What We’re Fighting For…

… and what we’re fighting against:

Top image from O’Connells

Bottom image (as in rock bottom) via Thom Browne

34 Comments on "What We’re Fighting For…"

  1. Spencer M | March 4, 2019 at 3:23 pm |

    What a waste of fabric!

  2. I purchased that very jacket (top photo!) from O’Connell’s last fall. The picture doesn’t do it justice.

  3. I have to say, I became a Patreon supporter here when Christian asked for support. But now that I have money in it, I notice that almost all the posts are little more than throwaway content. A few pictures dredged up from a Life archive with no more than three sentences written. A question about “what is the preppiest thing you own?” (I guess now we create the content?). This post, which says absolutely nothing. About 5% of the content here is just rehashed stuff from the archive or things Christian is alerting us to regarding content he’s written elsewhere. About 55% is a couple of sentences next to some photo. Then the rest is generated by other writers or users.

    What’s the point? Why are we paying for this “content?” I appreciate that writers sometimes need Patreon supporters to support their work, but how long does it even take to create these posts? One minute? It takes more effort to take a crap.

  4. Charlottesville | March 4, 2019 at 4:37 pm |

    Thanks Christian. It is remarkable that Thom Browne was recently a designer for Brooks Brothers, which says a great deal about the current state of all things Trad. Three cheers for O’Connell’s, Eljo’s here in Charlottesville, J. Press, and other shops keeping classic American clothing alive.

    Speaking of traditional men’s retailers, I was in Ben Silver in Charleston last week, and I must say that the service in particular was delightful. A sudden heavy downpour started while I was in the shop and a lovely salesperson, noting that I was wearing “nice” clothes, including a silk tie and cordovan penny loafers which would not be improved by the rain, gave me an umbrella. When I told her I would bring it back that afternoon, she insisted that I keep it. This was before I had purchased anything, and when I bought a pair of argyle socks, she told me not to feel obligated to buy something because of the umbrella. The brolly was a promotional item with the Ben Silver name and logo, and carrying it a few days later in a hotel elevator, a fellow guest saw it and commented on my good taste in retailers, so the gift brought me pleasure even when not keeping me dry.

  5. @Lee

    Is not a picture worth a thousand words? ; ) Seriously though, I do feel obligated to respond.

    This is my 15th year running websites, and the one thing I’ve learned is that you’re only as good as your last post (or two or three). Every time a critique like that comes along, I take a look at the front page, where there are the past 20 posts. I see a pretty typical balance and variety of news and nostalgia. As for sharing my other work, I think that happens about once a month. Some people like them. You can’t please all the people all the time; I’ve learned that one as well.

    Next, I have been for the past 10 years the EDITOR of Ivy Style. I write most of the content, but not all. It’s not correct to cast some kind of laziness blame on me for developing stories with writers, sometimes through multiple drafts, editing them and laying them out. Where you are correct is that for some time I have not been writing long-form posts. That was what I was hoping the fundraising would enable.

    I am trying to finish up a book project to get to my agent, and have half a novel with a wee bit of an Ivy subplot that I’d like to get back to. Over the weekend I got a very promising idea for something I really believe in, with investor and print potential. I think it will appeal to many readers here.

    Throughout last year I had been posting every other day. On January 1 I realized that with 2,000 posts, most of which are evergreen, we could alternate new posts and old posts and I could keep Ivy Style going indefinitely. Another 10 years, or 20, or more. I was just walking in the park and thinking my time in New York may be winding down. I have a lot of projects that as a creative person I need to do before I get any closer to the big sleep, and this is an expensive town.

    I don’t want to disappoint you guys, but that’s the current situation of things. For the past 60 days I have stuck to my vow of having a post up every day, even if it’s from a decade ago. A lot of the early posts from ’09 were short.

    There’s not always something fresh to read, but there’s always at least something to look at, and fellow commenters to interact with.


  6. Charlottesville | March 4, 2019 at 5:08 pm |

    Lee — I’m a Patreon supporter of the site as well, and if you check out the totals you will see that, as far as a money-making endeavor, this falls into the labor-of-love category. I wish our gracious host well, hope the donations and ad revenues increase, and am grateful for what I see here, both from Christian and from our fellow comment posters. I don’t know of any other site that offers as much to admirers of the classic Ivy look; there is little else beyond some “what I wore today” posters and the occasional article in a newspaper or magazine. Every day may not bring a wealth of new photos and deep research, but there are usually a few nuggets to enjoy. As for me, I say long live Ivy Style.

  7. To Charlottesville,

    Hear, hear!

  8. Boop McSnoot | March 4, 2019 at 5:46 pm |

    Low hanging fruit, isn’t it? Just feeding the Ivy outrage machine yet again. Runway show clothes aren’t meant to be worn, and I highly doubt Thom Browne had the O’Connell’s customer base in mind when he designed those clothes. Why bother saying we’re fighting against it? Ugly clothes existed in the 1950s and 1960s, too. This post is like playing death metal for an audience at a Handel concert – or vice versa. Cheap tricks, just for a reaction.

