In 1947, a letter from the Student Tailor Shop gave official notice to Princeton’s incoming class of ’51 that the university required its own wardrobe. “The style of clothing worn around the campus,” it read, “is different from that sold in metropolitan centers and home town stores.”
From four-button suits and detachable-collar shirts in the 1910s to the classic Ivy look of gray flannel trousers, white bucks and rep tie in the ’50s, Princeton shaped the sartorial habits of its students, who went on to influence fashion at large. But what was worn on the Princeton campus was different because, at least for a time, it was cutting-edge.
Soon, however, it was increasingly seen as conformist, and sometime in the late ’60s students — and America at large — began to draw sartorial inspiration less from Nassau Street and more from Mean Street. Cutoff shorts and leather jackets found their way on campus.
“A Brief History of P-Town Style,” a 2004 article from The Daily Princetonian, chronicles fashion at Princeton over the years, with an emphasis on the enduring appeal, through good times and bad, of sporty Ivy-influenced clothing. From plaid to Nantucket Reds to popped-collar polo shirts, Princeton students continue a manner of dress that is different from what most Americans wear. While their style is no longer cutting edge, it retains its insider appeal and a consciously anachronistic charm. — TALIESIN
Pictured above is Princeton’s Cannon Club, 1949.