Tag Archives: trad

Legacy Admissions: a handout to the already haves.

Legacy admissions are not a leg up, they are a hand out to the already haves.

Data shows that the number one predictor of the likely education level a child will receive is the level of education the parents have already attained. This is not due to some sort of amniotic intelligence transfer but rather the tendency of most teachers (parents) to teach others, to simply do what they did.IMG_9436

People who have gone to elite colleges are more likely to know the application process, understand the school’s expectations, and better yet, they often know the people making the admissions decisions.IMG_9508

If you look at those who attend elite schools you will find that most of them had parents who went to elite schools, or at least good schools, and as one might guess, these parents also have a good amount of money. Whether the schooling or the money came first doesn’t really matter, but there is surely a solid correlation. In addition, you will find that most of those who are accepted into elite schools had tutors and took test prep classes during grade and high school. These kids being tutored are the A students, not the ones at risk of athletic ineligibility. On top of that, you will also find that most who gain entry into elite colleges attended high schools that have previously sent other students to elite colleges. Turns out that following well-traveled paths is more likely to get you there than forging new trails.

There are few, if any, immaculately conceived scholars who rise from nowhere with potential so obvious that Harvard can see it.crew guys

Most people who haven’t been to Harvard don’t know many others who have. Most who never attended Princeton, don’t really know what Princeton is looking for in an applicant. Most at mediocre high schools, are unaware that most at great high schools are taking extra SAT prep classes. Some, who never went to Yale but still managed to accumulate wealth, spend some of that wealth to send their kids to schools where the children of Yale grads go.IMG_9500

That is how people get in.

If you want to investigate potential unfairness in admissions to elite schools, maybe we should look first, I repeat first (not as an afterthought), at the practice of giving preference to those who are already advantaged in the application process.

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Mettlers Clothing: best building ever but…

I drive past the building almost every day. I walk right past almost as often. I knew it was there, I just didn’t know it was a clothing store.

It used to be a church.Image

I left the place with my socks still on without buying any new ones.

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Now this is not to say I didn’t like it, a lot, but rather that I found no one item that I looked at, swooned, and walked away wishing the sticker price was lower. It was strangely a large collection of “meh” that when pulled together is both fantastic, but still… meh.

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Now Mettlers does not just do clothing, they do design. Which makes more sense. They do great design with well informed clothing. The fact that I’m “meh” on Mettlers means it is probably well worth a visit.

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But after some reflection I have decided what stole this visit’s fire, why I was underwhelmed. It was not the clothes or the building. Both were better than most. It was not the design, which was a sporting masculinity that I enjoyed, but it was something I like a lot, that disappointed me.

I once took an art class in college.

I was not an art major but having some artistic tendencies, I saw Drawing/Painting on the course list and decided to enroll. Besides, I had some electives to burn. I was foolish enough not to check those little numbers next to the course name, 5200.

It was for graduate students in art, not Sophomore business majors. The prof claimed I was fine and told me to stay. I’m glad I did because he made one statement that has stuck with me more than any other art lesson in my life.

When I submitted my project proposal he looked it over, shook his head, and said, “I can see what you are trying to do but you are simply not good enough to do it.”

A little stunned, I was speechless as he continued, “This is not to say you can’t produce great art, just don’t try to do things you aren’t capable of.”

I kid myself, no I believe, that I could learn to do what I originally proposed, but this was not the purpose of this class. That would be the purpose of getting a bachelors in art. But the utilitarian pragmatism of “do what you are good at” opened up unseen doors for me.

Now back to Mettlers.

I love Eakins’ artwork, especially the painting of a boxer being fanned in his corner. Mettlers had a fine hand painted imitation of that very painting. This was exactly my taste! But whoever the artist was that produced the imitation  they were no Eakins. I could see what the artist was trying to do but they were not good enough to do it.

 

For me it cheapened everything else in place.

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What Does One Wear?

Dad claims it started when he was in college and was looking for something interesting to paint. He says a friend knew where a bunch of strange looking people hung out and that Dad should come along to take photographs. Surely he would find some interesting subjects to subject to watercoloring.

That was before I was born and I cannot attest to the truthfulness of that tale. All I know is that by the time I came on the scene tee pees and tomahawks were a regular part of our existence.

