Ivy League House Party

ivy league hosue party2

Here’s a random image posted recently on our Facebook page. Anyone seen it and know the date and source?

I’m guessing it’s an ad by a Main Street clothier who’s using collegiate terms to sell the look. You know, the argument presented ad nauseum by a certain member of the Talk Ivy forum. The men pictured are all of middle age (and probably in the middle of the country and middle management), but the clothing items are called “frat coat,” “university flannel,” “phi beta worsted,” and “varsity coat.”

As the saying goes, even a broken clock is right twice a day. — CC

111 Comments on "Ivy League House Party"

  1. Gantshirt | June 9, 2015 at 3:00 pm |

    As much as I love the clothes, the image sums up everything that should be loathed about the IL: the sense of entitlement, the happiness of being In and never Out, the narcissism of those who gray at the temples and have Guards mustaches even though they never went within spitting distance of the military, the conceit of a ruling class that its ascension was backed by God. Competed against the ethos my whole life and generally did OK so seeing it here, pickled in an ancient ad image, brings up complex memories.

  2. Christian | June 9, 2015 at 3:07 pm |

    Modern critical theory would certainly support your very subjective interpretation…

  3. The illustration itself seems to be something that was “borrowed” from Apparel Arts. The giveaway is the guy with the British military mustache. The Apparel Arts illustrations often included this gentleman or a variant on the theme, either as a David Niven / Errol Flynn type, or as an older-looking “distinguished” gentleman with silver or grey hair. Maybe other illustrators / magazines did this, but I always think Apparel Arts when I see this kind of tableau.

  4. @ Mr. Gantshirt

    You said it all. I knew several “aristocrats,” worked as a CPA for a few. A self made man (or woman) can never enter the portals of their world.

    I commented somewhere on this site about a guy I knew who drove a Chevy Cavalier, and actually believed his car was the finest car on the road. He supposedly drove huge finned Cadillacs and Jaguars in the 50’s – 60’s. He actually was a very likeable fellow, in a pathetic sort of way.

  5. Vern Trotter | June 9, 2015 at 4:17 pm |

    This looks like a Worsted-Tex add from the mid 50s appearing in Esquire. Just a guess though.

    Gantshirt, the majority of males from this period served in the military so your assumption rings hollow. In fact, the Zeitgeist of the period between Korea and Vietnam was military despite there being no shooting war. When we all had military service hanging over our heads, it was hard to ignore.

  6. Sourpusses. It’s an image…a composite, an allusion; for my part, I rather like it for what it is. I suppose if the portrait on the wall was crisp and visible, someone would have something to say about that, too. My sense is that some folks have their springs wound too tight, but whatever. Brown shoes tie in nicely to charcoal trousers and a striped jacket, harmonized by a tan sweater and burgundy stripe tie. Nice. Everyone is smiling, woman dresses tastefully understated, no fatties or tattoos…just too pleasant for some folks, though, right? Projecting personal horror stories onto an image is a bit _______, don’t you think? I, for one, would enjoy these people and this function, so there. Yes, I’m “happy, like a room without a roof…”

  7. @ Gantshirt You seem to know a lot about a group of people who are A) fictional and B) do not know. Not to mention serving the military was mandatory for every WASP/Ivy family son up until recently. Refer to Kennedy’s, Bush’s, Roosevelts, etc…

    You need to let your chip on your shoulder go, it is really obnoxious.

  8. So, which is it? Midwestern Organization Men or narcisstic, shallow members of the “ruling class?” Perhaps a messy stew of jaded Carraway, desperate Gatsby, and obnoxious Tom Buchanan?

    It’s no less ridiculous than a lot of the “trad” kit sported by today’s–and I say this with a chuckle–“ruling class.” I’ll take “university flannel,” “phi beta worsted,” and “varsity coats” over the grotesquely ubiquitous Barbour jacket-“Nantucket Reds”-bit loafer combo.

    Ralph Lauren borrowed a lot of such vernacular (wasn’t there a “Polo University” label?) to sell his Oxbridge inspired threads.

  9. Sometimes an ad is just an ad.

    S.E.

    I never got the English vibe from Polo University.

  10. @ S.E. you should probably get a time machine, go back in time, and tell JFK that those Nantucket Reds are second to dressing like a … well drunk.

    And regardless of that, not too sure what is wrong with anything you mentioned. But I guess to each their own.

  11. I’ve been told that when someone quotes from the Koran/Bible, it really tells you more about the person doing the quoting than of the K/B itself. Similarly, many reactions to ads seem to tell you more about the person doing the reacting than of the ad itself.

  12. Ah,ah,very funny !
    “Ruling class”,”Guards mustaches”,”sense of entitlement”,”narcissism”…
    I see simply a bunch of American men of 1950s,probably middle class,dressed as all in 50s with decent and neat but not particularly expensive clothes.
    The middle age man have old style mustaches as the movie stars of his salad days (Clark Gable,William Powell,Errol Flynn,John Barrymore,Douglas Fairbanks).
    His a party,and the peoples are well dressed,not as the folks in our dystopian,ugly,current age.

