The Old Standbys

J. Press brings a long-standing staple of Ivy Style, the white buck. Made exclusively for us in the UK, the old-time favorite returns to the fore, the best white suede buck on the market. Wear them with your favorite summer suit or classically historical “scuffed and dirty” with khakis, white ducks, or ragged jeans.

The Ivy Look of the 1950s Heyday co-existed adapting chino trousers over white bucks. Worn with or without socks, they bring back historic Ivy paired with J. Press khakis traditionally tailored flat-fronted in an array of colors in a cotton twill that can perform in hot and cold weather. It’s best practice to keep to neutral and earthy tones for year ‘round wear. No matter who says Nantucket red, lemon yellow, or salmon chinos are flattering or cool, they remain a GQ Cape Cod affectation. You really can never go wrong with khaki and making use of the belt loops (opt for a simple woven or striped fabric belt), they can work effortlessly with the aforementioned button-down or polo shirt and with a sport jacket or blazer on top.

The look became standard post-World War II fashion when Yale and other Ivy League campuses became inundated with hardened veterans thanks to FDR’s GI Bill of Rights. Unlike the pre-war campus population of prep schoolers, the new breed mostly came from high school circumstances. The St. Grottlesex crowd adapted to the postwar veteran’s khakis parading them on York Street with blue blazers or Shetland sport coats. The vets, looking to move upward to corporate life after college, adapted to the three-button natural shoulder J. Press style of their fellow classmates. Candy and cake. White bucks and chinos. 

Russell Lynes, art historian and author of “The Tastemakers” in a 1953 Esquire Magazine article scribed, 

White Shoe applies primarily to the socially ambitious smug types who affect a good deal of worldly sophistication, run, ride and drink in rather small cliques, and look in on the second halves of football games when the weather is good. They try so hard not to be collegiate in the rah-rah (or as they would say, Midwestern”) sense of the term that they are probably the most collegiate” types now in college.

Dirty white bucks and sturdy old-fashioned chinos may be a last hurrah for past times, but to this day there’s nothing wrong with looking like a seasoned World War II vet with an Ivy League degree looking to improve his pedigree.  

 

RICHARD PRESS

4 comments

Dirty bucks with a reddish rubber sole and white low cut tennis shoes called “hummers” were the prep look in Baltimore (1950’s)

Biagio Salemi May 31, 2023

These leather white bucks were supplanted by white canvas tennis shoes called “gummies” on the Cornell campus in the late ‘50’s.

Mike May 29, 2023

Bravo Richie…the perfect Memorial Day column!🇺🇸

Bobby Jaffe May 29, 2023

My late father in law was a classic-prep school during the depression-engineering graduate of Cornell and World War 2 vet with honorable service in Europe and later during the Korean conflict. He was an aficionado of seersucker during the summer and was well known for his white bucks during the appropriate season. When his time came, my wife and her sisters decided that he would be buried wearing his white bucks-a final testament to his sartorial good taste lasting an eternity. Literally.

Gary S. Glazer May 29, 2023

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