By George He’s Got It: Is Bush 41 Our Preppiest Prez?


Another look back at our previous posts about President Bush.

* * *

On Wednesday George HW Bush celebrated his 89th birthday, and well-wishers were encouraged to honor the occasion by donning whimsical socks. Go-to-hell hosiery has become Bush’s trademark now that he’s at that age when dressing becomes something of a challenge.

Although JFK often gets credit for being America’s preppiest president, the honor really goes to Bush 41. A couple of months ago, created a gallery tribute to the preppy gear the president wore throughout his life  (thanks to Muffy Aldrich for the head’s up via Twitter). Here are some highlights:






Head over here to see the full 21-shot gallery. — c C m

This article originally posted in June, 2013.

29 Comments on "By George He’s Got It: Is Bush 41 Our Preppiest Prez?"

  1. those are some great photos. The Yale sweaters pic is a good one. good stuff.

  2. I don’t think that there is a close second.

  3. say it out loud with me : “george hw bush … style icon”

  4. One of the best

  5. CIA + President + Prep = Thousand Points of Light

    (Thousand Points of Light > New World Order)

  6. Little Bush is my neighbor and Big Bush is my cousins’ neighbor. Not exactly close to the family, but I know the younger generation and I’ve met the presidents on a few occasions. 41 is the man.

  7. Great work!

  8. Christian | June 14, 2013 at 8:23 pm |

    Aw, it was nothin’.

  9. He is the real deal! Yale, WWII Naval Aviator, Commander in Chief!

    Any President overheard telling Gulf War soldiers to “Kick some ass” prior to their mission is okay by me!!!

  10. Here, then, is than other example of American success. Individual, and the family dynasties that arise out of generational successes.

    A lot is made of the family roots in New England a couple of New England schools. But consider.

    The roots are relatively humble and extend throughout, including the Midwest–Missouri, Ohio, and Illinois.

    If memory serves, the Bush success story is far from haute patrician. It begins in part with a poor Illinois farm boy who started out as an office assistant in a dry goods wholesale shop somewhere in Missouri.

    On the other side, the work ethic that would lead to financial success and admission to Yale, the one (among the big Three that cared more about achievement and ambition than family heritage), can be traced all the at back to a schoolteacher (lacking in college education, I think) in Rochester.

    Along the way, there were clergy, railroad mechanics, and salesmen.

    Like another Yalie named Buckley whose roots were more Texan and Southern than New England, the mythology of Old Money is, well, precisely that: mythology. Some reality after the move Eastward led to vacation home purchases in Maine.

    No Welds, Saltonstalls, or Lodges to be found hanging from a limb of the family trees. Nothing wrong with that, but there you go. American success. Work hard, meet the right people, and you too can be Ivy. Or preppy. Or at least wear Topsiders with garish socks.

  11. And then have a son who takes such profound offense at the effete WASPyness he encounters in New England that he rejects the trajectory and sets up shop on a Texas ranch where he can mountain bike and cut down trees with a chainsaw.

    Ain’t America great?

  12. The lead image is so great. It makes me want to buy some striped athletic socks.

  13. I gotta go with the last shot…that explains the shots above it.

    A young man, books at his side. Ambitious and competitive ready to take life’s opportunities by the horns! That, he did indeed do!

  14. A.E.W. Mason | June 15, 2013 at 6:34 pm |

    One of his bosses once said of him: “He’s a Yalie; he’s a preppy; he’s a weenie.” Anybody who flies Avengers off of, and lands them on, carrier decks–and, oh yea, torpedo bombs enemy ships in between–ain’t no weenie.

    And didn’t he (or doesn’t he still) favor J. Press clothing…..

  15. Southwick and Norman Hilton at Arthur Adler in D.C. , no?

  16. NaturalShoulder | June 16, 2013 at 8:19 am |

    S.E. – I believe the J. Press allegiance comes from a story in which someone accused him of being a BB Republican and he opened the jacket of his suit to reveal a J. Press label. I do recall reading about him shopping at Arthur Adler. I am sure he likely patronized several retailers.

  17. Right. I recall a piece that referenced the Bush frugality. His buying habits, including off the rack suits (Adler) were compared/contrasted with Reagan’s. Apparently the latter went bespoke.

  18. There’s no close second? How far back do you think John F. Kennedy was in the preppy races? I’d call it neck-and-neck, and might give the nod to JFK.

  19. fred astaire | June 17, 2013 at 11:42 am |

    How can you forget FDR? The man was the living definition of preppy.

  20. fred astaire | June 17, 2013 at 11:43 am |

    @SE–preppy frugality (perhaps it is WASP frugality) is a hallmark of the culture–William F. Buckley bought suits off the rack at JC Penney.

  21. Boston Bean | June 17, 2013 at 12:42 pm |

    @fred astaire.

    FDR: Groton School + Harvard College.
    Can’t beat that.

  22. Yeah, but where’s the pic of him in madras?

  23. fred astaire | June 17, 2013 at 6:32 pm |

    Touche’ Christian!

  24. I always thought HW Bush would have looked so much better if he had gone full Engish Country. Tattersall shirts, heavy cords (or English Drill, for summer), tweeds, brushed lambswool v necks, Chelsea Boots, Barbour, etc.

    But then, I am convinced every man would look better go with this style for casual wear.

    Granted, more appropriate for Middleburg or Far Hils than the Maine Coast.

  25. Bracelet Boy | November 7, 2016 at 11:19 am |

    He would look more preppy with a good bracelet on his wrist.

  26. Shouldn’t that be a 21-shot salute?

  27. Vern Trotter | March 27, 2018 at 9:53 pm |

    Wish we could have seen the photo of GHWB accepting Babe Ruth’s papers from Babe at home plate for Yale. Both lefties are trying to shake hands and the Babe is holding a cigar in the right and the manuscript in the left.

    Bush played first base for Yale in the first two college World Series. He grew up a Red Sox fan but now, of course, his team is the Astros.

  28. JFK hands down.

  29. John W. Matney | September 10, 2021 at 7:16 am |

    I had the pleasure of meeting President Bush, #41, while he was campaigning in the 1980 Oregon primary. His Campaign managers had arranged for a “Run with George” day. So I went along with 40-50 others for a 3 mile run. I was running along side him and he asked me if I was a student. I said I was going to school on the GI Bill. He looked at me and asked “what branch?” When I said I had been in the Navy I got his full attention and we chatted until the end of the run. We shook hands and I wished him luck. I voted for him then, 1988 & 1992 and am proud of it. Good man.

Comments are closed.