In honor of Bastille Day, we revisit this post on France’s great contribution to the preppy-Ivy wardrobe.
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One of the pleasures of spending time among archival material is the chance discovery. We recently came across an Izod Lacoste advertisement that was used in 1958 and 1959, placed by The Andover Shop. On the surface it does not appear different from other Izod-Lacoste advertising material from the period. It carries the sobriety one might expect from the faux Anglo-Franco alliance. While the French side was real — Lacoste was founded by the tennis champ Rene Lacoste, nicknamed “Le Crocodile” — the other pard is English in name only. Izod was a London tailor, but an American bought the rights to use his name to play up the English pedigree. The ad’s illustrated model is a mature golfer, his trousers pleated and his shirt buttons all buttoned up — quite incorrectly, as The Andover Shop’s Charlie Davidson says this was never done. It is likely a stock image.
The curious part is where the advertisement was placed, who placed it, and the Ivy-relevant copywriting that is going to invite a comparison to our previous piece on the difference — or not — between Ivy and preppy. The ad appeared in the Phillipian, the student newspaper of Phillips Academy (long known as a feeder school to Yale) and the advertiser is none other than The Andover Shop. The ad copy certainly isn’t stock and is a veritable ode to Ivy:
Through the hallowed halls of learning
And the fields of sport and play
Strides the modern Ivy League man
In the costume of the day.
In his clothing there’s distinction
And he knows the signs of style
On his slacks a silver buckle
On his shirt a crocodile.
For the croc’s a sign of quality
Of shoulders never sagging
Of collars that will always fit
And garments never bagging
Its built a reputation
Its fame just grows and grows
Chemise Lacoste is worn by
Every Ivy man who knows.
Yet further evidence, we think, that the preppy style that flourished in the ’70s had the bulk of its origins in the Ivy League Look of a generation before.
We called Charlie Davidson and asked if he had any recollection of the ad, but he did not. By that time he was running just the Cambridge store, with family members running the branch in Andover. He did recall that Lacoste shirts from that period were of exceptional quality, and that while he never liked to stock name brands, Lacoste sold better than any brand he’s ever carried. Charlie also recalled how the shirts were worn with the collar popped, and how “guys in Southampton would wear two at a time,” but he couldn’t tell us precisely what decade these trends first emerged. — CHRISTOPHER SHARP & CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD