Some of you will be able to recognize one of my more subliminal but enduring themes of College Trad: my continuing education and promotion of tried-and-true Trad & Prep brands. These are the kind of niche labels that fly under the mainstream radar, and yet carry with them a rich tradition in authenticity and loyal following. Often times, they resonate with regional culture, as seen in such Porn Store,Perlis, with its crawfish logo that is ubiquitous with the prep scene in the deep south Gulf states. Or my fondness for GMP-level outfitters J.Press and Barbour, both of whom are not as hidden underground these days due to their recent explosion of re-discovery by the stylists, but are rather secluded away from popular fashion still (unlike, say Granddaddy Brooks and WASP-for-the-masses Ralph), and thus worthy of the preppier-than-thou “God Mode Preps” that I cheekily have turned into a insider meme for you guys.
From the very launch of CollegeTrad, there is one brand in particular that I have always championed. I first featured my Duck Head chinos in the introductory header for this blog, and have since made posts through the years. I speak to Duck Head’s notoriety amongst Southern Fratdaddies that can trace its lineage back to the original 1980′s Prep Era and beyond; their decline and disappearance in the subsequent years, and then finally to a phoenix reincarnation in 2011. But as some things go, that revival did not last long unfortunately, as the famous yellow and green Duck logo flew away for the Winter once more.
Only to return yet again.
Three years later, Duck Head is going to give it a try for thrice the charm. With new ownership based in Greensboro, NC, and a more intuitive direction that catches up with our updated “back to basics” Americana tastes, Duck Head will fly once more and this time with the same domestically-made quality as it once had when the company started nearly 150 years ago.
Click image below for the new and improved Duck Head:
I’ll be following this re-re-launch closely and am wishing the new guys at the helm best of luck in capturing the popular audience that it once had but has not effectively garnered since. Let us all hope that this historic prep brand can catch the eye of the latest crop of college kids and young patrons! And a note to the new administration: I’d be happy to correspond privately if you ever needed my opinion for marketing research.
I apologize for the absence of updated porn stash pics (…completely disregarded Winter ’13…), so finally here are a few select outfits I have worn in the later parts of spring through the current first half of summer for your inspiration. Keeping to the mission statement of CollegeTrad, I highlighted below a few pick clothing items that obey Rule #10.
Birthday dinner on a temperate afternoon in early April. This chino sportcoat is a repeat offender you’ve seen a few times in past articles, but with good reasoning. I think an unstructured khaki or stone colored sportcoat in cotton or linen is essential in your closet because it’s so versatile as a semi-formal jacket during the mid seasons. The lightness of the neutral tone visually compliments the warm weather and sunshine so impeccably well, creating a relaxed and airy vibe for the rest of your outfit. Great for dressing out on those fashion-forward occasions like a hot date with a classmate from your graduate program or out to a hip gastropub with your coworkers. This should be your third or fourth jacket, after the staple blue blazer and a versatile wool sportcoat (the other 3rd/4th would be a winter coat, like tweed or herringbone.) And the lightweight 14-Whale corduroy is perfect for moderate spring and autumn temperatures.
JCrew Unconstructed Ludlow Sportcoat
Brooks Brothers Non-Iron Spread Collar Dress Shirt, Slim Fit, $35 via “3 for $179 everyday deal” plus additional 30% off Corporate Double Discount Day and stacked $20 Brooks Card Birthday gift card (originally $92)
Brooks Brothers Country Club Fine 14-Whale Corduroy Pants, $30 via eBay (originally $108)
Cole Haan Pinch Penny Loafers, $50 used via eBay (originally $158)
Brooks Brothers argyle socks, made in England
The Cordial Churchman Seersucker Pocket Square, made in USA
American Optical Polarized Original Pilots, made in USA
Hamilton Khaki Field Watch with NATO strap
Study brunch with friends on a humid morning. I recently scored a great wholesale deal on a few pairs of Ralph Lauren shorts in novelty colors from a JCPenny Liquidation Store, just in time for this year’s heat wave. Had them all hemmed from the standard 9″ to 7-7.5″ inseam.
