I won't deny my own indulgence in iGent-ism. After all, I am writing this on a self published clothing blog bursting with self portraits meant to show the extent of my own closet. Nor will I go into too much detail about just what makes and iGent. An in depth (and quite funny) description can be found here. Nor will I rant about the foolishness of such strict code adherence, as I've already done that here, here, and elsewhere on this blog. Instead, I will illustrate the horrors that can take place when the imaginary world the iGent inhabits overlaps too much with the real one where everyone else lives.
Pictured above is a perfect example of a garment that speaks to one particular strain of iGent. It's a vintage 1960s navy blazer made in USA. It's Ivy/Trad/Preppy to the hilt, having natural shoulders, patch pockets and of course, the magical unicorn that the high holy "3/2 roll".
3/2 roll, or what the old guys at J. Press in Harvard Square call "button on center" is a hallmark detail of Ivy/Trad/Preppy whatever you call it. It's a style I like, a lot actually, and I wear it myself quite frequently. You could even say I prefer it, but it's never really been a deal breaker for me if a jacket was two button, or darted for that matter. Just as I like more than one flavor of ice cream, I like more than one cut of jacket. True, I mostly wear a natural shoulder, but that's more because it suits my build and style than because I read about it ad nauseam on the internet. In any case, this is a nice coat, and if it were my size chances are I'd keep it and wear it fairly frequently.
Pictured here is my own latest acquisition, a wonderful jacket made by Southwick for the Andover Shop in Russel Plaid, out of what must be English tweed cloth. Acquired through yet another great trade with Zach of Newton Street Vintage, it is instantly a new favorite. However, it's got just one thing wrong with it. Not a rip, not a moth hole, nothing so accidental as that, but an absolute scar inflicted upon it by the misguided tinkering of a too-far-gone iGent.
It's safe to say that the Andover Shop is my favorite "brand". The quality is always impeccable, and the fabrics used there are nothing short of things of beauty. The house style is the perfect combination of English and American details, British influence, but always with a soft natural shoulder. This jacket is no different: rendered in thornproof British tweed in a pattern that is distinctly English, it has a two button darted front combined with a center vent and that distinctly American natural shoulder.
Trouble is that some previous owner just couldn't be satisfied with an amazing garment like this as it was, and decided to "improve" it by adding a third button and button hole, badly. The superfluous third button had been stitched on through the lapel, an aberration I removed immediately. The third buttonhole is the real crime here.
At the very least, it's placed correctly, but it's sewn poorly and with thread that is a completely different color than the two existing buttonholes the jacket was intended to have.
Sliced straight through the canvassing, the best I can hope for is that my tailor can at least refinish the hole to look less like the act of Ivy/Trad/Preppy hubris that it is. You'll have to pardon my French here, but seriously, what the f***? Who could do such a thing? Did he also try to paint his wife's eye's with nail polish because someone online said that blue eyes were WASP-ier? Why would anyone do such a thing to such a beautiful garment? Only an iGent.
The fellow who did this was certainly not the one who purchased this jacket new at the Andover Shop in the first place.No, that man would have had taste and sense enough not to spoil his clothes by adding a needless detail like this. He almost certainly purchased this at a thrift store. He saw and felt the wonderful tweed, and it fit in with the narrow but extensive set of rules the internet at large had handed him on how to dress. It was from the Andover Shop, which Googling had assured him was among the accepted brands. But alas, it was a two button front. "Not to worry", he thinks, "I can fix that. I'll just watch a couple of YouTube videos on how to make a button hole. Can't be that hard, right?" You can see this is the result of iGent-ism at its very lowest. He added this detail not because it improved the jacket, but because "3/2 roll" was something that his internet habits of Ivy League/Jazz/Steve McQueen/Weejun etc., etc., had convinced him was an imperative detail. He did this not because he was a man of style, but a copy cat merely regurgitating the things he'd seen on the screen, . In so doing, he has relegated this garment to being a nothing more than a cast off at a thrift shop. I hope my tailor can fix it, but I will wear it anyway, using that silly hole as a teaching tool. Hopefully he is reading this now, hanging his head in shame as tears drip onto the keyboard of his laptop.
There is a wealth of information and knowledge at our fingertips these days, and it's a wonderful thing, but we need to be careful with it. You may think that by dressing well you are setting yourself apart in some way from the mindless masses dressed in logo sweatshirt and cheap sneakers, and you'd be right. But if you are foolish enough to advertise so obviously as this, at least to those who know, that you really are only doing what the internet told you, then you really aren't any different. It would of course be nothing short of hypocrisy for me to say "Don't be an iGent", have a good time and take it in stride. Just, you know, don't be an iGent.
p.s. Select items on sale now in the AAW Shop. Grab a deal while you can, and help me make room for the piles of new stuff I've got for you.