It feels like I’m in college right now, trying to get my “term paper” on Ivy ready for Monday.
I’ve been working on a long essay for some time now, and one of the themes it explores is the casual nature of campus dress, even when from our point of view the students of the past seem extremely formal.
Take the film “So This Is College” from 1929, for example. In the preview available on Rotten Tomatoes the young gentlemen — students at USC — are noteworthy for the formality (from our point of view) of their suits and ties yet also their general disregard for their clothing. Look at the way the plop down on the lawn without a second thought, and the way one guy teases his roommate by standing on his laundry.
The film also shows the difference between the early days of the Ivy League Look and what is remembered as “Joe College” garb from the ’20s. While the raccoon coat trend may have begun at Princeton, some of the more rah-rah outfits, such as oxford bags, seem to have been more of a Midwestern state school look.
According to the Brooks Brothers book “Generations Of Style,” Brooks “refused to sell” oxford bags. — CC (Continue)
On our recent white bucks and grey flannels post, Bruce Boyer left a comment mentioning the song “Harvard Blues.” Considering it’s been on our editorial calendar for about four years, I’d say it’s high time we do a post on it.
The song, recorded in 1941 by Count Basie, opens with these immortal lines:
I wear Brooks clothes and white shoes all the time
I wear Brooks clothes and white shoes all the time
Get three “Cs,” a “D” and think checks from home sublime
The lyrics were written by George Frazier, best pal of The Andover Shop’s Charlie Davidson. Odd then that when they played the duende game, they always placed Basie second fiddle to Ellington.
I’ll leave you with one more quote on white bucks and flannels, this time from Elizabeth Hawes’ 1939 book “Men Can Take It.” — CC
At Harvard they have something called “white-shoe boys.” I gather it is okay to be one if you feel that way. It appears to be the Harvard idea carried to its furthest extreme. These are the sloppiest and worst-dressed of all the Harvard men, I was told. They wear dirty black and white shoes which turn up at the toes, black or white socks and gray flannels, very unpressed, tweed coats — and collars and ties, of course… The thing that distinguishes a “white-shoe boy” is his shoes — and the fact he has the guts to wear them ansd still feel okay socially.
Last night Ivy Style crossed the 10,000-comment threshold with these infamous words that will echo across America this summer as families pile up the station wagon and head out on the road:
Are we there yet?
The comment was left by none other than regular reader Henry, who will finally be rewarded for years of faithful interaction.
Leave one more comment with your real email address, Henry, so I can make sure the IP addresses match. Wouldn’t want the loot to go to one of your sparring partners pretending to be you. — CC
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Ivy-Style.com is rapidly approaching its 10,000th comment. As a way of saying thank you for the interaction and entertainment that our comments section provides, I’m arranging for one lucky reader to get a pile of loot donated by our sponsors.
Here’s how it will work. Sometime over the next couple of weeks — depending on how worked up you guys get — we’ll cross the ten thousand threshold. The person to leave comment number 10,000 — after all spam and petty nastiness has been expunged, of course — wins.
So you might want to leave a valid email address when you comment, at least for the time being.
And while it’s true that the winner may be one of the usual suspects in our perennial Left vs. Right and US vs. UK kerfuffles, at least everyone has an equal chance of winning, regardless of ideology.
After all, anyone can wear buttondowns and penny loafers. — CC
Update: Here is a confirmed alphabetical list of the prizes so far, which have a combined value of $1,425: (Continue)
You may have received an email from Brooks Brothers recently that made a passing references to the company’s first stores outside of New York. It was enough for me to stop and take notice, because those other locations were not other bastions of the eastern establishment, such as Boston, Philadelphia or Washington, DC, but the playgrounds of New York’s elite: Newport and Palm Beach.
I thought it interesting that before Brooks went after other urban communities as purveyor of dress suitable for politicians, attorneys and captains of industry, it went after the captains of yachts.
Brooks opened in Newport in 1909 and Palm Beach in 1924, and didn’t begin catering to proper Bostonians until 1928.
Here’s a passage from the Brooks Brothers book “Generations of Style:”
Despite being over 100 years old and immensely successful, Brooks Brothers had always seemed uninterested in expanding outside Manhattan. Prior to the Twenties, the company had established only one outpost, a seasonal operation in Newport, opened in 1909. Not much is made of it in any Brooks literature, but one suspects that the store was never intended to make much money. Rather, the Newport shop served as a kind of Traveler’s Aid for the yachting set: always at the ready with a pair of white flannels when a misfortune beside the Vanderbilt’s pool rendered a previous pair inoperable. At any rate, a few years later, as changing taste and more rapid travel options prompted the Newport set to season farther afield, Brooks decamped as well. A second seasonal operation opened in Palm Beach, FL, in December 1924; the Depression prompted its demise in 1933.
I asked Brooks if they had any images of these first two shops outside New York, and they sent these over. The top image is from 1924, while the two below are from ’34.
