MMilestone: Ivy Style Reaches Post #2,000

Eleven years ago, in the middle of August 2008, I had just published the “Miles Davis goes to The Andover Shop” piece for Ralph Lauren Magazine, and was so fascinated by this little-known anecdote of Americana that I was working hard at launching a daunting new web project called Ivy-Style.com. From Los Angeles, of all places. In September I gave the site a soft launch and officially announced it on October 1. That makes us just shy of our 11th anniversary. Meanwhile, this post marks another MMilestone — as in MM, the Roman numeral for 2,000 — for it is the two-thousandth blog post.

I’d like to take the occasion to thank all you loyal readers. You’ve provided a foundation of support for which I’ll be forever grateful.

You see, in 2008, while Ivy Style was going up, I was going down. Way down. After steady improvement my career ladder had reached a plateau, and then even the everyday busywork went away as clients slashed their budgets in the wake of the recession. I plunged to almost no income, and it felt like the very value of my existence was being questioned. I remember telling my old man on the phone “I feel like I’m being judged by the gods.” Soon I was an anxious, sleepless, brooding, hard-drinking pill-popper who was emotionally repressed and cut off from my feelings. In short, I’d become very WASPy.

Within a few months I knew I had to make a drastic change. I sold the surfboard, gave up the great hilltop cottage I was renting, and bid farewell to LA. For six weeks I stayed with a friend in Oakland and ran Ivy Style on my laptop from a Whole Foods (the image above shows what the site looked like in February of 2009). Then I went to my hometown and spent six months in a cheap apartment, deeply depressed. I published an op-ed in the local daily paper — which was how my writing career had begun in 1994 — and wondered if it were possible for me to move to New York where my last active client, Ralph Lauren, was located. In November, having now sacrificed a beloved roadster and the world’s greatest cat, I bought a one-way ticket to NY and showed up with one suitcase to a furnished room waiting for me in Queens with two gay roommates. I’d never been here before, and it was two weeks shy of my 40th birthday, proving the old adage that life begins (or rather begins again) at forty. The first couple of years were tough, but eventually I found a wonderful girlfriend, got a great apartment, took up golf, and adapted to this strange city. Your devoted readership made much of it possible, as a colleague explained to me that the Ivy audience was a valuable commodity and suggested I raise the advertising fee significantly. That man is Kirby Allison of Hanger Project, to whom I owe a shout-out with the mic turned up to ten.

With material things better, I kept waiting to feel like my old carefree self but it never happened. Until just recently, the entire time I was doing this site for you guys I had demons hovering over my shoulder night and day. In early 2017 I got some news I took as catastrophic (and which turned out to be largely fueled by my imagination), and fell flat on my face. For three months could barely function. It was either jump off the Triboro Bridge or do the painful inner work of solving long, drawn-out midlife crisis (fun fact: the average man’s midlife crisis lasts three to ten years). I took the first few steps, and was one of the first to write about the rise of Dr. Jordan Peterson. When his book came out some nine months later, my words were blurbed on the back of his international bestseller. Since then my running joke has been “if you can’t write a bestseller, at least write the blurb on the back of one.”

Since then it’s been an indescribable journey of personal growth, and I hope to share what I’ve learned — as well as the great and forgotten wisdom of the ages — later this year with the launch of Traditional Man. And after precisely a decade in New York, I’m ready to move on. The plan is for the next chapter to unfold in Charleston, SC, where I dreamed of moving when I was a young pup of 25 and people in my hometown said I belonged in a historical city on the East Coast. Since then I keep hearing Anita O’Day sing the lyrics, “Just a little bit south of North Carolina I’ll find paradise.”

Some of you have requested more long-form pieces here, and I think it’s time to concede that after 2,000 posts and 11 years,  long-form pieces will no longer come from me. In addition to Trad Man, I have several other projects in development that will take all I’ve got. Over the coming months, I see myself gradually transitioning into the role of Ivy Style’s editor-in-chief and publisher, but with other voices driving the content. Consider that an open call to all you out there who want to write long-form essays and articles. We could also use a news editor interested in doing weekly roundups of everything going on in our little world. Jolts of fresh blood should liven this place up and be good for the site. Email me at the address above if you’re interested.

And thank you to the many contributors we’ve had so far over the past decade. I think there have been over 50; Pani M. and Eric Twardzik have been the most active recently, and they may come to play a more prominent role going forward. Special thanks also go to Christopher Sharp, who’s been here since the beginning doing fine original pieces of historical research, and DCG, who wrote a column for a bit called The Millennial Fogey. Then there’s the illustrious Richard Press, who did The Golden Years column, and the great G. Bruce Boyer, who has contributed many delightful pieces over the years.

