My friend Chapman is looking for vintage Tretorns, women’s, Size 10. If you know of any, leave it in the comments?
I am working on a piece about the WHY of Ivy looking good and wanted to bounce three theories off of you first. If you do some online research, you find, well, you know my rant about most fashion and lifestyle writers. I did come across this image, though, from Kinowear.com. It’s a contemporary fashion blog, if you are here it is probably not your jam, but there was some thought put into this at least.
My first theory about the WHY of Ivy looking good has nothing to do with how it looks. It has more to do with what it says. Which is why I always write, if you are a jackass, you are not going to look good in Ivy. There is though, with regard to the image above, some correlation. Ivy looks good if you want to say this:
I am a person who values thought and work ethic. I understand the value and stability of classics, and I welcome a little rebellion to keep things moving. Morals are important to me, or less controversially put, being fair and decent is important to me. I am inclusive, I like music, and dependability is part of My Personal Tradition. Authenticity is admired and pomposity is the calling card of a dunce. I spend money on quality and won’t buy anything I can’t wear ten years from now. Manners matter, but because I think so much of thought, manners are reflexive. What things mean is as important as how things look, how things look is important too though. I am a good person.
If you know yourself, and this is the message you want to convey, and as an aside, what about this message wouldn’t you want to convey, Ivy is going to look good on you.
The second theory is that Ivy, and I am talking men’s Ivy right now, just frames most bodies better. Forgiveness on the top, where, as the years and sandwiches go by, forgiveness might be called for. Worn with the proper rise, pants divide near enough to the equator as to scratch our intrinsic itch for symmetry. Nothing hangs off because dangling feels unsafe. Etc. Because of these fundamentals, Ivy speaks to the most body types the best.
The third theory is that Ivy walks the line between formality and informality best. It is certainly the most expansive style. Suits and shorts in the same genre is REALLY hard to find, if not impossible, yet here we are. Casual Ivy, sockless loafers, untucked ocbd’s, even GTH, still courtly enough to let you know that a courageous action or an impactful thought can still happen, even while throwing a frisbee. More formal Ivy, 3/2 suits, repp ties (which can go either way actually): stately without preening.
What do you think?
JB, you hit the nail on the head with point #3 on the virtues of ivy style.
Christian Chensvold published his ten style commandments a few years ago, and the third commandment read:
“One of the chief virtues of the Ivy/preppy/WASPy approach to dressing is the notion of being relatively dressed up for casual settings and relatively dressed down for formal ones. When wearing shorts, for example, the trad guy has on one of his buttondown-collar dress shirts, sleeves rolled up, and dress loafers, no socks — not a t-shirt and flip flops. Then when everyone’s dolled up in black tie, he’s got a pink buttondown under his dinner jacket, or something like that. I think it’s a solid approach to dressing regardless of whether or not you have a trust fund or Roman numeral after your name.”
John – for as much of a hard time as I sometimes give you for your writing, you certainly do know how to turn a phrase: “as the years and sandwiches go by”.
All of this makes sense to me. Yes indeed.
Culturally speaking, I would add two important (essential?) connections: Mainline Protestant Culture and Anglophilia. Since the Episcy’s and Presby’s are at the top of the Mainline Protestant heap, these two are closely connected. Without Scottish tweed, Irish linen, English West-of-England flannel, and
For all the chatter about diversity among the ranks of Ivy retailers (which I acknowledge and honor), the look would’ve died on the vine without vestrymen (Episcopal) and elders-on-session (Presbyterian). Haute Ivy thrived in America when Anglophila was strong. Nowadays the upper class fascination with all things Italian and French (exhibit A: every copy of Town & Country since 2005) has displaced the once robust exaltation of British culture.
When Mainline Protestant culture flourished in America, Brooks and their imitators flourished. When Mainline Protestant culture’s influence began to define (late 1960s), the look we like-and-celebrate did, as well.
* first paragraph edit:
“… and British wool challis, repp, and poplin, why bother?”
When Norman Hilton started, the ad copy was “Doing One Thing Well’ accompanied by the addendum — “British Country Jackets.” Yep.
