Welcome to The Ivy League Look

This blog presents a historical view through articles, photographs, reminiscences, and advertisements, of an American style of men's fashion of the mid-20th century known as "The Ivy League Look" or "The Ivy Look."

This blog will not present modern-day iterations of this "look"; it will be shown in its original context as an American style worn during this specific era. Author commentary will be kept to a minimum.

This is not a commercial site and links to commercial sites will not be posted.

April 30, 2009

No Room for Squares

From JazzWax, Marc Myers' blog on "jazz legends and legendary jazz recordings":

In Part 2 of my interview with Roy Haynes yesterday, the drummer referred to a September 1960 Esquire article on best-dressed men in which he and Miles Davis were included. So I did a little research.

The Esquire article was called The Art of Wearing Clothes and was written by George Frazier, a debonair magazine writer and jazz critic who died in 1974. This was Esquire's first shot at a list of best-dressed men, which the magazine introduced apprehensively with a publisher's letter. Conservative tailoring was still cool—provided you brought a big personality to your look.

Here are the small blurbs that accompanied the three jazz entries:

MILES DAVIS—The thirty-four-year-old genius of "progressive jazz" trumpet is an individualist who favors skin-tight trousers, Italian-cut jackets. His seersucker coats, which have side vents, are custom made. His tailor: Emsley (New York), which charges $185 a suit.

AHMET M. ERTEGUN—A jazz authority and president of prospering Atlantic Records, Ertegun was born in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1923 and was educated abroad and at St. John's College in Annapolis. Dedicated to chic living, he has a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce. He buys ready-made suits at J. Press (around $100 each and has them recut for around $50) by Martin Kalaydjian, the legendary valet of the Algonquin Hotel in New York.

ROY HAYNES—The thirty-five-year-old jazz percussionist belongs on any best-dressed list if only because of his taste in selecting clothes that flatter his short stature (five feet, three and a half inches). His suits are custom made (around $125 each) by the Andover Shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


JazzWax, No Room for Squares - 7/9/08

From Myself Among Others: A Memoir by George Wein with Nate Chenin, this recollection of the Andover Shop's relationship with jazz musicians in the mid- to late-1950s:

...Charlie's greatest contribution to the jazz world was sartorial. He was friendly with Charlie Davidson, the proprietor of the Andover Shop on Holyoke Street in Cambridge, and during the day he accompanied Desmond (note: Paul Desmond, alto saxophonist for Dave Brubeck) to the shop. Under Mr. Bourgeois's guidance, jazz musicians soon resembled the denizens of Harvard Square. Brubeck and Desmond were hardly the only musicians to benefit from this service; Charlie Davidson's tailoring also fit right in to the Modern Jazz Quartet's image. Miles Davis was known to visit the shop when he was in town. Roy Hanes became a customer, and before long he had been cited by George Frazier in Esquire magazine's "Best-Dressed American Performers," alongside the likes of Cary Grant and Fred Astaire.

And more from Uptown Conversation: The New Jazz Studies:

In the mid-fifties, Miles took to the Ivy League look in fashion, having his clothes made at the epicenter of preppy fashion, the Andover Shop in Cambridge's Harvard Square, where tailor Charlie Davidson dressed him in jackets of English tweed or madras with narrow lapels and natural shoulder, woolen or chino trousers, broadcloath shirts with button-down collars, thin knit or rep ties, and Bass Weejun loafers. It was a look that redefined cool and shook those who thought they were in the know. Some like Boston Herald columnist George Frazier, reacted badly. Calling him "the Whilom War Lord of the Weejuns," he accused Davis of no longer being cool, but of merely showing off...in fact, of having become a "fink."

Want more insight on the Jazz-Ivy connection? See the following article:

RL Magazine - Ivy League Jazz, Christian M. Chensvold, Fall 2008

1 comment:

Richard M said...

Still the best single article ever written on the subject. I still have the original issue.