Remembering Dick Van Dyke And Mary Tyler Moore

Over the years I’ve thought about doing a post on Dick Van Dyke, as his television show was immensely popular during the heyday of the Ivy League Look. In many ways he is the pop culture personification of the Atomic Age man in gray suits, white shirts and black ties working in a field like advertising or television.

But every time I took a look at his outfits, something wasn’t quite right. Van Dyke does indeed personify the era — all of it. Van Dyke’s style —  like that of Rod Serling, who was featured in a recent post — mixes all the trends of the early ’60s, including Main Street, Rat Pack, and Continental.

And so with the passing of Van Dyke’s costar Mary Tyler Moore this week, let’s take the opportunity to remember her as well as finally take a look at the wardrobe of one of the most popular shows in television history.

First off, Van Dyke reveals several Ivy staples, such as the well rolled buttondown collar shirt:

And the black knit tie:

But then things quickly veer off in other directions. Many of Van Dyke’s three-button suits appear to be straight-up three-buttons, with the lapel rolling to the top:

Other suits are darted and two or even one-button, though with the two-button cuffs popular on Ivy suits during the period:

Speaking of cuffs, some of Van Dyke’s appear to be turnback. Also note the rather conspicuous cufflinks:

This suit features the short double vents characteristic of Continental style:

Van Dyke’s casual outfits are where the Main Street element comes in. He looks like he could be Arnold Palmer in these cardigans, floppy-collared polo shirt and beltless slacks:

As for Mary Tyler Moore, when I was a kid flipping channels on the TV, there was always this old black and white show with a really pretty lady. She still looks great to me:

And in closing, here’s one of the show’s most famous moments. — CC

17 Comments on "Remembering Dick Van Dyke And Mary Tyler Moore"

  1. Carmelo Pugliatti | January 27, 2017 at 1:21 pm |

    Is very simple:

    1-The majority of American men (as Van Dyke) bought suits and coats in the fashionable main style of those years: i suspect that very few would notice dart or undarted front,number or buttons on the cuffs and other details.

    2-“Ivy” style was trendy,but was only one of many styles availables:
    In Esquire magazine of 50s and early 60s,a lot of suits and coats are darted,with padding shoulders,and two buttons (or three not roll)…and Esquire was a New york magazine,not a middle America newspaper.

    “Ivy league” clothing purism (and rules) is for the most a internet era product: in the Ivy heydays only few guys on east coast were Ivy kosher.

  2. Well, I guess if those cardigans are “Main Street” then I have to admit I tended toward that myself back in the 60’s and 70’s. I would still wear that style if available today. I never liked side vents, though.

  3. HH Huntington | January 27, 2017 at 2:56 pm |

    Carmelo beat me to the punch.
    I would have added that it’s thanks to Main Street that Ivy items spread to the general populace and consequently have managed to survive until today. Many of us wore OCBDs, repp ties, khaki trousers, and penny loafers without ever having heard of Brooks Bros. or J.Press.

  4. HH Huntington writes: “Many of us wore OCBDs, repp ties, khaki trousers, and penny loafers without ever having heard of Brooks Bros. or J.Press.”

    +++ Absolutely true. And such attire became an ingrained habit.

  5. Charlottesville | January 27, 2017 at 4:49 pm |

    I agree with the commenters above about Ivy purity in the heyday. And further, I think Dick Van Dyke generally looked great for a TV star of that era, even if I might not want to emulate him. But, most importantly, if that’s the look it took to dance with the 26 year old MTM, then it was all worth it, even the Sans-A-Belt Slacks and Ban-Lon shirt. Rest in peace, Mary.

  6. Vern Trotter | January 27, 2017 at 5:54 pm |

    We have to mention DVD was in Bye Bye Birdie on Broadway with Chita Rivera in 1960. Also he and his brother are out of the same high school in Danville, Illinois as Donald O’Conner, Gene Hackman and Bobby Short. Something in the water there.

  7. One day I’ll watch the show, it’s on Netflix. I’ve read that it’s set in Westchester so I should like it already.

  8. @Charlottesville-I too was in love with Mary Tyler Moore. She was so pretty and feminine even though she hardly ever wore a dress or skirt. Dick Van Dyke, though I forget the circumstances behind the joke, once commented on her always wearing pants during the show. My young daughter enjoys the show very much along with Father Knows Best and the Donna Reed Show.

    Unrelated-I was flipping through the channels the other day and could not help but notice that the BET network has seemed to have gotten over the crimes (alleged) of Bill Cosby. Dig those crazy sweaters. The horror, the horror.


  9. I agree with Carmelo and HH on the non-“purity” of Ivy in the late 50s on (I started paying attention to clothes then, when I was eight or so). We bought what was in the stores, with the assistance of and some tutoring from the sales staff.

