Photo by Salt Water New England

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Wearing Affiliations

Schoolboy Scarves

Within the world, it is considered to be bad form to wear a recognized school affiliation to which you do not have a connection.  The logic is, if you would not be comfortable responding to a stranger's question, "Oh, did you go to...? No? Where did you go?" than don't wear it.  This does mean that there is an exception for great stories (i.e. "No, I didn't go, but my school beat ___ in crew, and as per tradition, the losing side had to give the winning side their school shirt." Or "No, but it was left on our boat.").   

On the other hand, if you are happy to be outside the world, wear whatever you wants, either aspirational, convenient, or just pleasing.  

Photo Credit:  Muffy Aldrich

67 comments:

  1. Thankfully I picked my schools and service branch for their nifty colors!

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  2. I guess I live within the world.

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  3. This post leaves the question somewhat open-ended, which I like. J Press sells the full compliment of Ivy League and-then-some scarves, several of which I'd wear for the colors alone, though I've never bought one (nor have I gone to any of the schools represented in the scarves). There's a company in the UK called Oxfox that has an online tool to design your own collegiate scarf. Looks like an enjoyable exercise. Make up your own elite academic institution and pick its colors, then wear (presumably) with pride.

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    1. You could even have someone embroider a fictitious college name on it. I recall a restaurant that was SO exclusive it not only didn't have a name, but they took their address numbers off their door. Anyone going there had to already know which door to enter. So - a school so exclusive you can't even google it. That brings us from The Thing Before Preppy, straight through Traditional, exiting out the far side of Preppy, to enter a Twilight Zone era of post modern hyper introspection that doesn't even have a name yet. Yet here we are still, watching the parade, waiting for the horses. Greetings from Symington College!

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    2. That gave me a laugh. Even better if the fictitious college has a motto in Latin.

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    3. Anyone know what the colors are for the University of Southern North Dakota?

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  4. I regard "fan gear" as being neither good nor bad, but personally live "within the world". A bit more red than I'd like, but I didn't attend based on colors!

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  5. Agreed! Absolutely adore school scarves and have two that see routine wear from November to (sometimes) mid-April each year. Of these, one is in the colors of an institution from which I actually graduated.

    Kind Regards for 2022,

    Heinz-Ulrich

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  6. There are a couple of tartans, Stewart being one, that are considered open and can be worn by anybody. Frankly, I think anybody can wear any tartan or repp, but it would probably be in poor taste to do so at an event at which the clan, military unit, school or old boy group is featured. In other words, don't wear one in the UK.

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    1. It's in poor taste (see comment below) in any country and is a form of cultural appropriation. The Royal Stewart tartans are garish and are best suited to tourist tat. The Royal family would not be seen dead in them.

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    2. I would feel really weird wearing someone else's tartan. It's just not the done thing (except maybe by people who are not Scottish or of Scottish descent.) Oddly, I'm not so particular about the scarves.

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    3. Winter is an absolute torment. All that flannel is so triggering, particularly knowing, as well as we do, that it's not the done thing, and it marks us as terribly non-U. Tartan flannel boxer shorts are nightmare inducing, but are thankfully only ever seen by us and people with whom we're intimate, and presumably know well enough not to rat us out to people who are legitimately Scottish or of Scottish descent, who might be offended. And don't even get me started on pyjamas.

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    4. There is, or was, a bicentennial tartan that was designed for the 1976 bicentennial. Presumably anyone can wear it, if you can find any material. Likewise, there have been two military units, the London Scottish, and the Toronto Scottish, which wear a plain kilt with no pattern. The color is so-called Hodden Grey, but which isn't grey at all. Many Scottish units in the WWI period wore plain kilts, presumably because of shortages of tartans. I've also seen one other person wearing a plain kilt. It's a bit unusual. There's also the Black Watch tartan, officially Government 1 tartan.

