Hippie Ivy

In “The Origins And History Of Consciousness” (which I’ve read twice over the past year and will need to read another dozen times to fully grasp), author Erich Neumann argues that each individual’s development mirrors the development of humanity itself. Likewise, I sometimes think that for a style omnivore like me, it was necessary to “experience” all the stylistic periods of the 20th century.

In college my tastes were mostly Anglo-trad (because what better defies the culture of Southern California than brown suede shoes and rep ties?), and when I graduated I was obsessed with the period of the 1890s, which dominated all the books I read, music I listened to, and movies I watched. So you could say I ventured into the cruel world starting from the year 1900. Working as a small-town reporter, I developed a Young Fogey/neo-Edwardian look of black and gray, with vests and watch chain, having bumped my inspiration up to, say, 1915. A couple of years later I fell tragicomically in love with a woman active in California’s Art Deco society, and began attending events in San Francisco, learning to waltz and foxtrot to orchestras playing ‘20s and ‘30s tunes and amassing a closet full of double-breasted suits. The curtain fell on the relationship just as it was rising on the late ‘90s swing revival, and I became hooked on the lindy hop, listening to Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman, watching all the jump and jiving jitterbug movies made between 1935-1945, and dancing and teaching six nights a week in spectator shoes.

When that period had run its course, I began exploring the 1950s, writing about the Playboy-era culture of the space-age bachelor, which had also been recently rediscovered from the dust bit of pop culture history. “The Talented Mr. Ripley” came out, and I got hip to postwar jazz, starting with Dave Brubeck’s “Time Out” album. Finally there was a brief foray into the culture of the mid ‘60s, when I rediscovered the British Invasion and folk music that were part of my parents’ record collection. Then things circled back for a while as I returned to ’30s style, launched Dandyism.net, then gravitated back to mid-century style, this time meshed with the Polo of my college days, and Ivy-Style.com was born.

This is a long and meandering lead-up to the here and now, at which I’ve inevitably arrived at 1969, the year of my birth, and what we might call hippy Ivy. I’m kidding, of course. Well, mostly.

It’s true that I’ve been doing a lot of meditation and yoga the past year, and shopping at Whole Foods. Not to mention weightlifting and boxing/martial arts. Last fall I cut out the G&Ts and Old-Fashioneds, followed by gluten and then sugar. My waist shrank to where it was when I was 18. Inevitably, when you become the strongest and healthiest you’ve ever been, you come to realize that liquor in any form isn’t doing much except interfering with your sleep and draining your wallet. So about two-and-a-half weeks ago I went on indefinite hiatus from beer and wine, and have been in a liberated daze ever since. And since what you wear determines how you feel, and vice-versa, I got a couple of paisley buttondowns, reminiscent of what Gant might have offered in the late ‘60s, to go with my new groove.

Yesterday I set up office in Central Park, and typed these words amid the birds and squirrels, ducks and dragonflies, with jazz and Chinese folk music carried on the breeze and all the panoply of activities locals do with a stretch of lawn and a sunny day. In addition to the current-season shirt by Brooks Brothers, I’m wearing tapered Levi’s 501s, vintage navy linen US-made blazer by J. Crew (size 38!), Sebago bit loafers, and engine-turned buckle and gator belt by Brooks. The book is by the Roman stoic philosopher Epictetus, recently recommended by Robert W. at J. Press. The green bottle contains aloe vera and wheatgrass juice with some maca powder mixed in.

And there’s one more hippie detail: a beaded Indian bracelet with a depiction of Ganesh, the elephant-headed god who represents new beginnings. I got it the other day at an Indian goods shop in the East Village, where I had a long chat with the hippie white woman who ran the store. I was dressed in Establishment charcoal gabardines, navy sack blazer, white buttondown and club tie. Inexplicably, the hippie lady said she liked my style. Such is the power of a buttondown collar combined with an open mind. Namaste, my friends. — CC

46 Comments on "Hippie Ivy"

  1. Christian.
    You are aware that among ten years you will dress as Gordon Gekko,and you could have your closet full of Armani padded four buttons double brested suits?

