Deadline Extension

“You wanna make 14 dollars the hard way?”

My favorite Rodney Dangerfield joke has nothing to do with the rules about madras and white bucks and Labor Day, which the rest of this article will be full of.  Here’s the joke.  “I asked my wife, Honey, how come you never make any noise when you have an orgasm?  And she says, how would you know?”

We got into a pretty spirited debate yesterday about the rules.   The ones about what you can and cannot wear after Labor Day.

I have always struggled with the rules of Ivy because the movement itself was marked in large part by a rebellion against the rules.  So if you were going to flexible with one style, wouldn’t it be the one that is based on large part on innovation?  Leather shoes with no socks, hello?  Or maybe the irony of the GTH pants.  Go To Hell, unless you tell me I can’t wear these after Memorial Day, in which case, well, okay.  And sorry.

Don’t wear what after what?

The psychology and the history of these rules is good to understand.  Yesterday I had a conversation with a friend of mine who is a financial advisor, and pretty high up at his bank, which you know the name of.  He isn’t C-level, but mighty close.  He and his tier are having a meeting next week because despite throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the employees, including a bonus so one could buy a new kitchen sink, no one is coming back to work.  And this isn’t the administrative level folks either.  This is across the board.  Human nature.  Give us a reason to get more balance, we do.  So without the guardrails of Labor Day, perhaps the thinking was that people would do what people are doing.   And to get them to move their feet, you have to – oh, wait for it – sell a lifestyle.  No white pants and white shoes (well, no white shoes ever unless they are bucks) after Labor Day is some good culture signaling that the bell has rung and school is in.

Two days ago in Westchester NY it was 87 degrees. 87. Not 77 where you could suck it up and wear a dense fabric. 87.

But as is the case with much of life, things have changed and this fall the bell rung and most people didn’t want to come back to school.   Instead, we reinvent.  Just enough.

Which is kind of the point of Ivy as a style anyway, if you were paying attention at the beginning(s).  Things were changing, and we reinvented, just enough.  Not so much that we depart from the traditional to the point where it is disregarded, but by integrating the original into the new reality.  That’s how Ivy was.  And how it will survive.

Wear the madras until you don’t want to wear the madras.





28 Comments on "Deadline Extension"

  1. Grey Flannels | September 17, 2021 at 6:57 am |

    I would suggest that rather than integrating the original into the new reality, integrating some elements of the new reality into the original is what allows Ivy to survive.

    I would go the other way around. What you are suggesting is like placing a new iPhone in the hands of a person who doesn’t know how to work a cell phone. – JB

  2. I think Grey Flannels has a point, and what I’ve always appreciated about Ivy is how, rather than being “disruptive” (a term I never liked in the first place, and which has become so buzzy and hackneyed as to be virtually meaningless anymore), it’s adaptive – start with what you know, then integrate elements of the new reality to keep it resilient and relevant (or, to borrow from the late great Pete Hamill’s book Downtown, add to the alloy). Ivy is, and ought to be, resilient, and that helps it to survive

    YES – JB

  3. There’s some old (ancient?) wisdom– probably Eastern but honestly I forget– that once a thing (anything, pick a thing) is absorbing so much of everything-and-anything that it basically becomes everything-and-anything, it’s, well…


    For all the nonsense about rebellion against the rules (but oh, doesn’t it feel good to claim to be rebellious?!?), the truth of the matter is that everything, even the most” rebellious” of movements, tend toward a kinda-sorta orthodoxy. (Examples: American Revolution, punk rock, Bebop, Impressionism): rules and rule following. Why? For the sake of self defining and self differentiation, which has everything to do with the best kind of tribalism.

    If Ivy is a movement (I’ll grant as much), then it grew wings and ascended not so much because of a “rebellion against the rules” (ah, the romance of the lifted middle finger) but the establishment of (new) rules–which lead, you guessed it, to a new kinda-sorta orthodoxy. The best kind– undergirded by creeds that can be refined and amended without spiraling downward into anything-and-everything, which is…

    …well, nothing at all.

