The above image, which comes from a 1928 Kuppenheimer catalog, ties in with themes explored in our recent rise and fall essay: namely town and country, or city and campus.
In it the three-button undarted suit is presented as “authentically designed” for the university man, while the postgraduate “Young Executive” model is a tapered two-button option.
These two different suit styles, offered by the same manufacturer, predate by several decades what Richard Press has said about the Ivy heyday, when J. Press’ two-button models were sold almost exclusively at the New York store, where they represented 40 percent of sales.
So while three-button jackets were associated with both city and campus, two-button models were associated with city only, reinforcing that the lasting influence of the Ivy League Look is the campus side of the genre. — CC
Ivy Style recently received a dispatch from scholar Deirdre Clemente, who is busy doing groundbreaking research on the history of college students as consumers. In fact, she said her career might be made if she can get a paper into a certain scholarly journal. When they say academia is publish or perish, they’re not kidding.
Now she sends the excerpt below, which has us wondering if Princeton guys essentially wrote the rulebook for dressing Ivy. Here they are credited with popularizing the wearing of brown odd jackets with grey flannel trousers in 1929. It’s from an April, 1935 passage in a publication called the Fashion Group Bulletin. According to Clemente, “You rarely get an exact date for a trend like this.” (Continue)
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
* * *
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)