  2. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that life is full of surprises.

  3. Mitchell S. | May 24, 2018 at 3:27 pm | Reply

    Far out, man! All you need is some patchouli fragrance, some incense, and Al Green on the phono player. I can really dig it, since like you (born 1972) I am a child of the 70s. Who knows, maybe your next phase will be grunge: listening to Nirvana and wearing flannel.

  4. Charlottesville | May 24, 2018 at 3:54 pm | Reply

    Groovy, CC. Reading of your style progression through the 20th century reminded me of this Tom Wolfe piece, showing a somewhat different progression through the 50s and 60s: http://sweetjanespopboutique.blogspot.com/2013/04/dandy-fashion-man-who-always-peaked-too.html . Glad that you settled on the white 501s, my summertime jean of choice, rather than torn bell bottoms with an American flag on the butt, which I am afraid I wore when I was a kid in the early 70s. Also, your wheatgrass is preferable to the sort of grass that I was indulging in back then, so your take on hippie-dom is superior on all counts. Best wishes for a great summer!

  5. I dig the shirt (who makes it?), the impeccable beard styling, and your openness in sharing these reflections.

    I also identify with the accompanying photo; after a long, dark winter, I am enjoying green grass, warm sunshine, flowering blossoms and a relaxed attitude.

  6. Wheatgrass juice, huh? Just as long as you don’t mix it with couch grass or cramp bark. I think that’s what killed Curly.

    Will

  7. May I offer this tune to further enhance your park experience? Crank it up!!!!
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=14ViwvgtvbA

  8. I think hippie style demands long hair, though, right? I spy more of a yuppie/neo-prep thing than hippie. Glad you’re feeling vibrant and healthy, though.

    Here’s the real deal:

    https://archive.org/stream/capgown197300univ#page/204/mode/2up

    https://archive.org/stream/capgown197300univ#page/202/mode/2up

    Hippie Ivy soundtrack:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18kqUNG9mO4&list=PLtzV2248lUVVwS3LSMsWlCBKZ2h4Gs8IP

  9. Mark Russell | May 24, 2018 at 5:45 pm | Reply

    I made this same transition in real-time in 1969.
    It took me about 10 years to circle back to the Ivy style of my youth, from which I have never since departed.
    Best wishes on your journey. Never forget your roots.

  10. CanadianTrad | May 24, 2018 at 6:15 pm | Reply

    Epictetus is a bit sour for a hippie, but great look.

  11. Odd question, did that vintage J. Crew blazer come with two buttons on the cuff?

  12. terrryoreilly75 | May 24, 2018 at 10:45 pm | Reply

    Good on you with the removal lf all booze, and the reading of Epictetus, Christian. Heraclitus and of course Marcus Aurelius are excellent for further Stoic studies. Enjoy the art of living.

  13. terryoreilly75 | May 24, 2018 at 10:46 pm | Reply

    *of all booze; pardon the typo.

  14. Marcus Aurelius I’ve read a few times. For some reason never got to Epictetus until now.

    @GS No, it did not. But I placed the sleeve in that position for the eagle-eyed.

  15. Cap’n Chino | May 25, 2018 at 1:00 am | Reply

    Done with Jordan Peterson?

  16. Robert C. Haines | May 25, 2018 at 3:01 am | Reply

    I’ve never thought of Epictetus as “sour”. I recently wrote and delivered a paper on the Stoics and in it was pleased to quote the man more than once. In fact, I gave him and his wry wit the final word:

    “I have to die. If it is now, well then I die now. If not, then now I will take my lunch, since the hour for lunch has arrived, and dying I will attend to later.”