    As Christian has written here in the past, “the crux of Epictetus’ thought centers around one very simple premise: taking responsibility for that which you can control, and letting go of that which you can’t.” We can’t control Thom Browne’s clothes, so why get bothered about it? Better to simply keep celebrating the clothes we do love, and the companies that make them, without getting sidetracked by the same old outrage about people doing things differently than we like to do. It takes all kinds to make a world – an expression often spoken cynically, but which would be worth revisiting optimistically, especially these days.

  9. Oh, what the hell.

    Everybody tires of New York after a while–or so I’ve been led to believe. Even and maybe especially the people who live there. A sort of claustrophobia sets in. If the walk in the park left you (CC) thinking it’s time to move on, all to the good. The big sleep arrives all too soon, and there are too many other (great) places to call home. I’ve enjoyed “going into the city” for shows, but I couldn’t live there. Even the better parts are overcrowded, and, in the summer, grotesquely hot. No wonder the residents with real $ “escape” then.

    I don’t mind this current Ivy Style offering. At all. It speaks volumes and the volumes speak truth. If it’s true guys wore Ivy way back in the 20th century for all sorts of reasons related to conformity and “good taste,” it’s equally true that, in the year 2019, making some effort (and it’s required) to buy and wear tweed, madras, Irish Poplin, Alden loafers and OCBDs speaks to a sort of playful, charming fogeysim. A safe guess is most guys who make the effort delight in a reputation for being “a throwback” or “a bit old fashioned” or “Old School.” “Reactionary” has a negative connotation, and “conservative” is so damned politically charged.

    Since few places on the planet are less “Old School” than modern-day Ivy League universities, there’s a sort of I’ll-take-up-the-Cross-and-defend-the-Cause mentality at work. “This, not that.” “Us vs. them.” Charming, tasteful Fogeys vs. the rest of you SOBs. And so on. As long as things don’t get out of hand (violence), self-definition by way of contrast is fun.

    “You know when you see it” as a test of aesthetic (sorry, CC) purity will be with us for a long, long time. A certainly it’s a guiding affirmation for the style in question.

    We know when we see it, and we know the bastardized versions (including Neo-Prep) when we see it.

  10. elder prep | March 4, 2019 at 6:38 pm |

    I have no objection to Thom Browne designing clothes for whomever, let the market speak. My discomfort is his affiliation with the fountainhead of Ivey and Prep: Brooks Brothers.

  11. Trevor Jones | March 4, 2019 at 10:36 pm |

    Glad that comment has sparked a conversation here. Couldn’t help but chime in. As a younger guy, Ivy/preppy/trad might be more of a personal choice than reaction or a way to uphold an ethos. I would venture to say Erik Twardzic (boy, I hope I spelled that right), Al Castiel, everybody’s-favorite-influencer FE Castleberry, and the like dress this way because they (we) like to. Not as some grandiose statement against 2019 zeitgeist, but we like to look this way — and it makes us feel good — so we dress this way. Of course, we’d like to see others our in our generation dress better, but if they don’t, I doubt any of us would get too flustered like some of the older chaps who can remember a world where everyone dressed better as a rule. In this line, you’ll also notice we take a little more risk/add a bit more personal touch. It’s not that we don’t respect the rules, it’s that we’re making them our own. Boy, the more I type this, the more it sounds like I’m just trying to defend my most recent article ? Anyway, the point is, we don’t feel like we have to wear a strict uniform of Harris tweed jacket, OCBD, plain-front chinos and loafers EVERY day, rather, we utilize the full spectrum of Ivy/preppy/trad elements. Maybe it’s because we did not grow up in a world where there were more definited social guidelines, especially in terms of dress, and we’ve generally come on this of our own volition. Therefore, we feel a little bit more personal freedom since we “discovered” this on our own. Of course, this is on a general scale, certainly there will be outliers each way. Similarly, this is just my take on it.

  12. Ezra Cornell | March 4, 2019 at 11:44 pm |

    Having bravely beaten down this Thom Browne straw man, we can now settle in for the following reruns:
    1. Brooks Brothers sucks: discuss.
    2. College campuses are a flaming disaster: discuss.
    3. Men are oppressed. White, straight men are especially burdened: discuss.
    When all else fails, rinse and repeat.

  13. This Lee guy is probably donating $1 a month, and I’m 99.9% certain it’s not more than $5 a month, which even then is only 17 cents a day. I love when people throw someone literally a few pennies per day, then get all indignant and start making demands about what you owe them for it.

    Christian, you’re a lot more charitable than I am; I would’ve logged into my Patreon account, cancelled his future donations, refunded whatever he’s given so far, and told him to go f himself.

  14. Old School | March 5, 2019 at 3:15 am |

    There was one too many “lost” in my comment.
    Just a note of appreciation for “Ivy Style”, which provides us with informative, entertaining energizing, posts that show us that all is not lost in the men’s sartorial world (in spite of how bad things are).

