Editor’s Note: Our first round of questions for Marc Chevalier, whose Ivy History cred stands up with anyone’s. As always, you can email me questions or just put them in the comments. And that last question, we already voted, the quarter zip is in. 🙂
Q: Are there other types of collars, other than the button down, that are acceptable within Ivy?
Ivy style favors three non-formal shirt collar styles: the buttondown collar, the tab collar, and the round (or “golf”, or “club”) collar. The buttondown collar appeared on cotton shirts in the early 1890s, and was first worn by cricket players throughout the British Empire. Soon after, a handful of British polo players adopted the shirts, and it was those players whom Brooks Brothers’s president saw wearing them in 1896. The rest is Ivy style history. The tab collar was the invention of British bespoke shirtmakers in the 1910s; it became world famous when the then-Prince of Wales wore the style throughout his 1919-‘20 world tours. Tab collars reached the height of mainstream American popularity during Ivy style’s so-called heyday: the 1950s and ‘60s. The round / golf / club collar is a version of a style which originated in the 1860s, and whose massive popularity in the 1900s and 1910s spawned many variations: some taller, some rounder, some with more sweep to the rounded curves, etc. Today, only one version is still offered by Ivy-style shirtmakers: relatively short, with soft “flaps”. It can be worn with or without a collar pin; if it has eyelets, a “dumbbell” bar with a screw-on ball can be used.
Q: Are cufflinks historically Ivy?
Cufflinks and French cuffs have always been acceptable to Ivy style if worn on the right type of shirt: specifically, business shirts whose collars and fabrics are considered dressy. A dressy-enough collar (such as a tab or round collar) on a shirt made with dressy fabric merits French cuffs and cufflinks. Those same two collar styles, on shirts made with more casual fabrics (such as standard Oxford cloth), merit barrel cuffs with no cufflinks. However, shirts with buttondown collars never merit French cuffs and cufflinks, no matter how dressy the fabric may be: that collar style is intrinsically informal. Ivy-style cufflinks are not large, not chunky, not too shiny, and not showy. Silk “Turk’s head” knotted ones are always in favor, as are plain gold, silver, and enameled versions — preferably with the insignia of one’s college or club.
Q: What is one piece of clothing that you would add to a 100% pure Ivy ensemble?
I’d add the quarter-zip pullover sweater to an Ivy outfit. A well-designed and well-made one ticks all the Ivy style boxes: handsome, made of traditional natural fabrics in a traditional cut, functional, inter-generational, and timeless looking.