With 10 days before Christmas with not a snowflake in sight, this bright and sunny day in New York with a high temperature of 47 is perfect weather — for those of us not office bound — for white bucks and grey flannels.
Unlike penny loafers and khakis, white bucks and grey flannels is one of those youthful combinations from the Ivy heyday that didn’t survive. Busting it out these days is neither for the fuddy duddy reactionary nor the neo-prep hipster, but someone in between. That’s probably why the two bloggers who’ve written about it on several occasions include myself and Joe from An Affordable Wardrobe.
Perform a Google search for “white bucks grey flannels” and you get some interesting results. In addition to mentions from me and Joe:
• Bucks and flannels were elements of the uniform for Brown University’s acapella group The Jabberwocks. The Jabberwocks are still around, though their clothes, along with their material, has changed a bit.
• The book “Secret Riches” by John Alan Masters includes this passage about Yale in the heyday: “Most of my classmates wandered around in white bucks, grey flannel trousers, and J. Press jackets.”
• The 1954 stage comedy “Father’s Been To Mars” includes specific costuming for a student character, who’s to be clad in grey flannels, white bucks, and “a conservative tweed sport jacket.”
Pulling off something unusual comes down to attitude. With white bucks and grey flannels, people might think you’re stylish. Then again, they might think you’re from another planet. — CC
If you hold a mirror up to your computer screen, you’ll see that the gent being measured for a jacket is at the venerable clothier Chipp, as seen in this illustration from the company’s 1965 catalog.
Ivy Style asked Paul Winston, son of the Chipp founders, for any insight on the drawing. Here’s what he had to say:
The drawing was done by Al Herman, who was a top fashion illustrator of the period. The fitter pictured was Bob DiFalco, who was our designer and fitter. Back then all the ads and catalogs featured line drawings, not pictures of products and models wearing clothing.
That was what Chipp looked like before we bought the building. It was a walk-up with a narrow flight of stairs, which was negotiated by the Kennedys, Watsons, and Cyrus Vance to drop a few names.
In the background you see the wall of cloth. No swatch books; customers were shown bolts of cloth.
Paul is still making suits in Midtown Manhattan under the name Winston Clothiers. He also recently received a batch of grenadine ties which he now has in a dozen colors and sells for a very modest tariff. For more info, give him a ring at (212) 687-0850. — CC
Clark Gable is largely remebered as one of the glamorous menswear icons of the 1930s, along with Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, and just about every other star from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
But as he aged and fashions changed, Gable evolved with the times and shed his double-breasted suits with nipped waists and squared shoulders, and settled into buttondowns, discrete ties and natural shouldered jackets. He kept the signature mustache, though.
Ivy Style recently welcomed St. Johns Bay Rum as a sponsor. Turns out owner Jerry Woodhouse has a long history of dressing college men. Read on for Freshman Dressing 101, with an outfit that looks as cool today as it did 50 years ago.
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I got started in the “Ivy” retail business in 1958 when I joined a company that had one store on the campus at Ohio State called The University Shop. That same year we opened our second store at Ohio University, where I became manager. From ’58 to ’71 we would open 23 University Shops at other major campuses, including Purdue, Bowling Green, University of Kentucky, University of Cincinnati, University of Georgia, Auburn, University of Alabama, Tulane, University of Florida, and Clemson.
The clothing formula for our customers was to put them in a Baracuta jacket, Gant shirt, Canterbury belt, Corbin khakis, Adler socks, Bass Weejuns, and St. Johns Bay Rum. Unbeknowst to me, I would one day come to be the owner of the latter. (Continue)
Recently I ran across a video for Penn that was created in 1957 and documents campus life for a full 30 minutes. There’s some really great footage in here, and you are able to see a lot of detail that’s not as noticeable with still-frame photos like you get in “Take Ivy.”
Here are some highlights:
• 1:10-1:30, 2:20-2:35, 11:20- 12:30 and 17:30-18:00 are scenes straight out of “Take Ivy,” except a decade earlier.
• Check out the classroom close-ups from 9:15 to 10:00. Great examples of three piece suits, repp ties, and tortoiseshell glasses.
• At the 14-minute mark there are several examples of midcentury women’s style.
• Check out the tennis players in all white at 21:25, track and field at 21:30, and rowers starting around 21:40.
• And for scenes of Ivy League football in its heyday, jump to 23:30. Fun fact: John Heisman, pioneer of the forward pass and namesake of the trophy, was a Penn alum and head coach. — MARK CHOU
The Saturday edition of the Buffalo News carried a story on independent men’s clothiers, including O’Connell’s, which has opened in Buffalo in 1959 and still carries basically the same stuff. “What we sold in the ’50s is very similar to what we sell today,” the store told the paper.
Here are some more excerpts on O’Connell’s history and customer base:
O’Connell’s, on Main Street near the University at Buffalo South Campus, was started by three Buffalo Bills players in the late 1950s.
Employee Bernie Huber bought them out a short time later, and the store has remained in the Huber family ever since.
The store draws customers from Western and Central New York, Pennsylvania and Ontario with its classic American suits and sport coats — such as an H. Freeman & Son sack suit with a natural shoulder — made from seersucker, madras and other fabrics. “We’re American-style, through and through,” said Bernie’s son, John. “What we sold in the ’50s is very similar to what we sell today.”
Wool suits start at $495 — with custom suits costing $2,000 or $3,000 — and their sizes have expanded as the American male has expanded over the years.
“We’re not faddish. Our best customer is a guy who can appreciate workmanship, who can appreciate value, who appreciates longevity of style,” said John Huber of O’Connell’s.