Ivy Trendwatch: Hollywood and the Ivy Look

Later this year Reel Art Press will release a lavish photographic coffee-table book full of rare images of Hollywood icons wearing Ivy garb. It will surely be a delight to behold. Reading it, however, may be another story.

One should never judge a book by its cover, but we’ve had an Ivy book by this author before, and it missed the mark by a mile. London-based Graham Marsh is also one of the co-authors of “The Ivy Look,” our review of which holds the record for most comments on a post not involving free sweaters.

In addition to the daffy notion that Porsches, midcentury furniture, French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo and Zippo lighters belong to a style genre called “Ivy,” and are therefore intimately related to Bass Weejuns and oxford-cloth buttondowns, the book’s inexplicable error in judgment was its inability to articulate the origins of the Ivy League Look, as if the style suddenly appeared on album covers, movie posters and cigarette ads out of nowhere.

Geographically and temporally removed from the epicenter of the Ivy League Look during the heyday (New Haven, according to our own Richard Press), and given the bohemian sensibilities of UK Ivy fans, it’s no wonder the authors were reluctant to credit the style to privileged students at elite universities.

With this new book, Marsh evidently turns his attention once again not to the source but the simulacrum, finding his Ivy mecca not in suburban Connecticut, but the film studios of Hollywood. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

102 Comments on "Ivy Trendwatch: Hollywood and the Ivy Look"

  1. Button-down Mind | September 1, 2011 at 5:42 pm |

    It will no doubt be filled with some cool photos, mixed with a heaping dose of pretentious fantasy in the text.

    One could ask why they don’t just fill a book with photos of average mid-century Americans wearing the styles. Since it was so overwhelmingly mainstream coast-to-coast, it goes without saying that many in Hollywood would wear the styles, but so would people in the insurance biz, and accounting, and the legal profession, and just Joe Schmo in general…

    But hitching their fantasy wagon to people like Steve McQueen suits their fantasy agenda (and their sales tactics) better than a book of photos of unknown mid-western businessmen (for example). I mean, the icon of McQueen is going to sell FAR more books, right? Nevermind what a fashion disaster he turned into in the 70s.

  2. Yankee Doodle | September 2, 2011 at 1:26 am |

    Well you know those Limeys are loathe to say anything complimentary about the average American, unless it’s a creative/artistic type or an oppressed minority. Only then is it kosher to give kudos and accolades. It really chaps their asses to admit that they’re just copying the average American. They’ll haughtily explain it away by claiming UK credit for everything – while simultaneously wanting all their clothing to say “Made in the USA” on the label.

    They need to focus on their Hollywood/Jazzbo fantasy-rewrite in order to compensate for the mundane reality of their Yankophile obsessions. That condescending British attitude is so hackneyed. But it’s all they’ve got left at this point.

    They hate themselves for loving us.

  3. Christopher Landauer | September 2, 2011 at 2:51 am |

    yes, that’s what we need! A book with photos of unknown mid-western businessmen… The bible belt and the Ivy look. Go for it, Chenny!

  4. The Other Brother Daryl | September 2, 2011 at 3:52 am |

    Yes, well the Brits are SO fixated on their fantasy that it inhibits their reading comprehension. When their myths are debunked, they immediately invent fantasies about what they imagine YOU must believe. Nevermind what you actually write….they ignore that and substitute their own interpretation.

    Their delusions are astounding.

  5. Richard Meyer | September 2, 2011 at 4:24 am |

    I completely agree with B-D m. Grant, Gable, Astaire, Pidgeon= well dressed. McQueen= trendy, “hip”.

  6. I will be interested to see if “Jack McCoy”/Sam Waterston makes the book. Watching old Law & Order episodes (specifically from the ’90’s) the character might be one of the most unnoticed “preps”. From the button down blue oxfords, repp ties & gray suits to the Barbour jacket instead of an overcoat the wardrobe was spot on but not “in your face”.

  7. The all-winning trump card the English like to play when they start arguing themselves in circles on this topic is the old canard “It’s just clothes/It’s just a look.”

    Sure enough, they’ve already played that card today over at FNB Talk Ivy in their discussion of us discussing them.

    Whenever you read the line “It’s just a look,” you can hear the sound of screeching brakes in the background.

    The once-great troll Russell Street is so uncomfortable in directly articulating where the Ivy League Look comes from and how it got its name he can’t even bring himself to write it — and this is a guy who can’t keep his mouth shut. Today he writes “We all know where it came from…. ” and then immediately resorts to ad hominem nonsense.

  8. Button-down Mind | September 2, 2011 at 2:05 pm |

    @Landauer opined

    “yes, that’s what we need! A book with photos of unknown mid-western businessmen… The bible belt and the Ivy look. Go for it, Chenny!”

    First of all, CC didn’t make the midwestern businessman reference. *I* did.
    You can’t assume that CC agrees with every comment in the comment section. Nor can you assume that every commenter agrees with everything CC writes.

