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I have one piece of information: a grandmother of a 20-year-old had this photo in her house. I'm told the grandmother was born and raised in the US, but that her roots are in Italy and Lithuania.
What kind of uniform is it?
The uniform is a match for a Lithuanian army uniform, early 20th century. The collar symbol represents the Columns of Gediminas, which have a historic association with the Lithuanian region. Searching reveals some similar uniform photos with the same collar emblem being mentioned as 1920's to 30's, possible as late as 1939. I do not see any rank insignia on the shoulder boards, and sleeves are unfortunately not included in this image, so this individuals rank may have to remain a mystery.
Uniforms of the German Army (1935–1945)
The following is a general overview of the Heer main uniforms, used by the German army prior to and during World War II.
Terms such as M40 and M43 were never designated by the Wehrmacht, but are names given to the different versions of the Model 1936 field tunic by modern collectors, to discern between variations, as the M36 was steadily simplified and tweaked due to production time problems and combat experience. [ citation needed ]
The dawn of pants
So what was it that led to the invention of pants? Tunic- and gown-wearing ancients must have had an overwhelming pile of cultural and practical reasons to abandon that breezy, free-flowing feeling enjoyed still today by those who wear dresses, skirts, kilts, and bathrobes in favor of wrapping each leg individually and then joining those leg-sheaths with a crotch-hugging, fart-catching section in the middle, right? Just, like, a bunch of reasons for pants, right? Well, no. A lot of it comes down to horses.
As Science News explains, the oldest known pants come from Central Asia between 3,000 and 3,300 years ago, among nomadic herding cultures who found pants the best option for riding horses. Horse riding's origins are somewhat shrouded in mystery, but it might go back as far as 4,000 years, and pants probably didn't lag too far behind. The oldest pants so far discovered are from China's Tarim Basin, but pants were also worn by other nomadic equestrian cultures like the Scythians about 2,500 years ago. These early pants were straight legged with a wide crotch, sewn together from wool cloth with slits on the side, a string fastener, and decorative weaving in the legs. Interestingly, the Tarim Basin pants seem to have been woven to their final size with no cutting involved in their shaping. No word on whether the first pants-wearer's mother embarrassed him in front of the entire nomadic shopping mall by making him come out of the dressing room and turning around to show how they fit on his butt.
What uniform is this probably either Lithuanian or Italian man wearing? - History
In every society that has ever existed, few professions have carried the status and prestige as the judge. The reasons why are hardly surprising — judges often hold our futures — or even lives — in their hands, and it only makes sense for such people to be both revered and dignified.
Historically, judges were often pulled from the upper crust of society — your priests, your nobles, your moneyed elite — since these were the only folks considered wise and worldly enough to make sound decisions. As upper-crust types, they were naturally quite prone to fancy dress, including wigs, robes, ostentatious jewelery, and fancy hats. Today, judges in most nations of the world continue to dress in this style as a nod to their aristocratic heritage.
In most countries of the world justices wear black, or at the very least garments with some black trim or lining. The traditional story holds that the custom began in 17th Century England. In 1694, all the nation's judges attended the funeral of the late Queen Mary (1662-1694) dressed in black robes as a sign of mourning, and because the queen was so beloved, they kept mourning for many years afterwards. Britain then became a great global superpower that everyone either copied or was conquered by, which led to black robes becoming the de facto world standard. This is obviously a fairly sweeping explanation that sounds more than a little apocryphal.
It should be noted that black was a broadly popular color in 17th Century Europe in general. Both Catholics and Protestant clergy began wearing black around this time, which gave the color an association with Godly authority and dignity. 17th Century Puritan Protestants, who were quite socially and politically influential in England, Holland, and Scandinavia, considered black the most neutral and unpretentious color, and therefore the most appropriate color of dress for people in positions of trust and dignity. Black was also just a broadly fashionable color with a lot of people in those days.
In all likilihood there was no one single factor that inspired judges to start wearing black, but rather a milieu of distinct European cultural influences swirling around in the 17th Century.
In any case, as we shall see, the idea that judges "always wear black" is a bit of a myth to begin with. Red is easily the second-most popular color for judicial robes, and it's a color with dramatically different cultural associations. Today, when a new court is being set up somewhere, judges wear black simply because it's expected.
The following is an investigative look at the various judicial costumes worn in some of the major countries of the world. To make it flow, I have arranged the countries in a vaguely geographic order.
