In a numbing sea of sameness and conformity, Tom Wolfe stood out. He found a look (a really good one), latched onto it and committed to it totally. Instead of looking like everyone else and boring the hell out of himself and anyone who looked his way, he decided to dazzle. And dazzle he did.

In his own words, Wolfe described his look as “neo-pretentious” and “a harmless form of aggression.” If he had never written a single book, he probably still would have been an icon merely for his sartorial savoir faire. But fortunately, there was titanic talent in the razor sharp observer beneath the bespoke ivory suits.

His brilliant and groundbreaking writing aside – the scope of which I can’t begin to scratch the surface – Tom Wolfe reminded us of the virtues of marching to the beat of one’s own drum. He once told the Paris Review, “I found early in the game that for me there’s no use trying to blend in.” I’ve found the same to be true in my own experience, and I’m grateful for the reminder from such an inspiring real life character.

Bravo, Mr. Wolfe. And thank you.



    Many years ago, when I spent summers in Southampton, I got quite a chuckle seeing Mr. Wolfe – in full regalia – maneuvering a shopping cart at the local A&P. “Neo-pretentious” and “harmless form of aggression” – who could improve on these descriptions?
    I just saw a documentary on Manolo Blahnik. No discredit to Mr. Wolfe, but if you’re talking about enduring style icons, my money’s on Blahnik.

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  4. Tim Joe Comstock

    I wonder what his sartorial inspiration was…I remember quite clearly a passage from Electric Kool Aid where one of the Pranksters commented on his “straight” style and he had a moment to himself where he said something to the effect that “actually, in my circle I am considered quite the dandy.” I’m too lazy to look up the quote but it is there, somewhere.

    Reading “A Man In Full” knocked me off my block, what’s left of it…

    • According to a 2015 Vanity Fair article by Micheal Lewis, Tom Wolfe’s white suit uniform evolved like so:

      “Money is actually an important part of his story. When he moved to New York he owned two sports jackets. Herald Tribune reporters all wore suits, and so he went out and bought a suit: a white suit. The suit wasn’t some kind of statement; it was what you wore in the summer in Richmond, Virginia. The first time he wore it, however, he realized the suit wasn’t of summer weight. It was thick enough to wear in cold weather, too. That’s how strapped for cash he is: he wears his white suit into the fall so he doesn’t have to buy another.”

      How Tom Wolfe Became Tom Wolfe

  5. Christopher Fortunato

    A great appreciation, George.