Don’t Call It Collegiate: Apparel Arts, 1933

I found this post sitting on Ivy Style’s server, never published. The only note is that it dates from a 1933 issue of Apparel Arts.

* * *

The word “collegiate,” now seldom used in speaking of college men, is altogether foreign to its famous meaning of some eight years ago, when the raccoon coat, Oxford bags, the hat pushed up in front, and the socks rolled down, were all implicit in the term. Today the college man is looked upon as a leader of fashion, a man who dresses inconspicuously and correctly for all occasions, thanks to the leadership of smart Eastern Universities, which have a metropolitan feeling, or at least are near enough to metropolitan areas for the students to feel all the influences of sophisticated living. We can thank the present-day “collegiate” element for the return to popularity of the tail coat, for the white buckskin shoes, for the gray flannel slacks with odd jackets, and for various other smart fashions which are typical of university men today.

For on-campus wear there is a general acceptance of country clothes in the typical British manner, such as odd slacks and tweed jackets, country brogues and felt hats. This is the way the undergraduates at smart Universities and prep schools dress today during classes. Over the week-ends when the average college man goes to town there is always the dark Chesterfield coat and derby hat. Single or double-breasted town suit, black shoes, very often a white starched collar and a tail coat.

Smart and new items already having a definite acceptance with University men and which follow Fall fashion trends in all their indications are these: a double breasted suit of dark blue; it may be of solid color or may have chalk stripes, silk stripe effect. This is the suit that the college man will wear to and from town and very often wear in town. Another suit that should be in the wardrobe of every well-dressed undergraduate should be either a single-breasted Glen Urquhart plaid or the newer Shepherd plaid. This suit serves many purposes. First of all it is worn on Saturdays and at athletic activities with a top coat. It may be worn when going out at night. Secondly, the coat may be worn ideally with slacks and the trousers may be worn ideally with an odd jacket. A third suit that should be in the wardrobe of the man returning to college should be a Harris tweed or a Shetland suit either in shades of brown, lovat or to please his own individuality. This suit is typical of college clothing today and may be worn, like the Shepherd check suit, with odd slacks or with odd jacket, most comfortably for outdoor activities or for football games. It is also advisable to have an extra sport jacket along. This may be of any check tweed fabric and should invariably be single-breasted with notch lapel. It may have side vents with a belted back with by-swing shoulders or the newer modified Norfolk. A pair of gray flannel Glen Urquhart plaid slacks, or the newer Shepherd plaid or tweed slacks should also be included.

Another necessity for the college man is the dinner coat. This may be either single or double-breasted, preferably double-breasted. This suit has many advantages. It is worn at fraternity dinners, smokers, theatre and many other evenings when a tail coat is too much and sack clothes are not enough.

LAST, but not least, as a matter of fact most important, is the tail coat. This will be worn at all fraternity or club dances, at proms, dancing when in town and other very formal occasions. From an overcoat standpoint the college man should have in his kit a double-breasted or single-breasted dark town coat either of oxford gray or navy blue, preferably without velvet collar. This will be worn in town and will also serve as an overcoat for formal evening wear.

Another coat that is ideally suited for campus wear is the reversible top coat of gabardine and Harris tweed. Instead of this coat the smarter dresser may include in his wardrobe a bold checked Harris tweed Balmaccan and for bad weather days a gabardine Balmaccan. Another coat which may be used on the campus is the old time favorite, the double-breasted camel coat. The newer ones are cut much shorter. Many have leather buttons with three buttons to button and there is a decided flare in the skirt.

For football games and Winter outdoor activities it is always good taste to have either a raccoon coat or a black broadcloth coat lined with fur and a fur collar or a tweed type of coat lined with fur and a fur collar but, of course, due to the period of depression that the country has just been through, while these things are nice, they are terribly expensive and so as to substitute for these fur coats, one should by all means include in the wardrobe a double-breasted Ulster type of coat with a very heavy lining. The coat may have four or five buttons, double-breasted and a broad collar. The smarter coats of this type have no belt in the back.

Next in importance after having the student fitted out with his clothes are his shirts. It must be considered that students attending Universities today need shirts for every type of occasion. The shirt wardrobe should consist of country sport shirts, of town shirts which include starched collars, and of formal shirts. For general campus wear, the sport type of shirt should be as follows: It may be of flannel or flannel finished material or heavy cheviot Oxford. In model the button down collar-attached shirt and the round collar attached shirt to be worn pinned, and the medium pointed collar to be worn pinned, are the three outstanding and favorite styles. Blue is by far the best color, with gray, tan, and white following, also yellow, a new shade which has already been accepted by University men. Checked patterns,  such as Glens, hound’s tooth checks and the newer Tattersall check. Shirts for general wear and town wear should be of striped or fine checked madras, broadcloth, lighter weight Oxford. These are most popular in tab color models. The widespread tab is the newer one. It might be well to include neckband shirts in this wardrobe, and white starched collars may be worn with them. Pleated bosom shirts are again back and smart college men returning to town for the holidays will get much pleasure out of wearing pleated shirts with white starched collar and cuffs. Round collared shirts and pointed collared shirts of these medium weight materials are also correct for general and town wear. For evening wear, the plain white linen or white pique two stud open front shirt is the correct shirt with either tail coat or dinner coat. With the double-breasted dinner coat, a white turn-over starched collar may be worn and a semi-stiff pleated shirt with two studs. This shirt may also be worn with the tail coat but with the high wing collar with bold broad tabs. Single cuffs should be on all dress shirts.

ONE of the most important things to be considered in the college man’s wardrobe is shoes which again must be suitable to the various occasions. You will notice in the forthcoming paragraph about shoes how they follow in the wake of the strictly he-man rough feeling of the tweed and how they adhere to the strict formality of dress-up clothes. For general campus wear the all-white buckskin shoe with no toe cap, red rubber heels and soles, is very important. Another shoe of the same type with black or red rubber soles is the white buck or white elk shoe with black saddlestrap. Though the brown buckskin shoe is a favorite of the horsey set they have not as yet been really acceptedby college men. The brwon buckskin blucher with no toe cap and heavy crepe sole and heel is a shoe that is very practical for all-campus wear and one which if liked by the student should surely be included in his wardrobe, as its smartness cannot be questioned.

As fas as color is concerned brown is surely the favorite. Another shoe that is being worn by some of the better dressed undergraduates at smarter universities is a deep reddish brwon Norwegian calf (which resembles a Scotch grain but is not as rough) with a round toe, on the English straight last, a straight toe cap with perforations and foxing along the side of the shoe, heavy leather soles and heels. Another shoe of the same nature that is worn by many students is the deep brown calf shoe, no toe cap, with three extra large brass eyelets and crepe soles and heels. For town wear or more dressy occasions black straight tip shoe, either plain or with perforations, with a slightly rounded toe, is very smart and conservative. With dinner clothes the five hole patent leather Oxford on the long vamp. The same shoe is correct with the tail coat. Pumps are definitely in and are accepted and are also correct with tail coat. It is necessary to include in one’s wardrobe a good pair of leather slippers with hard soles and heels. If students are fond of riding, boots either of the field type or more dressy type or the blucher riding shoe with canvas leggings should be included in the wardrobe.

Another very essential item of the young man’s wardrobe is headwear. Various hats for a college term are as follows. First, the derby hat. The newer model is a rather medium height, very full crown, with a short straightish brim. The next hat that is important is the brown snap brim hat. This hat may have a binding or it may be the new semi-Homburg hat which is a new Hormburg snapped down in front. One may include in one’s wardrobe a tweed stitched hat or a one piece top cap. A small hat with rather a telescope crown and a small straightish brim resembling a Tyrolean hat is also good for campus wear. It is made of rough scratch felt.

Accessories should include various colored and white linen handkerchiefs for the every day clothes and white handkerchiefs for the formal clothes. A very smart handkerchief which should be in the wardrobe is the colored silk foulard madder handkerchief.

Mufflers — the silk or wool square in tied and – dyed and polka dot as well as in the old paisley patterns — are very popular.

The student will need a pair of white buckskin or mocha gloves for dress wear. A pair of pigskin gloves for campus wear is advisable. A pair of yellow string knit gloves for cold weather and rough country wear in general.

JEWELRY that is necessary is a heavy gold safety pin for one’s collar. Gold cuff links of modest design. A wrist watch or pocket watch. If pocket watch is worn, a gold link watch chain is very good taste. Of course, the necessary collar buttpns for semi-formal or dinner clothes, black, gold or semi-precious stones. For tail coat white pearl or precious stones. Also in the wardrob should be included a waistcoat. There should be white-single breasted for wear with tail coat and black single or double breasted for wear with dinner coat, although single breasted is preferable. Another waistcoat that should be suggested to students or boys going to college for the first time is a checked Tattersall waiscoat. These are very popular at smart Universities and go well with the odd jacket and slack combination.

