Back in the chilly days of March I amused myself by playing with style juxtapositions. The concept of “beatnik prep” was pretty simple. Start with a beard or goatee (check), take your corduroy or tweed cap and wear it backwards at an angle, so it resembles a beret. Then add natural-shouldered sportcoat and maybe even a turtleneck. And don’t forget the sunglasses.
It’s a harder look to pull off in warm weather, but earlier this summer I was bicycling through Manhattan over to Ralph Lauren’s Rhinelander flagship on the Upper East Side. As I was locking up I ran into Tyler Thoreson, my editor at RL Mag (in fact, I believe he’s a VP in charge of the entire RL website). The fellow Viking, who’s blond and towers over me by at least four inches, hadn’t recalled seeing me bearded. I was in seersucker shorts, navy polo, navy cotton cap backwards, striped ribbon belt, canvas sneakers, and shades. I said I was playing with a look called “beatnik prep.” He said it was working.
Later I told him I should write a piece about it for RL Mag. Of course it doesn’t actually exist as a real thing, though maybe now it does, having been published on the Internet. There are at least a couple of cultural touchstones, such as the scene from “Dead Poets Society” where the rebel prepster dons a beret and plays the saxophone:
And there’s me shopping for a navy turtleneck at J. Press York Street last winter:
I didn’t hear from my editor, naturally, so here we go with an Ivy Style post. Photo at top is from Greenwich Village in the mid ’50s. Flute-accompanied poetry recital with sweaters draped over shoulders.
Yeah, something like that. Dig? — CC