There are many synonyms and variations of our style. Classic East Coast Clothing or Traditional American Clothing (Trad) serves as the forefather of the Ivy League Look and later on Prep. Then enter in locational differences of East v. Midwest (or do the boys at Stanford have anything to add?) and the ever popular Northern v. Southern Prep. And how about our Fogey cousin across the pond? Or Japanese Trad, which without we would not have rediscovered Take Ivy, the Old Testament to The Official Preppy Handbook’s New Testament. These are just to name a few and each has its own history and influences amongst each other in the grand picture.
If the Ivy League Look had a baby named Prep, then Prep had a bunch of bastardized children that fall under the 3rd generation of present day American collegiate clothing.
Since I am focusing on up-to-date college styles on this blog, here are my general interpretations of what I have come to know. It’s hard to accurately describe each as its own presence since they are all pretty much cut from the same cloth, but I’ll give it a shot.
To start things off, this is the largest and most popular genre that most college students can relate to and probably at least half of your campus wears. The majority of them shop the mainstream brands at the mall. Ralph Lauren is the big one, a relic of the latter end of the original Prep era when Ralph’s polo shirt took over Lacoste’s reign. Tommy Hilfiger and Nautica followed but lost street credit a long time ago, but both and other similar department store brands still serve a place although not the weapon of choice that RL Polo is. Fitting ranges from so-so to horrendous and more than likely you will see pants that are too long, untucked tails, and Abercrombie and Fitch may still be considered cool (unfortunately). Mainstream Prep is everywhere in some shape or form across the nation and it is what the general public sees as today’s default Prep style.
Sample Staples: Black North Face Denali Fleece Jacket, Rainbow Flip Flops, Ralph Lauren Polo Shirt, Pre-Distressed Levis 559, 11” inseam shorts from Gap, Oakley Sunglasses
Heavy in Trad influences and clothing fundamentals such as chinos and OCBDs, Neo-Prep is the truest form and direct evolution from the Ivy League Look to Prep and from Prep to now. What separates it from the umbrella of Mainstream Prep is that it is cleaner, simpler, and mature. There is no need for graphic shirts and skinny jeans and instead opt for polos and button down shirts for daily wear. Neo-Prep is not totally Trad however because it is updated with relevant approach and incorporates synthetic fibers like fleece and thinsulate that Trad purists resist, but the bare principle of practicality and function remains. Attitude wise, there are the GTH elements that many Mainstream Preps may not understand or dare to wear like pastel shorts and emblem belts. Another big key is the attitude towards how clothes are worn. Chinos are worn often and have little to no break. Fitting should compliment your build but not noticeably. Barefoot in boat shoes or loafers in warmer weather and never sandals unless at the beach. Neo-Preps shop at the Trad brands that most Mainstream folks may have never heard of, as well at even lesser-known specialty shops and regional brands. The real prep students from the Northeast Academies and Universities match closest to this style.
Sample Staples: Jansport Rightpack, Brooks Brothers OCBD, Patagonia Synchilla Snap T, Stock Levis 505 and 501 (naturally distress over time), Bass Penny Loafers, Paul Stuart Engine-Turned Silver Belt Buckle, Ray Ban Aviators
Casual with a Tattersall button down and lightly faded denim. Cute girl.
Very similar to Neo-Prep and made popular by the SEC universities. A lot more GTH colors and warmer textiles like seersucker and poplin. The outdoor culture has a large impact. Costa Del Mar sunglasses polarized to protect you from the lake water glare and croakies to save them from falling off-board. Columbia PFG technical attire for when you wheel in the next big one. Visor hats and shorter inseam pleated shorts for the sunny hot weather at the links. Hunting cap and oiled field coats for quail hunting. Bow ties. Madras. Justin Roper Boots for the gentleman farmer. Coat and tie on gameday, white bucks for church in the summer, and Skoal…lots of Skoal. Vineyard Vines, Ben Silver, and Lily Pulitzer (for the girls) along with the many recent startups like Southern Tide or Southern Proper. Heritage is a big thing in the south and thus they have risen up to the dominance of traditional clothing that was once associated only to the Northeast.
Sample Staples: Perlis Crawfish polo, Patagonia Stand Up Shorts with 5” inseam, Sperry Billfish boat shoes, Orvis Shot Shell Belt, Costa Del Mar shades and Croakies with your university or coastal destination of choice printed on it
Straw Gambler Hat, Del Mars, OCBD, Red Pleated Seersucker
This varies a lot depending on the area. In the south, Southern Prep and Fratty are basically the same but with more jock mentality. Random mix and match like OCBDs with athletic shorts or chino shorts with white high top athletic socks and Nike Air Max sneakers. The Frocket and the Fratshag or Alamaba Swoop (and Flow for the Laxbros.) Lacrosse and Soccer are the sport of choice and collected lax pinnies and futbol jerseys from years of summer camps and grade school teams end up keeping your nipples soft when you step out of the jacuzzi to get another Coors Light.
Sample Staples: Worn-in The Game College Bar hat or Flat Billed baseball hats, Frocket with fraternity letters, Adidas Soccer Shorts, Clarks Wallabees or New Balance 993 barefoot, Emblem belt with Lax sticks, Oakley Frog Shades
Exaggeration but you get the picture
Fashion’s answer to Prep and Trad. Clothing is more fitted. Lots of Cardigans, skinny ties, and tailored chinos. Same old stuff, updated look.
Sample Staples: See J.Crew, Band of Outsiders, Michael Bastian