I was doomed

With those sorts of roots one cannot afford to take ones self too seriously. Nor can one make fun of what ever anyone else chooses to wear. I for one wear what I want- strike that- I wear what I can afford.

Sandy was scheduled to hit our home Sunday night. Monday morning I woke under the safe roof as always and checked my flight status. United flight 2109 to  Hartford was “on time.” In disbelief I got  online, because we had had electricity, and saw that the airport was in fact open. I dragged myself out of bed and into the car. No one else did the same.

I drove on empty roads to an empty airport. I drug my bags past the TSA guards who were busy herding no one into empty body scanners. I arrived at the United counter to find it deserted and covered in clear plastic.

Of course.

There was no one to talk to so I dialed them up.

“Hello may I help you.”

“Yes. I was supposed to be on flight 2109 and need to re-book, cancel, whatever you are doing.”

“Sorry sir, that flight is listed for an on-time departure.”

“I know. That’s why I drove to the airport.”

“Okay. So what can I do for you?”

“Um yeah… ”

I drove back home.

At home my small crew of creative women were determined that with Dad home and no school our best option was a formal lunch complete with invitations delivered by the 8 year old. This is the same 8 year old who kept complaining last night that the power wasn’t going out. She sat disappointed holding her flashlight.

I have learned I cannot afford to resist such invitations.I feel very much the same in my Black Watch jacket as I did in buckskins. I would argue they aren’t all that far apart.

We are all to some extent wearing a costume, it just depends on the event. Bow ties or plastic fangs are both fine depending upon the venue. I was once at a U Penn event and saw an MBA student wearing a madras jacket with no shirt underneath. He looked very appropriately appointed as he leaped from a balcony at the Blue Horizon into the middle of the boxing ring whilst the fight was in progress. What else would one wear while acting a fool?

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I am One of “Them” and so are “They”

I am not an expert on clothing. The Trad’s fascination with my footwear will tell you as much, yet I would wager I spend more time thinking about clothing than your average man. The level to which I fail in clothing myself properly yet still appear more focused on doing so than normal, says something about the sartorial state of the modern American male, but I don’t think it is completely our own fault.

Take for example a recent experience.

J. Press Cambridge

Much has been said and written about the Ivy style and the traditional brand J. Press. I recently found myself in the neighborhood. I was in town for business at the University and was wearing a charcoal suit, sky blue shirt, and straight fold blue pocket square; nothing groundbreaking but no visible mistakes (cue shoe joke here). I stepped inside.

Fall racks at J. Press

The shop is beautiful. Orderly racks of jackets and coats intermixed with collegiate memorabilia. I would have loved to spend hours just touching the tweeds and checking the dates on old deflated footballs. A grey haired man near the register was roused from his boredom by my entry and giving me a once over asked, “Can I help you?”

I had no money. I would be buying nothing and felt a little ashamed because of it. Not wanting to be too intrusive on a business I replied, “I just wanted to look around and check things out a bit.” He shrugged a “very well” and went about fidgeting with folded sweaters whatever else. He did surprisingly well at lingering around but avoiding anything close to eye contact or, heaven forbid, a smile.

coats and scarves at J. Press

I made a couple rounds of the racks, touching very little, thanked the man and walked out of the store. What fools the two of us were that day. Yes, both of us.

The man showed little to no interest in me or my business, which is fair as I was not likely to be business that day. But that once over and his curt manner did not communicate helpfulness but rather he was the steward of something to be protected from outside intrusion and in our case it felt as if he was more of a security guard at a museum watching to make sure I didn’t cross the velvet rope and touch the paintings.

I didn’t need a security guard I needed a docent, a tour guide.

Perhaps he would have been one but when I looked at the crusty old man I froze. My normal bold self retreated. Not only did I refrain from asking my long list of questions but I lost all desire to ask. I had small things like wanting to know if the stripes and colors on the scarves represented schools, which I know they do, but which represents who, I have no idea. I would like to know. I like hats. I also have one of the largest heads on the planet and am conformist enough to not want to look like I’m headed for a costume party. In that store was a long table piled high with head wear options and I didn’t touch a single one.

Represent

I should have asked. I could have asked but I didn’t.