  13. John O'Groats | June 10, 2015 at 12:52 am |

    Current varsity schmoozing the alumni for donations at the behest of the Athletics Dean. That’s all. Humoring the codgers, innocently flirting with the biddies.

  14. What I noticed was how well the clothes fit: loose without being baggy; all lines softened within a definite form.

  15. I see a group of civilized gentlemen wearing jackets that fit and long-rise trousers.

  16. Well… It’s a numbers game, isn’t it ?
    Most “Ivy” was just like this.
    Yes, the ‘Elite’ were there…
    But, also, so were so many others.

    To keep the overall story real you have to accept all the other people buttoning it down.

  17. Sometimes an ad is, indeed, just an ad. Although, since it’s a drawing, I don’t know if admiring the fit of the clothing is realistic. (although you could say the same thing about photos in today’s ads)

    I also agree that a reaction to an ad says more about the viewer than the advertiser. This is what makes advertising similar to art: you bring your own background to it, which is the intention of the creator (maybe more so by the advertiser than the artist, but not necessarily).

    Finally – as I think has been said before on this blog: these days, Barbour jackets and Nantucket reds are the calling cards of suburban soccer-moms and post-grad frat dudes. “Try-Hards”, as they say.

  18. James Redhouse | June 10, 2015 at 9:53 am |

    @Paul

    That’s precisely why I have given my Barbour jacket and Nantucket reds to Goodwill.

  19. These guys are why my Reds (bought at Murray’s for me by my mother) remain in my closet:

    http://preppyparadise.tumblr.com/image/117736705976

    When they’re no longer trendy, I’ll put them back on.

  20. What about a blazer and khakis? What’s the difference between classic combination and cliché?

  21. If this question was directed to me, I would say that a blue blazer and khakis are classic as opposed to cliche because – and this is just my opinion: a) trendy types are wearing Reds or a Barbour, or even bow ties these days, as some kind of “statement” item (“Look how wacky I am!”); and b) for decades, a blue blazer and khakis has been a dependable, neutral uniform for men of all ages.

    I fully realize I may sound like the guy who gets cranky when the band he’s always loved suddenly gets commercially popular.

  22. John O'Groats | June 10, 2015 at 10:42 am |

    I wanted to define the cliche/classic dichotomy as reliant on duration, but then I realized how long exposed tattoos and long jean jorts have been going on. And I wept.

  23. Etymologue | June 10, 2015 at 11:01 am |

    Understatement vs. overstatement

  24. Ward Wickers | June 10, 2015 at 11:32 am |

    You guys do realize that the projections being made about Barbours and Reds are no different than the projections made about the advertisement? Siggy Freud would be positively ecstatic.

  25. Worried Man | June 10, 2015 at 11:35 am |

    This ad must be for one of the big manufacturers: Botany 500, Haspel, Clipper Craft, Hart Schaffner Marx, McGregor, etc. Mid- to late-fifties. Maybe House of Worsted Tex as mentioned above?

  26. Anglophile Trad | June 10, 2015 at 12:05 pm |

    @Worried Man

    I would agree that it’s more likely that this was produced by a major manufacturer than by a Main Street clothier.
    So far, I haven’t been able to trace the source, but haven’t given up yet. A bit of a challenge, I daresay.

    http://www.coloringpages101.com/coloring_pages/Great_Britain/sherlockholmes_bfatv.jpg

  27. Charlottesville | June 10, 2015 at 1:05 pm |

    FWIW, I agree with Vern, Anglophile Trad and Worried Man that it is likely a manufacturer’s ad from Esquire or a similar magazine, circa 1955-58. It looks familiar, and could be from one of the makers listed above or even from Robert Hall. A few similar pix crop up in the link below, but not that one.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=hart+schaffner+marx+advertising&biw=1272&bih=788&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0CDIQsARqFQoTCN3gg6jJhcYCFe9jjAodzx0AJA

  28. J.I. Rodale | June 10, 2015 at 1:58 pm |

    Thanks, Charlottesville.
    For those who may have overlooked this “Very Short Thesis on Tweeds”:

    http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/NjIwWDQ4MQ==/z/tUMAAMXQCgpRwiB-/$(KGrHqRHJBYFBUsTIwGSBRwiB-dqv!~~60_57.JPG

  29. Worried Man | June 10, 2015 at 2:19 pm |

    Yeah, Charlottesville, I’m usually pretty good at sleuthing these things, but I’ve searched high and low for this particular ad and I’m stumped. Pretty sure someone posted it over on the TI forum not too long ago. I’ll see if they recall the origin.

  30. It was for sale as a print on Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/221652625/ivy-league-ad-mid-century-ad-mad-men). The guy selling them may know. My search will end here.

    WM, I believe it was AC that posted the image.

