Preppy is Back

I was reading Vitals magazine on my way to work this morning and it had an article about how the preppy look is coming back. Apparently, it’s remained within certain groups in America (country clubbers, etc…) but is now making a come back in general society nationwide. I also saw something about this on the news in recent weeks, too.

Obviously, as a child on Cape Cod (in Osterville, no less) I was forced to experience the 80’s preppy phase first hand. Living within walking distance of Wianno Golf Club, Wianno Yacht Club, Crosby’s Boat Yard and Oyster Harbors (private island community with another golf club) more or less forced that look upon me.

My entire 18 years in that village provided a daily bombardment of white-haired men in madras pants, blue belts with green whales (or Cape Cod’s) on them, docksiders, Izod shirts and cardigans driving BMW’s, Mercedes’ and Volvo’s. There was the occasional Rolls Royce or limousine – but wood-paneled station-wagons were more prevalent among the tennis-outfit sporting mothers.

I moved to Boston at the end of the decade and then grunge took over the country. Still, weekend trips back to Osterville proved the WASP’s remained true to their preppy style.

Another decade later and it sppears the rest of the country is going back to that look – the look Osterville never lost. But what I do find strange in the Vitals article was that it included a page with photos and descriptions of various preppy staples. I was shocked to see that so many of the items had Massachusetts or New England references (Nantucket pants, Nantucket belt, Gtroton School, New England Lighthouse books, beach stickers, etc….)

Does the rest of the country perceive Massachusetts to be Preppy, USA? I’ve never really thought of this. I just thought it was a Cape and Islands type thing…but not the whole state. I don’t see much of it in Boston. Hell, I work at Harvard and I see more hippies than preppies (or worse, the combination: rich WASP defying his parents by going for that Phish faux-hippie look).

On a side note, and while speaking about Massachusetts, I was happy to see that 3 out of the 4 votes coming from Massachusetts were against the government getting involved in the Terry Schiavo case.


  1. Comment by chris on March 22, 2005 1:15 pm

    preppy? *yawn* do you really want to dress like a kennedy? your heritage does lean you in that direction, and that is an appropriate reason to dress in madras plaids and pink chinos with green lobsters embroidered on them, just dont go with the vernacular. classics are classics, like a navy polo shirt doesnt go out of style, but loudly plaid cargo pants worn with a pink and green stripe shirt are retch-worthy and will look dated next year.

  2. Comment by chris on March 22, 2005 1:16 pm

    btw:…….:”look muffy, a book for us”

  3. Comment by Karl on March 22, 2005 1:19 pm

    Oh, Chris! You know me well enough to know that I’m not going to jump on the preppy bandwagon. Hell, you also know that I have no fashion sense at all!

    You’ll be happy to know that yesterday I put on a shirt I’ve not worn in a year and realized it looked huge on me….HUGE! Rich even pointed out that it looked absurdly large.

    You can’t believe how much I appreciate your guidance over the past year. You’re amazing!

  4. Comment by chris on March 22, 2005 1:39 pm

    after all the time and effort ive put into teaching you about fit and color, you BETTER have some sense of style.

  5. Comment by Scott on March 22, 2005 2:21 pm

    “They” have been saying that preppy was coming back for six years now. Boring.

    I hate preppy; if I have to look at plaid shorts and boat shoes again, I might move to France.

    And I’ve never considers Mass. to be overtly preppy (although when I was in Boston, I was kind of shocked that Harvard students really *DO* wear chinos and blue blazers). I guess it does make sense.

  6. Comment by Karl on March 22, 2005 3:16 pm

    Harvard students wear chinos and blazers? I’ve only seen that once in my 5 years working here.

    Which is a good thing. Well, maybe not, we did get a good laugh out of it.

  7. Comment by karyn on March 22, 2005 4:13 pm

    I think we are definitely a “preppy” state, maybe due to the number of institutions of higher learning here? Plus the Kennedy factor. It’s not a bad thing; it’s just a “back east” thing. At least we’re known for SOME style. Never hear anyone say, “Oh, that shirt was SO Des Moines”, or “Did you see that outfit, right out of Lincoln” or “Omigod, he looks like he might be from Weehawken”. You know? I’ll take the preppy thing, I kinda like it. Better than the clunky amish shoe fiasco of the early nineties.

  8. Comment by chris on March 22, 2005 5:45 pm

    boat shoes and topsiders, why did they have to bring that 80s trend back. when they bring back the K Swiss gweedo sneaker, im starting a revolt!

  9. Comment by karyn on March 25, 2005 3:54 pm

    Another thing, if we can be inundated with bellbottom this and wedge sandal that, with Jackie-O glasses and psychodelic paisley and Partridge Family Florals, I think we can suck it up and bite the preppy bullet; I’ll take that pesky little alligator guy over the fluorescent paisleys any day.

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