From Shoe To Douche: The Fall Of The House Of Biff

popped

In 1960 Biff wore J. Press and played tennis. That same year he sired Biff Jr., who in 1986 wore Lacoste and Brooks and played squash. That same year Biff Jr. brought into this world Biff III, who would go on to wear Abercrombie & Fitch and Vineyard Vines and play lacrosse. Biff the elder was considered “shoe.” Biff Jr. was considered preppy. Mais Biff Le Troisieme est un douchebag.

There’s no denying that the defender of a certain strain of WASP values — namely, conservative casual clothing — is a species of fratty jock known as the “bro.”

According to this NPR blog post from yesterday, preppyness is one of the ingredients in brodom:

We’re thinking less ascot-and-yacht preppy and more Abercrombie and Fitch preppy. The bro uniform isn’t Brooks Brothers, but the sons of guys who wear Brooks Brothers. A bro’s sartorial inclinations are conservatively casual. But in the event that a bro does suit up, it’s all Barney from How I Met Your Mother: a nice suit that doesn’t look like he’s trying too hard.) A lot of people suggested that bros gleefully wield their social privilege.

You can see prep’s contribution to brodom in this Venn diagram:

gr-bro-venn-624

Biff III is now 27 and has outgrown his Abercrombie. When he gathers with his fellow bros, they look something like this:

cup1

Yesterday, while NPR was opining on brodom, I was out on assignment on Long Island. On my way home I stopped at a terrific golf course operated by the Town of Oyster Bay, where I joined a bro threesome.

They were avid but poor golfers, the kind who get progressively worse the closer they get to the hole. The 20-yard pitch shot is skulled and flies 50 yards into a bunker on the other side of the green, while the two-foot downhill breaking putt is not treated with the terror demanded of it and runs 14 feet past the hole.

The bros spent the round talking about other bros, who all seemed to be getting engaged, having a bachelor party, or having a kid. Locker-room banter, though spare, was nevertheless compulsive whenever words such as “long,” “shaft” or even “balls” were mentioned.

The bros were all clean-shaven with neat haircuts and wore cargo shorts with bright shirts and those little athletic socks worn with their golf shoes where it looks like you’re not wearing any socks at all. They were all very buffed and hit the ball a country mile, as Biff The Elder would say, the only problem being that, for all intents and purposes, the ball more or less landed in another country.

“I don’t understand why I keep hooking!” one of the bros yelled as another ball sailed onto the Jericho Turnpike and we hushed for a moment, listening for the sound of screeching tires.

Lack of self-awareness is a problem that plagues all poor golfers, but especially the bro golfer. — c C m

67 Comments on "From Shoe To Douche: The Fall Of The House Of Biff"

  1. Boston Bean | June 22, 2013 at 12:46 pm |

    I’m pleased to say that I recognized only one of the names in the Venn diagram. The others, I’ve never heard of.

  2. Not sure how you conflated Carolina Cup (the event in the photo you dragged up from somewhere), which is a great preppy event (horse racing in Camden, SC) filled with young preppy men and women from across the Carolinas every spring, with “bros wearing Abercrombie and cargo shorts.” I guarantee you the people in that picture (and the thousands surrounding them) wouldn’t be caught dead in cargo shorts or A&F.

    This blog does Northeast preppy but you haven’t really grasped the Southern version yet.

  3. Christian | June 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm |

    Can you help me find a replacement photo?

  4. CC, the picture is dead on. Those are most definitely “bros”.

    For more examples, take a look at the blog “College Trad”.

  5. Boston Bean, apparently you don’t read the newspaper, or watch the news.

  6. Mr. Wyllys | June 22, 2013 at 5:45 pm |

    Where I live, a bro is something different than a preppy frat guy, who we usually call a “frat star”…Can’t stand a bro, but when I get around the frat stars, I end up not being able to stand…

  7. Pledges get dropped for wearing cargo shorts

  8. The bro golfer: http://tdhimes.tumblr.com/post/23496273762

    Weirdos in pastels are not bros

  9. Boston Bean…you need to get out more.

  10. The polo fabric in the first photo appears to be interlock jersey rather than authentic pique mesh. Definitely not acceptable.

