The Ivy League Look In Australia In The ’50s

During the heyday of the Ivy League Look, the natural-shoulder diaspora spread not only from the Ancient Eight to campuses across America, it also spread to far corners of the globe.

In March of 1957, The Sydney Morning Herald reported on the growing trend for American Ivy League clothes. Farmer’s is a department store that sponsored an Esquire column in the paper, where the style was reported.

David Jones was another Australian department store that aimed this ad at kids whose college years were still a ways off. Quote:

… the style that began in American universities and became top fashion from coast to coast with thousands of well-dressed young Americans! Trousers are trim, tapered, with the distinctive adjustable backstrap; jackets are rugged, wind cheating; jaunty caps are striped or solid colours. And the shirts! Striped interlock cotton with a buttondown-button-back collar and long sleeves!

Naturally everything was explained to the novice:

In 1958 the paper continued to report on the trend with more Ivy 101:

Here a simple sartorial curriculum of the “rigid uniform” is outlined. Quote:

Indications are that most Australians, if not wearing actual “Ivy League” suits, will be influence by the style with its single-breasted, three-buttoned jacket, narrow lapels, unpadded shoulders, single vent at the back, and comfortable, tapered cut, matched by the tapers of the unpleated trousers.

The trousers are always belted.

The shirt has a buttoned down collar, the tie is narrow and striped, the socks are often white, the shoes are often moccasin style, and the hat is always narrow-brimmed with its band bow at the back.

Brooks Brothers is then essentially credited for inventing the style:

23 Comments on "The Ivy League Look In Australia In The ’50s"

  1. OldSchool | April 4, 2012 at 9:57 am |

    Quite a find!

    Thanks, Christian.

  2. Thank you from an Ivy League traditionalist in the Antipodes. I must say old chap you have done a splendid job of research there. Typical of Sydney to try and claim ownership of Ivy league in Australia but they are a rather rum lot. I do know why they didn’t take off in Australia, the prices were outrageous. A young rake at university would squander his allowance on such clothing. Of course regimental ties never really went out fashion as a proper chap only wears the regiment or battalion he belonged to. Such insolence from those Americans, Stealing styles and ideas from my dear old Blighty. Rotters..

  3. Regimental Stripe | April 4, 2012 at 10:09 pm |


    Am I mistaken, or was this penned by a Yank trying to sound like a Brit? All that old chap, rum, Blighty, rotters stuff seems to have been gleaned from Wodehouse books and 1930s movies.

  4. @Regimental Stripe I am Australian born and bred. My family were political prisoners sent as convicts. members of the failed 1798 Uprising of the Pike.

    The “upper Class” in Australia, the only ones in the period that could afford to shop at David Jones and many affected a very British accent, especially those over 40 who still looked to Mother England. The progressive ones were looking towards the United States.

  5. Regimental Stripe | April 5, 2012 at 5:14 pm |


    My apologies for having doubted your authenticity.

    I should have remembered that it is thanks to the British element that there is civilization in Australia and that linguistic habits die hard when they are transplanted to other soil.

  6. What the F?

    Thanks to the British there is civilization in Australia?

    Give me a break mate.

  7. @Regimental Stripe I must disagree sir! It was the Irish convicts that brought civilisation to Australia. Besides convicts, the only things the English brought was rum, sodomy and the lash. The rum was the only good bit. The English being very fond of sodomy and the lash I understand.

  8. @Simon. My aplogies for not crediting you. Where do I find out more about the Australian Ivy/Mod/50’s enthusiasts?

  9. @Fxh

    Aborigines and barbecues are civilization?

  10. The ballot box, first place to let women to vote; affordable single payer/private health scheme, Akubra hats, Ugg Boots .. … You Yanks claim your are democratic but we do it and you blokes follow a few decades later.

  11. Anonymous | April 6, 2012 at 1:20 pm |

    Well the internet certainly brings out the best in people.

  12. fxh — surely not ANOTHER Australian who thinks that your Western lifestyle, attitudes and traditions floated down to earth with the rainfall. Of course it’s from Britain — and not just ‘influence’ – a whoseale export/import and a long and happy history together. And what the heck is wrong with that?

  13. The truth of the matter is that Australia has made no contribution whatsoever to civilization; it has always been on the receiving end.

  14. Mad Max/Road Warrior; Errol Flynn, Hugh Jackman; Felix the Cat; Elle McPherson, Penicillin, Asprin, Black Box Flight Recorders, Hills Hoist, the lawn Mower, Pickups (the Pickup developed in Australia, Cervical Cancer vaccine, Cochlear Ear Implant, Shallow Till Sowing of Crops, prscilla Queen of the desert….A cultural and scientific oasis really

  15. Penicillin was discovered by the Scots biologist Alexander Fleming.

    Aspirin was developed by the German chemist Felix Hoffmann.

    I can’t be bothered to look up the others, but those two I knew off the top of my head.

    Which is not to say that Australia has made no contributions, but let’s not exaggerate.

  16. An Australian developed a synthetic Asprin during during the first World war; Look up Fleming for penicillin I said producing it and he worked with Fleming; Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

  17. “An Australian developed a synthetic Asprin during during the first World war”

    If that’s what you mean, then that’s what you should say: “artificial aspirin.”

    “Look up Fleming for penicillin I said producing it”

    No, you didn’t say “producing it.”

    I’m ready to give Aussies full credit where credit is due, but you only weaken your argument with these sloppy mistakes.

    P.S.: Elle McPherson is a beautiful woman, but if that’s the best you can do to argue for your “cultural and scientific oasis,” then I’m afraid your argument is weak indeed.

  18. Old Bostonian | April 10, 2012 at 11:38 am |

    I thought Southern California was a cultural wasteland until I saw Australia.

  19. I used to think we were a backwater here in Australia until I started look at American politics and reading American blogs.

  20. elder prep | July 22, 2020 at 6:19 pm |

    My goodness, what happened to the Ivy Style discussion?

  21. Carmelo Pugliatti | July 23, 2020 at 10:28 am |

    A interesting thing.
    I have many Italian fashions magazines of late 40s,50s and 60s ( a good collection).
    Seems that the Italians didn’t understand the Ivy style at all.
    When in these magazines talk abaut American fashion they refer to that we can call “rat pack style” or mid-atlantic style. They never speak about undarted jackets or others features of Ivy style.

  22. whiskeydent | July 23, 2020 at 2:02 pm |

    Henry, pedantry and rudeness don’t become you.

  23. Henry Contestwinner | July 28, 2020 at 5:55 pm |

    Thank you for the feedback, whiskeydent.

    What some call “pedantry” I call accuracy.

    As for rudeness, perhaps I was a bit brusque, but maybe it’s just the harsh tone we read into online comments, a harshness unintended by the author. (Said “unintended-but-read-into” harshness was the cause of the infamous flame wars of the early Internet).

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