Princeton Alumni Weekly On The MFIT Exhibit

Amory Blaine, hero of Fitzgerald’s “This Side Of Paradise,” proudly declares himself a romantic, not a sentimentalist. The difference is that while the sentimentalist naively hopes things will last, the romantic knows they tragically won’t.

A reference to this passage from Fitzgerald’s debut novel closes an interesting meditation on the MFIT’s “Ivy Style” exhibit — so much so that we thought it deserved its own pointer post.

The essay appears in the Princeton Alumni Weekly and is written by Gregg Lange, from the class of 1970, or the class that systematically dismantled the Ivy League Look in their four years from 1966-1970.

Lange begins by noting Princeton’s legendary status as fashion leader:

… the exhibit’s entry gallery bluntly attributes the creation of Ivy Style to Princeton. Noting our remove from the urban hustle and the homogeneous student body in the ’20s, it presents Tigertown as the perfect incubator for the studied, painstakingly crafted casual look that remains with us in various forms today.

But his most interesting passage comes later, a terse summary of the Ivy League Look’s rise and fall:

Some of the crucial steps along the Ivy style metamorphosis of the last 90 years are quirky: the raccoon coat (which apparently turned up first at Princeton, of course, in 1921); the monumental introduction of the “odd jacket,” initially half a tweed suit, to become the sports coat, ubiquitous badge of academia; the integration of khakis from returning World War II vets into the look in the ’50s; and The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, the archetype of establishment conformity. After my generation tried to kill off anything that wasn’t tie-dyed (and of course, failed), the thunderous counterattack of The Preppy Handbook in 1980 – the wannabe bible of Amory’s grandchildren – gave new vigor to Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, and the other various acolytes around the high altar of Brooks Brothers. And there the look holds firm today, with a significant number of fashion houses still achieving liquidity through button-down collars, rep ties, and very scary things with little ducks on them.

Visit the PAW website for the full story. — CC

10 Comments on "Princeton Alumni Weekly On The MFIT Exhibit"

  1. Boston Bean | November 2, 2012 at 9:26 am |

    In short: “…today the random Princeton sophomore staggering to an 11 a.m. Monday class looks no different than his opposite number at Western Michigan.”

    Or Southeast Arkansas Tech, for that matter.

  2. I enjoyed this line very much, “and very scary things with little ducks on them.”

  3. If my junior detective skills are any good, I believe the author is the gent pictured in your opening night party pictures. sixth photo?

  4. I bet it is. I didn’t say for what I was taking his picture. He knows of as he links to the site in his story, but guess he didn’t recognize me (yeah I know how that sounds…)

    But once again Mr. Sharp exhibits something pretty close to a photographic memory.

  5. Hey,Chris, look here, is a J press coat from 1920s !!!!!!

  6. For save the pictures,go on google images and write:

    RARE c1920’s J. Press *4 Button* Sack Sport Coat Jacket *38-39

  7. J. Press 1920s. Fabulous.

  8. How do you know it’s 1920s? J. Press brought back the four button in the early ’50s:

  9. If memory serves, a one time only Norfolk Sport Coat, for a go-to-hell spritz.

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