    But ironically you confirm my points. It’s extremely telling that you find the concept of a book of ordinary Americans wearing these styles to be comical.
    Yes, how hysterical to show people wearing what they actually wore! Everyone knows that only Steve McQueen knows how to wear a button-down!

    I have no idea where that religion comment came from, because i never mentioned religion whatsoever. i don’t see what relevance it has to their clothing. Yes, people in the “bible belt” wore these clothes. i guess you’ll just have to accept that reality, instead of substituting your Hollywood man-crush dreams.

  9. I’m not sure what all this debate is really about. I think if Marsh had actually published a book of pictures of ordinary Americans wearing ivy, people on here would still be tearing it to shreds (probably before it had been published as well).

    There’s a big interest in British clothes in the US and I’m sure that there are Americans who walk around looking like English gentlemen. Personally, I don’t lose any sleep over this and looking around I don’t think anyone else does. So exactly where does the issue lie?

  10. I’m not sure to what you’re referring when you ask where the issue lies, to the original post or to the comments left?

  11. Your original post is really referring back to your review of ‘The Ivy Look’ and was to be expected.

    I was mainly commenting on the eagerness with which the subsequent posters jump on the anti-brit bandwagon.

  12. I suppose an analogy would be an American writing about Savile Row, making passing references to its history but not directly stating its origins, location, how it got its name, date of its founding, or any factual matters that have to do with its beginnings. Then going on to focus on rock-star patrons of the Row while ignoring the English gentlemen (or visiting gentlemen) that have presumably formed the bulk of the clientele for the past 200 years, and using secondary sources such as movies to depict Savile Row and its patrons.

  13. Jancis Robertson | September 3, 2011 at 10:38 am |

    But Christian, dear boy, the analogy doesn’t hold up – Savile Row was never a mass market look as Ivy League was. Every American film star wore the Ivy League style once and many musicians. This was never the case with the always elitist and completely unaffordable Savile Row tailors. The occasional actor may get a suit made on the Row but, apart from the showy style of a tailor like Ozwald Boateng, no rock star wears a proper Savile Row suit. You know, the irony of all this is that with your faux snobbery and contrived elitist stance you’d fit in really rather well in England. Is this at the root of your wilful miscomprehension of Graham Marsh’s books?

  14. Not a perfect analogy, of course, but I think the gist of it works.

    And I specifically said the origins, which would be pre-heyday. Salesmen from Press, Chipp and Brooks traveling to colleges and prep schools is hardly mass marketing, and that’s precisely how the Ivy League Look developed.

    I also think the English overstate the “clothes for the masses” angle because it better fits their interpretation. They don’t like thinking of the clothes as having the connotations of the Eastern Elite, so they emphasize the time when it was popular, and also overstate the popularity, I think.

    In the current thread at FNB Talk Ivy someone says Ivy was “the great democratizer.” I’d counter that it was the great distinguisher.

  15. @Christian I thought that your analogy illustrated the point well enough.

    However if an American were to write such an article about Saville Row I don’t think it would excite the same level of comment this side of the water, something to do with British reserve (or condecension?).

    BTW I was out with Russell Street last night, hanging out in an East End gay bar!

  16. Russell is certainly a queer fellow.

  17. Button-down mind | September 3, 2011 at 6:45 pm |

    Jancis opined:

    “You know, the irony of all this is that with your faux snobbery and contrived elitist stance you’d fit in really rather well in England.”

    So you admit that the English use faux snobbery and a contrived elitist stance…

    Well, at least you admit it. Points for that, I guess.

    Not sure how it’s elitist to point out that the book, purportedly about the Ivy League style, never actually even mentions what the “league” refers to. It was a sports league comprised of those schools. The schools were in that league, but the schools themselves aren’t “the league”.

    It’s a simple basic thing to omit.

    If anyone has a “willful miscomprehension”, it’s Graham Marsh! He/they created a fictional youth cult (for adults) based on fantasies. It’s all there: the “official soundtrack/music” in the form of the exaggerated jazz connection. The approved uniform with exact specifics of cuff measurements, etc., The imaginary accoutrements in the form of specific cigarettes, lighters, vehicles. The silly,
    condescending, pretentious attitude. Their interpretation is 100% inline with the British youth cult. No question about it.
    They have just been so steeped in that youth cult tradition that they are unable to have the perspective to view them selves with detachment. They can’t see the forest for the trees.

  18. Button-down mind | September 3, 2011 at 6:48 pm |

    Woofboxer exclaimed:

    “BTW I was out with Russell Street last night, hanging out in an East End gay bar!”

    Whoop-tee-doo. Not sure what this dull information is supposed to mean to anyone, but you certainly seem excited about it.

  19. Took me a while to find what people were talking about with these uptight British people. i had to go find their little backwater chat list, and that took some time. (Time I’ll never get back!)

    Jesus, what a bunch of bitter, bitchy gossip queens over there. All they do is obsess about Ivy Style and how much they don’t like it.

