Do-It-Yourself Ivy, 1965

Thu 6 Sep 2012 - Filed under: 1960s,Clothes — Christian
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Back in the heyday, if you couldn’t afford to shop at the right stores and mom was handy with a needle and thread, you could get your very own homemade Ivy League jacket for a fraction of the cost, as these images from a 1965 McCall’s pattern book show.

And it’s theoretically possible that the in-crowd might not even know the difference.

Fabric, of course, was not included, but papers were thrown in so you could roll your own cigarette. — CC

A Leiter Shade Of Gray: Savile Row Versus Ivy League

Tue 4 Sep 2012 - Filed under: 1960s,Film — Christian
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Recently a blog called The Suits Of James Bond paid tribute to 007′s American counterpart, Felix Leiter. The observations are hardly earth-shattering, but it is worth noting how the two tailoring styles relect the characters. “The colours Leiter wears may be the same as Bond’s,” the blogger writes, “but the styles are an ocean apart.”

So are the men.

The Suits Of James Bond cites the example of “Goldfinger,” in which Leiter is given an older and stodgier portrayal by actor Cec Linder. Linder wears an anonymous sack suit — along with buttondown oxford and knit tie — as befitting a middle-aged man working in Washington’s corridors of power. Bond, of course, wears Savile Row. Bond is also sexy; Leiter is not.

Of course clothing ultimately depends on who’s wearing it, and a different man in Leiter’s outfit might look like the kind of fearless hero that men want to be, and women want to be with.

The many anonymous sack-suited CIA agents never captured the public’s imagination like the fictional British spy, but they fought the Cold War dressed with understated confidence that natural-shouldered American freedom would eventually triumph over double-breasted Communist cardboard evil.

“Skyfall,” the next James Bond installment, opens next month. Check out the trailer if you haven’t seen it yet. — CC

 

Oh What a Knight: Hardwick Ads Of The ’60s

Thu 9 Aug 2012 - Filed under: 1960s,Historic Images — Christian
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“Oh what a night,” goes the Four Seasons tune, “late December back in ’63….”

Well about that same time Tennessee-based Hardwick was selling its natural-shouldered clothing to the masses in a series of chivalrous print ads.

Still extant, Hardwick was recently revealed as the manufacturer of the new Crittenden Ivy-styled sportcoats, so we thought we’d take a look at some of the company’s advertising imagery from the Ivy heyday. (Continue)

 

Preppies Vs. Hippies: The Ivy League Guidebook, 1969

Wed 18 Jul 2012 - Filed under: 1960s,Historic Images,Historic Texts — Christian
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In 1969, when the Ivy League was shedding Weejuns and growing sideburns at an alarming rate, three students — Andrew Tobias, Arnold Bortz and Caspar Weinberg — published “The Ivy League Guidebook.” Exactly as its title would suggest, the book is aimed at incoming freshman and devotes a chapter to each school, plus general sections on campus life.

Although things were rapidly changing, the clichéd image of the Ivy League student was still germane enough to gently mock in the book’s opening pages:

Few labels in Ameirca today conjure up as strong an image of sophistication and success as that of “Ivy Leaguer.” Stereotypically attired in three-piece English tweed suit and stoking his pipe, the well-bred, well-read, well-heeled Ivy Leaguer stands confidently atop the American totem pole.

Well, there’s certainly no arguing with the totem pole part.

Not suprising, Princeton gets the tiger’s share of credit for male vanity. Here the book quotes a Smith College newspaper columnist:

Princeton is the only place in the world where when a boy and his date walk past a mirror, it’s the boy who stops to comb his hair. Your Princeton date will spend the whole weekend worrying whether you might possibly look better than he does.

In the Yale chapter, Press gets a mention:

… new admissions policies placing more emphasis on abilities than bloodlines (over 60 percent of the Class of ’71 attended public schools). The New Yalie is less likely to be a product of Choate, debutante parties, and J. Press Clothiers…

The following passages on preppies is one of the most interesting one on prepdom I’ve come across since starting this site. It uses that much-maligned term to characterize the twilight of the old values (not to mention legacy students) in the wake of open admissions and the Age of Aquarius. Check out this useage, from 1969 no less, in which “preppie” is essentially used to characterize a kind of reactionary ethos:

While the eight Ivy League schools may still be the bastion of preppiedom, and while in the popular mind the tweed-suited, Bourbon-sipping Groton man may still be the Ivy League archetype, preppies themselves know that even at Princeton they are a steadily decreasing minority. For the preppie is not defined by having attended private school, but by having the moderate, sometimes conservative behavior, the cliquishness, sometimes snobbery, and the traditional good taste, sometimes stuffiness, that are now being swept from the college scene by the frenetic sensuality of the plastic hippie. Preppie clubs and fraternities are being infiltrated increasingly by intellectuals, activists and artists…

On the plus side, however, the sentence concludes:

… anti-Semitism and racial discrimination are dwindling.

Certainly a good thing. But the very next paragraph whisks us back to prepdom:

Nonetheless, it seems that as long as there are football games there will be preppies. Any fall Saturday the stadiums are full of neatly shod and coifed girls from Wellesley and Mt. Holyoke, draping their braceleted arms over boys with flasks and Brooks Brothers scarves. After the game there are cocktails and dinner at the club and a party at the friends of friends.

The book’s final chapter is entitled “Student Activism: The Ivy Left,” and there’s also extended discussion about marijuana and LSD, none of which is worth quoting here. But make no mistake: The hippies won. — CC

 

Madras Season: Dexys Midnight Runners

Wed 4 Jul 2012 - Filed under: 1960s,1970s,1980s,Clothes — Christian
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When madras season officially opened on Memorial Day, we ran a post showing George HW Bush clad in a madras sportcoat in company that wasn’t exactly wearing the same (can you imagine Obama or Romney doing that in 2012?) Now that July 4th marks our deeper descent into madras, this time we show the fabric in an equally unexpected context: on the backs of British pop stars. (Continue)

 

Jazz, Surfing And Poetry On A Summer’s Day

Wed 20 Jun 2012 - Filed under: 1960s,Film,Historic Images,Jazz — Christian
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Today is the first day of summer. You probably don’t need a calendar to tell you that, as the entire United States is getting scorched with its first nationwide heat wave.

But summer’s aren’t endless, so make hay — or whatever else you like to do from June to August — while the sun shines.

For about five years while living in Los Angeles, my favorite summer activity was surfing. Swimming in a natural body of water — ocean, lake, river — is one of life’s great simple pleasures. Likewise, sitting on a longboard near Santa Monica pier, with the ferris wheel in the background and dolphins zipping by while you wait for the next set to come in, was one of Southern California’s great pleasures. For six weeks of the year I could get by without any wet suit (some wear them year-round), and the alternating feeling on your torso of the sun beating down and the bracing salt water upped the experience tenfold.

Released in 1966, “Endless Summer” is still considered the greatest surf film ever made. It’s a documentary that never fails to inspire a zest for life, no matter how landlocked or water-phobic you are. Check it out if you haven’t.

Though hardly Ivy League, the film does have some cool patches of midcentury style, with suntans and Wayfarers and relaxed sportswear. You’ll see surfer Mike Hynson in penny loafers and white socks and Robert August in a salmon-colored short sleeve buttondown with third button.

But even more radical than the changes that have come to surfing since 1966, with the graceful, harmonious riding of the waves on longboards replaced by the frantic slashing against the ocean that is shortboarding, is what the young Californians behind “Endless Summer” wore on their trip around the world: suits and ties. Below are August and Hynson — who appear at several points in the film in their navy and charcoal suits — and filmmaker Bruce Brown, with sneakers and cigarette: (Continue)

 

Mitt Romney: A Preppy, Ivy Kinda Guy

Thu 14 Jun 2012 - Filed under: 1960s,1970s,Historic Images,Personae — Christian
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Yesterday a link to a slideshow of the young Mitt Romney somehow made its way into my inbox. I took a look and wasn’t surprised to learn that the son of Michigan’s governor and former prep school student was raised on natural shoulders, oxford buttondowns and rep ties.

At least while it was current and fashionable.

In the ’70s he went hairy like most everybody else, and today the Harvard alum looks just like any other politician: sanitized for television and downplaying his elite background with populist pablum. (Continue)

 
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