Lacoste For The Andover Shop, 1958

lacosteandover

 

In honor of Bastille Day, we revisit this post on France’s great contribution to the preppy-Ivy wardrobe.

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One of the pleasures of spending time among archival material is the chance discovery. We recently came across an Izod Lacoste advertisement that was used in 1958 and 1959, placed by The Andover Shop. On the surface it does not appear different from other Izod-Lacoste advertising material from the period. It carries the sobriety one might expect from the faux Anglo-Franco alliance. While the French side was real — Lacoste was founded by the tennis champ Rene Lacoste, nicknamed “Le Crocodile” — the other pard is English in name only.  Izod was a London tailor, but an American bought the rights to use his name to play up the English pedigree. The ad’s illustrated model is a mature golfer, his trousers pleated and his shirt buttons all buttoned up — quite incorrectly, as The Andover Shop’s Charlie Davidson says this was never done. It is likely a stock image.

The curious part is where the advertisement was placed, who placed it, and the Ivy-relevant copywriting that is going to invite a comparison to our previous piece on the difference — or not — between Ivy and preppy. The ad appeared in the Phillipian, the student newspaper of Phillips Academy (long known as a feeder school to Yale) and the advertiser is none other than The Andover Shop. The ad copy certainly isn’t stock and is a veritable ode to Ivy:

Through the hallowed halls of learning
And the fields of sport and play
Strides the modern Ivy League man
In the costume of the day.

In his clothing there’s distinction
And he knows the signs of style
On his slacks a silver buckle
On his shirt a crocodile.

For the croc’s a sign of quality
Of shoulders never sagging
Of collars that will always fit
And garments never bagging

Its built a reputation
Its fame just grows and grows
Chemise Lacoste is worn by
Every Ivy man who knows.

Yet further evidence, we think, that the preppy style that flourished in the ’70s had the bulk of its origins in the Ivy League Look of a generation before.

We called Charlie Davidson and asked if he had any recollection of the ad, but he did not. By that time he was running just the Cambridge store, with family members running the branch in Andover. He did recall that Lacoste shirts from that period were of exceptional quality, and that while he never liked to stock name brands, Lacoste sold better than any brand he’s ever carried. Charlie also recalled how the shirts were worn with the collar popped, and how “guys in Southampton would wear two at a time,” but he couldn’t tell us precisely what decade these trends first emerged. — CHRISTOPHER SHARP & CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

33 Comments on "Lacoste For The Andover Shop, 1958"

  1. Jeff Jarmuth | May 21, 2013 at 8:24 am |

    Ubiquitous in photos from Exmoor CC near Chicago as early as the late 40s. Everybody was wearing Lacoste shirts by the early 70s. And, yes, Mr. Davidson’s comment about quality brought back memories. Until the mark was sold to a conglomerate in (perhaps) the early 80s, the cotton pique was very heavy and unique and faded to even more glorious colors. The reconstituted brand is good, but nothing like the original.

  2. Philly Trad | May 21, 2013 at 8:42 am |

    Notice that the trouser waist is at a proper height.

  3. Reactionary Trad | May 21, 2013 at 10:30 am |

    Always a pleasure to see something about authentic Ivy style on this blog.

  4. Historical note: J. Press carried the Fred Perry shirt exclusively in Ivy neighborhoods since much of the competition did Lacoste. Fred Perry matched Lacoste except for the logo, a no croc Ivy wreath, perhaps a better fit for the hood.

  5. Boston Bean | May 21, 2013 at 11:14 pm |

    @Philly Trad

    Also notice that both buttons on the polo shirt are buttoned. That was one of the sartorial signs of a true gentleman at the time. Nowadays, men who think they are dressing in Ivy style leave both buttons unbuttoned. They also wear low-waisted trousers and skin-tight jackets.

  6. Vittorio Affanculo | May 22, 2013 at 4:15 am |

    Far be it for me to question the authority of such a figure as Charlie Davidson but I fear his memory fails him – viz. http://img503.imageshack.us/img503/2715/jfk044ur6.jpg

    Another orthodoxy blown out of the water.

  7. Where there are no orthodoxies, there are fewer hierarchies. It’s probably best that Ivy lack priests, bishops, and popes.

    Unless we’re talking John Clark Wood, of course. Mitre worthy.

  8. James Redhouse | May 22, 2013 at 6:34 am |

    @Vittorio Affanculo
    @Boston Bean

    Polo shirts were most certainly buttoned up when worn with a jacket in the 60s, by the Ivy cognoscenti in New England, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.

  9. I find the price of the shirt to be very interesting. If you do an inflation calculation for the period May 1958 to April 2013, you would find the average to be about 705%. Some simple math would tell you that if Lacoste only increased their prices based upon inflation, the going rate of their sport shirt today would be $63.75. That makes the current $90 price tag seem a bit like gouging, especially considering the accompanying decrease in quality.

