Preppy: The New Black?

Dressing like a 50-year old humanities prof has never been cooler

Harvard students who care whether their faux-worn-in blazers have Italian, British, or American-cut shoulders are at the forefront of a trend: Dressing like a character in an Evelyn Waugh novel, a perennial Harvard pastime, is even more popular than ever here in Cambridge.

Two august clothing vendors in Harvard Square—J. Press and The Andover Shop—have been supplying finals club members past and present with houndstooth and herringbone for decades. Denis E. Black, manager of J. Press, has worked in the Square for over thirty years and introduced generations of clueless freshmen to their first pocket squares.

“There are hills and valleys, and now we’re at a high point,” Black said of J. Press’s business. “People have always come in for advice on what is good taste, what is appropriate, and what is not. They come for the tradition.”

Tradition at J. Press comes in the form of tweed suits, wool scarves, and the pièce de résistance: silk ties, in every color. After all, there’s nothing like neckwear embroidered with tiny baseball players, cocker spaniels, or clowns to encourage people to take you seriously.

All patterns, even the hipster-approved skull and crossbones tie, are J. Press originals.

Black explains, “We’ve always carried the skull tie. Some people wear it for corporate raiding. It’s also an old medical symbol.” An important clarification: “But it has nothing to do with pirates.”

The price tag on the Ivy League look is high. If Daddy doesn’t work at Goldman Sachs, window-shopping may be as close as you can get.

“[Undergrads] may not all afford it, but when they can, they come back,” Black says, before turning away to fit a teenage boy for his first made-to-order button-downs.

Dare to dream, Harvard.