A Spring Bouquet In Olive And Gray


Although I recently posted a pink Brooks Brothers fun shirt I acquired, I should clarify that it’s for the dog days of summer. This spring, while others were quick on the draw with their pastels, I’ve been clad in the sober Ivy colors of olive and gray, snazzed up with a patterned belt.

For example, the assortment above includes Levis 501s in olive, plus chinos in olive and gray. Polo shirts are olive and charcoal, with brown and heathered navy thrown in. Shoes are penny loafers, plus canvas sneakers in beatnik-chic black and weathered blue.

But my favorite in this lot is a charcoal cotton Lands’ End saddle-shouldered “Drifter” sweater, for which I searched high and low and finally found on eBay for 99 cents. — c C m

45 Comments on "A Spring Bouquet In Olive And Gray"

  1. A few of these pieces certainly work, but olive has got to be the worst clothing color in existence.

  2. I like the neutral of olive 12 months a year. For the most part I stick with that palette on the bottom half of my frame as my sickly, white skin tone doesn’t take kindly to olive up around my face….until I get a tan.
    Olive and tan skin then co-exist happily throughout the summer.

  3. Christian, I am a big fan of olive, but I can’t get behind grey chinos. They always look off to me just as grey flannel trousers always look correct.

  4. Glad to know everyone on here is on board with olive jeans. I mean c’mon…..

    Olive jeans and a heathered brown polo shirt? Paired with black sneakers and a gray sweater?This is a joke, right? Christian, are you the Grand Master of an Earth Day parade? Going birding in the woods? Playing hide and seek in a quarry?

  5. CC – now you’re deleting reader comments too? Seems hypocritical for someone who takes regular, public, comedic shots at other bloggers fairly regularly….

    Nothing I wrote in my last comment was profane or inappropriate and it was directly related to this post….

    Just amazing.

  6. Christian | May 22, 2013 at 11:27 am |

    Calm down, AEV. Look at the times above. It only took nine minutes in the moderation queue for you to jump to the assumption that I was taking away your right to free speech on my website with your assumptions about how the items above are combined.

  7. Let me clarify. I am a fan of olive, but not denim in olive or denim in any color as a matter of fact. Also, I enjoy the outdoors and think that birding is perfectly trad.

  8. @CC – Calm as can be. I apologize. And, am greatly appreciative of your help securing my rights….

  9. Christian | May 22, 2013 at 9:12 pm |


    Quote: “olive has got to be the worst clothing color in existence.”

    I just watched “Django Unchained” tonight and couldn’t help but notice that Jamie Foxx wears an olive jacket. To me he looks pretty good (it’s certainly an improvement over his previous Austin Powers outfit), and I was wondering if a cool cinematic black cowboy might persuade you to alter your opinion.

  10. I look forward to the fall bouquet in pastels and white.

  11. ironchefsakai | May 22, 2013 at 11:19 pm |

    What are the loafers? I can’t tell on my phone screen.

  12. There’s nothing wrong with earth tones, olive included. There is something wrong with this picture though. It looks like you walked into a messy bedroom and took a photograph of the floor.

  13. Olive is a color best avoided by many men, as it will make them look sallow. However, those whom it flatters—often, but not always, men with red hair or a reddish tinge to their hair—should wear it, as it is a classic. Olive suits, such as Brooks Brothers sometimes offers, are a great look for warm weather. I bet you could find something on eBay if you tried.

  14. Orgastic future | May 23, 2013 at 2:20 am |

    Olive can be a very viable option. In fact, at one point for a couple of years….. I wore it everyday. U.S. Army lol

  15. Great hues of earth colors (really like those argyle socks), though better for Springtime on the Eastern Seaboard than the West Coast. But the sneakers- Sperry’s or Van’s? For me white or navy (and maybe that red which fades with sun and salt). There used to be a beige, too.

    Olive is an excellent color for summer and fall suits (cotton, gabardine, tweed), socks, sweaters, striped shirts, khakis, ties…but not shoes. A favorite color since matching my skin tones is not a priority.

  16. Say, I like the color of your jeans there, man. What’s that s’posed to be? Sort of a cross between piss yella’ and puke green, ain’t it?

