If you keep an eye on our Ephemera column of news links, you’ve no doubt sensed there’s something zeitgeisty going on. The overall preppy trend in fashion has been around for several years now, reaching the point this summer where patch-madras shorts became available at retailers like Target and JC Penney.
Likewise, star bloggers like Hollister Hovey and A Continuous Lean have helped fuel a resurgent interest in vintage Americana, and the ’60s photo book “Take Ivy” has been covered by the New York Times and recreated by hy(r) collective. All this has added a piquant soupcon of fun to blogging here at Ivy-Style, beyond the excuse to pair words together like “piquant” and “soupcon.”
But as of today I think we can officially say there’s an Ivy League Look micro-trend afoot, as Harvard University has announced a new fashion collection called Harvard Yard that will “channel the simple all-American style of Harvard men back in the ’50s and ’60s.”
WWD Men’s, which has replaced DNR as the menswear industry’s bible, requires registration to read its articles, but the teaser of its Harvard Yard report runs:
American prep is having a moment as increasing numbers of style-conscious men sport sockless loafers, stiff oxford cloth shirts, tapered khakis and Ray-Ban Wayfarers like it’s 1959.
There’s more coverage of the Harvard Yard line by Black Book and New York Magazine. Also, the trend isn’t just brewing in menswear, as this fall Bobbi Brown introduces The Ivy League Collection for women.
While “Ivy League” may just be the fashion industry’s new term for “preppy,” the fount of inspiration is definitely coming more from the ’50s and ’60s than the ’80s.
People get understandably grumpy when their own style gets co-opted by the fashion industry. But if there is a resurgence of the Ivy League Look, perhaps it will bring about a kind of reclaiming of our national style in the realm of tailored clothing, where more natural shoulder and sack-front options are needed, and where the hooked vent could serve as a national symbol, like the bald eagle.
Italy and England produce fine clothes, but Americans shouldn’t feel that Europe has the last word in how to wear a suit and tie. As we’ve chronicled in the photos gathered in our Historic Images category, there was a time when the American male in the limelight of international business and politics stood out from his foreign peers instead of blending into the anonymity of what’s considered global good taste.
And if an Ivy trend produces truly good clothes and not just high-priced fashion novelty (as the Harvard Yard collection, whose entry-level price point is $165, unfortunately suggests; then again, it’s not a cheap school), then we can all enjoy a greater variety of pickings, at least for a little while. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD