Sunday, August 8, 2010

Dressing Preppie

Maybe it was just just an American thing, but has anyone ever dressed Preppie, when you were in boy mode? Some may know this style as Ivy League.

The look seems to have faded in recent years, but I used to do it all the time, back in the 70's and early eighties. Why? Well......because it was the closest thing to a unisex style that I could come up with, once the early 70's hippie unisex styles went out of fashion. As a preppie, I could get away with wearing essentially the same things the preppie girls were wearing, including smart looking pink shirts. Nearly everything of the preppie style, save for the skirts, dresses, and some select sweaters, had a duplicate item in men's wear. Whether it be loafers, crisp looking twill pants, wool sweaters, tweed blazers, and yes, even clogs! Both boys and girls could wear all these things. The only difference was that the girls clothes were a bit more tailored, giving them an even smarter look.

The preppie style still exists, but it seems that only mostly older middle aged suburban types wear it now, and god love them, but a pot bellied, balding fifty plus year old man in khakis and a pink polo shirt, just doesn't inspire a sense of gender liberation.

What sort of things do any of you wear now, when you don't particularly want to be identified as a male, but still cannot present openly as a female? What exactly is the current unisex style, or has the concept of unisex become an anachronism?

Melissa XX


Claire L Hallam said...

For us cousins on this side of the Atlantic, it took a few moments to recall that term. I was wondering if "Preppie" was a doll in the Barbie range ("Barbie, Ken and Preppie-their androgynous pal!"). Then I remembered, I suppose casual male fashion here is a sort of banal Preppie- chinos, shirt etc. Female fashion has moved back to figure hugging overt femininity, so the Preppie look is now decidedly male if it exists.There doesn't seem to be a common middle look in my age group.
However in the younger and urban quarters there is a "look the same" presentation. Combats and hoodies, and stand around trying to appear menacing. It's not a look that flatters anyone, nor one that fits my wardrobe.

Lucy Melford said...

I suppose that if you are young, you can really get away with wearing almost anything; but older bods must pay some heed to whether they might look ridiculous glammed up like a sixteen year old.

You COULD try the 'Jarvis Cocker' look - the outspoken person who fronted the Britpop band Pulp in the 1990s - who seemed to be very unisex with skinny jeans et al.

For real oldies the attire of a Rolling Stone will do nicely - provided you have a suitably lived-in face (the 'leather-skin look') and radiate a busted-for-drugs-too-often-to-care persona. Wherein lies the snag, because most of us are just too smooth-faced and pretty. So no emulating Mick Jagger or Keith Richards for YOU, Melissa!


Rachel said...

Of course my dress is still bound by the rigid conventions of the British class system.

A morning suit for daytime wear and white tie for diner in the evening.


Rachel XXX

Caroline said...

One simply wears what ever cast off rags one can find.

Caroline xxx

Caroline said...

Oh, there was a post above the comments!

I lived in a unisex world for decades. When it started to vanish as a fashion possibility I was at first annoyed then liberated by being forced to move overtly to women's clothes. Met someone today who actually noticed the change, then again we had been shopping in the same place and often buying the same things.

BTW, Preppie never was taken up here.

Caroline xxx

Jenny said...

For years Mrs. J and I wore the same unform of jeans, t-shirts and trainers, then she smartened up and adopted enviable feminine atire leaving me an anachronistic slob in bloke mode.

Trouble is, I just don't care enough how I look as a bloke to care.

Caroline said...

Bloke or even androgynous as I was what was the point of dressing up?

Caroline xxx

Samantha said...

I for years had only one style of dress. Black slacks, comfortable "beat shoes" and a white button down shirt.

Preppie came and went without even a notice by me.

Wasn't until Earl came along that I started wearing (because he forced me to) jeans, t-shirts and gasp, sneakers and stopped looking like a cop all the time. I wish I was joking. People nearly always figured me instantly for a cop.

That was a long, long time ago in a life so far away that it makes me laugh to even think about it.

I do have to agree that age appropriate clothing has some serious merit. I've seen to many women acting and dressing like teenagers when not appropriate, and that just almost always goes wrong in often the worst ways.

So be careful out there Luv, and say the heck with looking like anyone but you. I am for the most part a country girl, a 40 something woman who blends in and never gets a second look. What "Age" do I dress? Well that's just it, I don't really dress and age, more a lifestyle. Someone young, single, active, and of indeterminate age. Thanks to hrt and taking care of my skin folks often assume I'm as much as half my age, and I'm just fine with that.

I'd say it's working out really, really well, because even when I'm hot and sweaty after a ride, in a t-shirt, cycling shorts, and my hair pulled back in a pony tail people have no trouble determining my gender. Only trouble I ever have with pronouns these days is Miss, Ma'am, or Mrs because sometimes folks assume I'm someone's wife. It's actually quite funny. I spend more time correcting people about my marital status than I ever did about my gender in the early days of my journey.

It's a blessing really.

And don't let anyone say that after 40 you cannot wear miniskirts. I often do, especially working out, and no-one blinks. Then again I'm told I look half my age, so that might have something to do with it.

Veronica said...

Preppy was never for me. I loathe polo shirts, and always have (not sure why). In the old days, I tended to dress like a rocker -- so maybe a bit in the Mick Jagger mould. For many years, it was jeans (sometimes skinny), T-shirt, and jacket. It's amazing what you can get away with if you top it off with a jacket. People think you're dressed up! And runners (sneakers) below, or sometimes sandals. I always hated men's shoes.

Stace said...

I was always chino's and casual cotton shirt... These days I go between that and black t-shirt / black polo with jet black skinny jeans, and white trainers (you can laugh if you like)


Melissa said...

@ Stace

Or should I call you Paladin?

Paladin was a TV cowboy character of the late 1950's on American TV series called, "Have Gun, Will Travel", about a hired gun played by Richard Boone. href="" Paladin was a good guy, but unlike the cowboy heroes of the past, he always dressed in black.

Melissa XX

Calie said...

I loved these comments!! Great post, Melissa.

I tend to wear fairly tight jeans, t-shirts (sometimes a polo, Veronica...sorry), and a sport coat. Probably look a tad gay...but whatever...

Calie xxx

Veronica said...

@Calie: I don't care if anyone else wears polos. :)