• Madras

    Style | Miscellany  

    If there is one fabric that is quintessentially Preppy, it’s Madras. True Madras, of course (patchwork madras screams go-to-hell even louder). The real thing is one of the oldest fabrics in the cotton trade, a fine, hand-loomed cotton that is imported from Madras, India. If you go looking for it on a map, it’s name to has been changed to Chennai. Interestingly enough, what sets true madras apart from imitations is that it “bleeds”; the murky colors-navy blue, maroon, mustard yellow-of its distinctive plaids are imparted by vegetable dyes that are guaranteed to run.

    Photographed in Wailuku, HI

    Since the colors are unstable at best, madras has to be treated very carefully. Shirts, shorts, and items that aren’t going to be dry-cleaned must be soaked in cold salt water for at least twenty-four hours before they’re washed for the first time. This sets the dyes. Then they should really be washed separately for months thereafter, because the colors will still run. Old madras takes on a lovely soft look and feel with many washings (the crux of the fabric’s appeal to Preps), though jackets, which are dry-cleaned, of course, maintain that sharp plaid.

    I began proselytizing the shorter inseam last summer. A recent sneak peek of Rugby's S/S 2011 collection only confirms the return of rising inseams (it also grants the appearance of additional height). These boast 5"—thanks to my tailor, Nam. When your oxford cloth boxers occasionally peek out, you've hit the sweet spot.

    Mar 29, 2010 | Permalink (35) Total Comments

    Yogesh Gajendran left a comment on 11/9/2014 at 1:59 AM:

    Hello, for authentic bleeding madras please reach out to yogmatri at yahoo dot com


    Yogesh Gajendran left a comment on 11/9/2014 at 1:51 AM:

    Hello,  I can help to source authentic bleeding madras fabrics which can bleed at every wash.


    BUD left a comment on 7/21/2011 at 12:10 AM:

    This article is bang on target…..madras is what it takes to be preppy….nothing says it like a soft tone madras , with crisp shorts, while playing golf or just hanging out at the beach.
    Madras plaids are still made in India, and the authentic stuff comes from there and there alone….not from China, though they might have learnt how to make it too (not surprising).
    I find my madras at: http://store.fabrics-textiles.com .They say they have the widest selection of madras and patchwork plaids.


    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 5/7/2010 at 9:26 AM:

    @Drew—My glasses are Total Wits by Eye Bobs.


    Drew Poling left a comment on 4/15/2010 at 3:49 PM:

    Fred—great look.  Takes me back to the way we dressed in boarding school ca. 1979-82.

    Tell us, please: what make/model are your awesome glasses?


    Chznone left a comment on 4/5/2010 at 5:30 PM:

    If I had legs as great as yours, I’d shorten all my shorts as well. Love the Madras, Love the tennis shoes, and Love Love Love the blog….you have a fan in me


    mjl left a comment on 4/5/2010 at 8:52 AM:

    also, being a lifelong soccer player myself, i wish i had known about sambas coming in white.  its a well known fact, even outside the prep world, that white shoes make you look faster than the standard black ones.  not that i’d play any better with white kicks, i’d at least look a bit quicker.  anyone know if they make white Copas, too?


    Max left a comment on 4/5/2010 at 1:26 AM:

    Great job.  Looking effortless and comfortable- not too put together. Just perfect.


    anthony left a comment on 4/4/2010 at 3:12 PM:

    i like what fred’s got going on here. this relaxed look is perfect for the summer and doesn’t require a lot of effort while still maintaining a fun attitude. i especially like the color choices and the way they interact with the hawaiian foliage (along w/ the cool pickup truck in the background).


    Ryan left a comment on 4/3/2010 at 7:07 PM:

    While I might find the shorts in this post a bit short for my taste that is neither here nor there; they’re fantastic madras shorts.

    Keep up the good work.


    rhonda left a comment on 4/1/2010 at 4:52 PM:

    Love it! Classic.


    James left a comment on 4/1/2010 at 4:21 PM:

    I personally don’t like shorts that short (I’m a ‘just above the knee’ kinda guy + I’m 5’11) but the length on him hits the spot.