    Olive probably works on some people, but I find the color itself unsightly. I once reached for an olive mac, and just thought, “you can do better.”

    The belts are lovely.

  17. I’ve got to agree with Bebe on this. I own almost as many OD chinos as khakis.

  18. Christian | May 23, 2013 at 9:09 am |


    Loafers are Allen Edmonds’ Walden model.



  19. Looks a bit somber for spring. Nothing against the color olive, but isn’t spring better suited to celebrating winter’s end with color? Madras and seersucker making their appearances, navy and nautical stripes. Just seems uncreative and, well bland.

  20. Christian | May 23, 2013 at 9:45 am |

    Bland men often dress blandly. But sometimes men who aren’t bland also dress blandly.

    It was said of George Brummell that his dress was so understated as to be entirely dependent on his personality for effect.

  21. Christian –

    No, Jaime Foxx’s color choices in pseudo-historic, reimagined “western” movies don’t influence my personal style choices. Never have, never will. I want to believe you were kidding. I fear you may not have been.

    @Ethan – I don’t own a copy of Take Ivy. Don’t plan on it. And, I fear that the impulse to copy (historic photographs, books, movies, Japanese people, blogs/bloggers, shop owners, black cowboys, the online scrapbooks of strangers, jazz musicians, catalogs, storefront mannequins, neighbors, artists, etc.) is a driving force behind the mess menswear and classicly natural style finds itself in.

  22. ….apologies, my last reply was directed at Thad, not Ethan…..all of the overly-conceived WASPy names are hard to keep track of….

  23. Christian | May 23, 2013 at 12:43 pm |

    “I fear that the impulse to copy (historic photographs, books, movies, Japanese people, blogs/bloggers, shop owners, black cowboys, the online scrapbooks of strangers, jazz musicians, catalogs, storefront mannequins, neighbors, artists, etc.) is a driving force behind the mess menswear and classicly natural style finds itself in.”

    What an odd comment to leave on a style blog. Those are all our topic categories! What in the world would you like to see on a style website? Good thing you’re not a blogger and just a critic of them, AEV. One assumes that after a dozen posts on “classically natural style” you would have said all there is to say and shown all there is to show.

  24. ….it’s also clear to me that Christian – and others – are enthusiastic about “olive” because they believe they should be and have bought into the mythology that “olive” is a “preppy” color because Bruce Boyer and some shots in Take Ivy say so.

    The simple reality is that much of the clothing featured in Take Ivy is terrible. Few items fit correctly, many of the pieces are anomolies that just don’t work, and many of the styles and colors simply haven’t stood the test of time.

    Olive and khaki – as Boyer points out in his piece on the matter – were popularly derived, in this country anyway, from the military culture and engagements of the 1940s (up through the late 60s-early 70s). That doesn’t make them “preppy” or attractive….in fact, it doesn’t mean anything at all aside from the obvious and narrow historical derivations that gave birth to them. This is no different than numerous other campus/Ivy style evolutions that reflected their eras (counter/psychedelic/60s culture, punk, grunge, etc.)….should we all start wearing tie-dye, doc martens, and torn plaid shirts?

    People need to stop copying and start living their own lives. Really.

  25. Christian –

    There is a Grand Canyon size difference between having genuine interests in (and talents derived from) a range of topics and obsessively copying and studying things you believe are reflective of some sort of contrived, aspirational lifestyle.

    Surely you understand this…..whether you live it in practice is another matter.

  26. Christian | May 23, 2013 at 12:55 pm |

    Earlier you said that olive is the worst color clothing in existence, but then you said “color choices in… movies don’t influence my personal style choices.”

    An inconsistency, perhaps? Is olive just plain bad, or is it simply not a personal color choice for you?

    You seem very canononical and orthodox in your thinking, unless there’s something in the canon or orthodoxy that you don’t like. I get the sense that your complaints (your primary motivation for leaving comments) are a jumbled mixture of what is canonical versus what is personal taste.

  27. I’m crying with laughter. I am reading AEV’s run and pictured Stefon of SNL delivering the same! Sherpas, greesers, swim trunks by Nick Nolte and Gabbana! What’s the password to get in Club Ivy?

