Ivy Style today: The Symposium video, New York

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Last week's Symposium in New York was hugely enjoyable.

There were over 200 enthusiastic people in the audience (standing room only) and I think the speakers were perfect.

Alan Flusser gave the historical background on Ivy style (having lived it himself, and spent the last 12 years researching it for the official Ralph Lauren biography); Richard Press gave his family's side of the story at J Press, plus very personal enthusiasm for the style; and Sid Mashburn talked about how was inspired and inherited Ivy - and is making it relevant to men in his stores.

Then the more modern influence: designer Todd Snyder discussed about how he uses and evolves Ivy; and Nick Sullivan from Esquire touched on the pure fashion side. I sat in the middle, asking dumb questions.

The photo above is Alan (endearingly) attempting to show a photo to the crowd, illustrating the elegance with which proponents of Ivy style mixed tailoring with sportswear.

And this was the first fundamental thing I learnt about Ivy on the night: that it is about the attitude, not the clothes.

Not the khakis or the oxford button down, not the sack suit or the repp tie, but the easy, nonchalant way a certain class of students put clothes together.

The second thing I learnt was that Ivy style survived so well – became the American style – because it was so adaptable. Because it evolved.

Ivy originated in the 20s, was democratised by vets in the 50s, and became preppy mainstream in the 80s. The French had their version; the Japanese mixed it (feverishly) together.

Which is why purists make perhaps less sense in Ivy than anything else.

I genuinely think Ivy has never been more relevant than it is today.

It was an easy way to wear tailoring, and one that emphasised comfort, sportswear, quality and looking after your clothes. It was elegant but not corporate. Very now.

I won’t write any more, but let the men themselves explain everything. The video is below – I hope you enjoy it.



Many thanks to Thomas Mason for their support and making the event happen. Thank you to the 224 people that attended. And thank you to the speakers:

  • Alan Flusser
  • Sid Mashburn
  • Todd Snyder
  • Nick Sullivan
  • and Richard Press

Oh, and by the way, Richard Press was – for a year – a member of the Rat Pack.

This was a story I never quite managed to get into the conversation. Let me tell it now.

Frank Sinatra and his entourage turned up one day in J Press. Sinatra wanted to try the soft Ivy look, having mostly worn sharp continental clothing up to that point.

Richard (below) showed him the rack of suits. Sinatra tried on one, liked it – and bought the entire rack. Plus suits for the entourage. This was fortunate because Sinatra could not tolerate trying on multiple things, or fittings: it was either right or it wasn’t.

The next day Richard gets a note, saying Mr Sinatra will be playing at the Copa, and there will be a table at the front for Richard and his wife, if they would like to come along.

Richard is invited to the next show as well, and for a year he is part of the crew accompanying Sinatra, looking after his wardrobe.

After a year, Richard gets another note. It says ‘Mr Sinatra will no longer be requiring your services’. He’d moved onto another style: Ivy was no longer for him. The equivalent of being dumped by text.

A little frippery to end with.

Enjoy the very serious discussion in the video, of genuine elbow patches and big American colour.

In the video, I am wearing a (vague) version of Ivy style:

  • Grey herringbone suit from The Anthology (review coming soon) in a very soft shoulder
  • Pink button-down shirt in PS Oxford cloth (coming next year)
  • Black knitted tie from Tie Your Tie
  • Black cordovan tassel loafers from Edward Green

Photography: Elliot Hammer