Is There Such A Thing As Ivy-Appropriation?

So Mitchell was the first to send me this email he got from a company claiming they were Southern Ivy. I reached out to the company and they have not responded.

Over the years I have met with resistance on introducing new items into the canon. We have come a long way on that. But I do think that if you are going to market yourself as Ivy, you should at least understand the fundamentals and apply them.

My own criteria is this. First, if the item or the trend was available in the hey, would it have been worn? Second, does it at minimum carry a Trad aesthetic? So, take the Apple Watch. Had that been available, you KNOW it would have been seen in Take Ivy. So, first box checked. Now, the aesthetic. This was does comply:

Palate, font, the fact that it is not purely digital, I would argue that this watch would be in keeping with a white oxford and khakis. Yes?

On the other hand, this:

… clearly does not.

I am thrilled that Ivy has resurged to the point that it is being appropriated. But I do ask that you at least “get it.”

If you want Southern Ivy, visit Duck Head.

23 Comments on "Is There Such A Thing As Ivy-Appropriation?"

  1. Thanks for the shout-out, John.

    Well, I wouldn’t call it “appropriation”, but I’m all for inclusiveness.

    I think it’s great that this company markets their brand as “southern Ivy”. A bigger tent draws in more coverts, and the more, the merrier.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this brand has designers that follow your blog, but like Michael Bastian over at Brooks Brothers, they tend to be very private.

  2. The Amazing Tom | August 22, 2023 at 3:11 pm |

    I found a nice Billy Reid $198 sport shirt for $24 at Marshalls the other day.
    Very good poplin fabric and good bd collar.

  3. If one takes an extreme purist position, than nothing other than the
    8 Ivy schools would be considered Ivy. I went to Cornell during the “heyday”,
    At the time Amherst, Williams, Wesleyan, Hamilton, VA,.Colgate,etc were
    included in the authentic Ivy Style canon. Also, at many of these schools
    not all students dressed Ivy. At Cornell, for example, many engineers adhered to
    the flannel shirt, pocket porotector, slide rule look. And then there were foreign
    students often very elegant in European styles. Also true of rich latin Americans.

  4. Not sure what makes it Southern. The girls’ skirt/boots combo? The fact that they’re standing around in an open field with their hands in their pockets? A slightly more interesting terrain feature and it could as easily be Western Ivy. The fact that it’s a threesome? Billy as in hillbilly?
    Not sure what makes it Ivy. If the name were H. Reid Williams III, would that be too Ivy sounding? I will be happy when we all tire of the word “icon”.
    About the watch, you may be correct but, God be praised, it didn’t happen that way. The tech is
    one thing, but somebody would have surely packaged it with a NATO strap or a gator strap, or a “professional grade” stainless steel case and bracelet.

  5. whiskeydent | August 22, 2023 at 6:58 pm |

    Billy Reid has been around for a while, but I don’t think he was seen as part of the Southern Trad universe before now. Is this merely marketing BS or a real shift in style? I think the former but we’ll see.

    While Duck Head is certainly great, Ben Silver is the standard bearer for tailored Southern Trad/Ivy/Prep/Whatever. There are also several Southern This’s and Southern That’s that sell casual and outdoorsy stuff.

    But the larger question is this: Does Ivy or Preppy mean as much south of the Mason-Dixon as it does in the Northeast? I don’t think so but I’m open to disagreement. Perhaps it’s time for the Kudzu League Look.

    • whiskeydent | August 23, 2023 at 10:15 am |

      Calling Charlottesville! Please provide your thoughts when you finish writing that brief.

    • The Amazing Tom | August 23, 2023 at 11:00 am |

      I would say prep is no quite as important in the south but somewhat close. Southern women may like it more than men down this way.

    • It’s been awhile since anyone has mentioned Ben Silver. Top drawer, pricey, a bit peacockish, and as you say, the definitive Southern Trad. Now that you mention it, I think there is no such thing as Southern Ivy, only Ivy. Southern Prep? I think so. Warm weather Prep. Shorts and bow ties, pastels, polka dots, plaids, etc. There are others, but the only prep school with which I am a bit familiar is the Woodward Academy. Nice people.

      • whiskeydent | August 23, 2023 at 2:18 pm |

        This is why I prefer the term Trad. Ivy is definitely a Northeast thing and it comes with a canon, bordering on rules. Trad is related to Ivy, but it seems to be more about the feel and less about checked boxes. It allows you to color outside the Ivy lines and express yourself a bit. Cowboy boots are obviously not Ivy but the right ones can be Trad.

  6. I’d be concerned about diluting the canon. Admission should be carefully considered for entry and only after thoughtful reflection should be granted entry. I still refer back to TOPH for the foundation elements adjusted for age appropriateness.

    • whiskeydent | August 23, 2023 at 10:06 am |

      I hope you realize TOPH was a parody.

      • White Pinpoint | August 23, 2023 at 2:30 pm |

        It may have been intended as a parody, but for many of us it was our introduction to Ivy/preppy style—a style that we certainly didn’t see in our environment.

