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#1 2006-12-06 06:46:12

Terry Lean
Member
Posts: 2440

The Ivy League Style: The Boom Years.

Just for the other side of the coin.

Before we start I don't actually believe that we are really seeing that much of a revival at the moment, btw. Maybe it will happen & spread out from the MBs... I don't know. What is on offer at the moment has a very limited appeal I should think...
Not the clothes (which I love), but the way that they are being interpreted on the forums.
I thought 'Preppy' was pretty unattractive and I think that the re-working of Preppy into 'Trad' makes the style even more niche. It's narrowing down, down, down into a petit bourgeois neo-conservative uniform.
The style is currently in the sh*t in the U.S.
In the U.K. it has its mixed bag of die-hard followers and limps along.
In Japan it's doing fine...

BUT!

Remember the good old days when even in the States it was young & hot & full of life?
A style associated with youth, energy and all dem things?

No, me neither.

But I can read (Just about) & talk to older guys who were around and, yes, it turns out that (once upon a time) Ivy was indeed cool & even edgey.
A nice thought.
Odd that this aspect is never revived...
Well, people get what they want.
If they want a uniform - Good for them.

However -  The real boom years were the 50's/60's in the U.S. Maybe '55 to '65 mainly? ( I'm guessing here).
In the U.K. the best years for Ivy would have been (when?) 67-69 at the Ivy Shop? Austins will have done well in the late '50's early '60's too... One day John Simons will write a book & we'll know all these things for sure.
Anyway, in the U.S. '55-'65 are the golden years of Ivy I think, & the years when all that lovely money was made by all those lovely shops.

I honestly  think that the 'Preppy' thing in the early '80's was just a little blip. Very short lived. But it left behind a 'handbook' so it now seems much more than it was.
To be sure, money was made out of Preppy but nothing like the money that was made out of Ivy. 85% of men's clothing sales in the U.S. back in the day? Surely that's enough.

So those are the days that I think have the most to offer for fans of the Ivy League style.

But I'm happy to be told otherwise.

t.


"One of these mornings
You're going to rise up singing"

 

#2 2006-12-06 07:00:51

Tony Ventresca
Member
Posts: 5132

Re: The Ivy League Style: The Boom Years.

That book on preppie drinks described the Handbook as, in reality, marking the end of the preppie phenomenon. This makes a lot of sense, since the 1980s were a pastiche of Ivy and little more than a fashion wave. If that description is true, then the Handbook is essentially a historical document, or maybe an obituary of sorts.


"Clothes make the man only if they fit." Carole Jackson
"Once upon a time, life was not better. It was just different." William Norwich
"This is one of the testimonial pictures that Satan uses in his brochures." Anonymous

 

#3 2006-12-06 07:22:47

Terry Lean
Member
Posts: 2440

Re: The Ivy League Style: The Boom Years.

The analysis of Preppy in 'Tipsy in Madras' is very good I think.
The history is nicely & quickly presented.
Yes, it was all about  fashion, but then Ivy in the 50's/60's was fashionable too.
I think the difference is that the Preppy  phemonenon was the creation of journalists looking towards the 'Official Sloane Ranger Handbook' & cataloging a style as an exercise in Sunday supliment style writing. The Ivy style of the 50's was less contrived (although still of course marketed, manipulated & sold like any other product).
The Sloan Ranger book is the same as the OPH, ditto The Young Fogey handbook: Journalism.

Who ever called themselves 'Preppy' before the OPH? Very few I'm sure. Yes, the word is in 'Love Story' as a put-down,  but who went around self describing themselves as such? If they did they were probably being ironic.
'Trad' is a similar thing. Who called anything or anyone 'Trad' in 2003? In Japan, yes. In the U.S? Come off it. There was Trad Jazz in England in the 50's but that's nothing to do with anything. 'Trad' is a Japanese term adopted in the US on the MBs for the old Ivy style.

Actually to be fair 'Trad' is just a fragment of the Ivy Style. A sliver. And it does confuse people who might not know the big picture of TNSIL. Just look at AAAT (NO offence).

t.


"One of these mornings
You're going to rise up singing"

 

#4 2006-12-06 09:18:43

Get Smart
Member
Posts: 1106

Re: The Ivy League Style: The Boom Years.

Thom Browne seems to be spearheading a nu-preppy revival or sorts, like him or hate him.  I for one am really interested in seeing what his collaboration with Brooks Bros next fall will bring.  Unforuntately, I think this will be the closest thing you get to a revival of an ivy style.

 

#5 2006-12-06 09:34:01

Coolidge
Member
Posts: 1162

Re: The Ivy League Style: The Boom Years.

Terry Lean wrote:

The analysis of Preppy in 'Tipsy in Madras' is very good I think.
The history is nicely & quickly presented.
Yes, it was all about  fashion, but then Ivy in the 50's/60's was fashionable too.
I think the difference is that the Preppy  phemonenon was the creation of journalists looking towards the 'Official Sloane Ranger Handbook' & cataloging a style as an exercise in Sunday supliment style writing. The Ivy style of the 50's was less contrived (although still of course marketed, manipulated & sold like any other product).
The Sloan Ranger book is the same as the OPH, ditto The Young Fogey handbook: Journalism.

Who ever called themselves 'Preppy' before the OPH? Very few I'm sure. Yes, the word is in 'Love Story' as a put-down,  but who went around self describing themselves as such? If they did they were probably being ironic.
'Trad' is a similar thing. Who called anything or anyone 'Trad' in 2003? In Japan, yes. In the U.S? Come off it. There was Trad Jazz in England in the 50's but that's nothing to do with anything. 'Trad' is a Japanese term adopted in the US on the MBs for the old Ivy style.

Actually to be fair 'Trad' is just a fragment of the Ivy Style. A sliver. And it does confuse people who might not know the big picture of TNSIL. Just look at AAAT (NO offence).

t.

It was my impression that the '80-'84 preppy revival was simply a conservative response to the conservative political mood.  Someone on the AAAC, markus perhaps, notes that at the time it didn't feel like another era, just that more Ivy League looks were back in. And it was more than just the kids too, most 80s movies from that time show the adults in more typically Ivy apparel.  There are even hints of it in 'The Last Days of Disco' and the 1982 segment of 'When Harry Met Sally' (check out Sally's boyfriend Joe at the time for strong Ivy cues or Harry's sack suit with Argyle vest). It all fit with the Morning in America, people maybe didn't all love Reagan policies but were trying to put the 70s behind them, readopting some traditional looks helped the mood.  The newest suits with which I'm completley satisified as to cut, shoulders and lapels are from the '80-'86/7 era too.  The new Brooks cord hopefully being an indicator of good things to come, even if made overseas.

Preppy as a term definitely existed in the early 60s. I think I've said it before. My father's prep school yearbook as a senior ('63)--which I've leafed through for some early 60s style indicators-- had class superlatives including "preppiest" and "thinks he is" (clearly TL there is where the humor for these people came in) with vote tallies. 

Now whether Segal invented the term or not, I don't know, although there were those color plates either here or AAAT a few months ago from (?)Esquire that advertised "Evening Wear For the Preps" which had to predate the 50s.

 

#6 2006-12-06 09:44:20

Terry Lean
Member
Posts: 2440

Re: The Ivy League Style: The Boom Years.

Get Smart wrote:

Thom Browne seems to be spearheading a nu-preppy revival or sorts, like him or hate him.  I for one am really interested in seeing what his collaboration with Brooks Bros next fall will bring.  Unforuntately, I think this will be the closest thing you get to a revival of an ivy style.

Agreed.
Browne & Brooks will be interesting if nothing else. I'm expecting something 'skinny' from him.
Not sure I actually care about an Ivy revival...
AAAT wants to ressurect the style as 'Trad' but I'm quite happy just keeping on keeping on.
It IS fun to try to tell the true story of the style tho'.
What I really love is all the resistance to it.
Most people seem to love their fantasies about this style of dress far more than the reality of the look.
I smile fondly at them...
... the little scamps.

