I’m headed for the last roundup, as they used to say out here in the Old West. A big and exciting change is coming to Ivy-Style.com this weekend, so stay tuned. In the meantime, here’s the latest news from Tradsville.
First off, the above image. Recognize it? That’s William Holden from the 1954 classic “Sabrina,” costarring Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn, which I watched recently. Holden and Bogart play two brothers from a very rich family on Long Island. What I found amusing is that Holden, who plays the n’er do well younger brother, drives a European roadster and wears the Ivy League Look, while Bogart’s uptight character gets chauffeured into the city — so that he can work and not waste any time — and still dresses in JP Morgan mode of at least a generation earlier, with homburg and rolled umbrella.
And yes, he has a phone in his car. I didn’t know that was possible. And I suppose that everything possible eventually becomes inevitable. The sight of people walking about everywhere hunched over their phones will always be eerie to me as we go bravely into the Twilight Zone of the new normal. When you’re forced to talk to these people, you quickly realize there’s no there there. I have a new nickname for them: replicants. They look like the human beings of old, but they’re not the same.
But let’s not digress further. Back in Tradsville, where tradition still beats in the hearts of men, occasional Ivy Style contributor Eric Twardzik once again schools the ultraluxe readers of Robb Report in the classics with a new piece on Nantucket Reds that mentions Murray’s, J. Press, and Rowing Blazers:
In addition to ballcaps, American-made pants and shorts, the collection saw J. Press signatures accented by the unmistakable hue: flap-pocket oxford sports shirts with Nantucket Red stitching at the back collar buttonhole, and a made-to-order hopsack wool blazer that smuggles Nantucket Red under the lining of its collar and the piping of an inside pocket.
While the offerings—many of which sold out quickly—were diverse, Squillaro says they were organized around a single principle: “If you’re in Nantucket, or even Manhattan on a summer night, and you wanted to pair something with Murray’s Nantucket Reds, what would you wear?”
J. Press has attempted its own “brick red” imitation in decades past, but this is the first time the label has carried the authentic item. Having proven to be a match made in Ivy style heaven, the partnership is set to continue through the next year—Squillaro hints that we will see Nantucket Red manifest across other signature J. Press items this coming fall and winter.
Next up, in my storybook “These Are Our Failures,” which came out in January 2020 a couple months before the pandemic, a character argues that menswear never goes backwards when it comes to formality, and once an item is gone it’s gone for good. The story argues that the necktie and not the suit is the linchpin of male elegance and holds the entire formula together. Sure enough, The Atlantic has a piece arguing that neckties are the new bow ties, and you know what comes after that:
After this pandemic, many fewer men will have to. The arc of fashion has always bent toward informality (and androgyny—since the late 1800s, women have sometimes worn ties too). But a major disruption—like a war, a recession, or a global pandemic—can accelerate that natural change. Ties as an everyday accessory have certainly taken a hit, from which they’re unlikely to recover fully. The deeper functions that ties have long provided—such as social signaling and personal expression—will be absorbed by other garments. But ties will continue to be worn on the most formal occasions, and as quirky accoutrements for the self-consciously old-fashioned or whimsical. In other words, neckties are the new bow ties.
Over the years, especially in my home state of California, I’ve elicited some pretty strange reactions from people not accustomed to seeing men dressed with style. Once in San Francisco during my mid-twenties I wore a gray suit, gray tie and gray gloves — what I called being a symphony in gray, in homage to the great dandy painter Whistler. I was asked if I’d just come from a wedding, and, moreover, was it mine. Five years later, in a double-breasted Glen Plaid suit from Alan Flusser I’d found at a thrift store, which had a Duke of Windsor feel, I was called Iceberg Slim, which is actually a pretty good nickname for me, except that I don’t look anything like the real Iceberg Slim.
Then yesterday another curious remark. It was another monotonously gorgeous day and I was dressed in my black and white Palm Beach/Riviera mode complete with striped espadrilles, and a Russian woman at Whole Foods said, by way of complement, that I looked like Italian mafia.
So things should get interesting. According to this piece on the Ralph Lauren brand in Forbes, we’re at the dawn of a new style era that will somehow seek to preserve some semblance of the style of the past:
Here, model Maverick LaRue from vnymodels.com portrays the power to interpret the unique qualities that reinstate men’s clothing for the new generation derived from the culture expressed by POLO Ralph Lauren. For me, this is the way American men should dress. It evokes a positive feeling of freedom and a great future ahead.
And on that note, here’s to that great, soon-to-be-revealed future ahead. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD
I imagine this has been covered at some point on Ivy Style, but I’m curious as to the responses you and the broader Ivy Style community give to people who ask, in one form or another, “why are you so dressed up?”.
Meanwhile, I wait with bated breath for news of what’s next for this site.
I usually respond “Doctor’s orders.”
Also, curious about the change of the site being announced this weekend.
The Forbes article was surprisingly refreshing given a lot of editorial on men’s fashion as of late, let’s hope we see more like this.
The necktie is here to stay. As long as there are urban/suburban professionals who recognize/extol it as a totem of “getting down to business and getting to work” (still very much the case). In my neck of the woods, the better realtors (usually high end residential and commercial) look great– the men wear blazers, sport jackets, and tasteful neckties. Lawyers, physicians, clergy, and plenty of other professionals wouldn’t leave the house without a necktie knotted around at the collar.
