From The Ends Of The Earth: International Elements Of The Ivy-Preppy Wardrobe

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This post, which features much input from our Facebook group, was inspired by a recent comment decrying bit loafers for their Italian origin. It got me thinking about what other items associated with the Ivy League Look and preppy style have origins outside the UK and Ireland. Here’s what we came up with, presented alphabetically. — CC

Batik (Indonesia).


Bay rum (Virgin Islands). After shave by St. Johns Bay Rum.


Bermuda shorts (Bermuda). Shorts by O’Connell’s.


Breton red trousers (France). Pants by Murray’s Toggery Shop.


Chambray (France). Shirt by J. Press.


Eau Sauvage by Christian Dior (France). Mentioned in the preppy handbook.


Grenadine (Italy). Tie by Chipp Neckwear.


Gucci bit loafers (Italy).


Khaki (English, with help from the Afghans and Hindus). Shorts by Castaway.


Lacoste polo shirts (France).


Loden coats (Austria). Coat by J. Press.


Madras (India). Shirt by O’Connell’s.


Norwegian sweater (Norway). Sweater by LL Bean.


Panama hats (Ecuador). Hat by Lock & Co. for Brooks Brothers.


Seersucker (India). Shorts by Country Club Prep.


Tretorn tennis shoes (Sweden).


Tyrolean hats (Austria). Hat by J. Press.


Weejuns (Norway). Shoes by Bass.


47 Comments on "From The Ends Of The Earth: International Elements Of The Ivy-Preppy Wardrobe"

  1. Sure.

  2. Ward Wickers | July 23, 2015 at 12:33 pm |

    Yup. It ain’t all Angleterre — sorry Anglophiles.

    I would add swiss watches to the mix, especially the Cartier Tank.

  3. Watches came up in the Facebook discussion, but the only watch that seems to have documentation as a preppy choice is the humble Timex, which is American.

    Rolex and Cartier may be worn by tradly guys, but there doesn’t seem to be documentation.

    Brooks in the ’80s did sell tank-style watches. So actually we could list tank watches under T, with their origin in France, and show a Brooks version.

  4. OK, where’s the comment that these things are all gay?

  5. Afraid I don’t get that wisecrack…

  6. Mitchell S. | July 23, 2015 at 1:44 pm |

    Don’t forget paisley (India). G. Bruce Boyer writes that the town of Paisley in Scotland produced a wool challis teardrop pattern that was copied from cashmere shawls imported from India. The word “challis” is Anglo-Indian (from shalee, meaning soft).

    Also, I believe corduroy (France) is from “corde du roi.”

  7. Bags' Groove | July 23, 2015 at 1:56 pm |

    Rolex and Cartier may have been worn by tradly guys, CC, but I’d like to think some Reversos, that coolest watch of all, were ticking away beneath those button cuffs.

  8. Need documentation. J. Press catalog, Yale Daily News ad, mention in preppy handbook.

  9. To the best of my personal recollection, based on observation of the many visitors who passed through our home as well as reams of period advertising, there did not seem to be any particular watches exclusively associated with Ivy.

    They could run the gamut from the aforementioned Timex to Elgin, Hamilton, Longines and Omega; and yes, all the way to Rolex and Patek Philippe, usually depending on the depths of the owner’s pockets.

    The majority of heyday wristwatches; with the exception of futuristic jet-age case designs on some electric Hamiltons and the transparent-dial Accutron Spaceview, were conservatively styled and would readily compliment just about any style of attire.

    To my eye the Cartier Tank and most styles of the Jaeger-Lecoultre Reverso, while beautiful pieces and iconic designs in the horological canon, are a bit formal for the typical Ivy wardrobe. They nearly call for black tie.

  10. Bags' Groove | July 23, 2015 at 3:27 pm |

    @ Mitchell S.
    I believe the paisley design was based on a Kashmiri design that originated in Persia. Anyway, I’ve a friend who hails from Paisley, and he’s most proud of his hometown giving its name, and its workforce, to the lovely design we’ve all worn in some form or another at some time or other.

  11. A lot of the IVY documentation comes from University student life… Watches were probably something that was more post-grad, certain milestones including graduating, wedding, first real job/promotion. IMHO

  12. As long as you do not have one of the currently popular jumbo-sized “wrist-clocks” you can give almost any watch a heyday period look by putting it on Speidel Twist-O-Flex (introduced in 1959) watch band. The metal watch band so flexible you can tie it in a knot! They are still in business.

    There is a commercial for Twist-O-Flex at the end of this video, but don’t skip over the Brylcreem ad if you want to see some genuine heyday ivy…

  13. Ward Wickers | July 23, 2015 at 5:34 pm |


    “Rolex and Cartier may be worn by tradly guys, but there doesn’t seem to be documentation.”

    The OPH has a couple of references to swiss watches (pp 135 & 171), including Cartier. Timex is also mentioned, but not Rolex. Both references are for women; I didn’t see anything for men’s watches, but androgyny and all that.

    When I was younger, I dated a very preppy young woman. She wore a Cartier Tank given to her as a college graduation present. She always maintained that I had to get one. Perhaps not the most authoritative of references, but there you go.

    @J Kraus

    “To my eye the Cartier Tank and most styles of the Jaeger-Lecoultre Reverso, while beautiful pieces and iconic designs in the horological canon, are a bit formal for the typical Ivy wardrobe.”

    I respectfully disagree. I have a tank in yellow gold and a Reverso in white gold. Although the Cartier came with a black strap, I thought that did make it too formal. I replaced it with a lighter brown/coffee-coloured strap giving it a more casual dress. I never feel overdressed wearing it. The Reverso has a mahogany strap, and it, too, is a comfortable, casual wear.

  14. Bill Canfield | July 23, 2015 at 7:38 pm |

    Christian: Great article about the over-seas influence on Prep. Went to the St John’s Bay Rum website and ordered a bottle! They need to thank you for the promo! Last bottle I had was in the late 60s so I’m showing my age. Bill.

  15. OPH only cites watch brands on women. A lot of reference to the ribbon bands. The reverso is worn by Donald Draper, while certainly not an Ivy icon, he can speak for the Trad side of the house. Everyone to the manner born knows Patek, Rolex and Cartier are the preferred makers.

  16. It occurred to me that one could make the argument that a Rolex is a very good example of a heyday-period wristwatch. Not necessarily Ivy, but style agnostic.

    Four of their most iconic models, The Submariner (à la early cinematic James Bond), Explorer (Ian Fleming’s watch), GMT-Master (developed for Pan-Am) and Day-Date (known to the public erroneously as a President) were all first introduced in the years 1953-1956, coincident with the flowering of the heyday. And from that point onwards, their outward appearance remained virtually unchanged (except for minor details visible only to brand aficionados) throughout the original Ivy era.

    Being the same vintage as Ivy, these watches, and many others introduced in the early ‘50s, (the Omega Constellation is another good example; debuted 1952, unchanged in-period) were the first to depart from traditional pre-war styles and express a new jet-age design language that was as new and modern as a natural-shoulder 3/2 jacket.

  17. John Carlos | July 23, 2015 at 9:17 pm |

    WFBjr, I believe you mean “manor” born.

  18. “Manor” is the pun. “Manner” is the original.

  19. John Carlos | July 23, 2015 at 9:57 pm |

    Thanks,CC. My bad and my apology to WFBjr.

  20. I’m loving all this watch talk… as a collector myself of Patek Philippe, Rolex, and IWC, I am enjoying this! I’ve been waiting for years for the ‘watch’ post.

  21. Ward Wickers | July 23, 2015 at 11:11 pm |


    In the FWIW department: I once spoke with a horologist about what what were considered the highest quality swiss watches. He ranked Patek Philippe, Jaeger and Cartier in that order. He didn’t seem to think much of Rolex, though I can’t now remember why.

  22. Cranky Yankee | July 24, 2015 at 7:14 am |

    I’m quite happy with old Tudor watches (at least old enough to still have the Tudor Rose logo), a field watch from Bean and a Concord for dress up.

  23. Rolex has lost credibility among horologists due to mass production, selling its equipment to other manufacturers, losing its in-house movement edge, and not controlling its aftermarket channel which is a huge driver of the luxury watch market. It’s the every mans luxury watch and an aspirational piece. Cartier has a deep heritage among royalty and aristocracy and touts craftsmanship. Rolex possess neither.

  24. Very nice to see the items listed brought together. At one time or other, I’ve owned about 80% of them. Including an Austrian loden coat that for some I strange reason I acquired in Charleroi, Belgium (not the model shown in the J Press ad, but the ones O’Connell’s still sells). Still wear Tretorns too.

    The only thing that comes to mind when someone says “Rolex” is clunky metal. I just never liked the look. I’m one of those humble Timex users. I have to say, I like the look of the Reverso, but have other priorities.

  25. The coats from J.Press look like the old reversable Invertere “Buffer Coat” popular in my high school days, late 1960s.

    Gay comment? OK, only the Tretorns look effeminate on men. In the 60s we wore Keds, Jack Purcells and of course Converse All Stars, at the time the state of the art athletic shoe.
    when leather became the vogue we moved on to Stan Smiths or variations of it.

    Wear a pair of Tretorns to my public HS in the mid sixties and the greasers would have gone a wilding on you. 🙂

  26. Re: State of the art athletic shoes- The Converse All Star is undergoing a bit of a catch-up as we speak:

  27. Mitchell S. | July 24, 2015 at 10:48 pm |

    Add cordovan (Spain). Originally made by Moors in Cordoba.

