Ivy Notes S2-E9

Received a note for my birthday last week that said that the site “relaxes me.” Was particularly happy about that. That’s a good space to have in an internet designed to make you mad.

Been lively here the last couple of days. So I went on the American Bar Associations site to see what the rules for civil conversation are for jurors. To wit:

  • Show respect for the views expressed by others, even if you strongly disagree.
  • Be brief in your comments so that all who wish to speak have a chance to express their views.
  • Direct your comments to the group as a whole, rather than to any one individual.
  • Don’t let disagreements or conflicting views become personal. Name-calling and shouting are not acceptable ways of conversing with others.
  • Let others express their views without interruption. Your Dialogue leader will try to give everyone a chance to speak or respond to someone else’s comments.
  • Remember that a frank exchange of views can be fruitful, so long as you observe the rules of civil conversation.

One of my resolutions turning 60 is to find a way to not say mean things about anyone at any time ever again. I can’t promise, but I have already observed that there is a muscle that needs to be exercised in order to say that one does not like something without being mean.

Something I would love your opinion on. I obviously did not found Ivy-Style, so the editorial direction until about three years ago was aimed a different way. My work is to make Ivy and its values accessible and accepted across the board. I just love the idea of dressing for dignity. So that is part one. Part two is, I also view the site as a public trust of sorts. It is far and away the most exhaustive digital recording of Ivy Style, and I think we can all agree that the medium for history going forward is digital. So here is the issue I am working on: there are posts on the site before I got here, and commentary on the site before I got here, that do not stand the test of time. I am not talking about an intelligently expressed political view. I am looking for ways to present the history of this site without presenting messaging that we have evolved out of. Wide open to suggestion. Addendum as a result of our dialogue: it is important to note that editing the site’s posts and commentary has been a practice since the site’s inception, so the notion that it is best to leave things as they were may be irrelevant, they were never wholly presented as they were in the first place. The question isn’t whether to edit, it is whether or not we have grown a little and the line has moved some. The site and commentary have ALWAYS been edited.

If that isn’t enough to think about:

From the FB Group.

And finally, a paragraph from our good friend James Taylor of Waterhollow Tweed about the history of Mercer:

Although officially founded in 1982, Mercer & Sons began a few years earlier, cutting traditional Oxford cloth button-down (OCBD) shirts in Boston in the late 1970s.Unhappy with the current offerings from Brooks Brothers, Mercer designed its own shirt pattern: Full cut, with six-button plackets, and a beautiful collar roll–a feature that is acheived through avoiding both lining and fusing, and that has become a hallmark of Mercer shirts. The buttons on their barrel cuffs are placed at the base of the cuff, close to the seam with the sleeve. This provides a neat closure at the cuff, while allowing your wrist to be unrestricted–useful for those who wear larger watches, and also very useful for long hours of typing! In 1988 Mercer & Sons moved from Boston to Adamsville, Rhode Island; in 2003 they moved again to Yarmouth, Maine. Their offices are currently located in Bozeman, Montana. Their shirts are still all Made in the USA… and are, quite possibly, the best traditional shirts on the market today.

76 Comments on "Ivy Notes S2-E9"

  1. Regarding old content, I believe many of us would urge you to keep it as is.
    Christian did an amazing job with this site, and as a testament to his editorship – the archived articles always are great to re-read when they are on the homepage.

    There’s a lot of talk about making ivy style more accessible and broad, but isn’t it one of the most accessible ideas/ethos out there?
    From jazz musicians, mod rockers, civil rights icons, presidential figures, and any earnest respectable person who finds confidence and dignity in chinos and OCBD – no has ever been excluded from ivy style and the site. (This is coming from a longtime reader and I come from a working-class Mexican family, not once have I felt out of place or unwelcome).

    From our various backgrounds we bring our own points of view which may differ from someone else, and seldom do readers resort to uncivil discord. Those who did step out of line had their comments removed and some were banned from the site. I’m sure longtime devoted readers and newer fans would agree we should leave the original posts as is, and build upon this foundation with new editorial under your stewardship.