    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 4/1/2010 at 3:53 PM:

    Sambas are shoes I’ve worn throughout my childhood—they’re appropriate for my style. Sambas inform others of where I come from (a nod to sport). The patchwork tells everyone to go-to-hell while the OCBD anchors everything down in tradition. Style should inform others about who you are. This site is about encouraging preppys and ivy-leaguers to develop clearer voices through their personal style…and then sharing that with the fashion world (because we truly believe it is the best time-tested way to dress).


    Things Is Cool left a comment on 4/1/2010 at 2:52 AM:

    Maui madras looks good! Thanks for showing Hawai’i some love, F.E.


    Ian left a comment on 3/31/2010 at 9:49 PM:

    A classic look.


    heatherlovesit left a comment on 3/30/2010 at 8:18 PM:

    love this!


    The Boss left a comment on 3/30/2010 at 2:42 PM:

    Madras are synonymous with Leona Lewis: they keep bleeding.


    Robdarko left a comment on 3/30/2010 at 10:00 AM:

    I require a 8” to 10” inseam but this kid can definitely pull it off.  Looks good!


    Connetiquette left a comment on 3/30/2010 at 7:29 AM:

    Rugby has bleeding madras in store as we speak


    hillybilly left a comment on 3/30/2010 at 4:47 AM:

    like your leggs, dude’s


    Jake left a comment on 3/29/2010 at 11:41 PM:

    Nice shorts.


    James left a comment on 3/29/2010 at 8:02 PM:

    I’ve been on the lookout for a short-sleeve madras button-down. Any suggestions?


    Christian Bourasseau left a comment on 3/29/2010 at 6:54 PM:

    Brilliant look.


    The Boss left a comment on 3/29/2010 at 6:13 PM:

    Fred—That’s interesting regarding your height. I was going to ask the same question before I clicked on the comment section. I always assumed (based on your photos) that you were shorter than that. Being 6’2” myself, I would think a 5” inseam would look ridiculous on me, but perhaps that’s because I’m used to 7-9” inseams.


    M.M. Gashlycrumb left a comment on 3/29/2010 at 5:19 PM:

    Where are those glasses from? They’re GREAT!
    Also, nice shorts


    J. Hall-Luper left a comment on 3/29/2010 at 4:59 PM:

    This is such a summer look I can get behind. Can’t wait. And I’ve boycotted shorts for the past 3 years, so its kind of a big deal.


    Michael E. left a comment on 3/29/2010 at 4:53 PM:

    Could you recommend a good source for bleeding madras?


    Andy left a comment on 3/29/2010 at 3:20 PM:

    With the arrival of shorter-shorts styles I suspect we’ll see a lot of arguments on what looks good and what doesn’t.  In the end it’s all subjective but it’s pulled off well in this picture.  I have some shorts in a similar pattern from A&F (it was my college phase) that I haven’t worn in ages due to their length but with some quick tailoring I may be set.


    CLG23 left a comment on 3/29/2010 at 3:10 PM:

    yep…is is definately a must for the spring/summer. The length is alittle iffy for me, right above the knew is my spot. Well done!


    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 3/29/2010 at 2:56 PM:

    Mike—I’m about 6’.


    Michael left a comment on 3/29/2010 at 2:47 PM:

    Fred, you’re my hero.


    Connetiquette left a comment on 3/29/2010 at 2:44 PM:

    I give up. Flash your thighs all you want. ;)


    Mike left a comment on 3/29/2010 at 2:34 PM:

    A personal favorite. I would love to see you analyze seersucker as well.

    Shorts are too short for me, but I applaud you for your bravery. How tall are you?


    Nicholas left a comment on 3/29/2010 at 1:45 PM:

    Short shorts are where it’s at. I’d go further than peeking boxers; peeking pockets are ideal. Ditch the specs and throw on some shades with croakies and you’re set.


    Kyle Barnes left a comment on 3/29/2010 at 1:22 PM:

    digging the madras with white & gum samba pairing… I picked up those shoes last summer and had trouble wearing them with longer shorts but with the shorter inseams they hit the spot. Well Done Sir!


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