Preppy Forever? Choate On Prep

How do prep-school students view clothes in a post-preppy world? Here’s an example recently published in the school newspaper of Choate Rosemary Hall — the school that gave us the navy pinstripe/yellow socks/ribbon belt/bow tie look — sent to Ivy Style by Doria de La Chapelle, co-author of the recent preppy book.

Last Thursday marked the annual “Dress like Deerfield Day” at Choate. The layered pastels and out-of-season white pants reminded me of the “preppy” style boarding schools are well known for. Brightly colored polos, popped collars, blazers, cashmere sweaters, madras, and plaid ensembles dominated Choate dress, mocking the tradition of “preppy” dress that we somewhat ignorantly disregard has not disappeared from schools, including our own.

This look that we mock is not only present at Deerfield but rather has developed and morphed into a modern version of prep. There has been a growing presence of preppy style as the ’50s and ’60s Ivy League clothing comes back into popularity within America. Looking back on the classic Ivy League, preppy style of the ’50s and ’60s it was a time of obsession with detail as men worried about, according to “Preppy: Cultivating Ivy Style” by Jeffrey Banks and Doria De La Chapelle, “the roll of a collar, the width of a lapel, the vent of a jacket, and the vital question of whether a shift cuff should possess one button or two and a sport coat two buttons or three.” Men had a relaxed, nonchalant elegance that is now lacking in the age of sweatpants and t-shirts. The women of the same time, like Grace Kelly, Katherine Hepburn, and Jacqueline Kennedy, also oozed self-confidence and elegance.

While “preppy” usually referred to white, WASP-y, wealthy, American families, the evolving style has become inclusive, multi-racial, multi-ethnic, and multi-religious. Japanese fashion especially has taken great interest in the “preppy” style revitalizing old, preppy American brands such as Woolrich or Gant. While classic brands such as Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger have maintained their original styles, they have also modernized their brands. For example, Tommy Hilfiger created a new form of the old duck boot by adding five-inch heels to the boot bringing it the level of runway shoes. The brand’s Fall 2010 campaign portrayed a multi-ethnic, fictional, fun, and extremely preppy family displaying the new essence prep style brings to the world.

Brands incorporate elements of preppy style and elements of simple elegance into edgy, glamorous pieces. For instance, Balenciaga has designed double-breasted boyfriend blazers that have a hard edge with their sharp padded shoulders and overly emphasized details that effectively combine rocker glam with preppy chic. Rugby has also branded a style influenced by the prep trend. However, Rugby has veered away from the classics and towards a younger, hipper, more modern interpretation. Band of Outsiders has incorporated the Ivy-League, preppy, men’s style into an amazing, stylish, sophisticated brand for women.

The Ivy-League style that John F. Kennedy made global began to slowly disappear and was almost completely gone by 1968. As Ivy League schools began to accept a more diverse student body, the tweed jackets, khakis, and sports coats began to die out and much of the preppy style was replaced with the counter-culture, hippie movement of long hair, beads, bell-bottoms, loose clothing, and nonconformance that opposed the classic conservative roots of prep. However, the preppy style never completely disappeared and is at present springing up in new, unconventional ways that allow the classic, simple style to live on. — ELIZABETH MELLGARD

30 Comments on "Preppy Forever? Choate On Prep"

  1. Oof. Once upon a time, preps may have learned to write English with style and grace, as well. How ’bout bringing _that_ fashion back, kids?

  2. @kagi

    Keep in mind that this was written by a high school kid.
    A child, essentially.

  3. As I understand it, 1967-68 was the watershed: until 1967, undergrads dressed like adults; from 1968, they dressed like slobs. This applied across the board, and not just to Ivy League schools.

    Or so I hear. I was too young at the time to pay attention or notice.

    Thanks, Cultural Revolution! What will you destroy next?

  4. Jimmy crack corn | January 13, 2012 at 2:38 pm |


    Ah…if we could only go back to those days before civil rights, and women’s rights, and gay rights…..when only the Right was “right”.


