Stetson’s Ivy League Fedora, 1953

As a follow-up to our last post on Taylor-Made shyoes, here’s another Main Street retailer that used the term “Ivy League” in its ad copy once the look became popular. These two Stetson ads are from 1953 and 1955 (coincidentally the same years as the Taylor-Made ads). Thanks to frequent comment-leaver “Old School” for alerting us to them.

30 Comments on "Stetson’s Ivy League Fedora, 1953"

  1. “…in 1965, after President Kennedy dealt the hat the coup de grace…” people keep saying this but they don’t explain why they believe it when it is not true.

  2. I knew someone was going to call me out on that, just didn’t know it’d be in the first 10 minutes. Yeah I’ve got the Kennedy hat book and was being tongue-in-cheek, but my fault for not making it more obvious. I’ll go throw a “supposedly” in there.

  3. You mention you were a small town reporter in the North Bay. Which town? I live in the North Bay….Fairfield.
    I wore a fedora to a Sacramento Kings game a couple of nights ago. I got a lot of looks wearing it.

  4. Grew up in Santa Rosa and started out there. Not exactly a “small town.” Trying to remember how big Fairfield is…

  5. Some say the demise of the men’s hat was the advent of the personal automobile, no more walking to work or waiting for the bus.

    Ivy League Stetson, makes sense, most like beaver.

    Christian, you might check to see if there are any Stetson outlet stores near you, very good deals can be had.

  6. Just had another look at your ‘English Ivy Obsession’ post from October 2010; that was fun. I think the movies may have got a bit smaller since then, but keep up the good work anyway.

    P.S. I hope you fired your pompous ‘editorial assistant’…

  7. Great website! I encourage men to take up the sadly neglected cause of the proper hat. I wear a hat most days, usually a fedora with a 2 1/2 inch brim from Christys’, Locke or Dobbs, and I have done so from about age 30 on. I generally wear a suit to work, or at least a sport coat, and, in winter, a top coat. In summers, I wear a fairly conservative Panama or a straw snap-brim from J. Press, often with a seersucker suit. While real hats, as opposed to baseball caps, are admittedly unusual these days, I think anyone who wears a coat and tie to work can wear a hat without looking like he is in costume. However, I live on the east coast. While it certainly works in NY and Washington, as well as in most southern cities I spend time in, such as Charlottesville, Richmond, New Orleans and Charleston, I can see that it might not work as well in someplace like Miami or on the west coast, where dress is generally very informal.

  8. Just because the Modern American Slob Culture disapproves of hats is, to my way thinking, all the more reason to wear them.

    I recently bought a Stetson Stratoliner from Orvis, and, when the weather permits, it does make the proper statement.

    Today if a man dresses the way he should, it usually looks as it he’s wearing a costume.

    A sad state of affairs, but the only alternative is to look as bad as everyone else.

  9. Roy R. Platt | January 18, 2013 at 4:51 pm |

    If the dimensions (1 7/8″ brim, 4″ crown) on the current version of this hat are the same as on the original version, I have an almost identical grey Brooks Brothers “University” hat that I bought in the early ’60’s.

    The current Stetson version seems to have a metal “something” in the center of the bow on the band as well as a feather that the original version did not have.

  10. Christian, Fairfield has over 100,000 people now. I’m from a small town outside Sacramento.
    In regards to Tuesday being National Hat Day, I think people are celebrating today. I have seen four men wearing fedoras today. Normally its once a week I see a gentlemen wearing a nice hat.

  11. Oxblood Ruffin | January 18, 2013 at 6:25 pm |

    Traditional hats are definitely on the decline. But there is no shortage of goofy hats: oversized baseball hats, toques, snap brim hats worn backwards, Kangols, more backwards worn caps, and the occasional beret. I really don’t see any style issues with wearing a proper hat. They also keep one’s head warm.

  12. I think you make some good points Mac. My grandfather never went without hat and I think it is one of the things I remember most about him. That and he mowed his yard in clothes nicer than most people wear to work these days.

  13. What’s the function of a hat? It protects one’s head from heat, cold, and sunburn. It shades the eyes from the sun. It can act as a mini-umbrella in rain or snow. I’m sure there are more.
    I prefer Kangol or newsboy type tweed hats for hunting, fishing, golf or just keeping my head warm and dry. The short brim doesn’t obstruct my vision and the wind doesn’t effect them.

  14. The automobile indeed had a negative effect on hat sales; but it was not the car itself that was to blame, but the changing automotive architecture of the late 1950s when the “longer, lower, wider aesthetic was ascendant, particularly in the U.S.

    As an example; from 1955 to 1961, the height of the Chevrolet dropped from a generous 65 inches to a hat-defying 56 inches.

