Eleven years ago, in the middle of August 2008, I had just published the “Miles Davis goes to The Andover Shop” piece for Ralph Lauren Magazine, and was so fascinated by this little-known anecdote of Americana that I was working hard at launching a daunting new web project called Ivy-Style.com. From Los Angeles, of all places. In September I gave the site a soft launch and officially announced it on October 1. That makes us just shy of our 11th anniversary. Meanwhile, this post marks another MMilestone — as in MM, the Roman numeral for 2,000 — for it is the two-thousandth blog post.
I’d like to take the occasion to thank all you loyal readers. You’ve provided a foundation of support for which I’ll be forever grateful.
You see, in 2008, while Ivy Style was going up, I was going down. Way down. After steady improvement my career ladder had reached a plateau, and then even the everyday busywork went away as clients slashed their budgets in the wake of the recession. I plunged to almost no income, and it felt like the very value of my existence was being questioned. I remember telling my old man on the phone “I feel like I’m being judged by the gods.” Soon I was an anxious, sleepless, brooding, hard-drinking pill-popper who was emotionally repressed and cut off from my feelings. In short, I’d become very WASPy.
Within a few months I knew I had to make a drastic change. I sold the surfboard, gave up the great hilltop cottage I was renting, and bid farewell to LA. For six weeks I stayed with a friend in Oakland and ran Ivy Style on my laptop from a Whole Foods (the image above shows what the site looked like in February of 2009). Then I went to my hometown and spent six months in a cheap apartment, deeply depressed. I published an op-ed in the local daily paper — which was how my writing career had begun in 1994 — and wondered if it were possible for me to move to New York where my last active client, Ralph Lauren, was located. In November, having now sacrificed a beloved roadster and the world’s greatest cat, I bought a one-way ticket to NY and showed up with one suitcase to a furnished room waiting for me in Queens with two gay roommates. I’d never been here before, and it was two weeks shy of my 40th birthday, proving the old adage that life begins (or rather begins again) at forty. The first couple of years were tough, but eventually I found a wonderful girlfriend, got a great apartment, took up golf, and adapted to this strange city. Your devoted readership made much of it possible, as a colleague explained to me that the Ivy audience was a valuable commodity and suggested I raise the advertising fee significantly. That man is Kirby Allison of Hanger Project, to whom I owe a shout-out with the mic turned up to ten.
With material things better, I kept waiting to feel like my old carefree self but it never happened. Until just recently, the entire time I was doing this site for you guys I had demons hovering over my shoulder night and day. In early 2017 I got some news I took as catastrophic (and which turned out to be largely fueled by my imagination), and fell flat on my face. For three months could barely function. It was either jump off the Triboro Bridge or do the painful inner work of solving long, drawn-out midlife crisis (fun fact: the average man’s midlife crisis lasts three to ten years). I took the first few steps, and was one of the first to write about the rise of Dr. Jordan Peterson. When his book came out some nine months later, my words were blurbed on the back of his international bestseller. Since then my running joke has been “if you can’t write a bestseller, at least write the blurb on the back of one.”
Since then it’s been an indescribable journey of personal growth, and I hope to share what I’ve learned — as well as the great and forgotten wisdom of the ages — later this year with the launch of Traditional Man. And after precisely a decade in New York, I’m ready to move on. The plan is for the next chapter to unfold in Charleston, SC, where I dreamed of moving when I was a young pup of 25 and people in my hometown said I belonged in a historical city on the East Coast. Since then I keep hearing Anita O’Day sing the lyrics, “Just a little bit south of North Carolina I’ll find paradise.”
Some of you have requested more long-form pieces here, and I think it’s time to concede that after 2,000 posts and 11 years, long-form pieces will no longer come from me. In addition to Trad Man, I have several other projects in development that will take all I’ve got. Over the coming months, I see myself gradually transitioning into the role of Ivy Style’s editor-in-chief and publisher, but with other voices driving the content. Consider that an open call to all you out there who want to write long-form essays and articles. We could also use a news editor interested in doing weekly roundups of everything going on in our little world. Jolts of fresh blood should liven this place up and be good for the site. Email me at the address above if you’re interested.
And thank you to the many contributors we’ve had so far over the past decade. I think there have been over 50; Pani M. and Eric Twardzik have been the most active recently, and they may come to play a more prominent role going forward. Special thanks also go to Christopher Sharp, who’s been here since the beginning doing fine original pieces of historical research, and DCG, who wrote a column for a bit called The Millennial Fogey. Then there’s the illustrious Richard Press, who did The Golden Years column, and the great G. Bruce Boyer, who has contributed many delightful pieces over the years.
Ivy the style has been around for a hundred years. May Ivy Style itself last just as long. And once again please accept my gratitude for being a part of all this. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD