January 17th, 2012

ANON POST: Two 1950s college questions, clothing and ethnicity-related

My MC is a young man in his late teens, attending a college that's basically an expy of NYU/Columbia University in the mid-50s. (I'm kind of operating on vague Comics Time here, so apologies for the vagueness of that date!) He's attending on a scholarship, hailing from a (fictional) country in Eastern Europe.

Firstly: What were everyday clothing options for male students for occasions where a suit would be too formal? From what I can tell (which is again mostly gleaned from comics) is: a hell of a lot of sweaters and blazers, and shirts with ties. Were there any details in this that were used for personal expression? Any sartorial choices that would look a little unusual, whether in a positive or negative way? Anything that would indicate coming from a wealthier or poorer background? Anything that crossed the line from no-nonsense and clean-cut into looking like you didn't give much of a damn about appearances? (Without edging into "unkempt", just not being particularly trendy.)

Secondly, and probably a little more difficult to answer -- this character is of Romani background. It's not something he's extremely secretive about, or which he would actively lie about, but not something he is particularly talkative about, either. I'm wondering about cultural perceptions of this. The stock "gypsy" stereotypes sound like they were fully in place in America, but I'm assuming more distantly for the students of Fictional University, more of the "sell you to the gypsies/gypsies don't really exist" variety. Someone mentioned that he might be assumed to be Jewish, being a European immigrant who doesn't look quite what the time period would consider white. How would that effect how he was treated and perceived, granted that he isn't particularly religiously observant and doesn't talk much about his background? Would this be less of a problem given that he's an engineering student? From what I can tell, NYU (and by extension its fictional equivalent here) had a lot of Jewish students; would there be student groups that might reach out to an isolated new student?


I've done some general research on American men's clothing of the 1950s (and I've also read about the Ivy League look, though I don't think the character in question would care about that at all), "college clothing 1950s", and specific college names + "[fashion/clothing/clothes] 1950s". For the latter question, I was able to find a lot of material relating to antiziganist prejudice and violence in Europe in the time period (especially so soon after WWII and with oppression certainly still ongoing) but not a lot about American perceptions.

Late 19th Century Wages & Living (Artist, Journalist)

Writing a story that is set in London in 1891. One of my MC's is an artist who has recently graduated from The Royal Academy of Art and after a bump from The Times, is showing at the recent viewing.

What kind of wages would he be making?
How much would a painting typically cost?

MC2 has just made Principle Journalist at The Times, and is also living off an allowance from his father who is a wealthy Marquee.

How much would his job at The Times get him?
Would he be able to live relatively well without the allowance?
What kind of Gentlemen's club would he belong to? I was thinking of putting him in the Oxford/Cambridge club, but if something else makes more sense I would love to know.

And finally, where would be the best place for them to live (separately, they won't be sharing living areas)? MC1 currently has a flat share who would split the cost with him. MC2 is most likely living alone.

I've done some pretty extensive research, and have read What Jane Austen Ate & A Writer's guide to Everyday Life in Regency and Victorian England. I've been to victorian web, and Victorianlondon.org. I've heard Soho was a place for artists, but I wasn't sure of the cost of living there. I've also tried googling journalist wages, and how much a painting costed in Victorian England. 

Thank you for your help!

Garter oath in the reign of Henry IV

Setting: England, early 15th century

I'm trying to find out the exact form of words of the oath for the Knights of the Garter. Searches I've done using the terms oath, garter, knights, order and combinations thereof tend to come up with sites saying 'and then the oath was administered' without saying exactly what it consisted of. I've found the website for the Chapel of St George, and they have a 'contact us' address, but I hardly like to bother such an august institution for a fanfic!

Also checked: Ian Mortimer The Fears of Henry IV
T B Pugh Henry V and the Southampton Plot

Any help gratefully received!