Ivy Trendwatch: Fanarchy In The UK

This edition of Ivy Trendwatch is focused on the United Kingdom, where there are several news items worth mentioning.

First off is the February issue of Esquire UK, which carries this article on “Hollywood and the Ivy Look” (the article evidently has an accompanying fashion shoot; if someone can scan and send to us it would be greatly appreciated).

Here are a couple of passages from the article to stimulate your critical faculty:

It is the style that will not die. The Ivy Look – a hybrid of donnish, tweedy English tailoring; the sharp, slim-fit, post-war Italian silhouette and soft, casual American proto-sportswear…

What is the Ivy Look? It’s corduroy, khakis and tennis shoes. It’s tweed, tartan and cordovan loafers. It’s jazz cigarettes, button-down collars, desert boots. It’s duffel coats, polo shirts, Madras shorts. It’s JFK, tortoiseshell and the Nouvelle Vague. It’s white socks, fishing rods, polo necks. It’s Studebakers, Sperry Top-Siders and Steve McQueen – forever the epitome of mid-20th century American style; effortlessly laid-back but unerringly precise.

Next up is the recent founding of a new UK-based Facebook group called The Roll Call, which is dedicated to vintage Ivy style.

And pictured above is a new collection of jewelry called Ivy Noir (one of the more contrived trend tie-ins we’ve heard in a while) by London-based jewelers Smith/Grey. The collection consists of collar stays (an odd choice, given that the default Ivy shirt is a buttondown), and the smelting-accident ring pictured above.

Here’s the collection in the company’s own words:

The Ivy Noir collection is a dark interpretation of traditional Ivy League elements. Created under the slogan ‘Socii Extra Muros’, Ivy Noir pays homage to an imaginary ‘Off-Campus League’ – the ones who challenge the purist facets of the classic Ivy League style.

Manifested in three unique hand-crafted designs this collection gives any occasion a well-deserved edge.

Because you shouldn’t always dress exactly by the book.

And here’s a description of the ring’s design motif:

“I” for Ivy
“N” for Noir
“IX” for 9th letter in alphabet = “I” stands for Indomitus (means the wild, the untamed)
“XVI” for 16th letter in the alphabet = “P” stands for Principatus (means to rule)

London-based retail shop-cum-shrine John Simons has released this handsome new olive raincoat in collaboration with Grenfell:

And finally, there’s the largely UK-driven Talk Ivy forum at FilmNoirBuff.com, where you can always find baffling drivel about our national style by foreigners, like this example from yesterday:

As an Ivy practitioner, I consider it an aesthetic art form and my interpretation and practice of it today, is based on acceptance of the critical elements, but then changes to other elements.

Sir, methinks you take this stuff too seriously. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

51 Comments on "Ivy Trendwatch: Fanarchy In The UK"

  1. I would hate to have to explain that whole thing every time someone asked about my ring…

  2. Single Needle | February 15, 2012 at 12:28 pm |

    Where to begin?

    So much silliness. So much fantasy nonsense.
    “It’s jazz cigarettes…Nouvelle Vague….fishing rods…. Studebakers….”?

    Sounds like the answer to the question of “Can you name four random things that have nothing to do with Ivy League style, or even with each other?”

    The ring is just beyond stupid. No more need be said about that. The raincoat is fine, I guess. God knows what absurd price they are asking though.

  3. Another interesting post, but the contrived ring – which, in my mind is representative of all the faux-vintage, make believe trad junk that sells these days – is laughably terrible.

    Oh – and there’s nothing notable or uniquely handsome about that raincoat….J. Crew sells nearly the exact same thing for what I’m guessing is less than half the cost.

  4. My christ, when will they learn… At times they give us Americans a tough time for how we dress (which I understand why) but how hard can it be to misinterpret the tenants of ‘Ivy’ style. I guess its not hard at all… And that ring; atrocious.

  5. Roy R. Platt | February 15, 2012 at 5:55 pm |

    That boy in the olive raincoat needs a pair of the repp stripe socks…..

  6. Studebakers??? I grew up Ivy in it’s salad days, and I can’t remember anyone who would have been caught dead in a Studebaker.

