Good Morning, Part 2 of 3

Editor’s Note:  Warning.  The following post contains material that could be harmful or traumatizing to some audiences. 

Editor’s Note (2):  I am referring to talking about how I shower.  Just skip over that part if it creates theater of the mind.

I have two concurrent issues. First, I am fastidious about my own cleanliness. You don’t bump into that a lot in the indie/folk singer/songwriter world, but that doesn’t make it false in my case. I shower twice every day, regardless of whether I have been to the gym or not. In and of itself that is annoyingly time consuming but not debilitating. The debilitating part is that I hate showering. It’s ten minutes a day, twice a day. As a practicing Transcendental Meditator (who paid full price) I am charged with meditating for 20 minutes twice a day. On the days when that afternoon meditation is tight, it chafes my jeans (wheat, slow down in the comments) that I am spending 20 minutes a day in the shower that I could be spending meditating.

This is Ed Shearan. Don’t get me wrong, he writes gorgeous and moving songs. i am just saying that that hair is either on purpose in which case there is zero time left for meditation OR it is by neglect in which case I was right about the singer/songwriter thing.

Is facial hair Ivy? I’ve heard both arguments. I know what isn’t Ivy. Walking around with postage stamp toilet paper bandages on my face. Which happens every time I shave. So I have had a beard almost every day since I got to college. I know the tips:

1. Shave with the grain (that grosses me out that my face has grain)
2. Warm water first
3. Let the shaving cream sit
4. Only shave down
5. Use a better razor (my razors have more blades than Britany Spears has questionable videos)

Etc. All tried. Nothing works. Hence, the beard. Which you would think would cut down on my shower time. It doesn’t, because no two hairs of my beard grow at the same pace. So every morning I have to trim the beard. I used to use clippers. I used to use awesome clippers, these giant red lawnmower things from Wahl that you used to get a buzz cut with when buzz cut wax came in a stick and the barber’s name was Mike and he had Iron Man comic books. Those clippers stayed with me for two decades, I never oiled the blades ever. That, by the way, is a giant crock. No one is oiling the blades of their beard trimmer. There are a lot of false maintenance recommendations that companies make to create the impression that their product is more finely tuned than it is. The particular clipper I had when I got sick and lost everything almost. At one point my sister would drop off a weekly hundred dollar bill for me and Gramercy so we could do groceries. Still didn’t oil my beard trimmer. Nor should you. Accept the fact that your beard trimmer is really just sharp scissors with the same motor as your toothbrush, and when it is time to let it go, let it go.

This isn’t my old clipper, but it is very close. As I remember it, we were all pretty reckless with water and outlets back in the day.

Now I use scissors and a come.  I don’t have a license to cut hair, but I have the tools.

I do shave my neck though. It’s a neat trick I will share. When I gain weight I gain it two places, my big fat face and my gut. Face first, though. You can use a beard to create a jawline where there isn’t one. But you can’t make it look like you are doing that. How? Don’t follow where you see the jawline should be in a two dimensional mirror. Follow where you see the jawline should be if you could put down the cookies. There is fooling people who look at you from a distance, there is no fooling nature. My neck never bleeds either, which I see as God’s handwritten note to me that a beard is my jam.

So I don’t shave and that should shave… off minutes from my prep time. (see what I did there?). But I have to trim my beard like Edward Scissorhands so it is a net draw.

I shower like you do. I never liked bar soap (wanna hear a weird story? – when I got sick all we could afford was bulk Ivory soap and/or it’s generic grocery store alternative, and to this day I can’t use bar soap without getting nauseous because the smell reminds me of that cheap plastic liner shower I had when I was wondering where Gramercy’s school supply money was coming from). UNTIL. And they don’t know I am writing this, but I swear to you on Gramercy’s head it is true.

So I met with St. John’s CEO and yeah, we hit it off personally. He is a great guy. He told me they had soap on a rope (Old Spice, anybody?) and I was, in the back of my head, thinking, “How can such a great guy who has curated such fantastic scents and who has such a great sense of personal style, how in the world can he be selling soap on a rope? Is he raising money for a high school band?”

I WAS WRONG. This St. John’s soap, whether it is on a rope or not, is seriously the answer. It has enough scent that you don’t smell like off the shelf anything, but not so much that you want to unbutton another button and get a chain. It lathers, and it has the cleaning properties of paint thinner.

