Heavy Program, 1946


An encore from Esquire in the year 1946 (head over here to access the archives for a mere $4.99 per month).

According to the text, the student on the left has a tweed suit cut in “conventional three-button style and easy lines.” The other fellow “sticks to the regulation two-tone saddle-strap shoes, checked tweed jacket and grey flannel slacks.” He also wears a blue oxford shirt, foulard tie, and “bright blue ribbed wool socks.”

Just a few more years before hats disappear from undergraduates’ heads. — CC

20 Comments on "Heavy Program, 1946"

  1. Henry Contestwinner | November 21, 2015 at 2:32 pm |

    My father, who went to college in the late 1940s, wore hats as an undergrad and for his first job, which was at a haberdashery (where he had also worked while going to school), but once he got a job in his field, he started leaving his hats at home.

    Growing up, I recall his having a couple of fedoras, but I have no memories of his wearing them. Now, he wears non-fedora hats to keep the sun off and to keep the snow off, but that’s about it.

    I, on the other hand, am a daily fedora wearer.

  2. Bags' Groove | November 21, 2015 at 4:04 pm |

    Just Henry, I can’t even begin imagine you in anything else. Get a hat, get ahead, eh baby?

  3. Why are those boys wearing hats indoors?

  4. According to the text they’re just grabbing a soda between classes. Note the guys seated to eat have removed their hats.

  5. Henry Contestwinner | November 22, 2015 at 11:55 pm |

    “Hats off indoors” is not always true. Hat etiquette has some twists, but for good reason. In interior public spaces, such as hotel lobbies, station breezeways, and elevators, the hat can stay on (but the hat comes off in an elevator if a lady gets in the car). In restaurants, while those who sit at tables & booths must doff their hats, those who sit at the counter—where there is no place to put a hat—keep them on. Hats can also stay on indoors until one arrives at one’s destination, and can be put on indoors when one is headed straight out.

    Watch some old movies, and you’ll see plenty of indoor scenes with men wearing hats.

  6. These days there is a near-inviolable uniform, just as in yesteryear. Cargo or some other casual short, sandals over bare feet, and a tee-type pullover. Shades optional. Anything more and one is suspect. In CA, this is ubiquitously de rigueur, not just on campus. Reflecting back on classes in my own experience, I can’t fathom sitting through any of them dressed in a suit. And, with the spotty-if-at-all air conditioning of the day? Must have been a post-war thing for the ones that lived. Well, glad these fellows got back, anyway.

  7. In what generation did men start concluding that a suit or jacket/slacks are uncomfortable and restrictive? I’ve always found properly fitting wool slacks and sport coat to be highly comfortable, and provide the most flexibility in any situation you find yourself in the midst. Jeans and T shirts are always awkward fitting on most men despite their contrived lowest denominator egalitarianism. I would expect to be ignored in cargo shorts and sandals unless standing on a beach. A jacket (even sans necktie) and ironed pants transition everywhere and offer a comfortable self respect. I feel that if I look like I respect myself, then others will respect me, and it’s true.

  8. @George
    I graduated from Berkeley (we called it “Cal”) in 1965. Throughout our senior year (when we wanted to look like grad students) we wore coats and ties. I can assure you that there was no air conditioning at all.

  9. Henry Contestwinner | November 23, 2015 at 4:02 pm |


    The death of the jacket and tie on campus came after the infamous “Summer of Love” [sic*] in 1967. By the fall of ’68, college men stopped wearing proper clothes and started dressing sloppily.

    The eschewing of suits (or jacket-and-tie) was not primarily about alleged comfort; that is an ex post facto “explanation.” Part of the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s was the rejection of everything previous generations had done, and that included their clothes.

    I’m with you: properly fitting suits, shirts, sport coats, trousers, etc. are comfortable and not restrictive, but if all you’ve ever worn are T-shirts, shorts, and sweats, then 1, you probably don’t know how to choose proper clothes that fit, and 2, they will seem “restrictive” in comparison to your normal slovenly attire.

    Another reason why proper men’s clothing has been suppressed has to do with your observation about being respected by others: despite attempts to find clothing for women that parallels the suit, there is nothing in women’s wear that conveys the same dignity and authority of a suit on a man. Since we cannot be equal by lifting up women, we must be equal by tearing down men.

    *By which is actually meant “physically and emotionally damaging sex with multiple (near-) strangers.” Self-discipline, such as that imposed by traditional sexual mores, make people strong and independent. Sexual “freedom” makes people slaves to their instincts, and more easily controllable and exploitable.

  10. Well stated, Jerry.
    I like the Bills M1 fit (I tend to prefer 50s era fit) and big oxfords. And sack jackets. So I can be both well-dressed and comfy–simultaneously.

  11. “Sexual “freedom” makes people slaves to their instincts, and more easily controllable and exploitable”.

    And is so boring!!
    A lot of nude women (too often with ugly tattoos) will never give the excitement of Esther Williams in his bathing suit,or Rita Hayworth in the black dress of “Gilda”,or Marilyn Monroe with the skirt blowing by the subway’s “wind” in “The seven year itch”.

  12. Left-Handed Pants | November 24, 2015 at 3:30 pm |

    “Sexual “freedom” makes people slaves to their instincts, and more easily controllable and exploitable”.

    Unless you were a women in the 1950-60s and were readily exploited and controlled by the sexual mores of the time, which totally favored men.

