Every so often while working the Ivy beat, I come across an historical document so utterly anathema to the world of today that it feels like it’s from another universe.
Case in point, this advertisement just dug up by assistant editor Chris Sharp. It ran in a May, 1961 edition of the Brown University school newspaper, and is interesting for a number of reasons.
First, the otherworldliness. The ad (which, once again, ran in a college newspaper), argues that before students head home for summer vacation, they should get themselves not Bermuda shorts and madras shirts — and certainly not flip-flops — but a “frothy” new Dacron-blend suit! The selling point seems to be that they’ll be greeted by their home town as a young man whose future success is already assured, even if he’s still not old enough to drink. (Continue)
Our recent post on striped sportcoats included a vintage ad by Clipper Craft Clothes, and so we thought it worth following up with a gallery devoted to the brand. During the heyday of the Ivy League Look, Clipper Craft was a brand that explicitly touted its Ivy authenticity in advertorials placed in mainstream magazines.
In 2009 a short thread was started at the Ask Andy Trad Forum in which a member dug up some info on the origins of the brand, which was founded in Boston. By the heyday, the brand was championing its “New England tailoring” along with its affordable prices. It also created a campaign with tiger heads grafted onto its suits, from back when “tiger” was common slang for a ladies’ man: (Continue)
Recently James Kraus, who authored a piece for Ivy Style on bachelor cuisine, shared with us a post from his vintage automotive blog, Auto Universum.
The piece centers around Art Fitzpatrick and Van Kaufman, the Matisse and Picasso of automotive illustration. Writes Kraus:
These lush images depicted scenes of glamour and sophistication populated by suave, cosmopolitan and well attired individuals, always accompanied by a larger-than-life Pontiac with shimmering chrome and glistening paintwork.
Indeed, compared to the generic images used to sell luxury car today, Fitzpatrick and Kaufman’s images are grounded in specific and rarefied real-world contexts: political election nights, hotels in Beverly Hills, exclusive enclaves of Manhattan, horse races, country clubs, lakeside cabins, yacht harbors, and fashionable ports of call from Rio and Barbados to Portofino and Monaco for the Grand Prix.
Each plate also has a beautiful woman who’s either admiring the car, or sitting safe and serene inside the enormous Yank tank.
For more on the artists, check out Kraus’ post. And if you can spare a few minutes for daydreaming, scroll through the images at the official site for Art Fitzpatrick and surrender to reveries of Hitchcockian glamor and intrigue. Below is a sampling to get your imagination piqued. — c C m (Continue)
What? Headline makes perfect sense to me. What did you think it was referring to? Honi soit qui mal y pense.
The shagging in question is of the dancing kind, to that delightful mishmash musical genre known as “Beach Music,” the subject of a lengthy article in the latest issue of O. Henry, a magazine that bills itself “the art and soul of Greensboro.”
The story centers on a legendary nightspot in ’60s called the Castaways. Writes author Stephen E. Smith:
When I asked a commuter student about the Castaways, he explained that it catered to college kids, all of them white, and featured local bands, also white, and the occasional Motown, Atlantic, Stax or other R&B acts, most of them black, performing popular music for dancing the shag, or as it was called in those days and in that place, the basic. “If you’re going to the Castaways,” my informant cautioned, “you better know how to dance the basic.”
But knowing how to shag wasn’t all; you also had to look the part. Explains Smith:
A male who danced at the Castaways wore a sports jacket and tie… over a starched white Oxford-cloth button-down shirt cursively monogrammed at the collar and cuff. Trousers were usually high-waisted, with a shiny alligator belt transvexing the dancer like a sack of meal. It was obvious that footwear was of the utmost importance… and highly-buffed alligator wingtipped tasseled loafers were the shoe of choice. I possessed none of the appropriate accouterments, but hoped to skate by with my khaki trousers, a blue dress shirt sans monogram, my new Harris Tweed sport coat, and Weejuns.
The article is viewable online by heading over to the O’Henry home page. Enter 59 in the page window located above the current issue, and print or zoom to read.
Also check out our previous Ivy Style story on “Shag The Movie.” — c C m
Ivy Style continues its tribute to Squaresville Appreciation Month with a tribute to hipster Lenny Bruce’s nemesis, Bob Newhart, who, despite having a button-down mind, wore mostly tab-collared shirts.
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Sometime in the early ’80s I was visiting my great grandfather’s third wife, who was living in the Dell Webb retirement golf community of Sun City, Arizona. When my father announced we were going to see Bob Newhart, I did not give it much thought, since he was a regular guest in our home Saturday nights via his sitcom “The Bob Newhart Show.”
Newhart was on a standup tour. “The Bob Newhart Show” had concluded in 1978 and he had not yet pick up “Newhart,” which debuted in 1982. We went to the theatre on the appointed day. I looked at the crowd of sportswear-clad seniors, their skin the color and texture of vintage saddle bags, their ages ranging from Jurassic to the living dead, and realized I was the youngest person in the audience by decades.
Newhart went through his personal canon with acts like the “Driving Instructor” and “Introducing Tobacco to Civilization.” It can safely be said the material was new to me and yet I had the awareness that the audience knew the material by heart. There were elements of the act that were 20 years old, longer then my life time and yet merely yesterday to the nostalgia-hungry audience.
I couldn’t fathom at the time how large Bob Newhart figured in the popular culture of the early 1960s. Newhart’s first album, “The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart,” was recorded at the Tidelands Club in Houston, Texas and released in 1960. The album climbed to number one on the Billboard chart, beating out Elvis. The album would hold number one with its follow-up, “The Button -Down Mind Strikes Back!” anchoring the number two position. They would then switch positions, with both Newhart albums holding the top two slots for 35 weeks, a feat not replicated again for 30 years, while “The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart” remains the to- selling comedy album of the 20th century. (Continue)
W. David Marx, who recently gave us his interview with “Take Ivy” author Toshiyuki Kuroso, today shared on Ivy Style’s Facebook page his Pinterest devoted to Japanese Ivy books he’s discovered. It’s another fascinating glimpse into Japan’s longstanding reverence for American natural-shouldered clothing. (Continue)