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Prep in Your Step

A new exhibit on the history of Ivy League style

  • 18 September 2012

They say the clothes make the man — though a pedigreed bank account, a name like “Giles Allistair Weatherby III, esq.,” and a Harvard diploma never hurt.

Get that kind of upper crust degree, but in fancy threads, at The Museum at FIT’s just-opened “Ivy Style” exhibition: a gorgeous display of the tweedy, prep style that, just like butt paddling, originated on the campuses of elite, all-male American universities.

Ivy StyleCo-curated by well-heeled heavies (the former president of J. Press, the former fashion editor of both GQ and Esquire), Ivy Style conjures an actual Ivy League campus: a pennant-walled dorm room, university shop, vintage wooden “locker room,” and even a fully grassed-over campus quad.

Nattily-dressed mannequins wear vintage pieces dating as far back as 1907, from mid-twenties J. Press tweed sport jackets to original Harvard insignia blazers to Princeton’s “beer suits” – workwear sported by 30s seniors to keep errant suds off quality duds.

Cases display vintage gear (Bass weejuns, ‘20s era Brooks Brothers etiquette brochures, a weathered-yet-crisp Arrow shirt signed by the 1933 Harvard football team), and you’ll also learn some choice esoterica — e.g., “weejuns” are named for a shoe style discovered by Americans in Norway – “Norwegian."

Scattered throughout are also updated styles by current designers like Tommy Hilfiger, Thom Browne, and of course Ralph Lauren.

Forsooth, Giles. Forsooth.

The Specifics

Ivy Style

Free through January 2013
The Museum at FIT
7th Ave. at 27th St.

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