Men's Clothing Forums banner
1 - 20 of 51 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,914 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Star blogger Heavy Tweed Jacket has been musing much frequently about 1970's. He seems to advance a thesis that there was a hippie-ish version of Ivy wear during that decade (referred to by the Japanese as Heavy Duty Ivy ) and that with the publication of the OPH, this rugged style was supplanted by a more colorful yet more conservative Preppy style.

Interesting, but I think the timing is wrong. It seems to me that Preppie was a style that emerged organically as the country turned right during the late 1970's.

Confirming this, here is a Washington Post article from March 5, 1978 showing all of the elements were in place at Duke university fairly early in the Carter Administration.

Fashion Notes By Nina S. Hyde

One professor at Duke University calls the topic of fashion fascinating, but says, "we like to concern ourselves with serious things." Another hesitates, then says boldly, "talk to Dr. Susan Schiffman, she dresses nice." Students chorus their accord. "I don't pay much attention to clothes. I wear what's warm and comfortable," says a junior from Connecticut.
They protest too much. College campuses today - and Duke's a good example - care a lot about fashion. They use fashion to align themselves with sororities or fraternities, ingratiate themselves with potential employers, and express themselves as individuals (jocks, grinds, preppies, outdoorsmen, intellectuals). Overall, they mark themselves as the new conservatives of the late 1970s.


At the Duke University, a private institution with a few more students (41 percent) from the northeast than from the south (39 percent) and an annual tuition package, including room and board, of $6,300, the conservative swell reported on other campuses across the country is as clear in the classroom as in the dress.

The Ivy-League, preppie look has taken a battering since the 1950s, but it has actually survived the jeans generation well. The shetland sweater is around, but now it's trimmer and comes in bright colors as well as the old derigueur beige, gray and navy.

Camel's hair boy coats are longer, softer, often belted. Clogs and Topsiders have replaced the penny loafer. Circle pins have given way to gold chains, tiny gold pendants or stickpins. Hair is long, with occasional Farah Fawcett curls, or short a la Dorothy Hamill, but far from the rigid sets of 20 years ago. Though some seniors say they wear eye makeup less regularly than four years ago, you'll still see it at breakfast in the dining room (called the Blue and White).

The button-down shirt is still around rarely buttoned at the top. It's now often a layer that includes a sweater, even an alligator shirt. If a guy wears a tie, it's because he has a job interview, or his fraternity pledge requires a one-day-a-week tie - even with his tennis shorts, if that's on his schedule.

Jeans are no longer anti-establishment but cleaned up and integrated as part of the classic gear because they are comfortable, practical, strong, reasonably priced, a neutral color - and sexy.

The parka is universal. Its only serious competition, a latecomer, is the quilted vest, sometimes worn as a layer over or under something else. "The vest has the double advantage of being macho, and yet enhancing the figure," says Duke history professor Peter Wood. Steve Givens, a graduate student, sees the women in quilted parkas as saying, "This coat may be pretty ugly and make me look fat but I can wear it because I know I look pretty. Underneath it all, I'm really beautiful."

Parkas are the classier, more expensive update of the army surplus gear of the late 1960s. Like the plaid shirts, hunting boots, sweatshirts, backpacks and the rest of the L.L. Bean-style paraphernalia, they suggest an alliance with the outdoors, a traditional chic, an expression of awareness of the energy shortage, ecology and inflaion and a demand for long-lasting, quality clothing. How you wear these clothes is often dictated by fads. Currently, a hooded sweatshirt should be worn under a down vest or a jeans jacket, with the hood worn outside.

Such quiet clothes, like quiet classrooms, let the independents stand out. At Duke, it can be just an unusual hat like a feed cap, the traditional baseball-like cap won by farmers, usually touting the brand name of a tractor or feed instead of a team. These days some endorse beer brands or even college insignia.
"Very macho," says Prof. Wood, recalling the recent farmers' protest in Washington, where an entire parade of tractor drivers wore caps. "It's like a kid from the farm putting on his armor and saying, 'you can take the boy out of the country, but . . . '"
"I guess it shows my rural connection," laughs James McMahon, who owns several and says he sometimes wears them to hide his messy hair the first class of the day."

The interview-bound job applicant boasts another kind of uniform. Out come the three-piece corduroy suits, shirts and ties; the women turn up in class in blazers and skirts, just like books like John Molloy's "Dress for Success" tell them to wear. Vogue magazine and Gentlemen's Quarterly, normally hidden under phone books, surface and are scoured before job interviews.

