Question Marc

Marc Chevalier

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.

 

 

46 Comments on "Question Marc"

  1. Very informative indeed, but what happened to all the Ivy women’s coverage that was promised a while back?

    Coming right up. JB

  2. Jonathan Mitchell | March 25, 2022 at 11:00 am | Reply

    I would not dare to dispute the dicta of M. Chevalier, but I have observed that some Ivy aficionados prefer point collars to tab collars and round collars on their broadcloth dress shirts. As long as J.Press sells them, I find it hard to consider that point collars lie outside the realm of Ivy.

    Mes salutations distinguées.

    Which is PRECISELY my quarter zip argument. Merci pour votre soutien – JB

  3. Question for Mr. Chevalier:

    What is the difference between preppy, ivy, and trad? I have always imagined the difference is in degree of formality.

  4. Can tab collars be fitted with an adjustable tab to accomodate (slightly) larger knots?

  5. Jonathan Mitchell,

    I am intrigued by Mercer’s 2+7/8″ Straight Point Tennis Collar.

  6. Marc Chevalier | March 25, 2022 at 12:32 pm | Reply

    @Jonathan Mitchell: point collars are neither eschewed nor preferred by Ivy style: they’re in that nebulous realm between ‘tolerated’ and ‘accepted’. That said, point collars are considered mandatory by Ivy for one type of shirt which I didn’t include in the original article: semi-formal (“tuxedo”) evening shirts.

  7. Marc Chevalier | March 25, 2022 at 12:36 pm | Reply

    @hardbopper: collar tabs are not length-adustable. Tab collars are meant for neckties whose interlining isn’t thick, and which are knotted with narrow “four-in-hand” and “Oriental” knots.

  8. Marc Chevalier | March 25, 2022 at 12:51 pm | Reply

    @Mitchell: the answer has been argued about since 2004, when the term “Trad” began to spread online. In many aspects, the lines of separation are nebulous at best, with subjective assertions and negations tossed back and forth like bombs. In other words, I won’t touch this subject with a 10-foot pole.

  9. Marc Chevalier,
    Thank you, sir. I shall give the Oriental knot a go.

  10. As Mr Chevalier points out, “Preppy” and “Ivy” are not precisely definable without starting an unseemly argument.

    FWIW, I would suggest that the term “Ivy League” to denote a type of person and the associated lifestyle and clothing style must be no later than the late C19 whereas the term “Preppy”, I believe, became common only well in the C20. Before mass access to tertiary education, I think that “collegiate” or “college” (adjectivally) were used in a similar, if broader, sense.

    I also think it is historically defensible to say that, since “Ivy” has applied to people/looks over many generations, when one says “Ivy” some qualification is needed (as often occurs on this excellent site, specifying “heyday”, inter-war, etc.).
    “Preppy” covers a shorter time span and so I would argue has evolved less (especially if we neglect the C21 usage which seems to refer to ANY clothing that is remotely smart or produced by PRL).

    Late-heyday and 1970s-1980s “Ivy” and “Preppy”, as far as I can tell, are barely distinguishable from each other if t all and refer to a nearly identical demographic.

    I will leave the vexata questio of “trad” to others… 🙂

  11. Charlottesville | March 25, 2022 at 3:23 pm | Reply

    Bravo for giving a thumbs up for tab and club collars, two styles of which I am quite fond. As to zippers in sweaters, to each his own, but they are not for me.

    I think club collars were originally detachable, as indeed were nearly all dressy collars up until the early 30s or so. I don’t know whether the same is true for tab collars. As a sporty collar, the button-down would have been attached, and indeed would need to be since it requires the shirt body to have buttons sewn in the proper spots. The only detachable collared shirts I have today are for formal wear, and it is rather treat to insert the collar studs and put one on, but I think the enjoyment would fade fairly quickly if it needed to be repeated every morning.

    Finally, I note that going back to well before my time, Brooks Brothers always carried the point collar, which it referred to as the Tennis Collar, as distinguished from the Golf Collar (round) and the Polo Collar (button down). A quick search yielded this ad from 1948, showing all three: https://www.bonanza.com/listings/1948-Brooks-Brothers-Polo-Golf-and-Tennis-Collar-Shirts-Advertisement/1182055934. Does that make it Ivy? I would think Ivy-acceptable, at least, as Mr. Chevalier says above.