Uncle t.

Last edited by Terry Lean (2006-12-06 11:01:38)


"One of these mornings
You're going to rise up singing"

 

#7 2006-12-06 09:53:39

Terry Lean
Member
Posts: 2440

Re: The Ivy League Style: The Boom Years.

Coolidge wrote:

It was my impression that the '80-'84 preppy revival was simply a conservative response to the conservative political mood.  Someone on the AAAC, markus perhaps, notes that at the time it didn't feel like another era, just that more Ivy League looks were back in. And it was more than just the kids too, most 80s movies from that time show the adults in more typically Ivy apparel.  There are even hints of it in 'The Last Days of Disco' and the 1982 segment of 'When Harry Met Sally' (check out Sally's boyfriend Joe at the time for strong Ivy cues or Harry's sack suit with Argyle vest). It all fit with the Morning in America, people maybe didn't all love Reagan policies but were trying to put the 70s behind them, readopting some traditional looks helped the mood.  The newest suits with which I'm completley satisified as to cut, shoulders and lapels are from the '80-'86/7 era too.  The new Brooks cord hopefully being an indicator of good things to come, even if made overseas.

Preppy as a term definitely existed in the early 60s. I think I've said it before. My father's prep school yearbook as a senior ('63)--which I've leafed through for some early 60s style indicators-- had class superlatives including "preppiest" and "thinks he is" (clearly TL there is where the humor for these people came in) with vote tallies. 

Now whether Segal invented the term or not, I don't know, although there were those color plates either here or AAAT a few months ago from (?)Esquire that advertised "Evening Wear For the Preps" which had to predate the 50s.

Quality posting. Thank you C.
'Tipsy in Madras' has a list of Preppy movies in the back which is spot-on too.
Preppy, Preppiest, etc., I agree the word was around. Was it Segal's? I'm sure not. I do think that it is ironic though, which would fit in with Prep school culture both in the UK & the US. I can't remember ever saying much at school that didn't have at least a double meaning!


"One of these mornings
You're going to rise up singing"

 

#8 2006-12-06 19:03:20

tom22
Member
Posts: 295

Re: The Ivy League Style: The Boom Years.

I think I'm quoting Whit Stillman from some interview: But the preppy era ended with the market crash in 1929 and the Depression that followed. nothing was ever the same after that.  I know some of the people who can vouch for that.

 

#9 2006-12-06 19:24:39

Coolidge
Member
Posts: 1162

Re: The Ivy League Style: The Boom Years.

tom22 wrote:

I think I'm quoting Whit Stillman from some interview: But the preppy era ended with the market crash in 1929 and the Depression that followed. nothing was ever the same after that.  I know some of the people who can vouch for that.

Nothing as lavish, that's for sure. I seem to recall a book chapter saying "was it ever what it used to be?"

 

#10 2006-12-06 19:52:44

tom22
Member
Posts: 295

Re: The Ivy League Style: The Boom Years.

My own impression is that the people who own the style are all in their 70s, 80s and 90s. Their kids don't have an ounce of the style that their parents wear like an old tweed jacket. Prep schools I guess have some of the same taste today. But true Ivy style was a pre WWII thing.

Last edited by tom22 (2006-12-06 19:53:36)

 

#11 2006-12-06 21:42:37

Coolidge
Member
Posts: 1162

Re: The Ivy League Style: The Boom Years.

tom22 wrote:

My own impression is that the people who own the style are all in their 70s, 80s and 90s. Their kids don't have an ounce of the style that their parents wear like an old tweed jacket. Prep schools I guess have some of the same taste today. But true Ivy style was a pre WWII thing.

Hmm...and not a 1946-1964 ish kind of style? That's what it has always struck me as. But I wasn't there.

 

#12 2006-12-07 03:59:35

Horace
Member
Posts: 6186

Re: The Ivy League Style: The Boom Years.

Coolidge wrote:

tom22 wrote:

My own impression is that the people who own the style are all in their 70s, 80s and 90s. Their kids don't have an ounce of the style that their parents wear like an old tweed jacket. Prep schools I guess have some of the same taste today. But true Ivy style was a pre WWII thing.

