The Future Of Ivy

Ivy has undergone the first leg of its evolution. Inclusion. Not the overly-woke kind, the just-enough kind. That was no easy feat, but change never is. Inclusion has made Ivy cool again, and Ivy has learned the lesson that to survive, it must adapt.

Adapt it has. Blue jeans. Fewer ties (but still DO wear a tie when you can). Color. Gender (snark commentor let me spare you – I know Ivy has no gender, but the people wearing it do). A more casual approach. And thus, a more broad appeal.

When I took over the site, I made the prediction that Ivy would become more inclusive, and would not only survive but thrive. I got that one right. And I am getting my next prediction right as well.

Ivy is evolving into Prep. And together, they will form a single aesthetic. I don’t have a name for it, but you watch.

Look at the catalogs of the pillars of Ivy. So many Prep elements. Look at the new younger demographic working with Ivy – and morphing it into prep. It is starting to walk like a duck.

That is not to say that Ivy will disappear entirely. It won’t. First off, Ivy Style is just too cool a phrase to jettison. Second, there are elements of Ivy that I predict will remain. The repp tie. The bow tie. The khaki surely. Ivy will always be the core of the aesthetic’s DNA.

But as with all things with DNA, it is evolving.

11 Comments on "The Future Of Ivy"

  1. What a great article!

    I think the beauty of Ivy Style is that it’s flexible enough to adapt to current trends whilst maintaining a relationship with its past. A lot of menswear is simply based upon a rejection of what has gone on previously.

    I’ve recently been watching very old episodes of the Dick Cavett show. His 70’s wardrobe is obviously of the time but you can clearly see that relationship with earlier Ivy style.

    Ivy whilst being a codified style still remains flexible enough for key components to sit comfortably in most mens wardrobes.
    Hopefully there will always be a place for a great pair of loafers, a soft shouldered sports jacket and an OCBD with a collar roll.

  2. Tim Irvine | May 30, 2024 at 9:39 am |

    Amen to inclusion and evolution! I observe that I wear much the same things I did fifty or sixty years ago but differently. Whereas I might once have worn shorts with the shirt tucked in and all but the top button fastened, now the shirt tails are free and several buttons are left unfastened. I once reserved flip flops for the pool. Now they get much more use. These sorts of slovenly comfort carry into the cooler months, and in Texas going sockless is a full time way of life. Gimme caps are worn widely and habitually. In the sixties school caps were only worn at sporting events. The formality of tennis whites and golf apparel has crumbled, but whites are still practical fun. The golf course, however, is for shorts and untucked polos when it is ninety or hotter. When a jacket and shirt, with or without tie, are in play, the range of colors goes beyond the pink, blue, and white (for my friends…I stick to pink, blue, and white). Bowties were once a rare quirk. Now I wear them quite often. In the sixties on the often un- air conditioned Eastern seaboard, short sleeved shirts were the default choice in hot weather. Now, other than a few polos for golf, I don’t even own any short sleeved shirts. Rolled up sleeves are away of life. I must say I am seeing more and more pants with no break and sometimes a bit of ankle gap. Yay.

    The aesthetic has become more relaxed and approachable, and I hope that old WASPs like me project those same attributes. Wearing clothes comfortably and sticking to natural (compostable) fabrics worn for as long as possible are excellent values to share. Bringing about a return to patching is also worthwhile. Today I will put a small, white cotton patch on the elbow of a blue gingham button down. I am reasonably confident the world will not stop spinning.

  3. Future Fogey | May 30, 2024 at 11:19 am |

    Can you elaborate further? Is this an editorial announcement about the future of the site? None of this makes any sense.

    a) Prep elements have always been a part of this site (do a quick search for “prep” in the search bar)
    b) Ivy already evolved into Pre in the 70s, not least of all with the introduction of the RL Polo shirt in 1972

    If this is some meta shift in the content of the site, fine, but as I’ve indicated in previous comments, we don’t get to decide NOW what Ivy was THEN.

    Alternatively, this all could go back to Jerrod’s (Mr. OCBD himself) observation several years ago that there is a limited pool of content related to the Ivy era, thus pivoting to “inclusion” to grasp at relevance. Still unclear on that one. The only card you need to carry into J Press to join the “club” is a credit card.

    As always, my appreciation for the other commenters here. I’ll go back to shouting at clouds.

  4. John
    In last weeks Saturday’s WSJ in the off duty section there was an article about collars and how a spread collar doesn’t work without a tie . They recommend a button-down in which the collar stays upright and since it is a button-down the collar points are not flying out of the coat. Yes the OCBD will live on. Ivy and Prep will live on.

  5. I know the ’80s and ’90s are “in” right now: We’re revisiting pleats, shoulder pads, and fuller cuts, but when was the last time you saw someone wearing the ostentatious Armani looks from the era?
    Meanwhile, the scourge of fast fashion afflicts our seas (and our diets) with microplastics, its relentless cheapness piling up in landfills the world over.
    Ivy style is evergreen. And it’s every bit as accessible as the cheap stuff made in sweatshop conditions that would make the Triangle Shirtwaist Company seem like a progressive employer.
    With Ivy style, the fit of the clothes might swing right along (though less wildly) with the fashion pendulum, but the essentials haven’t changed since the end of WWII. Plenty of my own Ivy clothes are vintage, many acquired very inexpensively. I have jackets and ties from every decade since the ’50s. And you can tell: The lapels on my oldest jackets are narrower. Then, as with the ties, they widen a bit in the ’70s and ’80s, and the new ones are narrower again.
    But any one of them pairs well with whatever else I’m wearing.
    We don’t wear Elizabethan collars or puffling pants anymore, so at some point, Ivy style will probably look similarly ludicrous to people centuries hence. But for now, it remains a foundation that’s gonna look good, no matter who’s wearing it. That’s why I find elitism around the clothes so bizarre. Why be elitist about garments that are both so universal and so accessible?
    So here’s what I propose: Anyone who wants to be a gatekeeper of a particular look needs to make that look so precious and exclusive as to be attainable in only the most stratospheric economic tiers, and worn by only the most plugged-in trendsetters. The folks in King Louis XVI’s court might serve as historic role models here, or the stylish denizens of the Capitol of Panem.

  6. Ivy has already evolved into prep, like 40 years ago!

  7. MacMcConnell | May 31, 2024 at 3:51 am |

    So, a concert tee, bell bottom jeans and Birkenstocks could someday be Ivy? DNA always changes only if it is manipulated or you are ill.

  8. Vic Delta | May 31, 2024 at 11:18 am |

    What Mac said

  9. to MacMcConnell:

    …Actually, look up epigenetics and be marveled by the fact that a layer, another dimension to the DNA so to say – related to and with great influence to, but not the actual DNA; may be altered by choice and situational exposure, albeit that his can be considered a manipulation of sort, depending who is pulling he strings.

  10. The GI bill helped with inclusion to the Ivies. May the trend of inclusivity continue.

  11. If the look tends old school, circa early 1960s Ivy, then the jazz (hipster) and JFK-ish influences will render it cool repeatedly and infinitely. Otherwise, to fend off the bland, thoroughly uncool suburb-and-exurb influences (synthetic golf shorts, 1/4 zip-mock neck sweaters, polo shirts, etc.),* it will benefit from steady injections of the rustic RRL/Filson vibes, which call to mind yesteryear A&F and Orvis.

    * basically the preppy take on athleisure

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