Ivy League Lessons: David Nelson


This is a reprinting of a post 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.

In 1958-9, when I first became interested in what guys were wearing, television was a source of both information and inspiration. There was no internet and I wasn’t aware of Esquire Magazine at the time. The Milwaukee Journal, the local rag, didn’t cover menswear. David Nelson of the – very popular – Ozzie and Harriet show was one of the guys I watched on TV and learned from.

David Nelson

At that time, he was attending the University of Southern California (USC) and was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. He provided a window into campus fashion for me. My two cousins, about whom I’ve written before, made the look tangible but, as they were away at college, I didn’t see them all that often. David Nelson? I saw him once a week on the Ozzie and Harriet Show. It was a sitcom, I guess. Mostly, it was about what the Nelson family was doing. In that sense, it was the original Seinfeld – “a show about nothing.” David would often show up with some of his fraternity brothers and I’d get a weekly dose of What Are They Wearing Right Now!

David Nelson

The shirts were Button Downs, or tab collars, or forward point collars with a collar pin. Tweed and Corduroy sport coats, white socks with Venetian loafers. Skinny ties. Ricky became more famous, but David Nelson was the guy whose clothes I admired when I was seventeen.

In September of 1959, when I went to college, I pledged Kappa Sigma. As I was looking for these photos, I recalled that he, too, was a Kappa Sig. Interesting coincidence, I thought! Upon reflection, maybe it wasn’t coincidence at all.Here are some photographs of David Nelson at USC:

D Nelson

David Nelson





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

3 Comments on "Ivy League Lessons: David Nelson"

  1. William Alton Smith, Jr. "Bill" says:


    You are my go to guy for all matters sartorial. Can you suggest where I might purchase a patch tweed sports coat?

  2. oxford cloth button down says:

    Bill – Thanks for your very kind words. I have only ever seen vintage pictures, but you may keep an eye on Ebay and Etsy. Sorry I could not be more help.

  3. Dave says:

    I watched reruns of the Ozzie and Harriet show as I am only 33, but appreciated the classy clothing presented on each episode. My father lived during that era, where the Gant shirts were coveted, and the Sero’s were the competitors. I had many of my father’s Gant shirt’s as hand me downs, as a teenager, and never even knew what great quality I was wearing. The Ozzie and Harriet era was when everyone dressed up because they were actually concerned about what their appearance revealed to their peers. Long live the OCBD…

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