Rhymes With Nantucket? GQ’s Preppy Spring Photo Shoot


What rhymes with Nantucket?

Photobucket, of course.

The March issue of GQ gets us ready for spring with a photo shoot shot on Nantucket entitled “The New New England Thing.” The photo above is the choicest, and here are highlights from the copy:

We’ve seen a lot of crazy, tweaked-out preppy style over the past few years. But now the all-American look is going back to where it all began: subtler colors, sensible combinations, and go-to patterns like madras plaid.


You may have noticed that a lot of zealously stylin’ men out there have fetishized the Waspy look so hard that they’ve transformed it in to a character, even a caricature. It’s like, did you have to wear the raspberry pants, the polka-dot bow tie, and the skull slippers? If that sounds like you, it’s time to dial it back. That doesn’t mean forsaking tried-and-true New England garb… but it does mean wearing madras with something that’ll quiet it down. The goal here is to nod to New England, not look like a total WASP wannabe.

Sounds like GQ is declaring the end of GTH-obsessed neo-prep, which we mused on back in November with contributing writer Daniel Greenwood’s piece”The Uncertain Future of Neo-Prep.”

As for preppy’s past, yesterday A Suitable Wardrobe ran a lengthy essay on prep under the pity title “On Prep.” Check it out here. — CC

45 Comments on "Rhymes With Nantucket? GQ’s Preppy Spring Photo Shoot"

  1. White jeans, bit loafers, a madras blazer, and a mint sweater isn’t fetishized Waspyness? Okay, sure. Here’s a proposal: no wearing of Madras plaid blazers or suits allowed unless you’re at a casual summer wedding, dinner party, or other such celebration, a large, salty body of water is within sight, and the venue is a private club. Period, full stop.

    This outfit could have been acceptable if you ditched the sweater, kept the navy polo and blazer, the white jeans were khakis, and the shoes were battered and bit-less. Then you could at least play at drunk-Bill-Murray-in-a-Wes-Anderson-movie.

  2. I’m glad they’ve changed their mind regarding what they previously advocated. If GQ was to run for office, their voting record would be called into question.

    Overall, the items in the shoot look nice enough, I would enjoy seeing more of this sensibility in their magazine.

  3. Baby steps.

    (I would love to know where they got that jacket).

  4. Shouldn’t he be wearing a helmet? Otherwise it all sounds like a sound plan. Go for it (in a more restrained way) you fellows!

  5. Orgastic Future | March 5, 2014 at 4:34 pm |

    How can one exactly “dial back” their G-T-Hness? That’s the entire point…. to tell all the ocbd/ khaki/loafer pushers exactly when and where to go…at least that was the point…

  6. Dan, I’d guess the jacket is Polo–looks like this one: http://www.ralphlauren.com/product/index.jsp?productId=32223396&cp=1760781.4218860&ab=ln_men_cs1_sportcoats&pg=2&parentPage=family

    They do madras jackets every spring/summer.

  7. Christian | March 5, 2014 at 5:07 pm |

    Entire outfit is RL (save for loafers, which are Gucci). Sportcoat is $1,295, evidently due to inflation:


  8. “All-American look going back to where it all began.”.

    Where else can it go after being exploited beyond recognition?

    So, here is to those of you who don’t have to “go back” to where it all began. You were smart enough to never leave….

  9. The $1,200 price tag is ’cause it’s tailored in Italy by Corneliani. Though I’m a bit interested in the fact that Polo now has $595 jackets that are also made in Italy. Perhaps by whomever was manufacturing Rugby when it existed? Unsurprisingly, there’s always plenty of $1,200 madras jackets left at the end of the season to be discounted to less than $500, for those who are interested. Polo’s tailored clothes are certainly well-made.

  10. Thanks Dwdry and Christian. I figured it was RL, but then promptly forgot to check.

    Caruso, I believe, was the “Made in Italy” producer for Rugby. I’m sure they also do Polo’s items too.

  11. The ASW piece is a good read.

    I’d be interested in knowing now many Ivy Style readers identify more with 70s-90s Preppy than 50s-60s Ivy League.

  12. Christian | March 5, 2014 at 9:39 pm |

    That’s a very interesting notion, SE. But what do you mean — style wise?

