The Ivy Style exhibition at FIT is a collection of what is known as the classic American look which began on the campuses of schools like Harvard and Princeton in the early twentieth Century. The curators did an exceptional job setting up the ‘mood’ for you. All of the looks were presented thematically, within the large room they are all presented were smaller ‘sets’ of various college activities such as a classroom or a formal evening event. Each section contained corresponding looks which evoked the liveliness and practical use of the clothes, rather than simply mannequins wearing garments.


The typical Yale or Princeton college student then versus the typical now varies only in few areas. The overall look is very similar. To drive that point further, it was not uncommon to see a 1960 Brooks Brothers blazer and button down paired with khakis presented next to a strikingly similar 2009 Thom Brown ensemble where the only exaggerated difference is the length of the pant and color of the shirt.


My favorite part of the show was a particular look, the raccoon coat which was a fad among college students in the 1920’s. The coats were usually full-length dusters reaching to the ground, with exaggerated collars and swanky buttons. As intrigued by this look as I was I did research beyond the small blurb written about it in the show. I found out that the trend peaked in 1928 and that many sources agree that no respectable frat boy could afford to be caught dead without a raccoon coat as his principal fashion statement. The coat even underwent a short-lived revival in the mid 1950’s. At the end of the day I was glad to have taken a small part of my day to explore and learn more about what is considered the quintessential American look know as Ivy style.



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