Here is this full prep lifestyle shirt rolled in pink cotton percale

Prep, that assemblage of old-fashioned WASPy sartorial idioms, is back, and as the fashion press has noted, this revival comes at a time when some of the essential preppy purveyors are back on their penny-loafer heels. . J. Crew is bankrupt; Brooks Brothers was bankrupt last year.

B-Squared has a new chief designer for men, Michael Bastian, under whom the company will have to find its legs clad in flannel. Bastian is not without preppy good faith, having interpreted the look of the East Coast establishment with humor for the GANT brand in Europe. He recently unveiled his “vision” for Brooks Brothers. The first goal was far from inspiring: “I’m focusing on building up our sportswear assortment,” Bastian said in a message to company customers. The idea is “to attract new customers and to become more [a] complete lifestyle brand.

I won’t dwell on how the miserable phrase “complete lifestyle brand” puts my teeth on edge. But let me add that the company doesn’t need to become a lifestyle brand, because it has long been synonymous with a distinctive American lifestyle. Anyone can call themselves a “full-fledged lifestyle brand,” but only Brooks Brothers can claim to have made the black frock coat Abraham Lincoln wore the night he went to see Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater.

Lincoln’s clothing, in its sobriety, if not severity, was uniquely American. Or at least thought Pablo Picasso. The artist collected photos of Lincoln and showed his friends photos of the imposing man in black with the aesthetic appraisal: “There is real American elegance. Brooks could do worse than strive to be the company that defines what it is to be stylish in America.

Fortunately, Bastian seems to understand that his most important job is “to polish or revive the true ‘icons’ of our brand – those things the customer always expects to find at Brooks Brothers.

And how. For too many years, Brooks has neglected its unique product, the Oxford fabric button-down shirt. I bought a little too many of these shirts marred by imprecise button placement, a flaw that ruins the shape and drape of the collar. Can the Brooks Brothers Oxford Button Down Shirt be saved? The fate of the company may depend on it.

Bastian clearly consulted Lisa Birnbach’s Official Preppy Handbook. Birnbach writes: “The classic shirt is the Brooks Brothers all-cotton oxford shirt. Pink is the most famous color, and it’s widely believed that no one except Brooks has ever been able to achieve that perfect pink. She adds that “we should have the shirt also in yellow, blue and white”.

Only Brooks Brothers, says Birnbach, has ever achieved “that perfect roll to the neck.” Bastian says the “perfect” oxford “absolutely has to have that precise Brooks Brothers roll up to the neck.”

And how important is that? The roll of a Brooks Brothers oxford shirt collar has been a key marker of social status for more than a generation. Tom Wolfe – In the Esquire magazine article that made his name, “There Goes [Varoom! Varoom!] This Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby “- makes the Brooks Brothers necklace a replacement for all the class anxiety that comes with” the great amoeba god of Anglo-European sophistication that takes you East. “Wolfe explains, “One day you notice that the boss’s button-down shirt has that soft roll of percale, while yours has obviously been slapped in the face by keepers of mass production graphics saving an eighth of a dollar. [an] inch of fabric per shirt, twelve inches per bolt or the like. This, Wolfe writes, “is starting to eat away at you.”

According to Wolfe, the soft percale roll of the Brooks Brothers oxford shirt goes beyond fashion. That’s all that stands between you and [Yikes! Yikes!] the cruel social depredations of a ruthless amoeba god.

Hopefully Mr. Bastian appreciates the seriousness of what he has been entrusted with.

Eric Felten is the author of How’s Your Drink?

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Original author: Eric Felten

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