Personae

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The Godfather

On me: Norman Hilton sportcoat Brooks Brothers oxford Chipp grenadine tie Ralph Lauren paisley pocket square O’Connell’s grey flannels Crockett & Jones tassel loafers On him: Black pinstriped suit Words of wisdom Probably the largest private collection of Brooks Brothers memorabilia


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Across The Pond: Brooks Dresses Kermit The Frog

Brooks Brothers has historically taken its inspiration from across the pond — England, to be precise. Now it’s looked across a smaller, home-grown pond and found an amphibian celebrity to outfit. Today the company announced that in addition to its roster of presidents, captains of industry and rogues and gentlemen, it has now dressed a



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Norman Hilton, 1919-2011

Norman Hilton, who ran an eponymous Ivy League clothing brand and was Ralph Lauren’s first investor, died yesterday at the age of 92, his son Nick told Ivy-Style.com. Hilton’s motto was “Doing One Thing Well” and his logo features a weathervane. Tonight it points not north or south, east or west, but towards the sky.


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Penthouse Serenade: Hef on Ivy, 1960

If you’re a sucker for the “Mad Men” vibe of cool dudes, sexy chicks and midcentury style, you should really check out “Playboy’s Penthouse,” Hugh Hefner’s variety show from the early days of his budding Playboy empire. Episodes are available on DVD, including through Netflix. The episodes were taped in a party atmosphere that brought


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High Note: New York City Opera’s George Steel

Men who work in the arts generally aren’t known for sartorial conservatism. That’s why this photo of George Steel, general manager and artistic director of New York City Opera, caught my eye in a recent issue of the New York Times. Kinda reminds me of George Will. — CC Photo by Chester Higgins, Jr. for


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Taft By Numbers: Peter Rawson III, 1952

In 1952, LIFE Magazine ran a profile on the Taft family, one of America’s great political dynasties, having produced President William Howard Taft. The family also produced a prep school — The Taft School in Watertown, CT — which was founded by William’s brother Horace Dutton Taft, an early Skull & Bones member. Pictured above


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The Preppie Murder, 25 Years Later

August 26th marked the 25th anniversary of the so-called “Preppie Murder.” In 1986, Robert Chambers, a former student of Choate Rosemary Hall, left the Upper East Side bar Dorrian’s Red Hand with 18-year-old Jennifer Levin, whom he later strangled in Central Park behind the Metropolitan Museum. The story became a tabloid sensation, was eventually made


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Sign Here: How To Get A Swashbuckling Signature

I’m going to stray off-topic here a bit with something I’d like to share with you guys. I have lousy penmanship, and years ago I got an idea to write a piece on how to have a stylish signature. Inspired by a description of the brushwork of one of my favorite artists, Belle Epoque portrait


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JFK Buttoned Down

Today is Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ birthday (she would have been 82), and obliquely in her honor we present a photo of her late husband captured wearing a buttondown collar, which he eschewed upon entering the national spotlight, saying they were “too Ivy League.” — CC


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Desert Boot Creator Nathan Clark Dead at 94

Earlier this week Nathan Clark, great-grandson of the founder of English shoe company Clark’s and inventor of the desert boot in 1947, died at the age of 94. Last week The Guardian ran this fine tribute. The casual ankle-high boots found a place in the Ivy canon, as the following photos from the Yale-Harvard football


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Sikh And Ye Shall Find: The Indo-Prep Style of Gagan Singh

Lisa Birnbach’s “True Prep” raised plenty of Old-Guard eyebrows with its inclusiveness. Whereas 1980’s “The Official Preppy Handbook” was WASPy to the core, the sequel opens the club to black, Asian, gay and Muslim preps as Birnbach declares “It’s a whole new old world.” As an example that those flying the preppy flag in 21st



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Andy Warhol In Brooks — And Chrome

Last week a chrome statue of Andy Warhol was unveiled in New York’s Union Square. Sculptor Rob Pruitt opted to depict the artist circa 1977 in his Americana uniform of Brooks Brothers blazer and Levi’s 501 jeans. Writes The New York Times: Mr. Pruitt’s version of Warhol, which he devised on a computer, is young


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Associated Press: More To Come From Richard P.

If you’ve enjoyed the history of J. Press and insight on the Ivy League Look from our interview with Richard Press this week, rest assured there’ll be more to come. Richard has offered to share more anecdotes and observations in occasional guest posts for Ivy Style. Stay tuned. He is pictured at a party at


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King Tut’s Tomb of the Preppy Era

The latest issue of The Rake is rolling off the presses and includes a story by me on The Cary Collection. Inspired by a post by Unabashedly Prep’s Fred Castleberry (who supplied the photos), I made an appointment with Thomas Cary and proceeded to crawl through what he calls “the King Tut’s tomb of the


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The Art of Ivy: Jacob Lawrence

In honor of Black History Month, Robert I. Brown, whom Ivy Style wrote about here, pays tribute to the art and style of painter Jacob Lawrence. Although Jacob Lawrence was a high school dropout, he adopted the Ivy League Look later in life, as did many African Americans involved in the arts who wanted to



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Franco-American: How Blogs Turned a Frenchman Trad

How influential are blogs? Influential enough to make at least one guy from the nation that invented chic to start taking his cues from America. French guys aren’t exactly short on style. Nor on having an air of innate superiority — possibly deserved — simply for being French. But Francis Cazal — an advertising copywriter


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Immortal Sole: Adlai Stevenson and the Boston Cracked Shoe

If you don’t live on the East Coast and are under the age of 60, the term “Boston Cracked Shoe” will not likely have any resonance. But being 77, and having spent all of my business career in the East, it’s a part of the history of the Ivy League Look that is impossible to


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The Man Who Brought Ivy To Japan

In celebration of powerHouse Books’ publication of “Take Ivy” on August 31, Ivy-Style examines the life and career of Kensuke Ishizu, founder of Japanese clothing company VAN JACKET and the man who commissioned “Take Ivy.” The article is by W. David Marx, who previously wrote on the Japanese youth cult the Miyuki-zoku. Marx himself has


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Knit-Picky: The Streamlined Style of P. Sears Schoonmaker

Phil Sears Schoonmaker wears a black knit tie 98 percent of the time. This one preference serves as a symbol for his entire approach to dressing. Thirty-seven-year-old Schoonmaker, a New York-based business process consultant, is a living embodiment of the idea that less is more, of restrained taste and bold simplicity. With his superb balancing


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Jack and John: The Sartorial Dichotomy of JFK

Was John F. Kennedy the most Ivy of US presidents, or did the most important man in the country actually encourage American men not to follow the Ivy League Look? That depends on whether you’re talking about President Kennedy the nation’s leader, or Jack Kennedy relaxing among friends and family in Hyannis Port. On assignment


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The Prodigy: Robert I. Brown, 16-Year-Old Style Blogger

Young men who came of age during the heyday of the Ivy League Look could largely rely on their peers for sartorial guidance. By the ’80s, things were much different, and the budding man of style had to rely increasingly on books, magazines and movies. But today’s young men, who’ve never known life without the


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Cyrus in Cyprus, Junior the DA

Yesterday The New York Times ran a profile on Manhattan District Attorney elect Cyrus Vance, Jr. that makes a passing reference to Brooks Brothers and Chipp. In Ivy-Style’s interview with Chipp’s Paul Winston, Vance Senior, who served as Secretary of State in the Carter administration, was mentioned as a frequent customer. Though Winston recalls making