• Lacoste Polos

    Top Drawer | Prep Essentials  

    by Kiel James Patrick

    Jean René Lacoste was famous not only for his considerate achievements on the court, but off. The Frenchman found traditional tennis attire too bulky, stiff, and completely uncomfortable for the court.  He embarked on a mission to create the ideal shirt for the game in white loosely knit piqué cotton. Ironically, the true brilliance was the small, green smiling alligator stitched on the left breast.  What began as a joke from a ridiculous nickname* would soon become one of the world’s most recognized prep fashion logos of all time.

    Kiel James Patrick's vintage Lacoste polos

    In the 1950s, the polo shirt became a classic fashion staple when Lacoste partnered with Izod to expand from their classic "tennis white" and introduced an array of brightly colored shirts. The sport shirts were then exported to the United States in 1952 and advertised as "the status symbol of the competent sportsman," influencing what the debonair layman was wearing.  During the 60s, the iconic gator crawled onto chests of the rich and famous, including celebrities by the likes of JFK, Clint Eastwood, and Audrey Hepburn.  The brand reached its height of recognition throughout the U.S. in the late 70s/early 80s, garnering a notable mention in Lisa Birnbach's The Official Preppy Handbook while being heralded as an essential preppy accoutrement in the film Making the Grade of the same era.

    Today, Lacoste is no longer associated with Izod and produces a second-rate shirt that leaves most longing for the classic tennis tail, loosely-knit pique cotton, and particularly thick collar that we used to wear upturned to block the summer sun from burning our necks.

    *Lacoste later explained the origin of his nickname, “le Crocodile:” “The American press nicknamed me 'the Crocodile' after a bet that I made with the Captain of the French Davis Cup team. He had promised me a crocodile-skin suitcase if I won a match that was important for our team. The American public stuck to this nickname, which highlighted my tenacity on the tennis courts, never giving up my prey! So my friend Robert George drew me a crocodile which was embroidered on the blazer that I wore on the courts.”

    Aug 3, 2011 | Permalink (37) View/Leave Comments

    Martine left a comment on 8/19/2015 at 7:02 AM:

    I never thought about them before, but recently, I have come to love them. In fact, I am getting quite a collection of Lacoste polos, and they are soft, comfy, and the quality is nice., i have no idea why people here have had such troubles, but I have not. Polos really are a better version of a t shirt. They go with anything from leather leggings, to a below the knee skirt. Can’t get enough of them, and Lacoste is the one that works best for me.

    Luciano Sircy left a comment on 6/19/2014 at 4:24 AM:

    Hi there all, new poster the following. Was an original member here way back in the day, the internet site looks to possess changed a bit given that then.

    Alex left a comment on 9/8/2013 at 1:56 PM:

    The quality of Lacoste products in last few years is really horrible. I´m having about 12 Lacoste polo shirts. The polos from last 2-3 years are very thin and after few washes they look really 20 % - 30 % worse and it is no problem to find holes at the collar after few months. Also the quality of shoes is terrific, after few days of wearing all of them are hardly damaged. Bye, Lacoste. Ever never

    Joseph S left a comment on 5/22/2013 at 8:27 PM:

    I too have been recently disappointed, and horrified, but the specularly poor quality of Lacoste tennis shirts. But I’ve found a great alternative. A shop called Massimo Dutti at 689 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. I’m in no way affiliated with the store, but there tennis shirts have amazing tailoring, beautiful colors and are only $39US. Made in Turkey. Bye, bye Lacoste.

    Kenny Cook left a comment on 5/1/2013 at 9:31 PM:

    I want the Izod shirts from the late 70s / early eighties!  The ones with the long tail.  I loved them!

    Mike left a comment on 2/15/2013 at 10:39 PM:

    I agree with everyone else that the current Lacoste polo is a joke. They neither look nor feel of quality.

    It came down to Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers for me. I recently ordered my first BB polo and found it to fit much larger than a RL in the same size. That doesn’t work for me, so I’ll stick with RL.

    I find most of the vintage Lacostes on eBay are fakes made in China.

    Arcangelo left a comment on 7/14/2012 at 8:51 PM:

    Big fan of Lacoste polos until few years ago.
    I still have one made in France, coral red 16 years old.
    In perfect shape. I purchased some in Las Vegas two years ago and they look awful.
    No more wasting my money with that crap.
    Lacoste bye bye, let us know when you will go back to the quality of the one Made in France.

    RCH left a comment on 11/28/2011 at 2:07 AM:

    Many that are quick to disassociate Lacoste from the Izod brand should remember the Izod-era produced the style and quality we fondly remember Lacoste for.

    Dave left a comment on 11/6/2011 at 2:45 PM:

    I am very disappointed in the current quality of Lacoste polo shirts.  I was elated when they finally disengaged from Izod a few years back and returned to the US market.  The initial product which sold primarily through ultra high-end retailers was similar to the classic polos of the 1950s through the early ‘70s.  The shirts were substantial with longer tails, and heavier cotton material that wore well.  The current shirts however do not even compare with some generic outlet polos.  The material is very thin, shrinks and starts to fall apart after a few washings.  I am sure Lacoste has done their homework and perhaps the 40+ year old market is not where they want to be.  However if they made a line of true “Classic” heavier Lacoste polo shirts that reprised the quality of the early ones they would have a winner.

    Tom left a comment on 10/21/2011 at 5:20 PM:

    Should polos be hung or folded? Great post by the way!

    DB left a comment on 9/6/2011 at 9:41 PM:

    That is an amazing collection of vintage lacoste polos. Where are the best places to find those? Sure I’ve seen one here and there at thrift stores but never the right size… How do you have so many?