  12. Marc Chevalier | March 25, 2022 at 3:47 pm | Reply

    @Charlottesville: Absolutely right: the earliest round collars were detachable, and the first tan collars were fully detachable as well. Buttondown collars have never been detachable, not even during their 1880s beginnings on wool “woodsman” shirts.

    Items of clothing aren’t Ivy simply because of their manufacturing or retail provenance: something is Ivy if its materials, design, details, and (in some cases) historical connections are all in line with Ivy style. Throughout their existence, Brooks Brothers, J. Press, Langrock, etc. have stocked some merchandise which isn’t Ivy. The fact that such items —i.e., point-collar business shirts— were sold by them does not, ipso facto, make those items Ivy.

  13. Marc Chevalier | March 25, 2022 at 3:49 pm | Reply

    ^ Mea culpa: tan collars, not *tan* collars.

  14. Evan Everhart | March 25, 2022 at 5:28 pm | Reply

    Stop pushing the damn quarterzip nonsense. It’s beneath all of us. It’s also hideous and tacky and vulgar.

  15. Stop pushing the damn quarterzip nonsense. It’s beneath all of us. It’s also hideous and tacky and vulgar.

    Agree.

  16. Prescott Forbes | March 25, 2022 at 10:29 pm | Reply

    With all due respect to Messrs. Burton and Chevalier, I’m afraid I have to agree with Messrs. Everhart and Sack about the quarterzip being beneath all of us; “hideous, tacky, and vulgar” indeed.

  17. Marc Chevalier | March 25, 2022 at 11:59 pm | Reply

    @Roger Sack and @Prescott Forbes: so pleased that you enjoyed the rest of the article.

  18. Prescott Forbes | March 26, 2022 at 12:41 am | Reply

    @Marc Chevalier:
    I certainly did enjoy the rest of the article, and look forward to further benefiting from your future articles.
    For me, Trad is authentic and unpretentious, Ivy is authentic and usually unpretentious, Preppy is sometimes authentic and always pretentious.

  19. Heeding C-Ville’s wisdom, a definite No to the zipped up sweaters. They’re so awful. Really. They’re that bad. The saving grace for zippers on pants is that they’re hidden.

    “Zippers.” Even the word itself. I mean.

    JB’s attempts at protestantly reforming (semper reformanda) classic Ivy persist. He perseveres. It’s okay to applaud mildly with a polite nod-and-wink while resisting. I say as I reach for my two-decades old, crewnecked, zipperless shaggy shetland.

    A few things are Ivy. Very few. A lot of things, admittedly classic or tasteful or even handsome, are not.

  20. Old Bostonian | March 26, 2022 at 10:19 am | Reply

    @Prescott Forbes,
    Your assertions about Trad, Ivy, and Preppy were certainly subjective, in Marc Chevalier’s words. Having said that, being just as subjective as you, I fully agree with your remarks re: authentic and (un)pretentious as they apply to Trad/Ivy/Preppy.

  21. Marc Chevalier | March 26, 2022 at 12:51 pm | Reply

    @S.E. I am truly beginning to regret that the third question was asked of me. It’s distracted you from saying anything of interest about the meat of the article: the answers to the first and second questions.

  22. Not too long ago, I was searching for a pair of understated cufflinks, perhaps stainless steel or sterling silver, meeting the stated parameters. Not to be found. Better to go without than to go bling.

  23. Gary S. Glazer | March 26, 2022 at 4:13 pm | Reply

    I must admit that I, too, am not a fan of sweaters with any type of zipper. I am not, however, prepared to say that they are hideous-just not my style. I really enjoy my J. Press shaggy dog sweaters( pullover or cardigan) and Polo cashmere cable knit sweaters. Great article though-keep the good stuff coming. This is a marvelous website.

  24. Marc Chevalier | March 26, 2022 at 4:54 pm | Reply

    @Gary S. Glazer I reckon that @S.E. , @Roger Sack, and others would prefer more references to quarter-zip sweaters…so that they can opine on one opinion, rather than comment on multiple historical facts. It’s easier to do, you know.

  25. Thanks for a great Q&A. I won’t contribute to the quarter zip chatter, as it’s clear that battle lines have been drawn and I’m not terribly invested one way or the other.

    I will, however, try to distill an idea based on Mr. Chevalier’s responses regarding shirt collars and cufflinks: In clothing terms, Ivy is essentially a way of dressing that is elegant and dressed-up (by current standards), while also being simple and low-to-no-frills. Not a lot of flash, fuss, or fashion; not a lot of extra bits and bobs in Ivy style. The more you get into the territory of elaborate collars or cuffs, the more you begin to edge out of the Ivy style zone, bit by bit. This is a simplistic observation, I admit, and perhaps stand to be corrected.