Lacoste Classic Pique Polo, inherited from my father
Ralph Lauren Oxford Cotton Shorts, $15 via JCPenny (originally $80). Hemmed to 7.5″
Rancourt & Co Gilman Camp Moc in Horween Chromexcel Leather, made in USA
Hamilton Khaki Field Watch with NATO Strap
Worn for Easter Sunday and again for a spring wedding. This suit is one of my best treasure finds of my budget hunting career thus far. Beautiful mid-navy sharkskin wool (the below pics don’t do it justice) that was custom made, but returned and ultimately copped by me. Will be my new fashionably forward go-to suit for formal attire. I did have to make a sizable investment to drastically tailor it, which included recutting the pants from a size 36 to 32 (waist altering can be within two inches but anymore will require a more expensive and surgical recut). Definitely well worth the extra $100 though. Total cost of the suit was about $220….originally $2300. Less than 10% of MSRP!
A belt with a suit is unnecessary for non-business occasions. Perfectly fine and even preferred for joyous times like a wedding, where the minimalism replaces conservative overtones that are inherent to a belt meant for the board room. Just be sure your pants waist fits like a glove, or use braces.The details. In this new hyperstylized climate we now find ourselves in (a stark contrast to the pre-”mens style tumblr” days that were void of personal sartorial education and refinement), I find myself making the effort to go against the grain with what has entered the apex of the mainstream fashion demand curve. Mens accessories are a great example of this, where it seems like everyone these days has a pocket square+tie bar+lapel thingy+wrist bracelet+penis ring. This is why I have designated my own tie bar as a benchwarmer for now; worn as an occasional treat instead of as a standard practice (mostly if I am going for an urbanprep look, like a sportcoat paired with a 2″ knit tie and denim) But I still want to have a little something extra for times I want to be noticed and admired. Enter: the collar pin. This niffy byproduct reminiscent of the Gordon Gekko-ian years is a tad more subliminal than a tie bar, but still gives a wink and a smile to your gawking fans. And unlike a tie bar that is ruled by the width ratio of the bar to the tie, a collar pin works for any tie size. Worn best with a french dress shirt with finished holes at the point collar.
The yellow socks and the yellow/navy cotton cuff links nicely compliment with the yellow accents in the tie plaid pattern and the suit’s navy blue. Dress shoes in cordovan and dark browns are the traditional match for navy suits (as well as black), so I played it safe with these burgundy Allen Edmonds Cliftons. But I think a light brown or walnut color looks good as well, even if it breaks the hard fast rules, as long as the occasion welcomes it (i.e. peacocking at your parents’ anniversary luncheon is great, peacocking at an interview is not).Brooks Brothers errrythang…
Custom Made Sharkskin Suit in Mid-Navy, made in USA, $120 via Garland NC Clearance Center (originally $2300)
Madras Plaid Tie, made in USA French Cuffed Dress Shirt with Tie Bar Point Collar, made in USA
Dress Socks in Yellow, made in England
Allen Edmonds Clifton in Burgandy, made in USA, $60 used via eBay (originally $295)
Bucherer Dress Watch
Decided to go full metal preppy for a day outing.
J Press Flap Pocket OCBD, Trim Fit, made in USA
Ralph Lauren Seersucker Shorts, $15 via JCPenny (originally $80). Hemmed to 7″
Allen Edmonds Westchester Loafers in Walnut, made in USA,
$130 used via eBay (originally $385)
Leatherman Ltd. Surcingle Belt, made in USA
Seiko SKX009 Watch
Persol Polarized Sunglasses
One of the codes of conduct I follow in accordance to an authentic preppy lifestyle is the theme of staying “true to yourself”. It is the reason why I praise motif belts that show your hobbies, or buying a souvenir frocket tee from a favorite restaurant as opposed to Vineyard Vines. I am against fabricated representations: logo sport patches selling a brand instead of a real athletic club, predistressed graphic tees, garish oversized logos, and so on. Furthermore, this resilience to the contrived seeps into the occlusion of other cringey clothing habits. Let me illustrate: You know that one kid who walks around campus in a crimson red tee with HARVARD displayed proudly for all to see? Wait…you guys are still enrolled at William & Mary, right? And you’re pretty sure he is an undergrad student since you see him run around with a broom between his legs at Quidditch practice. Then unless that dude transferred (doubt it) then there is no reason for him to wear another school’s shirt that he did not attend, at another school’s campus no less….That kind of cringe.
