1950s

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Ivy For The Masses: The h.i.s. Brand

H.I.S Inc. may be the missing link between workwear and Ivy-styled clothing. The company was originally founded as Honesdale manufacturing in 1923 by Henry I. Siegel. It specialized in workwear, including denim, and was a contract manufacturer for JC Penny and Montgomery Ward. The firm was headquartered in New York with manufacturing facilities in Tennessee.


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Golden Years: New York Nightlife In The ’50s

During the Eisenhower years, Manhattan was an island of social, economic and cultural equanimity. The legal drinking age was 18, the bars stayed open until four in the morning, and the Biltmore Hotel advertised special student rates for Seven Sisters and Ivy Leaguers. Here are some memories from those days of my misspent youth. The



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Voice In The Dark: Richard Frede’s Entry E, 1958

“Entry E” is something of a pulp novel, telling a tale of Ivy League life in America that was considered startling on its release in 1958. But for all the adolescent angst and raucous action in this story, there is plenty of mid-century Ivy League style and quiet consideration of the “Ivy Man,” described in


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Buckle-Back Flannels and Cordovan Loafers, 1954

As a follow-up to this week’s earlier post about J. Press’ new cinch-back trousers, contributing writer Christopher Sharp sent in the above image showing buckle-back trousers in their original context. The source: Gentry magazine The year: 1954 The campus: University of North Carolina The trousers: “Ivy League Narrows” Paired with: Shell cordovan penny loafers Note


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It’s a Cinch: Buckle-Back Trousers at J. Press

Over two years ago I wrote an open letter to American retailers suggesting they put a buckle on the back of chinos, a craze among students circa 1956. With the PITA trend in full swing, I even asked readers to speculate what brand might be first to freshen up a pair of quotidian khakis with


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Russell Lynes On The Shoe Hierarchy, Esquire 1953

Despite the fact that you’re supposed to be learning to think for yourself, college has always been a conformist environment. Those with an excess of individuality may be respected, but are rarely popular. And even during the heyday of the Ivy League Look, not every student was a perfect example of the style. What became


How The White-Shoe Law Firm Got Its Name

Now that summer is over and the punctilious will put away their white bucks until next Memorial Day, it’s time to honor the collegiate tradition of wearing scuffed-up white bucks in autumn, preferably with grey flannels. The fashion gave birth to the term “white shoe,” usually applied to a law or financial firm that hired


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Taft By Numbers: Peter Rawson III, 1952

In 1952, LIFE Magazine ran a profile on the Taft family, one of America’s great political dynasties, having produced President William Howard Taft. The family also produced a prep school — The Taft School in Watertown, CT — which was founded by William’s brother Horace Dutton Taft, an early Skull & Bones member. Pictured above


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The $800 Lacoste x Brooks Brothers Collaboration

Yesterday an interesting auction ended on eBay: a polo shirt made by Lacoste for Brooks Brothers, putatively from the 1950s. The shirt’s four-inch tails and artifact status, however, were not enough to motivate anyone to place a bid at the opening price of $499, and at the close of the week-long auction the shirt went



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Comfortably Distinctive: Norman Hilton, 1958

Earlier this week, Men of Habit’s Chris Callis — and current Norman Hilton lookbook stylist and coordinator — posted this vintage Hilton advertisement from 1958. The copy includes the phrase “comfortably distinctive,” a good description of the Ivy League Look in general. A link to the latest Norman Hilton lookbook was placed in our Ephemera


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Bicycle Week: The Yale-Vassar Bike Race

The Yale-Vassar bike race found its origins in a drunken wager. At a meeting of Yale’s Trumbull Beer and Bike Society, one student declared he could beat another in a bicycle race all the way to Vassar. However, this valiant duel between two determined Trumbull residents quickly became a popular annual tradition in the early



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Color of Conquest: Bruce Boyer’s Ode to Olive

Bruce Boyer has noted that the two most prominent colors during the heyday of the Ivy League Look were charcoal and olive. But while charcoal remains a default basic, olive is an often overlooked accent color. We asked Boyer what he remembers of olive during the heyday, and he penned this little ode on its


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Double Date: Vassar Girls and their Beaus, 1951

London-based Ivy Style contributor Rebecca C. Tuite, currently at work on a book on the iconic Vassar Girl of the ’50s, posted this photo on her personal blog. The shot is from the Vassar archives and commemorates the school’s sesquicentennial. Writes Tuite: Vassar students and their weekend dates take a stroll around Vassar’s beautiful Sunset



Princeton vs. Yale, 1955

It’s kind of funny to think that standards of dress for a football game half a century ago were higher than for much of corporate America today. Several shots of the crowd reveal all the requisite gear: natural shoulders, buttondown collars, rep ties, short haircuts, and crewneck sweaters worn high in the front. — CC


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Tied Together: Ivy Guys, Vassar Girls, and the College Scarf

Back in the heyday of the Ivy League Look, when a boy was going steady he’d remove the locker loop on the back of his oxford-cloth buttondown, signalling to other females that he was spoken for. And how did a female student signal she was taken? By wearing her boyfriend’s college scarf. The practice was


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Immortal Sole: Adlai Stevenson and the Boston Cracked Shoe

If you don’t live on the East Coast and are under the age of 60, the term “Boston Cracked Shoe” will not likely have any resonance. But being 77, and having spent all of my business career in the East, it’s a part of the history of the Ivy League Look that is impossible to


Collegiate Grooming Showdown: Vitalis vs. Brylcreem

Princeton, NJ resident Bill Stephenson graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1954 and lived in the Delta Upsilon fraternity house. Herein he shares his thoughts on haircuts and grooming products during the heyday of the Ivy League Look. Back in the day, undergraduates throughout the US looked pretty similar when it came to hairstyles,


Ivy Jukebox: White Bucks and Saddle Shoes

We’ve previously written on how the Ivy League Look was the perfect garb to gain approval from a girl’s father. Even though a boy had wolfish intentions, in white bucks and a crew cut he might convince her parents to let her stay out past 10. Now here’s a tune that makes the same case: