Philip Seymour Hoffman, who plays the WASPy Ivy jerk Freddie Miles in “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” was found dead today of an apparent drug overdose.
I’d been out all afternoon and heard the news while shooting the breeze at the neighborhood wine shop.
“Ripley” is one of my favorite movies. I watch it at least once a year. I was crushed when its director, Anthony Minghella, died a few years ago, as he also made “The English Patient,” another one of my favorite films. I wondered how many great movies I’d be missing because of the loss.
But the gifted actor Hoffman has apparently died of a drug overdose, and my reaction was quite different. It was the first time in my life I recall feeling angry at the loss of a celebrity — and I mean angry at the celebrity himself. — CC
A reader with an eagle eye for spotting three-button sacks in the wild tipped us off to the upcoming film “At Middleton,” which is slated for release later this month.
Andy Garcia stars as George, a trad dad who learns to cut loose and find love while on a college tour with his son. The film’s Facebook page offers the following synopsis:
It’s not only teenagers who find themselves when they go off to college. Two brilliant actors best known for dramatic roles join forces in a romantic romp, and they have a ball. Vera Farmiga and Andy Garcia play strangers who meet while escorting their teen children to campus-tour day at a mythical college named Middleton (the film is in part a hilarious parody of American college life).
In the trailer below, George sports a white buttondown, bow tie, navy blazer with a 3/2 roll, khakis and loafers all supplied by Brooks Brothers, as well as tortoise horn-rims by Anglo-American, according to the film’s credits.
Those apprehensive about the bow tie might take heart in how Farmiga’s character Edith quips flirtatiously, “Wait. Let me guess. Are you a Brooks Brothers model?”
Considering how she seductively unties his bow, she evidently doesn’t think it’s a bad thing. — ZACHARY DELUCA
Commenting on our article “Is Ivy Cool?” reader “Camford” asked, “Are cigarettes and jazz cool?” I cannot say whether they are cool. Well, I could, but I won’t, as my physician, insurance agent and childhood music teacher might be reading this article. But I believe they are both addictive and potentially lethal.
When I was young and impressionable, I saw a jazz documentary on my local PBS station and have never been the same since. Years later I learned it was Bert Stern’s smoked-infused 1958 bacchanalia “Jazz On A Summer’s Day.” It should have come with a warning label. To this day I struggle with the compulsion to drink Rheingold beer and dance on rooftops, an endeavor I know is as foolhardy as a Lucky Strike habit.
In a recent post we wondered if the sack suit can surivive much longer. Well in one cinematic tale, it’s the last garment mankind will wear in the wake of a zombie apocalypse.
It wouldn’t be Halloween without a shot of Vincent Price, and above you’ll find the full version of his 1964 movie “The Last Man On Earth.” Based on the 1954 novel “I Am Legend,” which provided the source material for the recent Will Smith film of the same name, Price plays a scientist clad throughout the film in an Ivy-styled sack jacket.
As the film was shot in Italy, we have no idea if the jacket was authentic American or one of those foreign knock-offs.
Spoiler alert: Price’s character dies at the end, calling his adversaries “freaks,” no doubt in part for their two-button, darted jackets with shoulder pads. — CC
This morning we were alerted to a sportcoat made for Cary Grant in “Monkey Business” for the scene in which a youth serum gives the 48-year-old Grant the tastes and behavior of a college student. The jacket, currently for sale from a movie memorabilia company, did not make it into the film. It was made by Carroll & Co. of Beverly Hills, LA’s longstanding outpost of traditional clothing.
The jacket is a kind of hybrid jacket combining Ivy elements with characteristics of jackets Grant wore at the time. It has soft shoulder lines, three-button stance and a hook vent, combined with darts and a ticket pocket.
It’s similar to a jacket Grant wears in “People Will Talk,” subject of one of Ivy Style’s earliest posts, and in “Monkey Business” Grant also wears the three-button jacket with the bottom two buttons fastened.
The sportcoat will set you back $8,000, but the spring it will put in your step will be priceless. “Everyone wants to be Cary Grant,” Grant once famously said. “Even I want to be Cary Grant.” — CC
The other night I was browsing the streaming Netflix options and ended up watching “Monkey Business,” the 1952 screwball comedy with Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe. I hadn’t seen the movie since starting this website, and a very interesting scene caught my attention.
Grant plays a chemist who thinks he’s discovered a youth serum (which, this being a screwball comedy, was in fact randomly created by a chimpanzee). Suddenly Grant, who was 48 at the time, starts acting years younger. In fact, about two-and-a-half decades younger.
Under the serum’s influence, Grant buys a convertible sports car and takes Monroe roller skating. He also makes a few changes to his appearance. He gets a haircut noticeably shorter than what he’d previously been sporting (might we call it a Princeton haircut?), and goes to a clothing store where he selects a bold plaid jacket. When he asks if there are matching trousers, the elderly salesman informs him that such jackets are typically worn with grey flannels. Grant then picks out a pair of argyle socks.
When the serum wears off and Grant comes to his middle-aged senses, he says he was “acting like a college boy.”
The primary theme of the “rise and fall” essay we posted at the beginning of the year is that the Ivy League Look is much more than a mere tailoring style consisting of natural shoulders and an undarted chest. The sack silhouette is merely the blueprint for the look, which owes more to a certain approach towards dressing — the acceptance of certain items and the rejection of others, the importance of being casual — so much of which was codified by college men of the interwar years.
The transformation of Cary Grant’s character from mild-mannered middle-aged scientist to rowdy college boy is not a radical one, but merely a matter of degree. His haircut is shorter but still conventional. We also get the sense that his jacket is from a reputable maker, even though it is bolder in pattern than the suit he was previously wearing. It’s also more casual, consisting of sportcoat and trousers. His argyle socks are also more casual and youthful than his sober business hose.
Brooks Brothers, J. Press, and all the other Ivy League clothiers catered both to men and their sons. It was young men who drove fashion, however, albeit within the confines of correct Eastern Establishment dress. With its emphasis on casualness under the constant shadow of recreation and sporting activities, the WASPy way of dressing confers dignity upon young men and youth upon older men.
And decades after the end of the heyday, it’s clear that the youthful approach won out. The sartorial legacy of the Ivy League Look is not grey sack suits, but what was once a college-boy approach to dressing: tweed jackets, grey flannels, argyle socks and loafers.
The quest for the fountain of youth goes back for centuries, but metaphorically Grant’s character shows us that all we need to do to shed the probity of middle age is cut our hair short and dress a bit more audaciously. Well, that and drive Marily Monroe around in a sports car. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD