Preppies Vs. Hippies: The Ivy League Guidebook, 1969

In 1969, when the Ivy League was shedding Weejuns and growing sideburns at an alarming rate, three students — Andrew Tobias, Arnold Bortz and Caspar Weinberg — published “The Ivy League Guidebook.” Exactly as its title would suggest, the book is aimed at incoming freshman and devotes a chapter to each school, plus general sections on campus life.

Although things were rapidly changing, the clichéd image of the Ivy League student was still germane enough to gently mock in the book’s opening pages:

Few labels in Ameirca today conjure up as strong an image of sophistication and success as that of “Ivy Leaguer.” Stereotypically attired in three-piece English tweed suit and stoking his pipe, the well-bred, well-read, well-heeled Ivy Leaguer stands confidently atop the American totem pole.

Well, there’s certainly no arguing with the totem pole part.

Not suprising, Princeton gets the tiger’s share of credit for male vanity. Here the book quotes a Smith College newspaper columnist:

Princeton is the only place in the world where when a boy and his date walk past a mirror, it’s the boy who stops to comb his hair. Your Princeton date will spend the whole weekend worrying whether you might possibly look better than he does.

In the Yale chapter, Press gets a mention:

… new admissions policies placing more emphasis on abilities than bloodlines (over 60 percent of the Class of ’71 attended public schools). The New Yalie is less likely to be a product of Choate, debutante parties, and J. Press Clothiers…

The following passages on preppies is one of the most interesting one on prepdom I’ve come across since starting this site. It uses that much-maligned term to characterize the twilight of the old values (not to mention legacy students) in the wake of open admissions and the Age of Aquarius. Check out this useage, from 1969 no less, in which “preppie” is essentially used to characterize a kind of reactionary ethos:

While the eight Ivy League schools may still be the bastion of preppiedom, and while in the popular mind the tweed-suited, Bourbon-sipping Groton man may still be the Ivy League archetype, preppies themselves know that even at Princeton they are a steadily decreasing minority. For the preppie is not defined by having attended private school, but by having the moderate, sometimes conservative behavior, the cliquishness, sometimes snobbery, and the traditional good taste, sometimes stuffiness, that are now being swept from the college scene by the frenetic sensuality of the plastic hippie. Preppie clubs and fraternities are being infiltrated increasingly by intellectuals, activists and artists…

On the plus side, however, the sentence concludes:

… anti-Semitism and racial discrimination are dwindling.

Certainly a good thing. But the very next paragraph whisks us back to prepdom:

Nonetheless, it seems that as long as there are football games there will be preppies. Any fall Saturday the stadiums are full of neatly shod and coifed girls from Wellesley and Mt. Holyoke, draping their braceleted arms over boys with flasks and Brooks Brothers scarves. After the game there are cocktails and dinner at the club and a party at the friends of friends.

The book’s final chapter is entitled “Student Activism: The Ivy Left,” and there’s also extended discussion about marijuana and LSD, none of which is worth quoting here. But make no mistake: The hippies won. — CC

43 Comments on "Preppies Vs. Hippies: The Ivy League Guidebook, 1969"

  1. It disappoints me that I can’t for the life of me find this book available online; it sounds wonderful.

  2. Curmudgeon | July 18, 2012 at 7:31 pm |

    @Eric

    Try a well-stocked library. Here’s the call number:

    http://lccn.loc.gov/71014045

  3. Philly Trad | July 18, 2012 at 8:08 pm |

    Christian,

    I’m not so sure the hippies won, in the long run. Ivy style is still here, but hippie style has disappeared.

    When I look at college campuses today, I don’t see hippies, I just see slobs.

  4. Thanks, Curmudgeon.

  5. Philly Trad,

    I think you missed the point. The hippies won, even if their style did not last. The slobbishness is part of the hippie victory, as is the leftism that pervades Western society, ripping it apart as we debate the merits of non-iron vs. traditional cloth.

  6. … And it takes five comments for someone to insert their political viewpoint. Congratulations, Henry.

  7. I recently watched a near-forgotten film; “Divorce, American Style” (1967) that perfectly captures the immediate “pre-hippy” era of that tumultuous time. The men wear very Ivy attire (including some 3-button collars and a Baracuta G9), and the set design and architecture brilliantly capture upscale suburban America circa mid-sixties. It is one of the better time capsules I have seen of this period.

  8. Philly Trad | July 18, 2012 at 9:36 pm |

    Here’s the trailer to Divorce American Style:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYvZpikpljg&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  9. “Traditonal good taste.” “Conservative behavior.” “Stuffiness.”

    Be still, my beating heart.

    So, as we might have suspected, Omega Theta Pi–even Niedermeyer and Diller–was the authentically Ivy–rawther, “preppie”–house all along. Of course.

  10. J Kraus

    Enjoyed your blog, who doesn’t love cars, especially 60s vehicles..

    “Divorce, American Style” was a good movie. Who doesn’t love Debbie Reynolds? Let’s not forget that in the ending, the couple gets back together, Family values?

  11. “Bob & Carol, Ted & Alice” most likely was a better film depicting the break down of suburbia’s morals.

    When discussing Hippies, one must realize it was mostly just a bad fashion statement shared with the New Left. When discussing the “left”, remember the Old Left had been establishment since Woodrow Wilson and was turbocharged with Roosevelt and LBJ. The New Left, many originally believe in violent revolution was the Marxist solution, revolution is always romantic, but as usual revolutionist mellow and get neutered by the system in a right of center democracy. Some might argue, the New Left came to power with Clinton, but for sure with the present POTUS.

    I’ve know saints and sinners that had exquisite Ivy taste, left and right.

  12. I can’t be hard on hippies.

    The hippie reaction was caused by frustration over hypocrisy; by the time they came along, many of the values associated with the Ivy-clothed branch of America were dead or dying, and “keeping up appearances” was the norm. I can understand the frustration, the feeling that those appearances had to be destroyed, or people would just keep trying to keep up with them, and we’d never get back to anything real or genuine. Betty Friedan’s “Feminine Mystique” was an early example of this at work.

    On the other hand, I don’t think the hippies won. As we all know, they threw the baby out with the bathwater. They were able to get rid of the appearances, but discovered that rebuilding from nothing was harder than they’d thought.

    I hope it doesn’t turn into an “us vs. them” thing, though. It doesn’t really seem like anybody won in this case… Keeping up appearances is as strong as ever, all that’s changed is the type of appearance people feel they need to keep up with.

  13. JCC
    Don’t believe for a minute Hippies weren’t fashion conscious, and “got rid of appearances”. They had their brands, just like ivy, and their uniforms.

  14. A 2012 Revised Edition would feature a new chapter on hipsters…

  15. Those hipsters. Damn.
    High time for a big dose of…


    …double secret probation.

  16. “The issue here is not whether we broke a few rules, or took a few liberties with our female party guests — we did. [winks at Dean Wormer] But you can’t hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn’t we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn’t this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg — isn’t this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we’re not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America!”

  17. Urban Haute Bourgeois | July 19, 2012 at 7:27 am |

    Christian,

    I am very glad you liked the book–you picked some of the best pictures out of it (particularly that group of students milling about). I’m also glad that you emphasized the unique quality of this book–it, unlike anything else I’ve seen, gives the perfect snapshot of pretty much the exact moment that “Ivy League” imploded.

    Best regards,
    Britt.

    PS: The author Caspar Weinberger was indeed the son of Reagan’s Secretary of Defense.

    PPS: Tis a shame you didn’t post the picture of that unbelievably beautiful girl accompanying that bearded fellow to the Dartmouth football game.

  18. MAC

    Thanks for the kudos!

    Speaking of films, upon seeing the books description of a “tweed” wearing Ivy Leaguer “stoking his pipe;” I immediately pictured the zoo scene in “The Graduate” where Carl “The Make Out King” Smith makes his appearance.

  19. Christian | July 19, 2012 at 8:35 am |

    That character was clearly meant to represent something that was fast-becoming old fashioned, just as Dustin Hoffman’s character is meant to represent the new and confused generation.

  20. Girls in Weejuns and knee socks, oh my, talk about flash backs. :-)

  21. I recall in 1972 when I was stationed in Fort Knox for basic training. Most of the guys who were inducted with me had long hair and sideburns, the style for the era. My hair was always short. After the mandatory GI haircuts, there was no way to distiguish hippies from Ivys and anything in between.

    After 5 weeks, most of us got passes to go home for the weekend. That weekend for us happened to be Memorial Day weekend, an extra day bonus.

    A bunch of us guys were hanging around together at Louisville airport waiting for flights home. Walking down the concourse was a group of 5 or 6 hippies. Long hair, dirty, beards, chains, beads, stoned, etc. As they passed us, the completely high expressions and the wierdness were the funniest things we troopers had seen for 5 weeks, and we burst out laughing. The hippies flashed peace signs and we flashed back. It was the most ridiculous scene I ever witnessed.

  22. If you compare pictures of my parents in the 1970s with pictures of my parents in the 1980s… you see quite the difference. They were hippies and activists (and indeed, still retail liberal political views), but ten years later and they were back to clean cut staples. I say back because if you look at their childhoods in the 50s or their teenage years in the 60s, you will see it as an identity search.

    I went through something a bit earlier, after years of private school, my public high school period was very, “slob.” I kept the khakis, but wore logo t-shirts and sneakers every day. No prep style for me. Then in my sophomore year of college I realised… No one was taking me seriously. I went back to the clothing of my childhood…. Just like my parents.

    I wonder how often this story has been replayed from generation to generation?

  23. Reading the comments I can’t help but imagine us all as a bunch of Ostrogoths and Vandals sitting in Ravenna, arguing who best carries on the mantle of Rome. Fellas, we’re all barbarians now.

  24. And we’re wearing non-iron togas.

  25. Christian,

    I have to give you credit. Your comment section has some of the liveliest and most interesting discussions out there. I may learn something, but I am always guaranteed a chuckle. Well done.