  5. @Kagi I’m an English teacher, and while I see construction issues, I’m afraid I consider this very well written indeed given the age of the author. I think, perhaps, you are far too removed from a classroom to judge this objectively.

    I found this to be a very thorough piece despite its brevity. Good show, Ms. Mellgard. You have earned an A.

  6. It wouldn’t hurt if Ivy Style became more multiethnic. I’m a winter and it’s still difficult to find garments in the right tone and intensity of color. I have the best luck with nontraditional brands like Gitman Vintage and Band of Outsiders, but needless to say, the cuts are all wrong. There’s only so much navy and charcoal I can put up with!

  7. Henry & Kagi have it right: the price of grammar has dropped with the price of life. Years after high school I can still recognize a dangling preposition and an abundance of linking verbs along with many other ways in which we are dumbing down in an effort to raise failures up.

  8. Trust me, in the real world, Thomas, dangling prepositions are the least of our worries. I also do not quite see what the issue is with an abundance of linking verbs for a high school newspaper. Prep or not. If this was a major metro daily, perhaps you would have a point.

    If you, Kagi, and Henry believe those of us in the teaching profession have lost our way, I encourage you to put on the instructor’s cap and join us in the classroom.

  9. @Kionon

    Don’t worry about them. They’re just conservative nattering nabobs of negativity. Afraid of their own shadows.

  10. just passing by | January 14, 2012 at 7:21 am |

    For $47,000 a year, I think one should apply a higher standard regarding the quality of an education. Especially when that tuition is for a HIGH SCHOOL.

  11. @justpassingby @kagi Why don’t you fellas find a hobby other than picking on teenage schoolgirls you’ve never met? While you’re at it you can mull over how pathetic grown men pissing themselves about someone else’s grammar on the Internet is.

  12. Jimmy crack corn,

    You reveal your own biases too clearly. I said nothing of the issues you mention, but it appears that in your mind, pre-Cultural Revolution America was a land of hideous oppression of all who were not WASP men.

    I guess those millions of European immigrants who came in the late 19th-early 20th centuries were just dupes of propaganda–“Land of Opportunity” and all that. It’s not like the immigrants who already came could tell their friends and relatives back in the Old Country what was life was like in America. How could they, with no cell phones or Internet? Clearly things were much better back home, which is why most immigrants went back.

    My point being that no society is perfect, but that one can be better than another. In terms of crime, education, freedom from governmental interference, sartorial standards (the issue I was addressing), and other quality of life issues, our ancestors had it better off. This is not to say that their society was perfect, or that there was no room for improvement. (I will not address your issues because this is a fashion blog.)


    You have conflated me with the grammar critics. I’m not part of that group (today, anyway).

    Earl Duke,

    I see. If someone has an opinion differing from your own, it is not worthy of notice, much less refutation. Thanks for the tip! I’ll keep it in mind.

  13. Jimmy Crack Corn | January 15, 2012 at 6:48 pm |


    You lamented for the world BEFORE the “Cultural Revolution”. Just what exactly do you think that revolution was all about, OTHER than hairstyles and trousers?

    Am I “biased” for preferring the world AFTER the civil rights, women’s rights and gay rights movements? Yes, I am.
    And I expressed that preference. Shall i assume that you are “biased” towards the world BEFORE these movements? You stated as much. Judging by your ultra-conservative posts in the past, I hardly think that I am misjudging your character here.

    This quote from you clearly sums you up…

    “it appears that in your mind, pre-Cultural Revolution America was a land of hideous oppression of all who were not WASP men.”

    Do I think there was oppression of non-WASP males in America prior to the cultural revolution? Hell YES. On which planet do you currently reside? I guess “hideous” is your word to give you wiggle room in that statement. Why don’t you ask some of those civil rights marchers if they felt “oppressed” when they were hit with fire hoses and dogs. But I suppose that’s not “hideous” enough for you?
    How about lynching? Is that “hideous”?

