• The Needlepoint Belt

    Style | Culture | Prep Essentials  

    According to the 80s-penned Official Preppy Handbook, the needlepoint belt is a “must accessory for the collegiate B.M.O.C. (big man on campus)" and typically a gift from women of a certain sort and class...women committed to memorializing young love by stitching a needlepoint belt for their beau. Ironically, it eventually garnered notoriety as the breakup belt. By the time the belt was finished, someone in the relationship had often decided to move on.

    While preppy fashion has gradually evolved over the last 30 years, the casual and jaunty nature of needlepoint belts has not. It's the preppy catholicon for holding up ill-fitting khakis, shorts, and summer suit trousers.

    Victoria Stulgis started needlepointing at age 12 when she and her mom wandered into the Nantucket clothing/needlepoint boutique, Erica Wilson. By 15, she became much more avid. After a day at the stables, she and her equestrian friends would slumber party at each other's homes and needlepoint in front of the TV. "It was rather unconventional, I think," Stulgis recalls.

    "I started working on [my boyfriend] Jack's belt when I was 17. Back then I was rather quick at needlepointing and it only took 3-6 months (I think there was a time when I was needlepointing during history class)."

    When she was finished with the crossed oars design in Georgetown colors (and still in the relationship) Stulgis sent the canvas to a leather shop just outside Lexington, KY, which she had stumbled across while competing at the US National Pony Finals in 2004. They do a top notch job with the stitching and use superior quality leather, as they cater to the equestrian set down in Kentucky. Good thing too, since her boyfriend Jack has been throwing it around his waist almost daily for the past six years.

    Can’t get your auntie, mum, or lovely lady to labor for months over this functional status statement? No worries. You can simply pick one up from Tucker Blair or Smathers & Branson; however, my favorite is one I came across from Rugby several years ago (beautiful repeating gold skull & bones on navy ground, wool thread, and better quality leather than the former). Most ring in under $200. Of course, the most valuable needlepoint belts are those made by moms or girlfriends like Stulgis.

    Sep 6, 2012 | Permalink (2) View/Leave Comments

    PSP left a comment on 1/30/2014 at 10:27 PM:

    My wife made a U Penn one that incorporated my initials as a Christmas gift.

    Rowboats left a comment on 10/30/2012 at 8:35 PM:

    M’s Canvashouse out of Lexington KY sells the best most extensive variety I have ever seen (and online!). You can also send it back to them to do leathering.  My boyfriend has multiple.


  • A Jacket for Life

    Prep Essentials  

    When it comes to coats, there is Barbour…and there is everything else. From the moment the olive waxed cotton hugs your frame and the corduroy collar kisses the nape of your neck, an enigmatic bond is formed not unheard of to span three decades. A recent documentary, A Jacket for Life, showcases the 30-year love affairs several Barbour owners have with their jackets—revealing why those relationships last longer than many marriages.

    It also pulls back the curtain of a customer service center where beat-to-hell, but still stylish coats are emitted for repairs. Each garment is meticulously repaired by one Barbour machinist who does all the work needed to restore the coat to its former glory. Don't get too attached though, you'll likely be sharing it once you have teenagers.

    Jul 31, 2012 | Permalink (12) View/Leave Comments

    Gunnar left a comment on 1/15/2013 at 3:12 AM:

    Just bought a brand new Barbour Beaufort for 133 pounds.. Best buy of my life!

    Grace left a comment on 8/10/2012 at 2:25 PM:

    Ironic timing since I’m currently saving my teenage minimum wages and allowance for one! They’re just so perfect, though.

    Jan left a comment on 8/10/2012 at 8:05 AM:

    Lovely for us to read your comments and know you like our film.  Read our diary about the film-making process if you want to find out more http://jancawood.wordpress.com/

    PSP left a comment on 8/10/2012 at 12:25 AM:

    Hi ZRA,
    I would recommend the Beaufort.  It is not too long.  I have had mine since 1990.  Barbour makes a removable zip in liner which I would recommend.  It makes the coat suitable for both winter and fall.

