Six Years Ago — Ivy Magazine, 1957

This post originally ran this week in 2009 and was Ivy Style’s 100th post. 

* * *

This is Ivy-Style’s one-hundredth post.

Over the past 99, I can honestly say that the thing I’m most proud of is never having once attempted to confirm or deny that there is or is not such a thing as “trad.”
For this one, I’d like to present something special: Ivy Magazine from December, 1957 (vol. 2, no. 2), acquired from Collectable Ivy, a dealer in collegiate memorabilia. It’s a fascinating example of an Ivy lifestyle magazine — complete with jazz and clothes — from the heyday and from the source.

I’ve not scanned the entire magazine, as the content is actually rather dull. And you don’t want to read an entire dull magazine at your computer, especially when you’re supposed to be working. But here are some highlights.

The issue includes feature stories on Cambridge University, segregationist David R. Wang and entertainer Jean Shepherd, plus some mediocre fiction and poetry. The front-of-the-book news items include one on the “feminine invasion” at Ivy colleges. There’s also a jazz-on-campus story, but it’s on the Dixieland Revival, not Dave Brubeck.

Put together by undergraduates, the magazine’s advertising roster is fairly impressive, and includes Saks Fifth Avenue, several New York hotels offering student rates, and some travel companies with packages to Bermuda. There are also several recruitment ads aimed at new grads, including ones by Burlington Industries, Ford Motor Company, and Gulf Oil Corporation.

Here are some of the more interesting ads. Playboy took the inside front cover, while MG took the back cover:

Clothing ads are few; the only full-pager is this one by Gant stressing the company’s Ivy cred and the merits of its collar roll:

The article worth reproducing is the cover story, in which two writers argue about prep schools versus public schools. The anti-prep guy opens his essay with a reference to “clothing manufacturers aware of the class-consciousness of the American public,” and argues that isolation from females leads the prep schooler to all sorts of neuroses from which he may never recover.

The opposing writer’s characterization of public-school boys, on the other hand, echoes that of the “Archies” in Nelson Aldrich Jr.’s Atlantic Monthly cover story.

The word “preppie” is used to denote the prep schoolers. Here, in 1957, it’s given quotation marks, as if a neologism. Thirteen years later, after entering common nomenclature vis-a-vis the novel and film “Love Story,” it will lose them, and gradually come to refer to something far less specific.

A note on reading the two essays below: There were technical difficulties when trying to link to larger, easier-to-read files. If these scans are too much of an eye strain, drag the files to your desktop and enlarge them there, or better yet print them out. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

23 Comments on "Six Years Ago — Ivy Magazine, 1957"

  1. Old School | July 2, 2009 at 9:29 pm |

    Thanks for this rare bit of memorabilia.

    Ah, the days when Gant U.S.A. (now a Swedish firm) was “Gant of New Haven”!

    A snippet from Wikipedia:

    “The 1960s

    Gant dress shirts were de rigueur for American male students in the early and mid 1960s.[citation needed] The shirts were worn open-collar and without necktie, with the top button open to reveal the roll of the collar, except when the formality of an occasion demanded otherwise. The front of the shirt buttoned along a double-truck hem, a feature that became absolutely requisite for any brand targeted at adolescents and young men. Other manufacturers offered similar product, but only Sero, another premium-priced line, matched the Gant style, differentiating its shirts from the former solely by omission of the distinctive Gant loop at the top of the back pleat, and sometimes dispensing with the double pleat down the center back in favor of single pleats on the back shoulders. Sero was considered to be the only alternative truly equivalent in prestige to Gant in the youth market. All other brands, for whatever reason, clearly identified themselves as knockoffs by failing to precisely conform to the Gant cut. Beginning in the spring of 1964, Gant participated in the Madras craze, offering shirts in both the proprietary Gant cut and other styles. The Gant-cut Madras cloth shirts were the most prized.”

    For those interested, the full Wikipedia article also states that at one time Gant made shirts for J. Press and Brooks Brothers.

  2. Christian | July 5, 2009 at 1:07 pm |

    Site is back after being shut down for two days due to a fire:

    Must’ve been started by The Torch Society.

  3. Glad to see your fine site survived!

    A commenter on another thread refers to a description of Miles Davis’ bell bottom pants, etc., and writes, “This is Ivy?”.

    What we called “collegiate” style was the dominant attire when I attended an East Coast suburban high school in the mid-60s (not a prep school for sure but a school that sent graduates to Princeton, Dartmouth, Penn, etc. each year). As I recall what is now called “trad” was much more flexible than the regimented, fossilized version current practitioners seem to want to practice.

    For instance, I recall some of the most stylish guys in my senior class (’67) dropped the wingtips and Weejuns that spring in favor of high heeled, zip-up suede “Dingo” boots. Why? Because that’s what Bob Dylan – then at his peak of fame – wore. While “Ivy ” styles were dominant for most guys we also adapted it to include cultural trends of our time which included, among other things, Bob Dylan (boots), the Beach Boys (shirts) and the Beatles (hair). Also, Wallabees where the latest thing, originating only in 1965.

    As for professors whining about incoming freshmen’s attire, they “hadn’t seen nothin’ yet” as campuses changed more rapidly in those years then any time before or since. Dropping a clothing style that basically mimicked our fathers’ and teachers’ attire was part of that era.

  4. Christian | July 6, 2009 at 11:29 am |

    Once again, ’67 emerges as the critical transition year.

  5. Older School | July 6, 2009 at 8:59 pm |

    So glad that I graduated from college in 1965, so that I’ve never had to undergo any transition whatsoever, except for the fact that my ties are now wider than they were then.

  6. For better or worse – depending on one’s perspective, I suppose – I’ve always noticed a huge difference between pre-Boomers (i.e., born before 1946, graduated college in ’67) and Boomers born from 1946 through about 1952 (after which they change again).

    It seems like my sister and her high school friends (born in 1944) grew up in a different country than I (born in ’48) did.

  7. Christian | July 7, 2009 at 8:02 pm |

    To what do you attribute the difference? Their college years?

  8. Christian,

    Congratulations on your 100th post – especially for not delving into The Great Trad debate.

    I hope you stay at it for a long time.


  9. Christian, I really can’t tell you what caused the great difference I notice between late pre-Boomers and Boomers. But it is, in my view, quite significant.

    I don’t think college years per se changed us – i.e., Boomers – so much as we changed college. Those just a few years older than us were, I believe, more inclined to conform to existing norms. This is a matter of degree. Lots of Boomers were relative conformists, which was the case with me in some but not all regards.

    On the other hand the pre-cursors to the psychedelic era, the dressed in black “Beats” and the Ivy-style jazz generation prominently featured in this site, were much older than those who went to college during the late-50s/mid-60s peak of Ivy-style. They were literally Boomers’ fathers’ age: Jack Kerouac, born 1922, or the “warrior of the Weejuns”, Miles Davis, born 1926.

    I dated two women 3-4 years older than me (born December 1948) and the difference in our perception of many things, especially our childhood and teenage experiences, was pronounced. This wasn’t the case with women 4 to 8 years younger than me.

    Was it TV? It only became really common in many areas after about 1950. Those born before 1946 would not have been exposed to it as toddlers and small children.

    Or was it the difference between the mid- and late-50s rock & roll years – Elvis and his cohorts – compared to the early- and mid-60s rock & rollers – British invasion and West Coast surf sound. Also the late-60s.early-70s psychedelic rock and the hippie era came after most pre-Boomers were out of college, been through the Service, already married, etc. Boomers – not just the college year abroad types before the late ’60s – hitchhiked through Europe on (literally) $10 a day (me 1972) as well as up and down the West Coast (me, service years 1968-69 and 1972-76).