  31. Charlottesville | June 10, 2015 at 3:51 pm |

    In addition to my other sins, I have a collection of a few hundred old Esquire, Holiday, Gourmet, Time and Life magazines from the 30s into the sixties, and I may get curious enough to plow through a few from the mid 50s to see if this or something close pops up. The format of the ad is very familiar.

  32. Reached out to the Etsy seller but they did not know the maker. The print is still available https://www.etsy.com/listing/221652625/ivy-league-ad-mid-century-ad-mad-men?ref=pr_shop

  33. It’s a Worsted-Tex ad. The trademark sign and the typeface are the giveaways.
    http://theivyleaguelook.blogspot.fi/2009/11/ivy-on-trial-1960.html?m=1

  34. Worried Man | June 10, 2015 at 4:18 pm |

    @Charlottesville
    Well, you’re in good (or bad) company, buddy, because me and the lady also have quite a nice collection of old mags. They’re a joy to flip through over a cocktail and when we have guests coming we’ll throw a few out on the coffee table and people seem to really enjoy looking through them. A lot of the ads (especially the cigarette ads) are really quite funny, and also often blatantly sexist.

    Thanks Ox. I’ll drop AC a line and see if you remembers where he found the ad.

  35. Worried Man | June 10, 2015 at 4:19 pm |

    Never mind. Woolster pulls through! The trademarked logo was bound to be a huge clue.

  36. Worried Man | June 10, 2015 at 4:21 pm |

    Hahaha. “Image from the Rome (Georgia) News – Tribune… 1957) no less. Rome, Georgia, that Ivy League bastion.

  37. I have a hardtime understanding why anyone wouldn’t wear something they already own Nantucket reds or a Barbour coat, because in some circles they’re considered “trendy”… These same people visit a site about a style that was once itself trendy. I would never let the sartorial decisions of others, affect which items I wear or don’t wear. I guess if you don’t have a strong sense of self that can happen.

  38. Charlottesville | June 10, 2015 at 5:15 pm |

    Great catch, Woolster. No idea what the quality was like, but I recall “The House of Worsted-Tex” as the contributor of prizes and advertising dollars to television game shows when I was a tot. I note that whether from Rome, Georgia or not, I wish I saw men and women similarly dressed more often these days; the clothes in the illustration look great. And I’m glad to be in company with Worried Man as a magazine collector.

  39. Ethan gets it. I still wear my clubmasters even though they’re everywhere. Been sporting Ray Bans since the fifth grade. Not stopping because some jaggass from Bushwick likes them too. Broken clock twice a day and what-not.

  40. Christian | June 10, 2015 at 5:59 pm |

    Also agree with Ethan. Would never stop wearing something I like because it became momentarily popular. Also, people wearing items for trend reasons tend to look trendy. It comes down to that elusive manner of wearing things. You, Mr. Trad, are not trendy, so you shouldn’t have to worry about looking that way.

  41. I like this ad and the people in it.

    Angry yet, you of the politically-correct mind-set?

    One must remember that back in the 1950s America was 90% white — a European clone and proudly part of “Western Civilization.” There were no Muslims, no Indians (dots not feathers), no Koreans, no Vietnamese, no Somalies, and only a smattering of Mexicans who’d seeped across the border. We still had a civilization back then before the Third World deluge.

    I think liberal anti-white racism always plays a role when images such as this are presented. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes blatant, but it always boils down to: “Why are these white people better-looking, better-dressed, better-educated and having more fun than those of us who fortune didn’t favor as much? Where’s the justice?”

    If you like poorly dressed (see Top, Tank), poorly spoken, ugly people (see Tattoos and Piercings) who can’t think for themselves without looking to a hypocritical demagogue for guidance, then the current United States is for you.

    Leave the happy folks in the ad alone — we probably won’t ever look that good again.

  42. Christian | June 10, 2015 at 6:46 pm |

    “We probably won’t ever look that good again.”

    Thanks to the Jews!

  43. Christian:

    Jews are intelligent and good-looking — my youngest daughter is married to one who’s quite handsome.

    Now if only the Republicans would stop trying to prevent them from voting in National Elections by requiring IDs.

  44. John O'Groats | June 10, 2015 at 7:20 pm |

    Oh lord, oh lord: when are all these Mexicans gonna stop making me wear tank tops?

  45. John O’Groats:

    Mexicans?

    Wow, you sound like a die-hard Jeb Bush supporter (yes, he’s the man who majored in Latino Studies — I’m not joking — and to prove he wasn’t a racist, even married a Mexican!)

    So if you liked what brother George W. did, then you’re gonna love what Jeb has in store for us (hint: learn Spanish as soon as possible and don’t complain).

  46. Christian:

    I believe I misunderstood your reference to the Jews in your comment at 6:46 as accusing me of anti-Semitism.

    Now, I think you were merely referring to the indebtedness we all owe to the Jewish retailers for dressing us at our best. Without their high standards, I can’t imagine what we would have looked like.