  7. Churchill Dot | February 15, 2012 at 9:39 pm |


    Is “tenant” the American spelling of “tenet”?

  8. Single Needle | February 15, 2012 at 10:05 pm |

    @Churchill Dot

    Is “tenet” the English spelling of “tenent”?

  9. The chap in the John Simons raincoat is far better dressed than most American followers of Ivy style, I daresay.

    He probably also knows thendifference between tenet and tenant.

  10. Correction:

    thendifference = the difference

  11. Single Needle | February 16, 2012 at 1:22 am |


    Good thing “the chap in the John Simons raincoat” has that collar up against that driving rainstorm. Doesn’t look affected at all.

    I daresay affectation would be a “tenent” of UK Ivy followers. Or would that be the “difference”?

  12. @Single Needle

    Would you be claiming that in the U.S. the whole Ivy thing isn’t an affectation?

    Over here, we admit to our affectations, and even cultivate them.

  13. Single Needle | February 16, 2012 at 1:41 am |


    Hey, points for owning up to your fantasy.

  14. @ Single Needle

    Hardly a fantasy, sir.
    We’re just more honest than Yanks about admitting that we’re participating in an ongoing costume party when we follow Ivy style.

  15. Traduke Chesterfield III | February 16, 2012 at 4:37 am |

    I say that if you didn’t attend an Ivy League university between 1957 and 1964 then you have no right to wear these clothes. Please do not disgaree with me as you will be wrong. Cheery hole, old LL Beans – Go Pygmies!

  16. Traduke Chesterfield III | February 16, 2012 at 4:44 am |

    BTW, what is a “cum shrine”? Do English Ivy fans really like that shop THAT much?

  17. Kensington High | February 16, 2012 at 5:01 am |

    @Traduke Chesterfield III

    Re: “shop-cum-shrine”.

    Was that a sophomoric attempt at humour, or do you really not know that cum is a conjunction meaning “and”, used to form hyphenated phrases?

  18. Rockin' Robin | February 16, 2012 at 9:24 am |

    @ Single Noodle

    I couldn’t agree with you more.
    Seeing an English in Ivly league clothing is like seeing a Mexican in a Chineese restaurant.

    @ Kennington High

    I’m with you.
    Time these people were educated in conjugal rights and wrongs.

  19. Ugh, their Latin is shoddy, too. “Principatus” is a noun, not a verb, people.

  20. Rockin' Robin | February 16, 2012 at 11:31 am |

    Way lame. They must be like high schoolers. They shud get their ass back in class before they make jewlery.

  21. The Roll Call | February 16, 2012 at 12:56 pm |

    I’m sorry but no one in their right mind would wear that ring, whether British or not, it’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen and is more likely to be on the hand of some twatish football (soccer) star, then a UK Ivyist. It isn’t something reflective of how I see Ivy in this country. Further more thank you for Christian in mentioning the Roll Call facebook group, I hope to feature some of your articles on it at some point if that is ok with you? Also hopefully it is a place where people can quickly share their likes and inspirations, without any nonsense.


  22. Single Needle | February 16, 2012 at 1:17 pm |

    @Rockin’ Robin

    Maybe it’s more like a Mexican man in a Chinese restaurant, wearing a stereotype of traditional Chinese garb, lecturing the restaurant staff how they aren’t dressed in proper Chinese clothes, while he simultaneously proudly mispronounces everything on the menu.

    I’m sure the Mexican man will still enjoy his meal, and feel that he is the only person truly capable of fully appreciating Chinese culture.

    And I’m sure the Chinese staff will still politely take his money, and then laugh at him back in the kitchen.

  23. @ Single Needle

    I think I just counted three different types of racism there. Or four. The forth is your insulting parody of an American. We are not all rednecks with hillbilly opinions.

  24. Single Needle | February 16, 2012 at 2:16 pm |


    I AM an American.

    A couple things you failed to count were the sarcasm and parody of the Rockin’Robin persona.

    Regardless, none of that was racist. But nice troll, uh I mean try.

