Historical Perspectives of a 'natural shoulder' Style
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.
Notice with what unaffected ease you take on today's trim lines. Natural shoulders are smooth and comfortable - and carefully Bond-tailored to stay that way. Lap seams and hook vent are exactly right to the fraction of an inch. Trousers hang straight and slim. You're looking at Ivy "summa cum laude."
Milwaukee Journal - 9/17/65
[Ed. comment: Sniff? No, thank you. I'm more of a visual learner.]
The history of the duffle coat, from British maker Gloverall:
The word Duffle originally referred to a Heavy Woollen Cloth closely woven for warmth and manufactured in the Belgian Town of Duffel. However over the years it has come to signify a hooded coat with distinctive toggle fastenings which was adopted by the British Navy and used by officers and men of the watch to protect against the biting Atlantic and North Sea winds. The toggles could be unfastened whilst wearing thick gloves, and hoods were carefully designed to fit over peaked Naval caps.
Photographs of servicemen during the 1914 - 18 war show a duffle type coat. Between the end of World War I and the start of World War II the coat was modified into the traditional Naval Duffle.
Gloverall still maintains this Naval link through the Iconic ‘Monty’ and its application to the service highlighted by its namesake Field Viscount Montgomery and is worn by Jack Hawkins in the film ‘The Cruel Sea’. The design of the latter is a replica of the original retaining its characteristic rope and wood toggling, webbing stays and two piece hood.
In 1951 Harold & Freda Morris who specialised in selling cotton, leather, Gloves and Overalls were approached the by the Ministry of defence to help dispose of their surplus supplies of World War II duffle coats. Mr Harold Morris then conceived the name Gloverall.
from "The Cruel Sea"
Here is a World War 1 Royal Navy duffle coat in a photograph from the RN Submarine Museum.
The caption reads:
A photograph of Lieutenant Basil Beal wearing foul weather gear, taken in 1914. Beal stands on the fore casing of HMS B1 wearing typical foul weather clothing of the period. A ‘Lammy’ or ‘Duffle’ coat is worn over the uniform jacket, together with leather gauntlets and heavy sea boots.... Beal was one of the earliest officers to specialise in submarines. He was killed in March 1917, whilst in command of HMS E49 when the submarine hit a German mine off the Shetland Islands.
From a December 23, 1941 article in the Milwaukee Journal:
Right from the British royal navy comes a warm coat that men in American civilian life may wear for sports and when the weather gets really uncomfortable. It is the duffle coat. Worn now by civilians as well as officers in the British navy it gets its name from a durable weatherproof wool fleece woven first in Belgium about 200 years ago and worn later by English channel boatmen.
The material used in this American made version is very similar and the coat itself is an exact replica of the one issued by the navy. American made coats are now going to Britain to augment supplies produced there.
The duffle coat is natural camel color. It is very loose fitting and the smart knee length men like for sports and casual wear. The shoulders are reinforced, pockets are enormous and there is an attached hood which buttons closely about the neck.
There is a nautical air about the frog fastenings which are made from tacking rope and wood peg cones from the ship's rigging boxes. The coat also comes with regular buttons, if preferred.
For added comfort there are leg straps which button around the legs to keep the coat securely in place.
In Britain, the duffle coat is worn by officers on convoy duty and by civilians for country sports wear. American men find it a good choice for campus and after skiing as well as general knockabout wear.
Illustration from the Milwaukee Journal - 12/23/41 (click to enlarge)
Trevor Howard in the 1949 film "The Third Man"
Gentry magazine, winter 1951. Caption: The Duffle coat with fishing hemp loops and wooden peg buttons, seen at Meadowbrook. This is an adaptation of the British and Norwegian naval officer's coats.
American Fabrics #17, 1951
American Fabrics #17, 1951
American Fabrics #17, 1951. Oxford's Bullingdon race meet. "The Duffle coat is worn by Mr. John Richardson, while Mr. Ilay Campell wears cavalry twill trousers with the solid color waistcoat so much in vogue."
It's the secret vice! In Europe, all over England, in France, the mass ready-made suit industry is a new thing. All men, great and small, have had tailors make their suits for years, and they tend to talk a little more with each other about what they're getting. But in America it's the secret vice. At Yale and Harvard, boys think nothing of going over and picking up a copy of Leer, Poke, Feel, Prod, Tickle, Hot Whips, Modern Mammaries, and other such magazines, and reading them right out in the open. Sex is not taboo. But when the catalogue comes from Brooks Brothers or J. Press, that's something they whip out only in private. And they can hardly wait. They're in the old room there poring over all that tweedy, thatchy language about "Our Exclusive Shirtings," the "Finest Lairdsmoor Heather Hopsacking," "Clearspun Rocking Druid Worsteds," and searching like detectives for the marginal differences, the shirt with a flap over the breast pocket (J. Press), the shirt with no breast pocket (Brooks), the pants with military pockets, the polo coat with welted seams—and so on and on, through study and disastrous miscalculations, until they learn, at last, the business of marginal differentiations almost as perfectly as those teen-agers who make their mothers buy them button-down shirts and then make the poor old weepies sit up all night punching a buttonhole and sewing on a button in the back of the collar because they bought the wrong damn shirt, one of those hinkty ones without the button in the back.
