Photo by Muffy Aldrich
The Modern Guide to The Thing Before Preppy

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Two Reader Questions on "The Classics"


Two reader questions:

Dear Editor,  What do your readers consider “the classics” for men and for women?


Muffy, thank you for your entries on "The Uniform."  What items do people think should be in a timeless wardrobe?  I would be curious if any of these items of clothing or accessories have changed much over the years.




  1. I'll venture a modest amendment to the classics, though I imagine it might provoke a few strong reactions here: I think a good pair of classic, straight leg jeans, like 501s or similar, pair well with many (if not all) of the "uniform" selections. Jeans are a quintessentially American garment and, just as khakis made the leap from military to civilian life after WWII, jeans long ago went from strictly workwear to everyday dress for most people. With jeans, it's about the cut and what they're paired with. They won't work everywhere: There are a number of settings in which nobody should be wearing jeans. But they're remarkably versatile and certainly deserve a place among the other "uniform" pieces.

    1. Well said. Fundamentally, quality products are prep.

  2. I would say flap pocket OCBDs from J. Press for gentlemen or ladies.

  3. What a great post and question. Thank you! It's harder to answer than you might think because, in my view, a classic has more to do with fit and fabric than the kind of garment or the brand. A blue blazer is *the* classic, but I have seen blazers that did not look classic because the fabric was cheap or the cut was unflattering. Taste has to be learned from experience. There's no shortcut! With that said (and I can only speak for men), there is a small handful of garments that will take you almost anywhere if the fit and fabric are right. From bottom to top:

    1) Brown or burgundy walking shoes or loafers, such as the Alden All-Weather Walker or Leisure Handsewn. Allen Edmonds makes similar shoes at a lower price point.
    2) Cotton or wool socks in dark brown, dark grey, or navy
    3) A simple leather belt that (roughly) matches shoes
    4) 100% cotton or 100% wool trousers in tan, navy, or grey
    5) 100% cotton button-down shirt in white or pale blue

    If the weather is cool, add:
    6) 100% wool sweater (crew neck, v-neck, or cardigan) in navy, dark green, grey, or burgundy

    If the event is dressy add:
    7) 100% wool navy blazer or subdued tweed jacket
    8) 100% silk necktie with diagonal stripes or a subdued pattern, tied in a four-in-hand knot

    None of these garments has changed appreciably in the past 75 years. The difference is that the outfit above is what my grandfather wore at his most casual (on weekends around the house). Today, it counts as dressing up!

  4. oxford cloth button-down shirts, avoiding no-iron cotton. cotton khakis, also avoiding no-iron cotton. a pair of grey wool or flannel trousers. loafers. Wool sweaters in cooler weather. a blue blazer - cotton or linen for the summer, wool otherwise.

    summer: polo-style or golf shirts. a pair of reds. madras shorts. a tilley hat. boat shoes.

    1. These non iron shirts are just awful

  5. My mother always used that term "the classics." She did not say Ivy or Preppy or use any of the other euphemisms. As to what is considered the classics, I think that has been answered many times over.

  6. Going down my closet, I see Mercer OCBDs, corduroys, khakis, reds, and grey worsteds. On the other side, out for summer, are a navy blazer, a seersucker suit, an oyster poplin suit, a Madras jacket, and a tan silk and wool glen plaid. Also there's a shawl collar dinner suit. On the floor are Alden LHS and tassels, Quoddy Maliseets, Rancourt canoe mocs, and Leather Man flip flops. On the belt hooks are a no.8 to match the tassels and a few fun leather and surcingle belts from Leather Man. On the tie rack it is mainly repps, paisleys, and neats, four-in-hand and bow. In the dresser are a pair of Texas jeans (made in NC...go figure), khaki, red, and olive shorts, a handful of O'Connell's polos, Pantherellas in dark wool and popping argyles, and plenty of baggy boxers. Sleeping in their garment bags until winter are a doeskin navy blazer, sedate tweed, a dark suit, flannels, Shetland sweaters in navy and grey, and a Fair Isle vest. I like to think it's all classic. Sourcing chiefly from O'Connell's and the Andover Shop except as noted provides assurance of great fabrics, great construction, and great fit.

  7. I saw the header "The Classics" and thought it was about The Classics pertaining to books. I was wrong and when I went to the comments I saw it was about clothes. My ignorance. :)

  8. It's cliche but Khaki trousers/shorts in all-cotton and purchase them from reputable companies, J.Donnelly for example. Khakis can go from gardening to cocktails. In the old days when Orvis and L.L. Bean made great khakis, I purchased from them but I no longer do. Most of their trousers are """performance garments""" or "flex-stretch"" and that is TBA.

  9. In the accessories section of our discussion, as it is summer, in addition to good quality black and brown leather belts, please add surcingle, ribbon and needlepoint belts for the appropriate summer appearance.

  10. Can a preppy wear a Rolex watch?

  11. the orvis classic khaki is probably one of my favorite classics, also shetland sweaters, ocbds, loafers, sperry cvos


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