IvyGate Guide to That Ivy League Look

c-15The Ivy League look came about as a result of an odd confluence of factors, the Cold War not excluded, but it exists today for one reason: looking out of place and loving it. A number of trends have ebbed and flowed through campuses throughout the Northeast in recently years—and more problematically through the parts of the country that don’t include the Ivy League—wherein kids are wearing coral-colored pants embroidered with little whales and cable knit everything else. Throw in a tweed jacket for guys or a cardigan (worn over-the-shoulders of course) for girls, and it’s a trope.

This isn’t the place to judge style or taste. But it’s the perfect place to judge people. A curious blog found its way into our inbox recently—curious because we thought it was a joke for a solid 2 days—that’s focused entirely and specifically on Ivy Style. Forget tips for women, though, because in the good old days, the Ivy League was only for the dudes, the dudes with the money. It’s just like this posted poem song, “The Ivy League Look,” from Princeton’s Triangle Club written in 1957:

Corduroy slacks disgust me
Black leather jackets are vile
Long greasy hair and blue suede shoes
Transform my blood to bile.
If you want everyone to accept you
As a modern American male
You must dress the way the magazines say
They dress at Harvard and Yale

Now, it wouldn’t be as interesting if the editors of this blog weren’t totally serious. It also would be less hilarious if the founder of the blog hadn’t graduated from the University of California-Fullerton. In fact, none of the very short list of editors ever attended an Ivy League school, but they all do live in Cambridge and spend a lot of time watching the Ivy League happen.

Read the poem song in full, see some pictures of fur coats and ugly jackets, or just get some pointers on how to dress after the jump.

To write an IvyGate Guide to That Ivy League Look beyond the stereotypes already mentioned would inevitably be somewhat problematic. Ostensibly, people haven’t been dressing like this for nearly half a century, although the J.Crew catalog does a hell of a job at reviving a lot of the classics! Or is it J. Press?

In the interest of tradition, we’ve selected a pretty choice group of images from the Ivy Style blog that tell the real truth about how people should be dressing in Providence, Hanover, Morningside Heights, Ithaca, Cambridge, Princeton, New Haven, and wherever in Philly the other one is.

1.  Tweed, lots of tweed. And evidently, the ugly is new preppy. Although the author says these are one in a million you can definitely find them on men with walkers, and they’re usually concealing a colostomy bag.

langrockjpg

Somehow, I got hold of one when the owner wasn’t looking. It bears witness to the values of Ivy style: quality, smartness, practicality, longevity, thrift, stability. Custom made in the ‘40s by Langrock, then New Haven’s finest Ivy haberdasher (though more closely associated with Princeton, Langrock was originally founded in New Haven), the jacket’s superbly tailored tweed is hardy enough to deflect cannonballs.

2. Penny Loafers. If you had a pair of these when you were a kid, it was probably because you hated to tie your shoes, and your mom knew it. If you have a pair of these in college, it’s probably for the same reasons.

In the shot below there’s great contrast between the formal and informal, as a pinned club collar is played against a sweater, cream socks and loafers:

tommy2jpg

3. Sweaters. Preferably with giant letters on them or in nonsensical color schemes. It’s better if you earned the sweater before you spend several hundred dollars. Buying sweaters without earning them is super community-college.

Before 1894, when Yale adopted its special shade of blue (hex triplet #0F4D92), its school color was green…. Now that [the freshmen are] bulldogs, it’s time to start looking the part. First, a college sweater (1959):

c-61

4. Fur Coats. Yeah, I’m not sure why either. But it probably has to do with MONEY! Love money.

Our last two posts revolved around Princeton and the Roaring Twenties. Now we combine the two with images from a Charleston-themed party held at Princeton in 1949. Arriving fashionably late in dad’s coonskin coat:

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Because, we like multi-part series so much—we like them more than we do old photos of guys in fur coasts and election day hats—we’re thinking about doing a more modern version of all this. Any tips on what people are wearing now? Or not wearing?

Here’s the poem song, too. As promised:

Ivy League Look
by Clark Gesner
From the Princeton Triangle Show After A Fashion 1957
© The Triangle Club of Princeton University

Corduroy slacks disgust me
Black leather jackets are vile
Long greasy hair and blue suede shoes
Transform my blood to bile.
If you want everyone to accept you
As a modern American male
You must dress the way the magazines say
They dress at Harvard and Yale

Though you’ve never been to college in your live long life
Never looked beyond the cover of a book
You can convince every chap that
You’re a Phi Beta Kappa
If you’ve gone and got that Ivy League Look

When the weather gets too chilly for Bermuda shorts
Take those red flannel longies off the hook
Just be sure that that trap
Has a button down flap
You’ve got to have that Ivy League Look

Alexander they say tried to conquer the world
With a helmet and a shield to boot
He should have known he would fail
With all that armor and mail
When all he needed was a Brooks Brothers suit
(They’re very stunning!)

If you’ve lost your shirt and everything at poker games
And a burlap bag is all that ain’t been took
Just be sure that that sack has a buckle in back
You’ve got to have that Ivy League Look

With this dashing new style you’ll be tapered and trim
Just a slender as a blushing bride
You’ll be the picture of grace
When you are viewed face to face
And quite invisible when seen from the side
(You’re almost nothing!)

It is crucial that the well dressed man be most precise
And should always dress exactly by the book
For with a two button coat, you’re just a Midwestern goat
With three you’ve got that Ivy League Look
(Won’t play the Rose Bowl)
Just dress the discreet way, the smart Rogers Peet way
You’ve got to have that Ivy League Look
(Just call me tweedy)
I’ve gone and got that Ivy League Look

  • Russell Street

    What lovely banter!
    As the one who ‘trolled’ the author of the ‘Ivy-Style’ blog into doing it in the first place I relish all this hoo-ha (sp?).
    I’ve made a study of all this in all its many aspects for the last 31 years & counting now… I even ‘trolled’ Ask Andy About Trad into being in the first place…
    And nothing makes me happier than seeing newbies join the debate. Welcome aboard!
    Enjoy the show because that is absolutely what it is.
    Post often –
    Russ. ;)

  • Russell Street

    What lovely banter!
    As the one who ‘trolled’ the author of the ‘Ivy-Style’ blog into doing it in the first place I relish all this hoo-ha (sp?).
    I’ve made a study of all this in all its many aspects for the last 31 years & counting now… I even ‘trolled’ Ask Andy About Trad into being in the first place…
    And nothing makes me happier than seeing newbies join the debate. Welcome aboard!
    Enjoy the show because that is absolutely what it is.
    Post often –
    Russ. ;)

  • Fred Dellar

    I’m following this comment thread with interest but I am also confused. What pray is a Trade? Is being a Trade like dressing up for the sake of it without attending the school first?
    Let’s get some prospective here please I mean. The man who writes Ivy Style is trying to help. Many people do not know what is the ivy styel really and cannot afford to go to school there. If you look at the ivy style you will see Christian is dressed well and understands these things and can explain them to everyone not just people who went to MIT. I think he may own a copy of Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly from the look of things but is that also Trade i ask myself? Probably yes. Is jazz Trade? Maybe.
    From all the confusion i know that being a Trade is rough, just ask Andy.

  • Fred Dellar

    I’m following this comment thread with interest but I am also confused. What pray is a Trade? Is being a Trade like dressing up for the sake of it without attending the school first?
    Let’s get some prospective here please I mean. The man who writes Ivy Style is trying to help. Many people do not know what is the ivy styel really and cannot afford to go to school there. If you look at the ivy style you will see Christian is dressed well and understands these things and can explain them to everyone not just people who went to MIT. I think he may own a copy of Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly from the look of things but is that also Trade i ask myself? Probably yes. Is jazz Trade? Maybe.
    From all the confusion i know that being a Trade is rough, just ask Andy.