I am surely not the only one struggling with personal insecurity and sartorial ignorance. It is a shame, and this is not the only such store where I have experienced this, that those who man the floor of such a menswear legends are repellent rather than receptive.

So what do I do now? Maybe I go to the Gap or some other affordable box where teenagers flirt with each other and expect me to unfold the entire stack of sweaters. I’m sure young Tiffany would be happy to tell me what Sarah thinks is so “way cute” for old guys like me to wear… which means my ignorance, and the ignorance of all like me, will continue.

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People at Penn

Today’s Take Ivy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Prep at Penn, or more modern Ivy.

There has been much complaint of the lack of “Ivy style” at today’s Ivy schools. I am in no way expert on style, Ivy or otherwise, nor am I an expert on the goings on on at other institutions. I am not even an expert on what is happening at my own school.

But I am here and I a have a camera. Well, my phone has a camera and I have no shame. Exhibits A through whatever…

I'm pretty sure I have seen the experts display madras GTH pants

 

Nantucket Reds? I'm sure I have read of them.

 

That my friends is an undergrad in a bowtie.

 

And this is another kind of tie... and a Mom.

 

Perhaps style is not the issue but the apparent conflicting weather reports displayed here.

 

Anger aside, I'm pretty sure I have seen this look in a catalog.

 

Again, not an expert here but I think this guy is doing alright.

 

  

Now this is just textbook (that's a pun).

 

 

And finally; I'm sure all of these folks will soon be this guy.

 Here is evidence, carry on with your discussions.

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Vintage Ivy Aesthetic

I come from a culture where one has “Sunday clothes”.

One page featuring both the love and hate of my youth.

The closet of my youth held multiple t-shirts, jeans, shorts, maybe a couple of polo shirts.  Then, off to the side, was one button down, one pair of slacks, and one lonely tie.  Those were the Sunday clothes.  The shirt  and pants would change as one was grown out of, and was then replaced, but the tie stayed the same.  I had that one maroon tie with little white dots, from age 12-19.

This is most assuredly NOT how any of my coaches dressed.

It wasn’t just me.  I was a bit dressier than most of my peers solely because I wore boat shoes on the weekdays as well.  I remember being asked “why are you wearing your Sunday shoes?”

I still on occasion hear echoes from my memory when I leave the house in a tie on a weekday, “where are you going all dressed up?” or even better, “who are you dressed up as?”

Maybe this is why I find fascinating the world of style.  I like to look nice, most everyone does, but what that looks like to different groups in different times is subjective and riddled with unwritten  rules.

The text includes: "for men desiring to be groomed correctly in every detail."

I like art.  Rather, I like to look at art. I painted my first painting while in college not as part of a project, or to express myself, but because my walls were bare and so was my wallet.  I wanted something cool to look at.

I used a picture of Tiki Barber, some craft paints I found in my Mom's closet, and a sheet of illustration board I "borrowed" from my Dad.

All of this came together while I was sitting at a desk in the Princeton archives looking at stacks of old football programs.  Here was page after page of illustrations advertising the fashions of the day.  Some of these ads were more than 100 years old, most were more like 85, but they all looked great.

Football and fashion, a perfect pair?

The clothes and the art, both, met the definition of what I seek; they were cool to look at.

Ignore the man's vice, his panache is perfect.

I do not understand this add, but I love it.

 The images, like all advertisements, depict not only what you want, but who you want to be.

The proper attire to appreciate the game. Again with the vice.

 Isn’t that what style is?  Showing who you want to be?  maybe it is who we already are, but these illustrations are obviously aspirational.

The cover says what about football?

Gift I painted for my little sister.

Fantastic clean lines.

 I do not always dress the way I would like.  There are obstacles, just like in all aspects of life; my wallet, my waist line, my schedule and the sort of tasks that fill it.

The lifestyle ad at its finest

I do not always paint the way I would like.  There are obstacles; time, laziness, skill level, did I say lazy already?

I would like to go on that picnic.

Sometimes, not too often the further time takes me from those days, but every now and again, the obstacles come from where and when I came from.  But forget all that.

I wouldn't be caught dead in one of those hats, but those cats are cool.

Just wear and paint things you think are cool to look at… as long as it is within the guidlines set up by whatever function you are about to attend as is indicated by the byline on the invitation reading, “dressy casual evening attire.”

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