Spring Finale: Exploring Chic Ivy

They say you don’t get a proper spring in New York, and that certainly seemed the case this year. A stubborn winter was followed by an interlude of gray skies, wind and rain with just a handful of sunny mild days, and now we’re projecting 91 for Memorial Day.

So while it’s madras and seersucker season from here out, I thought I’d draw spring to a close with out outfit that plays with the notion of “chic Ivy.”

What might chic Ivy look like? Maybe something like Dickie Greenleaf in 1958, a few years out of Princeton, bumming around Italy and getting influenced by the locals. Or maybe an approach to dressing that uses American classics as foundation pieces with accessories that are more international in taste. Or basically just Ralph Lauren.

Above all, going chic means you need to come to terms with black, the most despised color in Tradsville.

So here’s my stab at something a bit more polished than rumpled khakis, baggy oxford, and goofy argyles (not that I don’t like all those things, too; well maybe not goofy argyles):

• Brooks Brothers wool sportcoat in Fitzgerald fit, English horn button swap, vent shortened to eight inches.

• J. Press blue end-on-end buttondown.

Chipp2 black grenadine necktie.

• O’Connell’s charcoal prunelle trousers.

• Alden bit loafers.

• Lands’ End polka dot pocket square.

• Ralph Lauren black and white nailhead socks.

• J. Crew belt.

Ray-Ban black Clubmasters.

• Watch on alligator band.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend. We’ll commence with summer content and surf-splashing Twitter tunes next week. — CC

47 Comments on "Spring Finale: Exploring Chic Ivy"

  1. Looks good. My only reservation is the black pocket square might be a little too much black. I would consider a light-to-medium blue with black dots or black edging, or maybe a cognac-color background (to play off the jacket buttons) with some black or light blue.

    I like the idea of the shortened vent – I have been pondering the same modification to a BB navy blazer.

  2. Nice outfit, but above all I like the Talented Mr. Ripley reference.

  3. Christian | May 28, 2011 at 1:48 pm |

    @Kraus: All my vents are 8 inches, lapels and ties 3.

    @Stahl: Combining Dickie and Tom’s wardrobes would make the perfect Ivy Continental look.

    Actually not just their wardrobes: Dickie’s tan and physique, but Tom’s hair and glasses…

  4. What watch is that, Chens?

  5. Christian | May 28, 2011 at 3:10 pm |

    Same mystery brand as here:


    I’m keeping it under wraps as I’m considering writing about them at some point.

  6. Very nice Spring outfit. Great jacket. Brings up a story. I played trumpet in a high school concert band, and for our spring concert, our uniform consisted of parent bought dark pants, white shirt and black narrow tie. In addition, my post-concert Friday evening attire included my uncle’s light grey pincord Sport Chief very narrow lapel unconstructed sports coat, and my father’s WW2 vintage trench coat. And of course, my Dad’s Wittnauer. The only item I could not borrow was a proper fedora; my father did not wear hats. I felt cool, even without the hat. Cary Grant didn’t wear hats, I didn’t need one.

    The concert went as planned, but after, I spent an hour or so flirting and chatting with 2 or 3 girls, then we went out for pizza. Pizza was 15 cents a slice back then, to spend a dollar for an evening was big money.

    Oh, I ALMOST FORGOT. My uncle had a black pocket square in the jacket. One of the best evenings of my high school life. Cheers!

  7. Christian | May 28, 2011 at 4:24 pm |

    Next time you’re in NYC look me up. I’ll take you to this jazz club in Harlem and we can hear some good music and cruise for chicks.

  8. I never realized it until you posted it… Why is black so despised in tradsville? My only black items are a tuxedo and a pair of capped toe oxfords, but I have no idea how it ended up that way.

    Nice look! A bit unique but still classic.

  9. Continental Ivy | May 28, 2011 at 8:12 pm |

    As a Bostonian residing on the Continent, I have, over the years, modified my manner of dressing to blend in a bit more with well-dressed locals:

    I wear dark charcoal flannels (and always black shoes–bluchers, wingtips, loafers–with them).

    I wear a black knit or grenadine tie with my white (never blue) OCBDs.

