May 24, 2014
By William Hamilton in The New Yorker.
As William Faulkner so expertly conveyed in “A Rose for Emily,” being Old Money doesn’t necessarily mean having money.
They’re not preppy at all; they’re ivy, maybe even trad.
Staying preppy means never growing up.
Basically they are English; that’s the point.
This is one of the better Ivy Style posts. Ever. It’s not easy to find words to describe the extent to which I identify with this. Others among us who learned how to dress 30 years ago (and decided to change nothing as the years passed) will understand.
There’s an argument to be made that 70s and 80s era preppy is far more interesting because, unlike “Ivy” in the 60s, it wasn’t the dominant style among the multitudes. Even if preppy was the style that came naturally (without much thought) to your parents and neigbhors and siblings and classmates, it wasn’t a given that everybody else out there wore LL Bean, Lands End, and Brooks. As the 80s gave way to the 90s, preppy assumed a sort of minority status among styles. There was always Polo Ralph Lauren, of course. Still is. But, honestly, how many people do we know who still dress as though they had just stepped off the page of a 1982 Bean catalog?
I remember the politicians and journalists who appeared on television throughout the 80s. Button downs and repp ties prevailed.
Khakis were ubiquitous, and Topsiders and penny loafers reigned supreme.
Ivy “the dominant style among the multıtudes”?
Where were those multitudes?
Certainly not ın Southern California or the Midwest.
Certainly not in NYC.
Ivy in the 1960s was most definitely not about dressing like everybody else unless you grew up as a member of the New England, Southern, or San Francisco elite, or wanted to look as if you did.
I hope there are enough readers of this blog who actually lived through the ’60s to back me up on this.
Well, then I’ll gladly stand corrected.
I’ll heed your wisdom. I ask:
What was the “common man” wearing in the communities you reference? If not the “elite” button down shirts and khakis and penny loafers, what?
Overalls? Dungarees? Zoot suits?
I’ve seen a couple of Midwestern high school yearbooks, and most of what the young folks were wearing adds up to Ivy, but, again, I am happy to stand corrected. Maybe it was a minority style all along.
S.E. – I agree with you about it being the dominant style during that time. I can’t speak for the west coast, but nearly every yearbook or pic that I examine from the Midwest shows this style as being very mainstream.
Looking again at the quote–
“…as though nothing had happened.”
Interesting. Exactly what “happened”? I have my guesses.
I’m with S.E. and Oxford Cloth. As my generation prepared to leave college (Midwest) in 1969, the style of dress wasn’t something to be “decided,” it just happened: khakis, ocbds, weejuns or boat shoes and so forth. Something new had appeared, though – the “sta-press” shirt, among other things, for those who couldn’t handle an iron. A friend, John Hill, a popular humorist and columnist (“The Hill With It”) with a comic strip (“Griff and the Unicorn”) once eyed me as I came into the news room of the student newspaper and said, “I see we’re wearing our usual ‘sta-wrinkle’ shirt today…” OCBD, blue, un-ironed in defiance of the first horrid no-iron “fabrics” of that day. The tattered, wino, no-bathe, no-shave, no-launder, no-care “Haight” look then (now prevalent among professional athletes, especially MLB) was just coming into vogue. We who were worried about a future in Vietnam didn’t bother with that. Ivy style or whatever, mostly stayed with me (and a lot of us); we took our khakis (Levis sometimes), loafers, button-downs, rep ties and blazers, Schicks, Gillettes, Old Spice or Bay Rum to the Armed Forces Recruiting Station in Kansas City, ready and unwilling. And a lot of us have the attire yet today. It’s not ever been a “decision” to dress this way or that. It was about comfort, a certain tidiness, ease of donning the familiar and the appealing. For me, and many others, it still simply happens. Over the years, though, the ‘sta-wrinkle” has come to be ironed.
By 1965, arguably the height of the “boom years”, the look was ubiquitous amongst young males North, South, Midwest, East, and West. There is no mistaking this. You could walk into a men’s store in Jasper, Alabama or Sioux City and by flat fron khakis, a nice button down, pennies, and a jacket with a 3/2 and natural shoulder. I have a closet to prove it.
