Another World

Yesterday Stephen Hawking left us for another world. In honor of his passing, we revisit this amazing photo from his college days that we ran last spring.

* * *

Today we take a trip to England, the country that gave us the blueprint for America’s universities and the raw materials for the Ivy League Look. I suspect that many of you, like me, are Anglophiles. You’re probably also interested in different historical periods and wish you could journey back in time to experience what life was like in the past, especially with a reliable time machine that could get you back, with the push of a button, to your comfortable and familiar home in the world of 2017.

And you probably enjoy male camaraderie. Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time at the tennis courts, but have found myself conversing as much as playing. It’s almost all men there — men from all professions and parts of the world — and thus is a source of male social interaction that is so important for being happy and fulfilled. Ivy Style offers you a virtual gathering place, a digital boy’s club, just don’t forget the real thing outside your door.

This was a meandering way of leading up to what we are now going to consider together, and that is this almost incomprehensibly charming historical photograph. The rarefied world depicted therein — that of the Oxford Boat Club circa 1961 — is so fantastical as to strike us practically as a work of fiction.

I came across it recently after watching the Stephen Hawking biopic “The Theory Of Everything.” Hawking’s in the photo and isn’t too hard to pick out. But check out all the other characters as well. The variety of expressions, poses and antics is astounding. Each man hamming it up for the camera in his own way, and yet they’re all part of a group. That’s how camaraderie works.

And then there are the outfits. On the far left we have a chap in a blazer and a rep tie he’s presumably entitled to wear. Next to him, dig the guy in the patterned sportcoat, v-neck and shades. Those look like suede shoes on the guy reclining across the front, while the guy next to him with the letter Y (for yank or Yale, perhaps?) looks like Cary Grant in “To Catch A Thief” with checked jacket and ascot.

Towards the middle we have a great headwear contrast: straw boaters beside extras from “Lawrence Of Arabia.”

The young man seated on the wall in the top right wears the classic combo of tan trousers, patterned jacket and club tie. In the center right are rep ties, pipes, and another ascot. On the far right is a bespectacled lad with a tweed jacket, while behind him, against the tree, is a guy who looks like he photobombed the scene. It’s certainly staged, but by real men, not a movie studio. All the world’s a stage, as the saying goes.

Which leads us back to Hawking. The renowned theoretical physicist made news this week with a rather doom-laden quote. He said mankind has only 100 years to colonize another world.

Journeying across the galaxy to build a new civilization from scratch will offer ample opportunities for male bonding. But I doubt the clothes will be as good. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

51 Comments on "Another World"

  1. Fraternity photos are a 3rd-rate version of this photo.

  2. I’d like to think that the letter Y is for yar as in “My she was yar” from The Philadelphia Story.

  3. Marc Chevalier | May 10, 2017 at 11:19 am | Reply

    Britons value eccentricity. Americans tend not to.

  4. Yes, they certainly did, and I think that tolerance of eccentricity comes from their aristocratic tradition. The US had rugged individualism as its democratic alternative.

    Is it still the same in the UK or has it changed?

  5. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | May 10, 2017 at 12:42 pm | Reply

    CC,

    The UK? Eccentric? Does this sufficiently answer your question?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acWyq94vn3s

    Compare this to the House or Senate Stateside.

  6. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | May 10, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Reply

    I remember watching/reading a headline of a small controversy when [Labor Party member] David Skinner got kicked out of the Parliament that day for referring to David Cameron as “Dodgy Dave.” Apparently “dodgy” is an inappropriate-enough remark to get someone kicked out.

    The British are eccentric, yes, but I don’t think they could be rude even if they tried (at least compared to the US).

