• The Breakers


    If there is a single summer home that effectively serves as a monument to the Gilded Age, that home is The Breakers. The term was first coined by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner in their book The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today in an effort to mock the ostentatious display of wealth by playing on the term “golden age.” Such rapid accumulation of wealth will likely never be witnessed again as the personal fortunes of the 1870s and 1880s were not subject to an income tax.

    I recently toured this breath-taking relic of a by-gone era while in Newport for a stint. The great hall immediately swallows you in a sea of disbelief—disbelief that such an array of fabrics, stones, precious metals, and craftsmanship could be conceived, much less summoned in less than two years. Entire rooms were designed and built in shops of European craftsmen, including Allard and Sons of Paris, and then shipped to Newport for reassembly. Built for Cornelius Vanderbilt II (worth more than $70 million) and his family, The Breakers was modeled after the Renaissance palaces of Turin and Genoa. Its 65,000 square foot gait was fashioned to entertain. Ironically, the Vanderbilts weren’t particularly noted for their entertaining. In fact, they weren’t particularly noted for having lived in the summer home much at all as Vanderbilt suffered a stroke and died shortly after The Breakers’ completion.

    The Preservation Society of Newport County currently owns The Breakers. The non-profit’s collection includes 11 historic sites in an ongoing effort to protect, preserve, and present one of the most historically intact cities in America.

    The most striking feature of the library is the great stone chimney piece, originally from a French chateau.

    A portrait of Commodore Vanderbilt, the grandfather of the owner of The Breakers, is on the far wall.

    The music room, constructed in Paris by Jules Allard and shipped to Newport, was the scene of recitals and dances.

    Images via The Preservation Society of Newport County

    Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney's room features French furnishings selected by the decorator Ogden Codman and portraits of Mrs. Whitney and her daughter.

    Aug 24, 2011 | Permalink (18) View/Leave Comments

    Robin left a comment on 7/14/2013 at 12:46 AM:

    I think its all lovely…thank you for sharing.

    Ann left a comment on 2/4/2012 at 5:06 PM:

    I went here for the summer with my cousins! Beautiful place!
    The pictures you took are set at an extravagant angle! It is simply eye-catching and riveting :)
    However were you granted permission to take pictures inside the mansion? I know there’s a ‘no taking pictures inside’ rule…

    Scarlet left a comment on 1/25/2012 at 3:37 AM:

    Very beautiful architecture. Looks like something out of a fairy tale. :D Wow!

    Walter left a comment on 10/20/2011 at 9:01 AM:

    The coverage of house is fine. I don’t know the purpose of the piece it does seem a bit out of place on this site to me. What I do find disturbing and distracting are the number of people who find what clearly appears to me to be the desperate need to either promote their degrees (no one cares) or their personal fantasies (no one cares) instead of comment on the piece at hand.

    Edward left a comment on 10/20/2011 at 8:46 AM:

    How sad how many dreamers this lifestyle solicites.

    bucephalus left a comment on 9/3/2011 at 4:28 PM:

    The interior décor of Breakers is not more elaborate or gaudy than your typical Bavarian or Austrian Baroque church, let alone Versailles.  But what makes it seem so shocking and overwhelming is that it’s in the United States where one expects a certain amount of Puritan understatement even in the stateliest (classic) mansions.  I’m wondering, is there another Gilded Age mansion that’s as ornate inside ?  Biltmore isn’t, nor the other Vanderbilt mansion in Hyde Park, NY.

    Elizabeth left a comment on 9/3/2011 at 2:22 AM:

    It’s beautiful, but at the same time, intimidating. I can’t even imagine living in a place like that. Look at that ballroom! Why, no matter what you wore, you’d clash with it!

    JMW left a comment on 9/2/2011 at 11:13 PM:

    Old Westbury is so much nicer.