Because jobs are scarce - the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that between 1975 and 1985 there will be 950,000 more college graduates than jobs requiring degrees - students sign up for far more interviews than they are genuinely interested in. They wait hours just to sign up and then cut classes for such meetings.

But Prof. Ann Scott of the history department advises otherwise. She cites one male student who has been to 12 interviews, never wearing a tie, and has been offered a job each time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,914 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
I doubt very much that this style appeared out of thin air at Duke on March 4th 1978, suggesting that basically OPH preppy was in fact just a slick media manifestation of a trend that had developed years earlier.

Digging further into the Washington Post archives, I find that fashion designers like Ralph Lauren hopped on the "Preppie" bandwagon in Spring of 1980 for their Fall lines. The OPH wasm't publishied until December 1980. By October 1981, Preppie was already becoming passe. This is from the NY Times of that month.

''For some people,'' she said, ''the preppy look is kind of a uniform and for others it's a kind of costume. People expect us to have things like that. Basically, most of the stuff you buy from us is stuff you can wear for years. You can wear it to class or to punch at the master's house - lots of different ways.''

To judge from the prevailing appearances on Connecticut's campuses, the preppy look, indeed, goes everywhere, though in the last few years it has been so ''blasphemized'' - to use the term of one Wesleyan student -that people are quick to deny that they themselves have been affected by it. ''Alligator shirts'' are everywhere, but students wearing them are inclined to explain them away by saying they like the look, or the fit, or the color - not the alligator. They say that Ralph Lauren shirts, featuring an embroidered polo player, are growing in popularity and add a classy and expensive touch without being blatantly preppy.

Though most students say they feel that preppy attire is so basic it is impossible to avoid entirely, a lot of upperclassmen, especially, find the uniform look to be just plain tiresome. Tammy Rosengarten, a Wesleyan junior, said: ''The reason I personally started dressing better this fall was that I was in Paris last summer. Women there are very fashion consciou s, and I felt that I stuck out like a sore thumb. I came to Wesley an as a prep but startedshedding it. I don't think it looks as nice a s the look that I've come to establish more now. I don't think of preppy as being a feminine way of dressing.'' Karen Adair, who abandoned her preppy image for a more sophisticated one after a su mmer spent managing a clothing store, added, ''I guess people want to grow up more.''
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,914 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
What I think of as 1980's post-OPH prep (what I wore as a kid) is really more of a high fashion retake featuring a lot of pastels. Here is the May 2, 1982 NY Times

The fall clothes - available commercially in July at relatively stable prices - range, at one end of the fashion continuum, from the patently American looks of Perry Ellis, Alexander Julian, Calvin Klein, Sal Cesarani, and Gene Pressman and Lance Karesh for Basco All-American Sportswear to the frankly Anglified clothing of Ralph Lauren, Alan Flusser and Jeffrey Banks.Using fabrics that are mostly English, Irish or Scottish, Ellis has designed clothing that has, he says, a ''hybrid American look.'' There are romantic, calf-length overcoats; boxy, post-preppie jackets; rugged, extremely wide-wale corduroy trousers; his signature hand-knit sweaters; hand-knit ties and tab-collar shirts. All of it is electrified with color -pink, ocher, navy, lavender, a sobering yellow-green and something that Ellis, with characteristic whimsy, calls ''thistle.''

''I think men's clothing basically has to be familiar,'' he says. ''But it has to strike you as new at the same time. It's a challenge that I confront every time I design a collection. Men's clothing is harder to design because there are more limitations. It boils down to how many new ideas can you bring to an Irish tweed? I try to do it with color. I try to push the colors a little, so they go beyond the expected. I never want my clothing to look put together, like an outfit. And they must always be designed so khaki pants can be worn with anything.''

Color also plays an important part in Alexander Julian's new collection. Long a master of what is known as the ''Old English drape,'' a phrase used to describe a jacket silhouette that is full in the chest and shoulders and slightly suppressed at the waist, Julian is perhaps the master colorist of all the men's-wear designers and a pioneer, albeit at 34 a young pioneer, of bringing a kind of modernist's excitement to men's clothing.