    I also think pre-1955 Boomer men were separated from their younger brothers by being the last large cohort to have a high percentage with military service experience, although that’s something we share with pre-Boomers. BTW, even junior enlisted men often wore Ivy-style clothes on liberty in the Far East in the late-60s/early-70s; I had a seersucker sports coat and OCDB shirts made in Hong Kong in 1971.

    Maybe someone can cite some research on this topic for us.

  10. Any idea who illustrated the cover?

  11. Happy 100th!

  12. “isolation from females leads the prep schooler to all sorts of neuroses from which he may never recover”

    Guilty as charged.

    And there are definitely other bits of truth in the “against prep schools” part.

    Fortunately, all of these are more than compensated for by the fact that absolutely all prep school graduates end up extremely rich. At that point, your diminished ability to deal with women isn’t really that much of a handicap, is it?

  13. Playboy and MG: two collegiate icons of the heyday!

    Paul: I also took notice of the cover. I assume it was done by W. Cudaley (sp?) and Alice, whose names appear at the bottom; presumably two students. The illustration work is excellent and very representative of the period. It reminds me somewhat of the style of Dolores Cannata who worked in the Eames Office in the 1950s.

  14. A marvelous assessment of what the hoi polloi considers a “mature sex life.” The “farmer’s flock” portion is priceless.

  15. Ward Wickers | July 8, 2015 at 3:36 pm |

    I had one of those MGAs (1959) for a while. I wish now I had never sold it. But I had other MGs. A 1968 MGB, which was a wonderful car, and then a Midget, 1972, I think. The Midget was a piece of junk. By that point, Leyland had fully re-engineered the MG line and it was no longer the car it once had been. For a British car, though, the late 50s through mid-late 60s MG was a really good car and lots of fun to drive.

  16. @WFBJr,

    In any other forum I’d let the term “the hoi polloi” go uncommented on…

  17. If you’re referring to my use of the vestigial article, I’ll have you know it’s commonly accepted as proper usage.

  18. Much like wearing jeans and a t-shirt also is.

  19. Paco
    Very well stated. I note that in high school you called Ivy style “collegiate”. I’ve stated before that in different parts of the country it was called by different names, but the brands were pretty much the same. As a military “brat” moving often, it was called everything from “Ivy”, “Ivy League”, “Collegiate”, Brooksy”, University”, “Natural Shoulder” to “Traditional”. Seems each region had it’s parochial name for it. The term “Preppie” always referred to actual prep-schoolers till the 1980s.

  20. Ward Wickers
    I had a 62 MGA in college. Great car to drive, fun and great handling. Not much power, I’ve got British motorcycles with more HP. Who doesn’t regret selling a MGA?

  21. Touché

  22. Ward Wickers | July 9, 2015 at 11:45 am |


    I actually had one of the now fairly rare ’59 MGAs with twin overhead cams as a teenager. Only a limited number came into this country. It was initially built as a Sebring race car, so had no lack of power. In fact, it would really open up.

    It was not a reliable car. I’m sure the guy I bought it from was as happy to get rid of it as I eventually was. The engine was really temperamental and burnt a lot of oil. Because it was so sensitive, you had to reset the points and clean the spark plugs, which were always fouled, pretty much every time you took it out. Otherwise, it would cough and choke, and leave a trail of black exhaust and oil behind. It had no trouble overheating, and, it leaked. I never had a car that leaked as much as that one did. Since I was lazy and anything but a car mechanic, the constant maintenance didn’t work well for me.

    It was a beautiful car, though. Jet black with a red interior. Sliding, removable windows and cables for the door latches. I kept it as long as I could, but eventually gave it up.

  23. Ward Wickers
    While the “wood framed with running boards” are iconic MGs, I think the MGA has the best styling. I still occasionally look around to get another one. MGBs are the second best, but not the ones with the rubber noses.

    Yes, when owning anything with a British motor from that era or before one must either be a mechanic or have an endless supply of cash. There is no such thing as a oil tight British motor and Lucas is the prince of darkness. 😉

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