Gentlemen of Hampden-Sydney

I’ve listed Hampden-Sydney again this year as the most preppy college in the South.  It was founded in 1775, when George III was King of England, Virginia was a British colony and the Declaration of Independence was yet to be written.  One of only four all-male colleges remaining in the United States, Hampden-Sydney counts Patrick Henry and James Madison as two of its original Board of Trustees members.

Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity Members

Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity Members at Hampden-Sydney College

Students at Hampden-Sydney take a great deal of pride in their appearance and believe in good manners.  In fact, the school has published its own etiquette guide:  To Manor Born, To Manners Bred (now in its 7th edition), which has been updated for the social media age.  That’s serious dedication!  Some gentlemen of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity above display a range of attire:  plain front khakis, blue blazers, a navy suit with a Brooks Brothers repp tie, freshly pressed pinpoint and oxford cloth button downs, bow ties, ribbon belts with motifs and a needlepoint belt.  This is all standard dress on campus, and one of the reasons Hampden-Sydney is considered a very traditional college.

Hampden-Sydney Alumni Tailgating - Football Weekend

Hampden-Sydney Alumni Tailgating Prior to a Football Game (Fall 2012)

In the February 2013 issue of Town & Country, Hampden-Sydney alumni were featured tailgating on campus prior to a football game against arch rival Randolph Macon. All of these gentlemen are sporting bow ties, and one is wearing Nantucket Reds with a pair of go-to-hell socks that would make President George Herbert Walker Bush envious.  Tailgating was spoofed in Lisa Birnbach’s The Official Preppy Handbook (1980) in which she also listed Hampden-Sydney as the #3 preppy college in the country behind Babson (#1) and Hamilton (#2).

Off The Wagon:  The Tailgate Picnic - The Official Preppy Handbook

Off The Wagon: The Tailgate Picnic – The Official Preppy Handbook

Also in The Official Preppy Handbook, noted both for its finely drawn satire and anthropological treatment of preppiesis a section on body types with representative photos and descriptions of each.  The Good Old Boy’s biography includes attending Lawrenceville and Hampden-Sydney, and his stated attributes suggest a fun-loving, if not bawdy, demeanor.  He is holding a “genetically attached beer can,” while wearing a button down layered over a Lacoste shirt (Southern collar notably not popped), rumpled, flood level khakis and a pair of penny loafers, one of which is duct taped to keep the sole and the upper together – a practice cultivated at Lawrenceville.  He’s the one of the three I think I’d most enjoy being around.

Preppy Body Types - from The Official Preppy Handbook (1980)

Body Types (Male) – The Official Preppy Handbook (1980)

As an homage to Birnbach, whose publication became a national bestseller, the college’s Kaleidoscope yearbook staff responded with The Official Preppy Yearbook.

The Official Preppy Yearbook 1981

Kaleidoscope 1981 — The Official Preppy Yearbook (Hampden-Sydney College)

Birnbach visited Hamden-Sydney a few years ago to promote her most recent book, True Prep, in which she elevated the college’s sartorial place, writing,”… allow us to assure you, in no uncertain terms, that Hampden-Sydney is, without equivocation, the preppiest college in the United States.”  In fact, one enterprising student there, Samuel Thomas, recently co-founded a bow tie company called Dogwood Black (originally Southern Ties) and is now marketing his expanding product line nationally after getting requests from upscale men’s clothiers.

Dogwood Black: Nantucket Summer Madras Bow Tie ($45.00)

Dogwood Black: Nantucket Summer Madras Bow Tie

In addition to the classic madras bow tie shown above, Dogwood Black offers such unique items as a camo bow tie.  I think this qualifies as the Southern version of go-to-hell style, allowing  a wearer to go from duck blind to formal party without skipping a beat.  One quote on the company website functions as a philosophy about wearing one of their ties, “If you can handle being the center of attention.”

