William F. Buckley, the dead conservative hero and crypto-fascist, had an "authentic WASPy style" of "frayed Oxfords" and "unpressed Brooks Brothers suits" that helped him look especially aristocratic, like he could afford to abuse his expensive clothes, according to Times blog the Moment. The post is a fun compression of weightier fashion writing, but is at least as interesting for who wrote it as for what it says. The post marks the return to the Times of Jared Paul Stern, the former Page Six writer accused of trying to extort money from a subject of his writing, billionaire Ron Burkle. Prior to the extortion allegation, Stern had contributed to the Times as well as to the Wall Street Journal and other publications. After the fracas, Stern said he had been trying to get Burkle to invest in his fashion business. Stern then parted ways with Page Six, signed a book deal that was later canceled and lately has been trying to break back into the news media with lifestyle writing, including recently on Style.com. Landing on the Times website with a piece about a highfalutin' intellectual will no doubt help Stern distance himself from the seedier image of his Page Six days. Try to imagine the following on Page Six:
Buckley was “anti-fashion in the original sense of the term,” says designer and style expert Alan Flusser, author of “Dressing the Man: Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion.” “He came from an era and background where if you looked like you spent too much time thinking about clothes, then everything else was suspect….I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those Shetland sweaters actually had holes in them.” At social functions, men of Buckley’s era and class were content to serve merely as backdrops for their wives. By contrast, Buckley’s wife Pat, who died last year, was almost a caricature, one of William Hamilton’s New Yorker cartoon WASPs come to life.
In the end, beyond a general notion of the preppy staples that have been replicated by everyone from Ralph Lauren to the latest designer-of-the-hour since Buckley’s Millbrook days, it’s hard to remember exactly what he wore during his many years in the public eye. Which was precisely the point.