Whenever possible I have tried to use the best possible photos. Keep in mind however that in many countries judges are not to be photographed, and thus it can be quite difficult to obtain good pics of them.
The modern-day simplicity of American judicial costumes was the product of gradual evolution and compromise. After the United States secured its independence from Great Britain, it was not entirely clear how many British traditions should continue in the new country. Founding Fathers of the more aggressively republican persuasion were eager to purge their nation of any symbols of the old English aristocratic order, including what Thomas Jefferson dubbed the "needless official apparel" of judges. Others disagreed, and for a time American judges basically wore whatever, with some continuing to wear showy British-style robes and wigs, while others just wore plain black robes, or no "official appeal" at all.
When John Marshall ( 1755-1835) became Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court in 1801, he put his foot down and insisted American judges should standardize their apparel, and simply wear humble black robes over their suits. Humble black robes have been the standard outfit of US judges in federal courts ever since.
America, is of course, a federation of self-governing states, and not all state judges followed Justice Marshall's lead. Many states — especially in the South — were more aggressively republican, and had their judges wear no official costume for a long period of time. This changed after the Civil War (1861-1865) when the states and feds began to harmonize more traditions. From then on, almost every state-level judge in America has worn a standardized black robe over a formal suit. Women judges tend to accessories with a frilly white collar, also known as a jabot , though this varies from judge to judge.
The late Chief Justice of the United States, William Rehnquist (1924-2005) famously modified his robe in 1994 to make it resemble the robe of the British Lord Chancellor. His robe had four gold stripes on each arm, but was otherwise the same as most American judicial robes. Supreme Court judges in the United States also used to wear cylindrical hats for a while, but only the famously conservative Justice Antonin Scalia (1936-2016) seemed interested in keeping this tradition going.
There are still some quaint exceptions to America's black robe hegemony. It's fairly common in the US for members of a state supreme court wear a distinct costume. For example:
- In Maryland, judges of the Court of Appeals (Maryland's supreme court) wear red robes, with British-style white "cross" collars.
- The Supreme Court justices of Pennsylvania wear special red, yellow, and green sashes over their black robes.
- The Supreme Court Justices of Georgia and Arkansas wear gray robes with black linings and black bars on the sleeves.
- The Supreme Court justices of Puerto Rico wear robes with Spanish-style frills in the robe cuffs (see Spain, below).
Some states go so far as to leave it to individual judges to decide what they should wear in court. In 2015 the Supreme Court of Florida issued a decree stating that "robes worn by a judge must be solid black with no embellishment" in response to complaints that some state judges were getting too creative with robe colors and decorations, and that this "could result in uncertainty for those coming before our court" regarding the judge's status or disposition.
Paint application was done by either spraying the outside of the helmets directly over the original factory paint with a pneumatic paint gun or, in some cases, by applying the paint by hand with either a brush or rag. Occasionally the inside of the helmet’s skirt was also over-painted.
The inside of this DAK M35 has been brush painted around the skirt for extra camouflage, the inside of the dome still retains it’s factory paint.
The work repainting the helmets a suitable tan color was usually preformed by supply depots but occasionally it was done by the men themselve in the field. Helmets were typically painted with a single shade of tan, but, occasionally, a second shade of tan, olive or brown was over sprayed in a pattern as a disruptor.
German helmets in a North African supply depot being repainted tan for service in the desert
The brutal climate of the North African desert would reek havoc on the camouflage finishes of these helmet. The harsh sun would often blench the paint white and/or caused the paint to become brittle and crack and sand storms chipped and peeled the paint. For these reasons, helmets were frequently given new coats of tan camouflaged tan. Attesting to this,surviving original DAK helmets are sometimes found with several layers of differing shades of tan paint.
The camoflaged paint on this helmet has almost worn away leaving only traces
Although the helmets were painted with a matte finish, the smooth surface easily reflected the African sun. A quick remedy for this issue was to mix sand into the paint before it was applied or by sprinkling it on the wet painted surface of the helmet before spraying a second time.
DAK M40 with a heavy sand finish
The sand created an efficient anti-reflective finish which provided a far superior concealment than a smooth finish. Despite this fact, the sand finish was not universally adopted by all German soldiers and many continued to wear helmets with a smooth finish for the duration of the North African campaign.