THIS is the soap. I am not getting paid to say this, even though they advertise. In fact I am writing them afterwards to tell them I mentioned it. BUY THIS SOAP. Seriously, and I have tried a ton of soaps and been gifted a few (ok, there was this young lady who I was keeping company with many many years ago, and she would, on every occasion she could find buy me cologne and aftershave and soaps, and she hated all of them – talk about being afraid to break up) – and this far and away the best combination of soap and scent and feel (is soapfeel a thing? If it isn’t somebody write down that it was coined here). BUY THIS SOAP

I have an oily T Zone, is what my ex used to call it. I have dry cheeks but my forehead and nose… I am going to use a word. OPEC. Without St. John’s soap, I have to use astringent to get clean. I really have to wash my face a few times before it becomes non-skid. But this soap, I am telling you, it is mighty.

Following up on St. John’s, I have a rotation going. On days when I shave my neck, I use their aftershave. It stings for a second but that starts to feel good. Kinda like I finally got as old as my dad. On days when I don’t shave, I use the cologne. Everybody’s different, and I am not going to lie about it, I have made… distribution errors. But I have my locations and quantities down now, and I get no compliments from strangers about how I smell. Which is perfect because you don’t want anyone who is maintaining social distancing to know how you smell anyway. I do though, have a few opinions on the matter that I value, and they have labeled my scent as second only to the hair on their Reasons-Why-I-Tolerate-John’s-Piccadillos checklist.

Ok, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. I have leaned on my hair my whole life. When I wanted to find out who I really was as a person I shaved my head to strip away my last excuse. When I did a triathlon I did two things. Ate two jars of peanut butter with a spoon a day, and shaved my head to strip away my last excuse.

When I took over the Facebook group from Christian, I was met with great skepticism. The group was, let’s say homogenous? And I announced that I was going to actively seek diversity because that’s the history of Ivy, and even if it wasn’t it should be. Number one question I got: What do you use in your hair?

Here’s the true answer. Nothing consistently. I have fine hair so I can’t use creams. I am not Elvis. My head is a swirling galaxy of cowlicks that have zero relation to each other and care not what tizzy they are sending my poor hair in. As a result there is the need for discipline up there. The aforementioned wax is good (you never really leave home, right?) or if Maddie (the artist who cuts The Franchise – one day we nicknamed my hair The Franchise – I was getting an award for something and she asked, “How did you do that?” and I said, “I didn’t really, they just like the hair,” and she said, “Yeah but you must’ve-“ and I interrupted and said, “I’m telling you, what you are cutting is the whole franchise.”) – if Maddie cuts it I try to respect her craft by using fiber, which is really good stuff.

I blow dry, but that is only because it is a mess if I don’t – a Gene Wilder mess.

Brilliant actor. Wonka deserved a nomination. I look at Gene Wilder as the anti-me. All talent and really bad hair.

Maddie recommends Reuzel Fiber Pomade. You can get it here.

Part 3, how on earth one selects one’s outfit for the day, when one does that, the psychology behind it, and what to do when you screw it up.  Have a great weekend.

28 Comments on "Good Morning, Part 2 of 3"

  1. I have an 80s vintage Norelco with “three floating heads” and a mustache/sideburn trimmer. I shaved with it once. It was torture. The trimmer came in handy between haircuts, though. So I immediately went back to the Gillette Atra (no longer made of course) and Noxema menthol shave cream in the blue 11 ounce can (no longer made of course). The menthol shave cream became not available in the US over 20 years ago. I wonder why? Were kids getting high with it? Was there some problem? Are menthol products highly regulated? All I see on the net concerns cigarettes.

  2. This made my evening (due to the time zone I am in), and thank you, Mr JB, for the spoiler warning ahead of things. It may be tough for some readers to get these showering pictures out of their heads – they have been warned!

    Ed Sheeran is a topic for itself, however I am personally concerned by the question whether hair longer than a crew cut or related styles are Ivy… mid-length supporters here at all, for let’s say “the man in the middle” as featured by Ralph Lauren:* ?

  3. I’ve seen a lot of listicles touting “Five Things [Entrepreneur/Athlete/TV Actor/Tech Bro/CEO/Influencer] Does Every Morning” and it often reads as an amalgam of wishful-thinking New Year’s resolutions, physically and temporally impossible feats of productivity, Olympian-level workouts, and artisanally-crafted smoothies, all accomplished before most mere mortals hit the snooze button. In a genre largely devoid of irreverence and self-awareness, these posts from JB have been a delight to read.

