The Ivyist

In today’s mail:

Hello, Mr. Burton.

I’ve just become acquainted with Ivy Style based on a recent Mercer shirt purchase.

As you know, it is becoming very hard to purchase traditional men’s  clothing.

Since Nordstrom stopped making its 100% cotton dress trousers house brand, I’m unable to locate a product to my liking. Berle is just “OK” but I’m not crazy about twill.

Any suggestions are welcome.



30 Comments on "The Ivyist"

  1. You can find cotton dress pants at companies that advertise here, which include J.Press, Andover Shop, and PennBilt. O’Connells will also take good care of you. If you’re on a tighter budget, try Spier and MacKay.

  2. Okie dokie. I just spoke with David Mercer. He can do a 1/2 inch sleeve length. About 1/4” increments in the collar, he calls mine a 17++ (plus, plus). When it arrives, I’ll give it a hot water washing and hope for the best.

  3. MOST clothing sold today retail is ALpha-Sized, S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL. Still, you can get Made-To-Measure pants/trousers at most any price point you want. Fabric choices are separate, so you can also spend across a range. Custom-made — truly Bespoke — trousers are rather a bit more, with same same fabric choices as MTM. Just a politically incorrect at the moment hint, Tailors make clothing of Style, while Dressmakers (who usually today call themselves Stylists) usually make “Fashion” which doesn’t last one season to the next.

    • “Just a politically incorrect at the moment hint, Tailors make clothing of Style, while Dressmakers (who usually today call themselves Stylists) usually make “Fashion” which doesn’t last one season to the next.”

      Sorry, an actual woman weighing in here. This is sexist nonsense. “Dressmaker” is essentially nothing more than an outdated term for a “female tailor.” Literally nothing about “dressmaker” implies the celebration of fashion over style, you made that up.

  4. Suggestion:

  5. MacMcConnell | February 5, 2024 at 4:14 pm |

    Washing cotton in hot water will open the fibers, not a good idea. Also, hot water will set any stains. I wash everything in cold water, except underwear. I toss my Ralph L shirts in the dryer, but not my better shirts from O’Connell’s. I hang dry them and then press.

    17++ neck size! I had an eighteen inch playing football in college. Luckily it atrophyed back to my high school 16 1/2.

    • It measures 16 1/2. Marked size 17 shrinks to fit, but I could use just a tad more room. I remember being 15 1/2. This slim fit craze that everybody’s on kinda confused the issue as well.

    • whiskeydent | February 5, 2024 at 8:01 pm |

      In high school, mine was a wider-than-my-head 18.25″ (prolly saved my life), but since then it has vascillated from 16.5″ when I’m really good, to 17″ when not so good, to 17.5″ when bad, and to 18″ when it’s “quit bothering me.” Currently I’m at 17″, which I consider a miracle given my decided lack of self-discipline.

  6. My husband bought a pair of Hertling trousers years ago that are his favorite, maybe try them?

  7. I strongly endorse O’Connell’s. The fit is very traditional, the details and sewing are excellent, and they are good value. I also hear good things about Jack Donnelly. I recently bought flannels from New England Shirt Company and found them to be top quality and a bit of a deal. They are nice enough I might try their khakis. I find Press a little on the slim side.

  8. Fred Johnson | February 5, 2024 at 7:24 pm |

    For both Press and OC I have to go up a size in the waist for the best fit. For JD I order my normal waist size and all is well.

  9. I’ll echo that Hertlings is great. I used to buy trousers from J Press but now that they have fewer options in slim fit, I’ve pivoted to Sid Mashburn. I’d also suggest RRL’s officer chino, which may be the best of all the pants I own.

  10. This may get me ran out of Ivy Style forever, but if you want real affordable, *H&M* makes chinos that I’ve had great success with. Bought my oldest pair my freshman year of college and they died last year, almost a decade later. Best $20 I ever spent.

  11. Did anyone mention Duck Head or Bills Khakis?

    • The original post said “dress trousers,” and I took that to mean a step above chinos. Perhaps I was mistaken. I would have included Duck/Bill’s (oh dear) and Orvis if I was pointing him to mere khakis.

      The firms I listed offer cotton pants in a finer fabrics — cavalry twill, for example — than your typical pair of khakis. You’d strongly consider dry cleaning them they’re so nice.

  12. The suggestions so far are outstanding. I’d also add Jack Donnelly to the list. (While those chinos lean more casual, they can easily dress up.)
    And I just remembered that the letter writer specified not being a big fan of twill. So I suppose that would limit cotton dress trouser material to poplin or maybe seersucker. Or gabardine (which is technically a twill, but with a more elegant drape, yes?). Who does good cotton gab trousers? Any suggestions there?

