I don’t think the Kennedys thought too much about their clothes. But isn’t that one of the keys to having an element of enviable style? Not caring too much about your clothes? I’ve settled on calling it Trad Indifference. This feeble little concept came to me when I was reading Esquire magazine last night. You can be crazy about clothes but not give too much of a hoot regarding how you put them together and to me, that’s the trick. I’d say that the Duke of Windsor was clearly that way and my hunch is that the Kennedy clan operated from a similar position.
Adolph Menjou will always be my example of one who obviously spent tons of money on clothes but always looked too contrived in them. He was the opposite of Trad Indifference. I’d say he was Savile Row Retentive.
You don’t have to be a sartorial historian to conclude rather quickly that the Kennedys were subject to bespoken clothes at very young ages. But then again, even middle class folk had their clothes made at the turn of the century-but from less elite tailors.
Indifference only yields such style when it is manifest through Trad suppliers. Indifference to other genres of clothing would yield less than impressive results I’d say. I mean look at JFK above...how the hell did he tuck that shirt tail in like that? My bet is that even he couldn't tell you. Why? Because he was indifferent. And, he had to hurry back from taking a pee pee to jump into the picture with his brothers. Bobby has at least three layers on and I bet those khakis were on his bedroom floor that morning.
Shawl and Peak formal wear. It's all good and correct. But how correct would it need be? I bet there was never an angst laden debate between the Kennedy boys about how correct their formal attire was. Never did you have Bobby stammering and stamping his feet saying to young Teddy..."But we can't leave yet-tell the driver to wait...the grosgrain width of my bowtie doesn't match the grosgrain scale of my lapel". If Jack had heard this exchange he would have given Bobby a wedgie and admonished him to get his "faggy ass in the car".
As for off the peg items one can assume that the piles of Kennedy clothes came from J. Press, The Brethren, probably an item or two in the later years from Charlie Davidson’s Andover Shop and of course, most folks know that Chipp made JFK’s suits for a time. Look at the buttons on Kick's overcoat. Massive-the size of gas caps or Aunt Tootie's aereolas-not that I've seen them. Tintin told me.
And just what is it about Bobby's refusal to wear belts? Remember the picture of him in slippers and those checkiddy pants sans belt?
And Trad Indifference wasn't lost on Black Jack-Jackie's daddy. Turn those britches legs up when you need to.
Hard to see in this picture but JFK is wearing the Bass Weejun with the two eyelet tie. I'd kill for a pair of those. I'd kill and maim for a pair in Navy Damn Blue. Shut up-for the first time in twenty oh ten.
And of course the ubiquitous JFK Wayfarers.
I loved hiring kids right out of undergrad when I was a hiring manager in the pharma industry. I wasn't much more than a kid myself-being a prodigy and all. The guys I hired sometimes had the proper clothes for the job but often times they didn’t. When they were lacking, I took them to Brooks Brothers and on my own dime would buy them the requisite Trad Starter Kit. Even if they didn’t like clothes or didn’t relish spending their own money on them I would teach them quickly that if they simply went to The Brethren or back then, even Joseph A. Banks, they wouldn’t end up making mistakes. My gesture usually contributed to a very loyal and hardworking new hire as well. So the lesson I see in Trad Indifference is that the source of the things about which you are indifferent make all the difference in the world regarding whether you will eventually look interestingly shabby or just flat out stupid.
French cuffs and a tie slightly askew. Additional evidence of Trad Indifference.
The Kennedys certainly had the genetic and physical predisposition to wear clothes well but I remain settled on the fact that when grabbing togs to play outside in Hyannisport or when dressing for a political rally-the cogitation was brief. After ten minutes of ruminating, your sibs would be giving you shit. JFK's sportcoat above was most assuredly bespoken. The collar fits-hugs too well for this to be an off the peg contrivance.
Espadrilles on JFK. Damn. Talk about indifference….even I, the man of a thousand slippers wouldn’t touch this rig with a ten foot pole. I gasped with such force when I saw this picture that I blew snuff all over the back of LFG’s head.
Sartorial utility is another trait of Indifference. Wearing a sportcoat and tie-as evidenced here by JFK with his brothers above. And below we see JFK with, I think, the same sportcoat on with buttoned up knit shirt, being followed by that spineless sycophant asshole Robert McNamara. I know why McNamara slicked his hair back so thoroughly. It made easier the task of getting his head so far up JFK's and LBJ's asses. Yes, I have opinions. Notice also the two button sleeve-Chipp maybe?
So here’s my deal with regard to Trad Indifference. You need to care about how you look and how you carry yourself. But not too much. You need to buy quality and remain loyal to the stalwarts that provide said quality and style. The Brethren, J. Press, Polo, the small artisanal craftspeople that create one of a kind adornments and of course, your tailor of choice. But when you are standing before your aggregation-ruminating over which pieces of the pile to extract and swath yourself-limit your cogitation to seven and three quarters minutes.