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 released these so-called Ivy League Shorts a decade ago:

And so we bring our trio of “short posts” to a close, and give the late president the final word on inseam and fit.

Especially noteworthy is the image at top in cutoff khakis, showing the length at which JFK chose to apply the scissors. 

9 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. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. “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.

  5. @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.

  6. @ Camford

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

  7. @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.

  8. I like these though wish they were cuffed.

  9. Michael Brady | June 15, 2018 at 7:04 pm |

    What is the inseam of the shorts, original and new? It looks to me that quite a few makers have trimmed about an inch from their traditional shorts in recent seasons. Nine-inch is about average now, whereas ten was the standard formerly. I notice it more while sitting than when standing.

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