One of the pleasures of spending time among archival material is the chance discovery. We recently came across an Izod Lacoste advertisement that was used in 1958 and 1959, placed by The Andover Shop.
On the surface it does not appear different from other Izod-Lacoste advertising material from the period. It carries the sobriety one might expect from the faux Anglo-Franco alliance. While the French side was real — Lacoste was founded by the tennis champ Rene Lacoste, nicknamed “Le Crocodile” — the other pard is English in name only. Izod was a London tailor, but an American bought the rights to use his name to play up the English pedigree.
The ad’s illustrated model is a mature golfer, his trousers pleated and his shirt buttons all buttoned up — quite incorrectly, as The Andover Shop’s Charlie Davidson says this was never done. It is likely a stock image.
The curious part is where the advertisement was placed, who placed it, and the Ivy-relevant copywriting that is going to invite a comparison to our previous piece on the difference — or not — between Ivy and preppy.
The ad appeared in the Phillipian, the student newspaper of Phillips Academy (long known as a feeder school to Yale) and the advertiser is none other than The Andover Shop. The ad copy certainly isn’t stock and is a veritable ode to Ivy:
Through the hallowed halls of learning
And the fields of sport and play
Strides the modern Ivy League man
In the costume of the day.
In his clothing there’s distinction
And he knows the signs of style
On his slacks a silver buckle
On his shirt a crocodile.
For the croc’s a sign of quality
Of shoulders never sagging
Of collars that will always fit
And garments never bagging
Its built a reputation
Its fame just grows and grows
Chemise Lacoste is worn by
Every Ivy man who knows.
Yet further evidence, we think, that the preppy style that flourished in the ’70s had the bulk of its origins in the Ivy League Look of a generation before.
We called Charlie Davidson and asked if he had any recollection of the ad, but he did not. By that time he was running just the Cambridge store, with family members running the branch in Andover.
He did recall that Lacoste shirts from that period were of exceptional quality, and that while he never liked to stock name brands, Lacoste sold better than any brand he’s ever carried.
Charlie also recalled how the shirts were worn with the collar popped, and how “guys in Southampton would wear two at a time,” but he couldn’t tell us precisely what decade these trends first emerged. — CHRISTOPHER SHARP & CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD
Fred at Unabashedly Prep, recent star of our comments section, has just put up a Paul Newman photo gallery that may include some shots you haven’t seen before, such as this one with popped oxford. Head over here to see the rest. — CC
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)
Think I’ll take it for one last spin today.
Came across this passage recently in Nelson W. Aldrich, Jr.’s biography of Tommy Hitchcock, Jr.:
The polo coat — long, belted, and made of soft camel’s hair — was still for the most part used by polo players, thrown over their shoulders for warmth between chukkers, but it would soon drape every prep-school graduate, north and south, from Foxcroft to St. Paul’s.
For more on the “aristocrat of topcoats,” see this post at Gentlemen’s Gazette. — CC
Today Nick Hilton sent out an email message with this 1965 image. The car may look dated, but certainly not the clothes. A couple of years ago son Nick resurrected his father’s name for a line of Ivy-cut jackets, and glad to see he’s still doing them. The spring trunk show kicks off this weekend and there’s a 20 percent discount offered through March 30. Call 609.921.8160 for an appointment.
Some five years ago, Tradsville personality “AldenPyle” started a thread at Ask Andy that included the above ad, which ran in the Yale Daily News in 1941. The ad touches on several themes we explored in our recent rise and fall essay.
First off, notice the split between clothes for campus and clothes for town, which consists of oxford shirts, albeit with spread collars, and wingtips.
The campus category, however, consists of sportcoats in Shetland and tweed, grey flannels “cut in your favorite university style,” buttondown shirts, argyle socks, and buckskin shoes.
As I asserted in the essay, the Ivy League Look clothing genre consisted of clothes for both city and campus, but it’s the campus look — in this case tweed jacket, grey flannels, buttondown oxford, foulard tie, argyle socks and bucks — that provided the lasting legacy, codified the “timeless” aspect of Ivy, and became the greatest influence on the clothing we wear today.
The ad also expresses what I called taste-driven natural selection. Macy’s sought to reach Yale students through their own newspaper, but assured them that the department store giant from New York understood the tastes of New Haven’s undergrads. The ad copy asserts that Macy’s knows Yale’s “traditions of dress,” and that its accessories are “correct” — not by the standards of Macy’s merchandisers, of course, but those of the students.
Whether this was actually true is another matter, but Macy’s believed it could make the assertion, and that it needed to.
There may have been some miscommunication between the copywriter and the illustrator, however, as the copy confidently states, “We know you don’t want jackets with exaggerated shoulders and fitted lines, so we bring you the traditionally Yale straight-hanging coat with natural shoulder,” and yet the illustration expresses straight lines a lot better than natural shoulder.
Finally, the ad is also interesting for showing that long before the heyday of widespread popularity, a big-city department store thought the Yale student market worth going after. There’s a world of difference between advertising in the Yale Daily News and sending road men to New Haven, as Macy’s did here in 1941, and selling elements of the look nationwide with campus-oriented ad copy, as Main Street retailers did years later.
But Macy’s knew the clothes had to be right, and that it was the students who would make that call. The fact that Macy’s had to assure the Yale community that its wares were adequate, while a local such as J. Press persumably would not, shows the difference between local shops and the outsiders who wanted a piece of the pie.
In his next “Golden Years” column, Richard Press will examine the New Haven menswear market back in the day, which was larger and more competitive than we would have thought. — CC