1950s



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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,


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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


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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


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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


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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


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Bruce Almighty

Over the past several decades, G. Bruce Boyer has distinguished himself as one of the most erudite writers ever to tackle the subject of menswear. Born in 1941, he came of age at the Ivy League Look’s height in popularity. A graduate of Moravian, the fifth-oldest college in the US, Boyer went on to do


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Penny For Your Thoughts

A few months ago the Japanese photo book “Take Ivy” sold on eBay for $1,500, setting all of Tradsville abuzz. Naturally something so hyped could only be a letdown, and when The Trad finally presented all the images online (see “Take Ivy” links in the Ephemera column at right), having scored his copy for a


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Questionable Gentleman

The scion of a distinguished literary family, Charles Van Doren — who turns 83 on February 12 — was a professor of English at Columbia when he became a contestant on the popular quiz show “Twenty One” in 1957.


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Blue Man Group

Before 1894, when Yale adopted its special shade of blue (hex triplet #0F4D92), its school color was green. Kind of like the freshmen pictured above at a welcoming ceremony, 1964. Now that they’re bulldogs, it’s time to start looking the part. First, a college sweater (1959): Then a proper jacket. Freshman getting a sermon on


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Gentrified Campus: The J. Press 4/3

Our confrere Matthew Jacobsen of OldMagazineArticles.com recently supplied us with a vintage article from the pages of Gentry Magazine (see “The Gentrified Campus.”) Now he follows up with another one, this time from Gentry’s Autumn 1952 issue, that provides an eye-opening glimpse into how collegiate attire was presented to young men at the time. As


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Ten Thousand Men Of Harvard

OK, maybe not ten thousand (as in the school’s fight song), but here are a few. The handsome gent above and below is Aga Khan (no date for photo; Khan graduated in ’59), whose step-mother was Rita Hayworth: Students and professor, 1952:


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Frat Pack

College fraternities of the past offered male bonding in a stylish setting. The photo above, plus the two below, are from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, 1949. Click images to go to the hi-res version.


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Customer Service

There was a time (1954, for example, as in these two photos) when you could visit J. Press in New Haven and have an old gent like this help you pick out a jacket. He may have been on commission, but he probably knew what looked good on you. You might even bump into Irving


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Holly and the Ivy

Although the film version of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” was made in 1961, author Truman Capote created heroine Holly Golightly in 1958, whereupon she took her place alongside Odette de Crecy, Suzie Wong and Fanny Hill in the long line of literary lady escorts. Holly’s 50th anniversary has been celebrated in various media outlets, including The


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Holiday Jeer

As you break out the tartan jacket and red socks to hit the holiday party circuit, take a tip from Tony Randall and watch out for these fellow guests.


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Prep Rally

Ah, the halcyon days at an all-male prep school, mid-century. Here we have two future lawyers shining their shoes while debating the merits of the various Ivies. The Hill School in Pottstown, PA, 1942 (click image to see clothes and pimples in hi-res):


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Big Men On Campus

Michigan halfback Tom Harmon doing his sports radio show, in classic combo of button-down collar, knit tie and cardigan, 1940 (click images below for hi-res version):


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Give Ivy

All of Tradsville is abuzz with “Take Ivy,” the Japanese photo book featuring candid shots of Princeton students in the late ’60s. Recently a copy of the rare tome sold on American eBay for $1,500. Then The Trad scored one on Japanese eBay for 1/10th that, promising to present scans of the entire book for


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The Gentrified Campus

I recently called up an old colleague, Matthew Jacobsen of OldMagazineArticles.com, told him about Ivy Style, and said, “Whatcha got?” Matthew did not disappoint. 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


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Light in the Loafers

Here at Ivy Style HQ, I’ve lately taken to wearing socks lighter in shade than my trousers, such as a light-gray sock paired with charcoal pants and black tassel loafers. There’s something about light socks that puts a spring in your step. As you move, you catch the light color from the corner of your