Or rather, they’re already here, and they’ve brought with them a bloody brilliant collection of preppy basics
Jack Wills, purveyor of all things preppy and British (and a favorite of Princess Kate and her regal hubby) opened up shop in Philadelphia back in September. The Rittenhouse Row boutique is the retailer’s 11th location in the U.S., but its first to be located in a city as decidedly non–preppy as Philly (its other stores tend to be located in the meccas of American prepdom known as New England and D.C.).
Walking into the historical limestone mansion that houses the store is like walking into a WASP’s wet dream — Jack Wills is selling a lifestyle, and it’s selling it hard. Vintage books, antique clocks and the occasional taxidermied pheasant rest atop racks of corduroy pants and shawl–collared cardigans. In the back, a Victorian couch upholstered with Union Jacks sits in front of a foosball table while Vampire Weekend plays in the background. Portraits of British royalty and vintage posters from Oxford–Cambridge rugby matches line the walls of the gigantic staircase that takes you to the women’s section, where a headless mannequin in pink lingerie lies on a mattress in such a way that makes you feel mildly paraphilic.
Jack Wills brands itself as a “University Outfitter,” and its clothes are made to appeal to the college–aged crowd. If Ralph Lauren had a hip younger brother who picked up a British accent while at Eton, his name would be Jack Wills. And like Ralph Lauren, Jack Wills excels at making simple, high–quality preppy basics, but with a cut that’s more SoHo than Upper East Side.
Jack Wills is a godsend for skinny white boys who are picky about the fit of their clothes (surely I’m not the only one?). Their Bayswell Chinos ($89.50) and Calver Slim–Leg Cords ($98.50) fit perfectly, and come in a number of bright yet versatile colors. I tried on a pair of jeans that were a bit too tight — not quite moose–knuckle tight, but they still made me feel like I should cut my bangs asymmetrically and get a job at Hot Topic in order for them to truly fit. The blazers seemed very nicely–tailored, and there’s a good selection of button–downs, polos and sweaters in classic colors and patterns.
The women’s line continues the trend of simple, classic prep items. The mixture of menswear–inspired pieces like trousers, button–downs and boyfit blazers, and more feminine items like the high–waisted Ashcott Skirt ($79.50) and the Farelton Dress ($148)(with little sailboats on it!) form the staples of any New England chic wardrobe.
While the clothes aren’t cheap, they’re made well. As long as you stay away from the overly–branded T–shirts and stick to the classic, well–made pieces, Jack Wills is the perfect place to stock up on essential items that will remain an essential part of any prep wardrobe for years to come.
1617 Walnut St.
What you’ll find there: Preppy wardrobe basics with slimmer cuts than its American counterparts
Bottom line: Expensive but classic, well–made items that should last years