  13. Left-Handed Pants

    I hesitate to create another social commentary rant here, but it’s highly revisionist history to say that women were somehow restricted and controlled by the mores and social expectations of pre-1960’s America. Most of the women I know who actually lived during the 1940’s & 1950’s would say that they had much more control over their sexual identities and relationships at that time than their daughters and granddaughters do now. In the 1950’s, both men and women were equally burdened by social roles and expectations. Today, the anything goes environment overwhelmingly favors men and diminishes women. As an example, just look at the shocking rise in single parenthood and its effect on women vs. men. True, women now have access to boardrooms as well as bedrooms, but is it at the cost of us all being stripped of our souls?

    What does this have to do with men’s clothes? Well, I for one, can see this sea change in the images we are now discussing.

  14. Left-Handed Pants | November 24, 2015 at 5:37 pm |

    Jerry, the Feminist Movement/Women’s Liberation would disagree with you. Women fought against social inequalities in a range of areas: sexual harassment, equal pay, domestic violence, non-sexist language, reproductive rights, maternity leave, hiring and firing non-discrimination, economic opportunities, increasing the roles of women in religion, educational non-discrimination, Title XIX, women’s health, and related issues. The culture in the 40-50s was patriarchal and relationships and identities were delimited by this. I agree with you that both men and women were burdened, but I wouldn’t agree that they were equally burdened. Women were much more so.

  15. They were more limited. Men were more burdened.

  16. I am in good company. The women in my life would exclaim that the feminist movement is at odds with their interests.

  17. Henry Contestwinner | November 24, 2015 at 11:08 pm |

    Glad to see some good horse sense out of Jerry.

    As for Left-Handed Pants…

    Feminism is an anti-man, anti-child, anti-family, and ultimately, anti-woman ideology. Based on the lie that men and women are the same, feminism has stripped women of their identity as women, different from, but equal in value to, men.

    Sexual harassment is bad, but feminism has turned flirting into “sexual harassment.” (Women used to know how to deal with unwanted attention, and men used to know how to let their friends know that their attentions were unwanted.) Furthermore, by forcing women into the workplace, feminism has increased the likelihood of women receiving unwanted attention.

    Domestic violence is wrong without feminism telling us so.

    Non-sexist language is tantamount to Orwellian thoughtcrime. Feminists failed to realize that using masculine pronouns for the generic actually made women special. All their proposed replacements are clunky or vague or both.

    “Reproductive rights”? Do you mean “birth control,” which Chesterton accurately described as “no birth and no control,” or do you mean a woman’s “right” to murder the child inside of her?

    Maternity leave is unfair to the workers still at work and the company forced to give it, because the company can’t hire someone to replace the missing woman, so the other workers have to shoulder her burden until her return. Worst of all, maternity leave promotes careerism in mothers, who should not be worrying about a paycheck but should be instead concerned with the most important job in the world: raising a child.

    Economic opportunities? Women have always had them, but not necessarily in every field. Even so, talented women were contributing in non-traditional fields even before feminism reared its ugly head (e.g., Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Marie Curie, Florence Nightingale, etc.).

    Roles for women in religion? I can’t speak to other religions, but the Bible makes it clear that while women are not to hold general positions of authority, they may hold authority over children or other women. If you take the Bible as the word of God, then no earthly ideology can trump it. Accordingly, the traditional role of women in the church is the correct one.

    Educational non-discrimination? There are a finite number of spots for admission to any program, and they should always go to the best-qualified applicants—right? Yes, except that women are more likely to leave the workforce, either temporarily or permamently, for their families. This means that when they leave, they take those skills with them, and leave their community underserved. In contrast, men are unlikely to leave the workforce to raise a family, so the community benefits from his work for longer than they do from a woman. Thus any highly specialized training shlud go preferentially to men.

    Title XIX? I think you mean Title IX. The fact of the matter is that not only are women less interested in participating in sports than men are, people are less interested in watching women’s sports than they are in watching men’s sports. In order to obtain “equality” where none can exist, men’s sports program have been cut, in Procrustean fashion, for the benefit of women’s programs that have far lower rates of participation and even lower rates of spectation.

    For a much fuller examination of the ruin that feminism has wrought, see the link below, which links to scores of articles.


    To repeat: women and men are equal in value as people, but men and women differ in ways far more fundamental than plumbing and who gives birth. Feminism, by seeking to eliminate those differences, is at war with women.

  18. Henry Contestwinner | November 24, 2015 at 11:20 pm |

    And while I’m thinking about it, the failure of feminism is seen in the huge number of women on anti-depressants and other mood-altering medications. Fed the lie that they can “have it all,” they end up suffering from depression and other emotional disorders when they can’t. Substance abuse rates and suicides are also up among women.

    Telll me more about how women were oppressed because they could stay home and focus on their families, won’t you? I always enjoy a good fairy tale.

  19. The funny think is that in 50s (i have a huge collection of magazines) the American society was described as “dominated by women”,and in America too was talk about the prevaling influence of the women in contemporary society.

  20. Getting back to the original subject of men’s hats, I recall my dad coming home from the office wearing a gray fedora. When he wasn’t around or wearing it, I recall looking at it, especially the inside. The silk lining, leather headband, and Stetson label, and just the fine construction of the hat I recall impressed me. His headwear influenced me and I’m a fedora wearer, albeit in the winter only, to this day.

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