Graduation Day

In 1992, while a student at my California state school, I met with one of my English professors to talk about grad school. “I think I’d like to go to the Ivy League,” I said. 

She gave me quite a look. 

I don’t know where that came from, as I clearly didn’t know what I was talking about on multiple levels. Perhaps I’d just watched “Dead Poets Society” or “School Ties.”

But life is a lot less literal than we tend to think it is, and that which cannot be satisfied in the flesh can be sated in spirit. And so many years later I did “go to the Ivy League” in a roundabout way by making myself a custodian of its sartorial legacy. But now it’s finally time for me to pass on that stewardship. I’m pleased to announce that John Burton is taking over as managing editor and chief guru of business development. John has a track record in community building, big plans for growing the audience for traditional style and preserving its heritage, and, most important, he’s brimming with enthusiasm. 

Ivy Style has been my longest sustained creative project, spanning 2,400 blog posts I either wrote or edited over nearly 13 years. That’s against a rather turbulent backdrop, from recession to pandemic, not to mention the most challenging period in my life, that reckoning between a man and his soul known as Your Forties. 

I say this each October when we celebrate another year of Ivy Style, but once again thank you to all you loyal readers, contributors and sponsors for making this website a success. Ivy Style allowed me to spend an amazing decade in New York and meet so many members of the old guard: Alan Flusser, Bruce Boyer, Richard Press, Paul Winston, and Charlie Davidson, and to bring their stories to you.

When I look back on this project and what it means in the grand scheme of things, one thing that comes to me is the traditional division of a person into body, soul and spirit. I think of Ivy Style as being the body, my own personal investigation into America of the 20th century, part of which I’ve lived though, and part of which I learned about through books and movies and stories from Those Who Were There. In contrast, Dandyism.net, which I ran from 2004-08, is more aligned with my old soul, operating, through imagination, outside space-time in London and Paris of the 19th century. Trad-Man.com, a slow and steady long-term project, represents the spirit, or the dimension of ourselves that belongs to an impersonal Absolute Principle. 

So the body is worn out, and I intend to go forth as a soul seeking union with the spirit. I just thought of these words of Byron. Funny how you can walk in a room and forget why, but the poems you memorize when you’re young stay with you for life. And quoting Byron is very apropos, in a “Dead Poets Society” kind of way:

For the sword outwears the sheath

As the soul wears out the breast

And the heart must pause to breathe

And love itself have rest. 

I’m far from retiring entirely from the world, so you can always drop me an email at christian @ ivy-style.com. Anyone who enjoys following my writing no matter what the topic can pop in now and then at dandyism.net, which has been neglected for many years and sorely in need of a polish. I may choose to chime in with some new thoughts of the role of elegance, aristocratic aloofness, and Stoic self-mastery at this present moment in time. 

Indeed I see both dandyism.net and Trad-Man as spiritual paths suitable for navigating current conditions. Older trads with homes and families I think should hold the fort, tidy up their inner house and think about what to wear when they meet ol’ Saint Pete. But younger, unattached, and more introspective types may need to take more extreme measures, cultivating some form of “radical traditionalism” effectively capable of producing an inner equilibrium. The proper attitude for me right now seems to be something like “Remembrance Of Things Past” meets “Game Of Thrones.”

You can also follow my Spirit column for my local paper by clicking on the banner at the bottom of the right-side ad tower. I’m also finishing up a book based on over 20 years of writing on clothes and various old-fashioned and gentlemanly pursuits called “The Philosophy Of Style,” which I’m sure you’ll hear about here when the time is right.

Once again, thank you for your eyeballs, for which there’s plenty of competition. It’s been my honor to inform and entertain you. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

44 Comments on "Graduation Day"

  1. We’ll miss you Christian. You did a great job. Please stay in touch.

  2. I guess we’re all about to find out what’s next…

  3. Christian,
    Thank you so much for bringing this site to life, and creating a corner on the web for those of us interested to explore Ivy Style in great detail. I started following the site shortly after you were up and running. It was the fall of my senior year of college, and I’ve been a regular reader ever since. This site helped me build the wardrobe and preferences that I imagine will largely stay with me for the rest of my life. I was 21 then; I’m 34 now, married, and about to start a family. A lot has changed, but this has been a constant – a port in the storm that represents life in America since 2008. Thanks for the inspiration, entertainment, and information along the way.