    • John Burton | August 10, 2023 at 3:07 pm |

      Thanks! Yeah, it’s a big topic. I agree with you that Ivy is accessible, but I think too that it doesn’t have that reputation fully (weird conundrum, right?). And you are also right, seldom do they resort to uncivil discord here anymore. And you are also right that the site benefits from a heavy readership of the old posts as well. HOWEVER. There are posts and comments that are nowhere near inclusive, and those are something to deal with. The question is how? I don’t want to mess with history, but I also don’t want the legacy of this site to be that some people wrote some awful things. Unless the history of this site is that there was part of it that was once not as inclusive as it is now. Maybe that is an approach. Working on it.

  2. Michael Powell | August 10, 2023 at 3:45 pm |

    I’ve got a Mercer OCBD (blue, of course).It’s a terrific piece of work, but I prefer my Brooks. Put them side-by-side, the Brooks is a slightly darker shade of blue, which I like. Run your fingers across the shirts, the Brooks feels like a slightly heavier weight of fabric, which I like. If the Mercer is a ten, the Brooks is an eleven.

  3. Charlottesville | August 10, 2023 at 4:29 pm |

    I have been a regular reader of the site since near its founding, and I understand that there are some rather disagreeable comments in the archives. I have even been on the receiving end of a few of them. While Christian deleted a number of the most trollish comments, some of the the content that remains may make one roll the eyes a bit. The same may be true to a lesser extent of a few of the posts.

    That being said, I agree with our brother in Ivy Spartacus and strongly urge letting the existing archives remain intact, rather than attempting to sanitize them to comport with current comfort levels. For one thing, once one starts snipping out bits here and there, it is hard to know exactly where to draw the line. Snip too much, even with the best of intentions, and things can quickly lose their flavor, as with the bowdlerized editions of Roald Dahl and Ian Fleming that have been lately in the news. Not everyone needs to agree on all points made on the site; I certainly do not, and that is likely to be as true going forward as looking back.

    I also note that it isn’t simply a matter of changing mores or attitudes; some of the old comments were seen as offensive or inappropriate at the time, and there was a good bit of back and forth, although not always of impeccable civility it is true. I say let the record stand as an historical artifact, good, bad and indifferent. I dip back into the archives fairly often and find it easy to ignore the things that I find unpleasant or tiresome.

    • John Burton | August 10, 2023 at 5:33 pm |

      It isn’t about sanitizing. It is about what you want out there. And sanitizing happened the minute that the former editor started deleting comments. So it isn’t even a matter or precedent, that has already been established. So now it is a matter of what the line is. And, thankfully, the line has moved. I am reminded of David Letterman’s comments on this subject (not our site) on Smartless. He said, “If we are going to err too far, I would rather that.”

      • Charlottesville | August 10, 2023 at 8:24 pm |

        It’s your site, but I disagree. Still. I wish you well.

        • John Burton | August 10, 2023 at 8:45 pm |

          It is but it isn’t. That’s what a public trust is. I’m not decided at all. Figuring it out. But the facts are – the site was “sanitized” before I got here, so now we are at a matter of degree. And, have we learned more over the last few years about inclusion, civility (and the importance of protecting it) and such that it warrants doing a better job? Sincerely asking, not lecturing.

          • Interesting idea applying the concept of a public trust to a private, for-profit website. I understand the sentiment if not the applicability.

            The site has a long history relative to #menswear, and certainly Ivy. Preserving that, warts and all, should be the priority, imo, along with seemingly everyone else. One persons “sanitizing” and another’s “civility” may just as easily stifle discussion.

  4. Keanu Moore | August 10, 2023 at 5:21 pm |

    It’s best to leave everything up that which truly needs removing, and contextualize the rest, too many of the old posts are simply too good.

    • John Burton | August 10, 2023 at 6:36 pm |

      Sorry, I am not clear on what you mean? Thanks!

      • Keanu Moore | August 11, 2023 at 11:00 am |

        Typo, meany to say “It’s best to leave everything up, remove that which truly needs removing, and contextualize the rest, too many of the old posts are simply too good.”

  5. I have been a customer of David Mercer’s since he first started and had ads of “baggie is better” in the New Yorker mag. His OCBD’s are truly the best and after about 10 washings the OCBD’s are still “bullet proof” as David says. His non fusing is is pretty the only one in the shirt making business that makes there shirts this way which is why he can achieve the great roll in the collar. I don’t know if you were aware that one of his big customers is Tucker Carlson. David and his wife are so customer service minded that in this day it is truly an art.
    David went to St. Marks School a boarding school near Boston and from there Harvard . You don’t get much more Ivy than that. Love the site.

