Ivy Trendwatch: JFK-Inspired “Ivy League Shorts”

By definition, an Ivy League jacket has natural shoulders, three buttons and no darts. It may also have lapped seams, swelled edges, patch pockets, hook vent and two-button cuff.

But what makes a pair of shorts Ivy League?

Evidently having been designed while looking at photos of JFK aboard his yacht, the Manitou.

At least according to UK-based fashion company Heritage Research, which has just released Ivy League Shorts (price 95 pounds, or $156).

The shorts also come in green and red, though not kelly and Nantucket shades. — CC

28 Comments on "Ivy Trendwatch: JFK-Inspired “Ivy League Shorts”"

  1. English Prof. | April 22, 2011 at 12:56 pm |

    Yes, that is a wonderful image. I use it in my classes to demonstrate analysis of visual images. One might notice how often J. F. K. was depicted as being “framed” by his environment.

  2. Scooby Dubious | April 22, 2011 at 2:18 pm |

    Jesus H…..give me a break. Nothing wrong with those shorts per se, but the marketing of them as “Ivy League shorts” is just absurd. By an English company (who claim they were made in the UK) no less!

    $150 for a generic pair of khaki shorts that could be bought anywhere for a fourth of that price? I think it would be more “Ivy League” to make your own shorts by cutting off your own old worn-out khaki pants.

    So we can see that the marketing of “Ivy League” in the UK is rapidly approaching the silliness they usually attach to trendy youth-cult nonsense. No doubt that within six months anything pushed as “Ivy League” in the UK will be considered as passe as “New Romantics”.

  3. How much are shorts at J. Simons?

  4. I have to agree with SD–despite the ridiculous alias.

    “Ivy League” shorts? You can’t be serious. Also, $150?

    You want classic shorts without cuttin’ down a pair of good khakis? Go to LL Bean. $24, great cotton, pleats, six inches at the most.

    Nothing should be labeled “Ivy League,” that’s ridiculous. There’s classic, and that can be said to have influenced Ivy League style. Classic is what it’s always been, classic.

  5. Scooby Dubious | April 23, 2011 at 2:48 am |

    From the Heritage Research website:

    “Based on the late 1950’s style tapered shorts popularised by Jack Kennedy when he was photographed wearing them while aboard his yacht, the Manitou. They became staple fashion on every Ivy League college campus and a symbol of preppy style.”

    WTF? Talk about some marketing bullshit. Kennedy “popularised” shorts? First i ever heard of that. I could probably find you about 3 million photos of Americans wearing shorts like those prior to JFK appearing on the world stage.

    And shorts DIDN’T become a “staple fashion on every Ivy League college campus and a symbol of preppy style” because EVERYBODY already wore them. Not just “Ivy League” or “preppy” folks.

    That’s just beyond ridiculous. It like saying that JFK popularized socks. Then socks became a “staple fashion on every Ivy League college campus and a symbol of preppy style”.

    Who is in charge of marketing over there? PT Barnum?

  6. Louise Church | April 23, 2011 at 5:55 am |

    Point one, Mr C: where do you get the specificitiy on the definition of an ‘Ivy’ jacket?

    Point two, following on from Scooby above: from what aspect (their apparent British manufacture aside) do these shorts derive the denotation ‘Ivy’? Sounds like sales’ patter and utter ‘bolleaux’ to me, Mr C.

    Point three: why have you suddenly taken to posting adverts of half naked young men with nose rings, as on the Warhol statue page? Ivy isn’t turning queer is it?

  7. Louise:

    1) From reading this website.

    2) Agreed.

    3) Don’t understand.

  8. Scooby Dubious | April 23, 2011 at 12:51 pm |


    I’ll have you know that I’ve received nothing but compliments about my moniker. Until now, that is.

    At least I didn’t name myself after a Korean electronics company.

  9. Louise Church | April 23, 2011 at 1:06 pm |

    Wow –
    Your answer to point 1 implies that you, Mr C, define ‘Ivy League’
    Amazing that you agree point 2.
    Forget point 3 – just persiflage, Mr C.

  10. I enjoy persiflage as much as any fellow, but I don’t see what you’re trying to get at with point one. Please look at the Historic Images and Historic Texts sections and you’ll see the definition was in place, however loosely, long before I was born, and probably you for that matter.

    Note I said reading this website, not writing it.

  11. Scooby Dubious | April 23, 2011 at 4:02 pm |

    Jeez Louise,…scraping the bottom of the barrel with that tangential trolling attempt.

