The recent opening of the new flagship J.Press store in Manhattan gives us a welcome reason to write about this quiet, unassuming, even dusty men’s clothier. If you don’t know about J.Press, it’s high-time you did. If you do know about J.Press, you’ll be annoyed at me for telling everyone else about it.
Like so many good men’s stores, J.Press started life (in 1902) as a clothier for men at Yale in New Haven. Gradually, gingerly, they opened a few other stores – in New York, Washington and Cambridge, Mass – never venturing beyond their East Coast, Ivy League market. J.Press epitomizes the American Style – a mostly roomier, boxier cut in blue blazers and quintessential gray flannels with NO PLEATS, for example. Their keywords are ‘heritage’ and ‘craftsmanship’, two words most contemporary designers don’t attend to very much.
You don’t come to J.Press for anything newfangled, and precious little has changed in decades. Indeed, apart from the addition of Barcelona chairs in the new flagship store (not convincing, but rather sweet in their bid to be, um, ‘modern’), this is the place where your father and your grandfather would also have shopped. Or, should also have shopped. It’s a store that takes you from prep school to college to old age a little too seamlessly at times.
Looking like your father or your grandfather is never fully desirable (though, if you must, always choose the latter), so we don’t recommend stepping out top-to-toe in J.Press. It wouldn’t be anything like as criminal as stepping out top-to-toe in any high-end, global-brand designer (labels like Burberry, Prada, or Gucci, say), but it’s still wisest to use J.Press for basics, particularly autumn-winter essentials which suit the Ivy League look particularly well.
Things we like a lot and happily suggest for all men’s wardrobes include their ‘Shaggy Dog’ Shetland wool crewnecks which are maybe the best in the world (get one in navy, old gold, and silver), their Black Watch tartan wool sports coat (dress it down, don’t be ironic, and it’s not that hard to pull off), their grosgrain watchband in navy and red stripes, their striped knitted ties and polka-dotted bow ties. This is a great place to buy men gifts – boxers, fair isle wool scarves, and a fabulous Glen-check Tote Bag are just some of the things we covet. The great news for British customers is that the ludicrously strong pound means that buying J.Press basics actually works out being pretty cheap. You can order the catalogue at www.jpressonline.com