Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T Pullover

Patagonia SynchillaBeen had Synchilla

 

I admit it. It’s an unhealthy obsession.

And with close to 30 years of one-of-a-kind mouth watering colors and patterns, there’s just too many to choose from. So far I have four trophies. A normal person would say that is enough. Why have so many of the same thing? Jeez, is that a new one? But the mind of a deranged fanatic doesn’t quit. There is always one more victim waiting to be hung on the wall.

It can be traced back to the pre-CT days when I was just getting into our beloved style. Wasn’t long before coming across a few threads at AAAC about the forefather preps of the 80′s and what they wore when they were undergrads. Before then, I had never heard of it, and never knew what to look for if ever chanced upon in public. But now, it’s one of the few clothing items I’ll instantly give respect to if seen across the room. To put it simply, the Patagonia Synchilla is the original fleece outerwear. A portmanteau of “synthetic – chinchilla” (homage to the fiber’s acting like a second skin, keeping you warm like a chirpy animal in the Andes), famous rock climber and Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard helped usher in the era of fleece, with the Synchilla being introduced in 1985. It soon became associated with the prep scene and the likes of LLBean and Gap grabbed on with similar styles, with the path eventually leading to the tech prep fleece minefield of today. With these kinds of yuppie roots and longevity, it wasn’t long before I was scouring eBay. While everyone had their North Face Denali, I wanted to bring back the true champion, and found my first Synchilla for a cool ten bucks (top left in the title picture).

I’ve noticed that they’ve made a faithful resurgence. It’s why you’ll see me have an erection every time I find one in the wild in my Campus Pervert articles, as if I am trying to convince you of their awesomeness. But it’s not as out of the ordinary these days in my area compared to even a few years ago, since I can spot a middle schooler fresh from soccer practice at my Whole Foods wearing them, thanks to his older sibling who just pledged St. Elmos at UVA no doubt. But you can still see the divide between those who are and who aren’t cheekily “in the know” crowd. The Synchilla definitely goes with the imagery: the God Mode Prep kid driving his ’98 V70 wagon to the aquatic center at Choate, his Synchilla, passed down from his Dad who wore it in his pub crawling during b-school at Wharton, laying next to his goggles and jammer, ready to warm him up for the cool Connecticut evenings after the meet. They may not be truly “trad” as synthetic outerwear, but with each new generation of preps, yuppies, fratdaddies, and neo-trads, the word will evolve with its meaning. Surely the Synchilla will cement itself into our history with a final transcendence from prepdom to tradom.

And what’s not to love? The frocket to hold your sunglasses and chapstick. The bright, alternate coloring of the piping and patch pocket. The somehow majestic mechanism of the pullover itself, and not some dime a dozen fleece zip up, especially with the oh-so-lovely touch of croakies and Costas peeking out the neck. It comes in an array of different colors each season, and with the return of the Native American prints two years ago (the vintage ones go for over $100 on eBay) for the frattier-than-thou folks to GTH each other out, yours truly guilty, it would be a crime to just have only one! I decided to break the basic color spectrum for my third, the Yanaba Forge Grey pictured bottom right, which was the phoenix flagship of the patterned Synchilla in 2012.

Dress them up, dress them down (given the appropriate kind of formal occasion of course- think brisk walk to the family reunion dinner at the beachside restaurant). They look good with a bow tie and an OCBD for the weekly brother’s meeting. Or to the gym. Or out with the guys. The Synchilla is my mainstay casual jacket, worn the most out of anything else in my closet for day to day wear. Shaggy dogs and Synchillas: these GMP-level items debut each new F/W season with a limited assortment of colors offered that often may not appear for a long time again…these are my drugs.

As alluded, I don’t own any North Face gear, and especially keep away those black jackets with a white logo. They’ve overstayed their welcome and have lost its preppiness, best left for the sorority chicks in their “don’t wanna dress up for class” uniform of NF, Uggs, and yoga pants [pumpkin spice chai latte optional]. So don’t be like this guy or this guy playing that guy. North Face lost it’s cool somewhere in the mid 2000s, because that’s when I remember them making its way into high school. Same could be said with the Synchila of course, but it’s the original fleece, man, and Patagucci is hard to beat in terms of frattytude legendary status. So leave the Denali to “it’s cold enough to wear a jacket but warm enough to wear flip flops, or my body has blood circulation issues ” guy or “baggy jeans with running sneakers because I’m a guy who just doesn’t care about money, fame, and looks” guy.

Although that Zuckerberg guy wears NF and he shouldn’t be made fun of. He has billions you know.

Where to buy

If you’re a Synchilla virgin waiting for marriage, I’d suggest buying your first wife on eBay, where you can find vintage ones for under $25 (wait for the warmer months where demand is not as high). It’s also my resource for finding the hard to get colors, like the Rust with blue piping, top right in the title, that took me almost two months to find. I’d also suggest buying a coveted “Made in USA” for your first, before Patagonia made the switch to off shores. My most recent buy, the Oatmeal with dark green piping at bottom left, is especially tough to find and took me almost a year (unhealthy obsession, I tell you!) of varied searches. I’ve seen them go well over $100, and I was luckily enough to score mine for less than $50 ;) . Sadly, the American made Oatmeals only come with the dark green piping, while foreign made ones come with blue or red which I preferred if not outweighed by the country of origin. But can’t have all the luck I suppose! The reason the lighter colored Creme and Oatmeal Synchillas are so prized is because they hadn’t been offered for the mens collection in probably over a decade, and while everyone has a black or navy blue, I have yet to see any guy with a clean, crisp shade, great for matching with dark colored chinos or athletic shorts. However, for those of you not wanting to put in the relentless work that I did, lucky for you there is a  “Bleached Stone” offered for the 2014 Spring. Good for Patagonia to recognize the demand. The only difference between mine and the newest appears to be the coloring of the snap buttons and the white gradient variation. Oh, and mine is Made in USA, yours in Nicaragua. Suck it.

Patagonia Synchilla USA

Along with the callback of the sweet Native American patterns (the newer ones have the patch frocket, the older ones do not), Patagonia also introduced a Lightweight version, less by about 4 oz than the original. If you want a popular color or pattern, I’d suggest buying them brand new for $99, and since we are nearing the end of F/W season, you can buy the winter weight for $83 if you can find your size, discounted from the regular price of $119. Otherwise, hunt for deals with several third party retailers, such as AfterSchool and 6pm.

I was able to buy my Forge Grey, the only one I purchased new actually, from ShoeBuy which usually offers 10-20% discount off of regularly priced items plus free shipping if you do an internet search for a code. So I was able to get mine for under $100 from the regular $119 at the start of the season for maximum savings.

Patagonia Synchilla Logo

 

Turns out I’m not the only one with this obsession after all. A few more readings for your unabated pleasure: A Trip Down South, Dreams of Perfection, Red Clay Soul, and good ol’ Muffy.

 

 

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What is “Fratty”?

Ahh…college.

Around this time of year, soon-to-be college students all across the country depart from their mediocre high school existence and prepare to enter a beautiful rite of passage known as Freshman Year…just as supposedly-wisdomed and matured Seniors graduate with their Bachelors Degree and a beer pot belly.

Some of you who are from the sunny West or across the blue Atlantic have inquired about the “Frat Daddy” label. What exactly is fratty style? And how can I do it right? Well, just like my trad mannerisms, there are some do’s and many don’ts, but the style should not be confused with authentic trad and prepdom. Because technically, fratty style consists of all dont’s. But I do realize that the name of my blog prominently directs your attention to collegiate fashions, and a little walk off the beaten trail doesn’t hurt every once in a while, which is precisely why I have this fratty category to begin with.

Here is what Frat Daddyism certainly is not:

Not necessarily fashionable nor correctly preppy.

Not necessarily endorsed by me, Tony from College Trad.

Definitely not to be worn past the age of late 20s at the very extreme.

