Battle of the Wits: What Does A Preppy Smell Like?

Tommy Hilfiger recently released a new fragrance called Eau de Prep. I took a whiff of it at the Fifth Avenue flagship recently, and you can definitely detect a trace of tonic water.

But it got me thinking, what does a preppy really smell like?

Old money and even older sneakers?
Salt water and peanut butter?
Grass stains and Episcopalianism?

Leave a comment with your own snappy one-liner. The most clever will win a bottle of Eau de Prep. If I can’t get Tommy PR to donate it, I’ll buy you one myself.

Contest closes Saturday at noon. — CC

Update: And the winner is Thurston Formore IV for the following bon mot:

“They smell like everyone else. With their noses. But Prep’s noses are a bit higher in the air. As they should be.”

98 Comments on "Battle of the Wits: What Does A Preppy Smell Like?"

  1. Money.

    “Your comment was a bit too short. Please go back and try again.”

  2. Gotta be English Leather. It is tried and true.

  3. “Aqua Velva… Smooth, cool, refreshing.”

  4. Bourbon, gunpowder, and the family golden retriever that hasn’t been washed in three months.

  5. Kevin M. Quinn | September 28, 2011 at 9:31 am |

    What does a prep smell like?

    Poison Ivy

  6. ‘Sconset at dusk, the clambake fast approaching.

  7. For this time of year, a Barbour jacket and an old sweater

  8. An aromatic, fresh fragrance combining notes of English heritage with subtle, cooling style. Classically eloquent with uplifting base scents of sociability and confidence added for extra effect.

  9. St. Michaels' | September 28, 2011 at 10:14 am |

    Well, according to the Preppy HB, it was Eau Savage. But I never knew any one who ever used it, or admitted to using it. What I do remember is my first boyfriend, a true prep, who always smelled of Bay Rum, washed oxford cloth, and Winston cigarettes. That will remain with me for the rest of my days…..

  10. For the Princeton Prep:

    Hoagie Haven and wet wool (from diddling Lindi the Landau ram on a dare).

    The name of the scent would have to be “ecureuil noir” (black squirrel)

  11. I always associated the PREP fragrance with Royale Lime or Royal Bay Rhum

  12. Natty Ice paid with a parent’s credit card.

  13. Fresh cotton and aged bourbon.

  14. Prep = horse barn, aged leather sofa, pipe tobacco and a touch of lemon..from either the drink or the furniture polish, take your pick.

  15. If truth be told, I imagine the scent would lie some where in the spectrum of ‘old dutch master, an Astor, & Pepsodent’ with a hint of Ivory soap.

  16. A combination of grass, wet dogs, stale beer & cigarettes


  18. I think a “true” prep smells like old loafers.

  19. If you go around sniffing “Preppy” women, you’ll likely find that they smell remarkably like pepper-spray.

  20. Private Grave | September 28, 2011 at 12:12 pm |

    Perspiration percolated whilst perpetually posturing.

  21. Jonathan Lipscomb | September 28, 2011 at 12:32 pm |

    Collar stays, cardigans, and clambakes…

  22. To paraphrase the late great Warren Zevon, methinks they smell like “…lawyers, guns and money.”

  23. Musty lacrosse gear, beach bonfire, whiskey and old boat shoes that have never been worn with socks.

  24. I think Dex may be in the lead so far.

  25. Old books, a trust fund, and gin.

  26. Gin and irony.

  27. A hint of damp Labrador Retriever, Bean boot rubber, a wool toggle coat & squandered opportunity

  28. @LDC, I think irony is more Jewish than WASP-preppy. WASPy guys are very literal, as you can see by some of the responses here.

    Speaking of which, my entry is:

    A preppy smells like the back seat of a station wagon and the Jewish girl he’s afraid to bring home to mother.

  29. Musk, autumn leaves, and sea sprayed canvas

  30. Smells like clean spirits.

  31. A lit Chesterfield, a new pair of weejuns, and bourbon rocks.

  32. The sweat of outdoor excursions mixed with the salty sea air along a marina on the Hamptons.

  33. Smells like hot air.

  34. 1963 Land Rover gearbox oil and Barbour Thornproof wax. Shaken together, not stirred. A little dab will do ya.

