The Dignity of Proper Dress

The Dignity of Proper Dress

J. Press survives the current menswear mayhem as an island of good taste. Let’s play make believe allowing my old role as prelapsarian (look it up) advisor on the sales floor when customers asked my advice what to wear and how to wear it.

Certain public events require sartorial dignity. Imagine Justice Roberts with a hoodie and Grandpa jeans peeking out beneath his judicial robe. It will be interesting to see if victory elevates Pennsylvania candidate John Fetterman out of cargo shorts and into a suit and tie on the senate floor. Dare we forget Congressman Gym Jordan habitually disemboweling his suit jacket. If Jack and Jackie were still around, I doubt if their Newport wedding attire would be Bermudas.

A couple of years ago I spoke before Prof. Jay Gitlin’s history course Yale and America. My ticket was J. Press’ contribution to Yale and Ivy League culture. One of the students queried me, “Mr. Press, when I graduate in a couple of months and go for a job interview, I expect to wear a suit. I’ve never owned one and have no idea how to dress it up. What do I do?”

Needless to say, I directed him to J. Squeeze and offer the following git-go to negligent Millennials, Gen Zs or Boomers.

Get thee a dark grey mid-weight worsted suit. My personal preference is a muted pin or chalk stripe. Button the three-button natural shoulder jacket over a white Oxford button-down shirt paired with an Irish Poplin dark blue regimental stripe tie, lace-up cordovan shoes and a matching plain leather belt. Ought to work for most occasions whereas a blue suit requires black shoes and belt are outré for daytime wear.

Never, I repeat never ever, wear a suit without a necktie. You can never be too rich, too thin, or too well dressed. No tie, you ain’t turned out According to Hoyle.

Following the Yale class lecture that evening the erudite and well-attired Professor Gitlin introduced me to a booze-filled spiel at the elegant Elizabethan Club before a very tweedy J. Press crowd.

A good time was had by all with no torn jeans in the room.



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I’d like to join Bren Sullivan in his sincerity when mentioning the cozy Mt. Auburn Street, one time location of J. Press, close to Harvard Square. That was a favorite destination of mine in Cambridge, where my routine was to carefully study the contents of the intmate display windows before entering. Again, like Mr. Sullivan, I was greeted by Denis Black and immediately felt at home in the cozy store. Denis knew his customers and was appropriately welcoming and ready to offer what might please them from his inventory. One always left feeling well served in anticipation of wearing the items he bought. As the song goes: " the memory lingers on."

Stan Pilshaw

Discussion of proper coordinating footwear and varying opinions on the correct occasion for style and color takes me back to my pre Ivy days in small town Massachusesetts. Before I knew the difference between wing tip, captoe and loafer, cordovan and white buck, I discovered a busy small factory with the name Alden displayed on the exterior. In those days when small town New England was the thriving center of shoe manufacturing, Alden was the emerging source for expensive quality footwear. Many years later, when the shoe industry fled to St. Louis and the “new” South, the name Alden still displayed its original location in small town Middleboro, Massachusetts. To this day Alden is a prime source for the finest in mens’ footwear. Those who can pay the price would attest to that.

Stan Pilshaw

This topic deservedly generated an outburst of thoughtful opinion including some seldom mentioned appropriate footwear for time of day and wearer’s choice of garment color. Reassuring to read of what truly constitutes good taste in this time of excessive facial hair and tieless dress shirts inside sport coats or suit jackets. While not discarded, my own carefully stored collection of
silk and irish repps, foulards, horizontal striped knits, paiselys and ancient madders wait reassuringly to complete the oufit of the occasion. Can one ever be too correct – or too thin?

Stan Pilshaw

Apologies to M. T. Cole for ommision of my name in message approving of his always tasteful choices in menswear.
Stan Pilshaw
Aug. 16, 2022

Stan Pilshaw

I’d say to Milton Thomas Cole: Your choice of blue blazer (hooked rear center vent, please), cuffed charcoal wool trousers, white or blue OCBD shirt and striped repp four-in-hand would take the wearer to any respectable environs.

Stan Pilshaw

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