The Wall Street Journal recently reported on this wacky new Ivy League Look that’s sweeping the nation, radiating out from New Haven, the center of the “Ivy Style” universe. Now, where have we heard that before? Ah yes – Life, November 1954. â€œThe Ivy Look Heads Across U.S.â€ the magazine proclaimed in an anthropological examination of the natural-shouldered suit and its sartorial brethren. They sent photographer Nina Leen to J. Press in New Haven, dubbing it the birthplace of the “Ivy League Look” when it opened back in 1902, to see the original in action outfitting Yale men. There she located the founder’s sons, Irving (Yale ’26) and Paul Press (seated left to right, below) presiding soberly over the premises. We have some outtakes that never saw print.
Life noted that the original Mad Men on their Avenue, many of them Ivy League grads, had adopted the Ivy Style in about 1944 and spread it thence to the outer reaches of the country (Leen snapped a few as well). â€œIt has also got away from upper-bracket tailors and into the hands of cut-rate clothiers,” though without the same panache, the magazine sniffed. “Sometimes regarded as more of a club than a clothes shop, J. Press is delighted rather than dismayed that its look is now capturing the country. It’s slope-shouldered product, which the Press boys consider the only acceptable dress for a normal Yale man, has scarcely changed over the years.â€ Here we see among others James M. Brown (above), Yale ’56, being fitted for a tweed jacket by a Press salesman wearing an identical garment. Plus ca changeâ€¦
Jared Paul Stern writes the Classicist column for Luxist.