Two members of the DAK both wear helmets with what is likely a sand finish
A few photos have surfaced of more elaborate hand rendered camouflage patterns. These patterns were likely seen as a method of breaking up the outline of the helmet. They may also represent the creativity of certain soldiers who developed a pattern that they felt would conceal their helmet more adequately. Many of these patterns were particular to the Tunisian campaign.
Photo taken near the end of the African campaign in Tunisia. All three men have elaberate hand rendered camoflage patterns on their helmets
While Tunisia is located in North Africa it’s terrain is more similar to Italy than Libya. At the time the Tunisian countryside boasted of green farmland, olive, palm and citrus groves. Photos taken during this time frame of the North African campaign show shades of green over spray added to some helmets. This was no doubt done in response to the changing colors of the country side they were now fighting in.
German paratroopers taking a break in Tunisia. Note the two tone camouflage pattern on their helmets, likely tan and green
ChiSox Debut ‘Southside’ City Connect Unis
Yesterday afternoon, under some sultry Chicago skies, the White Sox debuted their “City Connect” uniforms, the third (of seven) team this year to do so. If you’re interested in the “story” behind these uniforms, please click here for more details.
As I mentioned in that article, I was a big fan of the uniforms, but wanted to see them on the field. Despite a few minor quibbles (which I’ll detail below), I was a big fan. As I expected, despite the uniforms being “dark gray” (more like anthracite), I thought they would look black on the field of play, and sure enough, they did.
There weren’t many surprises from what was already unveiled, but a couple things about the uniforms were unknown, such as whether the team would create a uni-specific helmet based on their City Connect cap, which they did (this helmet was probably a lot easier than the Red Sox or Marlins to create, as they simply had to replace their current “Sox” decal, and replaced it with a raised-letter “Chi” logo).
What also wasn’t know at the time was whether the team would indeed wear white socks. Sadly, for those who chose to go high-cuffed, the Stance socks provided were about 99% black. So, even for those who showed some hosiery, the effect was long pants/leotards. That would be disappointing in any event, but for a team named WHITE SOX, this was a perfect opportunity to live up to their nickname. This goes double when their pants were black, so the contrast would have been perfect. Instead, everyone appeared in head-to-toe black.
Very disappointed to see the socks are black. This was the moment! Black pants would allow for white socks so easily. Cuz, you know, you’re the White Sox! @UniWatch pic.twitter.com/DcpJJmjlL3
&mdash Yours in Sport (@jamesesiddall) June 5, 2021
Most players simply chose to go long-pantsed anyway. I’m wondering if there were a white sock option whether more players would have gone the high-cuffed route.
It was also unknown how players would treat the belt, as teams now seem to have several options for different colors, and if there is any kind of equipment rule on belt color (I don’t believe there is), it certainly hasn’t been enforced. With this uni, there were basically two options: white or black, and both were used, although I think more players wore black belts than white:
Shoe options were likewise unlimited, but again, white and black were the only options players chose. In this case, it seemed more players wore white shoes than black. Interestingly, there was no “matching” white belt to white shoes (or black to black) per se, but player preference.
Fortunately, the solid black side panels (common to all jerseys, but only noticeable on pinstriped jerseys) did not really detract from the uniforms at all, although they were noticeable.
And speaking of skipper Tony LaRussa: about a million people on Twitter posted this screen shot showing him … decidedly … unhip:
Overall, it was a good look for the
…who will wear the uniforms a few more times this year. Hopefully when it’s a bit cooler.
Here’s a couple videos so you can see the uniforms in action:
Jake Lamb is having a resurgence. #WhiteSox close the gap 4-3. pic.twitter.com/wKmD5ygZXq
&mdash White Sox Daily (@dailywhitesox) June 5, 2021
You can see lots more photos here.
So far, I’ve liked these “City Connect” uniforms the best of the three we’ve seen, although not going with actual white socks was less than pleasing.
San Francisco Giants Show Their PRIDE
Yesterday the San Francisco Giants hosted their 2021 “Pride Day” and in so doing, became the first team to alter their uniforms to reflect the colors of the rainbow flag on their uniforms. You can see the cap treatment above.
