All the things you remember (that now make you cringe) about being a preppy teenage wannabe

So many polo shirts, so little time


The year was 2009. 'Banter' was still being used unironically, everyone was drinking Glenn’s in a field somewhere, and a mist of Lynx Africa hung in the air ominously.

Most terrifying was how we all used to dress. An ark full of different animals protecting our left nipples, bought exclusively from shops with very low lighting, and thumping music loud enough to nearly kill poor mum. No wonder she started agreeing to spend £40 just to ship those already overpriced t-shirts all the way from America.

Our preppy teen wardrobe contains an enduring set of memories we carry with us every day, to forever be embarrassed by.

All rise for the humble polo shirt

Nothing frames preppy late-2000s male teen style better than the polo shirt. SoulCal, Hollister, Jack Wills, it didn't really matter as long as they were brightly coloured and preferably in a pastel shade.

Oh, and the collar on your polo shirt was popped at all times

How did you reveal your true heartthrob status to all the teen girls? Just pop that jaunty collar to increase your swagger. Your noodle arms perfectly accentuated by the fit of the polo, a veritable teenage Surrey pin-up, what more could Olivia want?

Threading headphones up through your shirt and letting them just dangle there, so veritable bangers from the likes of Iyaz and The Kooks were easily accessible at all times.

Why did we wear our jeans low enough to show off our boxers?

Probably because they cost about 25 quid each, everyone felt the need to show off when they bought a nice pair of boxers. The jeans worn ridiculously low made even less sense than wanting the world to see the brand of pants you were wearing.

Damn #jackwillsboxers #jackwills

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These hoodies that kind of wanted to be a coat too

Not to bring a bit of a downer to proceedings, but we all went to school with a dickhead who wore one of these fur-lined hoodies.

They were unnecessary for a lot of reasons, the primary one being it was never really cold enough to warrant a hoodie that thick. They kept necks incredibly warm but had a blatant disregard for the rest of your body.

A truly impractical, but very Made in Chelsea garment for the fashion-forward mid-noughties teen.

It getting colder….. #cold#jumper#jackwills#gay#gayboy#work#heateron#need#more#sun#gayguys#badhair

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Comfy jogging bottoms weren't just for lounging around at home

In fact, they were a true fashion statement when on road. The perfect compliment to those Nike iD high top dunks to roam the streets in, dawdling from Debenhams to Maccies, in exquisite luxury.

I'm not sure why the waistband or the drawstrings were so thick, but it was a key component of the preppy middle-class aesthetic.

If you didn't feel hopelessly intimidated by the topless Abercombie men, are you even a real person?

Everyone made the trip up to the Abercrombie store in London, proudly boasting it's on Savile Row. It's not. It's on a little side street where, about 10 years ago, there was a permanent line of teens with backcombed/swished hair waiting for a pic with the topless adonises.

They gave out little polaroids in a cloth pouch, yours to savour forever.

#picture #abercrombie&fitch #london #londres #été #2013 #beau #gosse #aighhhhhht

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The misjudged Gilet

A slightly later addition to the preppy almanac, the gilet nevertheless quickly became a staple of the wannabe JW #seasonnaires elite. Parodied beautifully in Fresh Meat, the gilet was worn at all times of the year, even when doing so made the owner look like a complete tool.

Savouring the bags for as long as possible

Part of the allure of shopping at premium preppy outlets was the bags they rewarded you with for paying an ungodly sum for a t-shirt. The paper was thicc, the straps made of nice smelling cloth. Your PE kit was carried around in it for weeks until holes started to appear in the glistening torso of the model adorning it.

The classic polo shirt/zip-up hoodie combo

To be fair, this one is not a disaster but an iconic look from the era. Obviously the collar is popped and obviously the hoodie is one of the ridiculously comfy Abercrombie/Jack Wills ones mum shelled out £80 for just so you could grow out of it in 12 months.

However, it was the confidence in layering this look produced that's problematic.

What was with the jarring combination of pink and navy

An entire brand was built on the combination of these two colours, and for good reason. The preppy, yet down-to-earth blend of a delicate light pink and a masculine dark navy gave insecure teens the cover they needed to thrive.

Jack Wills had everything a preppy teen could possibly need to make your life the most #pinkandblue it could possibly be. Pencils for three quid? Yep. A passport cover with a pink and blue Union Jack? Sure thing buddy. Plasters for skinned knees after a bit of ruggers with Hugo and the lads? You betcha!

You went there for everything, especially in the sale. The queue to get in the shop may have bothered dad, but that never got between you and the sweet sweet pink and navy.

A polo shirt on top of ANOTHER polo shirt

This is possibly the most unexplainable of all the mad looks we thought were completely normal.

They were usually in pretty terrible colours. Every pastel shade imaginable in the most visually offensive combination possible. Pink and lime green, why not?

Polo shirt on top of a long-sleeve t-shirt

Either it's warm enough a polo shirt alone will suffice or it's too cold you should put a jumper on.

Polo shirt underneath an actual shirt

Sometimes you wanted to look presentable, but hey, you were down to party too. Supping from warm bottles of your dad's Kronenbourg, swiped from the fridge, maybe even neck a Smirnoff Ice to get real boozy.

The swooshy hairstyle

Woking may be geographically quite far away from Southern California, but Simon and Toby can live like Chad and Brody through the application of copious amounts of product.

Where did the look originate from? I personally think the worrying trend of Vo5 matt clay, texturising gum and SurfStyle were products born out of love for the OC.

Remember spending all of your waking hours brushing your fringe out of your eyes, holding it taught between your fingers and trying to pin it down to the side of your face? Fit.

Adidas messenger bags

Years 7-9 would wear it fairly low-slung, largely unavoidable as their tiny frames struggled to fit into their oversized school blazers. But by Year 10 you would hoist the bag up so it would be trapped just below your shoulder blades.

The most stylish way to carry half-done Spanish homework about all day, in fact your bag saw more pen action than your books. You'd let girls doodle on it in the vain hope this was a key stage of gaining their affection.

Smart stripy shirts

Don one of these to prove to mum and dad you were responsible enough to go into town solo, and maybe even treat Ellie to the 4:30pm showing of Spiderman 3 at Everyman Walton cinema.

More importantly, the smart stripy shirt always smelled of this

Was our sense of smell as dulled as our eyesight? Everything in extreme. The loudness of our clothes alongside the overpowering aroma of some Abercrombie Fierce.

Mobs of brightly clothed, heavily fragranced teenagers, roaming the towns of Surrey and other middle-class enclaves. Was that the beginning of the degradation of society as we know it? What were our parents doing during this tumultuous and fashionably erroneous period of our lives?