  35. Pippa. Pippa. And a bit more Pippa.

  36. It smells good, like an ivy man should.

  37. “Preppy” smells like…..fear.

  38. Tortoise Shell | September 28, 2011 at 10:23 pm |

    Listerine, spray starch, cordovan shoe polish, freshly ground coffee, leather-bound books, fountain pen ink, and Lifebuoy soap.

  39. A preppy smells as if one grabbed the wrong ornate bottle on the mantle, intending to get cologne but instead splashing only a dash of imported scotch on their skin. That, mixed with the dust off your princeton-man of a grandfathers old crew sweater. And I feel like a preppy also smells a bit like the word “Rather,” if that makes any sense.

  40. OK, Christian, based on your station wagons post, a Preppy smells like Mrs. Robinson.

  41. @LAS Gucci Envy for women smells like a wad of fresh bills. It’s uncanny.

  42. the inside of a Moriarty ski hat and power.

  43. St. Michaels' | September 29, 2011 at 7:16 am |

    I’ve known quite a few true [male] Preps in my day (although I’m not one myself), and I feel safe in saying that most of them really didn’t care what they smelled like (I knew some who didn’t even bathe on a regular basis). Most of them cared more about what women smelled like. This is definitely a question for a wannabe. And I believe that if presented with a line-up of colognes and being forced to chose, none of them would pick something called Eau de Prep.

  44. What Does A Preppy Smell Like?

    Tequila Worm Lollipops or Chanel’s ‘Egoïste’ – same great scent.

  45. Freshly cut grass and gin

  46. The freshly-mown grass of polo fields, the rolling lawns and snaking driveways of country estates, gin-and-tonics on the beach in the Hamptons. Blazers and club ties, from clubs you actually belong to. Wood-panelled studies, leather-bound books, wingback chairs. Money. Prestige. Respect.

  47. Christian,
    It’s very interesting that nearly nobody listed an actual (intentional) fragrance.


  48. What do you mean, YWP? Several people did just that, obviously not understanding that they were encouraged to think figuratively.

  49. Home-made anaesthetics, moonshine, dynamite and the cells of the local police station, one would hope.

  50. Someone will eau de prep a debt of some kind, sometime in their life.

  51. One assumes that non-canine and non-feline readers of this blog don’t spend their time sniffing at Preppies.

  52. They smell like everyone else. With their noses. But Prep’s noses are a bit higher in the air. As they should be.

  53. Anne Elizabeth Church | September 29, 2011 at 11:52 am |

    It smells like Maidstone pool water getting into my mint julep when Tripp decides to cannonball in.

  54. Sea Spray and Money.

  55. All of sudden people pitch in just to have a free cologne, ha…or not.

  56. Michael Mattis | September 29, 2011 at 2:37 pm |

    Shouldn’t this be “Battle of whiffs?”

  57. Michael Mattis | September 29, 2011 at 2:40 pm |

    “Shaken together, not stirred.”


  58. Button-Down Mind Strikes Back | September 29, 2011 at 3:59 pm |

    fear..and loathing

  59. @BDMSB

    Wouldn’t “loathing…and fear” be a bit more accurate?

  60. A combination of many of the ingredients already stated above by others, plus a dash of Republicanism, a pinch of concealed racism, a modicum of self-pity, a dollop of nostalgia, a smidgen of narcissism, and a soupçon of Anglophilia.

  61. A Prep smells like the swimming hole you and her used to skinny dip in, combined with the bonfires shared and your favorite cricket sweater she loves to wear

  62. P.leasurably R.ipe, E.ternally P.reserved

  63. The musty smell of an eclectic manse, with the salty tang of the sea.

  64. Waxed cotton, an old chesterfield sofa and bourbon.

  65. A Preppy certainly doesn’t smell of Laguna Beach.
    In fact, he wouldn’t be caught dead anywhere in Southern California.

