21 September 2010

The Ivy Look by Graham Marsh and JP Gaul

The Ivy Look is small but its got a punch

While Lisa Birnbach steps up her media blitz (where's Chip?) and utters 'polar fleece' for the 466th time, there's nary a whisper about two authors in the UK who have already released, 'The Ivy Look - An Illustrated Pocket Guide to Classic American Clothing. ' It hits the states the end of October but if you're in a hurry you can order from Amazon UK now.

Americans like to consider Ivy their own but anyone who's read anything by Bruce Boyer knows that Ivy was born far from our shores and across the pond where those people with no fluoride live. We Yanks have certainly tweaked the polo, hunting, cricket, rugby, tennis, look. More important, we made it inclusive. Something that never looks bad on our permanent record. Have you ever heard a Brit say inclusive? I personally don't think they can pronounce it.

JP Gaul and Graham Marsh have make it their own again and this time they're inviting everyone. The Ivy Look, like Take Ivy, is an appreciation of what many of us take for granted. Weejuns, button downs, khakis, Jazz, Horween cordovan. And unlike True Prep or the Official Preppy Handbook, the aesthetic here is a quiet whisper of traditional. What is best described as invisible but with style points for those in the know.

Chock full of Esquire ads, Jazz album covers and movie one-sheets, it's the British POV on what is a very different message in London than it is here in the states. Mr. Gaul and I talked about how rarely I saw Ivy when I worked in London. "Ivy existed away from the world of business. Through Jazz and black American music it was an expression of the roll of a button down collar or the feel of a properly broken in Weejun."

There's also a look at Ivy through the Japanese, Italian and French perspective. All with their own codes and unique tweaks. If you're looking for the Locust Valley lock jaw, full out preppy courtesy of the Tommy, Ralph and Mickey Show, this ain't gonna be your cup of tea. But if you're the least bit curious about stuff happening to our culture in other countries - - this book will answer questions you never considered while maybe even tweaking your own closet.


JMW said...

It's interesting to see how Birnbach is being skewered in blog land since the release of TP. Will have to check out the Brit publications.

Anonymous said...

Just got this last week, and it's fantastic. My only quibble would be the size. True, it's clearly put across as a "pocket guide," but it would have been great to see some of those ads, album covers and posters at a larger size...

Easy and Elegant Life said...

This sounds like the real jazz. I'll look for its release Stateside in October. Thanks.

Sam said...

I left London (ye olde worlde) 12 years ago to move to Boston. I have not missed Blighty once and each day I thank my lucky stars i left the country that does not know the difference between assimilation and integration. For all its faults, give me the US anytime.

Anonymous said...

pimping the shitty take ivy book again? how much kick back to you get?
Thanks for making me waste 14.00 dickwad

Anonymous said...

i dunno tradster- do you really like the idea that this ivy stuff you've been wearing for years is going to start to be worn by 20 year olds -
you might start to look ridiculous out of people's ignorance - look at that guy he's trying to dress like he's 19

tintin said...

JMW- My intent is not to skewer anyone. Heavy Tweed Jacket saw through his archives of Men's Club magazine how prep turned into a costume post 1980. Not to put too fine a point on it but the honesty of the clothing met it's demise thru the OPH. Like things do when popular culture grabs and barfs on it.

e.s.- I complained about the size to Gaul who said it was a selling point to the publisher. Cheap to produce and something to put by the cash register for kids and wives to buy dear old dads. It seems you have to have some sort of angle today to sell a book that is made of paper.

Sam- I love London and it was unfair of me to make the inclusive remark. My experience, as Gaul reminded me, was with middle class white guys at Lloyd's of London. A pretty conservative bunch. I would have loved to work with the more liberal advertising types in London but that wasn't in the cards.

Anon 8:39 - please refer to this link


for the definition of dickwad. You seem to meet the criteria perfectly.

Anon 8:43- Been there - done that. Since my 1st pr of Ray Ban aviators in 1976, I have seen them come and go at least 12 times. When you're 50 you don't give a shit what anyone thinks.

Anonymous said...

anon 8:39 - did you get it from amazon? Return the #@$@#4 book and stop whining.

The tradster rawks!

Anonymous said...


Of course we can spell and pronounce 'inclusive'(it'll always be our language that we've lent you, until you can all speak Spanish), but what a ridiculous idea, and I'm sure you don't really believe in it. It is New Labour/Democrat bogus; to choose is to exclude. To be discriminating is to be civilised. Or not. Well, Budweisers all round then.


Anonymous said...

If the OPH helped to usher in the "preppy era" (which it likely did), "True Prep" certainly marks its last exhausted breath The only ones to not get the memo are those who cling so desperately to their Ralph Lauren costumes because this "lifestyle" affords them some kind of identity or because they somehow sense that things really were better back when.... "Mr. Hilfiger, call your office."

Anonymous said...

What the 'l is a "...properly broken in WeeJun"(sic)?


Cathleen said...

Looking forward to reading this - sounds like Ivy for the foreign exchange student set. Tweak it up, Trad.