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


HF Archives: Slim Down Your Overcoat

It’s overcoat season, and while extra bulk might give you the illusion of being warmer, it also takes away style points. At least according to this vintage advertisement from Hickey Freeman. While our previous two posts on the newly digitized Hartmarx archives highlighted images of the Hart, Schaffner & Marx brand, this one is from


X Marx the Spot: The Treasure of the HSM Archives

Recently I was invited to Hickey Freeman on New York’s Madison Avenue, where, in the offices above the retail store, I found the menswear equivalent of buried treasure: Four rooms packed with thousands of documents chronicling 100 years of American history through the lens of men’s fashion. The recently bankrupt Hartmarx Corporation — which owns


Where All The Angry Young Men Go

For the Beat Generation, there were only two places to live: New York’s Greenwich Village and San Francisco’s North Beach. North Beach has been an old stomping ground of mine since my early twenties. I recently paid a visit to the neighborhood after years of exile in Los Angeles. Broadway is home to San Francisco’s


College Miscellany II

Six months ago we ran a post called “College Miscellany,” comprised of various shots from the LIFE archives. Here’s an encore (click images for hi-res version). First up are several shots from Bowdoin College in Maine. Above, 1952; below, 1957:


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


The Year Brooks Invented Pink

If you’re reading this, chances are there’s something pink in your closet. In fact, you might be wearing a pink polo, oxford or Shetland right now, and feeling pretty damn manly doing it. Do you owe it all to Brooks Brothers? According to LIFE magazine, Brooks all but invented the color pink — at least


In Praise of the Small Wardrobe

Perhaps because I scribe for a living, and know that a piece of writing always benefits from cutting,* I’ve always been a ruthless editor of my own wardrobe. There’s always something that can be discarded for being redundant, having fulfilled its use, or not being quite right. The simple test is to look at an


Johnnie Pate Trio, 1957

Before he moved on to soul and R&B, bassist Johnnie Pate was a solid link in the jazz-campus connection. He even used a flute to give the Ivy League a dance beat:


The Bucks Stop Here

It’s Labor Day, the end of summer, and the last day to wear white bucks. Unless, of course, you’re Pat Boone, whose perennial collection is seen here in 1959.


Bow Ties and Bongos

Our Jack Lemmon tribute continues with a look at two films in which he plays supporting roles. In 1958’s “Bell, Book and Candle,” Lemmon stars as a warlock who plays bongos with a suit-clad jazz combo in a Greenwich Village beatnik club. Kim Novak is the female lead in one of the sexiest roles ever


Tea and Sympathy, 1956

“Tea and Sympathy” was mentioned recently in one of the articles reprinted from Ivy Magazine. It’s also on the reading list featured in the “Official Preppy Handbook.” I figured it was time to check it out. Written by Robert Anderson for the stage, “Tea and Sympathy” was adapted for the screen in 1956 with Vincente


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


Poetic Injustice

Before his untimely death, few men of letters embodied the jazz-fueled cool of midcentury New York better than poet Frank O’Hara. The Whitman of the modern urban landscape, O’Hara captured the essence of the city, its multitudes, and its motions of constant speed punctuated with moments of stillness. Heavily influenced by Abstract Expressionism and jazz,


Diddley Squat

This year marks the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest contributions by the state of Arkansas to the American way of life. In 1959, fraternity brothers at the University of Arkansas were suffering from a shortage of chairs. In protest, they took to “hunkering,” or squatting. It’s a fine example of American ingenuity, of


Sex Education: A Playmate at Dartmouth

This Life Magazine photo shoot is a bit of a mystery. First off, there’s no date, but it looks like the second half of the fifties. Next, it has evidently been mislabled “Miss Playgirl at Dartmouth.” Playboy began using the term “playmate” with the magazine’s second issue, making “playgirl” a typo. No idea why the


Bermuda Short

In celebration of Spring Break, I wrote a shortie on the origins of the Great Escape for the blog at Ralph Lauren’s Rugby.com. Seems the tradition of students going somewhere tropical over Easter began in 1935 when The Bermuda Athletic Association invited some Ivy League rugby teams down for a friendly tournament. By the ’50s


Man of Taste

In 1954, culture critic Russell Lynes published “The Tastemakers: The Shaping of American Popular Taste,” a lengthy meditation on the nature of taste, which Lynes believed had supplanted class as the new social hierarchy. Taste, Lynes argues, can be broken into three categories: Highbrow, Middlebrow and Lowbrow. Naturally the theory applies to clothing. A supplementary