  4. Thank you Christian. As a longtime reader and only quite recent commenter and contributor, I am grateful for all I’ve learned and enjoyed on this site under your authorship and editorship. Cheers! A toast to all your work here, and another one to your next endeavors.

  5. AndrewK247 | August 1, 2021 at 1:53 am |

    Only been here a few years, but this site rounded out my knowledge of clothing, provided some cool glimpses into the past, and had some interesting discussions.
    Best of luck!

  6. Many thanks Christian for all these years of insightful and entertaining reading. I was a real beginner when I found this blog soon after its own start and have enjoyed it immensely.
    The new editor has really big shoes to fill – I hope we’ll still have the pleasure to read your pieces here every now and then.
    Best wishes for your other endeavours, I will surely chime in to peek there sometimes.
    Cheers,
    Fabrizio

  7. NaturalShoulder | August 1, 2021 at 8:00 am |

    Christian – best wishes to you in the next chapter of your life. You built a fantastic community at IS and appreciate the interviews, historical pieces, current updates, and personal thoughts you shared.

  8. Thank you CC.

  9. Thank you Christian. Appreciate all the history and information you have provided over the years. Wish you the best with your other endeavors.

  10. Alejandro T Vidal | August 1, 2021 at 10:05 am |

    Best of luck to you! You and your contributions will be missed.

  11. Mark Russell | August 1, 2021 at 10:17 am |

    I have enjoyed many years of sartorial reminiscing and instruction here. Our in person meeting in New York was both a privilege and a joy. Best wishes to you on your continue journey in search of truth and beauty. Fight the good fight.

  12. Richard E. Press | August 1, 2021 at 10:37 am |

    My association and friendship with Christian Chensvold, a gentleman and scholar, has provided a great awakening in my own life s a source of wisdom, wit and discovery, The party ain’t over Kid.

  13. Old School Tie | August 1, 2021 at 10:48 am |

    Godspeed, Christian. Thanks for the journey and the direction you have given many. Actually, I personally feel able to go forth in an Ivy Style fashion without need or recourse to blogs or websites. I can now manage on my own, thanks to the tutoring of this site. As you have gone, I too shall bow out. Adieu.

  14. I’ve used Ivy Style to learn how to dress myself and I’ve learned it in the right forum and in the right style. Thanks for the education.

  15. T.S. Eliot wrote that April is the cruelest month, but for me, August is the cruelest month.

    The dog days of summer, swarms of mosquitoes, and news that the national treasure called Ivy Style is losing Christian.

    It was a privilege and an honor to have been a (small) contributor in bringing Ivy Style to fruition.

  16. @ Old School

    I’m afraid you have misunderstood your journey entirely, and need to revisit the work of Joseph Campbell.

    Now is not the time not to say adieu, but rather to become a mentor. The gold you discovered is not really yours until you can give it away.

    Now it is time for you to contribute to the site, tell newcomers what you’ve learned, and offer guidance.

    C.

  17. Dutch Uncle | August 1, 2021 at 1:35 pm |

    I’m now in my 70s, and have had no reckoning btwn my body and soul.
    I attribute it to the fact that I have no interest at all in popular psychology, philosophy or astrology. Certainly no interest in any religion, politics, or sports.Good literature, music, books, food, wine, friends and clothes are more than enough for me.
    good luck.

  18. Old School | August 1, 2021 at 1:39 pm |

    Christian,

    That was “Old School Tie”, not me.

    Wishing you all the best.

  19. We owe you great debt, Christian, and wish you Godspeed and all that Providence has for you.

    But another hit during this still awful year for the type of men on this site, following the closure of Michael-Spencer due to the tragic death of Spencer Bennett, and the, well, you know, continued slide into irrelevancy of our mecca formerly located at 346 Madison Ave.

    But the year brought good things also, including the announced reopening of the Garland Shirt Factory and what that means for those Americans and their community, the national return to work, and now the proven reason to expect continued great things from John Burton.

    Thank you for your founding spirit, Christian, and for the several posts of my own which you brought to public life.

    With much appreciation.

  20. Thank you. Good luck in all you do!

  21. Farewell and thank you for everything all these years! Expecting more great things in your future endeavors and hoping to see you every once in a while on this channel….

