A French magazine called Hell's Kitchen interviewed Rebecca Tuite about her experience researching Vassar style from the 1950s for her upcoming book. Here are some excerpts:
On the beginnings of a unique Vassar style:
"Immediately the Vassar student became the focus of an unprecedented amount of media scrutiny, with her hairstyles, her fashion choices, her professional and personal aspirations all becoming fodder for the national press. And this was in the nineteenth century; this was the root of the 'Vassar Girl' as a cultural entity, and the Vassar Look as a popular style inspiration... National newspapers and early periodicals are littered with long stories dedicated to how Vassar students dresses, and these laid the groundwork for people to look at Vassar as a place where a very particular style of dress was cultivated within the community."
"Many young women enjoyed being able to dress in a style similar to that of their Ivy educated brothers. To experience purchasing a college wardrobe somewhere like Brooks Brothers would have been, up to that point in their lives, something that their brothers and fathers had enjoyed. So menswear did hold a level of status: it was another outward affirmation that they were academic equals to the Ivy men in their families and in society."
On how changing Vassar styles paralleled a changing society:
"It was as though the Vassar look of the 1950s captured every aspect of transition: attitudes towards jobs, careers, marriage, independence, men, equality. There is a mix of old and new, a mixture of tradition and innovation in the way that menswear mixed with traditional preppy womenswear, but that the girls still evoked old-time, 1950s glamour and dresses on formal occasions."
On why the look of the '50s Vassar girl changed:
I think that what really spelled the end for this look was the start of co-education at Vassar: the balance on campus changed, this was a new era in Vassar’s, and America’s history.
Click here for the full translated interview.