The Gipper’s gone, but one of the style trends associated with the Reaganomics era is back. The ’80s preppy look, closely tied to capitalism, status and country clubs, is rearing its ugly head-and not just at boarding schools or Martha’s Vineyard. This time around, though, it’s mostly about fashion, not lifestyle. And Buffy and Biff’s old rules no longer apply. Take the changing attitudes toward one preppy staple, the polo shirt. It used to be that the fashion conscious would only wear Lacoste (the crocodile)-or maybe Brooks Brothers (sheep), Fred Perry (laurel), Lilly Pulitzer (palm tree) and Ralph Lauren (polo horse and rider). These days any old logo will do.
The Penguin brand, started in 1955, was most commonly seen on fatherly golfers and (gasp) bowlers-never on young preps. Now it’s popular with the fashion-forward stars of The OC, Hollywood “It” boy Jake Gyllenhaal and many other photogenic youths. “In our history,” says Penguin’s David Bedwell, “the brand trickled down from athletes and Hollywood types, like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, to Middle America. At some point, almost everyone’s dad had a Penguin shirt in the closet. We’re classic, that
resonates with young people.” Still, even Bedwell is somewhat baffled by how, after a “dormant” period, Penguin has rebounded so vigorously.
According to Veronica Auyeung, 25, manager of the trendy Toronto clothing boutique Over The Rainbow, polo shirts today are being incorporated into a geek chic or punk prep look. “If you’re into status, you’re still going to go for the Lacoste,” she says. “But most people want to be more unique.” And as for the long-suffering fans of the logo-less polo? Your day is sure to come. SHANDA DEZIEL
TWENTY PER CEN T of Canadians say Celine Dion is Canada’s “most priceless celebrity.” Five per cent name Paul Martin.
The story you want is part of the Maclean’s Archives. To access it, log in here or sign up for your free 30-day trial.
Experience anything and everything Maclean's has ever published — over 3,500 issues and 150,000 articles, images and advertisements — since 1905. Browse on your own, or explore our curated collections and timely recommendations.WATCH THIS VIDEO for highlights of everything the Maclean's Archives has to offer.