Free & Easy’s Rugged Ivy Official Book


Trying to find the right version of trad for the times we currently live in? Since the pandemic and cloud of general gloom, Ivy Style has offered various draughts from the fount of inspiration to keep your spirits up. And so let’s not forget the great Japanese subgenre Rugged Ivy. We realize it’s still Squaresville Appreciation Month, but that’s the whole  point: if a square doesn’t want to become more rounded by a jolt of hip, perhaps he’d be willing to consider a dash of “rugged.” 








45 Comments on "Free & Easy’s Rugged Ivy Official Book"

  1. And it is all presented without the least hint of a whiff of irony.

    “Be a rugged boy!”

  2. I thought the original Kamakura OCBD collar was/is short. There’s a newer one that’s even shorter?

  3. I take pride in that my husband does pack his suitcase in that meticulous of a manner. Great post – thanks for including all of the photos!

  4. A. E. W. Mason | May 6, 2013 at 3:29 pm |

    My frame of reference for “Ivy Style” is, in line with the comments of some others, not in any way connected to jazz or what is “cool.” In fact, quite the reverse. I think of sedate, thoughtful men; men of great judgment, mostly Wall Street lawyers, who navigated this country through very dangerous years. Men like John Jay McCloy, Henry Stimson, Dean Acheson, Thomas Finletter. They shunned the spotlight, preferring to do their work behind the scenes whenever possible.

    However, I love jazz.

  5. I find their imagery fascinating.

  6. A.E.W. Mason
    Acheson dressed very well, as did Stimson. Both sported mustaches. All of the men listed seemed to enjoy D Breasted, six button, no vent suits. Stimson wore the original sack suit his whole life, if one sees full photos of him you will understand why some like darted jackets. 😉

  7. M Arthur | May 6, 2013 at 6:03 pm |

    A. E. W. Mason

    Good names, all lawyers, all statesmen, most from Harvard. Good shepherds of the American way…..

  8. Is there someone who could enlighten me on when NATO straps became associated with Ivy or Trad or ? I don’t recall them on any of my parents’ male friends (except on a couple of Marines my father knew, and those bands weren’t madras cloth) who hung out at Brooks and the local haberdasheries. Including my boys’ version, we all wore the striped bands with buckles and (usually) no grommets for the tang holes. I have nothing against them, though they seem more suitable for the heft of sports watches than simple Timex pieces. Yet now I see even quite senior members of the sartorial tribe who wear these things. Who have actually wondered to me why I still wear the old style straps implying that I am the fuddy-duddy!

    The pix of that blue-white-red jacket in what seems to be seersucker could even be wearable.

  9. A.E.W. Mason | May 6, 2013 at 10:51 pm |

    MAC, M Arthur:

    Agree on all points, including the one on Stimson’s jackets. His sleeves were too long as well. Acheson was, indeed, proof that one can be understated and elegant. I can’t confirm it, but a colleague told me that at some time in the 1980’s, Stimson’s old firm, Winthrop, Stimson, Putnam & Roberts, had “bow tie” day every Friday. Guess that was their version of casual Friday. So, yes, good shepherds all and, at least to me, not square but rock solid and cultured as well.

  10. Bebe
    I’m with you on the NATO band, they are too “hardware busy”. But from a functional military point of view the NATO band is just an improvement on the original military nylon field watchband.

  11. Nowadays the power brokers in business and politics do not wear Ivy clothing. Nor do most Ivy League professors. Gone with the wind.

    You’re more likely to see plain front chinos, Oxford button downs, thin repp ties, and horn-rims at a Yo La Tengo show at Maxwell’s than in the U.S. Senate dining room. Or the W&L KA house, for that matter. Southern Prep seems to be much more concerned with pink and Nantucket Red and bowties.

    It’s the Look Du Jour among the younger, urban Cool set. Whether we like it or not. That Urban Hipsters are the saviors of Ivy isn’t so ironic, considering the roots of Ivy are youthful, collegiate.

