Saturday, June 13, 2009

Harvard Crimson Article on "Ivy League Look"

Posted November 2008

A Brief Guide to Men's Fashions Unravels The Deep Mysteries of All Those 'Looks'

Original Article at Harvard Crimson

Published On Friday, October 04, 1963 12:00 AM

...First of all, the erroneous preconceptions of the Ivy League look must be erased. "Ivy League" refers to a bastardized version of the natural shoulder model, first produced on a mass scale about 1938. Prior to that time, only Brooks Brothers and J. Press promoted the natural shoulder. These stores derived the Ivy look from the five button suits with narrow lapels worn by fashionable late Victorians in the 1890's. Since 1950, the natural shoulder model has changed little with the exception of narrower lapels, shorter coats, and slimmer trousers.


Both styles omit waist suppression, narrowing the middle by darts over the side pockets. Unpleated trousers are an important concomitant of the natural shoulder look.

Worn by about nine out of ten Harvard men, the Ivy look is smart and trim. It is supposed to make a man look masculine without the phoniness of padding. However, these effects are attained only by wearing a natural shoulder model which suits you. The Warwick model is slightly clubbier than the Andover model which hints of Madison Avenue. Both are appropriate for almost every occasion the college man encounters.

For dressier wear, however, some men like a suit along the lines of JFK's semi-lounge model (two buttons, longer lapels, some waist suppression, and a bit more shoulder padding). Either the Warwick or Andover models are far better for the occasional suit buyer with a limited amount of interest, time, and money.

Hobsack and Tweeds

A coarse material from England called hopsack will be important again this season. It is woven from a six-ply yarn rather than the two-ply yarn used in most cloth, making a loose but warm weave.

Another popular fabric -- a rich tweed -- comes from the improbably isle of Skye off the Scottish coast. Supposedly this tweed is hand woven on cottage looms, and hence is more "authentic" than the Harris tweed it resembles. Synthetic blends such as sharkskin, and stretch materials have gained popularity because they shed wrinkles and fit smooth.

Colors will be lighter this season. Charcoal is giving way to dark gray, and even light gray. "Bottle green," possibly named after the shade of English beer bottles, promises to be popular for blazers, and there are indications a reddish maroon called cranberry will also find favor. Blue, especially in tweeds, will appear frequently.

Double-breasted blazers, long popular with the international sporting crowd, have not yet made their mark on ivy-laden New England. About 1950 the double breasted suit died, and only a handful of avant-garde types around here have recently picked it up again.

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