    Dave left a comment on 9/4/2011 at 10:38 PM:

    Although I like the Lacostes I have, I’d prefer Ralph Lauren.

    Andy M. left a comment on 8/5/2011 at 6:31 PM:

    I too am glad to see others having the same issues with Lacoste as I have.  They look great initially but after a few wearings the circumference of the shirt bottom seems to grow by 20%, leaving me with a shirt that fits fine up top but balloons out at the bottom and just looks silly. 

    All in all I’m still happiest with my Polo polo shirts.

    Kenneth left a comment on 8/5/2011 at 6:03 PM:

    Glad to see others mention the poor quality of current Lacoste polos. I get them as gifts all the time (of which I am still grateful), but the quality is horrible. The collars are flimsy and after multiple washings begin to look very worn. I am buying/ wearing/ and encouraging gifts to be Vinyard Vines polos. I like the fit, the quality is great, and the VV people are great! I also grabbed a few BB polos this summer which fit great and so far are wearing well.

    Josh left a comment on 8/4/2011 at 8:57 PM:

    Great article Kiel, and a lovely spectrum of vintage Lacoste shirts in your collection.
    I love how the colours dull with age, that beaten in look. Fresh ones just seem too bright.


    sharon left a comment on 8/4/2011 at 7:01 PM:

    i never knew the quality has changed so dramatically, though i have noticed that it depends on the style of polo. i have their original one and one that’s styled to be more fitted. the original is made better than the fitted ones.

    Kionon left a comment on 8/4/2011 at 5:44 PM:

    I have a vintage Lacoste polo made in France. I also have one from a few years ago. The difference is quite noticeable.

    Big Boy left a comment on 8/4/2011 at 12:33 AM:

    The alligator is dope, bitches.

    Laguna Beach Fogey left a comment on 8/3/2011 at 10:44 PM:

    Almost forgot…

    If you’re interested in brand heritage, I recommend the superb history of Lacoste in images published by Assouline:


    I picked up the Classic Green copy from my local Assouline shop.


    Laguna Beach Fogey left a comment on 8/3/2011 at 10:39 PM:

    I love Lacoste polo shirts and still wear them. They fit well and frame my chest and biceps like no other shirt. But, I’ve noticed the tails are a bit short—a definite problem for taller chaps such as moi.

    The Penguin brand should not even be mentioned in the same sentence as the classic brand under review, IMO. No comparison.

    Brooks Brothers polo shirts are a f*cking joke.

    I did wear a lot of Polo polo shirts when I was younger, and am considering going back to try Polo again after all these years.

    Fred Perry is another polo shirt brand I used to wear back in the 1980s, and maybe it’s worth another visit.

    Tom Bosché left a comment on 8/3/2011 at 10:33 PM:

    FEC - Never have liked small cats - keep ‘em in the bag ...

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 8/3/2011 at 8:39 PM:

    @Tom Bosché—We can’t let the cat out of the bag on that one just yet.

    Tom Bosché left a comment on 8/3/2011 at 8:12 PM:

    Kiel - Nice post.  Le Crocodile was a truly talented athlete and businessman.  As long as you and Fred are switching roles, it will be interesting to see how well FEC can design and make belts, bracelets, ties, etc. Next step, Fred?

    wrj left a comment on 8/3/2011 at 4:10 PM:

    Lacostes are still great. But they absolutely need to be broken in before the pique tightens and the collar gets a little stiffer. The process of getting them to that point, however, is frustrating. But this may be why vintage are preferred. I have Lacostes I bought 13 years ago and Lacostes I bought this year, and the quality seems the same to me.

    Clay left a comment on 8/3/2011 at 3:25 PM:

    My 7th grade yearbook shows homeroom 7E, 28 kids in the class, and on picture day, 5 kids had on black Lacoste polo shirts on.  They were very very popular in 1982.

    Kyle left a comment on 8/3/2011 at 3:11 PM:

    I still love a Lacoste shirt…before I accidentally slip one in the dryer. My brand of choice for polo shirts had quickly become Faconable - fits well, washes well and feels great.

    Emily left a comment on 8/3/2011 at 2:12 PM:

    The colors are always great on Lacoste. They are always my go-to polo brand. Nice post!

    -Emily (www.urbanadventurer.com/blog)

    cam left a comment on 8/3/2011 at 2:04 PM:

    nice collection KJP. it’s either vintage lacoste or ralph lauren for me no exceptions

    Don left a comment on 8/3/2011 at 1:57 PM:

    When I was in college, at a Big-10 school from 1976-1980, the Lacoste shirts were all the rage among the Greek crowd.
    In the 1970s,  Penguin shirts (I think it was a Munsingwear brand then) were considered to be a middle-tier brand, at best. They were part of the polyester-clad uniform of the professional golfer. I think Chi Chi Rodriguez wore them.

    Joey Dee left a comment on 8/3/2011 at 1:28 PM:

    @AHD depending on how you feel toward thrift shops, you can score vintage izod lacoste for much cheaper than ebay.
    Lacost is not the polo I remember wearing when i was a kid, and have opted for other polo brands. Polos by RL, are the standard for quality and longevity. If you are near a Dillards, their Roundtree & York Gold Lable line of polos are a personal favorite, because they are well made, wash better than most, ready to wear out of dryer, and the best part is they are logoless.
    Another great polo with heritage happens to be Fred Perry, an English tennis and table tennis champ, with their laurel logo. These are good because of the cut, fit, and the quality is better. I can’t get enough of them. I agree about penguin, its ok, not exceptional.