Ivy the style has been around for a hundred years. May Ivy Style itself last just as long. And once again please accept my gratitude for being a part of all this. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

32 Comments on "MMilestone: Ivy Style Reaches Post #2,000"

  1. Richard E. Press | August 12, 2019 at 1:35 pm |

    May you be blessed wherever you go but will miss the always exuberant meetings in NYC.

  2. Caustic Man | August 12, 2019 at 1:43 pm |

    Thanks for allowing me my small place in this journey. Highs and lows galore but all worthwhile. Good luck to you and may you find what it is you are seeking, even if it’s simply another path to wander down.

  3. Christian, Congratulations on this milestone, and on the move and the new adventures that will bring. Thanks also for sharing your journey. I found Ive-Style in October of 2008 as a senior in college, shortly after you launched the site. Little did I know what was ahead, especially in terms of trying to enter the job market in the midst of a recession. It was interesting to learn that you were, perhaps, facing some of the same demons many of us young grads at the time were facing as well. Ivy-Style, and the community this site built, became a sort of companion to me as I navigated post-college life, two years of graduate school, and moves to two cities as I built a career in fundraising at boarding schools. This site helped me develop, and then refine, the sense of style I have today. I’m happy that I’ve been able to contribute an article to the site; a paltry contribution with respect to the enjoyment I’ve received, to be sure, but it’s the least I could do. I wish you the very best, and here’s to many more great years of Ivy-Style.com.

  4. whiskeydent | August 12, 2019 at 2:50 pm |

    Adios! Bon voyage! Happy trails!

    You’ll be in a great place to try fly fishing for redfish. I’ve read there is a great fishery just outside the town and a lot of experienced guides who can show you the way.

  5. I found this blog in 2010.what did I miss in those first few years. Just glad to know there are people like me who value all that man can be, intellectually and stylistically.

  6. Charlottesville | August 12, 2019 at 3:44 pm |

    Thank you Christian for building this great, one-of-a-kind site, for posting few of my jottings and for your kind words to me over the years. I have learned a great deal from you and other posters, and hope IVY Style will long continue. I am convinced that you will love Charleston, one of my very favorite places, as we have discussed in the past. I am very much looking forward to your new undertaking and hope we may connect one day for some oysters and conversation in The Holy City, as Charleston is known.

  7. john carlos | August 12, 2019 at 4:26 pm |

    Plus, you’ll be within a stone’s throw of Ben Silver.

  8. Joel Vaughan | August 12, 2019 at 4:37 pm |

    Yes, Christian. Ditto to other comments. Thank you for giving a forum here for those increasingly marginalized by a sweat pant culture. Charleston is a great city. And perhaps the heart of the country for dressing as we all here do. Have learned many things on this site and contributed just enough to feel part of it.

  9. Old School Tie | August 12, 2019 at 5:24 pm |

    Bravo, bravo and bonne chance!

  10. Moving to Charleston from NYC will be a culture shock, for sure. Charleston is known as having some of the friendliest, best-dressed people in the country, so I’m sure you’ll fit right in.

    However, it will take some time to adjust from those rude New Yorkers who never smile and dress in black from head to toe.

    I have to admit that I’m a little jealous of your move to South Carolina. I’m from Boston, and Boston couldn’t be more the opposite from Charleston. The people here are the rudest and it’s kind of a sartorial black hole. Plus, don’t get me started on the women here…

    I hope you find Happiness in the land of mint juleps, pimento cheese, and pastel colors under swaying palms. Godspeed to you, sir!

  11. Caustic Man | August 12, 2019 at 6:33 pm |

    Whiskeydent,

    I, too, mentioned the fishing opportunities to Christian when I found out about the move. Good to know there is more than one fly fisherman around here, too.

  12. Thank you for your candor. Your words speak of existential strength–shaping one’s future in spite of it all. The ’08 recession was nightmarish for more than a few. The economies that supported professional artists and writers still haven’t fully recovered. I appreciate your honest assessment of its impact upon your life. Some of us remember America circa the late 90s. God almighty, how things have changed.

    I’ve enjoyed Ivy-Style. So, thank you and thank you. Honesty demands that I name it for what it has been (for me): entertainment. And some information, to be sure. But mostly entertainment. As it should (and is supposed to) be. Again, thank you.

    A few years ago, a genius named Neil Postman wrote an (IMHO) important book–about entertainment. Important because he spoke truth–about the human condition. More specifically, the human propensity to seek out various forms of entertainment instead of dealing with our (real and frequently overwhelming) problems. From a Freudian perspective, this is a rational move. If we thought about the challenges, problems, and difficulties we face–including the weight of finite existence itself–we would go crazy. We couldn’t function. A sort of paralysis would set in. So, there’s a place in the world for, well…for online new sites/blogs. Again, thank you. We all need a few moments of escape.

    That said, I tend to agree with Postman, Chomsky and other social critics that entertainment–particularly college and professional sports–have done much more harm than good. We’re distracted. One giant problem (yeah, I’m going there) is staring us in the face, and we refuse to act. If it is the ultimate cause of our demise (probably will be? cue the climate change deniers), something resembling irony will have won the day. Okay, maybe not irony. What’s the word for attention paid to the band while the Titanic sinks slowly yet steadily?

    If you move to Charleston, you’ll confront (be confronted by) this problem.

    https://www.postandcourier.com/news/sea-level-rise-study-shows-charleston-area-one-of-the/article_c4b499d4-6ff5-11e8-abee-b32f453c638c.html

    https://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science_and_impacts/impacts/historic-communities-sea-level-rise-south-carolina-coast

    https://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/charleston/new-interactive-map-shows-effects-of-sea-level-rise-on-charleston/Content?oid=4972978

    Also: how “trad” can a place be if you can’t wear tweed and flannel for at least three months of the year? 🙂

    Whatever the (almost certainly wet) future holds, it’s a beautiful place populated by plenty of rich, handsome, beautiful people. Good food, nice shops, great culture. Lots of entertainment. You’ll have a blast. And no doubt you’ll call upon a Sisyphusesque courage as you embark upon the next adventure.

  13. Yeamans Hall Club

    https://www.yeamanshallclub.com/

    Your mission – find a member and play this course.

  14. Cuff Shooter | August 13, 2019 at 3:42 am |

    My father always dressed a certain way, and when I was younger I embraced certain choices of his (his love of knit ties, for example). Others I derided, having been led astray by the iGent zeitgeist–e.g. to my discredit, I once told him that button-down collars were inappropriate to wear with a suit. He passed away a couple of years ago while I was at sea. We had been close and I like to think we still are. In the following months I discovered Ivy Style and was able to put a name to some of his sartorial quirks. Soon enough I found out that his preferred style of dress was not only pretty sharp, but also steeped in tradition and a set of rules that offered a comforting sense of boundary and identity, even if I occasional overstep the mark. I began to adopt its trappings myself, building a wardrobe of resilient, high-quality garments, all the while experiencing less and less anxiety over what I should wear and what it said about me. In large part, I have Ivy Style to thank for that, not to mention countless hours of entertainment as I, a latecomer to the blog and to the style, devoured pages and pages of old articles. Ivy just fit. It was just right. I frequently think about how much dad would have liked this blazer, or that tie, or those loafers. I only wish I had discovered Ivy Style sooner, so as to be better able to share all this with him. You can be sure that, given the opportunity, I will share it with my sons.

  15. An inspring piece of writing. Thank you.

  16. Thank you for all you’re doing Christian! Your site is a great source of knowledge and inspiration. Good luck with everything!

  17. Good Luck and Best Wishes!
    Charleston sounds like where I would like to live.

  18. whiskeydent | August 13, 2019 at 8:13 am |

    Caustic, my fly fishing skills are rudimentary at best. However, I hope to improve on some Hill Country streams after they release the trout this winter .

  19. One of Ivy-Style’s achievements was/is placing this look/style in historical/cultural context. If it’s true that “trad” is a recent construct that lends itself to the marketing of the look within certain parameters, then it’s equally true that “Ivy” and “Preppy” served the same purpose–unabashedly. This is the way criterion for anything works: figure out what it is (and isn’t) and then find a word or phrase that illuminates the essence of said thing.

    CC’s magnum opus has served us well—as a sort of genealogy of the look. He dared the question, “Whence the style—Brooks or the campus?” His journalistic research confirmed what we might have suspected: the genesis was/is Brooks (of course), with amendments and provisos added later by campus shops, inspired the tweedy, button-downed bulwark in New Haven.