    In earlier times, a man would don a hat as he left the house, keep it on in the car and remove it only when he arrived at his destination. When the lower cars took over and the masses moved to the suburbs, the only chance to wear a hat was the brief walk from the front door to the car, and from the car to ones destination. Most men decided it wasn’t worth the bother.

  15. I bought my first black Fedora, (Adam brand) in 1966, for $ 12. I never really wore it much, always considered it too good for everyday use. Anyhow, not many 14 year old boys wore fedoras, even back then. Months later, my Dad bought me a dark blue wool plaid fedora, almost as dressy as the black felt. I wore that hat into the 1980’s, when it looked too shabby for wear.

    I wore dress hats in the 70’s, a Panama, Homburg, along with a few woolen Irish walker types. Also wore many snap brim types. Somewhere along the line, you just didn’t see any men wearing anything but ball caps. Once in a while, I’ll wear the original fedora, but odd looks abound. I’ve kept it on my hall tree for the last decade or so. Funny, about a month ago, I gave it a good brushing, and it still looks like new. The lining is as clean and new as the day I bought it, 46 years ago. I placed it in my closet, in a box, too nice to leave out.

    Anyhow, most times I wear snap brims or Kangols, but this winter, I ran across my old Hanna Patchwork Walker. Battered, but still serviceable, I’ve been wearing it all winter. A few odd looks, but an old hat on an older man seems to fit. I doubt young fellows could wear one.

    Mr. President didn’t have a hat on yesterday for the Inauguration ceremonies. This bodes ill for the hat, just as Kennedy deep sixed them over 50 years ago.

    Cheers!

  16. I have a gray Stetson cashmere blend fedora, and once last year when I was outside a public watering hole having a smoke, someone asked me if I was a detective.

  17. Wriggles,

    Thank you for the stories. I still wear my fedoras every day, and although yes, I get the occasional odd look or stupid comment, the comfort I derive from wearing one far outweighs those scattered negatives.

    Incidentally, Kennedy did wear a hat to his inauguration, if not during the event itself.

  18. There’s a 1960 Stetson Ivy League on Ebay right now. Current bid is only $29.99, so it might be worth it even if it isn’t your size:
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-NICE-ROYAL-STETSON-IVY-LEAGUE-FEDORA-HAT-FOR-THE-DASHING-MAN-NOW-SAVE-/150986587195?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2327807c3b

    I have a number of hats back in the States. I’m currently in Shanghai, but I wear a tan Stetson fedora every day when I’m outside. I’ve never gotten anything but compliments on my hats. In fact, I get very interesting compliments here consisting of a “thumbs up” gesture, a smile, waving a hand over the head, and saying friendly things in Chinese. It’s funny how people can communicate their appreciation of style, despite a language barrier.

    I will admit I also regularly wear a double-breasted tweed suit. And bow ties. But as a 6 foot 3, 240-pound American I already stick out in China. So there’s no point in trying to “blend in” for me.

    I like your blog. Reading the Official Preppy Handbook when I was in middle school started me on dressing in classic style. I haven’t owned a pair of jeans since I was 12.

    Don’t limit your hat-wearing to snowy days. Felt hats also keep the rain off. And a good straw hat can be your best friend in the sun.

    Andrew

  19. I found this page because I just became the proud owner of an original Stetson “Ivy League” fedora myself. I urge you to keep fighting the good style fight – I don’t think you necessarily have to get completely dressed up to wear a hat, although it depends on the hat style. I wear a porkpie most days, which is informal enough to go with almost anything, and a fedora on other days, and I wouldn’t say I get more than the regular share of odd looks, and a fair number of compliments. On very rare days I even wear a late-1940s Stetson bowler, although that is admittedly a special-occasion kind of thing.

  20. Out of every comment, there is one that is different….

  21. Evan Everhart | January 30, 2018 at 6:18 pm |

    I wear a hat every day, usually the Dobbs Jet 707 in cornhill that my Grandfather had, and gave to my Dad. My Dad gave it to me when I turned 12 and I’ve been wearing it ever since. I live in Southern California, Los Angeles County (the San Fernando Valley). People here are generally very casual anymore, I still remember when I was younger and the people at church would wear suits and ties and sometimes hats, those days are mostly gone. Or perhaps it’s just upper class flight from the Valley? Mostly its nouveau riche here anymore. A bit of the old families left in the hills to the North and far West. Though this was never an area with a particular concentration of old money. Sorry, got lost on a ponderance. Point being, things are abjectly casual, for the most part here. I however, still wear a suit, hat, tie, and real shoes to work, carry a leather briefcase, and in cold weather, a top coat, failing a suit, a sport-coat or blazer and appropriate trousers (typically on a Friday, or the day after a holiday). Civilization matters! We are the bearers of it, and it’s heralds, as people who choose to live civilized lives, and to work to ensure it for future generations by the means at our diminished disposal. Clothing and grooming are the metal barrier upon the rim of the highway of civilization (sorry for the chintzy and rather clumsy metaphor), along with courtesy, etiquette, ethics, morals, and public service and regard for the law and all of those other social graces and necessities which are so greatly diminished or nearly extinct in our present day.