The four-stage pyramid makes good sense, although all four stages might be best represented as a continuous and concurrent cycle, never fully accomplishing any one stage.
One can, I did, I think we all do, explore the four stages, without ever having heard the words “Ivy, GTH, Trad, Preppie, Chic, Casual, Minimalist, Grunge, Hippie, Hipster, Slob”, whatever.
I would most heavily weigh the third theory because, at this point, I’m not really attempting to send any messages; it just seems right. “…Ivy walks the line…” Yes.
also, the rise/ascent of the “summer is a verb” vibe, Palm Beach and Nantucket and all that. “Luxe leisure”. Lily Pulitzer and brick red and such. Ugh. Boasting about leisure time/activities is about the least Mainline Protestant thing in the world — more evidence of the downward spiral.
“Stately without preening” is maybe the most perfectly concise description of wearing Ivy style suiting I’ve yet read.
The pyramid also covers it. Mastery is an elusive place, but I’ve generally gotten to the point where I feel like I’m wearing my clothes and not the other way around. When it fits right — particularly when Ivy fits right (re: yesterday’s post) — it almost always looks effortless and put-together, so it’s relatively easy to at least hover somewhere in the middle of that pyramid from early on.
Points two and three resonate most with me, but point one is not far behind. Overall, your piece nails it. An hour later and after a second reading, I feel I want to read/learn/know even more. A very solid start here.
The first theory, I think, overthinks the matter the matter a bit. Or maybe—as people’s insights often do—it’s just going over my head.
The second theory is excellent.
The third theory is brilliant. Casual Ivy is “courtly enough to let you know that…an impactful thought can still happen, even while [you are] throwing a frisbee.” And more formal Ivy is “stately without preening.” You nailed the essence. Works for me.
The projection thing is a snarl. There’s how you want to be seen by others, how others actually see you, and who the hell you really are. And how big is the gap between the image you wish to project and reality? Hello Mr. Gatsby! It’s enough to drive a man to drink.
Which is why I let others descend into the psychology and instead focus on what Ivy/Trad is: A post WWII fashion that started as a rebellion against formality and turned into an enduring style deeply rooted in Americana. Its origin was among Ivy League WASP’s, but it spread rapidly into the American Melting Pot. Today, it’s more than an aesthetic; it’s an archetype that provides the wearer a sense of stability in an unstable world.
That’s probably a bit off and too windy, but it’s what I’ve got. So I guess put me down as a 3.
Nancy Mitford once observed that “all nice rooms are a bit shabby.” This is a reference to English Country style, which correlates nicely with JB’s Theory #3. Today I’m wearing an older Norman Hilton tweed (11 oz., perfect for spring), worn-out gray gabardines, frayed oxford, creased C&J Bostons. I feel simultaneously Mitfordly “shabby” and (yet) refined. Somebody pass the scones and jam while I pour.
Nicely done……..If done properly, Ivy ends up like looking like understated elegance, and “old money.”
Another observation that correlates with JB’s #3 is the connection with the campus–the academy/university.
The Chensvold Theory of Ivy’s genesis entailed a question: was it more Brooks or the campus? I still, after all these years, think of the look as quintessentially “professorial”– “academic.” As in the humanities and more specifically English Lit. Growing up, a lot of my heroes were either authors or professors (in some instances, like Robert Lowell, both). I vowed to live either in or near a small, quaint college/university town (I have) and dedicate more time to literary pursuits than most people can (should?). So maybe one opts for this style not to convey an image, but, rather, to summon ghosts and channel spirits. It’s rare that I meet someone who works in other fields who’s chosen this look for his/her own. Almost never. After all these years, it’s (still) “what an English Lit. professor wears.”
“Which is why I always write, if you are a jackass, you are not going to look good in Ivy.”
Mr. Burton, did you not recently use the insecure, petty, abusive, controlling and violent Steve McQueen as a normative visual example?
Which is to say, as someone who likes Wagner’s works but finds Wagner the man contemptible, not everything is moored to a person’s soul.
Aren’t you the individual who just got done teaching me to change my clothes in the locker room?
I didn’t know Steve McQueen. Neither did you. I have learned, being just a teensy teensy bit in the public eye, not to assume much of anything about someone I do not personally know. You find that people in the public eye who conclude things about other people in the public eye are… Wendy Williams. Are YOU Wendy Williams?
Separating a person’s art from the person is hardly a new twist. There was no more gifted musician anywhere than Michael Jackson. Equals, of course, but no one better. And I didn’t know him either, so even anything there is conjecture. Michael Jackson wrote brilliant music he couldn’t read, and INVENTED back beat.
Further, did I say everything was moored to a person’s soul? I, in fact, did not. But your clothing choices are. Clothing is one way, perhaps the ONLY way that EVERYONE expresses themselves.
This kinda reads like another reach. But hey, if you are wearing an ocbd right now and this is really you, I could be wrong. Right? – JB
(I’m not wrong).
Lots of jackasses have worn “Ivy.” Hell, it probably made them look better. True of McQueen?
Men’s style generally is in a state of utter confusion. Including this style— because nowadays there are all sorts of challenges to (and questions about) manhood —and/ or what it means to “be a man.”
Growing up, a couple of male role models led me to believe that Winston Churchill was the paragon of 20th century masculinity: bold, courageous, witty, assertive, charming — bulldogish. Well…
Then you read books. And you learn more. For all of his wit and valor, Churchhill would not make it in today’s political environment. He would be dismissed as a needy, loudmouthed, undisciplined alcoholic who, depressed (“The Black Dog”) and short-fused and spoiled, seeks approval through commanding (bullying, really) and dominating. Also, he may very well have been a self-pitying whiner. The media would rip him —and his cigars— to shreds.
To whom do we look? Professional athletes? Politicians? CEO’s? Dear lord.
Manhood, masculinity— and men’s style. Strange times.
S.E. you start to make an interesting point about evolving contemporary notions of masculinity. And about Churchill. That said, while the British Bulldog/Lion of London, etc. was plagued with mental health issues and had an abundance of notable character flaws, he was a brilliant polymath in addition to being a tremendously effective leader through some of the darkest times humanity has ever faced.
I can think of a certain prominent current example of a needy, loudmouthed, undisciplined, short-fused, spoiled, dominating (I’ll add petulant and shambolic) bully who managed to be significantly less-effective as a leader, yet is somehow admired by millions. I’ll elect to admire what goodness there was in the former while still acknowledging his many flaws. The latter does not merit such parsing.
“Aren’t you the individual who just got done teaching me to change my clothes in the locker room?”
No, but if the suggestion was novel to you, you’re most welcome.
I thought your condescension at another man’s gym clothes an odd intro to a piece that talked about the aesthetics of what people wear every day, given aesthetics often take a back seat at the gym.
But back on topic, “only non-jackasses will look [authentic/comfortable/convincing/whatever] in ivy” is cringe-worthy pandering.
Ok,this is where you lose me. You were the person, so why not say so? I think you should own the fact that you innovated the locker room. Who knows? It might catch on and be a thing. – JB
And… pandering to whom? I mean, can you at least make a LITTLE sense? – JB
Re: Churchill — One, of admittedly many, difference(s) between the Lion of London and Saddam Hussein was that Churchill’s advisors successfully talked him out of gassing the Kurds.
“‘I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes,’ he declared in one secret memorandum. He criticised his colleagues for their ‘squeamishness’, declaring that ‘the objections of the India Office to the use of gas against natives are unreasonable.'”
I don’t think it was just the man’s temperament that would get him into trouble with today’s electorate. Or, at least I pray so.
I appreciate #2 above– I’ve no interest in overly fitted/tapered clothing. It’s feminine and fashionable. Gross.
