30 June 2010

The Trad Pitch For Take Ivy

Take Ivy - Take Two - Part 2

Before powerHouse

After powerHouse

It's almost like someone turned the lights on.

29 June 2010

Take Ivy - Take Two

In the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge...

is a book publisher I wish I knew a year ago.

They've been busy working on a translated re-issue of, Take Ivy.

Their version is $24.95. I paid $200. Some paid more.

I can't read mine but I can read theirs.

And it's an amazing read. (click on images to read)

I was asked to review the book. I thought of scanning it.

But it's cheap and it's out there. Or will be soon.

I sat down this afternoon with Wes Del Val and Craig Cohen of powerHouse Books in their Brooklyn offices. They're the guys behind the re-issue of Take Ivy and they're hero's stars in my book. The first printing is 10,000 copies of which 6,000 have been pre-sold. In my business we call that selling to a narrow but deep niche. You get that Assouline?

It's hard to go wrong at $24.95 (16.47 on Amazon) and I take my hat off to Wes and Craig for not slapping a $100 price tag on this. I tried to take some of the mystery out of Take Ivy by scanning all of the images back in December of 2008. Some fashion folks were critical of this. They couldn't believe I would go to the trouble of getting the book and then sharing it - for free - with anyone. I guess I'm a Socialist at heart but this book brought The Trad out of an Ivy backwater to readers around the world. I'm damned proud of that.

There is nothing like holding this little book and flipping through the pictures but that's only half of it. The translation adds a charming and insightful description of how we Americans dressed at one time. With taste and style. Maybe, God willing, this book will help bring taste and style back home where they belong.

First Blazer Buttons

Do you ever forget your first?

It was a warm September night in Philadelphia 25 years ago when I saw these buttons in a shop window somewhere on Spruce St. The Echo X-ray and I were on our second date when I hit the brakes and pointed out the buttons to her. She surprised me with them three months later for Christmas. They have done time on three navy blazers between then and now.

Made by Holland & Sherry, they're battered and chipped and are now waiting for a patch pocket blazer for Fall. They remind me of that night in September when we were young and free and going to eat Chinese.

28 June 2010

Palm Beach Polo: Not As Good As It Was...

(click on photo to enlarge) M Magazine June 1984

Palm Beach Polo: Better Than It Will Be

International Polo Club Palm Beach - 2010 Season - LILA PHOTO

26 June 2010

25 June 2010

Press Only: Details Magazine - June 2010

Off My Back: "Suit You, Sir"

"Does she want it, sir?"

Nestled under a green marble facade at 77 Jermyn Street is the reliable shirt maker, Harvie & Hudson. Home to the never ending "3 for 99" sale, the shop has been a must stop for me since I first visited London over 20 years ago. Known for loud stripes and two sleeve length options (Medium & Long), it also offers boxer shorts to match their shirting.

My first visit was not unlike the The Fast Show's, "Suit You, Sir" skit. How anyone can be intrusive and aloof at the same time is a talent but my salesman managed very well, thank you. "How is, sir?" "Is sir from the states?" And so it went with "sir" sounding more like "shit head." But I loved all of it. The shirts, the boxers, the salesman, the never ending sale, that big ass label.

Split yoke and double cuff with a so-so collar. Not the quality of Hilditch & Key or Turnbull and Asser but darn good value for 33 pounds and head and shoulders above Tyrwhitt and Pink. Works with a lightweight Italian Pal & Zileri half lined blazer with mother of pearl buttons and side vents. While Manhattan is a long way from Jermyn Street - in my heart - it's just next door. "That's an amazing coat sir is wearing. I've never seen such an earthy tone of dung."

24 June 2010


I've always called 'em trunks. Some folks call 'em board shorts. Swim suit? I faintly remember that. Probably the same place I heard sneakers. I thought they were talking about the candy bar. Whatever you call 'em - -O'Connells got 'em. Old new stock. $69.95. If any of these were my size you would not know about 'em.

23 June 2010

Beretta Sale

718 Madison Avenue

30 -50% off

The perfect brief case for NYC

Beretta has a sale . No need to hurry. It'll be going for another month. Made in USA khakis for $75 and that's their regular price. Free cuffing and they're as heavy as iron. Beautiful apparel for men as well as women. The store is often overlooked by the Trad cognoscenti but it holds some treasures.

Harvard Yard Sample Sale

I'm a long way from being a sample size but if you are and you're in NYC tomorrow, you may wanna try your luck. Enzo and I checked it out this morning. There was a fantastic three piece tartan wool suit but it was a 40Reg. 1674 Broadway at 52nd St. Take the elevator to the 6th floor. They're open 1000 Hours to 1700 Hours Local. Don't wear a suit. It's warm up there.

Distressed Death by Polo

Mr. Ralph Lauren
650 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10022

Dear Mr Lauren:

It's been a while and I haven't heard from you or your office. I'm guessing you're out of town. Maybe for the whole Summer. I know rich people do that. I was also thinking, that maybe you were thinking, that I'm just a 'one idea' kinda guy. Boy, are you wrong. I got tons of ideas. Here's another one I'm going to give you for free.