    Joe left a comment on 8/9/2012 at 10:53 AM:

    I have a 20 year old Beaufort that is a Ducks Unlimited editon, priceless…Best investment ever in clothing, all 4 of mine are good to go.  Best repair service in the civlized world.

    ZRA left a comment on 8/9/2012 at 10:32 AM:

    Which model would you recommend for gentlemen? I can’t seem to decide which one I’d like the most, and I’m interested in your opinion.


    Kristen Sayan left a comment on 8/9/2012 at 10:24 AM:

    I got my first Barbour when I was 18 and it was used as intended-for riding and foxhunting in foul weather. Now, more than 20 years later, I have added a new Barbour for “fashion,” though my old one accompanies me to the barn on rainy mornings.  For riders, the arms are the first thing to wear out. I have had full arm patches put on mine.

    Tobias left a comment on 8/9/2012 at 8:31 AM:

    My 20 + yr old Bedale is in the “shop” being re-waxed as we speak.

    Josh left a comment on 8/9/2012 at 8:20 AM:

    I grew up with Barbour jackets. At school, they were not considered cool, but I still love the smell of a damp Barbour hanging up, drying out.
    They really are a great brand, and not worth going with any imitation.
    They are also guaranteed for life. When the wax starts to wear out, you can just send it back to them and they’ll rewax it. Now that’s customer service


    NJGlenn left a comment on 8/9/2012 at 8:14 AM:

    Excellent! I got my first Barbour back in 95’ (Border, needed the length for commuting to NYC in a suit). Now that this one is nicely broken in, I just picked up a NWOT Beufort on ebay for a fraction of what I paid new 17 years ago.

    Glenn left a comment on 8/9/2012 at 8:05 AM:

    Brilliant video! I’ve owned a Barbour since the early 80s it so true about the Barbour Jacket! Worth the investment!

    Kionon left a comment on 8/9/2012 at 2:05 AM:

    The essence of prep is clothing that works and clothing that lasts. Barbour does both.


  • The Home Bar

    Culture | Prep Essentials  

    There is a saying, “If you’re lucky enough to live close to the water, then you’re lucky enough.” Consider yourself lucky enough when you find yourself in Lyford Cay—the gated community in the Bahamas considered one of the world’s richest and most exclusive neighborhoods. When members aren’t quenching their thirst with the club’s signature Rum Dum*—a mix of Light Bacardi Rum, lemon juice, simple syrup, water, raw egg white, and dark rum—they’re pouring their own favorites. Every Lyford Cay house boasts the one key ingredient to entertaining—the home bar. Whether atop a liquor tray or hidden neatly behind folding doors, it’s always discreet. Preppies don’t advertise their affinity for it but it’s always within arms reach.

    Pytchley Lodge home bar

    I’m here on a job for Quadrille, the WASPy fabric company which happens to cover the walls, windows, and pillows of every other Lyford Cay home. After settling into a pale pink cottage by the name of Pytchley Lodge (WASPs name their homes, don’t ya know), I pull back the doors to the charming bar and mix up my favorite warm weather drink, a Southside. It’s refreshing but don’t take my word for it. Mix it up for yourself.

    In a shaker, muddle a few mint leaves (don’t pulverize them). Then add ice, two shots of gin, three-quarters of an ounce of simple syrup, three-quarters of an ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice, and a few drops of Angostura bitters. Shake hard for a good ten seconds and strain into a glass, either up or on the rocks.

    *Since Lyford Cay Club bartender Wilfred Sands concocted it in 1971, it’s been a mainstay ever since.

    Jan 18, 2012 | Permalink (11) View/Leave Comments

    MS left a comment on 1/30/2012 at 12:52 PM:

    You forgot the cucumber, FEC! Not a Southside without ‘em.

    emjkmj left a comment on 1/28/2012 at 5:32 PM:

    I need to do this in my office!

