I was in the sixth grade when I watched “Animal House” for the first time, and while much of the humor was lost on me, the clothing left a lasting impression.
The film’s poster, which I saw at a friend’s house, was powerful enough to make me want to see it. When I finally did, I instantly fell in love with the typical college clothing of the era — the movie is set in 1962 — though I hadn’t the faintest clue about Ivy style. Nonetheless, I was mesmerized by the costumes: crewneck Shetland sweaters worn with OCBDs, causal tweed jackets, loud patterns, collegiate cardigans, and tab collars.
The only drawback of watching this film at such a young age was the tediousness of having to wait to be able to truly dress as I pleased.
However, this film was such a sartorial inspiration to me that I had my mother take me clothes shopping (one of the only times in my life when shopping wasn’t like pulling teeth). We went to Polo and bought some fairly traditional clothes, but they still didn’t feel right and I would remain unsatisfied with my clothing for a number of years. But that set me on the path to becoming preppy instead of an Ivy dresser, like the characters in “Animal House,” which was a step in the right direction at least.
Since then, I have read “The Official Preppy Handbook,” discovered Ivy-Style.com, and am finally able to truly understand the clothing worn in the film and the context behind this style of dress. Luckily, “Animal House” planted a sartorial seed in my brain that later blossomed, along with my love of history and traditionalism, into my understanding Ivy style and how I would like to dress for the rest of my life.
Now that I am in college, I try to dress in a similar fashion of the characters in the film, within limits. One of my roommates purchased a poster of Bluto and pinned it up in our common room. I was shocked to learn that anyone my age knew the film that well. I came to learn that while my takeaway of the film was that Ivy style is the best style, most other kids my age relate to the drinking and partying. In any case, I hope that this film continues to inspire young men — and even women — to dress well and, more important, to toga!
How much do I love “Animal House”? Enough to take screenshots of 43 outfits. It’s hard to pick a favorite. — GERLANDO SCIASCIA