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.

July 23, 2009

"...we've been at the forefront" - J. Press, 1968

(click to enlarge)

Ivy League succumbs to fashion revolution

The Peacock Revolution has hit the Ivy League a staggering blow. The ivy covered campuses now sparkle with colored shirts instead of traditional button-downs and there are darts under the armholes of the classic three button suits.

Such centers of learning as Yale, Harvard and Princeton have been bastions of conservatism since the day they were founded and their shadow of conformity has spread across the land to engulf almost every college and university.

The high priest of the Ivy League look might well be Irving Press and his temple the firm known as J. Press, which has its roots at Yale University, but by this fall will spread as far as San Francisco where barefoot, beaded students at Berkeley may be exposed to eastern sartorial culture.

The so-called Peacock Revolution is, of course, the fashion revolution that has come over the men's wear industry in the past four or five years so we dropped in at J. Press the other day to see if the revolution had caught up with the staunchly conservative Ivy League.

Irving Press, who is president of the firm, said indeed yes and that in certain areas the Ivy League was five or six years ahead. He cited in particular the four-inch-wide tie and said it had met with wide acceptance, especially by some elderly Elis who had never become resigned to the fact that the wide tie had gone out of style.

There has been shape in Ivy League suits for some time now, achieved by placing darts under the armholes, and there has even been extreme shape in British style hacking jackets (made in Ireland) which achieve even more shape by placing darts in the front.

"Actually we've been in the forefront," Press said, "with a flair for color and the first use of the country suit." The country suit is a matching coat and pants in a bright district check, long worn in the British countryside but once considered a bit too racy for the American countryside. They are very new for Fall 1968 on the non-Ivy market but Press admits he has been making them for five years or so.


The colors are even brighter, woven into a new and heavier Saxony wool which has a greater concentration of colors than the softer Shetlands which were popular for years, probably because they were on the conservative (drab) side.

Summer suits even have two buttons instead of the classic three and there are deep side vents - something never really accepted in Ivy League circles. And they are distinctly shaped. By Fall they could even be more so - plus the addition of hacking jackets with angled pockets and ticket pockets and more flair to the jacket skirt.

Another innovation from the Ivy League were British Grenadier guardsmen type coats - double breasted, flared, broad lapels.

Another was the steep ridge cavalry twill which is now the rage in Peacock Revolution circles. Press has been using this for years, especially in the hacking jackets which are made in Ireland to his specifications. They also show up in a revival of the belted Norfolk jacket.

As for shirts, wide spread collars are taking the place of the button downs, and a non-button button down which can be worn with or without a pin. The fashion colors are policeman blue, cantaloupe or olive - and those colors are in sports shirts which also are losing their buttons.

A sidelight to the term "Ivy League." Many manufacturers hate the expression and refer to "soft shoulder" or "natural shoulder" suits - a practice which has led manufacturers of should to advertise "natural shoulder shoes" in the trade publications.

As for the Nehru type jacket for the Ivy League crowd, Press was less than enthusiastic. "We have a few rich customers who may order one and throw it away after wearing it to a party but whether there is a germ in this for the future remains to be seen," he said.

Article source - UPI, May 1968

J. Press advertisement - Yale Daily News, June 1968


Richard M said...

In the 50's, Press had denim jackets with piping, jackets with 4 buttons and side vents. Not all that hide-bound.

Paul said...

In the ad I saw the line for the Shaggy Dog sweater. I bought one from J. Press in NY in 2004 - kind of a high-pro-blow-blue. It's so warm, I've only worn it a couple of time here in FL. Even in the winter here, its a bit too warm to wear. Maybe I should sell it.