More like fuck ivy, am I right?
Bonus 7 Preview: Friendsmas and Christmas Presents
As you guys know, we have a special, even more candid conversation on the Style & Direction Podcast, available exclusively to our Patrons! This particular episode is about Friendsgiving, Friendsmas, and Christmas Presents. It’s a rather wholesome listen, as all of us are relegated to digital-only meet ups, rather than have a chance to dress up with our non-menswear peers and have fun. As for the conversation on presents, we do mention how hard it is to buy good ones for menswear enthusiasts, which is why most of us prefer quirky knicknacks from eBay or thrift stores.
Hell, after COVID has prevented me from seeing most of my friends (for a good reason of course), I’d be happy if my friends found time just to hang out. That’s a good present to me!
Alas, we have the next best thing: our weekly livestreams. And this latest discussion features Ethan, Spencer, MJ, Matthew, Kiyoshi, Jason, Ivan, and Sam.
A Primer on the Ivy Style Aesthetic
The focus of this particular stream was about ivy style (lowercase). You guys should know that I’m a big fan of this aesthetic, though my experience is rather young when compared to my entire menswear journey.
As I wrote in this essay (and state in this stream), I found the ivy look through Dick Carroll coming aboard The Armoury NYC in 2017, around the time I started to expand beyond period accurate vintage and #menswear knockoffs. The 3-roll-2 closure and soft shoulders made it feel contemporary (as I had no experience with Neapolitan-style jackets at the time) while the swelled edges and cloth added that vintage flair. Of course, I would eventually mix in my love of Golden Era tailoring and turn my style into very 30’s ivy-trad, with occasional nods to the Hey Day Ivy and naturally, contemporary iterations. I found these variations of ivy to be quite amenable to my approach to menswear, as it’s not too modern yet not too old.
The rest of #theSaDCast seems to agree with me, taking inspiration and cues from ivy in assorted amounts. For Kiyoshi, it was an earlier source, having since moved on to a different menswear aesthetic. Jason likes to do his irreverent take with his “punk rock” mentality, mixing in white socks and loafers with a cord suit that subtly points to the old Thom Browne. Spencer obviously has turned to rugged ivy, attributed to his love of vintage milsurp and workwear. Chuck has even stated that he likes to do an even more contemporary take on rugged, as his style is much more casual and less tailored than the rest of us.
It’s all a bit post-modern in a sense. We aren’t dressing in ivy because of our background (we are certainly not WASPs in the slightest), but rather because we like the style for its only aesthetics. And we love getting ivy inspiration everywhere. Sometimes it’s from old photographs and catalogs (the original inspo), but for the most part, we get ideas from others who got inspiration from ivy. There are so many ivy/prep inspired brands springing up that its easy to have countless wellsprings of inspiration- brands like Noah, Rowing Blazers, and Drake’s are all great example of it done in a refreshingly contemporary way. It’s up to us to determine what cues to pick up.
Overall, ivy is a style that is quite important to us, whether in the past or in the present. In the stream above, we also discuss the history of the look, emphasizing the fact that by the mid to late 60s, ivy was quite nonchalant. College students still wore chinos, blazers, and OCBDs, but it was slouchy and uncaring. That is probably the biggest appeal to us, as we aren’t about looking prim and proper despite how “formal” people perceive it. If you need proof of this “real” hey dey ivy, take a look at our pal Berkeley Breathes.
The Ivy-Style Website, FB Group, and CC
The conversation on “real” ivy lead us to discuss what is perhaps the biggest platform for ivy on the web: Ivy-Style.com. It’s an odd site that has been around for quite a while, starting out as a place for founder Christian Chensvold (and other contributors) to document all things ivy, from interviews with Richard Press to diving deep into Tom Wolfe’s terminology of GTH Pants (more on that later).
I never used it much, as like most menswear blogs, it seldom utilized proper photographs of the things it refers to (and you guys know I love having plenty of pictures and words). In its current form, I personally find it not much more than aggregator of ivy related topics (which funnily enough, included my blog since I covered The Bloke’s opening), and while it can sometimes prove fruitful for some news (I actually get updated more on reddit or directly from my friends anyway), it’s much more useful to see how some ivy-enthusiasts view the world.
