The “Button Down Incident”

W. David Marx
Apr 17, 2016 · 2 min read
Kazuo Hozumi illustration for Toshiyuki Kurosu’s “Ivy à la carte” column in Men’s Club July 1964.

In Ametora, I reference schools banning button-down collars in the Ivy boom, and now I finally found a discrete historical reference. From Toshiyuki Kurosu’s “Ivy à la carte” column in Men’s Club #37 (July 1964):

The Button-Down Incident

A kid wore a button-down shirt to school, and they called up his father and gave him a warning. This was in the big city. Now there’s more: White shirts with “decoration” on the collar points became the rage at the school, all because clothing shops in town are selling them. So the school officially requested the owner of the shop to stop selling those “strange shirts.” The teachers don’t seem to be aware about fashion, which would be fine, but it kind of gives me the chills to think that this “problem” could cause such a big fuss in Japan.

Similar to this is something I heard about the teachers, not the students. There was a young, stylish teacher who would always stand at his lectern in great professorial style — an Ivy League suit and button-down shirt. The students loved it, but other teachers didn’t. So the school apparently asked him, don’t you think this style is inappropriate for teachers? This Japanese Mr. Novak is bitterly laughing: I’ll push Ivy until I get fired.

Footnotes, spin-offs, and updates to W.

W. David Marx

Written by

Ametora Extended
W. David Marx

Written by

Tokyo-based author of “Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style” (Basic Books, December 2015). Co-founder/editor of Néojaponisme. wdavidmarx.com

Ametora Extended

Footnotes, spin-offs, and updates to W. David Marx’s book “Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style.”

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