Another item which would be useful to the college man is a sweater, either the sleeveless or a regular slip-over sweater with sleeves. The newer ones are cable stitch knit and are popular in wine and blue as well as in canary and white. Shetland sweaters with a high crew neck are also very good and of course the necessary pajamas, robe, underwear, garters, and suspenders.

This gives you a very definite example of what to offer college men, both, from the angle of what they need and what is smart.

11 Comments on "Don’t Call It Collegiate: Apparel Arts, 1933"

  1. Thanks for the post Christian.

    I was watching YouTube and found a Gentleman’s Gazette video where they say that ivy style is a kind of rebellion against fathers who wore stiff, formal clothes in the 30s.

    According to the video, the difference between Ivy and trad is that trad favors suits over sport coats and dress shoes over loafers. They go on to say that basically, preppy style is a more colorful version of Ivy. I found it mind boggling to think of Ivy style as a rebellion against formality.

  2. To me what is amazing about this article, written for the trade, is that it was published
    in the depths of the depression. Even in”good times” such prescriptions for young mens’
    clothing were only intended for an extremely limited market- the people portrayed in such
    Hollywood films as “Holiday” and the “Philadelphia Story” Also, in the article the word “correct”
    appears numerous times. I can remember perusing the Roger Peet and Brooks catalogs 50 plus
    years ago when the word was still in use.

  3. @Mitchell

    Don’t mean to be confrontational, but it might be instructional for others. OF COURSE Ivy Style is a rebellion against formality; in fact, informality is the fons et origo of the style, the ethos, the spirit of Ivy. Ivy style is meant to be a wink and smile, a skip from the dock onto the deck of a gracefully departing sailboat. It’s the EASE of it. The complete inversion of rigidity. Grasp that, and you have the crux of it. It should help you to wear the style even better moving forward.

  4. Fashion hiistorian Deirdre Clemente contributed to Ivy Style in the early days; you can find a couple pieces by using the search window.

    She went on to do pioneering work in the history of collegiate attire. Her main thesis is that college students essentially invented the concept of casual dressing in a series of waves throughout the 20th century, culminating in pajama bottoms and flip-flops to class. I’m pretty sure no one shows up in underwear.

    So yes, “soft” dressing starting in the ’20s was a reaction to Victorian/Edwardian stiffness, as symbolized by the end of the starched detachable collar and the gradual popularity of the unlined buttondown.

  5. This was taken from Tuttee at the London Lounge. Shame there’s no attribution.

  6. Grey Flannels | August 20, 2019 at 10:49 pm |

    I hadn’t seen the word “slacks” for a long time.
    “Trousers” may too disappear one day.
    I remember when old-timers in the garment trade would use the word “pant” (singular), e.g., “J. Press offer a well-made pant in a durable fabric”.
    I also noticed no mention of chinos/khakis on the article which lends some credence to the claim that they appeared on campuses thanks to the G.I. Bill.

  7. Grey Flannels: The singular form “pant” is still standard in the fashion industry, Professional designers only say “pant”.

  8. “Back to College, ’33” would require a trunk; today’s “student wardrobe” only needs a medium sized backpack.

  9. Anthony Madsen | August 21, 2019 at 10:04 am |

    “Back to College, ’33” would have a bookcase full of books.
    Today’s students don’t even have photocopies.

  10. Charlottesville | August 21, 2019 at 12:42 pm |

    Delightful article. As Mr. Sack points out, no doubt a limited number of lads could afford to dress this way in the Great Depression, or indeed at any time. However, it is interesting to see what the aspirational standard was.

    The general style would set the tone, and even if one had only a single spirt coat and suit, and a handful of shirts and ties, the style would be there if one was paying attention. It was the same in the 1960’s when my older brothers were in college: a few good things, mostly in Ivy style. Alas by the time I arrived, the late 60s and 70s had done their damage. Today, finding a college student in a navy blazer once a week is about as much as can be hoped for.

  11. Up until 1933 or 34 almost any high school graduate that could pay the tuition could be accepted to all the best colleges. Yes, even Harvard, Yale, Princeton etc. Hard to believe today.

Comments are closed.