Eric Musgrave

Since 1980, menswear & fashion retail commentator, opinionated thought-leader,
event host & all-round top bloke. Contact me to discuss working together.

The Ivy Look in print x5

One of the best menswear genres ever to emerge from the USA was The Ivy Look of the 1950s and 1960s. It is a masculine, neat and largely unfussy style that really appeals to me. Recently I was asked by Yale University Press to review its book Ivy Style, which is edited by Patricia Mears, deputy director of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Where it’s good, it’s very good – two of the three essays by Ms Mears are excellent. All the contributions by the eminent G Bruce Boyer are superb. The interview with Richard Press, whose family owned J Press, one of the great retailers of The Ivy Look, is fascinating.

Ivy Style 001


Alas, the visuals are weak in parts of Ivy Style, which is not a criticism you can level at the marvellous Hollywood And The Ivy Look (Reel Art Press, 2011) by Tony Nourmand and Graham Marsh, two very well informed UK-based fans of the style. If you like the Steve McQueen cover, you’ll like the book. There are nearly 300 inspirational pages in this production – grab it if you see it as the RAP website says it’s sold out.

Hollywood and The Ivy Look 001


Hollywood is a lavish coffee table book. The Ivy Look (Frances Lincoln, 2010), which Graham Marsh compiled with J P Gaul, is a great little pocket-sized scrapbook of the genre. Again, I wholeheartedly recommend it. J P Gaul used to work for John Simons, the best British retailer of Ivy Style.

The Ivy Look (2010) 001


For reasons that escape me, Take Ivy, a Japanese photo study of Ivy League colleges in 1965, is very well regarded. It finally was released in an English version in 2010. I find it over-rated. Many of the photographs by Teruyoshi Hayashida are in black-and-white, which is a shame as Ivy often uses colour, and many images in the modern re-print look as though they were scanned straight from the Japanese book of 58 years ago.

Take Ivy (1965, 2010) 001

Also looking very dated these days is The Official Preppy Handbook, which was edited by Lisa Birnbach for Workman Publishing of New York in 1980. It’s an affectionate send-up of the WASP wardrobe and lifestyle. Pity that the pix are all b&w. Copies are widely available on the internet. Mine is signed by Lisa Birnbach (but not to me!)

The Official Preppy Handbook (1980) 001

If anyone reading this knows of any other good books on the Ivy Look, let me know.


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