If your man wanted a wardrobe makeover, and asked you — with that puppy dog look — if you would help him out, would you opt for preppy or classic?
This is a question worthy of Jeopardy, because the answer is not as obvious as it may first appear to be. Most people, men and women alike, think of both terms as synonymous. Not only is this wrong, but it is the number one reason why well-meaning men commit a fashion faux pas without a clue why everyone looks ill-at-ease and slightly appalled.
Since the difference and similarity between preppy and classic is a common source of confusion, it bears repeating: the preppy style is not the same as the classic style, and while neither is better than the other, mixing them up is likely to create a strange effect — everyone knows that something is off, but nobody is clear what went wrong.
There is a thin line between the two styles and not crossing that line requires some smart thinking. The reason why people often think of the two as synonyms is because they both originated from Ivy League schools in New England.
Defining the Classic Style
The classic style is neat and refined. It has an order to it. It is polished without going overboard and looking pretentious. It is more of an approach rather than a particular effect. When Sean Connery played James Bond and was not getting blood, sweat, and dirt on himself in an action scene, he modeled the classic style — and it is an updated version of the sartorial tone set generations earlier by Gary Cooper. In other words, while conforming to traditional dress codes of what it means to be a well-dressed man, individualism is still alive and well, too.
The classic style is not about formality. It is also not a statement about where your man went to school, what clubs he has joined, or the current state of his financial affairs.
Here are some other distinctions to make it clear what the classic look, style, and attitude personify:
- -The classic style has clean lines.
-It has a traditional approach without looking overdressed.
-It relies on a perfect fit.
-It uses earth tones as a foundation, with other complementary colors to finish off the overall effect.
-Although trim and elegant, it is also simple and straightforward.
Defining the Preppy Style
The preppy style is great for California or Florida. It’s as casual and has polo shirts, blue blazers, and blue jeans. It’s refined, yet irreverent. There is a hint of a prep school past without the snooty overtones. It’s a democratized look, without a college kid’s immature dress code. Fabrics can include tweeds, tartans, or corduroy.
The prepped out style can be overdone, and if your man tries too hard, it looks silly, not cool.
Why It’s Important to Appreciate the Distinction
It’s easy to understand the confusion: after all, both styles originated from the East coast. But, at the same time, it’s important to learn how distinguish one from the other to prevent overdoing a style or accidentally blending two subtly different styles until they clash.
When you can persuade your man to get a handle on the difference, it will help you both steal the limelight on social evenings. Neither style, of course, is better.
Does your man want to look urbane, polished, and suave, or would he rather elegantly play around with color?