    It’s bizarre. They talk about their little man-crush heroes in embarrassing gushing sycophantic terms. It blows my mind how they need these gurus to show them these supposedly esoteric things. Things that any mid-century American knew (knows!) as
    ordinary life.

    If 70% of the suits sold in the US were supposedly in the Ivy league style at one point, then it’s suffice to say that we don’t need any of these silly gurus from the other side of the planet.
    Of course they mask their insecurity with these sad little bitter attacks.

    Who is this Russell creep anyway? Sure has a inflated opinion of his importance. Apparently he introduced the planet to the button-down shirt?

  20. 99.9% of Britain really couldn’t care less about Ivy or the USA, they just get on with their lives. Over blowing the whole thing and generalizing for a whole nation well, that’s done the world over for America isn’t it. Small minded people who have other reasons for knocking something or somebody.. Grow up and get yourself a life.
    From a transatlantic nobody.

  21. This started bad enough, but now it’s a one-way ticket to Tragikestan.

    Not having an original thought in the entire blog is one thing, mud-slinging is quite another.


  22. @S. Cardino

    Hello again. English Ivy fans wrote the book on mud-slinging.


  23. You could probably count English Ivy fans in the hundreds so don’t get yourself worked up about it..

  24. I certainly hope I don’t sound worked up. If you want to see emotional involvement and embittered invective in the England vs. Ivy-Style.com war, check their side of the front.

  25. It’s really not that important my friend, it really isn’t. If a few self important people believe in ranting about something that’s not worth the time, then let them waste theirs…and that goes for either side of the water..

  26. One last comment I’d like to make…
    I’ve met so called experts before and found them experts in nothing really except they have louder voices and like to hear themselves talk. The internet is perfect for this type of person as it enables them to shout louder.
    At the very least, it seems filled with very brave keyboard warriors.

  27. What happened to my last comment Christian ?

    A little censorship going on possibly, must’ve touched a nerve somewhere..

    Oh well, that’s experts for you…

  28. @Jack P spat out:

    ” Small minded people who have other reasons for knocking something or somebody.. Grow up and get yourself a life. From a transatlantic nobody.”

    Well, Mr. Nobody,
    Projection is such an interesting word, don’t you think?
    From what I’ve read over there…I think you have described them exactly. It was painful to read their bitter hate-filled attacks. It left me wondering WTF their mental issues were.
    God knows they must have a shedload of issues to get that worked up over imaginary rules about who was wearing what shirt. It seems that they enable each other, and work themselves into a frothy bitch-fest about nothing!

    Small-minded, indeed!

  29. @ Jancis: The occasional actor may get a suit made on the Row but, apart from the showy style of a tailor like Ozwald Boateng, no rock star wears a proper Savile Row suit.

    Charlie Watts would beg to differ, FYI.

  30. Jack P, as you can see, your previous comment was not censored, just held up in the moderation queue.

  31. Jancis Robertson | September 6, 2011 at 12:38 pm |

    Malik – Charlie Watts!… the only well-dressed man in rock who really wants to be playing modern jazz, except he’d starve, like most jazzers. He hardly proves the point does he?

  32. Apologies..

  33. Comment by Jack P: 99.9% of Britain really couldn’t care less about Ivy or the USA

    A few years back I bought a copy of the London Times and was amazed at the number of articles about the USA. I guess they and their readers are part of the % that does care about the USA. When I questioned someone about this, the number of articles in the London Times about the USA, they said that when the USA sneezes Britain catches a cold.
    Just my 2 cents,
    Kenneth (not an expert)

  34. Christopher Landauer | September 7, 2011 at 7:44 am |

    Britain and Europe may not care that much about the USA, but we like to read and learn about other countries.

    Apparenty, some of the Ya-Ya-Yanks, at least those over here on this blog, don’t know jack shit about other countries…

    An example: when I wrote in a comment on another article that I was liberal, one of you people put me in the left-wing pidgeon-hole immediately… Au contraire! I’m from Switzerland. Over here, as well as in Austria and Germany, liberal means right wing (well, in Germany we’re in the middle and in Austria on the radical right), free market, small government…

    @BDM: I really would like a book with average Americans wearing Ivy, I just don’t think it would sell… and well, you didn’t write something about religion, but I’m a simple guy… when I read mid-west I think bible belt and religious nutters… I’m sure you have some association, too, when you read Switzerland….

  35. In answer to Kenneth’s 2 cents..

    The Times really doesn’t have a an extensive readership and I would add, a certain percentage probably aren’t too interested in the US. People around the world don’t sit watching everything about America and cursing their luck they weren’t born in the States, they just get on with their own worries and lives. You really should get out in to the world a little more. That is one thing I find, a lot of citizens are ignorant of the wider world..
    As for the US sneezing and Britain catching cold, I think you’ll find that a reference to the financial world, which as we know are tied together..

  36. Button-down Mind | September 7, 2011 at 3:10 pm |


    oh the irony of your latest comment…

    On one hand you are chastising Americans for not using european political terminology, (why should we? why don’t you align with ours?) and on the other hand you are attempting to throw around American terms that you barely understand.