  26. Just because you don’t like the look of some article of clothing doesn’t necessarily mean said article is not Ivy. As an analogy, I like a wide variety of vegetables, but, in the only possible way we could be similar, George H.W. Bush and I don’t like a particularly stinky, fibrous vegetable called broccoli. Clothes and food discussions are matters of taste, not fact (except, I kinda think it’s a fact that broccoli is horrible).

    It’s the cocktail hour over there on the Right Coast, so go pour yourselves a single malt scotch, small batch bourbon, or martini and relax.

    Amen. – JB

  27. @Nevada

    “The more you get into the territory of elaborate collars or cuffs, the more you begin to edge out of the Ivy style zone, bit by bit. This is a simplistic observation, I admit, and perhaps stand to be corrected.“

    Actually, (I think) this is a great insight. ‘Elaborate’ is the key word and it likely goes for every aspect of Ivy— not just collars and cuffs. The reformation/expansion of any style is tricky business, especially with a look (like Ivy), so deeply rooted in a particular period (early-mid 20th century) and culture (prep school and college campuses). I prefer revival/renewal to innovation any day, but I’m old-fashioned— standing athwart history yelling “Stop!” and such.

  28. I just dig wearing presentable attire.

    Quarter zip fleeces are useful as a mid-layer for cross-country skiing though I am not sure how ‘ivy’ those might be given their typically recycled/synthetic fabric content. My three are clean, folded, and put away until the snow flies next season.

    Non sequiturly,

    Heinz-Ulrich

  29. I own a couple of Henley sweaters, including an older L.L. Bean of ragg wool. I like ’em.

  30. Marc Chevalier | March 26, 2022 at 8:05 pm | Reply

    @S.E. and @Nevada: …all the more surprising that three of the fussiest shirt collar styles of modern times —the buttondown, the tab, and the round with eyelet holes— are all considered Ivy.

  31. Mr Chevalier’s statement that button-down collars were first used by cricket players throughout the British Empire surprised me. I played cricket for my school and university in the sixties in India, and button-down shirts were virtually unknown during that time — even in non-sporting circles. I remember discussing how to make such a collar with my tailor, so I could have a button-down shirt. What’s more, I have never seen an image of cricket players wearing button-down collars, whether in photographs or in drawings from the nineteenth century or earlier. I did a bit of research on this issue and it seems likely that these were stories that circulated early on, but without much evidence to back them up. Even the story of polo players wearing such collars and Mr Brooks copying that style seems to rest on shaky grounds. But at least, the logic is on firmer ground — on horseback, wide collars could flap up onto your face, and cause distraction during a shot. In cricket, such speeds are not common, not even for a fast bowler. It is a far more sedate game.

  32. Marc Chevalier | March 26, 2022 at 9:11 pm | Reply

    @Dr Peter Prepare to be surprised. A cigarette card from 1896: https://www.flickr.com/photos/70957014@N08/22162990985

  33. Nothing wrong with quarter zips if one wishes to wear them but they are hardly Ivy, nor is there is any compelling evidence to the contrary. There are so few items in the Ivy canon already that I am hard pressed to understand the support for adding them. They are, to my eye, inelegant and the costume of too many middle management types hovering around the bar at an airport Chili’s during a layover. No thank you!

    I guess, if you are that hard pressed, you would have to ask the iconic Ivy standard bearers who retail them for enlightenment. Which would, ahem, be compelling evidence. – JB

  34. Marc Chevalier | March 26, 2022 at 11:07 pm | Reply

    @Dennis It’s disappointing that nearly half of the comments in here have focused on the smallest, least informative, and most subjective part of the article, while expressing virtually no interest in the rest of the article’s content.

  35. @Mark Enjoyed the article and there was justifiably quite a bit of praise for it. However, I fail to see how you’re not understanding the seemingly only controversial part of it is receiving the most attention. Just an observation from a long time reader and first time commenter. 🤷🏻‍♂️

  36. I definitely get what you’re saying but perhaps subjective comments are inherently more likely to spur discussion? People seem to be passionate about the issue, for better or for worse. But you are perhaps correct to feel disappointed as the rest of the article is excellent and more valuable overall, in my opinion. In any event, I’m glad you are weighing in on these topics as your insight is appreciated!

