Sikh And Ye Shall Find: The Indo-Prep Style of Gagan Singh

Lisa Birnbach’s “True Prep” raised plenty of Old-Guard eyebrows with its inclusiveness. Whereas 1980’s “The Official Preppy Handbook” was WASPy to the core, the sequel opens the club to black, Asian, gay and Muslim preps as Birnbach declares “It’s a whole new old world.”

As an example that those flying the preppy flag in 21st century America are from all walks of life, meet Gagan Singh. The 21-year-old NYU finance and marketing student was born in New Jersey to Indian parents and is fond of true-blue American style. And if you though wearing a striped watchband added an extra component to dressing, just imagine getting to color coordinate a turban every day.

Ivy Style tracked down Singh for an interview after spying him on The Style Blogger. Here’s what he had to say. — CC

* * *

IS: How did you get into clothes?

GS: I never really thought I would be interested in fashion, but my dad works in the industry and I guess it rubbed off on me. Plus, with so much on the Internet it’s hard to not get sucked into the world of style blogs. I just like things that are made well and look great, whether they’re clothes or anything else.

IS: What do you like about traditional American style?

GS: Traditional American or preppy style is distinct, versatile and simple. I don’t need to worry if what I am wearing is appropriate because it fits into any type of setting. It is easily dressed up or down. If I am wearing an OCBD, I can throw on a blazer and tie to dress it up, or roll up the sleeves to just relax. The simplicity factor is huge. Most of the stuff that is considered preppy or traditional American doesn’t go out of style because it just works. That’s not to say that it is boring: There’s always the vast amount of go-to-hell items to change things up.

IS: What classic items are your favorites?

GS: My classic favorites are Oxford-cloth buttondowns, penny loafers and my Sperry Top-Siders — I wear those almost all the time and everywhere.

IS: How do people, both Sikh and non-Sikh, react to your turban combined with a fashionable appearance?

GS: It’s interesting. It’s all about perceptions in my opinion. I match my turban with my clothes because it’s a simple thing, but it makes a big impact and people notice it.

For non-Sikh people, mostly everyone thinks it is very cool on how I keep in touch with my roots while staying stylish. Sometimes I’ll come across people who don’t know who Sikhs are and stereotype me, but in New York most are usually used to the different mix of people.

However, the reaction varies with Sikh people. The turban thing is obviously normal, we don’t really make a big deal out of it. But being stylish does stick out, as it does within all communities. There is a wide spectrum in the way people dress: My grandfather’s generation was influence by British colonialism in India, and I see that with the way they dress. Overall, though, with my friends, the style leans more to towards prep side than anything else.

Images 1 and 3 courtesy of The Style Blogger.

44 Comments on "Sikh And Ye Shall Find: The Indo-Prep Style of Gagan Singh"

  1. This could also lead to a new trend in literature.
    The DhammaTRADa the BaghaTRAD Gita.

  2. I dig it, good for him.

  3. His Ivy is solid and, most importantly, simple. I like the look and those go-to-hell pants are perfect.

  4. Wow a Trad Desi! I’m floored!

    As an Hindu Indian (no turban for me) guy in the Midwest, I thought I was the only “brown guy” who cared about his appearance. I am the only guy at work who regularly wears a tie and probably the only guy who regularly polishes his more than one pair of dress shoes. Thank you you so much for highlighting Mr. Singh… proof that Asians can bring steez like anyone else.

  5. Admirable Carp | June 20, 2011 at 8:12 pm |

    The Japanese never quite get it right, but Gagan did.

  6. Gagan has his Ivy on lock! I wonder if papa Singh has Ivy style!

  7. I just read his interview on TSB. I have to say that the idea of a “go-to-hell” turban is pure genius. Innovation should still be functional. That far surpasses wearing boat shoes in Manhattan in February or sporting velvet slippers outside the house.

  8. I love Gagan’s style. Whether he wears a turban or not makes no difference to me. Now what would be great would be a regimental stripe turban to complete the look. There could be some nice parity between tie and tubran.

    Being from London, England (an extremely multicultural city) I love to see how different cultures, especially 2nd, 3rd, 4th generations interpret English style.

    There’s a British television presenter and writer named Hardeep Singh Kohli who accessorises with his turban a lot, looks great.

  9. Drew Poling | June 21, 2011 at 10:16 am |

    I think the cross-cultural, cross-pollination of prep is great and am greatly heartened to see it adopted and so dashingly adapted by those who aren’t members of the (stereo)typical WASP or WASP-adjacent ethnic pool.

    My only cavils with Mr. Singh’s look are

    1. The fit. I would hope that, as he ages and continues to invest more in his wardrobe that he seeks out a better cut of jackets and, particularly, trousers that will flatter his body shape.