But as San Francisco is wont to do, the park and its surroundings were also decked out in pride colors, and their video boards were full of anti-hate messaging and even the Levi’s ads were rainbow colored:
The team didn’t stop there: a ceremonial home plate with the Giants’ interlocking “SF” logo was also rendered in rainbow colors prior to the start of the game:
Aside from the cap patch, the Giants also wore their SF logo in pride colors as a patch on their right sleeve:
Some players, including First Base Coach Antoan Richardson, wore additional “Black Lives Matter” patches on either side of their SF logo:
While the rainbow affects on the uniforms were limited to the cap and jersey logo patches, a few players embellished the look by wearing wrist bands on their forearms with rainbow colors:
Needless to say, I love this — not just because of what the pride colors represent, but the rather organic way the team went about it: just subtle rainbow colors on the SF cap & sleeve logo (and a few wristbands). They could have gone over-the-top and made their “GIANTS” wordmark and/or uniform numbers/NOBs in rainbow colors as well, but chose the less-is-more route. And San Francisco, with its large LGBTQ population, was the perfect place for a team to show its “PRIDE.” And while I’d like to see more teams acknowledge the LGBTQ community in more visible ways, I think this tribute was just perfect. Well done, SF, well done!
Walter O’Malley’s LA Coliseum Ballpark Plans
As many of you know, I love old baseball stadia almost as much as I love unis, so when UW stalwart Kary Klismet sent me the following e-mail, I was enthralled!
It’s all self-explanatory, so I’ll turn it over to Kary here:
I recently stumbled across an excellent article on a website run by the family of longtime Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley that does an in-depth examination on why O’Malley chose the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum over the Rose Bowl and Los Angeles’ Wrigley Field as a temporary home for his team before Dodger Stadium was built. This sent me down a rabbit hole that led me to discover that O’Malley was likely influenced by two earlier feasibility studies to promote using the Coliseum for Major League Baseball conducted in 1952 and 1953 by business and community interests in Los Angeles. I put together a photo gallery showing the various stadium diagrams from these different studies, along with the plans that O’Malley eventually decided on in 1958. And if you’re interested in what it would have looked like if the Dodgers had played in the Rose Bowl or Wrigley, those were covered in recent Ticker submission that you can find here and here.
Nice work Kary — and thanks for putting together that Flickr album!
Got an e-mail yesterday from the great Craig Brown, who runs the fantastic Threads Of Our Game website. If you’re not familiar with it, the primary focus is on pre-1900 baseball uniforms and related ephemera.
Examining the baseball uniforms of the Western League of 1899
Hello baseball historians,
We should say thank you to Charles H. Meyer. Meyer was a baseball fan, an entrepreneur, a team official and the ballpark superintendent of the Kansas City franchise of the Western League in the late 1890s. Between 1898 and 1900 Meyer arranged for multiple photos of visiting teams to be taken on the field at Exposition Park in Kansas City. At the end of each year, Meyer sold his photographs in albums as an “attractive souvenir” of the season, with each album offered up at one dollar. Today, these remarkable images show us the gritty life of the minor-league ballplayer of 1899. We see the forlorn expressions worn on their faces and the mismatched uniforms worn on their backs.
“Threads” has examined these often overlooked images, pinpointing the dates when each picture was likely to have been made, and providing a snapshot view of the changing baseball fashion at the end of the century.
Click here to see the uniforms.
Thank you for your time.
Threads Of Our Game
Thanks, Craig! Great work (as always) on this!
Guess The Game…
Today’s scoreboard comes from Martin Nash.
The premise of the game (GTGFTS) is simple: I’ll post a scoreboard and you guys simply identify the game depicted. In the past, I don’t know if I’ve ever completely stumped you (some are easier than others).
Here’s the Scoreboard. In the comments below, try to identify the game (date & location, as well as final score). If anything noteworthy occurred during the game, please add that in (and if you were AT the game, well bonus points for you!):
Please continue sending these in! You’re welcome to send me any scoreboard photos (with answers please), and I’ll keep running them.
Uni Watch News Ticker
Baseball News: “Think you guys may be aware of this but it has not made the Ticker,” Wade Heidt writes. “The Spokane Indians debuted their new alternate Operation Fly Together uniforms on Friday night. The uniforms will be worn for all Friday night homes games. It is modelled after the Air Force dress blue uniforms. … A new survey has declared “Clark the Cub” as the most popular costumed mascot in Major League Baseball (from Kary Klismet). … The new White Sox ‘City Connect’ jerseys have been commemorated with a Jose Abreu bobblehead. … Check out this great photo of the NLB New York Black Yankees (from SABR Bio Project). … Minor league teams were sporting some pretty colorful looks yesterday (from Minor League Promos). … Looks like a member of the NC State Wolfpack lost his helmet logo (from Chris Mycoskie). … Tweeter In God’s Country writes, “Interesting uniform matchup in Fort Worth. @TCU_Baseball with… snaps instead of buttons? And looks like @DBU_Baseball has a solid B making their top a pull over.” … Kevan Smith was wearing injured Travis D’Arnaud’s gear (from Sander Bryan). … Al Goldberg notes that at the end of yesterday’s Giants game, 2B Donovan Solano “Didn’t wear Pride cap. Might have been oversight, came in top of 9th after Longoria injured running into Crawford.” He wasn’t wearing the shoulder patch either.
