College Miscellany II

Some various images from the LIFE archives. First up are several shots from Bowdoin College in Maine. Above, 1952; below, 1957:

No date on these three Bowdoin shots. The one below looks like a good starting point for a Ralph Lauren Home collection inspired by a ’50s college dorm room:

Moving on, freshman class arriving at Cornell, 1960:

Freshman student from Hungary at Columbia, 1954, covering sports with pinned collar:

And finally, the classic combination of camel coat and football game. In this case, Wisconsin-Marquette, 1939.

And below are some noteworthy comments from when this post originally ran, which was around the time of Ivy Style’s first anniversary:

The charm, the innocence and faith in a better future. Its all there in those images. Perhaps its better if we don’t know what tomorrow brings and be pleased with today.

Sorry, when I see these pictures, I can’t help but think of the people who were willfully denied all of this privilege and happiness back in the “good ol days.

The last photo in the series — the young couple at the football game — is so wonderfully evocative and symbolic. In their blond innocence could they ever have imagined the horrific wars to come, the assasination of a US president and the resignation of another, the economic catastrophe not far short of the one they had already lived through.

As a great Stoic philosopher once pithily put it: “Opinion is everything.” — CC

45 Comments on "College Miscellany II"

  1. What the hell happened on college campuses?

  2. Young Macomber | October 28, 2009 at 1:02 am |

    Man, in that last Bowdoin photo, the professor (or father) on the left looks *so* damned comfortable, and confident, and at ease.

  3. The 60’s.

  4. Yes indeed what a pitty. I think you americans have a great style (and musical, which is closely connected) heritage that you should be proud of although its so often forgotten.

  5. Love these photos! Thanks for posting them.

  6. G. Bruce Boyer | October 28, 2009 at 8:57 am |

    The last photo in the series — the young couple at the football game — is so wonderfully evocative and symbolic. In their blond innocence could they ever have imagined the horrific wars to come, the assasination of a US president and the resignation of another, the economic catastrophe not far short of the one they had already lived through. Undoubtedly not. They’re frozen in the stands, a “cold pastoral” in Keat’s words: “When old age shall this generation waste,/ Thou shall remain, in midst of other woe.”

  7. Very poetic and poignant, Bruce. That fellow surely soon went off to fight for his country — and perhaps never came back.

  8. What a lovely comment by GBB!

  9. Sorry, when I see these pictures, I can’t help but think of the people who were willfully denied all of this privilege and happiness back in the “good ol days.” In fact I just saw a photo of James Earl Ray doing his perp walk and, wouldn’t you know it, he looks like something straight out of A Continuous Lean.

  10. elder prep | May 27, 2019 at 1:30 pm |

    The charm, the innocence and faith in a better future. Its all there in those images. Perhaps its better if we don’t know what tomorrow brings and be pleased with today.

  11. How strange, I just had an extended dream last night of college (actually a supposed college reunion) that felt like a lot of these pictures. All of us were our present ages, but it’s as if we were back in the days when college was just college and learning, not causes, political correctness, politics, extremism. It was very refreshing. (Mind you, the big issue of controversy when I went to college is that we had gone coeducational but the Latin diplomas were still in the male gender.)

  12. Roger Sack | June 7, 2019 at 2:19 pm |

    Sentiment and nostalgia aside, let’s focus on style.
    The guy in the last photo is wearing a raglan sleeve
    button through coat without a Balmacaan collar
    virtually identical to the (tweed) one worn by non-
    other than Winston Churchill. Today, such a coat is
    probably un obtainable RTW.

    https://www.hillsdale.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Winston-Churchill.jpg

  13. Close high school friend went to Bowdoin. I remember him telling me that when he left school for the summer each May, no tree on campus had yet to sprout any leaves or buds. Brrr. The guy went on to land a job where he was based in the Twin Cities during the winter, and Corpus Christi in the summer. I told him, “I’m no geographer, but I think you’re doing it wrong.”

  14. René Lebenthal | June 8, 2019 at 3:52 am |

    I love your comment Mr. GBB!!! It’s so true…..

  15. It’s hard to believe back then, most people dressed like in the photos above. Or, at least tried to emulate the look.

    Now, I feel funny going out in my usual OCBD, khakis, and blazer. Sad, but I’m usually the best dressed person anywhere. Usual comment, “You didn’t have to dress up.”

    Decades ago, at a wedding, I recall a fellow telling me how comfortable and at ease I was in my navy blazer “uniform.”

    Times have changed. I think an “Ivy Pride” parade is in order.

  16. NaturalShoulder | June 8, 2019 at 10:35 am |

    @Wriggles. I get the same comments from people as well. I tried to explain once that I have dressed this way for 30 years or so and that it is everyone else who has dressed down. I did try a snarky response once that my cargo shorts and flip flops were at cleaners but felt like an ass after I said it. Now I just smile if I receive such comments.

  17. @ Paul

    I don’t mind a month or so of temps in the upper 80s, but I much prefer cooler weather. I like a cold December, a frigid January-Feb., a cold March, and a mild spring. To each their own, but it boggles my mind that people rush to Florida and Arizona for retirement. The key is enjoying ‘being outside’ in cold weather (which I do).

    Thank you for these New Englandy scenes. It calls to mind a recent conversation with a friend about (what he refers to as) the New England sensibility–contrasted with “nearly every other.” I guess it falls under the “you know when you see it” category. Less Episcopal/Anglican and more low church Unitarian (Meeting House vs. Neo Gothic). Thrift, simplicity, rustic beauty and all that. Puritan Preppy. The Quakers took the sensibility/aesthetic (sorry, CC) further.

    In terms of the style in question, it stands in such lovely contrast to the more vulgar renditions (bit loafered yuppie jackass, BMW-driving urban sophisticate, Southern VV-wearing Frat-Boy/Idiot, etc.). A rare bird these days in public and commercial life, where variations of either the Gaudy or the frumpy reign.

  18. Grey Flannels | June 8, 2019 at 3:00 pm |

    S.E.,
    When I read articulate comments such as yours with regard to the style in question and what it isn’t, it makes me feel good to know that there are other gentlemen of good taste.

  19. Many thanks.

    The scenes in these pictures prompted me to recall Muffy’s famous (infamous?) “Salt Walter New England” blog. Aside from that strange, confusing situation having to do with her family (a few years back), the most perplexing thing about her blog is the persistent exaltation of stuff that wreaks of nouveau riche ostentation—whether belts, big boats, shiny sports cars spotted around coastal CT or the American Anglophilish duo that is Cordings-Barbour. More (please) about old, chipped Spode china, farms, and Tweedy New England outposts.
    And Congregational churches.

    But then, this may be the prevailing (and problematic) issue with salt watery New England. It, like so many old charming New England towns and schools, has been invaded by a new generation of Goldman and Duetsche Bank people. Complete with Range Rovers, Canali suits, spread collars, and, of course, bit or Belgian loafers.
    (Ugh).

    Three cheers for frayed, wrinkly Puritan Preppy.

  20. Old School Tie | June 8, 2019 at 3:32 pm |

    @Roger Sack – if you want one and are 42R, you will find a vintage Aquascutum example on sale here, tweed with all measurements provided.

    https://www.1stdibs.com/fashion/clothing/coats-outerwear/aquascutum-mens-vintage-pure-lambswool-tweed-raglan-sleeve-overcoat-c-1960s/id-v_5652801/

  21. “Sorry, when I see these pictures, I can’t help but think of the people who were willfully denied all of this privilege and happiness back in the “good ol days.”

    Sorry to break it to you dude not at all what I was thinking. Nice virtue signal though.

    I was thinking these are some damn cool photos & style.

  22. Ezra Cornell | June 8, 2019 at 9:28 pm |

    @DrakeD
    Yes, I’m sure that commentator is absolutely distraught that you broke it to him. But at least you said you’re sorry.

    Nice dude signaling though.

  23. Clark Wheelwright | June 8, 2019 at 11:50 pm |

    @S.E.
    Always a pleasure to read a comment from a sensible man who reminds us what bit loafers represent.

  24. Old School Tie | June 9, 2019 at 3:50 am |

    Kiel James Patrick is virtually never seen without his bit loafers…..

  25. @Old School Tie

    As expected.

  26. @Natural Shoulder My missus doesn’t know what a ladies collared shirt looks like. Been like that for 36 years. I always good naturedly, of course, give her the comment I received while in the Army over 45 years ago. “You’re not going out looking like THAT.”

    She laughs as we go out the door, 180 degrees apart in dress.
    Cheers!

  27. Old School Tie | June 9, 2019 at 10:43 am |

    At least the Deutsche douches will be gone soon….

  28. Vern Trotter | June 9, 2019 at 11:23 am |

    The last picture, taken fall 1939, of course still has young men at the games. A couple years later, through 1945, many such candid shots around the country show almost all women at the games due to universal selective service during World War 2.

  29. “Deutsche douches.” Hadn’t heard that one. Good one.

    It’s interesting — how a look grounded in values (imagine that) closely connected with a particular region and culture was corrupted by the vulgarities that accompanied the 70s and 80s. The quiet, rustic, discreet charm of New England Preppy — tainted by the garish “Look me, I’m so f-ing rich” mentality that took on unrivaled life during the Reagan years, when just-purchased Rolexes and BMW’s littered the (middle class) suburban landscape. Industrialists like Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Rockefeller, Astor, and Mellon are partly to blame–they nurtured the “bigger and showier is better” mentality. For any/all good they do (yes, philanthropy noted), the net effects legacy of prodigious, in-your-face ambition (okay, greed) are lasting, embarrassing, and destructive.