    You will have to describe examples of what you mean and what the differences would be.

    I’m happy to create a poll but need to know specifically what we’re asking. Why not write it up yourself? You’ve been a longtime commenter. Email me if interested.

  13. I’m not sure.

    I guess the differences entail mostly measurements (width of tie, lapels, pants, etc.) and hairstyles. As usual.

  14. 50s/60s J. Press ties were 3 to 3 1/2 inch width, plain front trousers were 20″ knee, 17″ bottom. Jackets sported narrow notch lapel jackets. Vast majority had three button roll to the center button and steep center hook vent. 1970s onward, jacket lapels grew 1/2 inch wider, trousers 1/4 inch narrower at knee and bottom. Ties averaged 3 1/2 inch width.

  15. Okay, having given it a bit of thought–

    If someone wears a piece of clothing that offers a not-so-subtle nod to the 50s or 60s, it’s pretty much inevitable he or she will be judged (in my world, harshly) as someone trying a tad too hard to do the “retro thing.” An example is Converse Chuck Taylors (especially when they’re that new, off-the-shelf bright white). They look either weird or silly or all urban-hipster when worn by a grown man. At the very least it seems as though a very (overly) conscious effort is being made.

    Now, consider a shoe that screams “1985!!” The gray New Balance running shoe. The early version. No frills. Still a hearkening back, but a fellow can get away with them. Easily.

    Consider certain horn rimmed frames. The darker Tart Arnels especially. I know, I know. They’re now all the rage among the Belle & Sebastian crowd in Brooklyn. So be it. And that’s the point. There’s an urban-hipster-saluting-the-hipsters-of-yore thing going on there. It’s just so, well, obvious.

    But if I put on a pair of roundish p3’s in a shade of Demi Blonde, no one’s going going to make a big deal out of it. One can dress as thought one is pretending to be an extra in a remake of St. Elmo’s Fire and, for the most part, get away with it.

    I am partial. Biased. Maybe it was the influence or the hippies, but there’s a scrubbed wholesomeness to 80s Preppy. HTJ got it.

    A moderate, conservative version of the 80s take on Preppy is still with us. Still somewhat mainstream. (John Bolton, George Will, Lincoln Chafee, and David Souter are proof). 60s Ivy, however, comes across inevitably as costume. Especially the too-short, overly tapered pants and ridiculously cropped sport jackets. And honestly, who can get away with 2.5″ blade ties? Okay, other than skinny hipsters.

    Weejuns have survived the test of time, though. And madras.

  16. That’s interesting, Squeeze–that, during the 50s and 60s, J. Press ties were three to three and half inches. I hear Heyday Brooks refused to make ties less than 3″ at the blade.

    What this might possibly mean is that a lot of the campus shops throughout the country were selling an exaggerated take on Ivy–the super narrow ties and lapels and so on. An exaggeration in which the birthmothers of the look never indulged. Until Black Fleece, that is.

  17. Minimalist Trad | March 5, 2014 at 11:41 pm |

    Wearing a sweater (of any color) over a polo shirt?
    Bit loafers?
    White jeans?
    Going out unshaven?
    Definitely preppy rather than ivy.
    At least the polo is navy.

  18. NaturalShoulder | March 5, 2014 at 11:57 pm |

    @S.E. – I am one who identifies more with the 70s-90s prep than 50-60s ivy, which may have to do with my age (early 40s) and what I wore when younger.

  19. I concur with Minimalist. Style is functional whereas a neo-movement can be overdone. To be fair though, advertisements often squeeze many products into one photo.

  20. Those of us growing up during the 50s and 60s costumed ourselves this way because it was the fashion. Many of us stuck with the look even as most of our contemporaries hippy-ed up. Truth is that we purchased what was available over the decades with a discriminating eye. While not embracing the “preppy” 80s revival, I didn’t mind so much because many items became available again, you could pick and choose, you didn’t have to get caught up in the “full prep”.

    Now, with all these short jackets I find myself in a wasteland. At least in the 70s RL was a reliable source, now not so much. Thank God for O’Connell’s.

  21. Joe Tradly | March 6, 2014 at 2:58 pm |

    @Minimalist Trad: there’s a giant pony under there.