But not to say there isn’t a small grey area either. I happen to have grown up in Durham, just a stone’s throw and a window cracking away from Duke University, and have quite a few connections to the institution and health system. Friends who currently attend or graduated from there, a few family members work there, I used to work there, and I see Coach K often enough that it isn’t mere coincidence. Living on Tobacco Road forces you to pick a religion (baptism into a local ACC college basketball house that is), so naturally it was easy for me to like the darker, *cough* correct *cough* shade of blue. We have no other major sports teams in Raleigh-Durham other than from the NHL, so the Blue Devils and Kevin Costner’s minor league Bulls fight for the pride of our town. I vividly remember all throughout grade school the bragging rights or the walk of shame each person had the morning after a big game. And seeing how our excellent men’s LAX team won the national title again this year, I don’t mind wearing this championship shirt around my hometown. Just not at the schools I actually attend and rarely anytime outside of NC. And I draw the line at university gear that are not team affiliated. Indeed, yes you can represent a faucet of interest in your own life as long as you can back it up with some inkling of familiar connection. I like to think of myself as a psuedo Duke alumni, even without that really really really expensive piece of really expensive paper.
TFM: interplaying casual clothing with formal loafers. Nothing frattier than lacrosse.
University Bookstore T-Shirt
Columbia PFG Half Moon Shorts
Allen Edmonds Westchester Loafers in Walnut, made in USA
Seiko 5 Watch
Another combo suitable for a King Fratdaddy. Worn to an outdoor nature exhibit where I wanted to be in comfortable shoes.
Ralph Lauren Chino Shorts, $7 thrifted (originally $70). Tapered and hemmed to 7.5″
New Balance 993, made in USA
The Game College Bar Hat
Seiko 5 Watch
Business casual. Fun socks to brighten up the bland.
Brooks Brothers Non-Iron OCBD, Houndstooth Light Blue, Slim Fit
Brooks Brothers Advantage Chino, Milano Fit
Brooks Brothers Argyle Socks, made in England
Cole Haan Pinch Penny Loafers Trafalgar Engine Turned Plaque with with brown calfskin strap
Seiko 5 Watch
Dinner and a movie. Lavender (and Lilac) is one of my favorite colors for spring. Think of it as a spiritual descendant of that other standard choice of vanity…Lavender is the new Pink is the new Orange is the new Black. Going for a sophisticated neoprep look, I wore my tortoise shells that match the rich tannery of the belt that match the texture of the bucks.
Brooks Brothers Non-Iron OCBD, Lavender Gingham, Slim Fit, $35 via “3 for $179 everyday deal” plus additional 30% off Corporate Double Discount Day and stacked $20 Brooks Card Birthday gift card (originally $92) Raleigh Denim, Jones Fit, made in USA, $110 used via eBay (originally $285)
Cole Haan Saddle Bucks, made in USA LL Bean Chino Belt, 1″ width, vintage, made in USA
Banana Republic loafer socks
Persol Tortoise Shell Eyeglasses
Memorial Day church service and family picnic.
The details. The bowtie has a nautical theme on the reverse side. I liked how the light blue backdrop matches the oxford pants.
Brooks Brothers Windowpane Sport Coat in Navy, made in USA
Brooks Brothers OCBD, Slim Fit, made in USA
Brooks Brothers Reversible Bow Tie, made in USA, gift
Brooks Brothers Pocket Square, made in USA, gift
Lands End Oxford Cotton Pants
Allen Edmonds Grayson Tassel Loafers in Merlot, made in USA, $100 used via eBay (originally $365) Trafalgar Engine Turned Plaque with brown calfskin strap
Bucherer Dress Watch
I had received a few messages from you guys asking for swimwear ideas for the upcoming summer season. Unfortunately, I am too late catching you before heading out with the Brothers on your Spring Break road trip from Columbia to that coastal SEC stronghold that is the one and only Gulf Shores. But we’ll have plenty more sunshine to bake under while we have our drunken fun, as Summer Term I rolls out (time to take that blow-off general ed. credit!) and the first round of the midyear holidays arrives with upcoming Memorial Weekend in a few days, bringing us short shorts, and even-shorter skirts kind of weather. Perfect for “studying” for the Western Civilization midterm while you tan shirtless on the bell tower quad, taking glances from behind the safety of your Persols at the incoming barely legal frosh girls, still sweet and innocent as they tour the campus with their parents, in those awesome thigh-revealing Nike athletic shorts that all Daddy’s lil’ future sorostitutes start collecting for the dorm/gym/everything.
