Pete and Trudy Campbell invite you to consider joining or renewing your annual membership with the Preppy Anti–Defamation League. Summer is go–to–hell 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 Anti–Defamation League is the best support mummy and daddy can give.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today at the Nearly New Shop in Greenville, SC, I found a great bleeding India Madras, patchwork plaid, short-sleeve button down shirt for $8.00. It was made for Rush Wilson Limited, an exclusive men’s store that has been in business in town since 1959.
The label inside the shirt indicates that the Madras was “hand loomed” and features irregularities in the weave that are actually a sign of authenticity. The dyes used in hand loomed shirts are natural and not synthetic and bleed when washed. Over time, the bleeding produces a wonderful faded look. I’d guess this particular shirt might be 20 years old, judging from the fade of the colors and the softness of the cotton. Madras is a key summer fabric for preppies and is essential in the hot and humid climate of the South.
The Nearly New Shop is run by the Junior League of Greenville. Store details:
118 Greenacre Road
Greenville, South Carolina 29607
Nearly New Shop Collection Hotline: (864) 232-1091
Monday through Saturday
Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Karen Howard, Manager
Shannon Simpson – Assistant Manager
I’ve been gearing up for summer lately. Some recent buys include a pair of patchwork madras shorts, a ribbon belt and a pair of Nantucket Reds. Today a Brooks Brothers long-sleeved, patchwork plaid madras shirt arrived via US Postal Service.
This shirt was a recent eBay purchase. Price: $24.94 + $3.65 shipping = $28.59. Compare that with the current Brooks Brothers retail price of $89.50 (not including shipping, although I could have gone to their Madison Avenue store). That’s a savings of $60.91. In addition, the brethren are only offering a short-sleeved madras shirt, and I specifically wanted long sleeves.
Nothing says summer more than the light, breathable fabric of an India madras shirt. It is a key item for the prep wardrobe. I like this pattern much better than the current Brooks Brothers offering. For more about how madras clothes are made, head over to Ivy Style for Christian Chensvold’s interview with Cape Madras cofounder Brian Sisselman.