides a Press family perspective. Sam has immersed his J. Press wardrobe respecting what’s what of the past with his own trademark. He’s an executive search real estate headhunter who currently resides in a booming Brooklyn quarter, partially shedding his Greenwich, CT roots with an NYU degree and additional post-suburban street smarts.
Occasionally a suit requirement is called for. Sam meets the challenge with his J. Squeeze off-the-rack 9 oz. 100% Fox of England mid-weight worsted. Shirt and tie don’t sport Grandpa’s label. I surrender dear.
For walking my granddog Rolo (not pictured) or regular winter neighborhood jaunts, he often passes Brooklyn Bridge Park bundled in his superior Tweed herringbone topcoat, fabric woven by Magee of Ireland.
Blood runs deep in the Press family. Genes regenerate. Grandson Sam adheres to a top tier template bearing a personal wardrobe that displays unstinting workmanship of unerring good taste— template for today’s man.
It’s funny. I’m 64, but still think I speak from the youth perspective; I’m an artist and have always worked for myself, not ever “needing” a suit, etc. But some of my favorite personal items are my J Press OCBD flap pockets and my Brooks Bros camel double-breasted overcoat. Long live trad style!
Sam clearly embodies the Press generational grace and style as well as his own cool, casual vibe of his generation. Above all, the family wisdom is apparent which he carries with pride. Love all of you!
How did the huge bass get into his Press shirt?
A “huge bass in his Press shirt.” Cool. Potential logo?
Among authentic historians, Barbara Tuchman’s GUNS OF AUGUST has long been considered out of date, inaccurate, clumsy and a generally inaccurate narrative of the Great War. Winston Churchill’s six volume history of World War One, THE WORLD CRISIS, is an incalculably greater achievement. So is Solzhenitsyn’s AUGUST 1914 — and John Keegan’s THE FIRST WORLD WAR. “History is blind but man is not,” wrote poet and former Yale professor Robert Penn Warren in ALL THE KING’S MEN.
In his Minding The Store, Stanley Marcus, a pretty fair country merchant himself, confessed that he invariablhy looked people over and judged them by what they were wearing, and how they carried those clothes. Preparatory to my appearance before the Rhodes Committee in December 1967, I went down to NYC, thinking to find a better chance for a fit there, and bought a charcoasl double-breasted pin-stripe. It never fit really well, and I assign the responsibility to the J. Press floor-person who sold it to me. And I didn’t win the Rhodes. But this is a more complicated issue. There’s a feeling associated with certain pieces of clothes, they build you up and instill confidence. That failure was an anomaly, as I’ve alweays felt very well in J. Press (and Brooks) clothes. And my five years at Yale on the Rockefelller Foundation were more than I could hope for from the Rhodes Trust, which was very stingy even with a second year, as Stanley commented during my intervieew.
During last Sunday morning’s chill in Greensboro, North Carolina where I was responsible to be official greeter at our Episcopal parish I tossed on my frayed and in-need-of-mending J. Press raincoat made in Scotland with my Yale Divinity schoolboy muffler and felt so comfortable and protected and happy and blessed to welcome everyone to Church!
Good read on a beautiful and chilly Sunday morning.
Leaving the house now in Red Wing 9011’s, well-worn Wrangler jeans, green Shetland sweater, and J. Press Balmacaan coat.
Not strictly trad, but speckled with trad and personalized.
My father was a J. Press man, fedoras, camels hair coats, tweed on weekends and he always wore a button down – skeet shooting and even fishing. Someplace I have a photo of him with a huge bass in his Press shirt.
Forwarded to my grandson “Sam” Young!🤡