Fashion & Beauty

Preppy Menswear Goes Subtly Subversive

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Khakis. Button-downs. Boat shoes. All the usual suspects are here, only something's . . . different. A strategically placed epaulet here, an acid-bright citrus hue there. These new menswear pieces are preppy, indeed, but over the past several seasons, the look has become less about blending in at boarding school and more about standing out in a sea of collared shirts and cargo shorts.

And the District is primed for a sartorial sea change, according to Kelly Muccio, owner of Georgetown menswear outpost Lost Boys. "The men who come into my store already have the basics, so it's easy to throw in something like raw selvage denim, something with that element of danger," she says. Muccio says the key is putting a twist on the traditional. "To me, it's in the juxtaposition, so if you're going super-preppy and kind of playing it safe, you've got to throw in something completely the opposite, like a bright color or a bold plaid," Muccio says.

Details make these basics anything but standard issue: Take Cassette's slim-collared shirt with a string of buttons down each side, or Gourmet's simple sneakers in eye-catching turquoise. Or wide-leg chinos from designer Rogan Gregory -- worn cuffed to the ankle with boat shoes, they convey an effortless cool with just a trace of Buster Keaton dandyism.

"The look is clean but it shows that a man has confidence," Muccio says. "It's the classics redone -- an update to something that's old and tried-and-true."

-- Holly E. Thomas

© 2009 The Washington Post Company