Words by Jonathon Cooke
The boom years of the Ivy league style is considered to be from 1959 to 1966. After that most college campuses witnessed the rise of long hair and hippie ideas that more or less put the Ivy look on the back burner.
I’ve always been fascinated how some of the Ivy styles of the East Coast colleges became popular with the surfing fraternity on the West Coast.
Not every classic trad or Ivy item of clothing made the crossover but those that did became hugely popular. A typical pairing was wheat or white jeans (Levis was the jean of choice) worn with three button popover shirts in loud madras plaid or plain oxford-cotton, a pair of Jack Purcell or Converse tennis shoes completed the look.
By the late 1950s and into the early 1960s the style was so popular that it had taken over all corners of the US youth scene. As is often the case, music is part of the greater movement and for the Ivy look, it was Jazz. Hip modern jazz guys sported nothing but Ivy League clothes on the covers of their latest records, and kids watched their heroes wearing the clothes at festivals like Monterey Jazz.
It was a no-brainer that this new hip look would share a wave with the emerging West Coast surf/pop scene. Bands like the Beach Boys wearing wheat jeans and candy stripped button-down collared shirts or Pendleton Board shirts helped to popularise the Ivy League style and it became the look of choice for many a young surfer in the early 1960s.