Ivy Style’s 12-Year Annivesary: CC To Retire, Site Ready For New Owner

Twelve years ago today, brimming with enthusiasm for a new project and no idea where it would take me, I unveiled Ivy-Style.com.

I was in Los Angeles at the time, and the town had long maxed out what it could do for me. I was in a benign rut that perpetual sunny weather tends to foster. And then fate intervened. Not the good kind of, however, but the harsh and judging kind. I remember one day telling my old man in a state of exasperation, “I feel like the gods are judging me.” They were, and little did I know what they had in store.

You see, the recession had hit, and it was all the worse because I should have seen it coming. My writing gigs had been slowly drying up, but one of my great blessing-curses is the ability to throw myself completely into a project and ignore everything else. As ’08 came to a close, all my editorial clients had slashed their budgets to zero. I was 38, and the time had come for a mid-life crisis that would last for ten years. I became a bundle of nerves who woke up anxious at 3 AM every night — I think it was Fitzgerald who said, “In the long dark night of the soul, it’s always 3 AM” — but I had one remaining client: Ralph Lauren. And so after six months in my home town humming The Clash song “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?” I packed a single suitcase and bought a one-way ticket for New York, arriving flat broke two weeks before my fortieth birthday to see if life really does begin at forty. Within a couple of years fantasies gradually became reality. I got a great apartment, great girlfriend, and a job on Madison Avenue covering the twilight of the WASP establishment. And now here I am a “country gentleman” in New England.

It was Ivy Style that got me through this long drawn-out period in which I never quite felt like my old self, trying to get life entirely on my strengths without addressing my weaknesses. Thank you to all the loyal sponsors and readers for your support during this personal journey and creative project delving into a fascinating angle on American cultural history. It was a pleasure to meet so many men who were legends of the heyday: Richard Press, Bruce Boyer, Paul Winston, Critt Rawlings, Nick Hilton, Alan Flusser. I’m proud to say that Ivy Style began by telling the little-known story of African American jazz musicians who got hip to collegiate style in the ’50s. From there we went on to explicate the role Jewish clothiers played in popularizing the Ivy League Look; gave W. David Marx an early forum for his pioneering research on Japanese Ivy; and featured trad dressers from backgrounds including Hispanic, Sikh, Pacific Islander, and European; and featured contributions from some 75 people without ever once asking where they went to college (as if I’m in the position to ask).

Twelve is one of those special numbers: there are 12 months of the year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 apostles of Christ, and 12 gods of Olympus. And so I think it’s a good time for me to pass the baton. Ivy Style boasts a loyal readership, Facebook group, and roster of sponsors. In fact, this is the first time we’ve ever had the three most legendary independent Ivy retailers at the same time: J. Press, Andover Shop and O’Connell’s. There are 2,200 blog posts, about half of which have evergreen historical value for recycling. Ivy Style’s product offerings, which included three production runs of our club tie, were quite successful. A savvy business team — rather than a one-man editor like me — could attract new readers, forge partnerships with larger companies, start an ecommerce platform, and take charge of this fascinating and ever-changing story of American life.

Interested parties may contact me at christian@ivy-style.com.

Once again thank you everyone for joining me on this journey through the past, present and future of traditional American menswear. I’ll be here as your captain until I’m no longer needed, and your news tips, contributions, and notes just saying hello are always greatly appreciated. I’m not sure what’s next for me, and here we are in another recession. This one I think will be quite different, though. There’s a funny thing about spending a decade soul-searching, you see. Sometimes, by an act of grace, you actually find it. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

42 Comments on "Ivy Style’s 12-Year Annivesary: CC To Retire, Site Ready For New Owner"

  1. As one of your readers from Sweden, I’ll be sad to see you go. Thank you for your effort.

  2. great post, and good luck with the next chapter…
    I’ve enjoyed many hours here, lurking, but enjoying the contributions of friends that don’t know me, and ones I’ll never meet.
    you were the facilitator of it all, so thank you…
    I passed the majority of these dozen years right here with you, and can relate to many of the things you went thru…
    end of one era, beginning of another… thanks CC

  3. Best of luck Christian in whatever endeavor you pursue. Your Ivy Style site showed me there was more to American traditional male style than the OPH.

  4. Same here, elder prep. Best of luck to you, CC, thank you for the lessons and opportunities.

  5. Old School Tie | October 1, 2020 at 10:45 am |

    Godspeed, old bean…

  6. Thank you fellas, but I’m still here and we’re pushing onward preserving tradition until a new captain steps forth.

    I’ll have a report on Kamakura tomorrow.

    C.

  7. Christian: Congratulations on this 12th anniversary of the site. I found Ivy-Style shortly after you launched it. I was a senior in college at the time. Like you, I was about to discover the consequences of what a recession meant for those not securely ensconced in gainful employment. This site played a role in every major stage of my life since then as I’ve continued to learn and grow in my own person style. I’ve been a regular reader, occasional commenter, and – I’m proud to say – a one-time contributor.

    I know you’ve announced impending retirement before, and I hope you do find a worthy successor or successors to take over the site. With the decline of blogs in general from what seemed like a peak in the early 2010s, Ivy-Style has remained as the only blog in this particular area of #menswear (forgive me). In itself, that’s a huge testament to both the value of the site, and the ongoing allure of the subject matter itself. I hope Ivy-Style can remain viable for many years to come.

    Cheers to you, and thank you for starting this community where so many of us have enjoyed content and conversation for well over a decade now. – Ryan W. Kirk

  8. “…the twilight of the WASP establishment…”

    I guess so.

    I’ll begin with words if thanks, CC. Well done and good on you. Best of luck with all that’s around the corner.

    Your seminal piece on Ivy— you wrote as an investigative journalist and amateur historian. Again, well done. I have tried (but never fully succeeded) at filling in a few blanks— sociologically, culturally.

    The style’s many affiliations with jazz, Ivy League schools, New England, and certain retailers, including a few with some staying power, are appropriate. But they miss the larger, meta point. Jazz musicians, Ivy League alums, and upper class citizens of Connecticut left the look way behind a long time ago. No wonder. For them it was fleeting fashion— momentarily cool, and then …well, not. They moved on— fast.

    It’s no accident that the demise of the look has been accompanied by the “decline” (numerical) of haute Protestant culture—more specifically, the WASPy Mainline Protestant denominations, including but not limited to Episcopalians, Congregationalists, and Presbyterians. The first three letters (W, A, S), I’ll contend, matter far less than the last one (P).

    My WASPiest neighbor has never visited Nantucket. Doesn’t want to. (“Sounds overcrowded with glitzy people”). He drives a 1980s era Honda Accord sedan (“change the oil regularly and it keeps going”), wears an old Orvis quartz watch, and, so far as I know, has never intentionally listened to jazz. He graduated from a public high school and attended a private college with the help of a football scholarship. He worked for four decades as “a local banker—a little office downtown.” When asked about his style and tastes, he replies, “I’m hopelessly Low Church Episcy — through and through.”

    Yep. He’s haute Protestant to the bone. Stingy with words (plain spoken, reserved), polite and cordial to a fault, elegant-and-rustic in his appearance/dress, and a lifelong Episcopalian. He has served many terms as aparish’s vestryman. He likes simple piano renditions of old hymns; his favorite foods are Wheat Thins, chicken noodle soup, and peanut butter. “And I like a good apple.”

    It’s of a piece. He wears “the LL Bean and Brook Brothers stuff” he bought decades ago. His hobbies are his modest but tasteful house, tending his gardens, and “long walks with my dog.” He likes bird-watching and horses, “but the equestrian stuff is for showy people.”

    The cultural and, related theological complexion of the prep schools and Ivy League schools changed. The WASPy liberal establishment, motivated by some guilt and the pretensions of meritocracy (related, alumni giving), saw to that. “Nails in the coffin.” Thank you, Kingman Brewster.

    … But Protestant culture has remained politely countercultural — and mostly, for the good of the republic, intact. The WASPiest living, breathing person perseveres, after all. *

    Some would argue the recent presidential debate, vulgar and silly and rude, serves as proof that the best of the Protestant culture is no longer much of a force. At the higher levels of most arenas of life— certainly. But look again. Excavate a bit. Deep down, the best among us are deeply ashamed of what our leaders — in industry, commerce, education and civic life have become. We still resemble the Puritan founders of schools like Harvard.

    “…twilight of the WASP establishment.” I guess. And reason for lament. But there’s something liberating about no longer comprising “the establishment.”

    The WASPy Protestant as cordial countercultural critic of the vanity fair— as gadfly.

    *
    https://cathedral.org/staff/the-rev-fleming-rutledge/

  9. “IV
    Once out of nature I shall never take
    my bodily form from any natural thing,
    But such a form as Graecian goldsmiths make
    Of hammering gold and gold enamelling
    To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
    Or set upon a golden bough to sing
    To lords and ladies of Byzantium
    Of what is past, or passing, or to come.”