Dogwood Black:  Camo Bow Tie

Dogwood Black: Camo Bow Tie

Dogwood Black - Tie Box

Dogwood Black – Tie Box

Hampden-Sydney has become more diverse in recent years, and with that change has come a difference in fashion sensibility on campus.  The look among some students retains the preppy style but is much more updated.  The gentleman on the right (below) looks as if he might be wearing a Dogwood Black Delta Chi fraternity bow tie, but I’m not positive.  The gentleman on the left seems more aligned with Unabashedly Prep, which I’ve heard described as “new wave prep” or as “preppy with a twist.”

Preppy With a Twist at Hampden-Sydney

Preppy With a Twist at Hampden-Sydney

Dogwood Black - Delta Chi Fraternity Bow Tie

Dogwood Black – Delta Chi Fraternity Bow Tie

Dr. Christopher B. Howard, Hampden-Sydney’s 24th president, is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy.   This gentleman was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, where he earned a Master of Philosophy and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Politics.  He also holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.  Howard is the first African-American president in the college’s history, and he is proudly a Brooks Brothers man.

In 2010, Hampden-Sydney entered into a formal partnership with Brooks Brothers to provide a 15% corporate membership discount to students, faculty and staff of the college.  The program is titled “Dressing for Success with Brooks Brothers.”  In this YouTube video, President Howard discusses the program and the investment in college education with parents of prospective students at an event hosted in a Brooks Brothers retail store in Richmond, VA.

Hampden-Sydney Display at Brooks Brothers in Richmond, VA

Hampden-Sydney Display at Brooks Brothers in Richmond, VA

Now in its third century of operation, Hampden-Sydney has a beautiful campus, an excellent academic reputation, a long tradition and a very loyal alumni base, many of whom contribute substantially to the institution every year.  Its past is distinguished, and its future looks secure.

Hampden-Sydney-College

Hampden-Sydney-College

Hampden-Sydney Historical Marker

Preppy in the 80s

I recently opened a box of old photographs and college annuals and blew off the dust.  The images here are all from the 80s, an era that I fondly recall as the days of hair.

1983 –  This photo was taken just after my 17th birthday, and I would be going off to college the next year.  I’m wearing a pair of white cotton pants (white ducks), a navy surcingle belt, a light blue button down shirt and a rep tie.  I have a blue blazer draped over my shoulder and a hand in my pocket, stock gestures that class photographers back then encouraged.  Do they still do that?  If so, someone should tell them to stop!  It doesn’t look nonchalant, but rather silly.

Before College 1986 – Class photograph from my sophomore year of college.  Wow, where do I begin?  The hair was huge!  My wife refers to this as helmet hair.  The tortoise shell glasses were also huge, a style trend in the 80s, and should have come equipped with windshield wipers.  My smile was David Letterman-esque.  I’m wearing a tweed sport coat, a button down shirt (starched from the looks of things) and a rep tie.

Sophomore Year - 1986

1986 – With friends in the courtyard of Silliman College during the Summer Studies Program at Yale.  I’d changed to a smaller pair of tortoise rim glasses.  I’m wearing a polo shirt and a pair of Bermuda shorts.

Yale - Summer 1986

1988 – Senior year of college.  Preppy on steroids in this photo just a week or so before graduation.  Madras plaid button down shirt, Bermuda shorts and a ribbon belt with a sailboat motif.  Yeah, those were the 80s.

1988 - Senior Year of College

WASP 101 Blogger Exposed?

WASP 101 Richard and Bryan Richard HollowayThis week Christian Chensvold of Ivy Style received a tip from an unnamed source concerning the identity of the person responsible for the pretentious Richard character of WASP 101.  Following clues gleaned from postings at WASP 101, the source claims that Richard is actually Rep. Bryan Richard Holloway (R), a five-term member of the North Carolina House of Representatives.  Holloway’s 91st district is a largely rural area of farmers, blue collar workers and NASCAR races.

For those of you not familiar with WASP 101, it was a much maligned personal blog devoted to what Richard perceived as the manners, taste and lifestyle of the upper class.  He frequently posted images of himself wearing clothing that he thought suited to the landed gentry.  Apparently, Richard viewed himself as a gentleman and member of the leisure class, but this was clearly a fantasy.  The clothing combinations he posted were, in my opinion, ill-fitting affectations and signified the desperate longings of a social climber who was too incompetent to pull off even a passable act.  In fact, many bloggers have commented that they first thought WASP 101 was conceived as a satire and were disappointed to learn that it was in ernest.

One could take most of WASP 101, for Richard sometimes got things right, as an important source of what not to do for those looking to better themselves by improving their appearance.  Unfortunately, the WASP 101 site was deleted shortly after Chensvold’s post suggesting the Holloway connection.  Observers have taken this key point along with other clues on the possible Holloway/WASP 101 connection – physical resemblance (at least the chin), shared name Richard, same birthday, same pet dachshund named Governor and a striking similarity in clothing- as conclusive proof.

If you read Chensvold’s linked post above and his follow up, the evidence does seem fairly strong that Holloway is Richard of WASP 101.  Should this prove to be true, it will be up to the voters of the 91st district to decide whether their current representative, a man with strong upper class pretensions, a passion for men’s clothing and a fondness for posting images of WASPY women he deems desirable, should be reelected.  Maybe he could survive these revelations.  But more troubling is that Holloway is a married man.  If he, as Richard, was making the WASPY women postings, that could be more problematic for the “God fearing” voters of his district.  Even more potentially troubling:  Chensvold’s source suggests that Holloway’s administrative assistant was the female “Kipp” character of WASP 101.  That in itself would be innocent unless there was more of a John Edwards or Mark Sanford dynamic at work.  Imagine the derision that would ensue.

I have to say that I am disappointed that WASP 101 was taken down.  Along with many other people, I have more than once been amused by what Richard took to be the essence of good taste.  But I do not revel in a man’s misfortune.  If it is true that Bryan Richard Holloway finds his career ruined or his personal life distrupted over a fantasy world he created on a personal blog,  that would make me sad.  It is also a bit troubling – and amusing at the same time – that someone could so despise a blogger or his pompous behavior or his bad judgment in clothing that he would make it a personal mission to uncover his identity.  This much can be said with certainty:  never post anything on the internet that you would not want connected with you in the future.

POLL:  SHOULD WASP 101 RETURN?  VOTE NOW!

Correction:  In an earlier version of this post, I stated that Christian Chensvold had been contacted by an unnamed New York fashion writer regarding the identity of Richard at WASP 101.  That was incorrect.  I should have stated that he was contacted by an unnamed source.  I have revised my text above accordingly.

Class: A Guide Through the American Status System

The Dreaded Prole Jacket Gape

In his unmercifully accurate 1983 book Class:  A Guide Through The American Status System, Paul Fussell wrote about a fashion faux pas he regarded as a lower class signifier – the “prole jacket-gape.”

Here, the collar of the jacket separates itself from the collar of the shirt and backs off and up an inch or so:  the effect is that of a man coming apart.  That this caste mark is without specifically reactionary political meaning is confirmed by a photograph of Richard Hoggart, the British radical critic and Labor Party enthusiast, used to promote a recent book of his:  his jacket is gaping a full inch at the rear, ample indication that jacket gape afflicts the far left as well as the far right.  What it betrays, indeed, is less the zealot than the stooge.  Like the poor chap interviewed on TV recently by William F. Buckley.  He was from Texas and wanted to censor school textbooks to repress, among other evils, pro-miss-kitty.  (As gently as possible, Buckley corrected this mispronunciation of promiscuity so that the audience would know what the poor ass was talking about.)  But even if the Texan had not, with complete confidence in his unaided powers, delivered repeatedly this prole mispronunciation, his perceptiveness and sensibility could have been inferred from the way his jacket collar gaped open a full two inches.  Buckley’s collar, of course, clung tightly to his neck and shoulders, turn and bow and bob as he might.  And here I will reject all accusations that I am favoring the rich over the poor.  The distinction I’m pointing too is not one between the tailored clothes of the fortunate and the store clothes of the others, for if you try you can get a perfectly fitting suit collar off the rack, or at least have it altered to fit snugly.  The difference is in recognizing it as a class signal and not recognizing it as such.  You’ve got to know that, as Douglas Sutherland says in An English Gentleman, almost the most important criterion in a suit worth wearing at all is “that it should fit well around the shoulders.”

Preppy Icon - William F. Buckley, Jr.

I have mentioned in my thrifting posts that it is possible to find many well-made jackets and suits from traditional clothiers, which makes the task of getting a correct fit much easier.  J. Press and Brooks Brothers, for example, make jackets and suits designed to fit  the natural slope of one’s shoulders and come without excessive padding.  You must know your correct size, a point I will cover in more detail in another post.  It is very important to have a reliable tailor, who can adjust the fit and lower the collar, if necessary.  If you follow these principles, you will never suffer prole jacket gape.


Class:  A Guide Through The American Status System
, by Paul Fussell.  This witty and spot on analysis of class distinctions among Americans was originally published by Touchstone in 1983.  Alison Lurie of The New York Times Book Review wrote, “A shrewd and entertaining commentary on American mores today.  Fascinatingly accurate.”

WASP Lessons – From People Like Us

PBS aired a fascinating documentary a few years ago:  People Like Us – Social Class in America, taking on one of the most taboo topics in a democracy based on the concept that all people are created equal.  The documentary explores the subtle and not so subtle distinctions about class that some people make in our culture, which have an impact on each of us every day.

Consider the famous quip by Sargent Shriver, who was George McGovern’s 1972 Vice-Presidential running mate.  Campaigning in West Virginia, Shriver gave himself away as upper class when he walked into a tavern full of coal miners and announced, “Bartender, a round of beers for the boys and a Courvoisier for me!”  In a Movable Feast, Ernest Hemingway claimed that F. Scott Fitzgerald once told him, “The rich are different than you and me,” to which Hemingway replied, “Yes, they have more money.”

Do money and a privileged position in society determine class, or is there something more to it:  manners, education, refined taste and a concern for the common good?  What things make one class different from another?  These are difficult questions to answer.  Certain clothing designers, most notably Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger, have built marketing campaigns based on entrée into the upper class – or at least the popular imagination of it – launching the aspirational preppy movement.

America is a meritocracy.  If you have skill and talent, you can rise socially.  You can gain admission to a first rate college or university, regardless of background.  Witness Bill Clinton of working class origins, who gained acceptance to Yale Law School, making connections that helped put him in the White House.  President Obama is another example of rising above one’s economic limitations and social prejudices, attending Columbia University and Harvard Law School, on the way to his history making election.  Part of achieving success in the workplace is dressing in a manner that creates the greatest opportunity for advancement and the least resistance, which is partly why books like Take Ivy and The Official Preppy Handbook have had such a lasting impact on fashion.

For more clips from People Like us, visit the documentary YouTube page.

On Ivy Style, Christian Chensvold has a great prep/class related post, “Poised or Oblivious?  The True Essence of Prep,”  He writes, “But since anyone today can don the clothing of the power elite, you never know just what the wearer of embroidered trousers may be really thinking. After all, he could be a radical environmentalist with an ironic sense of humor on a noble crusade to save the whales.”

For a very funny critique of the aspirational preppy movement, check out Rob Lanham’s piece, “True Prep:  It Is Not the Time for the Preppy New Testament.”  He pays homage to Lisa Birnbach’s influential satire The Official Preppy Handbook, while remaining sharply critical of her sequel True Prep, which was published in the middle of an economic recession.

Know Your Prep Accents: Boston Brahmin

In the last few days, I’ve been focused on New England, posting about Nantucket Reds and their connection with sailing.  Today I found a YouTube video of two teriffic Boston Brahmin gentlemen bantering back and forth about their preferences in literature as well as their peculiar dialect, one associated with some of the original families in this country.  The Brahmin presence in Boston dates back over 350 years.  Many things preppy – including Anglophilia, a reverence for tradition and a thrifty, penny pinching approach – may be attributed to them.  Their dwindling number is directly related to a greater inclination to discuss literature and the arts than to procreate.  All of this somehow reminds me of the Cole Porter lyrics from “Anything Goes” with its Puritan and Plymouth Rock references.  The Ella Fitzgerald 1956 version – my favorite – is posted below.