    Technically the “bible belt” is the mostly the southern US. Many midwestern states don’t even fall under the umbrella.
    But it’s doubly ironic that you’re attempting to insult (for that’s what it was, a failed insult) many of the very same Americans whose styles you purportedly admire.

    Perhaps you’ve been tainted by the UK Ivy/Jazz/Hollywood fantasy trifecta as well. I’m sure most people here would buy a book of average mid-century Americans wearing the styles, but I doubt the general public would have much interest. For the general public, any product that features Hollywood celebrities will always (always, always) have better sales prospects. It’s much easier to sell the fantasy than the reality. Perhaps more so to foreigners separated by thousands of miles, decades of time, context, and perhaps even language.

    Just as an FYI….many of your jazz heroes were from the “bible belt”. Miles Davis was a midwesterner, born and raised in Illinois. Steve Mcqueen was born in Indiana and raised in Missouri. Time for you to get out the map, or hit the interwebs.

    My associations with Switzerland are mostly positive, other than that whole “nazi gold” thing.

  37. Jancis Robertson-I’m sorry, but Charlie Watt’s could not have played modern jazz if he tried…there’s a reason he’s a drummer in a rock band.

  38. Jancis Robertson | September 9, 2011 at 8:17 am |

    James, dear boy, you are completely wrong. CW has displayed excellent modern jazz drumming skills with a group of stellar players at Ronnie Scott’s in London’s Soho on a number of occasions. He was also, perhaps less surprisingly, beautifully attired. He could have been a decent modern jazz player, but I guess when you fall on your feet and you find a meal ticket like the Stones you don’t turn your back on that…

  39. Button-down Mind | September 14, 2011 at 3:33 pm |

    They have some sample pages and a promo blurb up on the http://www.reelartpress.com website. I must say it’s looks exactly like I thought it would. the blurb is particularly stereotypical of the silly UK viewpoint….

    “In the decade between 1955 and 1965 a coterie of discerning Hollywood hipsters appropriated the incomparable Ivy League clothing of America’s East coast elite. These West Coast actors elevated the Ivy look to the height of cool and defined a quintessentially American male dress code for a new generation of movie audiences.”

    A “coterie of discerning Hollywood hipsters”? “appropriated”? Give me a fucking break. That language itself perpetuates the nonsense they started in the “Ivy Look” book.

    A “coterie” means an exclusive circle of people with a common purpose. That, combined with their compulsive use of the word “hipster”, perpetuates their myth. This was a nationwide style worn by millions of average Americans all across the nation. There was no secret cabal of hollywood hipsters with an agenda of pushing a certain style. These stars wore what was currently in fashion, they did not create anything (or secretly push an existing exclusive style) that the masses then copied. Just didn’t happen that way.

    “Appropriated” again pushes their hipster subterfuge fantasy. Some people often use that terminology around Miles Davis’s adoption of the style for a time. “Appropriated” sounds so much more crafty and full-of-agenda than “adoption”, doesn’t it?

    their silly fantasies are then pushed again in the following phrase…

    “these West Coast actors elevated the Ivy look to the height of cool and defined….” blah blah blah…

    First of all, these actors came from everywhere. McQueen is midwestern boy. Films are created and defined in Hollywood, people themselves are created and defined everywhere. Secondly, how the hell do you “elevate” a shirt? Talk about pure pretentious nonsense. This epitomizes their man-crush nonsense. Simply by donning a shirt that millions of others are already wearing, the Hollywood actor fantastically “elevates” this shirt into the realm of the magic totem fetish item. By doing so, he “defines” this dress code that had already existed.

    Does any of their pretentiousness make any logical sense?
    No, of course not. Not if you are looking at it with non-starry eyes. But it’s supposed to be flowery marketing stuff. It’s the fantasy they are selling. That’s what Hollywood is after all, right?

    Some of those photos look nice, and I *may* even buy it for these photos (if the price isn’t too high, and I can see a bit more beforehand) but in all honesty it looks like big glossy hardcover wank material for fetishists and star-obsessed adult fanboys.

  40. Button-down Mind | September 14, 2011 at 3:38 pm |

    I might add that McQueen and others had professional photographers like William Claxton following them around, snapping endless rolls of film in glamourous settings. Pretty easy to select some glamour shots when you’ve got that kind of marketing power behind you.

    Needless to say, average Joe didn’t have his life documented in this fashion.

  41. Jancis Robertson | September 15, 2011 at 2:09 am |

    Button-down mind – mmm, your perfect moniker, well chosen old chap. You express nothing of worth yet reveal yourself to be homophobic and abusive and completely unaware of the ‘star phenomenon’ through which notions of glamour and escapism have been expressed ever since people have got up on stage, worn different clothes, and adopted a persona. People love the movies, they love movie stars. If the movie stars are well-dressed and well-shod, and they were during the years of the Ivy look, then where’s the harm? Why the anger? Sounds to me like you are need of hardcover ‘wank material’ yourself old boy to help you expunge your clear frustration.