Football News: “This article prompted a thought (which maybe you’ve already investigated): who’s had the biggest swing in numbers they’ve worn as a pro (regardless of league)?” says Chris Ode “I’m thinking Carlos Dunlap (#96 in Cincinnati, #43 in Seattle, and now #8 — a swing of 88 ‘points’) has to be a contender?” … Green Bay Packers President Mark Murphy has a monthly mailbag column and the answer to the last question indicates that the Packers will wear a third jersey with “a shade of the color green” this next season. Throwing back to the lighter shade of green from the ‘50s? (from Geoff Poole). … Here’s another article about how prospective players love all the alternate uniforms college football teams (Central Florida in this case) wear these days, how it makes recruiting easier, et. cetera. Does anybody that writes about this stuff seek out any actual empirical evidence, or do they just take it as a truism that “kids love all those crazy uniform combinations”? (from Kary Klismet) … Also from Kary, Texas A&M has unveiled its Orange Bowl championship rings. … ICYMI: the Philadelphia Eagles gold/blue throwback uniform has been named the NFL’s worst jersey. … If you’re a DIYer (or just
cheap a spendthrift), you might want to look into buying “irregular” jerseys (from Steve Sher). … Why do players cover their helmets in decals? It’s what makes the Shrine Bowl the Shrine Bowl. Submitter Brett Baker says it’s “A fun read and some great photos.”
Hockey News: Not much hockey news these days, but this is interesting: Jase Greenberg tweets: “Photos credited to u/DolePears on Reddit, but apparently the Hurricanes Stadium Series jersey from supposed to be this season was released?” I’d love to see the full uni, but just from the looks of it, I can say I’m a fan.
NBA/College/Basketball News: Interestingly, the UNC Tar Heels use the same wordmark on their court for both men’s and women’s basketball, but they are rendered differently (from James Gilbert. … For those interested, here is the full uniform tracking for the Los Angeles Lakers for the 2020-21 season (from Lakers Uni Tracker). … New Uni Watch hoops hero? Bruce Brown was the only Nets player on the floor without an advertisement on his jersey (from Eli Behar).
Soccer News: These are English League Two club Walsall’s shirts for next season (from our own Jamie Rathjen). He adds, “The green shirt also serves as the ‘home’ goalie shirt. Usually you only see them overlap like that as a solution for color clashes.” … Soccer club Forward Madison is celebrating Pride Month by releasing rainbow-themed jerseys.
Grab Bag: In what may be one of the most Uni Watch things ever, a new book called Buttons Parade has come out that examines the history of military buttons in Malta from the 18th through the 21st centuries (from Kary Klismet. … The Olentangy Local School District in Ohio has unveiled new logos for its high schools’ sports teams (from Kary, again). … The next FIVE items are also from Kary Klismet: Trinity Valley Community College in Texas has unveiled a set of new athletics logos. … Here’s an article looking at the history of Qantas Airline employee uniforms in the 1980s. … Alaska Airlines has been accused of discrimination against non-binary and gender non-conforming flight attendants because of its distinct uniforms for male and female employees. … High-dollar corporate naming rights deals are creeping into the world of esports, as the Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency exchange FTX has paid the well-established Team SoloMid (TSM) $210 million to change its name to TSM FTX (NYT link). … New uniforms for the Branford (Conn.) High School marching band (thanks Kary!). … L.J. Sparvero notes, “this is the start of the Belmont Stakes on Saturday on NBC, the letter spacing looks odd in “Belmont” but not “Park”. The “E” looks more like a backwards ” and doesn’t really fit the block capitals elsewhere. What’s interesting the logo in the small white sign below has a similar “E”, so maybe this is a deliberate bit of branding? I don’t know, still think the letter spacing above it was an ‘oops’.” … He continues, “and it gets even more weird, attached is a sign they just showed on TV from somewhere undetermined, this sign has a normal E.” As a PS, he says, “instead of the metal peacock logo paperweights, the outdoor broadcasters use horseshoe shaped ones.” … Interesting article here on how female athletes may be put off from competing since they are required to wear white and light-colored uniforms. … The Navy has quietly rolled out their first maternity Flight Suits. Submitter Timmy Donahue notes, “The service issued the 1st suit to LCDR Jacqueline Nordan, a mobilization program manager in the Naval Air Force Reserve, as part of an early distribution program.” … In FIVB VNL Men’s action Poland and Slovenia went dark on dark. White sleeves are Poland, while the jagged lines is Slovenia (from Jeremy Brahm). … Jeremy also asks, “How about the 7 on the Slovenian men’s volleyball team?” … Also from Jeremy, in Women’s FIVB VNL Poland and Turkey also went dark on dark. Poland (dark blue, far side) and Turkey (black).