Hmm...and not a 1946-1964 ish kind of style? That's what it has always struck me as. But I wasn't there.

In the 30s students at Andover were wearing beautiful clothes.  Chesterfield coats, etc.   I'm ignorant of how far reaching the 1929 crash was to prep style, but I'd say that the contrast was even greater for it in the 30s than before.


""This is probably the last Deb season...because of the stock market, the economy, Everything..." - W. Stillman.

 

#13 2006-12-07 04:01:57

Horace
Member
Posts: 6186

Re: The Ivy League Style: The Boom Years.

tom22 wrote:

I think I'm quoting Whit Stillman from some interview: But the preppy era ended with the market crash in 1929 and the Depression that followed. nothing was ever the same after that.  I know some of the people who can vouch for that.

I think he meant specifically "high society".  I'm not sure what you mean by "preppy era" but if you look at the dominance of preps in sports, government, the arts, I can see Stillman's point.  Before 1929, collegiate sports were pretty much dominated byprep schools students and the colleges they went to.  At least that's what I've read.


""This is probably the last Deb season...because of the stock market, the economy, Everything..." - W. Stillman.

 

#14 2006-12-07 04:03:58

Horace
Member
Posts: 6186

Re: The Ivy League Style: The Boom Years.

Coolidge wrote:

The new Brooks cord hopefully being an indicator of good things to come, even if made overseas.

Ever the optomist!


""This is probably the last Deb season...because of the stock market, the economy, Everything..." - W. Stillman.

 

#15 2006-12-07 04:07:33

Horace
Member
Posts: 6186

Re: The Ivy League Style: The Boom Years.

Terry Lean wrote:

it turns out that (once upon a time) Ivy was indeed cool & even edgey.

Yes, it's odd now, isn't it.

I think the cut of the clothing has actually changed too.  So that might be one small, if insignificant, factor to how we see things now.

85% of men's clothing sales in the U.S. back in the day? Surely that's enough.

You think it was that much?  From guys who've been in the business for over sixty years, they tell me that the look was "every where".


""This is probably the last Deb season...because of the stock market, the economy, Everything..." - W. Stillman.

 

#16 2006-12-07 07:05:13

Terry Lean
Member
Posts: 2440

Re: The Ivy League Style: The Boom Years.

The '85%' quote is John Simons quoting a US menswear magazine.
I'll repost it.

t.


"One of these mornings
You're going to rise up singing"

 

#17 2006-12-07 09:11:00

Terry Lean
Member
Posts: 2440

Re: The Ivy League Style: The Boom Years.

From: The Soul Stylists. Paolo Hewitt. 2000. Mainstream Publishing.

John Simons talks about the Ivy Boom years in the US. He has them really starting in a big way in the early '50's -

"The Americans tried to give an aristocratic look to everyone. It was an egalitarian culture. They wanted everyone to have an equal opportunuty. So in America, everybody wore Ivy league. I read in an American menswear magazine that 85 per cent of the business was in the Ivy League look. Huge money was turned over. They didn't have a tradition so in a sense it gave everyone a tradition. Ye Olde Ivy League look. The shield on the jacket pockets, everything referred to a subliminal tradition."

An English point of view on if America did or didn't have a 'tradition', of course.

t.


"One of these mornings
You're going to rise up singing"

 

#18 2006-12-07 13:20:00

Coolidge
Member
Posts: 1162

Re: The Ivy League Style: The Boom Years.

Horace wrote:

Coolidge wrote:

The new Brooks cord hopefully being an indicator of good things to come, even if made overseas.

Ever the optomist!

I have to be! I've inherited all I'm going to inherit, and there can be only so much good stuff in the thrift stores, one would think. So I must have faith that the cord is a step in the right direction and maybe they'll make a suit cut like it.