  7. Charlottesville | August 23, 2023 at 12:02 pm |

    On the subject of Southern Ivy, I would say it is in decline, but not dead by any means. Here in UVA territory, the overwhelming student look is the same slovenly garb as on other campuses, but leavened with a few preppy touches and a navy blazer here and there on occasion. A few of the post-collegiate set, particularly among lawyers and investment types, hold the line about town, but mostly one sees the same untucked shirts, fleece vests and sneakers as one sees everywhere else.

    Dress shoes, penny loafers, navy blazers, tweeds, seersucker and flannel, worn with ties (bow or long) and button-down collars, still make semi-regular appearances around town, and not only on me. Judging from what I hear and see at Eljo’s, the last of the local Ivy outposts, most of the suit and sport coat business is made-to-measure, and sales of the 3/2 sack trail 2-button jackets with double vents, or “dual exhaust” as we used to call it. And, of course, tailored clothing of any kind trails more casual garb. But even the casual clothing at Eljo’s is dominated by khakis, surcingle and ribbon belts, Shetland sweaters and the like, so all is not lost.

    • I agree with you. There is a list of the 12 most preppy colleges in America, and most of them appear to be in the South, including Vanderbilt (the Harvard of the South).

      Southern preppy tends to be more colorful than northern preppy, and there are a lot more frat guys wearing bowties for some reason.

      • Future Fogey | August 24, 2023 at 12:51 am |

        Nice of them to include remedial high school along with the eleven colleges and universities!

        I’d be interested in C’Villes observations here as well, but there seems to have been a “delayed burn” of the late heyday through the South. My father, the Current Curmudgeon, graduated from W&L in the late 70s and in his yearbooks you could have easily placed the attire in the 50s or 60s as long as you could look past the hair.

        Even now you’ll still see colorful blazers and ties on Saturdays down south. Not to say that’s day to day attire but some of those traditions seem to have held on more than they have at the Ancient 8.

        These are observations from the CC (not the other CC) and myself, so a survey of two, but it’s always been interesting.

        • Charlottesville | August 24, 2023 at 11:39 am |

          FF and CC – I would agree with your observations on the long, slow recessional of Ivy, which has still not entirely retired from the field below the M-D line.

          My time at W&L was in the mid 80s and the Southern Ivy look was still the norm, with 3/2 sack suits, sport coats and blazers in tweed, flannel, seersucker and poplin worn with OCBDs and repp ties or foulard prints for dressy occasions. Bow ties were pretty common, although the four-in-hand was more prevalent. Trousers were usually khakis, corduroys, madras or gray flannels. Casual wear called for Levis or Duckheads worn with topsiders, camp mocs, or penny loafers and some form of polo shirt or button down, perhaps with a Shetland sweater or down vest in cooler months.

          Most of the standards were available from Alvin-Dennis, the local Ivy shop that extended interest-free credit to students. LL Bean was a good source for casual wear. As rogersack has noted about heyday Cornell, the Ivy canon was not rigidly observed by all, but it was a dominant force.

  8. John
    When I think of IVY I think of CLASS first. Yes I have seen some people who are wearing IVY clothes that have zero class. They think because it’s IVY they now have class. That’s not to say let’s think about the watch. I can think that when a watch changed from an alligator strap to a Rolex bracelet . Big change ! I see many old school people now wear Apple Watches (mainly because their children have given them to them) and I ‘d say that is if the class person wearing is the watch it now can be IVY.

  9. Billy Reid definitely seems to be a brand found where modern elites are found. I first saw Billy Reid at a town where billionaires are known to vacation out west. My husband bought a shirt from a Billy Reid store located in our local old money enclave.

    Whether modern elites still where Ivy is a question that I cannot comment on, as I’m not one of them.

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  12. MacMcConnell | August 30, 2023 at 11:52 pm |

    Never thought of oyster Rolex watches as Ivy. Maybe the thinner Rolexes still available in the early 1970s with leather bands. They were as thin as a round analog Seiko.
    I get Apple watches, but Ivy?
    Class isn’t about $, it’s about being a lady or gentileman while enjoying life.
    I was think about some of the most tasteful Ivy dressers I’ve ever known. Two were doctors and two were blue collar, all were gentilemen. The women were my three older sisters, my ex-wife and the wife of a college prof, all were ladies.
    Harvard is Ivy, does that mean wearing pajamas to class is now Ivy? Asking for a friend.

  13. MacMcConnell | August 31, 2023 at 12:31 am |

    “Not sure what makes it Southern. The girls’ skirt/boots combo?”
    That’s a demim shirt dress, note the shirt tails and button front. The dress is belted with a denim tied belt. The dresses also come in oxford cloth button downs and diifferent trad shirting cloth. A pure Ivy gal would belt the dress with surcingle or leather belt. FYI, those are riding boots. It’s all IVY except for the cafe racer moto jacket.
    The guy on the left is wearing a copy of the RL Polo leather jacket Ralph has been selling for forty plus years. The center guy is wearing a Woolrich/Filson/Orvis/Pendleton/LL Bean fusion letter jacket. His “sweater shirt” as we called them in high school might be considered Ivy.

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