Glad-Time Night In Tigertown, 1942


What to wear with a rep tie and OCBD? How about a plaid tweed jacket and a windowpane vest? There were so many options during the Golden Age Of Ivy, even while there was a war going on. Cheers to Chris Sharp for spotting this 1942 illustration from the Esquire archives, which you can access for a mere $4.99 per month.

The text reads:

The bright new Nassau Tavern in Princeton is jammed every Saturday night with pub crawlers who are tops in fashion. The sharp apple hanging up his tartan-lined gabardine coat will zip out the lining when March blasts make their exit next month, but his diagonal tweed suit is year-round curriculum that will attend all classes as well as make the rounds of the rug-cutting spots in Harlem. The smooth guy smoking his pipe sports a boxy Shetland jacket, a red foulard (wow) handkerchief and his roommate’s proudest possession, the checked Tattersall vest. A mundane senior smoking a weed wears chalk-striped grey flannel, and the grinning freshman who is almost cropped out of the picture wears a Glen Urquhart plaid suit. The bub in the booth turned out in Star Grey flannel, and prefers his beef to brew, even on Saturday night. “How Byzantine!”

Speaking of rug-cutting (the phrase “to cut a rug,” meaning to dance, comes from the 1920s when people would cut carpet to expose the hardwood floor beneath, which was better for dancing), I’m planning to head out to a little vintage swing and cocktail event at a club in Times Square. My dancing shoes are my white bucks, which of course have to be paired with grey flannels for that pre-war Ivy look.

Oh, and speaking of jazz and tigers, here’s Louis Armstrong doing one of his signatures, “Tiger Rag.” Not the easiest tune to dance to.

Safe travels for all you clogging the highways or taking to the air to be with loved ones. You’re bickering friends and relatives at Ivy Style will be right here, in case you want a break from your other ones.

Happy Thanksgiving. — CC

21 Comments on "Glad-Time Night In Tigertown, 1942"

  1. Ward Wickers, FIFS | November 25, 2015 at 3:08 pm |

    Have a great Thanksgiving holiday everyone!

  2. I have an old 78, Tiger Rag on one side, and Clarinet Marmalade on the other, by Phil Napoleon and his orchestra. I just played it on an old wind up Victrola. Slightly different from Satchmo’s version.

    I was watching an old Raymond Burr “Perry Mason” this morning. Frank Aletter, of Bringing Up Buddy fame, was the murderer. He was wearing a Tattersall vest.

    Can a vest like that even be bought anymore, outside of a thrift store?

  3. Phil Napoleon rocks!

  4. “Sharp apple” and “weed” – same words, new meanings today versus then. Separate thought: even with the evidence, it sometimes is hard to picture a world where college kids dressed like that and cared about the little details.

  5. Fading Fast, and others:
    How many times are you complimented on how “sharp” you look, when you’re wearing only what would have been incredibly casual, if not “unacceptable,” 30 or 40 years ago?

  6. JohnM

    Almost any combo of sport coat (even old and baggy), cords (ditto), and somewhat shiny leather shoes and someone asks what I’m “all dressed up” for…and it’s not always some kid (under 40).

    I suspect that comparatively few men looked like an Apparel Arts illustration even in the “Golden Age” or “Heyday” or whatever. Most contemporary photos of the ’30s-‘early ’60s showed much more conservative and plain wear. But they didn’t feel the need to wear their “play” clothes all the time, as is currently the case.

  7. John M, I chuckle at that as it happens often. For example, I regularly wear a not-fancy grey herringbone sport coat with casual, not-creased chinos and a worn Oxford cloth button down shirt, but will be complimented for “looking nice,” “dressing up,” “dressing well,” when, in truth, I would have been considered insultingly underdressed for everything from college meetings with the professor to flying on airplanes in the ’50s.

  8. Thanksgiving dinner, at a relative’s house. Great dinner, but attire was pathetic. Ten people at the table, everyone but a five year old boy over 30, half in their 60’s.. I wore the OCBD and khakis, every other male had jeans, one with “fashionably” ripped knees. Logoed T shirts were the order of the day, except Mr. Ripped Jeans had a worn flannel shirt. No adult male except me was clean shaven. At least, the clothes looked laundered.