So paranoid am I about this message that I have added caveats to the more extravagant demonstration pictures following below, just in case some of you bastards Pin or Tumblr my pictures for all the world to see. Frat Daddyism does not accurately represent the backbone of College Trad and flies in direct opposition to the advice put forth here. I am trying to get you away from looking like a dorm room coed, and more into a knowledgable and fashionable youthful appearance. Thus, there goes my admonition.

Here is a general gist of what Frat Daddyism is:

A style of dress influenced by preppy East Coast style. As such, usually seen on the American East Coast and Southern campuses.

Very prevalent among Greek Members, although any Geed can wear it too.

Regional preferences between the Northeast, Southeast, South, and Southwest affects the style, but in essence, they are all equally bad. (lol)

Frat Daddys are associated with douchebags, debauchery, and disgust. Awesome.

Reference TFM for more info or watch the title Youtube clip and their channel.

Dressing fratty is about combining adolescence, athleticism, and the Go To Fucking Hell attitude of mix & matching with aspects of traditional American styling. It’s become an elaborate “tag you’re it” game these days, like who can out-frat the next brother. Lots of in your face clothing that looks wonderfully hideous and usually chaperoned by a zero chance of remorse. Frat daddies represent a herd culture like any other group of like-minded people on your typical college campus. They like to bastardize trad clothing and call it their own. But, unlike the hipsters or sandals-wearing folk, there is some potential for growth into true, fashionable prepdom. For many 18 year olds, fratty style is the first foray into dressing well, introducing fresh faces to the enjoyment of tradition and heritage. Blue blazers with gold buttons. Chinos with cuffs. Leather shoes with hard soles. Hell, even boat shoes. The finer things in life, as it turns out, can be sourced from the not-so-elegant. That Vineyard Vines frat kid can very well turn into a successful, Oxxford suited executive one day, and all because his Big Brother first introduced him to the uniform years ago.

Here are some highlights of Frat Daddyism. You’ll see some reoccurring themes, like the croakies and the high top athletic socks for example. Enjoy and take it all in but keep the snickering to yourself, you clothing elitist snobs!

Typical fratty attire. During the warmer months, your standard guise consists of a pocket t shirt (aka fratty + pocket = frocket), pastel shorts ending well above the knee, high top athletic socks, fratty approved sneakers, and a cold brewski. Good for casual events or sleeping in the classroom. Just don’t let the professor see the alcohol.

3When it gets chilly, add a Fratagonia Synchilla pull over fleece and you are good to go. Plus those socks will keep your calves warm. Because that was totally the intent.3abA less obtrusive and more trad-honoring costume, so I figured a warning sign wasn’t needed here. Worn for times you feel like dressing up a bit more. Garden parties, rush dinners, and taking out your Kappa girlfriend perhaps. Don’t forget to GTH your outfit any chance you get, with a cult classic Brooks Brothers Fun Shirt (one of the guys in the video has the same one actually), The Game College Bar hat, GMP level Duck Head short inseamed shorts, and sockless pennies. Fraternity belt and croakies to show off the letters, or any other motif belt would suffice given it is a navy tone and doesn’t have too much of a pattern so it can ground the GTHellness of the Fun Shirt.

1Utilize your pockets. On game days, you can put the cheering stick in your back pocket if you don’t already have a beer bottle there. I have my College Bar hat in my side pocket but I have seen fratbrahs stuff it in their backside into the shorts, with the brim flattened and flushed against the lower back.2There are many southern lifestyle brands out there, but stick with New England preppy Vineyard Vines and original frat hard Southern Tide from the start. Many newer companies have become too much of a copy cat and should generally be avoided unless they bring something unique to the table. Like motif state belts from Volunteer Traditions. And Chubbies.

Here is a Southern Tide polo with the famous Skipjack, Stand Ups with 7″ inseam, and devilishly mixed and matched high top socks and Sperry Topsiders.

