Historic Texts




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The Man in the Brooks Brothers Shirt

For Ivy Style’s 300th post, London-based contributor Rebecca C. Tuite examines the most important piece of literature about The Ivy League Look’s most important brand. There is little doubt that Mary Mccarthy’s short story “The Man in the Brooks Brothers Shirt” is now probably more famous for its punchy title — a dream for the



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Terminal Preppies: Skewered, Stuffed, And Put To Good Use

With this post Ivy-Style bring Preppy Week to a close. Click here to have the Dead Kennedys’ “Terminal Preppie” play in another browser window as you rejoice in the demise of Biff and Muffy. Every trend carries within it the seed of its own negation. The hype and expectation over “Take Ivy” has made it


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Somewhere in Time: The Preppy ’80s

Preppy Week continues with this impressive bit of research from Greg Moniz, a student at Connecticut’s Trinity College, who brings back our “Somewhere in Time” series by compiling highlights from Time Magazine’s coverage of the ’80s preppy trend. “If one more person comes in here and asks for Bass Weejuns, I think I’ll scream,” says


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Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Prep

Preppy Week continues with this pre-OPH exploration of prepdom from the August 27, 1980 edition of The Toledo Blade. Everything you always wanted to know about prep but were too stuck-up to ask By Mike Steere Blade Staff Writer For lack of a better word, we’ll stick to the label that has been so cavalierly


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Preppy Week: Alison Lurie on Being Rich and Dull

In celebration of the publication of Lisa Birnbach’s “True Prep,” Ivy-Style is devoting the entire week to preppy posts. By the end of the week you’ll be so sick of them you’ll relish the final post, in which preppies are skewered and stuffed to a Dead Kennedys soundtrack. First up is an excerpt from Alison


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The Rights Stuff: The Publication of “Take Ivy”

The following is an interview with Wes Del Val, vice president and associate publisher at powerHouse Books, which brings out “Take Ivy” on August 31. IS: “Take Ivy” isn’t due to come out for another month, and yet you’ve already pre-sold the first printing. How many copies have you sold in advance of publication? WDV:


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There’s Only One Brooks Brothers: Coronet Magazine, 1950

I’ve previously presented two articles on Brooks Brothers from the troubled Marks & Spencer era. This one, from four decades earlier, was featured in the September, 1950 issue of the Esquire-owned digest Coronet, and also reflects a time of corporate management change. In 1946 Brooks Brothers was bought by the Washington, DC department store known


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Removing the Ivy League Stigma: Plimpton on Brooks

In 1993, five-odd years under new owners Marks & Spencer, now widely agreed to have veered the brand drastically off course, Brooks Brothers took out a six-page advertorial in The Atlantic Monthly celebrating its 175 years in business. Literary heavyweight George Plimpton was hired to write the text, which combines history with everyday goings-on at


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M Magazine, 1991: Unbuttoning Brooks Brothers

The March, 1991 M Magazine article — of which scans are presented below after the jump (click “Continue”) — is our second article on Brooks Brothers during the Marks & Spencer era. Along with the previous one from Forbes, the article is part of a cache I collected while doing a paper for a Business


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The Aristocrat of Topcoats: Boyer on the Polo Coat

This year marks the 25th anniversary of one of the most erudite and entertaining tomes on menswear: G. Bruce Boyer’s “Elegance.” Ivy-Style continues its efforts to digitize Boyer’s work for the Internet and a new generation of readers. This latest offering addresses the polo coat, the so-called “aristocrat of topcoats.” Below are some words of


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The Game

The annual Harvard-Yale football game — known to students and alumni simply as The Game — has been played since 1875 and alternates each year between Harvard Stadium and the Yale Bowl. The Game is famous for its always-waning-but-never-quite-dead tradition of genteel tailgating, nowadays conducted alongside college parties more squarely within the “Animal House” tradition.


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Leading Men: The Princetonians

When it comes to starting fashion trends, there’s Princeton and then there’s every other school. From the three-button suit to its namesake haircut, Princeton has popularized such menswear staples as Norfolk jackets, raccoon coats, tweed sport coats, rep ties, spectator shoes, khaki pants and Shetland sweaters. Princeton’s sartorial influence has been dulled by time, but



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The Year Brooks Invented Pink

If you’re reading this, chances are there’s something pink in your closet. In fact, you might be wearing a pink polo, oxford or Shetland right now, and feeling pretty damn manly doing it. Do you owe it all to Brooks Brothers? According to LIFE magazine, Brooks all but invented the color pink — at least


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Going Down: Brooks, Escalators, and Marks & Spencer

When Marks & Spencer installed elevators in Brooks Brothers’ Madison Avenue flagship, they only went down. Widely acknowledged for monumental mismanaging Brooks, hastening a decline in quality and the isolation of lifelong customers, the UK apparel firm Marks & Spencer eventually sold Brooks Brothers in 2001 after 13 years and hundreds of millions in losses.


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Slipping Into Something More Comfortable

This is the second in our efforts to digitize the work of G. Bruce Boyer, whose many fine articles on menswear have not yet found their way onto the Internet. Titled simply “Loafers,” this piece originally appeared in the July, 1982 issue of Town & Country, and was collected in Boyer’s 1985 book “Elegance.” Boyer


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Protestant Deformation: Neurotic WASPs, 1990

Christopher Sharp presents this swan song of ’80s prepdom from the January 1990 issue of M Magazine. In keeping with the neurotic WASP theme, the scans were taken at a self-consciously nonchalant angle. I’ve had this magazine for almost 20 years. The cover story certainly spoke to me: I’m white, an Anglo-Saxon, attended a Scottish


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Somewhere in Time: Socks are for Suckas

With this post Ivy-Style revisits our Somewhere in Time series, based on articles from the Time Magazine archives. Custom dictates that the bottom button on a vest or cardigan is left nonchalantly undone, a tradition credited to the absent-mindedness of Edward VII. The origins of socks without loafers are probably similar: Some stylish student somewhere


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Ivy Magazine, 1957

This is Ivy-Style’s one-hundredth post. Over the past 99, I can honestly say that the thing I’m most proud of is never having once attempted to confirm or deny that there is or is not such a thing as “trad.”


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Well Groomed Conformity

In 1947, a letter from the Student Tailor Shop gave official notice to Princeton’s incoming class of ’51 that the university required its own wardrobe. “The style of clothing worn around the campus,” it read, “is different from that sold in metropolitan centers and home town stores.” From four-button suits and detachable-collar shirts in the


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Somewhere in Time: Back to the Button-Down

This is the latest in Ivy-Style’s series of articles from the vaults of Time Magazine, which shed light on the evolution of traditional style through the decades. The currents of change move slowly in menswear; there is always time, as TS Eliot put it, “to murder and create.” Adherence to this adage may result in