  13. James H. Grant | February 6, 2024 at 1:34 pm |

    In 1965, you could walk into H. Stockton (Atlanta), Eljo’s (Charlottesville), Milton’s (Chapel Hill), The Gentry (Chattanooga), Bill King Clothier’s (Briston, VA), Hall’s (Knoxville), or the Georgetown University Shop – any respectable collegiate clothing shop in the South – and there would be a huge selection of khaki pants stacked on long tables. They were invariably arranged by waist size: 32, 34, 36, etc. These trousers were 100% cotton, guaranteed to wrinkle and shrink. They were NOT golden-khaki; they were NOT olive-khaki. They were real Khaki! The legs were long enough so your Mom could put one-and-three-quarter inch cuffs on the bottoms – the standard for the southern collegiate style. These pants were not “dress” trousers; they were khakis. They were the epitome of the casual collegiate aesthetic. They looked like you slept in them the night before, about an hour after you put them on. Khakis were known to shrink when laundered, so you had to have them cuffed about three-quarters of an inch too long, so when they were laundered, there was absolutely no break at the top of your Weejuns. The belt loops on khaki pants would easily accommodate the standard one-and-one-quarter inch surcingle belt with brass buckle. As I recall, khakis cost about $12.95. They were NOT stretchy; they were NOT cut skimpy in the PeeWee Herman-style; they had to be ironed but steadfastly refused to hold a crease. And by the way, they were never called Chinos in the South. They were just KHAKIS! I wish there was some place where I could find these “trou” today. I am sure they would be more than $12.95. Other than our friend Charlottesville, I doubt that there are many readers who have a clue about what I am talking about.

    • Charlottesville | February 7, 2024 at 1:58 pm |

      Thanks for the mention, Mr. Grant. You are correct, and that was still true in my part of Virginia well into the 80s. I would add Alvin-Dennis in Lexington, Va. to the list. That and Eljo’s were my sources for the standard article in my school days, although the price was more like $25 or so by then. Duck Heads were the least expensive option when I was at W&L, and I scrupulously removed the exterior label with a razor blade and had then cuffed. Today, Bill’s M2s are my standard, and I have 5 or 6 pairs in rotation, but I’m not sure whether they are readily available for purchase anymore.

      Eljo’s is still a good source for honest khakis, although the price is a bit higher these days. Then again, I note that $12.95 in 1965 is about $125 today, according to the two inflation calculators I checked, so maybe it is not so different after all.

  14. MacMcConnell | February 6, 2024 at 7:52 pm |

    Hertling made suits in the 1980s. The suits were very nice and could be MTM or off the rack. I had a Hertling tux for for two decades.

  15. MacMcConnell | February 7, 2024 at 1:52 pm |

    James H. Grant
    I hear you! I never heard them called “Chinos” till this site. We called them Kaks, but mostly khakis. FYI, I’m a military brat. Technically they aren’t dress trousers, but they can be worn with coat and tie depending on the venue.

    The 1960s! Even Macy’s and Penny’s sold Ivy style clothing. Every major city and university town had Ivy shops. My father and I would drive to Oxford, Miss. from Greenville to shop. My father retire from the Air Force in 1966 and we moved to Kansas City. I was in heaven. There was a Mister Guy shop a block from my high school, six around town. On the Country Club Plaza there was Jack Henry’s Club Shop and a Mister Guy. Downtown was the local six story Wolf Brothers department store top floor, imagine a runway of tables with trousers, walls of button downs and ties. Alden, Cole Haan (when they worth owning) and Weejuns, all the shops sold them. Full disclosure, I work a Mister Guy in HS and college. Being self employed, I would also be the guy they called to manage shops in emergencies till my early forties. For examples, in Lawrence, Ks, manager’s wife had a brain tumor, Topeka, Ks. manager had a two week honeymoon, etc. I always enjoyed the break from normal work.

    1960’s, Lamar moving the Chiefs to KC, the automobiles, the music, passengers on commercial planes not dressing like refugees, Kathy Newton and soft shoulder clothing.

  16. I remember well what James H. Grant described. I was in a boy’s school in Virginia and when I got to shop, I crossed the river to The Georgetown University Shop, and when I visited my cousin at The University, I always hit Eljo’s. It has moved but I still do! I still wear that sort of trousers, real khakis. I buy them now from O’Connell’s. In retirement I have learned that washing them before hemming works better than predicting shrinkage. Other is long gone. So Ace Tailors provides the 1 3/4″ cuff. Also, now I get those surcingle belts from Eliza B/Leather Man.

  17. Incredible value and made in the U.S.A. (still matters to some of us):

    If only they offered a few worsted wool options.

  18. That’s what I did, Tim. I measure 35 waist. The boys at O’Connell’s sold me a couple of of pair in 36. I washed them before I took them to an alterations tailor and had them cuffed. Perfect.

  19. I have had luck at Orvis. You can get their khakis cuffed. If you order online, their inseams come in 1/4 inch increments, allowing for a better fit.

    • Greatly agree! I’ve lauded the Orvis Ultimate Khakis on several occasions at this site. For a time, Orvis deviated into the stretch cotton crap, but they have returned home.

      Orvis says they’re twill, but they seem an awful lot like duck to me. They’re thick and heavy, too much for Austin’s 100-degree days and thus a great excuse for wearing shorts. Meanwhile, my J.Press khakis are lighter and more refined, though the elegance is not up to the gabardine level. They’re still khakis.

      Most of y’all probably won’t get or care about the comparison, but the Orvis pants are better than Press with my cowboy boots, but it’s vice versa with my loafers. Neither gets dress shoes. I’m a purist on that issue.

  20. These “jump ball” posts are great. Nice to have such informed and enthusiastic readership.

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