Ivy Trendwatch: Ivy League Rebellious Urban Counterculture

The trade publication Sourcing Journal, for which I’ve written for in the past, put out a trend report last week noting the coming popularity of “New Ivy League.”

Not surprising, it comes with an irreverent spin. Rather like an Ivy League education, symbols of wealth and prestige can be cool so long as they are subverted.

From the article:

Preppy fashion is staging a comeback, but [trend consultant Rachel Dimit] says it’s laden with style cues that hark back to 1990’s urban culture. Head-to-toe looks adopted from ’90s sportswear, she noted, along with traditional materials feel subversive in the current streetwear environment driven by loud graphics and logos.

“Prep, trad, Ivy League—no matter what you call it, it somehow always cycles back into fashion. And although born on college campuses and country clubs, the style has morphed over the years to not only become a staple of the privileged class but a hallmark of rebellious urban counterculture,” Dimit said. “Skaters and rappers have gravitated toward typical symbols of wealth, with allusions to yachting, skiing and other pursuits of leisure.”

Color instantly makes this trend story youthful. Bright red and periwinkle fell fresh against moody autumnal colors like maroon, plum and forest green. The colors are combined with mid-century tones of electric blue and golden yellow. Dimit describes it as a “dynamic palette that takes the best of yesterday and remixes it with today’s most relevant colors.”

Rugby shirts are a base layer for the New Ivy League, not to mention an ideal canvas to show off these colors. The classic item returns with unexpected color combinations, relaxed fits, embroidered logos and regalia. Similarly, the crested shirt allows heritage brands to visit their archives and for new brands to invent a history of their own.

From fleece to ski, outerwear is key. In particular, Dimit said sailing parkas allow brands to play with nautical colors, neon hues, optic winter whites and logos. “It’s a statement piece of outerwear that appeals to the streetwear consumer’s appetite for performance gear and utility function,” she explained.

Corduroy blazers are also poised to be a big item for 2019. Golden beige and other neutrals are likely to be a commercial success, Dimit said, while jewel tones, reds, pinks and blues “add character and give off a Wes Anderson-type of feel.”

Pictured above is American fencer Miles Chamley-Watson, whom I interviewed for Ralph Lauren Magazine in 2011, from the website of Rowing Blazers, which has done much to fuel the new trend. — CC

21 Comments on "Ivy Trendwatch: Ivy League Rebellious Urban Counterculture"

  1. You can get a taste of this trend by reading Mark McNairy’s F–k Ivy and Everything Else. A subversive take on ivy style.

    “The renowned designer’s views on dressing and behaving well: Ivy League meets street, sartorial rules are made and broken in this must-have style guide for traditionalists and hipsters alike, filled with Mark McNairy’s humorous, sometimes snarky, spot-on observations. With a Foreword by Nick Wooster.”

    Personally, I like ivy and trad style, but I also try to try to keep it current and up-to-date.

    I’m constantly trying to understand – what does it mean to dress ivy right now. It’s certainly not dressing like it’s 1968. But it’s somehow directly linked to 1968.

  2. What is a “sailing parka”? Because that will be a new one to those of us in Annapolis who, you know, actually sail.

  3. Minimalist Trad | February 18, 2019 at 1:49 am |

    Please do tell us which elements in the top photo are components of Ivy style:
    The chest tattoo?
    The earring?
    The gold chains?
    The pink cap?
    The garish blue jacket?

  4. Minimalisttradisafool | February 18, 2019 at 4:25 am |

    The f-you attitude. But that isn’t obviously isn’t obvious to the readers of a dress-by-numbers blog

  5. None of the elements in the photo are Ivy , especially not the FU attitude. Look, I’m all for younger generation dressing up so they look like dock workers , lumberjacks , mill workers and 90s New York hip hop artists, but please stop ”subverting” the Ivy look . You arr not subverting anything fools, you are just showing to everybody that you have NO idea about how to dress up as adults. Learn the rules fist and then break them not the other way around.

  6. Paul,

    I’m not sure what the referred to “sailing parka” is either. Perhaps CC tosses in a post such as this now and then to liven things up.

    I don’t follow fencing, but Mr. Chamley-Watson seems to be at the very top of it currently. So, for now, the still-in-his-twenties athlete can pull off his hipness of bleached blond hair and tattoos galore. Is anything about his style consistent with the theme of Ivy-Style? I’ll politely withhold further comment.

    Cheers, BC

  7. Blake Glassworth | February 18, 2019 at 8:41 am |

    Dressing like a dock worker , lumberjack , or mill worker is one thing; dressing like a pimp is quite

  8. “Hockey is a sport for white men.
    Basketball is a sport for black men.
    Golf is a sport for white men dressed like black pimps.”
    -Tiger Woods

    I sail, I have a sailing anorak & would presume the sailing parka merely zips all the way down the front.

