The Curriculum

Wearing the Ivy League Look since 1958
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Author:  Billax [ Sun Dec 16, 2018 4:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Wearing the Ivy League Look since 1958

What a great story about long ago, Sartre! It is fabulous... and I'd love to hear more of your vignettes!

Author:  Patrick [ Thu Dec 20, 2018 8:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Wearing the Ivy League Look since 1958

Caught in the Wild:

Town meeting in Salisbury, Conn. last night. Agenda: Additional appropriation of $500,000 for a new transfer station. Highlight: Man in tattersall shirt and chinos, rocking the tassel loafers and no socks. It was 18 degrees outside.


Author:  Billax [ Thu Dec 20, 2018 8:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Wearing the Ivy League Look since 1958

Sockless with weather in the teens. You're a dazzler!

Author:  Billax [ Thu Dec 20, 2018 8:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Wearing the Ivy League Look since 1958


Author:  Billax [ Thu Dec 20, 2018 8:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Wearing the Ivy League Look since 1958


Woo-Woo! At 18º I couldn't pull that off. Heck, at any temperature I couldn't pull that off (sockless pinked and perfed wing tips with tassels)... but ya gotta admire the man who can!

Author:  Billax [ Thu Dec 20, 2018 9:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Wearing the Ivy League Look since 1958

Bob Greene
The most shocking news of the summer?

Don't assume you've read it on the front pages. Yes, the Page One news this summer has been the kind that will end up in history books. But shocking? Truly shocking?

The most shocking piece of information of all appeared, almost as a throwaway line, in the Tribune's sports section, in a column written by my colleague Skip Bayless.

Bayless--trying to make the point that Joe Paterno has been a college football coach for a long time--began his column:

"The story goes that Joe Paterno, who has coached Penn State since leather helmets and letter sweaters . . ."


Since leather helmets and letter sweaters?

Leather helmets, we know, are not used anymore. But was Bayless saying that letter sweaters are also a long-vanished species? That letter sweaters are like hand-cranked telephones and butter churns and Western Union boys--that letter sweaters are gone from the American scene?

Is this possible? That while those of us who grew up in the letter-sweater era have been foolishly concentrating on our careers and not paying attention to the really important things--like letter sweaters--letter sweaters have gone away?

Varsity letter sweaters--on the college level, on the high school level--were more coveted than a Nobel Prize, more impressive than a GTO. To wear a letter sweater meant you were officially a winner-- you had earned a varsity letter, you were among the best on your campus. Wearing your letter sweater to school gave you a feeling of warmth that had nothing to do with the material the sweater was made of.

When you earned your letter, you then did two things. You bought a letter jacket, to wear outside on fall and winter days. And you bought a letter sweater to wear to class, and to dances. White letter sweaters looked the best.

Going, going, GONE!

Could this be true?

We embarked upon a research mission. College football teams are preparing for their seasons; so are high school teams, on practice fields here in suburban Michigan and all across the country. We did a little survey of athletic departments:

Are letter sweaters still around?

No, said the University of Iowa: letter jackets yes, letter sweaters no. No, said the University of Michigan. No, said Michigan State. No, said Northwestern University. No, said Ohio State.

High schools? High school letter sweaters?

"Primarily jackets," said Ottawa Hills High School in Grand Rapids, Mich. "Jackets," said Washburn High School in Minneapolis (Athletic director Gary Stenerson: "I haven't seen sweaters in years"). "Jackets," said Riverview Gardens High School in St. Louis.

What about the sporting goods stores that used to sell the letter sweaters--the stores where proud, preening athletes lined up to order their letter sweaters? Athletes who called every day after the order was placed, asking if the sweater was ready yet?

"That trend went out about 20 or 30 years ago," said Tom Fritts, owner of T.L. Fritts Sporting Goods in Winnetka.

"People probably think back to that show `Happy Days' and think (wearing letter sweaters) is nerdy or something," said Megan Cavanaugh of General Sports Inc. in Minneapolis.

"We haven't sold varsity sweaters in at least 15 years," said Brad Downer, general manager of Reynolds and Sons Sporting Goods in Grand Rapids.

"I think sweaters in general are just not worn by (students) nowadays," said Tim Beecher of BK Sports in Columbus, Ohio. "I used to wear (a letter sweater) in the '70s."

"(Letter sweaters) are not perceived as cool," said Dan Saale of Johnny Mac's in St. Louis. "I guess like anything else, they went out. Just like you don't see cardigans or other sweaters anymore."

"It's just not cool, I guess," said Sue Pawlak, co-owner of the Jock Shop in Kalamazoo, Mich.

Which is the cruelest cut of all:

"Not cool."

Letter sweaters--not cool.

It's a good thing the millennium is approaching so quickly.

This century just became officially useless.