  11. Were those gents in the final photo unable to find any trousers with the waist at the proper height?

  12. Casting call for Hangover 4? Already playing in cities all across America!

  13. A.E.W. Mason | June 23, 2013 at 9:11 pm |

    Boston Bean,

    Well done. Those able to identify this lot need to stay in more…and read. And I don’t mean Sports Illustrated.

  14. AEW, Most of these guys are mentioned frequently in publications such as the NYT, WSJ, USA Today, WP… besides a few of the more low brow “pop culture” ones, there is a Heismen Winner, Olympic Gold Medalist, a few Oscar winners, SNL star, socialite… Sometimes ignorance is bliss, but sometimes… it’s just ignorance.

  15. Grey Flannels | June 24, 2013 at 12:17 am |

    @Boston Bean

    You are fortunate indeed. We have been bombarded by the media to such an extent that we are unaware that not knowing who these nobodies are is a rare privilege rather than a sign of “ignorance”.

  16. AWaspySoutherner | June 24, 2013 at 2:09 am |

    This was one of the poorest posts I have read on this site. What happened to you just talking about clothing and such? There is no need to bash others when you had a bad day (..maybe on the golf course). Also, I highly doubt that you were a member of a fraternity in your college days, and don’t really understand the concept. I’m not defending the “bro,” but am saying there is more research needed before you write.

  17. AWaspySoutherner | June 24, 2013 at 2:10 am |

    Also, fraternity gentlemen of the southern region of this country do not wear cargo shorts. I would revise and disconnect those two things in your article.

  18. A.E.W. Mason | June 24, 2013 at 2:20 am |

    @ Grey Flannels

    You make an important point that a lack of awareness of these celebrities is not “ignorance” of any matter of first, or perhaps even secondary, importance. The milieux, explained by Ethan, in which these several public figures operate is itself confirmation of the fact; i.e., we are talking about (i) sports; (ii) Hollywood; (iii) a juvenile network comedy show; and (iv) so-called “society-figures.”

  19. While I agree that this piece is a thinly conceived and far from rounded out, there is some truth in the fact that “bro/frat” culture has annoying embraced and bastardized what they believe to be “prep/trad” clothing. There’s been a shift from frayed, below the knee cargos, Gamecocks hats, and bottle opener flip flops to patch madras and VVines/RL/Southern Tide/etc.

    In my mind, it’s not a southern or northern thing – it’s a USA thing with slight regional variations (e.g. pleated chinos, Chubbies, bass fishing shirts as casual wear, Bieber haircuts, and seersucker in the south – VVines, knock off wayfarers, fleece, cheap/reimagined boat shoes, and “skinny” khakis in the north…)…

  20. Christian | June 24, 2013 at 8:41 am |

    @AWaspySoutherner

    Quote: “fraternity gentlemen of the southern region of this country do not wear cargo shorts. I would revise and disconnect those two things in your article.”

    There was no mention of the South in this post.

    The photo of the guys with X-Games sunglasses was found via a Google Search for “douchebag.”

  21. Douchey frat really ain’t that far removed from the snobby prep, or rather, Hollywood’s incarnation of him.

  22. Christian,

    You took several related but disparate groups and mashed them all together, Southern fraternity gentlemen like the ones you found in that Carolina Cup picture are pretty far removed from a bunch of guidos from LI playing golf in cargos. I grew up and went to school in New England but my fraternity had a lot of Southern transplants and they would not be caught dead golfing in cargos (nor would I for that matter.)

    Preppy or Ivy doesn’t really play into either of their ways of dressing.

    -Zach

  23. Christian | June 24, 2013 at 9:59 am |

    “You took several related but disparate groups and mashed them all together.”

