This week a member of Ivy Style’s Facebook group shared a pic of himself doing his best version of Ivy-inspired-on-a-budget, while noting that he is a police officer. I thought it very interesting and asked how he came to the style, why it appeals to him, and how others view him. Here’s what he had to say. — CC
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Like many people who work in Washington DC, I am a transplant. However, I don’t work for a congressman or a law firm. I walk a foot beat in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods as a member of the Metropolitan Police Department.
I grew up on the South Shore of Massachusetts and credit my personal style largely to my late grandfather, who himself worked a blue-collar job for 25 years with the Bay State Gas Company. But in his personal life he dressed like a Kennedy. In high school, when many people my age were wearing American Eagle graphic tees and basketball sneakers to school, I was wearing LL Bean OCBDs and Sperry Top-Siders. Even my own mother seemed a little perplexed by it when she took me shopping for my Confirmation outfit when I was a sophomore in high school. I picked out a blue blazer and gray flannel trousers instead of a garish four-button ventless suit that was in fashion at the time.
I graduated from the police academy in April, 2012 and am presently assigned to a very busy district with a high rate of violent crime. As a result, I end up in DC Superior Court for trials and other matters at least once a week. In the beginning I wore my police uniform for most of my court appearances. However, after being flagged down one too many times for various nonsense, I decided quickly to wear professional attire to court to blend in a little more easily.
It didn’t take long for word of my buttondown collar shirts and Weejuns to spread among my fellow officers and the attorneys. I am now affectionately known as “Penny Loafer” or “The Professor.” Jokes aside, my style does elicit many compliments from people, and I actually think it may help me when appearing before a jury, as they can see me as a person like they are and not just a cop.
Of course, as a civil servant I have to buy on a budget. But I keep an eye on thrift shops, eBay, outlet stores, and online stores such as Lands’ End and LL Bean. But I’m hoping to make detective later this year ,and I’m told investigators get a healthy clothing allowance.
While my style is referred to by many as Ivy or preppy, I personally think of it more as simply New England or Yankee. When people ask me why I dress the way I do, I often quip, “Where I come from, this is how people dress.” People from all over the world come to Washington, bringing their cultures and traditions, and my manner of dress is just my little thing that tells people where I’m from. I think I also do it to honor my late grandfather. Sadly, he didn’t live to see me become a police officer, but I think he’d be very proud that I dedicated myself to this honorable profession.
It’s a tough time to work in law enforcement right now, but I do my best to use my position to remind people that police work is all about helping people. That’s what I set out to do every day when slip off my boat shoes and lace up my boots to start another shift. — DC COP
We start the week off with a rather motley miscellany. Above, a 1958 novelty tune called “Ivy League Clothes” from a little-known doo-wop group called The Gaylarks. Damned if I can tell what the hell they’re singing about, save for “why, oh why?” Something about Ivy for girls.
It’s from a time when the trunk of the Ivy tree was strong and robust as opposed to termite-ridden and in danger of becoming petrified. But the song is still a cultural artificact riding the contemporaneity of the Ivy League Look’s popularity, which means it’s the ’50s equivalent of today’s fully blossomed branch known as modern prep.
“We grew up constantly around sailing communities, fishing communities, yacht clubs, country clubs, golf courses,” says Shep. “We use icons of what we call the ‘good life': boats, Nantucket, golf, tennis. It’s very classic American—prep school meets Wall Street. People just want a little bit of fun in their wardrobe. When we started, we said, ‘Why not help people dress for those great life activities?’”
“Prep is essentially an upper class look. There is a lot of desirability behind it, to dress the part of the higher society that goes yachting and plays polo,” says Francesa Munson, head of retail and product analysis at WGSN. “There are wider implications to the healthy, outdoorsy lifestyle.
I think we should all applaud upper-class-for-the-masses look. It’s so much more refreshing than the “prole drift” as Paul Fussell called it, of lower-class taste for the middle class, which is the driving force behind popular taste in everything today.
Another mainstream company, this time one that’s prepped itself out, is Abercrombie & Fitch, the once legendary manly supply store located just down the street from Brooks, Press, Chipp and Paul Stuart on Madison Avenue. Bloomberg has a cover story on the company subtitled “From clueless prep to sullen teen.”
And speaking of Abercrombie, here’s a Hoosier writing in the school paper on “The Politics Of Preppy,” apropos of A&F’s hijab lawsuit.
And finally from the diluted Ivy files, as we were prepping this post a leaf fell from the tree into our inbox. You probably got it, too:
It’s from Lands’ End and plugs new washed-oxford shirts called Sail Riggers, “in a length just right to wear untucked.”
OK JFK did that, but not when he was at work. — CC
You might find the piece’s sartorial and educational micro-distinctions amusing.
It’s worth noting that there are seven guys in the above photo that T&C chose for the piece, so either there’s doubles on subspecies or the article skipped a type. Perhaps the OPH’s category of “aesthete.” — CC
I was unable to attend last week’s Brooks Brothers preview as I was battling a virus — a computer virus. So I’m falling back onto Women’s Wear Daily for the coverage.
Writes the paper:
At Brooks Brothers, Harris tweeds, soft tailoring that enables layering, an “into-the-woods” color palette and unorthodox pairings are some predominant messages for fall.
As the first U.S. retailer to sell Harris tweeds, starting in 1909, Brooks Brothers advanced the tradition by offering men’s accessories and footwear, including wing-tip sneakers and field boots, in Harris tweeds that matched up with the jackets.
The woodsy appeal is rooted in earth tones including an array of moss, loden and bright greens, and Harris tweeds in colors seen in camouflaging.