  42. Button-down Mind Strikes Back | September 15, 2011 at 3:37 am |



    Seems I hit all the right buttons with you. Which means that I expressed exactly what’s “of worth” to you.

    You’ll have to explain the “homophobic and abusive” and “anger” parts though. It seems your fantasies allow you to fabricate all sorts of wild notions.

    Next time you might want to actually address what i said, instead of what’s flitting around in your head.

    Toodle pip!

  43. Button-down Mind Strikes Back | September 15, 2011 at 12:16 pm |

    Another funny thing….I looked a bit closer at their sample pages. I see the lorem ipsum dummy text in there, so I hope those are just mock-up pages and this fancy “limited edition” book hasn’t gone to print yet, because…

    Their spread on Woody Allen actually misspells his name as “Allan” in the bold header! That’s just hilarious.

    How many editors looked at that? Nevermind that Woody Allen isn’t a “West Coast actor” at all, he’s about as New York as you can get. And about as un-hipster of a schlub as you’ll find.

  44. Christopher Landauer | September 19, 2011 at 8:00 am |

    @BDSM: I didn’t tell you to use European terminology in general, but if you’re talking to a European you should be aware that we are using a different terminology, that’s all. Of course, our terminology is the correct one. Nevertheless, from now on I will use your terms whenever I am talking with another American again…

    Ah, my bible belt comment. You were taking it personally, it seems. I am sorry. I didn’t attempt to insult anyone. I wouldn’t want to insult anyone who belongs to this great nation that I admire so much. Thanks for clearing it up where the bible belt is. Maybe you could send me a link to a map. BTW, I was very hurt about your Nazi-gold comment. We don’t know anything about democracy here, and of course, we were all collaborators.

  45. How is it possible that so many people can miss the point ?? The clue is in the title.

    There’s some cunts about.

  46. How is it possible that UK gurus can spend decades obsessed with this topic and yet be so unwilling or unable to articulate where the look comes from?

    The clue is in the name: The Ivy League Look.

  47. @Christopher: If you’re at an American website, you should use American terminology. Besides, it’s not exactly correct to say that liberalism is right wing in Europe. You’re right, however, when you say that it means free market.

    @Jancis: What is wrong with being homophobic? Do we all want to live in a society where queer people are allowed to marry and have children? What if they touch the children? I don’t want to be touched by some pervert, too.

    @Christian: It’s just a name.

    Where does the look come from?

    Brooks Brothers.

    They never liked that name, because it was The Brooks Brothers look. Ivy League was all those copies…

    Besides, I’ve read that little book, and I recall that they mention the Ivy League, New England old money, Harvard etc. many times. They even mention the term WASP. I’m pretty sure.

    Unfortunately, they do not show many pictures of white people, let alone Anglo-Saxon ones. Most of the pictures show negroid people, then there are a lot of semitic people in the book. Kennedy was not Anglo-Saxon, he was Irish, and, of course, he was not a protestant.

    And with the new book it is similar.

    Woody Allen Ivy? Look at his nose, and you know what I’m talking about….

    The English don’t know very much about Ivy.

    I will not buy the new book!

  48. Button-down Mind Strikes Back | September 20, 2011 at 12:34 pm |


    That is some of the worst, most obvious, trolling I’ve ever read. Put some EFFORT into it.

  49. Button-down Mind Strikes Back | September 20, 2011 at 12:42 pm |


    Not sure why i would be “insulted” by your lack of knowledge of the “bible belt” term you used so glibly. I don’t live in that region, nor am I religious.

    It’s such a weird Euro/UK phenomenon….they toss around American terminology they barely understand. When they are corrected, instead of being embarrassed, they try to hide behind the cop-out that the person correcting them must be too sensitive, or uptight, or easily insulted. Like it’s the American’s fault that the European is so clueless with their condescending comments. Strange.

    No, you’re just wrong. That’s all.

  50. Button-down Mind Strikes Back | September 20, 2011 at 12:43 pm |

    @Harry Palmer

    COP OUT.

  51. @Christian,the book is called HOLLYWOOD and the ivy league look, which is why it is full of pictures of Hollywood actors,directors e.t.c. it’s not called a history of the ive league nor does it profess to be, if it did you’d have a point.

    @Buttown-Down Mind, BOLLOCKS

  52. @Button-Down Mind, please excuse me for spelling you moniker incorrectly in my previous comment.

  53. Button-down Mind Strikes Back | September 20, 2011 at 5:35 pm |

    @Harry Palmer

    Perhaps “Buttown” was on your mind.

    With a name like Hairy Palm-er it’s rather likely.

  54. Harry, the other night I sat with the authors of the upcoming preppy book, who put the focus squarely on the campus. It will be interesting to compare the two books this fall as they’ll be released around the same time.

    There will be great photos to gaze at in both, I’m sure. But one is interested in the source and origins of the look, and the others is interested in, as you put it in all caps, HOLLYWOOD.