I can also appreciate #1, but I’d offer a few edits:
“I favor old-fashioned values, intellectual rigor, and a strong work ethic. I understand the value and stability of classics, and I welcome a bit of rebellion when it serves as a defiance of ignorance. I am fair, decent, and reliable– a team player who knows how to both lead and cooperate. I admire authenticity even as I acknowledge that we’re all in the process of growing-and-becoming. I invest in quality goods — don’t expect me to buy cheaply made crap. Manners and etiquette matter as signs of respect for-and-toward others, but I’ll always welcome some hearty, civil debate. I don’t welcome change for the sake of change because a lot of change doesn’t constitute progress. I can lean progressive when it’s clear a new idea or approach is superior, but mostly conservative because, in the spirit of Burke, I’ll assert that a lot of traditions have served us quite well.”
C.S. Lewis on (traditional) clothing:
“The Middle English word solempne means something different, but not quite different, from modern English solemn. Like solemn it implies the opposite of what is familiar, free and easy, or ordinary. But unlike solemn it does not suggest gloom, oppression, or austerity.
The Solempne is the festal which is also the stately and the ceremonial, the proper occasion for pomp — and the very fact that pompous is now used only in a bad sense measures the degree to which we have lost the old idea of ‘solemnity.’ To recover it you must think of a court ball, or a coronation, or a victory march, as these things appear to people who enjoy them; in an age when every one puts on his oldest clothes to be happy in, you must re-awake the simpler state of mind in which people put on gold and scarlet to be happy in.
Above all, you must be rid of the hideous idea, fruit of a widespread inferiority complex, that pomp, on the proper occasions, has any connexion with vanity or self-conceit. A celebrant approaching the altar, a princess led out by a king to dance a minuet, a general officer on a ceremonial parade, a major-domo preceding the boar’s head at a Christmas feast — all these wear unusual clothes and move with calculated dignity. This does not mean that they are vain, but that they are obedient; they are obeying the hoc age which presides over every solemnity.
The modern habit of doing ceremonial things unceremoniously is no proof of humility; rather, it proves the offender’s inability to forget himself in the rite, and his readiness to spoil for every one else the proper pleasure of ritual.”
— C. S. Lewis, A Preface to Paradise Lost, p. 17
Reads more like C.S. Lewis on (traditional) Anglican Liturgy
At least this,
Put me down as 70% Third Theory / 30% Second Theory
Third theory is best because it really reflects a sense of balance, not going too far in any direction (not too formal or too casual). Restraint, self control, and in that sense a sort of subtle self-confidence.
Second theory has value given that Ivy tends not to be tight fitting or garish.
Disagree with First theory. Lots of bad people in Ivy clothing, lots of good people in non-Ivy. Frankly, the very best people probably don’t spend much time thinking about clothing at all. You want me to go out on a limb here? – The most moral clothing style is something like “Sears or JC Penney”.
The more refined the person, the further up the pyramid they shall go.
The second and third theories are fine and I would mostly agree with them, but the first theory is demonstrably false. As others have pointed out, there are plenty of people who are jerks who have worn Ivy over the years and looked good doing it. A lot of the attributes ascribed to the “Ivy man” or whatever you want to call it have also been around for centuries, so tying them to a style movement from the 20th century is about as absurd as…well, claiming that Michael Jackson “invented backbeat.”
On your word, without googling, define backbeat. – JB
I read your note again. Once I got over that you don’t know what backbeat is, I was able to get to your sentence about the ascribing attributes. There’s a logic fallacy here I wish to point out to you. Just because people before you had certain attributes does not mean I cannot ascribe them to you. Perhaps you are bald. Perhaps your mother’s father was also bald. You, are still bald. Get it? – JB
“There was no more gifted musician anywhere than Michael Jackson.” Ahem. Uhh, hey now. let’s talk this over.
The repartee here lately, intended or not, is priceless.
“Just because people before you had certain attributes does not mean I cannot ascribe them to you. Perhaps you are bald. Perhaps your mother’s father was also bald. You, are still bald.”
This is terrific.
JB, please divine the logic of my current rig: a guayabera shirt, flowery shorts much like the new ones at J. Press, deck shoes, and a non-bald head. I like to think of it as my Gone To Hell look but you probably have a deeper thought. Hasta later!
I prefer Life Well Lived to Gone To Hell. Sounds perfect. I am assuming, and perhaps I should not, that you are not in an office today. Which makes you an even bigger winner. The bald thing, I was just trying to make a point. The commentor said that because some of the figures in the Old Testament had a good work ethic, work ethic can’t be an Ivy virtue. It made my head hurt. And while I was scratching it, trying to avoid getting a nervous disorder from the commentor’s logic, I thought of the analogy. Have a good weekend, and if possible, don’t change clothes. You got it right the first time. – JB
S.E. – Thank you for the Lewis quotation. “The modern habit of doing ceremonial things unceremoniously is no proof of humility; rather, it proves the offender’s inability to forget himself in the rite, and his readiness to spoil for every one else the proper pleasure of ritual.”
I think of that principle not only on occasions of what is traditionally high ceremony (weddings, funerals, etc.), but on simpler occasions, such as going to the theater, dinner in a nice restaurant or even going to the office. I do not think that well-dressed people are morally superior, but neither are slovenly people, and sloppy appearance does not show respect to those around us. I am resigned to being the only man in a tie in most situations, but I do wish that others would make at least a bit of an effort and am very thankful for those who do.
Best wishes for a happy weekend to all.
Lots of faux populism these days so I dip my toe in those waters with hesitation and trepidation, but I’m convinced the blame for the cultural downward spiral lies with the upper classes– more specifically, the newly rich. “The rich ain’t what they used to be” and so on. JB will scold me for essentializing this lot, whether day traders of hedge funders, but oh well. Somewhere Digby Baltzell shouts “Amen.”
I’m not sure one can be a truly “good person” (see JB’s #1 above) unless one is willing to be a “good person” for the sake of all–all of society, not just one’s family, local community, or circle of fiends (https://www.harpercollins.com/products/the-good-society-john-kenneth-galbraith?variant=39939398926370). If “Ivy” was once the uniform of an elite Liberal Establishment (it was), then, with its passing/demise*, there’s been a trickling down of greed, overindulgence and sloth–which is a damned wicked combination indeed.
There are still pockets, of course of the truly good — here and there, now and then.
@S.E. and Charlottesville, agreed, that’s a great quotation, and so is Charlottesville’s comment. As for me, I notice and appreciate anyone who goes to the effort to dress with care in a society that generally doesn’t (notice OR dress with care), no matter the particular style involved. Thanks for being among the few who sartorially elevate the circles you travel in just by showing up.
JB, I work from home and get dolled up only if I need to or want to. Anyway, it’s also hotter than high school love outside, so a linen guayabera and light shorts are the ticket.
Re: bald, I was mostly kidding, though it was also my chicken**** way of saying the conversation had descended too deep into the weeds for me to follow.
Shortly, it will be time to get deep into the Beefeaters with friends or, as Falstaff once said, the “villainous company that hath been the spoil of me.” Have a good’n y’all!
Not that it matters, but since you brought it up, backbeat was “invented” decades before Michael Jackson was even born. You’re not even close, JB.
For you reference:
Some musicologists claim it goes back even further to the dawn of the 20th century in New Orleans or perhaps even further to the previous century. There are numerous citations online.
It’s fine that you were mistaken but getting pissy about how I (supposedly) don’t know what backbeat is unbecoming someone who wishes to preach about Ivy values. The Ivy man owns up to his mistakes (or maybe he doesn’t).
I knew you couldn’t do it without looking it up. I have to run, I have a gig. 🙂 I will explain to you how you are wrong when I get back. – JB
Musicologists don’t get gigs, so they become musicologists. Musicologists aren’t Ivy. Musicologists are hemp.
Musicologists don’t hate Steve McQueen, but only because they’ve never heard of Steve McQueen, or Lalo Schifrin, or a 390 GT, or a top loader four-speed, or Vanishing Point, or McQ, or The French Connection, or Gone in 60 Seconds…or the Title Theme from The Streets of San Francisco, full-cut guitar version, sans voice over, or the Theme from Ironside with Freddie Hubbard etc. ad infinitum.
Naw, but seriously, I like musicologists. I like making fun of them, too. It’s probably not Ivy to make fun of musicologists, but I can be a bad person who looks good in Ivy. One of my favorite young musicologists is James Zychowics, and of course there is Willi Apel, who was really Ivy, like Grout and especially Palisca.
