Friday, July 20, 2007

Plaid Taste: The Return of the Preppy

From the Wall Street Journal courtesy of

The last time we were loving golf shirts and pearls this way, we were entering an era that celebrated wealth, on our way to a time when Gordon Gekko was the king of Wall Street and every aspiring corporate raider had a closet full of Lacoste alligator shirts and Topsider deck shoes. Then, greed was good.

Now we call it "luxury."

This is a period that lusts for symbols of the good life: $3,000 crocodile handbags, $20,000 tourbillon watches, $250 bottles of olive oil, and big charitable donations that assuage the guilt of driving an SUV. The preppy look is the affordable weekend version of all that. It's what the people who run the nation have always worn at their country homes. Now, as in the 1980s, people who want to suggest they live that lifestyle are wearing it, too. Never mind that preppies were traditionally old-money understated; now the look is about flamboyant colors and embroidered whales. Over drinks a few days ago at power-burger restaurant J.G. Melons in Manhattan, I noted three pairs of madras shorts, two loud Lacoste shirts, a Nantucket Reds T-shirt, and one Vineyard Vines canvas tote -- not to mention Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was dining there. Though casual in slacks and a button-down that evening, Mr. Bloomberg has been photographed in a Vineyard Vines tie.

here for the rest.

Oh god. I think I'm gonna puke.

I've feared a resurgence of 80s fashion since I first realized at some point during the 90s that hip cats were recycling 70s clothing. "It's only a matter of time before we start seeing 80s stuff," I shuddered. Of course, I was imagining shitty new wave styles, parachute pants and dumbass Flock of Seagulls haircuts. I never dreamed we would see a return of the preppy.

Look, I'll be honest. There are quite a few elements of preppy style that I actually like. I mean, the whole shebang is composed essentially of classic 20th century garment pieces--as longtime readers know, I'm very fond of classic 20th century style. But it's the over-the-top thing that really grosses me out. That, and the 80s association prepsters had with shameless wealth and it's gaudy display.

It all makes sense, really. Bush's relentless tax cutting for the rich has done its job: the rich, as during the Reagan era, are once again getting richer, much, much, richer, while everybody else tries to stay afloat. And now the "haves" are celebrating their elite status like it's the Gilded Age. I'm really grossed out.

Hey, remember this shit?

Courtesy of Michael O'Harro

Man, how the 80s sucked.