  47. Christian | June 10, 2015 at 8:03 pm |

    Wasn’t accusing you of anti-Semitism at all, though I’m sure you’re defensive about it for good reason.

  48. Nowadays, I’m accused of everything one could imagine.

  49. Christian | June 10, 2015 at 8:13 pm |

    Where there’s smoke…

  50. Ethan…. You are spot on. It’s consistency. People who have known me for years expect me to show up on occasion in N Reds regardless of what’s in or out. I also never let them down in Miami when wearing my banana yellow chinos paired with croc loafers, sans socks… I do it for me…trendy or not.

  51. James Redhouse | June 11, 2015 at 2:13 am |

    @Ethan

    Easy to understand: I don’t want to be associated with such people.

  52. Señor Yuca | June 11, 2015 at 4:15 am |

    A great drawing but (funnily enough) I don’t see it as evidence of white supremacy.

    Is Groton76 for real or is he just winding us all up?

  53. Past Perfect | June 11, 2015 at 5:14 am |

    In the 1950s, some of us took such people as role models, and still don’t regret having done so.

  54. Ward Wickers | June 11, 2015 at 8:07 am |

    Although fairly new here, I can’t help but notice how frequently comments turn to race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. What is it about the clothes that attracts this discussion? Are they a magnet, or is it just on everyone’s mind?

  55. M Arthur

    You reminded me of this quote,

    “I cannot pretend to feel impartial about colours. I rejoice with the brilliant ones and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns”.
    Sir Winston Churchill

    😉

  56. Ward
    Why wouldn’t in this day and age, clothing with elitist origins elicit post like the first one. It’s what is taught at university for the last half century, push by the political class and the media. I keep waiting for someone to tell Groton to “check his white privilege”. Always remember, “You didn’t build that”.

  57. @Ethan – let me help you down from your high horse: we’re both visitors to a site that is about, among other things, perception. People who say they don’t care what others think are lying, and mostly to themselves.

  58. Ward Wickers | June 11, 2015 at 9:14 am |

    MAC

    I’m not sure what you are saying about “It’s what is taught at university for the last half century …” You can’t mean that they have been focused on Ivy clothing being elitist, right? I don’t want to misunderstand you.

  59. @James Redhouse,

    If you live such an inauthentic life, to the extent that wearing reds or a barbour coat would, “associate you with such people” in the eyes of your peers… then I pity you.

  60. @Paul,

    Speaking of horses, I pray that reason comes riding on a white horse and rescues you.

  61. James Redhouse | June 11, 2015 at 9:35 am |

    @Ethan

    1) If you believe that wearing reds and a Barbour coat are signs of an “authentic” life, I’m afraid I pity you.

    2) My peers are right when they associate them with suburban soccer-moms and post-grad frat dudes.

  62. @ Ethan: I have no idea what that means in this context; it’s not responsive, at all, to my previous post. Let me suggest, though, that you are revealing yourself as one of two types of people (or maybe both):

    – the guy who actually wants people to ask him why, as a grown man, he is dressed like a frat boy or an 8th grader (Vinyard Vines, another trend), so that he can pridefully say, “I wore this *before* it was trendy”. In which case, you’re the hipster I was referring to previously: you liked the band before they got popular; and/or

    – the guy who says, “I could never run for office – I’m too blunt, and I don’t care what other people think.” Which really means, “Nobody would vote for me because I’m an a**hole.”

  63. James,

    Sorry to hear that fashion dictates your style.

  64. Ward
    Read The first two post, Christian mentions the “it”.

  65. MAC: 8.33 AM

    Unfortunately, you apparently believe in this ridiculous nonsense about “white privilege” that one currently smells in Black Studies Departments nationwide.

    As an aside, didn’t I see you in the Ferguson crowd violently protesting that awful Michael Brown verdict? Yes, “Hands Up — Don’t Shoot!” indeed.

    Obviously, black and non-white privilege is what should be checked today. They demand special treatment. Unlike whites, criticizing these “deprived” groups is taboo. (And try being a poor white boy or girl and getting into Princeton? It ain’t gonna happen — the school is racist to the core — after all, Cornell West “teaches” there.)

    And how about the Chinese suing Harvard over admissions just because it doesn’t want a bunch of one-dimensional grinds turning their institution into what looks like a Beijing laundry.

    Final question (I was going to make it true or false in light of intelligence level you displayed in your post), but here it is: Who built America? Think hard now.

  66. @Paul, James,

    I stick to my original comment (which was directed at you Paul), was that it would make no sense to not wear something you already own (you bought it because you liked it in the first place right?) because of some subgroups adoption of that particular item. It baffles me to be honest. Perhaps in order for me to empathize, I’d need to approach the subject with the mindset of “If I was insecure, had no true north concerning personal style and taste, and needed the approval of others”, what should I wear today?

