• Tabitha James

Ivy In The Rear View

A lot of guys like Ivy Style because it harks back to an earlier age they romanticize. Maybe they were younger then and they like to look back on a world brimming with possibility. Or maybe they weren’t even born and the time before their existence just seems cooler and more exotic. (Smoking in public! Everyone in suits! Oldsmobiles!) And if given the opportunity to go back in time for a day I bet a lot of people would, soaking up the experience as they wander Manhattan in (say) 1956.

That’s great. But such nostalgia can lead people to overlook the fact that our present will also be the past. Now will also be a subject of longing nostalgia for people in the future—including our future selves. Yes. In 2070 there will be a girl dressed in her prized deadstock Uggs, listening to Taylor Swift on her crazy-expensive antique iPod, supine on her hoverbed crying because she was born at the wrong time and missed the Great Pandemic.

So what? So a lot! Think of having an opportunity to go back for a day to Manhattan in 1956, or Chicago in 1965, or Berkeley in 1974. Let’s assume that in doing so you won’t become your own father. You just get to be a time-tourist. Wouldn’t you jump at the opportunity? Sure you would. So would I. (I can almost feel my Mary Quant microdress already!) But since our now will soon be our past, why wait for it to be a memory? We should soak up everything, no matter how mundane—the weird spelling of my name on Starbucks cups, the opportunity to buy a new J. K. Rowling book on publication day, bidding on eBay, watching The Walking Dead episode by episode as it comes out.

A cynical, hard-bitten, pessimistic person (I’m looking at you, John Burton!) might sneer at this. What is there about our time to be nostalgic about? COVID-19? Growing economic inequality? Riots? And what are we doing good now? No righteous war against a clearly evil aggressor. No Space Race. No Civil Rights. Getting to travel back to 2020 from 2070 wouldn’t be tourism. It would be torment. Just skip it and head straight back to 1963 and go to Brooks Brothers.

Nonsense on a stick!

Look up cognitive dissonance and think nostalgia. People are really selective when it comes to the past. We focus on all the good parts (the dress, the politeness, the social acceptability of Martinis for lunch) and ignore everything that’s bad. 1963? Ok, I’ll grant that that’s a great year as sexual intercourse began then, but Dear God, America was a nightmare. The casual sexism and homophobia. Segregation. (Seriously? Segregation? You thought that a good idea!?) Medical care that was straight out of… well, the 1960s. And the standard of living? Dire. No internet. No cell phones. No computers. (well, not many.) Travel? Insanely expensive. Sushi? Not unless you’re Japanese.

But now? We’re living in an age of magic—the Golden Age of Global Connectivity. I can make friends with people I’d otherwise never encounter—some on the other side of the world. Buyers and sellers of niche items—like, say, 1960s Ivy clothing!—can find each other and transact to their mutual advantage. I can use my phone to order pretty much any type of cuisine I want. In fact, I have more computing power in my purse than Eisenhower did when he was planning D-Day. And the apps I have are awesome! Just think about Uber. Ok, it’s a little creepy—an app that encourages you to get into the cars of random strangers you met on the internet. (Things I was always warned not to do!) But Uber certifies those strangers as reliable, so I trust them—and get cheap rides as a result. And those strangers get to use their cars to make money—cars that would otherwise be sitting unused while their owners didn’t do anything productive. The sharing economy has opened up a world of possibility that was waiting to be released. And don’t even get me started on how awesome Amazon is!

We are so much better off than in the past.

So, yes, love Ivy for nostalgia—or just love it as it’s a wonderful, practical, masculine style. But don’t forget that our now will soon be our past… and when that happens we’d pay lots to enjoy it once again for just a little time. So, enjoy it now, to the fullest—and exploit the generosity of Bill Gates and his cheap computers to help you find that perfect 1950s Langrock tie!

See you in the future!