    AHD left a comment on 8/3/2011 at 12:04 PM:

    Where could one pick up vintage lacoste polos other than on the occasional ebay posting?

    NWR left a comment on 8/3/2011 at 9:33 AM:

    @GLG - Great idea. It is a quintessential American brand and was formed to battle Lacoste in the 1950s. Although it is more seen on hipsters, the Penguin can be just as classic as the crocodile or the polo player if it’s worn right.

    GLG left a comment on 8/3/2011 at 9:13 AM:

    @NWR Original Penguin is a great brand, definitely unsung among current preps.  I always get a compliment on my Penguin clothes, they’re high quality and can often be acquired for next to nothing at an outlet.  I recently picked up a lambswool sweater for $20 - a real steal. Fred should do a highlight of the company on the blog.

    NWR left a comment on 8/3/2011 at 8:34 AM:

    Right on. I ditched my Lacoste polos because they didn’t fit well at all and are completely overpriced for the quality. Personally, I’ll take an Original Penguin polo any day, despite their lack of presence in the preppy handbook. The Penguin was Lacoste’s American rival, after all.

    desmond k left a comment on 8/3/2011 at 7:26 AM:

    Question…..just outta curiousity, which polos do u prefer: Lacoste or Ralph Lauren?

    Raulston left a comment on 8/3/2011 at 7:24 AM:

    These colors are exceptional! You are so very right the quality and craftsmanship has left the crocodile. Solution? Shoot for vintage. Great post. (auniversitygent @ blogspot)

    Andreas left a comment on 8/3/2011 at 7:16 AM:

    I agree, the collars on recent Lacoste polos are ridiculously thin.


  • Paradigm Shift

    Dress Code | Prep Essentials  

    Photographed in New York, NY

    Noteworthy: Cynthia Rowley shift dress. Women have looked brilliant in shift dresses for decades—Jackie O. did and so does my friend Susan (as she laughs off any nerves).

    Jul 15, 2011 | Permalink (11) View/Leave Comments

    Ksamson left a comment on 7/24/2011 at 9:22 AM:

    Actually, she is wearing a sheath not a shift dress.  Shift dresses hang straighter with only a suggestion of a waist, sheath dresses are fitted.

    John left a comment on 7/20/2011 at 5:32 PM:

    Shifts and wedge heels…two of the fashion gods’ greatest gifts to mankind. :)

    KGC left a comment on 7/16/2011 at 10:27 PM:

    Everything about this outfit is amazing. I love the dress and I love the wedges. I also agree with Laguna Beach Fogey about how real she looks too. Love it.

    Maurice left a comment on 7/16/2011 at 11:22 AM:

    She’s so hot!  Love the outfit.  Perfect for around NYC in the summer.

    Laguna Beach Fogey left a comment on 7/15/2011 at 7:10 PM:

    Such a beautiful dress colour. I love her hair—and curves! Goodness…

    Well done, FEC.

    Tariro left a comment on 7/15/2011 at 3:04 PM:

    I absolutely love her shoes! She seems to have an amazing sense of style.

    dam left a comment on 7/15/2011 at 2:07 PM:


    cam left a comment on 7/15/2011 at 1:21 PM:

    I’m guessing this women is too beautiful to cover her face. What a cruel trick you’ve played on us ;)

    allie left a comment on 7/15/2011 at 1:02 PM:

    It’s nice to see the classic styling of the dress and bag paired with the more trendy wedges.

    Angel left a comment on 7/15/2011 at 12:19 PM:

    Susan indeed looks brilliant in that dress, that color is fantastic, I have it in one of my BB button ups. I’ve also been noticing a lot of nude colored strapy wedges like that a lot lately, I’m guess they are the shoe of the season.

    Angels Point of View - Street Fashion Photography

    d. nubbins left a comment on 7/15/2011 at 12:18 PM:

    She looks perfect! Great shot!


  • Sneaking Around

    Top Drawer | Style | Dress Code | Prep Essentials  

    Image via Justin Chung for Tretorn

    Noteworthy: Saint James tee, painter's khaki (with cuff), alligator watch strap, Tretorn Nylites. Nylites are the canvas sneaker the 80s prep-set grew up in. Introduced in 1967, the Swedish sneaker was regarded as the first luxury sport shoe. Today, its classic silhouette is still as relevant as it was 40 years ago.

    Jul 12, 2011 | Permalink (47) View/Leave Comments

    Russell left a comment on 6/26/2012 at 4:58 PM:

    Are those Bill’s Khakis?

    NPHAF left a comment on 7/23/2011 at 5:47 PM:

    It’s funny how I can’t seem to find the Nylites in the stores, though I am from Sweden. My search will continue…

    ifyouwantsomethingdone left a comment on 7/19/2011 at 5:03 AM:

    i wear my paint clothes out all the time, and get it confused as desighner. i love the idea of art tranfer from medium to medium. Nice pairings between accessories and the overall attitude. :D

    cam left a comment on 7/15/2011 at 1:26 PM:


    Emily left a comment on 7/15/2011 at 10:48 AM:

    Great picture! I love the stripes on the shirt! The facial expression is also priceless.

    -Emily (urbanadventurer.com/blog)

    txsailorboy left a comment on 7/15/2011 at 1:16 AM:

    To Daniel FEC would never tell you this, but in a high school of about 1000 students, one year he won 1st and 2nd place in the annual art show.  “Jeans” from his grandpa who was a bronze sculptor and his great grandpa (circa 1880) who was a photographer in the early 1900’s.  It;s quite a treat to watch the development.

    Joe left a comment on 7/14/2011 at 8:18 PM:

    Where’s a good place to find a nice pair of slim-fitting khakis?

