Help A Prep With His Homework


Over the past few years, the Ivy Trendwatch has helped bring scholarly attention to the clothing and social customs of college men during the heyday of the Ivy League Look. “Take Ivy” shined an outsider’s lens on college life in the mid-’60s with a specific eye for what men were wearing. Then came the MFIT exhibit, and previous contributors Rebecca C. Tuite and Deirdre Clemente both have books coming out on postwar college life and style. Meanwhile, Richard Press is also cranking out his memoirs.

All this has helped bring us to the point today where a kid can say he wants to do an independent study course on the history of prep-school fashion and the teachers actually go for it.

Pictured above is George Cleveland, a student at The Hill School, a private institution founded in 1851 in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. He’s an Ivy Style reader who seeks to connect with guys who prepped in previous decades in order to gather their sartorial recollections for his research paper.

Here’s his project in his own words:

In the fall I will return to The Hill School for my senior year. Throughout the summer and next year I will complete an independent study on the history of culture and clothing at boarding schools in the United States.

My final project will consist of an in-depth analysis of culture and clothing at boarding school and its influence on society. Moreover, it will show the history of “preppy” clothing. I will attain this goal with the following endeavors:

The Boarding School Look Book  This book will depict the current and past styles expressed at boarding schools across the East Coast. It will contain pictures and snippets of writing. The snippets will articulate historical research, advice on attire, and interesting facts.

Research Paper  This paper will be roughly 20 pages. It will weigh heavily on the history and influence of clothing at prep school. However, it will also touch on aspects like seniority in school, coed vs. single-sex schools, and socioeconomic influence on status. Lastly, the document will include first person memories of boarding school.

Exhibit  An exhibit containing “preppy” clothing, sports equipment, short clips from boarding school films, and in-depth research will be on display in the coming year at The Center for the Arts at The Hill School. I will be accepting any items to be donated or on loan to the exhibit for the display, in case anyone is willing to provide relevant artifacts. (Similar to the Ivy-Style exhibit at The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.)

Please contact me at gcleveland [at] if you would like to be interviewed for the research paper, or if you have anything to donate to the exhibit.

Follow @takeprep on Instagram to stay connected with the project.

21 Comments on "Help A Prep With His Homework"

  1. Very cool project indeed. Best of luck to George, and looking forward to seeing the results of his effort.

  2. Sue Denim | June 17, 2013 at 1:37 pm |

    Kinda interesting, not entirely sure why a high schoolers homework is getting this much attention though…

  3. “an independent study on” -> “an independent study course on”

    “It will weigh heavily on” -> “Its primary focus will be on” or “It will focus on”

    Just my 2 cents.

  4. Saturdays | June 17, 2013 at 4:18 pm |

    @Sue Denim – I think of it as the highschooler is giving this project a certain amount of attention to make it aware to us, and he succeeded in doing so. He seems to have tickled Christian’s mind and subsequently our minds in the process.

  5. Or better yet, Christian is friends with his Dad and is getting George a broader audience for his project. If you can’t tighten up friends, who can you?

  6. Although the title of the piece is light hearted, I do not think anyone who reads the piece can come to the conclusion that is project is a quick weekend home work assignment.

    I will admit this is the first prep school IS project I have heard of but I am inclined to support and promote it based on the rigorous nature of undergraduate IS projects.

    This student going to have to incorporate everything he has learned over the past three years in a project that will take discipline, time management, critical thinking and proper research methods.

    I will admit that part of the IS process is networking and getting good sources. I recall one student not myself who got an interview with HOF pitcher Bob Feller for his IS on the Negro Leagues. It was a bit of a campus coup and I can tell you their were some envious folks.

    So hats of to this young hard charger for reaching out to us.

  7. Christian | June 17, 2013 at 6:42 pm |

    Jeez, a lot of over-analysis by presumably the public-school crowd.

    The kid is looking for preps to interview and came to me for help in connecting with them.

  8. What a capital idea for independent study! High time that “prep” was represented by a product of its progenitor and not some “preppy-fashioned” barnacle’s idea of an experience they know nothing about! Delighted to help him! Several counselors of mine at sleepaway camp went to The Hill, and it was one of the last co-educational holdouts among boys’ schools too, including my own. It’s also the alma mater of one of my favorite writers, Toby Wolff.

  9. I’m a recent Hill grad, and I can bespeak to the rigor of the honors independent study process at the school. It takes the place of one year-long course (@Henry- independent studies usually aren’t called courses, even in college), and there is a faculty adviser who keeps track of one’s progress, but otherwise, everything is up to the student.

    Also, in the end, the student has to present his/her results to a committee of faculty members and administrators and is thoroughly questioned about the details of the study. Then, the committee decides whether or not to allow the student to pass. It’s supposed to mimic the process of defending a doctoral dissertation.

    As C. Sharp highlighted, this is actually a sophisticated and formal approach to an intriguing topic, and the quality of his project will directly correlate with the help he receives from communities like the one that frequents this site. Hence the attention (@Sue Denim); let’s be a little more supportive of these kind of academic endeavors. Research produces most of the ideas and debates we humans have in our society.

    My two cents.

  10. H,

    Thanks for the info. Perhaps it’s a regional difference.

    Incidentally, I don’t think that “bespeak” is the word you want here.

  11. A.E.W. Mason | June 17, 2013 at 11:31 pm |


    I think it was a pun, taking into account the subject matter of this blog. But I could be wrong.

  12. Sue Denim | June 18, 2013 at 6:44 am |


    Christian – you get criticism, and then accuse people of not being able to afford a school like this…

  13. Mr. Mason,


  14. I have a sixth form blazer (size 38L) that I would gladly loan to the exhibit. Tragically, If you would like my class ring, you will have to dredge the Dell.

  15. By recent Hill grad I meant class of 1852… only joking

  16. WFBjunior | June 18, 2013 at 7:11 pm |


    I would be elated to hear that Preparatory Schools were still requiring “Orals”; a process I has to endure my Sr. year in college to great benefit. Unfortunately I fear many prep schools have distanced themselves from this pedagogical practice to the overall detriment of prep schooling in general. For as schools begin to deviate from a tradition, it no longer becomes necessary for other competing schools to “keep up” with the practice. I graduated from a Prep school in ’03 and although I was required to complete a 20 page Sr. Thesis, I was not required to stand and articulate a defense of the project. I would be interested to hear from other preppys on the subject and see if it is still as widespread as it once was.

  17. I’m looking forward to the exhibit with the sports equipment. I collect vintage tennis racquets and golf clubs.

  18. “Then came the MFIT exhibit…”

    Erm, nope. Then came The Ivy Look… which that kid has on his desk.

  19. I’d actually originally included that, then realized it has nothing to do with the history of campus attire.

  20. @Henry: I wanted to let you know how much value your comments added to the above discussion. Really first-rate insights.

    @Theodore Bouloukos: Hill is “Toby’s” alma mater only if you fudge the definition of alma mater to include attending as opposed to graduating.

  21. @Sartre
    Alma mater
    : the school, college, or university that someone attended
    I suggest researching a definition before correcting it.

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