Washed Up Preppy in Trading Places (1983)

This is the preppy  Zeta Chi scene from Trading Places.  Four men – who could be Brooks Brothers models – dressed in classic tennis sweaters and white shorts are entertaining their girlfriends at the club, when their disgraced friend Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd) makes an embarrassing appearance dressed like a pimp.  He could have benefitted from a trip to his local thrift store, rolling into the club in a J. Press suit and a Chesterfield top coat.  The first preppy girl to speak does a rather bad Locust Valley Lock Jaw.  If you want to hear a version of the accent that’s actually closer to the mark, listen to Miss Jane Hathaway (Nancy Kulp) of the BeverlyHillbillies.

My L.L. Bean Field Coat

Yesterday, I posted about finding an L.L. Bean field coat at a very low price in a local thrift store.  I didn’t buy it because I already had one.  Since I wore mine while walking my dogs in the park this morning, I thought I’d post a couple of shots of it.  This coat is very durable, water repellant and warm enough over a few layers well into December.  The lining is cotton/plaid and not the detachable PrimaLoft version.  So when it gets really cold, I’ll have to wear a much heavier sweater than cotton cable nit one I had on today, or else put on my wool duffle coat.

 The fall colors are really starting to look amazing in New York City, and much of the park near where I live is coming alive in brilliant tones.  Fall is my favorite time of year here.

Paul Stuart Button Down for $7.99

Location:  The Salvation Army, 208 8th Avenue, New York, NY.  I had only one find at this location last time I visited, but it was a very good one, a 100% cotton tattersall button down from Paul Stuart.  The asking price was $7.99.  This was actually a terrific find considering that Paul Stuart shirts are astronomically priced. The store’s website puts the price for a dress shirt in this style anywhere from $197.00 to $297.00 (although I think at the higher end the shirts are made of Italian cotton broadcloth and have French cuffs).  It’s not often that I come across a Paul Stuart button down on my thrift expeditions.

The tattersall pattern is composed of navy and light purple stripes.  Of course, I could wear the shirt casually without a tie, but I think it could look really sharp with at tie and perhaps a navy blazer.

L.L. Bean Field Coat for $24.99

Location:  Unique Thrift Store, 218 W. 231st Street, Riverdale, NY.  Finding an L.L. Bean field coat in a thrift store today was a first for me.  Its saddle color and distinctive green corduroy collar and cuffs stood out among all of the other coats I had been perusing on the rack.  This is the sort of coat you wear while hunting with your golden retriever.

This coat was a large/tall men’s version with a 100% cotton shell and a 100% cotton plaid lining.  It was marked at $24.99.  With Monday being a sale day, I could have gotten 25% off and walked away with this item for $18.75.  (Retail = $99.00.  The savings would have been $80.25).  However, I already own a Bean field coat, which has held up well for years now.  Moreover, the size was not quite right.  A large large would have been fine, but the tall part of the size would have made it a bit too long for me.  I’m a regular.

It is worth noting that this is an older field coat (perhaps 10 years old or more, I’d estimate).  The label shows that it was made in Freeport, Maine, which is where Bean is located and where all of their goods were made until they were outsourced overseas.  I think most of the field coats are now made in Thailand.

The following is the summary of the Bean field coat from the company’s website:

Often Imitated—Never Duplicated®

Our Original Field Coat has set the standard for quality and craftsmanship since 1924. Originally designed for hunting, it’s built to withstand the briars and branches of the thick Maine woods. Made of best-grade two-ply 10 oz. cotton canvas, washed to feel broken-in and treated to repel moisture and stains.

Underarm gussets and bi-swing shoulders let you move and reach with ease. Sewn-in lining: cotton in body, nylon in sleeves. Five pockets with enough room to carry a day’s essentials. Collar and cuffs are 100% cotton 16-whale corduroy. Imported. Machine wash and dry.

Fit  Large back length 33″. Fits over a midweight sweater.

Bean does make another version of this coat for winter that includes a detachable PrimaLoft liner.  The price point is a good bit higher at $149.00 to $159.00.

Burberrys’ Tweed Sport Coat & Land’s End Turtleneck

On a Saturday afternoon thrift expedition last summer, my wife and I stopped at The Salvation Army in Danbury, CT.  Their store occupies two floors of a building (several thousand square feet) in the downtown area.  It is a gigantic warehouse full of amazing clothes, and if you ever go there, you should be prepared to spend several hours if you want to find the really good stuff.  It takes time to weed out all of the clothes that just don’t cut it (that’s code for clothes that contain acrylic, polyester or poly/cotton blends).

I had several good finds on this trip, but the best deal was a 2-botton tweed Burberrys’ sport coat for $9.99.  It’s actually a Burberry knock off.  The lapels are 3.5 inches at the widest point.  I also found a slate blue 100% cotton Land’s End turtleneck for $4.99, which I paired with the Burberry, khaki pants and penny loafers this afternoon.  The pattern on the sport coat has several colors running through it:  slate, navy and maroon.  The turtleneck really picks up the slate blue stripe of the sport coat.

I had to have two alterations done:  the sleeves had to be shortened so that I could show 1/4 inch of cuffs when wearing a button down, and a slight ridge appeared below the collar, which my tailor took out (a  task he calls “lowering the collar”).

Another find that day was a 3-button Corbin sport coat for $9.99, which I’ll post about some other time.  It was english style, double vented in the back and with two pockets on the right side – a smaller one on top.  I also bought an Oleg Cassini 2-button sport coat with a small houndstooth pattern of maroon and navy over a dark brown background.  The magic price for that one:  also $9.99.  Rounding out the haul were two Land’s End button downs (pink and white) at $4.99 each and an assortment of wool sweaters none of which cost more than $5.00.  The Oleg Cassini looks amazing with the pink button down, by the way.

As a general rule, I prefer a 3-button, natural shoulder, sack cut sport coat over any other kind, but I will occasionally buy a 2-button model if I really like the pattern.  Some exceptions are necessary, I suppose.  All in all, this was a good day of thrifting, costing less than $50.00. If I’d bought everything new, I conservatively estimate that I’d have paid at least $500-$700.

Layering For Cooler Weather

We’ve been having some cooler fall weather lately in New York City.  Today it was overcast and actually a bit chilly in the late afternoon when I went out to run a few errands.  I didn’t want to wear a coat.  So I  just threw a lightweight down vest on top of my shirt and sweater, turning the shirt cuffs back over the sweater and pushing the sleeves up a bit.

The total cost of all three items was less than $20.00:  goose down vest from L.L. Bean ($7.99), 100% lambswool v-neck sweater from Cullen, a brand I’ve never heard of before ($4.99) and 100% oxford cloth button down from Gap ($2.99).  While Gap is not an overly preppy company, their button down was very well-made, and the price made it impossible not to buy.  I got everything at Unique thrift store (which I post about prolifically) in my neighborhood.

The preppy look never really changes.  Of course, there have been some trendy tweaks recently by Tommy Hilfiger and Thom Browne among others.  Their “preppy updates” were intended to gain traction with a younger consumer base after hipsters began raiding vintage shops and thrift stores, looking to make an ironic statement.  It was not long before big names in the hip hop world began sporting the look.  All of this doesn’t phase me.  I simply like the classic, timeless preppy style I’ve always known – which is well-made clothes without gee gaws or doo dads.  The way I dress hasn’t changed in any important way since college, aside from the addition of more suits or cap toe dress shoes.


Bass Weejuns & Allen Edmonds Desert Boots

At Unique Thrift Store in Riverdale, NY on a sale day, I spotted a pair of classic tan Bass Weejun penny loafers that were actually my size (11 Medium).  Their condition seemed very good, and I bought them at the sale price of $15.00.  That was 25% off the regular price of $19.99, which I considered a bit high.

On the G.H. Bass website, the shoe that was most similar to this one was the Logan Tan Loafer at $99.00.  My savings was in the range of $84.00.  I’m very picky about shoes and tend not to buy mine at a thrift store unless they’re in really good shape, as these were.  It appears that someone had put inserts of some kind in the back of these along the heel, and the remnants can bee seen.  Easy enough to remove!  I’ll need to put a shoe tree in these Weejuns to help them keep their shape.

There was a pair of Allen Edmund desert boots for $9.99, but they were the wrong size at 12 D.  At any rate, I already have a pair of Clark’s desert boots, which are among the most comfortable that I own.

The only major flaw in these boots that I could find was a spot (stain of some kind) visible on the top of the left shoe.  You can see it in this image.  These Allen Edmonds will be a great find for the right person.  If you were to buy them new at retail, you’d pay between $200 to $300.

Harvard University – A Trade School for Preppies?


“Not sure what you want to do once you graduate from your exclusive prep school? Let our informational video commercial help you make the right decision for your future. ”

My favorite quotes:

“That trust fund wont last forever.  So why not make the choice today to improve your future for a better tomorrow?”

“Harvard University:  educating the rich since 1636.”

Sartorially Noteworthy:

Narrator:  Sweater tied around the neck over Polo/Lacoste style shirt.  Final scene:   popped collar and khakis on the preppy to the far left, madras shorts on the preppy couple in the back.

Faux Pas (Final Scene):

The two preppies in the back have their shirts untucked.  They’re also wearing sandals, while Sperry Topsiders would have been better.  Preppy to the far right is wearing cargo shorts.   That is very un-preppy.  And what’s up with the pool?  He’s not kidding about the trust fund running out!

Halloween Window Display at Angel Street – NYC

Angel Street in Greenwich Village has great holiday window displays, and they’re clearly ready for Halloween.  It is not your typical thrift shop. You’re just as likely to spot an Eames chair or some other mid-20th century piece of furniture as you are a Burberry sport coat or Brooks Brothers oxford cloth button down.  There always seems to be some surprise.  I once found a perfectly fitting gray chalk stripe Savile Row suit (Gieves & Hawkes) for $50.00.  What are the odds on that?

The New Yorker has dubbed Angel Street “a bargain hunter’s dream.”   All proceeds from sales benefit innovative programs for individuals and families affected by substance abuse, HIV/AIDS and mental illness.

Angel Street is located at 118 W. 17th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.  The annual Village Halloween Parade, one of the most festive and well-attended in the nation, will be held on October 31st  this year.  It assembles at Spring Street to the south and progresses up Seventh Avenue to W. 17th, where it ends.

Where Preps Shop

Sadly, this YouTube video left out thrift stores and consignment shops.  In the best ones, you can find most of the brands shown.  Given the tough economic climate right now, there is virtue in stretching your dollar as far as it will go.  It simply makes sense to save money and shop for the best bargains possible on the highest quality clothes.  Remember, not everyone is as discerning as you are.  The key to successful thrift and consignment shopping is having an eye for well-made items, preferably of natural fibers, that show no obvious signs of wear (although I welcome a frayed collar or cuff here and there – keep it real).  Quickly separating high quality from low makes the job so much easier.