Big Men On Campus

Michigan halfback Tom Harmon doing his sports radio show, in classic combo of button-down collar, knit tie and cardigan, 1940.

Below, crew cuts and crewnecks. University of Illinois, 1956:

The archetypal combo of argyle socks and tassel loafers. Looks cooler if you’re 20, though. University of Illinois, 1956:

Varsity sweater, OCBD, and lovestruck Wake Forest co-ed:

Blazer, cuffed flannels, pocket square, light socks — all just to keep track of the substitutions. Professional coaches don’t dress 1/10 as well today as this gangly kid at the Dartmouth-Holy Cross game, 1953:

Pipe-smoking contest, 1959. Not sure what’s funnier, the hookahs or the lone female: — CC

13 Comments on "Big Men On Campus"

  1. I’m sitting in here in my beloved ’40s varsity cardigan (with those lovely stripes on the sleeve), which I recently bought and haven’t removed since. Coming across all these pictures has made me very happy!


  2. College looked like this until the hippies took over. I was at Wisconsin in the early 60’s.

  3. I wish the college still looked like this. What I would like to know is, quite simply: how did the hooded sweatshirt take the place of the varsity sweater? It’s just no substitute.

  4. timesgoneby | December 1, 2008 at 9:33 pm |

    Today, that co-ed would be wearing a t-shirt reading “Starfucks Hottee”.

    So sad!

  5. I can’t help but notice how all the cropped-heads, which were probably “clean cut” back then, look almost jarring to my 24 year old eye. There is something militaristic about it, punk even. The kid in the yellow cardi and white OCBD looks fantastic; pale yellow and white does not seem to be the most “masculine” color combination, but combined with his tight crop it is perfect. I wonder how high his trouser hems are.

  6. Exceptional set of photos – as a UM grad I love this shot of Harmon! Got to get a sweater like that – if anyone’s seen one, please post.

  7. Charlottesville | February 16, 2017 at 11:43 am |

    “Crew cuts and crewnecks” — These 50s guys look just like my older brother and his friends did in the mid 60s. Nice pictures. I note that one of the pipe smokers seems to have made his own bong-like hookah out of plastic tubing and a glass jug. There was a fad for hookahs among 20-somethings in these parts not long ago, probably to get around the general smoking ban, but it seems to have subsided now.

  8. Crew cuts and traditional clothes will never go out of style. Done well, they make you look strictly business and cool. Today, Harris Tweed 3/2 roll coat, blue and white university stripe oxford, flat front cuffed khakis, cordovan long wings and a fresh crew cut. The wife just gave me a fresh #3 guard cut on Valentine’s Day.

    Go forth and be trad


  9. I love the guy front row bottom pic, brought a hookah to pipe smoking club.

  10. Vern Trotter | February 16, 2017 at 7:30 pm |

    In the 1950s and into the early 60s, many at the University of Illinois and most of the Big 10 were the very epitome of Ivy Style. Even more so than the Ivy League, actually.

    There was an Ivy men’s store called Baskin’s, where the elite would meet and buy what we now call the classics. They had a store on every Big Ten campus.

    Then it all went to hell.

  11. Not that I would know, personally, but I’m sure that smoking contests are still held on college campuses. However, they wouldn’t be smoking tobacco…

  12. College kids today, and yes I do mean kids(by the way they act) dress like slobs compared to the college kids back in those days. Even when I was in college in the late 1980’s, college kids were much closer to this look, especially short “clean-cut” hairstyles. I still wear an “Ivy league crew cut” today. Jeans, Duck Head khakis (pants and shorts), button downs, and either Bass bucks or boat shoes was the overwhelming and common style on campus. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the differences in attitudes between college kids of the 1950’s and 1980’s compared to the last 20 years. Great pictures.

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