The Gentrified Campus

What were Ivy Leaguers wearing in the fall of 1953? According to Gentry magazine, anything in tawny black.

In a fashion spread entitled “Fashions Cum Laude for the Undergraduate,” the uber-elitist magazine (every issue included fabric swatches, and no models were ever used, only genuine gentries) says tawny black is the hot new color. But mixed among the novelty items is a plethora of timeless staples of the Ivy wardrobe, including oxford-cloth buttondowns, tassel loafers, rep ties, natural-shouldered jackets with leather buttons, argyle socks, shaggy sweaters, and a ribbon-style belt in paisley wool challis. Also included are less canononical items, such as pleated cords, a houndstooth topcoat (with matching hat!), and a tattersall waistcoat. Some of the Southern students included in the shoot are sporting pinned-collar shirts and double-vented jackets. The polka-dot socks we’ll chalk up to fashion.

Speaking of which, according to Gentry, in 1956 there was a raccoon coat revival. Now that’s one trend unlikely to make a comeback. — CC

13 Comments on "The Gentrified Campus"

  1. Vern Trotter | January 16, 2019 at 6:11 pm |

    From my bookshelves, I pulled “The Best of Gentry Magazine, 1951-1957. It only ran 22 issues. This was a collection of articles selected by Hal Rubenstein, former men’s style editor of The New York Times Magazine. “A style and cultural bible for men.” “A guide for the civilized male.” “What every man should know.”

    Indeed. The perfect gift. A native New Yorker, Rubenstein said he had no desire to live anywhere else.

  2. Vern Trotter | January 16, 2019 at 6:15 pm |

    The title of this 255 page book is, “The Gentry Man.”

  3. Charlottesville | January 16, 2019 at 7:00 pm |

    Mr. Trotter – I too have that Gentry book and had it out for a Sunday afternoon browse just a couple of weeks ago. Christian’s list of natural-shouldered jacket with leather buttons, oxford-cloth buttondown, repp tie, argyle socks and tassel loafers is a good description of what I’m wearing today. I wish I also had the J. Press tab-collar shirt and few of the other items pictured in the article. And now, I’m heading out to a martini and some Virginia oysters as a reward for staying awake through too many meetings.

  4. Old School Tie | January 17, 2019 at 8:40 am |

    If only Tradd Street were an address in Charlottesville rather than Charleston, you would probably live there, given that outfit description. I am having to make do with blood-spattered surgical scrubs – not nearly as stylish….

  5. I realize that this site is not necessarily meant to debate culture, semantics, and the like (or maybe it is), but I do have to point out– and much ink of course has been spilled lately on this topic – that the term “elite” at one time had positive, aspirational nuances, instead of the negative, exclusionary meaning that it has in today’s “we’re all just regular guys”, populist culture. Wondering if CC meant the former or the later in his description of this magazine as “uber-elitist?”

  6. Charlottesville | January 17, 2019 at 11:57 am |

    Dear Old School Tie – I wish I could afford to live on Tradd Street in Charleston. That’s a very nice neighborhood.

    Thanks for calling the outfit stylish; it is certainly not the current fashion. I am indeed a traditional sort of chap. After an adolescent dip into the counterculture, I got hooked on what people call Ivy Style in my 20s, and have come to appreciate it even more as the surrounding culture has moved on to ath-leisure, ankle-length skinny pants, bum-freezer sport coats, etc. Now, the trads are the ones running counter to the culture, so I guess I have come full circle. I guess I’m just a rebel at heart.

    That said, scrubs definitely have their place. When white coats and ties were still the norm in the medical profession, bow-ties were often the choice. A friend who was at med school at UVA in the 80s noted that it was easier to avoid getting blood on them. Not an issue when you are wearing scrubs. Hope the surgery was successful.

  7. “A ribbon-style belt in paisley wool challis”. Very nice indeed!

  8. Old School Tie | January 17, 2019 at 12:35 pm |

    Charlottesville – My pleasure. Funnily enough, in the UK ties are effectively banned for infection control purposes. Donning a dickie bow seems the logical solution, but by God, try wearing one if you are not the boss or a Prof. No coming away from that unscathed.

  9. Charlottesville | January 17, 2019 at 2:01 pm |

    O.S.T. – Ties are pretty much banned here as well, at least while actually “doctoring,” and for the same reason. I still see one now and then, including the occasional bow, when meeting with M.D.s in non-clinical settings. As a matter of fact, I am off to a meeting now where at least two of the participants will be docs, one of whom I know is wearing a paisley four-in-hand today. But they are both academic types.

  10. What is tawny-black?

  11. Charlottesville | January 17, 2019 at 3:27 pm |

    Philologue – I wondered the same thing until I saw it illustrated by a swatch in the Gentry article at the link in Christian’s post. It looks like a herringbone tweed in black and a gold/mustard yellow, that I have seen many times, but not under that name. I distinctly recall one of my older brothers having a sport coat in that pattern in high school in the 60s, which I grew into about a decade later. He wore it with a paisley tie of challis or ancient madder in shades of mustard and reddish brown with some other colors (blue/green/navy?) thrown in. A nice look, in my opinion, although a simple black knit tie might be even better.

    Sorry about the duplicate post above, but I am unable to delete it.

  12. Double-vented jackets???

    * clutches pearls *

    * faints *

  13. elder prep | July 6, 2020 at 8:20 pm |

    I was intrigued by the fellow holding a book with a pipe wearing a “study suit” for dorm loafing. Imagine trying that out today.

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