Young males in the early to mid-sixties weren’t mimicking the Ivy League elite, they only had to look at and want to dress like everyone they heard on the radio and saw in the movies and on the television. Ivy style, per se, was everywhere.
Ivy style, dare I say it, was completely common. Happy Memorial
I suppose the next thing we’ll be hearing is that in the early to mid-60s, everybody was not only wearing loafers, button-downs, reppe ties and blazers, but listening to jazz as well. We must have been inhabiting parallel, non-intersecting universes.
+1 John M, I left for college in ’69 too. You just went to the May Co. to get a pair of pants and a shirt and that’s what they sold. Nothing to think about, you picked your size although I think the pants were called Dockers then.
Correction, after thinking about it Dockers came along later. You got white or tan Levi’s in ’69.
Comment by Worried Man — May 26, 2014 @ 5:19 pm
“Young males in the early to mid-sixties weren’t mimicking the Ivy League elite, they only had to look at and want to dress like everyone they heard on the radio and saw in the movies and on the television. Ivy style, per se, was everywhere.”
This makes a lot of sense. It suggests that the terms Ivy League itself is a misnomer and that that we really ought to stick to ‘Traditional American’, although that is perhaps fraught with even more ambiguity. It also explains how quickly dress standards can deteriorate as the majority who have merely bought what’s available move on to what next appears on the shelves.
BTW, good to see WM (one of the exceptions along with OCBD) having a break from the chavs.
A young man buying those items in NYC at that time period would have gotten a comment like “So you want to dress like one of them Ivy League boychicks?” from the salesman.
If a lurker may chime in – The Conquest of Cool – Thomas Frank’s dissertation, no less – has an extended section on the “Peacock Revolution” of the mid-late sixties, covering the marketing, production and distribution of all those brightly colored suits and semi-suits which displaced the more-or-less-Ivy mainstream men’s clothes of the fifties and sixties. (Frank is not enthused.) Well worth a read if you’re at all interested in the economics of the thing.
Unlike mod, ted or hippie fashions – which had subcultural underpinnings and thus at least some point to them – the new fast fashions were totally mainstreamed and didn’t really have any logic beyond “youth” and “novelty”. There was a boom in men’s fast fashion and then a bust with the recession, but the bust led to polyester leisure suits and blue jeans, rather than a turn back to older looks.
Bill Hamilton’s cartoon is a scream, but the crux is the self-absorbed know-nothingness of the “still-preppy-after-all-these-years” couple. OK, Grey Flannels doesn’t know SoCal, but in Pasadena, San Marino, Newport Beach, and La Jolla there were always the Southwick-Sero/Gant shops. Even Beverly Hills had its Trad haberdasheries. Brooks opened its store in LA in 1939 (same year as SF), thus showing that Brooks still wasn’t keeping up with societal change. Restricting the elect to the US Northeast, South, and San Francisco sets up a hierarchy of supercilious parochialism. And begs the question: where precisely in the Northeast (certainly just the little towns of the Ivies, of course, but never NYC- sorry, Columbia), the South (surely only Charlottesville and Charleston), and Frisco (yeah, The Farm at Palo Alto)? Of course, the places I mentioned weren’t middle class, but I know from persons of my parents’ generation there were similar men’s shops in Riverside, Fresno, and Sacramento, not to mention podunk college towns like Santa Clara and San Luis Obispo. By the Fifties and Sixties throughout the States, Ivy was not only mainstreamed, it was moribund. Tribal fears aside, it’s all just a wad of Harris tweed, silk-wool ties, OCBDs, and Bass Weejuns.
@ Dutch Uncle
“…Parallel, non-intersecting universes….”
Yes, that would be human nature (and a very American comment). Please note the pix from “LIFE” on this page.
