I’ve alluded a couple of times (especially if you follow me on Twitter) to a golf book I wrote, and today is the official release date, so I’m pleased to finally share what it’s all about.
The book is called “The Stylish Life: Golf” and is part of a new sports series from the publisher, teNeues. Like Assouline and Taschen, teNeues produces image-driven coffee-table books, and has the interesting backstory of being founded in Germany in the 1930s. The book will also be available in German and French.
“The Stylish Life” series was conceived in-house and takes a lifestyle approach to traditional (and upper crust) sports such as tennis, skiing, yachting and equestrian. The editor had worked with me previously at Ralph Lauren Magazine, and since then I had launched GolfStyle.guru (which, let’s admit, was a bit too nichey — rhymes with Nietzsche — to attract much of a following). They wanted someone with an informed take on style to do the golf book, “not someone ESPN,” and so I got the gig.
Given that it’s a picture book, I wasn’t asked to write a lot — basically the equivalent of a long magazine article. But it was a lot of fun and you’ll find a passage or two that definitely shows it was written by me:
In sun-drenched Palm Beach, golf and fashion comingled in different ways. Prominent Northeastern families who escaped to Florida during the winter adopted new resort looks which they brought back to their country clubs. The postwar “man in the grey flannel suit,” color-deprived Monday through Friday, brought out all manner of brightly colored shirts and trousers on the weekend, which were sold at traditional establishments such as Brooks Brothers and J. Press, right alongside the acceptable uniform for lawyers and financiers. A generation later this bright country club attire would form the backbone of the look we call preppy.
And then there’s my bio on the dust jacket:
Christian Chensvold is the only known native Californian to discover golf after moving to New York City. On the tenth hole of life he hit his first golf ball on the third-floor simulator at the Brooks Brothers flagship on Madison Avenue, and three years later broke 80 (and outdoors, no less). He’s a luxury and men’s lifestyle writer best-known for his Web projects, including the leading traditional American menswear site Ivy-Style.com, and his latest project, GolfStyle.guru, which celebrates classic attire on the course.
Here’s a link to the book on Amazon, though you can certainly order the book through your local independent bookstore. And lest I be accused of shameless self-promotion, I won’t be buying a set of new clubs with the royalties from your purchase: I was paid a flat fee. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD
Last week my local courts were two feet deep in snow untrodden throughout the winter. Now it’s all gone and I suspect the courts will open this week.
According to the tumblr page where I found this image, it’s a Ralph Lauren ad that dates to 1972. It may be the earliest RL print ad I’ve seen, and I think is notable for how early he had developed his signature narrative, tradition-inspired and aspiration marketing imagery. — CC
In the market for a tennis sweater, even though you don’t play tennis, or even cricket? Here’s some of what’s out there. (Continue)
According to a Style.com post on Monday, the tennis sweater is making a comeback. The post is about women’s fashion, however, and what’s more the evidence supplied is rather scant. That didn’t stop us from revisiting the topic, which we last looked at in July of 2013. Christopher Sharp to serve.
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Late fall and winter evenings in 1989-1990 would find me lingering over a cup of coffee in the gothic dining hall that was a couple of paces from my dormitory. A large window overlooked a snow-covered hockey field that was barren and cold. The dining hall itself was intimate, with glowing ancient walnut paneling that had been harvested from the campus property earlier that century. You could hear the clink of dirty china as it was placed in the vertical metal tray keepers by departing students. The manager would come out and stand in the middle of the floor surveying his surroundings like a sea captain. He would light his pipe, check his pocket watch and on cue the doors would lock barring access from the outside and the vacuum cleaners would be dispatched. Those inside were allowed to remain.
To this day I can still see myself there. I am wearing LL Bean hunting shoes, Donegal tweed trousers that appeared fawn at a distance, but in reality were an artful mélange of flecked colors that only Ralph Lauren could render successfully. A Brooks Brothers buttondown was topped off with a wool tennis sweater trimmed in burgundy and navy. One might imagine for one moment that I had stepped off a Jazz Age ice pond. But I became enamored with the tennis sweater after it was appeared in the July 1987 issue of GQ, where it was featured in the “Elements Of Style” column.
A classmate of mine actually wore a sleeveless tennis sweater to play in, but it was the original cream-colored, cable-knit, long-sleeve jumper that I desired. The GQ article by Debra Wise stated that the sweater had been part of cricket dress since 1840, when Foster & Co. of London began selling them. The sweater pictured in the article was by Alan Paine. William Paine opened a tailoring shop in 1907 in Godalming. The Paine shop morphed into a sweater making enterprise when, Wise writes, “They found some old hand-frame knitting machines in the shops back room.” Nigel Paine credited the Duke of Windsor with popularizing the sweater, saying “The Duke would commission cricket sweaters in all his regimental colors.” On the American front, Bill Tilden contributed to its popularity. From the 1920s through the 1950s the sweater carried country club cachet.
This cachet may have led to cliché. Which is why I am thankful for not coming of age in the Internet world. We were sheltered from British voices telling us that the most beloved parts of their native kit were “twee,” or that “our jumpers should not trespass on another man’s colors.” We were also safe from fellow American voices insisting that you had to have a superlative backhand and only wear it around the club. It was enough at the time that a handful of campus souls wore them. Some were born to wear them, others secretly picked it up from “The Official Preppy Handbook.” Mature men are allowed some self-indulgence when viewing their younger selves, so maybe I wore the sweater as a subconscious homage to an age of faded glory, and thereby reflecting back a romanticized vision of self. (Continue)
Packers legendary coach Vince Lombardi, in fedora, buttondown and striped tie, casts a cool gaze across the field…. (Continue)
Yes, there’s another woman on our front page for the second time in a row, but you can be sure that with a swing like that her knickers aren’t falling down. The image is the cover of the new spring catalog from teNeues, a publishing house with the fascinating history of being founded in Germany in the 1930s. The image is also the cover of my forthcoming golf book.
Well, sort of my book.
Last year I was contacted by one of my former editors for Ralph Lauren Magazine, who was working at teNeues developing a series of sports lifestyle books. They needed someone with a vintage and luxury sensibility to do a golf book, and when I mentioned I’d been running the Golf Style site, the deal was done. Easiest gig I’ve ever gotten.
So I wrote a few thousand words for this picture book coming out in March. I’ll do another post when it’s actually available (the catalog copy says it’s the perfect gift for preppy fashion mavens). I had nothing to do with the image selection, but think they found a real corker for the book cover. Evidently they agreed, using it for the catalog as well.
Golf Style, for the record, went into hibernation last fall while I worked on this project, and alas I fear the topic — traditional golf attire — might be a tad too niche for the demands of my time. But I certainly had a great time doing it and we’ll see what spring brings when the golf season recommences.
In the meantime I’m currently preparing a new web project that I think will interest many of you. More on that soon. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD (Continue)