Badge Of Honor: The Blue Blazer At Hampden-Sydney

As a counter to the recent discussion about loutish behavior among fraternity men, here’s a delightfully dignified video from Hampden-Sydney College about the importance of proper dress, anchored by the blue blazer, “our badge of honor.” — CC & CS

26 Comments on "Badge Of Honor: The Blue Blazer At Hampden-Sydney"

  1. As a current college student (though I graduate Thursday), I can affirm that the last bastion of gentlemanly character among most fraternities is their dress code. It may be a RL/BB button down and chinos, but it looks like white tie apparel compared to most GDI slobs.

    I’m not sure why the debate over the modern – or historical – state of fraternities is so emotional. My personal experience, as a GDI, has been that frats provide friends for a cost. The members of frats can be surprisingly diverse, depending on the history of the frat itself. There are racist frats, there are academic frats, there are service based and religious frats. I am hard pressed to identify a single commonality among all frats, for better or for worse.

    In view of the diversity among modern frats, I have to ask if fraternities during the hey-day were as diverse or if they were all basically the same, with different names. It seems that what many of the older readers remember of their experience regarding frats may be out of date. Perhaps one can’t rely on their own experience, nor should those who know nothing of modern frat culture comment on it – whether to praise or disparage it.

  2. Wasn’t in one (UNC-CH, ’72) but had quite a few friends that were. Several were full of “Daddy’s $$” snots, a couple were pretty political, at least two were rather academic, and a bunch seemed staffed with regular okay guys.

    The snots gravitated to frats (and sororities) but they would have clubbed up in some manner anyway. I never associated the “Greek system” as a whole with any societal “evil”. By senior year, our dorm floor consisted of friends and acquaintances who more or less moved onto it together, and this was the case in other dorms as well. Not a huge difference.

  3. Commented in wrong post, sorry. Just assume this is the Dartmouth frat post.

  4. @JDD- I was in a fraternity prior to transferring to an IVY without fraternities when I was in school. That being said, I had and have no trouble making friends. I paid for the network, socials, and experience. To say brothers for life, is garbage. Most of my fraternity brothers I hardly talk with, its my friends from growing up and prep school I keep in contact with.

    That being said, every chapter at every school is different. SAE at some schools are nerds at UofOk apparently they’re racist. The black fraternities however were the most racist, and the worst offenders of hazing, that being said in the 21st century, being black is (except in literal circumstances) a get out of jail free card in academic and more liberal settings. Can’t “offend people.”

    My fraternity had a couple of black members, a couple of racist members, but for the most part just a bunch of WASPy kids from the north east and new england who all liked the same stuff and played the same sports growing up with the same politics.

    My father, grandfather etc were all in fraternities in their college days, so I can speak first hand to this.
    HOwever, do you really think up until recently frats were racially diverse…. Come on. There’s that GDI education. They had jewish and WASP frats for a reason, there’s a reason there are non racial and black fraternities…

  5. Dress code, pure and simple.

  6. Two buttons darted is the contemporary American style.
    Is the new sack.

  7. Ward Wickers | May 13, 2015 at 12:02 pm |

    I like the tag-line: “When you go to a man’s college, you ought to dress like a man.”

  8. Gornergrat | May 13, 2015 at 1:11 pm |

    I’ve never heard of this school.

  9. HSC Alumnus | May 13, 2015 at 4:15 pm |

    Besides all the stuff you can read about on the linked college site (founded 1775, etc, etc) that commend this fine institution, Hampden-Sydney College is listed as 3 of the top 10 colleges in the OPH. “The finishing school for Southern gentleman.” (pg 84) & the HSC student is used as the exemplar of one of the three male prep body types, “The Good Old Boy.”(pg 126). HSC enjoys a full 3 pages in the admitted much less well done True Prep, but where it is now dubbed “The Preppiest in America.”

    With the potential closing of neighboring Sweet Briar College- admirably covered on this blog- a sadly dying breed.

  10. It is not “the new sack.”

    I wonder. Does the heyday era sack–slope shouldered and undarted and minimally shaped–lend itself more to a artistic, bohemian community? Oberlin? Swarthmore? Columbia? It’s poetically spot on that a young man who’s preparing for a career in finance, complete with high shouldered power suit (probably Tom James), French cuffs, and polished captoes, would sport a double vented, well-padded blazer. He’s clueless about the details, but it fits.

  11. S.E.,

    No student anywhere wears “slope shouldered and undarted and minimally shaped” jackets/blazers. (Unless they are dressing from grandpa’s closet or thrifting) You’re kidding right?

  12. My point was that maybe-just-maybe it’s more out of place at HSC than one of the schools where there’s at least minimal possibility of bearing witness to something resembling Ivy Heyday era kit in all of its casual, slouchy glory. A working hypothesis is that the only demographic keeping that sort of look alive is the urban hipster set. You know–the a Vampire Weekend crowd.