    Really Henry, you DO live in that notorious rightwing reality-distortion bubble…Everything comes back to liberal-bashing with you.

  14. In Australia, the youth are embracing Ivy League with gusto. Surf wear shops sell hats and waistcoats, both of which are back in fashion. Button down collars have been common but now they are everywhere. Kids are even polishing their shoes. Perhaps, just perhaps, a golden era is up[on us. The kids are raiding my closets for my older clothes.

    Anyone out here have a tattersall style waistcoat which will fit 42/44 inch chest? Wool red strips on yellow or tweed preferred. There is absolutely nothing in Australia lest I have one made but the weather here is too for a wool/tweed one. I want it for overseas trips. 🙂

  15. Jimmy Crack Corn,

    You sound just like J. Ivy. If you are he, why do you keep changing your moniker? Does CC start deleting your posts so much that you have to hide behind a different alias, or what?

    You seem unable to see anything good about pre-Cultural Revolution America. The historical America–the land that created unprecedented freedom and prosperity for its citizens, freedom and prosperity for a greater percentage of the population than any other country has ever achieved–is, in the eyes of you and your fellow travelers, forever tainted because it was imperfect.

    This sort of emoting is naive and unrealistic. No society is, or ever can be, perfect. But I think that our current society is far more imperfect in many important ways than our past was: our current society has significantly higher crime rates, much more intrusive government, and significantly less freedom than our country once had. We now officially promotes ideologies that are in direct opposition to those our country was founded on. We are increasingly fragmented, with a significant number of people who despise their own country. So to answer your question: the Cultural Revolution was about destroying the historical America. It has been sadly effective.

    I’m not a “my country, right or wrong” kind of guy, but I do deem that our current problems are worse, and more damaging, than our past ones.

    Now, for “proof” of America’s evil, you bring up lynching. I am not defending lynching; I think it barbaric. Lynching is wrong. Society, and especially justice, must be based on the rule of law, not the rule of man. Even so, I think it worthwhile to know some facts.

    Lynching was, by and large, an expression of community outrage against heinous crimes. Again, I am not condoning or approving lynching, but it was not without reason. Also, in many areas, it was all too easy for the accused to make jail breaks (normally with outside help), and then the accused would be out of the reach of the law. Lynching was one way to ensure punishment. I suspect that the majority of those lynched were guilty, but I do not know that death was always the appropriate penalty, and I am certain that the torture and humiliation that sometimes accompanied lynching were always wrong.

    While I still do not approve of extra-judicial punishment, lynching did have one positive effect: criminals and potential criminals were deterred by the prospect of being lynched.

    Here are two fun facts to know and share: 1. Lynchings occurred nationwide, and outside the South, 83% of those lynched were white. 2. There were also numerous black lynch mobs who lynched blacks.

    Not quite as “racist” as you would like to believe.

    Data here:

  16. Oh no….

    Please continue this on another thread (or preferably another website) and leave this poor girl’s post alone.

  17. Jimmy Crack Corn | January 25, 2012 at 8:46 pm |


    Gotta love how Henry drops anti-liberal snipes into an otherwise innocuous post about a high-school girl’s article for her school paper. Classic rightwing ploy to use dog-whistle euphemisms (“cultural revolution” = liberal/left) and then play the victim when someone else points it out.

    Then he uses the desired response (damn, I fell into his troll-trap!) as an excuse to go on a(nother) race-based tirade wherein he vehemently denies being a racist while simultaneously actually finding reasons to justify death-by-mob-hanging without a trial because he “suspects” they were guilty of “heinous crimes” (like looking at a white woman).
    WOW. Not sure how exactly you would even KNOW their guilt or innocence 150 years later. Nevermind, I forgot that you have one of those conservative history-rewriting time machines.

    I won’t even bother to go into the complete absurdity of some of your allegations, justifications and wacko belief structures. You went off on another bizarre tangent which ironically shows more of your far-right beliefs.

    I prefer the U.S. AFTER civil rights, women’s rights, and gay rights, and you clearly prefer the one before.