    Do you gentlemen create a seasonal exemption list? Do you list all the items in your closet, and then cross-reference every current trend, blog, social media platform to make sure there’s no overlap? Will someone please tell Heavy Tweed Jacket that he looks like a frat/post-grad schmuck all winter long in his Barbour coats, esp the quilted ones.

    James, theres nothing I could possibly wear to ever be confused with a soccer mom, my features are not feminine enough. And Paul, I am no hipster, though I have been called an asshole on more than one occasion.

  67. @ Ethan: methinks thou dost protest too much with regard to insecurity.

    And you only get the nicknames that you earn, my friend.

  68. Paul,

    Let’s be honest, not wearing something you already own because you’re afraid to be labeled or associated with someone else, is the very definition of insecurity. Add your comment of “People who say they don’t care what others think are lying, and mostly to themselves.” How could I come to any other reasonable assumption?

  69. Worried Man | June 11, 2015 at 11:08 am |

    I mostly agree with the sentiments of George, Carmelo, Vern….

    Yes, it’s true, many white Americans were on top of the world during the middle part of the 20th century. It was a time of prosperity and optimism and real upward mobility. And these ads were obviously catering to this segment of society. The fact that the ad ran in the Rome, Georgia Times newspaper says a lot in that the term “Ivy Leauge” as a marketing tool wasn’t saying “look at these people… you can’t be them because this is an elite class.” It was saying “you, you random reader of the Rome times can also look as if you belong to this class.” It’s just an age-old marketing tool used to tap into our desires of bettering ourselves, or at least the perception of such, through conspicuous consumption. And it’s no secret that black Americans were keen to this same exact marketing ploy, as the prevalence of the Ivy look in the mid-century jazz scene has been recounted on here and other sites ad infinitum. You can say that blacks adopting the look was subversive, which it was, but it was also tied up in ideals of modernism and looking cool and looking relaxed. It was more than just a social and political statement; it was an obvious and desired image. Essentially what I’m getting at is that by the mid-’60s everyone was in the look and it wasn’t just an elitist WASP thing. The look became so widespread and democratic that it shed a lot of connotations. I’m not saying I don’t understand the reaction of Gantshirt and Wriggles, because I can see where they’re coming from. But I’d put money on the fact that even poor black men in Rome, Georgia in 1957 probably saw this ad in the paper and thought “Damn. I’d love to get some threads like that.”

  70. Worried Man | June 11, 2015 at 11:10 am |

    We shouldn’t forget that there were also plenty of dirt-poor white Americans too. Most of my ancestors included.

  71. The image Christian put up, and a lot of the discussion here, has centered around advertising. That includes how reactions to advertising usually say more about the audience viewing it, than the creator of the ad.

    In a similar way, most of us here are talking about clothing, and how style is perceived, and all sorts of related topics. The only person discussing “insecurity”, “self-worth” or being “afraid” of something, is YOU.

    I’m sorry to say that your attempt to inject some kind of amateur pop-psychology into a discussion about clothing, of all things, reflects more on whatever it is you’re dealing with than it does on the rest of us.

    As a great man once said, “Lighten up, Francis.”

  72. Ward Wickers | June 11, 2015 at 11:34 am |

    Worried Man

    Insightful comments well-stated.

  73. Worried Man | June 11, 2015 at 11:53 am |

    Not to mention black magazines were also advertising the “ivy” look, the “continental” look. Dress was much more homogeneous back then.

    Some insightful excerpts found here from the book Fashion and Jazz:
    https://books.google.com/books?id=qxZiBQAAQBAJ&pg=PA39&dq=ebony+magazine+%22ivy+league%22+suit&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CCYQ6AEwAGoVChMIqd-jhv-HxgIVRpQNCh0pEwWJ#v=onepage&q=ebony%20magazine%20%22ivy%20league%22%20suit&f=false

    Apparently already by 1960 Ebony magazine, the most popular black magazine of the day, was warning against larger men wearing the Ivy style because the slim silhouette didn’t suit their frame. It was, apparently, already down to an issue of style at that point.

  74. Groton 76

    I think you failed to catch the meaning of my post.

    I was at Ferguson, I was the white privileged guy on the news holding the sign, “All lives matter, don’t loot”.

  75. Worried Man | June 11, 2015 at 11:56 am |

    Now if we want to move from “Ivy” style to “preppy”, then that’s a whole other story. 🙂

  76. Worried Man | June 11, 2015 at 12:05 pm |

    Essentially, my view is this:

    At this day in age when you have black guys wearing the ivy and preppy style, often very well I might add, and then you have white guys dressing like they’re auditioning for a rap video or about to ride a rodeo horse, and then everyone else is in poorly fitting suits and Jesus sandals… then I’d argue that anyone, no matter their race, age, religion, sexual persuasion, IQ, etc… can appreciate, wear, and love the look that brings all of us here to this site. I think the class / race implications are often overstated. But I can really appreciate all of the facets of the heritage of the style, from the white Ivy elite, to the black jazz and soul influence, to the total democratic dissemination that peaked in the mid-’60s, and even, yet to a lesser extent, the preppy influence that came later.

  77. Cards on the table: A person who nurtures a particular sense of style does so with perception/impression in mind–how he or she is communicating his/her “self” to others. Enough of the “I wear what I wear without taking others’ impressions of (thoughts about) me into account” stuff. It’s nonsense. It’s bull shit.

    Worried Man is right. He allows–

    “…The look became so widespread and democratic that it shed a lot of connotations…”

    True. Which is why Ivy in the context of the Heyday can be so utterly, tediously boring. As in snoozeville boring. The guy who wore madras, penny loafers, and Gant button downs because everybody else was–that same guy was wearing polyester leisure suits and growing sideburns ten years later. Because his friends, neighbors, and co-workers did. Ivy as momentary, fleeting fashion. Boring.

    What’s interesting is why anyone nowadays bothers stick with all or maybe just a wee facet/aspect/portion of the style. Whether George F. Will or “Worried Man” or John Simons devotees (‘Viva Weejuns and Keydge jackets!’) or Tucker Carlson or Jay Walters’ clients. Why? In an era and market saturated with a multitude of other style options, why does anybody insist upon his own exegesis of Ivy?

    What interests me about the picture has much to do with the clothing portrayed. The jacket shoulders, while natural, aren’t the super-sloped, unstructured shoulders that some call to mind. There’s shaping, but not much. Tapered pants but not hipster ridiculous. The lapels are narrow but, again, not overly so (3″?). And is there a penny loafer to be found? Nope. The clothes are for grown-ups.

  78. I don’t think anyone is seriously implying that they don’t take how they are perceived by others into account when they dress themselves, but there’s a difference between that and letting trends and the general public’s opinion determine what you wear (or don’t wear.)

  79. Worried Man | June 11, 2015 at 12:27 pm |

    SE writes
    “What’s interesting is why anyone nowadays bothers stick with all or maybe just a wee facet/aspect/portion of the style. Whether George F. Will or “Worried Man” or John Simons devotees (‘Viva Weejuns and Keydge jackets!’) or Tucker Carlson or Jay Walters’ clients. Why? In an era and market saturated with a multitude of other style options, why does anybody insist upon his own exegesis of Ivy?”

    I’d argue that it’s just because it’s a good look, plain and simple. I think the same reason it became so irresistible and ubiquitous in the “heyday” is the same reason those of us that like the look now. It’s refined yet relaxed, has a unique silhouette, plays on texture, can be dressed up or down….

  80. Worried Man | June 11, 2015 at 12:31 pm |

    Dare I say, it’s a “classic” look. Somewhat impervious to all else that’s going on around it, even if that may be “the look” itself.

  81. Heavy Starch | June 11, 2015 at 12:36 pm |

    As a lower middle class Jewish kid growing up in a non-Jewish area of L.A. in the 1950s, I don’t remember anybody at all in my environment wearing Ivy League clothing. Not a single person. This included my high school teachers. No tweeds, no flannels, no chinos, no Oxford cloth shirts, no Weejuns. I got a scholarship to Harvard, and was surrounded by students and professors who were dressed in a style I had never before seen. I immediately adopted their style of dress and still stick to it. I would venture to say that for many Ivy adherents, Ivy style liberated us from our genetic, ethnic, regional shackles, and continues to do so.

  82. Worried Man | June 11, 2015 at 12:43 pm |

    Well-stated Heavy Starch.
    And I’d argue it had the same effect for many, whether poor white or disenfranchised black or first generation Asian. It became one outward display of assimilation into what was a burgeoning American culture, while simultaneously becoming just a style of clothing that offered widespread availability.

  83. @ SE and others: I hesitate to look too closely at the “fit and taper” elements of the ad, not because it’s an ad per se, but because it’s a drawing instead of a photograph – aspects of the jackets and pants, and the build of the men wearing them, are truly idealized. Which isn’t a bad thing in and of itself.

    Of course the same could also be said of current photo ads: rarely are the pouty Euro-guys, or even the smiling BB models, built like the man on the street, so the fit in those pics is also somewhat idealized.

  84. Worried Man | June 11, 2015 at 1:00 pm |

    @ Paul

    Of course. It’s just part of the aesthetic of the age. Same with the automobile ads. Everything’s clean, long, lean… an obvious conscious break from the fuddy-duddy double-breasted suits with fat lapels, strong shoulders, pleated pants, etc.

  85. A.E.W. Mason | June 11, 2015 at 2:11 pm |

    @S.E.

    I think you’ve got exactly right. It simply recalls for me how grown men of my father’s generation dressed. The lines are all elongated (idealized, if you will, but I recall one or two tall slim colleagues of my dad’s who cut almost that exact image), but it is an ad. Frankly, it’s wonderful, especially compared to what we have today. Or, perhaps I’m just an old nostalgist–or both.

