Topping the trad mountain range are twin peaks that dominate the landscape: Brooks Brothers and J. Press. While the former is the Big Daddy of trad and prep consensus, J. Press is the backbone of the Ivy League Look. What’s the difference between the two styles you ask? Allow my imagination to vomit some imagery:
Brooks Brothers. Harvard Boy. WASP. 1962. Don Draper. Ask Andy Forums. OCBD, Chinos, Bluchers. Making The Grade. Madison Avenue. Ronald Regan. Classic All-American
Ivy League Look
J Press. Yalie. Jew. 1955. Pete Campbell. Film Noir Buff Forums. Shetland Crewneck, Wool Slacks, Pennies. The Good Shepard. Wall Street. John F. Kennedy. Clean Cut Academic.
J. Press was founded in 1902 by a Jewish immigrant from Lativia named Jacobi Pressin the Yale town of New Haven, CT. For over a hundred years, the gentleman’s outfitter has been synonymous with the elite Ivy League universities and the resulting TNSIL (The Natural Shoulder Ivy League Look- referring to absent shoulder padding in suits and sportcoats).
Founder Jacobi Press at the first J.Press store in New Haven.
J. Press as seen in Take Ivy
J. Press’s appeal is its exclusivity. The fact that you own a Press item or can spot the brushed shetland wool of a Shaggy Dog puts you in a special club deserving of Skulls and Bones snobbery. Any preppie and fratstar can have a dozen Brooks Brothers OCBDs in their closets, but a true connoisseur of classic New England style will have Press thoroughly represented in his collection. A few Shaggies in GTH colors of Salmon and Kelly Green and neutral colors of Grey and Navy. Medium Grey flat front wool slacks. An array of OCBDs with the famous Flap Pocket, a trad mannerism ubiquitous of J.Press. And if you’re lucky enough to call Yale your Alma mater, a Press patchfrom your college of study adorned on your 3/2 roll natural shouldered blazer, which I consider Press to be the brand of choice for your blue blazer due to their academic background.
Unlike Brooks and its nationwide locations in shopping malls and airports, J. Press has garnered its high esteem with only four stores in America in New Haven, Cambridge, New York, and Washington DC, and a few in Japan, as well as keeping a minimalist feel to its website. You won’t see fashion models or campaigns in Press’s online catalog; nor branching out into women’s and children’s clothing. J. Press has always focused on traditional men’s tailoring, and under ownership of Onward Kashiyama, which acquired the rights from the Press family in 1986, J Press continues to have its golden influence on the Ivy League look. Gotta leave it to our Japanese brothers for keeping Trad and TNSIL alive! (note: Take Ivy was written by a Japanese author for the Japanese market)
With Press’s current summer sale (as of this post date: 30 to 40% with additional 20% off on select items with code SUMMER20), I pretended not to have a budget and splurged on staple items from the Bulldog to mix with the ocean of Golden Fleece and Ponies in my closet. I don’t mind spending extra on what some may consider trivial items, as these are quality essentials that I hope will last for the rest of my life.
Been had Press.
OCBD: $55 each from original $100
Shaggy Dog: $110 from $195 (lowest I’ve seen them go)
Super 110′s Trousers in Medium Grey: $140 from $250
Lambswool Scarf: $33 from $60
The trim fit, new for the 110th Anniversary collection, is surprisingly true-to-name. Slimmer than Brooks Brother’s Slim Fit but roomier than their Extra Slim Fit. A nice go-between. Made in USA and with the legendary flap pocket.
More of that delicious Made in USA goodness. The dress slacks are offered in regular, short, and high rise. I decided to go with the fashionable short rise, which I’m happy to report is not hipster restricting in the crotch area. The pants are nicely cut, but Press does offer a slimmer, albeit pricier, 110th anniversary trouser with back belt loop, made in Brooklyn.
Stocking up for winter. Kelly Green Shaggy with Shetland wool made in Scotland. The 2011 model (closeout price) is slimmer than years past, which really means it now fits regular. You can spot a fellow Shaggy by the brushed wool which gives the sweater its lamb coat appeal, as well as the ribbed wrists that are meant to be cuffed, as seen in the first collection picture above. A medium fits my 6’1″ 180lb frame well. I could possibly get away with a small if I wanted a trim look.
The famously Scottish Drsgdn Tartan has a play of dark greens, blues, and yellows, perfect to compliment my clothes in the colder months.
Insider protip: J.Press occasionally holds a warehouse clearance sale where their old stock can be had for up to 70 to 80% off original price (ex. Shaggy Dogs for $50). Unfortunately, these sales only take place in New York City on the 29th Floor of 530 Seventh Ave, which happens to lie in the heart of the city’s Garment District. However, even more unfortunate is the recent news among trad circles that Press is doing away with this practice, having just cancelled a planned clearance sale this summer. Damn, what a shame. I was looking forward to visiting one day and having an orgasm.
Read more about the history of J. Press from Ivy Style’s interview with Richard Press, the grandson of Jacobi Press.