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    5. This is quite humorous; and tartans perhaps represent the apogee of this kind of discussion -- of which I suspect the owner of this blog is likely aware. Anyway, if history is of any import - you know, actual history, and not the made-up kind - then one's take on tartans need be taken with a relatively significantly-sized block of salt. The fact-of-the-matter is that today's tartans are an example of a tradition invented in the 19th century. Early paintings indicate that tartans were not associated with "clans", so much as they were with the wearer's present affiliation, place of origin, current residence, or simple personal taste. Today's tartans came into vogue, along with the pageantry invented, for the visit of the British King, George IV, to Scotland, in 1822; the first reigning monarch to visit Scotland in 171 years (at that point). The festivities surrounding the royal visit were devised by Sir Walter Scott, who urged his fellows to attend the events "all plaided and plumbed in their tartan way." Scott seized the opportunity to invent a pageant wherein ancient Scotland would be reborn, and the King - at that time parodied in cartoons as a fat debaucher - would be seen as "a portly handsome man, looking and moving every inch a King." Scott had persuaded the King that he was not only a Stuart prince, but a Jacobite Highlander, and could rightly and properly swath himself in "the Garb of old Gaul". So, in July of 1822, King George placed his order with George Hunter and Co., outfitters of Tokenhouse (not kidding...) Yard, London, and Edinburgh, to the tune of a sum equivalent today of 130,000 pounds. The irony of the address of his haberdasher appears to have been lost on George. Until George's visit, highland tartans were only associated with regions or districts, not clans. This was because tartan designs were produced by local weavers for local tastes, using the naturally occurring local natural dyes - as transporting other dyes was prohibitively expensive. The patterns were simply local checker cloth patterns, chosen by the wearers' preference, in the same way that individuals today chose colours and patterns they like in their clothing, without particular reference to propriety. Following George's visit, several books documented the tartan craze, including the Vestiarium Scoticum, published in 1842, which was the first publication showing plates (pictures) of clan tartans. The Vestiarium was the product of two brothers, who appeared in Scotland in 1822 and claimed to be the grandsons of Charles Edward Stuart and his wife, Princess Louise of Stolberg. The two brothers also claimed that the Vestiarium was based on an ancient manuscript of clan tartans, which they (naturally, and) conveniently never managed to produce. The Vestiarium was followed, two years later, by the equally dubious Costume of the Clans. The romantic enthusiasm that these, and other early publications, generated led the way for other tartan books later in the 19th and 20th centuries. It gets better; during George's visit to Scotland in 1822, Sir Walter organized a "Grand Ball", to which "no Gentleman is to be allowed to appear in anything but the ancient Highland costume." At that, Lowland gentlemen suddenly embarked on a desperate search for Highland ancestry (no matter how remote), and a suitable tartan kilt from the Edinburgh tailors, who responded inventively. That, can be viewed as the pivotal event when what had been previously thought of as the primitive dress of mountain thieves, became the national dress of the whole of Scotland. Oh, and the Black Watch tartan belonged to English troops patrolling the English/Scottish border. So, as you can surmise from the above, today's tartans are largely a 19th century creation - devised largely by various toadies and opportunists, for their general betterment. I rest my case :).

      Kind regards from your humble and less-than-obedient servant from north of the 49th,

      Banacek

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    6. THANK YOU Banacek! I was hoping someone else would write a history of the "clan" tartan because I sure didn't want to! If the modern clans wanted more control over who/what/when their tartans are used they can control it. The official West Point tartan is so controlled only their pipe band may wear it. Not for alum/fan use at all. - hrplo

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    7. Don't misunderstand me, I regularly wear tartan scarves, am no Scot, and don't ever recall a merchant selling them enquiring as to my geneology prior to accepting the funds for their sale.

      Cheers, from the frozen north,

      B.

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    8. Royal Stewart was my school uniform my whole life- Episcopal school

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    9. Apparently, so was George IV's...

      B.

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    10. ...er, George's uniform in 1822 in Edinburgh, that is, not an Episcopal school; the royals tended toward private tutors rather than schools...😉

      B.

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  7. "Within the world, it is considered to be in bad taste to wear a recognized school affiliation to which you do not have a connection."

    It is considered bad taste in Scotland to wear a recognised tartan to which you do not have a connection. Unfortunately, such bad taste is common in North America.

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    1. Fascinating. Do people in Scotland ask others if they have a connection to the tartan they may be wearing? I'm trying to imagine those conversations!

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    2. I envision no conversations occurring, only looks of derision. I cannot imagine wearing another tartan. My great grandmother was an Anderson, and I love her tartan, but I only wear the tartan of my own last name. I do, however, still use her Anderson tartan lap throw. After all, it is inherited, and to buy another would be spendthrift.

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    3. When you say "looks of derision," do you mean people can identify people who entitled to wear whichever tartan? Are they microchipped, like purebreds, and can they be scanned at will? Can the police do it? Please share.

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    4. My ancestors came to America from Scotland several centuries ago so that their descendants (me) could wear any darned (cleaned up for Muffy) thing we want, and would never have to eat the laird's (spit) garbage (haggis). Not to put too fine a point on it, but Americans quibbling over which Scots tartan they are "allowed" to wear sets me off.

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    5. Dave, well said.

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    6. Hear hear Dave! - hrplo

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    7. “Ditto” my friend Dave! Belly up and enjoy a few Scotch Ales!

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    8. I was born and raised in Scotland and my clan has several tartans that are available from lochcarron and the House of Edgar. Dave, in addition to being patronising, bizarrely seems to think that only Americans can post on SWNE. How weird!