Among all the types and kinds of necktie, the more Ivy-ish designs (think stripes and foulards) and fabrics (silk repp, Irish Poplin, wool challis) have a fighting chance because they tend toward the sporty. When I wear a white oxford shirt, tan cavalry twill pants, and a wool challis tie to a local coffee shop, I don’t look out of place among the skinny-beaned, t-shirted hipsters and the denim-wearing hippies. (Truly and perhaps weirdly, they seem “dressed up” in their respective and admittedly unique ways). The athleisure crowd will, when compared and contrasted, always make the rest of us (who aren’t wearing polar fleece and spandex) look a “dressed up.”
But then, they look awful.
Everything taken into consideration, Ivy style, replete with campus/collegiate vibes galore, fits into the larger, broader sartorial milieu. Think Holden (above)– the formal nonchalance of stripes, wrinkled oxford cloth, fuzzy shetlands, heathered flannel, khakis, and loafers. The more formal Anglo-ish look of his brother looks overly formal, stuffy, and, well ridiculous at the local coffee shop. It works only for the bank and the firm–and probably not even there decades from now.
This is why–and I really believe this– Ivy style has staying power.
Here to stay.
The LAST roundup? I hope you’re joking, CC. No one does a better job of writing, editing, and perfecting the news roundup than you.
I hope that when you say that something big and exciting will be revealed for IS that you’re not being cynical.
I think Holden here was going through his Audrey Hepburn withdrawal period. Leading to some very heavy bouts of his battles with John Barleycorn. The latter, scars I have from the same vast experience.
I believe neckties are here to stay as long as we have proper shirts and collars to wear with them. Recently we saw Prince William and the young Prince George at the World Cup final. How smart they looked in coat and tie.
Just a few days ago, I was outside a cafe wearing somewhat rumpled khakis, a white OCBD (with sleeves rolled up) and old cordovan loafers, and a young lady asked if I’d come from the office, since I was “dressed up”.
I was VERY tempted to make a snarky remark, or give a lecture, but finally responded “This is just the way I dress”. She seemed to approve.
Ah, car phones. The government agency for which I once worked had a number of unmarked white vans that were equipped with these. I remember going on some sort of trip in one of these, nominally to test something, but really just an excuse by one of the technicians to get out of the office for a while. And on this trip I used the car phone in the covert van to gratuitously call my wife, although this was probably before she had officially taken on that role.
The first four paragraphs of the Forbes piece are absolutely right. Sample: “Allow me to be blunt: when you dress foolishly, others will perceive you as a fool. More to the point, odds are, you will not be comfortable wearing those types of garments. In my opinion, men should not be wearing floral-print matching suits….ever. Just my opinion but trust me, I am right.”
Nevada – I get that kind of question frequently. One recent Friday, when wearing khakis and a sport coat, I was asked by a doctor friend what I was dressed for. I said that because it was casual Friday, I didn’t think I needed to wear a suit. He laughed. I sometimes respond, if the question comes from someone I know, “Because I knew I would be seeing you and wanted to look my best.” Other times I simply say, “Thank you” or, borrowing from the late John Prine’s song about his grandfather, “No particular reason, I just dress this way.” The truth is simply that I like nice clothes, and think men look their best when dressed well, which does not always mean formally. Light weight poplin pants, a linen BD shirt, a silk and linen summer-tweed jacket and scuffed-up bucks suit me for working from home today. If I were in the office, I would add a tie and trade the shoes for loafers.
I also echo Mitchell in my hope that we are not losing Ivy style and that Ivy Style is not losing Christian.
A beautifully written, informative, and perceptive article. Replicants:so true and so sad.
I think Sabrina also features a scene where a member of the older generation decries the fashions that the younger men were wearing. I think the line was something like “I wish young men wouldn’t wear white jackets in the evening. It makes them look like barbers.”
Ivy style has everything to do with sports, clubs, and outerwear. Including outerwear that prepares one for exposure to the elements. Tweed, bold serge, heavy Oxford, unfinished worsteds, woolen flannel, cavalry twill, cordovan leather, Irish Poplin, challis—
— sporting, rustic.
It’s a polite, subtle rebuke of the two extremes that surround us: the more formal business looks (super 180s wool, shiny solid ties, starched spread-collared broadcloth polished black lace-ups— think every President since the 90s and nearly all CEOs) … and the lackadaisical casual (athleisure being the most obvious example).
It is the golden mean. To borrow from collegiate nomenclature: neither student nor board member, but, rather, the old professor.
Add a dash of nonchalance by leaving a shirt collar unbuttoned, loafers unpolished, or a tie un (keeper) looped. You look less formal and the guy standing next to you at the coffee shop, wearing his too-tight t-shirt, skinny jeans, and shiny shoes.
And then there’s the finish of typically tread fabrics. Heather, “shaggy,” matte.
Damn, what a great look.
When people occasionally ask why I am “so dressed up,” I take a page from Gay Talese’s book and reply, “To celebrate being alive.” That usually ends the exchange right there, but most of the time if people — students, colleagues, staff, people on the street — say anything at all, it is to pay a compliment of some kind, which, while not necessary, is always nice to hear.
When people ask you why you’re “so dressed up”
The fist car phones were not cell phones and date to 1946:
The exact lines, spoken by Mr. Larabee, were:
“I wish young men would stop wearing white jackets in the evening. They look like barbers.”
Actually, I prefer your version: “It makes them look like barbers”.
A quote from the “Forbes” article about Ralph Lauren:
“Please hear me out, All too often I find myself cringing at the site of well-established men wearing bad fashion. It is such a waste of presenting dignified and mature character.”
The use of “site” rather than “sight” may cause some to wonder about the person who wrote this article. Many may cringe at the growing illiteracy pandemic that seems to be everywhere.
On a totally different subject, looking forward to seeing what the future holds as you head for the last round up.