Portrait 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!
At Columbia U. Consignments last fall, I found a Brooks Brothers bow tie with a maroon background and navy and white stripes. The asking price was $25.00. I hadn’t posted any photos of me actually wearing it. So here goes. An unironed and somewhat rumpled 100% cotton blue oxford cloth button hides under a classic navy blazer. But rumpled is preppy, a look that might be taken as an indication that I just don’t give a damn.
Having stripes that are straight rather than slanted, which is more common, makes this bow tie challenging. The correct look is to position the stripes on each end with a block of stripes in the middle, as I have it tied in the photo. Maybe I do give a damn. Mixed messages today.
I came across these photos on Fried Pink Tomato under a post titled “The Southern Preppy Bro.” This is conclusive proof that Southerners are the preppiest people on the planet. All the elements of go-to-hell style are there: patchwork madras plaid, bold bow ties, motif belts, ribbon belts, oxford cloth button downs, fashionable hats, Lilly Pulitzer colored sun dresses, pearls and croakies. These preps are having a lot of fun at a tailgate party.
We’ve been having some cooler fall weather lately in New York City. Today it was overcast and actually a bit chilly in the late afternoon when I went out to run a few errands. I didn’t want to wear a coat. So I just threw a lightweight down vest on top of my shirt and sweater, turning the shirt cuffs back over the sweater and pushing the sleeves up a bit.
The total cost of all three items was less than $20.00: goose down vest from L.L. Bean ($7.99), 100% lambswool v-neck sweater from Cullen, a brand I’ve never heard of before ($4.99) and 100% oxford cloth button down from Gap ($2.99). While Gap is not an overly preppy company, their button down was very well-made, and the price made it impossible not to buy. I got everything at Unique thrift store (which I post about prolifically) in my neighborhood.
The preppy look never really changes. Of course, there have been some trendy tweaks recently by Tommy Hilfiger and Thom Browne among others. Their “preppy updates” were intended to gain traction with a younger consumer base after hipsters began raiding vintage shops and thrift stores, looking to make an ironic statement. It was not long before big names in the hip hop world began sporting the look. All of this doesn’t phase me. I simply like the classic, timeless preppy style I’ve always known – which is well-made clothes without gee gaws or doo dads. The way I dress hasn’t changed in any important way since college, aside from the addition of more suits or cap toe dress shoes.