Author:  Billax [ Thu Dec 20, 2018 9:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Wearing the Ivy League Look since 1958

Hey, I won my boatneck college letter sweater in Track and Field. Yes, it was very long ago. No, I no longer have it, but that's a story for a different time. Back then, in the early 1960s, loaning your Letter sweater to some sweet co-ed was a chivalrous and romantic thing to do. But when the romance doesn't go well, you may not get all your tokens of affection returned. They become co-ed trophies in the Sorority house!

The author of the article above, Skip Bayless, argues that the end has come for Letter Sweaters. If that's so, we'll no longer see images like the following:


or that of an obscure Yale Lacrosse player of my acquaintance:


The guy in the lower picture won his Yale letter sweater in 2013 and played Lacrosse for Yale until he graduated in 2016. To the best of my knowledge, Yale is still - to this day - handing out Letter Sweaters to its Varsity Athletes who have been deemed contributors to the team.
In my opinion, the most distinctive element of the letter sweaters awarded to jocks was not the letter, but the neck opening. The Boatneck collar was SO prominently associated with college letter sweaters, that if you were walking behind someone who was wearing a boatneck sweater, you assumed he was a letterman.

May the boat-necked, college letter sweater never die!

May the Boatneck Letter sweater live forever at Yale!

Author:  Billax [ Wed Jan 16, 2019 2:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Wearing the Ivy League Look since 1958

Both the topcoat and the overcoat are cold weather garments. The primary thing that distinguishes the two is length. Roughly, the topcoat ends about four inches above the knee, while the overcoat ends roughly four inches below the knee. Here are a couple of pictures that make the distinction clear:

Big-boned Herringbone Topcoat: Image

Camelhair Polo coat: Image

I like 'em both... and both of 'em dazzle the ladies!

Author:  gamma68 [ Fri Jan 18, 2019 9:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Wearing the Ivy League Look since 1958

Love both coats, Billax. I especially like the rakish collar pop on your topcoat. If that photo were in black and white, I'd swear it was from 1965.

Author:  Billax [ Sat Jan 26, 2019 6:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Wearing the Ivy League Look since 1958

How did the clothes we wear come to be known as the Ivy League Look?

When and how did the Ivy League get its name? Surprisingly, there was no such thing as the Ivy League until 1954. Here is a good write-up (albeit with a Dartmouth orientation) on the origins of the term:
Though the Ivy League has become synonymous with academics, prestige, and of course, old New England buildings, the history of the term is rooted in the eight member schools’ athletic past. No one is exactly sure where the name Ivy League originated.

“You are never going to get an answer on where the name came from,” said Dartmouth College professor Jere Daniell. Daniell is the Dartmouth history department’s expert on the history of New England and is the unofficial historian of the college.

Some theorize that Ivy is actually a misnomer and the league was originally called the IV League because it consisted of four schools: Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Dartmouth.

There is little evidence to ever support this being a term people actually used, Daniell said.

The story with the “most currency,” according to Daniell, is that the term arose from “casual use by a reporter.”

Todd Jelen described the story of the reporter in detail in his term paper for Daniell’s History of New England course.

According to Jelen, the term was coined by Caswell Adams, a sportswriter in the 1930s for the New York Herald-Tribune. Legend has it that Adams, a proud Fordham graduate, was assigned to cover Columbia University playing the University of Pennsylvania in football instead of covering his alma matter, which at the time was a powerhouse in college football.

In 1937, Adams is rumored to have complained to his boss about having to write about those old “Ivy-covered” universities and in his article about the Columbia/Penn game coined the term “Ivy League.”

In 1886, Amherst and Trinity Colleges, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Dartmouth formed the Northern League.

Also in 1886, the college joined its first all-sports alliance and along with Williams and Amherst became the Triangular League.

The history of intercollegiate sports at Dartmouth, however, began a little more than a decade earlier when Dartmouth attended its first rowing regatta in 1872.

From those beginnings, Dartmouth soon grew into a football powerhouse. By 1902, Dartmouth was one of the top 10 teams in the nation, and in 1925, Dartmouth was named the national champion. At the height of its glory, Dartmouth football was invited to the 1937 Rose Bowl but declined and therefore established the tradition that Ivy League schools would not participate in bowl games.

Daniell said that many of the smaller colleges were angry, because despite Dartmouth’s insistence in referring to itself as a college, it is in fact a university with several graduate schools.

After pressure from the smaller colleges to move onto a league more appropriate to its size, Dartmouth began to look into joining the already established Big Three Agreement of 1916 between Harvard, Princeton and Yale.

Under the stewardship of College President James Dickey and the president of Harvard, a formal proposal for the Ivy League was drafted in 1945. The only schools to have expressed serious interest in joining the league are the ones that are still the current eight members of the league. Dartmouth still remained an anomaly among its Ivy League counterparts because of its small size and “exclusive commitment to undergraduate education, and that of course is not present at any of the other eight,” said Daniell.