You know how you're involved in so many cool things? You've come a long way from wide ties. That's because you're not only cool. You're a genius on top of being cool. But here's a genius idea that can't miss. Ralph Lauren tombstones. Pretty cool, huh? I always say, "people gotta die." I stole that from, "people gotta eat." But it's true, you know? Nobody gets out of this world alive.

Just because you're dead doesn't mean you can't be cool. What's cooler than having an 18th century tombstone? I think you'll agree with me that most tombstones are pretty boring and very 1970's looking although I'm not sure why.

My idea - I mean your idea (;), is to offer different models of replica tombstones from the 1700s and distress them like jeans. I think a sand blaster would work. Then stain them with some greasy green moss looking paint. How cool is that?

So now you have two big picture ideas from me. I'll tell you, if I don't hear from you soon, I'm going to have to approach Mickey Drexler with this idea. Not that I want to but this is a no brainer and I gotta strike while the marble's hot. Who knows...Tommy Hilfiger could be working on this already.


The Trad

PS- We can put your our Polo player on the lower right side of the stone. I think that would be very understated.

22 June 2010

My Take On Trad Dad's Steak - A Love Song

Dad in Madras- Vietnam 1967

My old man would grill steaks every Sunday night. I remember T Bones in the '60s turning into NY strips in the '70s. My father was and still is fond of marching to a different drummer. While I've followed his tradition of the Sunday steak grill out - I have adhered to his out of the box thinking.

The siren call of the Summer grill grabs something deep in all men. But the outdoor gas or charcoal grill is the last place to cook a big steak. They're great for vegetables, fish and flank steak but not for a 2" bone in rib eye.

I start with turning off my smoke alarm and using a good butcher. If you're idea of a great steak is Outback Steak House - leave right now. Many years ago some smart guy, no doubt a CPA, came up with the idea of shrink wrapping steaks in plastic film and calling it 'wet aged.'

That cretin should be shot. Wet aging seals in moisture to keep steak from rotting in transit and in your grocers refrigerator section. But you want controlled rot. That's dry aged and the process ain't cheap.

For almost a month, dry aged beef is dehydrated in an all wood locker where it loses water. What may have been a four pound rib eye, mostly water, turns into a pound a half rib eye 25 days later. That's why dry aging is expensive.

If you decide to go with dry aged - take another step. Tell your butcher you want a 1 1/2" to 2" thick steak. You're paying top dollar for the dry age. Might as well go all the way and do it right. You must have a thick cut or you're gonna over cook the steak. By the way, if you like your steak well done...please join the Outback lovers headed for the exit.

Your grill is $12 worth of cast iron. Why? Because it'll get Hades hot. Cast iron holds heat and that's the key to getting the hard exterior crust. I bought a thermometer gun a few years ago at an auto parts store (where they're cheap).

Highest reading off my Weber gas grill was 575 degrees. Most outdoor grills can't get north of 700 degrees. You need at least 900 degrees (1,200 is ideal ) to sear a steak and get that crust that a steak house is only too happy to bend you over for.

Season with lots of salt and pepper. The old man was fond of a soy sauce and Wild Turkey marinade and that's fine for a flank steak but not dry aged. Lottsa salt + high heat = crust. If you're on a low or no salt diet - head to the exit with the well done and Outback folks.

This is a good time to decant. It helps to have a glass for yourself to ensure the wine isn't corked. I usually need two to make this difficult determination.

You're doing this at home and so your free from 100, 200 and even (in NYC) 300% wine mark ups. Also, try and stay away from a big California Cabernet. They're just too much in the Summer and remind me of sitting in a hot tub on a 100 degree day.

Hitting the side of the decanter with the wine gives you a 'spank' decant. It helps open the wine up and sounds better too.

The cast iron is hot enough when you see it smoking. We're gonna talk about smoke in a minute but I don't wanna scare you off.

I used to pour olive oil (Claudio's unfiltered from Philadelphia) on the cast iron but no more. Cover the steak in a light coat of oil and you'll cut down on the smoke. Did I say not to do this on an electric stove? DO NOT DO THIS ON AN ELECTRIC STOVE! Not unless you like fire and cast iron sticking to coils.

Slap the steak on the cast iron and you'll get a beautiful sounding sizzle and some smoke. Actually, you'll get a lotta smoke. Is your smoke alarm off? A good time to check is about now.

Trust me. This is worth it.

I like my steak rare to medium rare. That's why you need such a thick cut with this intense heat.

I take 'em off at 120 and...
...tent in foil for five minutes.

If you didn't turn off the smoke alarm, this is a good time to wonder what that beeping noise is. This is usually when neighbors appear at your door asking questions.
Shoo the neighbors away because you don't want this getting cold. Take a bite and savor that taste. Earthy and pure. A sip of Pomerol is a contrast against the steak with an elegant mouth feel that cuts right through the fat. Did I mention fat? If you're on a low fat diet, you need to head to the exit with...