I don’t see much twain and twixt between the guys in LA and the ones in the usual Ivy college pix “Ivy Style” posts. A different locale and way better weather (Los Angeles: The Weejun is a Mod, and as usual Brits know little about US climate zones ‘cuz no tall palm trees in DC), and a typical human co-option of clothing options. Are their shoes more scuffed and dirty? Yeah, and I had a couple of friends in college in Boston who though it “sine qua non” to duck-tape their Topsider mocs while wearing their torn painter’s pants. And West Coast Jazz wasn’t just LA and SF. Chet Baker, Buddy Collette, Russ Freeman, and Hampton Hawes played it, and even Miles listened to it.
Other than being contemporaneous to the Ivy heyday, and having a few extremely basic things in common that have to do with the general fashion of the time, I see no social-sartorial connection between those Watts guys and the guys in “Take Ivy,” for example.
It’s very characteristic of English Ivy to throw random contemporary things together — French New Wave films, the Beach Boys, scooters — and call it “Ivy.”
It’s important to disgtinguish ’50s/’60s overall men’s style from the Ivy League Look specifically, especially since at this time they were closer than at other times. But I think the everyman/ubiquity argument is often overstated, and by guys who are personally uncomfortable by the close affinity with the WASPy upper-middle class and the world of elite education.
As a final note, as “Carmelo” has shown us, even Hitler sometimes wore a buttondown collar, and as part of a Nazi uniform.
Comment by Christian — May 28, 2014 @ 7:42 pm
“It’s important to disgtinguish ’50s/’60s overall men’s style from the Ivy League Look specifically, especially since at this time they were closer than at other times.”
Care to delineate?
I just see it as elements of the look had seeped into mass marketed and produced men’s clothing, and it can be seen everywhere. It’s obvious to me. If you show me a picture of a guy in a button down shirt, (I probably wouldn’t use Hitler as an example), and then he is also wearing a shaped jacket with shoulders, pleated pants, and Beatle boots, I wouldn’t call his look ivy on account of his button down shirt. But I would at least check out the shirt. 🙂 But the bottom line is that a remarkably large portion of the American male population in the boom years would have worn the button down shirt, but then would have also finished it off with a 3/2 sack jacket, flat front trousers cuff no break, and pennies, regardless of where they lived or how much money they made. All else being equal, I’d look at them and say “yeah, that guy’s got the look.”
I’m not going to entertain any back and forth between this blog and the Talk Ivy forum, which I moderate and contribute to regularly. And I don’t feel the need to defend that forum. I’ll just say that because the forum is called Talk Ivy doesn’t mean that items and topics that are not strict ivy are off the table. If you don’t want to talk or read about Vespas or Mod bands, then don’t click on that link. But there are plenty of non-English posters on there, Billax included, that love and live the look. Yes, plenty of the English guys came to appreciate ivy through the Mod connection, a phenomenon that was perplexing when I first posted over there. But it does make sense. And I’m American, but I don’t subscribe one bit to the belief that to like the look and adopt it to your own dress requires some sort of WASP heritage or even any remote understanding of where the look originated. Yes, overall it’s very boom years heavy over there. That’s why I was drawn there. But, you like the look, that’s the only ticket you need to get on board, IMO.
Nobody on Talk Ivy is claiming that things are ivy just because they are contemporaneous during the ivy heyday. It just happens that many topics are discussed that happen to appeal to a group of people that ALSO like and appreciate ivy style. Plain and simple. Really. It’s also not the same forum it used to be, for better or worse, depending on your opinion. And that’s fine too.
“But I think the everyman/ubiquity argument is often overstated, and by guys who are personally uncomfortable by the close affinity with the WASPy upper-middle class and the world of elite education.”
Very, very true.
I am willing to concede that a lot of guys were wearing Weejuns, chinos, and button-down shirts–yes, even rural Midwesterners, nerds, and jazz musicians. It was found…well, if not everywhere, lots of places.
Part of the challenge is that there’s no one version. There are several. If it’s true that Weejuns and oxfords and chinos were part of the stock at the campus shop that catered to Midwestern colleges, it’s equally true (I think) that it wasn’t what, say, for instance, Thomas Watson Jr. wanted in his wardrobe.
I think a lot of fellows who could afford the better stuff were drawn to the look for reasons that had little or nothing to do with jazz, Hollywood actors, or 50s and 60s era retro, much of which amounts to kitsch. They liked the look (design, shape, styling) and the cloth. There’s probably an Americanized Anglophilia at work.
All the social and cultural affiliations aside, the look itself is, I’d happily argue, a superior approach toward dressing well for business, and, for many of us, weekends that include a lot of gatherings that serve as a boon to success in business. The natural, sloping shoulder that’s nonetheless tailored, the gentle tracing through the middle, the plain fronted-but-not-excessively-tapered pant, and, equally important, the excellent (and expensive) worsteds, tweeds, and woolens woven in England, Scotland, and Ireland. Count me in.
I know of colleagues who have discovered Chipp in recent years, and, in so doing, discovered what has been referred to as “custom Ivy.” They made the move from English style (think drape) to softer tailoring that features less padding. It’s neither accurate nor fair to lump that sort of clothing in with the stock chinos and Weejuns being peddled by the Midwestern campus shop in 1964.
I’d rather talk clothing with men who understand quality tailoring and the better (usually heavier) cloth but whose tastes aren’t strictly Ivy than the retro-minded who go for what appears to be Ivy kitsch. But I still find their posts entertaining.
We might safely guess that, within a matter of years, the real deal will be accessed only by way of custom or better MTM (Chipp, for instance). This is all to the good, I think. And somehow amusing. What began as a largely custom approach toward tailoring in New Haven will be just that…again.
Comment by S.E. — May 29, 2014 @ 1:54 pm
“I know of colleagues who have discovered Chipp in recent years, and, in so doing, discovered what has been referred to as “custom Ivy.” They made the move from English style (think drape) to softer tailoring that features less padding. It’s neither accurate nor fair to lump that sort of clothing in with the stock chinos and Weejuns being peddled by the Midwestern campus shop in 1964.”
I maintain that you could indeed find quality soft tailoring at the Midwestern, or Southern, or you name it men’s shop in 1964. Even some of the offerings by department stores such as Sears or JC Penney were of a decent quality when compared with today’s standards. Could you walk into a Sears store today and buy a 3/2 jacket with a soft shoulder, swelled edges, AND fully canvassed construction. Well, you could back in the day. Not to mention, today you’ll be paying premium prices to fetch the same details and get that fit you want.
Comment by S.E. — May 29, 2014 @ 1:54 pm
“I think a lot of fellows who could afford the better stuff were drawn to the look for reasons that had little or nothing to do with jazz, Hollywood actors, or 50s and 60s era retro, much of which amounts to kitsch. They liked the look (design, shape, styling) and the cloth.”
Of course. Since the boom hit, there was the democratic everyman, perhaps more youthful, ivy influenced style, then there was the upper echelon. I can appreciate both aspects. Of course the more obviously retro “kitschy” stuff will stick out more as being outmoded. But that just happens to be the stuff I love most. If fits with my personality too. I don’t make a lot of money, I don’t have a lot of education, and I don’t aspire to rub shoulders with anyone for any sort of financial or career gain. But I think this is liberating in a sense, in that I can just extract the clothes from any of that context and I just have fun with it. It really doesn’t matter to me. And I’m the “retro guy’. Fine, but when someone levels that comment at me and I see that they are wearing a shirt with a skull on it, maybe some cut off cargo shorts, and flip flops.. HA!! Whatever you say buddy. Point being, I may obviously draw heavily from an era, but in the age of anything goes nonsensical wear whatever you want, I really could give a hoot. To me, whether retro or kitsch or throwback or whatever you can call it, it still looks light years AHEAD of most of what I see people wearing. So I slick my hair back and wear dark rimmed glasses? Well, that guy over there is wearing a hairpiece. That lady over there has her ass coming out of her skirt. That young man that just walked in has his cock and balls on display because his little suit is too tight. Catch my drift?
