At the start of his career, J.D. Salinger was the picture of mid-century success – a strapping young man from New York City, armed with a quick wit, vivid imagination, and myriad tales of his time in the military. In 1951 he published his best known work, “The Catcher in the Rye” a crafty and concise tale of a sixteen year old exploring New York City in the wake of his expulsion from yet another prep school. The novel was a smash, heralded for being wholly personal yet universally relatable. Over the next couple of years, Salinger continued to write and publish, but he slowly slipped away from the public eye, moving his family to upstate New York, and declining interviews. By the time he released his novella “Franny and Zooey” in 1961, the author had become a full blown hermit. In the end, it appears his own genius was his undoing. Salinger was a man that was tragically prone to over-thinking, and his quest for happiness lead him through various fringe religious sects, affairs, and other distractions that pushed him further into seclusion and further away from his career. A shame, not merely because Salinger’s prowess with prose was one of those things seen once in a generation, but also because (and maybe this is selfish on my part) the man was quite stylish. Photos of Salinger are almost fewer in number than his books, but based on what does exist, it’s clear he knew how to put an outfit together. In some images he’s a perfect trad, complete with an immaculate collar roll, in others he’s an unconventional artist, floating around in cravats and chunky sport coats. Whatever the look, he always managed to pull it off with aplomb.
A classic Salinger outfit:
Orvis Cotton Submariner’s Pullover Sweater
Outlier 60/30 Chinos
Kamakura Tokyo Slim Fit Button-down Oxford
Vintage Rolex Oyster Two-Tone Watch
Alden Unlined Suede Chukkas
Jake Gallagher is a writer currently living in Manhattan. He focuses on back stories and the historical side of menswear at his site Wax-Wane.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.