  7. Paul,
    Thank you for that crushing, depressing YouTube reminiscence, Firing Line – Kinsley, Hitchens, Buckley, etc., discussing in deep terms crucial matters of history, heritage, interpretations of foreign policy. Depressing, for it is television at its finest, television long lost to the yammering buffoons that now infect the airwaves. Oh, how I (we?) have missed such fine thinking, to be shared with an audience that cared. I am not – never was – in line with Buckley and Hitchens but I greatly admired them and listened hard when they spoke, and read them when they wrote. They so often helped to incubate the constructive thought that helped shore up one part of what we once called, and witnessed, as compromise – on the legislative front. I’ll stop there. Put another way, I am one “liberal” who sorely misses these remarkable fellows, their work, their presence, their influence and eloquence. And I miss that kind of broadcasting, deeply.

  8. whiskeydent | May 10, 2017 at 3:25 pm | Reply

    I thought I was the only liberal around here 😉

  9. Mitchell S. | May 10, 2017 at 4:17 pm | Reply

    @Christian: American “rugged individualism” is vastly over-rated. Art critic Harold Rosenberg used the phrase “herd of independent minds” to refer to the conformity of American intellectuals. Any dissent from conformity in this country is not tolerated well. There is about as much “individualism” in this country as there is in North Korea.

  10. Ridiculous! Now if you’d said:

    “There is about as much individualism in this country’s university system as there is in North Korea….”

  11. Want some English eccentricity? Here you go:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2M_cBkTw8Qg

  12. As a college student, I can attest to the fact that “rugged” individualism is alive and well. No two students are dressed alike, and they’re all dressed terribly.

  13. That a boy, GS. Short, clever zinger. “Brevity is the soul of wit.”

  14. Vern Trotter | May 10, 2017 at 6:32 pm | Reply

    Great picture. Brings to mind that shibboleth of the British upper classes to never wear a striped necktie with a striped shirt or suit. In addition, never wear a club or regimental tie or even a regimental stripe on a squash or tennis sweater unless you are entitled.

  15. Burning my RL tennis sweater right now. I don’t know what the stripes at the neck mean, but clearly they weren’t made for me.

    Thanks!

    C.

  16. Learned from the best.

    As for cricket/tennis sweaters, I’ve an old Alan Paine one with maroon and navy bands. Supposedly “house colors” so the trad police won’t be after me.

  17. Whiskeydent

    You are not alone. I am also a liberal.

    GS

    I beg to differ. It is my understanding that you are a college student and that you dress well. Now, if you could just up grade your political views.

  18. The gods are testing you, GS. Do not fall for their nefarious games! You are not a plaything on strings that can be made to dance with a mere tug on the line!

  19. CC

    You bring to my mind a statement by Elie Wiesel. “Ultimately, the only power to which man should aspire is that which he exercises over himself.”

  20. Thanks, Korn. I’m working on a book that has a bunch of philosophical quotes about life and I can use that one.

    Men, especially when they get off track in life through depression or unemployment or whatever, need to hear the same timeless messages over and over, said in different ways.

    A similar one I like is from the dandy novelist Lord Bulwer-Lytton, who wrote, “Manage yourself well and you may manage all the world.”

  21. CC

    My favorite quote is from General Patton. “I don’t measure a man’s success by high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom”

    I think it is worth considering for your book.

  22. Mr. Korn,

    I am part of an endangered species of undergraduate: conservative and well-dressed. It’s no laughing matter, expect when I laugh at the students who wear their pajamas to the dining hall.

  23. GS

    It could be worse, they could show up in their boxer shorts or whatever they use for underwear.

  24. Another good quote, Korn.

    I’m signing off for the night. Play nice, boys.

  25. Mr. Korn, haven’t seen any yet, as it’s only my first year, but I wouldn’t put it past them.

  26. Vern Trotter | May 10, 2017 at 11:17 pm | Reply

    Bulwer-Lytton. Lots of famous lines. “It was a dark and stormy night!”

  27. @Vern Trotter: Au contraire! It is VERY upper class to mix stripes and plaids as the Duke of Windsor used to do.

    GS: If you are interested, a really cool look is wearing a Glenn plaid suit with a checked shirt and striped tie. Very Bostony. Scale is key, of course, as is the balance between subtlety and dominance.

