I’m not entirely sure how many people dispute me whenever I make this statement, but the amount of influence that prep is having in the modern menswear and womenswear sphere is unreal. The return to classic style and silhouettes, and increased emphasis on fit, that is being embraced widespread is resulting in clothing that is becoming more and more prep and ivy inspired.
It seems like we’re sort of all adopting it too, self-professed preps and otherwise. Look at the pant legs of your favorite #menswear bloggeur. It’s probably cuffed. And check out his feet. If the photo was taken between March and October, he probably isn’t wearing socks either. Some of these prep-originating trends are becoming so infused in the general culture that we often forget where they came from or that things haven’t always been this way.
Documenting the growth and evolution of modern prep, and prep influenced clothing, is especially fascinating on college campuses. Most of all at a school like Vanderbilt, a southern ivy that has been a bastion of prep and ivy culture for decades. It’s cool to see the way that preps interprete preppy style vs. how non-preps incorporate certain elements of the culture into their style template.
You likely remember Alex. I featured him on the site not too long ago. He’s back for a second go, with a look that’s just so effortlessly captivating. It’s preppy no doubt, but with a particular European tinge. Interestingly enough, Alex’s prep style is pretty traditional American prep, especially relative to the rest of preps our age. So it threw me for a slight loop when I noticed that his ensemble seemed uncharacteristically Milanese. The hacking tweed blazer juxtaposed against the polka dot, silk scarf and burgundy leather gloves just screamed Milan. And sure enough, I was unsurprised to learn that the chinos were milano chinos from Brooks Brothers. It’s amazing how one can take an outfit, almost entirely composed of Brooks Brothers, and wear it in an Italian way. In the age of the internet, where regional style genres know no boundaries, it seems like the amount of style mashups of different prep sub-sects, and other genres, is only going to increase in number.
Say hello to Tori. This is her first of what I’m sure will be multiple appearances on TCR. In many ways Tori is a stellar example of the way preppydom is permeating overall fashion culture. I asked her if she considered herself a prep. Because while her outfits aren’t always this outright ivy, she does manage to infuse a fair amount of preppy customs and trends into her aesthetic. Her reply? “Definitely not.”
I think my style is a constant battle between my college prep education and my fringe culture “un-education”…I spent seven years at prep school, so I was definitely influenced…but I would rather die than wear some Lilly Pulitzer confection. I’d describe my closet as a boxing match between Joan Jett and a gypsy, refereed by Audrey Hepburn.
The amazing thing about prep and ivy style is the way in which people have not hesitated to pick and choose the specific particular elements of the aesthetic they like, discarding or defiantly going against that which they find less agreeable. Isn’t that the way that McNairy built his own brand of irreverent neo-prep, or the manner in which Street Etiquette developed their particular urban, afro-prep aesthetic? You don’t even have to “like” prepdom to be influenced by it.
Tori’s outfit reveals one more interesting dynamic: the constant tug and pull between general prepdom and college prep. Although prepdom began with the Ivy League style of the 1950’s, enough time has passed for general prep, college prep, and the college Greek aesthetic to become three distinct entities. Still though, the Greek system’s roots in traditional prep and ivy league style are apparent, as evidenced by how seamlessly a sorority-issued rugby can be infused into a preppy ensemble.
urban hepburn, by shane smith
She really wasn’t joking about that Audrey Hepburn thing.