Uprising! by Billax

This post is a reprinting of a post on a forum that is frequented by Billax. Billax is not only one of my style role models, but a friend and a man that was Trad back when it was called Ivy League. If you have not read the first post that I reprinted of his on penny loafers I suggest that you do: Loafers by Billax

Curriculum member, Trip English, posted a provocative entry on his blog, speculating that higher rise, wider leg opening trousers are on the horizon and may supplant today’s low rise, narrow leg opening pants. You can read his piece at: Wider Days Ahead.

Here’s a picture of Fred Astaire, who often wore high rise, looser fitting trousers:

Fred Astaire Jumping in Loose Fitting TrousersTrip is pretty perspicacious and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if his speculations came to pass. I have a different wish, however unlikely it is to come to pass any time soon. I long for the pant shape of the late 50s and early 60s, which can be characterized as high rise, narrow leg opening. That’s what I wore in college in the late 50s and early 60s and, based on the pictorial evidence, that’s what the Ivy League guys were wearing then, too.

Why? Well, all one has to do is look at low rise chinos paired with a high-button-stance 3 roll 2 sport jacket, especially a jacket that has open quarters. You’ll see this look all the time on AAAC. The pants top out 4 inches below the belly button and five or six inches below the middle button of the jacket. You’ll see all the belt, lots of tie, and plenty of shirt below the middle button. Not my cup of tea. I ran across a number of pictures from Yale during the boom years that show a much tighter correspondence between trouser rise and middle button of the jacket. These come from the website, The Ivy League Look. Here are a few:

Yale Berkeley College 19571957

Yale 19581958

Wakefield cls 64 in 19621962

And finally, if you can get past the location of the Gentleman’s hand and look at his trouser rise, you’ll see:

Yale 19621962

So, that’s the visual evidence. But there is numerical evidence of high rise pants in the 60s as well. I measured up some of my trousers and added in some measurements published by Levi for their slim fit jeans and their vintage Sta-Prest cords. Here’s the data:
Pants from c. 1955-1965 and 2012
All with 34″ waist and 29.25″ Cuff no break (Levi’s are hemmed no break)
Levi’s 513 slim jeans: 10″ rise |16″ Leg Opening (LO)
BB current 3/2 suit: 11″ rise |18″ LO
LE Tailored twills: 11″ rise | 16″ LO
O’Connell’s NOS: 12″ rise |15″ LO (c. 1960s)
Levis Vintage Sta-Prest Cords: 13.5″ rise |15.5: LO (c. late 1950s)

And here’s today’s J Crew look:

J.Crew Suit 1

J.Crew Suit 2

They can have the low rise/slim leg look. I’ll keep scouring the O’Connell’s NOS stock and scrounging through Press’s remnants, looking for those slim fit 12.5 inch rise beauties!

oxford cloth button down
Jerrod Swanton is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

2 Comments on "Uprising! by Billax"

  1. nutrivore says:

    I wonder if the low-waisted trend is to accommodate increasingly bulging bellies. In any case, high-waisted women’s pants are beginning to feature in stores again and I’m glad to be able to have a 10.5 inch rise.

  2. Woofboxer says:

    So much trouble in the trouser department! They do seem to be the most problematical garments to source for the ivy fan. The vintage supply is limited and there’s not much suitable in the shops. I just look forward to high waist, narrow leg opening pants coming back into fashion, if we’re patient it’s bound to happen.

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