And after four years of Daddy bleeding to pay the tabs, Yale, Harvard, and the rest of these schools turn out young gentlemen who are confident that they have at last mastered the secret vice, marginal differentiations, and they go right down to Wall Street or wherever and—blam!—they get it like old Ross, right between the eyes. A whole new universe to learn! Buttonholes! A whole new set of clothing firms to know about—places like Bernard Weatherill, probably the New York custom tailor with the biggest reputation, very English, Frank Brothers and Dunhill's, Dunhill's the tailor, which are slightly more—how can one say it?—flamboyant?—places like that, or the even more esoteric world of London tailors, Poole, Hicks, Wells, and God knows how many more, and people knock themselves out to get to London to get to these places, or else they order straight from the men these firms send through New York on regular circuits and put up in hotels, like the Biltmore, with big books of swatches, samples of cloths, piled up on the desk-table.
If you were a member of a UNC sorority or fraternity this is how you dressed. Male clothes for this group came from Julian’s, The Hub, The Varsity Men’s Shop, or Milton's. These women were probably outfitted at the Fireside. All these stores did a booming business, and were located on central Franklin Street. (www.chapelhillmemories.com)
The story begins in 1946, when the Julian brothers, Milton and Maurice (father of fashion designer Alexander Julian), opened their first shop in Chapel Hill. Two years later, Milton went out on his own with Milton's Clothing Cupboard, pioneering the Ivy League look throughout the Southeast.
A local icon, Milton remained in his original Chapel Hill location for more than 40 years. Through the 50's and 60's, Milton's Clothing Cupboard expanded to locations in Charlotte, Dallas and Atlanta. Bruce started cooking up marketing schemes at about 14 (like the time he unleashed dozens of turtles marked 'Sale at Milton's' all over the UNC campuses). (www.brucejulian.com)
"Milton Julian is the personification of joy. Of all the people I knew growing up in Chapel Hill from the 1950’s through the 1990’s, no one seemed to enjoy what he was doing more than this Franklin street merchant. His fame is derived from his store, Milton’s Clothing Cupboard, which he operated from 1948 to 1992, selling upscale men’s, and often women’s, clothing. Milton was also always a man just a little ahead of his time, and continued to adapt to fashion trends better than any other store in town. While his brother’s store Julian’s for example maintained the Ivy League look throughout its existence, Milton’s continued to evolve without ever feeling dated or trendy." (www.chapelhillmemories.com)
A Brockton, Mass.-native, Julian brought the Ivy League look down south, including the flat-front khaki pants and alligator belts, his son Bruce Julian said. Milton Julian owned six stores in North Carolina, Georgia and Texas that have since closed. (www.thedailytarheel.com)
Milton went back to school, but six weeks into it decided to return to the haberdashery business. He had sold shoes and socks before the war, but now he joined his brother Maurice, who had started selling to servicemen training in Chapel Hill during the war, but was now serving clientele returning to school, at Julian’s College Shop."
“I started out across the street,” Milton said. “We were sometimes not so friendly, but were mostly friendly competitors,” he said of Maurice, who would later sell his store to his children, Alexander and Missy, who continue it as Julian’s. (www.carrborocitizen.com)
Milton Julian, a young buck from humble beginnings in Brockton, Mass., came to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to attend law school after spending a year at Salem College in Winston-Salem. For two years, he went to classes in the morning and sold shoes and socks in the afternoon. He then served in the Air Force for three-and-a-half years, and upon returning to Chapel Hill in the fall of 1945, decided to join his late brother, Maurice (the father of fashion designer Alexander Julian) at his men's clothing shop on the bustling Franklin Street. After a couple of years, however, it was clear the siblings couldn't see eye to eye as business partners. As Milton cryptically puts it, "Some brothers are compatible and some aren't when it comes to business ventures."
Julian up-and-left Maurice's store in 1947, and nine months later, in the fall of 1948, started his own shop: the now- legendary Milton's Clothing Cupboard. After scoping out possible locations for opening his new store, including Charleston, SC and Morganton, Va., he decided to stay in Chapel Hill. He set up shop at 163 E. Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, a location at which he remained for over 40 years.
... Julian's game plan was simple: offer innovative, Ivy League clothing along with superior customer service. He told one interviewer, "We pioneered the Ivy League and Brooks Brothers looks in the Southeast. Esquire and GQ thought we were in the vanguard of men's fashion." Julian got the word out about his new store by placing fliers on cars around campus, and posting them around town. He also enjoyed extensive word-of-mouth referrals.
For the next 40 years, Milton's Clothing Cupboard sold items essential for the Ivy League look: Gant shirts, Weejuns, Rivetz ties, Harris tweed sport coats, khaki Chino pants, snazzy worsted wool suits. As one reporter stated, Milton's clothes had "snob appeal." (www.businessleadermagazine.com)
By birth a New Englander, Maurice Julian was the first to bring the best of Ivy League to the Southeast. A master in style and innovation, his groundbreaking designs helped to create "preppy." Julian distinguished his shop by his peerless taste and unending quest for only the finest, using the highest quality fabrics and custom tailoring. Maurice and his wife Mary sustained a rare, unique, genuine specialty store. Although the business was created to fulfill the needs of the Officer Training School (which came to UNC in 1942) Maurice quickly expanded his clientele to include the whole University community.
In 1990 GQ magazine described the gem of a store this way: "Julian's is a place where you can spend an afternoon looking at fabrics and buttons—some stock, some one of a kind—ordering a suit you won't see on every other guy on the street and talking about tweed and twill and Scottish mills and what all the rain lately will do for the magnolias."
Alex says: "When I was 12, I tore the collar of one of my 200 blue oxford, button-down shirts while playing football. I went down to the store to have the collar fixed, but decided instead to switch collars with one of my yellow oxford button-down shirts. They say necessity is the mother of invention, but whoever would have suspected that sandlot football would launch a fashion career?" (www.julianstyle.com)