Thursday, June 2, 2011

Trad Mannerisms: Go to Hell

With Memorial Day behind us we have officially arrived in the summer season, although this week's 90+ degree highs in my area makes it feel like the dog day afternoons of August instead of the early morning skies of June.

Summer is a great time for the infamous "Go to Hell" look, which if you do not know by now refers to a certain attitude with clothing, as if to say Yes I am wearing yellow pants and I don't care...Go to hell! GTH usually refers to bright coloring but can also relate to the unusual material or loud presentation of your attire, such as incorporating seersucker bowties or motif belts. It works best during summer, and so the warm temperatures are the trad's excuse to break out the pastels with their preppy brotheren and rejoice in walking the fine line between confidence and irony.

What makes GTH inherently trad/preppy is the rich history behind it. Ivy Style has an amazing article about the origins of the look and you can see how it has risen to its popularity nowadays. Before, the GTH mindset was clear and defined by the very name of the style, with only a few people brave enough to break the color barriers, whereas now it is more common with dear ol' Ralph Lauren paving the way in its popularity. You may still get a few glances here and there depending on where you live, but at least you can rely on the fact that the look is supported in mainstream fashion.

Of course, another reason GTH is firmly infused in the preppy look is largely due to its placement in today's culture, usually with a negative connotation. Is GTH douchey? Short answer...of course. Look at any typical teenage movie where the cool-headed hero fights the villainous typecast rich preppy kid with a mean spirited personality (like that Delta Iota Kappa kid in Van Wilder). Or these douches from Take Me Home Tonight. Not to mention the king of all rich kid parodies, the Youtube video Tea Partay. GTH is the lifeblood of the White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant preppy types, but does it mean they all drive Bentleys, spit on the working class, and use hundred dolla' bills as toilet paper just because they want to wear kelly green shorts instead of boring khaki ones? Short answer....what you don't? Yes jk. It is your character that defines you, not your clothes. Let the haterz hate.

Like with all clothing, there are rules that you should follow before donning on the bleeding madras. Rules fly in the face of the very reason behind GTH, but following these will save you from looking like a clown or being thrown out of your law school interview.

1) One GTH item at a time, or in few cases, if there are two items then the other must be subtle. You want your outfit to look tasteful to help downplay the douchiness of it!

2) Keep it seasonal. For example, multi-colored linen shorts for the warmer months only, not for fall and winter.

3) Be weary of the occasion. If you are going to class then it's ok to put on your nantucket reds but please keep them at home for funerals. If you have any doubts about whether or not you want to be noticed by your GTH attire, then don't wear it and save it for a more festive occasion.

I've collected a few pictures of myself in the GTH look. Below is a casual outfit illustrating Rule #1, where the nantucket red shorts are balanced with a neutral grey t shirt. Since the baseball cap is also somewhat loud in color with its unique blue shade, the shorts are the "large" item and the baseball cap is the "subtle" item.
Lacrosse tournament t shirt, thrifted
Land's End shorts
Sperry Boat shoes

Heading to the pool. And one of the only times you will ever see me in flip flops. Vineyard Vines 7" inseam chappy trunks are extremely GTH. The ones I have on are actually pretty simple compared to their other designs.
Ralph Lauren pocket long sleeve shirt
Vineyard Vines chappy swim shorts
Rainbow sandals
Ray Ban aviators

Grey polo and yellow shorts.
Ralph Lauren polo
Caribbean Joe linen shorts, tailored to 8" inseam.
Sperry Boat shoes

We've unfortunately witnessed alot of tornadoes this year across the nation so early in the season. This was taken a week ago on a stormy day that produced such violent weather in the Midwest before the front hit my area in the Southeast. Best wishes to those affected.
The Patagonia Torrentshell that I picked up recently came in handy. I like the Bali Blue color because it makes the outfit brighter on a gloomy rainy day. I consider it mildly GTH, and orange cap, shorts, and rain boots add to the preppy effect.
Patagonia Torrentshell Rain Jacket
Ralph Lauren shorts.
Nike Baseball cap, naturally distressed over years of wear.
LL Bean boots

Real men wear pink.
Brooks Brothers t shirt
J Crew seersucker shorts
Persol sunglasses
Sperry Boat shoes

Another example of Rule #1. The motif belt plays the subtle GTH item.
Brooks Brothers OCBD
Ralph Lauren pants
Leatherman Ltd Belt
LL Bean blucher mocs
Ray Ban aviators

The fabled Brooks Brothers "Fun Shirt". This is good example of why I consider the navy blue surcingle belt paramount to have in your closet. The extreme GTH presence of the shirt makes it nearly impossible to wear any thing else loud without making the whole outfit look tacky. The navy belt helps ground the look. And since the Fun Shirt is meant to be worn casually in the summer, you want the belt fabric to reflect the warm weather. Leather would be ok but cotton (namely surcingle) is better. A solid navy surcingle is the perfect answer.
Brooks Brothers "Fun Shirt" OCDB
Ralph Lauren shorts
Land's End surcingle belt
Cole Haan Penny Loafers

The watch in the above pics is my new Seiko.

Edit 6/4/11: Someone had nicely mentioned that some of the items above may no longer be considered GTH. Admittingly, I stretched the term for the blue baseball cap and so on, but the idea behind Nantucket Red shorts remains even though it is no longer that special to be seen wearing in public. That IvyStyle article explained the rise of GTH from a time when the term truly meant the sartorial emotions defined by literally saying "Go to Hell", to now where it is a simple catchphrase spread by the popularity of the preppy look on the internet and the fashion houses of the world. Red shorts may be common in my and your area, but the idea remains and the sensitization of GTH has made it tougher to "out-GTH" the next attire. Before, it was red pants and pink shirts. Now, it is 4 paneled shorts with lime green, sky blue, fuchsia and pink. Tomorrow, it will be a Hula girls embroided into your madras shirt....oh too late.


  1. Good post. You dress better than most men that are decades older. I wish the t shirt from Brooks Brothers was still available in pink.

    Just one special request: in keeping in accordance with your exceptional display of maturity in dress, please do not use words such as "douchey".

    Thanks for the blog. Keep up the good work.

  2. Thanks Hilton!

    This is pointed to all who may find my writing offensive: I cannot refrain from such speak! I am sorry, but I write this blog as if I were talking to a friend my age and sometimes I forget that it is open for the whole world to read. At a fresh 22 years old, I am an adult but not quite yet at the soccer mom maturity level, even though I dress much better than my peers as Hilton kindly mentioned. But please keep in mind that not only is this blog an extension of myself, but also directed to guys around my age. Hence the name "College Trad" and the subtle humor that Generation ME may appreciate. Have you seen my labels on the upper right corner?

    Take it or leave it lol (<--necessary internet lingo, when left at the end, is meant to be a sign of lightheartedness and therefore letting bygones be bygones)