The Argument: The Prep Gets the Last Laugh

FORGET WHAT YOU THINK YOU KNOW ABOUT WHALE BELTS AND POPPED COLLARS.  WHY NOW MORE THAN EVER NEW ENGLAND’S SINGULAR SARTORIAL AESTHETIC IS THE STYLE FOR OUR TIMES.  


BY KEVIN ALEXANDER
BOSTON MAGAZINE  – MAY 2009


LET YOUR MIND’S EYE WANDER FOR A MOMENT.  Let it come to rest on the prep, that venerable fashion icon who favors ribbon belts and bow ties; that Bostonian done up in tweed or seersucker. Doubtless you can envision this character, perhaps in his natural habitat on Beacon Hill, perched, perchance, at the bar at 75 Chestnut, in a striped button-down or a polo shirt with the collar casually popped. Maybe, in your mind’s eye, you see him greet a fellow prep with the ritual handshake of an ancient secret society, see them reminisce over ancient squash games partaken, no doubt, on the grounds of some ancient summer home. The prep’s pastel clothing, his Clinton-era Saab, his disdain for socks—it’s all so easy to mock.

But what if you looked closer, past the stereotypes and the gaudiest pink-sweatered goofballs? What you’d find is a lifestyle that belies the pompousness that’s so repugnant to so many. Because though it was long ago co-opted to sell marked-up madras to the wannabe masses, the prep culture invented in New England—real prep culture—is at its core driven by good old-fashioned Yankee thrift. It’s about patching rather than replacing, about worn-in rather than shiny-new as status marker. Which is to say that, as
our economy continues to sputter and we grasp desperately for what’s familiar and comfortable, maybe the prep had it right all along.

THE ORIGINS OF THE DISTINCT aesthetic we call “prep” might be summarized thus: For generations, well-off denizens of the Northeast passed family money down through long-held investments, padding it with lucrative careers in lawyering, doctoring, and investment banker-ing. When members of this prosperous caste married and bore children, they sent their young to the same preparatory schools they themselves had attended. These schools had dress codes, and said codes involved, for boys, a uniform of coat, tie, and khakis. To distinguish yourself, you wore your clothes decidedly broken-in, the faded fabric of your trousers or blazer suggesting you were wizened and all-knowing. Alternatively, if you were sufficiently brazen, you made yourself noticeable by donning colors that seem out of place in normal life: pinks or purples or bright greens. These made you “fun” and “crazy” and “interesting,” without your actually having to be any of those things. After graduation, the young prep would take his well-honed sartorial sensibility to college, where he was given alcohol and, by senior year, an in for a job in Boston (on occasion he and his brethren would wash up in Connecticut or the WASPier regions of Long Island, too). He’d go on to marry and sire a brood of preppy kids. That was just how such things went.

By the time of the Reagan administration, Lacoste polos had become a mainstream look. The hoi polloi had decided they wanted inside the prep bubble. In 1980, The Preppy Handbook, a slender, whimsical field guide, spent 38 weeks atop the New York Times bestseller list. By the middle of that decade, the style had permeated throughout popular culture, finding a standard-bearer in Alex P. Keaton, with his sport coat and penchant for supply-side economics. Noteworthy here is that Michael J. Fox’s Family Ties character and his real-world counterparts began to blend the old austere prep aesthetic with the shameless materialism of the greed-is-good era. Prep became synonymous with the more easily loathed yuppie (a curious convergence, considering the frugality underpinning genuine Brahmin culture).

When the yuppie golden era ended with the recession of the early 1990s and pop culture lurched toward an emphatically un-prep moment of flannel shirts and unwashed hair, prep did not die; it was once again merely tweaked. Brands like Polo stepped in and further democratized the look—spreading it to shopping malls near and wide, to be purchased by grunge agnostics—while at the same time reemphasizing and recasting its elitist undertones. The iteration of prep envisioned by Ralph Lauren catalogs whisked you away to the stables of English manors, a place adorned with riding crops braided of the finest Italian leather—but also one where horse-emblazoned shirts and reasonably priced chinos could nonetheless be had for a non-aristocratic sum.