    That’s what Venn diagrams were made for.

  24. Christian,

    Yes, but in the body of what you wrote you made it seem as if there was no difference between the “southern gentleman” embodied by Biff III and his “bros” and that group of guidos with whom you had the misfortune to meet.

    You do fraternity gentlemen an injustice to associate them with such folk.

    -Zach

  25. In the body of what I wrote there was no mention of Southern gentlemen nor fraternities.

    Amendment: OK, I did use the term “fratty jock.”

  26. @A.E.W, the point I made was that the people mentioned in the NPR article (remember the fact that it’s an NPR, not Entertainment Weekly), are more than just fray pop culture icons, one would know 80% of these people by reading the NTY, WSJ, WP, etc… You make it sound like these people have only been mentioned in low brow publications like, The National Enquirer. Again, to not know these people would suggest that you haven’t picked up a newspaper in the last 3 years. Secondly, knowing who they are, isn’t to be confused with being a fan.

  27. Fraternity association and preppy style are both means by which the aspirational seek to elevate their social standing, and both used to convey status. Admirers of both often proclaim values that, in practice, they don’t adhere to (e.g., respectively, frats purporting to have academic aims but encouraging widespread cheating; preppies extolling quality and timelessness wearing made-in-China Sperrys). Frat bros’ embrace of mid-thigh pastels and madras over cargo shorts and dank flip-flops, then, is only natural. (And lets just simplify the conversation by accepting that frat and bro are culturally coterminous. Evidence: the only word that feels right to colloquially describe a fraternity member is “frat bro”.)

  28. Seems to me that every generation has its “bro” element; the clothes are just different. The guys in the group pic with the frat flag behind them look like they’re wearing costumes.

  29. Just a reminder. As Christian described in the 2nd part of his post “….a terrific golf course operated by the Town of Oyster Bay”; that is a public golf course. I can assure you, being a public course on Long Island, the Cargos the bros were wearing were probably the least of offenses that may have gone on here. I would not doubt that one of these bros had too many clubs in their bag or perhaps some non-standard/regulation golf balls.

    Having played at a number of public courses on Long Island; you would be amazed at what people get away with wearing. I’ve played this course, not a bad choice; hate Harbor Links

  30. A. E. W. Mason | June 24, 2013 at 4:24 pm |

    Ethan,

    There is nowadays an enormous amount of low brow material in the publications you’ve cited; although in certain cases a more apt term might be “frivolous.” Two years ago I had reason to order a back issue of the Wall Street Journal from December 1978. I was stunned by the complete absence of nonsense in the paper. I had forgotten that it was once taken as given that adult businessmen had the attention span and discipline to read a paper that was serious—period. I think our disagreement comes down to this: “Not to know these people” does not necessarily mean that one hasn’t picked up a paper in three years. Rather, it may mean (and I suspect this is the case with Boston Bean) that one understands that nothing of real importance is lost by skipping an article on sports, or Hollywood, or SNL, etc. Of course there is nothing wrong with being a dedicated sports fan or a movie buff star-struck by Hollywood’s current crop of leading men. And watching SNL will not turn you permanently stupid. But something is wrong if those things, or things like them, form the extent of one’s cultural literacy.

  31. Christian | June 24, 2013 at 4:24 pm |

    I didn’t know cargo shorts would be such a hot-button issue. I used that for dramatic effect, as while I recall the little inviso-socks, I don’t actually remember what kind of shorts they were wearing. Perhaps cargos are passé now and bros no longer wear them.

  32. fred astaire | June 24, 2013 at 4:30 pm |

    I suspected when reading this post that the comments were going to be “whiney”. I wasn’t disappointed.