Or maybe instead of sticking close to College St. for the break, you find yourself heading home and catching up with your high school buddies. (Who got fat and pregnant this year?) Undoubtedly you will be invited to someone’s friend’s backyard pool party, where you can hit on your little sister’s 10th grade friends. Perhaps your cousin invites you out to the Lake Michigan on his Yamaha with a few beers chilling in his ol’ Yeti that his college Theta sweetheart decorated for him (married now for 5 years strong!). Or maybe you just want to head out to the pier with you golden retriever to the pier to catch a few fish as the sun sets well into the night.
All of these spirited occasions call for the most casual of preppy attire. I’ll loosely label this topic as “Swim Trunks”, alluding to aquatic use, but it can also cover all the times your toes dig deep into the sand or when your neck gets attacked by mosquitos at a poolside barbecue. For all the times a body of water is nearby or if you just want an alternative to stuffy chino shorts while sunbathing at the deck. Thus keeping to our preppy and fratty tradition, below are my personal picks.
For the younger crowd who are still in college or are post grad by a few years, you can easily get away with TFM. I prefer only two shorts for this theme: Patagonia 5″ Inseam Baggies and Vineyard Vines Chappy Trunks. Those two brands obviously come into play as amongst the ultimate fratdaddy approved, but their swimwear also coincides with my short inseam campaign by hitting well above the knee (which is not only fratty but also has utility too: less fabric to weigh you down with water log). Having one of each should carry you through, as I currently do, but feel free to collect more colors and patterns if you visit the beach more often. I especially like the classically popular Chappy motifs of preppy paisley graphics.
Patagonia does offer a 7″ Inseam Baggies, but since these shorts have a high rise, the inseam is not short enough for our purposes, causing it to hit just above the knee and not well above for our tastes. So I recommend the 5″ unless you are a freakishly tall manmore.
Perhaps noticeably missing are the shorts from Ralph Lauren. These tend to also be a fratdaddy favorite, but I personally advise against them solely because Blue Label apparel with the visible Pony logo has now fallen out of favor. I’ve talked about this transition before in past writings, but simply put, a Pony is not as fratastic nor preppy as the Whale or the Dusk Mountain Range in the curriculum of preppier than thou’. Sorry Ralph! But your staple polo shirt (and in this instance your trunks) with those increasingly larger and larger pony logos are just too mainstream to be considered novel by our elitist tastes.
And speaking of logos, I am also adverse to our usual suspects such as Brooks Brothers or J Press York St. Yes, they too offer trunks, but I like the Golden Fleece as it was originally intended: for trad attire and not for athletic and swimwear. I like to keep my brands separated within their realm of perceived expertise. You wouldn’t buy an expensive timepiece from a fashion house like Burberry, and instead opt for a real watch maker like Omega. Same deduction.
Which then leads me to the newer crop of frat goodies. The likes of Southern Marsh, Southern Tide, and Chubbies have entered the swim market, but I will refer you to the caveat of the above explanation. Although, I can see a freshman buying one for his third or fourth pair. But my bounded idiosyncrasies about these matters pull me back to the null statement: you only have a relatively short window of time to wear these options. I’d say anything past a few years out of school gives you the hint to retire the frat labels.
I’ve endorsed Chubbies before because I like their spirit and dedication to my #ShortShorts (or #ThighsOut) campaign. Their selection comes in Swim and Boat Shorts. I especially like the unique “Sperry Top Sider” leather detail at the back. Recently they also came out with a Nautical collection with some interesting and flashy designs, but don’t appear to be necessarily water proof. Good for eating crabcakes on your yacht though! If I had to choose a fratdaddy company then Chubs’ would get my take.