Hey! The comment that I just left seemed to disappear. Not sure why. So again… what is this web site exactly? Do you sell clothes? I noticed that the links don’t work or don’t have content so I’m left with many questions. Please get back to me so I can better understand. Thanks!
Ignorance is indeed bliss, and I am blissful that I have never heard of the musicologists mentioned by Bopper.
How is “morals are important to me” in any way a “controversial” statement? The part about “I’m inclusive” is, mildly speaking, questionable. Historically (Ivy Style is a historical style), Ivy League universities and the people, who, for generations made those institutions work, were anything but “inclusive” (the word itself had not yet even been introduced). But even today, in times of dictatorial political correctness and affirmative action, Ivy institutions, being the most expensive universities in the world, and being among the most difficult to get into, academically, are by definition not “inclusive” (the day they become such, they will lose their value).
Also worth noting is that all these institutions (and not just the Ivy League specifically, but more broadly, the elite – high-ranking colleges in America) require the applicants to go through “interviews”. The question is – why is that necessary? If merit, reflected in academic achievements, which are represented through SAT and high school exams grades, is all that matters, then why should these kids need to go to an “interview” with the college’s representatives? Well, simply speaking, because these colleges still are, essentially, private clubs.
Who are the people, wearing “Ivy-style” clothes?
My guess: 10% – elite college professors
90% – style enthusiasts, who spend way more time, reading style blogs and searching for vintage “Ivy” stuff on Ebay, than necessary.
The people I know, who do wear Ivy items, wear them because they went to Ivy schools in the 80’s, and not because they learned about Ivy style “rules” from blogs.
@IT, may I recommend the recently published book, Black Ivy, by Jason Jules and Graham Marsh? Not a lot of ’80s Ivy League grads represented in those pages, nor style blog readers.
Wasting away again in Margaritaville? Are hush puppies Ivy?
I didn’t know anybody who wore Ivy items, and learned everything from Birnbach’s Official Preppy Handbook in the early 1980’s.
There should be a #4: a sense of rebellion. Even cantankerous defiance.
It’s probably true that most men don’t opt for any version of Ivy. Unless we dumb down Ivy to button-down shirts, khakis, and some sort of casual(dish) shoes. It’s a safe guess that, among men who enjoy “dressing up” for work and/or leisure, Ivy is chosen consciously and intentionally–eschewing/avoiding the myriad of (much more) available options, which include ‘Updated Traditional’ and skinny-legged, skinny-lapeled, overly tapered Pitti Uomo-ish clothes.
The former, it seems, rules the day, including the highest political and private sector (executive) offices in the land. This is what Biden, Obama, “W.”, and Clinton have worn. It’s what Brian Moynihan, Ed Bastian, Richard Fairbank, and Jamie Dimon wear. ‘Updated Traditional’ is ubiquitous. Everywhere. Two-button darted suits (usually navy), spread collared white shirt, either print or solid necktie. Boring.
Ivy, including the cloth (“fabrics”) and styling, is a lot more interesting than Updated Traditional as its usually worn-and-seen nowadays. And more “Anglo American” than the Italian-French vibes that saturate the Pitti Uomo crowd.
I’ll guess less than 3% of the American male population wore Ivy at the pinnacle of the Heyday. I’ll guess less than 1% choose it nowadays. A tiny portion of the clothing market.
* Larry Kudlow does Updated Traditional about as well as anybody in the media.
Yes, SE, I stopped watching television about ten years ago, (about the time I stumbled upon this blog) partly because I became disgusted by what I saw of the elite class incessantly. Boring indeed. There is one photo of Kudlow in 1981 on Wikipedia under his “Political Views”. 3/2 suit and tennis collar shirt with nice tie.
I have a friend who cruised around Austin with Buffett and sampled a wide range of intoxicants. They became very drunk and very awake. And that wasted day became the inspiration for the song, though the location was moved a few hundred miles.
As for me, I aspire to be the “Cowboy in the Jungle.”