    “Sailing to Byzantium”- Yeats

  10. Charlottesville | October 1, 2020 at 11:22 am |

    Christian – Like everyone above, I will be very sad to see you go, but certainly understand the need to do something different after 12 years. I think that is about as long as I have ever stayed in the same exact job, although there has been some continuity in the transitions from one thing to the next.

    I wish you all the best in whatever the next step is, and certainly hope that someone as bright and energetic as you steps forward to take on editing Ivy Style for the next 12 years. Your dedication, genuine interest in the subject, sense of humor, and dogged hard work have made the site a genuine pleasure to so many, and Ivy Style has been a big part of my life for the past decade or so since I first discovered it.

    Godspeed, and I hope we can remain in touch.

  11. I was an “early adopter” of I-S, and one of the first outside contributors back in 2008. Watching the site take off and achieve so much has been fun, and the content continues to be great. I’m honored to have been a small fish in this pond, alongside many other, much bigger fish. Best of luck, Christian, with the search for a new keeper of the flame, and with everything else as well.

  12. Christian,

    Thank you for the quality reading throughout these past few years. It has been very influential for me during this formative period. Wishing you all the best on your future journeys.

    Best,
    CPH

  13. Thank you for creating a little corner of the internet that was often a pleasure to visit. You will be missed. If indeed you have found what you were searching for, congratulations.

  14. Forgot this:

    Peace be with you, CC.

  15. Christian, tonight is a full moon, a Harvest moon, a propitious sign that augurs well for your next endeavor.

  16. C – I hope you find a great buyer for the site who can build off your valuable body of work.

  17. Thanks for the memory, Mr. Christian Chensvold. I have learned a lot from your work here at IS. Your dedication is a welcome diversion and inspiration to your readers who endure the austerity and culturally imposed asceticism that seems to be today’s ideal. I pray your successor remains true to his school.

  18. You will be greatly missed, Christian. This site has been a joy. And much needed to find a group of like-minded men these day on matters of style, manners, and related. And this site has been a much needed respite in many ways.

  19. Hit them straight and long.

    phir milenge

    Will

  20. Thank You for all Your passion You laid in here! Gregor

  21. First Heavy Tweed Jacket goes dark(again); The Trad is off in India; and now this. I guess my wife is right: I really don’t like change. But this about you, not me. Thank you, and good luck.

  22. William Timmins | October 1, 2020 at 3:08 pm |

    Christian,
    Thanks for these past 12 years. Your writings and observations on a myriad of topics were enjoyable and informative. And always done in your own inimitable style.

    Godspeed, and I sincerely hope that you find what your heart desires.

    All the Best,

    Bill Timmins

  23. Congrats on everything you’ve achieved here, Christian! Phenomenal job. ?

    Whoever comes next has big shoes to fill.

  24. whiskeydent | October 1, 2020 at 4:07 pm |

    Christian
    Thanks for diving deep into Ivy’s sartorial details, unearthing and re-examing history, sharing Boyer, Press et all with us all, and putting up with me. I hope you catch a wave that never gives out and takes you to all the places you want to go.

  25. Bill Cariello | October 1, 2020 at 5:18 pm |

    Congratulations on a job well done. Besides acting as the EIC, you fulfilled the functions of sociologist, cultural anthropologist, historian, sartorial archaeologist, and occasionally, referee.

    Best of luck to you. I owe you a drink at the Inn At Castle Hill.

  26. Gary Glazer | October 1, 2020 at 6:29 pm |

    Great website-great articles-great insights. Your departure is a great loss. But-best wishes on wherever life takes you-you deserve the very best that life has to offer. You have earned it-the epitome of duende.

  27. NaturalShoulder | October 1, 2020 at 6:48 pm |

    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Ivy Style over the years. I am amazed that the combination of historical images and articles, update on current offerings and events, and contributions from Messrs. Boyer and Press and a host of other guest contributors. While the anonymity of internet message boards is partly to blame for incivility in society, the vast majority of regular contributors to Ivy Style have been respectful and willing to share knowledge and opinions with the community. It seems the move to Newport has been a good one for you. I wish you all the best in life’s next adventure.

  28. The best of luck in the future and thank you for all you did on ivy-style. What does the future hold for Trad-Man?

  29. Good luck to you.

    from China

  30. Dear Christian! Thank You for creating this website and for all the wonderful writing. You are a very talented and special man. I wish You the best of luck and I hope to be able to find more of your writing elsewhere. Just make sure you let the readers of Ivy-Style know, somehow, where we can find your new articles (that is in case you intend to continue writing at all). Thanks again, sir! Cheers!

  31. Rene Lebenthal | October 2, 2020 at 3:04 am |

    Dear Christian,
    you might never know what your website and Ivystyle represent for me. But I sincereley say MERCI BEAUCOUP for everything. I hope you’ll find the right path for the future and wish you BONNE CHANCE from Paris. À bientôt, somewhere else.
    René

  32. I am surprised and disappointed to see CC plan to leave his beloved creation entirely. Surely, it would be better to share the burden of editing and writing with a few well-chosen and knowledgeable partners who share his Ivy passion. Perhaps the sponsors could contribute some articles on how they see the future of Ivy and menswear. In case, I wish him every success in his new life.

  33. I am grateful for all the years of information, inspiration, and enjoyment you have provided.
    Best of everything on the new road you have chosen to follow.

  34. Mark Williams | October 2, 2020 at 12:53 pm |

    This is a fabulous site. I first came across it a few years ago and have enjoyed checking in regularly For new posts while also dipping into the archives. I enjoyed what I read so much that it inspired me to be a one-time contributor.

    Good luck for the future, CC. I hope you continue to enjoy writing about Ivy style for the remainder of your time at the helm, and hope you find a safe pair of hands to pilot it going forwards.

    This is- and I hope shall remain- an entertaining and culturally valuable site.

  35. Thank you for your very creative writing and editorial efforts over the years.
    Aside from its’ encyclopedic scope, Ivy Style reflects your deeply
    researched personal observations into a style and its’ evolving milieu.
    I am old enough to have been a participant in the Golden Age and its’
    successive iterations and admire how you and your co-authors
    have captured not only the nuances of the style(s) but the changing
    cultural context. I will miss your point-of view. I doubt that your successors
    will have the same insights. Just like Will Boehlke’s A Suitable Wardrobe
    has not really been replaced by an equivalent. Best of luck in the future.
    Enjoy Newport. The last time I was there was for the Newport Jazz Festival
    and Riot of 1960(?). A typical Ivy experience: We slept in my car and my
    sisters then boy friend barfed all over the front seat

  36. Christopher Montgomery | October 3, 2020 at 6:16 pm |

    Despite being a relative late joiner, I’ve learned & enjoyed a lot here. You’ll be sorely missed. Hope you enjoy retirement or whatever you’re calling it. Hope you’ll weigh in a few times a year as a “keeper of the flame.”

  37. As you set out for Ithaka
    hope your road is a long one,
    full of adventure, full of discovery.
    Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
    angry Poseidon-don’t be afraid of them:
    you’ll never find things like that on your way
    as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
    as long as a rare excitement
    stirs your spirit and your body.
    Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
    wild Poseidon-you won’t encounter them
    unless you bring them along inside your soul,
    unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

    Hope your road is a long one.
    May there be many summer mornings when,
    with what pleasure, what joy,
    you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;
    may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
    to buy fine things,
    mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
    sensual perfume of every kind-
    as many sensual perfumes as you can;
    and may you visit many Egyptian cities
    to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

    Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
    Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
    But don’t hurry the journey at all.
    Better if it lasts for years,
    so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
    wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
    not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
    Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
    Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
    She has nothing left to give you now.

    And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
    Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
    you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean

    C.P. Cavafy

  38. Greetings from one of your readers in Sweden. Like many others here, I’ll be sad to see you go. Thanks for all the great writing over the years – I’ve learned a lot, including some new ways to look at clothes and how to wear them.

  39. Dude, it is a sad day… indeed.

    However, as a longtime and loyal reader (and friend, too, I dare say) from Montreal, I would like to give Thanks to You and Your Team for the unique pleasure and comfort I derived in reading IS under your watch, oh Captain.

    Alas, I wish you all the best in your future endeavors and, by God (or otherwise), take good care of yourself, stay safe, and be healthy.

  40. Christian,

    Hoping that a worthy successor emerges and that you enjoy the next 50. Thank you for courageously defending our tradition. Long may it live.

  41. Stay gold, Ponyboy! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to the new era. Many, many thanks.

  42. Gads! Just got off the train and the station master informs me you are already seated in the parlor car and headed down the line. It seems like a flashback of when Lucius Beebe took a mis-step off that last platform in his gentlemen’s finest. There have been many contenders to the crown since, but apparently it required a fencing master to wield that heavy sword. [ Oddly, last time I was berthing in SoCal, it was in view of Cal Fullerton. But the wardrobe was loaded in the baggage car bound far northward before your arrival.] Wish you well where the sun rises over the ocean. Happy trails, HopAlong!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*