  37. Thanks for the replies S.E. and Mr. Chevalier. I suppose it is true that having one’s collar points affixed to the body of the shirt with two small buttons is a bit fussy, isn’t it? Especially if one routinely undoes them to tie a tie. I guess my idea of “un-fussiness” comes from the inherently more casual nature of the button down collar. It works with everything from jeans to a suit and tie (though should never be on a shirt that also has French cuffs, as mentioned in the article). — The only person I know of who wears jeans with a French cuffed shirt is Fran Liebowitz. Tab collars only look good with ties in my view, as do collars with pins. They have slightly more elaborate hardwear than the button down, but I suppose it’s true that they’re all fussier than simple point or spread collars.

  38. James Harkness | March 27, 2022 at 2:03 am | Reply

    Is there not a spectrum ranging from Trad to Preppy?
    As one comment-leaver once mentioned, within Ivy itself, is there not a spectrum ranging from Grey Ivy to Gay Ivy?
    An aside: The articles and comments here are so much more interesting than the narcissistic photos and nit-picking contents of the Facebook group.

  39. Dear Mr Chevalier, would it be possible to outline the historical standing of boots jn the original Ivy Style context? I am thinking of the Chelsea boot which is highly fashionable these days but also see the Jodhpur boot which in my view is one of the most underrated gems in elegant and timeless male footwear. Thank you.

  40. Mr Chevalier, I AM surprised! Ranjitsinhji is indeed a famous cricket player from the last century and earlier, but that is the first image I have seen of him wearing a button-down collar. I am still uncertain if this collar is as functional in cricket as it might be in polo. Perhaps it became a style or fashion for a while among cricket players for a period of time. I’d be curious to see how popular it was among cricket players of the time, so I must to do some digging. Thanks very much indeed for educating me on this aspect of my old game!

  41. I may have missed it, but does anyone know where I can currently buy a good tab-collar shirt? (if the collar itself is unlined/unfused, even better).

    Also, it’s a ‘hard no’ for me on the quarter-zips: they seem more like a ‘trend’ than something that will still be with us in 10 years; also, they read a little young. Younger than most of our group, anyway.

    See, this is how an adult disagrees. Thank you Paul. – JB

  42. Interesting article, Marc.I
    seldom wear a shirt and tie these days, but the history is fascinating.
    As far as 1/4 zips are concerned, I have a few but only wear one consistently and only with jeans. It’s 100% cotton and came from Harold Powell in Dallas. I don’t consider it particularly Ivy Style, but it’s not worth getting upset over one way or the other. As noted, it’s the least salient part of the article.

  43. Marc, enjoyed the whole article. Now I must go get my quarter zip from the Andover Shop and O’Connell’s. Have a good day!!

  44. There’s an interesting component to Ivy/ Trad/ Prep style that’s rarely discussed. While one doesn’t need to have gone to Ivy/ Prep or have grown up with “Trad” values to dress in any of the forms, I do think the familiarity gained growing up in the institutions and value system allows for an ease of dress that comes across in personal style – and removes the need to label any particular article of clothing as “Ivy, Prep, Trad”, etc. They’re just “my kinda clothes” as Charlie Davidson used to say.

    Ivy/ Prep/ Trad are all big tents, and it seems that more recent converts to each have a very defined sense of what is or isn’t. More than a few featured profiles here reveal subjects looking stiff and ill at ease, as every facet of dress had been considered down to the centimeter. Same with comments regarding quarter zips, polar fleece, and any number of things.

    Everyone’s sat next to a vegan or a born-again at some point. Leave them to the proselytizing and keep personal style open to interpretation within a genre. Who knows, you may find a little inspiration and more authenticity.

  45. Marc Chevalier | March 28, 2022 at 2:39 pm | Reply

    @Stanislaus Short and sweet answers below. Keep in mind that they’re not in any way a judgement on the attractiveness and versatility of the boots you asked about.

    Chelsea boots: not considered to be stylistically Ivy.

    Jodhpur boots: not considered to be stylistically Ivy as “walking about” footwear, rather than strictly for riding.

    “Desert” veldtschoen boots, as made famous by CLARKS: considered to be stylistically Ivy, as are chukka boots.

  46. Many thanks, Mr Chevalier, for your answer and clarification. Not being a 100% Ivy Style follower (with certain reasons), I am breaking orthodoxy today with a pair of black Chelsea boots worn with vintage Gant tweed sports coat, blue OCBD, green RL tie and khaki chinos…

    Most interesting your advice on the two other options within the style framework though, appreciated.

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