In the ’80s it was the preppy look. A generation before that, the Ivy League Look. And a generation before that was the Joe College years.
What they all had in common, besides some sartorial ingredients, was appeal to the broader masses, and in the case of the ’20s and ’30s, guys who’d never even been to college but wanted to look like they had. The ’20s, ’50s and ’80s all saw huge jumps in college enrollment and produced fashion trends based on the collegiate look, as well as songs that parody the idea of looking like Joe College when you’re really Joe the Plumber.
There may not have been a mass of such deceivers, but there were surely one or two. Enough to inspire the pop song “He Ain’t Never Been in College” by Harry Reser:
Collegiate tunes were a recurring motif during this period, with plenty of references to clothing. Such as raccoon coats, which, according to the lyrics, were de rigueur at all the Ivies. Here’s “Doin’ The Raccoon” by George Olsen & His Music:
There was plenty of toxic hanky-panky at the time. Take Collegiate Sam, of whom “I’ve heard it said on good authority/He’d wreck a whole sorority.” Harry Reser & His Syncopators:
And we can’t forget “Freddy the Freshman,” who took a page from Collegiate Sam’s playbook and got himself bounced from Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Brown for being the “freshest kid in town.” Here’s Gene Kardos & His Orchestra:
As for Reser, he died of a heart attack in 1965 while sitting in a Broadway orchestra pit waiting to perform “Fiddler on the Roof.” — CC
Top image from Esquire, 1988.