Actually, the dark rimmed glasses and the hair are maybe the only things that really tip people off and make them say things like “Hey, how’s it going Bob Benson?” Even though he doesn’t wear glasses or grease his hair. Maybe the no-break pants too. But, I could easily fly under the radar by just growing my hair out, ditching the glasses, and growing a little stubble. Then I would just be some guy in a sport coat.
Yes, but as it is now you look like just some rockabilly guy in a sport coat.
“It’s important to distinguish ’50s/’60s overall men’s style from the Ivy League Look specifically, especially since at this time they were closer than at other times. But I think the everyman/ubiquity argument is often overstated, and by guys who are personally uncomfortable by the close affinity with the WASPy upper-middle class and the world of elite education.”
On the money. And the keys to distinguishing Ivy from what was merely around are discernment and taste. These are qualities that are often lacking, especially among those who play dress-up.
Comment by Worried Man — May 29, 2014 @ 2:37 pm
” …I can just extract the clothes … and I just have fun … It really doesn’t matter to me. And I’m the “retro guy’. Fine, but when someone levels that comment at me and I see that they are wearing a shirt with a skull on it, maybe some cut off cargo shorts, and flip flops.. HA!! Whatever you say buddy. Point being, I may obviously draw heavily from an era, but in the age of anything goes nonsensical wear whatever you want, I really could give a hoot.”
Yes, yes.I think we get the drift. But.. er.. why are you telling us this? This is a forum for Ivy style, not a newbie ‘my thoughts on clothing’ gig. There are other places for that. Such places might indeed give a hoot.
Comment by Christian — May 29, 2014 @ 2:55 pm
:”Yes, but as it is now [WM] looks like just some rockabilly guy in a sport coat.”
Hahaha! A good eye.
But give the guy a break. At least he’s trying. He might get the idea in the end.
“Yes, but as it is now you look like just some rockabilly guy in a sport coat.”
I’ve actually heard that one before I think. Glaringly accurate I might add. I mean, that kind of is what I am and I don’t have any delusions about being party to the prep school social elite. I just know what I like. Yet I can appreciate and seek inspiration from the entire spectrum of ivy – from the Brooks no. 1 to the Chipp mentioned by S.E. to some vintage popover with “Ivy Leaguer” emblazoned on the label as some obvious marketing ploy. And I’d gladly wear it all.
Comment by Trad Hunter — May 29, 2014 @ 3:42 pm
“But give the guy a break. At least he’s trying. He might get the idea in the end.”
The idea? The idea’s just to enjoy the clothes. That’s it. I don’t claim to have any idea as to what the hell is going on when I get dressed in the morning. I just put stuff on. I’ll likely remain clueless until the undertaker dresses my ass.
Comment by Adam Trask — May 29, 2014 @ 3:32 pm
“Yes, yes.I think we get the drift. But.. er.. why are you telling us this? This is a forum for Ivy style, not a newbie ‘my thoughts on clothing’ gig. There are other places for that. Such places might indeed give a hoot.”
Because the comment was relevant to the retro and kitsch comment posted earlier in the thread. And also because I have a deep affinity for ivy style and wear the stuff all the time, regardless of how poorly I do it. Sorry I typed too many words. Sheesh!!
” Even some of the offerings by department stores such as Sears or JC Penney were of a decent quality when compared with today’s standards. Could you walk into a Sears store today and buy a 3/2 jacket with a soft shoulder, swelled edges, AND fully canvassed construction. Well, you could back in the day.”
Firstly, the more proletarian Heyday offerings were way too short (jackets, pants) and skinny. Including the Sears kit. In the business settings I have in mind, a person wearing that stuff would be laughed out of the room. “Check out Bob Benson over there” would be mild and maybe even kind.
Second: I have doubts the Everyman Ivy stuff was being made of top drawer cloth that would stand the test of decades. Probably a lot of cheap piece foods, including synthetics.