I don’t know. In the words of the immortal Jim Vilk, “I’d wear that.”
He actually solved crimes, like Sherlock
Sherlock’s deductive reasoning skills didn’t simply materalize out of thin air. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle cleverly investigated crimes himself as an advocate for justice. He took on two high-profile, closed cases, both of which ended with proper justice.
The first was George Edaliji, a half-Indian lawyer accused of threatening harm to and then mutilating animals. Doyle proved that the incriminating letters used to sentence the lawyer didn’t match Edaliji’s handwriting and linked the crimes to another animal mutilation that occurred while he was in custody. The second was of Oscar Slater who was accused of murdering an elderly woman. Doyle proved his innocence. He showed that Slater’s behavior and suspicious lifestyle wasn’t because he was a murderer, but rather because he was trying to hide his mistress from his wife.
45. Leeds United 2001
The kit from the club's famous run to the Champions League semifinals in 2001, Leeds suffered much misfortune after that season and have only just earned themselves a way back towards the Premier League.
Due to the team's sudden drop from the Premier League, this is the kit that they are arguably remembered most for by top flight teams.
In fact, this is probably also the kit that they are remembered most for by their challengers in Europe that season as well. Although the club side of Don Revie was far more successful, it could safely be argued that this kit is still more iconic.
L et's start with the basic peasant, reminicient of a sack of dung tied up with string (or so TV would have us believe) armed with little more than a stick. In reality, 'peasant infantry' tended to carry a variety of unpleasant tool related weaponry, many of which were later refined into military weapons (such as the Bill) of brutal efficiency.
A bove the basic feudal peasant, come those individuals with slightly higher incomes, who provide occasional military service, and who puchase equipment to improve their chances of surviving a tour of duty. Such equipment can range from a shield and crude iron skullcap, through to heavy layered defences of padding, mail, and plate. Some of these part-time amateur soldiers would progress on to our next catagory.
P rofessional soldiers, this group includes garrison troops, bodyguards, household retainers, mercenaries etc. and usually their equipment is of a good standard. Again, armour tends to consist of layered padding, mail and plate or the ever popular brigandine, with its many small steel or horn plates riveted between layers of leather or fabric. The more affluent members of this group, captains of companies for example, would have been as well equiped as any of the Men-at-Arms.
T he Men-at-Arms tend to consist of middle class gentlemen, knights, petty nobility, and of course, the great nobles. These are the 'knights in shining armour' of the historical Hollywood Epics and Re-enactment Battles, despite the fact that most of them were not knights, and armour consits of full or partial plate armour, with mail at vunerable areas such as armpit and groin. Brigandines were also popular, with luxurious coverings such as velvet.
T his is by no means, a complete guide to late Medieval costume. We have not covered the differences between English, French, Flemish, German and Italian styles of plate armour, nor have we covered every troop type of every nation, Burgundian Pikemen are not dis-similar to Swiss Pikemen, or Burgundian Archers. Nor have we devoted much coverage to the Men-at-Arms or Knights, their equipment is quite adequately covered elsewhere.
The Ivy League shirt: History, traditions and style
At our Ivy Style Symposium two years ago, I said I thought that this most American of fashions was particularly suited to our times. My opinion has only been reinforced since then.
The collegiate attitude of casually throwing on a mix of clothes &ndash dress shirts and sportswear, shorts and shetlands &ndash fits especially well into our dress-down times. As does the emphasis on comfort, and on quality.
We want to wear clothes easily, without fuss, yet look good. We want to be unrestricted, and buy fewer things &ndash perhaps even things that look ever better with age.