  26. “Toga! Toga! Toga!”

  27. + one gazillion Baker!

  28. Alas, much of the political and cultural tensions–nay, conflict–can be discerned and understood as we peer deeply–reluctantly at first, but then, yes, deeply–into and through the prism that is Marmalard vs. Bluto. Order vs. chaos. Calvin’s Geneva vs. bohemia in its many varied forms. The tamed vs. the wild. Ivy vs. hippies and beatniks and the like.

  29. Baker,
    Very true. But consider the aesthetic legacy of Gothic Ravenna…S. Appollinare in Classe and the Nuovo, the Baptistry, etc (parts of them developed earlier and/or later). I hope that we can come close to a similar continuation of Ivy style.
    Cheers,
    PLH

  30. Right after this time period, American men soon became some of the poorest dressed on the planet!

  31. Christian | July 20, 2012 at 7:57 am |

    As evidence that the hippies won, Chuck E. Cheese has now gone badass:

    http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-07-04/news/32540067_1_cec-entertainment-mascot-pizza-restaurants

    Because six-year-olds today are already into sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.

    @OCBD

    I have nothing to do with it.

  32. L.A. Trad | July 20, 2012 at 8:34 am |

    @Chris Webb

    We didn’t get dinged because we had the all-cotton shirts ironed with extra-heavy starch.

  33. Christian
    Bob Brock, the Topeka, Kansas guy that took Chuck E, Cheese and Holiday Inn national, wasn’t into Ivy. He was a great guy, but what did one expect from a multimillionaire that wore polyester suits?

  34. The stubborn adherence to the look long after multitudes of people had relinquished it–yes, even for Birkenstocks, beads, and tie-dyed t-shirts–is part of what makes the late 60s an interesting time for Ivy. Surely, for some, the look became one way of protesting (against) the zeitgeist, with all its excesses and profligacies and loudness. CC’s use of the term “reactionary” is not altogether off the mark then. If it is true any given Ivy Leaguer wore sack suits, repp ties, OCBDs, Weejuns, tweeds, and chinos in 1963 because everybody else did (because that’s all they sold at college shops), then it’s equally true that the clean-cut, traditional “preppie” chose that look with some intentionality in 1969, when many were making the move to jeans and sandals and facial hair. “Reactionary” is here understood as stubborn resistance–an act of defiance. Standing athwart history yelling stop and so on. “No, I am not one of them, so I’ll not dress or act like them.”

    By 1970, nobody was choosing Ivy casually, as the default American style. By that point, its affiliation with conservatism and stuffiness was pronounced, and a wide variety of options–styles and behaviors–were available to undergrads.

  35. S.E.
    I agree how fashion changed especially on campuses in the late 60s, but I think we romanticize and politicize ivy and hippie fashion too much. There is a tiny minority, on both sides, that internalized their style as a true political statement, but for most it was just following the fashion of the time. The same majority that embrace the hippie style of the late 60s and early 70s, moved on to the polyester disco look.

  36. MAC, I wouldn’t disagree. Likely not a majority. Which rings true: As the authors defined “preppie,” it’s likely they had a relatively smallish group of men and women in mind–many of them alums, no doubt. The funny thing about stereotypes is how true they frequently are.

    And I think it has much less to do with politics per se as other cultural markers/indicators. There are plenty of intellectuals and activists whose ideas and activism is correctly deemed “conservative,” after all.

  37. S.E.
    “The funny thing about stereotypes is how true they frequently are.” Yes, they can embarrass one occasionally or save your life.

    This made me smile, “Preppie clubs and fraternities are being infiltrated increasingly by intellectuals, activists and artists…”, stereo types?

    Well said S.E.

  38. Anonymous Trad | July 21, 2012 at 7:49 pm |

    Funny how the first photo focuses on a man’s posterior, just like so many photos in the Japanese-produced Take Ivy.
    I thought this was a particularly Japanese concern, but apparently was mistaken.

  39. Until you mentioned it, I hadn’t noticed the man’s posterior.

  40. Hello ladies and gentlemen. Does anybody else wonder why the Ivy League is so shrouded in mystery only because they have such high standards for admission? If they have such high standards, shouldn’t all eight schools have number one programs for their undergraduate students? Unfortunately, only one school can boast a number one ranking while non-ivies hold the others. Find out more at a blog I did for school here http://ivyleaguedebauchery.blogspot.com/

  41. Anonymous Trad | July 23, 2012 at 8:30 pm |

    Henry,

    Until you mentioned it, I didn’t realize that anyone could fail to notice the image that is smack in the middle of the photo.

  42. AT,

    I guess my eyes Just Don’t Go There.

    Had it been a shapely co-ed, however… well, that’s another story,

  43. An interesting article concerning the rise of the 60s counterculture.

    http://pjmedia.com/eddriscoll/2012/07/23/1962-the-dawn-of-modern-pop-culture/?singlepage=true

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