    2. The high roll of his pants. This really is NY/hipster/nouveau “prep” which is seeming increasingly dated and played out. I’m all for exposed ankles (especially when the trousers have been actually _tailored_ and cuffed), but this excessive rolling is neither mature nor classic (nor, to echo my thoughts above, flattering when the pants have such a low rise, such a trim fit, and worn by someone a bit thick in the middle).

  10. @ Drew Poling

    I have to admit, I’m with you on the cuffed pants. I do like the look, but I think it has to be pulled off just right. I like it the most with a white topsider, but I think the type of pant is most important. I’m not a big fan of it when there is space between the ankle and cuff. I think it looks best with a slim straight fit through the thighs and rolled tight to the leg, exposing a little over half of the ankle. I think it’s best when it looks like no effort or thought was put into it. However, I think that takes more effort and thought than just cuffing them 2 or 3 times.

    Great post and great pictures though.

  11. I’ve never bothered to post before, but I had to today… The Fogey really is proud of his racism, isn’t he? IS “jumped the shark” because the site mentioned someone else? Tell you what, Fogey, sounds like a better place for you to visit. Spend your time there.

  12. Well, much of downtown NY is about playing dressup…

  13. BlazersKhakisNattys | July 3, 2011 at 7:28 pm |

    The jump was made with the orphaned suit coat, and cleared with the outlet clearance rack faux-varsity jacket.

    Oh, that’s right. The Obamas are preps now.

  14. HappyDaysMoment | July 6, 2011 at 4:29 am |

    So let’s recap today’s lesson:

    Fabric from Madras – good.
    People from Madras – bad.

    you guys!

  15. Prep School Kid | August 20, 2011 at 1:02 am |

    I’m Indian, and the way I got exposed to ivy style was from attending a prep school. Even then, most of the Indians I know dress semi-ivy, like polos and jeans and sperrys to dinner parties, and then tailored suits to weddings. However, I’m probably the only one among my indian friends who knows about nantucket reds and OBCDs, haha!

  16. Charlottesville | April 18, 2017 at 12:57 pm |

    Great look for Mr. Singh. While I may be a bit more conservative in my dress, for a 21-year old at NYU it is perfect. And can we please cut out the smug racism? I know CC keeps a light rein on us, but I would hate to think that new readers might equate Ivy/prep/trad dress with rudeness and bigotry.

  17. Ah, this post was so old there was a comment by notorious jackass Laguna Beach Fogey/Admiral Cod. I used to let those pass to give him ample opportunity to show what a jerk he was. Deleted it, along with a bunch of his other old comments, until I got tired of looking at them.

  18. I wonder if Mr. Singh still dresses this way after six years. At what age is it inappropriate to refer to somebody as a preppy? I must say that, having worked as a bouncer back in the ’80s, I probably would not have bothered to card this fellow at 21 or 18 for that matter.

    Incidentally, who cares what this guy’s race or religion is as long as he is decent?


  19. Vern Trotter | April 18, 2017 at 2:00 pm |

    “I grow old…I grow old…I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled”

    — T. S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

  20. Charlottesville | April 18, 2017 at 2:11 pm |

    Thanks, Christian. I had overlooked the ancient date on the comments. Glad to be rid of the nasty bits though, however old they were.

    Vern — Perfect literary reference! Old Prufrock would be a trendy youth these days.

  21. Old Curmudgeon | April 18, 2017 at 4:08 pm |

    He looks like he is out of a Wes Anderson film! Fantastic!

  22. Mitchell S. | April 18, 2017 at 4:52 pm |

    Classic menswear originates from the four corners of the globe. Even the “all-American” button-down shirt originated in British colonial India as polo players used buttons to keep their collar points from flapping up during matches.

    A good reference for readers interested in international elements of the ivy wardrobe is

  23. NaturalShoulder | April 18, 2017 at 5:46 pm |

    I think Sack Suit has a good idea about following up on subjects profiled here to see if they have kept up with the look and see how style has evolved.

  24. That Laguna Beach Fogey is hilarious. His ideas are odious but one must laugh at such people, to actually take them seriously is to let them win. Good for Mr. Singh, I hope that he is still wearing the style.

  25. GS

    I agree that the comments from fellows like him are odious. We have to call these guys on it, when they spew this kind of garbage not because we are politically correct; but because fellows like us have to show fellows like this that we do not tacitly agree with them.

    Bye the bye, get yourself s pair of AE bit loafers before the sale ends. You only live once and I think they may fit your style.

