Every so often while working the Ivy beat, I come across an historical document so utterly anathema to the world of today that it feels like it’s from another universe. Case in point, this advertisement dug up by Ivy Style contributor Chris Sharp. It ran in a May, 1961 edition of the Brown University school newspaper, and is interesting for a number of reasons.
First, the otherworldliness. The ad (which, once again, ran in a college newspaper), argues that before students head home for summer vacation, they should get themselves not Bermuda shorts and madras shirts — and certainly not flip-flops — but a “frothy” new Dacron-blend suit! The selling point seems to be that they’ll be greeted by their home town as a young man whose future success is already assured, even if he’s still not old enough to drink.
The next interesting point is who the advertiser is: Clipper Craft, subject of a recent image gallery. Brown is rarely mentioned in the history of the Ivy League Look, and as there were no legendary clothiers serving the campus community — such as The Andover Shop at Harvard, J. Press at Yale and Langrock at Princeton — Brown students perhaps had to rely on Main Street manufacturers assuring them of “authentic Ivy” wares, in between visits, of course, from the road men of Brooks, Press and Chipp.
On the same page of the paper is another interesting ad illustrating the popularity of jazz on campus during the Ivy heyday, of which the 1960 movie “Where The Boys Are” remains my favorite dramatization. Because of problems the previous year, the Newport Jazz Festival was not held in 1961. Another producer team stepped in to fill the void with Music At Newport, whose lineup was an all-star cast of jazz greats.
Summer suits and American music of the highest refinement — for college students. It’s hard not to sound curmudgeonly, but my how things have fallen. — CC