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.

October 6, 2009

Bespeaking of Suits, Chipp

Bespeaking of Suits

Trading up to Custom

by Linda Dyett


Co-existing in the low-Forties ambit of the Yale, Princeton, and Harvard clubs is the other upmarket trio, Brooks Brothers, J. Press, and Chipp of New York -- all specialists in the button-down shirts and the sack suit. Brooks Brothers dropped its custom-suit department in 1976 (though, by special order, it still does made-to-measure). Press does a fair job with both custom and made-to-measure. As for Chipp, "no one," says G. Bruce Boyer, "surpasses them in making suits in the classic American tradition."

Chipp is one of the most pleasurable American-oriented men's stores around. Cyrus Vance buys his suits here. So do Jamie Wyeth and a major New York fashion designer-sophisticate whose name I can't reveal because one of his sub-licensees is a men's-suit line.

The far end of the well-planned new interior is a quiet, librarylike setting where the custom and made-to-measure wares are sold. Its shelves are filled with gorgeous Scottish Cheviots, handwoven Shetlands, estimable flannels and tweeds, and a stunning collection of Lesser & Sons woolens. Sipping, perhaps, at a glass of Jameson scotch [sic] from the discreet cherrywood-paneled bar, you're bound to wonder what better ambience there could be for choosing a business suit.

And then there are the owners, the Winston brothers, with their funny, off-beat personalities. They're brilliant at making clothes-shopping endurable for men who hate to shop. Imagine equal measures of Woody and Steve Allen trying to sell you a suit.

If you go the made-to-measure route, you'll get a traditional style priced at $500 to $900, plus and extra $40 for cut-through sleeve buttonholes, and the finished product will be ready in six to eight weeks. The custom-made suits start at $1,100, vests at $205. At least some of the excellent craftmanship is provided by an outside contractor, but Chipp's old bushelman is right on the premises to do the fine detail work. So valued is this man, says Jim Winston, that he's kept "absolutely out of sight, with a towel over his head."

You can order almost any custom style your heart desires. André Leon Talley, a House & Garden creative director, recently had Chipp do a snug-fitting hunting-jacket suit with a high-rolled lapel, deeply slanting pockets, and cuffed sleeves meant to be turned up to reveal a flame=red printed-silk lining - a gift to Talley from Tina Chow. The trousers have single reverse pleats and an extension waistband. The style, in covert cloth and carefully modeled on one worn by Jack Bouvier, is proof positive that Chipp can accommodate even very outré wishes. The only taboo here is the heavy-shouldered, oversize look.

The house specialty is unusual jacket-lining fabric, including Liberty, foulard, and challis prints. Or you can have solid-colored Bemberg, and lighter-striped rayon for the sleeves. The Winstons know all about traditional tailoring.

Chipp of New York, 342 Madison Avenue, at 43rd Street, second floor; 687-0850. Open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.


Excerpted from New York Magazine - 2/15/88


Richard M said...

And still my tailor-I hope forever.

heavy tweed jacket said...

Great article. I like Boyer's phrase "the classic American tradition." It suggests that the Ivy, preppy, trad, etc. strands are all related and under a larger umbrella of an enduring American historical style.

3button Max said...

much enjoyed article-from 1988 yet.