It seemed to me that in the '90s, the problem with trad was, as Tempest said, everything was oversized. So, while today, many of the trad purveyors have trimmed their fits / cuts down too far as they bend to the skinny fashion of the moment, in the '90s, all of them were expanding their fits / cuts to hew to the "big" fashion of the day.
I've had to give away most of my '90s clothes as - even though there were all trad in style and from the names we all know (BB, LE, LLBean, J.Crew, etc.), most of those clothes are just too big and it isn't even about having a tailor tweak them as every part of them is too big - the armholes, the chest, the sleeve or trousers widths, etc.
Re-reading what I wrote, I think I unintentionally exaggerated as I do have some sweaters, sport coats, overcoats and shirts from that period that fit fine, but I absolutely did have to get rid of a meaningful amount of items that were to big (and from companies like Polo in addition to some of the ones listed above). At the time, I would have told you I was buying the same classic look I always wore, but I didn't realize until the 2000s how much the "big" size snuck in.I'm not sure. Most of my items from those names from the 90s actually fit quite well. Then again, they're staple items, nothing to fashion-forward from the time.
Lands End was at the top of their mom-and-dad Eddie Bauer clothes game, though, even if the Sears buy-out was looming.The 90s was basically about grunge style, bad suits, and mom-and-dad Eddie Bauer clothes.
From LE's 'Beyond Buttondowns' Holiday Catalog 1998
(probably www.williamlockie.com and the same shawl would have been $1000 or more at a speciality store)
The same catalogue featured:
An English made hand knotted fringe scarf, woven cashmere reversing to paisley print silk t'other side for $245.
Engravable engine-turned sterling buckle @ $100 (USA)
American Alligator strap for above @ $199 (USA)
USA made camel hair polo coat @ $695
British knit 80% wool OTC argyle socks $20
A few years prior LE had proffered a genuine (sandwiched layers) English made mackintosh Balmacaan raincoat @ $350. Not to mention a Welsh made (Corgi) cashmere argyle v-neck @ $595.
I agree with this. I do not see how fleece or painters paints are trad.I don't consider any of the items pictured above to be remotely "Trad."
I can understand that. I suppose it seemed to me like the 90s were when brown ducks finally had the chance to join white ducks at the table after 60 years apart (white ducks being adopted as part of the Princeton "beer suits" in the 1930s), mostly through "Funky Chic" as Tom Wolfe called it. Disaffected Prep wrote about his experience with it in the late 90s. He called it "Crunchy Prep", while others helpfully suggested "Trust-fund Hippie".I agree with this. I do not see how fleece or painters paints are trad.
My impression of it is as an extension of the "Rugged Ivy" of the 70s, much like the 80s look was an extension of the look of the 50s and early 60s. Maybe that's a false correlation to make?Disaffected Prep said:I once posted a comment on Michael Williams’ A Continuous Lean on the subject of Carhartt workwear clothing, as I’ve had my Carhartt duck jacket since prep school. While praising the jacket, I noted the company’s popularity at Bowdoin and without much thought, labeled the look: crunchy prep.
Needless to say, I was quite surprised with the vitriol I inspired when a Brooklyn Graphic Designer responded to my comment with… “’Crunchy Prep’ is about the shallowest term I’ve heard slung around this year.”
B-B-B-B-B-Brooklyn! Vanessa Abrams to my Blair Waldorf! Most Un-Prep!
A little stung at first, though over the course of the day the wound healed into a beam of pride: unwittingly I struck a nerve!
A quick Google search revealed that the apparent neologism had little traction on the web, which lead me thinking, what is Crunchy Prep? While I am no expert in the subject (my camping experience is limited to a pre-orientation trip, whereupon I noshed on GORP and annoyed my fellow campers by relishing in immature prep school stories with my friend Whit), I think there are a few specific items in the satellite of the Crunchy Prep universe.
• Carhartt #B01 Double-Front Work Dungarees
• LL Bean Boots
• NOLS trips (Probably the Road-to-Damascus conversion to Crunchy Prep:::I see the light brahs, and it is SOLAR POWERED!)
• Eco-Liberal politics
• Subaru/Volvo Station wagons
• Northface, Arc’tyrx, Patagonia (a/k/a Fratagonia, Pattagucci)
• Nalgene Bottles
• Threadbare oxford shirts/polos
• For bros: Flow (though slightly greasy – and perhaps dangerously close to ‘overflow’)
Looking back, it’s stunning how similar “crunchy” prep walks and talks like the preppiness as cataloged by Lisa Birnbach in The Official Preppy Handbook back in the ‘80s, or the 1960’s crew-cutted shots from Take Ivy. Why is this? Do crunchy preps simply carry the torch for the OPs – Original Prepsters? Or is this unique movement?
I think yes and no. Just like “Crunchy Conservativism” as articulated by Rod Dreher traces its organic, vegetable-fed roots to Edmund Burke and other Conservative touchstones, “Crunchy Prep” hugs tightly to its prep-progenitor – namely in the outdoors-as-indoors clothing aesthetic and wind-swept sprezzatura guiding its entire ethos. You might even say Crunchy Prep is the truest expression of the (early) Prep style, since the pastel-gauche-fantasia palette of Vineyard Vines seems to have hijacked the look for the moment.
Now, I’m guilty as anyone else, indulging in the overly obnoxious, Lily-Pulitzeration of the prep aesthetic…as any cursory glance into my closet will reveal (Pink AND Green D-Ring belts! Red bowties with sailboats!). But living in New York for four years has weathered my pastels a bit, and my personal style is closer to crunchy prep now – even though I’m 400 miles away from Bowdoin and no where near any hiking trails (the Highline doesn’t count!)
That said, I think the double-reinforced Carhartt pants (paired with a weathered polo for the ultimate ‘uptown/downtown’ look), along with the enviro-centric politics is really unique to crunchy prep.
Am I totally off here? Am I missing any other crunchy prep items? Or is this ridiculous over-analysis just mean I’m pining for my time under the – wait for it...! – Bowdoin pines?