When Anything Goes
“Leave The Sweat Shirt at Home. Dining Dress Codes Are Back,” declared @nytimes several weeks back. Social media has been awash with controversy regarding the post.
Menswear blogger Derek Guy @dieworkwear exposes a matrix of the genre picturing Pennsylvania Democratic senate primary winner John Fetterman garbed in his populist campaign street style cargo shorts with defeated opponent Conor Lamb, poor Ivy Style lamb.
The Yale Club of New York next to J. Press has reset rules relieving the pain that the former coat and tie requirement might have rendered current woke alumni members. Cole Porter Yale ’13, might well turn over in his grave observing old Boola Boola Eli Yale Club costumed as if from a verse in his classic Anything Goes.
The rulebook unequivocally states, “On a temporary basis, the following changes will be in effect: Denim Pants: neat, clean, and in good repair (no holes, rips, or tears) are permitted throughout the entire Clubhouse. Shorts are permitted within the Clubhouse from Memorial Day to Labor Day, provided they are not made of denim, or athletic in nature. Athletic shorts are only permitted in the athletic facilities. Non-athletic shoe wear that has a “sneaker-like” sole is permitted throughout the entire Clubhouse.” Not permitted: tee shirts, tank tops, casual sandals (such as flip flops or Birkenstocks), athletic wear of any kind (including sweatpants, caps, cross-trainers, or tennis shoes, and team jerseys), and torn, provocative, or revealing clothing.
The upscale restaurant cited in aforementioned NY Times article, Les Trois Chevaux, upstages the Yale Club hanging E-Bay looking “blazers” practically on a dry-cleaning rack to redress their coatless social climbing patrons.
Jack and Charlie late of their lamented “21 Club” offered their Peter Arno archetype coatless patrons the choice of well-tailored proxy Sport Coats quietly stored in the back of the cloakroom. Their coat and tie gospel was a well-kept secret among the cognoscenti.
Times have changed. Holding the fort against hoi polloi Slobbovia may be a losing proposition in Circus Americanus. Rules are made to be broken.
In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking but now, God knows Anything Goes
Shame on the Yale Club and all the others who insist on being-what the call-“comfortable.” I am always comfortable properly dressed with a bespoke suit and a proper tie. Our culture is disintegrating. No disrespect to another comment, but using the exaggerated climate change issue is absurd. Gentlemen always dress like a gentleman should and not succumb to the unwashed mob.
I hope that if Mr. Fetterman wins the seat, he’ll show the office the respect it merits and resume dressing like a grownup. (Pre-campaign life, he was no stranger to it.)
NPR currently has a story about teenagers dressing in suits to see the latest Minions movie. Meme-wear or not, it’s nice to see.
During my days at Harvard we were required to wear jacket & tie to all meals. A long gone
rule. I remember long ago at the Broadmoor Hotel (as a pre teen) having to return to our room to get a tie to have dinner at the Tavern.
Seeing the above comment about travel attire, on a recent trip it seemed the amount of clothes worn was inversely proportionate to the number of tattoos.
I thought we “jumped the shark” when I saw a pair of peanut butter brown dress shoes paired with grey and dark suits (pegged pants etal). The classic black tasseled loafer or horse bit slip on has apparently went the way of the Gremlin or Studebaker too.
I honestly think there’s a mind glitch at work, like the fatso who simply doesn’t see what he/she looks like. Just as we think ourselves as sleek and svelt, so we think ourselves well-turned out and stylish. When did you last see any public figrre, except maybe for sport, e.g. golf, tennis, sailing, riding etc. who was’t in class A. Never. We just think we look like that.
So the two new American uniforms are shorts and flip flops in the day ; jeans and a t-shirt at night, maybe throw in a cheap canvas blazer. Ugh!
But the rise of temperatures due to climate change is real. Perhaps the southern Italian tailors can lead us in the right direction: lighter materials, unlined jackets, very little padding, etc.. JPress is already poised to go more in this direction with the classic, soft-shouldered look and pallet of traditional and bright colors.
As a socal resident, I would welcome a lighter weight shaggy dog sweater, for example.
As for addressing the original issue, let the slobs be. They just make the rest of us look even better. In fact, it is our duty to continue to dress well. By doing so, we are providing an education for those who need to be led out the cave.
Sadly, it is all relative. I remember when the ushers at Trinity Church Boston were required to wear morning coat and striped trousers for services on Sunday. Back when Ted Ferris was the fourteenth rector during World War 2. Later he was on the cover of Life magazine so dressed.
We can still dress to standards we wish and let the others dumb down. I for one wore an ancient J Press sport coat to St. Bart’s Sunday morning service yesterday with bar striped necktie.
This article impelled me to read anew a wonderful essay from 1936 by Albert Jay Nock entitled, “Isaiah’s Job.”
Just had dinner at one of the few remaining white table cloth restaurants in Asheville, NC. There are many outstanding restaurants but most lean to the less formal side.
Blue blazer, Reds, Alden’s. Got a lot of looks from the young slobs all around.