    The most obvious omission here is Belgian shoes. First imported in 1955, they are “an essential part of the prep wardrobe,” to quote The New York Times.

  28. MAC

    I know. Lightweight, comfortable, canvas shoes in the summer — how gay does it get. 🙂

  29. RJG


  30. A possible addition to the list: knit ties, which I am lead to believe hail from Germany.

  31. Ribbon watch bands!!! On any (analog) watch. I’d say wearing your father’s watch that was passed down woudl fill the trad bill.

  32. Mitchell S. | July 27, 2015 at 10:17 am |

    Add pre-1959 Aloha shirts (U.S. Territory of Hawaii). Originating in 1904, Hawaiian shirts were developed by a Japanese immigrant using Kimono fabrics.

    Prior to statehood in 1959, Hawaii was one of two independent U.S. territories that had formal, international diplomatic relations (the other territory being Texas). Source: Wikipedia

  33. My favorite watch is an old Tudor from the ’50s when they still used the Tudor Rose logo. Made by Rolex, but more affordable and less showy.

  34. Mitchell S. | March 6, 2017 at 2:22 pm |

    A summer classic for both the boat and dockside is the Breton shirt worn by French fishermen. This striped shirt is also known as the Russian naval shirt. Worn by both men and women.

  35. Mitchell S. | March 6, 2017 at 2:41 pm |

    Let’s not forget the humble necktie,
    with origins in Croatia.

  36. Mitchell, yes the cravat was born in Croatia and later adopted by the French.

  37. Oh, the cultural appropriation! It’s too much.

  38. Bag of Coins | March 6, 2017 at 5:55 pm |

    In support of the “Cartier Tank is Ivy Style” theory, it’s worth pointing out that JFK (frequently cited Ivy Style icon) gave Jacqueline Kennedy a Tank Louis Cartier in gold with the black alligator strap in 1963 with the inscription, “To Jackie. Love Jack.” She apparently wore it frequently for the rest of her life. He was also gifted an Omega ‘Ultra Thin’ wristwatch in 18 carat gold which, while not a Tank, looks somewhat like and is shaped like a Tank. He wore that watch to his inauguration. So it may just have been a popular style at the time, but its certainly not an implausible theory. Disclaimer: all of the above (except the Omega reference) is Googled from the internet and may or may not be true.

  39. Coins, I wear a Concord tank that was my father’s graduation watch. I put a new brown band on it and it’s my causal watch, I think it’s trad if not Ivy. Here’s a picture of JFK wearing a tank style watch:

  40. Oris makes some very nice watches. Not as expensive as Rolex and the like; but still very costly. Manuel movements and traditional styles. They also have a number of cutting edge styles.

  41. I think guys here are more likely to wear Orvis than Oris.

  42. Drew Albaugh | March 7, 2017 at 12:33 pm |

    Bermuda is part of the United Kingdom and is very British

  43. Mitchell S. | March 7, 2017 at 1:25 pm |

    If I’m not mistaken, cashmere gets its name from the Kashmiri goat, which in turn is named for the region in northern India.

    Nothing is preppier than a cable knit cashmere sweater with a ribbon belt.

  44. I always like it when the trad watch debate resurfaces. I really don’t think there is a definitive answer, but a strong case could be made for the JLC Reverso. Like khakis, polo coats, and chukka boots, the Reverso’s origins are rooted in the polo games of British India. The watch was worn by polo players, making it by definition a sport watch. The case was made to flip over to protect the crystal. His fits in well with traf DNA being rooted in sport and leisure.

    I think any watch could be trad as long as it is reliable, conservative, well made, and has a lineage. I’m personally a big Seiko fan: high quality, affordable, in-house movement, 100+ year history. And there’s a nexus between trad and Japanese culture.

  45. Big fan of the Loden coat. Laudau in Princeton has the best selection.

  46. As someone who has studied this era, and known people who have lived in it, (grandfather included), most of the “Ivy Leagers” of this time had a Timex that was bought as their “first watch” in JR. High and something a bit of a step up, perhaps a graduation present like a Bulova, Gruen, Elgin or Benrus, (rare Longines, Wittenaugher or Omega) which was highly available and marketed as a “good watch” for the time period. Depends on the ears of the 50’s and 60s you want to go into. Most men had an “everyday watch” and a “Good watch”. My grandfather had a Timex for everyday and a Bulova for dress that his parents bought him upon high school graduation. Rolex didn’t really have stake in the US market until later. Hamilton was considered to be the top of the line in the U.S. for a long time. They wore them on Twist-O-Flex bracelets, or plain brown or black leather straps. They were signified by their simple clean dials. Back then, you just needed to know the time, at most the date. American watches ruled until the dreadful quartz crisis arrived via the Japanese.

  47. I would add Bean Boots (which could be rather for Peppy than Ivy).

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