    Now, admittedly, these were dedicated men’s stores, and the staff usually consisted of the owner, one or more relatives, and long-term employees; much like the New Haven J. Press that Bro. Richard P. has profiled for us. Their names and reputations rode on your back, so the variety of style was pretty much Ivy based, with minor variation much like DvD above. Not a lot of hoo-raw about what “they’re all” wearing, but you were going to be well fitted.

    Just heard some folks talking about MTM on NPR, re the slacks. The producers/writers wanted skirts, but she held fast, saying actual suburban housewives didn’t do the daily routine in skirts and heels, but dressed like she did. I always wanted more of her on the show.

  10. On the show Mel was always dressed more Ivy than Rob

  11. In the late 50s men living in any major city or at a frat at a larger university knew what Books Bros was, they had traveling salesmen and trunk showings. In junior high I remember going downtown to a trunk showing in a Kansas City hotel for one, that would be 1964.

    Most cities and universities had natural shoulder clothing men’s stores that catered to the ivy look specifically. For the most part they sold the same brands as those in the northeast. San Fran’s Cables Car Clothiers est. in 1939 and Harold’s est 1948 in Norman Oklahoma of all places come to mind.

    Surprisingly, Sans-A-Belt Slacks actually made non-guido pants in the mid-sixties. Especially flannel and worsted wools that mirrored Corbin, but more expensive. If the internet were complete I have no doubt we could find images of Harvard students wearing Ban-Lons on campus. I admit to owning one for a short time in 1968, basically a navy synthetic t-shirt. It looked good with my light blue glen plaid pants, but it was the most uncomfortable piece of sh-t. Wore it twice and re gifted it to a guy I hated. 😉

  12. I forgot, the Dick Van Dyke show was great and everything Mary Tyler Moore touched turned to gold. Just think of her MTM productions all hits.

  13. Carmelo Pugliatti | January 28, 2017 at 8:34 am |

    Desilu production was the same of “I Love Lucy”.

  14. Charlottesville | January 28, 2017 at 11:31 am |

    @Sacksuit — Mary Tyler Moore’s Laura Petrie, perpetually in reruns through the 60’s and 70s, and Diana Rigg’s Emma Peel set the standard for my young imagination, with perhaps a bit of Julie Newmar’s Cat Woman and Anne Francis’ Honey West thrown in. Tough for reality to keep up with that dream.

    @Mac McConnell– Agreed that the Ban-Lon shirt was a disaster. Not sure who would have bought a second after giving one a try, but they were around for decades. My first real Ivy-style clothing came from college and small town independent men’s stores of the type you mentioned, specifically Eljo’s in Charlottesville, and the appropriately named The Men’s Shop in Staunton, Virginia. Sometime around the mid-70s, I noticed that this is where the local professionals shopped, and they carried Southwick and other national brands as well as their store-label, natural-shoulder 3/2 sacks, cotton OCBDs and khakis, 3″ repp ties, etc. All impeccable, all standard Ivy, and pretty much unchanged through the 80s. I think that the clothes of the local attorneys were as much a factor in my eventually deciding to go to law school as anything else, and made my post-graduation move to Brooks and J. Press fairly seamless. Eljo’s is still in operation, and remains a good source for traditional clothing, but the general Ivy ethos of the old days is, of course, no longer pervasive even in relatively “preppie” Charlottesville. Alas most of the other college-town Ivy shops are now gone and barely remembered.

  15. Charlottesville
    Many of the old regional ivy men’s shops fell by the wayside during the many recessions . Woody’s HQed in Manhattan Kansas with around eight stores spread out in cities and college towns died in the Carter economy. Harold’s which was specifically founded to be an Ivy league store expanded to about twenty five stores and morphed ivy + whatever was popular after a conglomerate bought them and ran it into the ground. Mister Guy’s out of Kansas City had about twelve store throughout the midwest and lost their ivy style when the owner retired in the 1990s, some still exist in one form or the other, but again it’s high end whatever seems to be popular now.

    We finally got a Brooks Bros. here in the early eighties. Having alway bought only at trunk showings in my youth and been burnt ordering by catalog, I was disappointed, I really didn’t think they did it any better that our local men’s shops.

    My first Ivy experience was being taken to a shop in Oxford Mississippi for a navy worsted suit for first communion, a blazer, two ties and assorted BD shirts, it was the late 1950s. 😉

  16. Our “shirt plant” back home made Ban-Lon shirts. Their major features were their tendency to get picks, and to hold your body humidity close. But somebody bought them, the plant was running full for about ten years or more. It’s where I first saw different labels and boxes (i.e., prices) for the same shirt.

  17. Mac McConnell – Would that store in Oxford have been Neilson’s?

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