Yale Style Showdown, Kelly Green Edition

The shade known as kelly is the sanctified preppy shade of green. After all, it appears in the holy breviary known as “The Official Preppy Handbook.”

And so we revisit this post from days of yore with the suggestion to break out this shade of green, which is normally associated with summer, during this yuletide season, instead of the usual fir-tree shades of the color.

It might just lift your spirits, and that could be contagious, in the best way possible.

 * * *

The current issue of the Yale Alumni Magazine features a style spread with current undergrads. Two of them are flying the prep flag at full mast.

On the left, Student A juxtaposes green chinos with a look of utmost seriousness, as if to silently say to anyone who would dare raise an eyebrow, “Of course I’m serious.” He also exemplifies Oscar Wilde’s adage that to be premature is to be perfect by donning sockless bit loafers, which, as you know, the “Official Preppy Handbook” deems “strictly post-collegiate.” Finally, the sweater around the neck suggests a semester spent abroad in one of those countries where people actually do that sort of thing.

On the right, Student B also channels old-school prepdom by actually holding together his boat shoes with a piece of duct tape. It’s an ingenious way of undercutting the finery abover the waist, which includes pink shirt, kelly green cable sweater, navy blazer and college scarf.

So, who should be valedictorian of style?

40 Comments on "Yale Style Showdown, Kelly Green Edition"

  1. I vote B because of the nonchalance. Part of preppy is making it look effortless.

  2. The correct answer is ‘B’ and this one isn’t even close.

  3. I vote for B. A’s clothes look too contrived to properly convey the “don’t give a crap” attitude – that and his look is strikingly reminiscent of Zoolander’s “Blue Steel”. Plus I can relate to B’s shoe dilemma. I have some Bass Weejun tassel loafers where some of the thread came loose on one, and the heel came unglued on the other (they are obviously not very good shoes). Rather than toss them, I used a little white zip tie to put the one shoe back together, and glued the other one’s heel back.

    Also, I think I have the same boat shoes as B. Doesn’t he know that L.L. Bean will give him another pair since that one tore up? Lol. Maybe ther’re Sperrys.

  4. I’d say B, but “undergrad”? Really? The guy looks thirty. Also grafting tape to hold together (topsiders/docksiders) is in the TOPH in a believe the picture of adolescent preps at boarding school. Though I’m sure he has never read that book, or meticulously studied it. Can one be so prep that they’re a poseur?

  5. I am going to say “B” by default. If “A” removed that sweater from around his neck and was photographed more naturally I would have voted for him I think. Both are dressed better than most people that I encounter day to day.

  6. Comment by oxford cloth button down — September 28, 2012 @ 12:31 pm

    I am going to say “B” by default. If “A” removed that sweater from around his neck and was photographed more naturally I would have voted for him I think. Both are dressed better than most people that I encounter day to day.

    I concur.

    Moreover, as well as probably being able to spell ‘Ivy’ they are better dressed than some of the bizarre attempts at being well-dressed posted elsewhere.

    There is one particular clothing forum, whose name escapes me that has some of the darnedest scoundrels imaginable cluttering up bandwidth with photographs of themselves in the most tasteless attire a Glaswegian garage mechanics on a Saturday night could imagine.

  7. G. Bruce Boyer | September 29, 2012 at 8:44 am |

    Two good examples of SprezzaPreppy?

  8. No, there’s something about both of these guys that’s just a bit off. The sweater around the neck is a cliche — the kind of thing they do in movies when they want to portray someone as a preppy. Same for the Gucci loafers — just “too too,” as a friend used to say. Save ’em for the reception at the next art opening. Guy B gets it close but he too is just too affected — the floods, the taped shoes, the scarf w/blazer (another prep cliche), the whole thing is too studied.

  9. @Sartre:

    Re: “just a bit off” and “too studied”.
    Hear! Hear!

    Allow me to go one step further and assert that Gucci loafers have no place whatsoever in the wardrobe of an Ivy gentleman.

  10. Boston Bean:

    J. Press sells bit loafers made by Alden. Are you saying they’re both wrong?

  11. Wonder how long Alden has been making snaffle bit loafers? I thought Gucci had that market covered. Chio baby

  12. As far back as the 80 release of the Preppy Handbook, I always wondered if Lisa B got some comp Gucci loafers for adding them in her book! :-). I never viewed them as Americana prep. Great shoe, but not for me.

