Once the Ivy League Look gained popularity during the silver age of the ’50s, Main Street clothiers used the term as an advertising buzzword. Needless to say, Brooks Brothers and J. Press never had to resort to the term, and in fact dismissed the term “Ivy League” with mild scorn, as they’ve always done with every popular term applied to their clothing.
This Taylor-Made shoe ad lays it on pretty thick. As if the term “Ivy League” didn’t carry enough weight, the copywriter further drives the point home with “aristocracy” and “patrician.”
The ad dates from 1955, well before the world was turned upside-down in the late ’60s, when it became cooler to identify with the peasantry than the aristocracy.
But Taylor-Made knew how to play to both sides. This 1953 ad shows it could appeal to radicals in penny loafers. Vive la revolution. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD
If you hold a mirror up to your computer screen, you’ll see that the gent being measured for a jacket is at the venerable clothier Chipp, as seen in this illustration from the company’s 1965 catalog.
Ivy Style asked Paul Winston, son of the Chipp founders, for any insight on the drawing. Here’s what he had to say:
The drawing was done by Al Herman, who was a top fashion illustrator of the period. The fitter pictured was Bob DiFalco, who was our designer and fitter. Back then all the ads and catalogs featured line drawings, not pictures of products and models wearing clothing.
That was what Chipp looked like before we bought the building. It was a walk-up with a narrow flight of stairs, which was negotiated by the Kennedys, Watsons, and Cyrus Vance to drop a few names.
In the background you see the wall of cloth. No swatch books; customers were shown bolts of cloth.
Paul is still making suits in Midtown Manhattan under the name Winston Clothiers. He also recently received a batch of grenadine ties which he now has in a dozen colors and sells for a very modest tariff. For more info, give him a ring at (212) 687-0850. — CC
Recently we mentioned the “Main Street” Ivy brands that flickered briefly during the heyday, which often touted their wares as “authentic natural shoulder fashions,” as if one were buying an ethos along with a jacket cut.
Of course, among the original arbiters of the Ivy League Look, the natural shoulder was an expression of the values and culture of America’s WASPy upper middle class. But because they got their clothes from Brooks and Press (and The Andover Shop and Langrock and so forth), their clothes weren’t advertised as “authentic” because they actually were.
To wit, check out the ad by Varsity Town’s Madisonaire line from 1966, one year before the fall of the Ivy League Look. What do you bet that by ’68 the street-sign logo was changed to Haight-Ashbury?
Either way it’s still Main Street, a wonderful example of commerce at work and the flourishing of the Ivy League Look to men across the nation, who, if they couldn’t get the real deal, could at least get a replica. — CC
Laurence King Publishing has just released a new edition of “100 Years Of Menswear” by Cally Blackman. Steve McQueen graces the cover, in Harrington jacket, cashmere v-neck and white buttondown. Inside, however, there’s not much else to interest you.
While the first half of the book, devoted to the first part of the century, features photos and illustrations of gentlemanly personae in suits and ties and eveningwear, the second half — which covers the postwar period to the present day — focuses almost entirely on outrageous fashion designs and every possible youth cult, no matter how grotesque (skinheads with swastikas, for example). At least there’s a picture of Cary Grant in “North By Northwest” to show there was more to menswear after the war than beatniks, punks, hippies, Bowie as Ziggy, and women’s skirts fashioned for men by Jean Paul Gaultier.
There’s one spread devoted to the Ivy League Look (in the section called “Rebel,” of course), which is pictured below:
Blackman is an Englishwoman and teaches at Central Saint Martins College. — CC
Clark Gable is largely remebered as one of the glamorous menswear icons of the 1930s, along with Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, and just about every other star from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
But as he aged and fashions changed, Gable evolved with the times and shed his double-breasted suits with nipped waists and squared shoulders, and settled into buttondowns, discrete ties and natural shouldered jackets. He kept the signature mustache, though.
Gable is seen here in a series of photos by Sid Avery taken in 1957. (Continue)
It’s September, and many of you readers are no doubt hitting the books just like Willie Gillis here, a fictional character created by Norman Rockwell in the 1940s.
And because style and intelligence complement each other so well, we’ve got an extra-special giveaway to make sure you look sharp when you show up for an early exam after pulling an all-night cram session.
Southern Tide has generously donated $500 worth of back-to-school clothes for one lucky college student. You’ll get some great chinos, a polo shirt, sweater, plus other stuff.
The contest begins tomorrow, so spread the word around campus. You’ll leave a comment to enter the contest, and need a valid school e-mail address, or some other means of proving your student status, to win.
Full details tomorrow.