    My raincoat is black (as are my watchband and eyeglass frames).

    I would never (God forbid) wear a black blazer, however; only dark navy.

    Dressing this way on the Continent also prevents me from looking Japanese.

  10. Brussell Sweet | May 29, 2011 at 1:55 am |


    These days they have medications for your condition.

    Must be a bummer to go through life with so much hate tying your stomach in a knot all the time.

  11. Come on, Christian. Is that a Patek?

    Enjoy the weekend. Be safe.

  12. @ Laguna Beach

    This from a guy who lives in California and pretends to be English.

  13. The Ghost of The Ace Face | May 29, 2011 at 11:34 am |

    @ Laguna Beach

    No matter how many new edition Submariner Rolex’s you purchase, you will still only have a chunky pimp watch on your wrist.

    Now Christian, so far on the horology front, has sported understated classical watches, that no one can falt. I look forward to his article on his watches; one based on style, function and not the worth of the watch.

    Cool, classical watches for everyone.

  14. Christian | May 29, 2011 at 12:50 pm |

    Joe, I only approved that because I thought I’d give Admiral Cod yet another chance to make an ass of himself.

    Had to look up goombah, by the way. His bigotry vocabulary is much larger than mine.

  15. Etymologist | May 29, 2011 at 12:56 pm |

    Cod is a little-used slang word meaning ‘to hoax or take a rise out of’, known since at least 1873. It was used in much the same way we now use the verb ‘to kid’, as here in a quotation from 1884:

    “Tha’st only coddin me as tha allus does; tha’l none tay me to see th’ fair.”

  16. Christian | May 29, 2011 at 1:03 pm |

    What’s yer point?

  17. Admiral Cod is an ignorant, racist buffoon. His recent post on Harry Potter was flabbergasting in its idiocy.

  18. Yeah, he’s a raging racist. He tends to refer to black people as “things”.

    For what it’s worth, Laguna, I grew up in Boston, you know? I don’t remember Nantucket Reds and button down collars ever really being that much of a class issue around here. But then again, I’m not a classist.

  19. A watch post sounds like a good idea. Don’t be coy, man.

  20. Michael Mattis | May 29, 2011 at 5:57 pm |

    So is wearing one shoe on your hand the new Ivy version of Michael Jackson’s sequined glove?


  21. Giuseppe and CC – For what it is worth, I am British. GRew up in the heart of London and went to Winchester (that makes me a Wykehamist LBF (in case a faux Brit and total cretin like you did not know the correct term)) and then Clare College, Cambridge. I am also a person of colour. Again, for what it is worth, bragging about purchasing a Rolex or indeed anything else, is really not the done thing – unless, like you G, one gets it at a bargain price. LBF, you are a fake and would not fit in English Society no mater what you wear and how much you paid for it. As for G, we would welcome him with open arms in all of our clubs. And yes, I am member of the Reform Club, LBF; a place that would likely as not, refuse to admit you onto the premises.

  22. Minimalist Trad | May 29, 2011 at 7:53 pm |

    Just to get the ball rolling on the wristwatch post, let me propose the the ultimate Trad wristwatch is the Timex T20501:



  23. Christian!

    The manufacturer of the wristwatch, please sir!?

  24. Christian | May 30, 2011 at 10:40 am |

    OK, I’ll do a watch post after we take care of some business this week.

    It’s nothing to get excited about. Unless you like cheap watches. Then maybe you’ll dig it.

  25. A few random things. I don’t care for the tie choice at all. My sense is that you sort of favor this look, the solid or near solid tie. To each his own. But with all of the reps, clubs, foulards, etc. out there, why not something more expressive?

    The Laguna Beach phenomenon is an interesting one; this guy has spiraled so deeply so quickly into into misanthropy, or perhaps it was always there and I just never noticed. More probably the arch-Toryism is an act. Poser? “In the evenings I settle into a solitary routine. I sit at a vintage oak writing desk, cocktails arrayed before me. Bookshelves and antique prints mark the walls above.” (Gag.)

  26. Christian | May 30, 2011 at 11:05 am |

    I only have 10 or 12 ties. One houndstooth, one club, one horizontal knit, about four solids, and five or so bar stripes from Brooks.

