"White Shoe" & Yale University

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Thu Feb 10 22:08:23 UTC 2000

    "White shoe" was the subject of a William Safire column on 11-9-97.  See that and the 11-30-97 responses on your computer databases. (I'll save space here.)
    I found the following in my ESQUIRE 1950s drinks search.  Taken together with my etymologies of "Ivy League," the "Yale Cocktail," and, of course, "hot dog," it's all a plot to get my niece into Yale.
    From ESQUIRE, September 1953, pg. 59:

_America's premier student of snobs and brows peers through the ivied windows at hallowed precincts and their new social hierarchy of White Shoe, Brown Shoe, Black Shoe_
(...) Shoe
     At Yale there is a system for pigeonholing the members of the college community which is based on the word "shoe."  Shoe bears some relation to the word chic, and when you say that a fellow is "terribly shoe" you mean that he is a crumb in the upper social crust of the college, though a more kindly metaphor might occur to you.  You talk of a "shoe" fraternity or a "shoe" crowd, for example, but you can also describe a man's manner of dress as "shoe."  The term derives, as you probably know, from the dirty white bucks which are the standard collegiate footwear (you can buy new ones already dirty in downtown New York to save you the embarrassment of looking as though you hadn't had them all your life), but the system of pigeonholing by footwear does not stop there.  It encompasses the entire community under the terms White Shoe, Brown Shoe, and Black Shoe. (...)(It's long!!--ed.)

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