The Differences between Trad, Ivy League and Preppy Chart

I am always interested in how people take on the task of defining Trad, Ivy, and Preppy styles in relation to one another. These articles generally end with lots of back and forth in the comment section which usually highlights how different schools of thought view this topic (Like this article: Same Or Different?: Ivy Versus Preppy). Some use time periods, others the age of the wearer, and others construct their arguments around a combination of clothing details and intent.

Still working on my own post where I attempt to define Trad (If I think that there is anything that I can add.) I have been reading and re-reading a lot of what is out there on the subject. I came across a recent post entitled “The Complete Guide to Preppy, Trad and Ivy Style” on This post caught my attention, because of its “Differences between Trad, Ivy League and Preppy” chart.

Here author Per Nilsson (The well dressed man pictured above) works to define these styles by providing their stance on various pieces of clothing, clothing details, and other lifestyle questions. While I did not find myself agreeing with every answer I found the chart to be very entertaining and definitely worth sharing. What changes would you make? What Questions would you add?
Differences Between trad, Ivy Preppy 1.1Trad Ivy 2.1Trad Ivy 3.1Trad Ivy 4.1


oxford cloth button down
Jerrod Swanton is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

12 Comments on "The Differences between Trad, Ivy League and Preppy Chart"

  1. mhj says:

    What a mid-Atlantic cut trouser length? From the context I assume it mean no break.

  2. oxford cloth button down says:

    MHJ – I am in the same boat.. I drew my conclusion based on the context as well. I meant to mention that Per is Swedish which is what also makes this piece especially interesting to me. This also may account for his use of the term mid-Atalntic.

  3. Boston Bean says:

    Thanks for this. I am in full agreement about the division into 3 categories. Some commenters on other blogs have denied the existence of “Trad”, claiming that the label is a Japanese invention, but there are even those who deny the difference between preppy and ivy. We may disagree about the exact characteristics of each category, but the categories themselves are not to be denied. I would argue that it’s all a matter of maturity/conservatism, not necessarily age. As you might guess, I place myself in the Trad category and find a lot of preppy characteristics outlandish.

    • Trad has been used in Japan in popular culture and media over the past few decades, however preppy is also. I am the Hobo Prep and I am interested in how prep, trad, ivy and similar styles are perceived on Mad Ave and generally in popular culture. I gave away all of my possessions, my six figure salary on the East Coast, and my one true love and now live homeless in the Apple Store in London, in airport lounges, on the Eurostar, in F and with the goodwill of my friends, followers and harem as I am flown to do small design jobs from time to time in Asia and Europe. I have explained on my modest site what I believe the differences between Trad, Prep and Ivy to be.

      The Hobo Prep,
      Always Homeward Bound.

  4. Joey says:

    I think this chart is mostly fine, although I think it’s going a little far trying to categorize drink preferences, etc. (although I’m sure it’s all in fun). However, beyond the novelty of it, I don’t see the need to create concrete boundaries between these styles which are extremely similar, especially in the eyes of the general public, and especially when there’s already much dispute over the distinctions and terminology. But I did enjoy reading it. I ended up mostly “Ivy League” with a little bit of Preppy and a littler bit of Trad according to this chart.

  5. Moss says:

    I found this interesting and fairly accurate. Perhaps trouser length and exotic skins were the two of which I most disagree. The pants are too short across the board for everyone, in other words, the responses could each be shifted to the left. Also, I think any of these are likely to wear exotic belts or watch straps and more than one a time.

  6. NYCToon says:

    That guy in the picture looks like a blithering peacock and I wouldn’t trust anything he says regarding trad.

  7. Labrador says:


    One gets the impression that either he wears a lot of makeup, or she’s a male impersonator.

    I assure you that I do not mean this as an insult; it’s simply my impression

  8. @NYCToon

    Young Per has put on a few pounds but he is a shining beacon of trad. He is a frequent poster on our boards.


  9. Reactionary Trad says:

    We trads still say “hi!”, unlike preppies (and many ivies) who use “hey!”.

  10. Tx Trad says:

    Some thoughts on the chart:

    * A preppy always cuffs his pants; the only exception being black tie.
    * A preppy will always have his pant cuff “high water”; black tie is exception, again.
    * Purple is never preppy.
    * Slim fit is never preppy; classic and traditional only.
    * Preppies will wear an alligator belt with a engine turned silver buckle.
    * The only preppy dress/business shoe is the classic wingtip; black tie is exception.
    * Preppies usually drink bloodies and white wine, etc.

    Sources: personal experience, TOPH and the book ‘Class’ (1982).

    Just my observation. I’ve been wanting to weigh in for awhile now.

    I think preppy/Ivy is very different than trad. Preppy is sartorial orthodoxy, trad being far less defined. In example, a preppy/Ivy type will only wear P3 eyewear, a trad will wear P3, buddy holly style, or any classic eyewear from the 30s-60s. Preppy is the egg that Ivy laid, not too much difference. You could say preppy is Ivy weekend wear.

    Love the blog, by the way; been a fan for years.


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