    Definitely digging the solid tie with patterned shirt look that all the Anglo-Italian sartorial guys go for, though.

    Simple neckties have probably been the one constant since I got into clothes more than 20 years ago.

    As for being “expressive,” that’s what a personality is for.

  27. G. Bruce Boyer | May 30, 2011 at 1:25 pm |

    This is the sort of thing Marcello Mastroianni would have worn if he’d gone to Princeton.

    G. Bruce Boyer

  28. Christian, on the watch post, please address the difference between a “dress” watch and a more casual watch-

  29. Christian | May 30, 2011 at 1:57 pm |

    Isn’t it obvious? Dress watches are dressy and casual watches are casual.

  30. OK, forgive my ignorance- my usual “uniform” as a teacher/college prof is white button down, repp tie, khakis, blucher mocs, blue blazer- suggest an appropriate watch

  31. Christian | May 30, 2011 at 5:02 pm |

    I might as well be choosing a car for you — how do I know what you like?

    There are limitless possibilities when it comes to watches. Hang on until Madras Week is over and I’ll make two suggestions.

  32. Looking forward to the watch post, Christian.

  33. Coincidentally, Tom makes an observation regarding watches in Ripley Under Water: “”Everything about Pritchard irked him, even the wristwatch, the stretchable gold-bracelet variety, expensive and flashy, with gold case for the watch, gold-colored face even, suitable for a pimp. Tom preferred infinitely his conservative Patek Philippe on a brown leather strap, which looked like an antique.”

  34. Christian | May 31, 2011 at 9:39 am |

    Who did he kill to get that watch?

  35. I believe that in Highsmith’s notebooks she mentions that he harvested it from Dickie Greenleaf, although she fails to mention this in the novel. 🙂

  36. Christian | May 31, 2011 at 10:15 am |

    I started watching “Ripley” last night for the zillionth time and in the shot where Tom says “that ring is superb,” Dickie’s watch is really ugly.

  37. Brussell Sweet | May 31, 2011 at 11:51 am |

    Whether Laguna is a racist troll “hoax”, or a real racist, is sort of irrelevant at this point.

    If he walks like a duck, talks like a duck….in the “perception-is-reality” game of interweb trolldom….he’s a racist.

    If he is playing the extremely tired, hackneyed, and juvenile “Russell Street” schtick, then he too fails to realize that he has *become* exactly the loathsome OCD character he “pretends” to be.

  38. Russell Street | May 31, 2011 at 1:06 pm |

    I’ve got major problems, no doubt about that!

  39. “he’s a racist.”
    a racist is someone winning an argument with a liberal.

  40. Russell_Street | May 31, 2011 at 2:19 pm |

    So do all my other desperate personas…

  41. Russell_Street | May 31, 2011 at 3:09 pm |


    A “racist” is someone who actually notices, cares, or actually gets angry about the races of child actors in a fantasy film about wizards and magic.

    Think about it.

    Most racists don’t consider themselves racists. They just assume their messed-up “logic” is so irrefutable that they hide under terms like “realist”. They create “liberal” boogeymen to hype their non-threat of multi-culti, fantasy-wizard, child-actors.

    Everyone else just rolls their eyes and wonders what their REAL problem is..

  42. Christian | May 31, 2011 at 3:12 pm |

    What medication cocktail are you on, RS? You’re actually making sense for once.

  43. "Russell_Street" | May 31, 2011 at 3:44 pm |

    Russell Street isn’t real, remember?

  44. Please forgive me for talking about the post, but I like the outfit, even though I don’t care for the combination of black & tan—except for beer and dogs.

    To second J Kraus, had I been putting together a similar outfit, I’d have gone for a different pocket square too. Even so, the one CC chose works well: it’s not a matter of “right” and “wrong” but of personal preference. I understand what CC was going for with this outfit, and I think he accomplished it.

  45. The “I would have paired it with…” comments are the most useless ones. If you don’t care for the solid black tie, start your own blog. Variance in taste and style makes for interesting reading. Stretch out a bit, folks… this stuff is not meant to be Gospel.

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