F**K IVY **and Everything Else by Mark McNairy, Harper Design, 2016
A self-described postmodern traditionalist, Greensboro-born fashion designer Mark McNairy breaks the rules of menswear. He flips the bird at the tried-and-true, the boring. And he makes whatever he creates undeniably his own.
That trend now includes books.
F**K IVY **and Everything Else is the portable McNairy stylebook, his designing mind distilled into an infectious little coffee-table read and possibly an essential for any guy into crafting a unique style.
The titular “Ivy” refers to preppy, Ivy-League fashion: polos and chinos, Oxfords and cardigans, blazers and boat shoes. McNairy made his big break with J. Press, one of the preeminent Ivy League clothiers, in 2005.
“I was hired to administer CPR to a dying brand,” he writes in the introduction, “but the powers that be would not let me do what I was hired to do. So I said: F*** this.”
He branched out on his own in 2009, establishing Mark McNairy New Amsterdam in 2009, where he could do whatever he wanted with his designing — match skate wear with brown brogues, print a women’s wool coat in brown duck camo, whatever. Not much of a surprise from someone who worships both Chuck Taylors and worsted-wool charcoal trousers.
Broken down into three informal sections, F**K IVY represents the culmination of everything McNairy admires in the recent history of menswear, as well as some of the trends he despises.
“The navy blazer: Unless you is in Nickelback, Creed or some other supercool rock ‘n’ roll band, you probably need one of these,” he writes, tongue boring a hole through his cheek. But he also breaks from convention by declaring the old match of khakis “a horrible combination.”
Along with his helpful basics and next-tier tips, McNairy’s writing style is uniquely and naturally his own voice.
“A $1,225 sweater is not an investment,” he states. “So unless you is fo’ real ballin’, you better think twice.”
Caveat: This may not be the book you bring to a long weekend on the Crystal Coast. Not because it lacks in content or quality, but because it’s a blazing-fast read. Its 174 pages are delightfully colorful in both language and layout. You could knock in out in an hour, but remember its lessons forever.
“Use this book as a guide,” he suggests. “Find your voice. Be discerning.
“Or, put more simply,” he continues, “read (if you know how to), think (if that is possible), look at the pretty pictures, get inspired and then go f*** yourself.”
Read TCB’s Q&A with McNairy here.
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