  22. whiskeydent | August 1, 2021 at 4:19 pm |

    Well, you went to the Ivy League anyway, and we’re all the better for it. Happy trails!

  23. Thank you and looking forward to your book.

  24. Thanks Christian. You seem like an excellent person in a number of ways and I will miss the lift your posts gave me. Best of luck.

  25. Roger Sack | August 1, 2021 at 7:52 pm |

    Thank you Christian. I hope that you find time and inclination
    to continue to share your observations and insights on Style
    and the wider culture. In addition to being entertaining and informative,
    you helped awaken my own memories about Ivy style that go back nearly
    seven decades. Best of luck!

  26. Stephen Polezonis | August 1, 2021 at 7:56 pm |

    Thank you Christian. I’ve enjoyed your insights over the years at Ivy Style. I wish you the best!

  27. Writing as a fan, who also considers himself a friend. You have made a cultural footprint, not by exploitation or impressions but through talent and work. Thank you for setting the bar up there, and I wish for you rest equal to the joy you have given.

  28. Finally, something to look forward to in these terrible times:

    “I’m also finishing up a book based on over 20 years of writing on clothes and various old-fashioned and gentlemanly pursuits called “The Philosophy Of Style,” which I’m sure you’ll hear about here when the time is right.”

  29. Henry Contestwinner | August 2, 2021 at 2:18 am |

    Thank you for a job ell done, and best of luck to you as you continue your progress.

    Your comment to Old School Tie was spot on. I not only mentor in my work, but I also serve as a mentor to youth members of the BSA—Cubs, Scouts, and Venturers—and get so much out of it. When I give, I receive tenfold (or more) back.

  30. Henry Contestwinner | August 2, 2021 at 2:20 am |

    P.S.: Years ago, I said Ivy-Style should have a comment preview feature. My misspelled missive above shows again why this would be one of the best “gain of function” features this site could offer.

  31. Charlottesville | August 2, 2021 at 9:29 am |

    Dear Christian – Thank you for creating and guiding Ivy Style for so many years, and in the process providing guidance for all of us readers as well. I have learned a lot, and am glad to have gotten to know you a bit along the way. I am also thankful for getting to hear from Richard Press, Bruce Boyer and others who have helped to make this such a lively and informative site; I hope their contributions and comments will continue here. Some of my fellow commenters have become long-distance friends and fairly regular correspondents, and I hope that will continue as well. Very best wishes in your next endeavors, and I hope we will continue to hear from you from time to time.

    Best wishes to you as well, Mr. Burton. I look forward to see what comes next for Ivy Style.

  32. Looking forward to your book!

  33. Thank you for all the kind wishes, gentlemen.

  34. was ever so nice meeting you with zach at the ivy style exhibit. that said I miss our mutual friend when ever I wear a sport coat and knit tie(most days) I think of them and our lunch at first printer; as always dress well and be full of life.

  35. CC is now more iconic than OCBD’s.

  36. Fair winds and following seas.

    Will

  37. This site and your writing steadied me when needed. Thank-you.

  38. Christian,

    Thank you for all your efforts and best of luck in the future.

  39. Basketball coach John Wooden said: “It’s what you’ve learned after you already know it all that counts”. That sums up my story, and why, like a moth to a flame, I came back this site almost daily. I know more now than when I first stumbled upon it. Thank you.

  40. Thanks for all the interesting content. Looking forward to seeing a revitalised dandy.net.

  41. René Lebenthal | August 3, 2021 at 9:31 am |

    “Plein de bonnes choses” for your future projects, Dear Christian.
    And merci beaucoup for all you did for the Ivy community by bringing up this blog and by maintaning it for 13 years.
    Merci encore.
    Amitiés,
    René

  42. This website defined an entire era of my life. I fondly remember living on my own for the first time, getting into cooking, and reading Ivy Style almost every night at dinnertime with a Spotify jazz playlist on. It served as an incredible font of knowledge, connected me to people who have become some of my best friends offline, and served as a platform for writing about menswear long before I ever thought I could try and make a career out of it. Thanks for everything, Christian.

  43. Bro. Chensvold, it’s been a great pleasure to follow you for lo, these too-few years, and I wish you the best in any future endeavour.

  44. Cheers!

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