The Millennial Fogey: Why Do We Get So Worked Up Over Brooks Brothers?

Wed 21 Jan 2015 - Filed under: 1990-present,Clothes — Christian
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bbfaceDaniel C. Greenwood (“DCG” in the comments section, and the singer in our Christmas recital video) herein debuts the first in a series of musings on the current retail landscape for trad clothing. He brings a fresh and young voice to Ivy Style, being under 30 yet with a great interest in this style’s long history. Having had the face of a 35-year-old since before he started shaving, Greenwood’s column will go by the name The Millennial Fogey.

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Sitting on the train recently something stole my attention from my better half. As I furiously hammered away at my smart phone, she asked me if everything was OK, and was suprised I said of course. Apparently she thought I was dealing with some terrible emergency.

In fact I was commenting on a Brooks Brothers social media post describing dressing up sweatpants with a navy blazer.

In my increasingly excited state, I rattled off a whole list of changes I wanted to see: taking the lining out of the oxford collars, fixing the fit of Own Make and bringing the price down, improving the design of its paisley ties, the rise and finish of its khakis — I could have gone on all day. My ever-patient girlfriend rolled her eyes and watched me chew out a billion-dollar apparel company on the Internet.

Strange how I don’t have the kind of arguments with my girlfriend that I do with Brooks Brothers.

What is it about Brooks Brothers that inspires such passion in us? More to the point, why has the relationship between traditional menswear consumers and Brooks Brothers gotten so dysfunctional? Naturally there are men who were Brooks Brothers customers in the good ol’ days of the Ivy heyday through the late ’80s, and can quickly list everything they miss about the Brooks of yore. There are also younger menswear enthusiasts who comb through Internet archives, photographs, illustrated catalogues, and other evidence of this once beyond-reproach institution of American style and can’t help but agonize that we were born too late. (Continue)

The Editorial Meeting

Tue 13 Jan 2015 - Filed under: 1990-present — Christian
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Yesterday afternoon Ivy-Style.com held an editorial meeting at The Polo Bar, Ralph Lauren’s new restaurant. In attendance were Golden Years columnist Richard Press, Ivy Style founder Christian Chensvold, and Daniel Greenwood, who was filled with bourbon and coerced into becoming a more regular contributor to the site, based on his passionate interest in the wares offered by current trad clothing manufacturers.

As for the setting, everything about it was perfect. The lighting was perfect (though hardly ideal, as you can see, for non-flash photography). The music (Billie Holiday from the ’50s, for example) hummed along at the ideal number of beats per minute to encourage blasé badinage and easy digestion. The walls were the perfect shade of green, the wood paneling the perfect shade of brown. Alcohol was poured generously, tea was hot. Prices were perfectly fair. The nuts were warm (makes a difference), and accompanied by fried olives and seasoned potato chips brought to the table a mere moment after seating. Service was prompt and completely non-snooty, by a diverse staff reflecting the citizens of this cosmopolitan metropolis.

There was one surprise when it came to the decor. In case you thought the word “polo” in the name referred to the brand, it more accurately refers to the sport. All the artwork is devoted to horses and the sport of polo, though there is great variation in the artistic renderings.

As for what the Ivy Style staff was wearing, King Richard The Forty-Fourth displayed the superb sprezzatura of a frayed pocket square that belonged to his father. When removing it for show-and-tell, he managed to get it tangled in his eyeglasses, surely one of the rarest forms of wardrobe malfunction.

DCG was also in fatherly hand-me-downs (or closet robberies, as he more accurately called them), in the form of tweed jacket and vintage Brooks tie. He noted the jacket’s single button on each cuff, and did not take kindly to the suggestion that perhaps the jacket originally had two buttons on each sleeve, that one had fallen off, and that a corresponding one was removed in the interest of symmetry. Below the waist were khakis and penny loafers.

Yours truly was in Viking Prep and Frazier-wannabe mode with lengthening hair and fabric boutonniere, glen-plaid jacket with olive knit tie and cashmere v-neck, grey flannels and penny loafers (my rain shoes).

It was a productive meeting and is quite possible the bar staff will soon know us by name. — CC

Update: More photos can be seen at Masculine Interiors.

 

Introducing MasculineInteriors.com

Mon 12 Jan 2015 - Filed under: 1990-present — Christian
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When I was two-and-a-half years old, my father finished his Air Force commission and we left Berlin. We initially landed at my grandparents’ place in San Francisco, and there, while walking up the stairs of this strange new building, as my mother would tell me many years later, I uttered one of my earliest sentences: “Where’d my home go?”

My mother combined a master’s in Jungian psychology with astrology, which she first learned from my grandmother and later practiced professionally. She would tell me that my chart had extreme emphasis on the importance of my living space.

This is a meandering way of saying that it is with a lifelong sense of the importance and pleasure of appointing one’s living quarters that I’m pleased to announce the debut of my latest web project, MasculineInteriors.com.

It came about rather suddenly, as these things do, in a flurry of inspiration. A friend moved into a new apartment, and I helped her furnish the place. The process got me to scrutinize the parts of my own apartment, where I’ve been for going on three years, that didn’t exactly come out as imagined. What began as one simple plan to repaint a room ended up a complete transformation of my digs.

During this process my creative juices were flowing, and at some point I stumbled across the perfect combination of motivation to start a new web project: intense personal interest combined with what appears to be a hole in the market. “Masculine interiors” is evidently a popular search term, but save for some Pinterest and tumblrs there doesn’t seem to be a main site for it — and certainly not the kind that I envision.

So I hope to bring to the topic of men’s spaces the approach I’ve taken with style blogging for the past decade: variety and flexibility among a narrow topic (the topic of traditional golf clothes, if you’re wondering about GolfStyle.guru, turned out to be a little too narrow, though it was certainly great fun to do).

I plan to celebrate all the places where men make themselves comfortable in an elegant and stylish way, from bachelor pads to college dorms, high-rise offices to fraternal clubs, drawing on cinematic sets as much as real life, the traditional as well as modern, from British Colonial style in India to the swingin’ pad of Don Draper, and eras from the 19th century through the Art Deco and Midcentury Modern.

The ultimate goal of all the mish-mash will be curated inspiration for the reader. And it’s inspiration you can get on the go, as the site is responsive to whatever device you’re using, be it tablet or smart phone. That’s a change we’ll next have to make at this place. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

 

Last Night On East 55th Street

Sat 10 Jan 2015 - Filed under: 1990-present — Christian
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Last night was the grand opening of Ralph Lauren’s Polo Bar. No, I wasn’t inside, but I walked past it carrying a gallon of Ralph Lauren paint.

Report next week. And yes, that’s the side of the building. — CC

 

Palm Beach Prep For The Masses

Fri 9 Jan 2015 - Filed under: 1990-present — Christian
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It’s absolutely freezing here in New York, which means if you’re anybody who’s anybody (like my old publisher at Quest magazine), you’ve been in your Palm Beach property since Thursday evening.

But don’t be surprised if the sartorial distinction between the help and the in-season residents on Worth Avenue starts to narrow: Lilly Pulitzer now has a Target collection slated to debut in April with 250 home and clothing items.

Reaction online has been mixed, as USA Today reports, with some feeling that the downmarket move will dilute the prestige of the brand.

Just imagine how we’d feel if J. Press had collaborated with Target instead of Urban Outfitters. — CC

 

To The Future

Thu 1 Jan 2015 - Filed under: 1990-present — Christian
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J. Press sent out a mailer today with the words “to the future” that aroused my curiosity. Word through the grapevine is that things have been changing among Onward Kashiyama management, and the company currently has a want ad running for someone to research international fashion trends. I asked Onward for comment last month, but was told they were too busy with holiday shopping. I hope they also plan on hiring a communications manager.

Happy 2015 and here’s to another great year of style and substance. — CC

 

 
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