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 9/1/2011 at 7:36 PM:

    As someone who holds a degree in finance, I’m not even all that interested in conversing about historic income tax law.  Imagine how eager the rest are.

    bucephalus left a comment on 9/1/2011 at 7:28 PM:

    The federal corporate income tax was enacted several times in the 19th century, but it did not survive constitutional challenges.  It took the 16th amendment to the Constitution—the same one which allowed the personal income tax—to empower the federal government to tax corporate income.  In other words, robber baron corporations like Standard Oil or Carnegie Steel or J P Morgan & Co. basically paid no federal income tax.  There were state taxes, but these were risibly small.

    Modern financial engineering is not relevant.  The fortunes of Bill Gates or Warren Buffett aren’t built on terribly complex products.  They are built on massively appreciated common and preferred stock.

    DJ left a comment on 9/1/2011 at 3:41 PM:

    Hmmm…long term capital gains are indeed taxed at 15%, but for the highest tax bracket, any short-term CG’s are taxed at 35%.  And yes, the fortunes of many of the Robber Barons were accumulated through personal income as much of the financial engineering and/or many of today’s modern electronic-marketplace derived products had not yet been developed.  It was much safer and lucrative to take the personal “income” then rather than to leave it subject to corporate taxation (which did exist then).

    JC left a comment on 9/1/2011 at 11:01 AM:

    Less than half the size of the “other” Vanderbilt abode in Asheville, NC.

    bucephalus left a comment on 9/1/2011 at 2:43 AM:

    “Such rapid accumulation of wealth will likely never be witnessed again as the personal fortunes of the 1870s and 1880s were not subject to an income tax.”

    Actually, the accumulation of wealth in the Gilded Age has nothing to do with the lack of an income tax.  In fact, most fortunes TODAY are not subject to income tax, because the wealth of billionaires like Bill Gates are not derived from income, but from unrealized capital gains (which are not taxed at all).  Even if Bill Gates sold all his Microsoft shares, the capital gains tax is only 15% !

    Raulston left a comment on 8/31/2011 at 7:54 PM:

    I find myself in a constant fit of nostalgia wondering why we no longer build with such detail (even if it is on a bit of a smaller scale). The attention to detail in the gilded age was extraordinarily unprecedented. Thank you for another superb post !

    Phaon Spurlock left a comment on 8/31/2011 at 4:52 PM:

    This place is BEYOND amazing! Well, I know where my next trip will be.

    Phaon Spurlock
    Men’s Lifestyle

    Joy left a comment on 8/31/2011 at 4:51 PM:

    America’s Versaille that’s for sure.

    G.O.S left a comment on 8/31/2011 at 4:22 PM:

    How did you get into my house ?!?

    Christina left a comment on 8/31/2011 at 4:10 PM:

    When I was little we’d go visit The Breakers every summer.  I always liked to pretend I’d be invited over for croquet on the back lawn.


  • Hamptons Gardens

    Music & Books  

    Your coffee table needs this book like New York needs Central Park. Hamptons Gardens is an invitation into the private world of one of the most exclusive residential areas hidden behind Privet hedges and wrought iron gates. Author and Hamptons-insider Jack de Lashment, in collaboration with photographers Doug Young and Mary Ellen Bartley, takes you behind the garden gates of the Hamptons’ most heart-stirring private gardens. You can pick up this substantial 11” x 14” hardcover edition from Assouline. After flipping through pages of avant-garde creations by the likes of Edwina von Gal, Miranda Brooks, and Oehme van Sweden, you may just develop a green thumb yourself.

    "This garden, as it now stands, is the tangible record of a quest, a story written in gardener's code."

    —Jack de Lashmet

    Aug 23, 2011 | Permalink (2) View/Leave Comments

    OldGeorgetowner left a comment on 8/29/2011 at 10:01 AM:

    Just checked Amazon.com.  Not a bad price at $100.00, sounds fantastic.

    chris vargas left a comment on 8/27/2011 at 2:45 PM:

    love the layout and concept. thanks for the awesome representation.


  • Penfield FW11 Look Book


    Given the sweltering summer that settled in across the country back in May, autumn couldn’t be arriving any sooner. And with its cool breeze comes the inherent pleasure of pulling on a great piece of outerwear. Penfield knows a few things about outerwear. They’ve been at it since 1975. My favorite piece they consistently turn out is the down-filled puffer vest. It’s a prep classic.

