A Shot in the Dark

Yeah, someone wanted to photograph me again. I warn them I’m the most unphotogenic style writer ever. I spew admonishments that my facial expressions have a high constipation factor. I suggest a minimum of 100 clicks of the shutter, not because I enjoy the camera, but because I so obviously don’t.

This latest shot is by Rose Callahan for her project The Dandy Portraits. It was taken at The Campbell Apartment at Grand Central Station, one of the first places I went for drinks after moving to NYC.

I’ve never played the “What Are You Wearing” game, but this seems like the perfect excuse. I’m sporting a vintage Harris Tweed herringbone sportcoat, Brooks Brothers shirt and slim Churchill-dot tie, J. Press collar pin, Ralph Lauren Purple Label pocket square in paisley, grey flannels by O’Connell’s and Alden tassel loafers.

It was about 18 degrees that day, and unseen are some of my more infamous winter items, including my polo coat, patchwork cap (only one I’ve got), Black Watch scarf (ditto), and the much-despised vintage LL Bean navy canvas messenger bag. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

32 Comments on "A Shot in the Dark"

  1. You look great – and the duds are classic good-looking gear. You are the image of Ivy Style!

    Best wishes!

  2. Excellent tweed. I might have to try the Campbell Apartment next time I’m at Grand Central. Thanks for the tip!

  3. I’m wearing the J. Press version of your sport coat right now. I also happen to dislike having my photograph taken and appear constipated (guffaws). Try to just be natural and not “pose”. (advice that I would benefit from)

    You look sharp, Christian.

  4. Looking sharp and after reading the comments about your bag I can only imagine that I would be drummed out of the Tradernity if anyone ever knew about the Jack Spade bag I carry each day. Whoops.

  5. Rather than “constipated”, I’d prefer to call it
    the William Powell (“Life with Father”) look:

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_hHda6JqqlTM/TC3xQ26QY1I/AAAAAAAAFAA/bR9nbWUNQLs/s1600/lwf4.jpg

    The combo reflects great taste.. (Easy for me to say, since I wore the same shirt+jacket+tie yesterday, with the exception that my shirt had a tab collar)

  6. Isn’t it sad that what was once simply tasteful dressing is now regardard as “dandyism”? (“The Dandy Portraits”)

  7. I know what you’re suggesting, but I think I actually disappointed the photographer by not being more outlandish.

  8. Christian,

    You look great, but you’re missing a crucial component in attempting to define a preppy classic style: reputation management, of which the most heavily weighted factor is authenticity. By blogging and dressing prep to have a cocktail at The Campbell Apartment does not do justice to this aesthetic. It’s a hollow simulacrum.

    A simple thought that everyone agrees with but forgets: authenticity doesn’t come in brands or blogs. There are some of us out there who grew up in these institutions and who have a personal investment in these places and activities, of which the aesthetic is secondary.

    Yes, these blogging efforts probably do help the man on the street with style, but who wants to be dressed by the internet? How about we dress for what we do? If prep is an American classic and if Americans are defined by our work and play, then let’s keep that in mind. Let’s not be defined by something we have no memory of and no personal investment in.

  9. That’s a great shirt/tie/jacket/square combo, you could do better. As for the constipated/axe-murderer look, just smile instead.

  10. I mean’t you couldn’t have done better. damn typos!

  11. Thanks. Definitely wouldn’t want to look like a poorly dressed constipated axe murderer…

  12. ScoobyDubious | February 4, 2011 at 12:46 pm |

    @anonymous

    “There are some of us out there who grew up in these institutions and who have a personal investment in these places and activities, of which the aesthetic is secondary. ”

    …said the “authentic” anonymous poster.

  13. I invested $20 in drinks at the Campbell Apartment.

  14. haha, touché…stay breezy. Not mentioned earlier, but is what you already know: this style is about having fun within an aesthetic schemata. Pip pip.

  15. FYI:

    http://twitter.com/IvyStylecom/status/30753866731487234

    Applies to blog comment-leavers as well.

  16. ^^Too funny!^^

  17. ScoobyDubious | February 4, 2011 at 2:22 pm |

    @anonymous (of course)

    Bully for you! You win the prize for most pretentious condescending anonymous post of the day!

    I didn’t get the course syllabus this semester Can you tell me the page number where it says…”this style is about having fun within an aesthetic schemata.”?

    That sounds like an oxymoronic statement. I wasn’t aware i needed an “aethetic schemata” for “having fun”.

    Toodle pip!

  18. ScoobyDubious | February 4, 2011 at 2:23 pm |

    pardon my typos.

  19. Arthur Orton | February 4, 2011 at 2:28 pm |

    You’re no Lapo Elkan.

  20. Anon’s second post does seem to contradict the first. In the second he encourages “fun within an aesthetic schemata,” which doesn’t sound like something someone to the manner born would say, while in the first it sounds like he’s suggesting you need to be a Vanderbilt to go have a drink at the Campbell.

  21. I predicted things would go sour before the 20th comment, and Arthur came in right on cue at #19.

    It’s all snark from here on.

  22. ScoobyDubious | February 4, 2011 at 2:36 pm |

    In his first post he claims to be American. “Authentic” we must assume. In the second post he uses the distinctly British “pip pip”.

    So one way or another, he’s an authentic anonymous fraud.

  23. Not sure about the bengal stripe but otherwise fine.

    If it worries you, you could always crop the picture to show the neck down or try one of the WAYWN face-obscuring gimmicks.

  24. It’s a good photo but you’re doing whan many of us do when we have our picture taken which is to strike the Mussolini pose. Stiffen the jaw and stare at the camera like the man of destiny. Nothing wrong with it, we all do it. Nice get up. But lose the cap.

  25. Christian, you’ve got to have a thick skin to post photos for us cretins to critique (while not showing pictures of ourselves). Bravo. I still use an identical LL Bean canvas bag except 1) it’s khaki rather than your much sharper navy and 2) I live in an anti-fashion or fashion-less environment so nobody notices one way or the other.

    Re “Let’s not be defined by something we have no memory of and no personal investment in”” Puleeze… for those of us who grew up in a certain era – 1950-60s – in certain regions – primarily Great Lakes, East Coast and South – the so-called Ivy Style was simply what men’s clothes were. I had no idea what a prep school was; we simply dressed the same way the guys a couple of years older than us – plus a large percentage of the adults we encountered – dressed, a fact atested to by the popular culture depictions of 50s-60s style that Christian often posts here.

    Going to California in the Navy in 1968 I was surprised to learn that the “kids” there didn’t dress like I did (off duty) although many of the other service personnel did because they were from the same East Coast background. Photos of American sailors at late-60s “sayonara parties” at Yokohama bars show young men who look virtually the same as the 1950s frat photos that sometimes appear on Christian’s blog.

    Going to West Coast colleges in the 1972-1976 era I had to order the clothes I wanted from LL Bean, Orvis, etc., because they couldn’t be found where I lived. When I went to have some LL Bean cavalry twill slacks altered in Bellingham, WA the tailor asked why I wanted to wear police uniform pants on a college campus.

  26. CC – the LL Bean Bag is just fine. If you tire of it, I will give it a loving home. Otherwise, enjoy it.

  27. I looked hard for it and enjoy it, including for its infamy.

  28. ScoobyDubious | February 6, 2011 at 1:29 pm |

    Mazama said:

    “Re “Let’s not be defined by something we have no memory of and no personal investment in”” Puleeze… for those of us who grew up in a certain era – 1950-60s – in certain regions – primarily Great Lakes, East Coast and South – the so-called Ivy Style was simply what men’s clothes were. I had no idea what a prep school was; we simply dressed the same way the guys a couple of years older than us – plus a large percentage of the adults we encountered – dressed, a fact attested to by the popular culture depictions of 50s-60s style that Christian often posts here.”

    __________________________________________________

    YES. Thank you. Something the UK obsessives just can’t seem to grasp. Or just ignore because it conflicts with the fantasy world in their head – constructed from daydreams of old Esquire ads and their desperate desire to be “hip”. This is just what many American people wore. The vast majority of them NOT going to Ivy League schools (or even aspiring/pretending to do so). Maybe just a high school kid in his Gant shirt, madras and Yumas. Or a government civil servant in his Brooks suit and longwings.

    No “aesthetic schemata” (good lord what a crock!). Not an elite secret club. Quite the opposite.

  29. “When I went to have some LL Bean cavalry twill slacks altered in Bellingham, WA”

    Bellingham has never been a touchstone of male fashion based on my observations. In fact Bellingham like a lot other places scattered across America doesn’t even know male fashion exists.

  30. ScoobyDubious | February 7, 2011 at 4:01 pm |

    unrelated side note : Russ/Jim….get back on your meds, or get some therapy. Seriously.

    I’m NOT joking.

  31. “# Comment by Ottovbvs — February 7, 2011… Bellingham has never been a touchstone of male fashion based on my observations. In fact Bellingham like a lot other places scattered across America doesn’t even know male fashion exists.”

    That was the point I was making, dude. Those who take “fashion”, as opposed to authentic style (i.e.,culturally oriented attire) seriously are a tiny minority among American men. Nothing wrong with fashionistas, it’s just that their interests and concerns are not mainstream interests and concerns.

    I like cavalry twill slacks, BDCs, etc., because they’re relevant to a culture I still identify with even though it’s 45 years and 2,500 miles away from my present environment.

    Mid-70s Northwest state college style – not really fashion – was an REI-inspired “hey, I’m a backpacker” look, which morphed into the 1980s Seattle grunge scene. State college profs of that era, being from prior generations when what is now called “Trad” was simply mainstream male attire, had a somewhat Ivy style whereas a lot of the profs in more recent years lean toward what post-Ivy college kids wore from the mid-70s on. That’s not so hard to understand, it it?

  32. I do like your Tweed jacket. And The Campbell Apt. looks like a great place for a drink, no matter where you were “institutionalized”…

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