Ave Atque Vale

Why does each new generation try to adopt its own way of dressing? To make it clear that they are special, of course, and not hidebound  like their parents.

But  that does mean today's hot new trend will most likely be old news tomorrow. Can you imagine yourself wearing spats today? How about a straw boater?

One look, though, managed to hold its own in the menswear world for much of the 20th century--mainly because it was adopted by successive  generations of college students whose tweaking kept it fresh through several generations.

That look, known as Ivy League, spread way beyond the college campus and became an iconic American way of dressing.

One of its mainstays is the button-down collar, oxford cloth shirt adopted from British polo players who put buttons on their collars to keep them under control in the heat of the game. 

Transplanted to the U.S. by Brooks Brothers, this shirt style was taken up by a number of manufacturers, most notably the Gant brothers who perfected the collar, added a back box pleat and, their best idea of all, the famous locker loop. Those updates were just the thing for a generation of young men only recently out of uniform at the end of WWII.

Gant became hugely successful and in due course the brothers sold the company. Another great American success story. The company is now Swiss owned and much bigger, but perhaps not exactly better.

Elliot Gant, the younger and last of the brothers, passed away a few weeks ago. The old order changes. Ave Atque Vale.

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