    Earlier this year, Penfield set me and a couple friends loose with their upcoming collection of jackets, vests, and cold weather accessories. Shot on location in Massachusetts and styled by Christine Mitchell (N’east Style) and Branden “Skip” Brooks (Alex Grant), “From Rockport to Cambridge” is a visual introduction to Penfield’s forthcoming Fall/Winter 2011 Collection. The concept for the look book is loosely based on the darling style feature Mitchell and Brooks endearingly call “Date Night.” You can peruse the lookbook in its entirety at PenfieldUSA.com in addition to pre-ordering a handpicked selection of lightweight outerwear due out the first week of September. Now, if only we could get autumn to ship at the same time.

    Photographs*: F.E. Castleberry
    Styling: Skip Brooks, Christine Mitchell
    Outerwear, Sweaters, Shirting: Penfield
    Models: Neal, Madeline

    *You can experience larger versions of the images here.

    Aug 22, 2011 | Permalink (32) View/Leave Comments

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 11/28/2011 at 3:48 PM:

    @MCC—The young lady is a model by the name of Madeline.

    @Joey—The penny loafers are Aldens.

    mcc left a comment on 11/27/2011 at 7:45 PM:

    great photos, wonderful setting.
    and who’s the beautiful young lady?

    joey left a comment on 9/20/2011 at 10:54 AM:

    hi. may i know the brand of the penny loafers. thanks FEC

    BRL left a comment on 9/19/2011 at 1:42 PM:

    Can anyone answer the question about the height of her bean boots? they are PERFECTION.

    tim left a comment on 8/25/2011 at 10:54 PM:


    Benson and Clegg
    D.R. Harris & Co.
    Drake’s London®
    Ebbets Field Flannels
    Field Notes
    Heller’s Café by Warehouse
    The Hill-Side
    Jack Purcell
    The Laundress New York for J.Crew
    Mister Freedom
    New Balance
    Rainbow Sandals
    Red Wing Shoes
    Saint James
    Saturdays Surf
    Seil Marschall
    Selima Optique for J.Crew
    Sperry Top-Sider
    Thomas Mason for J. Crew
    Woolrich - John Rich & Bros
    JW Hulme

    and thats just the mens side!!!  are rainbow sandals “exclusive”?

    joey dee left a comment on 8/25/2011 at 5:56 PM:

    whoo hoo, a sale. the products look great, and likr they are made with quality in mind. thats all that matters anyway.
    great photos

    Lori left a comment on 8/25/2011 at 2:28 AM:

    Are the Bean boots that Christine is wearing 10”? Also, cannot wait for this to be available to shop. Great job.

    J left a comment on 8/25/2011 at 12:15 AM:

    @Tim - J. Crew’s collaborations are pretty exclusive (Adidas, Barbour, Baracuta, Belstaff).  I don’t see them teaming up with Penfield.

    That said, these pictures look great and, for anyone interested, Penfield is having a sale online right now with pretty good prices.

    Tim left a comment on 8/24/2011 at 6:38 PM:

    Great shots Fred!  It is a very attractive lookbook.  I also appreciate the points that AEV has.  It is not negative.. rather, more informative. I love this location though. If Penfield teamed up with j.crew it would easily spark their sales/brand awareness.

    CHC left a comment on 8/24/2011 at 3:49 PM:

    Oh, I gotta wait till September, nevermind…

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 8/24/2011 at 3:46 PM:

    @CHC—You can find all of these pieces, including the red jacket, at Penfield’s website later in September.

