Was There Something I Missed?

In 2013 the Yale Alumni Magazine ran a short but interesting essay showing the importance of “the right clothes” and the ignorance of it for many public school kids admitted in the postwar years.

Writes Marty Nichols, who went off to New Haven in the fall of 1948:

As my classmates and I converge on Woolsey Hall it is obvious that they all seem to know something that I do not. When finally all seated, we have fused into a dark gray flannel blanket, with occasional dark blue flecks, with the sole misweave where my respectable, not quite electric, but decidedly sunny, blue plaid suit seems to glow.

How do all my classmates know that there is a college uniform, even for those not on an athletic team? Did they all shop at the same two stores? Impossible—they come from every state in the country. Was there some small print in the catalog or admissions letter that I missed?

What he missed was the unspoken code, though he learned it on his first day. Head over here for the full piece.

Above is the class of 1952 for the Yale School of Forestry And Environmental Studies, which may or may not have been shoe. — CC

9 Comments on "Was There Something I Missed?"

  1. Hello, Ivy Style readers. Though not a prep myself, I have been dropping by to listen in on you all every now and then. Not to laugh at you or anything like that, but because I rather like preppies and kind of miss them. Also, it seems to me your kind might be feeling some heat lately with all this “patriarchy, 1-percenters” hooey. So for what it’s worth, this middle class woman thinks that on the whole, preppy men are smart, gentlemanly, decent and trustworthy.
    I am keeping my fingers crossed that the country wakes up to your appeal once more. God help us if this skinny-jeans-tattoo-soyboy trend goes on much longer.

  2. elder prep | June 5, 2020 at 4:23 pm |

    Bless you, RKate! Three cheers for RKate! I will do my preppy best to prove to you that all is not lost in conservative male dressing.

  3. Don’t be fooled by appearances, RKate. Clothes don’t make anyone “smart, gentlemanly, decent, and trustworthy.” You can’t judge a book by its cover.

  4. You can’t /judge/ a book by its cover, but you can get a basic idea of what its contents are likely to be.

  5. john carlos | June 5, 2020 at 10:06 pm |

    Taliesin- very well said.

  6. I always figured the “can’t judge a book…” quote to refer to flashy, provocative covers which enveloped tripe. Rather the antithesis of Ivy.

  7. Charlottesville | June 6, 2020 at 4:14 pm |

    Very nice thoughts, well stated, RKate. We Preppies, Ivies, Trads, fogeys and whatever else we may be called or call ourselves need all of the encouragement we can get these days. I hope your finger-crossing works.

    What a lovely reminiscence from Mr. Nichols. I love that the gray suits in the J. Press window came in “various shades of dark.” Sounds like a good portion of my closet. The question “Don’t you already have one like that?” is a familiar refrain heard by husbands of our ilk.

  8. Thurman Punster | June 6, 2020 at 11:16 pm |

    Everyone can, and everyone does, and everyone must judge the book by its cover. As Oscar Wilde correctly said, “It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances.”

  9. Mitchell, I an adult and well aware that an attractive cover does not mean a well-written book, thank you. And I As I said, I am not a prep myself — the style does not quite suit me. What I appreciate about preppy men is that their navy blazer and whale pants culture generally seems to do a good job of instilling in them good manners, civic mindedness, consideration for others and honor. That’s a good thing and our culture needs more of it, despite what the “woke” May say.

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