Conservative Costume: A Tribute To William Ivey Long

William Ivey Long

For some, navy blazers, white shirts and rep ties are the perfect costume — costume in the dictionary sense, that is. Namely, “a style of dress… especially that peculiar to a nation, region, group, or historical period.”

So it should come as no surprise that a costumer would appreciate this costume.

Pictured is stage and screen costume designer William Ivey Long. Given that his middle name is “Ivy,” he’s already one step ahead in the game. On top of that, he dresses in a refined uniform of navy (blazer or suit), white tab or buttondown shirt, and dark striped tie.

The on-the-job clothing of most who work in the entertainment industry is one notch above college students (the current kind) in slovenliness. But Long appears to actually get dressed up for pinning performers backstage. That’s called setting an example, and brings up another dictionary definition of costume: a selection of garments worn for an occasion. Work, for example, and whatever your work may be. — CC






William Ivey Long

Top image WWD.

20 Comments on "Conservative Costume: A Tribute To William Ivey Long"

  1. I really enjoyed this post. This hits on a number of levels for me. First, I am a big fan of the personal uniform. Second, I like it when creative types wear simple clothing in a non-flashy way. It is almost eccentric in its non-eccentric styling. Finally, I like that he keeps his jacket on, even when having to really dig into his work.

  2. Grey Flannels | December 21, 2015 at 11:25 am |

    Conservative in the purist sense of the word. A pleasure to see a properly dressed gent.

  3. I’ve always enjoyed the presumed authority that dressing well confers. Like an advanced degree or a standout timepiece, it won’t carry one through, but it can be useful in starting the flow of interaction going in one’s desired direction. Mr. Long, here, exudes capacity and would be the first I’d approach with a question.

  4. Exactly right, George. I recently wrote an essay on the importance of appearance in relation to first impressions for my AP Language class. It’s a very interesting topic.

  5. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | December 21, 2015 at 1:58 pm |

    Noticed that some of his ties have the stripes going from right-to-left (away from the heart). These are the “correct” repp ties; the ones I grew up wearing (I went to a school influenced by the Commonwealth)… whilst the other ties have the stripes going in the other direction – the American version.

    This distinction is so exact insofar as if you are buying your repp ties at Ralph Lauren Purple Label, the lines will flow one way, but if you are buying them at Polo Ralph Lauren, they will flow the other way.

  6. A Southerner dressing Southern. Assuming one goes with a valid hypothesis–Ivy, albeit a tad updated, move South.

    A doubling up on collegiate preppiness–William & Mary and Chapel Hill.

    Again, A Southerner dressing Southern.

    No surprises here.

  7. Bags' Groove | December 21, 2015 at 4:00 pm |

    A man who clearly needs to wear pocket handkerchiefs considerably more.

  8. Last shot….terrific. Shirt collar fit..exact.
    Well done!

  9. A truly classy dresser. The third photo in the series of Mr. Long adjusting the costume of the young lady reminded me of some dialogue by Woody Allen in “What’s New Pussy Cat”:

    Michael James: Did you find a job?

    Victor Skakapopulis: Yeah, I got something at the striptease. I help the girls dress and undress.

    Michael James: Nice job.

    Victor Skakapopulis: Twenty francs a week.

    Michael James: Not very much.

    Victor Skakapopulis: It’s all I can afford.

  10. Henry Contestwinner | December 21, 2015 at 9:44 pm |

    Chewco, some of my PRL ties have stripes that go in one direction, and the rest go the other direction.

  11. Richard Meyer | December 22, 2015 at 5:38 am |

    British vs. American stripes.
    Lovely dresser but needs a better barber.

  12. Rick Woodward | December 22, 2015 at 9:10 am |

    Years ago, I remember reading that Calvin Klein wore only navy blue suits and white shirts. I don’t recall his tie preference. The article said he had about 30 navy blue suits in his closet.

  13. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | December 22, 2015 at 10:37 am |


    That is really odd. I am guessing some of your PRL ties are older versions; maybe made overseas.

    To the layman it may seem odd to obsess over the direction of the lines on repp ties. But it’s not odd when you realize that the U.S. does everything backwards; talk about iconoclasm.

    We drive on the “wrong side,” we rejected all S.I units, and we sh@t on the Kyoto protocol.

    Anyway, I have both RLPL and PRL ties and they are sort of mirror images of each other. My RLPL matches Drakes, and my PRL matches Brooks Brothers. That is what motivated my initial assertion.

  14. In the 1960s in San Francisco, the City, we wore buttondown collars with sport coats and blazers, but tab collars with suits. It was a pleasant surprise to see a tab collar in the last photo.

  15. Ward Wickers | December 22, 2015 at 3:34 pm |


    Thanks for the idea of wearing a pocket square sans tie from an earlier post (I’ve been away and totally unplugged without computer or cell phone for a week or I would have posted this earlier under the appropriate thread). That idea makes perfect sense, though I wouldn’t have thought of it on my own recognizance. It’s a very nice way of adding a little splash when running informal. I’ve got a few casual functions to attend over the holidays and will try it at those. Really appreciate the idea. Cheers!

  16. Henry Contestwinner | December 22, 2015 at 5:17 pm |

    Chewco, the Senate may have rejected Kyoto, but the US is the only country to have met the Kyoto goals.

    I’ll have another look at my striped PRL ties after I get home, but I don’t have any that are particularly old, and all are made in Italy, I think.

  17. Bags' Groove | December 22, 2015 at 5:20 pm |

    Good man, that’s wonderful to hear. A little bit of extra colour over Christmas won’t go amiss, of that I am certain. I hope you have a great time.

  18. Darned hard to find decent tab-collar shirts. I bought one from Paul Frederick, and it was a disaster: the points almost touched each other under the tie. I had a couple from Brooks, but they were the non-iron Malayans with a neck size larger than tagged, and the sleeves shrank too much. Bought two from Michael-Spencer. U.S. made and good quality, but the collar points are too short.

    Wonder where Mr. Long gets his shirts?

  19. Don,

    Brooks Brothers MTM can probably get you taken care of with a tab collar.

  20. Henry Contestwinner | December 31, 2015 at 1:53 am |


    Just to follow up: of my PRL striped ties, there are two I purchased on the same day this year, at the same store. They are cut identically: narrow blade (3″, I think) with an unlined tip, and wide tail. Both were made in Italy. One has the stripes running one way, and the other has the stripes running the other way.

    Go figure.

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