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  8. Just FYI, Ken, the Lochcarron of Scotland website has some lovely pictures of the Queen and Prince Charles wearing the Royal Stewart tartan.

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    1. Uh oh, maybe they are zombies!

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    2. Queen Elizabeth II is a descendant of the Royal House of Stewart on both sides of her family and she occasionally wears one of the Stewart tartans.

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  9. My school scarves may be old, but still just as warm, and important as they ever were to me!

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  10. If one is wearing a scarf to project an image of going to a certain school I am against it. Maybe the colors go with what the person is wearing. Also, does this apply to ribbon belts and watch bands? Should you avoid certain belts and watch bands because they have certain colors of schools you did not attend? It is stretching the point but it does apply.

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    1. Good point. Beware of observations about to whom belongs that tartan and whose colors are those. Cultural appropriation is a very murky area. If certain Scots and Brits might be driven to looks of derision upon seeing “their” colors worn by outsiders, imagine how Italians could feel every time someone lifts a fork. Where does one draw the line?

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    2. Murky to say the least. One of the finest pizzaiolos in the New Haven area (ergo, one of the finest pizzaiolos in North America) was born blue eyed and tow headed. The first two letters of his last name are “Mc.” People whose own surnames end in vowels line up to buy his pies. They approach his culinary creations not with derision, but with admiration.

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  11. Sometimes I wear one of those J Press scarves just because I like the colors. So shoot me.

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  12. I worked for a large law firm when I was first graduated from law school. All the guys in the mail room wore Georgetown colors - this time was the time of John Thompson and Patrick Ewing. Please: draw your own conclusions.

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  13. Are you allowed to wear a needlepoint belt with Golden Retrievers on it even if you don't currently have or never had one?

    Colours combinations are arbitrary and as such any child could come up with one, depending on the choices in his pencil case. Given the history of the world you can't just go and claim certain stripes exclusively. What if the natives tribes of a certain place wore blue and red scarves? Would you be allowed to wear one even if this would mean cultural appropriation? I hereby proudly proclaim that I live outside the world and will continue to wear whatever stripes I please and there is nothing you can do about it.

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  14. I've a small collection now of authentic American varsity & school/college team sportswear that somehow found their ways to UK charity shops (thrift stores?). A favourite of which is embroidered with the first name I share with its original owner. It would be a crying shame to neglect such lovely items on grounds that I've no connection to the source. Perhaps on a more local level these things matter (eg. the Scottish tartan debate above), but when the origins of the piece are as distant as Texas I'm not sure so much. What is good fun is to research & follow the teams once you get the rescued items home, after all if you're to don their colours you should at least know who they are.

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  15. I know I have already offered more than my quota, but this is a fascinating thread. It seems to me there are multiple levels. First, would it be alright for me to wear my family tartan, school colors, or a blue and gold Navy hat or sweatshirt? Of course. Second, would I be bothered if someone else wore one or more of those items and I knew they had no connections? It depends. If they honestly had no idea that a University of Virginia tie was navy and orange and wore it simply because they loved the colors, that might be ok. If they did not attend, knew the significance, and still wore school colors to show strong and visible support, especially on game day, I am ok with that. If a kid went to Boalt Hall and shows up for an interview sporting Cardinal Red, they may be a bit of a poseur. So in order to form an opinion I likely need more facts, and in polite conversation, it might be impolite to grill them. Whether or not they are, or ought to be, uncomfortable is up to them.

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    1. Ah here you are! As above, so below:

      BOOM! - Ahhh
      U.S.M.A. Rah! Rah!
      U.S.M.A. Rah! Rah!
      Hoo-Rah! Hoo-Rah!
      AR-MAY! Rah!
      Team! Team! Team!

      ;)

      -hrplo (married to an'07 - but he constantly has to remind me: "One team one fight!")

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    2. Question for my good friend Vecchio…if one has a degree from Harvard, would it/should it matter what other school colours they may wear?

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    3. Anonymous on 1/6 at 5:51 pm, you may wear any or all of the colors of Harvard, the schools you attended before and after, the branch of the military in which you served, your state university, your family tartans, your club colors, and any other colors, tartans, or crests you darned well please! I doubt you would go out in a blue and white or orange and black tie. Heck, I live in a state where pro football team colors are de rigeur. .

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  16. i own a few things with the name or logo of the university our children attend (or attended). A ballcap and a sweatshirt, maybe a pair of workout shorts. The primary purpose was to wear something with school colors when we visit, but i occasionally wear them during or after working out. I figure paying for their education means i have an affiliation.

    Our daughters both wear sweatshirts from places their friends attend, in addition to their own place, some trading and lending going on.