  4. Charlottesville | January 14, 2022 at 9:42 pm |

    Sorry, but I am not at all sure what this has to do with Ivy Style.

  5. Boston Bream | January 14, 2022 at 10:08 pm |

    With my compliments:

  6. Too many blades on any razor of the past 20 years. And they don’t last half as long as they used to. Like Hardbopper, I also recently went back to my old Gillette (the original Sensor, also no longer made — I was lucky to find my old one in a box in the basement, as NOS versions are now$75+ on eBay). I don’t like shaving foam, though. I often just use hot water, but Swedish sea salt soap or Basis soap yield best results for me.
    And since Covid, I’ve gone a lot longer between haircuts. I’ve been letting it get decidedly non-Ivy ’60s counterculture long before getting it cut to a more Ivy-ish high-and-tight these days. What started as a Covid medical imperative has become a new thing for me. Spice of life and all that.

    I think were people from the heyday to weigh in on whether or not anything at all change they would say… oh wait… this. – JB

  7. Minimalist Trad | January 14, 2022 at 11:56 pm |

    Nevada (and Hardbopper),

    I’ve found that the single blade Bic Sensitive disposable razor is tops!

  8. Ahem!….As one of the few who actually oil their ancient electric hair/beard clippers (Oster, old enough to vote and about to have the second set of blender guards replaced) I can only relate so far to this posting.
    You might want to try the Caswell Massey soaps.
    Like the colognes they have been around forever.
    I keep hoping they will bring back the talcs.

  9. Merkur double edged razor. Flip the blade weekly and change at least twice a month. Brush some sandalwood-scented shave cream into a lather (on your face). Follow up with splashes of cold water and a homemade sandalwood+witch hazel blend.

  10. * prep and lather with hot water, of course.

    Right on. – JB

  11. Straight razor with zebrano wood handle and finest Japanese steel blade. My strop is constructed of ostrich with sterling silver hook.


    There was a time when I was drinking too much where this would have killed me. – JB

  12. Just kidding. Sensor II with a pivot head. Cheap and effective.



  13. G. Ellery Cobbold | January 15, 2022 at 10:39 am |

    I am pleased to join Charlottesville as the second caterpillar in the salad. Proclaiming a beard or a Duluth Trading Company backpack to be ‘Ivy’ or ‘Ivy-adjacent’ does not make it so. The classics may be for everyone but not everything can be classic.

    Speaking of soap, bar and shaving, Mitchell’s Wool Fat remains my favorite largely because of its lack of fragrance, its gentleness to the skin, and the refusal of its manufacturer to label it ‘luxury.’ ‘Luxury soap’ sounds like the punchline of a bad joke.

    Hi – You say the subject isn’t Ivy, then in the next paragraph you… write about it? – JB

  14. I use Cremo or Proraso shaving cream. They are by far the best I have ever tried. I have a thick beard that grows in different directions, so I use (very carefully) a five blade woman’s razor. I do have a Mekur 34c razor but I have to shave every day to be able to comfortably use it.

    If you don’t mind spending a little extra on bath gel, try Molton Brown Recharge Black Pepper or any of their scents.

  15. All this talk about shaving recalls for me a scene from Whit Stillman’s Barcelona where Fred has deep thoughts about shaving.


    Sometimes we think – we almost always assume that we’re going through life surrounded by people. And then something happens and you realize: We’re entirely alone. Tonight, while I was shaving – I always shave against the direction of the beard because I understood you got a closer shave that way. I started thinking about this razor commercial on TV which shows the hair follicles like this, going this way. The first of the twin blades cuts them here. Then the hair snaps back and the second blade catches them down here, giving you a closer, cleaner, possibly smoother shave. That we know. But what struck me was: If the hair follicles are going in this direction and the razor is too, then they’re shaving in the direction of the beard, not against it. Which would mean that I’ve been shaving the wrong way all my life. I mean, maybe that’s not so, maybe I misremembered the ad. But the point is: I could’ve shaved the wrong way all of my life and never have known it. And then I could have taught my son to shave the wrong way, without him ever knowing it either.

    This is so gonna be in my head all day – JB

  16. Charlottesville | January 15, 2022 at 5:01 pm |

    Reynolds – Thanks for the reminder of a funny scene in a great movie. And Stillman films are definitely Ivy. 🙂

  17. G. Ellery Cobbold | January 17, 2022 at 1:34 pm |

    ‘You say the subject isn’t Ivy, then in the next paragraph you… write about it? – JB’

    No, I…did not. My claim was that beards and backpacks made by a company that apparently markets itself with an illustration of a plumber’s crack are not Ivy. I said nothing of soap.

    We appear to be getting somewhere. I didn’t say beards were Ivy either. And in my piece about the backpack (NOT the company, the backpack) I dealt with that imagery as well. So, I say beards may be Ivy, you say they are not, that’s not so far apart. Neither of us said Duluth was Ivy, so we are in accord there, and we both think soap is Ivy. So that’s 2.5 out of 3. I think we can all sit back now, yes? – JB

  18. I’m a little confused with what has happen to this site since Christian left. I’ve checked it daily for many, many years—admittedly, am a seldom commenter—and am having a hard time getting on board with the new content and writing style. It feels like a step down in quality and topic choice. I used to enjoy learning something about clothes and all that accompanies it, but now find the content to be more opinion, less learning. Just wanted to air my frustration and lament at the ever-changing internet. All the best to the new author and site owner. Kind regards.

    Hi Robert – and thanks! Agreed… with the “all that accompanies it” phrase. We want to reinvigorate the style, and to do that we have to expand into lifestyle. Second, I have chased the “what is Ivy?” question for a decade, and come to my own conclusion. And even then, that is an opinion. Opinion is unavoidable. But I also get that change takes time. Thanks for hanging in there. – JB

  19. Agree with Robert. It’s like the editor is paid by the opinion. The smart-aleck replies to the comments are a treasure as well.

    Hi – not to give a smart-aleck reply to a comment, but unless you are writing a copier manual, ALL writers are paid by the opinion. – JB

  20. Charlottesville | January 18, 2022 at 5:18 pm |

    Robert, (and JB)- FWIW, I agree that I would like to see more posts on Ivy clothing, including historical images and commentary, as well as the contemporary Ivy scene. We all have opinions, but a bit of history and perspective would be most welcome. Today’s post on young Mr. Andre, green OCBDs, a vintage Brook Brothers catalog, and the recreation of the classic 50s photo is moving in the right direction, giving history and contemporary examples.

    Hi – I hear you, here are two notes. (1) We cannot spend all our time thumbing through our old yearbooks if we wish to be interesting. (2)

      Perspective IS opinion.

    – JB

  21. Charlottesville | January 18, 2022 at 5:19 pm |

    *Brooks. Sorry.

  22. G. Ellery Cobbold | January 19, 2022 at 7:02 pm |

    For the little it’s worth, if it’s worth anything, I agree with Charlottesville, Robert, and Sartresky.

  23. Charlottesville—I too was very happy to see that post. A move in the right direction. And, as an Atlanta guy, happy to see a Sid Mashburn mention. I am a big fan of their take on the ‘classics’ with some modernity.

    I find myself randomly clicking through very (very) old posts to revisit interesting learnings and images.

    Kind regards.

    … and that’s why we are paying to keep them up there. – JB

  24. And speaking of Charlottesville (the city versus the knowledgeable internet figure), I believe that a kind gentlemen named Ed used to work part-time at Sid Mashburn in Atlanta. If I recall, he was previously a Virginia-based haberdasher that was a treat to run into while in the Sid Mashburn shop.

  25. Charlottesville | January 21, 2022 at 1:24 pm |

    Robert — Thank you for the compliment, although there are many more knowledgeable commenters and posters in the Ivy Style archive than I. I too enjoy looking at the archived posts, and am thankful that JB is preserving them.

    There was a men’s shop in Charlottesville owned by Ed Michtom. It closed sometime in the 90s or early 2000s, I think. His shop carried Polo and I bought my first really expensive (for me) suit there sometime in the 1980s. He was a principal competitor with Eljo’s, along with The Young Men’s Shop. I wonder if he could be the man you met in Atlanta.

  26. Charlottesville—I tried a Google search and did not see an image to confirm or deny. I would like to think that we are talking about the same individual based on that background. Let’s hope you got many useful wears out of that suit.

    Kind regards.

  27. Charlottesville | January 27, 2022 at 3:59 pm |

    Robert – Let us agree that it was the same Ed, and not let possible facts get in the way of a good story. I wore that gray flannel Polo suit for a good 10 years, but at some point replaced it with a 3-piece version from J. Press, which I still wear today. The classics really do last.

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