Editor’s Note: Why Ivy Guys? is a title I guess I am stealing from Zoe, to be a monthly column about the perception of Ivy guys. We will also do a Why Ivy Ladies except I need someone to write it and give me a title I can steal. This’ll be monthly too. The columns. The titles will stay the same. You know what I mean. – JB
A new friend recently asked me if the people I date have good style. It’s a simple question that nonetheless stumped me. Before answering, I paused to reflect on my past entanglements and current relationship. The earliest was in sixth grade, when I fell hard for an eighth grade drama kid who wore three piece suits on and off stage. This was during a self-proclaimed goth phase, meaning I wore anything black available in children’s sizes, and one dress from Hot Topic that had deteriorated by the time I rediscovered color. With this early example in mind, I answered yes; my date doesn’t necessarily need to have the same style as me, but a vested interest is necessary.
Although my taste has matured past that ultimately disastrous adolescent encounter, the inclination towards men in classic and Ivy style endures. Each maintains a timelessness often discussed in menswear circles, with the implication that people simply used to present themselves better overall. Dress codes are dropping like flies, and it’s more and more uncommon to see someone out and about with the same sartorial standards to which I hold myself. That is to say, a man who wears the new Boston uniform of a tee shirt, cargo shorts, and flip flops year-round need not apply.
Ivy style, on men and women, indicates a put together-ness that’s increasingly attractive the closer I approach my thirties. Contrary to the belief of those who have tried to set me up over the years, I’m not interested in teaching any man how to dress. Men who wear classic clothing either were already taught how to do so, or figured it out themselves. This reassures me that they can not only assemble an outfit on their own, but also that they’ll have the self-assurance to carry it off. I’m happy to give or receive advice as to which tie goes best with whatever socks, but I’m not Nanny. Planning my own ensemble takes up enough time and brain space.
Another appealing quality of this type is a lack of fussiness that I reserve exclusively for formal events. Similar to grooming, if a man is more precious about his closet than my obsessive-compulsive self, that’s too much anxiety for one household. Have I spent evenings deciding which cardigan to pair with which skirt for the next day, only to wake up halfway through the night and switch out both garments? Yes, and I rely on whomever I’m seeing at the time to either sleep through the frantic matching, or implicitly trust that I’ll make the right choice in the end. I always do, and if he has any doubts about that, why are we dating anyway?
And then there are the small, yet crucial, things. With an Ivy style man, I can rest assured knowing that not a single pair of his shoes will display his toes. Like revealing my collar bones or PDA, that kind of intimacy is reserved for the home, or on a boat deck in the middle of the ocean. His conduct when meeting my family will be equally deferential and at ease, and no amount of ribbing that my salty relations can administer will dent the hard shell built up by institutional hazing and athletic culture. Most importantly of all, I can trust that he will never refer to anything as “classy.”
The wearing of classic menswear, and Ivy style especially, belies a shared values system that goes beyond visual attraction. This sort of man is like a Chesterfield sofa; he looks great when first brought home, and only increases in character with age. There’s also the unspoken agreement that cheap is cheap. Investing in well-made, durable clothing shows commitment, if not necessarily to me, then at least to dressing well for the foreseeable future. As in any desirable relationship, a Chesterfield is comfortable, solid, and built to last. Likewise, a man in Ivy style won’t fret when the dog occasionally jumps up and takes a nap on them.
– ZG BURNETT