Trad Concessions

I often get asked if I make any concessions in my clothing. For example, Would I wear a spread collar shirt? Would I wear chinos with no cuff? Do I always wear a button-down collar? You get the idea. To the disappointment of trad purists world wide I do make concessions.
Trad ConcessionsTo get the ball the rolling I thought that I would name a few concessions that I have recently made. I wore a pair of chinos yesterday (it was Saturday) that were not cuffed and I turned up the hem, I recently purchased a pair of gym shorts with a logo, and I occasionally wear only a t-shirt to the grocery. Now none of these are all that shocking (minus the t-shirt for some of you), but as you can see I am not perfectly trad.

It was a twill sport coat above from PRL that inspired this post. I saw this great looking summer jacket with soft shoulders, three-button (with potential roll), and the icing on the cake for me, patch pockets. Then I saw the darts. This would generally be a deal breaker, but this time it was not. Probably because darts on patterned jackets don’t stand out as much as they do on say a solid navy blazer. In the end I did not purchase the jacket, but it is not because it was not trad enough.

Concessions are tricky. The trick is to know what concessions you will be able to live with and which you will not. This will only come with time and mistakes. Just try to learn from the mistakes. On the other end, this is a reminder that if you like something don’t get caught up in the, “is this Trad?” state of mind. It is okay to like other things. It’s okay new things. It’s okay to change.

oxford cloth button down
Jerrod Swanton is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

13 Comments on "Trad Concessions"

  1. Bluchermoc says:

    I too have left the house in a t-shirt to run quick errands. I also wear khakis without cuffs since I find they go through the wash better and begin to fray faster.

  2. Gamma68 says:

    This is a very interesting post, Jerrod. Over the years, I’ve tried to make a conscious effort to avoid darted jackets and stick to pure Ivy Style tailoring. But I’ve also acquired a few English-made Harris Tweed jackets. English menswear retailers like the former Dunn & Co. sold robust jackets made from bullet-proof tweed, often with fantastic colors and patterns. Those factors, plus the fact that Ivy Style has its roots in British clothing, makes it easier for me to overlook the darts and dual vents.

  3. RMD says:

    I often go more the way of ‘street-style’ or even having Mod and British influences in my style, though the latter has definitely had some Ivy League influences anyway. I guess Ivy for me (and most of us, I’m sure) are the base style on which we create things because it’s just so damn simple and so damn easy to get right.

  4. Craig S says:

    While I find it easy enough to find trad clothes in the casual spectrum (L.L. bean flannel shirts and mocs, madras, khakis, polo shirts etc), it is almost impossible for me to find authentic ivy-style tailored clothing, especially jackets.

    Like Gamma, I adapt by embracing a little Anglophilia – pretty much all my jackets and suits are two-button, double-vented and darted. I even have a couple of patch-pocketed Italian jackets. However, since the collection includes navy, olive corduroy, a brown houndstooth tweed and a few subtle checks, they fit in well with the colours and textures of the trad wardrobe. However, I agree with Christian of Ivy-Style that button-down collars work best with single vented/trad jackets. I’ll wear a BD collar open under a casual jacket, but switch to a classic semi-spread if I want to sport a tie. Shirts are mainly blue and white solids or stripes, ties are trad-approved repps, dots, foulards and tartans,. I even have a few Brooks Brothers bow ties.

    So in winter I lean a little English Country, and in summer a little Italian/continental. The shoes I wear with tailored clothing (brogues, suede chukkas, plain-toe oxfords) tend to be from English makers with a bit more shape as well.

    Summary: I love casual trad staples, but am forced to embrace more structured tailored clothing due to geography and availability.

  5. Charlottesville says:

    I too generally go with the Ivy tradition, but have some darted 3-button suits from Polo, and a few spread-collar shirts from England as well as from Brooks. Shoes include trad staples like long wings, bucks and penny loafers, but also English brown suede cap-toes and full brogues. I am not likely to buy another 2-button, darted suit, but I have one from Brooks and another from J. Press hanging in my closet, and they both get worn from time to time. I agree with the posters above, that a mix of English or English-style clothing can work well with Ivy.

  6. Gary says:

    A very thoughtful post, Ox. The way I look at this is that my map, as it were, is Ivy or trad or whatever but I find it refreshing and even healthy to wander off the freeway now and then and take back roads into other areas. I like a little surfer or poolside gear in the warmer months, e.g., t-shirts, faded jeans, old sneakers, and I mix in a Maine look (lots of Bean) in the colder months. As an urban dweller, I also enjoy mixing in some street and skater style, e.g., a coaches jacket, Vans, etc. It is, as some of my peers are wont to say, all good.

  7. Morris says:

    Trad or Ivy is really just the American establishment look of the 1950’s and 1960’s.

    The establishment look has evolved over the past fifty years.

    Today, the establishment look is in my opinion is best defined by Brooks Brothers.

    Brooks Brothers sells a modern version of the establishment look that builds on traditions, yet brings the look into the present.

  8. Steve L. says:

    If you decide to wear something that genuinely appeals to you I wouldn’t call that a concession or a compromise. It’s OK to like things that don’t strictly adhere to a set of rules — trust your taste.

  9. Morris says:

    The greatest challenge with the trad look, in my opinion is fit.

    Young people wear clothing that is very fitted.

    When our clothing is baggy or ill fitting, it makes us look old.

    My goal is to dress what I call “modern trad” and make sure everything fits extremely well.

    I want to be recognized as trad (by the increasingly small minority that recognize the trad elements), but fit in with a modern crowd.

    JFK jr. is a great example of how he evolved his look from 100% trad as a kid to a modernized version of trad. It’s unfortunate that JFK jr. is gone because he was a style icon and he understood intuitively how to bring the ivy/trad look of the past into the present.

    Brooks Brothers, Sid Mashburn, J Crew, and others are my favorites.

    • Gary says:

      Morris, I would argue that trad/Ivy does not make one look old but rather comfortable. I see modern slim fits on people and wonder how they can stand wearing such tight-fitting garments. For a short time, I wore slim-fit J. Crew button-downs and my arm and back muscles ached by the end of the day. There is a luxurious comfort to a good-fitting but full cut Brooks Brothers oxford button-down, for instance, that just can’t be found in slimmer silhouettes.

      • Morris says:

        Hi Gary,

        Thanks for sharing! I hear what you are saying and for years I wore my clothing more loose. Too loose. Around 2011, I got rid of practically an entire wardrobe of clothing that I felt was too baggy. >$10K of clothing went to Goodwill replaced by slimmer cuts.

        I agree 100% that we shouldn’t wear anything that causes pain.

        A couple things have changed 1) I now feel that fit is an incredibly important aspect of style. 2) I feel out of place when I’m around young people who wear slim well fitting clothing and mine is more on the baggy side.

        However, looser clothing – starting with pants for men – is about to come back into style.

        A part of me wants to dress as if it’s ~1966 forever.

  10. Front Porch Life says:

    A deal-breaker for me is when I find a sport coat and it fits perfectly but then notice it has dual vents. I think dual vents look and feel awkward. I will only buy single, or unvented. Darts and 2-button coats I can live with.

  11. Lesiurelyloafing says:

    I subscribe to the mantra “if I’m wearing it, it’s ivy.” My only hard and fast rules are no slim cuts, 3/2 roll, open quarters and high rise pans Beyond that it’s all a matter of preference, but I like to try new things to see if something different fits in my rotation.

I would like to hear from you