Because of its small size, Dartmouth has often struggled comparatively in Ivy sports and unfortunately started its first Ivy League football season with a disappointing 53-0 loss to Harvard.

Though the agreement existed in 1945, many consider the eight-team league of 1954 to be the true birthday of the Ivy League.

Under pressure from many sources, the Ivy League presidents codified the 1945 agreement to formally reconcile athletic recruiting and academic standards.

Since then, the Ivy League schools have worked closely together with admissions as it relates to athletic standards.

With its higher academic standards, the Ivy League has never been able to return to its days of football dominance. No Ivy team has claimed a national title since 1927.

Dartmouth’s decision to join the Ivy League instead of the Pentagonal League is something that many credit with its current status as a national university.

“That was absolutely essential to Dartmouth going big-time,” Daniell said of the Ivy League agreement.

Daniell also credits Dartmouth’s rising national visibility in the last half of the twentieth century with its ideal location and quaint New England atmosphere.

“Half of America fell in love with white-steepled churches and town greens,” Daniell said of America in the 1940s and ’50s.

Despite the importance of the formation of the Ivy League to Dartmouth’s history, Daniell said at the time he attended Dartmouth in the 1950s, none of the students were even very concerned with what was happening.

While its roots are set in football, today the Ivy League conducts many intercollegiate academic gatherings, including the upcoming Ivy Council on leadership, and many of its members recently banded together to file an amicus brief in the Supreme Court in support of affirmative action.

Author:  Ensiferous [ Sat Jan 26, 2019 6:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Wearing the Ivy League Look since 1958

Sartre, this is superb. Thank you.
Sartre wrote:
Sun Dec 16, 2018 2:42 pm
Our models, sartorial and otherwise, were our fathers and our friends’ fathers, those stout fellows, which sounds hopelessly square but speaks volumes about who we were. “There is the presence of a father…a force of counsel and support that would have carried one, well-equipped, into manhood,” John Cheever wrote in his journal. “One does not invest the image with brilliance or wealth; it is simply a man in a salt and pepper tweed, sometimes loving, sometimes irascible, and sometimes drunk but always responsible to his son.”

Author:  Billax [ Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Wearing the Ivy League Look since 1958

Tote Bags can be useful in carrying a change of clothes when taking your lady out to dinner after a dual Track Meet against your school's primary in-conference foe. I carried a "no name" tote bag on these occassions when in college. I must have gone to the wrong college, as J. Press issued some very cool tote bags (maybe for their Centennial in 2002). So, when my youngest decided to play his college Lacrosse at Yale, I was able to shop at J. Press. Getting to know Jim Fitzgerald was a natural occurrence, seeing as how I'd stop at J. Press once a week or so, while waiting for the next Ivy League Lacrosse contest. Yale won the Ivy League Men's Lacrosse Conference Championship for three of my youngest's four years... and thus went to the NCAA tournament for those three Ivy Championship seasons. Last Spring the Bulldogs won the NCAA D1 Lacrosse Championship.(Those last two sentences are extraneous, but meant something to me.)

But this is about tote bags at J. Press, not Bulldog Lacrosse. After visiting J. Press maybe a dozen times during the Boy's Freshman season, Jim offered to toss in a J. Press white tote Bag with a sweater I had purchased. I was wowed! I asked about them, and he recalled that some years back they had a stash made to celebrate the J. Press Centennial.He thought they'd all been given away. but he'd recently found a few leftovers. I asked if they were all white with blue print. He said there had been a few Black-with-white-print ones as well. I mentally constructed a trade! Wouldn't three University Stripe J. Press flap pocket OCBDs look nice in a Black Tote bag. I vocalized my offer and Jim went to the stock room and... a few minutes later returned with a smile on his face!

Here are a couple of pix of my J. Press tote bags:



Generally, I'm opposed to carrying around bags with corporate advertising, but these are very collegiate and I've gotten a lot more idiosyncratic in my dotage!

Author:  Patrick [ Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Wearing the Ivy League Look since 1958

I used an LL Bean tote for wading boots but the constant exposure to water eroded the bottom. Now I use a plastic tub.

Author:  leisureclass [ Tue Feb 19, 2019 2:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Wearing the Ivy League Look since 1958

Great bags Bill, the first one especially!

I find tote bags to be very useful day to day, lately I've been using a boat and tote to carry things like my lunch, my library book, and my gym clothes

Author:  Billax [ Fri Apr 03, 2020 7:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Yale Lacrosse Seniors

Letter Sweaters come from participation in Varsity Sports. In my case, that meant being a Track and Field Jock. In the case of my youngest Son, that meant Lacrosse. I was thrilled to see him wearing his Yale Letter Sweater!

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