  26. It’s not PC to point out that LBF has the heart of a grinch and was a lousy human being in multiple ways.

    And anyone whose racist rants and sexual bragadoccio are coupled with details on his ripped physique and hefty equipment — all done anonymously — well, you can imagine how pathetic he must be in real life.

  27. CC

    Well said. I was just trying to be polite. It is just my nature. The way I was raised by my parents, teachers, and mentors I guess it is sort of ingrained .

  28. Mr. Korn you make a salient point, I just personally prefer to laugh off such ridiculous remarks.

    And thank you for the tip, I’ve been looking for a nice pair of bit loafers.

  29. GS

    I went with the AE Verona II bit loafer for two reasons. AE will recraft them when needed; and they are a faithful copy of the original 1953 Gucci model. I am a great fan of Rancourt shoes; but their bit loafer looks like a pinch penny loafer with a bit slapped on as an after thought. I did look at the Jay Butler model; but I have yet to try their shoes. It looks like a very nice shoe at a reasonable price. If you go with the Butler shoes let us known how they work out.

  30. Rolled up chinos are for walks on the beach with Bass Weejuns or Sperry Top-Siders in tow.

  31. Mr. Korn you are correct in stating that AE’s bit loafers are carbon copies of Gucci’s (at exactly half the price) and are even made in Italy. However, the deal breaker for me was that the snaffle bit was silver, not gold. I find it odd that Alden was asked by Gucci to stop manufacturing their bit loafers when AE’s model is identical to the originals and still produced. Also, I do not believe that Gucci offers a repair service, could be wrong. However, AE is famous for theirs, which is a great selling point. I want a pair in medium brown with a gold bit and Jay Butler offers just that. I will buy a pair from Butler, eventually, and discuss their quality with those who are interested in knowing.

  32. M Arthur,

    Not only chinos, according to TS Eliot:

    “I grow old … I grow old … /I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. / Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach? /I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.”

  33. Ezra Cornell | April 19, 2017 at 8:48 am |

    Christian: bravo! So happy to see new faces and new takes. This is what keeps me dialed in to this blog above all my other fashion sites.
    And, by the way, as a long-time resident of Japan, I can assure you @Admirable Carp that there are plenty of Japanese that can dress almost any American under the table.

  34. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | April 19, 2017 at 9:41 am |

    Sikh ye first the kingdom of trad and all its righteousness

  35. Willard Straight | April 19, 2017 at 10:28 am |

    Ezra Cornell,
    My observations tend to confirm Admirable Carp’s assertion:
    The Japanese Ivy aficionados tend to wear their jackets too tight, their trousers too short.
    Having said that, as you wrote, they are still much better dressed than most American men.

  36. One of the best members to come out of AAAC from the past five years was MuslimTrad, who skewed more towards the “by the book” side of Trad. His presence has been widely missed.

  37. One might want to look further into the theory that Allen-Edmonds Veronas are recraftable.

    They are cemented rather than Goodyear welted and the A-E Verona page (unlike the pages for the Goodyear welted A-E shoes) does not say they are recraftable.

  38. In my view, people of color look amazing, and even better than caucasians do in traditional ‘wasp’ style.

  39. Mac Millan | April 19, 2017 at 1:47 pm |


    And Caucasians look better in kimonos?

  40. FrontPorchLife | April 19, 2017 at 4:22 pm |

    @Spin, I am sure he was banned from the site for no reason like many other upstanding members (including me) who dared to think on their own. What a joke!

  41. Roycru,

    If you look closely at the top of the AE page for the Verona II you will see that the shoe is recraftable. I believe the old AE Verona was not recraftable because it was cemented. I believe the new Verona II is made with a Blake constructed sole.

  42. Mr. Korn, according to Allen-Edmond’s website, the Verona loafers are recraftable and have a cemented sole. I read that cemented soles cannot be replaced but A-E must have a way.

  43. GS

    You are right. Since the shoes are recraftable, I assumed that the soles were not cemented. It was my understanding, Iike you, that cemented soles could not be replaced. According to AE, the Verona II is made with Bologna construction and a cemented sole. I found the following on the interent concerning Bologna construction:

    “Quite similar to the Blake construction with a seam that runs right through from the outsole to the insole, and shares many of its advantages and disadvantages. But the difference is that the Bologna constructed shoe has the uppers folded and stitched together like a sock, with a thin leather insole added, and just once the whole upper part is finished the outsole is attached. This allows for even softer shoes than Blake stitched ones.”

    Apparently, the Bologna construction allows for the removal and replacement of the cemented sole.

  44. Thank you for the clarification, Mr. Korn, and that is quite the innovation on A-E’s part. I have a pair of smoking slippers with a cemented sole and I was upset to hear that such a sole cannot be replaced.

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