Preppy Style: A Regent Guide

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Consider the following five questions:
  1. Do you dress in a manner which attracts women – to other men?
  2. If you had your life to live over again, would you still fall in love with yourself?
  3. Are you currently employed as a professional inheritor?
  4. If Moses had seen the way you dress, would there be another commandment?
  5. At your college football games, do you dress like a neon sign?

These are a selection of questions from a poster, published in 1980, that asked 'Are You A Preppie?' (pictured below). If you answered yes to the majority of questions above, you are likely to be an 'Intermediate Prep' or an 'Ultra Prep'. Commiserations. If you answered no to the majority of questions, you are either a 'Pseudo Prep' or 'Normal'. Congratulations.

The poster takes a playful swipe at a sartorial style that has long been popular, particularly among the young and young at heart. The imminent release of Jackie, a biopic that focuses on the life Jackie Kennedy in the harrowing period immediately following her husband's assassination in 1963, is already renewing interest in Preppy style. As the New Year approaches and people seek brighter and fresher colours in their clothing, whilst still wanting to remain warm, the Preppy look is likely to enjoy another resurgence. So, giving you a 'head's up', here is Regent's guide to the Preppy look...

Originating within the privileged confines of American Ivy League campuses during the 1920s, the popularity of Preppy style, or the Ivy Look, grew in the 1950s. The nonchalance that was signified by the conspicuous use of layering, button down collars, sport-themed motifs, skinny ties and primary colours, not to mention the wearing of Bass Weejun loafers and Ray Ban Wayfarers, had great appeal in the post-War West. According to Jeffrey Banks and Doria de la Chapelle in their book, Preppy: Cultivating Ivy Style, this style of dress served as 'a grounding force, a reminder of the security and propriety of old-school ties, and a platform for the appealing irreverence of [youth]'. The ideas that Preppy style expressed were probably most prevalent during the presidency of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Brief though it was, JFK's presidency gave many Americans a new vision of hope. His clothing choices, which feature in the majority of Preppy guides, effortlessly symbolised the tradition, modernity and prosperity that his policies and speeches presaged. Of course, JFK is not the only Preppy pin-up and back in September we considered the colourful clothing of British artist David Hockney.

To achieve the Preppy look, incorporate primary colours into your wardrobe. At this time of year, think socks or striped scarves. Layering with thin knitwear will help you to bring colour and texture into your look. Consider a cardigan, for something a little different (the Harry Stedman shawl collar cardigan in merino wool should be a staple in any man's wardrobe), or a v-neck jumper. Button-down collars on striped cotton shirts are a key part of the comfortable, casual Preppy look, and if you receive Regent gift vouchers for Christmas (lucky you!), think about having a shirt made for you. No less characteristic is the suede footwear and our Henry George loafer will fit the bill perfectly. And for the iconic shades, what about Triwa's Earnest frames in Havana. The great thing about Preppy style, which helps to explain its longevity, is that it is affordable and versatile, so have some fun experimenting!


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