From Crewneck Sweater To White Tie: JFK At The Maryland Hunt Cup, 1940

Last week Baltimore Magazine posted a video clip of John F. Kennedy during his years as a Harvard student. It’s 1940, the US is about to enter the war, and Kennedy will soon leave Cambridge for the Solomon Islands.

This is footage from the twilight of the golden age of upper-class collegiate life, the era of unfathomable college wardrobes that Esquire featured throughout the 1930s. Kennedy attends the Maryland Hunt Cup, described as one of the oldest and most daunting horse races in America, clad in a yellow sweater under a gray odd jacket. Later the young undergrad, along with his Harvard pals, changes into white tie and tails, complete with red carnation, for the evening ball.

It’s interesting to see some of his signature accessories indulged at this young age. There’s a long thin cigar, and, pictured above, sunglasses. The guy certainly had natural charisma.

Check out the video here. — CC

12 Comments on "From Crewneck Sweater To White Tie: JFK At The Maryland Hunt Cup, 1940"

  1. Archivist Trad | May 1, 2017 at 3:21 pm |

    Source of that clip, I believe:

  2. Speaking of JFK, did everyone get the new Lands’ End catalog today?

  3. I’ve attended the Hunt Cup going on several years now, and I can say that the attire (for some in the crowd, at least) has remained much the same as that picture. Perhaps the biggest change would be that many of the men now wear ball caps; but otherwise, still lots of tweed, ties, and Shetlands to be spotted in the crowd.

  4. Mitchell S. | May 1, 2017 at 4:56 pm |

    @CC: Are you referring to the navy blazer with the jivey ivy cut? Pretty sharp. Italian wool, but made in Mexico. Narrow lapels with pickstiching: two and a half inches wide according to my LE service rep. Corozo (wood) buttons may break easily. Overall, a good value for a wool blazer.

    I love the pic that shows the blazer with Nantucket reds and a blue madras shirt and sunglasses on page three:

  5. Well scrubbed, well groomed and well connected. Can you ask for much more?

    I have often wondered, in this day and age of everyone knowing everything, would Kennedy’s extraordinary illnesses and use of drugs to combat them prevented him from become President had the country known everything? In today’s world, probably not.

  6. I grew up going to the Hunt Cup. Central Maryland has a very strong equestrian heritage, beautiful countryside, rolling hills and horse farms. Along with Annapolis, it is one of primary Ivy style areas in the region. Side note: When I went to Hunt Cup in the 80’s, it was a mix of tradition and wild frat party. They’ve since severely curtailed the frat party element.

    60 Minutes featured the race recently:

  7. Vern Trotter | May 1, 2017 at 7:57 pm |


    You are correct, it turned into a big drunken party attracting folks who knew nothing about horses. I lived down the road on Shawan Road in the early 1960s. One constant at the race was MUD. So I guess it helped to be drunk. The smaller attended races down in Virginia, around Middleburg and further south were more enjoyable. I have never heard that JFK was ever at the Maryland Hunt Cup until now.

    The farm next to this one was Sagamore Farm, owned by Gwynn Vanderbilt, with it’s indoor race track and jet landing strip. Standing at stud there for many years was the great gray, Native Dancer, one of the greatest of all time, and loser of only one race: the Kentucky Derby, lost to Dark Star.

  8. Blair Spenser | May 2, 2017 at 12:26 am |

    Speaking of the new Lands’ End catalog, what’s the connection with JFK?

  9. Mark Henckel | May 2, 2017 at 10:36 am |

    Been to the Hunt Cup many times and it is always outstanding for dressing, food and the race. This film segment is from a History Channel documentary The Lost Kennedy Home Movies. They periodically reprise it and it may also be purchase from their on-line store. I highly recommend it.

  10. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | May 2, 2017 at 11:54 am |

    Re: the JFK/Land’s End catalog comment –

    You must know by now that CC has a predilection for leaving obscure comments with no context or explanation. Usually a line hidden within a blog post or in the comment section; a comment that just leaves you hanging and scratching your head for weeks as to what CC meant by that seemingly non sequitur.

    Clinical psychologists call it “gaslighting.”

    Don’t fall into his trap!

  11. Give me an hour or so. I figure the whole world would have noticed, but maybe I’m breaking news.

  12. Mitchell S. | May 2, 2017 at 12:04 pm |

    @Christian: just received my summer LE catalog. The model looks a lot like RFK. Great art from the LE people. The new CEO from Dolce Gabanna puts out some nice visuals.

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