    CHC left a comment on 8/24/2011 at 3:43 PM:


    Do you know where I can find the puffy red jacket?

    khordkutta left a comment on 8/24/2011 at 3:17 PM:

    co-sign, with jason one-hunnid.  Again…Really nice shots FEC!

    jason left a comment on 8/24/2011 at 2:05 PM:

    It seems we’ve lost sight of the forest for the trees.  I for one could care less whether the brand is authentically “heritage” or not.  The point is whether they make quality clothing that is aesthetically appealing to you.  The company could have been started last week for all I care, so long as the clothing is quality-made and looks nice.  I’ve never owned anything by Penfield, but I like some of the pieces here and have already begun compiling a list.  If they turn out to be quality, well-fitting pieces, then they have my business regardless of the date of their founding.

    cam left a comment on 8/24/2011 at 1:37 PM:

    @FEC…great shots…as stated in my previous post..i don’t know why you continue to waste your time responding to the continued negativity..chalk it up to a heaping bowl of jealousy lol

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 8/24/2011 at 1:06 PM:

    @AEV—Has it occurred to you that the location was chosen because of where Christine lives (Boston) or where Skip went to school (Harvard)?  Has it occurred to you the styling is the way it is because that’s how we (real people here) dress?  I hope it would.  We all actually wear Bean Boots…shocking.  This is authentic as it gets.  Penfield asked us to be ourselves.  We did that.  All they did was say “We like the final product, we’ll use it.”  It is *that* authenticity that Penfield was interested in.  The result speaks for itself.

    AEV left a comment on 8/24/2011 at 12:50 PM:

    Fred - You guys chose it, Penfield approved it and is using it to market their clothes. And, you never would have chosen to incorporate the setting and old Bean boots/mocs, etc. if you weren’t trying to develop and sell a ‘heritage’ aesthetic!

    Again, I understand why you’re compelled to defend your position/the label, but don’t erode your credibility by debating the unarguable….

    We all know that numerous brands are coming out of the closet, relaunching their labels and riding the American heritage brand fad. Some brands pull it off because of well established brand heritage. Some don’t. If you feel an outerwear brand founded in 1975 that almost no one has heard of has what it takes to market itself based on it’s history and heritage (and compete with numerous other brands that make the same stuff and have been around decades longer), fine. I, for one, don’t.

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 8/24/2011 at 12:28 PM:

    @AEV—Every aspect of this shoot was a product of Christine, Skip, and myself. The Bean Boots are pre-owned because they are Christine’s…which were passed down by her mom. The Bean mocs are Skip’s. The locations we chose…the concept, we pitched. It was us who interpreted the brand the way whichever way you are choosing to see it. Penfield have us the clothes for the shoot, that’s it.

    AEV left a comment on 8/24/2011 at 12:11 PM:

    Fred - C’mon. A throwback/70s logo, marketing/copy that emphasizes the date the company began (which, frankly, isn’t all that long ago compared with their competition…), they’ve named one of their three clothing lines ‘classic’, and photo spreads/marketing that includes pre-owned Bean boots and cobblestone streets paired with their retro-inspired outerwear. You’re not getting a “heritage vibe”? I see.

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 8/24/2011 at 12:03 PM:

    @AEV—My understanding is that Penfield has specialized in the high quality down filled jackets, fleece, and outerwear since 1975.  I am not getting a heritage vibe other than the fact they they state when they were founded.

    AEV left a comment on 8/24/2011 at 11:55 AM:

    Fred - You’ve just perfectly articulated the problem Penfield has, in my mind, trying to ride the heritage brand craze and relaunch their label on the basis of history and longevity.

    It comes across as little more than aggresive marketing that’s trying to take advantage of a recent trend….if the history/following/traditon/presense isn’t there, you can’t sell and market clothes based on it.

    Hey - in the end, the pics are great and I can’t fault them for trying…it just strikes me as forced that all of the marketing and promotion is based on ‘heritage’ when little/none exits.

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 8/24/2011 at 11:49 AM:

    @AEV—To the layman, Pendleton, Quoddy, and Penfield would all be viewed as having niche followings.  Pendleton has been around for 140 years…Quoddy for 102 years…Pendfield for 35 years.  Give a company a little time to establish a “presence.”

    AEV left a comment on 8/24/2011 at 11:37 AM:

    Fred - ‘slight obscurity’ is Pendleton or Quoddy….In short, almost no one’s heard of Penfield - not because they’re ‘undiscovered’ but because they simply never developed a following or presense.

