1950s

The Gentrified Campus

What were Ivy Leaguers wearing in the fall of 1953? According to Gentry magazine, anything in tawny black. In a fashion spread entitled “Fashions Cum Laude for the Undergraduate,” the uber-elitist magazine (every issue included fabric swatches, and no models were ever used, only genuine gentries) says tawny black is the hot new color. But mixed


Grant Writing

“People Will Talk,” one of Cary Grant’s lesser known movies, boasts some interesting outfits for the sartorial historicist. In order to portray a medical professor at a small Midwestern college in 1951, Grant was costumed in one double-breasted suit, and three suits and jackets that feature a 3/2 roll, but still have the overall cut


Building A Wardrobe: Mid-Century Architect Style

Architects are generally an international type, the sort who work in minimalist offices with Scandinavian furniture. But during Ivy’s heyday, many of them wore soft-spoken and soft-shouldered suits, even while radically remaking urban skylines. Above, at the 1957 International Building Exhibition in Berlin, Hugh A. Stubbins relaxes while articulating his vision, the epitome of nerd-chic. Below, Architect


Professional And Low-Key: Memories Of Langrock Circa 1956

It has been a long time since I worked at Langrock, and, at 79, my memory isn’t as strong as, say, 10 years ago, but here goes. I worked at Langrock’s after school in 1956 or ’57 as cleanup person and gofer. I enjoyed the experience, but as a teenager I personally thought Mr. Decker


Buckle Down: The Elusive History Of The Belted-Back Trouser

Contributing writer Christopher Sharp has buckled-down, hit the books, and put his nose to the grindstone in an effort to suss out once and for all the origins of the mid-’50s buckle-back chino trend. * * * During my formative years back in the Fifties, I was the kind of kid who was secure in



The Man Of ’52

Hey guys, flu got me. First time at my desk in 48 hours. Chew on this for a bit, courtesy of commentariat member Carmelo. — CC


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,


Harvard Vs. Princeton — The Haircut Showdown

What’s an “Ivy League” haircut when there are eight schools, each with its own quirks and distinctions? And so, according to one barber, at least two schools were known for their particular cut. Here’s the Harvard: And here’s the Princeton: And the young man pictured at top getting fitted in New Haven, with what looks


Bohemian in a Sack Suit: The 1959 Brooks Brothers Novel

This post originally ran in 2010 and was Ivy Style’s 200th post. Today we’re up to 1,600. * * * 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


Raccoon Season

Historically, Ivy style has always championed durability and functionality. Nowhere is this truer than in the realm of outerwear, where such weathered classics as the toggle coat and balmacaan remain viable and timeless. However, at certain vivacious moments in the style’s history, discerning collegiate sartorialists have exchanged the reliable for the resplendent, the austere for


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


Beatnik Prep

Back in the chilly days of March I amused myself by playing with style juxtapositions. The concept of “beatnik prep” was pretty simple. Start with a beard or goatee (check), take your corduroy or tweed cap and wear it backwards at an angle, so it resembles a beret. Then add natural-shouldered sportcoat and maybe even



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 codified


Come Fall With Me: The Ivy League Origins Of Skydiving

Our last post was called “Come Fly With Me” and featured Frank Sinatra’s private jet. In this post we look not at flying in planes, but leaping from them. Contributing writer Jeff Samoray examines this little-known bit of historic trivia. * * * Sixty years ago this past May, curious onlookers gathered in Woodbury, Connecticut,


I Feel Like A Princeton Graduate! Ernie Ford’s “Ivy League,” 1957

We’ve got one more post — for now — on pop music from the 1950s. I mentioned in the comment thread on the “Optimism And Prosperity” post about discovering my parents’ record collection, which included some 45 RPM records from the late ’50s, when my father was a teenager, and which he later converted to



Optimism And Prosperity: American Life During The Ivy Heyday, Part One

Contributing writer James Kraus is an arch-connoisseur of the 1950s and ’60s. Herein he takes us on a tour of the years of the Ivy heday, giving us a broad overview of what else was going on in American life besides penny loafers and buttondown collars. Part one covers the first half of the heyday,