Historic Texts

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Still Elegant After 30 Years

Apologies for being in the dark yesterday as we got bit by another bug. We’re now in the process of migrating to a new hosting company with better protection against these tedious maladies. In the meantime, we welcome everyone back with a special treat from Toronto-based style writer and broadcaster Pedro Mendes, who recently interviewed

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Success Through Good Grooming: Bert Bacharach’s Right Dress, 1955

After a spell of breaking-news interruptions, we’re finally returning to the topic of rules when it comes to dressing. It all started, you may recall, with a Japanese graphic that included the word “rules” along with “snob.” This got me free-associating about a certain type of fusty clotheshorse who takes pride not in anything original



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Dateline 1954, The Ivy League Look Heads Across The US

In our last post we mentioned a 1954 LIFE Magazine article entitled “The Ivy Look Heads Across US.” It’s been referenced several times here, including in a few of Richard Press’ columns, as J. Press was largely featured in the article. But we’ve never actually presented it here and new readers may not be familiar


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From Wall Street To Main Street: That Brooks Brothers Look, 1954

Recently on Ivy Style’s Facebook page a reader posted an article by Julien Dedman entitled “That Brooks Brothers Look.” A quick investigation revealed that the article comes from the February, 1954 issue of Playboy, and that Dedman had graduated from Yale in 1948. I’ve argued several times for the year 1967 as an end of


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Spin Cycle: How Bleeding Madras Washed Vice Into Virtue

Gentleman’s Gazette just published a great story on the history of madras. There’s much on the origins of the fabric in India, but even more interesting is Sven Raphael Schneider’s recap of the bleeding madras damage control at midcentury, when irate consumers were quickly educated that authentic madras was “guaranteed to bleed.” According to Schneider,



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Help A Prep With His Homework

Over the past few years, the Ivy Trendwatch has helped bring scholarly attention to the clothing and social customs of college men during the heyday of the Ivy League Look. “Take Ivy” shined an outsider’s lens on college life in the mid-’60s with a specific eye for what men were wearing. Then came the MFIT


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Macy’s Knows Its Yale, 1941

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



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Brooks Clothes & White Shoes: Harvard Blues, 1941

On our recent white bucks and grey flannels post, Bruce Boyer left a comment mentioning the song “Harvard Blues.” Considering it’s been on our editorial calendar for about four years, I’d say it’s high time we do a post on it. The song, recorded in 1941 by Count Basie, opens with these immortal lines: I


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Bits At Burdine’s: The Squire Shop, 1968

A couple of weeks ago we posted a collection of vintage Dexter advertisements, and here’s an interesting follow up. In 1968, as the Ivy League Look was plummeting in popularity, the shoe that would cement itself as a preppy staple in the 1970s was gradually garnering greater attention. The above ad is from The Palm


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Preppies Vs. Hippies: The Ivy League Guidebook, 1969

In 1969, when the Ivy League was shedding Weejuns and growing sideburns at an alarming rate, three students — Andrew Tobias, Arnold Bortz and Caspar Weinberg — published “The Ivy League Guidebook.” Exactly as its title would suggest, the book is aimed at incoming freshman and devotes a chapter to each school, plus general sections


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The Ivy League Look In Australia In The ’50s

During the heyday of the Ivy League Look, the natural-shoulder diaspora spread not only from the Ancient Eight to campuses across America, it also spread to far corners of the globe. In March of 1957, The Sydney Morning Herald reported on the growing trend for American Ivy League clothes. Farmer’s is a department store that


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Dirty White Bucks & An Ivy League Coat

We’ve previously featured pop tunes from the Ivy heyday (and from the good old days when guys would sing about their clothes), and here’s another one: Ronnie Haig & Jerry Siefert singing the praises of dirty white bucks and “an Ivy League coat to burn out your eye.” Ignore the references to tight pants. —


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Voice In The Dark: Richard Frede’s Entry E, 1958

“Entry E” is something of a pulp novel, telling a tale of Ivy League life in America that was considered startling on its release in 1958. But for all the adolescent angst and raucous action in this story, there is plenty of mid-century Ivy League style and quiet consideration of the “Ivy Man,” described in


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Russell Lynes On The Shoe Hierarchy, Esquire 1953

Despite the fact that you’re supposed to be learning to think for yourself, college has always been a conformist environment. Those with an excess of individuality may be respected, but are rarely popular. And even during the heyday of the Ivy League Look, not every student was a perfect example of the style. What became