Foolhardy? The Buttondown Foulard Shirt


Something caught my eye in Brooks Brothers recently: a blue buttondown shirt with a foulard-type pattern. It conjured up visions of Gant ads from the mid to late ’60s, or something like that. I did some Google searching but was unable to come up with a vintage image; perhaps someone can help.

Speaking of Gant, it’s they who make the shirt pictured above. The company also recently reached out to me promoting its new shirt guide on the Gant website, that includes some brand history for those interested.

Anyway, I hereby offer the foulard shirt (which must have a buttondown collar!) as a style suggestion likely to appeal to the younger guys, the Ivy jazz fans from England and Japan, or even the more daring men of advanced age. I’d say September is the perfect month to break out the white Levi’s, penny loafers, foulard shirt, and a navy blazer, with Bob Brookmeyer on your iPod.

Say, something like this:

brooks foulard Levi’s 541:


Allen Edmonds’ Kenwood model:

allenedmonds_shoes_kenwood_burgundyBlazer by J. Press:


In closing, Brooks has several foulardy (or foolhardy) shirts currently available, which you can find here. — CC

20 Comments on "Foolhardy? The Buttondown Foulard Shirt"

  1. Charlottesville | August 31, 2016 at 12:24 pm |

    I remember my older brothers and others wearing some fairly wild button-downs in the 60s. Foulard prints, and even batik (or a print that looked like batik). Not sure I’ll go that route today, but white Levis (with a blazer and loafers or camp mocs) are a weekend standby for me between Memorial Day and Labor Day. I tend to go with a seersucker or linen button-down or a polo shirt. The collars above look a bit skimpy, and I wonder if someone else might make a foulard with a better rolling collar. Ratio offers a patterned shirt in navy with white pin dots and one in a floral print, but no foulard.

  2. Are white jeans some kind of regional thing? I apparently do not live in that region.

  3. Charlottesville | August 31, 2016 at 1:59 pm |

    Paul – I thought white Levi’s were a southern thing, but that wouldn’t explain Christian’s embrace of the look in NY. Perhaps the region (NY through the Carolinas?) makes a detour around Annapolis. I think that straight-legged white and cream colored jeans were popular in the 60s, and may have had an Ivy connection. The TV show I Spy comes to mind; although Robert Culp was not especially Ivy, I think Bill Cosby wore button-downs and tweed sport coats on the series and both wore white jeans and looked very cool to me when I was a kid. I took them up again a couple of years ago, although arguably jeans should be left to the under 40 set.

  4. White Levi’s were quite the thing in the early to mid 60s in my area of the mid-west. I have no recollection of foulard shirts but paisleys were in, I believe a result of the Beatles. It was the Sgt. Pepper era.

  5. Here’s a link to vintage image from my alma mater:

    University of Colorado, 1962.

  6. William Richardson | September 1, 2016 at 8:08 am |

    I visited my local BB store yesterday to enquire if the new/old oxfords were going on sale, (25% off if you buy three or more with an additional 25% off first week of September) and saw the foulard shirt above. The material seemed flimsy and not the best quality-rather like a shirt I could buy for a great deal less money somewhere else. Regarding the oxfords, I suppose I could buy three for $70 a throw even though the pocket is missing as the collar roll is appealing.



  7. Talk about a fork-in-the-road moment. For all the oft-declared ridiculousness of the phrases, there are moments when “Ivy”and “Trad” depart so drastically that one is inspired to assert the impossibility of compatibility.

    To each of the items featured in the pics: no, no, no, and, because of zero patch pockets, no.

  8. Addendum–
    there may be a reason for the apparent dearth of “vintage” images.
    So very few ever wore such a thing.

  9. Charlottesville | September 1, 2016 at 11:52 am |

    Woven plaids were certainly common in the heyday, as were stripes, but it would be interesting to hear from Richard Press about the presence or absence of print button-down shirts. Perhaps they were more of a “Main Street” phenomenon. I don’t think I had any, but I know they were around when I was a kid.

  10. Even if an Ivy-leaning retailer stocked such a shirt for a season or two, it’s more than safe to say they didn’t catch on.

    File under “Batik.”

  11. In Texas and Kansas City in the 1960s cotton BD foulards were common, mostly as shown above and paisleys. Gant and H.I.S. brands come to mind. White and tan 501 levis were also common. I still wear white and tan 501s. Also wear black 501s when going full “road pirate”. 😉

  12. On another point, I don’t remember sports coats with jeans being thing till around 1970. Then the sport coat had to be a very heavy harris tweed (do they even make them anymore?) or corduroy or deer suede worn as outerwear, usually with a muffler. I can only remember wearing jeans with a navy blazer and tie once in my life, that was for the annual headshot frat photos.
    Ralph pushed this look, he was in ads wearing it.

  13. Buttondown foulards and paisleys
    were probably Sears-Roebuck, rather than Gant.

  14. Vern Trotter | September 1, 2016 at 3:07 pm |

    I am still of the life long opinion that jeans are for the ranch and white such could not possibly be called Ivy. PAC 10 of course. There are plenty of alternatives. I agree with S.E. About patch pockets for blazers. The head tailor at Brooks told me a few years ago they could not find anyone to make the good kind, with welted edges, any longer. So here we are.

  15. The guy who blogs the Trad, Tintin?. Posted in April 2010 he had a Gant in high school.

  16. That’s where I saw it! When TinTin took off his shirt!


  17. @ S.E.

    Had a button down foulard shirt in junior high (1964). Don’t recall anyone else wearing them. The plaid kind were very popular, though.

  18. J. R. Serling | September 2, 2016 at 12:23 pm |

    In the early 60s, button down foulard and paisley shirts were worn at Cal Berkeley by engineering students. Of course, they buttoned the top buttons.

  19. @Vern Trotter

    I don’t think you actually saw the picture…none of those guys donned denim. 😉

  20. Levis should not be white, and one shouldn’t wear them after labor day anyway, unless one lives in a west coast beach town.

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