Third: “full canvas” does not a quality jacket make. (actually, some really well made custom jackets are half canvas). There are equally important considerations having to do with fit, comfort, and longevity, including the presence of glue (fusing) and the quality of the canvas and chest piece.. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn a lot of the everyman Ivy jackets were about as flexible as cardboard.
Fourth: too short and too skinny. Wait, I already wrote that.
All that said, I appreciate the context. If you’re not wearing suits for a particular kind of business setting, then by all means go nuts with the retro-Mod-hipster thing.
Quote: “I don’t claim to have any idea as to what the hell is going on when I get dressed in the morning. I just put stuff on.”
Either a blatant lie or troubling unconscious irony. In truth you visit Ivy websites daily, choose your clothing carefully, and then post pictures of yourself wearing what you now claim is “stuff you just put on.”
@ S.E.: We’re just not going to see eye to eye on the ivy heyday garments. I have off-the-rack boom years jackets in a 38R that are a very nice fit. They are a bit longer and less constricting than many modern OTR 38R jackets I’ve tried on. And while obviously viewed as a “newbie” yokel around here, I do have the ability to discern and appreciate quality. But I’ll often eschew quality if I just like a piece for other reasons. I don’t have to have the best. I just need to like it.
I see men of all ages in business settings that are dressed in crap modern clothing. Just because the clothing is contemporary and acceptable in a modern business setting doesn’t mean it looks good. But I’m also not saying I’d show up to an interview in high waters and a sport coat with the slimmest lapels I’ve ever seen thinking “Yeah, these sixties duds are gonna impress these guys in the board meeting.” I can look damn conservative and appropriate if I feel the situation calls for it. I’m just saying that my life situation does not dictate that I need to follow any dress code on a daily basis.
@ Christian: I wear clothes I like, and pick outfits that I think look good. The crux of my quoted words up there is the word “claim”. I don’t claim to know how to dress, nor do I prescribe. And you’re right, I should not have said “stuff I just put on.” I do have a carefully considered wardrobe, but the selection is done more in the acquisition and the tailoring, and not in the final donning of the outfit. That’s where I get pretty lazy and I often think it shows. And then as the day wears on, or even 5 minutes after I’m out the door, I’m already thinking of ways the outfit could have been improved on. I’m being completely honest here. More often than not, I grab the same handful of items or the stuff that’s at the front of the drawer or closet. Plenty of stuff goes untouched for long periods of time.
And another thing, for the aptly trained rockabilly spotter, it would be obvious that my hair is cut and styled in the style known as the Executive Contour, and is in no way a pompadour or quiff.
Straight from the interview to the board room, that’s me.
You know, the room where they keep boards. Not the boardroom.
In any event, I figured I’d take a few licks by poking my head in on here. Not trying to be contentious, so in order to avoid stirring you boys up any more, I’ll just keep lurking and abstain from contributing. I do plenty of that elsewhere. Keep the blog rolling, and I do look forward to more stuff from Mr. DeLuca especially. Haven’t seen you around Talk Ivy lately and your absence is felt. Y’all stay preppy!
Comment by Worried Man — May 29, 2014 @ 7:34 pm
“… I’ll just keep lurking and abstain from contributing.”
Don’t be discouraged.I am sure I am not alone in finding your contributions interesting, if a little long-winded. As others have noted, you do appear to be be an exception to the generally, unschooled, uneducated, un-washed, and overall snot-nosed character of that other place, which now only exists in the main as a somewhat malodorous joke in clothing for land
“I see men of all ages in business settings that are dressed in crap modern clothing. Just because the clothing is contemporary and acceptable in a modern business setting doesn’t mean it looks good.”
So true. Sad, but true. Particularly Manhattan.
meaning family quotes
Their sartorial link is an obvious one. What you fail to mention is the poster than champions the Watts pics also champions the heritage of the clothes in their rightful setting of the East Coast clubs and colleges.
The real story of the clothes, as there is nothing else to determine them visually is their design. The hi-waisted, flatfront, cuffed trousers and button-down shirts have the same visual impact whether on a 1920s tennis player, a 1960s LA gang member or a 2010s forum poster or blogger.