    Glenn Elliott left a comment on 7/14/2011 at 2:14 PM:

    Great look Fred, especially that you created the pants.  Not a huge fan of off the shelf painters I was conflicted between Tretorns and Spring Court this Spring and went with the SC’s.  I thought I was satisfied but those Tretorn’s look good.

    J left a comment on 7/13/2011 at 8:51 PM:

    Ah! my sweetie has “painter’s khakis” but they got that way by painting! your take is one part prep and one part Clash (as created by the delish Paul Simonon). FUN!!

    Sam Dunning left a comment on 7/13/2011 at 6:57 PM:

    It’s a good look.

    PJOM left a comment on 7/13/2011 at 4:07 PM:

    Everything about this (especially the chinos) is outstanding Fred.  Don’t entertain the thought of anything less!

    GLG left a comment on 7/13/2011 at 1:56 PM:

    @FEC Sounds great.  I think I might try a similar idea, but instead of painting the pants themselves, just wear them while painting for a while - I need some practice with oils anyways.

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 7/13/2011 at 1:51 PM:

    @GLG—Indeed they can. Oil paint doesn’t wash out. Turn pants inside out and wash in cold water. Hang dry.

    GLG left a comment on 7/13/2011 at 1:48 PM:

    This is a killer shot Fred - it lacks all of the boring conservative elements of prep fashion and replaces them with a right-brain creative zaniness.  Just one question though - can these pants survive the wash?

    David ( from England ) left a comment on 7/13/2011 at 12:33 PM:

    Hi Josh,
    Yes I like the style and have done for years, and funny enough my daughter has it in her “jeans” too and has been working at Ralph Lauren recently.

    Josh (Preposity.com) left a comment on 7/13/2011 at 11:41 AM:

    Great to see some classic European brands featured, both St James of France and Tretorn of Sweden. lovely.

    I have painted in Oils since art school and have an old pair of trousers shirt for painting in, I can’t say they’re in quite such an artful state though.

    Hi David (From England), I’m also from England, nice to see some English preps around.

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 7/13/2011 at 11:02 AM:

    @DAM—I wear them on the weekends with a polo, this Saint James tee, a blazer, an oxford…with whatever.  These are not for everyone…these are not safe if you dress to be invisible, unnoticeable, or seek to deflect attention from yourself.  Me, on the other hand, I like to make people look and then think about themselves.  This is an expression of who I am as a creative.  Not that it matters to me, but I get compliments in these…plenty.

    DAM left a comment on 7/13/2011 at 10:48 AM:

    I get the look and the idea of building a character for the sake of this shoot. And can appreciate the overall styling.

    But tell me, where and how would you wear this pants outside of this unique situation?

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 7/13/2011 at 9:27 AM:

    @GD—Purcells and Nylites are both certainly viable canvas sneaker options (both of which I wear) but I lace up my Nylites more often because they aren’t on American pop culture’s radar as much.

    AEV left a comment on 7/13/2011 at 9:13 AM:

    @GD - Original Stan Smiths.

    GD left a comment on 7/13/2011 at 9:08 AM:

    Jack Purcell’s OR Tretorns? That is the question.

    David ( from England ) left a comment on 7/13/2011 at 9:05 AM:

    Thank you for the feed back Fred, I wonder how many other people from the UK follow your blog ? It would be fun to see some photos of your apartment when you get round to it. Cheers.

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 7/13/2011 at 5:11 AM:

    @Peter—The paint is oil.

    @David (from England)—I am a fashion creative with a heavy emphasis on photography and writing as of late. I live in an apartment in Dallas/Ft. Worth built in 1920.  It’s interior is a reflection not only of the content making up Unabashedly Prep but more importantly, my personal style. As always, it’s a work in progress.  Maybe eventually I will photograph it.

    Peter left a comment on 7/13/2011 at 4:43 AM:

    Great pic. What kind of paint did you use?

    David ( from England ) left a comment on 7/13/2011 at 3:29 AM:

    Hiya Fred, a couple of things I would like to ask if I may, As I am newish to your blog I don’t know what you do for a living but would be intersted to know and secondly as a great people watcher when I see people that dress well I often wonder where they live and what their houses/apartments look like have you ever posted any pictures of your home ? It would be fun to see what style you have. Thanks

    Christian Bourasseau left a comment on 7/13/2011 at 2:22 AM:

    Awesome picture Fred. You are Style!

    Laguna Beach Fogey left a comment on 7/13/2011 at 1:16 AM:

    FEC: “I’m thinking like a fashion designer her…thinking aspirationally…creating a character…ultimately, having fun with it.”

    Exactly. And that’s why you’re going to make it and outlast the others who lack your vision. Well done, ol’ chap.


    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 7/13/2011 at 12:19 AM:

    @Sleeve Length—Let’s be clear: J.Crew doesn’t have a version of the St. James tee, they simply stock them. That being said, it is long sleeved; although, the sleeve still falls shy of your wrist though…by design.

    Sleeve Length left a comment on 7/13/2011 at 12:15 AM:

    Is the J Crew version of the St. James tee 3/4th sleeve or full length sleeve?

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 7/13/2011 at 12:09 AM:

    @Bing G.—The belt is from Polo and the khakis are Gant by Michael Bastian.

    Bing G. left a comment on 7/13/2011 at 12:00 AM:

    Great look all around - where did you pick up the belt from? And the khakis are fantastic.

    Hunter left a comment on 7/12/2011 at 11:44 PM:

    @Mr. Castleberry, thanks a lot and I agree love the Tretorns I have had a pair for a long time and they need replacing but they have lost that glaring white they started out, and I am not looking forward to wearing another pair in.