  66. The mud room, (has anyone ever used that wetsuit?) the hot tub with that funny chloriny smell (yes they still have a wood one) Mount Gay Rum (wait can we use the dark stuff for Rum and Cokes? oh who cares) and the fog coming in through Sea Cliff, or Stonington- or, oh god are we drinking in the hot tub-isn’t that like- bad?

  67. Sea salt encrusted boat shoes and gin–whiskey if you’re feelin’ frisky.

  68. Sunday morning church service at a Episcopalian/Unitarian Church in Vermont. In the early Fall.

  69. Nothing; a preppy is far too concerned with cleanliness to want to leave a hint of any scent behind. Jewelry, facial hair, polyester, actual operas attended (vice tickets held to leave exposed on one’s desk), scent — less is better.

    Which is also why you are always free to send me a bottle of Woodford Reserve instead of Eau d’Anything.

  70. In the winter, mothballs and aftershave.

  71. Vodka & leather. Oh, and Xanax… who are we kidding?

  72. Eau de wet golden retriever and gin.

  73. Prep smells like the summer house on the first day it is opened for the vacations – slightly musty, with strong notes of the ocean and hints of well-worn Topsiders and Bloodies.

  74. a book that hasn’t been opened in years, but whose pages are memorized.

  75. Aftershave, single barrel whisky, a girl’s perfume all over you with a hint of marijuana…

  76. old boat shoes, whiskey, and the republican party

  77. Self-satisfaction

  78. A thumb-worn copy of TOPH

  79. He smells of Class and isn’t afraid to flaunt it.

  80. He has the scent of ‘fuck you’ money waiting for him in his trust fund.

  81. Grey Flannels | September 30, 2011 at 9:20 pm |

    If he’s the real thing, he smells of Brooks Brothers and J. Press.

  82. When he grows up, he’ll smell of crisply-starched white broadcloth shirts.

  83. @ Smith Kendon

    Clearly you’ve never been to Pasadena.

  84. @ Bebe


    The Rose Parade. Is that supposed to qualify as something Ivy/Preppy/Trad?

    Southern California: So close to Mexico; so far from San Francisco.

  85. Pasadena remains a preppy oasis in SoCal.

  86. Clean laundry, class, and a dash of Phineas (A Separate Peace-J.Knowles). Style without regard to fashion.

    And it’s never as ostentatious as “having money”–it’s not caring about it.

  87. @Christian:

    Oases are found in the middle of deserts and are surrounded by Arabs.

    Just like Pasadena. In the middle of a cultural desert and certainly surrounded by Arabs.

  88. Richard from WASP 101, obviously.

  89. Polo by Ralph Lauren, the original fragrance of preps, of course in the british racing green bottle.

  90. @ Casper

    I’m not quite sure what you were attempting to say in the last sentence of your comment, but, aside from betraying a pathetic lack of knowledge about California history, your words were TTFW.

    @ Colonial

    Pasadena is more surrounded by Asians than Arabs, many of whom have the great taste to support the City’s cultural institutions. A very Trad gift.

  91. @Bebe

    Real Preppies do not smell of Political Correctness

  92. Nick Charles | October 2, 2011 at 9:01 pm |

    Leavitt & Peirce

  93. Lea Perrins | October 3, 2011 at 9:04 am |

    Results Monday?

  94. Tommy PR has donated the bottle. Waiting to see if they’d like to pick the winner.

  95. @ Wellington

    That’s precisely why there are no real preppies anymore.

  96. Must be a tough decision or they can’t find Tommy.

  97. Relax, Thurston, the prize is yours for this:

    “They smell like everyone else. With their noses. But Prep’s noses are a bit higher in the air. As they should be.”

    Well played, sir. Email me your mailing address and Tommy & Co. will dispatch a bottle post haste.

  98. Virgil Evans | August 28, 2019 at 1:04 am |

    Morgan plus 4 car, British racing green and a tweed jacket.

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