Ivy is determined by details not by setting. Which means that anyone being open enough not to worry about their particular line of Ivy can explore all branches of the tree.
You held authenticity over the colleges but permitted some of the least ivy pieces of clothing I’ve seen from any Ivy blog.
Jim on the otherhand would try and rewrite history so that when it came to the college authenticity angle your remarks would be impotent.
The college doesnt make Ivy, Ivy, if that was the case we could be wearing anything worn at colleges from the 1700s to now.
Likewise to think Ivy is not rooted in some very specific designs that clarified around the East Coast sports clubs and colleges of the early beginnings of the last century is completely idiotic also.
It is clear what Ivy is and what it isn’t.
The story of Brooks Brothers does not make everything they sold ‘Ivy’.
And just because a jazz man in the 60s wore Ivy doesn’t mean there wasn’t a wealth of history with the clothes prior to that point.
So when we Talk Ivy we talk all Ivy, and what it influenced. A 50s teen in loafers and a BD is more Ivy than a small collar, lowrise prep outfit of today. Arguably both still are cousins though.
“A 50s teen in loafers and a BD is more Ivy than a small collar, lowrise prep outfit of today. Arguably both still are cousins though.”
Very distant cousins sir, very distant cousins. “Small collar, lowrise” is the black sheep of the family, from my point of view.
And I would agree but my point was you can’t take the moral ivy highground when your blog is promoting that type of prep look then say our forum Talk Ivy is a lesser place because we discuss a broad range of ivy influenced styles. Including rock n roll, jazz, 70 and 80s prepdom (when for the large part the clothes were still US manfactured) and even modern Japanese brands.
We beheaded Jim and his revision of it all. Although people still argue/discuss origins of Ivy on the forum. Which they should. Jim choose to troll and stiffle the discussion.
Talk Ivy does talk more than Ivy typically mid-century Americana that went hand in hand with the boom style. But the root of the forum is ivy.
But what I’m saying in even broader terms is everyone will have their own take from their own influences. The people looking to further the arguements are normally doing so for what they have invested in it.
@Main Line Philly
I liked that.
Far more appropriate than “Black Fleece”!
Seen as it is today as a particularly 1960s phenomenon, it’s easy to forget that the fashion for the ivy look was even then a retro one – tweeds, lapped seams, framed patch and flap pockets, white bucks, buckle back chinos, button down oxfords – these were all items with their roots firmly in the clothing of the 1920s and 30s pre-war elite (and even then an idealised idea of Oxbridge elites).
Hardly “retro.” It’s a tradition-based genre.
Quote = Bop
”But what I’m saying in even broader terms is everyone will have their own take from their own influences. ”
Believe me when I say I’d love to be less inclusive.
“The real story of the clothes, as there is nothing else to determine them visually is their design.”
“Ivy is determined by details not by setting.”
Another interesting point when the English discuss Ivy is their tendency to view the clothing items as abstract designs. I suppose this is natural when Ivy is neither your national style, nor more specifically something you grew up on.
The far more germane, yet very hard to articulate, aspect of the origins and development of the Ivy League Look are which designs were selected for inclusion in the genre and which ones weren’t. Yes the items or their “design” is important, but not as abstract visuals, but for how they reflect the tastes and values of the people associated with the codifying of the style, namely college men of the Eastern Establishment.
You can talk abstractly all you want about the design of a buttondown oxford, but for me the real and fascinating question is why is it the default Ivy shirt, as opposed to a striped shirt with contrast collar and French cuffs? Why is the Ivy jacket shoulder natural instead of structured? Surely because in the environs in which the style developed structured shoulders were viewed as meritricious.
Hence your remark that if the design elements are present, it’s Ivy, no matter the context. I suppose in some general way yes, but that doesn’t explain how the genre was created.
You may wish to revisit the passages in my rise and fall essay about taste-driven natural selection. I also make the point, which you brought up, that Brooks offered much more than what’s generally associated with the Ivy genre.