The second one makes note of Brooks’ traveling representatives whose territory included many prep schools and colleges, but only east of the Mississippi. — CC (Continue)
Below is the press release in its entirely. No word yet if there will be a Gatsby clothing collection available in retail stores. — CC
(New York, NY – June 7, 2012) – Brooks Brothers, the iconic American brand founded in 1818, partners with Warner Bros. and Bazmark to be the official men’s clothier for Baz Lurhmann’s highly anticipated Warner Bros. film The Great Gatsby, based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 literary classic.
Brooks Brothers, America’s oldest apparel retailer, has collaborated with two-time Academy Award-winning costume and production designer Catherine Martin to produce more than 500 evening and day ensembles as costumes for the male principal and background casts.
Catherine Martin worked closely with the brand’s archivist, designers and merchants to research Brooks Brothers’ history, studying artifacts popular during the 1920s as well as specific merchandise introduced by the brand to America. Ms. Martin has interpreted this historical research to create a look that both encapsulates the Jazz Age but also specifically addresses the storytelling needs of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby.
“Fitzgerald was a Brooks Brothers customer. It is this most basic and fundamental connection that has made our collaboration so authentic. Brooks Brothers is mentioned numerous times in Fitzgerald’s writings as a representation of the ultimate gentleman’s purveyor of fine clothing to the American man of distinction,” stated Catherine Martin. “Over the years, Brooks Brothers has also defined the collegiate style – the preppy look – which was so close to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Princeton heart. The same look was described in The Great Gatsby by narrator, Nick Carraway, as his look of choice the first time he visits Gatsby’s mansion for one of his neighbor’s extraordinary parties: ‘Dressed up in white flannels I went over to his lawn a little after seven, and wandered around rather ill-at-ease among swirls and eddies of people I didn’t know – though here and there was a face I had noticed on the commuting train.’ For all these reasons, Brooks Brothers seemed the obvious partner to work with on the creation of the men’s wardrobe for Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby.”
The Brooks Brothers archives from the 1920s revealed innovative designs mixing textured fabrics and patterns that were reinterpreted by Catherine Martin for the characters of Jay Gatsby (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), Nick Carraway (played by Tobey Maguire) and Tom Buchanan (played by Joel Edgerton). The Brooks Brothers costumes range from formalwear to daywear – tuxedos, tailored suits, suiting separates (sport coats, waistcoats and trousers), shirts, ties, shoes and accessories.
“Catherine Martin’s costumes bring F. Scott Fitzgerald’s world to life,” said Brooks Brothers Chairman and CEO Claudio Del Vecchio. “She truly has redefined the menswear of the Roaring Twenties with her creativity, attention to detail, and passion for the era. We are proud to be a part of this unique project and to have had the opportunity to work with such a visionary team.”
As a follow-up to Christian’s Hanukkah post, Richard Press authors this year’s Christmas post.
During World War II, Yale professors still wore tweeds, but the boys they taught would soon graduate into khaki. Behind Woolsey Hall are the many rows of names of the boys who never came back.
My father, Paul Press, was a riveter who made M-70 rifles at the Winchester factory on Dixwell Avenue in New Haven. His brother Irving ran the PX store at Camp Ritchie, Maryland. My grandfather assisted the war effort overseeing custom-tailored uniform orders for candidates at the Officer’s Training School at Yale. J. Press was on a wartime footing along with the rest of America. The Princeton store was closed in 1942 when the entire staff joined the army. Civilian business necessarily diminished with shortages of inventory and customers during the war years.
My prescient grandfather prepared for the European conflict in the late ’30s and loaded up all available English goods before the start of war in September, 1939. Cases of Welch, Margretson shirts and ties, Twin Steeples hosiery, Druhmohr Shetland sweaters and Locke hats occupied all the space in the basement.
I was six years old in 1944 when grandfather Jacobi set up chairs and blankets for us to watch the Christmas Day Parade on the balcony in front of his office of the J. Press store on York Street. The wartime spectacle offered a key spot to view the brigades of Sherman tanks and armored vehicles clanking their treads towards the rally downtown for speeches and songs later on the New Haven Green. Soldiers, Sailors and Marines blared their bugles and beat the drums in military cadence to “The Caissons Go Rolling Along.” The back of the parade featured All-America Yale Football Captain Paul Walker, the Dink Stover and Frank Merriwell of his time, riding on top of a Ford truck garbed in a Santa Claus suit and beard, both a part of and yet removed from the instuments of war. He directed his Winston Churchiil “V for Victory” salute right to me on the balcony.
Spiffed up in the army uniform my grandfather gave me for Christmas, I returned the salute standing stiffly at attention until the grand old flag finally passed me by. When I got home I couldn’t wait to turn on the Victrola to play my favorite Spike Jones record: “When The Fuhrer Says He Is The Master Race, Sieg Heil (flatulate), Sieg Heil (flatulate), Right In The Fuehrer’s Face!” — RICHARD PRESS