  • Sick O’Fantic

    the pathetic loser Russell street, who was deformed in a car accident and so became an reclusive internet troll says over and over that he “trolled” Ivy-style into existence. he’s obvioiusly really jealous and desperately thinks he should get credit for the great work they do there

  • Sick O’Fantic

    the pathetic loser Russell street, who was deformed in a car accident and so became an reclusive internet troll says over and over that he “trolled” Ivy-style into existence. he’s obvioiusly really jealous and desperately thinks he should get credit for the great work they do there

  • Braunschuh

    You folks are confused on a basic point:

    “Ivy” style refers to the look popular in the 50s and 60s that was marketed under the name “Ivy League,” because it was associated with East Coast university culture.

    Today, the term “Ivy” persists as a descriptor, but it has literally nothing to do with the 8 fine schools known as the “Ivy League.” Nothing. It’s an advertising trope that stuck.

    No one on these blogs gives a rat’s xxx about what your average Cornell student is wearing to class these days. It’s all about a cut of jacket, a preference for clean lines, certain colorways and patterns. It’s purely about style.

    The connection between “Ivy” style and the contemporary Ivy League is nil.

  • Braunschuh

    You folks are confused on a basic point:

    “Ivy” style refers to the look popular in the 50s and 60s that was marketed under the name “Ivy League,” because it was associated with East Coast university culture.

    Today, the term “Ivy” persists as a descriptor, but it has literally nothing to do with the 8 fine schools known as the “Ivy League.” Nothing. It’s an advertising trope that stuck.

    No one on these blogs gives a rat’s xxx about what your average Cornell student is wearing to class these days. It’s all about a cut of jacket, a preference for clean lines, certain colorways and patterns. It’s purely about style.

    The connection between “Ivy” style and the contemporary Ivy League is nil.

  • Russell_Street

    Ahhhhh!
    I love the smell of hoo-ha in the morning!
    Braunschuh is on the money!
    “Sick O’Fanatic” makes me smile… I’d love to sell him a secondhand car one day… Who says I was deformed in a car crash? Who even says I’m an accountant from London?
    You are a puppet, boy. Bow to your puppetmaster!
    Best –
    Russ. ;)

  • Russell_Street

    Ahhhhh!
    I love the smell of hoo-ha in the morning!
    Braunschuh is on the money!
    “Sick O’Fanatic” makes me smile… I’d love to sell him a secondhand car one day… Who says I was deformed in a car crash? Who even says I’m an accountant from London?
    You are a puppet, boy. Bow to your puppetmaster!
    Best –
    Russ. ;)

  • Russell_Street

    Ahhhhh – I love the smell of Hoo-Ha in the morning…
    Braunschuh is on the money!
    “Sick O’Fantatic” makes me smile – Bow to your puppetmaster, puppet boy!
    Best –
    Russ. ;)

  • Russell_Street

    Ahhhhh – I love the smell of Hoo-Ha in the morning…
    Braunschuh is on the money!
    “Sick O’Fantatic” makes me smile – Bow to your puppetmaster, puppet boy!
    Best –
    Russ. ;)

  • Russell_Street

    Ooops! That was a bit of a give-away wasn’t it? I did one post & another member of team ‘Russell’ did the other. This is the first time we’ve slipped up like this since ’04. An historic moment. No harm in telling you that there are currently six ‘Russells’ btw. Origionally there were four. At our peak there were 14 and all with multiple user names. But me? I’m just Jim.
    Best -

  • Russell_Street

    Ooops! That was a bit of a give-away wasn’t it? I did one post & another member of team ‘Russell’ did the other. This is the first time we’ve slipped up like this since ’04. An historic moment. No harm in telling you that there are currently six ‘Russells’ btw. Origionally there were four. At our peak there were 14 and all with multiple user names. But me? I’m just Jim.
    Best -

  • Chw777

    Who cares about what Ivy Leaguers are wearing nowadays?
    What is hip and cool is what they wore back in the 50s and early 60s. The Ivy, trad, preppy look is as cool as it gets.