Cartoonish preppy style, with its ironic bow-ties, nerdy glasses and tweeds, has left us a little jaded over the past few years. As an antidote, we’re loading up on the original all-American look, encapsulated by Harvard, Yale and Princeton undergrads in the influential 60s book Take Ivy – polished understatement spliced with collegiate cool. Here are 10 icons who top the preppy class.
10 Ivy League icons
By Libby Banks, 25 August 2016
No one wore a loopback sweater or button-down shirt quite like Mr Newman. The actor took preppy style out of the Ivy League and into the 50s mainstream thanks to his unique way of styling all-American staples.
Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate
Mike Nichols’ portrait of a listless and disillusioned college grad and his seduction by an older woman has become a cult cinema classic. The film not only offers an outsider’s snapshot view of late 60s counterculture, it provides a feast of cool, preppy style inspiration. Dustin Hoffman’s Benjamin Braddock demonstrates the sartorial power of a simple crew-neck tee, a roll-sleeved Oxford shirt and a well-cut blazer. Watch and learn.
A modern master of classic cool, Ryan Reynolds has a natural instinct for preppy style. Button-down shirts with rolled sleeves, slim-cut chinos and pristine white sneakers are all essential ingredients to Reynolds’ wardrobe.
A Brit with a truly East Coast sensibility, Tom Hiddleston nails the elusive dress code that is smart/casual with a long-sleeved polo and brogues. Well played.
The patron saint of East Coast style, John F Kennedy never failed to demonstrate the art of laid-back sophistication. The secret? If in doubt, keep it simple. This white, fitted, button-down shirt paired with knee-length shorts exemplifies his style ethos.
For a modern-day version of JFK, you’ll need to journey north of the US border. Canada’s recently minted Prime Minister manages to combine world leadership and a liberal outlook with effortless preppy style – and a tattoo.
A man celebrated the world over for the breadth of his wardrobe, David Beckham isn’t afraid to throw some prepster into the mix. Note the use of sunglasses as a pocket accessory – a textbook Ivy League manoeuvre.
This is East Coast cool by way of Hackney. Few men can make shorts work on the red carpet, but Idris aces it. The combination of simple tailored shorts, a casual white shirt and a pair of classic Ray-Bans provides a masterclass in modern Ivy League summer dressing.
Always polished and put together, Eddie Redmayne is another Brit who has mastered the art of Ivy League and made it his own. Here he utilises the power of the crew-neck sweater and shirt combo to achieve preppy perfection.
With his double-denim days firmly behind him (RIP), JT has transformed into an A-list prepster. While a navy blazer with gold buttons was a crucial component in the original Ivy League style arsenal, here Justin wears its 2016 update – the navy reefer jacket.