Return to Prep School
The Preppy Handbook’s 40th anniversary is a year away and although its author, Ms. Birnbach, didn’t set out to write a defining anthology of a segment of style, it became just that. Her tongue-in-cheek review of a style archetype has its rightful place in fashion history. In menswear, preppy style shines brightest in the spring and summer when vibrantly hued classics are a welcome respite to the somber tones of winter. We’ve highlighted some of our favorites from brands that stand the test of time.
Ralph Lauren is a name recognized in every corner of the globe and is as American as apple pie. Mr. Lauren began his eponymous line by infusing men’s basics with his impeccably tailored stamp of upper-crust, and millennials are now taking notice. Madras blazers are effortlessly paired with a striped button-down. A rainbow rugby pullover paired with strategically cuffed jeans evokes Ivy-league vibes whether college is in your game-plan or not. Wearing a Polo RL look may even get you into The Harvard Club — at least until they ask for your ID.
Paul Stuart is a ubiquitous name in the menswear game and evokes thought bubbles of summers in The Hamptons and The Great Gatsby. It began as a men’s haberdashery in 1938 and now the quiet retailer boasts shops on Madison Avenue, Chicago, and Washington D.C. as well as e-commerce. It amps up spring offerings with brightly colored ginghams and primary color pops on thick cotton polos for the active man on the go.
For adventurous types, directional designers like Todd Snyder (02) and David Hart give a quirky take on the classics. Todd Snyder shows a varsity jacket paired with an extra-large gingham shirt, while Mr. Hart’s look takes inspiration from TV’s The Big Bang Theory giving a polo shirt, shorts, and gym socks a big dose of irony.
New on the scene is an urban luxe sneaker and accessory brand called Hotel Motel(04) which supercharges basics with sumptuous materials like French whole grain bull hide and uses a mineral tanning process. Their baby blue sneakers are leather-lined for optimum comfort, and you’ll look super-fly wearing them while holding that 70s gym bag.
The preppy style is timeless but designers will always step up their game with tweaks of proportion, sharply cut tailoring and use of vibrant colors.
It’s been well over a decade since “Boho Chic” entered the fashion lexicon and although its popularity ebbs and flows, it remains a strong choice for women’s spring wardrobes. Ethnic prints, native embroidery, and billowy skirts are a welcome respite from winter and at the heart of this is the travel effect. With designers skipping across the globe on business and pleasure trips, it’s no surprise that their collections are an expression of what they have seen on their travels.
Designer Stephanie Von Watzdorf weaves a story of her travels but the pieces from her globally minded collection are an assertion of her deep love of exploration. Did you ever decide to buy a cowboy hat while in Texas, swearing to wear it at home? It just doesn’t work. The Figue collection, however, reimagines traditional ethnic dress into clothing that does work at 08 home, and can easily be worn in women’s everyday lives.
Anna Sui loves a hippie girl, sprinkling her runway with a post-modern buffet of influences. She’s not affected by trends and is unafraid of piling on the accessories. Naming her spring runway collection Wanderlust, Sui incorporates floral prints, brocades, kaftans over pants, turbans, and bucket hats into a patchwork of free-spirited girly looks.
The Missoni family has created distinctive knitwear for 65 years and this anniversary runway gave a message of lightness in color and gossamer cobweb-like layers. Peasant skirts, turbans, kaftans, and shawls all conjured up dreams of far-off worlds, created in their very iconic manner.
How to accessorize the look? Gaimoespadrilles & are the perfect accompaniment for any boho-chic look.
Whether you are headed to discover a new culture or staying in your own backyard, look out for these brands that weave a tale of wanderlust into their collections.