    Dressing well is like ballroom dancing, so there is always one lead partner and one or two partners that follow. If you are wearing a bold necktie, never mix it with a bold suit pattern or shirt pattern. Vice versa, a subtle necktie and shirt demand a bold suit. You never mix two bold patterns together. See
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vc56HGEFwpE&sns=em

  28. So Hawking’s the one waving the hanky?

    @Chewco – The MP was Dennis Skinner, as left as you can get in the Commons.

    @ Christian – The real British aristocracy is alive and still eccentric but, apart from the Royal family, rarely in the public eye. Even Old Phil has decided to pack it in.

    The posh elite in the public eye (especially the Old Etonians, Old Harrovians and that other public schoolboys that now dominate Britain’s acting profession and its liberal media) are very left-wing and politically correct.

    Apart from the silly attention-seekers (often third-rate oiks found in The Chap and on the Tweed Run), it’s hard to find eccentrics outside the gentlemen’s clubs.

    Ironically, rugged individualism in the form of Ayn Rand, has just been added to Britain’s national curriculum. But it’s hard to imagine Howard Roark or John Galt shopping in Cordings!

  29. Vern Trotter | May 11, 2017 at 11:54 pm | Reply

    @Mitchell S:

    As we know, the Duke of Windsor was prone to defy convention. One of the greatest dressers of all time, he should have a statue on Savile Row. After all, Beau Brummell has one on Jermyn Street and he died one step away from debtors prison.

  30. Henry Contestwinner | May 12, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Reply

    It’s not just the ability to combine patterns artfully that makes for a great dresser; one must also use texture. I’d like to think I started my training in texture back in the days when i wore black all the time (days that are long outgrown—except when wearing a tuxedo, of course).

    Of course, many men achieve textural contrast simply by wearing a silk tie with a tweed jacket, but are they aware of that aspect? Will of A Suitable Wardrobe fame sings the praises of grenadines and other textures for solid ties; there’s also Alan Flusser and his praise for the soupçon of sheen in certain fabrics.

    Food for thought.

  31. @Henry

    I totally agree. I really like end-on-end shirts with linen and seersucker jackets, for example. I don’t like shiny ties, but there are plenty of weaves, such as grenadine, matka and wool, that can bring something extra to the table.

    Drakes of London makes some beautiful repp striped grenadines. Alas, they’re very pricy. Brooks has “textured” repps that look great with tweed.

  32. The young men above probably considered themselves “casually” dressed to the point of sloppiness. Their peers today, in the US anyway, likely think they’re (mostly) “all dressed up”. And they don’t know why they would do that.

  33. A couple of points. 1) Those ties would be referred to as ‘club’ or ‘school’ or ‘house’ or whatever, but never ‘rep’, no matter how many Ps you use. 2) Entitled means something different altogether these days……and nothing good.

  34. whiskeydent | May 20, 2017 at 9:55 pm | Reply

    @DrJJ

    I used the term repp for an American audience, and Drakes itself refers to at least two of their ties as repp with two p’s.

    Drakes apparently does not feel bound to quaint entitlements and does not say whether they’re striped or repp ties (or regimentals by other retailers) are, for example, worn by the 21st Royal Punjab Toot Toot Fusiliers. Moreover, none are described as old boys, schools or any other stodgy designation.

    https://www.drakes.com/ties/navy-multi-stripe-woven-repp-silk-tie

  35. “I suspect that many of you, like me, are Anglophiles”.

    As Sicilian (and as many Italians) i’m very Anglophile.
    Many Britons moved in Sicily after the Napoleonic wars,and in my city (Messina) names as Sanderson,Smith,Hill,Fischer,Miller,Pirce,were quite common.
    The funny thing is that today the tailor’s of Messina have several customers from UK.

    I love the eccentricity of Britons,look at a old TV show as “The Avengers” (John Steed and Emma Peel) and compare with a American TV show of same age as “The man fron Uncle”.The first is a samples of delightful eccentricity,humor and nonsense.

    I love the classic British style too (sorry Ivy leaguers): a lot of double breasteds,darts,waist suppressions and double vents.