Trinity’s Preppy Culture Defined

The Quad at Trinity College, Hartford, CT


Trinity’s Preppy Culture Defined

By: Matthew Longcore ’94 Alumnus (This article originally appeared in the December 7, 2010 issue of The Tripod).

It is official: Trinity is the preppiest college in New England. This proclamation was made by none other than Lisa Birnbach, author of the 1980 tongue-in-cheek bestseller The Official Preppy Handbook and co-author (with Chip Kidd) of the recently released follow up, True Prep. In the original Preppy Handbook, Trinity was listed among the top 20 preppy colleges in America. For True Prep, however, Birnbach decided not to create such a list, instead giving Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia the honor of being “the preppiest in America.” When yours truly asked Lisa on the Facebook fan page for True Prep why Trinity was not accorded this honor, she replied: “I have to stand by my decision. I’m willing to say that Trinity is the preppiest school in New England. For a small college, Trinity alumni are EVERYWHERE.”

Birnbach later validated Trinity’s preppy status at an event held at the New Canaan Library in the preppy hamlet of Fairfield County, Connecticut. This event included a fashion show featuring clothes from the super preppy brand J. McLaughlin. When asked (again by yours truly) if she was willing to stand by her Facebook proclamation, Birnbach replied that yes, indeed, Trinity is the preppiest college in New England. She described Trinity as “a hot school that everyone wants to go to.”

Trinity’s longstanding reputation as a preppy school predates the Preppy Handbook by many years. In 1963, Gene Hawes published an article in the Saturday Review titled “The Colleges of America’s Upper Class” in which he provided statistical data about the alma maters of men listed in the Social Register. Trinity came in fifth place behind Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Pennsylvania but well ahead of much larger institutions such as Brown, Columbia, Cornell, and Dartmouth. This article was published in what is now known as “the Mad Men era” when Trinity and several of the Ivy League schools were still all-male bastions. A decade later, coeducation had swept Trinity and its peers.

By the 1970s, a fictional Trinity preppy made his silver screen debut (albeit a brief cameo appearance) in the movie Jaws. In the opening sequence of the film, the male character Cassidy (dressed in a blue oxford button down shirt and khakis) mentions that he attends Trinity. When police chief asks, “Do you live here?” (“here” being the preppy summer resort of Martha’s Vineyard) Cassidy replies, “Na, Hartford, I go to Trinity. My folks live in Greenwich.” Greenwich, as preppies know well, is very preppy indeed.

Fast forward to 1980 and by this time Trinity men and women had earned their rightful place in The Official Preppy Handbook, which describes the student body as follows: “Universally Preppier, students here embody good-looking devil-may-care-ism.” The “Fraternal Instincts” section of the Preppy Handbook also seems Trinity-inspired in its description of Greek life on preppy campuses: “There are some nationally established Preppy frats, where most of the members are from Darien and almost all went to Prep school in Massachusetts – Psi U and St. Anthony Hall fit this mold most consistently.”

The Preppy Handbook’s list of the top 20 preppy colleges in America includes over half of the 11 schools of the NESCAC (Amherst, Colby, Connecticut College, Hamilton, Trinity, and Williams) but only one member (Princeton) of the eight schools in the Ivy League, despite the public perception of the Ivies as “the preppiest” of schools. The logic behind this is explained in a section called “The Ivy League Dilemma” which states that “the pink-and-green scale tips in favor of the more homogeneous smaller schools.” Tailgate culture at preppy colleges, in which the actual game is ignored in favor of socializing over Bloodies and Whiskey Sours, is also described in the Preppy Handbook. The “Discovering Prep” section of the book highlights “some crucial points of the Prep Ethos” which include favoring “fake college football (Williams vs. Amherst)” as opposed to “real college football (Michigan vs. Ohio State).”

