A clean-cut appearance has always been part of the Ivy League Look. With a soft-shouldered jacket and Princeton haircut, a young man could conveniently mask his salacious intentions. After all, what father could fear for his teenage daughter’s honor while on a date with a boy wearing a cardigan?
In the 1950s, this kind of boy-next-door image was required to bring the provocative new music of rock ‘n’ roll into suburban living rooms. It found its ultimate embodiment in Dick Clark, who brought back-seat rhythms into respectable homes clad in natural-shouldered suits and rep ties.
This is not the Ivy style of smoke-filled nightclubs, of Chet and Miles, nor of campus tweeds and crewnecks. Clark’s was the Ivy of Brylcreemed hair and a Chiclets smile, of sock hops and the soda fountain.
A graduate of Syracuse University, where he was a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, Clark got his start in 1945 in the mail room of Utica, NY radio station WRUN. He worked his way up to disc jockey, then moved into television in 1956 as the host of American Bandstand. The show aired daily until 1963, then weekly until 1987.
While his white teeth and suave hair remained impervious to the ravages of time, earning him the nickname “America’s Oldest Teenager” and suggesting a portrait rotting away in an attic somewhere, his dedication to Ivy style did not, and, like many others, Clark abandoned the look when it fell out of fashion. — ZD & CC