  22. 70s-90s is a pretty big time span particularly when it comes to dimensions, at least.

    By the late 80s into the 90s, you’re talking massively inflated, billowy trousers and jackets and the ascendency of pleats. (This is the Brooks Brothers that we came to know prior to the late-developing reimagining of the 1960s dimensions in an attempt to lure young customers. Big-ass trousers with big-ass pleats and jacket hanging 3/4 of the way to the knee.)

    70s and into the mid-80s, meanwhile, retained the slimmer profile of the 60s with a somewhat higher rise pant and a somewhat wider lapel and tie.

  23. Oh, and: Ivy is a costume, strictly defined as it is by a particular portion of the wardrobe of a particular type of person at a particular time in a particular place. Preppy is an umbrella term for a broad aesthetic that has evolved over the decades. This photo is obviously an attempt at preppy, and is labeled as such, so I’m not sure what the debate’s about. Rejigger the colors and the proportions of the jeans, and this could have been published in Take Ivy (though would still be preppy, not Ivy).

  24. Anonymous | March 6, 2014 at 4:54 pm |

    So GQ is saying that we should not be unabashedly prep(py)? Uh oh, there goes somebody’s business plan.

  25. Christian | March 6, 2014 at 5:42 pm |

    Sorry, “dwdry,” but must ask. When you write “Preppy is an umbrella term for a broad aesthetic that has evolved over the decades,” why did you choose the word “aesthetic”? It was obviously a deliberate choice when another word or phrase could have been used.

  26. A.E.W. Mason | March 6, 2014 at 7:13 pm |

    This young man looks grungy to me. So, prep? Well, okay: Grunge-prep. There is also something amiss on the shoulders of that jacket. The shoulder construction looks stuffed, for lack of a better term.

    And there is this: “It’s like, did you have to wear the raspberry pants . . . .” “It’s like”? I mean to say, “It’s like”?!? Is Valley Girl grammar now acceptable usage? I’m just asking.

  27. @ S.E.

    My memories, reinforced by old photos, don’t exactly match yours. But that’s to be expected, I think, because there was probably more of a range of styles at work at the time than our retrospective views take into account.

    I see your point about how hipsters today might be more likely to wear narrow lapels and narrow ties, etc., but it wasn’t hipster then. I mean, the president was wearing it.

    Chuck Taylors were pretty much for basketball and gym class. Otherwise, back in the ’60s, it was more likely to have been a boat shoe like the old canvas Sperry Topsiders. I grew up near the water, lots of sail boats around, and that’s what I remember people wearing. In fact, I recall buying a pair of them as late as the ’80s at the Freeport store of L.L. Bean. By then I was living in Maine.

    In a photo taken in May 1962, I am wearing a madras jacket, grey tropical wool pants, a white shirt, black knit tie, and brown weejuns. The jacket lapels and tie are relatively thin, but I definitely was not a hipster. I was barely a teenager. The hipster teenagers looked like Elvis, or the characters in West Side Story.

    I still have a Brooks Brothers tie from 1967. I bought it for my brother for Christmas. He didn’t like it and said I could keep it. I was happy to. A foulard with a dark brown background and pattern of diamond with light blue border and buff interior. 3.25″ at its widest point, but here’s the thing. If I place it on top of a new tie from Drake’s the bottom overlaps exactly, but the BB tie quickly gets much thinner. Where the Drake’s is at 3″, the BB is 2″; and where the Drake’s reaches 2″, the BB is 1.5″. So the BB makes a smaller and narrow knot regardless of it widest width.

  28. Burchfield Fowler | March 6, 2014 at 10:04 pm |

    I first became acquainted with Ivy League style fifty years ago, when I was 21.
    I can assure you that there were those of us then who would no more wear a madras jacket than Nantucket reds or embroidered belts. Back then, as now, we chose the conservative components of Ivy. I have become more eclectic, now preferring big-ass, pleated, uncuffed trousers, but never straying from grey flannel.

  29. I am no longer persuaded that Ivy is Ivy is Ivy. So much variation.

    If what Squeeze says is true (and I trust it is), the Heyday J. Press was indulging in none of the über narrow, overly tapered nonsense being pitched nowadays by Thom Browne and the Odavia brothers, among others. Which means, to borrow from earlier commentary, what they’re up to isn’t resurrection or even resuscitation. At least not of the cut Brooks and Press peddled in the 50s and 60s. Designers exaggerate to establish a particular look, to develop a brand. So be it.

