In 1992, while a student at my California state school, I met with one of my English professors to talk about grad school. “I think I’d like to go to the Ivy League,” I said.
She gave me quite a look.
I don’t know where that came from, as I clearly didn’t know what I was talking about on multiple levels. Perhaps I’d just watched “Dead Poets Society” or “School Ties.”
But life is a lot less literal than we tend to think it is, and that which cannot be satisfied in the flesh can be sated in spirit. And so many years later I did “go to the Ivy League” in a roundabout way by making myself a custodian of its sartorial legacy. But now it’s finally time for me to pass on that stewardship. I’m pleased to announce that John Burton is taking over as managing editor and chief guru of business development. John has a track record in community building, big plans for growing the audience for traditional style and preserving its heritage, and, most important, he’s brimming with enthusiasm.
Ivy Style has been my longest sustained creative project, spanning 2,400 blog posts I either wrote or edited over nearly 13 years. That’s against a rather turbulent backdrop, from recession to pandemic, not to mention the most challenging period in my life, that reckoning between a man and his soul known as Your Forties.
I say this each October when we celebrate another year of Ivy Style, but once again thank you to all you loyal readers, contributors and sponsors for making this website a success. Ivy Style allowed me to spend an amazing decade in New York and meet so many members of the old guard: Alan Flusser, Bruce Boyer, Richard Press, Paul Winston, and Charlie Davidson, and to bring their stories to you.
When I look back on this project and what it means in the grand scheme of things, one thing that comes to me is the traditional division of a person into body, soul and spirit. I think of Ivy Style as being the body, my own personal investigation into America of the 20th century, part of which I’ve lived though, and part of which I learned about through books and movies and stories from Those Who Were There. In contrast, Dandyism.net, which I ran from 2004-08, is more aligned with my old soul, operating, through imagination, outside space-time in London and Paris of the 19th century. Trad-Man.com, a slow and steady long-term project, represents the spirit, or the dimension of ourselves that belongs to an impersonal Absolute Principle.
So the body is worn out, and I intend to go forth as a soul seeking union with the spirit. I just thought of these words of Byron. Funny how you can walk in a room and forget why, but the poems you memorize when you’re young stay with you for life. And quoting Byron is very apropos, in a “Dead Poets Society” kind of way:
For the sword outwears the sheath
As the soul wears out the breast
And the heart must pause to breathe
And love itself have rest.
I’m far from retiring entirely from the world, so you can always drop me an email at christian @ ivy-style.com. Anyone who enjoys following my writing no matter what the topic can pop in now and then at dandyism.net, which has been neglected for many years and sorely in need of a polish. I may choose to chime in with some new thoughts of the role of elegance, aristocratic aloofness, and Stoic self-mastery at this present moment in time.
Indeed I see both dandyism.net and Trad-Man as spiritual paths suitable for navigating current conditions. Older trads with homes and families I think should hold the fort, tidy up their inner house and think about what to wear when they meet ol’ Saint Pete. But younger, unattached, and more introspective types may need to take more extreme measures, cultivating some form of “radical traditionalism” effectively capable of producing an inner equilibrium. The proper attitude for me right now seems to be something like “Remembrance Of Things Past” meets “Game Of Thrones.”
You can also follow my Spirit column for my local paper by clicking on the banner at the bottom of the right-side ad tower. I’m also finishing up a book based on over 20 years of writing on clothes and various old-fashioned and gentlemanly pursuits called “The Philosophy Of Style,” which I’m sure you’ll hear about here when the time is right.
Once again, thank you for your eyeballs, for which there’s plenty of competition. It’s been my honor to inform and entertain you. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD