For a total of $17.97, I recently thrifted a navy/cyan grosgrain ribbon belt ($4.99), an all cotton J. Crew polo shirt of matching cyan with 2-button placket, cap sleeves and ribbed edging ($7.99) and a pair of plain front Bermuda length 100% cotton khaki shorts from Merona ($5.99).
The ribbon belt has no label, but it looks very similar to one made by Vineyard Vines. The cyan color in the detail shots of the belt looks different from the color of the shirt, but to the eye, it’s an exact match. Unfortunately, the lighting changed slightly between shots.
All of these items are in excellent condition. The belt seems well-made and durable, and the quality of the J. Crew polo and Merona khakis is surprisingly good. You need not have particular brand names or “status symbol clothes” (i.e. with a crocodile or oversized polo player and horse stitched to your shirt) to look preppy. If you are discerning, you can get away with no name items of classic design and natural fibers, and you will be practicing two key prep traits – thrift and discretion! Preppy is not about being flashy, unless you count the occasional go-to-hell item. But that’s really another discussion.
A word about shorts: I always buy plain front. In my opinion, pleats are fundamentally wrong (this applies to long pants as well). I avoid cargo shorts. Although many people like them, I think they have a very unflattering silhouette. They seem to be most often combined with legible t-shirts, fanny packs and flip flops. Enough said. I regard their popularity as a sure sign of cultural decline.