  12. While they sure do look pretty cool, I don’t think that they’re $150 worth of awesome– especially since you can get stand up shorts for a third of the price. Or nifty shorts from Lands End for even less.

  13. Branding and ridiculous names aside, I have tried on these shorts and have inspected them closely. The workmanship, cut and finish are absolutely top notch, the zipper is a high end RiRi and the fabric seems to be very durable. I don’t know how well they would handle years of abuse, but it seems fine in that department. I’ve seen Brooks Brothers shorts and RL.. They don’t even come close.

    The reason I didn’t buy them are the price point and the fact the store didn’t have them in my size anymore anyway.

    Also, bear in mind that clothing in Europe is more expensive than in the USA… I agree that doesn’t fully explain the mark up. Heritage Research is surfing the “Ivy hype” and knows there are people who will pay the price for something that remotely smells of JFK.

  14. “Ivy League” was a common clothing tag back in the golden age of the look. Manufacturers and marketers wouldn’t beat around the bush, they would just slap the words “ivy league” (or just “ivy”) right on the label. Also “campus styling” and “collegiate” were other euphemisms.

    As for the critera for “Ivy League” shorts, I would simply say shorter and trimmer than Bermudas. And obviously flat front.

  15. @Zach

    Shorter, trimmer, and flat-fronted were simply U.S. manufacturers’ way of saving production costs by using less material.

    The Anglophiles among us will always prefer longer, baggier, and pleated.

  16. @ Camford

    Preferably worn with knee-high socks, safari jacket, and pith helmet?

  17. @Camford and Zach I remember getting issued those longer baggier and pleated ex-Second World War ‘Bombay Bloomers’ as running shorts when I joined the Royal Australian Air Force in February 1977. And khaki knee high socks with khaki shorts and short-sleeve shirt are still issue today with a slouch hat. They are damn practical in the tropics and nothing has yet proven as practical.

  18. Scooby Dubious | April 24, 2011 at 8:42 pm |

    @Single Windsor

    It’s interwebs jargon. All the kids are doing it now. Get with it Gramps.


    Well, nobody told me it had a “high end” zipper! That changes absolutely everyth……uh, nothing. For $150 it should have a platinum zipper.
    BTW, anything “that remotely smells of JFK” in 2011 has to smell pretty awful. Guy has been dead a long time

    But we’re NOT “back in the day”. We no longer have segregated water fountains in the south, and all sorts of neat things have happened since then.
    I might remind you that there were (are) FAR more non-Ivy League college students. So “campus styling” and “collegiate” are not euphemisms for anything other than exactly what they say. “Ivy League” was not copyrighted, so they could have used that term if they wanted to do so.

  19. Dubious distinction: This post makes Valet’s morning report:


  20. Louise Church | April 26, 2011 at 5:55 am |

    Scooby – given that I backed you up at the outset, I suggest that it is jolly meanikins of you to attack me as a ‘troll’. You are the one using a pseudonymn. I am trying to make my best contribution here so that I can smarten up my Penn. fiance because real Ivy-Leaguers seem just to take their clothes as they come

  21. Scooby Dubious | April 26, 2011 at 5:10 pm |

    I think you need to take some reading comprehension classes. It was fairly clear to me that CC was skeptical (dubious, even?) of the Ivy League marketing of these shorts.

    Tip offs to you should have been his use of the words “Evidently” and “At least according to…”

    Your apparent failure to pick that up made me suspect you were trolling. Evidently not, at least according to you.

  22. Louise Church | April 27, 2011 at 1:41 pm |

    When I am using my real name and e-mail, I don’t expect to be called a troll, Scooby Booby.

  23. Scooby Dubious | April 28, 2011 at 1:59 am |


    That was completely irrelevant, like most of what you write.
    I expect that you aren’t aware of that however.

  24. Louise Church | April 29, 2011 at 1:36 pm |

    Scooby – aware of what exactly?

  25. I’ll let the lady have the last word. Nobody else cares about your NIck and Nora badinage. I’ll give you each the other’s email if you’d like to continue this privately.

  26. Scooby Dubious writes,

    But we’re NOT “back in the day”. We no longer have segregated water fountains in the south, and all sorts of neat things have happened since then.”

    You’re being a total and complete @$$hole with this comment. You’re indirectly calling Zach a racist–and yet with complete deniability, which is pretty clever of you.

    Yet still reprehensible.

    Grow up. Learn to disagree without being disagreeable.

  27. I like these though wish they were cuffed.

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