So This Is College, 1929

It feels like I’m in college right now, trying to get my “term paper” on Ivy ready for Monday.

I’ve been working on a long essay for some time now, and one of the themes it explores is the casual nature of campus dress, even when from our point of view the students of the past seem extremely formal.

Take the film “So This Is College” from 1929, for example. 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. — CC

4 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.

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