  86. Worried Man | June 11, 2015 at 2:30 pm |

    Lots of commercials and print ads of the era espoused this idea of the “ideal man:” masculine, gentlemanly, presentable, well-groomed, successful yet not ostentatious, doesn’t shy away from hard work and long hours yet also knows exactly how to relax, is a ladies’ man yet is also a family man and father figure. I think many modern men, especially young men, are experiencing a bit of a male identity crisis of late, and I think many are looking back to this era and this particular male archetype as an exemplary ideal. You can see it in magazines, television, music, etc.

  87. Maybe Saville row bespoke suits are “elitist”, but Ivy clothes?
    In 50s and 60s Ivy League suits and jackets were in every shop in USA,and also the so called “main street Ivy” was well make and smart as the real McCoy.
    Were not a particularly expensive way of dress,and was for all,from the CEO to Joe the plumber.
    The only problem is that back then the peoples,whites,blacks,Jews were well dressed,clean,decent in apparel (at moderate prices).
    No tattoos,shorts,flip flops,T shirts, baseball caps,unshaven faces.
    Were well dressed and cleans.
    Maybe is this that bother today the politically correct talibans.

  88. I think “Joe the plumber” is an overstatement; “Russell Street” on FNB Talk Ivy used to say the milkman.

    Perhaps we could all collectively divvy up all the films released between 1954-1967, or all the issues of LIFE magazine, and try to come up with a percentage of the men who are defintely wearing Ivy, definitely NOT wearing Ivy, and those wearing a third category of something like “Ivy-ish fashion of the times.”

    At the beginning of “Rebel Without A Cause” we see James Dean in two tailored outfits: the suit in the opening jail scene and the sportcoat he wears the first day at school (before resorting to his presumably normal clothes, the jeans, white t-shirt and red windbreaker).

    Is he wearing Ivy?

    Recently I watched a film made in the early ’50s and in the credits it said the clothes was from Kuppenheimer, as I recall. I almost did a post showing what heyday-era non-Ivy looked like, what we would call mainstream American clothes. But it was a little pre-heyday, 1952 I think, so I didn’t think the argument strong enough.

    But all you have to do is flash forward to the ’80s and look at the difference between George Bush and Ronald Reagan. More plumbers and milkmen in their Sunday best would have dressed in the Reagan mold of what Boyer calls the Midwestern grain salesman.

  89. I’m not so sure we can rely on Hollywood’s stereotypes anymore than ours’.

  90. About the picture idealizing the figures — yes, absolutely. But you can also see the same lines of relaxed elegance in real people like Cary Grant.

    About the political attacks here on a very diverse range of populations — inc. all Chinese stereotyped as launderers — nothing relaxed and nothing elegant about it. The hysterical claim is that “civilization” has come to an end with the rise of non-white, non-Protestant populations. Yet the ugliness of the attack calls into question exactly what kind of civilized values are being defended. Looks to me like primitive tribalism at its most aggressive.

  91. The ad calls to mind a two-page image found in Take Ivy. A Brooks Brothers window. Circa…late 50s? Early 60s? Best I recall, four jackets on display, among other items. Long lines, plenty of shoulder (albeit natural), undarted, a 3″ + lapel that rolls softly to the second button–such that the top button (and buttonhole) are nearly invisible. Long pointed, rolling button downs and dimpled club ties. Classic Brooks.

    Did Brooks ever succumb to the narrowness and padless shoulder that Heyday purists exalt? We know Brooks maintained an outreach to campuses, but they dressed grown-up businessmen. Vested or not.

    The more I learn and see, the the larger the fissure that separates Brooks from “Ivy”–particularly then Main St. and campus shop editions–grows.

  92. RJG: 11:37 pm

    “You want egg-roll and won-ton to go with laundry?”

    Lighten up — even though American civilization is on a steep downward slope — one should still retain a sense of humor.

  93. CoolidgeRedux | June 12, 2015 at 9:39 pm |

    Groton76 writes “Who built America? Think hard now.” As I recall, the Chinese built the Transcontinental Railroad

  94. Groton76

    You mean that was supposed to be stand-up? Well, then, my bad, and all’s good. Blame the medium. The irony of ethnic slurs just doesn’t carry across — works better with a live audience, I imagine.

  95. Bags' Groove | June 13, 2015 at 9:12 am |

    I’ll see your Nantucket reds, and raise you a http://www.lookatmyfuckingredtrousers.blogspot.co.uk
    And will you please excuse my extremely rare use of bad language.

  96. Last trip to London I saw not a negligible number of well-dressed fellows in suits and red socks. Have to admit, didn’t look terrible, but a little jarring.

  97. Further Googling reveals this to be a particular affectation among City workers, interesting…

  98. Bags' Groove | June 13, 2015 at 2:00 pm |

    Must have been a good while ago, DCG. I think we had the LAMFRT fad after the LAMFRS fad. But who really cares?