  12. When I stop by Kamakura, I rarely see anyone under the age of 40.

  13. Boston Bean | May 7, 2013 at 6:40 am |

    For some of us, Ivy style is a way of dressing that we have adhered to over the years, for others, it’s a passing fancy. Tradition vs. fashion.

  14. Christian | May 7, 2013 at 6:42 am |

    Passing fancy — you mean like it was in the heyday?

  15. One can argue that collegiate Ivy is the original hipster.

  16. Whatever you do, don’t visit today (5.7) or tomorrow.

    Unless you like Dave Brubeck.

  17. Sedate Ivy | May 7, 2013 at 9:25 am |

    Thank God I can still find Ivy clothing items that are not “cool”, “hip”, or whatever the current term is. The last things in the world I would want to be associated with are jazz, Steve McQueen, Japanese preppies, and red trousers.

  18. Anybody know the names of all those WASP Ivy League students that slaved away on their looms and sewing machines inventing Ivy Style? Didn’t think so. So why all this elitist attitude?

  19. Sedate Ivy,

    Which, among all the many Ivy clothing items, are “not cool” or “not hip”? What makes them so?

  20. A. E. W. Mason | May 7, 2013 at 3:01 pm |

    Interesting. There is young waitress in a restaurant who likes to tease me about always wearing a coat and tie. Last week she said to me: “You know you’re a hipster, right, you know that?” I was appalled and protested strenuously, finally proclaiming: “Well, if these…hipster…or…whatchamacallit…people dress the way I do then it is they who have stolen from me.” She just ignored me and said: “OK, like, so you know like this knit tie you’re wearing is just so like you know toooootally hip and cool; like okay, it just is.” Whereupon, I assured her there was nothing remotely hip or cool about me and that I considered her statements serious defamations.

    Point is, reading some of the comments, I take it that it’s true about their being similarities in the attire of ourselves and that of–yuck–hipsters.

    (Answer: Yes, she’s very pretty.)

  21. @Sedate Ivy,

    I never knew that jazz was denigrated by some Ivy wearers until I saw evidence in the various blogs. I recall a reader query about “preppy music” posted on Muffy Aldrich’s blog. Some of the responses were a tad eye-opening to my West Coast style. I surmised that the dislike stemmed from “the color thing,” to paraphrase GHW Bush. Still I’ve been to concerts of Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Stan Getz, Buddy Collette, and Dexter Gordon- all of whose dress at those gigs would not have been out of place at any of those Ivy League colleges. That is, if you have to limit things just to the New England and Mid-Atlantic states.

    @Boston Bean,

    “Passing fancy”? Have you been listening to Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes”?

  22. The horrible thing about the hipsters is that they appropriate everything. If you wear flannel Pendletons and ripped jeans and have stringy long hair they will call you a hipster. Jazz and button-downs? Fine, hipster. Leg-warmers or a Hawaii ’78 tee shirt and a sleazy ‘stache? Friggin’ hipster.

    The thing to do is say “Oh yes, thank you very much I am one of you!” Then maybe they’ll leave you alone.

  23. Otter Spotter | May 7, 2013 at 7:48 pm |

    So what is preppy music? Talking Heads? Paul Simon? Vampire Weekend? I think the answer MA gave to that question was something about church hymns…

  24. Most acceptable Traditional Ivy items are all Amerıcan modıfıcatıons of British items: regimental stripe tıes, gray flannel trousers, blue or white oxford cloth, khakıs, tweed jackets, navy blazers. Most everything else is an attempt to be cool.

  25. Ivy absconded items from the British and Hipsters abscond from Ivy. 🙂

  26. I don’t have a problem with the items in the photos above, with the exception of the “whale” jacket, Ghurka bag,jacket and lengths, everything looks like a 1965 midwest high school student’s wardrobe. Yes, we wore 501s on thursdays, why thursdays, I don’t know, but if the 501s were rolled up they were usually accompanied with engineer boots and greasy hair.

