GQ described New York-based haberdasher Duncan Quinn as “rock ‘n roll meets Savile Row,” which well captures its combination of traditional tailoring with flashy colors and patterns.Â Izzy is particularly taken with this fleur de lis necktie, a bold take on a classical shape.Â Alas, at $255 only French monarchs are likely to afford it.
The poet Walt Whitman once rhapsodized:
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
But that apologia for inconsistency surely doesn’t excuse Sean Penn’s combining a 1950s rockabilly pompadour with a nineteenth-century-style shirt and tie.Â To Izzy’s eyes, chronological contradictions can be the most disagreeable.
While visting Cannes for the screening of Che, his bio-pic of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, director Steven Soderbergh sported a beard that extended down beneath his shirt collar.Â Given that Soderbergh is usually clean-shaven, can there be any doubt that he disposed of his razor (and good sense) in homage to Che’s neck beard, which made him look like he had a lion’s mane?
It may seem like just a minor thing, but Izzy can’t stand that unusually high top button (or is it a stud?) on George Clooney’s shirt.Â By being so close to the bow tie, it ruins the simplicity appropriate to formal wear.Â And by the way, given the gap between the lapel and his shirt collar, Brad Pitt’s jacket appears to be too small around the chest.
A Continuous Lean has kindly scanned in some pages from J. Press catalogs from the late 1950s and early 1960s.Â Looking at the images, it’s amazing to see how little has changed at the ultra-preppy store, which still sells narrow ties and Shaggy Dog shetland sweaters.Â Â Among the store’s current offerings, Izzy is keen on these bow ties made of raw silk, a shimmering material that prevents them from appearing stodgy.
In one of Izzy’s favorite episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm, the neurotic protagonist is highly annoyed by extra trouser fabric bunching up over his crotch. But the “pants tent,” as Larry David calls it, is a phenomenon that occurs only when he sits down, which makes the ill-fitting crotch on these Banana Republic trousers even more inexcusable.
If Jay-Z is a mixmaster at combining patterns, Matthew Broderick is totally whack.Â Not only do the dimensions of the stripes and checks clash, but the colors create a big stew of ugly.Â Even more shabbily, Broderick’s thinning hair is unkempt, his jacket is too wide at the shoulders (note the pucker), and his saggy taupe corduroys ensure that he looks all washed up.Â How could Sarah Jessica Parker let him go out in public like this?
As if it wasn’t enough to have a reputation for playing imbalanced, crazy characters, Christopher Walken let his bow tie rest at a disturbing angle.Â That lack of left-right symmetry is all the worse for someone, like himself, born with heterochromia.
Bill Cunningham, the famed New York Times street-fashion photographer, has created a new audio slideshow, in which he notes that pocket squares seem to be making a comeback, especially on men who aren’t wearing neckties. As a proponent of judiciously chosen ornament, Izzy thinks this is happy news.
Speaking of the joys of people-watching, as the weather is increasingly conducive to walks in the city, it’s worth remembering some lines from Walt Whitman:
Keep your splendid, silent sun;
Keep your woods, O Nature, and the quiet places by the woods;
Keep your fields of clover and timothy, and your corn-fields and orchards;
Keep the blossoming buckwheat fields, where the Ninth-month bees hum;
Give me faces and streets! give me these phantoms incessant and endless along the trottoirs!
Give me interminable eyes! give me women! give me comrades and lovers by the thousand!
Let me see new ones every day! let me hold new ones by the hand every day!
Give me such shows! give me the streets of Manhattan!
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Despite being a designer and having all the money in the world, Tommy Hilfiger’s jacket is clearly too tight in the middle (note how the fabric pinches and the tie peeks through below the button). Maybe he’s spent too much time lifting weights at the gym. Indeed, his whole appearance gives the impression that he’s trying too hard: the gangster-bold pinstripes, the flashy tie in a color that’s “off,” the helmet hair, the steroidal neck, chest, and face. Hilfiger simply does not look comfortable in his own skin.
Now here’s a t-shirt message Izzy can subscribe to: a gentleman in a tweed suit, high collar,Â and spats demonstrating civilization to an attentive boy, dressed with restraint.Â And the slogan is both perfect and true.Â The artist is Edward Gorey, who was famed for his vaguely ominous illustrations of Victorian and Edwardian subjects.Â But there’s nothing discomfiting here, except maybe the boy’s stiff collar.
While reading the obituary for publisher Simon Michael Bessieâ€”who edited writers including Daniel J. Boorstin, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Kenneth Tynan, and Elie Wieselâ€”Izzy came across this passage about Bessie’s attempt to track down John Cheever, the novelist and chronicler of a vanishing WASP world:
As Susan Cheever recounts it in a memoir of her father, â€œHome Before Darkâ€ (1984), Mr. Cheever had offered the novel to Random House in 1954, but the publisher turned it down. In despair, he rented a house that summer on Nantucket Island, took his family there and continued working on the novel. One day, as Cheever was staring out the window, a sailing yacht appeared in the harbor and dropped anchor. A man in white flannels and a double-breasted blazer was rowed ashore in a dinghy and announced in the voice of a literate aristocrat to the small crowd that had gathered to greet him, â€œIâ€™m looking for John Cheever.â€
â€œIt was Simon Michael Bessie,â€ Ms. Cheever writes, â€œa senior editor at Harper & Row, and he had come to buy â€˜The Wapshot Chronicle.â€™ â€
It’s worth noting that although Bessie was not himself a WASP, he clearly knew how to dress the part.