  10. It is reassuring that J Press had the good taste and judgement to sell Fred Perry instead. Richard Press, above, is right, the Perry fit has always been better. Lacoste is now a shadow of its former self. The polos’ quality is poor and the prices are ridiculously high for garments that are made in Thailand and China.

    Thankfully, Fred Perry still sells English made polo shirts (M2, M3 and M12) that sport the famous laurel wreath. They are better and cheaper than those of Lacoste, Polo Ralph Lauren or Gant. Fred Perry is also closely associated with the Mod/Ivy culture in England. Follow Squeeze’s lead and buy Fred!

  11. When I was a boy, I wore all my top buttons of my shirts buttoned up. Never really thought about it much until entering the US Army in 1971. Both fatigues and class A khakis, the top button was left unbuttoned. If I remember correctly, the dress khakis, (worn without a tie) didn’t have a top button.

    Only the shirt, worn with the dress greens with a tie, was to be buttoned.

    The wearing of fatigues off post, was prohibited back then. A sharp image was required. I recall going on convalescent leave (for pneumonia in 1972). My dress greens were at the bottom of a duffel bag for two weeks. (It was policy for a person’s locker to be emptied and his stuff just crammed into a duffel bag. The bag was kept locked up in the company supply room.)

    Anyhow, I had to wear the rumpled dress greens on leave. When I was getting my pass, I was chewed out for wearing a “uniform that was slept in” by the officer in charge. No excuses, of course. I ended up getting the uniform cleaned and pressed when I got home.

    Today, you hardly see the military out of fatigues, (BDU’s). Even the military reflects slob nation.

  12. Hardbopper | July 15, 2020 at 8:54 am |

    Kenny,
    Well, you learn something new every day. I must investigate FP.

    Wriggles,
    Don’t get me started.

  13. Old School Tie | July 15, 2020 at 12:43 pm |

    I can confirm that MIE polos from Fred Perry do indeed provide good quality for the money, especially considering alternatives from John Smedley or Orlebar Brown which are on the pricey side. The last time Lacoste was any good was, of course, the 1980s. As for the trousers in the illustration, the perfect drape that only pleats can bestow…

  14. Henry Contestwinner | July 15, 2020 at 1:12 pm |

    Wriggles brings up a good point. Once upon a time, the military wore sharp-looking uniforms every day. Then, about 15 years ago, as a nod to those in combat, they started wearing camouflage fatigues once a week. Now, they wear sharp-looking uniforms once a month, and are otherwise in their slovenly camouflage pajamas every day.

  15. whiskeydent | July 15, 2020 at 1:29 pm |

    Oddly enough, Fred Perry no longer makes tennis clothing, but the croc is still on the court.

  16. I can assure all that there has never been a US Marine in slovenly BDU’s.

  17. whiskeydent | July 15, 2020 at 2:58 pm |

    Henry
    I’m with Numbers. The Army folks I see look pretty sharp. I don’t think service members are expected to have sharp creases and such on battlefield wear. Ironically, their camo makes them stand out in a civilian setting.

    On a similar vein, the Army has brought back the WW II era “pinks and greens” for office environment. That was a great look.

  18. MacMcConnell | July 15, 2020 at 4:52 pm |

    whiskeydent
    Ralph Lauren did gaberdine and Calvary Twill “pinks” in the late 1970s. Also in cotton drills.

  19. Apparently, Fred Perry shirts also have a skinhead/white power connotation in the UK and here in the States, respectively? I only know this because, after seeing this article: a) I looked up where to buy one, and google turned up several articles about it; and b) a friend, out of the blue today, texted me to say that he learned of the association only after he’d worn one to the office for the first time and gotten some scowls.

  20. CRIQUET.

  21. Charlottesville | July 15, 2020 at 9:32 pm |

    Dear Paul,

    I sympathize, more than you may know. How sad that innocent items of clothing are identified with wacky fringe politics. Where will it end? I do not wish to consign the OCBD and penny loafer to skin heads or to the Maoists either.

    Younger friends (Millennials) and I were discussing whether we would need to discontinue our workplace tradition of wearing Hawaiian shirts on one Friday during the summer because some morons we disagree with decided it was their symbol of power. We decided that it was bunk (their word was not suitable for a family website, but it means more or less the same thing). I plan to wear my (very cool, and much complemented) Hawaiian shirt at some point this summer, and otherwise to continue dressing generally as I have for the past several decades (mostly Brooks and Press, with a touch of Polo). I’m tired of politics invading everything, but that is hardly an original thought. Let’s and leave the imaginary sartorial code-breaking to the new-age Kremlinologists on Twitter. On this site, it is a treat not to have to fight over absolutely everything, or at least over nothing more significant than tie width, button placement and collar roll.

