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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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:


Ivy League Killers, 1959

Just how much was the Ancient Eight a part of pop culture during the heyday of the Ivy League Look? Enough to inspire a B movie like 1959’s “Ivy League Killers,” whose title, reeking of both murder and elitism, was sure to have kids across the nation flocking to drive-ins. The film (which was made


Boyfriend Jacket: The Vassar Girl and the Ivy League Look

New contributor Rebecca C. Tuite, an English Ph.D. candidate studying the sociology of American fashion, recently toured the Northeastern US interviewing ’50s-era Vassar alumnae. In this article, on how the Ivy League Look influenced Seven Sisters style, she shares some of her findings. When Marilyn Monroe steps onto the screen in “Some Like It Hot,”


There’s Only One Brooks Brothers: Coronet Magazine, 1950

I’ve previously presented two articles on Brooks Brothers from the troubled Marks & Spencer era. This one, from four decades earlier, was featured in the September, 1950 issue of the Esquire-owned digest Coronet, and also reflects a time of corporate management change. In 1946 Brooks Brothers was bought by the Washington, DC department store known


Bohemian in a Sack Suit: The 1959 Brooks Brothers Novel

For Ivy-Style’s 200th post, I thought I’d break out something special I’ve been sitting on for awhile. Last year, between Los Angeles and New York, I spent six months in my old environs of the Bay Area, including five weeks staying with a former flame (now married to a Hungarian who lost his baronetcy in


Third-String Rummy: Donald Rumsfeld at Princeton

Last spring, when I found this New Yorker article on the Ivy League Football Association, football season was already over and baseball was in the air. I’ve been sitting on it ever since and if I don’t post it now, I’ll forget and another season will be gone. It’s not much: The main revelation is


Engineered Garments: MIT’s Class of ’56

Students in science and technology today aren’t exactly known for their style (then again, what students are?) But in 1956, MIT’s graduating class of 900 was better dressed than just about any random group of 900 people you could find anywhere today, even among the rich or the glamor professions. There are also some real


HSM Archives: The Suit that Fits to a Tea

Previously we’ve posted on the 1956 prep-school angst film “Tea and Sympathy.” Here’s an image from the newly digitized Hart, Schaffner & Marx archives, undated but from roughly the same time. Call this one Tea and Approval. The older gent is obviously the girl’s father, and clearly approves of her suitor’s suit. — CC