    … um, new rules come from stretching the old ones. – JB

  4. After Labor Day, you mean.

    That is exactly what I meant and exactly not what I wrote – JB (THANKS)

  5. Apropos of nothing, I donned Madras shorts (with black short sleeve polo shirt) for work from home this morning. Low to mid-80s forecast here today. We’ve enjoyed mostly sunny, seasonal weather for Mid-Michigan the last several days. Enjoyed wearing a linen suit midweek. Supposed to be mid-80s again next week, so I’ll don the seersucker suit and a Madras tie one more time as we move through the end of September. I know. I know.

    Best Regards,


  6. Charlottesville | September 17, 2021 at 11:58 am |

    Even this hidebound traditionalist, who once penned a tongue-in-cheek post for Ivy Style on the pre/post Memorial Day rules (linked in “Related Posts” above), am happy to make allowances for “premature unpackulation” (as Christian Chensvold dubbed it). Go ahead and wear madras in early May, and the same goes for post-Labor-Day seersucker, especially while the mercury remains in the 90s. Our Texas brethren John Carlos, Whiskeydent and others can attest to the necessity of rule-breaking as one moves south and temperatures climb.

    Still, I have the seersucker, madras and white linen ready to go to the dry cleaner for storage for the next 7 months or so, and am sticking with tropical-weight wool suits and silk/linen/wool “tweed” sport coats until the temps permit real tweed, flannel and corduroy. Likewise, the white bucks have been supplanted in my closet by brown suede. And, of course, khakis and blazers come in all weights and are appropriate in any season. Knowing and keeping the rules can make it more fun to break them when one so chooses.

  7. @Charlottesville

    Silk/linen/wool ‘tweed’ for late spring and early fall is where it’s at. Yes. And yes to light brown bucks (remember the old Bass?). I like silk-linen ‘tweed’ for summer.

  8. This whole idea applies very well to creating art. When someone unacquainted with at least some of the rules seeks to make rule-breaking art, any quality result is a product of sheer dumb luck.

  9. Ivy is also about attitude and a certain approach to life. It’s also about athleticism, a certain intellectual lifestyle as well as projecting confidence and success. You can’t just put on ivy clothing and get these things. It’s like dressing up like the Beatles in 1965 – that doesn’t make you a Beatle.

    You sir, are only about 4,322% right. – JB

  10. So true, Bill.
    One of the more ‘purist Ivy’ of all my colleagues is smart, athletic, outdoorsy, musical. He grew up working class (father was welder; mother cleaned houses) but during his time at a snooty, liberal college (Bard) discovered the “professorial look”– and hasn’t looked back. It is, as he puts it, “cool — and the perfect uniform for the radical.” He’s an academic, democratic socialist, chess fanatic, weekend soccer league player, and huge fan of The Clash. He frequently quotes Tony Benn, who, as he reminds me, “wore button down oxfords.”

    And looks better in classic Ivy clothes than anybody I know.

    Love this – JB

  11. As usual, Charlottesville is absolutely correct about those of us who will remain in the oven known as Texas for another 87 months, give or take a few. So if one has a lick of sense, one will wear seersucker when it’s hot and tweed when it’s cold. It ain’t complicated.

    I think the real truth here is that men create rules in just about everything we do. I think we see rules as sources of comfort and security in the battles we wage for dominance.

    However, men also fetishize those rules and enforce them so rigidly, arbitrarily and stupidly that young men, in particular, find them silly or outdated and decide to create new rules that they then enforce rigidly, arbitrarily and stupidly. The circle will not be broken — unless the enforcers lighten up a bit.

    So I think Ivy survives if its adherents enforce the rules on themselves and no one else.

  12. I have enjoyed all of these comments.

    @Nevada I understand your point, but I disagree in this way: at some point I have to judge a work of art for what it is regardless of the creation process. It’s the effect that’s most important to me. What is it like to stand in front of it and breathe? A gallery owner I used to work for would say, “does it achieve transcendence?” But then my interest in art has always been about aesthetics.

    In the same way, regardless of the rules, do I like what I’m wearing?

    @Heinz-Ulrich; madras shorts and black polo shirt — sounds great!

  13. I live in the south where highs are still in the 80s. I’m ggoing to be wearing the summer stuff for a few more weeks.

  14. Bled madras looks great in autumn. Wear it till you shiver.

  15. @JB

    I’m confused (easily at times)…is this post about after Memorial Day you don’t wear white bucks or Madras?
    If so, I’m not sure when to start?

    April Fools Day?

  16. “…the real truth here is that men create rules in just about everything we do.”

    But there are rules that function as laws (the red light means STOP), mandates (no carbs on the Keto Diet) , and “rules” that serve as criterion– norms based on good ole fashioned precedent. When it comes to clothing, the latter is at work.

    Without benchmarks, anything goes, and anything-and-everything-goes renders nothing. So, for all the romance of rule-bending, it doesn’t render more freedom; rather, confusion.

  17. Grey Flannels | September 18, 2021 at 12:17 pm |

    There seems to be some misunderstanding here about what’s being integrated into what. What I was suggesting is we start with traditional ivy and add new elements.You suggested starting with the new reality and adding ivy elements.

  18. Grant, I see where you’re coming from and do agree. The measure of of a work of art is not in the training of its artist, but rather its effect on people who take it in. Maybe it’s more about the artist’s awareness, trained or inherent, of some basic principles. Even abstract expressionism, experimental performance, or the freest of free jazz must hew to some principles, lest they devolve fully into muddy chaos and noise. (That said, I’d rather expose my ears to almost anything than listen to free jazz.)
    I think maybe “rules” isn’t the right idea. Maybe I’ll second S.E. on the application of “norms” or “benchmarks.” But I’ll add “principles,” too: Only the kinds of principles that apply to aesthetic, artistic, and sartorial choices. (Because coloring outside the lines of one’s stated personal principles is called hypocrisy.)

  19. @JB

    Ok – I shouldn’t comment and Bourbon at the same time..but I’m still confused..No GTH pants after Memorial Day? Maybe because I confuse easily and Bourbon at the same time, it’s just me.

    Hi! I shouldn’t post and NOT drink coffee at the same time – YOU WERE RIGHT – it is fixed, thanks! – JB

  20. SE
    The keepers of the old rules often see anarchy when, in fact, they don’t understand or even see the new rules. Think about the late 60’s-early 70’s. The flamboyant, psychodelic style made little sense to people in their 40’s at the time, but they did to the young people wearing them (and dropping acid).

  21. …but it did to the people wearing it.

  22. Well said Nevada. There is a paradox: an aesthetic experience is not conceptual, and yet concepts can support it. I was cutting a board yesterday, and by habit the size ended up being a golden ratio…

    And we all have constraints — even Jeff Bezos can’t have lunch on Mars. I see the beauty of loafers, madras, and preppy things, but they are not for me. My constraints are tighter than most, but I like the way it looks.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts Nevada.

  23. Rules and change… I’ve been thinking about the 60’s. People saw that things needed to change, but we threw out some things that were useful. One of these was dressing well, or dressing with any thought besides self expression. I think of Allen Ginsberg, who came back to Ivy style in middle age (when he wore clothes…). So how can we change and not throw out what is good? How can we hold onto what is good and not be stuck?

  24. I have been trying to extend the use of my tan, poplin suit for a few weeks because the Old Dominion weather has required it. I wasn’t wearing a suit but it was sneaky sweltering at the rugby match this afternoon!

    Here are my thoughts on go-to-hell pants…

  25. For me, the importance of GTH is exemplified by the cut & adherence to some rules.
    For example-
    The only cut for GTH sport coats is 2 or 2/3 sack (undarted) cut. I also adhere to the updated Southern approach; no madras, linen, silk, summer prints or white (bucks or trousers) before memorial or beyond labor.
    I do allow for seersucker on Easter Sunday (provided the high temp is above 68).
    That’s my preference, I’m pretty stayed despite my passion for usual GTH.

  26. Rules, smchuls. If it’s hot wear summer clothes. If it’s cold wear winter clothes. This is not rocket science, people.

  27. Sorry I’m late, i didn’t get the memo IS was back. Anywhoo, as Miles knew too well, you can’t go outside unless you can play inside. The changes that is.

  28. Sorry I’m late, i didn’t get the memo IS was back. Anywhoo, as Miles knew too well, you can’t go outside unless you can play inside.

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