    Amatourist left a comment on 1/28/2012 at 2:13 PM:

    you know the staff call it Lifeless Cay, and in some respects I can see why. but for house parties and the Little Club she tends to shutter down pretty early.  last time I was there, New Year 2009 I think, saw the sunrise on Captain’s Beach with rum in hand. so, you know, not always lifeless.

    JNN left a comment on 1/28/2012 at 1:58 PM:

    @cam @todd Jack is indeed not bourbon and place has nothing to do with it as you say. However, the “label” restriction is not true.

    Garrison Brothers Texas Straight Bourbon Whiskey

    Stockton AndrewsII left a comment on 1/27/2012 at 6:05 PM:

    Very nicely done! I like the miniature figures in white tunics on the center shelf. Never drink alone!

    The preppies left a comment on 1/27/2012 at 3:59 AM:

    For some american fashion, visit my blog


    cam left a comment on 1/26/2012 at 11:54 PM:

    @tad - indeed bourbon can be made anywhere in the US as long as it follows the formula. that being said, only bourbon made in kentucky can use the word “bourbon” on the label. if you ask anyone from kentucky, which I so happen to be, it isn’t bourbon if it isn’t from kentucky

    Tad Allagash left a comment on 1/26/2012 at 10:45 PM:

    Nice bar, love all the mini portraits, like the ghosts of cocktails past.  @Bridey - Indeed Jack Daniels is not a bourbon, but being from Tennessee has nothing to do with it.

    Laguna Beach Fogey left a comment on 1/26/2012 at 10:20 PM:

    Well said. There are loads of Preps hiding out in the Bahamas—some of them Loyalist descendants—drinking Gin and hunting sharks and grouper. Divine.

    Bridey left a comment on 1/26/2012 at 5:30 PM:

    Great pic, but I hope there’s a good bourbon hiding back there. Jack Daniels, of course, is from TN and does not count.

    y. l. hollander left a comment on 1/26/2012 at 5:07 PM:

    Loving the fact that the proprietor opts for call brand liquors and mixers. No need for fever-tree quinine or superduperpremium hooch—- just a good, solid drink.



  • Andy Warhol’s Letterhead

    Culture | Prep Essentials  

    Stationery, in some form or fashion, can be found stashed away in a preppy’s desk at any given moment. It’s an essential habit. Penning proper correspondence, whether it be thank you notes, a memo, or a handwritten letter to a long time pal is practically a second language by adolescence. Even though it seems like we slap our monograms on everything, we don’t. Traditionally, there are only certain items that should be monogrammed—stationery being one of them. Andy Warhol’s (an aforementioned personal style icon) undated stationery gives typography center stage in soothing tones of blue and green. It also communicated quite effectively who he was as an individual before he would ever scrawl his first word.

    Image via Letterheady

    Jan 10, 2012 | Permalink (6) View/Leave Comments

    StacyfrPgh left a comment on 1/14/2012 at 5:27 PM:

    I just gave my 20-something children new stationary for the holidays. I encouraged my 21 yo son to take some with him to Italy for the semester. One never knows when the need to correspond by handwriting can come up!

    Andrea left a comment on 1/14/2012 at 5:08 PM:

    Have a look at this eye-catching exhibit, F.E. Art inspired by old nautical/battle flags via Free People’s blog. To me, it’s remarkable how a subject so inherently preppy can become un-preppy and almost trite when it’s put under a microscope like this…  http://blog.freepeople.com/2012/01/give-ship/

    Laguna Beach Fogey left a comment on 1/14/2012 at 12:48 PM:

    I’m as much a Warhol fan as the next chap, but this looks like the handwriting of a deranged 8-year old child.


    CHC left a comment on 1/13/2012 at 8:51 PM:

    so the type or writing would go over the design or under it? over it right?

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 1/13/2012 at 4:39 PM:

    @Andrea—I noticed the very same. That’s probably part of the quirk to Warhol though.

    Andrea left a comment on 1/13/2012 at 4:02 PM:

    He spelled “Murray Hill” incorrectly…ha wonder if he noticed/cared!