 

#19 2006-12-07 19:21:10

tom22
Member
Posts: 295

Re: The Ivy League Style: The Boom Years.

who is John Simons? I have no idea. I do know a little about clothing in an Ivy league city. There were a number of clothiers within walking distance of the Yale campus into the 70s. Saks fifth Avenue had a branch on York St. Rosenbergs was still a real store. Press was Press. Gentree was on York. The Yale Coop had  a very good sack selection. There was another men's store very near there. Whites was on Chapel. Ensons is one of the only survivors. barrie's the shoe shop had a small space in the press store.
    It began to change with Yale's changing in the 60s. they accepted smarter people and they accepted people from a different social class. The faculty changed as well. It used to be culled form Yale Grads but Kingman Brewster felt they needed a faculty with a national reputation. The people who used to be New Haven natives, who started the Country Club, were members of the Lawn Club, were invited to be members of the Assembly dropped in number in the 60s and beyond. very smart people now but they don't have the aspiratioons or the connections (and I suppose have little interest). Yale went coed in the 70s. Not claiming there was a connection but it definitely completely changed in that era.
    Today there are three clothing stores of note in New Haven (well maybe a fashion forward Raggs makes four). Only Ensons and Press are the old school. a nice shoe store has replaced Barries run by its former employees. There are other stores, but they are college kids stores, not stores for adults.

Last edited by tom22 (2006-12-09 13:46:59)

 

#20 2006-12-08 01:25:59

Terry Lean
Member
Posts: 2440

Re: The Ivy League Style: The Boom Years.

John Simons is pretty much THE Ivy League guy in Europe.
A great enthusiast of the style who has championed the look for the last 40 plus years over here.
Very knowledgeable but not an American, so his point of view is that of an 'outsider' compared to yours Mr. tom.

I really enjoyed your post. A lot to think about in there.

t.


"One of these mornings
You're going to rise up singing"

 

#21 2006-12-09 14:55:15

Tony Ventresca
Member
Posts: 5132

Re: The Ivy League Style: The Boom Years.

Below, some interesting quotes from a book on 1950s fashion entitled Fashions Of A Decade: The 1950s, by Patricia Baker, 1991. Although the book is a bit superficial overall, there is a lot to discuss in these quotes. In particular, note the difference between "Ivy League" style and what the author describes as "Boy Next Door" style.

p.33

Ivy Leaguers

The grey flannel suit had also long been a favourite among the college men of the long-established East Coast universities, the Ivy Leaguers. The 1950s version was usually charcoal grey with a two- or three-button (widely spaced), single breasted jacket with narrow shoulders, long and unwaisted with one or no back vent; it was said to conceal the bulkier form of the American man. The English jacket was shorter and more fitted, usually with two back vents. By the mid-fifties the softer “Continental” shape favoured on the West Coast of American and in Europe emphasized a slimmer, longer line, from lapel and shoulder widths down to the more tapered trouser leg, now without the cuff.

The introduction of man-made fibres into men’s suiting started American experiments in textures and colours. In 1951-52 there was a fashion for slubs – materials with “random” scattering of bright specks – and by 1955-56, synthetic silk-like suiting was popular, especially for the hotter months. Synthetic shirting meant shirts could be washed and drip-dried overnight. The shape of the collar was softening from long points, stiffened by celluloid tabs and moving into a shallow, rounded shape, associated with the Ivy League style, with a screw pin or fabric tab placed behind the tie-knot or else buttoned down to the shirt front.

Another part of the Ivy League dress was the penny loafer. This was a comfortable slip-on, lace-less shoe, with a strip or “apron” across the front and tongue. The name “penny loafer” came from the idea of sticking a shiny cent behind the decorated cut-out shape of the apron.


p.48

Boy Next Door

The Boy Next Door (also about 20 years old) was actually to be found on the college campus, wearing over his shirt a long cardigan or sports jacket and belted slacks or chinos (suspenders were definitely out). On his feet were easy-fitting penny loafers or white buckskin laced shoes, as popularized by Pat Boone. A bookish look and serious gaze, even horn-rimmed glasses, hinted at a certain vulnerability, which appealed to all ages of female film-goers. Perhaps, like Clark Kent, he might be transformed into Superman.


p.50

For many film fans in the 1950s, Pat Boone was the personification of the clean-cut Ivy Leaguer – an all-American Boy Next Door with button-down collar and plain blue jacket.

p.60

Ivy Leaguers

Students of East Coast colleges in the 1950s. Men wore neat jackets and pressed trousers with white shirts with button-downed collar and tie. Female students dressed in twin sweater sets, or Peter-Pan collared blouses and sweaters, with pencil-slim or pleated skirts.


