Charles McGrath On The Effort Involved In Effortless Style, 1998

August 21, 2013

When I was in college, there was a guy famous for wrapping his brand-new Weejuns with duct tape so that it would look as though his soles were already flapping. He also, or so it was said, took brand-new shirts from Brooks Brothers and painstakingly frayed the cuffs with sandpaper. This was at Yale in the late 60’s, during the last wheezing gasp — the final catarrh — of the patrician ethos that held that the ultimate status, the highest social perch, belonged to those who seemingly paid no attention to status. That poor Yalie, with his tape and sandpaper, made the fatal mistake, of course: he cared too much and, worse, was seen to care.