  6. I’ve spoken to David Mercer on the phone several times, and he is a class act. As are his shirts.

    Kind Regards,


  7. 1) I’m for keeping old content as it is. 2) I’ve always wondered which factory makes Mercer’s shirts. Where is it located? Has it always been the same one?

  8. Hello JB,

    As a longtime reader of the website and a past contributor, I agree that Ivy-Style is an incredible online resource, at a time when little internet content being produced is worth much of a look at all (hello recipe with a 37,000 word count).

    I am wary at the idea of past posts being edited in any way. The question of whether or not content is “inclusive” is undefined, as is the harm that would necessitate it being edited in the first place. I’d strongly encourage that past posts, and indeed comments, not be altered and continue to exist as their original authors intended. As per comments-some of which in the past certainly have been nasty-I believe the average reader can be understood to distinguish between the editorial outlook of a website itself and its comment section.



    • John Burton | August 11, 2023 at 8:11 am |

      Hi Eric,

      Thanks for your readership, contributions, and thoughts. I am POSITIVE that none of your contributions would require any… anything. Too add a thought to the conversation, if we are working with the premise that the average reader can distinguish between the editorial outlook of the website and its comment section, might we also not accept the premise that the average reader can determine a fairly universally applicable definition for “inclusive”? I think probably. It might not be a question of whether the reader CAN do the work of distinguishing as much as it may be a question of WHETHER THEY SHOULD HAVE TO. And again, this practice did not start with me, the original editor of the site established the precedent of editing both post and comment.

      Hope all is well! – JB

    • Future Fogey | August 11, 2023 at 2:58 pm |

      I tried to formulate a better response to JB’s question but keep coming back to Eric’s note here.

      If there are going to be some strict definitions of what passes muster and what gets archived, fair enough. As others have said JB, it’s your site. However, there’s definitely an argument to be made that a website about a style that developed at 8 private schools which excluded too many groups to name would disqualify the whole site to begin with, regardless of how accessible and inclusive Ivy is today. To be clear, I am not making this argument, but it’s not too hard to imagine someone else doing so.

      My counsel would be to tread carefully with alterations and trust your readership. And maybe a little less emphasis on “dignity.” Dignity, like humility, is rarely spoken of by those who possess it.

      • John Burton | August 11, 2023 at 4:44 pm |

        Hi FF. The style CULMINATED at 8 schools. I hear you, but Dignity, like Humility, is something you ain’t gonna catch if it isn’t thrown to you.

  9. William Giles | August 10, 2023 at 9:36 pm |

    I’m not sure what you mean by inclusion. I always thought anyone was welcome on this site as long as they were civil and, as grandma would say, had good manners. Sure there have been disagreements, but so what, that just spices the conversation. Leave the past alone, warts and all.

  10. I don’t get the dignity thing. I think the truly inclusive thing would be to not simply equate dressing with “dignity” with “Ivy Style.” The idea that people are more dignified because they dress a certain way is actually kind of exclusionary, no? In any event, I am sure there are dozens of articles and comments from years ago that at least imply that, so if anything it’s kind of an old (if not outdated) idea.

  11. Also wanted to say that I think it’s fine to remove old comments and posts if you think they are offensive or beyond the pale but past that I think it’s kind of maybe not a great idea to go trying to sanitize the pest. Maybe leave an editor’s note with a link to your code of conduct if you think someone will have a problem with it?

    I do think it’s fine to delete comments that are deemed offensive but you should maybe define what that is, for the sake of transparency. It’s an interesting philosophical question nonetheless. I am having a hard time thinking of posts (meaning articles, not comments) that would be deemed bad enough to remove but if there are any, maybe you could share a few as examples so we are on the same page about what we are talking about.

  12. I’m curious to know what kind of posts are on the chopping block. Nearly all of the sartorial-based posts are ones I enjoy reading and revisiting, so hopefully those will stay intact. I wouldn’t lose sleep however if the Roger Stone post tragically disappeared though… Kidding, of course. Or am I…

  13. Good God man, or course the appropriate tie position is #2.

    What self respecting Dino-Trad knots their tie above the Adams Apple??

