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Ivy Style: Radical Conformists Hardcover – 7 Sep 2012


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (7 Sept. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300170556
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300170559
  • Product Dimensions: 28.9 x 23.6 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 592,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Patricia Mears is deputy director of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Peter Fenton on 19 Aug. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It looks good on a coffee table, but it's contents are dull and uninformative. A very poorly conceived book, that should have been much better.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 11 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Very good stuff for devotees, but appallingly presented 9 Nov. 2012
By Andrew S. Rogers - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When my wife and I left the New York City area for Texas early this year, I knew there would be things I'd miss and things I wouldn't. Pretty much at the top of my list of things I wish I was still in town for is the Ivy Style exhibit at the Museum at FIT. So I eagerly awaited what I hoped would be the next best thing, the publication of this book. Now I'm of mixed opinion. Parts of this book, like the curate's egg, are excellent. Other parts are quite good if not as obviously relevant to the topic. Then there's what felt like filler.

Importantly, this book is not "about" the FIT exhibit: There are many beautiful photos from the exhibition, but not enough to make up for not having been there. "Ivy Style" the book is meant to accompany the exhibition, and cover the topic in near-academic style. There's some serious analysis going on here, a long, long, *long* way from The Official Preppy Handbook.

The centerpiece of the book is a wonderful interview with Richard Press, grandson of the founder of J. Press and himself a former president of the business. His words more than anything else laid out the fundamentals and evolution of Ivy style. Bruce Boyer's excellent chapter on the intersection of jazz and Ivy in the 1950s is fascinating and important reading, while Masafumi Monden's look at "Ivy in Japan" highlights where the flame is perhaps burning most brightly today. Patricia Mears' historical overviews tie things together well.

Other chapters were more problematic for me. Peter McNeil's "The Duke of Windsor and the Creation of the 'Soft Look'" was an interesting look at one of the great icons of classic men's style, but despite the author's efforts seemed only tangentially related to Ivy style. The next chapter, "Ivy Britannicus" by Christopher Breward, was similarly interesting but even less relevant. (To repeat, both chapters are worthwhile reading on their own; I question their inclusion here.) Bruce Boyer is an excellent author -- I admire not only the chapter mentioned above but also his book about my particular idol, Fred Astaire Style. Yet the chapter here consisting solely of excerpts from Boyer's Elegance: A Guide to Quality in Menswear, especially a very, very long section on tweed, felt like filler. And, apart from Mears on the birth of Ivy style, this collection of excerpts is indeed the longest chapter in the book. Throughout, one more pass by a copy editor would probably have helped: There are more than a few errant apostrophes, for instance, and an egregious description of Alan Flusser as a "menswear doyenne" (p. 165).

There's one final problem with "Ivy Style," one that guaranteed I couldn't give the book more than four stars: As other reviewers have noted, the typography is bad, bad to the point of near-unreadability. A small, sans-serif typeface printed in medium grey on glossy stock pretty much ensures illegibility, and it sure did here. Captions and endnotes are tinier still. These layouts may have looked pretty to the designers at FIT and Yale University Press, but I hope the authors protested against the abuse their words were forced to endure. My eyes certainly protested at trying to read them.

On the whole, though, there's a lot that's satisfying about "Ivy Style." Certainly, the book and exhibition is probably the first time (and maybe the last?) that this style of dress has been blessed by such substantial curatorial attention. For devotees of the style, this is essential reading despite its flaws (overlooking illegibility is a pretty big "despite"). Historians of fashion or socio-economic signifiers could get a lot out of it too. Like Ivy style itself, this book won't appeal to everyone. But those who see the virtues of the style will appreciate the virtues of the book, too.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Better be young to read this book 7 Nov. 2012
By Berry Silverman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Beautiful book, filled with fascinating photos and text. BIG however - the author and/or book designer selected a tiny tiny font and then decided to use a rather light gray ink, making it very difficult for anyone who doesn't have perfect vision. Bring out your magnifiers and plus 10 readers. It's really a shame because reading becomes tedious. But the photos are indeed not only plentiful, but also wonderful.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Ivy Style:Radical Conformists 29 Oct. 2012
By Colonel 1 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I traveled across the country to see the Ivy Style exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Technology. It is a marvelous show, with the added benefit of being open till 8pm! I was therefore keenly looking forward to the book on Ivy Style. Regretfully, the choice of font and more importantly color of ink makes the book almost unreadable. I struggled to get through the excellent essays on the Duke of Windsor and the Jazz Men and then simply gave up. How Ms Mears, FIT and the Yale Press chose a light gray ink for the text is beyond comprehension. Hopefully, if it gets to a second printing they can correct this.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Oh dear. A disappointment. 19 Oct. 2012
By Amory B. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I ordered "Ivy Style" with free delivery and, to my surprise, it arrived a day before the estimated delivery date. Superb service. As a follower of the various Ivy blogs, I was much looking forward to settling into a leather armchair in my library, lighting a cigar and spending a few pleasant hours with the book. However, you can't enjoy a book if it's difficult to read the type, and, alas, that's the case with text of "Ivy Style." The body type is so small and light (it looks grey on the page) that I have to strain to read it. The photo captions are even worse; they're so small that I have to use a magnifying glass to read them. This is immensely disappointing because it was really the essays in the book that I was most looking forward to. A book that is this important--to my knowledge, it is the first work to comprehensively trace the origins of Ivy style and, in particular, examine its critical British influences--should not be so egregiously flawed. How could the editors and publisher let this happen?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Bad Typography, and uneven editorial contents 5 Feb. 2013
By Siwash - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
First, the good news. This is a book with excellent photos of the exhibit. About half of the essays within are worth reading, especially the one on the Duke of Windsor.

Now the bad news. For a press of this caliber to screw up so badly with the type design is inexcusable. . . perhaps this was a job shunted off to somebody new on the staff, or to some uncaring soul in China. The typeface makes the book a loser: it is gray (why?) and sans serif (why?) and in a tiny size (why?). This makes the book very hard to read and limits its appeal.

"Preppy" really may have at one time BEEN preppy. It for many years now must just be considered Standard American Dress. There are important values connected with the style: clothing should be durable, well-made and built to last (thrift); it should not be offensive (consideration for others).

Richard Press (of J. Press fame) is obviously the key to the book: his thoughts and contributions are the soul of it.
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