The entire philosophy of prep has remained intact because of the guiding fundamental principles behind it are as rigid as stone tablets. These are the decree which hold together the foundation of classic American style, and have ensured its survival for generations. It is important to realize that these principals go beyond clothing, and instead define the individual as a whole.
I IGNORE FASHION
Prep survives because the garments stylistically remain unchanged over time. A sweater from the latest season should look and fit identically to the one found in the 1968 LL Bean catalog. Trends come and go faster than one can blink; while prep stays rooted firmly in its heritage. If it’s trendy right now on the runway, you aren’t wearing it. One should strive to maintain the appearance of their forefathers and pass down that comportment to their heirs.
II QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
Most clothes sold today are made in developing nations using deplorable labor standards, and are designed to fall apart after a couple years of wearing. Not so with the Navy Blazer wardrobe. With an emphasis on quality materials, and items made by hand with attention to detail, clothes and shoes can last decades, if not longer. In general, investing in a small number of very well made items is far better than having a dozen cheap ones.
III OLD OVER NEW
Nothing should be too shiny, too polished, or too new. A hand-me-down from
your older brother or father should be seen as ultimately cooler than buying something off of a store shelf. There is no stigma against used and the harder something is to acquire in the current market-space, the better. The ideal wardrobe should pay homage to the very items which inspired the style, rather than being full of modern reproductions. When something new is purchased however, we know it improves with age, and is meant to last. An understanding and appreciation of craftsmanship throughout the ages should always be on the forefront of your mind.
IV THOU SHALT NOT TRY TOO HARD
If you look like you just walked out of a Vineyard Vines catalog, you’re probably doing something very wrong. Dressing the Navy Blazer style is about subtlety, contextual awareness, and ultimately, effortlessness. Are you wearing a pink striped Oxford shirt, a bright green blazer, a pindot tie, patchwork croakies, a white visor, gold tie bar, seersucker trousers, argyle socks, and contrast penny loafers simultaneously? Congratulations, you’ve just made everyone’s eyes bleed. The ideal outfit will only have one attention drawing component, with everything else blending into the background as much as possible. If you have to ask yourself “is this too much?” – it probably is.
V THOU SHALT NOT BRAG
One of the quickest ways to fall out of favor with nearly everyone is to carry yourself with a boastful attitude. One should have an indifferent attitude towards matters of money, and flamboyant conspicuous spending should be seen as revolting. Wearing nice clothes and having an appreciation for the finer things in life stands out quite well enough on it’s own, and bragging, or otherwise showing off in an attention-seeking manner, is the exact opposite of what it means to be a gentleman. This also extends to ostentatious logos (It’s best to keep them small). In our current age of snapchat, Facebook likes, and “me-me-me” millennials, modesty is one of the most underrated qualities one can have.
VI AN ATTENTION TO DETAIL
In dressing, the little things matter. The difference between ones jacket sleeves being an inch too long and just right can completely change ones appearance from sloppy to suave. From having the right break of the trousers, the right length of ones collar, the way in which one fastens a tie, each of these factors must be taken into consideration. With that being said – there is a corollary to this commandment: Being too detail obsessed and finicky is just as bad as not caring whatsoever. Maintaining the perfect appearance involves the right degree of an almost “calculated” carelessness, while still hitting all the other major requirements. When well practiced, you can just “throw on whatever” you have in the closet, and it’s going to look good.
VII A LOVE OF NATURAL FIBERS
When it comes to clothing, nothing can compare to the materials which have already been on this earth for thousands upon thousands of years. Cotton, wool, silk, linens, and leather all have found their way into the wardrobe for a reason. While polyester, nylon, and Lycra may be great for working out or staying dry, while wearing non-athletic clothing, natural fibers are a must. Cheaper man-made alternatives wear down quicker, are less comfortable, and generally, look worse. An important exception to this rule is Polar fleece, which is beloved in many forms of outerwear.
In this world, the right attitude can go a long way. The ideal man is polite, charming, socially aware, and well informed. To be selfish, rude, and ignorant are marks of someone with less than redeeming qualities. Style, taste, and an acute knowledge of history and culture are more valuable than money. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Have a sense of humor, but also, act your age, leaving childish things in the past where possible. A mindset of public spiritedness and helping others is always a virtue. Always be thinking about how you can improve yourself, and your own situation. Having goals in life and working hard to achieve them, is the ultimate mindset.
IX A REVERENCE FOR THE ALMIGHTY
There are certain makers and and brands that should hold a sacred place in the heart of the traditional dresser. It is for this reason why such high power is entrusted in the Barbour jacket, the J.Press Shetland, and the Alden loafer, they have reached nearly divine levels of perfection, and one should not put other brands before them, at least in spirit. Just as an empire was never built in a day, neither was your wardrobe. Celebrate each small victory (such as acquiring your first pair of cordovan shoes, or your first interview suit) and treat your clothing and possessions with the utmost respect; they just might outlive you.
X BE AN INDIVIDUAL
Throughout your journey through life, there are many times where it seems easiest to simply become a cookie-cutter version of something, rather than thinking for yourself and making your own decisions. As such, the resurgence of the “preppy” craze has far too often been about masquerading a particular look, rather than actually living it. The Navy Blazer mindset is not about simply adopting a single image or style, but learning to think and act in such a way that you can make the right choices for yourself. This will set you far above those scrambling to copy whatever style happens to be popular that season. Being an “individual” isn’t about dying your hair blue or “rebelling” against an institution- it involves adapting your style to your true interests and sensibilities, which of course, evolve over time as well.
© 2016 Navy Blazer