  13. Interesting piece in The Nation about the demise of virtue along with the old WASP aristocracy. It argues that the new breed of power-suited Gordon Gekko types are more acceptable because they can come from any segment of the population…as long as their ruthless and ammoral.

  14. *They’re stupid iPhone…

  15. DCG delivers.

    “…cadre of swashbuckling, Gordon Gekko–like financial entrepreneurs determined to…”

  16. I understand why they used it, but I wouldn’t wear that belt with a coat & tie.

  17. Christian | May 14, 2015 at 11:02 am |

    Too bad you can’t dig it. That kind of gesture is one of the hallmarks of this genre:

    “Tonight was Nathaniel’s final shot at Diana, he reckoned, and to prepare for it he spent a good portion of his summer’s earnings on charcoal-gray tropical worsted trousers, a white crash linen jacket (whatever “crash” linen was meant to be), and a sporty blue canvas belt spruced up with sailboats and anchors. He asked one of the Griggses’ housekeepers to iron his best broadcloth shirt, and she gave him the business, laughed and asked who was the lucky lady? He waxed and buffed his Bass Weejuns. He chose a skinny bleeding madras tie (he knew what “bleeding” was, and would soon know better) …”

  18. Christian | May 14, 2015 at 11:07 am |


    Noticed Christopher Lasche’s “The Culture of Narcissism” is mentioned. Ever read that? I have a copy if you’d like to borrow.

  19. @Gornergrat

    You probably haven’t heard of Hampden-Sydney College because it’s uncouth to advertise.

  20. Current HSC Student | May 15, 2015 at 12:27 am |

    As a rising senior at Hampden-Sydney, I think I have a fairly in-depth perspective into some of the issues being discussed here.

    The sartorial scene at Hampden-Sydney is solid. It is not great, it is not fantastic, but it is solid. It is true that there are very few men who truly dress in the “trad” or “ivy style” anymore. I am an exception, and there are certainly more than a few others as well. Almost everyday to class I wear one of six or seven Ralph Lauren blue label sportcoats in my collection (tweeds for fall and winter, linens and silks for spring and summer). Even I can’t say I fully agree with the fit of an un-darted sack jacket, but all of them are 3/2 roll and patch pocket rigs with a few even containing the infamous throat latch (a personal predilection having come from a Virginia country background.) I wear these often times with a tie and either light or denim (gasp!) or classic chinos in khaki, stone, navy, or olive. Is this common? No, but i’d say about ten percent of the school more or less adheres to this dress code which I believe that compared to the rest of America’s collegiate sartorial wastelands, it’s actually pretty damn good. Hamden-Syndey’s trad is certainly nuanced with a little bit of a Southern twist. One of my best friends from Georgia almost exclusively wears bleach washed Wrangler jeans (a staple on the hill), a Brooks oxford, a Barbour or Filson jacket, and either Lucchese lizard skin boots or a pair of C&J brown alligator full straps from the Polo days handed down from his father. We actually first met at a fraternity party after he remarked that we were wearing the same Alden shell handsewns. That’s not a conversation I think you would find yourself hearing at even many of the remaining trad strongholds today.

    So what about the other guys? Well i’d venture to guess that about another 65% of the school has heartily devoted their style to the vineyard vines branch of the “preppy” tree. Again, given the poor state of sartorial affairs on most campuses I still call this a small victory. Either way, an HSC football tailgate will still thoroughly shock any unprepared spectator. Nearly the entire campus dons a sport coat and tie and this is where you’re likely to see even a generally averagely dressed kid pull out say, his grandfather’s tweed jacket that was custom made on Saville Row half a century ago. The fraternity man’s clothing scene isn’t terrible either depending on the fraternity. Hell, any school that can boast that like 50% of its fraternity parties feature live motown, beach/shag, jam bands, or classic rock music is good in my book and there is most definitely a correlation between the music and style!

    In short, Hampden-Sydney isn’t what it was sartorially during the heyday or the 80’s prep revival but I remain confident in the college’s mission to form good men and good citizens that can still trace the origins of their look to a time sadly gone by.

  21. Vern Trotter | May 15, 2015 at 5:14 am |

    The nose of Christopher Lasche appears under this tent?

  22. OK the next fella that sticks an ‘e’ onto Christopher Lasch’s name gets a demerit. CC I’ll take you up on that, never did more than skim it at a bookstore. Vern I take it you’re not a fan? Seems pretty spot on in his critiques, especially Revolt of the Elites.

    I’m glad to hear that the gents of Hampden-Sydney, while perhaps sporting a few more jacket vents than necessary, realize that (as was recently proven scientifically) dressing better means thinking better.

  23. Christian | May 15, 2015 at 9:48 am |

    Not just a demerit, but 40 “lashes.”

    Haven’t picked up the book in ages but was fascinated by it during my fogey late twenties. Which is where you are now.

  24. Vern Trotter | May 15, 2015 at 10:53 am |

    It takes a village. We shall always have Paul Fussell here.

  25. All Y'all | May 18, 2015 at 4:01 pm |

    What robots.

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