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  17. For the most part, Europeans (and the British) laugh at Americans for exactly this sort of pretentious, fussy warbling about whether they're "entitled" to wear this or that tartan, in the same way they laugh at American's referring to themselves in hyphenated terms. To an Italian family, their so-called "Italian-American" cousins are (you guessed it) their American cousins, period. Likewise the whole "my family came from Scotland centuries ago years and I only wear the tartan of my ancestral family" nonsense is exactly why Scottish tartan merchants' eyes light up when a bright-eyed family from Peoria waddles into their shop cooing about their "Scottish roots" or their "family tartan."

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    1. I'm sorry, I mean no disrespect -- I am an unregenerate anglophile -- but when I hear a Brit call an American "fussy" something is way, way off.

      I agree, raising this question to a moral dilemma is silly, but in my experience it's the Brits telling off the Americans for wearing tartans or rep stripes or the like because we are not "entitled." So a bit of caution on the part of us parochial yanks, however laughable, seems also to be forgivable.

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    2. I'm not British. Just well travelled. And observant.

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  18. The last school scarf I ever had — and it's now long, long gone — was a Harvard Six-Footer. Was there also a Yalie version?

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  19. I have so many UVA sweatshirts and scarves. No one ever asks me if I attended, but if they did I'd say 'no. But I spent most of my adult life in Virginia and I'm a huge fan of the school.' I wear what I want.

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    1. That is cool. Everyone in my town seems to support our lead state university, too ("Texas"). Providing revenue sounds like an affiliation, much like the tee shirts I have been given for supporting performing arts, classical music and public radio stations, the blood bank, etc. Warm regards to the Old Dominion, where I spent many of my formative years.

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  20. A dear friend gave me a J. Press Brown university scarf once. I accepted it with great pleasure, and wear it with pride when it's cold enough. I like the colours, and in the (very) unlikely event anyone asks me if I went to Brown, I tell them, no, it was a gift from a beloved pal. Unless the person has no concept of boundaries, that's usually the end of it.

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  21. I identify as a U.K. mutt. My roots go back to England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. (somebody got around.) What I enjoy wearing is whatever I want, and on March 17 I love wearing a beautiful Guinness moustasche.

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  22. It's easy. Do not wear any colors, lettering or logos from institutions that you have no relation to.

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    1. I'm a subway alumnus of Notre Dame, the Naval Academy and Yale!

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    2. You mean "subway sandwich"? Anyway, I salute you, Sir.

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    3. That's an incredibly wasteful stance. Mountains of perfectly practical items would lay neglected forever, or worse thrown on the scrap.

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    4. 'Subway alumnus' is a phrase that dates back to the 1920s when Notre Dame began to play Army at Yankee Stadium. The many fans of Notre Dame who rode the subway to see the games weren't graduates for the most part.

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    5. Same derivation (kinda sorta) as Subway Series.

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  23. Tempest in a cracked teapot.

    Every garment should be fair game except for fake people who like to dress up and pretend to be: 1.) A Police Officer, 2.) A Physician, 3.) A Fireman, 4.) A Dentist, 5.) A Nurse, 6.) A War Hero, or 7.) An Airline Pilot.

    Remember, if one buys something from an I-have-really-nothing-to-do-with institution that just contributes to their own coffers, and I'm sure is welcomed by their accountants - regardless of how inappropriate some may think doing so is.

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    1. Amen.

      Your intrepid reader,

      Banacek

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    2. I so agree with you, Mr. Reichardt; "tempest in a cracked teapot" indeed! There is too much of a kerfuffle here.

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    3. Agree. Simply be true to thy sartorial self. Do not associate yourself with any institution or location with which you have no connection. Full (culturally appropriated) stop. You only get one chance to make a first impression. Thank you.

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    4. ...well, there goes the graphic print industry...

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  24. This whole discussion has been nothing short of fascinating. Legit concerns or teapot tempests, it's been a very enjoyable read.

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  25. It occurs to me that neither my wife nor I and neither of our two children have anything with the name of the university from which they graduated, except for the diplomas. However, both of our children graduated from a university named for a direct ancestor. Naturally, it's on their mother's side of the family.

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  26. I like wearing the insignia clothing of universities, colleges, teams and clubs I've enjoyed being part of. Sweaters, ties, scarves (not so much), oar colors and we even burgees for college sailing teams and final clubs to fly from the mastheads of our boat(s). It's fun to run across 'compatriots' here and there.
    I also sport a few bumper and window stickers on my car, accepting that some will find it pretentious. I COULD have stickers for every different boarding school, college and university my family members past and current have attended but it would easily show that millions of dollars have been spent on tuitions!! My wife wears'her color's with pride also, even her father's and grandfather's letter sweaters. My only regret is that I loaned one of my letter sweaters to a date for a single homecoming football game and she she never gave it back....

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