Ivy Notes S1 E23

It’s a Friday in July, but I have three things.

First, The Amazing Tom sent me another article from WSJ on how the Tie Association is disbanding, and it started with a sentence so stupid I had to meditate again after I read it this morning.  I am not even going to link this stupidity, but the sentence was something like:  ties are so done that even tie guys are giving up on them.  And the gist was that because a trade organization is closing shop, that is another beep on the flatlining EKG of neckwear.

Oh for – I mean, I make mistakes every single post, but at least the things I got wrong I THOUGHT ABOUT.   Which, upon reflection, yields another point.  But that’s not what we are talking about here.  This is why, save for Misters (yes, that is correct) Boyer and Twardzik I am dying of thirst and there are no professional men’s fashion writers to give me water.


This photo doesn’t go anywhere but these guys are the writers I just mentioned. Inspirational writers, AND inspirational dressers.


Saying that because a trade organization folded up means the industry is gone is the exact same logic as saying that since there are fewer travel agencies that means no one wants to go anywhere. 


Second, there is a photographer I know of, her name is Karen Ryan, she is a marine photographer.  Sailing mostly, but other incredible compositions as well.    If I am stuck working on a Friday in July (like, um, now) her site is a vacation without getting stuck in traffic.  AND you can buy her work.  Tell her I sent you.


This is the homepage of her site, if you click here, you will go to it. You will smell like salt when you are done.


Finally, I don’t know if this is serendipity or what, but the number of emails coming in mentioning mental health increased this week to a very noticeable degree.  I am pretty up front about my work in that area so when I saw the needle move I thought of a quick story.  This week, my daughter Gramercy and I took a trip back to the house where I got better.   But I almost didn’t.  Get better, that is.

This is a view of the water from the house where I almost didn’t get better.


While we went down to the water, I thought of these emails this week, and a story.   I work out with Dylan, and I have a workout friend named Elena.  She is a very serious athlete and also a coach.  Keeping up with her is a job, and one day Dylan had us running a three minute block together, and I was heaving.  She looked over and said,

“Come on John!  You can do ANYTHING for three minutes.”

That includes staying alive.  The new national mental health crisis hotline is open, and goes national tomorrow.  You can always call 1-800-273-8255  but if you are there, are anywhere close to there, remember two things.

  1.  You can do ANYTHING for three minutes.  That includes staying alive.
  2. Dial 988.


Have a fantastic and safe weekend.  I have an amazing story to finish that will post next week about a woman who runs a company that makes pants amongst the finest in America, she makes them in America, and her work process is such that you will feel the dignity in the pockets.




31 Comments on "Ivy Notes S1 E23"

  1. The wearing of a necktie is an act of rebellion. Hell, the same can be said for opting for Classic Ivy. But more about that in a minute.

    JB speaks courageously about “getting better.” Although I feel sure I’ve never been where he (once) was, I’ve known plenty of men who privately confess feelings of depletion and despair. How was it Thoreau once put it? “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” True–and reason for both lament and the mustering of courage.

    For all the talk about habit-forming, “getting outside,” plenty of exercise, and diet (veganism is the thing around these parts these days), I’ll offer another suggestion: rage against the machine(s). Raise the fist to-and-at the bureaucracies, stifling and staid, that threaten to weigh an individual soul down. Resist.

    Too many books and movies to count have chronicled this act of courageous defiance. William H. Whyte wrote a groundbreaking book about the spirit-sapping power of bureaucracy, which is really about (a.) being told daily and often what to do and how to do it (by a manager, or, God forbid, team of managers) and (b.) telling others what to do and how to do it. This is a form of modern-day slavery — and it’s brutal. No amount of diet, exercise, therapy, or habit-keeping will save you from it.

    If you’ve become, to borrow from Whyte, “an Organization Man,” do yourself a life-saving favor and get out. Escape. I don’t care about the size of the mortgage, car payment, or savings for the summer house. Get out. Escape. Run.

    A bit of excavation has confirmed that this is the root cause of 99.999 % of the listlessness, lethargy and despair I’ve witnessed in men.