    Hunter left a comment on 7/12/2011 at 8:53 PM:

    FEC or anyone who owns one,  how is the fit on the Saint James tee?  I saw an earlier comment about the size but didn’t see a response.  Just trying to get an idea on what size to order, used to have one but don’t remember the sizing.

    Defying the Current left a comment on 7/12/2011 at 8:10 PM:

    Oh Mr. Castleberry…fantastic shot!!!!

    I believe you may have started something. I’m bringing out my dusty fabric paints, unused since the early 90’s and taking to make khakis. I’m certain to be the only one in all of D.C. with this look. The “navy suits” will love me! Thank you!!

    -J. Flores

    Laguna Beach Fogey left a comment on 7/12/2011 at 6:44 PM:

    Lookin’ good, sailor!

    Joey Dee left a comment on 7/12/2011 at 6:24 PM:

    Whats lacking from this post is a vespa and a roman holiday! Great inspiration, love the fact that you painted the pants yourself, not sure I could pull it off, but is inspiring. If this shot was black and white, i would be hard to pinpoint a timeperiod .

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 7/12/2011 at 6:12 PM:

    @Daniel—Art (of all media, including oil) has had a significant place throughout my childhood.

    Daniel left a comment on 7/12/2011 at 6:09 PM:

    Do you paint? (Other than on your pants)

    bimmer left a comment on 7/12/2011 at 4:05 PM:

    Cool shot Fred.

    Kory left a comment on 7/12/2011 at 3:34 PM:

    How is the fit for the Saint James? Thinking of ordering one for myself.

    Paul left a comment on 7/12/2011 at 2:25 PM:

    One of your best shots ever. Love the Tretorns. The painted pants remind me of some of the excellent hand “paint-splattered” t-shirts by Rogues Gallery.

    Andy M. left a comment on 7/12/2011 at 1:54 PM:

    Great photo.  I initially doubted the “prep-ness” of the painter’s khaki but I like the Warhol tie-in. 

    I may need to pick up a Saint James tee soon.

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 7/12/2011 at 1:21 PM:

    @AEV—Further explanation will be provided later in the week but in short, this is an aspirational look inspired by the likes of Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, and Pablo Picasso.  Pollock spent summers in East Hampton painting in a converted barn—this is what I imagined a pair of his chinos looking like at the end of a summer. The bandana, well, that’s to wipe the summer sweat from your forehead, of course.

    AEV left a comment on 7/12/2011 at 1:14 PM:

    Interesting shot for sure. What are “painter’s khakis”? Will you please explain the red bandana in your rear pocket?

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 7/12/2011 at 12:47 PM:

    @alyriclifestyle—Thank you. I painted the khakis myself.

    Tito left a comment on 7/12/2011 at 12:46 PM:

    This is a cool shot!
    I was skeptical about getting pair of Tretorns, but know you convince me…

    alyriclifestyle left a comment on 7/12/2011 at 12:42 PM:

    Great pic. Can never go wrong with a Saint James tee. Are you responsible for enhancing the khaki?


  • Go-To-Hell Ankles

    Top Drawer | Style | Prep Essentials  

    As gentlemen, we adhere to a basic uniform. And why shouldn't we? Our adolescence is inundated with uniformed institutions: prep school, team sports, part time jobs, church.  It's only a matter of time before we push against those very foundations erected to mold us into men.  While some act out in the face of authority figures, on fellow classmates, or by skipping class altogether, others opt for a more passive aggressive rebellion—that of the sartorial kind.  They toy with the details of the very uniform itself, such as the frivolous sock—ditching them entirely.

    Function should illuminate form. The longevity of the men's uniform hinges on this very principle.  Losing your socks isn't as much a betrayal of this precept as one might think.  Come the cool of autumn, it's your ankles that actually keep you cool amid the umpteen layers of wool, cotton, and cashmere preppies run around in.  On a commission last fall to photograph Alan Flusser, he mused I was the best dressed photographer he had ever met. "You should wear some socks though," he admonished.  I listened.  After all, the man wrote the book on style...several of them actually.  I ducked into Brooks Brothers that very day and walked out in a pair.  My implicit compliance lasted all of one day.

    With pants, socks come off as deliberately thoughtful.  And while colorful, offbeat socks non-verbally communicate its wearer doesn’t take himself too seriously, they should never be confused for a go-to-hell disposition.  Just as there is no go-to-hell shirt, so too for the sock.  Bare ankles firmly whisper, "I don’t give a damn."  And that statement is all the more punctuated with pants that look like you outgrew them last year.

    "Socks, wear them only to weddings...and then, well only if it’s your own.”

    —Rand, Making the Grade (1984)

    There’s a nonchalance about it—a passive rebellion to the uniform you’ve graduated to for the office, weddings, black tie affairs, Sunday best, et al.  The more formal the occasion the more blatant the indifference.  Ankles are the go-to-hell sock.

    *previously written for of Rogues & Gentlemen.

    Jun 7, 2011 | Permalink (61) View/Leave Comments

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 10/23/2013 at 5:59 PM:

    @Alex—If you love the E28s, then owning one will be a labor of love. Because you will labor. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend one as a daily driver because they are now classic cars (at least 25 years old) and might cause more heartbreak than desired. But should you decide to go forward, find one in the best shape with as few miles as possible (given your budget). Allow the previous owner to have incurred as much of the maintenance and repair costs as possible. Secondly, you’re going to want to set aside at least $250/mo in a savings account for repairs and maintenance you will incur once you’re behind the wheel. If you do this, your Bimmer will be reliable…until another original part breaks. If you set aside the $3,000+ a year, it’s fun to keep up with. If you don’t, it’s going to betray you when you need it most. Good luck :)

    Alex left a comment on 10/22/2013 at 9:50 PM:

    I’m not really sure if this is an appropriate place to ask (and an extremely old post), but F.E., could you, or anyone with experience with old BMW’s for that matter, outline to me the advantages and disadvantages of driving a vintage Bimmer? Are they reliable, safe, etc.? I am looking for a first car, and boy do I love the old 5 series.

