Frat Pack

College fraternities of the past offered male bonding in a stylish setting. The photo above, plus the two below, are from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, 1949. Click images to go to the hi-res version.

Dig Joe College here in newsboy cap and varsity sweater:

The chap in the bottom center providing the smoky atmosphere reminds us that for 400 years it was completely normal for a young man to puff a pipe. For the past 40 years, its connotations have been entirely geriatric. The pipe hasn’t changed, but we have:

A recent grad at his first job interview? Nope, just a typical student pledging a fraternity. A different era indeed. The next two are from the University of Illinois, 1956:

Here we have a fraternity brother practicing for field sobriety tests while proving that if you’re young and athletic you look good in anything. Talk about minimalism: Three solids, all conservative wardrobe basics. The twist? — a pair of white bucks. If you’re going to wear white bucks in 2009, this is the way to do it. If you’re going to wear white bucks with a seersucker suit and bow tie, then you’d better have a horse in the Kentucky Derby.

Finally, here are some frat boys from the University of the South in Sewanee, TN, 1940. Check out the pipe and saddle shoes on the chap on the left. Sort of Bertrand Russell meets Andy Hardy:

The school’s juniors and seniors were required to wear gowns in class and chapel. The result, in hindsight, is unutterably quaint —CC

12 Comments on "Frat Pack"

  1. Considering how college students dress today, I shudder to think what they’ll be wearing a decade from now.

  2. College_Student | January 7, 2009 at 7:36 pm |

    For the record, many fraternity students in the south still dress in much the same fashion, if not everyday, then at the very least on football game days.

    Repp ties (albeit as of late there are quite a few Vineyard Vines ties being worn as well), oxford button-downs, seersucker, chinos, and even blazers are all customary on game days at schools such as Vanderbilt, the University of Virginia, and University of Georgia.

  3. Why not take some photos, Sartorialist stye? If you get some good shots, we can run them on the site.

  4. Christian –

    This is a great post, but I do have to ask – were you in a fraternity? No judgment, just curious?


  5. I’ll tell you what, it’s not so in the South of California. When I attended USC I was looked at as if I had three heads when I wore my cardinal and gold repp tie to football games.

  6. Please do not include UGA with the likes of UVA. As for Vanderbilt, the once-revered southern gentlemen is near extinct.

  7. East Coast prep style trumps West Coast. The traditional classic wardrobe is laughed upon in the WC, even Stanford. I adore EC style.

  8. Mom on the Run | January 16, 2009 at 1:23 pm |

    My daughter has friends who attend Sewanee, and they are still required to dress up for class–the girls have to wear skirts unless the temperature dips. They still have gowns, too, I believe for upperclassmen.

  9. College_Student | January 16, 2009 at 5:50 pm |

    “Please do not include UGA with the likes of UVA. As for Vanderbilt, the once-revered southern gentlemen is near extinct.”

    Just curious, but do you attend/did you attend UVA or Vandy?

  10. I may start smoking a pipe now…

  11. I attended UVA and yes, the majority of us still dress up for football games. The Girls look georgeous in sundresses, the guys look distinguished in our seersucker, oxfords, blue/orange repp ties, and khakis. There are drinks abound during the pregames, and plenty of imbibed cheering w/friends during the games. It’s a tradition here we have maintained for awhile. Southern prep does indeed live on.

  12. Arthur McIlwaine | December 3, 2016 at 3:26 pm |

    Even Uni of Kentucky, while arguably not geographically southern, certainly has the southern reverence and elegance in many respects. Many girls (if well-bred) wear skirts to class and men, button downs. No one wears ties, of course, save for classes in which you’re giving a presentation that day.

    All in all, sweaters, button downs, skirts, and khakis are the accoutrement of the student body found at UK, even these days.

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