Earlier this month the Dallas Morning News did a style tribute to JFK. There’s plenty to nitpick in the story, including the awkwardly oxymoronic line that Kennedy’s style influence is “arguably eternal,” but there were a few parts I thought interesting.
First off is this 1958 quote referring to “Brooks Brothers couture”:
“This night, Jack Kennedy — the young Eastern millionaire with the Harvard accent, the Brooks Brothers couture and the egghead ideas — had them standing on their chairs, whistling and shouting.” — Cabell Phillips, The New York Times, July 13, 1958
Later, the author paints this terse picture of Kennedy’s off-duty style:
Off-duty, Kennedy’s style was as refreshing. His upper-class, Ivy League life before Washington meant growing up wearing that echelon’s staples: tweed sports coats, Shetland wool crew neck sweaters, brightly colored polo shirts, khakis and loafers.
Then we get this quote:
“He never looked shabby. It was his culture to dress better than he had to.”
But the next part is most interesting as it reflects Main Street clothiers’ appropriating of the Ivy League Look during the heyday:
Said Derrill Osborn, the former vice president of men’s tailored clothing for Neiman Marcus: “Being a student of the Ivy League period, which took hold during John Kennedy’s three years as president, I can attest [it] was a great moment in clothes.”
“We copied him,” said Osborn, then a menswear buyer in New York for Saks Fifth Avenue stores. “I sold Ivy League by the carloads. It was really about the adoration the youth had with Kennedy and the Beatles. It was the early ’60s.”
Saks had long catered to the student population in college towns, but surely never sold Ivy by the carloads except during the heyday, which, like JFK’s Camelot, was fleeting. — CC