    Sid IV left a comment on 5/21/2013 at 9:57 AM:

    Dig your site, its a nice refeshing break in my day to browse a little.  With socks for workdays, I am more function over form, although I lean heavy on yellow and light blue.

    Brooks left a comment on 6/4/2012 at 5:47 PM:

    T-shirts, socks and shoelaces are for children and sports.

    Duckboot left a comment on 5/13/2012 at 9:01 AM:

    Cruising old blog posts on a lazy weekend morning ... After I graduated I spent 2 years on the Carolina coast, driving my 86 528e with dogs, bikes, and surfboards. I miss those days.

    Scott left a comment on 4/2/2012 at 2:54 PM:

    Socks?  WTF for?  I live in Boca and dont wear socks to Court - Judges never flinch.

    Phillip left a comment on 3/24/2012 at 12:59 PM:

    I wholeheartedly agree. My sock drawer is full of argyles and stripes but living in Cali, they rarely see the light of day. I love being a preppy rebel!

    Josh left a comment on 10/1/2011 at 5:34 PM:

    Where are your pants from? Im looking for a good green pair.

    chris left a comment on 7/16/2011 at 9:19 PM:

    Loose the socks gain some style, and let the ankles breath.

    Markus DeVall left a comment on 7/9/2011 at 12:51 AM:

    Have you ever considered making “Outfit of the Day” an addition to your blog? I’m sure your readers will enjoy seeing what outfits you wear for occasions. My other question is have you ever visited Austin, TX and what do you think of the style there?

    P.S. Using the letter to submit comments is incredibly innovative.

    Poser left a comment on 7/5/2011 at 12:33 PM:

    First time commenter, long time reader ;)

    I simply hate socks.  I am inspired by your words sir.  Now I have a reason to ditch them :)

    Pat left a comment on 6/16/2011 at 3:54 PM:

    Awesome post Fred, might be my favorite on this blog.  Great car too, I’m also a BMW enthusiast.

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 6/11/2011 at 11:20 AM:

    @Miguel Ramalhão—Yes, this is my ‘87 Bimmer. I really enjoy it.

    @Laguna Beach Fogey—Yes, you can quote me.

    @Tito—I don’t typically sweat much throughout the day unless I’m working out.  In the case of stains on my shirts, I pre-treat them before washing them (ie ring around the collar).

    @AEV—In this particular case, Alden over Gucci because I found the Aldens near new for a good price.

    Miguel Ramalhão left a comment on 6/11/2011 at 11:00 AM:

    Is this your bemmer??? Uau!!!!! Beautiful!!!! I love these 80’s BMW’s… I’m thinking about buying a 635csi…

    bprescott left a comment on 6/9/2011 at 8:02 PM:

    RE: uniforms….what prep school did you attend, F.E.?

    MarkJ left a comment on 6/9/2011 at 9:56 AM:

    I like the look.

    Laguna Beach Fogey left a comment on 6/8/2011 at 9:30 PM:

    Awesome! Love everything about this pic.

    I rarely wear socks outside of the office. In fact I’m wearing a pair of Crockett & Jones chisel-toed beechnut penny loafers as I dictate this.

    “Ankles are the go-to-hell sock.” ~ FEC

    Can I quote you?


    PERCY STEINHART left a comment on 6/8/2011 at 6:28 PM:

    WE DONT WEAR SOCKS…NEVER DID…only in the dead of winter….

    Tad Allagash left a comment on 6/8/2011 at 6:18 PM:

    @AEV - completely agree, Gucci loafers have a higher vamp and look much nicer. Easy to spot the Alden or Cole Haan knockoffs from 10 paces. Trads will tell you Italian shoes aren’t as well made but that’s bs in my experience.

    D Kinlaw left a comment on 6/8/2011 at 4:02 PM:

    My thought process is very simple…65 degrees and above the ankles will be out. in South Carolina thats 2/3 of the year.

    C. Wolf left a comment on 6/8/2011 at 1:07 PM:

    Fantastic article.  I agree whole heartedly.  Socks are too often over rated and this is a great look that can make a statement as bold or subtle as desired by the wearer.

    My father, a life-long prep and president of his company, often sported the sockless look in the professional world.  Not only was he was complimented on his style, but because the rest of his attire was always well tailored and pressed, he never looked out of place or too informal at a business meeting or conference.

    This is a look that I have totally embraced and absolutely love.  So save the socks for the ski slope and the stable.  On all other occasions, say hello to ankles!

    RCN left a comment on 6/8/2011 at 11:49 AM:

    Great blog FEC… My father would never win any father of the year awards, but one thing I liked he never work socks and I always loved the look so I’ve always done it. I’m still amazed even living in the south how uncommon it is to go sockless. I think style and certain tastes are all individualistic, sure there are influences which I think we should all embrace, but at the end of the day it’s what makes you feel good and in your eyes look good. One question, can you recommend a loafer sock? I’ve tried several brands and haven’t liked any of them. I’m often on my feet for long periods of time in very warm climates and I’d like to find a good loafer sock to have when needed.

