Preppy Back to School? & Brooks Brothers Collegiate Collection

Welcome to a one-topic Tuesday, it is another insanely busy day, so brevity guides our post.

Once again it is that time of year, when parents and children alike ponder the available back to school offerings. One can almost hear the conversations at local department stores:

  • “No, you will not be wearing that to school this year.”
  • “I don’t care what Olivia and Chapin are wearing the first day, I am not buying that.”
  • “Well, then I guess you will be the only one at school wearing _________ .” (Fill in the blank.)
  • “I said no and I meant no.”
  •   “What do you mean everybody wears that? Name one person in ‘everybody’.”
  • “No daughter/son/other of mine is wearing that. Put it back on the rack.”

It is also the season for media stories heralding “preppy” back to school styles.  The following is from a Bloomberg story entitled “Gossip Girl Couture is Back to School Boon“.

“Sears… also is featuring preppy fashions over casual wear, pushing back-to-school gear from MTV star Audrina Patridge and reality socialite Kim Kardashian.”

Because nothing says ‘preppy’ like the new Kardashian Kollection at Sears.

Kardashian Kollection at

More from the Bloomberg story, still referencing Sears.

“The department store, which is offering $38 polo shirts and $30 Dockers pants, introduced a “Varsity Prep” line.”

A few offerings from the Varsity Prep collection.

Sears "Varsity Prep"

The line is for young men, not teenage girls or ‘tweens’ as they are now called. (Ahem.) Three more items are shown below.

Sears "Varsity Prep" Collection

Many pieces in the collection look fairly standard, polo shirts, tees and the like. But some are far removed from what readers would refer to as ‘preppy,’ that sleeveless t-shirt on the right is one such item, while the sweatshirt in the middle looks like it could have come right out of an Abercrombie & Fitch store. (Another Anti-Prep.)

The good news in the Bloomberg article is that many of the shoppers interviewed say they plan to move away from the jeans and tennis shoes look.

“Angela Ricci is shopping for lacy tops, ruffled skirts and floral dresses to wear when she begins her senior year of high school in Pittsburgh. One thing she won’t be buying: jeans.

“I want to show a new kind of style and make a better impression,” said Ricci, 17. “I think that my generation is inspired to dress up a little more.”

That might seem like a good thing to many moms, but there is one caveat, the impact on your pocketbook.

“Teens like Ricci are following the example of television shows such as “Gossip Girl” — in which actress Blake Lively prances to class in couture — as they head to stores to stock up for the new school year. Retailers, stung by slowing sales growth and record cotton costs, are obliging with blouses and dresses that sell for higher prices.”

The story makes for an interesting read, click here if you would like to read it in its entirety.


Staying with the back to school topic, the new Brooks Brothers Collegiate Collection is now available online.

Brooks Brothers Collegiate Collection

In case the graphic above doesn’t show the schools currently part of the new line, here is a better image.

Brooks Brothers Collegiate Collection

Much of it looks like what we expected, sweaters and ties emblazoned with the school crest, like these from Stanford. (Where a tiny piece from my heart remains.)

Brooks Brothers Collegiate Collection

Or these from Notre Dame. (A sliver of TQM’s heart lies among the shamrocks at this university.)

Brooks Brothers Collegiate Collection

The ties are silk, made in the USA, they are $79.50. The polo shirts are classic Brooks, 100% cotton with the school crest on the sleeve, they are $69.50. These two are from the Boston College group of merchandise.

Brooks Brothers Collegiate Collection

The element that is baffling? The school name or initials on the dress shirts, as shown below right.

Brooks Brothers Collegiate Collection

We can’t think of one Princeton (or Yale or BC or Stanford or Notre Dame or…well, you get the drift) graduate who would ever feel it necessary to wear something like this:

Brooks Brothers Collegiate Collection

A dress shirt with your school name on the cuff? Once again we quote Nancy Reagan: “just say no.”

This clearly goes in the “Help Me Understand” category, as we are completely mystified by this aspect of an otherwise fine collection. We prevailed upon a friend for his opinion; here’s what Bumby of the Preppy Chronicles (also Princeton, class of ’87), had to offer:

“The only advantage of having the name of your school tattooed on your cuff: After the police, put you in the back of the car they know where to drop you off.”

Perhaps Christian at Ivy Style or Alexander Grant can pop in and provide a little elucidation on the topic, as yours truly is beyond baffled.  (Speaking of Christian, the topic of Friday’s post is related, looking at club ties and where one should/shouldn’t wear them. The comments are what really make the post sing, fascinating, all of them.)

Thank you for coming to visit!


Filed under Collaborations, Gossip Girl, Preppy Fashion

15 responses to “Preppy Back to School? & Brooks Brothers Collegiate Collection

  1. Rather agree with the school name on the cuff – not a fan.

  2. Well the Kardashian collection doesn’t disappoint, does it.
    It is exactly what I would expect from the Kardashian clan.

  3. Amazing! I’m really going for the Gossip Girl prep look, and have been reading your blog since last December. I’ve learned so much, I’m amazed!

  4. What can I say about the Kardashian Kollection? Preppy? Really? And so with you and Bumby on the school name on the cuff issue. But I’m sure you knew that 🙂

  5. Marie

    LOVE your blog! I have never bothered to leave a comment on one before, but yours is just charming. I was going to stock up on Princeton things from Brooks Brothers (many thanks for the information, a bit difficult to get that sort of stuff here in Scandinavia) but the dress shirts…ugh! Something fetching in leopard print from the Kardashian Kollection would almost be preferable : ) !

  6. That opening dialogue is priceless. I fondly recall my unsuccessful pleas of “But EVERYONE will be wearing (fill-in-trendy-item) at school! WHY can’t I have them?” in my own teenage (tweenage?) years.

    Thank you again for bringing that BB collegiate collection to our attention. There’s a USNA polo headed to my brother come Christmas.

  7. Some great finds! Thanks for sharing…

  8. i think that if you put the school’s name in too many places on your clothes, it looks like you work there, not went to school there.

  9. Pamela

    Perhaps they meant Varsity Perp, rather than Prep. The same holds true for the B&W striped dress on the left – stagger a few of the lines, add some numbers, et voila – perp tape.

  10. I wish the Collegiate Collection included items for women, as well! I’d love a BC sweater (rep. my future grad school), but I’d be swimming in a mens size.

  11. Just say no is right. You can find most of this stuff in any college bookstore. However, I am curious to see what Harvard has up it’s sleeves with the clothing line they announced a few years ago.

  12. Love the collegiate collection at BB but the whole “school on the cuff” thing is ridiculous and only the most vain would even think of wearing it must less paying for it! Seriously hopefully someone smart enough to get into college is smart enough to stay away from this tacky way of announcing where they attend school.. The line as a whole is well done and I can’t imagine its not going to be a success(minus the schools emblazoned on the cuff)!! I think they are looking better than ever. Umm…the Kardashian collection, not so much and most definitely not at all how I like to dress, it looks incredibly tacky but should I be surprised?

  13. It hurts a bit to see the words “Kardashian” and “preppy” together in the same sentence. And that long, animal-print jumpsuit…there are no words.

  14. The KK collection at Sears is tragic. The sleeveless t-shirt in the Varsity Prep line made me shudder. Is Sears serious? There is a market for this? I really want to be positive today, but Sears is making it impossible for me. LOL!!

  15. Target, much to my surprised delight, is turning on the heat again; the last time it was hot was with the Phillipe Starck collection.

    Sears and Kardashian .. honestly, Sears does have a demographic and it’s not one-shouldered big butt clothes. Sad … dear Sears, there are merchants out there, get one soon.

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