  13. The shoes of the “Jet Set” hmmmmm


  14. @M Arthur — I was Cornell class of ’81. I remember when the OPH came out we all rolled our eyes but in hindsight the book was remarkably accurate about most everything — including Gucci loafers. Most northeastern college shops carried some version of the shoe; not Guccis, of course, but frequently Cole Haans which were a very “preppy” brand at that time. Of course they were never worn by students — they were more of a shoe you would graduate to post collegiately (and hence one reason why specimen A’s look above is so egregious). When I got my first “real” job after grad school my first two major purchases were a pair of real Gucci loafers and a Burberrys trench coat.

  15. Sartre
    Not a snaffle bit loafer affectionado, but if I was, like your choice of a trench, I’d go for the original, Gucci.

  16. i dont know why i always hated shoes without socks like boat shoes, well IMHO, sweating too much feet

  17. Both are not looking good. They aren’t looking “Ivy” either. They look like Prepsters. People not knowing about timeless style, fashion victims riding on the “Preppy” route. Even Hilfiger adverts look more like Ivy League. The tape around the boat shoe is simply ridiculous… As the scarf is combined with boat shoes (warm weather shoes IMHO) – and I say if it’s cold enough for a scarf it is cold enough for socks…

  18. Duct tape Topsiders…….really?

  19. I always valued quality, and my clothes, glasses, etc was a reflection. I was wearing wafers when everyone was buying Oakley… I never followed the crowd. Option A looks to be trying too hard; according to the season at times I would drape my sweater over my back because it’s too hot verses the fashion statement option A is displaying. I wear the dog out of my shoes, and my dad wear his shoes with holes in them as well… money is not an issue house and car paid off etc he’s just frugal therefore I’m ok with option B and the tape. Lastly I only wear socks on the tennis court gents it’s about comfort and lifestyle. To say the WASP created this lifestyle that’s untrue… I credit WASP for making it mainstream.

  20. @Marcus

    You are mistaken. A’s look is obviously le Tigre and not Blue Steel. B’s shoes belong in the Derelique collection or get a good cobbler to resole them for about $30.


  21. B has painter’s tape on his shoe, not duct tape. It’s completely contrived. Painters tape would rip the second you tried to walk. Besides, I though the essence of prepdom was not caring or trying, both of these gentlemen are trying too hard.
    Just my two pence,

  22. My vote is for B. The parts of his wardrobe are all in line with the preppy guidelines. He also adds the essential but invisible element, the nonchalance so vital to bring the style together.

  23. A has a streak of “Ivy chic” going, so I’d rather celebrate Christmas in Palm Beach with him than in New Hampshire with B. ; )

  24. A is a fraternity brother getting ready to go out drinking or to a party (after watching Love Boat and Fantasy Island). B is a fraternity brother going to class.

    We had some people dress like A, but not many. And the taped shoe of B isn’t that unrealistic.

    I didn’t realize what was going on at the time. I had to send my sons to college to understand it. What happens is that the parents, who are affluent but get really irritated when their irresponsible kids damage their clothes, make them wear the damaged stuff instead of buying a replacement. If I would have paid for them, my older son could have gone through a pair or shoes every four to six weeks. They’d be scuffed in ways that I have never scuffed a pair of shoes. So, yes, you’ll need to put duct tape on your shoes. Or learn to be more careful.

  25. It was B when the piece was originally posted in 2012 and it’s still B now posted in 2020. And had you posted this in the late 80’s when I was at university and many of my classmates were doing the duct tape thing with their shoes (trust me, not so much a conscious fashion statement as laziness on their part to get new ones), the answer would have been B as well.

    Fwiw, we had quite a few students who dressed like A. They tended t come from Europe – but included students from the Middle East and Latin America – and smoke Gauloise cigarettes by the case. Appropriately enough they were collectively called “euros.”

  26. Is this a trick question?

    Student A gets my vote for wearing Kelly green chinos. He also gets extra credit and the coveted summa cum laude designation for matching belt, watch strap, and shoes.

