In 2011, long before the COVID pandemic, a doctor’s association in New York supported banning neckties for doctors after a study revealed that the dangling strips of silk can transmit bacteria leading to infection. This would have been devastating news during the Heyday of Ivy Style in the 1950s and beyond when J. Press sold countless caduceus ties in school colors for the Yale, Harvard, and Columbia med school fans. One of our celebrity patrons included New Haven resident and Yale alumnus Dr. Benjamin Spock.
In 1968 more than 10,000 ties were randomly packed in corrugated boxes strewn about the shipping room on the mezzanine of our 44th Street store. Every morning the downstairs crew grabbed handfuls tossing them onto the tie counters surrounding the center stairwell.
They were never imprisoned in glass showcases. Jacquard Macclesfields began the merry followed by Repp stripes, Wool Challis, Ancient Madders, Silk Knits and seasonally appropriate bleeding India Madras. Irving Press, my uncle and boss, habitually strode around the counters messing them up, making them an irresistible petting zoo for customers to stroke, finger and feel.
Grasshopper was our signature emblematic tie in our New Haven campus store. The slim 3” navy ground was emblazoned by thick yellow insects. Gossip on York Street spread the tale of a Smith girl asking her Yalie date if the tie he was wearing signified membership in a club. He responded he was “tapped” by Grasshopper.
The emblematic tie ensemble provided either a jungle or barnyard of pigs, geese, wild turkeys, mallard ducks, tigers, elephants, bulldogs and horses. Adjoining was a silk locker room of squash rackets, golf clubs, and lacrosse sticks. Wall Street was not to be denied a bull and bear. And let’s not leave out beer mugs and martini glasses.
How will it out in the new Year? J. Squeeze dreams the impossible dream of a post-COVID necktie revival. We placed our bet with a full presentation of past favorites, still on top of the counter to touch and feel.
I tie my tie, you tie your tie
I have always been a tie aficionado, and own hundreds upon hundreds of ties purchased over many years. My wife and I always dress in a complementary way for church, and she knows the routine: on Saturday morning, I ask her to select her clothes for the next morning’s service. Then I select a tie that looks great with her clothing, and finally I select the suit (in an appropriate weight) that looks best with the tie (and with her outfit). The pastor is aware of our little sartorial game, and once when my wife wore a bright turquoise dress and I appeared wearing a brown suit the pastor approached me after the service and asked — “What happened???”
I sometimes find myself being the only person in the dining room wearing a tie. However, I continue to wear them – I feel undressed without one.
Someone made reference to the prohibitive cost of ties for younger people. Would it be possible to have some kind of a tie promotion program i.e. a lower priced “first time tie wearer” program? Or a shirt plus tie package? Or, “wear a tie on Friday” program?
All the best,
I am as comfortable in a tie and jacket as I am in a a T shirt and jeans. I hope that the style never goes away and that the young men will realize that to be a professional you must dress like a professional (in a jacket and tie).
I must have two hundred ties dangling from the tie racks in my closet. How often does one wear a tie any longer? Maybe a dozen times a year, given how tings are today. After all, it’s become impossible to tell the law firm partners from their mail room staff!
The J. Press Yale Sports tie is my all-time favorite! It’s a conversation starter with any former jock who’s introduced to me. Almost every former jock wants to see if his sport is on the tie… then reminisce about the good old days. Me, too!
Here are the sports sewn on the tie blade:
• Track & Field
… and Handsome Dan, the Yale Bulldog Mascot!
My youngest Son played Varsity Football and Lacrosse in High School and was recruited to play Varsity Lacrosse at Yale.He played all 4 years at Yale. His Old Man played Football and ran Track in High School and was recruited to run Track at his college…. which I, too, did for 4 years.
Thanks to all who replied. I loved Gerard Casey’s comment likening CNBC anchors without ties and with stubble to Iranian government officials. Mr. Press, I met you in the New York store decades ago and have never forgotten your courtesies Thanks for keeping alive one of the rudiments of Western civilization as seen in the tie. I have hundreds of them packed in my closet dating back to the 60’s, including three or four grasshopper ties in various shades. It is encouraging in these dark days to know that there are still gentlemen of taste and style active in America. Keep up the writing and the encouragement. More of us need to be heard from!
Indeed the tie, no matter the knot or style, completes the look for any well-dressed man. However, if we desire the next generation to adopt this principle, we will need to introduce a line at a price point that caters to that generation’s culture of cost discipline. Expensive ties are luxuries these young gentlemen can ill-afford as they wrestle with mounds of student debt and COVID-related job cuts and furloughs. How about it then? And while we’re at it — an affordable pair of pajamas to introduce these young men to the palatable pleasures of “dressing for bed” in the late evening . . .
I have winnowed my tie collection but still add one if hard to resist: worn mostly in SF, NYC and London; and formal events.
JPress=superb ties. I taught secondary school for years. One day, a student remarked, “cool tie, bro”. Of course, it was none other than a JPress necktie. On another occasion, I was dining out just before an evening meeting. I was kitted out in a tweed jacket and tie. As I left, a patron said, “Physician?” I replied no. “Attorney?” No again, and I replied “Latin teacher”. I owe those two memories to JPress.
Any attorney caught in the Norfolk (VA) Courthouse without a coat & tie is in jeopardy of being found in contempt. Keep those ties & letters coming in 2021!
I am a Physician associate (PA) and wear a tie every day to clinic. It never flops out from my suit jacket, odd jacket or sweater, to get in contact with patients, and is no more infectious than any other item of clothing that clinicians may wear. Patients often mention that it is no longer common to see a clinician “dressed up”, and compliment me on my professional appearance.
“Coat and tie” was obligatory attire for dinner at DePauw’s fraternities in the mid-’60s. Waiters in starched white jackets served the meal at each table on real china service, and coffee was served in cups with saucers. The meals were all prepared from scratch by our African-American cook.
Gerard, you have touched on two of my pet peeves: two or three days’ facial hair growth is somewhere between raggedy and gross. And, a sport coat or blazer without a tie can look OK, depending on the occasion. But a suit without a tie is always incomplete, wrong, or stupid.
Mr. Press, I have full confidence in a necktie revival. A suit without a tie looks unfinished. As for a sportscoat, it also looks half finished without a splash of silk or wool challis at the collar.
Now is the time to corner the market! Necktie lovers, buy as many as you can!
Richard Press’s recollections as the Nation’s premier clothier have brightened many spirits during this “Annus Horribilis.” Thank you.
Happy New Year! Love knowing your uncle purposefully messed up the ties to encourage customers to touch them. I love to pick up a tie and check them out but always embarrassed to put them back properly! Perhaps the one piece of clothing a man can truly use to be an individual. Thank you for sharing your memories.
Once again Mr. Press has made the day for those of us in the remnant who live in flyover country. Wishing him the best with the hope that the crusade for sartorial common sense continues in the New Year.
During the era on which you are focused, the eminent Dr. Rocco Fasanella, ophthalmologist, and Dr. Richard Selzer, writer and surgeon, were also patrons of Press . . . As for neckties: not the knot— it’s the fabric that counts.
How I miss your ancient madders. Nothing like them even in Jermyn Street.
Best wishes for a prosperous 2021.
“An untied man is an untidy man.”
Sears catalogue, 1897.
Wonderful piece. Love the grasshopper. Keep up the good work. Jim Foley, St. Louis, MO
I’m a physician and still wear a tie everyday that I’m in the office – scrubs in the hospital. I’ve fixed the “dangling” issue with a tie clip!
JFK killed the hat business and turned Danbury into a ghost town overnight. Obama killed the necktie business with his Joe Cool look. Most executives that now appear on CNBC are tieless and with their facial stubble resemble Iranian government officials. I bet the sales volume for ties in your business are way down. Sad. The tie is as to a work of art as a suit is to its frame.
That explains why many doctors wear bow-ties; no dangling. Many of us prefer bow-ties because it’s nearly impossible to spill one’s lunch on them.
Always a great collection in the Harvard Square days still a great selection on line.