Botany 500’s Ivy Executive Collection, 1955

Within one year of LIFE Magazine’s 1954 feature “The Ivy Look Heads Across The US,” which surely would have caught the eyes of the apparel industry given the magazine’s enormous circulation, Botany 500 was already jumping on the new menswear trend.

You can all but imagine the product development meeting. Let’s come up with a collection that capitalizes on the new trend while invoking a couple of upwardly mobile dream words?”

And so the “Ivy Executive” model was born.

This ad spread dates from 1955 and was brought to our attention by our favorite Italian image collector Carmelo Pugliatti. Grazie, paisano. — CC

17 Comments on "Botany 500’s Ivy Executive Collection, 1955"

  1. Carmelo Pugliatti | March 23, 2017 at 3:51 pm |

    I think that the first year in which Esquire magazine talk about “Ivy League” is 1955.
    Before Esquire refers at this style as “collegiate” or “natural shoulders”.

  2. Robert McLean | March 23, 2017 at 4:34 pm |

    Greetings from a fellow traveler from New Zealand. How marvelous to see advertisements that actually inform prospective buyers about the seller’s clothes rather than current trends in the advertising industry!

  3. I was 4 in 1955, but being a military brat I moved often till 16. Ivy was not a term used by men’s shops, “collegiate”, “soft shoulder” and “natural shoulder” were. We all knew it was Ivy league, but it wasn’t advertised as such.”Ivy” was always a word to be used as a compliment given to one’s outfit, someone might say, “That sweater is Ivy, where did you get it?”. “Preppy” was never a word used to describe clothing, but where a guy went to school, that changed in 1980 in my world.

    Every major locally owned department store had either a “Club Shop”, Campus Shop”, Collegiate Shop” on one of their floors in Kansas City till the the 1980s and some till recently. Major conglomerates bought most of them.

    Mister Guy was my favorite. MG had six stores dispersed throughout Kansas City, one was four blocks from my high school. MG lasted till the founder Mr Berkowitz retired in around the mid 90s. Each store was paneled with antiques, you all know the look. MG always advertised as, “Mister Guy a Natural Shoulder Clothier”.

    Reading the reminiscences of college clothing shops on another thread it occurred to me that our favorite shops from the past are a lot like motorcycle shops. It’s a place to meet.

  4. Mac, maybe the word preppy wasn’t commonly used in your circles but it had to have been used before 1980 (year the OPH was published) and I’m guessing that’s what you meant by your world was changed that year? There’s a section in the OPH that says the word was popularized by Love Story in 1970, but I wonder where they got it from…

  5. Oh and in addition to those other shops, I believe you were also lucky to have “Polo shop” as well.

  6. I’ve been wearing this style of clothing since 1960.
    It was definitely known as “Ivy League” back then.
    I never encountered the term “natural shoulder” until I started reading this blog some years ago.
    If I remember correctly, “preppy” was used as an umbrella term in Lisa Birnbach’s OPH (1980) to cover items that ranged from the ultra-conservative to the flamboyant.

  7. I recall boys’ sections of men’s clothing stores were called “Prep Shops” back in the 50’s-60’s.

  8. Philly Trad | March 24, 2017 at 9:34 am |

    This is fantastic, and I am feeling a bit nostalgic and proud. My grandfather was a Daroff tailor in Philadelphia during this era, through to the 1970s; specializing in men’s suiting of this style. If readers of this blog want to really geek out, I direct your attention to this website, and a 2011 exhibition “Tailoring Philadelphia” at the estimable Philadelphia Museum of Art

  9. Lebow out of Baltimore used the term “Soft-tailored Perfection” on their suit labels.

    Can anybody tell me about a summer weight blue sack blazer I found yesterday? It is a 3/2 roll coat with swelled seams and patch pockets and a hooked vent. The label under the locker loop is Brooks Brothers “346” and the gold buttons are smooth-and profoundly ugly. The lapel is 3″ wide and the top button is quite high. Would a BB 346 of that description be similar to Brooksease. Would anybody know the age of such a coat? The coat is going to the cleaners and my tailor will be replacing the buttons soon.

    Good hunting,


  10. Correction 3′ 1/4″ wide lapel.



  11. While Jenny indeed employed the sobriquet “Preppy” when addressing Oliver Barrett IV in Love Story, it was in reference to his school (Harvard) and general manner – not specifically his attire. When he inquires as to why she calls him “Preppy,” she both flirtatiously and sarcastically replies, “Because you look stupid and rich.” After which the following dialogue takes place:

    Oliver: What makes you so smart?
    Jenny: I wouldn’t go for coffee with you.
    Oliver: Yeah? Well I wouldn’t ask you.
    Jenny: That’s what makes you stupid.

    Cut to coffeehouse…

  12. MacMcConnell | March 24, 2017 at 4:26 pm |

    Yes “preppy” was used in the social context in Love Story, I didn’t take it as referring to the male character’s clothing.

    Yes Kansas City got a Polo Shop and a Brooks Bros on the Country Club Plaza next door to each other. I was offered a job at the Polo Shop. It happened because I would take my wife to lunch and shopping on the Plaza on Saturdays, occasionally she would hook up with girl friends. So I would just wonder usually meeting them later at the Polo Shop. Inevitably a fellow shopper asked me for help thinking I worked there. I just pretended I did, I start throwing coats, ties, pants and shirts on the table in different combinations. I think the customer bought about $2000 of clothing. I even chalked the pants and coats, walked the customer to the desk where he was informed I didn’t work there. This got to be a habit , the manager would just rotate my sales to actual salesmen. I had a blast, but if you don’t want to be bothered by other customers don’t wear a seersucker sports coat, khaki trousers, white bucks, BD and tie to the Polo Shop on Saturdays. 😉

  13. @ Mac

    Some years ago, the wife forced me to take her to an Antiques Roadshow gathering in Pittsburgh. We never got anywhere near the taping, but I was asked several times if I was an appraiser. I wore a navy blazer, OCBD, khakis and tie.

    I wish I had “appraised” some items for those who asked. It would have been great fun.

  14. MacMcConnell | March 24, 2017 at 4:46 pm |

    Philly Trad

    I liked this from your link.
    “Among the designer’s inventions is an ivory silk safari jacket (c. 1967) that converts via waist zipper to a formal mess-style coat.”

    In other words a a sport coat is transformed in to a Eisenhower jacket.

    Crazy how the mind works, I immediately thought of Bert Pulitzer’s convertible tan poplin trousers with a zipper above the knee, transforming them into shorts. This was about the time of his famous original Survivalon jacket in the mid to late 70s. (the jacket advertised in the right hand margin)

  15. MacMcConnell | March 24, 2017 at 4:52 pm |


    On the other hand, if your looking at used cars and someone asked you for help, you’re doing it wrong. 😉

  16. Mac, wow that’s quite the story. You’re very fortunate to have been inside of a Polo Shop in the 70’s and to have seen all the original, quality goods the brand offered.

  17. “Mr. Van Dyke’s wardrobe furnished by ‘Botany’ 500 (tailored by Daroff)”

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