Last week we ran a photo from 1954, the dawn of the Ivy heyday. The post was entitled “The Ideal” and featured tennis player Vic Seixas wearing a J. Press sportcoat for a Sports Illustrated clothing spread. Now, as promised, is the rest of the article.
The piece is entitled “The Not So Odd Jacket” and briefly sketches the origins of the combination of sportcoat and slacks as opposed to matching suit. The fashion is credited to Yale:
The story of the student at Yale who launched the sport jacket appears so often in the annals of men’s fashions that though his name is unrecorded and it may be in part apocryphal, it must contain the essence of truth. This young Eli, class of ’28, ripped the trousers to his brown tweed suit—as standard an item in his day as the Oxford gray flannel is for the class of ’55. Nothing daunted, and being of a strong fraternity and reputation, he teamed his brown tweed jacket with a pair of flannel “bags.” The combination was such a success that by 1932 tweed jackets and flannel slacks were college uniforms from East to West, superseding the four-piece suit (knickers, long pants, vest and jacket) of Scott Fitzgerald’s heyday.
The piece then goes on to point out that while odd jackets had existed for several decades, they were relegated to specific sporting events and endeavors. The novelty was pairing country tweeds and flannels for everyday wear, albeit not for the city office, but the leafy confines of a college campus.
Head over to this page in the SI vault to read the brief text, and click on the link on the right to see the full layout.
As a sportcoat-and-grey-trouser man myself, I am most grateful to this unknown Eli of legend for his sartorial innovation. — CC