Ivy Trendwatch 2.0: The Most Compelling Reimagining Ever

Over the past year or so there have been murmurings — that is, media coverage — of a nascent Ivy League Look trend resurgence, thanks in large part to Rowing Blazers. Now GQ UK has a new article entitled “How Ivy League style came back into the fold.” And to think, it was just half a dozen years ago when “Take Ivy” was published, the MFIT had its “Ivy Style” exhibit, and Neo-Prep was riding high. But fashion cycles are short these days, thanks to the Internet and the general sense of cultural exhaustion in which everything has been done before and we’re in a perpetual remix mode.

Of course, that’s just fine with us. But what did GQ have to say? Let’s take a look:

According to some of the world’s nerdier menswear commentators, Ivy League style started in earnest in 1936, when shoemaker GH Bass & Co introduced a new kind of loafer to its range – the Bass Weejun penny – and the students who populated the historic universities of America’s East Coast went mad for them.

In the minds of others, Ivy style really took hold a few decades later, when prepped-up all-American outfitter Brooks Brothers introduced a pale-pink button-down Oxford shirt to similar WASP-ish mouth frothing in 1955 (Life Magazine subsequently dubbed that year “the year for pink”).

Whenever it was that Ivy style cast its tendrils around the wardrobes of the stateside elite, it was a moment that redefined masculine dressing not only in America but on a global scale too. The bright young men of the age reappropriated the stuffy tweed jackets, wide-leg chinos and prissy shoes worn by the fathers, styling them up for campus life in new and entirely modern ways.

In regards to the history, as is often the case in such matters, the article says more about era in which it was written than era it purports to chronicle.

As for the present moment, when the fashion pendulum swings back, insiders like to say that “it feels right.” According to GQ UK, this present comeback is poised to be the best Ivy resurgence ever:

Though Ivy League style has gone through many iterations and reimaginings through the years – ebbing and flowing in and out of the contemporary style vernacular – the current move back towards preppy style is, in my opinion at least, the most compelling it’s ever felt.

And why might that be? Come on, you know why:

The way to wear the Ivy League look in its current iteration is with a hefty dose of irony

Which is another way of telling all you dinosaurs and young fogeys out there to keep calm and carry on. — CC

14 Comments on "Ivy Trendwatch 2.0: The Most Compelling Reimagining Ever"

  1. Here’s the link to the whole GQ article:

    https://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/fashion/article/preppy-style

  2. I do wish people would quit using “irony” when they mean “sarcasm”…or snottiness. Whichever, I suppose we’ll now be bombarded with garish costumery loosely based on something RL went over the top with years ago, which itself was only tenuously grounded in real Ivy. Along with the usual “new critical vocabulary” to explain that while these clothes represent misogyny, racism and oppression, YOU will look good in them at full retail price.

  3. NCJack:
    I have no idea whatsoever what “irony” means in the sentence:
    “The way to wear the Ivy League look in its current iteration is with a hefty dose of irony”.
    In any case, it certainly doesn’t mean “sarcasm”.

  4. It’s cold and snowy here this early morning. I am off to oppress the rest of the world with a tweed suit, ocbd shirt, wool necktie, and a pair of brown longwings protected by red Swims. After a shower and shave of course.

    Best Regards,

  5. Old School Tie | February 18, 2020 at 7:20 am |

    Inundated with Ivy style these days, we are positively inundated.

  6. “A hefty dose of irony” is a tongue in cheek code for appealing to Millennial Gen Y hipsters

    The lumberjack look with beanies, beards and flannel shirts is on the way out and dressing like an Ivy League student home for the holidays is on the way in.

    Personally I plan to do a lot of shopping at Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren this year even though I am a Gen X oldster.

  7. Charlottesville | February 18, 2020 at 11:28 am |

    Heinz-Ulrich – Good for you! 50 degrees and clear skies here, but I am also be-tweeded (POW sport coat with gray flannels) and wearing an oxford cloth university striped shirt, but with a pinned club collar in my case. So far this morning I have received two unsolicited compliments on the ensemble from strangers, which I don’t think were intended “ironically” as the term is currently misused. At least they didn’t roll their eyes. One actually shook my hand. Long live Ivy!

  8. Odd thought: When every style has been done and the tides of fashion are constantly moving, could it be that the solidity of Ivy provides a safe harbor in the storm?

  9. NCJack,

    “Along with the usual “new critical vocabulary” to explain that while these clothes represent misogyny, racism and oppression, YOU will look good in them at full retail price.”
    Is this irony or sarcasm?

  10. @whiskeydent

    Good point. You notice the trendies don’t do too much “reimagining” of disco, Mod, Miami Vice, Smokey & the Bandit and the like.

  11. @hardbopper

    Snottiness

  12. Some great posts here.

    “Reimagining”: Dear Lord. And God help (and save us).

    “Odd thought: When every style has been done and the tides of fashion are constantly moving, could it be that the solidity of Ivy provides a safe harbor in the storm?” – whiskeydent.

    This is superb, whiskeydent. “Solidity of Ivy” as a “safe harbor from the storm.” The aesthetics (sorry, CC) of — consistency.

    And consistency is precisely right. And, for God’s sake, it’s about the CLOTHES. Enough about “trad this” or “trad that,” as though anything (car, house, vacation spot, etc.) is inherently anything vis a vis a style of dress. If understood as a sort of recipe, there are a dozen or so essential ingredients The style is frozen in time–blessedly so. So, enough of this “reimagining.” Pass the 1549 Prayer Book, and remember that Ivy is Ivy.

  13. The Ivy look never really dates or ages. It’s the look that keeps coming back and has underpinned menswear for 60+ years. It’s popularity rises and falls, but when it recedes, unlike many other trends,it’s a look that never looks stupid or tasteless in retrospect. (apart from those trousers with lobsters on them). Then when it comes back in it always looks fresh and new, ready to be discovered by a new generation of men who have decided it’s time to grow up and start dressing well.

  14. Ben Braddock | February 19, 2020 at 9:28 pm |

    When people don’t wear anything Ivy-related, it’s the death of civilization, as far as commenters here are concerned. When they do, it’s ALSO the death of civilization, it seems. So it goes.

    When the GQ writer says “irony,” he means “ironic distance” – wearing something with a sense of detachment from its more earnest origins so that it can be pulled off in a more modern context. Rowing Blazers itself is an example of this – as is Ralph Lauren.

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