(Dmarge) – It might have originated among rich WASPs who looked like they owned six beach houses, went to Yale, and won medals for rowing. But that’s not to say you can’t have a shot at the title.
Times are changing you magnificent bastard. It’s true. Prep style is a pretty tough thing to escape. JFK became the first cool President because he was an absolute gun at preppy style.
Film stars across the decades have rocked it, and prep powerhouses like Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers are more popular than ever. If you like your clothing, you’ll encounter it at some point.
Where Preppy Men’s Style Began
The essence of preppy style originated in early 1900’s. Well-heeled Ivy League college kids weren’t impressed with the stuffy, professorial dress they found on campus.
They discovered a suitable alternative in clothing associated with upper-crust hobbies like golf, boating, and rowing. Soon enough, it became a mode of dress for every rich-guy activity you could poke a stick at, from lectures in old-timey red brick halls, to baller yacht parties at Nantucket Island.
What Is Preppy Style
Good question. A good prep would tell you that it’s more of an approach to style, rather than a prescriptive set of things to wear. We’re leaning on some expert insight to guide the way.
Per menswear commentator Christian Chensvold, ‘one of the chief virtues of the preppy approach to dressing is the notion of being relatively dressed up for casual settings, and relatively dressed down for formal ones’. That’s basically it.
The fundamental idea is treat dress codes with irreverence. Never being too dressy, while avoiding the last-minute-casual slovenliness that has come to define the hazy parameters of ‘smart casual’. The ideal result is a combination of effortlessness and good taste that makes you look put together, without looking like you’re sweating buckets in front of a mirror.
So how is it done? Well, it’s not rocket surgery (getting dressed never should be).
Preppy Style Brands
There are a few overlords in preppy style, and they wear the crown for a reason.
Brands like these have a prestigious history of producing Ivy-League style since pretty much forever. They were worn by the original preps, and respect the lineage.
So, knowing where to start will save you a fair whack of time. It’ll narrow the selection of options in a crowded market, and keep you from splurging on brands that don’t take the preppy ethos to heart.
Investing In Preppy Quality Staples
There’s nothing sacrosanct in preppy style, but investing in the key staples won’t send you astray. The look has a few fundamental items that are worthwhile investments.
Button downs, in a range of colours and patterns, are the sinew of a credible preppy repertoire. You can wear them with shorts, chinos, a blazer, or without. Endlessly versatile. Buy a few Brooks Brothers and never look back (except at those who are still wearing graphic tees).
Boat Shoes & Loafers
For the arch-prep, footwear isn’t small business. Boat shoes and loafers let comfort and good taste meet in the middle. It’s hard to look bad in a pair, and you won’t get blistery feet in the process. They work just as well with a suit as they do with chinos in summer. Usually worn sockless and always made of top notch calf leather.
Preppy Polos Shirts
Polos aren’t the exclusive property of preppy style, but they’re not far off. A decent polo is the gatekeeper to definable ‘smart casual’. It’s infinitely more stylish than a tee, but with fewer formal associations than a collared shirt. Therefore, it’s become an enduring feature of Ivy League adherents, who appreciate its stylish wearability. Ralph Lauren lead the way with polos; some think there’s nowhere else to look.
Preppy Navy Blazers
A navy sports coat with gold buttons is about as prep as a photo of JFK on a yacht. Such an item can underpin a respectable wardrobe as it can effectively be worn with anything: part of a full suit, with shorts, or odd trousers. The only limit is defined by your imagination.