    Methinks Lady Henry doth protest too much.

  18. I’m sorry, CC, but I hope you’ll let me defend myself against scurrilous attacks.

    JCC, apparently you missed this: “I am not defending lynching; I think it barbaric. Lynching is wrong.” Let me repeat that: LYNCHING IS BARBARIC AND WRONG. I’m not sure I can make that any plainer.

    Incidentally, how do the black lynch mobs that lynched blacks fit into your narrative?

    You’re the one who brought the topic up. Too bad the facts don’t fit with your ideology.

    CC. my apologies.

    Miss Mellgard, I enjoyed your article. Please keep working on your writing. This is a good start.

  19. Jimmy Crack Corn | January 25, 2012 at 11:19 pm |


    YOU brought up the supposedly horrible results of the “cultural revolution”. I mentioned that the cultural revolution, almost by definition, meant the cultural emancipation of blacks, women, gays etc etc.

    I said that I prefer the world AFTER the cultural revolution, and YOU stated that you clearly do NOT, and actually scoffed at the notion..

    This quote from you clearly sums you up…

    “it appears that in your mind, pre-Cultural Revolution America was a land of hideous oppression of all who were not WASP men.”

    I laughed in disbelief at your alternate reality wherein you believe oppression of blacks and others did not exist. (see quote).

    YOU took this as a cue to argue about irrelevant statistics concerning lynching, the races of lynching victims, and the even the supposed justified reasons for “some” to be mob-lynched without trial!!

    INCREDIBLE….but it’s all there to read, Sparky.

    I stand by every word I wrote.
    YOU seem to be in denial about your own words.

  20. For a student, she still writes better than Richard at WASP 101.

  21. Yep. Here we go again. Henry dear boy, forget Jimmy Crack Head.
    What do you expect? Do you realize for him to say you are
    right you are asking him to live with and accept HUMILIATION
    across every inch of his soul and pride. If he is wrong, then
    there is no hope. No hope for what he wishes life to be.
    Henry, to argue against Jimmy’s stance and all those who
    believe as he does,you HAVE to condemn equality and
    that means you have to say -YES- there is justification
    for oppression, to believe you ARE SUPERIOR in God’s
    evaluation of you as over and against your fellow man
    or else why bother at all? To believe yes,God does
    judge one man against the other as superior and
    inferior ,”brother vs brother, nation vs nation,
    race vs race,..etc…”
    Jimmy knows exactly what your trying to say.
    You are still not proud enough to stand by it.
    To “preach” what God stands for against a rebellious
    sinful humanity you have to disown and practically be
    a “traitor” to humanity to be honest about what you
    are stating. That’s the way it is like it or not.

    Now that should be it.There is no progress or hope
    in this never ending conservative vs liberal nonsense.
    Go your separate ways and just forget it and return
    to the regularly scheduled programming here at

  22. Jimmy Crack Corn | January 26, 2012 at 4:25 pm |

    @Jinx spat out…

    “….you HAVE to condemn equality and
    that means you have to say -YES- there is justification
    for oppression, to believe you ARE SUPERIOR in God’s
    evaluation of you as over and against your fellow man…”

    “…God does judge one man against the other as superior and

    WOW. What can you really say to all that except that you proved my point. Welcome to crazytown. Lunatic fringe unite!
    You KNOW you’re in trouble when Jinx agrees with you.

  23. Thank you, Jinx.

    Yes, some people are superior to others. It may be in athletic ability, or intellectual ability, or even in morals. Excellent point.

    I apologize to everyone else for imagining that a certain commenter here was capable of rational, intelligent debate. I will refrain from engaging in that fantasy again.

  24. Multiculturalism destroys genuine culture. Only white nations tolerate its destructive poison and all it’s twisted inorganic manifestations (feminism, homosexuality, socialism, artificial demographic change, etc.).

    You cannot, in fact, be an actual prep If you are not:

    * European American;
    * Christian;
    * Republican (or at least a conservative libertarian).