    Thanks in large part to the cultural black hole that was the 1970s, by the 1980s a lot of men had stopped caring about lot of things related to manners and civility, including the act of “dressing up” for work and occasions. Nice, well-made, expensive, flattering clothes weren’t prioritized as they were decades previous. “Ivy” no longer enjoyed the Heyday-era ubiquity. Most of the campus shops had closed, with a few notable exceptions (mostly in the South).

    If, around 1985, you were wearing tweed jackets, button-downed oxfords, repp ties, and cordovan tassel mocs regularly, it wasn’t because most of your classmates or neighbors were. Effort and intentionally were required. This is why that era remains the most interesting to me—those men who, because of memory (what they had always worn) or taste, stubbornly persevered.
    
Today we find ourselves in a similar situation: the everywhereness from which “Ivy” retailers once benefited is no more. If you wear ‘this-kinda-clothes’ on a daily basis, you’re an island in a sea of sweatpants, sneakers, polar fleece, yoga pants, and, more generally, middle-class blandness.

    We exalt the Heyday with sighs of “Remember when…?”, but the latter appropriations of the style are, I think, the best—because they were (still are) worn by men who, far from hoping to “fit in” or follow the crowds, choose to rise above it all.* Nothing done with this degree of intentionality is without an undergirding philosophy.

    
Thanks again, CC.

    *There’s much to rise above

  20. Thanks for this piece and for all of the hard work over the years. The recession was a real gut check for many many people. Glad you found your way through financially and emotionally.

    We have all enjoyed your work over the years, and look forward to your new ventures.

  21. Congrats and thanks for sharing this labor of love with us.

  22. Christian, thank you for this great site. I hope IVY Style will continue to educate and entertain we young fifty somethings and the younger ones coming up for years to come. You seem like a genuinely good fellow and I wish you all the best of luck in your future endeavors. Having visited Charleston a couple of times, I think you could not have chosen a more charming place to live. I don’t believe I have ever seen so many people wearing blue blazers and repp ties as when my wife and I visited Charleston and Columbia. The young ladies and their summer dresses did not go unnoticed either.

    Thank you also for putting up with my oft poorly written and sometimes carelessly considered comments.

    Hit them straight and long and always play the ball where it lies.

    Will

  23. Thanks for the kind words, everyone, and Sacksuit I promise to always play the ball where it lies if I hit it straight and long!

  24. The Hunting House | August 13, 2019 at 1:38 pm |

    First thought upon reading your brilliant idea of relocating to Charleston: “I see Garden & Gun [the publishing company] in Christian’s future.” I really do. Cheers to you, young man!

  25. Thanks for all the enlightening and enjoyable doses of civilization.
    Wishing you all the best in Charleston.

  26. Christian,

    Thank you for the opportunities you’ve given me over the years through Ivy-Style—I remember discovering this site during my prep school years; it was a great influence on the foundational “building blocks” of my own personal style, and introduced me to The Andover Shop. Without learning about them through Ivy Style, I may not ever have ended up working there during my college years and building the relationships with Charlie, Larry, and other folks at the shop that continue to this day. It means a lot that you gave me a shot as a #menswear-obsessed college kid wanting to put his words out on the internet.

    Moreover, I was able to use some of the pieces I had published here as samples of my work before writing my first piece for Town & Country, and have able to meet a number of great people I am proud to call my friends, bonding through our shared admiration for your work and this site.

    Godspeed on this new chapter in your life, may it bring you much happiness and great success.

    -Al Castiel III

  27. Have been able*

    Please excuse the typographical error, it isn’t the easiest writing this out on the old iPhone.

    -Al

  28. Old School Tie | August 13, 2019 at 4:43 pm |

    Just remembered – Charleston, SC. Will Chensvold be living on Tradd Street we wonder…..?

  29. Best of luck and congratulations on your 2000 th post. (whatever happened to Russell St ?)

  30. Henry Contestwinner | August 14, 2019 at 4:12 pm |

    Congratulations! You have achieved much, and will accomplish much more. I thank you for all you have done for us, and wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

    P.S.: Are we there yet?

  31. René Lebenthal | August 20, 2019 at 10:37 am |

    Christian,
    I merely want to thank you, not only für putting me once on the front page of Ivy Style. It is always a good idea to follow your star wherever it may lead you.
    You influenced me and my life more than you may imagine. I am grateful for that and wish you all the best for your new life.
    Bon voyage et bonne Installation mon ami.
    René

  32. Best wishes, Christian. This site was a real accomplishment, enjoyed by many. When you reach Charleston, I recommend you take up sailing. It’s good for the soul, and a great way to make new friends.

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