  33. Mr. Wyllys | June 24, 2013 at 7:31 pm |

    What annoys me about most fraternity members…At least at the local university where I come in contact with them…Is that they do not live up to the mottoes of their various Greek organizations…I have been to some of their parties, most of them are easy to get along with…But make no mistake, they are not gentlemen…I’m not any kind of milk sop, but I will say I hold myself proudly separate from their “Natty Ice” fueled antics…

    And I don’t understand why everyone is attacking Mr. Chesvold for shining a light on this topic…

  34. Mr. Wyllys | June 24, 2013 at 7:35 pm |

    Read “Chensvold” in place of “Chesvold”….My deepest apologies to Mr. Chensvold.

  35. @ A.E.W. Mason.
    As a teacher, your comments really made me chuckle…in a good way! You said what I have been saying for years. We (meaning society) place alot of value on things that are entertainment-related.

    @ Chensvold.
    The post was interesting from a generational stand-point. Despite change of clothing brands and sports preference, it seems attitudes remain the constant in the equation. I think that a lack of self-awareness can be partially attributed to social priviledge. All Biffs mentioned could very well be looked at as douches from each of their respective generations.

  36. Orgastic future | June 25, 2013 at 2:08 am |

    Screw you all lol. Fraternity members let’s stand up for ourselves!

  37. The worst thing about my preferred style, Ivy, is that some people think I’m a frat rat. Too bad that homophobic, alcoholic, racist male chauvinist pigs dress the same way that I do.

  38. Wyllys,

    If you’re opposed to using cheap libations to have fun while in college, I pity you. Lighten up. I both abided by my motto and imbibed regularly. Get off your high horse.

    Labrador,

    You clearly didn’t get a bid. And you sound about as tolerant as those same people you pilloried in your post.

    Neither of you know the first thing about what being in a fraternity means and would rather regurgitate the same hackneyed stereotypes that people have belabored under for decades.

    Christian,

    Yes cargoes are a hot-button issue. They are absolute anathema to fraternity gentlemen (and anyone else with even a modicum of good sense.) By equating fraternity men at the Carolina Cup– who by the way look like that’s the first time they’ve ever tied a tie– with cargo-clad guidos from LI you pushed that hot button and you pushed it good.

    -Zach

  39. Methinks Zach doth protest too much. His overuse of the phrase “fraternity gentlemen” reminds me of one of the cardinal rules of persuasive writing: the more you have to tell me how clear something is, the less clear it is on its own. My experience has been that many fraternity “try-hards” are, if you scratch just beneath the surface, fairly insecure people. Not all. But a lot.

  40. P.S.: “Belabored under” reminds me of “irregardless”.

  41. fred astaire | June 25, 2013 at 2:23 pm |

    I’ll see your “irregardless” and raise you a “very unique”.

  42. Swev,

    You’ve painted me into a corner where I cannot protest anymore without it being further proof that I doth protest too much. In my defense let me just point out that it has become something of a trope to cast “frat rats” as “homophobic, alcoholic, racist male chauvinist pigs” and one can only see that so many times until lashing out.

    Also, point taken on “belabored under”

    -Zach

  43. Mr. Wyllys | June 25, 2013 at 5:34 pm |

    @Zach…Canadian Club and Dewar’s are both inexpensive libations, and among my favorites…I will drink Bass and even Miller High Life…Lite Beer was designed for women…

  44. Mr. Wyllys | June 25, 2013 at 6:13 pm |

    And I will go further to say…If everyone keeps saying that people like myself don’t know what being in a “frat” is all about, how about someone actually tell us what it is all about…

  45. Orgastic Future | June 26, 2013 at 12:14 am |

    @Mr. Wyllys…..If you don’t know what “being in a frat is all about,” then it’s not for you to know what being in a frat is all about. Good day….I say Good Day sir!

  46. Egalitarian Republican | June 26, 2013 at 1:23 am |

    And then there are those Jewish and Black fraternities that are just as vulgar as the WASP ones.

  47. @Zach

    I would have considered a bid to be an insult.

    Those”hackneyed stereotypes” are the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Fraternities should be outlawed.

  48. @Labrador

    You are a pathetic little man, aren’t you? It would be interesting to know where you studied and what you do now. Probably nothing to boast about… certainly not an Ivy League institution nor anything remotely worth noting. You write your featherbrained opinion on the internet because that’s what the angry do, nowadays.

  49. Orgastic future | June 26, 2013 at 7:36 am |

    Oh Egalitarian Republican, please go on about those “vulgar Jewish and black fraternities.” What would an ivy forum be without some racist egotist showing his true colors every now and again.

  50. Egalitarian Republican | June 26, 2013 at 11:51 am |

    @Orgastic future:

    I was hardly being racist. I was simply pointing out the Jews and Blacks can be just as vulgar as WASPs. It was the WASP fratrats who started the vulgarity known as fraternities.

  51. @TK

    I’m a Yale graduate and teach History at an Ivy League college.

  52. And I’m the shah of oman…

    Do you realize this is a blog about dressing like the wasp douchebags of every generation?

    Great, now leave us fratstars alone so we can shit on our soon to come kids terrible taste.

  53. Orgastic Future | June 26, 2013 at 3:10 pm |

    @Egalitarian Republican, yes you are being racist because there was absolutely NO reason to pull “Jews and Blacks” out of this thread’s thin air. The question you must face in the mirror, is why would that non sequitur be your first contribution to this topic? And why not point out every other fraternal organization’s vulgarity? There are plenty of other “minority/special group” greek lettered organizations on campuses…why skip them and go straight to the battle cry of racists everywhere…”Jews and blacks.”

  54. I’ll see your “belaboured under”, “irregardless’, & “very unique’ & raise you a “consecutive in a row without a miss”!

  55. Egalitarian Republican | June 27, 2013 at 1:58 am |

    @Orgastic Future

    My point was that the vulgarity of frat rats has NOTHING to do with race. Jews and Blacks can be just as vulgar as WASPS. How is that being racist, pray tell?

  56. Plymouth Rock | June 27, 2013 at 2:14 am |

    If I understand Egalitarian Republican correctly: Considering the fact that there was so much discrimination against Jews and Blacks, one would expect that members of Jewish and Black fraternities would have more class than WASP fratrats, but, in fact, they are just as vulgar.

  57. Jack Armstrong | June 27, 2013 at 8:08 am |

    @Orgastic Future: I see you didn’t call Egalitarian Rep. a right wing extremist or Nazi but decided to “skip them and go straight to the battle cry of (leftists) everywhere”… “raaaaaa….aaaa…cist”

  58. My son just activated at a fraternity at Indiana University, so he is at his maximum “bro” level. He rides me for wearing cargo shorts around the house and comments that during rush, if anyone shows up in cargo shorts, they have to carry a brick in each cargo pocket for the duration of the party.

  59. fred astaire | June 27, 2013 at 11:22 am |

    Unless you are some sort of pack mule carrying cargo, why would you wear cargo shorts?

  60. Orgastic Future | June 27, 2013 at 1:32 pm |

    @Jack Armstrong. It’s funny just how sad the gang mentality of the political parties have become. I dissented against Eligalitarian Rep. because HE/SHE brought up the RACE issue of frats out of NOWHERE. And yet, because you are a full blooded gang member of I would assume the Republican party, or some Conservative faction (because you immediately assumed I was a “lefty”), you decided to label me as a “leftist.” You could not be any more incorrect about me hahaha. If it helps you sleep at night, my poilitical views are labeled as United States of America.

  61. Jack Armstrong | June 27, 2013 at 2:46 pm |

    “…my poilitical (sic) views are labeled as United States of America.” WTF does that even mean? USA is a country not a “poilitical ” view.

  62. Orgastic Future | June 27, 2013 at 5:59 pm |

    @Jack Armstrong, you just answered your own question…. My political views are for the ENTIRE country to thrive….not just one particular class, race, culture etc.

  63. Jack Armstrong | June 27, 2013 at 9:28 pm |

    I’m all for that Orgastic Future.

  64. I think there’s some danger in equating attitude and clothing. Muffy Aldrich makes a point fairly often that true preppies have style while impostors have costumes. Some people dress well and cleanly because its part of who they are, it reflects their values or upbringing, and so forth. Others dress ostentatiously to impress or, worse, condescend to others.

    I see nothing inherently dickish about the Carolina Cup clothes, or Vineyard Vines or Southern Tides. The clothes are fine, but much rests on the attitude of the wearer. Idiot frat bros (not all fraternity brothers, mind; I’ve known some great ones) are idiots no matter their clothes; and a prep can be a prep even if he deigns to wear a VV polo.

    Point being: don’t attack the frat bro’s clothes, even if they’re cargo shorts. (Why be catty about it, anyway? We aren’t attacking rednecks who sometimes wear oxford shirts tucked into Wranglers.) Attack the frat bro’s douchebaggery, or other ignorant, obnoxious, offensive behavior. It’s not about the clothes, it’s about the wearer.

  65. Comment by Egalitarian Republican — June 27, 2013 @ 1:58 am
    @Orgastic Future

    My point was that the vulgarity of frat rats has NOTHING to do with race. Jews and Blacks can be just as vulgar as WASPS. How is that being racist, pray tell?
    ——————–
    It is “racist” because it is an unflattering characterization. Didn’t you get the memo? In America 2.0, which is America now that the Constitution, the rule of law, and self-governance are dead, it is Not Allowed to say anything unflattering about designated minorities, especially if such statements are true. Sometimes called “hate facts,” such statements automatically earn the tag “racist.”

    Don’t for a moment think I’m on board with this; I’m just describing the situation.

    (By the way, if you really want to throw a brick into the hornets’ nest, say something unflattering about homosexuals now that same-sex pseudo-marriage has been ruled “constitutional,” or about Hispanics/Mexicans once amnesty—er, I mean, “immigration reform”—is passed.)

  66. SartoriallyCavalier | July 3, 2013 at 11:41 pm |

    That last picture looks like it was taken at the spring Foxfield Races, which is perhaps the most Bro day of the year.

  67. Christopher | July 31, 2013 at 9:22 pm |

    Abercrombie and Fitch, American Eagle and such are not bro at all. This is coming from an 18 year old fraternity gentleman. I think y’all have it spot on when it comes to the northeast, ivy prep which I am as admittedly acquiring an appreciation for. I have always enjoyed J Press, Brooks Brothers and such. I think they are timeless classics that will never go out of styl and that is what traditional, conservative style was built on. I think y’all are off target with the southern prep. Abercrombie and Fitch and American Eagle are definitely not synonymous with Vineyard Vines. They are those douche brand names that high schoolers think is preppy. I was that douche myself. I acquired a taste for the more casual conservative southern prep versus the northeastern, ivy prep. More like a combination of both. I would pair plain white Oxford with a blue blazer and red pants and throw on some cole haans with loafer socks. Vineyard Vines is a relatively new brand but they are by no means douchey. Check them out yourself. They’re oxfords are made with quality materials. They do have oxfords without the whale logo which is obviously more preferred by the traditional prep. They have some of the staples mixed with a little color. Ties, polos, oxfords are definitely quality. They could class it up a bit but they’re appeal is to the modern day prep who was born to a father wearing the same colored BB and J Press outfits everyday who want to have some fun and add a splash of color. Of course, I think the colorful items should only be an addition after the classic, traditional staples are acquired first such as oxfords, blazer, tweed sports coat, wool or flannel trousers, loafers. Other brands that represent this laid back upscale casual crowd would be Southern Marsh, Southern Tide, and increasingly more BB. But please do not use A and F synonymously with Vineyard Vines. Check those brands I mentioned out and maybe deviate from your traditional norm. I have experience with these brands so if you have any questions about what they make that is and isn’t quality, ask me.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

*