    Student B is not wearing Kelly green; his sweater shade is called “lime green”. It has a yellow undertone and runs warm.

    Student B gets a failing grade from Professor Mitchell for not having the common sense to buy a tube of super glue to repair his boat shoes. Yale is an uppity school and putting blue tape on one’s boat shoes screams “proletarian”.

  27. Old School Tie | December 18, 2020 at 10:15 am |

    As pointed out in several 2012 comments, they both look fake in one way or another, however, B looks the more contrived of the two. A could have been a real college boy, B…..nope. Too old.

  28. I’m B all the way. In the late 70’s, I dressed like that, though I learned to repair my topsiders with glue instead of masking tape that easily peals off.

    However, I will upset the apple cart and say that olive is the green of Ivy. After all, y’all can’t maintain your snobby WASP credentials with a color associated with Irish Catholics.

  29. I’m going with A because of posture. A true prep, no matter how hard he tries to rebel, can’t quite shake off good posture. A’s toes may be splayed and his hands are in his pockets but his spine is neutral and his shoulders down and back. Real quality can’t hide.

  30. Not to vote twice (but after all it IS 2020 :-)), but I do want to point out that A is sporting horsebit loafers. Who among us that were prep school grads and then went on to university actually wore those after a long night of “studying?”

  31. Given that it is 2020 and neither has a nose ring, slouchy wool hat, facial hair, or skinny jeans – I give each of them a B+. A for effort, B for execution.

    As far as the criticism of “trying too hard”, let’s be honest gents. That probably applies to half the people on this site.

  32. And more than 50% of the people reading my last comment will think they are in the other half. 😉

  33. Old Bostonian | December 19, 2020 at 1:56 am |

    Just wasted my time watching VII) the discussion of Ivy-Style.com from Style And Direction.
    Ethan M Wong et al, none of whom knew how to pronounce ‘quixotic'(traditionally quick-sot-ic, not kee-ho-tic) spent their time bad-mouthing CC, Ivy Style (the blog) and ivy style (the sartorial preference). It simply made me appreciate CC, Ivy Style, and ivy style even more.

  34. A is trying too hard – a wanna B.

  35. Greg Lamberton | December 19, 2020 at 7:54 am |

    @Old Bostonian:
    The descent of style from the heights of G. Bruce Boyer to the depths of Ethan M. Wong.

  36. Kelly green was a very popular ‘preppy’ color during the early- to-mid 80s when I was in college. At that time, it was mostly seen in polo-style shirts or even sweaters as shown on Mr. B. I knew no one who would have used painter’s tape to repair their shoes (or for that matter, the much stronger duct tape). If someone needed to make that type of shoe repair, they would have done what @whiskeydent suggests and used Shoe Goo. Overall, the kelly green worn by Messrs. A and B look like something right out of the 1980s.

    Perhaps more importantly, @whiskeydent identifies a very important distinction that kelly green is more of a preppy color while olive green is the ivy counterpart.

  37. PocketSqurare | December 19, 2020 at 9:44 am |

    Major points for the stack of record under number #2 arms. I see Herman’s Hermits (circa 1965) poking out on top. Great group in the early 60’s, lots of catchy pop songs. Lets assume that he’s running late for the party and everyone is waiting for him because he has all the cocktail fixins in his racketball bag.

  38. Regarding ‘preppy’ shoes from the early 1980s, what rivaled the Sperry Topsider in popularity was the Sperry Captain’s Oxford in smoked elk – a very light and comfortable shoe.


  39. @Jay:
    Preppy vs. Ivy = kelly green vs. olive green.
    Artificiality vs. natural colors.

  40. Old School Tie | December 19, 2020 at 10:26 am |

    Wong appears to be a proponent and practitioner of Ivy cosplay, as are his chums. All done to show off on IG. A bit like the Tweed Run in London or the Whitby Steampunk Weekend. Compare all that with, say, OCBD or our own Mr Chensvold – any images are simply observations of what is going on, what they actually happened to be wearing even if they DO care about appearance. The cosplay side is that the outfits are put together in order to be photographed, the image is the endpoint. I have perused pictures of Wong et al. and to be frank they look like wallies most of the time. Cosplay hipsters most of whom need to take up some sort of sport by the look of them, and maybe hang out with women once in a while.

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