  55. @Christian, as you point out the two books have a different focus, making a comparison slightly pointless.Like I said the Marsh book is about Hollywood, and it’s ridiculous to criticise it for not being something that it doesn’t pretend to be. If you’re looking for a book on the source and origin of the look, don’t buy one that’s focused on Hollywood and the look.

    @Button-Down Mind(less) perhaps you should stop fantasising about what’s on my mind and get back to what you excel in namely prejudice, myopic criticism.

  56. Christopher Landauer | September 22, 2011 at 5:35 am |

    @BDSM: that’s what I wrote: “yes, that’s what we need! A book with photos of unknown mid-western businessmen… The bible belt and the Ivy look. Go for it, Chenny!”

    It was a light hearted casual remark.

    I never said that I think the mid west and the bible belt was one and the same thing.

    “But it’s doubly ironic that you’re attempting to insult (for that’s what it was, a failed insult) many of the very same Americans whose styles you purportedly admire.”

    …and that’s what you wrote. So you insinuated that I had been trying to insult anyone. I didn’t. It’s all your kitchen psychology. I have no idea why some of you people are trying to turn this into a fight between America and the UK/ Europe.

  57. Harry, two books are coming out on the Ivy League Look but we shouldn’t compare them?

  58. If anyone can write a book on the style that is well-balanced, well-researched and well-written, then Christian can. Frankly there just doesn’t seem to be any competition.

  59. I’m always suspicious of flattery, especially from UK email addresses.

    Of course, I’d like to think I’ve already provided a website that’s well balanced, well researched and well written.

  60. @ Christian

    I think you are wise to be suspicious, especially considering the parasitic existence of that psychotic power-trip- crazy,attention seeking troll Russell Street, who hoodwinked the urbane owner of the FNB site some time ago, and appears to have gathered around him a coterie of half wits, semi-literates and cowardly yes -men. But rest assured, there is civilization in the UK.

    Your site by the way is indeed well-balanced, well researched and extremely well-written. Perhaps that’s why you arouse so much animosity from the feeble-minded led by the deranged.

  61. Chelsea Drug Store | September 22, 2011 at 8:31 am |

    Absolutely spot on analysis, World’s End. The sad thing is that there are some cultured people on that site with a genuine interest in clothes. It is as you say unfortunate that the site owner has allowed such a yobbo to wield such gloating self satisfied power. Frightening indeed.

    And, yes. Christian’s book would be very likely a success (insofar as any of these things can be said to succeeed!)

  62. In that case, World’s End, thanks for the compliment.

    Bruce Boyer and I were supposed to prepare a book to coincide with the Ivy League Look exhibit at the FIT museum (no idea if it’s still on), but we both dropped out for budgetary reasons. We’re professional writers, after all, and writing is how we make our living.

    However, we do have another book idea, about style but totally unrelated to Ivy, and one that’s never been done before, being shopped around by his agent. But the marketplace is generally unkind to originality.

    I’ve no desire to write a book on Ivy. I already have Ivy-Style.com.

  63. Yes, it would probably not be worthwhile to bother with an Ivy book – the market is relatively small and there’s only so much that can be said.

    Even ‘style’ itself has its limitations artistically, and I would have thought such themes are best interwoven into fiction about other matters. Recall how Conrad and Greene to mention just two serious authors who effectively who used clothing to create vivid images and define character.

  64. Funny you should mention that…

  65. Button-down Mind Strikes Back | September 22, 2011 at 12:40 pm |

    @Landauer whined:

    “@BDSM: that’s what I wrote: “yes, that’s what we need! A book with photos of unknown mid-western businessmen… The bible belt and the Ivy look. Go for it, Chenny!”

    It was a light hearted casual remark.

    I never said that I think the mid west and the bible belt was one and the same thing.”


    Wow. Talk about a lame cop out. That was exactly what you said.

    “light hearted” = sarcastic. But it loses any impact when you don’t even know what you’re attempting to be sarcastic about.

  66. Christopher Landauer | September 23, 2011 at 2:48 am |

    pars pro toto?

  67. @ Christian
    ‘Hello again. English Ivy fans wrote the book on mud-slinging.’

    I think it would be a mistake to equate that little bunch of malcontent idiots who have hijacked FNB’s site with English Ivy. They are nobodies who have allowed themselves to be pawns of a sick megalomaniac whose diseased mind reveals itself more and more. They shoot horses, don’t they?

  68. Button-down Mind Strikes Back | September 23, 2011 at 4:54 pm |


    as i said,…cop out.

    You’re not in Kansas Toto.
    Pay no attention to that Limey behind the curtain.

  69. Button-down Mind Strikes Back | September 23, 2011 at 4:58 pm |

    @World’s End

    How refreshing to read from a UK commenter who doesn’t buy into the Russell Street psycho-schtick.

    Hopefully more of your ilk will chime in and rebuke the nonsense he instigates.