    Besides, look at those front legs.

  14. The idea of connecting morality/values (e.g., respectable, dignified, [insert other subjective term] is at odds with making ivy style approachable to all. That mentality is also a big reason why the ivy style community (generally, not this site) has a bad reputation. If you want to make clothing accessible and approachable to all, ditch the preconceived notions and treat ivy style like any other style; at the end of the day, these are just clothes.

    • John Burton | August 11, 2023 at 12:09 pm |

      I see it differently. I think dignity is applicable everywhere, and I am not saying that Ivy has the market on it. But it is one way to express dignity as a value. By the way, almost every style comes with preconceived notions, that is part of the appeal.

      • I’ll preface this by saying I think a person should be judged by their actions and not their appearance. I’ve met plenty of wonderful people who don’t care about their appearance and plenty of awful people that have a great personal style.

        There’s a portion of the ivy community, both online and historically speaking, that believe not all styles convey dignity and respect. I got into it with someone the other day and they said (loosely paraphrasing here) that someone whose aesthetic is streetwear is somehow less dignified or respectable than someone who wears classic menswear (ivy or otherwise). I think that mentality is the fundamental issue with bringing “values” into a discussion about style and why ivy style is be seen as elitist.

        These preconceived notions (i.e., stereotypes) are overwhelming negative and tend to marginalize communities just because of their clothing choice. The only way to change that, in my opinion, is to not bring values into style discussions. I’m the same person whether I’m wearing a tie-dyed dead shirt and Birkenstocks or shell cordovan loafers and an OCBD.

  15. Applebees makes a very good point. You can’t really argue that dignity is definitionally an Ivy value without at least implying that it’s not as applicable to other styles. People have been thinking that dressing nicely is a marker of someone with good character for hundreds of years so it’s not exactly a new premise. If you want to make Ivy more inclusive, you should consider rejecting this premise.

    • John Burton | August 11, 2023 at 2:56 pm |

      Well of course you can. I can say I have $5. That doesn’t mean you don’t.

      • John Burton | August 11, 2023 at 3:00 pm |

        In fact, it doesn’t mean that I don’t think you have $10. It simply means I have $5. Where we get into trouble is in the inference. That’s true of life, I believe. If you think that when I say Ivy is a way to express dignity that I am implying Ice Folly costumes do not, you should ask me.

        • The distinction is that one is an objective statement of fact (I have $5) while the dignity one is a subjective matter of opinion. If you said to someone “I earned my $5 with dignity” they’d probably ask what the heck you mean.

          The challenge with creative writing, and really all writing, is that it’s always open to interpretation and most folks won’t follow up to clarify.

          Some readers may take your statement to mean “I dress with dignity BECAUSE I’m wearing an OCBD and chinos” and others may think “I dress with dignity because I put thought into what I’m wearing today.” It’s a subtle distinction (or maybe not), but it’s an important one nonetheless.

          Given your platform, I’d encourage you to give more thought to how your readers and those outside the ivy style community may interpret these comments on values and ivy style.

          • John Burton | August 11, 2023 at 6:16 pm |

            Disagree. If one thinks one cannot clearly say one has dignity at the same level of conviction as saying one has $5, one needs to study dignity.

  16. Oh, goodness, let’s not do any ex-post bowdlerization, please.

  17. Hello JB…

    First afd foremost, you have done an exceptional job carrying the torch from Christian, and I think anyone taking the reigns of a new endeavor will adjust, personalize, tweak, and follow some logical progression going forward-which in IMHO I think you have succeeded.

    That being said, as somewhat of a scholar of American History, I think letting the previous posts stand as some sort of sartorial historical record is beneficial to all. It will undoubtedly serve as a record, and show how we have evolved and adjusted over time-both in Ivy-Style and in our discourse. A revisited argument can be a great tool.

    I frequently use the previous posts as a reference tool, and to revisit those discussions. I think that has been essential for me to sort of hone my own Ivy wardrobe and mentality, while at the same time learning about the historical side of things.

    Of course with all of that being said, I would 100% expect the same careful curated content going forward to keep everything on topic and within the confines of civil discourse. And if that means revisiting an old argument to set the record straight, I am definitely on-board with that. There have been some great conversations and arguments within this following, on clothing and many other topics stemming from ivy style. The overwhelming majority of them have been civil and educational, and on occasion somewhat “lively.”

    If needed, we could always start an “Ivy -Debate” group! (Kidding…I’m sure your plate is quite full!)

    Thank you for all you do!

    • John Burton | August 11, 2023 at 3:05 pm |

      Sold. If we all agree that the older posts and commentary are of historic relevance and serve as a touchstone for gauging how far forward we are moving, and there are not readers who are offended, then let the record stand. Yeah?

  18. Richard E. Press | August 11, 2023 at 1:55 pm |

    “Dressing for dignity,” an extraordinary quote. Bravo.

  19. AllAmericanPreppy | August 11, 2023 at 2:11 pm |

    Long time reader and a younger member of the community. I really think you should leave everything as is if the intent of this site is that of a historical and public trust. If you really believe the site is going in a different direction today, then I believe the archives should be left alone so everyone can compare and contrast. Offensive content does not reduce my enjoyment of the site and we need to remember historical revisionism is generally a bad idea.

    By the way other sites like https://oxfordclothbuttondown.com/ have posts as far back as September 2011 so I fail to see why we need to even discuss this. The archive should remain as it is.

    • John Burton | August 11, 2023 at 3:02 pm |

      I struggle responding to participation in a discussion with someone who fails to see the need to discuss but does anyway?

    • “I really think you should leave everything as is if the intent of this site is that of a historical and public trust.” Agree 100%.
      When Heavytweedjacket stopped posting and took down his blog it was a great loss to both enthusiasts and as well a loss to the historical record of American traditional clothing. Nothing will match the exhaustive content and minutiae of analysis that HTJ provided. However, he was posting as a private individual and not maintaining a commercial site so the standard is different. Also, implicit in the Ivy Style brand is that it is the most thorough and authoritative site on the subject.
      The common theme I am seeing here for keeping the site as-is is that it is viewed as a public resource.

  20. whiskeydent | August 11, 2023 at 4:09 pm |

    There is more than a decade of posts. Some of the more offensive ones are buried down in the 37th comment. And then there’s slang or sloppy writing or poor attempts at humor. Do you really want to dig through all of that and etch out the undignified? Or do you plan to go in with a chainsaw? I think you have better things to do with your time and your brain.

    And then there’s the broader question: Aren’t you contemplating censorship? Would it be akin to banning, for example, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” because parts of it are deemed offensive today?

    I assume it’s the stuff that arises in “From The Archives” that is bothering you. Just change the rotation to only include posts from your era. Meanwhile, leave all the Chensvold era posts in the archives, but put up a disclaimer at the top that says something like “some comments from the past were offensive and would not be allowed today. To avoid accusations of censorship and re-writing history, we are maintaining all of the archives.”

    As for dignified, I find that way too broad and imprecise. It means different things to many people, and a lot of it has nothing to do with style. Ghandi had dignity, but not much style.

    • John Burton | August 11, 2023 at 4:39 pm |

      Thanks for your assessment of how I should spend my time 🙂 And if you were of a different culture, you would think Ghandi had great style, which kinda makes my point.

      • If whiskeydent were of a different opinion he may feel as though Ghandi had great style, lest we equate appreciation of Ghandi’s or anyone else’s style with a specific culture, creed, or ethnicity….

        • whiskeydent | August 12, 2023 at 5:30 am |

          Let me put it this way: Censoring the past is wrong regardless of whether you’re wearing a sari or an OCBD. As for the futile attempts to twist my statement into something racist, I won’t dignify that with a response.

          • Whiskeydent, I think you misunderstand me (if responding to me) – in agreeing with you, was trying to point out to JB that a difference in opinion occurs across cultures, races, etc, which he seemed to have missed.

      • whiskeydent | August 12, 2023 at 6:22 am |

        Ghandi purposely wore simple clothes that were associated with the poor. He rejected the more expensive and refined clothing he had once worn to show whose side he was on.