  9. @MinimalistTrad

    I think even the dull and literal should be able to see that Ivy-Style.com posted this because it was newsworthy, just as with our Roger Stone coverage.

  10. Old School Tie | February 18, 2019 at 12:55 pm |

    Come on gentlemen, who doesn’t see the beauty in a classic Ferrari or wouldn’t be happy with a Hopper hanging on their wall? Likewise, many an Ivy or Trad garment is a thing of beauty, something that helps one exude ‘class’, whether you have it or not. Obviously the fashion industry will hijack the look and the hoi-polloi have a go at donning the garb. And, as I have recently commented, you get very little mileage these days, in the cool stakes, from your Schott perfecto given that every overweight, middle-aged mom from the suburbs is wearing one these days. Because there is an element of gender-specificity to the Ivy look, you are fairly safe in a tweed sportscoat and club tie (just look at what Gucci are doing right now) from seeing some fat woman in Target wearing the same outfit as yourself, all the while maintaining your rebelliousness. Let it go, anyone worth impressing will know the difference between what you wear and transient fashion for the masses.

  11. MacMcConnell | February 18, 2019 at 2:13 pm |

    Old School Tie

    True Ivy isn’t gender specific, except for the dresses and skirts. Shoes, fabrics, pants, shorts, button downs, sweaters, jackets, sizing etc, etc. all the same.

  12. Marc Chevalier | February 18, 2019 at 9:18 pm |


    Something went terribly wrong when the creator of that meme thought that 1950 was 1917.

  13. MacMcConnell | February 19, 2019 at 2:42 pm |

    I noticed that before posting, but it still makes the point.

  14. MacMcConnell | February 19, 2019 at 2:51 pm |

    Marc Chevalier

    I was curious and searched the Cary Grant image. Seems the image was taken the 24th of April 1946 leaving a London hotel.

  15. Marc Chevalier | February 19, 2019 at 7:47 pm |


    Something went just as terribly wrong when the creator of that meme thought that 1946 was 1917.

  16. Certain people on these message boards clamor for things to be made in America and to be made the “old fashioned” way, and bemoan the fact that “the masses” and “the average man” are “woefully uneducated about what constitutes quality” (these commenters, of course, inhabit a different plane of existence altogether). Then, when there’s finally a brand (Rowing Blazers) that not only actually makes things in America and makes them the “old fashioned” way (AND makes them – God forbid – cool), the same people are up in arms because A) a fully American-made, hand tailored jacket in Italian corduroy costs $800, and B) there is a photograph of – God forbid – a young, successful black man wearing a rather nice (albeit bright) wide-wale corduroy jacket with patch pockets.

    It’s ironic (and rather sad) to realize that some of these message-board trolls really do fancy themselves to be true arbiters of style; patron saints of “real” Ivy style (whatever that is, exactly); professorial; to the manor born; and a host of other illusions. They are legends in their own minds. In reality, they are probably Archie Bunker types, who, with the help of the internet, happened to develop a sort of reactionary, dogmatic obsession with a bygone era – alongside a deep resentment for price points beyond their reach, and people who have found success while either looking different from them or failing to follow “the rules.”

    Miles Chamley-Watson is an Olympic fencer with multiple World medals to his name – including the first Olympic medal for the United States in the men’s foil since 1932. He’s also a Penn State graduate and is doing a lot to make the sport of fencing more accessible, more diverse, and more exciting. Jack Carlson, who founded Rowing Blazers, was also on the U.S. team – in his case, for the sport of rowing – and won a bronze medal for the United States at the world championships. He also graduated from Oxford with a Ph.D. before teaching classics at St. Mark’s in Massachusetts and then founding his brand — which is doing much to revitalize traditional American-made tailored clothing.

    But hey, they are just hoi polloi. Meanwhile, please keep freaking out over the eternal question “is this Ivy?”, hammering away at your keyboard, and casting stones at anything that isn’t inexpensive, dull, or lilywhite enough for you!

  17. FIAEL,
    The fact that he is Black has nothing whatsoever to do with my disapproving of his outrageous style. Similarly, I cannot approve of his style simply because he is Black.

  18. Benjamin J. Dunnigan | February 22, 2019 at 2:01 pm |

    FIAEL is right to mention the absurdity of commenters having an issue with the price of American made clothing from the few companies that are carrying the torch. The same people buy everything used in thrift shops or eBay anyways and then bash the brands for not doing exactly what they want at Forever 21 prices.

  19. Johnny Bravo | March 4, 2019 at 12:25 pm |

    Bob Guccione’s love child?

Comments are closed.