    But, we can agree to disagree…I know you’re not unbias on this one for obvious reasons…

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 8/24/2011 at 11:18 AM:

    @AEV & GLG—Their slight obscurity is what I like about Penfield the most. The product is quality American sportswear, yet it still feels like you discovered something nice.

    Trailer Trad left a comment on 8/24/2011 at 11:15 AM:

    What nice images! The young lady is just a wee bit photogenic. And, yes, I am a master of understatement.

    August left a comment on 8/24/2011 at 11:02 AM:


    James left a comment on 8/24/2011 at 10:51 AM:

    Nice work FEC.

    DBCC left a comment on 8/24/2011 at 10:35 AM:

    @FEC - awesome photos.  Roy Moore in Rockport, MA is where it’s at!

    @AEV - being born and raised and still residing in MA, I agree with you, Penfield doesn’t have the brand awareness of L.L. Bean.  I first heard of them via Bonobos.com.  Where in New England are you from?

    GLG left a comment on 8/24/2011 at 9:08 AM:

    I noticed this on Skip’s site, great job with the shoot Fred, it came out nice.  I like the vintage Bean Boots, one of the many things that look foolish when overly new.  Also @AEV - Being a fellow New Englander, I have to agree that Penfield has never really had a presence in my coat closet.  I think the market has narrowed even more since the 80’s and 80’s especially considering the growth of the campings stores like EMS and REI, and the increasingly amount of technical gear available at more traditional stores like LL Bean.

    Sam left a comment on 8/24/2011 at 8:13 AM:

    Great photos!

    AEV left a comment on 8/24/2011 at 8:12 AM:

    Great photos, cool project. I think Penfield’s problem is that most people haven’t heard of them…they just didn’t have a large presence with their own label (in large part because they were a producer for other, similar brands like L.L. Bean, EMS, and Lands’ End and only really made rugged outdoor gear…). I know bringing back (and expanding and exaggerating) heritage labels was/is all the rage, but it helps having a brand/logo/label folks remember.

    I grew up in New England during the 80s/90s and never had a single Penfield branded item….if I/my friends needed a down vest, we went with Bean and if we needed more technical outdoor gear we chose Patagonia/EMS.

    SK left a comment on 8/24/2011 at 6:46 AM:

    what a beautiful girl!


  • Check In

    Top Drawer | Dress Code  

    Noteworthy: burnished penny loafer (made in USA), Ralph Lauren Purple Label club tie, red gingham button down by F.E. Castleberry for Jack Robie. Simply a preview for now, the shirts are currently being made here in the States and will be available for purchase at JackRobie.com in the latter half of October.

    Aug 19, 2011 | Permalink (23) View/Leave Comments

    AGW left a comment on 12/23/2011 at 1:51 AM:

    FEC- I’ve just discovered the wonders that is UP. So a FEC for Jack Robie was something I found of which I had to follow up. Went to the site and found a few sizes still available.
    Question: how would you recommend (if at all) a woman sport your signature shirt?
    I’m thinking this would cap off perfectly a look with Cole Haan loafers, go-to-hell shorts and tort Persols.

    Barrett left a comment on 8/24/2011 at 9:07 AM:

    Iconic. Can’t wait to snatch one up.

    msa left a comment on 8/24/2011 at 12:49 AM:

    Tell your friends at Robie to offer an XS size.

    Joey Dee left a comment on 8/23/2011 at 11:08 PM:

    Very nice. Can’t wait to see what else gets produced!

    cam left a comment on 8/23/2011 at 4:15 PM:

    this looks very nice fred. good luck and continued success. i don’t know why you waste your time responding to the continued negative feedback…lol

    OldGeorgetowner left a comment on 8/23/2011 at 3:35 PM:

    “Made in the states”?  That’s great.  This seems to becoming important to fellow preps.

    JasonEG left a comment on 8/23/2011 at 3:31 PM:

    Straight forward look. Overall, well done.

    Hilton left a comment on 8/23/2011 at 3:15 PM:

    Fred- How do you feel about red gingham on most men? It looks good on you, but I’m not sure if it will work with all complexions. Thanks.

