A Magical And Distant Place With Incredible Style

England is just kicking off its first game in the World Cup, and so here’s a bit of belated Blighty Ivy news.

In the wake of the new documentary about UK Ivy pioneer John Simons, last month The Guardian ran a lengthy profile, in which the soon-to-be 79-year-old talks about the “magical and distant” place of midcentury America.

By way of snippet:

Austin’s sold almost exclusively American clothing, and it was here that Simons’ enduring love affair with the “Ivy League” look began: a collegiate, neat aesthetic typified by soft-shouldered, single-breasted suit jackets, slimfit trousers, Oxford shirts, penny loafers and a short-back-and-sides. Think JFK, or weekend Don Draper in polo shirt and chinos.

At Austin’s, there was no curation as such, and the shop was not a youth hangout. It was an old-fashioned retailer selling to middle-aged businessmen looking for a hint of Madison Avenue. En masse, the conservative-looking clothes could seem bland, but by picking out select lines and adding a distinctly British twist, it was possible to mould an entirely new look. Simons had found his niche.

“When you were born like I was, just as the war started, the big draw growing up was the US – for music, art and imagination. It was a magical and distant place with incredible style. The films, the TV … but it was the music that was especially big for me.” Rolled up with all this was a burgeoning love of jazz. He started having saxophone lessons – he still plays – and studied the look of his heroes on Blue Note record sleeves, still a source of inspiration.

“We started selling a green button-down shirt like the one Miles Davis wore on the cover of Milestones,” he says. It is still selling well.

Check out the full piece here. And good luck to England in the 2018 Cup. It’s not like we in this magical place can cheer for our own team. — CC

15 Comments on "A Magical And Distant Place With Incredible Style"

  1. Charlottesville | June 18, 2018 at 2:57 pm |

    Frank Sinatra and Paul Newman are fairly easy to identify. I think the third may be Chet Baker. Hope I get to see the film.

  2. Old School | June 18, 2018 at 2:59 pm |

    For many of us in the States, that magical and distant place with incredible style was Camelot.

  3. Mitchell S. | June 18, 2018 at 4:26 pm |

    According to the Wall Street Journal, “Dad Style” is the hottest fashion trend right now.

    Look for hipsters to wear madras shirts and khakis now. All in all not a bad trend.

  4. Evan Everhart | June 18, 2018 at 4:30 pm |

    Ah, the mythic and gorgeous pale green OCBD. It’s still a perennial favorite and imminently stylish. I also noticed that Barney Collier of M:I fame was often dressed in these during the earlier seasons of the show, along with black smooth leather Wallabees (Yay to the former, YUCK, to the latter).

  5. John De la Cruz | June 18, 2018 at 5:53 pm |

    Tunisia 1-2 England

  6. Carmelo Pugliatti | June 18, 2018 at 7:26 pm |

    A Magical and distant place with incredible style ?

    Wow…Savile Row !!

  7. Just Sayin' | June 18, 2018 at 8:14 pm |

    @ Charlottesville – Chet Baker is correct. Interesting to see Baker and Sinatra on here, neither of whom were known for wearing Ivy (or particularly trad) style.

  8. Certainly they weren’t as prominent exemplars of the style as others of the heyday years, but they’ve both appeared on Ivy Style a number of times. Richard Press has written about Sinatra’s visits to JP, and I wrote about Chet for The Rake here:


  9. Old School Tie | June 19, 2018 at 6:21 am |

    No problems with image rights in those days….

  10. Charlottesville | June 19, 2018 at 10:13 am |

    Just Sayin’ and Christian – I recently discovered Chet Baker’s sessions with Bill Evans from ’58 and ’59 and listened to them over the weekend. Very nice instrumental jazz.

    Speaking of recent discoveries, I just noticed that the penny loafers and wingtips above remind me of the opening credits of My Three Sons (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htETnX9p__I). The images are different enough that it was probably not intentional. Wingtips were the primary dress shoes for my older brothers in the 60s and into the 70s. Longwings are still among my favorites today with tweeds or flannel and sometimes with summer poplin suits, although I tend to wear tassel or penny loafers this time of year, even with suits.

  11. EVAN EVERHART | June 19, 2018 at 2:20 pm |

    Imagine, if the modern igents, #dapperdudes, and hipsters were to start wearing high rise trousers, olive whip or pin-cord suits, Bass Weejuns, or longwings, and OCBDs with straw porkpie hats with pugaree silk bands, I think I’d just about keel over. To quote the Beach Boys; “Wouldn’t it be nice…” Of course, none of those things would appeal to modern hipsters unless it was accidental, or as an “ironic” and merely incidental “statement”, and even then, the fit would probably be entirely wrong, or the quality of the items themselves so down-market as to be lamentable to the point of caricature….Grim days we live in, as the morals, ethics, and cultural vernacular to which all of these things belong, and for which they are a powerful voice, have largely gone the way of the dodo, as far as the younger generations are concerned, at least for the most part.

  12. Just Sayin' | June 19, 2018 at 4:08 pm |

    @Charlottesville – one of my favorite records. I love Pepper Adams on it, too. The story of Chet Baker at Riverside is fascinating, he was eventually cut loose because of his drug problem, and allegedly contributed to the label’s ultimate demise by stealing loads of unsold records (with Philly Joe Jones) to fund his habit.

  13. Charlottesville | June 19, 2018 at 4:58 pm |

    Just Sayin’ — I hadn’t heard that story. Poor Mr. Baker. Such a wasted life and sad end for a very talented musician. Still sounds great today.

  14. Just Sayin' | June 19, 2018 at 9:00 pm |

    @ Charlottesville – I agree, his reputation is often a whitebread Miles Davis but they’re really apples and oranges in my mind.

  15. The artwork featured above was by Ivy author Mr. Graham Marsh.
    Note “invitation only”. J.Simons looked after their client base with special sales for which you had to be on the list. JS was never elitist but you had to be in the loop for these things.

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