I stand by the statement but agree the original context gave rise to the design, but with purpose giving a defined style that style can then travel, and it did. This is not an abstract. It’s objective design, that does not then depend on its enviroment but its details to determine what it should be called. A horse is still a horse if it’s on the moon. Ivy is still ivy where ever it is worn because it’s defined by its details.
There is an interesting Vanity Fair article from 1921 that covers soft collars, ducks and bucks. I would argue this still comes 20 -35 years after the beginnings of Ivy and the East Coast educational and sporting heritage taking course to define a look through its lifestyle and Anglo influences.
To me 1920s American Tennis is where I find the earliest examples of what I would call the Ivy silhouette, in fact there is a famous Kiwi tennis player of the time who wore the style perfectly. Sack, bucks and ducks. I’ll try and recall his name.
His name was Wilding unfortunately I can’t find the photo of him in what looks like a JPress Donegal mist.
Also you could very well pass for his twin Christian.
The answer is always the same. Brooks.
Because Brooks’ buyers liked what they saw. Then imported. Then sold it.
A lot of it, as has been documented, is derived from (British) sport. The country. Whether “lawn tennis,” hunting, cricket, polo, or golf.
Hence the soft tailoring–shirt collars, jacket shoulders, and so on. Dressed up for the country.
A soft collar that’s buttoned looks even, well, uh…more casual. The rumpled arch of the roll created by the buttons.
Very well said, Bop. You make a lot of damn sense. A horse is a horse, of course of course…
Yes, Brooks Brothers was very good at catering to the Anglophilia of WASPs.
This from Apparel Arts in 1933:
“For on-campus wear there is a general acceptance of country clothes in the typical British manner, such as odd slacks and tweed jackets, country brogues and felt hats. This is the way the undergraduates at smart Universities and prep schools dress today during classes.”
Can’t find the quote/ad about the buttondown collar having the nonchalance “that college men like.”
“…country clothes in the typical British manner.”
Anybody have any guesses why today’s American upper class doesn’t aspire to Anglophilia? Reverse snobbery among the nouvea riche?
‘nouveau’, that is.
^Because one thing that defined WASPs and the upper-class Brits was a sense of duty, and duty cannot be sustained amidst hedonism.
It can if you’re not the heir.
I suggest the answer to S.E.’s question has to do with the mantle of world power passing from the U.K. to the U.S. following 1945, so that looking toward England became less and less the case with succeeding generations as British power ebbed and American self-confidence increased. At the same time, groups that were once marked “ethnic” (as opposed to the unmarked WASP as standard) gradually became increasingly well-off and politically prominent, so that WASP style retains a residual cultural presence but is no longer the dominant style.
It’s very hard to draw hard-and-fast correlations in these matters — I offer it just as a possible interpretation.
Re: “Anybody have any guesses why today’s American upper class doesn’t aspire to Anglophilia?”
My guess: In the mid-sixties during the waning days of Ivy, the end of the British Empire was only 20 years old and England still enjoyed outsize cultural influence on the rest of the world. It was also a country known for stylish, well-dressed, suave gentlemen the likes of Cary Grant, David Niven, and the cinematic James Bond.
Today, Britain has sadly become equally known as being the home of chavs, hooliganism and binge drinking. Stylistically, the average Englishman now dresses no better than his American counterpart, routinely heading out for a pint or a curry wearing little more than trainers (sneakers), baggy pants and a shirt replicating the one worn by his favorite football (soccer) hero.
Conversely, I am not sure today’s American upper class aspires to much of anything other than the aforementioned hedonism.
“Because one thing that defined WASPs and the upper-class Brits was a sense of duty, and duty cannot be sustained amidst hedonism.”
This is one of the finest comments ever written. I would add to it values such as self-sacrifice and a disdain of ostentation. These values are not maintained in an environment of celebrity and self-centeredness, such as we witness now as our civilization declines around us.
Re: “a disdain of ostentation”
KEEP CALM AND DISDAIN OSTENTATION sounds like a fine Anglophile motto.
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