Do you ever feel like you're watching an unfortunate fashion trend happen and you're utterly powerless to stop it? (If you've ever seen a car run over a squirrel, you know what I'm talking about.) Readers, that's how I feel about the so-called Ivy Look.
Consider the evidence:
First (actually, the order is a bit arbitrary) there was this book, which I noticed late last year.
Then there are the blogs like The Ivy League Look and Ivy Style, not to mention Tumblr's The Weejun. In fact, there's such a proliferation of ivy online, it's choking out the virtual sun.
There was/is also Mad Men. And the reprinting of the 1965 Japanese classic, Take Ivy, which I saw for sale at my local J. Crew.
Parenthetically, if you think Ivy Style is closely related to Gilligan's Island Style, you're right!
Finally, while researching FIT exhibits for MPB Day, I discovered that this fall's big show is none other than Ivy Style (opens September 14, 2012; you can read the details here).
Readers this is big, arguably bigger than any trend for toile de Jouy pants or vintage Fifties maternity outfits I may set here.
What we think of today as Ivy Style was simply the establishment look of the Sixties; it's not quite the same as Kip-and-Muffy preppy -- it's more conservative, yet it also transcends race and religion (though not gender). While it started decades earlier (in the Twenties?), the Fifties and Sixties represent its mainstreaming (perhaps due in part, to the G.I. Bill, which sent returning veterans to college) and its zenith.
|Sidney Poitier in "In the Heat of the Night"|
Ivy Style is Ken and Allan (I know, I've contributed to this in my own way, and I feel terrible about it).
And my own Dad -- seen here on a summer vacation!
Ivy Style is perhaps best defined by what it is not: groovy.
|The Partridge Family|
Ivy Style is coming back and we need to prepare! NOW is the time to invest in those vintage Fifties/Sixties mens suit and blazer patterns; they are going to be worth money, big money. OK, maybe not big money, but more money....or maybe the same money: a safe investment in these uncertain times.
Of course, original Ivy Style clothes are already collectible; most of the renowned manufacturers are long gone and those that remain, like Brooks Brothers and J. Press, are owned by corporations that have compromised their quality. (Don't take my word for it, read this.)
In closing, friends, I hope you don't think I'm just adding fertilizer to the ivy vines with this post. Blue linen blazer notwithstanding, I'm ambivalent about the Ivy Look. To me it represents establishment values and a nostalgia for the disillusioning days of The Best and the Brightest. Its return portends more striped rep ties, oxblood penny loafers, and boxy three-button suits. As a child of the Seventies, I'll take The Partridge Family over, say, My Three Sons, any day.
Readers, what are your thoughts about all this: have I missed anything important?
Did anyone in your family dress this way? Do you, or someone you love, still go for it?
Ivy Style -- Yea or Nay?