    Christian Bourasseau left a comment on 6/8/2011 at 9:53 AM:

    Lovely look. I like every detail in this picture :)

    Brohammas left a comment on 6/8/2011 at 9:52 AM:

    While I regularly forego socks, its a look I like, I find it interestingthat no socks with pants says I don’t care what you think, quite often socks worn with shorts says , I don’t have a clue.
    Such messages sent by such subtle things.

    Harvey Lindsay left a comment on 6/8/2011 at 5:34 AM:


    Lara left a comment on 6/8/2011 at 4:42 AM:

    Is it just my imagination or are you likening the wearing of socks to the process of conformity within cognitive psychology? I’m impressed.

    Justin left a comment on 6/8/2011 at 12:18 AM:

    This is sort of off topic, but Making the Grade was shot at my college.  It was called Southwestern College back then, but now it’s called Rhodes.  Half my classes are in the building they used for the dorms.

    Ryan S left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 10:57 PM:

    Brilliantly written Mr. FE Castleberry.  Agreed.  Agreed.  Agreed.  I rather enjoy my notoriety among my peers as the sockless man.  The green “show me the money” pants are a fav in my wardrobe as well, especially with some ankle.  I’ll toast to that!

    Tito left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 9:29 PM:

    Hi Fred, I’ve noticed on a comment that you don’t wear undershirts, I’ve tried that technique a few times and doesn’t feel right though.
    Not only that but the perspiration messed up a few of my woven do to deodorant and sweat. so I was wandering how do you take care of it without getting your woven stained?

    Zach left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 9:21 PM:

    I find sockless for me only works for my plimsols, loafers and sometimes, chukkas. I just could never pull it off with my captoes or wingtips. Just too much sweating, and discomfort. Must be my Irish feet.

    Kenneth left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 8:54 PM:

    A few weeks back, a VP at my company noticed I had no socks with a suit and he said to everyone in the room, “Now there is a guy that can do business and party!” An accurate description I thought.

    I’ve gone sockless for years (except for weddings and job interviews) I’ve done it mainly out of laziness, or maybe I grew up as a southern prep and did it subconsciously? Who knows. Coming off of the tennis courts growing up the last thing you wanted on were socks. I think the laziness of it supports the go-to-hell aesthetic.

    @FEC Cheers for a great article I read it a few days Of Rogues & Gentlemen

    SSI left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 8:35 PM:

    Bit loafers are definitely not prep justified anymore in my opinion.  Over saturation will kill take anything out of that classification.  Tassels on the other hand ...

    AEV left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 8:06 PM:

    Great warm weather look Fred. Why Aldens and not Guccis? I always thought the Aldens were oddly low cut (and struck me as copying the Guccis…for essentially the same price).

    KGC left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 7:35 PM:

    Love the look. I personally despise wearing socks with Sperrys, even if it’s 30 degrees in the morning and I’m at rowing practice. My teammates always ask if my feet are cold.

    Pink Socks left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 7:30 PM:

    I go sockless with certain shoes (drivers, decks, sneakers) even in winter. Then again I am in Australia (but it does get cold here in Melbourne). The right shoes always work sockless.


    Richard Ross left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 5:57 PM:

    My only burrial instruction is that I be burried sockless.

    CC left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 4:15 PM:

    Fred, what’s your take on rolling your pants as opposed to having them hemmed above the ankle?  I find that rolling them gives them more versatility, i.e. you can let them down if you so choose.

    Jon left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 4:04 PM:

    Coastal southerners love to rock the no-sock.  Especially with loafers and boat shoes of course.  I’m slowly trying to expand to oxfords.

    G.S.O left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 2:20 PM:

    Chilly spring in London making my ankles cold !

    Niles left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 2:09 PM:

    the nonchalant and “I don’t give a damn” attitude is really about the whole package though…ditching the socks is part of it. driving an old luxury car could be another…..however, it could be said that an obsession with tailoring goes against this attitude a little.

    Thad left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 2:08 PM:

    Do you keep shoe trees in your topsiders (serious question) ?

    Luis Alcaraz left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 1:31 PM:

    Fred, you look very cool I am wearing the same outfit plust the socks for work today. Sock or sockless is a nice look and I think we should give a little resect to certain occasion I dont want that you finish like Mark Zuckerberg wearing sandals everywhere.


    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 12:52 PM:

    @Alfonso—I personally do not wear undershirts…ever.  They shift, add bulk, come untucked…and they peek out every now and then.  If you choose to wear one, just make sure it’s never seen.  If that means a deep v-neck, A-line, etc, so be it.  My stance, for the record, is to ditch the undershirt, especially with a polo.

    Alfonso left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 12:44 PM:

    Fred, thanks for a great piece, and you look wonderful, as always. The picture brings up an unrelated question—do you ever allow a T-shirt to show from under your polo or button-down shirt? I’ve seen this done and can’t decide what I think about it.

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 12:24 PM:

    @Paul—I’m 5’11” and I wear a 29.5” inseam.  You will not be able to get away with a 30” inseam and avoid a break.  Before you buy your next pair of pants, take that money to the tailor.  It’s about $14 a pair to take them up.

    Angel left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 12:24 PM:

    I don’t mind showing my ankles in the warmer months but once winter comes I pull out my socks, mostly solid colors that are bright. Though I wouldn’t consider myself a prep so I guess I don’t mind breaking the bare ankle rule that you promote.

    Angels Point of View - Street Fashion Photography

    Paul left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 12:21 PM:

    ...One other question. I’m a shorter man, 5’-7”, and I typically wear a 30” inseam…and even that produces a break. Any suggestions as to how to get that “just slightly too short” look to work without having all my pants hemmed?

    tlfactor left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 11:29 AM:

    FEC, are these the Rugby chino pants from this year?  I like the color.