His new clothes reverberate with colors borrowed from the paintings of Klee and Kandinsky, which he uses to update argyle-patterned sweaters or to enliven traditional weaves. A black-and-white herringbone, for example, will be flecked with yellow, purple, orange, teal, red - as many colors, in fact, as the warp and woof will bear.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
ca ching

"Though most students say they feel that preppy attire is so basic it is impossible to avoid entirely, a lot of upperclassmen, especially, find the uniform look to be just plain tiresome. Tammy Rosengarten, a Wesleyan junior, said: ''The reason I personally started dressing better this fall was that I was in Paris last summer. Women there are very fashion consciou s, and I felt that I stuck out like a sore thumb. I came to Wesley an as a prep but startedshedding it. I don't think it looks as nice a s the look that I've come to establish more now. I don't think of preppy as being a feminine way of dressing.'' Karen Adair, who abandoned her preppy image for a more sophisticated one after a su mmer spent managing a clothing store, added, ''I guess people want to grow up more."

You hit it exactly on the nod Alden. After just finishing preparatory school I'd like to add something.

I didn't even know what the word preppy meant, had never herd it, or if it existed until I came to college and saw how different everything was. It was very weird at first, and this awkwardness and my search for weejuns led me to this board. I heard people in the my hallway saying "oh so preppy this so preppy that". I saw people come to class, looking like how we dress at the pool on a sunday afternoon barbeque, but way to perfect.... It was weird, and I eventually learned all the whys after a few weeks.

Now, we don't call each other preppy or never did. Looking back on it though, it is very much a middle school and high school thing. the bright colors, shorts in every color etc..

In college now, it is very much like that senior quote saying they want to look more sophisticated. What other's consider preppy, we think of as "high school stuff" or that reserved for family gatherings and the beach. When it comes to Polos it is almost always a brooks that has white or blue as the major theme. brown braided belt, penny/tassel loafers, button down tattersall or check(incorporated with white, blue, pink). It's just about dressing well..within a frame work of taste
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,771 Posts
Now in my late 50s, I was around during the late-1960s, early 1970s, and lived adjacent to Columbia (granted not the preppiest of the Ivies) and was an active witness. The social forces were inevitable, especially on the Ivy campuses. There may have been some diehard Republicans around who stubbornly adhered to the 1950 dress code in defiance, but nearly everyone was affected. While some students broke their ties with the past and went full counter-culture, most others made concessions with varieties on a theme. So you'd see Levis, work boots, with OCBDs and tweed or cord jackets. Or flowered shirts, khakis and bucks with contrasting laces. There was, I think, much less choice. Hair, certainly, was the most significant element to change with the times, long bushy sideburns, mustaches, before pretty much unknown, became common. I remember as as a high school student in St. Louis in 1968 older friends coming back on break with long hair, 'staches, funny hats. The transformation was nearly all encompassing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,132 Posts
Two quick notes in support of this very interesting posting:

1. OPH published in December 1980 means that the book was completed sometime around September or October of 1979, with much of the research and writing done well before that. Publishing then and even today usually moves at a resolutely sedate pace. (By the time a book on a trend is published the trend has already passed, something most publishers aren't keen for people to fully comprehend.) So indeed the publication of the OPH was not a commencement but more of a capstone to the enlarged awareness of "preppy" fashion. In addition, the oft-mentioned fact it was penned as a satire usually means that it had to be satirizing something already long in existence and pretty well established. Satirists are by definition reactionary and they have to react to something, in this case a something that had to have been going on for a fair amount of time.

2. Ralph Lauren was able to react very quickly and come up with what seemed like an entire preppy lifestyle overnight because he was able to send a large staff to raid the overstuffed warehouses of Sotheby's, where they simply pulled out old suits, clothing and articles from the 20's through the 70's and had them replicated very quickly. Not much actual design except for some updating but a very, very successful bit of timing and marketing. Many other designers were able to do much the same thing, especially at Perry Ellis and Basco. The preppy fashion wave of the 80's owes a great debt to the tailors of Hong Kong who inspired the mass-market copycatting that took over in New York fashion houses at the time. When the American designers saw the pink and green wave coming they literally had the past at their fingertips waiting to be torn apart, examined and replicated. Quite ingenious and no small part Roman in some ways.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,186 Posts
Ah, the Dorothy Hamill cut. I remember that.

What a cool thread. I appreciate this quote:

''I think men's clothing basically has to be familiar,'' he says. ''But it has to strike you as new at the same time. It's a challenge that I confront every time I design a collection. Men's clothing is harder to design because there are more limitations. It boils down to how many new ideas can you bring to an Irish tweed? I try to do it with color. I try to push the colors a little, so they go beyond the expected. I never want my clothing to look put together, like an outfit. And they must always be designed so khaki pants can be worn with anything.''