  99. “Perhaps we could all collectively divvy up all the films released between 1954-1967, or all the issues of LIFE magazine, and try to come up with a percentage of the men who are defintely wearing Ivy, definitely NOT wearing Ivy, and those wearing a third category of something like “Ivy-ish fashion of the times.”

    Good point Chris.
    But what I meant
    1-“The milkman (or the plumber) in his sunday best suit dressed very well back then
    2-The quality of American “main street” ready to wear in 50s,50s and 60s were very high compared with today average crap.

    Said this the styles were many,and the spread of Ivy is overstimated…
    But for some years from..we said 1956 to early 60s Ivy League was one of main styles in America.
    A style not particularly elitist and not particularly expensive.

  100. Señor Yuca | June 14, 2015 at 7:22 am |

    S.E. wrote: ‘Did Brooks ever succumb to the narrowness and padless shoulder that Heyday purists exalt? We know Brooks maintained an outreach to campuses, but they dressed grown-up businessmen. Vested or not.

    The more I learn and see, the the larger the fissure that separates Brooks from “Ivy”–particularly then Main St. and campus shop editions–grows.’

    I’m pretty sure that Brooks never went down the ultra slim (lapels, trousers etc) road, however I think the ultra slim look only came in towards the end of the ivy heyday. This is the exact reason why I think this image works so well – because (I assume) it is from the late 50s/early 60s, when slim but not overslim was the ivy norm. By the mid 60s many – I think the majority – of ivy retailers took the slim look to an extreme (aso cuffs started to disappear on trousers and no break veered towards high rise), however I believe not only Brooks but the other more desirable ivy brands (Hilton, Press as well as others less famous) resisted the trend to overslim.

    My ‘evidence’ for the above is based on several years of studying vintage film and images. For example 12 Angry Men (57) and The Apartment (60) are both firmly in the ivy heyday, both feature classic ivy clothes, yet – to my eyes at least – the ivy is not overslim. (Both are classic movies too of course.)

    So yes Brooks was different from main street and campus ivy, but main street ivy was not homogenous, and was probably a lot closer to Brooks style in the early years of the heyday.

  101. Christian | June 14, 2015 at 1:22 pm |

    @Carmelo

    1) That Joe The Plumber was more likely to put on his Sunday best

    and

    2) That mainstream ready-to-wear were of higher quality in the past

    does not mean, of course, that the average guy was wearing the Ivy League look or a watered-down Main Street version. It simply means that standards of formality and manufacturing used to be higher.

  102. I would guess that 99.9% of BB, Press, etc. suits and jackets sold are/were ready to wear.

  103. Ham on Rye | June 15, 2015 at 2:40 am |

    Only in America:

    Jews wanting to dress like WASPs who are able to dress that way thanks to Jews.

    A blessing on both houses!

  104. “I’m pretty sure that Brooks never went down the ultra slim (lapels, trousers etc) road, however I think the ultra slim look only came in towards the end of the ivy heyday. This is the exact reason why I think this image works so well – because (I assume) it is from the late 50s/early 60s, when slim but not overslim was the ivy norm. By the mid 60s many – I think the majority – of ivy retailers took the slim look to an extreme (aso cuffs started to disappear on trousers and no break veered towards high rise), however I believe not only Brooks but the other more desirable ivy brands (Hilton, Press as well as others less famous) resisted the trend to overslim…

    …So yes Brooks was different from main street and campus ivy, but main street ivy was not homogenous, and was probably a lot closer to Brooks style in the early years of the heyday.”

    -Señor Luca

    Yes. Supremely insightful.

  105. Señor Yuca | June 15, 2015 at 9:51 am |

    Hey thanks!

    I have also noticed that towards the end of the heyday, as well as things being ultraslim, hybrids seemed to be more prevalent e.g. natural shoulder suits/sportscoats that are vented and/or darted. Bullitt (1968)’s tweed is a famous example – a sack with a 3/2 roll, but vented. I think Redford had a similar suit in Barefoot in the Park (1967). (Personally I’m not a fan of such hybrids, or either of those movies for that matter.)

  106. Christian has a trade magazine from ca. 1964 that he let me peruse, in it there’s an interview with someone who states that there were West Coast retailers that were trying to, in their words, “out-Brooks Brooks”, such as jackets that when left unbuttoned rolled to the bottom button.

    There were “hybrids” if you want to cal them that much earlier than ’67, in early episodes of the Dick Van Dyke Show (1960/1961) a couple of the characters including Dick himself wear natural shoulder jackets with short double vents and even ticket pockets, all this with full roll button downs and very Ivy ties. Ivy influenced doesn’t mean Ivy styled, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, would that the modern world were more open to Ivy influence.

  107. Worried Man | June 15, 2015 at 12:40 pm |

    I think people often see old movies and throw around the term “Ivy” when in reality they could be seeing Continental / Italian, Updated American, etc., or hybrids of these looks with Ivy, as stated above.

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