  • Uniform Warmth

    Dress Code | Prep Essentials  

    Noteworthy: I'm really digging these shades right now—classic silhouette in a shocking lime green hue. Think of them as go-hell-shades. Wearing your parka off the slopes will keep you just as warm and be right at home over your daily "uniform."

    Deja Vu Refinery sunglasses
    • Penfield 60/40 parka
    oxford cloth button down shirt
    repp tie
    Norman Hilton navy blazer
    • Ralph Lauren slide belt w/J.Press brass engine turn buckle
    • Rugby gray flannel trouser
    striped socks
    Bass Weejun penny loafer (hand-painted)

    Dec 8, 2011 | Permalink (34) View/Leave Comments

    Skyler left a comment on 4/26/2012 at 12:03 AM:

    Did you paint the entire shoe or just the stripe? I’m having trouble telling from just this picture, but you Weejuns don’t look very similar to any pictures of Larson’s that I have been able to find.

    Fadewa left a comment on 2/19/2012 at 12:50 AM:

    I’ve aylaws lived here and I still find general American style a little too laid-back.  I love your blog and your style.  Stick to your guns!

    Rebecca left a comment on 12/22/2011 at 4:26 PM:

    Love the sunnies!

    BEG left a comment on 12/13/2011 at 11:22 AM:

    Love most of the look.  The grey flannels/ blue blazer/ repp tie pairing is classic and detailed properly.  Love the belt and I’ll even give the painted loafers a free-pass, since the stripe is nice and subtle.  The parka steals the show in a very utilitarian way, but I guess when it’s “really cold,” form should give way to function.

    DEJA VU REFINERY left a comment on 12/12/2011 at 8:49 AM:

    In response to Ames: Acrylic paint carefully striped -out with white pencil and tape can indeed create a sophisticated customized Prep School Sports Team touch to your 1920’s elephant leather briefcase or suitcase with buckles and straps, and your sparkling shiny new penny loafers. Acrylic paint will peel off like a band aid when you are tired of the look, and you can re-polish for uniform leather color again for the following semester (new school transfers do happen). I don’t do temporary fashion or trends, so I personally use nail polish which is my 1st choice or oil artists’ paint which is 2nd choice and both have great colors of any stripe, but marine or outdoor paint from the hardware store or the crew team utility cabin is good for less lively hues too. This has been my sockless, loaferless, 2cents.
    Over & Out!
    Jason Pollak

    Ames left a comment on 12/11/2011 at 11:06 PM:

    I definitely like the shoes. Although I assume you can’t polish or condition them due to the paint.

    Daniel left a comment on 12/11/2011 at 5:28 PM:

    @Mr. Castleberry: Have you ever done a post on hairstyle, shaving, hygiene-type of stuff? I’d be interested on some of your thoughts about hair product, cut, etc. for style! Lovin’ your blog, Sir!

    Josephine left a comment on 12/11/2011 at 5:57 AM:

    @AEV- I agree with you. Proper dress, and the applied knowledge of dressing properly is so rare as to be a bold fashion statement in and of itself. While I appreciate Mr. Castleberry’s eye for the unexpected pop of color, I personally prefer more subtlety. The site is useful for me in evaluating and re-evaluating my own style preferences.

    DEJA VU REFINERY left a comment on 12/10/2011 at 1:17 PM:

    My pleasure MR. T. !!!  I’m dillsexic myself, and I pity the fool that tries to correct my typing jibba-jabba!

    Dave T. left a comment on 12/10/2011 at 12:49 PM:

    Jason, will do, and thank you.  Sorry about the typos.

    DEJA VU REFINERY left a comment on 12/10/2011 at 12:46 PM:

    Dear “MR. T.”,
    If you would like more info, it is absolutely at your disposal. A mere email inquiry via our “Contact” page on the website will allow us to provide you with some answers to these questions. Most of our customers purchase our luxury mens eyewear as informed consumers already aware of the unimpeachable virtues of DEBONAIR at 1st sight. For the rest, there’s more info available upon request (no “pretty please” necessary too).
    We all look forward to your emails.
    Jason Pollak

    Tito left a comment on 12/10/2011 at 12:27 PM:

    Love this look, a lot of originality which make’s you who you are.
    Keep it coming & let the haters keep on hating!

