Robert Bryan’s “American Fashion Menswear”

Last week the New York Times blog ran a piece on the new book “American Fashion Menswear,” by Robert E. Bryan, former men’s fashion director for the Times. As the book includes chapters on both The Ivy League Look and dandyism, the publisher asked me to read the manuscript. Adding to the honor was a quote inside from the “Ivy League Jazz” story for last summer’s Ralph Lauren Magazine, the assignment that inspired this website.

Very timely I think is that the Ivy chapter ends with remarks on preppy, but is named after Ivy. I think a few years ago it would have been the other way around: starting from preppy and working back to its origins in the Ivy League Look. It’s another example that Ivy is the New Preppy (henceforth INP).

The text is mostly an overview, as it’s a photo-driven book. And as it was created in conjunction with the Council of Fashion Designers of America, most of the images are new. Above is a Life Magazine shot of Yale students in 1950.

Bryan still contributes to the Times. Here’s a slideshow and short piece on grey flannel. Note this passage:

The archetypal square of the postwar era was later described by Esquire’s style encyclopedia as ‘‘a neat, circumspect, conservative man who carried an attaché case and regarded a pink button-down shirt as his one sartorial fling.

“American Fashion Menswear” is available from Amazon here. — CC

2 Comments on "Robert Bryan’s “American Fashion Menswear”"

  1. Definitely an honor to preview the manuscript. And right on with “Ivy is the New Preppy”. I honestly wonder if the preppy of the ’80s will swim to the surface in the future. Part of me hopes not.

  2. “The archetypal square of the postwar era”

    I wonder, as contrasted with what, a beatnik with a black turtleneck, black beret, and a set of bongos? Or a guy with a Prince Valiant haircut, a Nehru jacket, and a big medallion on a chain around his neck?

    Which would you rather be?

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