What a difference half a century makes. Brooks Brothers, essentially the creators of what came to be known as the Ivy League Look, used to scoff at the term. To wit, this passage from the 1959 novel “Try For Elegance” by former Brooks Brothers employee David Loovis:
He [the floor manager] detested to the point of vehemence the term “Ivy League” although the store was generally considered as the long-time stronghold of that type of apparel. Dunar suspected Pardee’s lack of college background and a secret envy of the well-fed, rangy type of boy and man who mostly patronized the store had something to do with it.
Today Brooks Brothers unveiled a new campaign on its website and in its email newsletter that loudly proclaims the term “Ivy.” (Continue)
Update, 3 July, 10:04 AM:
Last night Ivy Style crossed the 10,000-comment threshold with these infamous words that will echo across America this summer as families pile up the station wagon and head out on the road:
Are we there yet?
The comment was left by none other than regular reader Henry, who will finally be rewarded for years of faithful interaction.
Leave one more comment with your real email address, Henry, so I can make sure the IP addresses match. Wouldn’t want the loot to go to one of your sparring partners pretending to be you. — CC
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Ivy-Style.com is rapidly approaching its 10,000th comment. As a way of saying thank you for the interaction and entertainment that our comments section provides, I’m arranging for one lucky reader to get a pile of loot donated by our sponsors.
Here’s how it will work. Sometime over the next couple of weeks — depending on how worked up you guys get — we’ll cross the ten thousand threshold. The person to leave comment number 10,000 — after all spam and petty nastiness has been expunged, of course — wins.
So you might want to leave a valid email address when you comment, at least for the time being.
And while it’s true that the winner may be one of the usual suspects in our perennial Left vs. Right and US vs. UK kerfuffles, at least everyone has an equal chance of winning, regardless of ideology.
After all, anyone can wear buttondowns and penny loafers. — CC
Update: Here is a confirmed alphabetical list of the prizes so far, which have a combined value of $1,425: (Continue)
As reported to Tradsville by the French blog Greensleeves To A Ground, English photographer Nick Clements recently completed a photo shoot entitled “The Ivy House” for the retro magazine Men’s File.
The shoot combined modern and vintage clothing and sought to recreate the mood of a ’60s fraternity house.
While it’s tough to tell the new clothing from the vintage, the fraternity house mood could hardly be called modern. — CC (Continue)
E-commerce site Mr. Porter has unveiled a new collection by Paul Smith in which the British designer draws inspiration from “Take Ivy.”
According to the website’s announcement,
Sir Paul, who has been at the forefront of British fashion for five decades, is well placed to explain how Ivy style first came to the UK from the US. “In London the Ivy look was brought in by a lot of the GIs who were stationed out in places such as Cambridgeshire. They came into London at the weekends and went to clubs such as The Scene, in Soho. There was quite an interest in the way these guys dressed, because they looked so cool and slick.” In Sir Paul’s opinion, “The clothes are quite timeless, and there’s always been a hard core of fans.” That classic appeal brings a practical advantage: “It’s a look you can easily wear with your existing wardrobe,” he says.
And as those who’ve followed this website know, Ivy in the UK is associated not with the WASP establishment (save for popular icons such as the Kennedys), but with the world of jazz:
For the designer, the Kennedy clan – “all of them” – are the icons of the Ivy look. “There are lovely pictures of Jack wearing Converse All-Stars, regular trousers and a pale-coloured sweater with patch elbows. It’s the whole Hamptons look.” However, Sir Paul’s other source of Ivy inspiration comes from the music scene. “For me it was very much about the jazz era; Blue Note [a US jazz label] album covers always had these very cool-looking guys, with a very sharp look,” he remembers. “Herbie Hancock and John Coltrane were the guys who stood out as being very well dressed.”
As for the clothes, when the best item in your collection is a gray sweatshirt, perhaps you need to be more inspired.
And in other quasi-Ivy UK news….
The battle for young fashion preps is heating up. Rugby staked its claim several years ago, and Brooks Brothers has been amping up its youthful sportswear and opened its Flatiron store this past year complete with video games.
The latest entry, at least according to the May issue of GQ, is Jack Wills, a UK-based company that combines “British boarding school and American frat house” looks and operates 11 stores strategically located near college campuses. — CC
Perhaps because he’s a football player, Dink Stover has been at Yale for a hundred years. Hey, the real world is coarse and common, would you want to leave?
One hundred years ago this month Owen Johnson published his college novel “Stover At Yale,” which is long on novel but short on college. I attempted to read this some 15 years ago and didn’t get very far. No surprise I can’t find it in my bookcase.
Alexander Nazaryan of The New York Daily News did a fine write-up yesterday about the book’s anniversary, as well as its shortcomings (Yale and academic life figure little in the novel, the protagonist being interested solely in football and social advancement). The article also acknowledges the current phenomenon we refer to as Ivy Trendwatch. — CC
Today Assouline sent out an email announcing the publication of “The Ivy League” by Daniel Cappello, my colleague at Quest magazine.
The book starts by examining the history of the Ancient Eight and its place in American (and increasingly, global), culture, and goes on to devote a chapter to each school and what makes it different from the rest.
Though primarily about the schools themselves, there are some great vintage photos and some passages about the style of American dress that takes its name from the Ivy League.
Below are some sample shots from the book (the final one, from freshman orientation at Harvard, is a spectacular shot of a sea of madras sportcoats), as well as Harvard alum Cappello’s first interview as he goes into promotion mode. — CC
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IS: How did the idea or the inspiration for the book come about?
DC: I had been consulting with Assouline on several editorial projects over the years, and one day I got a phone call from Martine and Prosper Assouline asking me if I could come in to talk with them about the Ivy League. Their son was applying to college at the time, and they couldn’t find any one book that brought all of the Ivy League schools together at once, to really give a flavor for what each one was about. They knew I had gone to Harvard and spent a lot of my undergraduate days visiting friends at Brown, Yale, Columbia, and Princeton. They were full of questions about what made Harvard different from Yale, or Cornell different from Dartmouth, and so forth.
By the end of our conversation, we had an idea for a book of our own. In a way, they asked me if I was willing to go back to school with them—or, maybe better put, to go through the process of applying to college all over again.