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. Just for the record I have not communicated with Christian Chensvold or the Ivy Style blog.

    The information I gathered for my “The Marketing Wizards of Ivy in The Land of Oz” posting on the 7th February this year was from the Sydney Morning Herald archives (requiring an online login) and it seems very unlikely for such an obscure topic that someone would co-incidentally research the same topic a short while later and come up with just a sub-set of my earlier postings – with not a single entry outside that range of previously posted images.

    I claim no rights or ownership over the material , sharing my findings just for the love of the clothes and Antipodean arcana , but I did spend some time sifting through extraneous material to present what I thought pertinent to the interest of readers of this forum and those generally interested in interpretations of commercialized Ivy fashion outside North America during the height of its popularity. I know the material I uncovered was unknown to a number of local Ivy/Mod/50’s enthusiasts who have spent many years collecting information on this and other styles of clothing in Australia, so it was not what I would currently consider common knowledge in this country or elsewhere.

    Christian could rightly state that this information was originally published in a newspaper and therefore can be accessed by anyone, and if he has co-incidentally delved into the same wellspring of information I look forward to further postings on the topic as it is not yet exhausted. The article certainly gives the impression the material has been collated by him, the article springing forth like Athena from Zeus’ head, fully formed and grown.

    Prior to the Ivy Style article this week, with Christian’s commentary on the source material, the only other reference I had seen to the subject matter was an entry (now deleted , or at least I can’t find it today) on John P. Gaul’s ‘The Sylabus’ blog in February that linked back to the original Talk Ivy post.

    What is the difference between (a) an enthusiast’s posting about an obscure topic on the FNB Talk Ivy forum and (b) a ground-breaking piece of research and analysis published by a journalist, founder and Editor-in-Chief on the commercial Ivy Style blog … about two months, it seems.

  5. @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.

  6. 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.

  7. What the F?

    Thanks to the British there is civilization in Australia?

    Give me a break mate.

  8. @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.

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

  10. @Fxh

    Aborigines and barbecues are civilization?

  11. 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.

  12. Christian | April 6, 2012 at 9:00 am |


    I feel your comment deserves a response, though I’m not sure what I can say to assuage your feelings of having been wronged.

    First off, I never claimed this post was “a ground-breaking piece of research and analysis,” and this rhetorical overkill simply hurts any case you could mount that you have been morally (certainly not legally) wronged. Nor did I even claimed to have discovered the article in question; I simply presented it.

    While I agree that possessing an account login to a newspaper’s website, searching the keyword “Ivy,” and sifting through the results does constitute a kind of research, I’m not sure it’s the kind that deserves a title, as you seem to have given yours, and a date of “publication.”

    If you had presented your findings under your own name and through a legitimate publishing venue, web or print, and not, a message board commonly referred to as Devil’s Island and regarded as the cesspool of the menswear Internet, things could have been different.

    Now it’s possible that your findings may end up in subsequent books or exhibits with no credit to you.

    In the future, I would suggest to you and all fellow Ivy hobbyists who may be concerned about having their research stolen by commercial entities or academic institutions to present your findings under your own name through a legitimate publishing venue, or to simply circulate your findings privately so that they are not found by those in a better position to share them with the broader public.



  13. I feel I may have given the wrong impression Christian, I didn’t do the research for any of the articles you’ve used nor have I posted them on the net. Neither did I write the comment I left under my name. Rather I just copied and pasted the comment from “Devil’s Island” from the guy who did all the work to bring these interesting cuttings and ads to the attention of those interested. Whilst I agree with your comments, I feel that mentioning where this great information was found wouldn’t have gone amiss, as should have I with my first comment with regard to the OP’s response to you reproducing his own blog work. I myself have used content on my own blog that I’ve taken from here, I did of course present a link to yours with the article used. I feel its the right thing to do. I’m aware of the snarking that goes on between NFB and here. I have to say I enjoy my time on that forum, I find it both informative and witty. I also enjoy reading your blog which I think is great. I’m sure there are many more people that wouldn’t have seen these things without your blog. Therefore it can only be a good thing that you’ve posted these clips, mentioning where you seen them would have been polite.

    Wishing you the very best,

  14. The English guys at FNB are all up in arms because their anonymous user who posted an old newspaper article was not credited, but it is their own sainted Ivy heroes — JP Gaul and Graham Marsh — who engaged in real plagiarism, stealing verbatim from in their book “The Ivy Look” without credit.

    We presented real research and signed our names to it, and English Ivy scenesters stole it, plain and simple.

    They really shouldn’t be playing the theft card.

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

    Well the internet certainly brings out the best in people.

  16. 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?

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

  18. 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

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. “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.

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

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

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

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


WordPress spam blocked by CleanTalk.