Top 20 Preppy Colleges in the South

In 2011, I published my first list of the top preppy colleges in the South.  It was limited to 10 colleges, and it was difficult to make decisions on which to include.  It was an entirely subjective process.  Most decisions were based on my experiences of the respective campuses considered.  I also spent time talking to current students and recent graduates to get their perspective.

For this year’s list, I’ve decided to expand the number to 20.  I use the term colleges, but I’m including both colleges and universities.  So the range is extensive.  Most of the schools listed this year are relatively small, private liberal arts institutions.

Hampden-Sydney College keeps its  #1 ranking again — as the most preppy college in the South – while Washington and Lee University moves up to the #2 ranking to challenge.

Hampden-Sydney College

The state of Virginia has the most schools listed (8), followed by  North and South Carolina (4 each), Tennessee (2), Mississippi (1) and Alabama (1).  Is there a bias? Probably.  Am I open to suggestions and revisions?  Definitely!  Let me know which schools you think should make the list, or which ones should be excluded.

THE TOP 20 PREPPY COLLEGES IN THE SOUTH – 2014

1.  Hampden-Sydney College, Hampden-Sydney, VA.  (Founded 1775)

2.  Washington & Lee University, Lexington, VA.  (Founded 1749)

3.  Sweet Briar College, Sweet Briar, VA.  (Founded 1901)

4.  University of the South, Sewanee, TN.  (Founded 1857)

5.  University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. (Founded 1819)

6.  Wofford College,  Spartanburg, SC.  (Founded 1854)

7.  Furman University, Greenville, SC.  (Founded 1826)

8.  College of Charleston, Charleston, SC.  (Founded 1770)

9.  Converse College, Spartanburg, SC.  (Founded 1889)

10.  Hollins University, Roanoke, VA.  (Founded 1842)

11.  Mary Baldwin College, Staunton, VA.  (Founded 1842)

12.  Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, VA.  (Founded 1830)

13.  Elon University, Elon, NC.  (Founded 1889)

14.  Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN.  (Founded 1873)

15.  University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS.  (Founded 1848)

16.  Davidson College, Davidson, NC.  (Founded 1837)

17.  Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC.  (Founded 1834)

18.  University of Richmond, Richmond, VA.  (Founded 1830)

19.  University of Alabama, Tuscalosa, AL.  (Founded 1831).

20.  Duke University, Durham, NC.  (Founded 1838)

J. Press Moving Sale: 70% Off Selected Merchandise

Of note to all bargain hunters:  while not quite as satisfying as a good thrift find, you can get 70% off selected merchandise at J. Press in honor of their move to a new New York City flagship store.  This is good if you live in the city, or within a reasonable drive, as items cannot be purchased online.  Having left NYC last year, I regret that I can’t explore what’s available in the sale.  The J. Press store was on the same block as my wife’s office.  I passed by there just about every day on the way to Grand Central.

J. Press - 70% Off

J. Press Grosgrain Ribbon Watch Bands

J. Press Grosgrain Ribbon WatchbandsOne of the most practical and usable accessories to have in the wardrobe is a grosgrain ribbon watch band.  These three from J. Press are the ones that I use most often. Top to bottom:  red and navy stripe, blue white and red stripe (reversible  to a red,white and navy side) and a solid light blue band.  The latter actually gets the most wear, as it will go with almost any clothing combination.

J. Press grosgrain watch bands retail for $18.00 to $29.00, but they currently have a 40% off sale.  As much as I’d like to find these in a thrift store, it’s nearly impossible.  So I wait for a good sale to buy the ones I want at a discount.  Maybe it’s a lot of fuss over what will support a very cheap Timex with a visibly scratched face, but I’m just quirky that way.

For more about the place of grosgrain ribbon watch bands in preppy culture (and their recent resurgence in men’s fashion), check out Ivy Style.

