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Tom Wolfe

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Alex_O, Nov 12, 2004.

  1. Alex_O

    Alex_O Well-Known Member

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    Old Tom is on the promotion trail for his new book I am Charlotte Simmons I caught him on both Pete Ross and the Daily show Im sure he is going to be all over for a bit. As always Wolfe was dressed splendidly in white. And in single breasted, obviously because this is what I preffer on him. What was striking to me were his socks (clear view on daily show). Can anyone confirm what sort of socks he wears I was very impressed (very luxe)when they were visible on the daily show, just as much as I was unimpressed by Sen Schumers peaking leg when he was on a week or two ago (is he conserving wool ?) On another note, who would wear a white suit such as Wolfe's Mid November in NY(where daily show is I beleive) and where lives. Not for work of course. Does he wear heavier fabric suits for winter? ++++ Special Assignment++++ Which sarotorial rules would you like to break if you could a la Wolfe? errr so many to choose from ............
     


  2. johnw86

    johnw86 Senior Member

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    I caught Wolfe on the Daily Show and thought he looked great. If I'm remembering correctly, there was a profile done some years back in either Esquire or GQ that went into some detail on his clothing. I believe he does have winter weight white for this time of year.

    [An old English professor of mine said he had met Wolfe once in NYC and Wolfe's suit was very dirty--I can't imagine trying to keep a white suit clean in the city...]

    Also, I read an article last week on his new novel, and it mentioned that he had dressed in mufti while researching college campuses--tweed jackets, white flannels, and blue blazer. Although not many people dress like that on my campus (alright, no one does), so I'm not sure how good the camouflage was.
     


  3. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    The story Wolfe tells is that growing up, his father used to use a tailor in his native Richmond, VA. Â So Wolfe got the taste for nice clothes early in life. After moving to NYC, he first started ordering custom clothes from a travelling tailor who advertised in the Manchester Guardian airmail edition. Â He got more adventurous in what he ordered. Â At one point in the late 1960s, he ordered a "silk tweed" suit in off-white. Â When it arrived, it was too warm to wear in the summer, so he waited and wore it in the fall. Â People were outraged. Â Or at least a certain kind of people were outraged. Â He enjoyed the reaction he got, and started wearing the suit more and more, eventually ordering more and more white suits in various styles. Wolfe will often wear "camouflage" when he has to, or when he feels it will help his reasearch. Â For instance, when doing research for Bonfire, he wore dark suits to the Bronx County Criminal Court, and on the subways. Â He always wears a coat and tie, however. Â He says that the surest way to alienate the subject of an interview is to try to "fit in" by dressing like him. Â People take you for a phony. Â "No one is so despised as a weekend hipster," he wrote in Electric Koolaid Acid Test. Â Or something to that effect. Â He once decribed a funny scene where he was with Kesey and a bunch of Pranksters as they painted a house in San Francisco. Â All the Pranksters were on drugs, of course. Â One of the girls thought it would be a gas to splash some paint on Wolfe. Â Once the first drop fell, it turned into a free-for-all, and his fine custom clothes were basically turned into psychadelic art. I don't know who makes his socks. Â Vincent Nicolosi makes his suits. Â Alex Kabbaz makes his shirts. Â Tony Gaziano at EG bespoke makes his shoes.
     


  4. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Distinguished Member

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    HEY, I DOTH PROTEST... White, White, all I ever hear is White. Tom's shirt was a light navy (or a dark horizon) blue. [​IMG] BTW, TKW doesn't usually wear white suits. They range through the off-white/oyster/ecru/cream range.
     


  5. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    Most of the time, Wolfe actually dresses conservatively in every respect but one: the color of his suits.  He almost always wears a solid white or blue shirt; occasionally he will wear a conservative pencil or candy stripe.  His suits are solid 90% of time, and conservatively cut.  His ties are very discrete.  He cuts loose a bit with the shoes.

    He's actually toned it down somewhat over the years.  In the 70s, he wore some really crazy get-ups: robin's egg blue suits with white piping on all the edges.  *Shudder*  There is, I think, a parallel relationship between his clothes and his prose.  Both were at their most outrageous many years ago, in the early to mid-1970s.  He's still Wolfe, of course, only less so.  The same, different, and better.
     


  6. Alex_O

    Alex_O Well-Known Member

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    Agreed, on all points . But its just much easier to say Tom Wolfe was in all white [​IMG] Btw I though his shirt collar was exceptional. Looked rather high but was perfect for Tom. By the way this is the Link to Tom on Daily Show if anyone wants to take a look Wolfe daily show
     


  7. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    On the dustjacket of I Am Charlotte Simmons, he is wearing a club collar shirt with a burgundy candy stripe. The collar is not as high as his more typical tab-collars.
     


