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 29, 2009

The Yale Man

The Yale man dressed impeccably in the preppy uniform of the day, though ''preppy'' wasn't in wide use then. ''Natural shoulder'' was what men's magazines called the Yale look, and for decades the clothing stores near campus at Elm and York Streets in New Haven were the natural-shoulder capital of the universe. Its bulwarks were Fenn-Feinstein and J. Press. In New York, not far from the Yale Club, there was Haberdasher's Row, commencing at 44th Street and Madison Avenue: Brooks Brothers, known as just ''the Brothers''; J. Press (there was also one in Cambridge, Mass.); and Chipp, which had a retail store but also did big business in custom tailoring. (We have Chipp to thank for, among other innovations, jackets and trousers of patchwork madras.)

In the 1950's and 60's, an experienced observer could tell where a Yale man shopped just by his shirt: plain pocket meant Fenn-Feinstein; pocket with flap, J. Press; and no pocket at all, the Brothers, which in those days didn't believe in shirt pockets, perhaps because almost all their suits still came with vests. Vest aside, to determine the origin of a suit might take closer observation; if it had a lining of bright red silk (like several of the suits of one of my classmates, a guy so Cole Porter-ish that, like Porter, he kept a piano in his room), it was most likely a custom job from Chipp; if it had a button fly, it was probably from the Brothers, which still sold such garments up on the geezers' floor, where you could also get voluminous high-waisted boxers of the kind sometimes on display in the Yale Club locker room. They had three buttons at the top and came up almost to the nipples, as if made with a built-in cummerbund.

All the sartorial niceties of the Yale style began to erode, as I've suggested, with the enrollment of what became the class of 1968 -- my class, as it happens, and also the class of George W. Bush. I seem to recall the president-to-be going sockless and wearing corduroys and cable-knit sweaters, but that could describe any number of us. He did not cut the figure of, say, Strobe Talbott, another classmate, who became deputy secretary of state during the Clinton administration. Strobe was a full-fledged intellectual, so he could carry off the affectation of wearing plaid Bermudas well into November.

Article source:

The Yale Man - NYT - 9/19/04

Photo source:

A Restless Transplant - Brian Kupke and his Yale Sweater


Old School (Thanks!)

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