“Read (if you know how to), think (if that is possible), look at the pretty pictures, get inspired, and then go fuck yourself.” Nope, it’s not a motivational Instagram post; it’s the foreword from iconoclastic designer Mark McNairy’s new book. Charming, right? But then what else would you expect from a designer who’s made his name on not so much breaking as gleefully ripping apart the rulebook? Dubbed F**k Ivy and Everything Else, McNairy’s new book (published by HarperDesign) isn’t however, as its title – and author’s reputation – might suggest, a 176-page tirade. Or at least not all of it is. Most of it is in fact a masterclass in style, a series of lessons on how to dress and act like a modern gentleman, each illustrated with a colourful picture (and some equally colourful language to boot). There’s a lot to learn here, which isn’t surprising given McNairy’s status as one of America’s foremost menswear tastemakers.
Self-taught, he has forged his reputation not only on his candour and refusal to kiss ass, but also on treating classic menswear pieces as his blank canvas, covering them in busy prints or contrast elbow patches, badges or brash slogans. His is a brand built both on deep respect for classic modes of men’s dress – from Ivy League prep to Savile Row tailoring – and a two-finger salute to the same. Despite having no formal training, he’s so far scooped a creative directorship at J. Press, launched his own line (Mark McNairy New Amsterdam), collaborated with the likes of adidas Originals, Bass and Timberland, and in 2010 took the reins at Woolrich Woolen Mills. Which means dude knows a thing or two about getting dressed. Here are six style lessons we learned from F**k Ivy and Everything Else
1. You Need A Navy Blazer
It’s non-negotiable. Timeless, versatile and classically masculine, a quality navy blazer will repeatedly save your skin whether you’re scrambling for something to look smart at the office or off-duty.
2. Know The Rules, Before You Break Them
There’s a right and a wrong way to flout the rules. Take outerwear layering, for example – unthinkable a few years ago, on-trend now. Do it right and the fact that you’re wearing two jackets at the same time doesn’t look weird AF. Do it wrong, well… (Related: 8 style rules it’s OK to break)
3. Learn How To Tie A Bow Tie
It’s a life skill only the sorriest of men lack.
4. Wear Only One Piece Of Interesting Clothing At A Time
You’re a man, not a moodboard. Dress accordingly by using a brightly coloured or printed piece as your look’s focal point and keeping everything else in the mix a little more muted.
5. Invest In One Or Two Classic Watches
Unless you’re an avid collector, there’s no need to jump on every new model a Swiss watchmaker serves up from its age-old manufacture. One or two quality watches that steer classic in their styling will serve you a lifetime. And maybe even your kids, too. (Related: How to build a watch wardrobe)
6. Hats Aren’t For Every Guy
You either are, or you aren’t. Don’t overstretch yourself if it means the result is Usher in a coonskin cap.
Mark McNairy Interview
Inspired by the teachings of his latest style bible, we reached out to McNairy to see what he had to say on style, flip-flops and his favourite place to grab a bite. The below is what we got back, reproduced – in the interest of authenticity – verbatim. Enjoy.
FashionBeans: Hi Mark, can you tell us a bit about how F**k Ivy and Everything Else came about? Mark McNairy: “I WAS KIDNAPPED, DRUGGED, AND HYPMOTIZED [sic]. THEN DUCT TAPED TO A CHAIR, AND TOLD THAT IF I DID NOT FINISH THE BOOK THAT ME AND MY FAMILY WOULD BE DOOMED TO WEARING SKETCHERS [sic] FOR THE REMAINDER OF OUR EXISTENCE ON THIS PLACE WE CALL EARTH.” (Fair enough.) “Dress well, and don’t be an asshole” is one of your more memorable bon mots. But what does well-dressed look like to you? “NOT LIKE A DICK.” (Specific!) What was it about Ivy Style that drew you to it initially? “TIMELESS CLASSICS, THAT YOU CAN USE TO PAINT YOUR OWN PICTURE.” (Standard.) What’s the biggest mistake a man can make when it comes to style? “KILLING IT WITH THE WRONG FOOTWEAR.” (He’s not wrong.) What are five key pieces every man needs in his wardrobe, and why? “IT IS NOT ABOUT NEED. IT IS ABOUT WANT.” (Deep.) You make your hatred for flip flops pretty clear in the book… “I am all for relaxing the sports jacket/restaurant rule, but when I am dining, do you think that I or anyone else really wants to see your filthy, fungus-infected digits? […] “Do you think your toes are pretty? I could be mistaken, but I personally have never heard of a woman with a foot fetish.” (p. 87) …so what’s your opinion on men wearing sandals? “It depends on the severity of the toenail fungus.” (Fair.) You also profess your love for Popeye’s in the pages of F**k Ivy. What does Mark McNairy’s order look like? “SPICY STRIPS, MASHED TATERS W/ GRAVY, BISCUITS.” (WORD UP. We’ll have the same.) What’s next for Mark McNairy? Are you working on another book, an upcoming collaboration, or any other projects you’d like to shout about? “Yeah I am already working on the sequel. It’s called THAT’S SOME FUCKED UP SHIT LARRY.” Which, of course, we await with bated breath. Will you be equipping yourself with McNairy’s men’s style manual? Or is this sartorial rule-breaking gone too far? Sound off below. F**k Ivy and Everything Else is available from 24 March, published by HarperDesign.