  70. The Other Brother Daryl | September 24, 2011 at 1:25 am |

    @Button Down Mind

    Russell Street? The mental case?
    You mean “David James Frost Mellor” of course?

    wink wink

    They don’t make meds strong enough for that kind of psychosis.
    SERIOUSLY delusional.

  71. @BDM & THOBD

    The Russell Street farce must be one of the longest running exercises in the manipulation of the truly simple- minded.

  72. @World’s End:

    He’s over on FNB claiming I’m writing your comments, and bragging that the reason he knows is because he had some students hack this site to find out.

    I’m not sure what’s more disturbing, lying/bragging about hacking the site to fuel his smear campaign, or actually resorting to that.

  73. @Christian

    The reason he’s so fascinated with this site is simple envy from a loser who knows he can only be a big fish in that jam jar of guppies.

    I’m not sure which is more moronic, his deluded sense of self-importance or his repetitiveness. Wink wink. Oi!

  74. Someone else just wrote this over there:

    “I’d say UK Ivy has been more ‘working class’ if anything…”

    That’s certainly the sense we get here in the States, and explains why they go for the jazz/bohemian/everyman interpretation of Ivy, avoiding the origins, and why when we simply point out the facts of the origins they accuse us of aspirational class fantasies.

  75. I think that’s probably a good estimation of what the FNB ‘ivy’ boys perceive to be Ivy. But the reality is that their brand of Ivy is really just a brushed up ‘soft mod’, ‘suede-head’ style. And the brighter ones seem to have that awareness,

  76. So what’s your story?

  77. The Other Brother Daryl | September 24, 2011 at 12:59 pm |

    @World’s End stated:

    “But the reality is that their brand of Ivy is really just a brushed up ’soft mod’, ’suede-head’ style.”

    Exactly. Youth-cult mod re-branded for adults who are too old for that type of thing. Complete with a heavy dose of…”I was a mod (Ivy) before you was a mod…”

  78. The Other Brother Daryl | September 24, 2011 at 1:02 pm |


    I’ve got no problem with the “everyman” aspect, because the style certainly became very mainstream. And the majority who wore the styles did not pretend, or even aspire to be, an Ivy graduate.

  79. The Other Brother Daryl | September 24, 2011 at 1:08 pm |


    Russell Street, or “David James Frost Mellor”, (or Spam Hammer or whatever today’s split personality may be) always resorts to the desperate “we hacked his site” lie when he’s got nothing.

    Lying comes very natural to him. It’s hard to believe the guy is almost 50 and still acts like a jealous teenage facebook bully.

  80. Chelsea Drug Store | September 25, 2011 at 10:01 am |

    The Other Brother Daryl wrote:

    “Russell Street, or “David James Frost Mellor”, (or Spam Hammer or whatever today’s split personality may be) always resorts to the desperate “we hacked his site” lie when he’s got nothing.

    Lying comes very natural to him. It’s hard to believe the guy is almost 50 and still acts like a jealous teenage facebook bully.”

    One of the many laughable things about this yo-yo is how he sets himself up as the historian of the Ivy style when the only way he can defeat even modest guys like the very affable Cardinal 5 is to delete their posts, mess with their avatars and ban them.

    Christian’s site must make the little weasel furious. While not claiming any arcane knowledge, Christian uses good magazine journalism to come up with interesting topics week after week.

  81. Button-Down Mind Strikes Back | September 25, 2011 at 2:33 pm |

    @ Chelsea Drug Store

    Russell Street/ “David James Frost Mellor” /Spam Hammer/Talk Ivy….whatever he calls himself today.

    His buttons have definitely been pushed. He’s completely lost it. In a manic frenzy over there. More than a bit frightening to watch someone mentally unravel like that.

    Seems the majority of those folks try to ignore it, but there are always a few sad enablers cheering on his mental decline. Most of them being his own alternate personalities.

  82. Russell Street or David James Frost Mellor is probably suffering from mad cow’s desease. They eat too much beef over there. He thinks that he’s invented Ivy Style. Completely delusional. He is only telling lies because he is jealous of your blog and that’s all. What a freak! And all his followers, these mods, they have no clue at all!

    The worst of them is this old hobo John Simons. A pseudo hipster with a goatee. He only sells terrible imitations of Ivy. Extortionate Prices. And this idiot Gibson Gardens or JP Gaul who refers to this con man as a Zen master or as his guru. And then he posts pictures of Japanese and Italian men he has a man crush for. What a fag!

    And all these stupid low life opinions about drug addicts and jazz men, working class this and that. British proles. How anything Ivy style has to do with working class is beyond me. It’s about elite universities. It’s as upper class as you can get! These jazz musicians only started wearing Ivy after they were allowed to play on campus, because they didn’t want to be the object of the students’ jokes. That’s why they got rid of their ugly zoot suits. Besides, Ivy was in fashion.

    For these English freaks it’s all about jazz and arty farty nonsense. In reality it’s just the old American establishment look. They will never understand it!

  83. Oxy, your comment made RS flip out over at FNB. You simply don’t talk about the guru that way. It’s the one soft spot of an otherwise shameless individual.

