In the January issue of the Dutch edition of Esquire there was as always a lot of great reading on offer. There were however as if a secret “preppy theme” was introduced to the reader, but cunningly hidden between the pages. It wasn’t a special issue on The Preppy Look, it was just heavy on Gant, Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, Steppin’ Out, Hackett, McGregor, A&F, Jack Wills and, well, you name the brand and it was there. The issue even had a little “Preppy guide” and a Q&A with Gant’s creative director Bob Andrews. And it all got me thinking; why is preppy back in fashion? Or is it?
There are sociological studies and theories on the subject explaining that when we hit a recession we tend to look towards glamorous but not too glamorous fashion trends, and I guess the preppy look is perfect for that. Deeply rooted in the North Eastern part of the United States and its Ivy-league universities and private preparatory schools for the privileged and the upper middle-classes, it gives an air of security, tradition and style without being overly fashionista.
The preppy look aspires to be Yale, Princeton, the British Oxbridge style. Even though you might not have had the luck, or the money, to be a student there you can get a whiff of the flair and the smell of the libraries with wearing the club blazers and the college tie. You get the sense that you’re not being part of the slutty porno fashion roaming our streets. If you excuse my French.
However, can’t it just be that a smart, modern and comfortable style talks to us because it is still in a way classic? Not all of us need, or can, wear a Savile Row suit to work, and then the preppy way is more convenient, but still stylish. You always feel well dressed. Because, honestly, washed out hoodies, t-shirts with funny messages and ill-fitting jeans shouldn’t be worn by any man older than 18 years of age. It simply is embarrassing and disgraceful. You can possibly get away with wearing a baseball cap if it’s worn well and looks dashing, but please don’t wear it if it was the only one you found at the stalls along the beach. It will inevitably look ludicrous. Sorry.
Having written all the above, I’m still not sure why preppy is so popular. Maybe it’s a combination of the two? The Worlds economic downturn is forcing us to look backwards to verify that the time-honoured tradition of the intellectual temples of knowledge is where we all hail from, but its uniforms aren’t as dusty and ill-fitting as they once were. Today we combine tweed and college ties with baggy jeans and boots to get that “authentic” preppy look of I-really-don’t-care-about-how–I-look-but-it-still-takes-me-two-hours-to-get-ready-in-the-morning. And the better fit and more boho chic preppy is what seems to be 2011.
So, if you haven’t already got a good quality oxford cotton button-down shirt, a crewneck sweater, chinos, boat shoes and some nice socks to compliment the outfit, my advice is to go out and get it now. If you’re lucky there might still be some amazing quality stuff left in the sales of the big flagship stores. Cause, honestly, fake preppy just isn’t preppy at all.