My Kinda Clothes is a charming term coined by the late Charlie Davidson of The Andover Shop, and is an occasional series in which readers talk about their personal style. If you’d like to tell us about your own quirks and proclivities, please use the contact button above.
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I love wearing a turtleneck as a base layer in the winter. Under an oxford, or a crew neck sweater (or both), or to run in on very cold days under a reverse weave sweatshirt. I put one on when it’s cold enough to wear a scarf, but I might be running around doing errands or carrying things and I don’t want to have to think about whether I’m going to forget my scarf somewhere. I like the ones from Lands’ End because they’re thin enough to layer easily, and long enough to stay tucked in. I usually stick to white or navy, though I have a couple in black, too.
Lately I’ve been reading a lot of old Playboy magazines for a project I’m doing on Instagram, and I’ve noticed a lot of images of guys wearing turtlenecks under v-neck sweaters. It was obviously something of a trend in the late 60s, and it’s what Playboy would call “collegiate” style – not quite Ivy, but related. I do not think it’s really timeless. The wide expanse of plain shirt rather than a necktie in the V doesn’t quite look correct, but it’s fun.
In the photo I’m wearing a thin lambswool v-neck in a natural color with a green and burgundy argyle pattern. I usually wear chunky Shetlands, and this is one of the few knits I own that fits closely to my body. With big, bulky sweaters I feel like I need to keep extra roomy sport jackets around to layer over them, so I usually end up just wearing them directly under a long coat or a Barbour jacket instead. Anyway, I don’t really like the line that’s created by the hem of the sweater hanging near the bottom of the jacket. Having some thinner knits to wear under your regular rotation of tailored jackets is nice, and what I really like about them is that I can tuck them in. I don’t know exactly where I got the idea for that – I think it was old Hollywood movies (I’m pretty sure it isn’t an Ivy thing) – but if you’re going to wear a sport jacket I think it’s smart to keep the waist where it’s supposed to be, visually.
More and more of my trousers now are from O’Connell’s. The high waist is perfect, the quality always feels spot-on, and they come with suspender buttons. If you know your measurements very well, they’ll hem and cuff them for you free of charge, though I’ve had to get a few pairs re-hemmed by my tailor, because different fabrics can hang differently at the same inseam. I like that they’re roomy without looking wide. These are moleskin. Their corduroys are the best I’ve ever worn. The shoes I’m wearing are suede Alden moc toe bluchers, and I ordered them from O’Connell’s, too. They were my first pair of Aldens and the O’Connell’s folks were nice enough to talk me through the sizing on the phone. These have a rubber sole which makes them practical for me for everyday wear, because I’m always schlepping around the city either on foot or by bicycle. Here in the picture I’m on a staircase in Jersey City walking from a used furniture warehouse to a pizza place a mile up a big hill.
I don’t have the budget to buy everything new, and I wouldn’t want to. My sport jacket is a 1960’s Brooks Brothers in grey herringbone tweed. It’s a lighter weight tweed, and soft. The shoulders are gloriously soft and it has all the Ivy details you’d want, like swelled edges and patch-and-flap pockets. I bought it at a vintage store in Olympia, WA for $40. I buy a lot of things on eBay, too. A lot of eBay sellers don’t know what they have so you can find some great deals if you’re willing to invest the time in it. You have to learn how to search for things, so all sport jackets are “blazers,” and all overcoats are “trench coats.” It can be maddening, but it’s rewarding when it pays off. The coat hanging on the rail is an old Gloverall duffel coat from eBay. I don’t like that the newer ones have a high percentage of nylon in them, so I searched on eBay until I found one that was almost entirely wool. If you don’t want to spend your waking hours typing variations of “tweed blazer 38” into eBay, check out Crowley Vintage. His stuff is not exactly cheap but it’s an amazing value for what it is – think a few hundred bucks for overcoats that might be 3-4x that new – and he has a serious eye for finding special pieces that are subtly distinct. The last time I was there he had plenty of sweaters like the one I’m wearing, in all sorts of cool color combinations.
Most of the year I’m a big ballcap guy. Part of the appeal of Ivy style for me is that it can be both dressy and casual at the same time. A baseball cap to me is a quintessentially American garment, and I find it very much at home with button-down collars, sack jackets, and loafers. I wear wool ones into the winter, but when it’s cold enough to pull your hat down over your ears, I reach for a watch cap or a beret. Here, I think the beret ties everything together. It’s a classic type of hat, but it also has a bohemian connotation that I thought brought the turtleneck/v-neck combination into a slightly different context. I know there are nice berets out there that are fitted, with leather bands, etc. I expect I will upgrade some day. Mine was from a thrift store and even though it’s a little itchy and doesn’t hold any particular shape, I like that I can stuff it into my coat pocket if I need to, and my fiancee likes that she can borrow it whenever she wants.
I dress in Ivy style almost every day, but I don’t see it as a rigid prescription for what to wear. For me, Ivy style is both historical and alive. There’s what’s “correct,” and then there’s your personal style, and they should be something of a Venn diagram. So I don’t worry too much if Playboy/Hollywood/beatnik influences are textbook Ivy or not, but I do think about how to synthesize the different parts into something that makes sense together. Even though Ivy style has plenty of its own rules and conventions, I think its roots as slightly irreverent campus wear make it a great backdrop to contextualize other influences as well. — MAXWELL Q. WOLKIN