  15. I pity the models who have to wear Thom Browne’s crap. Their friends must rib them relentlessly.

    The real enemies, however, are the purveyors of neo-prep and other fake Ivy tat. Rowing Blazers and Ralph Lauren have joined the list this year.

  16. Grateful: Brooks saved Southwick. The still unwritten story of Ivy in the 20th (and now 21st century) is the story of Southwick (Grieco Bros.), who has outlived Linett, Gordon, Hertling, and on and on. If/when someone decides to that write that history, it will make for one of hell of a piece.

  17. The Let me be one of S.E.’s “playful, charming fogeys” and suggest that, while the O’Connell’s jacket is sublime (I’m also a big, big fan of their shetland sweaters), that collar has zero roll. It’s almost impossibly straight.

    (no comment necessary on the other pic)

  18. I don’t know. I might wear the outfit on the right but the shoes would have to go. Alden long wings would really finish this look off nicely.



  19. MacMcConnell | March 5, 2019 at 11:26 am |

    Have you ever dressed a mannequin, especially for a catalog shoot? Note the knot of the tie is not tight enough to hold the dimple till lunch. That’s because it’s going back in stock after the photo is taken, same with the shirt and jacket. I believe O’Connell’s shirts are Gitmans and Gitman knock offs, they have a nice roll on an actually neck.

  20. Old School Tie | March 5, 2019 at 11:40 am |

    Everyone here knows full well that offerings from the likes of Thom Browne are destined for a very different segment of the market. Personally, I pick up more stuff off eBay or from charity (thrift) shops these days than anywhere else. You go for what you like, not for what other people tell you should like. That goes for some of the opinions on here too. Even a cursory glance at old images and material tells you that much of the dogmatic view of Trad or Ivy espoused on this very site is down to very selective interpretation of the style. If you like something, go for it, I say. However, it is very hard to see how anyone would like much of the output from Browne’s label, that is true.

  21. Marc Chevalier | March 5, 2019 at 11:47 am |

    @Ezra Cornell: clearly, this blog website doesn’t suit you. Why do you remain, and why do you bother replying?

  22. MacMcConnell | March 5, 2019 at 12:03 pm |

    The Dogma is a starting point, not guard rails. I’ve lived in many places each had it’s own parochial Ivy.

  23. Evan Everhart | March 5, 2019 at 12:18 pm |

    Gentlemen, lets all admit it, while we all enjoy the articles, and the insights and the encycopedial reference information on all (or most) things “Ivy” which lies at our fingertips via Christian’s exceptional and unique website, as well as the collective life memories available for reference upon points unexplored or vague as far as what has already been presented here, and this ties into my final point; the main reason that any of us continues to visit this site, and bicker and banter, is that we enjoy the camaraderie of fellow knowledgeable enthusiasts for this piece of American culture, of whatever stripe (trad, ivy, prep, GTH, neo-prep – what have you).

    Anyone who says otherwise is probably full of something that no one wants.

    On that note, this article was not in and of itself a fascinating in depth piece, but what it achieved, by way of inspiring thoughtful communication between all of us is special.

    Thanks again Christian! I still Love Ivy-Style!

  24. Evan Everhart | March 5, 2019 at 12:18 pm |


  25. Evan Everhart | March 5, 2019 at 12:23 pm |

    “Come for the articles; stay for the comments.” 😉

  26. Vern Trotter | March 5, 2019 at 2:23 pm |

    Long live Ivy Style! Thanks Christian.

    I am headed out on a very cold night to Broadway to see “The Ferryman” about the N. Ireland troubles. Had three different runs in London.

  27. Evan Everhart | March 5, 2019 at 2:41 pm |

    The above O’Connell’s image reminds me that I should stock up on some of those ancient madder ties. My pinkish-rust one can’t last forever…I’ll still have to get the darned thing shortened though. 58-59″ long, indeed!

  28. Vern Trotter | March 5, 2019 at 2:50 pm |

    I meant thrice extended not three different runs for “The Ferryman.”

  29. Ezra Cornell | March 5, 2019 at 7:22 pm |

    @Marc Chevalier
    Why do I remain here? Why, to irritate you, of course!

  30. Marc Chevalier | March 6, 2019 at 10:43 am |

    @Ezra Cornell
    Why bother?

  31. Terry O'Reilly | March 7, 2019 at 6:55 pm |

    @John I also purchased that O’Connell’s Donegal Mist jacket. It is a work of art; my favorite jacket.
    Christian, as always this site is one of a few islands of sanity in the sea of chaos that is the Internet. Long live Ivy Style.
    -Bert Chester

  32. Clark Sharpton | June 24, 2019 at 11:44 pm |

    Could anyone identify the cloth of the blue shirt on the mannequin at the top?
    Broadcloth (poplin)?
    It looks so much more refined than oxford cloth.

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