This is Ivy. And among the various pieces that make up the Ivy League Look, the category that attracts me most is the shirt.
King among these is the oxford-cloth button-down, or OCBD. It has to be the only shirt that&rsquos ever been versatile enough to wear with suits, with jeans and with shorts (at least within the Ivy tradition). It is flexible, comfortable, and stylish in an impressively unfussy manner.
This latest article in our Shirt Style series looks at American shirts in general, not just the OCBD. But that is the lodestar of the style.
Over the years, Ivy has gone from being a preserve of the Eastern Establishment in the US, to something much more universal. Aspiration was a big part of this, particularly in the 1950s. But it was fashion brands such as Ralph Lauren, and the preppy trend in the 1980s, that really made it more broadly American.
Before all that, there wasn&rsquot much difference between most American shirts and those found in Europe. Shirts were generous in cut, but then so were those in England. They had point or moderately spread collars, and featured both single and double cuffs.
It was the ascendancy of shops like Brooks Brothers, J Press and Gant after the Second World War that started to put a stamp on the American shirt &ndash as the Ivy style that had previously been so niche began to spread to the rest of the country.
We have Brooks Brothers to thank for the button-down collar, for example &ndash although Gant also did much to popularise it, as the first to introduce ready-made versions at Yale. Gant later gave us the locker loop, while Brooks claims the breast pocket (though it periodically dropped it) and the unlined collar.
J Press meanwhile, which often took an alternative approach to Ivy, gave us the flapped pocket version. &ldquoWhich was much more stuffy, more pipe-and-tweed,&rdquo says Christian Chensvold, writer and founder of Ivy-Style.com.
Christian has written on Ivy style since his site started in 2008, and was one of the people I spoke to for this piece. &ldquoThink of the OCBD as one part of a Venn diagram, with the other half the more straight-collar style worn in the rest of the country,&rdquo he says. &ldquoOver time, the overlap between those two grew, as the button-down shirt became increasingly popular.&rdquo
Fellow writer Bruce Boyer has a nice term for that other, standard-collar style &ndash the &lsquomid-western grain salesman&rsquo look. &ldquoA very plain style, basically,&rdquo says Christian. &ldquoTwo-button jacket, darted but boxy. What you saw mostly in Hollywood, and epitomised by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Nondescript.&rdquo
As mentioned, one thing that drove the OCBD&rsquos increasing popularity was aspiration &ndash something nicely captured in Mary McCarthy&rsquos 1942 story, The Man in the Brooks Brothers Shirt, where the titular shirt is a sign of status for Mr Breen, a steel salesman from Cleveland.
But later the Ivy look seeped into the broader consciousness just because it was fashionable &ndash during its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s. &ldquoPart of the Ivy League story is that many adopted it without knowing its origins &ndash not because it was something they were born into, or were coming into by going to college,&rdquo says Christian. &ldquoIt just became part of the American style.&rdquo And arguably, it was the first men&rsquos clothing tradition that America could really call its own.
Ivy suffered a decline in the late 1960s, as fashions do. But it came back with a vengeance in the 1980s, as prep spread similar looks across the country. And then there was the modern revival from 2010 onwards, which had much to do with the growth of menswear as a whole, but was helped by the republication of Take Ivy , an exhibition at FIT, and the growth of interest in heritage brands.
If the cultural significance of the OCBD is expressed at the start of this period by the Mary McCarthy story, a nice example from the end of it is the 1990 novel The Final Club by Geoffrey Wolff.
In it, the hero Nathaniel is attending Princeton in the 1950s, but comes from Seattle, Washington. He is is not of that world, and throughout the book, it is clothes that make this difference most obvious &ndash in particular, the shirt.
On the journey to school on his first day, he describes seeing these people and their attire: &ldquoHere was Nathaniel&rsquos first sight of a gathered tribe&hellipThey were being seen off by clots of tanned moms and bluff, red-faced men wearing (like their sons) pink-soled white bucks or saddle shoes, and Brooks Brothers blue button-downs, white button-downs, yellow button-downs, pink button-downs.
