The Neo Prep is Here

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Preppy fashion is nothing we haven’t seen before. It’s something we associate with wealth, country clubs and Ivy league schools. We think of plain, boring sweater vests, polo shirts and dockers.

This time around, however, preppy fashion has re-emerged with an edge. Influences are taken from the UK, with skinny pants, finely tailored tweed jackets and button down shirts in bright colours. Looks are accessorized with narrow ties or bow ties, suspenders, Gatsby flat caps, boat shoes or loafers and even thick-framed glasses to give that geeky chic 1950’s appeal.

The look is often combined with a street style, hip-hop variation. For example, it can be paired with brightly coloured sneakers or worn with narrow, belted jeans and even a logo t-shirt. Designer labels like Moschino and D&G did a good job of creating these looks.

Above: The Fall/Winter 2011/2012 menswear look by Moschino.

These are representations of the hip-hop-esque neo prep jock look, which differs from UK influenced, shirt, tie and sweater ensemble below.

D&G Fall/Winter 2011/2012 menswear collection. (Milan fashion week)

A NY Times article talked about  the style blog “Street Etiquette”, written by two young African American, Brooklyn vintage storeowners with an eye for style. The article describes this trend and its strong following within the black community. The blog itself receives an average of 20,000 page views a day. The Times indicates these men as “the most prominent public faces of a new burst of black dandyism…”

The article sends the message that the neo prep look represents a resurgence of dignity and class within the black community. Oversized, baggy jeans, juvenile hoodies, T-shirts, street caps and chains have been replaced by a more respectable look. There is a sense of cultural pride when you can walk down the street in a shirt and tie and do it with style. Storeowner and blogger, Mr. Kissi, said, “I use to wear a size 42 jeans. Coming from that to a tie and shirt, people perceive you in a whole different way.”

Simultaneously, the preppy look is taking off full speed on all the runways and will remain one of the biggest menswear trends for Fall/Winter 2011/2012. As we come out of a recession, everyone craves a sense of wealth and class that had been lost.

It’s no surprise that trend forecasters and designers have chosen to bring this theme into the forefront.

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