The new season of Articles of Interest tells the history of Ivy and Prep fashion. It’s a style that’s core to living in America. This series shares what made 99% Invisible a great show to start off with. Avery Trufelman gives a name and tells a story about the designers and design decisions that inform the utterly ordinary phenomenon of how we dress ourselves.
I keep coming back to this metaphor: in the way that you have to look at whiteness to look at race, or look at masculinity to look at gender, you have to look at preppy style to understand all of the countercultural fashion movements of the 20th century.
Clothing is about semiotics, and when you put together an outfit, you’re crafting a sentence.
Then in the 1980s, people who thought they could never have access to brokers suddenly had access to passive income. With that came the feeling that you also have the right to the Old Money look. They were like, “I, too, am a monied person; I just need the costume to back it up.” I’m so fascinated with how these social changes affect our fashion choices. If preppy is back—and that’s a big if—I wonder if it has to do with this new money free-for-all we’re seeing. People are becoming millionaires overnight by investing in Gamestop or being on OnlyFans, and I wonder if the accruement of wealth is forever married to this style.