So This Is College, 1929

One of most interesting aspects of the Ivy League Look is that while it campus dress was extremely formal in relation to that of today, it was relatively casual in relation to off-campus dress of the time. Historian Deidre Clemente has shown how college kids invented the very concept of being dressed-down in her book “Dress Casual.” Take the film “So This Is College” from 1929. In the preview available on Rotten Tomatoes the young gentlemen — students at USC — are noteworthy for the formality (from our point of view) of their suits and ties yet also their general disregard for their clothing. Look at the way the plop down on the lawn without a second thought, and the way one guy teases his roommate by standing on his laundry. The film also shows the difference between the early days of the Ivy League Look and what is remembered as “Joe College” garb from the ’20s. While the raccoon coat trend may have begun at Princeton, some of the more rah-rah outfits, such as oxford bags, seem to have been more of a Midwestern state school look. According to the Brooks Brothers book “Generations Of Style,” Brooks “refused to sell” oxford bags. This post has been updated with a nifty dance number clip below.— CC


8 Comments on "So This Is College, 1929"

  1. Oxford bags are obviously English in origin. Many believe they morphed from the wider legged sporting pants use in crew, tennis and cricket, etc., when the look was transferred to normal wear and finer fabrics were used. Makes sense, imagine plus fours extended to the shoe.

  2. Plus all this artwork is by the great John Held Jr. who was “the cat’s pajamas” when it came to illustrating the flapper era.

  3. Note the scenes in the room. Their suits fit nicely!!! Great break on the trousers, etc. Leave it to the MGM tailors!

  4. Oxford bags never truly hit in the States. The manufacturers were trying to push them, but the boys went for wide-legs rather than true bags which were even bagger than those seen in these images. Manufacturers “lost their pants” by betting on the bags and several wrote into trade journals to say how trying to preempt the fad ended badly for their biz when Americans didn’t want them.

  5. Loved the little movie clip, especially the cute blond and her seemingly limitless energy. Her use of her hands to accent the dancing is interesting too. They don’t make movies like that anymore. The whole suggestion of college as a fun experience is interesting, the whole roaring ’20s look and lifestyle at college.

  6. Charlottesville | September 10, 2020 at 4:25 pm |

    The dancing in that clip looks like so much fun. It is worth noting that Cliff Edwards, a/k/a “Ukulele Ike,” who is shown in the clip playing the ukulele and providing his trademark vocal trumpet, was later the voice of Jiminy Cricket. Robert Montgomery, here playing the jealous boyfriend, went on to a very successful movie career, as well as being the father of Elizabeth Montgomery, who played Samantha on Bewitched in the late 1960s and early 70s.

    Speaking of 60s beauties, I just saw that Diana Rigg died at 82. Requiescat in pace Emma Peel.

    Here endeth the trivia hour.

  7. Old School Tie | September 11, 2020 at 3:56 am |

    The clothes in the video clip would likely be easily wearable today….I bet were that footage in colour it would look far more contemporary (I have recently viewed colourised Victorian era film and the clothing does, in fact, look significantly more modern than old sepia tint images would have you believe). And did she really say “puh-lease!”….?

  8. I was mesmerized by the dancing of the “Andy” character in the clip: that kid was amazing.

    Charlottesville: thanks for connecting the dots!

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