Why Ivy Guys?

Author Zoe Burnett

Editor’s Note:  Why Ivy Guys? is a title I guess I am stealing from Zoe, to be a monthly column about the perception of Ivy guys.  We will also do a Why Ivy Ladies except I need someone to write it and give me a title I can steal.  This’ll be monthly too.  The columns.   The titles will stay the same.  You know what I mean.  – JB

A new friend recently asked me if the people I date have good style. It’s a simple question that nonetheless stumped me. Before answering, I paused to reflect on my past entanglements and current relationship. The earliest was in sixth grade, when I fell hard for an eighth grade drama kid who wore three piece suits on and off stage. This was during a self-proclaimed goth phase, meaning I wore anything black available in children’s sizes, and one dress from Hot Topic that had deteriorated by the time I rediscovered color. With this early example in mind, I answered yes; my date doesn’t necessarily need to have the same style as me, but a vested interest is necessary.

Although my taste has matured past that ultimately disastrous adolescent encounter, the inclination towards men in classic and Ivy style endures. Each maintains a timelessness often discussed in menswear circles, with the implication that people simply used to present themselves better overall. Dress codes are dropping like flies, and it’s more and more uncommon to see someone out and about with the same sartorial standards to which I hold myself. That is to say, a man who wears the new Boston uniform of a tee shirt, cargo shorts, and flip flops year-round need not apply.

Reference Librarian

Ivy style, on men and women, indicates a put together-ness that’s increasingly attractive the closer I approach my thirties. Contrary to the belief of those who have tried to set me up over the years, I’m not interested in teaching any man how to dress. Men who wear classic clothing either were already taught how to do so, or figured it out themselves. This reassures me that they can not only assemble an outfit on their own, but also that they’ll have the self-assurance to carry it off. I’m happy to give or receive advice as to which tie goes best with whatever socks, but I’m not Nanny. Planning my own ensemble takes up enough time and brain space.

Another appealing quality of this type is a lack of fussiness that I reserve exclusively for formal events. Similar to grooming, if a man is more precious about his closet than my obsessive-compulsive self, that’s too much anxiety for one household. Have I spent evenings deciding which cardigan to pair with which skirt for the next day, only to wake up halfway through the night and switch out both garments? Yes, and I rely on whomever I’m seeing at the time to either sleep through the frantic matching, or implicitly trust that I’ll make the right choice in the end. I always do, and if he has any doubts about that, why are we dating anyway?

And then there are the small, yet crucial, things. With an Ivy style man, I can rest assured knowing that not a single pair of his shoes will display his toes. Like revealing my collar bones or PDA, that kind of intimacy is reserved for the home, or on a boat deck in the middle of the ocean. His conduct when meeting my family will be equally deferential and at ease, and no amount of ribbing that my salty relations can administer will dent the hard shell built up by institutional hazing and athletic culture. Most importantly of all, I can trust that he will never refer to anything as “classy.”

The wearing of classic menswear, and Ivy style especially, belies a shared values system that goes beyond visual attraction. This sort of man is like a Chesterfield sofa; he looks great when first brought home, and only increases in character with age. There’s also the unspoken agreement that cheap is cheap. Investing in well-made, durable clothing shows commitment, if not necessarily to me, then at least to dressing well for the foreseeable future. As in any desirable relationship, a Chesterfield is comfortable, solid, and built to last. Likewise, a man in Ivy style won’t fret when the dog occasionally jumps up and takes a nap on them.



17 Comments on "Why Ivy Guys?"

  1. Excellent. I like the idea of this new column, and I’m looking forward to it’s companion about Ivy Ladies. Zoe, thanks for a great start to what I hope will be a mainstay moving forward.

  2. Agreed! Here’s continuing to present oneself well.

    Best Regards,


  3. Hear, hear. Outstanding piece.

  4. I am straying a bit from the topic at hand, but all of this talk of ivy put these old lyrics in my head: “Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy….”

    You kids, fire up your Google machine and search for Mairzy Doats.

  5. An excellent addition to the Ivy Style family of interesting topics and discussion. Zoe’s article was interesting, informative and I like her preferences and interests in men and how they should dress. I hope just as many women read her articles here in IS and her stylistic suggestions influence them.

  6. “Likewise, a man in Ivy style won’t fret when the dog occasionally jumps up and takes a nap on them”
    This here is a motto to live by.

  7. Leslie Anne Hasty | August 31, 2021 at 7:45 pm |

    Yes, Zoe, casual has unfortunately become the “uniform” for most. As a woman who spent my first ten years of formal work in military class Bs, I still feel the need to wear a shirt with a collar, and it’s nice to see young men with a similar handicap😏.
    Great article!

  8. Why Ivy?


  9. I liked Old Trad’s question.
    A suggestion:
    One-word answers from other readers to the question “Why Ivy?”

  10. @Tweedy Prof – I could only get it down to three words.

    Calm, subtle confidence.

  11. Edward William Aisthorpe | September 1, 2021 at 6:23 am |

    More of this please

  12. “Most importantly of all, I can trust that he will never refer to anything as ‘classy.’”

    Yes, a dealbreaker.

    Great piece, ZGB

  13. Well done.

  14. John W. Matney | September 10, 2021 at 6:46 am |

    I enjoyed Zoe’s new column and am looking forward to her future essays. Well done.

  15. Way to go, Zoe!

  16. The absence of a dress code is, in practice, a dress code most strictly enforced. As for matching socks with ties, that must be a “girl thing.” Seriously, more could be said about this, but it hasn’t come up before to my recollection, because it would be an unnecessary complication. Maybe an article is forthcoming? For me, it’s too easy, i.e., black shoes/black socks, brown shoes/brown socks or navy blue socks, athletic shoes/white socks.

  17. Marguerite Brown | December 16, 2021 at 10:37 am |

    Thank you!
    Hard to find well dressed men.. Ivy is the simplest way, yet so many don’t get it. My friends laugh when I’m attracted to the guy wearing no socks!!
    Most don’t get it..sadly!

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