  27. @ Old Ivy,

    Indeed, America is indebted to that green and pleasant Land. Nonetheless, God is in the details. And the Creator decamped from the Sceptered Isle sometime in the late 18th century for a City Upon A Hill. But…I jest.

    @ Otter Spotter,

    Hmm, yes, my own school’s favorite hymn was “On Our Way Rejoicing” since we boarders knew when we saw it on the chapel hymn board that our month-end release to our homes was nigh. I suppose for the faithful who wear High Traditional Ivy Style a full-throated paean of “Nearer My God to Thee” might be the preppiest of all hymns. I kid you not.

  28. Dutch Uncle | May 7, 2013 at 11:32 pm |

    I like the term “High Ivy”.
    One can never have too many tweed jackets, navy blazers, grey flannel trousers,chinos, white and blue OCBDs.

  29. Mr. Wyllys | May 8, 2013 at 12:20 pm |

    I do like “tweed jackets, navy blazers, grey flannel trousers,chinos, white and blue OCBDs” but I’ll also admit to the fact that I quite enjoy that “be-whaled” jacket…:-)

  30. I thought “Rugged Ivy” was about the old L.L. Bean outdoorsy look.

  31. Boston Bean | May 10, 2013 at 1:50 am |

    @Dutch Uncle

    I was on the Princeton campus yesterday, and I couldn’t even see any students wearing “Low Ivy”, let alone “High Ivy”. There wasn’t even one student with his shirt or t-shirt tucked into his trousers.

  32. I agree. However, even though some of the clothes don’t appeal to me, I still very much like the way they are presented. To a western reader the enthusiasm of the publishers might sometimes seem a bit childlike but if you compare the magazine to anything you can find on newsstands in the US or Europe it is a true pleasure. I also like the way the Japanese use illustration. In many case an illustration gives a better sense of an ideal than a photograph does and certainly, at least to me, an illustration is always much more inspirational. I think only Monsieur magazine in France and maybe the Esquire Big Black Book come close to the Free and Easy.

  33. @Kimmo

    The Japanese use of illustration is delightful!

  34. @Camford,

    Thanks for sharing those images!


    I couldn’t agree with you more about the use of illustration.

  35. centralUS | May 12, 2013 at 3:44 pm |

    Anybody want to ID the stationary/phone holder thing in the suitcase photo (#12)? Awesome.

  36. Huntington | May 12, 2013 at 11:08 pm |


    If you google “bag organizer”, you’ll find lots of examples on the Web.

  37. @Camford
    The house illustrator for Monsieur is Floc’h. He is not only an absolutely brilliant illustration and cartoon artist but also a great dresser.'h

  38. You should do an article on how Brooks Brothers is changing and evolving under the design leadership of Michael Bastian. You can see little bits of Michael’s design sensibility baked into many of BB’s new products. Perhaps BB would allow you to interview him.

  39. We need new writers. Sounds like you have a pitch there.

  40. AndrewK247 | June 24, 2021 at 10:47 pm |

    So is this site going to be renamed “Rugged Boy Style”?

  41. AndrewK247 | June 24, 2021 at 10:48 pm |

    If nothing else, I am sure the comment section would become quite busy! Hahaha!

  42. Old Bostonian | June 25, 2021 at 1:39 am |

    I’m thankful that it’s still possible to find the basic items of understated Anglo-American style without much effort.

  43. Prescott Trowbridge | June 25, 2021 at 2:06 am |

    @Old Bostonian,
    Agreed. Those basic items are the same ones I wore in the 1960s.

  44. Charlottesville | June 25, 2021 at 10:36 am |

    Some of the things look a bit silly to my rather traditional eye, but there is some recognizable Ivy in there and, as others have said above, I enjoy the illustrations. That last shot of the seersucker sport coat, Ray Ban Clubmasters and navy knit tie is a combination that I wear regularly, allowing for the lack of a red stripe in my seersucker coats.

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