    But I suppose we could back even further–the garish flamboyance of British and European royalty. All forms of royalty, I guess. Nearly impossible to resist profligacy when you are, quite literally, entitled.

    So, here we are. The quiet, rustic, genteel beauty of New England Preppy as a counterpoint to the pretentious, the brash, the extravagant. To repeat: the vulgar. CC inquired about origins in his well-researched piece. I’ll suggest it’s a (very) good thing that the (New England) campus influence vanquished Brooks’ impact, otherwise it would have evolved into an affected, grandiose Anglophilia.

    “You know when you see it.” Yup. Whether frayed oxfords, faded meeting houses (stone or wood), cracked loafers, worn-out “Bean Boots,” fuzzy shetlands, sea salt-stained clapboard cottages, or tattered tweed jackets, we know when we see it. And we know it when we hear it–cordial, pleasant, congenial.

    The overriding sensibility is handsome (or beautiful) modesty. Without the modifier, it can spiral downward into the dowdy. It’s such a fine line.

  30. Beto O'Leary | June 9, 2019 at 3:43 pm |

    @ Berkley Breathes From the looks of your recent selfies on FNB I have to ask – do you even lift bro ?

  31. @Jim.
    ‘Causes, political correctness, politics, extremism’ – This was my entire university experience in a nutshell, and sadly a major regret. While I still understand and respect the plight of the marginalized, I feel as though I missed out on the classic college experience in exchange for endless circular arguments over W., the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, and indigenous rights. Sigh.

  32. Beto O'Leary | June 9, 2019 at 8:32 pm |

    @Berkely You must have been a clerk typist – those arms look like they never lifted anything heavier than a pencil. Have a nice day

  33. I.V. Tyro | June 9, 2019 at 11:52 pm |

    Could somebody tell me what FNB is? Thanks.

  34. Beto O'Leary | June 10, 2019 at 6:39 am |

    Berkley I’d take you a lot more seriously if you managed to communicate without the use of smiley faces.

  35. I.V. Tyro? | June 10, 2019 at 8:30 am |

    FNB?

  36. MacMcConnell | June 10, 2019 at 10:12 am |

    I keep seeing these great historical photos, but seem to miss the mythical tapered lower trouser leg. Well except in artist’s concepts. 😉

    Full disclosure, I haven’t lifted a weight in 47 years.

  37. Prescott Hartford | June 10, 2019 at 12:14 pm |

    What in the world does weight lifting have to do with ivy/trad style?

  38. Old School Tie | June 10, 2019 at 12:17 pm |

    FNB – fat naked bitches, as far as I’m aware. Or so I’ve been told. By someone. Apparently.

  39. MacMcConnell | June 10, 2019 at 12:44 pm |

    Prescott Hartford
    Nothing!

  40. Beto O'Leary | June 10, 2019 at 1:17 pm |

    FYI Prescott Ask Andy once did a poll on which sports are Trad. Weight lifting came in 3rd behind rowing and tennis and slightly ahead of tiddlywinks.

  41. whiskeydent | June 10, 2019 at 2:06 pm |

    A few thoughts:
    1. Big money earned quickly is usually spent loudly.
    2. I need to start doing push-ups.
    3. Nothing disillusions young people more than a bloody war waged for specious reasons.
    4. I like occasional cold days December through February, a cool March, and a warm spring. To each their own, but it boggles my mind how people survive New England winters.

  42. What of golf, sailing, squash, polo…I can go on.

    Christian, how is your golf game these days

    Will

  43. Beto O'Leary | June 10, 2019 at 2:28 pm |

    Muffy also had a great post on what are the preppiest clothes to wear when pumping iron at the gym. LL Bean and Vineyard Vines were her favorites.

  44. Let’s not neglect the women in picture #6 and how nicely they present themselves. I helped my daughter move into her dorm in 2010 and I don’t have to tell you how the moms were dressed. At least their baggy sweatshirts were somewhat clean. Some even looked to have taken a few seconds to run a brush once or twice through their untamed manes.

  45. I do remember arriving on the Bowdoin campus in late August to start sophomore, junior, and senior years and being surprised at how lush and leafy green it was compared to when I’d last seen it in May.

    Weight lifting is something I remember doing as part of strength training for other sports (like crew). Weight lifting simply for the sake of adding bulk strikes me as a custom of dubious class origins.

    Bill, you’re a more woke man than I, and a much better virtue signaler, although your comment does remind me of a story:

    God decided He was finally fed up with the human race and decided to end it for good. He called four newspapers to tell them the world would end day after tomorrow.

    Headlines the next day:

    New York Times: “World ends tomorrow; story and analysis on page B11.”

    The Wall Street Journal: “World ends tomorrow; markets to close early.”

    USA Today: “IT’S OVER!”

    The Washington Post: “World ends tomorrow; poor and minorities hardest hit.”

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