    I have a theory about all revolutions and uprisings throughout history– they’re all (basically) rages against bureaucratic machines. This includes Jesus’ raised fist to-and-at both Rome (the emperor and his empire) and the religious bureaucracy (Sanhedrin). This is how he ended up on a cross. The same can be said for Luther and Calvin (Protestant Reformation), and … well, the list goes on and on. When men have had enough of being told what to do and how to do it so they can subsequently tell others what to do and how to do it)– well. It’s powerful.

    Thoreau continued: “…What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things..”

    And so on.

    Do what you must to take care of yourself– and get help if it’s become clear to you (or others who care about you) that you’d benefit from it. In the meantime, here’s a thought:Put on a blazer, a pair of linen pants, and a necktie. And your loafer of choice.

    Be different. Be unique.
    Resist and defy. You’ll feel better– in a matter of seconds.

  2. And f*ck the men who try to tell you to not wear something because an article of clothing is no longer popular. They’re the herd. The masses. Followers. They’re like sheep who follow the Judas goat to a horrible demise.

    Raise a fist and a finger. Put on a tie.
    Have a great weekend.

  3. Great sailing photos on Karen Ryan’s website. Thanks for the contact!

  4. Indeed.

    Kind Regards,


  5. Hardbopper | July 15, 2022 at 11:28 am |

    Telling us what to do based on its popularity is indoctrination in the negative sense; a junior high school drug dealers tactic. Mark and avoid them. I am going to wear a tie today.

  6. Hardbopper | July 15, 2022 at 11:37 am |

    I’ve noticed lately the use of the word “fashion” where the word “style” might be more contextual, albeit less fashionable.

    • John Burton | July 15, 2022 at 4:34 pm |

      It’s me not you. For real. I am not following?

      • Hardbopper | July 15, 2022 at 5:39 pm |

        …”professional men’s ‘fashion’ writers…” for example. Noticed it a few/several days ago as well. Ivy is a style not a fashion. Fashion is what we are fighting. (Not the best way to state the case, I know).
        I’m just making conversation…don’t let it ruin your Friday.

      • Hardbopper | July 15, 2022 at 8:06 pm |

        And, so, this is what’s puzzling me: The Tie Association? Google hasn’t even heard of them.

  7. Have an amusing story to share regarding the ‘no tie’ and business casual world, reported from Midtown Manhattan.

    1. Start new job last month, and decide not to wear a tie with my suit on the first day (I like to warm colleagues up to the fact I wear ties everyday). The office immediately tells me ‘to be more comfortable, we are business casual here,’ so I return home defeated.
    2. Day two, I wear OCBD, Blazer, Chinos, and no tie. The remarks are ‘You look great, but please be more comfortable, we are business casual here.’ Confused? So am I, as this is the most ‘casual’ I get. So I return home defeated again.
    3. Third day, being completely confused over what ‘comfortable’ even means when I am already quite comfortable, I wear: Blazer, OCBD, Chinos + a bowtie. My office colleagues tell me I look great.
    Every day since the ties or bowties are here, and everyone can be assured I am quite comfortable with a tie on.

    The take away I learned is in the vain of S.E’s comment above: Put on a tie.

    Have a great weekend!

  8. Roger Sack | July 15, 2022 at 12:23 pm |

    The last time I wore a tie was November 2021. Because of age and caution my wife and I
    are still following a strict Covid routine.. Despite this, I still sent out three ties of my collection
    of around 100 to Tiecrafters for them to do their magic on some stains. I am an optimist.

  9. In my discussion with Christian Chensvold, we both agreed that while the necktie is not dead, it is on life support.

    The shirt jacket (AKA “shacket”) appears to be replacing the suit and tie.

    • I’ve had to go to court a number of times this year for legal proceedings and on each occasion, I was the only non-lawyer wearing a suit, much less a tie. And on every single occasion, someone came up to me and asked me for legal advice because they assumed I was a lawyer. This was family court so perhaps it’s different from a criminal proceeding where someone’s freedom is on the line, but almost no one in the general public wears a suit and tie anymore, even in court. Exact same situation for the last funeral I attended in 2018 (aside from the “asking-if-I’m-a-laywer” bit).

  10. The Amazing Tom | July 15, 2022 at 1:28 pm |

    Around 2000, some clients started requesting that I refrain from tie wearing in their offices. One was a regional office of a Fortune 300 company. I always defer to the dollar.
    I would have worn 10 ties if it would have preventing me from catching Covid last week. It is not like the flu and not fun.
    Stay safe and look good.