    The ladies didn’t look much better. I recall when Thanksgiving dinner looked like the dinner scene in “Scent of a Woman.” HOO HAA!

    Watching the Macy’s NY parade in the morning. I was so apprehensive of some possible horrible calamity that I couldn’t watch it after a few minutes.

    Thank God for a safe Thanksgiving.

  9. @JohnM and Fading Fast

    PS: I get the same comments, about being “dressed up.”

    @ rmpmcdermott

    Thanks for the info on the vest.

  10. @ NCJack and Ward

    Forgot to include you above.

    Hope everyone had a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

  11. Well we can be thankful it’s all over, no? I echo the overdressed sentiment. My “t-shirt” is always a Lacoste pullover. I was raised to view t-shirts as underwear and thus only suitable for exercise (not including competitive sports). I recall that all my team soccer jerseys had collars; how far society has degenerated in such a short period.

    P.S. the 24th was Bill Buckley’s b-day.

  12. NaturalShoulder | November 27, 2015 at 9:18 am |

    The OCBD, khakis, and loafers or camp mocs have been a staple of casual wear for me since college in the mid-80s. What I have always considered casual, now appears dressed up when compared to what other 30 and 40 year old males wear. I do receive comments fro time to time, but just shrug my shoulders and say I have dressed this way for almost 30 years. If feeling particularly snarky, I might say that I only appear dressed up because everyone else dresses like a teenager.

  13. Ward Wickers, FIFS | November 27, 2015 at 9:40 am |

    I hope everyone had a good holiday.

    We went to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving. I wore Orvis Khakis, Mercer blue OCBD, an LL Bean argyle lambswool vest and a pair of penny loafers. I felt pretty causal, but I knew everyone else would be even more so. And, they were. Had I worn a jacket and tie, I would have felt out of place. Oh, well … on to Christmas.

  14. Ward Wickers, FIFS | November 27, 2015 at 9:42 am |

    Happy (belated) Birthday, Bill. We miss you.

  15. Regarding the Great One’s birthday over the years I’ve read so many things concerning his clothing that emphasize his disregard but I do recall in one of the sailing books there was a reference to an outstanding collection of polo shirts. I also recall that at one point he had a tailor construct a number of neckties to assure the proper width ((I’d guess 2 7/8 and it likely occurred in the seventies)
    . And of course those Greek fisherman hats.


    Yes, here’s one of him with his son, Christopher. Pat directed so much of his life, I imagine her influence impacted his sartorial choices.

  17. Without question, WFBjr, but he did have certain retail enthusiasms. Regrettably I think of the wine that he and the late John Heinz acquired at $10 per bottle in the seventies that now may be drunk by John Kerry

  18. Wriggles, you’ve described Thanksgiving dinner at our table but for the soiled, tattered cargo pants two seats to my left.
    Back in the day, the dress code at our house forbade shirts without collars at the dinner table. Coat and tie were mandatory at all “formal” holiday meals, and always at Sunday dinners at the grandparents’. The only exception ever granted, that I recall, was at a late ’50s Thanksgiving for my older brother, who’d had a large cyst removed from his neck the day before.
    Grandparents and parents eventually departed the scene and by the late ’70s, enforcement became increasingly difficult – on orders to “go change,” the wailing, the tears, the accusations of establishment fascism, our tyranny of a minority, became not worth the exasperation. People simply let it go, and with it most of the decency and manners and fashion that had elevated the occasions to something special.

  19. WFB Jr.–He wore what professional men of that time and place (Manhattan, CT burbs) wore. Chances are good if he were a young man today, he’d be wearing Polo Ralph Lauren.

  20. Blinking Green Light | November 28, 2015 at 2:20 pm |

    I live in Manhattan from Westchester and my mothers side is from Greenwich, everyone is wearing Lacoste today. Mainly because Polo has become to flamboyant to appeal to another customer base, if you will.

Comments are closed.