4a

What’s the deal with those high top athletic socks anyway? It is custom to wear high tops on the field for prep school sports like lacrosse and soccer, and since a part of the whole Frat Daddy experience glorifies being a jock, you want to appear like you can jump into lax stick drills while dodging pesky GDI nerds at the gym and fast breaking to the lunch line. I prefer New Balance high tops to match my 993s, and to be different from all the other Nike worshiping kids. I swear, entire chapters swarm the nearest Foot Locker and buy out the entire Nike sock section.

But…but…athletic socks with boat shoes? Yup, seen it before numerous times. Nope, I don’t approve of this at all.

At the lakehouse or the beach. Old lax pinnie, Fratagonia 5″ Baggies, and classic Rainbow sandals- only to be worn near a body of water or in between bouts of tanning on the quad. I’ll trust you guys to know that this is for days of abundant sunshine and aquatic fun, so I left off the heed of caution.

5The classic blue blazer and bowtie combo. To all incoming pledges: learn this well! Have fun with it and incorporate colors or patterns that match the event. For fraternity galas, splash in your brotherhood colors. At football games, wear Pennington & Bailes stadium pants. At fratastic horse derbies or outdoor sporting events like the Carolina Cup or the Harriman Cup, go classy with a seersucker or madras sports coat. Since this picture was taken around Memorial Day, I wore ‘Murican Red, White, and Blue bowtie and oxford cloth pants. Smathers & Branson needlepoint flask hidden in your jacket inner pocket is basically required.6In the autumn, a popular look is pairing a vest with a tattersall OCBD. Ideally, you’d have a fleece Fratagucci vest or a quilted Barbour waistcoat but I do not personally own either so I used my Brooks Brothers inner lining vest which seems doable on a whim. Add cuffed no-break chinos and you are game set for beerpong at the Pike house party. And as always, croakies and college hat pairs well. Sure. Even when it’s night time.7One more outfit to assault the senses. Worn for dorming around or a quick trip to Redbox. Brooks Brothers long sleeve frocket, old game lax shorts, high tops and Bean Boot Mocs. Captain Morgan pose and brewmeiski cozie not included.

8a

Some general tips:

Keep the inseams short.

As with trad clothing advise, keep to one GoToHades piece at a time.

The more beat up the leather or cloth, the better.

Pair formal with informal (i.e. high top socks with loafers).

Trust these fratty companies for branded apparel: Vineyard Vines, Southern Tide, Southern Marsh, and Southern Proper.Then donate them to your younger cousin after college.

Don’t forget the classic brands like Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren.These can actually be worn well into adulthood.

Speaking of which, logos matter a whole lot to the sheep crowd. Golden Fleece reigns supreme. The Polo is too mainstream in my opinion.

Take advantage of regional differences. Wrangler jeans and Roper boots at TCU. Columbia PFG fishing gear at Ole Miss. Barbour oiled coats for Georgetown. Perlis polos for LSU. Look around and take note.

Teen brands Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle are so not TFM. Neither are huka shells and popped collars. They haven’t been seen on a true Frat Daddy since the 90s.

Dressing and being part of a fraternity doesn’t mean you have to partake in every sinful act. That’s just my general piece of advise. You don’t want to actually be a douchebag with multiple STDs and Skoal breath. Stay safe.

Most importantly: Be fratty at school. Be classy everywhere else.

Fratty style is okay when you’re young. You are allowed to make mistakes at this age. Yours truely used to dress this way, and still adopts some bearing of Frat Daddyism while still in his mid 20s and graduate school. But I can hear the sirens calling over the horizon. At graduation, please leave the TFM and croakies to the new generation of foreveryoungin’s and learn to appreciate your new found inkling for gentlemanly haberdashery.

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Tech Prep

IMG_0872Extreme rock climbing…3 feet from the ground.

