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They don’t call it “preppy” for nothing.
This story first appeared in the March 18, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
If New England private school fashion conjures images of L.L. Bean duck boots, and a heaping tablespoon of J. Crew or Ralph Lauren, the ground-level reality isn’t far off.
After all, three elite boarding schools — Concord Academy, Milton Academy and Phillips Andover — WWD visited recently have reputations of being “college for teenagers,” with intense academic demands that can make wardrobe secondary.
So whether hoofing to class across campus in late-winter snow or cramming in the library, most students’ go-to items are Ugg boots, jeans, North Face jackets, Patagonia fleece, American Apparel leggings and book-stuffed L.L. Bean backpacks.
That’s not everyone’s look, though, since preppy is more than one-dimensional. These are, after all, elite private schools and they don’t come cheap — meaning the students are a sophisticated crowd. Thus those who care about fashion demonstrate plenty of savvy — whether they shop Target or have a mother who thinks “Chanel.” Then there are those like Concord Academy senior Daphne Kim, who will stick to her 4-inch heels whether the quad is icy or not.
Given an opportunity to wear anything at all to a photo shoot, these young women chose — universally — skirts and dresses. Regardless of budget, they also showed a huge fondness for thrift, consignment and vintage stores.
Perhaps Amelia Fitch, a Concord Academy junior, captured the prevailing mood of exploration and delight in dressing best: “I think of myself as a character in things a lot of days,” she says. A Gossip Girl perhaps?
Here, a random selection of the prep school set and what they wear, buy and listen to.
Located in Andover, Mass., Phillips — or PA to students — is the quintessential New England liberal arts high school. Paul Revere forged the school’s original motto 232 years ago, and everyone from both Bush presidents to Humphrey Bogart to Dr. Spock to novelist Julia Alvarez have attended. One thing hasn’t changed: It’s still a major feeder for Ivy League schools (69 to Harvard and 54 to Yale in the last four years, but who’s counting?). With 300 courses on offer, PA throws in a few for the sartorially minded — costume design and a study of fabrics. But a review of student newspaper The Phillipian’s “Look of the Week” feature is a far better measure of the student fashion zeitgeist.
Name: Hannah Lee, class of 2010
Hometown: Splits time between Northbrook, Ill., and Korea
Style m.o.: Classic-elegant with an artsy twist, Lee will wear her Nudie jeans with skinny belt and cardigan to the art history and drawing classes she loves.
Closet faves: Black suede cutout pumps from Korea.
Shops: Club Monaco, American Apparel, J. Crew, Banana Republic, Gilt.com, Bloomingdale’s, The Consignment Closet in Andover, Mass., and Korean boutiques.
Spends: $200 a month.
Online: Look Book occasionally, but she’d rather flip through a Harper’s Bazaar or Vanity Fair.
Music: Old-school rap, The Flaming Lips and Phoenix.
Name: Camerin Stoldt, 2012
Hometown: Hopkinton, Mass.
Style m.o.: Sweet and offbeat, right down to her doodled-on Converse All-Stars. Though she’s definitely a jock — basketball and soccer — Stoldt also has “miles of muslin” she uses to sketch her own clothing patterns.
Closet faves: Converse All-Stars (three pairs), her turquoise cardigan and miniskirts.
Shops: Target, PacSun, Forever 21, Delia’s, American Apparel and Betsey Johnson.
Spends: $400 a school year.
Online: Etsy, PostSecret and StumbleUpon.
Music: The Beatles, Bishop Allen, ZOX, Vampire Weekend and Shwayze.
Name: Kerry Joyce, 2011
Hometown: Tenafly, N.J.
Style m.o.: Joyce loves academic men’s wear of the Twenties, à la Jeremy Irons in “Brideshead Revisited.” She also has her all-black Victorian days where she pulls out her Ralph Lauren tailcoat and heads off to study classics in what she calls the “very Edward Gorey-esque” Pearson Hall.
Closet faves: A vintage Donna Karan pencil skirt swiped from Mom, Ducker & Son wing tips, British straw boater hat and a Phillip Lim white linen dress.
Shops: Brooks Brothers, J. Press, The Andover Shop or any traditional men’s haberdashery shop where she can raid the boys’ department for things that fit her.
Spends: $150 a month.
Online: Garance Doré, A Suitable Wardrobe and Unknown Hipster.
Music: The Smiths and Morrissey.
Perhaps the preppiest of the three, the school serves grades K-12, and educated not only successive generations of Brahmins (witness Forbes and Saltonstall named buildings) but also Robert and Ted Kennedy. Today, it’s a sports powerhouse known for sailing, tennis and hockey. Seniors design and work on a monthlong independent project at the end of their final year.
Name: Marilyn Petrowski, 2010
Hometown: Wilton, Conn.
