The era of men wearing proper hats has certainly gone the way of the dodo. Blame it on JFK. Still, there are older men and younger dandies who are somehow keeping the hat business afloat. For them, May 15th is a special day, as it’s the traditional date of putting away your wool hats and bringing out your straw hats, marking the sartorial turn from the cold winter to the warm summer.
Vintage photos reveal that this tradition was present during the Ivy heyday. Young men are out in lighter fabrics, donning their straw hats, and generally looking pleased to be out of the harsh Eastern winter.
“Hat bands were made of a variety of different fabrics with bright, summery colorways,” recalls Richard Press, former president of J. Press. “Madras, batik and rep bands were common and were a part of the Ivy summertime uniform.”
The boater hat in particular made its way into the wardrobes of various Ivy men. It has always been the oddball piece of headwear. It was a specialty hat, often worn by members of the cheerleading squads and university bands. “Boaters were also worn specifically for sporting events, such as the Kentucky Derby,” says Press, “and rowing events on the Charles and Schuylkill rivers.”
While it’s appearance is quirky, it’s association with sports and school pride made it suitable at such events for the students. The first three photos are from the 1953 Skimmer Day at Penn, while the botoom photo is of the Princeton band in 1961. — MATTHEW KARL GALE (Continue)
I got taken for an employee at Brooks the other day. Hasn’t happened in a while. — CC
English lass Rebecca C. Tuite reached out to us several years ago, introducing herself as a sorority girl simpatico with our little sartorial fraternity here. She was researching the corollary of the Ivy League Look, namely the style that WASPy women wore at elite eastern colleges at the same time young men were setting styles on college campuses.
She wrote several pieces for us that combined sartorial observations with the social context of boy-girl interactions during the heyday, including “Vasser Versus Ivies Touch Football,” “Double Date,” “The Yale-Vassar Bike Race,” plus posts on “The Man In The Brooks Brothers Shirt” and a piece on Richard Frede’s collegiate novel, “Entry E.”
The fruits of her research have blossomed and ripened in the form of her recently released book, “Seven Sisters Style,” which is getting plenty of publicity. Congrats to Rebecca, and here are some images from the book that show the girls fraternizing with the fellas. — CC (Continue)
Last night the CBS evening news did a story on Joe Brown of Pensacola, FL, who is still a hardworking barber at the age of 98. Patrons were asked, as they should have been, whether they feel safe in the hands of a nearly century-old tonsorian, especially when he breaks out the straight razor. But apparently his skills are still sharp and he gives a good cut.
Mr. Brown said that the low point in his very long career was when the Beatles became the rage and hair styles — along with pretty much everything else — began to change.
And so we present the above photo, alerted to us by ever-faithful reader “OldSchool,” as an illustration of the battle between Ivy and Beatles haircuts. I wonder which side won? — CC
In case you hadn’t heard, tomorrow is Tartan Day. To celebrate, we’re sharing a LIFE Magazine article from 1950 (scroll down to page 123) that showcased Yale students in plaid vests and Andover preps in plaid caps.
The article opens with this:
When the British caught wind of the fact that American men were developing a fancy for bright tartan dinner jackets, they were unhappy. In London, tailor and Cutter, the haberdasher’s bible called them “deplorable,” then was forced to backtrack when King George ordered a couple himself.
In this passage, Chipp (whose team is pictured above) and its role in pushing the whole concept of go-to-hell is further cemented:
Tartans have been worn for some time by a few individualists, mainly in the east and mainly customers of a New York tailor called Chipp.
Main Street, or at least urban department stores, soon took notice:
This winter the Florida resort season established them as a real fashion. Now the big department stores are about to break out with plaid dinner jackets for what is expected to be a wide market.
Below are some outtakes from the photo shoot from the LIFE archives. Have a great Tartan Day. I’ll be celebrating with Blackwatch boxers. — CC (Continue)
This cartoon dates from 1961. It was found here, where the caption reads:
… note the sophisticated, pipe-smoking college man in a letter sweater. Such folks would be extinct on college campuses by the end of the decade.
On this International Pipe Smoking Day, I salute you through a fog of Three Nuns. — CC
According to the seller unloading it on eBay, this J. Press sign was salvaged from the 44th Street store when the company moved to Madison Avenue.
It was originally listed for $2,500, but, as it didn’t have any takers, was relisted yesterday with an opening bid of $499 and buy-it-now of $700. — CC