  84. @Oxy

    I don’t know….your post reads very trollish to me. Too many cut-and-paste phrases from other commenters.

  85. Well yes, it’s obviously intended to ruffle feathers.

  86. @Christian

    It’s a bit too over the top for reality…

  87. Chelsea Drug Store | September 27, 2011 at 1:47 pm |

    The choice of Talk Ivy as one of his personae was very indicative of how he now (in his own deluded and pathetic last gasps) has become Ivy. His current thread on that little rag and bone man lauds his existence because he engendered the Russell show. If it wasn’t so hideously sad, it’d be comical.

  88. @Chelsea

    I’ve got nothing against J.Simons personally. Never met the guy, never been to his shop, the name never actually even meant much at all to me – other than some guy in London who sells American clothes at ridiculously marked up prices.

    But Russell Street / “David James Frost Mellor” ‘s obsession with J. Simons MAKES me want to dislike the guy! If Frost Mellor thinks he is doing some great PR for Simons…he is sadly mistaken.

    That recent J.Simons photo-montage / love letter was just bizarre. Like watching some TV programme about serial killer obsessions.

  89. In the earliest days of this site, back when there was a Merchants list (which the nut in question likes to claim I “stole,” as if anybody couldn’t alphabetize a list of trad manufacturers — do you need a guru for that?), I dropped J. Simons because of the association with RS.

    I certainly don’t claim that was a big deal, more symbolic than anything else, and now 2 1/2 years later Mr. Simons himself would surely chuckle dismissively over it. But the fact is that I could have been in the position to create greater awareness about him in the US, even more so through blog posts.

    It’s an unfortunate example of guilt-by-association, and as Chelsea Drug Store has pointed out, all English Ivy fans shouldn’t be painted with the same brush.

    It’s a shame their nation’s most vocal online exponent of the Ivy League Look is such a terrible person.

    Speaking of which, we should really change the topic.

  90. Good lord, Gibson Gardens/John Gaul/John Gall/”Ivy Look” co-author just wrote this in the J. Simons thread:

    “My hero, my icon, my master.”

    Because he introduced him to Weejuns, buttondowns and Steve McQueen?


  91. @Christian

    I thought you were changing the subject?
    It’s a bit like rubber-necking at a nasty car wreck isn’t it?

    I’ll bet he wrote that with just a touch of sarcasm though.

  92. He’s far too zealous to ever be sarcastic about Ivy or JS. Look at his quotes I used in the “Ivy Look” review.

    These were sensitive and maladjusted youths when they came under the spell of the guru.

  93. Chelsea Drug Store | September 27, 2011 at 10:21 pm |

    Christian & J. Ivy have it just right when they point out the damage that that lunatic Mellor, or whatever his name is, has done to Jone Simons’ name.The reality though is likely to be that JS views him as a fool as does everybody else.

  94. Does anybody remember how they all used to hate facial hair a few years ago? Then suddenly John Simons grows a goatee and literally all of these copycats got to have one. They even want to drink the same drinks as their guru. The latest craze over there is a bearded guy who calls himself Russian Spy and wears pants with sperm stains all over. The new “face”. How facey!

  95. @J. Ivy: your name is a bit too over the top for reality!

    @Christian: You’re right! They’re far too zealous to be sarcastic. “MY hero, my icon, my master”. I bet that John Gaul is thinking of Simons when he is masturbating. Or he looks at pictures of Steve McQueen and Miles Davis.

    As you said, they’re living in a fantasy world where Ivy exists on old jazz album covers and in old movies. I still don’t understand what Zippo lighters and European cars have to do with Ivy. Ah, it’s hip with English proles. And the new book, my god. Woody Allan!!!

  96. @ Chelsea Drug Store

    I think you are right about JS’s opinion of the basket case. I was talking to one of the more intelligent posters on FNB, and apparently those in the know are well aware that John Simons reluctantly tolerates the fool. Which suggests I suppose that even gnomes who look like homeless people have a heart.

  97. Nothing wrong with Woody in Ivy. We’ll get to a post on him here eventually.

  98. @Oxy

    Something about your posts just doesn’t ring true.

    You misspelled Woody “Allan” just like the authors did in the mock-up pages of this book.

  99. Button-Down Mind Strikes Back | September 28, 2011 at 5:05 pm |

    They seem to have pulled the misspelled Woody “Allan” page from the sample pages on their website.


  100. Christopher Landauer | September 29, 2011 at 1:00 am |

    “cop out” and “delusional”, the big catch phrases over here…

    The Ivy Look is just a name, it’s that simple.

    As if only a baker boy could wear a baker boy cap…

  101. How did it get its name?

  102. Button-Down Mind Strikes Back | September 29, 2011 at 1:16 pm |


    You seem to have mastered the delusional cop-out.

    I don’t recall anybody saying who or wasn’t “allowed” to wear whatever they want. Millions of Americans wore it back in the day.

    But to deny the origins of “the name” is just ignorance or fantasy.

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