  21. It’s generally accepted in journalism and publishing that removing materials from your archives is unethical. The New York Times doesn’t do it why should Ivy Style?

    The body of worked published on this site over the years is too valuable to mess with. Please, please, please don’t touch it.

    Maybe put up a poll and see what the readers say?

    • John Burton | August 11, 2023 at 6:54 pm |

      Again. The practice did not start with me. Materials from the archive were deleted from DAY ONE. Yeah? So the question isn’t yes or no, it is where the line is.

      • whiskeydent | August 12, 2023 at 5:40 am |

        Are you saying the previous editor went into the archives and deleted posts? That was wrong then and no justification for repeating the sin today.

      • What articles were deleted in the past? And just because they were doing something unethical then doesn’t mean you have to continue it now.

        Why not put a poll up, with straight forward options, in the facebook group and here. See what the people have to say.

        If you do decide to go against what most people seem to think about this, you need to be very transparent about what you’re deleting.

  22. Mr. Mag has an article that says “slouchy, but not sloppy, relaxed” suits for men are making a comeback.

    I think the word that they are looking for, probably David Mercer’s favorite word, is BAGGY.


  23. MacMcConnell | August 11, 2023 at 6:56 pm |

    Are we talking about the movie or the real Ghandi?

  24. Greg Bonham | August 12, 2023 at 1:42 am |

    Summer should be banned.

  25. To cleanse or not to cleanse.
    It’s our history. Own it. Learn from it.
    We’ve come a long way, baby.
    Tucker has the best knot-collar combo in the business.

  26. I, too, would like to know where Mercer shirts are made.

  27. If there’s anything that could be removed from the site without harming the intent of ivy style, let me first suggest:
    1. Anything related to the prior editors attempts at counseling
    2. Trad man related items
    3. Dime store philosophy

    All outside of Ivy Style scope, and not in conflict with the “public trust” branding of a private, for-profit site.

    • John Burton | August 12, 2023 at 2:32 pm |

      Christian | February 27, 2019 at 2:07 pm | (Edit)

      Please revisit my Level Up work of the past couple of years. You need it.


      Stop projecting all your negative qualities onto others, especially people you’ve never met and through the medium of the Internet.

      Get on the esoteric path and take on the painful inner work, a psychological housecleaning.

      Find the seed within and sprinkle it with a few drops of unconditional acceptance. Go into the woods and close your eyes until you find not that which can be seen, but that which sees, underneath the personality and ego construct.

      Put your hand on your heart and speak to it. It will answer in simple responses.

      If you have the courage to do what I have done — which I had to do out of necessity, for my very existence depended on it — it will be a long and excruciating process. The dark night of the soul. You will weep oceans as part of the alchemical purification process, burning off the dead wood.

      There will be nights of the greatest nauseating horror you have ever imagined, but through it, over several years, you will come to learn that you are a spirit being having an earthly experience.

      Then you will come to be able to say, as Dr. Peterson cannot yet, that you don’t merely act as if God exists, you know he does.

  28. Trad in Jersey | August 12, 2023 at 3:34 pm |

    I have spent my career in journalism at one of the most respected publications in the country. It would be considered highly unethical to alter the historical record, no matter how offensive some statements may seem to today’s sensibilities. I recognize that some posts may have been deleted by the former regime, but that strikes me as editing in the moment, not redefining the past. Removing older posts because they seem to violate some nebulous, undefined definition of taste sounds, to me at least, more like censorship. I would suggest leaving the comments as they are (including the misspelling of “Gandhi”). Or, as someone suggested, the editor could include a disclaimer saying that some older comments may be deemed offensive or in poor taste. By the way, I think all of us are grateful to Mr. Burton for maintaining the Ivy Style website and for encouraging a robust discussion of this topic and others.

  29. Randy Ventgen | August 13, 2023 at 3:36 pm |

    Leave older records as is; they’re history.

  30. I would vote for keeping the comments as is. I can recall a few examples where boorish commenters were put in their place/called out by regulars on the site, including John. I think there’s a residual benefit in seeing that. Those people exist in real life and sometimes are foolish enough to say similar things even when they don’t have a screen to hide behind. Seeing others stand up to such behavior, even in cyber space, might encourage users to not tolerate similar conduct in the real world.

Comments are closed.