  8. Alexander Kabbaz

    Alexander Kabbaz Distinguished Member

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    We've designed a new collar for the Charlotte Simmons photo. Also, the standard PR photo from Mr. Wolfe's publishers is a dark royal candy stripe.
    BTW, you really wouldn't want to wear those collars. They are really as high as they look - and so is the collar band. If I may quote from a Tom Wolfe "Rolling Stone" interview - late '70's or early '80's, I believe, he said, "A gentleman must be willing to suffer for style".
     


  9. gorgekko

    gorgekko Distinguished Member

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    Mr. Kabbaz, let me say that your shirt is the best part of that book. I love Tom Wolfe but I am Charlotte Simmons was unreadable. The picture on the back, on the other hand was fantastic...
     


  10. LabelKing

    LabelKing Stylish Dinosaur

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    I know some people who on a daily basis don shirts with removable high collars replicated exactly as in the 19th century, highly starched.

    And no they are not character actors or anything of that ilk.
     


  11. esquire.

    esquire. Distinguished Member

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    Its a good thing that he's one of America's best writers, or he'd come off as really silly sometimes the way he dress. It becomes almost a parody at times.

    Although most people probably didn't believe it lived up to the hype, I loved his last book, Man in Full. I think its been underated because it was the follow-up to Bonfire of the Vanities. If I liked his other works, will I also like his newest one as well?

    As for the long collars, I believe he does it to hide his long neck.
     


  12. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    I am about 1/3 of the way in, and I'm enjoying it very much. Â I don't think it's as good as Bonfire, but it's comparable to Man in Full. Â I've read all of the major reviews so far (at least 75% negative) and I think their criticism is off base. Â I have my own complaints, but no one else has voiced them.
     


  13. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    I just saw a replay of Wolfe on The Daily Show. He had on one of those signature high tab-collar shirts. It looked very stiff, and too big around. Is it an old shirt, and Wolfe has lost weight? Or is that a function of the collar being so high? It seemed to evelop his entire neck. I imagine it might be torturously uncomfortable to make a collar that high fit snuggly.
     


  14. STYLESTUDENT

    STYLESTUDENT Distinguished Member

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    Wolfe is obviously really interested in taste and brand names (Huntsman suits, T Anthony briefcases and Charvet shirts populate his pages). On the other hand, he has an old-style WASP puritanical streak that equates excess consumption (sometimes coupled with extramarital affairs) with impending ruin. It's obvious that Sherman McCoy in "Bonfire" would not have had a catastrophic car accident if he had been driving an old Ford instead of a new Mercedes alone (without his mistress). It's hard to laugh at morality plays, let alone the disasters of Wolfe's characters, where the writer himself is ambivalent about the "vanities" that call out for the torch. It doesn't seem all that honest. Which is why I prefer Wolfe the reporter to the novelist.
     


  15. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    This is true but not, I think, for the reason you suggest.  What Wolfe was trying to do in Bonfire is show the whole city, high and low, rich and poor, black and white.  He has said many times in interviews that when he started, his model was Thackeray's Vanity Fair. But he quickly realized that this was inadequate, because Thackeray's book deals only with the upper classes, and a certain kind of social climbing striver at the margins. Wolfe had to concoct a plot in which these disparate elements of the city would come together. Having a middle class guy in a Ford wouldn't have done the trick.  Also, remember the motivations of Abe Weiss.  Captain Ahab needed someone like Sherman.  A middle class guy in a Ford wouldn't have satisfied him either.  Wolfe makes this clear in the little speech by Jimmy Caughey about the man from the North Bronx who shot his mother-in-law. Part of what Wolfe is trying to show in Bonfire is that modern New York is at least as stratified as Victorian London ever was. Rembemer Rawlie Thorpe's speech (as recollected by Sherman)? "Insulate, insulate, insulate ... which meant, insulate yourself from those people.  Sherman found the smug cynicism terribly au courant."  The only two places in New York where the white upper class and the non-white working class meet with any regularity are in the philanthropy sector and the justice system.  The former is represented by Dunning Sponget lawyer Edward Fiske's trip to Harlem to see Reverend Bacon.  The latter is represented by the rest of the book. As for all the brand names, yes, it's obvious that Wolfe is interested in clothes, and he certainly gets knocked for it. But I don't think there is anything hypocritcal about the way he describes the clothing of his characters, and their eventual fates.  The clothing descriptions are a literary device.  They serve as details that tell you a character's social class, or, more precisely, his status within the various hierarchies of the modern world.  Wolfe uses clothing to indicate where a character fits in to the world at large, as well as where he fits in to whatever subculture(s) he belongs to.  More importantly, they serve to indicate where the character thinks he fits in. Balzac uses furniture the same way.  There was a fascinating post recently on another forum about how some Russian writers indicate status through overcoats. As for Sherman's fate, the single greatest strength of the book is how eminently plausible it is. Basically, Wolfe thinks up a fictional incident (Sherman's encounter in the Bronx). The incident is like a big rock hitting a glassy pond. The rest of the book is Wolfe describing the ripples, exactly as they are -- or, to say better, as they would be.
     


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