A Few Reflections On Ivy After All This

Having gone through what I just went through, and having had a truly scary number of people from the site reach out to me and tell me they are going or went through the same thing, as I get back behind the wheel here, I have some reflections on Ivy Style.

The first myth, which we have been working like Penn & Teller to bust, is the idea that Ivy can be used as a means of organizing people in any way – trust me when I tell you it cannot. I received the most gracious notes from people I have never met and by the same token I have received a few notes from – – what’s the opposite of gracious? I got a note from a boy whose father made him write it, and I got a note from a grandfather. I got notes from all over the gender and orientation spectrum. Wearing Ivy doesn’t make you anything except a person who wears Ivy.

Some people wear Ivy to convey a personal statement. I have seen some truly dumb (okay – there you go Dean – okay, not dumb but damaged, is that better?) people wearing Ivy to look smart. Or to look smarter than their Gen-Whatever peers. I guess that works to some degree until you either type or open your mouth. Some people wear Ivy to look professional, except that other than law and academia (there is NO reason why EVERY law professor should not be dressed in Ivy) there are very few Ivy-centric professions. Some people wear Ivy to convey a personal value system – that application actually works to some degree until you either type or open your mouth.

I wore Ivy every day to the hospital, and as I have said here prior, it had a variety of receptions. There were actually people put off by it to a degree, asking why I would dress up to bring someone to chemo. My internal answer was, “Why WOULDN’T I?” – but that’s a little aggressive towards people who are healing your family. The more I encounter that the more I sense that it isn’t that people are put off by the style as much as it is that people are put off by people who have a style. And, one must remember, people without a lot of self esteem tend to bray at people who have enough of it.

I also feel the riptide pulling away from the rejection of formality in some places though. Do you? And I know, you walk down the street in Boston/Austin everybody’s in a hoodie. But there are starting to be pockets where people actually appreciate “dressing up” (if that is what Ivy has become). Church. Drinks. Drinks at church. And so forth.

So where are we at the two year mark here? Well, with the help of literally everyone, I think we have gotten away from Ivy as a pedigree, and moved it to something more egalitarian. I think in terms of societal acceptance Ivy’s popularity has grown, so that’s good, right? I think we lost the Ivy in the workplace war (we came out on top in a few battles but the historical flavor of Ivy throws too much imagined shade on the idea of innovation).

What to watch for next? This. As casual continues to breed in the workplace classical will breed in the social … place. This wave will of course wash ashore a few wearing it as a costume, but overall, don’t be surprised if you see someone in an oxford in a beer commercial soon. Okay. A Vodka commercial.

And can we talk about Jason Bateman in Arrested Development for a minute? How did I miss that?

Yes, tie is too thin and button placement on the collar is off BUT if we nitpick people we are gonna lose the room.

13 Comments on "A Few Reflections On Ivy After All This"

  1. “People without a lot of self esteem tend to bray at people who have enough of it.”

    I have noticed too! Well said.

  2. James H Grant | February 25, 2023 at 1:17 pm |

    John: As I was reading your piece, the first thing that popped into my mind was the disclaimer I used at the conclusion of my first article to Ivy Style. It read something like this: “This is intended to be a survey of a particular mode of dress popular on some college campuses in the southeastern United States during the 1960’s. It is certainly not intended to be critical of those who chose not to embrace the style. It is merely a description of what some collegians chose to wear. Nothing more, nothing less.”
    I sincerely hope all is going well at your home. Best Regards, JHG

  3. What a great piece JB. Following your journey on this site has been incredibly refreshing. My continued best wishes for your wife’s full recovery and the health of your family.

    P.S. Not just Jason Bateman, but fellow cast member Michael Sera dons (albeit ill-fitting) casual Ivy through the series. He dresses like my father-in-law, or like I did in high school before I went goth (or, VERY dark academia).

  4. “Why WOULDN’T I?” is the only “gracious” answer to what is a rather stupid question. The soft dictatorship of the proletariat. “We” asked for this.

    Classic proportions. Jason’s tie does fit the collar, the lapel width, his shoulder width, chest size, face shape, etc. Sure, I too would prefer a more classic collar, but Jason bought the best collar that was available to him at the time. I love that lapel width. I’d guess “2.75”, maybe “3” if he’s over 6’. The notch is too high, but what can anyone do about it.

    Classic Proportions. I don’t have any idea how tall Jason is, but he’s slender and everything fits. It’s a clean-cut, early 60’s look. Did I mention classic proportions?

    • I always thought the widest part of the tie should be about as wide as the widest part of the lapels. If I’m correct, it appears to my 64-year-old eyes that the tie is too narrow. That tiny knot does not help. Regardless, you’re absolutely right in saying this is an early 60’s Joe Friday look (extra points for those who know who Joe was).

      • Wasn’t he the cop investigating the clean copper clappers caper?

        • Indeed. I had never seen that bit until I googled it. Carson was a genius.

          • Still the funniest (probably not appropriate but) thing I ever saw on TV was Carson. Zsa Zsa comes on with a big Angora. She sits. Carson leans over and says, “Can I pet your p-word?” She says, “Of course, dahling.” He says, “Then move the damn cat.” … … … … … she storms off and there is like just two minutes of him and Ed crying laughing

          • There are some who say this didn’t happen – it did.

  5. the passenger | February 26, 2023 at 11:55 am |

    Some people, even health care workers at hospitals in huge cities, have a relatively narrow experience of the world, and that may be why your appearance perplexed them. But I think it’s more likely that they are simply so used to how casual dress dominates our lives now.

  6. Charlottesville | February 27, 2023 at 10:21 am |

    Best wishes, J.B. I hope that her recovery goes well.

    As for the observation that a reaction is brewing against the slobifcation of dress, I can only say that I hope it is true, and pray that it will carry over into a de-slobification of speech and manners as well. As John says, it has nothing to do with social class, race, etc., but much to do with respect for oneself and others.

  7. 1) I am reminded of how writer Guy Talese apparently responds to the “Why so dressed up” inquiry. “To celebrate being alive” is/was/has been the reply. I’ve used it. People tend not to ask again.

    2) Narrow experience of the world describes it very well.

    3) Late night TV has not been the same since Carson, Ed, and Doc left the air. Some of the occasional guest hosts were even funnier depending on who the guests included on a particular evening.

    4) On a different note, you and your family have crossed my mind a number of times since the Christmas-New Year’s period. I hope things are looking up.

    Kind Regards,


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