We go through a lot in the video above. Some of it includes Chensvold’s odd venture Trad-Man, which comes at no surprise to those who have read his glowing profile on Jordan Peterson (a figure #TheSaDCast disagrees with strongly). The chat also addresses some problematic (or at least “anti-woke”) sentiment that seems to describe some of the comment section of a few of these posts, especially ones about newer brands like Rowing Blazers. However, the real focus is how telling the official Facebook group’s stance is on ivy itself.
Based on the reception of a few of our posts in the Ivy-Style FB group (of which I’ve been a member for a few years, though not active), it seems that a majority of the users are quite obsessed and controlling over “the look”. As I said before, ivy has taken a few proto-forms and iterations, but the facebook group is particularly taken with the Hey Day of the late 50s and early 60s.
There is seemingly no wiggle room, whether it be subtle cues or inspirations: it must all be in pursuit of that “gold star” of ivy as it were. Jason’s cheeky “what do you think” caption (you could argue that it meets one of the lowest requirements of trolling) was seen as an invitation for criticism- they were ready to make suggestions or outright hate on the fit as needed. Honestly, they’re certainly entitled to it, as it is the official community to the website after all (which apparently has been preserving tradition since 1967, though the internet did not exist back then). It’s a little bit odd to me, as ivy has never been a straight forward look (I guess Take Ivy does have a list of clothes), as countless posts from Berkeley Breathes should show you. Different lengths and widths of trousers can be seen on actual ivy wearers in those days, which was the basis of a a majority of Jason’s commenters.
It should be obvious that supreme adherence to an aesthetic is something I am against; the only time it really applies is when I write about period film attire (which I’ve even softened up on, as film costuming is an art form on its own). When it comes to menswear, I think it’s always best done when you get to mix in a variety of inspiration as that’s the only real way to get some personal style. Even I am not always straight forward ivy despite my love for the look, as I wear 60s-70s sack jackets with 30’s style spearpoint collars and a have a predilection for wearing pleated, full cut trousers. However, I think that my white socks and repp ties point to the aesthetic, even if it’s not overt. And you know me, I love making references.
To be quite honest, I’ve posted in the group myself and haven’t gotten much of a reaction, other than the odd comment that “pleats aren’t ivy” or “bucket hats are too casual”; it’s never bothered me much, but that’s probably because my posts didn’t blow up like Jason’s did. I’m not really one to rock the boat, as I know my style can be subversive for both vintage and contemporary menswear enthusiasts already. Overall, I think it really was just the reaction to Jason’s fit that really caught them by surprise. Such a shame, since there was quite a few fits that are quite great (at least the ones that pop on my algorithm). Obviously, such fits tend to be on the safer side, with more obvious connotations to straight forward ivy than Jason’s.
Looking back, that seems to be main disconnect between my friends and Ivy-Style, besides the very different personal backgrounds. We want personal style that can draw cues on a whim (which can include spades of ivy). Based on the response, a majority of their users want ivy, with a capital I.
For now, enjoy a few of our own ivy-inspired fits that may or may not have rocked the boat at the Ivy-Style FB group. I’m not keen to try- I’m perfectly fine being a lurker and providing affirmations on good fits at my own leisure.
EDIT: Be sure to read this PTO article about a related subject.
Funnily enough (but not unexpected), the site/FB group actually picked up the stream (I found this out this week, as I was writing this recap) and as you could expect, the comments were not nice at all, especially considering that Jason was actually quite cordial in his responses to the critical comments of his post (which got a lot of feedback). Granted, Jason was being cheeky in his original post, but he was genuinely curious to how hardcore ivy-style enthusiasts would respond to his outfit. Clearly they didn’t like it (with one even telling him he should consider smoking cigarettes in order to off himself quicker) and they certainly didn’t like our stream. Apparently, we remind them of SNL- I’d much prefer Comedy Bang Bang.
Maybe this just means I need to do a proper essay and podcast on ivy style. The aesthetic, rather than the website.
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