  28. I’m not following your quest to find inconsistencies. I don’t like olive nor do I allow Jaime Foxx to dictate my personal tastes. I wear what I like and what corresponds with my personal style; something that has developed organically (at least compared to a style which may be shaped overtly and deliberately by Ivy books or Jaime Foxx). You find that to be inconsistent?

  29. @M Arthur – the password, apparently, is Django.

  30. The password is…….olive!

  31. Christian | May 23, 2013 at 1:15 pm |

    I’m not following who or what “obsessively copying and studying things you believe are reflective of some sort of contrived, aspirational lifestyle” is referring to.

    As for inconsistencies, this passing phrase illustrates the jumbled thinking:

    “That doesn’t make them ‘preppy’ or attractive….”

    What makes olive Ivy is a matter of fact. What makes it attractive is subjective.

    And yes, I stand by the original statement:

    a) I get the sense that you combine attacks on people and things for being non-canonical (preppy-with-a-twist, for example, though I have no idea what canon you’re drawing on) because…

    b) … your idea of what comprises the Ivy or preppy canon seems to be largely determined by personal taste.

    You say:

    “….it’s also clear to me that Christian – and others – are enthusiastic about “olive” because they believe they should be and have bought into the mythology that “olive” is a “preppy” color because Bruce Boyer and some shots in Take Ivy say so.”

    And then in another comment, say:

    “I’m not following your quest to find inconsistencies. I don’t like olive…”

    It’s quite obvious that your rationale for the first remark comes from the second: “I don’t like olive.”

    There’s something else highly illustrative of your jumping to conclusions of your own imagining. Why did you see fit to say you don’t let Jaime Foxx dictate your personal tastes*, when I never suggested anything so absurd? You said olive is the worst color for clothing possible, and I played devil’s advocate and said how about on a black cowboy. I mean, it doesn’t look like the worst color possible on him. I think he looks great.

    * again, “personal tastes,” not whether something is Ivy or preppy or not.

  32. “All theory is gray, my friend. But forever green is the tree of life.”

    ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe,

  33. I love olive, and buy it whenever possible. However, grey chinos look like they are part of a gas station attendant’s uniform.

  34. “Grau, theurer Freund, ist alle Theorie,
    Und grün des Lebens goldner Baum.”

    Golden tree, that is.

  35. Christian –

    I think you’re confused; your arguments certainly are.

    “Ivy” is, at best, an amorphous, ill-defined web of innumerable things. To say “olive is Ivy” is to play right into my criticism. No color is factually “Ivy”. Such a statement is cringe inducing. The fact the Bruce Boyer or an odd coffee table book references the color, doesn’t mean much of anything. For every page in Take Ivy that features earth tones, or every wise sage who waxes poetic about the good old days, there’s a page featuring plaids and bright colors and an old timer reminding us about GTH and Palm Beach/island styles. If olive is “Ivy”, so is every color of the rainbow. If what kids wore on Ivy campuses in the early 60s is “Ivy style”, so is what kids wore at Princeton in the 1990s….

    You, not me, seem very hung up on Ivy definitions and canons and – beyond religiously cataloguing them on here – your personal style seems measurably driven by them (a prime, but hardly rare, example being this post’s “spring” ensemble of all olive/gray/black….combined with your previous posts affirming their place in Ivy documentation). You also seem to espouse value and/or weight to, in this case, olive being worn in a “cool” way by Jaime Foxx in a movie (or Paul Newman, or jazz musicians, etc.) – suggesting, as you did, that if he can make it look good, than maybe I should reconsider my feelings about it. As I’ve made clear, what people wear in movies (or famous people wore in the 1950s-60s) has almost no influence on my personal style….

    I think my long comment record is quite consistent. My issue – largely – is that neo-preps and ignorants who help sustain your blog and many others, lack natural style and tend to cartoonishly focus on copying (in a range of manners I mentioned earlier). This “copying rather than living” leads to all sorts of bad decisions, from wearing all earth tones in spring because one believes the color is “factually Ivy” to breaking sensible and complex style traditions simply for the sake of it, copying other bloggers (or societal rebels, artists, designers, etc.) who do so and convincing oneself that forced rule breaking is somehow personal creative expression. It’s not – in most cases, it’s simply not knowing how to dress…plain and simple.

