This is Ivy Style’s 1,000th post x .50. In honor of the occasion, I bribed longtime friend and colleague Michael Mattis, who’s been at my side since I first started blogging on style in 2004, to write some moderately kind words. This was the best he could do. — CC
I must confess I have never been much of Ivy trend watcher. But since Christian Chensvold started Ivy-Style.com some 500 posts ago I have become a dedicated follower of Ivy fashion.
In fact, I’m still unsure precisely how the arithmetic is calculated among Ivy, Preppy and Trad. I take it that a Preppy probably pops his polo collar, while an Ivy stylist is less inclined to. Meanwhile, the Trad wears the classic American “sack suit,” whatever that is. Or something like that, anyway.
You can chalk up my general ignorance — and sometimes jaundiced lack of interest — to the irascible bores who dominate certain men’s style fora here on these Interwebs. My aim has always been to look good, and I don’t really care if coteries of small-minded bomb-throwers think what I’m wearing isn’t “pure” enough to meet their niggling standards.
That’s one reason why Ivy-Style.com has become one of my sartorial, sociological and philosophical lodestars since Chensvold launched it on October 1, 2008. It informs, but it doesn’t bother to niggle. I’ve learned so much from my daily dose of Ivy that it’s hard to know where to begin.
As the Managing Editor of Dandyism.net, a website Chensvold started back in 2004 (and recently ceded to your correspondent) devoted to the backstory of masculine elegance from Beau Brummell to the present, I’ve always maintained that at the heart of modern men’s style lies in simplicity, defenestrated of the effeminate gewgaws of the Ancien Régime.
And no contemporary — and uniquely American — style is more defenestrated of same than Ivy Style as it is expressed in these pages. What’s unique about Ivy-Style.com is that, unlike other style websites and fora, it does not provide either a set prescription for what to wear or proscriptions against what not to.
A flap in comments section of the recent post, “Slim Fit Shirts Ain’t Trad?” provides an illustration. One purist threatened to cancel his Ivy-Style.com “subscription,” saying, “I really don’t want to read a blog read by people who think that slim-cut shirts anything is Ivy, Trad, whatever. Gentlemen wear full-cut shirts, jackets, etc…”
Really? If the measure of a gentleman rests in the cut of his jacket rather than the cut of his jib, then the complainer above hasn’t taken much from the pages of Ivy-Style.com. That’s too bad. But maybe he wasn’t paying enough attention.
Rather, Ivy-Style.com provides assiduously researched historical context and, moreover, inspiration (rather than advice) on how we, its gentle readers, can carefully work classic, nuanced Ivy looks into your daily wear in this modern world of ours, in order to look sharp for all occasions.
Along the way I’ve been introduced to a remarkable cast of characters, people who helped make the Ivy style, well, into a timeless style. People like Richard Press, whose well-written columns provide a personal backdrop for the classically tailored stage on which he has lived. Then there’s G. Bruce Boyer, a crossover hit in both Tradsville and Dandyland, who imbues the site with a kind of sartorial gravitas.
Meanwhile, frequent contributor Matthew Benz gave me a thorough understanding of why that little green crocodile is so important, as well as the backstory behind the rugby shirt (one of my casual faves). And so many more.
With such a carefully curated slate of content combined with these and other fascinating personalities, it’s no wonder that Ivy-Style.com has become such a success for its followers — and anathema to its few detractors. It is a never-ending source of amazement to me just how easy Chensvold has made this complex thing look.
Well done, sir. We will see you again at posts 1,000, 5,000 and 10,000. — MICHAEL MATTIS