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 11:22 AM:

    @Cam—I’m not sure where you are from but wherever I go (and I travel quite a bit) I am typically one of the only guys not wearing socks.  You may read about it in men’s fashion magazines or see it on style blogs…but the reality is that most men still don’t do it.

    cam left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 11:11 AM:

    i go sockless a lot myself but i disagree that wearing socks is deliberately thoughtful…in fact going SOCKLESS would be what is deliberately thoughtful…and more and more so over done by all that it actually is no longer a go-to-hell look

    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 10:47 AM:

    @Stet—These horsebit loafers are Aldens.

    @Tommy V.—The quote from Making the Grade is tongue-in-cheek.  Determine your own level of appropriateness in social situations.  This article isn’t just about going sockless in the summer…but spring and fall.  That’s where it shapes my sense of style.

    @Cameron—I keep shoe trees in my shoes when I’m not wearing them in order to maintain their shape and absorb the moisture from my feet.  In the case that I’ll be doing alot of walking, I’ll utilize a low profile loafer sock.

    Stet left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 10:35 AM:

    What brand of shoes are those?  They accomplish the sockless look quite well…

    christian left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 10:33 AM:

    I’m not wearing any socks to my own wedding this fall :)

    Dennis left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 10:30 AM:

    loved this article, i refuse to wear socks outside of work and the ski slope.

    Kionon left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 10:10 AM:

    Read this on the Brooks Brothers site. And agree completely!

    Glenn Elliott left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 9:43 AM:


    CC left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 9:28 AM:

    Fred - great piece.  I love it.  Thank you.  The only socks I like are the Boston Red Sox.

    bucephalus left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 8:52 AM:

    There’s nothing wrong with the sockless look if that’s what you like and as long as you’re not in a formal situation.

    Tommy V. left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 8:48 AM:

    Just to be clear, Fred: the only occasion you wouldn’t want to be telling those around you, “go to hell” would be your own wedding?

    I’m all for going sockless in summertime while in a casual setting but there are many other situations that call for sobriety in uniform out of respect for others. Rebelling against convention by flashing my hairy ankles is just not appropriate in any and all social/professional settings.

    Cameron left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 8:33 AM:

    What have you found to be the best shoe and foot care regimen since you go sockless?

    Paul left a comment on 6/7/2011 at 8:30 AM:

    I feel like every men’s fashion magazine spread/advertisement/catalogue that I pick up shows bare ankles..with everything from shorts to suits and lace ups.


  • Saint James Sweater

    Style | Prep Essentials  

    “Hotchkiss and Yale man Gerald Murphy—artist, F. Scott Fitzgerald muse, and heir to Mark Cross—first discovered the jaunty appeal of the striped sailor top. Summering in Cap d’Antibes in 1923, he wore his Marseilles market find so well that soon such fellow beachcombers as Pablo Picasso and Coco Chanel were sporting them, too. Then came devoted Americaphile the Duke of Windsor, who wore his even during his brief reign as king of England while yachting with soon-to-be-twice-divorced girlfriend Wallis in 1937. After World War Two, the striped top went through its rebellious phase, worn by the likes of Jean Seberg, Andy Warhol, and Joan Baez before settling down as favored prep unisex garment during the 1970s. Its next incarnation, embodying fashion with a capital F, came courtesy of Jean Paul Gualtier. With its navy-on-cream stripes, the iconic Breton fisherman’s sweater is as significant a part of the French clothing vocabulary as the beret.”

    —Caroline Rennolds Milbank, True Prep

    Saint James has been spinning some of the world’s finest knits out of their Normandy, France based factory since 1889, but they are best known for their authentic Breton stripe sweaters. Though they are offered in wool (best suited for the fall/winter), opt for cotton come summer; they are more akin to heavy weight knit tees and are perfect layered or alone.

    Jun 2, 2011 | Permalink (12) View/Leave Comments

    Rodellee left a comment on 7/26/2011 at 10:31 AM:

    Love this sweater, love the stripes. Classic, everyone should have one.

    john lexington left a comment on 6/3/2011 at 12:55 PM:

    love this!

    Kimberly Richardson left a comment on 6/3/2011 at 10:13 AM:

    Love the look!

    robdarko left a comment on 6/3/2011 at 9:52 AM:

    So Fla weather, this time of year, would make it impossible to wear a summer sweater.  So… is there an alternative, F.E.C.?

    DJ Joe Dubb left a comment on 6/3/2011 at 6:36 AM:

    One more piece to add to my list of “things to buy for my wife”. Awesome pic by the way.

    Kat left a comment on 6/3/2011 at 1:17 AM:

    A.  The sweater is perfect.  B. This shot might be my favorite I’ve seen on this site.  I love it.

    Straw Boater left a comment on 6/3/2011 at 12:47 AM:

    Nice touch with the Randolph Engineering aviators.  It looks great on girls, I wish more would wear them.

    Christian Bourasseau left a comment on 6/3/2011 at 12:43 AM:

    Great shot!

    Brad left a comment on 6/2/2011 at 7:16 PM:

    Nice pic!

    Brian left a comment on 6/2/2011 at 6:54 PM:

    I am wearing that sweater right now!  Fabulous!

    Paul Mitchell left a comment on 6/2/2011 at 3:52 PM:

    I own this sweater and it is great! Pretty girl, pretty beach, it all seems pretty perfect to me.

    Glenn Elliott left a comment on 6/2/2011 at 3:49 PM:



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