I think AP nails it: The 80's preppy was was set off by pastels especially. And of course the hair became over the top BIG in a severely styled way.
 

·
Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
Joined
·
37,088 Posts
Now in my late 50s, I was around during the late-1960s, early 1970s, and lived adjacent to Columbia (granted not the preppiest of the Ivies) and was an active witness. The social forces were inevitable, especially on the Ivy campuses. There may have been some diehard Republicans around who stubbornly adhered to the 1950 dress code in defiance, but nearly everyone was affected. While some students broke their ties with the past and went full counter-culture, most others made concessions with varieties on a theme. So you'd see Levis, work boots, with OCBDs and tweed or cord jackets. Or flowered shirts, khakis and bucks with contrasting laces. There was, I think, much less choice. Hair, certainly, was the most significant element to change with the times, long bushy sideburns, mustaches, before pretty much unknown, became common. I remember as as a high school student in St. Louis in 1968 older friends coming back on break with long hair, 'staches, funny hats. The transformation was nearly all encompassing.
Wow! This thread, indeed this post, brought back some very poignant memories for me...almost like a flashback! Attending Penn State on an AFROTC scholarship in the late 60's, I continued wearing my OCBD's, chinos, etc. and continued keeping my hair cropped rather short, as the student population and even many of the professors took leave of their sartorial, personal grooming and (to me it seemed) their political senses. The extreme shift in "fashion" and hair styles was but the tip of the iceberg. The practical demonstrations of civil disobedience(?) was what most rattled me, leaving what seems an indelible imprint on my psyche. Members of our local SDS chapter napalmed a small dog. Out of control students destroyed many thousands of dollars worth of university and personal property. I was one of several ROTC cadets chased by a rather large and emotionally out of control group of "Hippies" when we dared wear our uniforms, while walking across campus to attend a late afternoon/early evening formation. For a period after that, we were ordered to wear civilian clothes going to and from military formations.

Think what you will of the fashion shifts of the time but, the personal conduct of many of those making such sartorial shifts, left much to be desired!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,291 Posts
What memories, what memories...

I first encountered the word "preppy" applied to clothing/grooming in the summer of 1977, when a female college intern (a vice-residnet's daughter) in our office took one look at my khakis, loafers, OCBD, and foulard tie and exclaimed, "Hey, preppy!" She was arrayed in the feminine equivalent, mostly from LL Bean.

I had updated my wardrobe style little from the early/mid 60s.

The OPH came out three years later.

Entertaining (and informative) thread...Thanks, AP!;)

hbs
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,914 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Now in my late 50s, I was around during the late-1960s, early 1970s, and lived adjacent to Columbia (granted not the preppiest of the Ivies) and was an active witness. The social forces were inevitable, especially on the Ivy campuses. There may have been some diehard Republicans around who stubbornly adhered to the 1950 dress code in defiance, but nearly everyone was affected. While some students broke their ties with the past and went full counter-culture, most others made concessions with varieties on a theme. So you'd see Levis, work boots, with OCBDs and tweed or cord jackets. Or flowered shirts, khakis and bucks with contrasting laces. There was, I think, much less choice. Hair, certainly, was the most significant element to change with the times, long bushy sideburns, mustaches, before pretty much unknown, became common. I remember as as a high school student in St. Louis in 1968 older friends coming back on break with long hair, 'staches, funny hats. The transformation was nearly all encompassing.
Something like this maybe?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,914 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks AP for the great articles. The piece about Duke made me think of Franklin Ford III from the film 'Paper Chase.'

Cheers.
That was a cross-post. Great minds think alike, I guess.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,914 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
So maybe then there was a 1970-1975(?) hippie era where a Mr. Ford or Mr. Hart, Paper Chase style of hidden Ivy was the most you could ask for; the full preppy period from 1976-1981 by which time it had filtered down to the high school level (though not much in my very blue collar high school). I guess one way you could track this was revenues at L.L. Bean. Apparently, they grew by 30% every year between 1967 and 1980 from 3 Million to 120 million. They sold the Maine Hunting Boots and the Chamois shirts before LL died in 67, but I think OCBD's and chinos not really. Seems to roughly track broader political trends as well.

There was then a California pastel preppy period that ran from 1982 through 1987. Probably the Hollywood version of Prep is from here.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,186 Posts
Those Paper Chase photos are a study in desirable dishevelment. You have to have some kind of base sauce of good clothes to make it work -- stuff that you can fling around, get wrinkled, and grow your hair over.
 
1 - 20 of 51 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top