  25. Only one error: Talk Ivy has a number of regular US posters (I don’t mean the trolls) as well as Europeans, who form the majority. (There’s also one Japanese poster). I’m sure most people are well aware that what is written in a magazine or created by a jeweller has little or no relation to reality. Indeed, the reality of ivy in the UK is hardly newsworthy: people wearing ivy clothes.

  26. I withdraw the last sentence of my previous post; the items in the article are newsworthy, so well done for giving them publicity (whilst refraining from doing a total hatchet job). Am I right in thinking that the Hollywood book has not been reviewed on this site? Surely the book itself is more newsworthy than one of the (many) reviews it has received?

  27. The problem is Christian, you don’t take it half seriously enough. That’s why your writing style is timid, wooden and anaemically shallow.

    One thing about Marsh’s books, at least they have the punchy and racy style of an adman. At least he and his chums are real published authors, not amateur bloggers pretending they are the Citizen Kane of some non-existent media empire.

    The diaspora of Ivy is fact, its interpretations and reinvention goes on today. This dialogue interests me, it should interest you being that you have a blog on Ivy, well at least that’s what you are marketing it as.

    Talk Ivy posters bring something to the project, and are certainly more eradite and less blinkered than your sock puppets posting on here.

  28. Single Needle | February 17, 2012 at 1:38 am |

    @4F hepcat

    “punchy and racy style of an adman…”


    “silly, pretentious, bullshit”

    Jesus, I actually laughed out loud at your pompous miserable little snit-fit. Sad.

  29. Single Needle | February 17, 2012 at 1:41 am |

    ..and yes, I have worked in advertising. i know exactly of what I speak. Being a bullshit merchant is in the advertising DNA of “creative types”. Copywriters especially.

  30. @4F hepcat

    Thanx fer lettin us no whats up with yer fancy “eradite” talkin’.
    Now where’d i put dem blinkers…

  31. Ivy in exile | February 17, 2012 at 2:04 am |

    I have enjoyed the enthusiastic tone of Graham Marsh’s recent books. They have a great positive energy about them. In one he writes as a fan of the Ivy look, in the film star book he writes in a way which goes well with the subject matter. Neither are academic studies, but celebrations of his enthusiasms. I understand he also has an American wife.
    Mr. Single Needle, on the other hand, seems to suffer from a surfeit of negative energy.

  32. Single Needle | February 17, 2012 at 2:10 am |


    I love how the UK types are completely oblivious to their own negativity and nastiness. When their own negative behavior is parodied back at them, they cry like babies that someone is being mean to them.

    Hilariously ironic.

  33. Ivy in exile | February 17, 2012 at 2:39 am |

    @ Single Needle – I am an American in London.

  34. Christopher Landauer | February 17, 2012 at 4:58 am |

    @Christian: Most of these things have not much to do with the Ivy Look. Obviously.

    This Lord of the ring thing has nothing to do with it (like some of your posts).

    The Roll Call FB group is devoted to Ivy Style, but there might be a few “newbies” involved, so what?

    The article on the Hollywood book was not written by specialists. Jazz cigarettes?

    The raincoat is a lovely example of British style that fits in with the Ivy Look. The collar is not popped in all the pictures. Nothing wrong with this, anyway.

    And this sentence from FNB is just an example of the drivel you will find inevitably at any Message Board or in any comments section….

    However, what’s more important: These things have nothing to do with each other!

    What’s the point here? Do you seriously think that Ivy fans in the UK – or in Switzerland in my case – would wear a ring like that?

    That is as likely going to happen as that an American Ivy fan would buy the ring.

    Or imagine the following scenario: An American Ivy fan who had worn Weejuns for all his life takes a look at this very blog, he reads your article on the Bass Dover and immediately has to buy this beautiful fashionable loafer!

    Or do you think that anybody over here in Europe talks like that?

    @Single Needle: Pardon my ignorance, but would you give me an example of “negativity and nastiness” from the “UK types”?

  35. IThe usual tired old comments by posters having a go at Brits who like classic American clothing.

    Savile Row has a cache’ everywhere in the world and there are Americans who like British clothing and walk around looking like English gentlemen. US tourists spend $1000’s in mens outfitters here in London all year round. As an Englishman, I certainly don’t lose any sleep over this and it wouldn’t even cross my mind to feel annoyed about it. Strange?