But to play it safe for your staple pair, and to keep me from having an aneurysm, just take my word for it: Baggies or Chappies.
So what does happen a few years down the line after your college days? What would a Fratdaddy turned Trad-actually-is-a-daddy wear? I think the Baggies and Chappys are still fair game to a certain extent, although possibly no longer of first tier preference. Here again, I keep to the classic school of thought for the answer, and go to the established experts, and in particular to two highly established surfing companies. Quicksilver was one of the first of the major surfing brands to offer short-inseam styles (a welcome change from the low hanging, baggy boardshorts that makes no sense in practical terms…water log!) about five years ago as an ode to the hip hugging 1970′s. And Sundeck Rainbow board shorts actually lived famously during those times, adorning the pioneering Califronia Dreamin’ wave riders, and finally coming back to prominence when the company was reintroduced as a higher-end swim trunk option in 2008.
I would get a funky print or vintage pattern with Quicksilver. They go by outseam; the below model is 18″ which translates to 7″ inseam.
Sundek is what I’ll be wearing until I am a grandpa and creepin’ on the bikini clad ladies. The famous Rainbow is to swimwear as what Clubmasters are for sunglasses, in that they may trace their heritage to the mid-century, and therefore are what seasoned trads would wear.
Goes hand in hand with swimwear. Rainbow Sandals. That’s it. There is no wiggle room here. I remember when my older brother bought his first pair in 1998 when it was still just known among surfers (he still has that pair too). Now they’ve risen to the notoriety of being the only acceptable, non-el cheapo pair of flip flops for men. This transcends our sub community of trad/prep/frat btw; I say this as a blanket statement for all.
I got my first pair in freshman year of high school and only had to replace with a second just a few years ago because the soles had worn through – I suspect the switch away from Made in USA manufacturing that my brother was lucky enough to benefit from may have played into the decline in the historically very reputable quality. Nevertheless, I recommend Rainbow Sandals and Rainbow only. The single layer in brown leather is all you need.
Just don’t let me see your nasty ass jacked toes outside the boundary of dress code regarded in this article. Grown men in flip flops otherwise is just gross.
How To Wear:
As mentioned in the opening dialogue, you can wear trunks for its explicit use in the water, or to “pseudo aqueous” occasions like tanning or freeballing (*wink). The Baggies in particular can double as lounge shorts and can be frequently seen on campus, with Greeks mixmatching with OCBDs or frockets. I love them for swimming, hiking, or events of extremely minimal effort from my part.
Going into the deep blue. Besides the obvious like a towel and sunscreen, I always accessorize with headgear and sunglasses to keep sun exposure down. I also prefer to bring a sport watch but usually keep it in my beach bag once I get there to reduce tan lines or potential mechanical injury (just because it is water-resistant does not mean it loves salt!)
Frocket at the back! Sneak one past the lifeguard.
Besides frocket tees, another TFM move is wearing an old lax or soccer pinnie (and I’ve seen some universities sell them too). Mind you, this is strictly for the boardwalk or for bathroom breaks between soaking up the sun. The point is that you will take off your top at some point.
I know. DYEL? fffffuuuUUUUUU
If you don’t want to show off your belly ring then you can bring a tank instead. This one was freebie swag from Chubbies. Shown with my Vineyard Vines Chappy. I said earlier that I like the crazier designs, but ultimately chose this pattern to err on minimalism (as comparatively minimal as plaid can be I suppose) since this is my only pair.
Pushing arm fat for illusion.
Thighs Out, agreed!
Speaking of Chubbies- I reveal to the world my ‘Muricas! These aren’t trunks but can still be worn in similar fashion outside the water. Kept only for special occasions; notably a July 4th house party last year. And yeah, this does go against my own rules regarding such matters, flying against my earlier sentiment in related posts. I will probably withdraw them from its short run in a few years anyway, as my youthful window of excuse tick tocks quickly away (although I can reserve it for lazy afternoons around the apartment), and am indeed already past my prime for this level of fratitude. However, I do hope to enjoy these abominations of Going to Hell a little longer.
Worn for the pseudo aqueous stuff like cookouts or picnics on the lawn. Preferably during a summer holiday weekend.
Put the back frocket to good use. I got your Stars and Stripes right here buddy!