White Shoe Firm

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6 comments on this post.
  1. Houston Texas Motorcycle Accident Attorney:

    Hey this is a good article! I always heard the term “white shoe” but never really knew what it meant. Thanks

  2. Rough-shod: What Grandpa wore on Spring Street in the ’50’s … : EphBlog:

    [...] http://www.word-detective.com/2009/08/24/white-shoe-firm/ [...]

  3. John Thorne:

    It was great to read an explanation that doesn’t just default to William Safire, but offers some original thought on the subject. Thank you!

  4. MarkB:

    Regarding white bucks: I wore them in a marching band in the 1960s, and never used powder. There was a white liquid ‘polish’ that was applied from a sponge of sorts in the end cap. A single dark scrape in our white bucks counted as a tenth of a point off our score in marching competitions held during the summer.Yes, in grade school, we were inspected like army drill instructors examining their unit.

  5. criminal attorney in Fort Bend county, tx:

    Clever. I agree.

  6. Rockwell Yale 64:

    As I understood the taxonomy at the time, “white shoe” was indeed the upper crust of Yale collegiate society. Often, the white shoe’s father, grandfather, et al, were Yale alumni–the shoe was invariably tapped for Skull & Bones, etc. The white shoe would consider a 2.00 GPA ideal, as it was all about the contact anyway.

    The “brown shoe” was from a more humble background–probably a B+ student from one of the “lesser” prep schools or even from a public school. A good athlete and of such character that he (we are talking about a pre-1964-65 all male campus here)was able to fit in with white shoe culture effectively.

    The “black shoe” was probably one of the more brilliant students on campus but lacking in any of the social graces and caring less. The older brother of the “nerd-techie”, he would major in the hard sciences or even (gasp) engineering.

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