Classic prep had another menswear moment in 2008, with the modernization of the rep tie, blazer-shirt-tie-short phenomenon and of course the return of the now ubiquitous (in fashionista circles) bowtie. Cute for a minute, but I am sort of burnt out on men looking like schoolboys…
Yes, some brands, like Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors, have built their empires off of classic American sensibility, yet in most cases they do so less literally (even Ralph). Others like Michael Bastian are melding a preppy vision with an updated, rugged attitude. As traditional as many of our truly preppy brands seem, they still have a somewhat modern edge.
So guys, I think it is time to retire your Vineyard Vines pants, tennis vests (sorry GQ, I know you are touting the return of the tennis sweater) and to save your bowties for special occasions, not every single day!!!
So what do you do if you are a prepster at heart? A friend of mine does what I call “edgy neat” like no other. He manages to infuse elements of traditional prep, like a rep tie or even a symbol of “preppydom”, a polo oxford shirt with a cool almost James Dean meets rocker flare. He finds special vintage pieces such as motorcycle boots or a Belstaff Roadmaster jacket and uses them to exude a more masculine and yes, honestly a more contemporary sensibility. So fashion boys, mix it up a bit! Don’t be so literal all the time. Have fun with preppy pieces, but combine them with non-prep items to create a look that is less twelve year old and more stylish rogue…
If you can part with your preppy ways entirely and are ready to embrace a less obvious way of dressing, start thinking about some of the great collections that are just around the corner for Spring. I am obsessed with Burberry Prorsum. I wish every man could dress this way…effortless, romantic, beyond chic. The color combinations are smart, masculine, subtle and rich and the shapes are relaxed and fluid. Definitely look at the collection Men.Style.com, as it is impossible for me to choose just one look to do it justice. YSL's unstructured collection was also a standout for me and has a slightly similar feel to Burberry Prorsum.
I also can’t get over some of the Dolce & Gabbana tailored looks…Part Madmen, part Clark Kent, part “modernista”!!! The one-button skinny lapel suit is quite sexy… I don’t know about you but I can imagine a guy ripping that suit off and donning a Superman suit underneath (weird superhero fantasy perhaps?).
Finally, thank you Tom Ford! He has ushered in the return of dressing like a man (yes, he does the bowtie, but with less prep and more chic). He is so not trendy, that he has created the ultimate trend…luxurious, simple, sophisticated and yes, always-hot “big boy” clothes! Now, of course, I have been known to say the brand is overpriced and it is, but I won’t take away from the genius it represents!
As in some of my recent womenswear articles, I am just going to subtly introduce you to some of my Spring loves and as we get closer to the time when you can actually wear and buy these clothes, I will give you “low” options as well. I know no one can afford Tom Ford.
In the meantime, please start to pare back some of the preppy references you are all so infatuated with…don’t be so trend literal…it isn’t chic and can look “costumy”… Save some great pieces and start to mix them with some new or perhaps vintage finds. Always remember, the most fashionable are not always the most obvious…sometimes a little quiet sophistication is what will ultimately make you shine!