  22. Vern Trotter | January 25, 2021 at 3:46 am |

    Hanging in my hall on a hat tree right now with 15 other hats and caps is the latest Lock & Co. Fedora in my life. I ordered it just before the 9/11 attacks from their store in St. James. It arrived about two weeks later. Used as packing in the box was the front pages of several London newspapers for September 12, featuring their reporting from the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania. Also enclosed was a handwritten note from an employee and all the Locke people offering me condolences and sympathy because (I had realized) I was now a New Yorker, transferred in during the year 2000. By then, of course, I had learned my company had lost 15 employees who were at a breakfast meeting at Windows On The World at the top of the Towers. Not an once of body parts, no DNA, “no nothing” was ever found. I replied to their kind note the best I could. I think I shall wear my Locke & Co. hat and go downtown tomorrow or the next day.

  23. Sic transit, eh? The second ad says: “for that accent on youth” and shows a fairly stingily brimmed ‘trilby’. By the time of my youth (1980s), that sort of hat was used as a visual shorthand for ‘really crusty old curmudgeon’. 🙂

    These days I wear a felt hat or baker-boy through winter.

  24. I own and wear three fedoras (the real deal, not a trilby wrongly labelled as a fedora) by Optimo of Chicago and Borsalino most days between October and April. A Panama hat if I am dressed (blazer or sports jacket, creased pants, and leather dress shoes) in warm weather. I’ve never heard anything to my face but compliments.

    Best Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich

  25. Charlottesville | January 25, 2021 at 2:50 pm |

    Quite a story, Mr. Trotter. I hope you continue well.

    In addition to tweed buckets and flat hats, I have several “proper” hats including Panamas, fedoras in gray, black and brown from Lock, J. Press and Dobbs, a brown Trilby from Christys’ and even a BB boater and hard derby (or “Coke” or “bowler”) made in England for Brooks around 1940. However, the one I wear most this time of year is a gray Dobbs fedora with a moderate brim that would have looked right on Don Draper in 1965. No topper, alas, although I am still holding out hope that I will have occasion to wear the derby and the boater one day, but one would need to be in simpatico company for that.

  26. For me, the weather has a lot to do with what hat or cap I wear. As an example. Waiting for the bus in Washington, D.C. years ago on a harsh windy day in March, The wind took off my fedora and it spun down the sidewalk on its rim in the gust of wind. I did catch up with it but missed the bus.

    On a related note, a young man I am mentoring asked me why he seemed not to get any respect as he wore his worn cap backward. I replied that if you want the respect a mature man gets, you first have to look like a man. I also taught him the difference between a cap and hat and will start him teaching him the events each should be worn.

  27. I bought a Rambler Rollable Trilby from Lock on a visit to London several years ago. The salesman said this hat was for “shooting or walking the dog”. I don’t do either, but I still like the hat.

  28. Vern Trotter | January 26, 2021 at 3:16 am |

    A hat like the Fedora does blow off easily on windy days. Although I don’t know why that never seemed to be a bother back in the late fifties, sixties and early seventies when I wore one daily. Maybe because I was in an auto a lot, living in the suburbs. Now here in NYC it depends on the section of the city I plan to visit. You can be a crime target if you are careless. Back in the early sixties when I started in the corporate world, a distinguished looking elderly gentleman approached me at the corner of Liberty & Lexington streets in downtown Baltimore and gave me the following advice: “Always wear your hat. That way people will know you are The Man!”

  29. Henry Contestwinner | January 28, 2021 at 7:30 pm |

    All these years later, and I’m still wearing my fedoras when I go out. OK, so I’m working from home, but I still wear a tie. When I have occasion to go out, I put on a jacket and fedora—mid gray Stetson, dark gray Stetson, navy blue Dobbs, darkish brown Akubra. I’d like a couple more, but they wouldn’t fit in my closet, so I make do with what I have.

    It’s stormy here now, which only emphasizes a hat’s functionality: a proper hat keeps you warm and dry. I have also found that by dipping my head just right, with the brim I can hide my eyes from people I’d rather not talk to. Finally, I agree that the hat, along with the jacket and tie, serve as a kind of armor—I just don’t get bothered by “yutes” who might otherwise hassle me.

    Want to step up your sartorial game? Put on a fedora!

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