Trinity’s preppy reputation has endured into the 21st century. A 2007 article in The New York Times titled “Pink Shirts Welcome” describes the uber-preppy crowd at Bar Martignetti in Manhattan’s SoHo district. The article quotes the bar’s owner, Trinity alumnus Anthony Martignetti ’02, as stating, “I went to Trinity, which is the epicenter of preppy partying in the Northeast.” The Insider’s Guide to the Colleges, which is published annually by The Yale Daily News, includes Trinity on its “Top Ten Preppiest Student Bodies” list along with such schools as Princeton and UVA. In June of this year, The Huffington Post published a similar list – the “Top Ten Preppy Colleges” – and once again Trinity made the cut, coming in at a respectable #3 behind #2 Princeton and…yup, you guessed it, #1 Hampden-Sydney College.

Though the Bantams lost out to Hampden-Sydney as “America’s preppiest college” in True Prep, Trinity College is actually mentioned several times in the book. Two of the fictitious preps featured in the books are described as Trinity graduates: English teacher “Mrs. Radcliffe” (page 66) and well-dressed post-grad “Anderson Flatto” (page 112). Among the many elements of Anderson’s preppy wardrobe is a CK Bradley embroidered belt which holds up his cords embroidered with whales. CK Bradley, as many Trinity preps know, is a preppy brand of clothing designed by Trinity alumna Camilla Bradley ’99, who started the line during her college years by making ribbon belts for her classmates. True Prep concludes with a timeline of preppy-related events which have taken place in the last 30 years since the publication of The Official Preppy Handbook. Trinity is mentioned twice in this chronology. The first mention is the February 21, 2010 victory of the Trinity men’s squash team which marked the team’s 12th consecutive national championship. According to True Prep, team members were “compared to preppy rock stars.” The second mention in the timeline is September 2, 2010 when the “full-time, First-year students’ meal plan begins with dinner at Trinity College.” Why exactly this particular date is mentioned, no one but the authors can know for sure.

Are You A Preppie?

Remember the poster Are You A Preppie?  It was printed in 1979 by University of Virginia undergrad Tom Shadyac, who went on to film school at UCLA and later directed Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Evan Almighty.  The poster was wildly popular when it came out.  I have to wonder whether it might have inspired Lisa Birnbach’s more in-depth anthropological treatment in The Official Preppy Handbook, which appeared one year later.

The layout of the Birnbach’s prep personae is very similar to Shadyac’s sartorial diagram.  Birnbach also recognized The University of Virginia as one of the preppiest campuses in America.

Prep Persona

Prep Persona (The College Years) From The Official Preppy Handbook

Elements of the preppy look never seem to change that much and have been appropriated by corporate culture as something of a uniform – khakis and button down shirts are now the norm instead of suits and ties.  Nathaniel Elliot Worthington’s “flood level pants” have been a hot trend in men’s fashion for the last few years.   The look was generated by prep school students who outgrew their khakis, but continued to wear them anyway.  By the time those students arrived at colleges, floods had become a form of preppy rebellion and can be seen all over the pages of T. Hayashida’s 1965 book Take Ivy, a cult classic for devotees of men’s fashion, including Ralph Lauren.  It was  recently republished by powerHouse Books in Brooklyn, causing a hipster run on thrift stores in search of preppy items to wear around Williamsburg.  Hipsters love irony; and what could be more ironic than a hipster wearing a Brooks Brothers button down while spray painting “Yuppie Go Home” on a luxury loft building wall?

In the shot below, Hayashida has captured a group of Dartmouth College students, who have stopped to watch an intramural softball game.  Everyone is wearing floods, and the student second from left has gaffing tape on one of his penny loafers.  Yes, preppies actually do this!

Flood Wearing Dartmouth College Students (Photo Credit:  Take Ivy)

I taped one of my loafers the same way when I was in college because I didn’t want to pay for repairs once a sole had detached from the leather upper.  It was a way of being frugal and playful at the same time.  Not long ago, I saw a new pair of very expensive Tommy Hilfiger loafers – one of which had a grosgrain band stiched across the top as a reference to the practice of taping.  Amazing!

Penny Loafers With Gaffing Tape Reference  (Photo Credit:  True Prep)