  11. Jesse Livermore | July 15, 2022 at 2:37 pm |

    I’m wearing a tie tomorrow to the local Farmer’s Market in protest.

  12. Tie Assocition!
    I hope the 2 inch cuff association is still around!

  13. ‘Nobody expects the Tie Association!’

    To my surprise, an acquaintance recently suggested to me that “neckties have become arcane.”
    Clearly some of us operate in different world.
    I still shave & wear suits/ties when I am working.

  14. I love wearing a tie and have definitely felt a bit more out of place the last dozen or so years. But I get that styles change. Oh well.

  15. John,

    I’ve raked you over the coals a bit in recent weeks by disagreeing with what you’ve written, but I must say this week’s column is the one of your best. Maybe the tie is on the way of loin cloths and spats, but I, too, will love them forever. And your thoughts on mental illness also ring true with me. I’ve been plagued with anxiety for most of my life. Sometimes it’s manageable and sometimes it isn’t. A therapist taught me the “Three Minute” rule and it’s helped me settle my ass down on many occasions. Thank you for sharing it with others.

    Every Saturday morning, I read your column first thing over coffee. It always helps to make my weekend. Whether I complain or not, I enjoy your work and look forward to many more great columns to come.

  16. Charlottesville | July 16, 2022 at 11:01 am |

    The Tie Association may have disbanded too soon. From today’s Weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal:

    The Armoury, a tailoring store in New York and Hong Kong, is selling more ties than before, said co-founder Mark Cho. “People are saying, ‘I’d like to smarten up for the office.’”


    Keep the faith, Roger Sack, and kudos to Spartacus, Foghorn and the others who, like me, still wear ties (and even suits!) to the office, even when it means being a minority of one. But maybe our example will catch on. From the same WSJ piece:

    The suit is a brilliant idea — a triumph of simplicity and the ultimate symbolic demarcation between work and everything else. … Now is the time to look sharp at your desk. Historically, the response to recessions has been to dress up. “Impressions are everything,” said Sir Nicholas Coleridge, chairman of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum and former president of Condé Nast International. “There’s a conscious bias about how people look and how they represent your business. In the future, presenteeism — actually appearing in the office [and] looking smart—will count for a lot.”

    I certainly hope they are right.

  17. NaturalShoulder | July 17, 2022 at 9:34 pm |

    S.E.’s comments above are spot on.

    “I’m constantly amazed by how easily we love ourselves above all others, yet we put more stock in the opinions of others than in our own estimation of self…How much credence we give to the opinions of our peers have of us and how little to our very own!” Marcus Auerelius.

    As I get older, I care less and less about what others think except for a handful of people.

    As an attorney I can just wearing a tie on many grounds: respect for clients and colleagues or the practice of law itself. However, if I am honest, I like wearing a suit (goes without saying with a tie) or just coat and tie. I look better and doing so helps me focus on work and, when I return how and change, it is time to be a husband and father and get out of work mode. I suppose it is also my act of rebellion and disdain for a coarsened culture in which manners and respect have been tossed aside.

    I will proudly be wearing a bar stripe Navy and silver tie tomorrow.

  18. Nutmeg Andy | July 17, 2022 at 11:03 pm |

    I bought two new ties the other week, solid color knit silk from Cordings, so I guess I am going against the grain. Many of my other ties were inherited from my grandfather when he passed away, or thrift store finds. JB, thanks for posting information about the new mental health phone number, asking for help shows courage and strength. Be well, all.

  19. First of all, great column so keep up the good work. Secondly , every time I hear somebody mention fashion this famous Oscar Wilde quote comes to my head : “Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.” I personaly wear a suit or blazer with a tie 4 days a week to work. On Fridays we have dress down so I wear chinos and OCBD or polo shirts in the summer. I work at a Univesity and as far as I know I’m one of the only people I know to wear a tie. It’s a thing I do and people feel I look strange without wearing one. Worked from the office during the worse of Covid and have even then worn a suit and tie, more out of stubbornness that this will not change the way I dress and behave at work or the public.
    and last but not least, I have to confess I’m not wearing a suit and tie today as it is 103 degrees so that would be pushing it just a smidge 🙂

Comments are closed.