  30. Well, yes, S.E., neither Brooks nor J Press went ultra-narrow, but ultra-narrow was out there, and appears to have been worn by at least some of the exemplars of Ivy League style.

    I assume, of course, that it was possible to be Ivy without all of your clothes coming from either, or both, of those two retailers.

  31. Thanks to C. Sharp for the link to ivyleaguelook. I found there an advertisement from 1967 for the white canvas Sperry boat shoes I mentioned earlier: http://theivyleaguelook.blogspot.com/2013/04/leisure-hour-comfort-1967.html

  32. I think that for the most 80s “preppy” was the heir of “go to hell style” of 50s-60s.

  33. Looks like the class of ’68 sported repps between, I’ll venture, 2 3/4″ and 3″.


  34. What’s a Sewanee?

  35. Pale Male | March 8, 2014 at 3:13 pm |

    He’s preppy, not prissy. And certainly not “grungy.” Will shave before that magical time when the gin starts flowing freely.

    Why in the world wouldn’t one wear a sweater over a polo shirt?

    Interesting information on lapels & other details. One friend — son of a professor at the law school — had the latest tweeds from Press. Another wore vintage from the best thrift shops in Fairfield Co. I thought the vintage looked better — softer, a bit shorter, slimmer lapels…

  36. Pale Male | March 8, 2014 at 3:19 pm |

    I’d always choose GTH, or even Chipp KMA over Hellfire-and-Damnation Puri-Trad.

  37. @ dwdry

    Sewanee is University of the South in the town of the same name in Tennessee. Or the old and excellent “Sewanee Review.” Which I knew w/o following the link because I had a teacher who went there. Probably from a Cherokee word, it’s a river, too.

  38. There once were some clothes on Nantucket,
    that came up on ol’ Photobucket.
    They featured a man,
    without even a tan,
    whose advice on shirts was “untuck it.”

  39. J.I. Rodale | March 8, 2014 at 11:13 pm |

    @Minimalist Trad

    Ome might also add the fact that he neither washed nor combed his hair and the fact that the lapels of his jacket aren’t ironed.

    @ Pale Male

    One does not wear a sweater over a polo shirt for the same reason that one does not wear an overcoat over shorts.

  40. @ Henry — very nice, “untuck it” especially.

    @ J.I. Rodale — can’t agree. To me a sweater over a polo shirt is just casual, not incongruous.

    If an example is needed, you don’t have to look far to find a photo of JFK wearing that combination for leisure activities: http://john-f-kennedy-and-his-family.tumblr.com/post/78610719521/jfkpt109-john-f-kennedy-on-a-boat-this-is. Here’s another: http://john-f-kennedy-and-his-family.tumblr.com/post/47261109711/jfk-in-palm-beach

  41. I find the ASW piece downright offensive. Too many dumb postmodernist opinions about prep coming from people who weren’t within a thousand miles of it.

  42. I’ve never understood the sweater-under-madras-blazer look. The whole point of a madras blazer is that it keeps you cool(er) than a normal one, right? So why pair it with a sweater?

  43. Personally, I feel that gth is a HUGE part of the preppy look. Gth just isn’t heavy in the trad/ivy look.

    The rule of gth is one item at a time. Madras pants go with a white shirt. Simple stuff. That’s how it’s easy to find a, “try hard” or a “fratty person.” They don’t know this rule.

    Neon colors, several gth items at once, Vineyard Vines; these things seperate a Prep from a “frat”. Gth in moderation and Ralph Lauren seperates a Trad/Ivy from a prep. The Ivy/trad look focuses on tie widths, and other things preppies just don’t care about.

    It’s always been known that what makes a preppy person, “preppy” is that they don’t care. The word, “effortless” comes to mind.

  44. Steve, I think that a sweater under a lightweight jacket is good for unexpectedly cool days, or for when it gets chilly in the evening. After all, a madras jacket is casual, like for a vacation, and maybe you brought only one or two jackets, and maybe that’s the one that a sweater will fit under.

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