Preppy 80s Flashback

Preppy 80s FlashbackPortrait of me with my cousin, Brandon, in 1986.  He was not quite a year old when this photograph was taken.  I was a sophomore at Wofford College at the time.  My look hasn’t changed a lot since then…well, at least the clothes, because I now sport a shaved head and a goatee.  Here I am wearing a wool argyle sweater from Brooks Brothers, a blue oxford cloth button down shirt and P3 tortoiseshell glasses.  A few years ago, Brandon got his master’s degree from NYU and now works in marketing for Madison Square Garden. He’s getting married next spring. Time goes too fast!

Ratty Sweatshirt from the Yale Co-op

Yale Sweatshirt

I have a very old sweatshirt from the Yale Co-op that I bought as a grad student in New Haven in the early 90s.  It is full of small holes here and there and is fraying badly on the collar and cuffs.  It’s 100% cotton – very soft – and I wouldn’t part with it.  I’ll wear this sweatshirt until it falls apart.  Unfortunately, the Yale Co-op, which served generations of students, is no longer around.  They had to file for bankruptcy in 1999 and went out of business the following year.

This shot was taken with a forward facing camera on my iMac, using Photo Booth, and then modified with the oil paint filter in Photoshop, experimenting with a few things there, I guess.  Also visible is the collar of a frayed Brooks Brothers button down shirt (thrifted:  $2.50).  I have on a Timex watch with a red, white and blue striped grosgrain band from J. Press and a pair of P3 “tortoise shell” (acetate) glasses from Coastal.com.  They have great deals on glasses.  I got the frames with progressive lenses and had them shipped for a total of $149.00.

Preppy in New York City

Union Square and 17th Street, New York, NY

Union Square and 17th Street in New York City (1998)

My wife took this photo of me looking at books among the vendors at Union Square near 17th Street in New York City.  As best I can recall, this was taken around December of 1997.  We had been in the city nearly a year, having moved up from South Carolina, and I was working for MoMA.

Union Square was a seven minute subway ride on the L Train from the Bedford Avenue stop in our neighborhood:  Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  The World Trade Towers are visible to the right, just beyond the pedestrians.  Washington Square Park was a short walk south down University Place in the direction of the towers.

My sartorial style was largely out of synch with the burgeoning hipster population of Williamsburg, but drew respect from our old school Italian neighbors.  In this photo, I was wearing charcoal gray wool flannel pants, a button down shirt, a wool argyle sweater (non-thrifted Christmas gift) from Brooks Brothers, a wool herringbone pattern topcoat and a pair of black Bass Weejuns.  The glasses were tortoise rim.

I’m not sure whether to love or hate the fact that hipsters have appropriated (maybe hijacked is a better word) the preppy look in the last few years.  They are certainly dressing better.  I suppose that is a good thing.  So I won’t complain too much about their “preppy with a twist” aesthetic.  How ironic!  When walking down Bedford Avenue once in the late 90s in khakis, a ribbon belt and a pink button down, I felt as though I was doing a perp walk based on the scornful looks I received.  That preppy has been embraced by the same kind of people proves good taste never really goes out of style, even if for them it is a fad.  You can read more about hipsters on Free Williamsburg.  (Note:  after I made this post, I found this related article published in The New York Times:  “How I Became a Hipster.”

On the same day as the Union Square photo, my wife and I went uptown to see a Broadway show at the Neil Simon Theatre.  I can’t remember which show it was.  Maybe I can track that down by going through some old playbills.  A Christmas tree is visible on the balcony above the Russian Samovar restaurant next door to the theatre.

Outside Neil Simon Theatre - New York City (1998)

Outside Neil Simon Theatre Near Times Square – New York City (1998)

Join The Preppy Anti-Defamation League

Pete and Trudy Campbell - Lifetime Members of the Preppy Anti-Defamation League

Pete and Trudy Campbell – Lifetime Members of the Preppy Anti-Defamation League

Pete and Trudy Campbell invite you to consider joining or renewing your annual membership with the Preppy AntiDefamation League.   Summer is gotohell season, a time when Madras plaids in blinding primary colors, which have caused traffic accidents, and radiant Lilly Pulitzer tropical patterns are worn to the consternation of the legible-clothing-wearing general public.  Other than your trust fund, a membership in the Preppy AntiDefamation League is the best support mummy and daddy can give.