    Darian left a comment on 8/23/2011 at 1:30 PM:

    Great look, congrats on your new venture.  I’m excited to see the products.

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 8/23/2011 at 12:07 PM:

    @AEV—You are right, they do offer a button down collar; however, it is cut to be worn untucked in large part.  I took bits and pieces from their sport shirt and dress shirt then added my own touches.  Shirting is about fit, fabric, and the subtle details. I hope you like it.

    khordkutta left a comment on 8/23/2011 at 11:59 AM:

    nicely done, nicely done

    AEV left a comment on 8/23/2011 at 11:55 AM:

    Fred - Got it. I thought Robie already offered a button down collar, ginghman shirt (in a size/style that looks very similar to the one you’re wearing)...perhaps I’m wrong. Regardless, looking forward to seeing what makes your’s different!

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 8/23/2011 at 11:49 AM:

    @AEV—The fit, yes, is the same.  That’s one of the reasons I even agreed to work with Jack Robie.  Changing the fit of a shirt is also very costly.  Jack Robie spent thousands of dollars working with one of the best fit models in NYC to nail down the fit present in my red gingham shirt.

    The fabric, while I considered a number of red ginghams, settled upon a fabric from a mill Jack Robie already had a relationship with.

    The style, as I explained below, is different than what Jack Robie currently offers.

    AEV left a comment on 8/23/2011 at 11:45 AM:

    As much as I love a nice check/gingham shirt (and appreciate FEC’s enterprising spirit), I think folks should know that many options (below $105.00+) exist: e.g. Lands’ End sells great, all cotton (not non-iron), button down ones (in original or tailored fit) for less than $40.00. Also many made to measure brands, including J. Hilburn, will ‘custom’ make one to your exact measurements - J. Hilburn’s start at $89.00 (incl. shipping) and have a wide range of gingham fabrics (and collars/cuffs/details) to choose from.

    AEV left a comment on 8/23/2011 at 11:39 AM:

    Fred - So, the fit, fabric and style are the same as the gingham shirt they already sell? I’m confused.

    Christian Bourasseau left a comment on 8/23/2011 at 11:26 AM:

    Brilliant! I love the entire look.

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 8/23/2011 at 11:25 AM:

    @wj—The jeans are 501s with the leg taken in from the knee down.

    @JAH—I have considered it and will be working towards that.  Is your interest in knowing how to dress for work?

    @AEV—Great question.  In designing this shirt for Jack Robie, I kept the great fit of the dress shirt they introduced last spring.  Off the rack, it sits close to the body but allows for a wide range of movement given the side pleats I used.  I also chose to keep the inherent sportiness of gingham with a button down collar, chest pocket, and a couple more little surprises.

    The inspiration for this shirt was born out of its limited availability in a good fabric.  Some were too sport shirt, others’ checks were too large, others’ fabric was too cheap, etc.

    wj left a comment on 8/23/2011 at 11:16 AM:

    jeans? 501s?

    Kory left a comment on 8/23/2011 at 10:35 AM:

    Looking forward to seeing them on Jack Robie. I have been in the market for a red gingham and I think I found it! Cannot wait to see what else you have in mind. Keep up the great work!

    Tito left a comment on 8/23/2011 at 9:47 AM:

    Congrats! my friend and good luck on your Collections.
    Nice start with Jack Robie Collaboration.

    JAH left a comment on 8/23/2011 at 9:35 AM:

    As always, great work, Fred.  Have you considered doing a series of more formal outfits?  Dress pants, dress shirts, blazers & sportcoats, suits, et cetera?

    AEV left a comment on 8/23/2011 at 8:32 AM:

    Fred - how will your shirts be different than the bold gingham shirts already offered by Jack Robie?

    Julien left a comment on 8/23/2011 at 6:01 AM:

    It may be hard, but the result is there. This self-portrait is very successful. Your work is great… As usual.

    NB : Excuse me for the mistakes ... I’m french.


  • Hammer & Forge


    Aug 18, 2011 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

    Kick off the comments by using the stationery below to pen your thoughts.


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