A recent email from a reader asked for my advice on a particular embarkation he was gearing up for: A week long backpacking adventure through the Colorado Rockies. He was looking for an outdoor kit that could be be both preppy and practical at the same time. I commended him for wanting to kill two birds with one stone, because like in any activity, there is a way to collaborate Usefulness and Prep-approved style. The multifunctional ensemble that I speak of can be worn scaling the mountain or descending the campus library steps, while trekking the fine line between a bandana wearing, months of hair growth mountain grizzly man and a try-hard Patagucci “Look, I’m walking off the path!” city slicker.

Let me prologue that I am not an avid outdoorsman. I’m not really into fishing, which is why I don’t buy into the Salt Life and Guy Harvey southern boy craze, nor can I claim that I know how to survive off the land with only a toothpick and my own piss. But I do enjoy the occasional hiking trail and mountain bike ride (just purchased a new GT Karakoram 29er that I’m excited to break in this summer!) So the extent of my knowledge for outdoor gear is based on beauty beheld by my tradly eye and what I consider preppy and utilitarian. Hence the labeled name: Tech Prep.

Using the specific clothing checklist that the reader provided, I replied back to him with products that I thought exemplified Tech Prep. To set up the ambiance of what I mean by the lifestyle afforded to the preppy outdoors, I’ll go with the allusions that I am so fond of doing with these articles.

Imagine a Vermont born and raised 4th year undergraduate student who attends an earth-crunchy liberal arts college. Perhaps one of those small elite schools like Bowdoin, Hamilton, or Sewanee. Studies political science and is in the midst of finishing his law school application to UVA, but plans on doing a gap year to travel to Machu Picchu and explore the Slavic countries. Right now he is water rafting at the nearby rapids. A casual outfit to him is an unbranded frocket, 5″ inseam duck cloth shorts, and TEVA sandals. Possibly mistaken for a hippy if it wasn’t for the fraternity letters and boating association stickers on the back of his 1998 Classic Cherokee, lifted with accompanying fog lamps and roof carriage. Still smokes reefer like a hippy though. He packs up his single seater kayak and heads to town to meet up with his buddies for a basement party at the lacrosse house.

Not as clean cut as my Harvard Boy or elitist as my GMP allegories, but who’s to say that young man…you…can’t be all three?

I categorized this article under “Frat Daddy” because Tech Prep tends to be a youthful jibe into college kid territory. And it truly is the joining hands of technical wear and preppy style. Utility is represented best with tech wear that you can use in daily life. It started early for me in high school, when all the popular girls started wearing this black fleece jacket with lots of pockets and a funny looking symbol in the back near the top right shoulder. Who knew that in the coming years it would dominate the college landscape? And you’ll see other outdoorsey crossovers like rain shell jackets on sorority sisters and fisherman sportswear on southern fratters. Maybe there was a time when a fleece jacket was only worn by the serious campers, but nowadays it’s almost a necessity for lounging around at the coffee shop with your sweatpants and Rainbows on an exam night.

There are a few brands that really live up to Tech Prep. North Face is certainly not one of them (it became too trendy as soon as those popular high school girls got their hands on them). Patagonia is the current reigning champion, and most of my outdoor clothing is from them. And three of their products have become classics in the modern day prep era: the Synchilla Snap T sweater that you’ve seen me talk of countless times before, the Stand Up shorts, and the Baggies Water Shorts. A personal nomination from me would be Patagonia’s Torrentshell as well. The above iconic pieces should be in everyone’s dresser, even if only worn for the intended purpose of rugged activity and not really for casual use. The Stand Ups and Baggies get the appointment due to their trad mannerism availability in 5″ and 7″ inseams (rock out with your pasty thighs out!). And the Synchilla has helped usher in the dawn of the modern prep era and introduction of Tech Prep, warming up college students since the 1980s.

Other brands that I like include Mountain Hardwear, Actyx (which supposedly is the favored amongst the hardcore outdoor bunch), Columbia PFG (“Performance Fishing Gear”), and Merrell active shoes. REI also carries a great in-house brands for the budget conscious and has cool membership benefits (joining only costs $20).