    Dave T. left a comment on 12/10/2011 at 12:15 PM:

    @DEJA VU REFINERY Glad that you posted.  I had asked this question earlier.  What is the background of you company?  On visiting your site, there is no information on the history of the company. 

    For example, Kiel James Patrick started making the rope bracelets for himself, and then friends.  From there, he honed the design of the bracelets and purchased machinery for production.  Thus, his company was born.

    Are your glasses (spectacals) made in Asheville?  What value is there to entice me to purchase these glasses at $300.00?  I (and I would think others) need more than they are “very nice” and flowery language on a website.


    DEJA VU REFINERY left a comment on 12/10/2011 at 10:54 AM:

    In my opinion those sunspectacles are very nice indeed.

    Adam left a comment on 12/9/2011 at 10:28 PM:

    The painted loafers are subtle and cool.

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 12/9/2011 at 1:53 PM:

    @SM—If I have to explain to you why I painted my loafers, then you don’t “get it.” Think about the following quote…

    “Luxury isn’t about spending the most money, it’s about having what no one else does.”  —Jenna Lyons

    Everyone can buy and wear (and has worn) this Bass Weejun…I like to ask, how can I make this more personal…more luxurious? More “me”?

    @BIg Jon—I painted my loafers with acrylic paint (use masking tape to trace out the stripe).

    MAS left a comment on 12/9/2011 at 1:38 PM:

    In my thirty plus years of business, there is no one size fits all when it comes to how one dresses for work, but I will say that there are tribal expectations if you wish to fit in.  Finance has long coveted the more conservative look, marketing, advertising types add more flare while those in the arts, tech are most esoteric.  MGM sounds like a made man, hence his observations of less style conscious.  The less style conscious no doubt wonder how much thought can on man put into what he wears?  My point, I always dressed similar to the tribe I worked with.  Those who did not were viewed less favorably AND they rarely ever knew it!

    SM left a comment on 12/9/2011 at 1:19 PM:

    The glasses look like something a frat star would wear with his boat shoes and Nantucket reds.  Great look underneath. And a question for you, Fred: what is the point of splattering nice, leather shoes with paint?  What are you trying to convey with that?

    Big Jon left a comment on 12/9/2011 at 12:34 PM:

    Did you paint your loafers yourself and if so how did you do it?

    Glenn Elliot left a comment on 12/9/2011 at 11:50 AM:

    Great, great post MGM.  I nearly spit coffee across my desk when you described the black shirt/black tie combo….Regis anyone???  And I can not agree more that dressing boldly allows you to take certain style liberties.

    AEV left a comment on 12/9/2011 at 7:56 AM:

    @MGM- ha ha….Your comments are spot on…and made me chuckle. I hear you, but, I still feel like there’s a huge difference between what you (and I) may consider a ‘bold’ or unique style choice (interesting ties, slight breaks in our pants, tailored clothes, a subtle quirk or two) and Fred’s personal style. I’m not suggesting—at all—that folks should dress like clones or without style, I’m simply suggesting that some restraint and adherence to a few basic guidelines will go a long, long way in ensuring your outfit/style is appreciated by me (and men like me) as opposed to sneered at.

    I, for one, am not concerned with what the dude in the black dress shirt thinks - but, I do realize that the impression I give my boss/the company executive team, potential clients/employers, my finance’s father, etc., matters quite a bit…

    gordon left a comment on 12/9/2011 at 7:39 AM:

    He is having a little fun with his style guys.  He is wearing cloths, it’s not that serious.

    Andreas left a comment on 12/9/2011 at 4:43 AM:

    I love the flannel trousers with the Norman Hilton jacket. Perfect match.