  17. It’s a good look Christian and I salute your quest for physical excellence.

  18. I dig, CC. I, myself went from pure Ivy to something different. I never thought I’d end up there, either. Started wearing chambrays and Vietnam surplus jackets, but my home will always be in a button-down shirt and a pair of loafers.

  19. Christian,

    I applaud your seeking and exploring of spirituality and faith based thought (as well as your previous posts about helping others).

    If I might make a humble suggestion, when several noted authors like G.K. Chesterton, Hillaire Billoc, Ronald Knox, Greene, and others went searching for truth and meaning, they found it in Christianity. Perhaps some reading of Acquinas might speed your journey? Just a thought.

  20. Christian,

    While I have not given up alcohol entirely, about three or four months ago I gave up drinking during week days and feel much better. May I suggest listening to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s Deva Vu album.

    Will

  21. Old School Tie | May 25, 2018 at 10:33 am | Reply

    Looking very slim and trim….

  22. Thank you for the personal and informative post. I find myself in the midst of some lifestyle changes as well. Better fitness and strength, improved diet, alcohol intake reduction and a boost in overall optimism. Finding the Ivy Style blog years back has been part of the inspiration. All the best.

  23. johnny Bravo | May 25, 2018 at 11:14 am | Reply

    CC
    There is vintage Norman Hilton sport coat in a bold paisley pattern that you must check out on Ebay.

  24. Trevor Jones | May 25, 2018 at 12:50 pm | Reply

    I second the sentiment about absolute abbolition of personal alcohol consumption. Rather than some ot the substances the hippies were on to, it dumbs you down rather than expand conciousness or force you to look at things from an alternate perspective. It serves no good to your mind or body. Also, I second that thought about Deja Vu. Terrific album! As for your spiritual journey, no one here can tell you “the answer”. That’s something you have to come across on your own. I will suggest, though, looking at a variety of different perspectives; Nietzsche to Christ, Confuscious to Timothy Leary, Muhammed to the guy outside the liquor store. It can only help in giving you a wider perspective.

  25. @Capn Chino

    Not at all. Enjoying the interviews and media frenzy.

    @Anony

    Je suis en route.

    @Trevor

    Agree. Finished Epictetus and onto the Tao Te Ching. Meantime reading the Bible, a three-year project in my estimate.

  26. Chances are good that, unless you make a big mark on the culture (think Elvis), politics (Lincoln), or another aspect of the culture, you’ll be forgotten by most people. And, since they’re not able to observe the lingering effects of their actions, the can’t enjoy them. Lucky is the man who can look ahead to foresee his legacy before he dies.

    Legacies matter most within the context of families. Even if your grandchildren get to know you a little bit, you’ll be “food for worms” by the time your great-great’s arrive. Maybe you’ll end up on somebody’s wall in the form of an oil painting, and, okay, maybe there will be pictures in a few albums. Maybe a few stories about a business you started or heroic military service. That sort of thing. But, for the most part, a lot of what we’ve done (and who we are) will be forgotten. How much time do you spend thinking about your great, great, great grandfather?

    There’s comfort in this. Just live. Experience as much as you can without doing harm because, in quietly insidious ways, the harm we (excluding psychopaths) do to others will weigh on us in ways we don’t even notice. The stoics were right about the pleasure principle, and, related, the avoidance of pain as much as possible. Try to spend less time in your car, more time looking at moving water (rivers, oceans)*, and welcome the simple joys of sleep, good food, a long walk among trees and grass, and friendships.

    Take pride in how you look because it turns out this actually has a lot to do with how you feel about yourself. You’ll see yourself through others’ eyes, even as you try to convince yourself that you don’t.

    Sooner or later, you’ll die. ‘
    And that was that.

    Funny–You won’t remember any of it. It’s all about the moment. As in now.

  27. *https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blue-mind-wallace-j-nichols/1117054794?type=eBook#/

  28. @M Arthur
    Itchycoo is probably my favourite park song, followed by MacArthur. Those were the park days.