"Clothes make the man only if they fit." Carole Jackson
"Once upon a time, life was not better. It was just different." William Norwich
"This is one of the testimonial pictures that Satan uses in his brochures." Anonymous

 

#22 2006-12-10 03:01:06

Terry Lean
Member
Posts: 2440

Re: The Ivy League Style: The Boom Years.

I enjoyed that, Sir -
Thanks for posting.

t.


"One of these mornings
You're going to rise up singing"

 

#23 2006-12-10 03:23:44

Horace
Member
Posts: 6186

Re: The Ivy League Style: The Boom Years.

What was it that Abbie Hoffman said about Pat Boone and his white bucks?


""This is probably the last Deb season...because of the stock market, the economy, Everything..." - W. Stillman.

 

#24 2006-12-10 14:45:01

Tony Ventresca
Member
Posts: 5132

Re: The Ivy League Style: The Boom Years.

Quotes from another book on fashion in the 1950s, with yet another separation being made between the Ivy League look and other, contemporary styles. The book is Fashion In The Forties & Fifties by Jane Dorner, 1975. I have included the quote on "dudes" for information only (we can never know too much about clothing styles), although it is only obliquely related to Ivy League, etc.

The book also has a great description of New Edwardian style, and its link to the Teddy Boys, but that's a quote for another thread.

p.82

Two images had emerged for men – the hard and the soft.
...

The soft look was represented by the dress of the European city businessman, which persisted in spite of its unsuitability for the American climate. ...The American contribution to the uninspiring lounge suit was to liven it up with shocking pink or Hawaiian flowered shirts, ready-made cummerbunds with matching clip-on ties and braces alluringly decorated with acrobats or dancing girls.
...

Somewhere in between the two images was the casual sporting look that originated when the young men back from the Korean War threw convention to the winds and the new mood of “anything goes” was reflected in non-serious clothing. They took to wearing sports jackets of fancy tweed threaded with green Lurex, grey flannels, reversible waistcoats (vests) – Paisley one side and a bright plain colour the other – and button down shirts. Ties were whittled down to a thickness of one and half inches, their slimness possibly marking a protest against high school dress codes, which enforced the wearing of ties. There was also the Ivy League look, which popularized soft woven jackets and pull-on Norwegian shoes. Bermuda shorts were soon being worn on campus, the first perfectly tailored ones making news in 1953. During the rage for Bermudas and their successors, Jamaicas, quite a few brace young men even attended country club dances attired in shorts and dinner jackets.

But for the most part American male costume echoed European drabness.


p.104

“Dudes” were another kind of American dandy of the mid-fifties, who marked themselves off from the greasers by wearing clean white socks with highly polished white buckskin shoes. Shoes became the object of festishistic interest, favourites being the black or brown “penny loafers”, so called because of the design across the top of the shoe, into which a penny could be inserted, the black and white saddle Oxfords or the tan-coloured threadneedles, which had a steel plate in the sole and made a tapping noise as the wearer walked. Jackets were fastened with five buttons and the trousers, which were pleated at the waistband, had turnups.


"Clothes make the man only if they fit." Carole Jackson
"Once upon a time, life was not better. It was just different." William Norwich
"This is one of the testimonial pictures that Satan uses in his brochures." Anonymous

 

#25 2006-12-10 14:56:01

Terry Lean
Member
Posts: 2440

Re: The Ivy League Style: The Boom Years.

Interesting as ever, Tony.
I like all the tangents & add-ons to Ivy - That big picture is what interests me.


"One of these mornings
You're going to rise up singing"

 

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