    Tyler P. left a comment on 12/9/2011 at 1:03 AM:

    I think a tort shell would look great too. The lime green would pair well with a swim short and a bright polo.

    Snaaby left a comment on 12/8/2011 at 9:59 PM:

    I will be brutally honest, the glasses are growing on me. I can’t explain it, but I accept it.

    Tim left a comment on 12/8/2011 at 9:29 PM:

    Keep doing your thing! I Wish I had a Norman Hilton.

    MGM left a comment on 12/8/2011 at 8:19 PM:

    Let me make one more comment in response to AEV’s points (which are always good).  He has suggested in the most recent posts here that dressing like this will not send a good signal and/or make a good first impression in the business world.  Now, of course this may *seem* true, but from experience I know that it is not.  I am a practicing attorney, and work around people all day that dress in suits (whether it is in the office or in court).  But here is the difference between me and them:  these people put ZERO thought into what and how they dress, while I consciously make very bold style choices.  I wear pants with no break, usually combine extremely bold tie/oxford shirt combinations, and sometimes even wear collar pins!  I can get away with stuff like this because the people around my know ALMOST NOTHING about style.  They couldn’t articulate an objection even if they wanted to.  They wear cheap nylon dress shirts they purchase at Marshall’s, and their pants are so long that they are frayed at the bottom.  They don’t know how to dress, and thus they are in no position to comment on my bold style choices.  From experience, I can tell you that is how it works in the real world.  When I walk into a courtroom, I attract attention.  Good or bad (who knows?). But the point is that I do.

    Now, the one danger to bold style dressers like FEC and everyone else who is inspired by him is, of course, people like you, AEV.  You are obviously EXTREMELY knowledgeable about proper dress, and you pull it off very well.  But there are so few people like you now AEV that bold style dressers can get away with almost anything they want.  Who is going to stop me?  The guy wearing a solid over-sized black shirt with a solid black tie and pants fraying at the bottom?  I don’t think so.

    meg left a comment on 12/8/2011 at 8:14 PM:

    (Most of) the outfit is golden.  Love it F.E.

    Aaron left a comment on 12/8/2011 at 8:00 PM:

    I’m shocked you’re wearing socks!

    Dave T. left a comment on 12/8/2011 at 6:56 PM:

    Can you provide any more information on the Deja Vu Refinery glasses?  The website really doesn’t have any information about them.

    The closest thing I could find is this job listing for an intern:

    Global Luxury Mens Spectacle & Sunspectacle Brand (think Johnny/Dean). Founded by the former owner of a successful full service advertising company in NY. Marketing Interns are needed to interface with customers, top stylists, and editors of blogs & online/print magazines including Vanity Fair, GQ, Esquire, etc. (not only USA issues).


    AEV left a comment on 12/8/2011 at 6:06 PM:

    @cam - I don’t disagree with anything you wrote…nor is it lost on me that Fred’s running a business. But, Fred actually wears these looks out in public and he fiercely defends the style/utility of the pieces he features. It appears he has been anointed an ‘expert’ and he regularly doles out advice and opinionated replies to comments and inquiries.

    So, for me anyway, it’s important to know where he’s coming from.

    Daniel left a comment on 12/8/2011 at 5:48 PM:

    Nicely done, sir.

    DBCC left a comment on 12/8/2011 at 2:42 PM:

    Nice belt buckle.

    cam left a comment on 12/8/2011 at 2:29 PM:

    Let me start by saying that i enjoy quit a lot of what F.E. does and what he features on this site. i think many people should be aware that F.E. publishes a blog and he needs to drive traffic to his site to be relevant. i have seen this with many bloggers/publishers. They start off featuring things they wear which are typically spot on and very classic in nature. That being said, they must continually spark debate and what better way to do so than venture outside the box. F.E. knows exactly what he is doing and he does a great job. If you are looking for classic style a blog of a self-proclaimed stylist is not the place to look. Rather keep your eyes open in your own neighborhood and take a note when you see a ‘real’ person wearing something you like.


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