Elizabeth Martin ’14

Prospect Avenue on a Sunday morning is a lot like the Tuesday after Labor Day weekend — the party is very obviously over.

Elizabeth Martin ’14

But if you had been walking down The Street on the Sunday morning of Sept. 16, you would have found students on eating-club lawns, sipping champagne from plastic flutes and wearing Derby hats, sundresses, Brooks Brothers outfits, and bow ties.

A re-enactment of F. Scott Fitzgerald ’17’s Princeton? No, it was the music festival known as Lawnparties, and students were dressed like stereotypical preps to be “ironic” — or were they? 

It’s true that some presented an anti-preppy look, with backward caps and neon-colored tanks. One student wore a bowtie fashioned from a dollar bill. But most played it safe with pastels, argyles, and wide-brimmed hats, a scene straight from a Ralph Lauren commercial (one, by the way, was filmed on campus in April). 

Abigail Johnson ’16 tweeted that Lawnparties is “where Princetonians stop pretending they’re not preppy.” Her rationale? “One, I saw several people wearing the same thing they always wear anyway. Two, we did preppy a bit too easily and well.”

Kathryn Moore ’15 admitted: “I have an embarrassing number of Lawnparties-appropriate dresses.” While Princeton has its fair share of preppy students, Moore added, “as a whole the student body doesn’t really fit into any stereotype — whether it’s preppy or nerdy or anything else.”

Jean-Carlos Arenas ’16 agreed that “everyone uses their clothes as a reflection of their individuality, which is great because it reflects the diversity of the campus.” However, Arenas pointed out that he “did not bring preppy-enough clothes to Princeton. Gotta go to J.Crew for spring Lawnparties.”

It’s been said that understanding Lawnparties is understanding Princeton, and many students would agree. We’ve got modern-day F. Scotts, people playing dress-up, those who refuse to play along — and plenty in between.

There’s a Brooks Brothers opening this fall in town (surprising, perhaps, that Princeton doesn’t have one already). But there’s also an Urban Outfitters opening down the street, and that speaks to the diversity of Princeton ... in fashion, at least.