This Sunday's Best Means Dignity | Blk Ivy Learning Guide (2/4)

This Sunday's Best Means Dignity | Blk Ivy Learning Guide (2/4)

Week 2 of 4 of our Black History Month reading & listening guide. 

Week 2: This Sunday's Best Means Dignity

Suits, pleated skirts, and loafers — clothing often reserved for church — were worn to symbolize the demand for dignity, respect, and equal rights. This week, we will be exploring how Sunday’s Best dress was used to break stereotypes, the origin of American Ivy, and how generations challenged and grappled with the idea of respectability politics.

We are proud to have partnered with the Fashion and Race Database for this series.

Receive a FREE 30-day trial of the Fashion and Race Database by using this link. Promo ends February 28th, 2023.

Meet This Week's Resources:

This book, along with the film I Called Him Morgan, was a source of inspiration for the creation of Blk Ivy Thrift. While Blk Ivy Thrift is not limited to Ivy style or to men's fashion, it like these works seeks to capture the narrative of this moment via an examination of both style and culture.

"This book charts a period in American history when Black men across the country adopted the clothing of a privileged elite and made it their own. It shows how a generation of men took the classic Ivy Look and made it cool, edgy and unpredictable in ways that continue to influence today's modern menswear."

Black Ivy: A Revolt in Style is available for preview at the Blk Ivy Thrift store and available for purchase at Harriett's Bookshop. We also recommend that you check out your local library!


The "Ivy Style" is a look that has come back in style again and again and again. While this podcast series does not specifically focus on the role of fashion in the civil rights movement, we found it as a helpful resource for explaining how fashion trends evolve over time and ultimately shape culture.

The look of the elite somehow becomes the look for everyone. And as more and more people are taking on Ivy, it only becomes cooler and cooler.

Listen to the American Ivy podcast here.


Learn about how tailored and "Sunday's Best" clothing was used to break whites' stereotypes, and the counter culture that developed as a result of respectability politics. 

"To go into a church you had to be comfortable but still look good. For a meeting with an organization or face-to-face with whites, we dressed. It was an attempt to show you were serious and wanted to be taken seriously."

Read the article here.

This article is available for free on JStor via an individual login or through your local library.

Join the Conversation

We are all learning together. Share your learning journey with us in the comments below, or on our Instagram at @blkivythrift.

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