A couple days ago I participated in a little forum banter, pointing out that in my opinion the ubiquity of the Ivy League Look during the heyday can sometimes be overstated. What’s more, once certain items became so mainstream they certainly ceased to have any direct connection to the campus and Eastern Establishment, even if therein lay their origins. Case in point, picture John Travolta as a juvenile delinquent in “Grease.” Sure he wears penny loafers to the big dance, but they’re black. And he has grease in his hair.
Kind of like the guy above.
By chance last night I was browsing the streaming Netflix titles and ended up watching “Inventing The Abbotts.” Filmed in 1997 and starring Joaquin Phoenix and Billy Crudup, the movie is set in a small Illinois suburb and contrasts two middle-class boys brothers with three sisters from a rich family.
In the scene depicted above, Phoenix’s character shows up to a big lawn party, complete with orchestra, dolled up in his best. The costume designer has him in a white buttondown with nice collar roll, but look at the rest of his outfit: atomic-flecked ’50s sportcoat, equally radioactive Main Street necktie, and penciled-on sideburns in homage to Elvis.
Is he dressed Ivy simply because it’s 1957 and he’s wearing a buttondown, or is it more accurate to simply say he’s dressed like a suburban ’50s teenager?
Oddly enough, both Phoenix’s character and his brother end up attending the University of Pennsylvania, where their deceased father had gone. But in post-enrollment scenes the boys show virtually no sartorial development, still clad in the same pointy-collared, double-flap-pocket sport shirts and gabardine casual jackets. Was this oversight on the part of the costumer, or a deliberate decision to show that they were still small-town guys?
As a final note, I was starting to doze off when I looked up and could swear my high school was right there on the screen in high definition. I leapt to the computer to check, and sure enough “Inventing The Abbotts” was filmed at Santa Rosa High School. I was even in town at the time and don’t recall any local hoopla, which I do when it comes to “Peggy Sue Got Married” with Nicolas Cage and Kathleen Turner, which had filmed on campus the summer before I started.
Other scenes in “Inventing The Abbotts” were filmed in Petaluma, about 15 miles farther south toward San Francisco. That’s where George Lucas shot “American Graffitti,” another movie whose setting is contemporary to the Ivy heyday and shows buttons on collars, trim haircuts and penny loafers.
In other words, basic early ’60s Americana. — CC
On our last post a commenter mentioned the Southern retailer Parisian carrying Duck Head. Here’s a 1992 commercial highlighting the Duck Head brand. — CS
I believe it was Derek at Die Workwear! who stumbled upon this, or stumbled upon another stumbler. Either way, it’s a great chronicle of student dress during the Ivy heyday, including plenty of white socks, shorts hems, and penny loafers. — CC
Our double-breast-fest continues with this story I wrote for the current issue of The Rake. Not exactly Ivy-focused, but those with a general interest in menswear may enjoy it. Pictured above is Fred Astaire from “Funny Face,” in DB grey flannel suit with blue oxford buttondown and bit loafers, while below is me with ’80s hair and a heavy Tom Wolfe circa “Bonfire” influence. — CC
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Make Mine A Double
By Christian Chensvold
The Rake, issue 32
One of my more notorious contributions to the family photo album is a shot of me celebrating high school graduation in a double-breasted cream and tan checked silk sportcoat paired with a brown and white dot tie, looking every bit the preposterously precocious popppinjay. (Continue)
Since it first aired in 2007, “Mad Men” has been the point of origin of a nostalgic zeitgeist for all things mid-century. From hotels to haircuts, from two-inch ties to tiki bars, an infatuation with the so-called “Mad Men Era” has permeated fashion and design.
Now the trend may finally be reaching its inevitable end, at least according to Esquire Magazine. (Continue)
Longtime comment-leaver “Old School” is always sending us tidbits of info. His latest was in regards to the film “Kill Your Darlings,” which centers around the early days of the Beat Generation at Columbia University in 1944.
We thanked Old School and told him the material was intriguing, though we feared the homoerotic theme might freak out our more fuddy-duddy readers. Old School replied:
You’re probably right. Some readers of Ivy Style are even freaked out by bit loafers.
That wisecrack was enough to inspire us to go forth. So on to “Kill Your Darlings,” which stars a grown up Daniel Radcliffe, aka Harry Potter.
The Beat Generation has been part of the film zeitgeist for a while now. In “Howl” (2010), James Franco starred as Allen Ginsberg during the obscenity trials of the 1950s. In 2012, Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” was adapted to film. The trailer for “Kill Your Darlings” casts the film as a bohemian, collegiate version of a Tom Ripley-style noir, exploring themes of obsession, love-triangles, and murder. There is also plenty of vintage eye candy in the form of tweed, knitwear and saddle shoes.
As the scion of a wealthy family, Lucian Carr (Dane DeHaan) looks as slick as a model in an ’80s Ralph Lauren shoot. With his well-coiffed blonde hair, saddle shoes, ascots and popped collars, he is a supremely self-confident counterpart to Daniel Radcliffe’s self-conscious, buttoned-down Ginsberg. Jack Kerouac (Ben Huston), a merchant mariner during this period, sports a nautical workwear look that is so de rigueur it barely registers as costume.
“Kill Your Darlings” saw a limited theatrical run in 2013, but will be released on DVD later this month. — ZD & CC (Continue)