Battle Of The Wits Contest: What Does The Ivy League Smell Like?

Sun 8 Feb 2015 - Filed under: 1990-present — Christian
Comments (86)

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Recently I was investigating manly candles (mandles?) because that’s the sort of important thing you do when you start working the home accessories beat.

I discovered an apparently now-discontinued line of scented candles that were sold at Neiman Marcus. Although the brand had the silly name of Many Indulgence, the different scents had fun names like Bachelor Pad, Humidor, Black Tuxedo, Suit & Tie, and White Collar.

There’s also one called Ivy League, which cracked me up. I ordered two from eBay — one for myself and one for the Ivy Style reader who can come up with the most incisive quip to the following question:

What does the Ivy League smell like?

Sharpen your wit and use the leave-comment feature to enter the contest. One entry per person (you’re on the honor system). The Ivy-Style.com staff will sift through the entries and select the most zinging zinger.

A couple suggestions. You could go heyday or contemporary in your wisecrack, though I think that for a heyday-focused one to sparkle it would need to be from a present point of view, as in:

It smells like the ashes of tweed and the gentleman’s C.

A straight-up contemporary bon mot might be something along the lines of:

It smells like overachievers in hooded sweatshirts.

No need to have a sartorial reference, though, as the possibilities are almost endless. We’ll keep the contest burning until midnight Eastern time on Monday.

Oh, and one more thing. Just so you know, the prize is kind of a dud. The candle doesn’t fill the room with any fragrance at all, certainly nothing manly or indulgent. So this contest is more for bragging rights. I’d suggest using the candle for:

1) A trophy on your mantle for having outwitted all the other readers of Ivy-Style.com

2) A source of illumination in the event of a power outage

Good luck. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

 

The Art Of Patricia van Essche

Fri 6 Feb 2015 - Filed under: 1990-present — Christian
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I think I’m not the only one here who has a fondness for the art of fashion illustration, from the legendary work of Laurence Fellows for Esquire and Apparel Arts to the Japanese artists who fill each issue of Free & Easy.

This afternoon Town & Country magazine tweeted a post about artist Patricia van Essche, whose done a series of depictions of preppy life for J. McLaughlin.

Head over here for the full slideshow. — CC (Continue)

 

The Ghost Of 346 Madison

Sun 25 Jan 2015 - Filed under: 1990-present,Clothes — Christian
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Daniel C. Greenwood’s debut Millenial Fogey column on Brooks Brothers certainly stirred up discussion. It especially stirred up Chris Sharp, Ivy Style’s normally circumspect and disinterested assistant editor, known for his well researched historical pieces. He found himself inspired to lay his heart bare to the brand so dear to him that he recalls shopping excursions more vividly than otherwise more important days in his life.

* * *

Daniel C. Greenwood’s recent piece, “Why do we get so worked up Over Brooks Brothers?” is well timed coming after New Year’s, as I am still in throws of a lingering Auld Lang Syne-style emotional hangover. His piece is certainly a reminder that I hold Brooks Brothers partially responsible for my condition.

Like a Dickensian ghost, an image of a lost Brooks Brothers executive haunts my subconscious. He asks me, “How can Brooks Brothers be relevant in 2015?”

“I’m afraid I don’t know how to be relevant myself,” I reply. Then I offer the phantasm this: “But I can tell you how to be Brooks Brothers, in case you’ve forgotten.”

It seems that Mr. Greenwood pounding on his keypad is answering the same ghost. He is among the millions of fingers on keyboards expressing frustration on websites and Internet forums. A legion of middle-aged men and young fogeys who are telling Brooks Brothers how to be Brooks Brothers. The problem for us is that Brooks Brothers does not seem to be answering that question.

In that case, a more to-the-point query might be, “Why does it sometimes feel like we care more about Brooks Brothers than Brooks Brothers itself?” But answering that might take a team of mental health professionals. It is certainly about us, how we feel about the past, and how we view the future. I am reminded of the Annie Tempest cartoon in which an airchaired old curmudgeon says to his pal over a glass of scotch, “The future’s is not what it used to be, Dickie.” (Continue)

 

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.

* * *

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

 
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