Historic Texts

Freshman Blues: Trying Not to Flunk Out of Yale, 1965

  What was it like for a public-school kid from nowhere to go to an Ivy League school during the heyday? Sure, you got to wear cool clothes (once you figured out what they were), but even that was fraught with anxiety. At least it was for Timothy Thompson, whose first semester at Yale was full of

Going Down: Brooks, Escalators, and Marks & Spencer

When Marks & Spencer installed elevators in Brooks Brothers’ Madison Avenue flagship, they only went down. Widely acknowledged for monumental mismanaging Brooks, hastening a decline in quality and the isolation of lifelong customers, the UK apparel firm Marks & Spencer eventually sold Brooks Brothers in 2001 after 13 years and hundreds of millions in losses. This

J. Press, A Frat House Where Everyone’s Dad Is Rich

I recently discovered this article about J. Press buried in the files on my computer. Richard Press sent it to me so long ago he doesn’t even remember it. He says he believes it’s from 1987 and a magazine called Success. Consider it successfully resurrected. — CC

Bermuda Short

As this native Californian has learned after a decade on the East Coast, this is about the time of year when you start getting stir crazy for spring. So here’s a piece to get you even more in the mood. It’s a little shortie I did for the Rugby Ralph Lauren blog back in 2009,

Boyer on Brooks, 1981

G. Bruce Boyer gave Ivy Style permission to digitize this chapter from his 1985 book “Elegance.” It is based on an article that originally appeared in the May 1981 issue of Town & Country. Brooks Brothers By G. Bruce Boyer When it phased out its custom tailoring department, the story was carried on the front

Somewhere in Time: Conform and Function

It is said that the winners get to write the history books. One of the now-official effects of the social upheaval of the 1960s was that young people broke down the oppressive conformity of society, including rigid and unimaginative clothes. The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (played by Gregory Peck, above, in the film of

The Gentrified Campus

What were Ivy Leaguers wearing in the fall of 1953? According to Gentry magazine, anything in tawny black. In a fashion spread entitled “Fashions Cum Laude for the Undergraduate,” the uber-elitist magazine (every issue included fabric swatches, and no models were ever used, only genuine gentries) says tawny black is the hot new color. But mixed

Somewhere in Time: The Politics of Style

Traditional Ivy style is rarely exhibited by the most visible Ivy League graduates: politicians. For instance, George W. Bush (Yale, Harvard) and Barack Obama (Columbia, Harvard) are never seen wearing sack suits, button down collars, or regimental striped ties. So when and why did establishment Ivy Leaguers abandon the Ivy look? “Goodbye to Wing Tips,”

A Preppy Walks Into A Bar…

Our last post centered around how the ’80s preppy trend was covered in regional newspapers. Now we look at how it was viewed by professional gag-writers. The runaway success of “The Official Preppy Handbook” gave birth to a cottage industry of parodies and knock-offs, including “The Original Preppy Joke Book.” Most of the jokes are

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Prep

  Like this post and want more content like it, more often? Help Ivy Style reach its goal of 1,000 true fans * * * Everything you always wanted to know about prep but were too stuck-up to ask By Mike Steere The Toledo Blade August 27, 1980 For lack of a better word, we’ll

The Year Brooks Invented Pink

Today there’s multiple news in the world of pink, and so we’re revisiting — and reworking — this post that originally ran in 2009. Back then we examined a LIFE Magazine piece from 1955, when the Ivy heyday was just getting started, that all but credited Brooks Brothers with inventing the color pink — at

200 Years Of American Style: The Brooks Brothers Bicentennial

Time is a funny thing. It’s a lot easier to look backward than forward. Has something to do with the past being real — having actually happened — while the future is indeterminate and isn’t real until it becomes the present. Brooks Brothers is celebrating its bicentennial this year. It’s incredible, but not impossible, to

Nelson W. Aldrich Jr. on Preppies

Mentioned recently in the post “Searching For The P In WASP,” this 1979 cover story on preppies is one of the most important historical documents on Ivy Style. It’s situated between the end of the heyday of the Ivy League Look and the preppy trend of the 1980s. It was first posted here in 2009

Preppies Vs. Hippies: The Ivy League Guidebook, 1969

In 1969, when the Ivy League was shedding Weejuns and growing sideburns at an alarming rate, three students — Andrew Tobias, Arnold Bortz and Caspar Weinberg — published “The Ivy League Guidebook.” Exactly as its title would suggest, the book is aimed at incoming freshman and devotes a chapter to each school, plus general sections

M Magazine, 1991: Unbuttoning Brooks Brothers

The March, 1991 M Magazine article — of which scans are presented below after the jump (click “Continue”) — is our second article on Brooks Brothers during the Marks & Spencer era. Along with the previous one from Forbes, the article is part of a cache I collected while doing a paper for a Business