Fashion that's as straight as an arrow
Nothing says “Back to School” like starched collars and foulard ties.
But Arrow shirts has us in the school spirit all of a sudden. This ad from 1950 reminds us that, “Having the proper gear is mighty important to university and prep-school men. And—you’re RIGHT with Arrow.”
Nearly 70 years old now, this ad evokes an era when university men—and they were mostly men—dressed up to learn. Whether you lament or celebrate our national sartorial evolution, one thing remains constant: Arrow shirts! Today you can get your Arrow shirts on Amazon or at Kohl’s. Back then you’d get them at Sears.
Actually you can still get them at Sears, while supplies (of Sears) last.
The history of Arrow shirts stretches back 100 years prior to this back-to-school ad. The company went through a dizzying array of mergers and acquisitions at the end of the 19th century until Arrow shirts landed in the hands of parent company Cluett Peabody & Co. in Troy, New York. Under its stewardship, Arrow shirts would become synonymous with the detachable collar fad at the turn of the 20th century. (Detachable collars were seen as a way to keep shirts looking clean and crisp without having to do pesky chores like washing them.)
From 1905 to 1931, Arrow ran a series of print ads for its shirts featuring the “Arrow Collar Man,” which would become one of the most successful campaigns of all time, ultimately featuring early film stars and sex symbols like Francis X. Bushman (who can forget his star-making turn in 1911’s “His Friend’s Wife?”). The original Arrow Collar Man (see above) was the brainchild of well-known commercial illustrator J. C. Leyendecker, who used as his model Charles Beach, a young Canadian man with chiseled features, who would become Leyendecker’s life partner.
The Arrow Collar Man has been preserved in pop-culture touchstones like Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz” (which includes the line “High hats and Arrow collars …”) and in Cole Porter’s “You’re The Top.” By the time this back-to-school ad ran, though, Dad’s detachable collars had long fallen out of favor. Today, the Arrow brand is owned by PVH, along with Van Heusen, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Izod and others.
Now slip on some spats and start studying!