&ldquoNo pockets, a roll to the front of the ample collar. Nathaniel didn&rsquot note (then) the specifics of these shirts, but he should have.&rdquo
It is these specifics which, at the time, were closely noted and used to separate social &lsquotypes&rsquo. Those new to the world, like Nathaniel, had to try and fit in as best they could &ndash resorting to things like sandpapering their collars to make them look old and worn-in. Not everyone could wear, like a peer of Nathaniel&rsquos, &lsquoBooth&rsquo, &ldquo[a jacket in] houndstooth, cut for his father on Savile Row by Huntsman during the Battle of Britain&rdquo.
Still, while there was a consistent snobbishness around Ivy League attire, I think it&rsquos significant that the aim was always to appear relaxed, and unfussy. Booth, for example, is forced to rescue his father&rsquos jacket &ldquofrom foppery&rdquo with &ldquoa black knit tie and faded blue canvas Top-Sider sneakers, spattered by specks of bronze boat-bottom paint.&rdquo
Apparel Arts at the time called this &ldquothe studied negligence that is taken as the standard of good taste among college men&rdquo.
This point came up time and again during our Symposium . Speakers like Richard Press, grandson of the J Press founder, set out how Ivy was about mixing clothes genres, whether artfully or not. And therefore obsessing about &lsquorules&rsquo around Ivy today was a contradiction.
A big part of the appeal of Ivy for me &ndash and indeed similar traditions in Britain, in France and elsewhere &ndash is of &lsquohow great things age&rsquo. It is the fraying cuff on a favourite shirt, the worn elbows on a jacket. It is part of the epoch- and cultural-crossing consensus that fussiness in men is unattractive.
Returning to shirts, what else deserves inclusion in this brief American survey, other than the OCBD?
There is Madras fabric, of course, which became so popular at the time. Gingham, too, though it&rsquos less specifically American. The pinned club collar (above) was closely associated with Ivy, and there&rsquos a case that this kept the style going.
There are also holiday shirts perhaps, short-sleeved and very square. But these were both common elsewhere in the 1950s and 1960s &ndash even if movies and series like Mad Men mean that we always picture American men wearing them, as they host a barbeque in their garden, drink in hand.
Pink shirts also deserve a mention. There was a famous article in LIFE magazine in 1955 which credited Brooks Brothers with &lsquoinventing&rsquo pink, or at least making it acceptable for men. It was illustrated by the image below, of a man surrounded by pink in every aspect of the wardrobe. But shirts are the focus.
&ldquoLike most male fashions, including the Ivy League Look, this pink hue and cry has taken some time to develop,&rdquo runs the article. &ldquoSole responsibility lies with New York&rsquos Brooks Brothers, whose pink shirt, introduced in 1900 but long unnoticed, was publicized for college girls in 1949 and caught on for men too.&rdquo
Men are, of course, mostly cowards when it comes to clothing, afraid of sticking out or looking silly. So a tradition like this around a pastel colour helps a lot. There&rsquos even a theory that the adoption of pink kick-started the whole &lsquogo to hell&rsquo look in the US, which managed to make many bright colours acceptable, particularly in trousers.
It&rsquos also a reason the growth of &lsquoprep&rsquo in the late 1970s and 1980s could include so many bright colours of polo shirts &ndash pink and green being the most obvious.
The Ivy shirt has much to recommend it. Less the fussing over collar linings or the number of buttons on the front, but more its versatility, and easy style in a myriad of situations.
&ldquoIvy shirts have seen a real renaissance in the past decade,&rdquo says Christian (above). &ldquoIt&rsquos getting harder and harder to find a soft-shouldered, straight American suit, but there are lots of companies offering great Ivy-inspired button downs in the US. Mercer & Sons is one, and just today we published a story about a new one, Junior&rsquos.&rdquo
Over in Europe there are the PS oxfords, of course, but also Jake&rsquos in London, Anglo-Italian&rsquos OCBDs, Brycelands&rsquo perfect oxford, even Rubato shirts. In fact, among crafted menswear brands there may be more shirts that feel the influence of Ivy than don&rsquot.
Rubato in particular, with its easy cut and mixing with sportswear, shows that influence &ndash even if the colour palette is much more Scandinavian (see image below).
It could seem ridiculous to an outsider, to spend so much time scrutinising the details of a style that grew up in American almost 100 years ago. No one, they may well say, dresses like that today. But actually, Ivy&rsquos influence is all around us. It&rsquos in the hiking fleeces at Urban Outfitters, the button downs at Arket, and countless things at Gap, Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren and others.
Being able to see that influence makes it easier, and more satisfying, to dress with the same style &ndash and just as importantly, the same frayed, faded attitude.