  36. Where Fogey(ism) was born. Or perfected, at least.

    Cue speech by Jacob Rees Mogg. Compliment with Mealor’s Ubi Caritas in the background…and we’ve enough Fogey force to get us through another weekend. Saturdays are for Elgar, tweed, and brandy.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQE4ryqdvMg

  37. Reflecting on the cultural context that is modern-day middle-class America, three of the most eccentric things you can do:

    1. Have a job that either requires or permits you to wear a suit (sport jacket) and necktie
    2. Own a collection of Baroque music (and regularly listen to it)
    3. Read the classics and talk about them at parties (“Enough of March Madness. The other day I was considering how Ovid…”)

    I invite other reflections on what passes for eccentric these days.

  38. The tech world owns modern day eccentricity.

  39. @ S.E. I wish I could upvote or like your comment.

    @ M Arthur – came across a pointed tweet this week that observed how “Modern CEO’s are all vest-wearing crossfit ghouls with spaceships” (in comparison to the old guard).

  40. S.E.:
    At the university where I teach, one could add shaving, wearing shoes and ironed trousers, and using proper grammar to your list of eccentric behavior.

  41. @Parker J
    I assume you’re talking about the professors.

  42. Trad is the new eccentric. Suppose it has been for a while.

  43. Recommendation before we move along: Roger Scruton. Read and listen.

  44. Henry Contestwinner | March 16, 2018 at 12:44 pm | Reply

    S.E., some year back, Christian penned (or quoted) a line about eccentricity. It was something along the lines of, an eccentric is someone who does things his way not because he wants to show off; it’s that it doesn’t occur to him to do things in any other way.

    It was at that moment that I had a mini-epiphany regarding my wearing of hats. I wear fedoras (and occasionally other hats) daily. It simply doesn’t occur to me not to wear a fedora, in much the same way that it doesn’t occur to me not to wear shoes when I go out. And so, I am a true eccentric.

    Not that I’m proud of it; this is a statement of fact. However, now that I’m aware of it, does it still count?

  45. Charlottesville | March 16, 2018 at 12:51 pm | Reply

    S.E. — Sad but true. I am definitely a suit-and-tie-wearing, Baroque-listening eccentric even here in my relatively traditional town. I was listening to Corelli on my drive in to work this morning, but since it is casual Friday, I am wearing a tweed sport coat and flannels rather than a suit with my OCBD and tie. Alas, my Latin is not so hot, and the last time I brought up a history book I was reading at a party, the otherwise normal woman I was speaking with launched into a hyperventilating screed about James Madison’s racism, which had nothing to do with either the subject matter or time period my book dealt with. Apparently the subject of history itself is a triggering term these days.

    Mr. Parker — I empathize. The debasement of language even among (allegedly) well-educated folk under the age of 30 is remarkable, but it is not entirely their fault. I have often thought that my parents’ generation received a better education in high school than today’s Ph.D. candidates have after six years of higher education, at least outside of technical and scientific matters.

    Carmelo – I always enjoy your contributions and perspective. I too love the Avengers, and own the entire series from the time that Dame Diana Rigg joined the cast until she left to play a Bond girl, like Honor Blackman had before her. Delightfully eccentric British humor. Or should I say “humour”?

  46. Charlottesville | March 16, 2018 at 12:58 pm | Reply

    Henry – I usually join you in fedora-wearing eccentricity, although today I wore a flat tweed hat.

  47. terrryoreilly75 | March 16, 2018 at 2:02 pm | Reply

    @S.E. Living as I do in Sweatpantsville, USA(South Boston), I presume I am viewed as “eccentric”. Wearing a fawn Crombie covert coat and a claret/blue medallion silk scarf worn cravat-style over a simple buttondown and lambswool v-neck sweater gets some looks from the Pats-jersey-and-pajama-bottoms crowd- but they look like clowns to me!

  48. Coming late to the conversation as usual, but here’s to eccentricity!

    Best Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich von B.

  49. @terrryoreilly75
    More power to you! Great sartorial choices!

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