It Was A Very Good Year

In 1963 Frank Sinatra had a hit with the song “It Was A Very Good Year,” in which the narrator sings about life at 17, 35, and finally “the autumn of my years.” If you played the game of life correctly this year, you should be closing it out a stronger and wiser man with realigned priorities. We’ve all faced fear and despondency this year, and we should accept the possibility that it will intensify. The trad brothers in my correspondence fall into two camps: those rooted in higher powers within their being, and those who aren’t. The first group is growing stronger, the second one weaker.

Throughout the coming year Ivy Style will continue to present words and images to inspire an indomitable inner resilience that can guide you as you navigate the outer world. The close of 2020 had us re-examine the concept of cool as a form of steady nerves, philosophic detachment and independent spirit; old money and aristocratic style as armor against the forces of conformity and collectivism; dandyish elegance as a statement of the noble soul in a sea of mediocrity, and the Dark Academia trend as a rediscovery of self-knowledge through introspection and great works of literature. The old and less dynamic trads can still serve as keepers of the flame and “hold the center” in matters of gentlemanly dress and deportment, and the budding metaphysicians are invited to join me over at Trad-Man, which I intend to develop further in the new year.

Think of yourself as a new breed of trad knights. In a world that strikes many of us as having gone crazy, it takes a touch of madness to adapt and cope. As contemporary life takes on the feeling of being like a computer simulation or video game, one must play along or it’s game over. There’s more than one way to wear an OCBD.

The Tumultuous Twenties have only just begun. Don’t spend them cowering in fear and lashing out at others, numbing the pain with pills, liquor and soul-killing distractions that make you feel even more empty inside than you already are. Circumstances beyond your control are testing your pluck and mettle and ability to see them as the chance to dig deeper, find strengths you didn’t know you had, and to know yourself at the deepest level of your being.

Let this be your new year’s resolution for 2021.

And so we can finally say that hindsight is 2020. And on the off-chance you’ll be ringing in the new year with others, well, enjoy that kiss at midnight. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

Photo by Zigi Burnett

6 Comments on "It Was A Very Good Year"

  1. 2020: the year of the cage

  2. If there ever was a pose of fierce determination, CC has captured it. Happy New Year to you!

  3. Not sure what’s more insufferable, mad egotist (for what accomplishments again?) Chens pretending to be Edgar Allen Poe for his 165th vantiy pic or the bromide-laden paste of delusional advice so appended. Man, begone. I’m betting the email belittling you runs 8 to 1 against the catamount crap you publish. Begone, damn you, fool, BEGONE!

  4. Thanks much, Chens. Enjoy your prose. We all thank you for providing this site. And those who do not appreciate the owner’s proclivity to post at will would be most gladly welcomed by the other readers to be summarily removed from the group.

  5. Dear Christian Chensvold,

    Add me to the list of those who appreciate posts such as this one. I think you nailed it with this, “ If you played the game of life correctly this year, you should be closing it out a stronger and wiser man with realigned priorities.”

    Some embrace a style of dress because of the clothes alone and I can’t see anything wrong with that. That said, I think I always sought more than that; I say I think, because it’s been more than 40 years now. Lately, though the context has changed. I remember reading people saying, just a few years ago now, that the key to pulling of trad was that it should not look like a costume. That is getting to be increasingly difficult. Even before the lockdown, I was almost the only person I knew who wore a suit to work every day. The same is true where I go to church. And that changes things.

    I think of the line attributed to Sen no Rikyu, “Don’t imitate the great masters, seek what they sought.” It seems to me that this is where we are. To keep dressing trad is not to embrace a way of life with deeply embedded values anymore; it’s more like playing a part in summer stock theatre. It’s a harmless way of being playful but that’s all it is. What were the values that lead me to start dressing this way.

    It’s time to start looking elsewhere. I’m intrigued by the perennial philosophy, esotericism, decadence stuff you are exploring these days but don’t think it’s quite what I will do myself. That said, being exposed to it has been useful and I thank you for it.

    All the best in 2021.


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