I think we are done when I see this but I know a number of young people who do not fit this mold. There may be hope.
O tempora! O mores! O place where Louie dwells!
There is no doubt that the trend in Mens’ clothing is toward informal. Part of this trend has to be due to climate change and the accompanying warmer temperatures. Even in France (where we are) most people are dressed very casually but when the temps are in the 90s who can caste blame? It’s a disappointing trend and one can hope for some redirection.
I agree in principle. Even my prep school, while in California, required coat and tie to dinner every night. Sunday nights was always school blazer (with crest) gray pants (wool preferred) and blue and gold regimental striped school tie. This went away several years back when it went to coat and tie 2 or 3 days a week. The coat and tie added a level of discipline to the most undisciplined. It required showering (sometimes the window between baseball practice ending and dinner starting was minutes. But you learned to be resourceful and quick) and it required grooming and a sense of what it meant to be a man. Not just a boy trying to get away with it. Believe it or not, so many of us exuded pride in this ritual, especially on Sundays.
Sadly, that has slipped. As, I fear, has the lessons learned from such a ritual. I can still tie a good looking tie in about 20 seconds. And, due to all of this… change…. I hardly wear one anymore. I wonder if the new graduated alums can say the same?
The historian Christopher Dawson pointed out that in the Modern Age, “we find the freedom of the personality threatened by the pressures of economic forces, and the HIGHER cultural values SACRIFICED to the LOWER STANDARDS of mass civilization.”
A pedestrian and indifferent dress code is the external manifestation of a paltry and languid state of mind — undisciplined and unimaginative, flaccid. The triumph of Stanley Kowalski in a ripped t-shirt. To paraphrase from DOCTOR ZHIVAGO by Boris Pasternak: Goethe was right — and the lower classes ultimately subvert and dismantle the higher standards of the upper classes.
I learned to dress up from my father, who was a sixth-generation German-American Hoosier truck farmer. Work hard outside all day with sleeves rolled up and donning a fedora. But when it came to Sunday “meeting”, put on the bespoke double-breasted suit with starched white shirt and suspenders, wing-tips, and a reverse-cameo Indian head ring.
Approximately 25 years ago I made reservations at the Water Club in NYC for a bachelor dinner for a party of 10. Without even confirming with the restaurant ,I told my friends that jacket and tie were required. Some were
quite annoyed to learn that this was not the actual dress code. I told them “too bad.”
Interesting article. It is clear that we are leaving in a “new abnormal”. Having said that, there is nothing wrong with adhering to a personal code of dressing appropriately and well under the circumstances. The world truly has changed but it does not mean that we should tolerate sloppy dress or boorish behavior. Karl Lagerfeld once said that sweatpants are surrender. I could not agree more-keep the flame alive J. Press. As long as you are around to set the standard, the barbarians will not breach the gate.
To misuse a dramatic book title I can honestly say that maintaining a wardrobe of classic clothing has occasionally qualified as a "Magnificent Obsession, " As you know very well the clothing industry seems to require “something new” at regular intervals. To me the experiments in "something new " often enter the absurd. Without JPress, Brooks Brothers and a small number of traditional clothing stores usually located in college towns, I would have great difficulty finding full collar generously cut buttondowns; anything in corduroy, seersucker or madras; bow and regimental striped ties and traditional loafers . All of these and many other traditional wardrobe items have given me the physical and mental certainty that I am appropriately attired anywhere, at any time in the last sixty years.
Thank you for excellent quality and timeless design in your clothing and for helping me maintain my Magnificent Obsession with traditional men’s clothing.
We should know rules are made to be broken. Witness our four years on the Hanover plain. Ours certainly was a Circus Americanus with an Ivy Stripe.
You are so right about the 21 club . I am 77 yrs old but can remember watching Sheldon Tanner or Jerry Burns watching at the door to make sure a person had a tie and coat before they came into the bar. I remember having to wear a blazer and tie at age 10 to have lunch with my father.
Airline wear is even worse. I still wear a blazer and small bow tie on a plane ( you get much better service )and sat next to a man recently in first class who was wearing a wife beater shirt.
Having recently relocated to a retirement community in Asheville NC, I seem to be one of only a few souls to wear a jacket to the upscale restaurant on our property. While a number of fellow retirees wear polos or OCBD’s without a jacket, a few are now beginning to dress a bit better. Having eaten through a drive in window or from a delivery app during Covid, it is nice to be able to dress a bit better now that things are somewhat returning to a more normal mode.
How far we have fallen!! The new Y club rules are awful. Return with me now to the days of school blazers and ties at St. Paul’s School in Garden City. Sit down served lunch….
Sad to see that once-venerable institutions have acquiesced to slobbery and there’s no excuse for it. It’s a tragic commentary on what has become of America and it is far less pronounced in Europe. Restaurants, public venues etc. could rigorously enforce dress codes and if anyone doesn’t like it…go elsewhere rather than forcing the rest of us well-dressed gentlemen to have to look at slobs while we’re dining. Mr. Press is correct…and I love his articles.