Historic Texts

Roll Of A Lifetime: Esquire On Buttondowns, 1983

A reader recently left a comment saying that collar roll is a fetish of the Internet age and that didn’t exist in the analog decades. Assistant editor Chris Sharp tapped his photographic memory, rummaged through his archives, and immediately produced an article from the April, 1983 issue of Esquire in which John Berendt opined on


What, Me Worry? Yale During The Great Depression

The 1930s was the time of the Great Depression, yet simultaneously it was also the golden age of Hollywood glamor and of masculine elegance. It was also the time when the Ivy League Look flourished, though within closed corridors, the aristocratic golden age versus the postwar, democratic silver age. This article from the Yale Alumni


George Frazier’s The Art Of Wearing Clothes, 1960

Yesterday on our Facebook group a young lad wondered where he could read the famous essay by George Frazier mentioned in our previous post. While it’s certainly googleable, we figured why not present it here. There is a section on New Haven and the natural-shoulder look, plus plenty of fine general observations on dressing. Also,


Secret Society: NSA Recruiting Ads At Brown, 1968

Associate editor Christopher Sharp follows up on our last post, a slideshow on the Brown engineering department, with these late ’60s recruitment ads from Brown’s college newspaper. * * * While perusing the archives of a Brown University student newspaper, I found myself venturing where most traditionalists dare not tread: the late ’60s. My intent


Tartan Day And Men In Plaid, 1950

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



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


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


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,



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


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


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


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


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. —



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



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


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


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


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


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:


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


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.


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



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


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.