On May 23, The New York Times ran a story called “Catching A College’s Eye,” based on an open call the Times holds for college application essays that address the subjects of money and class.
One of the high school students featured is Jon Carlo Dominguez, pictured above in a Times photo by Bryan Anselm. His essay opens with a rundown of his everyday sartorial choices, which stand in stark contrast to the world outside his front door:
Getting dressed each morning for school, I slip on my blazer, tighten my leather Oxfords, and pick a pair of glasses that match my outfit. Just a block away from my house, my town’s high school is a two-minute walk to my left. However, I turn right and begin my hour-long commute to St. Peter’s Prep. On my way to the bus stop, I always run into my childhood friends as we go in different directions. I wonder, “Why is my life so different from theirs? Do they think I’m pretentious, going to a prep school?” I don’t live in a dystopian town where gunshots go off every day. However, many of my friends just don’t care about school and use alcohol, drugs or sex to escape from their socioeconomic realities; the majority of my town is low-income and Latino.
Dominguez represents the new generation of post-meritocracy kids who discover trad/Ivy/preppy clothing while at school. This is what flying the sartorial flag of trad looks like on a young man in the second decade of the 21st century.
But while Dominguez may come from a different background (his parents immigrated from Ecuador), some of his struggles are the same as a white suburban kid in an ’80s movie: trying to better himself and ascend the social ladder, but facing flack from the people he grew up with. And the resentment is typically triggered by clothing:
I continue walking to the bus stop and run into a friend who went to my elementary school. “Those red pants make you look like one of those jerks from Prep, bruh. I work the register at a bank and I don’t even wear that crap,” he says while laughing in a sincere manner. He shakes my hand the same way we have since the second grade; we both smile at the fact that the gesture is alive after all these years.
That’s right, Dominguez may be Latino, but those in his neighborhood, he’s still just the preppy jerk in the bright pants.
Like most postmodern preps, however, his sensibility is both reverent and irreverent. Here he is in a school musican revue gently mocking preppy motifs such as a pink sweater tied around the shoulders:
Ivy Style proud to add Dominguez to our under-20 roster of style icons. Here he is taking the lead with the school’s choir, singing the song “Radioactive.”
Keep wearing those radioactive pants, Jon. I’m sure you’ll go far in them. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD