Vintage Varsity

The first vintage costume event I went to — way back in 1996 — was the Bay Area’s Gatsby Summer Afternoon. Held at the Dunsmuir House, an estate in the Oakland Hills, the event features music and dancing, vintage cars, and a contest to see who can create the most opulent picnic spread. The event draws up to 2,000 people, and that first time it was like walking into a dream. Within a short time I spotted the flapper of my dreams. The band struck up a waltz, the only dance I’d learned in advance, and I made my move. Soon after we were a couple, and I was in the throes of first love. We’re still friends all these years later.

The last time I attended was in 2009, a couple of months before moving to New York, when I took these photos. It’s worth planning a trip to San Francisco for the annual event. — CC

15 Comments on "Vintage Varsity"

  1. So cool….If you’re into old collegiate football I highly recommend the movie Harvard Beats Yale 29-29. It is a documentary that contains footage from a famous “the game” in the 60’s. Then they interview all of the players…and Tommy Lee Jones was one of the Harvard boys. They really tell you how it was in the old Ivy League days before women were allowed to attend and the whole slacker dress code came into play. Lots of amazing stories

  2. No Princeton beer jackets? 🙁

  3. That Cornell blazer makes everything I own look like junk. Amazing.

  4. More on the Cornell blazer

    Christian you did not mention the Bathing Beauty Revue.

  5. We’ve been meaning to attend for years. I may wear my Princeton alumni/beer jacket for the class of 1915! 🙂

  6. Don’t mean to be rude, but can someone explain to me the appeal of dressing like this? It feels like cosplay.

  7. That’s because it is.

  8. Ezra Cornell | April 29, 2019 at 10:54 pm |

    That Cornell jacket beats the band! What a terrific event.

  9. what the fuck is this?

  10. Down Tradden | April 30, 2019 at 9:10 am |

    Oh dear. I’m speechless.

  11. Clark Sharpton | April 30, 2019 at 9:11 am |

    What in the world is wrong with cosplay?
    Is it any worse than wearing heyday Ivy style in 2019?

  12. Premise: looking like you’re wearing a “costume” is a cardinal sin in menswear. (I don’t necessarily disagree)

    Conclusion: Actual vintage clothing costume parties are therefore also a sin.

  13. Boop McSnoot | April 30, 2019 at 7:07 pm |

    I’d say there’s a lot wrong with wearing “heyday Ivy style” in 2019 – if it looks like a costume of “1962 Man” or whatever. This wouldn’t worse than that, it would be the same. I don’t have any problem with people dressing up in costume, which is 100% what this is, for a one-off event like this. Why shouldn’t they? It’s fun. But wearing this, or “heyday Ivy style,” or Regency dress, for that matter, every day would be wearing a costume, and I think that would bespeak a fundamental uneasiness with oneself, a need to mask yourself in everyday life. I wear traditional American men’s clothing, sack suits/OCBDs/etc., but no one I encounter remarks on it unless it’s on a specific motif tie or it’s related to the changing seasons. No one thinks I’m roleplaying as some kind of midcentury man, and I’d be mortified if that’s how I looked.

  14. IOW, “McSnoot” et alter, instead of just wearing something you happen to like, you agonise over the precise degree between very-very-old-guy-clothes that are just about NOT costume, for, oh another few years, and those that might provoke some pissant to screech “cosplay!”. Sounds like a fun approach to dressing… 🙁

  15. Other than the football helmet and the Penn State blazer, are any of those looks really cosplay-y? Sure, they are dandified, and uncommon to see around the jeans and t-shirt masses. However, I don’t think those outfits would look particularly off at a country club or stroll around the neighborhood.

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