I like Ivy League style because it’s how I’ve always dressed. I think, historically, the third theory is the one that makes the most sense to me. It’s “dressed up” while still nodding to a notion of informality. I say historically because the degrees of “dressed up” are largely lost when active and casualwear have taken over the market to the degree they have over the past few decades.
It’s nice that perhaps Ivy style has become more inclusive over the years but I don’t know if I’d say that the moral values being discussed here have historically been a part of this world to any great extent. There is certainly a long history of proper decorum, manners, dignity, etc. but I can’t help but wonder if there is some wish fulfillment going on here. The history of the Ivy League is one of exclusion and elitism, by definition. I think we can separate the clothes from the background where it originated but I would also not claim that “Ivy” is particularly great as far as cultural values go. A lot of it seems for show and designed to separate the elites from the masses.
“I knew you couldn’t do it without looking it up. I have to run, I have a gig. 🙂 I will explain to you how you are wrong when I get back. – JB”
That link was for your reference, not mine. Anyone with even a rudimentary interest in rock n’ roll history is aware of what “backbeat” is. That’s why the error of your claim stuck out so much, but I look forward to your theory.
Folks, Kent needs a hobby. Any suggestions?
Just read another Churchill books that includes vague but discernible references to an historic anti-U.K. sentiment in America–probably rooted in republican hostility toward all things aristocratic and monarchical (and snobby/stuffy). Certainly this explains the reluctance, as late as 1940, to assist Great Britain (and other allies, of course) in waging war against the Axis powers. Interesting–that in ’39/’40, about 85% of Americans (Gallup poll data) opposed the sending of troops to fight the Nazis.
Here in the America the periodic fascination with British culture is matched only by something resembling antagonism– resentment rooted in our history. No wonder tweedy, Shetlandy, flanneled, oxford-covered Ivy wasn’t (will never) be favored by most.
Agree with Nevada that Black Ivy is a great book that is well worth checking out, but it’s the exception that proves the rule. Ivy and prep styles have long been favored by elites and the privileged, and not people overly concerned about things like “inclusion.”
Interestingly, the “elites and the privileged” are the people we can count on to be “concerned about things like inclusion.” *
* The Irony of Democracy (Dye, Zeigler)
At the risk of sounding like an aristocrat or monarchist (which I am decidedly not), those concerns used to be referred to as “noblesse oblige” and not something to scoff at.
@S.E. and Dennis — I think the notion of what and who constitutes the so-called “elite” is entirely open to question. Still, no matter who those folks actually are, the idea of noblesse oblige (or perhaps a more American equivalent for which I cannot at present find a suitable expression) could certainly apply.
And part of the point of the book, Black Ivy, is to show how this style of clothing once associated only with said elites was adopted by people of color to demand dignity and respect, to express equality with style, to say that Black people are every bit as worthy of it as White people.
I love the idea of people adopting these clothes to “demand respect” (or whatever you wish to call it) though I also wonder if it demonstrates that it’s also by definition at least partly a superficial affair. I think it stands to reason that Black Americans (in the 1960s especially) have to go the extra mile to gain acceptance but it also demonstrates that we are still judging people based on preconceived notions of minorities “conforming” to the dominant classes. A complicated and complex issue to be sure but one worth thinking about. The fact that the book’s subjects look fantastic doing it is hopefully a nice invitation for people to think about these issues.
I think we tend to make a bit too much of all of this, lately. There’s no accounting for taste.
Although I can sort of appreciate JB’s attempt to connect trad or Ivy style with virtue, the notion that wearing “Ivy style” is a badge of good character is wishful. And the idea that fans of Ivy style are all “good people” is absurd. In other news, my new pair of Jack Donnelly “West Point twills” are with my tailor for hems. In conclusion, thank you Ivy-style website.
But… that is SO not what I said. I mean, you are welcome, and Jack Donnelly’s are the bomb, but that is so not what I said. – JB
Ok, I went back and checked. And that is just not what I said. What I said is that Ivy will look good on people of good character. I didn’t say it was a badge, I said it would look good. Right? – JB