    By the way, I hope that this did not sound like a diatribe directed towards you, Paul. It was not remotely intended that way, but I guess you struck a nerve, and out it gushed. I hope you are not offended. My sincerest apologies if you were. On a more personal note, you said that you would give us some of your thoughts on cocktails (next to last comment here: http://www.ivy-style.com/drinking-at-home-world-cocktail-day-2020.html ). I look forward to hearing from you on the subject, or indeed on any subject.

    It’s been a busy day, so please ignore anything and everything that struck a sour note. Very best wishes and good night to all.

  22. Hardbopper | July 16, 2020 at 8:17 am |

    Well, if there is an apparent connotation, then far be it from me to micro-transgress.
    FTR, my previous comment refers to civilian dress habits, not the duty uniform, although the current iteration, with all the Velcro is what it is. Previous versions were starched and pressed as a standard practice…and one could roll the sleeves.

  23. whiskeydent | July 16, 2020 at 9:20 am |

    Mac
    O’Connels sells the pinks (taupe) in wool cavalry twill! They also have an olive gun club Irish tweed that would go with them perfectly.

  24. Completely off topic and with sincere apologies to Charlottesville and others who do not wish to discuss politically charged topics, well, Roger Stone. I was surprised not to have seen any mention of him over the last couple of days given the recent commutation of his sentence by the President. No orange jumpsuits in his future. Sorry comrades.

    Cheers,

    will

  25. @Charlottesville: not offended at all; and even if you had let yourself get a little prickly (which I don’t think you did here), you’ll always get the benefit of the doubt from me, given our history.

    Having said that, I wrote what I’d learned about Fred Perry shirts only because I’d been surprised to learn it, and wondered if anyone here was aware of it. I’m sorry to say that
    I’ve seen photos online of militia-types who are all wearing Hawaiian shirts under their flak vests. I don’t know why they do, but apparently some do. And I’m sorry that it’s impacted your fun tradition.

    It is frustrating to learn, on a given day, that the shirt you’re wearing has been adopted by weirdos somewhere and now has a broader connotation. Esp. because of the seeming randomness of it. (maybe militia guys from the Midwest are also all Magnum PI fans?) But a lot of what we’ve always discussed here is also about connotation, although maybe they’ve just existed for longer, so they seem less random: eg. the high school classmate who happened to wear a pink oxford on Thursday probably didn’t enjoy the idiotic meaning we assigned to it back in 1987. Who knows where these things come from. Or why they come in, and go out, like a tide.

    I do think I’ll take you up on the nudge to write about cocktail-eana. I went back and looked at the post you linked to, and what surprised me most was how long-ago May seems. Covid has made me feel like Rip Van Winkle.

  26. The shots at the military are offensive.

  27. Charlottesville | July 16, 2020 at 12:09 pm |

    Thanks, Paul. It does seem like another age. Hard to keep the upper lip stiff sometimes. Friends who own a favorite restaurant nearby told us last night that they are closing up for good, which is quite sad but not surprising in this climate. Others we know have been furloughed, or simply let go, and a number of businesses are calling it quits. My wife and I are both healthy and still working, which is more than many can say these days, so there is much to be thankful for. And I can still dress as I please, at least until Antifa or the Boogaloos adopt sack suits, rep ties and longwings, a possibility that seems remote in an age when one can scarcely find a lawyer or banker willing to don a tie or polish his shoes.

    I look forward to your musings on the mixologist’s art. Your post on restaurants a few months ago was a delight, although a poignant one.

  28. Watch a Gomer Pyle episode. The Marine fatigues and khaki uniforms are just beautiful. Not to deride today’s military, but a sharp looking soldier is icing on the cake to a well trained serviceman or servicewoman. Esprit
    De corps.

    In WW2, soldiers under Patton’s command wore ties. My father was chewed out for a loose tie, while playing billiards in a company recreation room, while in London.

    Reputedly, combat soldiers under his command wore ties in combat. That is a bit too far.

  29. Vern Trotter | July 19, 2020 at 6:46 am |

    Photos abound with Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Bobby Jones in buttoned up polo type shirts. When they were not wearing neckties that is.

  30. Henry Contestwinner | July 21, 2020 at 5:52 pm |

    I work with military folks every day, and I mean them no disrespect. My apologies for my poor phrasing. Those in the military are not the ones who decide what they wear. I understand the operational advantages of the amorphous silhouette provided by the relatively shapeless camouflage uniform.

    Regardless of how well the uniforms might work in combat, they look sloppy. They are inappropriate when those wearing them are not engaged in physical training (or on the battlefield). I would much prefer they wear Class A or Class B uniforms, and not just because I think those uniforms look nicer. It’s also because what we wear influences how we think, and sloppy clothes lead to sloppy thinking. Well-dressed people also serve as an example to others.

  31. Henry Contestwinner | July 21, 2020 at 5:54 pm |

    Bringing it back to the post, a tennis shirt (a.k.a. “Polo” shirt) and khakis are the unofficial off-duty uniform of many officers.

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