  29. A few verses a day digests easier.

  30. Charlottesville | May 25, 2018 at 4:45 pm | Reply

    Bon voyage on your route, Christian. It is a good one, but I agree that a 45-hour marathon sounds exhausting. My wife and I usually begin the day with a chapter or less, read aloud. We are heading out on what I hope will be a good voyage as well, but only to Charleston to ring in seersucker and white buck season with seafood and old southern architecture. Very best wishes to all for a great holiday weekend.

  31. A verse, then, for today from Albert E.: “Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.”

  32. If you are venturing into the Stoics, I highly recommend Seneca’s letters. Particularly Number 7.

    Very big congratulations on the indefinite hiatus. Drinking is something I’ve never started and not sure I’ve ever missed.

    I have had two recent concessions of my own to modernity in an otherwise “dyed in the khaki” since prep school wardrobe…navy blue tretorn nylites on Fridays (the boat shoes offer zero ankle support) and some under armour kahkis in light stone – they launder well and the stretch is nice when you sit all day for a living.

  33. Terryoreilly75 | May 25, 2018 at 9:26 pm | Reply

    @Anony Mouse: hear, hear. Those authors, philosophers, and journalists brought me back around after a couple decades

  34. Carmelo Pugliatti | May 25, 2018 at 9:34 pm | Reply

    Well,as southern Italian for me the winner is Epicurus.
    Full of Epicurean schools here two thousand years ago.
    At Naples for example you could find the old dear Philodemus of Gadara,one of finest teachers of Epicureism (and a bon vivant too).
    Maybe is a underground link between the Neapolitan tailoring and Epicureism.
    Anyway folks,be careful with those old grumblers of Stoics,and remember,Epicurus is the way!

  35. @Mitate
    Yes, Steve Marriott was something special and MacArthur is indeed a great second! Bravo.

  36. Down Tradden | May 25, 2018 at 11:56 pm | Reply

    Bravo, Christian!

    You should think about a move to the town of Totnes in Devonshire, England.

    The Traddens will be uprooting and going to settle there shortly as it is the center of the gravitational universe.I have managed to buy delightful cottage with its own well(yes, just imagine!)for a mere $400,000. Mrs Tradden will be opening a Naturapathic Clinic and it will be time for me just to sit back and prune the roses.There will be no need for a surgical mask as the realtor assures me everything in the garden has been strictly organically grown.

    I hear that the internet speed in Totnes is to be upgraded, so you could safely relocate, and both blog and write from there.

    Tempted!

  37. Giacomo Bruno | May 26, 2018 at 3:12 am | Reply

    CC,
    All this makes me feel extremely fortunate that all it takes is a hot shower, an OCBD shirt and a pair of khakis to make me feel totally at peace with the world.

  38. Down Tradden | May 26, 2018 at 3:26 am | Reply

    @ Giacomo Bruno

    Good grief Giacomo, you can see plenty of that repetitive stuff on the FNB Talk Ivy site. This site might I remind you is Ivy STYLE. (Excuse the shouting, but it’s hard to be heard sometimes.)

  39. Giacomo Bruno | May 26, 2018 at 7:35 am | Reply

    @Down Tradden

    That’s precisely my point. I thought this was an Ivy style blog.

  40. @M Arthur
    The whole group were a cut above. True originals. To this day, a few notes from one of their records and I’m back to my roots.

  41. @Giacomo

    Good for you, brother. Epictetus would say find peace anyway you can, and pay no mind to what anyone else thinks.

    C.

  42. Giacomo Bruno | May 27, 2018 at 12:30 am | Reply

    Christian,
    You (and Epictetus) were right. I should have thought before expressing my opinion.

  43. How do you avoid getting grass stains on the pants?

  44. The most Ivy teacher at my high school told us that he wore a paisley button-down every day as an undergraduate (we didn’t ask whether it was the same one!).

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