Slim-Fit Shirts Ain’t Trad?

Fri 27 Jan 2012 - Filed under: 1960s,1980s,Clothes — Christian
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To those who complain that slim-fit shirts are evidence of Brooks Brothers having lost its way, the brethren have offered them for at least 25 years, as this late ’80s catalog shows.

In general, WASPy preppy types have preferred a generous cut to their clothing, and the sack suit got its name for a reason. But “Take Ivy” shows that the Ivy League Look had plenty of streamlined cuts in keeping with the general fashion of the early ’60s.

So shirts that actually fit — especially slender guys — may be a tad less tradly but certainly aren’t heresy. — CC

Note: This post was composed by a slender guy with a diplomatic temperament wearing a full-cut oxford under a fitted pink sweater.

Deadstock Troy Guild Sea Island Buttondowns at O’Connell’s

Tue 20 Sep 2011 - Filed under: 1980s,Clothes — Christian
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We always consider it newsy when Ethan up at O’Connell’s digs up some deadstock items that have been buried for decades.

Earlier this summer, in an act of unselfishness, Ethan decided to start sharing his special hoard of Troy Guild shirts from the early ’80s. These aren’t your typical oxford-cloth buttondowns: The shirts are made from luxurious Sea Island cotton and are priced at $245 a pop.

Ethan tells us the following:

Troy Guild made these in Glens Falls, NY. This Sea Island cotton was superior to the stuff that was out there  through the ’90s. It wasn’t regulated, and most of it tended to originate from the Middle East. It was a shorter staple cotton, closer to a thin Egyptian cotton.

The good Sea Island cotton from the early ’80s came from the West Indies and was a much finer and longer staple strain of cotton. It hasn’t been made in Sea Island for around 80 years, give or take.

Anyway, these are really fantastic new old-stock shirts. I’ve known of these for a long time but haven’t dug into them much — except to stock my own closet.

There are about 100 shirts remaining, so grab them while you can. As with most things, they don’t make them like they used to. — CC


The Preppie Murder, 25 Years Later

Tue 30 Aug 2011 - Filed under: 1980s,Personae — Christian
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August 26th marked the 25th anniversary of the so-called “Preppie Murder.”

In 1986, Robert Chambers, a former student of Choate Rosemary Hall, left the Upper East Side bar Dorrian’s Red Hand with 18-year-old Jennifer Levin, whom he later strangled in Central Park behind the Metropolitan Museum.

The story became a tabloid sensation, was eventually made into a television movie, and earned Chambers the nickname The Preppie Killer.

Earlier this week NBC News remembered the crime, writing:

They were fleeting friends, Chambers and Levin, not a couple. Two prep school kids from New York’s affluent Upper East Side, who made their way to Central Park after meeting up at Dorian’s Red Hand, a bar popular with Manhattan’s young and privileged.

During the trial and the investigations that led up to it, Chambers was exposed as a thief who stole from many people, including a teacher at an elite private school that expelled him. It was also revealed that he had a serious drug habit since the age of 14.

After initially denying involvement in Levin’s death, Chambers later pleaded guilty to manslaughter and served 15 years. Several years after his release he was convicted of selling cocaine and is currently serving a 19-year sentence.

Dorrian’s, still known for its preppy crowd, has remained notoriously associated with the crime ever since. — CC


‘Sucker Punch

Mon 18 Jul 2011 - Filed under: 1980s,Clothes — Christian
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We’re halfway to Labor Day, so if you’ve been neglecting your seersucker jacket, now’s the time to start wearing it all the time — even while riding the bike you stole from the new dork in school.

After all, doesn’t this model from Rugby’s website remind you of someone?

Click “continue” to see his pop-culture predecessor. — CC (Continue)


Confessions of a Preppy Snob

Sun 20 Mar 2011 - Filed under: 1980s — Christian
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Slate Magazine recently posted a long-winded and at times insufferable meditation on snobbery by a prep who came of age in the ’80s.

The author’s resumé would certainly suggest the presence of snobbery:

Mark Oppenheimer writes about religion for the New York Times. He is the author of a memoir, Wisenheimer; is an editor of the New Haven Review; and on Feb. 13 debuts Paper Trails, his new public radio show about books, on WNPR.

In fact, he reminds me a bit of Tad Friend, another smart and educated writer full of snobberies and insecurities, also prone to the public confessional, whose book “Cheerful Money” I wrote about here.

After 5,000 words, Oppenheimer doesn’t reach much in the way of conclusions, save that snobbism may be a vice but he can’t help himself. Here’s a condensed version with highlights in pink and green.

The author’s sense of superiority, that would later become realized in his Northeastern establishment/media elite/PBS-NPR moral superiority resumé (bolstered even more by his religious nature, putting pretty much 99 percent of humanity beneath him), began at a precocious age:

By the time I graduated from New North, I was preening about more than my verbal ability. I had become, in my mind, an aristocrat, my superiority evident in my bloodlines, my parents’ education, my clothes, my pronunciation of words, my taste in reading, and even my haircut (I had a goofy bowl cut, which I deemed nobler than my classmates’ buzz cuts or proto-Kid ‘n Play creations). Even though I was happier than before, I was, like all 10- or 11-year-olds, still very much unbalanced, unsure of where to plant my feet in the world. So I looked all around, and steadied myself with fragile certainties that whatever I did, it made me better than those around me.

In the following passage, Oppenheimer contrasts himself with a bow-tied pal:

Snobbery is the most self-aggrandizing of dispositions, but it is not self-centered. Somebody who truly does not care what other people think—we might call her an eccentric—is not a snob, even if she bears traces of elitism. My friend George, for example, is famous for wearing bowties and blazers everywhere, even to casual brunches. He attended all the fanciest schools, was a fencer in college, and is a partner in a white-shoe Boston law firm. But he is so clearly more interested in self-expression than in what other people think of him that nobody would dare call him a snob. He’s not trying to prove anything by how he lives; he just cannot imagine living otherwise. A man who wears a bowtie to brunch on a Sunday morning is almost inviting derision, and it is a sign of his supreme self-confidence that he persists in doing so. The snob, by contrast, can never quite forget what other people think of him.



Extreme Gatoring: The Preppy Video Game, 1982

Wed 2 Feb 2011 - Filed under: 1980s — Christian
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Last year, during Preppy Week, we examined some of the spoofs created by opportunistic cash-ins thanks to the success of “The Official Preppy Handbook.”

But the preppy cash-grab went beyond mere words and drawings. To wit, a video game for the Atari console that allowed hoi polloi to sit in front of its TV sets and imagine a Lacoste-clad private school twit getting his comeuppance be being eaten alive by alligators.

Preppie, released in 1982 by Adventure International, is not only a Preppy Handbook cash-in, it’s a Frogger rip-off. It also gives a whole new meaning to the term “gatoring.” The description on the back of the game reads:

Teeing off on the course may be delightfully fashionable, but it can be pretty dangerous on this crazy green! Preppie is a graphics tour de force that dares your preppie to cross an alligator-filled river and recover his wayward golf ball. Dangers lurk everywhere — from speeding golf cards to monster frogs. Only a true Ivy Leaguer could face up to this kind of punishment!

The game extols various features “mummy would most certainly approve of,” and notes that it showcases 28 Atari colors “that will delight and thrill the most fashion-conscious gamester.

“So why go slumming with lesser simulations?” it concludes. “You’ll be the toast of the country club with Preppie.” (Continue)

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