    Any other argument is hogwash in my opinion. The left wing media are bigots. They hate WASP’s and everything they stand for.

    When reading the article all I could think is how deeply their brainwashing and Marxist social conditioning is working.

  25. Hold on, Michael. You and your idiotic ilk are in for a bumpy ride over the next thirty or so years and I couldn’t be happier.

  26. Have you seen a US political map by county? US sovereign debt? Student loan debt? I would suggest people of every ilk are in for a ruff ride for more than thirty years, your living in the new norm and it will get only worse. Let it burn.

  27. Yes…I’m well aware of the myriad challenges we face.

    But I’m not scared.

    My life is not controlled by ahistorical white supremacist fiction.

  28. March on social justice warrior! I’m still waiting for the “new man” to emerge from China, Cuba or N. Korea. I gave up on the USSR and Germany.

  29. White supremacist? Nice “shaming language” (typical).

    I think it is you and your ilk that are in for a nasty surprise. Been keeping up with politics in Europe? Fascism is exploding all over Europe and I blame you and your “ilk” for its unfortunate rise.

    People have had enough of “diversity”. Nature always finds a way to correct itself. This effeminate plastic culture and politically correct atmosphere we find ourselves living in these days (all promoted by the pinko mass media) is despised by almost all European-Americans over 30. We don’t have to allow ourselves to be deluded culturally, we have a natural right to exist.

    I bet you don’t like facts:

    * Of the worlds population, only 7% are white people, and of that only 2.8% are white females of child bearing age. In a 1909 census white people were over 30% of the world population. We are the real minority facing total annihilation.

    * Homosexuals commit suicide at a rate of 41% higher than non-homosexuals. They are also more than 3,000 times more likely to contract HIV. It is an inorganic human function, promoted by mass media.

    * Black males aged 18-28 make up less than 5% of the U.S. population; they commit 69% of all violent crime. You are over 20 times more likely to contract HIV from a black lover than a non black lover. [FBI statistics]

    * Blacks rape around 28,000 white women a year; in contrast, white men rape, on average, 0 black women a year. [FBI]

    * Blacks commit about 96% of all “hate crimes”

    * With the artificial demographic change due to mass illegal immigration and their exploding birth rates, the U.S. will be majority non-white by the year 2035. We will be wiped out genetically by the end of the century. Already, from California all the way to Florida (the “southern states” on a U.S. map) whites are the minority (outnumbered by non whites).

    * The real “racists” are those in the media, the Left, the public school systems, the Federal government and their lobbyists –they hate white people and do everything they can to wipe us out. Sorry, I’m all out of white guilt.

    You’re striking me as an extreme self-loather (no one respects a Marxist jellyfish) who has been programmed with universalist propaganda. Like a parrot you repeat their lies. I bet you consider yourself a “citizen of the world”. If your not white I can rightly assume your the genuine racist.

    A more accurate word for “racism” would be tribalism. It’s a natural desire to want to preserve ones own culture.

    By the way, I’m Greek, not a WASP. I love genuine traditions and hate culture destroying communists. The talented young girl who wrote the above article has been mislead and lied to by those who don’t want her to have pride in her peoples accomplishments (who invented electricity, computers, medicine, digital technology, airplanes, rockets and spaceships, automobiles, high art and philosophy, printing press, etc., and also left their footprint on the moon) or to have a future in a safe country her ancestors build for her.

    This nation was just fine the way it was. Now we have no gold standard, a centralized bank, Marxist mass media (book publishing, magazines, radio, Hollywood movies, TV programming (including brainwashing commercials, etc), 27 trillion in debt (the actual figure), family-destroying feminist ideology being pushed in public schools and colleges, 55 million babies murdered by their own mothers via abortion since 1974 –the list goes on and on. And on.

    But I sure you think it’s just wonderful the way it’s headed.

    “When you are young, if you’re not a liberal, you have no heart; but when you grow up and experience the world for how it really is, if you are not a conservative you have no brain.” –some smart dead guy

    I’m out.

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