Could this be the Preppiest Movie?

Not Metropolitan or Wall Street, I’m talking about Trading Places. The 1983 comedy set in old-money Philadelphia is a perfectly costumed dose of 1980s Prep / Wasp goodness. The subject matter may be tongue-in-cheek, but you would be hard pressed to find a more preppy styled movie.

Feel free to list your favorite Prep / Wasp movie or disagree with me in the comments. Larger versions of the Trading Places screen shots can be seen here.

Comments on “Could this be the Preppiest Movie?

    The Beggar on October 15, 2008 1:14 PM:

    Fantastic. I’d nominate Chariots of Fire… but maybe that’s the best preppy movie rather than the preppiest movie…

    matthew on October 15, 2008 1:17 PM:

    Eddie Murphy in the BB#1 tie is great stuff!

    Helgs on October 15, 2008 1:33 PM:

    The Racquet Club scene is the preppiest moment on screen I would bet. Sweatbands EVERYWHERE! Impromptu Acappella singing! Love it.
    Dead Poets’ Society would be my offering.

    Brandon M. Capps on October 15, 2008 2:37 PM:

    Wow, I forgot all about that movie. Very wasp indeed. Long live Eddie Murphy!

    Joel K. on October 15, 2008 2:40 PM:

    My vote is for “Making the Grade”, they even give a how-to on dressing preppy.

    mango on October 15, 2008 3:22 PM:

    How about the A&E tv series, “Jeeves and Wooster”. For me, this tv series is one of my fashion reference.

    Joe on October 15, 2008 3:41 PM:

    Here’s some interesting trivia. Dan Aykroyd’s girlfriend in the movie was played by Kristin Clotilde Holby who was the most well known of the Ralph Lauren models in the 1980s.

    I think that might add to Trading Places’ cache as an uber preppy movie. Looking at the pics from the movie though, I think this was Hollywood’s take on what they thought the Preppy/WASPy ruling class was really like…

    I do think Metropolitan was hitting the mark about Upper East Side preppies.

    Paul Pincus on October 15, 2008 4:56 PM:

    it’s kinda hard to top john whitney stillman!

    that said, we should get jewish-american : ) lisa birnbach (the official preppy handbook) to weigh-in on this.

    Rich on October 15, 2008 6:34 PM:

    It may not be the preppiest, but one of the most surprising preppy movies would have to be Wedding Crashers. They showed different preppy money outfits for every scene… football, sailing, dinner, bike riding, hunting (one of the most stylish.. hunting blazers with leather). And to take a bit of Ivy Style, the day afters had some good Lost Money looks.

    Also, Matchpoint. Great movie and great English style.

    Paul on October 15, 2008 7:04 PM:

    I was going to say Matchpoint as well.

    retep tterrab on October 15, 2008 10:30 PM:

    Making The Grade!? Wow, thought I was the only one ever to remember that one! Trading Places is incredible on all counts…

    PAN on October 16, 2008 4:56 AM:

    Hilarity! I was just watching Eddie Murphy’s “Coming To America” earlier today, and there’s a pretty funny scene where Randolph and Mortimer of Trading Places make an appearance as homeless vagrants after losing their fortune…

    Henrik on October 16, 2008 7:31 AM:

    Maybe a bit obvious but “dead poets society” is very preppy – afterall the scenery is a prepschool.
    Also “love story” where i believe the expression “preppy” was born.

    Scott on October 16, 2008 7:54 AM:

    “He’s wearing my Harvard tie! Like, oh sure, he went to Harvard.”


    Hoot on October 16, 2008 10:17 AM:

    I just love the moment when a soused Dan Akyroyd in Santa costume is gnawing on a stolen piece of meat that’s entangled in his beard. The look on the faces of other characters is priceless.

    JPS on October 16, 2008 10:18 AM:


    Jack on October 16, 2008 11:56 AM:

    School Ties, natch.

    james fox on October 16, 2008 1:58 PM:

    same era but different vibe, “Splash”.
    On Hanks, a never-ending parade of OCBDs, rep ties, with lettemen jacket/ blue blazer/windcheater… plus the whole “harmless beachcomber who also happens to be wearing a tuxedo”…
    also a great bar scene (“marcel, much more drinks here please), scene at a squash club (“you hold the beer, that’ll be your handicap”) and gratuitious mentions of cape cod… dark horse pick. this was the first vhs tape we owned (and had the vcr “remote” that was actually a long wire to the vcr), we wore the tape out i think… Trading Places was the second vhs we bought…definately high in the cannon. Randy! Morty!

    WEH on October 28, 2008 1:33 AM:

    I would venture to add Scent of a Woman to the list given the settings of the private “Baird School,” Oak Bar, Waldorf-Astoria, etc. And a young Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a great prep school student.

    BWE on November 5, 2008 9:58 PM:

    i am a little late to this thread, but folks should really watch “animal house” and “love story” for some awesome clothes…

    Ashlie on March 9, 2009 4:47 PM:

    The In Crowd, a not-so-old movie but the girl works at a country club so you see the style of clothing, the privileged college students are taking tennis lessons and sailing. Though the “private” behavior is daunting and some of the actions tacky, I thought it was a fairly decent movie.

    Also in Cruel Intentions, Cecile Caldwell, played by Selma Blair, looked very preppy on her picnic with Kathryn Merteuil

    BC on January 8, 2010 11:41 PM:

    To add to the list:

    Masquerade – 1980’s prep. Beautiful Boats, Southampton NY, Old Money
    Talented Mr. Ripley – 50’s American prep in Europe, very stylish
    Deloris Claiborne – 70’s New England WASP, Maine, substance over style

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