Vintage Ivy Aesthetic

I come from a culture where one has “Sunday clothes”.

One page featuring both the love and hate of my youth.

The closet of my youth held multiple t-shirts, jeans, shorts, maybe a couple of polo shirts.  Then, off to the side, was one button down, one pair of slacks, and one lonely tie.  Those were the Sunday clothes.  The shirt  and pants would change as one was grown out of, and was then replaced, but the tie stayed the same.  I had that one maroon tie with little white dots, from age 12-19.

This is most assuredly NOT how any of my coaches dressed.

It wasn’t just me.  I was a bit dressier than most of my peers solely because I wore boat shoes on the weekdays as well.  I remember being asked “why are you wearing your Sunday shoes?”

I still on occasion hear echoes from my memory when I leave the house in a tie on a weekday, “where are you going all dressed up?” or even better, “who are you dressed up as?”

Maybe this is why I find fascinating the world of style.  I like to look nice, most everyone does, but what that looks like to different groups in different times is subjective and riddled with unwritten  rules.

The text includes: "for men desiring to be groomed correctly in every detail."

I like art.  Rather, I like to look at art. I painted my first painting while in college not as part of a project, or to express myself, but because my walls were bare and so was my wallet.  I wanted something cool to look at.

I used a picture of Tiki Barber, some craft paints I found in my Mom's closet, and a sheet of illustration board I "borrowed" from my Dad.

All of this came together while I was sitting at a desk in the Princeton archives looking at stacks of old football programs.  Here was page after page of illustrations advertising the fashions of the day.  Some of these ads were more than 100 years old, most were more like 85, but they all looked great.

Football and fashion, a perfect pair?

The clothes and the art, both, met the definition of what I seek; they were cool to look at.

Ignore the man's vice, his panache is perfect.
I do not understand this add, but I love it.

 The images, like all advertisements, depict not only what you want, but who you want to be.

The proper attire to appreciate the game. Again with the vice.

 Isn’t that what style is?  Showing who you want to be?  maybe it is who we already are, but these illustrations are obviously aspirational.

The cover says what about football?

Gift I painted for my little sister.
Fantastic clean lines.

 I do not always dress the way I would like.  There are obstacles, just like in all aspects of life; my wallet, my waist line, my schedule and the sort of tasks that fill it.

The lifestyle ad at its finest

I do not always paint the way I would like.  There are obstacles; time, laziness, skill level, did I say lazy already?

I would like to go on that picnic.

Sometimes, not too often the further time takes me from those days, but every now and again, the obstacles come from where and when I came from.  But forget all that.

I wouldn't be caught dead in one of those hats, but those cats are cool.

Just wear and paint things you think are cool to look at… as long as it is within the guidlines set up by whatever function you are about to attend as is indicated by the byline on the invitation reading, “dressy casual evening attire.”

10 thoughts on “Vintage Ivy Aesthetic

  1. “Dressy casual evening attire”…. beautiful! That kind of ambiguity is what got us into all the confusion.

    Dig the “Jazz-Tiki”.

    Fatima was a brand of cigarette, too. It must have cost a bit more than others since it was blend of “Turkish” tobacco.

    Love these ads from the golden age. Advertising — and the aspirations of that generation — really came of age in the 1920’s, and despite the Depression, seemed to keep on being produced in full force. I used to tell clients: “Know which companies continued to advertise during the Depression? The ones that are still around today….” Never closed a deal with that one.

    Seems like you had a bit of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in you as a kid. Times have changed, but at least you still pack a sportcoat regardless of your destination. And I find that admirable.

  2. The art you’ve chosen to show here in the Ad’s was indeed very cool back then. I am watching Madmen and enjoying it for the period piece that is is… bringing me back to my youth and the style that I see as so cool not but not so much so then.


  3. I think E&E nails it – as he usually does. This is a ’20s aesthetic that was so beautiful and lush. It is decades from the ’50s and ’60s Ivy look but the ’20s were preparing Ivy campuses for the ’30s when Ivy, in my eyes, was created.

    And like any decent American TV executive, Ivy was swiped from the UK by US college students who were fortunate enough to spend time in England with some very big check books.

    I’ve spent a small fortune securing Princeton yearbooks from the ’20s up to the mid ’60s. Not to mention sitting in yearbook offices in some southern universities. To see the transition in apparel not to mention the design of the yearbooks themselves has been one of the most interesting ‘hobbies’ of my life.

    All those yearbooks have created a strange smell on my bookshelves but I’m growing fond of it. It beats playing golf.

  4. I used to dress like the guys in the Camel ad back in high school.
    We used to get heavy wool suits and overcoats from the Forties for all three of the cold days of the year in the SoCal desert from local thrift stores.
    We WERE hot – but we (though we) looked cool.

  5. @Easy E, great close, pitty it didn’t work. I always pack a jacket… and my rugby cleats… ya know, just in case. I guessed Fatima was a cig, I still don’t “get” the landscape in the illustration, other than that it looks good. and stark.
    @JB, Everyone raves about Madmen. I havent watched any yet… I know I’m lame, but really, how much TV am I gonna watch from the back of a van?
    @Tintin, Those Princeton yearbooks are great, though I did not notice a scent. I am sadly unreliable in that area as my oft broken nose is not quite as sensitive as it once was; in more than one way. Whats your problem with golf? I thought you would like the argyle socks… o wait, you are more of a no socks guy right?
    @UBJ, my wife would have seen you and said, “aaaaw smoothness!” Anyone I knew who saw you would have said, “is it Halloween?” while being secretly envious. I once worked at a gas station and noticed a marked difference in dress standards between race and class. It was a great venue as EVERYONE goes to the gas station, young, old, rich, poor, black, white, everyone. Lets just say my demographic is predominantly shabby, not shabby chique.

  6. I think it depends on where one is from.
    When I first moved here I used to get asked, “Why are you dressed up?”, even though I thought I was dressed-down with what is considered a “Preppy” look.

  7. I still have a tie that I bought when I got my first job back in high school.

    It has gone out of style and come back in several times in the interim.

    I keep it in my closet mainly for nostalgic reasons.

    — Judson

  8. I recently saw images on the tv from a high profile funeral. I was appalled by what was being worn. When did it become acceptable not to dress up for a funeral?

  9. re. the Chicago/Princeton program cover in which you question the link to football:

    The subject on the cover is wearing an orange (one color of the Princeton Tiger) leather football helmet over her black (the other color of the Princeton Tiger) cloche hat.

    1. Hey there NDC. The point of my question was more rhetorical. I’m not convinced that the woman is wearing a football helmet over her hat but rather the image is simply a portrait of a pretty girl. Princeton has no women students at the time. The messaging here is pretty clear that the football game isn’t really about football. Nor is college, then or now, really about books.

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