The art of the cross over from mountain slope to daily wear is easy when you take the pragmatic approach. Wear your Stand Ups with its plenty of thigh room on a warm day to help cool off your manhood jibblies. Mix the formlessness of a social dinner with a bowtie, croakies with sunglasses, and rain shell jacket when the summer storm moves in from the east and blocks the prior sunlight with its torrential downpour over the country club grounds. I wouldn’t wear Tech Prep on tradlier-than-thou occasions, but if it’s college or “hanging out” related for an informal convenience then it is all fair game. Or try a favorite combo of mine by replacing your regular chino shorts with the explorer shorts paired to a tucked in OCBD and motif belt.

Here are some pictures of outings to parks and trails highlighting my sporting apparel.

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Patagonia Frocket, made in USA
Patagonia Stand Ups 7″
Merrell Waterproof XC Moab Trainers
The Game College Bar hat
Bolle Anaconda sunglasses and Croakies

 

Rock climbing. I love Stand Ups and PFG shorts because the leg openings are cut wide for ample allotment for movement. They also offer lots of storage (literally the only cargo shorts that I allow) and are lightweight and comfortable. Enjoyed by frat daddies everywhere. You can also bridge over athletic apparel for its function. Here I wore a sweat wicking t shirt to help keep me cool that I normally wear at the gym.
IMG_0849 IMG_0867 IMG_0873 IMG_0890
Local Sport Store Branded athletic t-shirt
Columbia PFG Half Moon Shorts
Merrell Waterproof XC Moab Trainers

 

You’ll recognize this back setting from my hike last Autumn with the Lady, seen in My Porn Stash.

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Patagonia Synchilla Snap T with Yanaba print
Patagonia Stand Up shorts, 7″ inseam
Hamilton Khaki field watch

 

Lastly, here is the list provided to the reader that asked for precise examples for his week long epic journey. Again, these are just choices that I compiled stemming from my own tastes combined with customer review, and there are certainly other alternatives. You can’t go wrong with buying all of your accessories from a single brand either but I decided to mix it up for the purposes of this list. I happen to stay loyal to Patagonia but there isn’t a huge competitive advantage compared with the other brands I singled out so it’s all up to preference. I just strongly suggest you stay away from North Face! Not only are they too mainstream,but their recent product collections have been known to lack durability. Muffy has a related poll asking which brand is preppier, Patagonia or North Face (results won’t surprise you). I suppose it’s the affect of mass production and popularity bringing down its downfall. I can only hope that Patagucci doesn’t falter the way NF has. Right now it’s still prized for it’s uniqueness (Read: pricey, hence “Gucci”) and high preppy position in the GMP hierarchy. But more and more people are catching on!

“Wicking Short Sleeve T- Shirts”

-UnderArmour t shirts: My favorite wear for the gym and have a nice athletic fit.
-Patagonia Fore Runner t shirt: Form fitting, moisture wicking, odor control and SPF 30 protective. Your work horse shirt. Get two or three in different colors.

“Expedition Shirt”

-Columbia PFG works well for outdoor activity as well. Bahama II long sleeve. Lightweight, breathable, UV protective, and durable.

“Quick Dry Pants”

-PFG Blood & Guts with zip-offs
-Orvis Fishing Pants

“Warm Jacket”

-I’d always vouch for my coveted Patagonia Synchilla Snap T, but if you need a full zip then you can go for the R4 Jacket.

“Rainwear”

-I love my Patagonia Torrentshell. Very lightweight and has zippers in the underarms for ventilation.
-Matching Torrentshell Stretch Pants
**Whichever brands you choose, I like using the same collection for the top and bottom if money is no object (I’m OCD that way) But I also think your Quick Dry Pants may be able to double if you’re not in a torrential down pour.

“Warm Pants”

-Patagonia DAS Pants

“Beanie”

-Mountain Hardwear Preignon

“Sun Hat”

-REI Explorer Hat

“Gloves”

-Mountain Hardwear Momentum Running Gloves

 

**He didn’t ask about back packs, but my favorite camping storage brand is Kelty.

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