16 April 2011

Madras Clothes

"Brooks Brothers introduced madras clothing to this country at the end of the last century, but it wasn't until the 1930s that it really became popular. Vacationers to the Caribbean had first spotted the fabric being worn by West Indian natives, and before long shorts and swim trunks, sports jackets and golf trousers were all the rage round the links and club pool. By the 1950s there was not a campus in the country that didn't sport a full complement of plaid Bermuda shorts on male and female students alike--worn either with tennis shoes or with knee-high hose and dress shoes, English-style. The denim mania of the sixties and seventies dampened enthusiasm for madras in some quarters, but it remains, along with polo shirts and penny loafers, very much a part of the Eastern Establishment summer uniform.

The Ivy League shops, whether actually on campus or not, have always been the place to find madras clothes: J.Press, Chipp, Paul Stuart, and Brooks in New York; the Andover Shop in Cambridge; Britches in Georgetown; Langrock in Princeton; Julian's in Chapel Hill; Eddie Jacobs in Baltimore: those sorts of places. And as those stores attest, the campus summer uniform has not changed much in the past thirty years. Plaid madras sports jackets worn with oxford button-downs and khaki trousers are still de rigueur for parties and dances, and madras trousers or walk shorts worn with polo shirts and penny loafers or topsiders without socks are still standard day wear."

Elegance: A Guide to Quality Menswear, G. Bruce Boyer (1985)

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