Originally posted in 2011, this is Ivy Style’s first tribute to Black History Month. It also has the distinction of being written by Ivy Style’s youngest contributor, Robert I. Brown, who was a mere 16 years old at the time.
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Although Jacob Lawrence was a high school dropout, he adopted the Ivy League Look later in life, as did many African Americans involved in the arts who wanted to appear both hip and dignified.
Born in Atlantic City, Lawrence took classes at the Harlem Art Workshop under the direction of African American artist Charles Alston. “Dynamic cubism” — the style of painting Lawrence was known for — led him to several awards for his work. In 1940 he rose to great acclaim as the leading African American artist thanks to a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.
When it comes to the Ivy League Look in its purest form, less is always more. In the photo above, Lawrence is sharply outfitted in essential Ivy League style: herringbone jacket, crisp white buttondown and a black knit tie.
In the image below, he takes the same shirt and tie combo and pairs it with another classic Ivy jacket in corduroy:
As for Black History Month, it began in 1926 as Negro History Week and was founded by Carter G. Woodson, who earned his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1912, the second African American to earn a doctorate there after WEB Du Bois. — ROBERT I. BROWN
Top image via Getty. Below, “The Library” from 1967.