  36. Ivy in exile | February 17, 2012 at 6:12 am |

    I am bafled as to what this blog represents and I speak as a native of Boston now overseas.

  37. Ivy in exile | February 17, 2012 at 6:14 am |

    Correction: Baffled.

  38. Chelsea Drug Store | February 17, 2012 at 7:13 am |

    Is it normal for UK Ivy enthusiasts to look like 8th graders from the waist down like the twink ( but perhaps an ‘eradite’ twink) in the olive raincoat? Nice raincoat, though!

  39. @Christopher Landauer:

    You write: “Do you seriously think Ivy fans would wear that ring?”

    Never thought about it. The Ivy Trendwatch column is devoted to news items that mention or reference Ivy. I report the news, good or bad. I didn’t praise the ring or encourage people to buy it any more than I did the Bass Dover.

    At least you admit that sentence was drivel. And speaking of which….

    @4F Hepcat

    Don’t take it seriously enough? But I’m the only person in the English-speaking world who created a professional website devoted to the topic. Evidently we have different definitions of what it means to be serious.

  40. Chelsea Drug Store | February 17, 2012 at 7:49 am |


    I think that if you were to show this site and and any of the others to a non- partisan person they would agree that this site is superior beyond comparison.

  41. Ivy in exile. | February 17, 2012 at 8:53 am |

    I think what we have here is a prime example of internet trawling, not trolling: The energies of others on all sides co-opted to suit the agenda of another.
    When done for commercial gain this is called phishing and is illegal. As is astroturfing: The creation online of the appearance of phony grass roots support for commercial enterprises.
    Christian’s professional intent here cannot be doubted. Yet the loudest voices here are from the amateurs. Something is wrong there.

  42. Remington Corona | February 17, 2012 at 9:02 am |

    İf the gent in the raincoat is typical of British followers of ivy style, Britain may, in the future, be the last stronghold of Orthodox İvy. No hoodies, no juvenile GTH trousers, just adult ivy.

  43. “adult ivy”

    Sounds kinky.

  44. Single Needle | February 17, 2012 at 2:08 pm |

    @Landauer coyly trolled:

    “Pardon my ignorance, but would you give me an example of “negativity and nastiness” from the “UK types”?”

    Once again, I actually laughed out loud at this one….

  45. Single Needle | February 17, 2012 at 2:20 pm |

    @woofie lectured:

    “Savile Row has a cache’ everywhere in the world and there are Americans who like British clothing and walk around looking like English gentlemen. US tourists spend $1000’s in mens outfitters here in London all year round. As an Englishman, I certainly don’t lose any sleep over this and it wouldn’t even cross my mind to feel annoyed about it. Strange?”


    When these hypothetical Americans start lecturing the English on how to be English with nasty anonymous attacks and personal slander…then you might have a valid comparison.

    If Americans were losing sleep over foreigners dressing like Americans, then our entire nation would never ever catch a wink.

  46. Do these hypothetical Americans know the hypothetical Mexican? Have these hypothetical Americans ever eaten at the hypothetical Chinese restaurant? If so, was the hypothetical Mexican ever present whilst the hypothetical Americans were at the hypothetical Chinese restaurant? I think these points need clarification.

  47. @ Single Needle
    I have to agree, there is nothing worse than people posting anonymously under multiple identities.

  48. @ Churchill Dot.
    A mispelling here and there, oops. I stand firmly by everything else I said, spelling aside…

  49. Single Needle | February 19, 2012 at 8:03 pm |


    The anonymous nature of the post doesn’t really matter. Nearly everyone here (and over there) is using a psuedonym.
    It is the nature of what is said that matters more.

    No surprise that liars and slanderers wouldn’t use their real names though.

  50. Single Needle | February 19, 2012 at 8:08 pm |


    I can’t answer your extremely important hypotheticals at the moment. I’m just too exhausted from lack of sleep worrying about what clothing some irrelevant anonymous UK internet chump might be wearing.

  51. Starched Collar | February 19, 2012 at 10:17 pm |

    @Remington Corona

    Hear! Hear!

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