A pictorial celebration and a well researched introductory guide to the world of the Ivy style, the classic clothing worn in America’s Ivy League university campuses and that dominated the American male dress code in the 1950s and 1960s, The Ivy Look: Classic American Clothing – An Illustrated Pocket Guide, by Graham Marsh and J.P. Gaul, manages to cover all the bases of the preppy elegance. It is not text heavy, but the information it provides is enough to give you a decent grounding in the subject, to get you to know the heritage of the original Ivy brands (from Brooks Brothers, Gant and J Press, to Bass, Converse and Levi’s) and specific pieces which have defined the style, its history and influence throughout the years and around the world, and to learn quite a few sartorial tips. And as with every good style book, image matters, and one of the best parts of this one is the great selection of photos, from vintage advertisments and classic labels, to inspirational photographs of Hollywood actors, like Paul Newman and Steve McQueen, of jazz musicians, such as Miles Davis and Quincy Jones, and the Kennedy brothers, who have all been great proponents of the Ivy look, elevating it to the rang of cool.
And what makes this guide even more enjoyable to read is the way it ties into mid-century design, jazz, graphic art, architecture, the European culture (Rome, Paris and the French New Wave, the original London mod scene), as well as the continuing obsession with the look in Japan (let’s not forget that it was a Japanese, Teruyoshi Hayashida, who first published a book on the subject, Take Ivy, released in 1965). The book is all the more valuable as it is among the very few print works which have explored the style. It will give you a proper introduction to the Ivy Look, but if you love the classics and have an affinity for the style, like me, it will leave you wanting for more and it would be wonderful to see an extended edition in the future.
photo by me