Wofford College Fraternity Men (1980s)

Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity Brothers - Wofford CollegeMy alma mater, Wofford College, was a bastion of natural fibers long before The Official Preppy Handbook was published.  Fraternity men there had worn heathery, crew neck shetland wool sweaters with their cotton button downs and khakis for generations.  They also had a tradition of wearing blue blazers and ties to football games, though the days of the freshman beanie were long gone.  This photograph of Kappa Alpha fraternity brothers with their dates, most of whom attended nearby Converse College (often referred to as “The Convent” because of its strict visitation rules), appeared in the 1988 Bohemian yearbook.  This moment in the stands during a game captures the look of that era.

I was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity (Nu Chapter).  This is the fraternity composite from the spring of 1985.  A large framed and matted version of this print was hung on a wall in the Pike house.

Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity (1984-1985)

Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity (1984-1985)

During rush, my fraternity brothers at Wofford did not behave like Doug Neidermeyer and Greg Marmalard of Omega at Faber College.

But the Pikes did behave a lot like the Deltas when throwing a toga party.  Yes, we actually had those, and we did gator!

College Fashionista recently posted this image of a current Wofford student wearing Nantucket Reds, a motif belt (ribbon with South Carolina palmetto and crescent over webbed cotton backing), a white button down with Vineyard Vines bow tie – also with palmetto and crescent – and a pair of Sperry Topsiders.

Wofford College Student

Motif Belt and Nantucket Reds (from College Fashionista)

Frayed motif belt and Nantucket Reds (Photo:  College Fashionista)

Vineyard Vines - SC Bow Tie

Vineyard Vines – SC Bow Tie (Photo:  College Fashionista)

Is Wofford still preppy?  You bet your plaid cotton boxer shorts!  However, the school is much more diverse today, which is a great thing, and the student body is about 1/3 larger than when I was there.  Total enrollment is just over 1,600, and 40% of them belong to a fraternity or sorority.

America’s Best Kept College Secrets has this to say about the school:  “Like Furman and Wake Forest, Wofford attracts a healthy, happy, preppy, active, sporty student body that intends to take up a career as a doctor, lawyer, or corporate chief.  The students are good looking and friendly, and the campus has the feel of a college in which poise and good looks prevail.”

In the 80s, although we did wear jeans and sweatshirts to class from time to time, khakis and button downs or Lacoste shirts were more the norm.  Blue blazers and ties were added for campus events, interviews and, as already mentioned, football games.  Even students who did not pledge a fraternity wore the uniform.  Note the college seal buttons on the student’s blazer to the left (see detail shot).

Blazer-Clad Wofford Students – Fall 1987

Detail - College Seal Buttons on the Blazer

Detail – College Seal Buttons on the Blazer

Founded in 1854, Wofford has long been known for academic excellence and was the first college in South Carolina to receive a charter with Phi Beta Kappa honor society.  Some recent accolades for my alma mater (as listed on the college website):

  • U.S. News & World Report’s 2014 edition of “America’s Best Colleges” ranked Wofford 65th among national liberal arts colleges, and 27th among 40 national liberal arts colleges as “Great Schools, Great Prices.” Wofford also included in the 2014 “Up and Comers” list of 10 liberal arts colleges noted among peers for their “promising and innovative changes in the areas of academics, faculty, student life, campus, or facilities.” (September 2013)
  • Forbes’ “America’s Best Colleges” lists Wofford among the top 120, the highest-rated South Carolina institution (September 2013)
  • The Princeton Review’s 2014 edition of “The Best 378 Colleges” features Wofford among the best undergraduate institutions, and ranked Wofford 19th for “Best Science Lab Facilities, The college also is the only South Carolina institution listed among the 75 “best values” among the top colleges. Wofford also is noted for its “career services” in the publication. (August 2013)
  • Fiske Guide to Colleges 2014 cited Wofford among “Small Colleges and Universities Strong in Business” (August 2013)
  • Forbes magazine ranked Wofford among the top 120 colleges and universities in the country – 119th overall and the highest-ranked South Carolina institution – in the sixth annual rankings of “America’s Top Colleges” in 2013. Wofford was ranked 20th among the Best Colleges in the South and 89th among the Best Private Colleges. (July 2013) In 2010, Forbes ranked Wofford 14th among all the nation’s colleges and universities for women desiring to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Old Main at Wofford College (Built in 1854)

Old Main at Wofford College (Built in 1854)

Wofford’s 170 acre tree-lined campus has been designated as an arboretum.  On a sunny autumn afternoon, while the leaves are changing color, it is an especially beautiful place to be.

Campus of Wofford College - Fall 2013

Campus of Wofford College – Fall 2013

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!

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