The Preppy And The Trout

Sun 12 Apr 2015 - Filed under: Lit — Christian
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Here’s the book that was mentioned in the comments thread on the Sweet Briar post. “The Preppy And The Trout” by Richard Reichardt was published (self-published?) in 2011. The synopsis reads:

Set in the glamorous resort town of Sun Valley/Ketchum, Idaho, the story revolves around a young, insecure, former lacrosse star who owns a fly-fishing shop, his demanding preppy wife, and a bungling older Ivy League man who’s recently moved west to escape his troubles by trout fishing.

It is currently available from Amazon in a kindle edition for $3.99. There is one review on the Amazon page, with the following observation:

In a very creative way, it shows the difference between east coast preps and those outside of New England.

A blog called The Preppy Times has an interview with the author here. — CC

Good Night, Sweet Princess

Fri 10 Apr 2015 - Filed under: Historic Images — Christian
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In a recent post on UVA, discussion in the comment thread turned to the imminent closing of Sweet Briar College. Assistant editor Chris Sharp offers the following musings.

* * *

The pink and green world comprised of both alumni and the larger preppy diaspora was recently rocked by the news that Sweet Briar College is set to close. The women’s college situated on a former Virginia plantation and founded in 1901 announced that it would cease operations on August 25th of this year due to “insurmountable financial challenges.” (Continue)


What Is The Origin Of The Two-Button Cuff?

Wed 8 Apr 2015 - Filed under: 1920s-'40s — Christian
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The Masters golf tournament gets underway tomorrow, and so in the interest of timeliness we present the above photo to fuel historic conjecture.

The photo is of Ernest Jones, one of the most famous early golf instructors and author of the classic tome “Swing The Clubhead.” Jones was an Englishman who lost a leg in World War I. But he found that he could still play top-notch golf balancing on one leg, if he allowed his body to sync with a natural swinging motion rather than use force or leverage that would upset his balance. He later came to New York where he gave thousands of lessons per year at an indoor space on Fifth Avenue.

Now, in the photo above you see that Jones wears a jacket with two sleeve buttons spaced apart, a distinguishing feature of heyday-era Ivy jackets. It also looks like there are working buttonholes on the sleeves. But when, how and why did this become the trademark cuff style at Brooks Brothers and many other Ivy clothiers?

After nearly 1,100 posts here, I’m starting to reach the point where I’m forgetting things, but if I recall correctly I’ve never come across an explanation for this. The unlined buttondown collar and natural shoulder are easier to speculate on. The collar came from the world of sport, and we have early historic documents revealing how it was prized by young men for its casualness and nonchalance. As for the natural shoulder, its lack of artificial pomp seems to perfectly complement the values system of the Northeastern WASPs who embraced its particular silhouette. It’s difficult to imagine a parallel universe in which WASP values and tastes are exactly the same, but the caste considers broad padded shoulders to be the proper look for American gentlemen.

I have no date for the photo above, but it would seem to be from the interwar years. I’d thought the matter would be further complicated by the fact that Jones could very well be wearing a Brooks Brothers jacket, as his studio was just a few blocks from the clothier. However, according to Wikipedia he did not come to New York until after the second World War, which I think would be too late for that photo (it is used, incidentally, for the cover of a reprint of a book on Jones’ teaching in which all the photos date from about 1920).

So is Jones’ jacket English or American? Probably English, but that still doesn’t answer the question how and why did the two-button become the standard Ivy sleeve cuff. Group speculation encouraged.

The Masters’ green jacket, incidentally, has a two-button cuff. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD


Pattern Recognition: Happy National Tartan Day

Mon 6 Apr 2015 - Filed under: The Golden Years by Richard Press — Christian
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April 6 is National Tartan Day. In its honor, Richard Press shares some thoughts. For more Tartan Day coverage, visit our fraternal site

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The Heyday of Ivy, the period after World War II until the civil disorder of the late 60s, regarded costume with contempt, at least at J.Press. Understatement was the order of the day. Conspicuous self-advertisement was looked upon with contempt. Employment of tartan embroidery was a tad too ethnic, even though derived from “roamin’ in the gloamin bank O’ Clyde.”

Tartan was more ethereal when worn by the Grace Kelly debs from Smith and Wellesley since their days in Farmington. It was perhaps a trifle too effeminate for the bulls at DKE or the tables down at Mory’s.

During Spring Break perhaps a guy would wear a Black Watch tie and cummerbund at Piping Rock, or tartan walk shorts with knee socks in Bermuda. Likewise, for weekends spent at the Biltmore Bar or Stork Club, one could indulge in a tartan vest, blazer, gray flannels, studiously sporty white OCBD, and appropriate flat knit tie. Black Watch trousers, on the other hand, paired best with a blazer for Sunday bloodies at The Oak Room.

But there were limits, and breaching the boundaries of blue-blood taste was beyond the fringe. Only the great unwashed from the Main Streets of Middle America — the rubes that had never heard of St. Grottlesex — wore blatant tartan just as they drank Old Overholt and ginger ale while the right people drank Dewar’s at 21.

It may sound snotty, but the truth is much of the clothing snobbery of the time was indeed rather snotty. The sophistry of who-wore-what tartan was indeed derived from the Anglo-Saxon propriety of past generations observing the Eastern Seaboard Episcopalian taste of the favored few — served mainly by Jewish servitors on bended knee.

It was a different era. Pictured is a J. Press Black Watch blazer of recent vintage available to anyone, even if not to everyone’s taste. Which is rather the point. — RICHARD PRESS


Happy Easter

Sun 5 Apr 2015 - Filed under: Historic Images — Christian
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That’s one sharp-looking kid. Happy Easter to everyone.


Typical University Of Virginia Students, 1962

Fri 3 Apr 2015 - Filed under: 1960s,Historic Images,Historic Texts — Christian
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Following our April Fool’s Day diversion, we return to the topic of UVA with this wonderful find by assistant editor Christopher Sharp. Pictured are caricatures by Carlton Abbott entitled “Typical UVA Students,” which appeared in a 1962 issue of University of Virginia Magazine.

Pictured above is The Ghoul, whose description reads:

Amusements: Bicycling, Chess, Newcomb Hall;

Clothes: Stretch Socks, Leggett’s Galoshes, Clearasil;

Drink: Vanilla, Coke, Teem;

Girls: Night-Stand Books;

Places Never Seen: Cavalier, Down the Road


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