Style m.o.: In her clean, modern classics — pencil skirts, asymmetric tops, tall boots — Petrowski is dressier than the average Miltonite and has a keen understanding of how investment works, in fashion terms. For Christmas, she prepped her mother on the one gift she wanted to receive and so scored a black Chanel chain-strap purse. “It was pretty much my whole Christmas. My dad doesn’t understand how a bag could cost this much,” she laughs. “I have to be able to give it to my grandkids.”
Closet faves: The Chanel purse, J. Crew beige boots, a Nom de Plume floral dress and a blue plaid Millau shirt.
Shops: LF in Harvard Square, Anthropologie and Marc Jacobs.
Spends: $100 to $200 a month.
Blogs: Jak & Jil, Fashion Copious and Sea of Shoes.
Music: Kings of Leon and Rolling Stones.
Name: Alexandra Sweeney Vesty, 2012
Hometown: Wellington, New Zealand, now living in Manhattan.
Style m.o.: “Ninety-nine percent of the school wears moccasins and Patagonia fleece,” says Vesty, who stands out for her sartorial choices (Missoni miniskirts, Opening Ceremony blazers, Alexander McQueen bracelets) and for her long, fiery red hair. “I’m a horse of a different color at Milton.” Over the summer, she worked at New Zealand designer Karen Walker’s Wellington boutique, and would love to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology after high school.
Closet faves: Acne jeans and two pairs of Chanel boots (ankle lace-ups and knee-highs) received on her sweet 16. “My mum’s a saint,” she says.
Shops: Louis Boston, Urban Outfitters, American Apparel, downtown vintage shop Screaming Mimi’s and Vagabond.com.
Spends: $200 a month (without Mom).
Blogs: Sea of Shoes, Fashion Toast, Going Rogue and Jak & Jil.
Music: Bob Dylan and mash-ups from Girl Talk.
Founded in 1922 as a girls’ school and the alma mater of Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, Concord Academy has slate blue or white antique clapboard “houses” that present a quaint facade along the town’s main street. Behind the historic exterior, however, CA is known for small classes, a progressive spirit and strong arts programs, including courses in fiber arts. Each year, the school hosts “Project Runway” CA, a competition where students create three garments (one has to be of recycled materials) and use friends to model in a finale.
Name: Amelia Fitch, 2011
Hometown: Concord, Mass.
Style m.o.: Co-founder of CA’s fashion blog, Dandy, Fitch dresses girly vintage-eclectic with nods to Nineties grunge. She hasn’t worn pants since she was in eighth grade (apart from a single pair kept for weather emergencies), and relies on her dress form, where she tailors vintage finds to her liking.
Closet faves: A wool Pendleton ’49er jacket, fishnet stockings, Dr. Martens, a Sugar Plum vintage floral dress, Mom’s vintage fake fur jacket and Dad’s gold signet ring.
Shops: Ebay, ModCloth.com, H&M and Vintage Revenge and Garment District in Cambridge, and MonseratDeLucca.com for jewelry.
Spends: $50 a month.
Music: Folk, such as Devendra Banhart, Jolie Holland and M. Ward.
Name: Daphne Kim, 2010
Hometown: Splits time between Seoul and McLean, Va.
Style m.o.: Currently directing Anton Chekhov’s “The Three Sisters” on campus, this artsy-elegant senior went weak-kneed for a Balmain power-shoulder jacket in a Korean department store. She also loves Vivienne Westwood’s theatricality, and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s sharp, wearable tailoring (she admires Elizabeth and James and The Row, but owns the less-expensive Elizabeth and James).
Closet faves: Ultrahigh heels, especially her 4-inch Tory Burch ankle boots; American Apparel denim leggings; an Elizabeth and James purple asymmetric tank, and headbands from Korean marketplaces.
Shops: Nordstrom, Macy’s, Gilt.com, Banana Republic, American Apparel and fast-fashion shops in Korea.
Spends: $100 a month.
Online: Style.com and elle.com.
Music: Fashiony glam-rockers such as David Bowie and New York Dolls, The Runaways, Riot Grrrl bands like Bikini Kill, Hole, Babes in Toyland and current acts Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Goldfrapp.
Name: Daysha Edewi, 2010
Style m.o.: CA’s student body president loves fun, colorful, tongue-in-cheek fashion — whether current or vintage. “Carrie Bradshaw’s sense of style and love for shoes speaks to my soul,” she says.
Closet faves: Her pin saying “Dork,” her skinny pink belt, her Notebook by Nike sneakers, Fifties-era hats, wigs and hairpieces.
Shops: Delia’s, AJWright, Rave, Forever 21, Newbury Comics and Fredflare.com.
Spends: $100 to $200 on school breaks.
Blogs: Nope, she’s old-school and loves hitting the newsstand for magazines: Cosmopolitan, Seventeen and others.
Music: Nineties R&B, late singer Aaliyah, A Tribe Called Quest, Kid Cudi, Diana Ross and Taylor Swift.