Preppy Wear (part 1)

by MWM


Classic Ivy League Prep Style

One of the styles I admire is prep style. Though parts and pieces of it originated earlier, it bloomed and gained recognition as a menswear fashion movement in American ivy league schools in the 60’s. It was mostly worn by affluent whites, but has since been appropriated by many cultures and sub groups.

modern black prep

“Black Ivy” style (l), and prep inspired modern (r)

I would describe it as classical clothes that tend to be a bit dressed up and formal – button-front shirts, slacks, polos – but worn and styled in a way that is casual and laid back (a bit wrinkled, not too fussy and rigid).


One of the more popular purveyors of the style is the Kennedy clan, specifically former President John F. Kennedy, his siblings, and (in modern times) his son, JFK jr. Something about the way he/they carried himself/themselves – confident, nonchalant – appealed to many men, making them into style icons that remain influential up until today.

So how can that be applied locally? Here are some picks:

When you say “preppy,” it usually denotes two things – the OCBD and khaki pants, the former in light or sky blue, and the latter in beige. However, it’s sort of difficult to pull off locally without looking like a schoolboy, as it is the school uniform of students from Ateneo de Manila.


Want to look like this (l), but end up looking like that (r)

So, as to not look like a schoolboy, find variety and twist on the classics to differentiate yourself. Instead of solid light blue, why not blue stripes, or a gingham pattern? Instead of khaki pants, try olive or navy instead.


Subtly different

Sweaters and blazers aren’t really appropriate for most causal, hot-weather circumstances. However, when indoors or somewhere cold, one of my go-to pieces is a cardigan – not as formal as a blazer, but is able to dress and class up a polo or even a tee.


Navy goes with anything, maroon for some pop

Accessories and footwear – most guys don’t usually wear a tie, so to add some pop of detail that draws the eye, how about a multi-stripe belt? Another way to add tasteful color is a watch with a colored NATO strap (also a prep staple).


For shoes, the usual mainstays are loafers, boat shoes and clean, simple sneakers. Interchangeable with any ensemble and will never go out of style.


Will come back in part 2 with other suggested ensembles…