    I can hear you and others getting all Meta on me now: no one is free of influence! everything influences everything! who influences you, AEV?! style is constantly evolving! Right. To be sure, I too am prone to influences. But, when it comes to my personal style (and many of my likes/dislikes, hobbies, talents or lack thereof, etc.), my primary influences are not Steve McQueen, museum exhibitions, or strangers from Yale’s 1963 campus, but generations of my own family, athletics I was raised on, vacations I was taken on and places I visited and frequented as a child and young adult, friends I developed relationships with at an early age, culture I was exposed to as a kid, and so on. In short, my style is derived from my life and a natural circle of people, events, and experiences that intersected (and continue to intersect) my day to day existence. That doesn’t make me or my style any “better” than anyone else….it’s simply relevant and authoritative given this blog and subject matter.

    In conclusion, “Ivy” – like “preppy” – isn’t a definable or wearable thing. One can’t fake or buy these ideas as “styles” or wake up one day and decide to be “preppy”. The irony, of course, is that most people who try know this – the entire reason they’re trying is because the admire those that don’t have to.

  36. @AEV

    It’s interesting. What seems to be at work is affinity for Americana.

    The jeans, the jazz, the Ray Bans, the Weejuns, the Topsiders.

    I kinda-sorta get it. It’s all the rage right now, Americana. Retro. Vintage. Mustangs, McQueen, crew cuts.

    And yet, I don’t get it.

    I wish TNSIL could finally shake the brief and, in some ways, unfortunate, affiliations with early 60s era collegiate looks.

    The more I reflect, the more I appreciate the late 60s. TNSIL style, but the weird excesses (the crew cut, for instance) of the earlier part of the decade had been relinquished. It shed the narrowness and slowly returned to pre-Heyday dimensions (lapels, ties, pant bottoms).

    I still find greater kinship with the bespoke crowd. The style, fit, and cloth I prefer falls easily under the category of what Squeeze recalls as Custom Ivy. Pre Heyday.

    It was expensive then.
    It still is. I’ve always wondered how much $ Ivy-leaning posters here and elsewhere actually spend on good clothing.

  37. Wow! I never considered so many personal experiences to arrive at my own personal style! I stayed focused to one guiding influence when developing mine, “women” and what got me the most of them. A great target audience I might add! I’m I shallow?

  38. My contrived WASPy name | May 23, 2013 at 10:04 pm |


    Glad to hear about all of your fashion influences. I remember you wearing a super oversized whale belt buckle on your “profile” on Unabashedly Prep. Anyways… whoever influenced you to buy and wear that garish thing??? (Don’t do that).. Do yourself a favor and stop wearing it. Return it to its rightful owner, they want their door knocker back.

  39. I’m wary of advice to “live my own life” that comes from someone that I have suspected of stalking Fred Castleberry with the intent to murder him and dance around in his skin.

  40. Orgastic future | May 24, 2013 at 1:17 am |

    This thread became EPIC when M Arthur threw in Stefon!!!! Hahahah the password is Olive!!!!

  41. This thread is trending as amusingly as the Jazz one a while back. Once again, I am unaware of the monumental importance of such conundrums as whether the Color Olive is- or is not- Ivy, Trad, Preppy, whatever. Hi-la-ri-ous! Clearly one of those First World Problems that occupy certain second-rate minds in some traditional East Coast burgs.

    “People [sic] need to stop copying and start living their own lives. Really.”

    AEV, look in the mirror much?

  42. @ My contrived WASPy name

    AEV removed it from the door to the headquarters of Vineyard Vines.

  43. Woofboxer | May 25, 2013 at 5:27 am |

    I don’t understand this need to link a style of clothing to a privileged lifestyle, when it was widely worn in the 50s and 60s by people who were clearly not from that background. In 2013 is it not enough just to wear the clothes and like them for what they are?

  44. Christian | May 25, 2013 at 10:05 am |

    You may not understand it, Woofie, but we understand perfectly well the squeamish resistance to the origins of the Ivy League Look by apparently every man in England who wears it.

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