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I have a love/hate relationship with the beginning of autumn, almost as if I’m Robert Redford and autumn is Barbra Streisand and we live on a planet in The Way We Were galaxy. Hate: My allergies act up and throw off my productivity. Love: I’m instantly brought back to the late 1990′s during my college days in Tallahassee, Florida. While lots of people have fond memories of funnels and blacked-out blurs, I think of open windows on breezy afternoons, piles of leaves on the sidewalks and the very angry lyrics of one Ms. Alanis Morissette playing in my black/tan 1993 Jeep Wrangler. But above all, I think of the iconic style that goes along with college: tartan, plaid, varsity letters and the overall preppy vibe that is early-twentysomething-ness.

While sourcing materials for my latest bachelor clients, I’ve been noticing how drawn I am to all things preppy. There’s something classic and graphic that goes along with the style; it also works well with different aesthetics, from uber-traditional to contemporary or mod. As I compiled ideas for clients, I came across some textile-ish items sporting that collegiate look. Whether you’re looking for that perfect comforter or plan to cover your adult office in Ralph Lauren tartan, here are some collegiately stylish items available online that evoke that studious feel. You know who wishes he could be studying shelter magazines right now but he can’t due to his sinuses killing him? Me. The love/hate relationship with autumn is in full effect.


The Beverly Hills Polo Club Argyle 3-Piece Comforter Set in navy from Amazon.com is a cost-effective way to add a studios look to any bedroom. Add a few accents of hot pink to give it a girly edge or pair it with fire engine red or lime green for a colorful, masculine look.

ethan tartan wallpaper

Ralph Lauren has been King of the Preppies since the 1970′s. His Ethan Tartan wallpaper is insanely affordable and a great way to add classic, preppy elegance to just about any room. At $60 per roll, it’s possible to cover a teency weency powder room for less than $250. There are two options: green/blue and red/green. Personally, I’m drawn to the red since it’s a bit more gender neutral.

Flor Plaid

How many people do you know with plaid floors? Exactly! FLOR’s Pop Tartan adds a graphic touch of preppy right underfoot. This is exceptionally wonderful for students looking to dress up their dorms or for families with kids since the product is totally reusable. Just stick the carpet tiles down in whatever configuration is needed now, then pull them down and lay ‘em in your next place. If you get a stain on a square, simply swap it out.

Preppy Pillow

You know that Ikat pattern which design lovers have been obsessed with for the last few years? Well, Safavieh put their own stamp on argyle by creating a pillow that’s one part Ivy League and one part Uzbekistan. The red, white and black color scheme goes well with just about any accent color; University of Georgia students and alumni are likely to be huge fans.
Plaid Chair

Overstock.com’s Black/Ivory Polka Plaid Accent Chair is under $200 and gives that accent of collegiate-ness to any empty corner calling out for some sort of extra seating. The classic, overall neutral piece can easy be elevated to a higher-energy look with the addition of a boldly-colored throw pillow or blanket.

Wall Decals

And if you’re like me and mad that you never had the athletic gene to afford memories of wearing Letterman’s jackets, decorate your walls with varsity letters instead. From 18X18 to 36X36 sizes, Trading Phrases carries custom wall graphics in that iconic varsity font allowing just about anything to be spelled out. I would like to spell out T-R-O-P-H-Y for the sake of pretending I was a collegiate champ of some sort. Why? I’m pretty certain college decorators don’t get Heismans.

Although I was tempted to search for stylish paddles meant for whipping mis-behaving fraternity members into shape, the inclusion of objects meant to inflict pain in an article about decorating seemed like a disconnect. Now, let’s hear about other styles or pieces which evoke that well-read, collegiate style.

Tell me about some of your favorites in the comments below.

15 Responses

  1. Deb a Mom says:

    Part 4. I learned that natural beige slipcovers (on the cheap due to a sale from Sure Fit!) and sisal rugs – make the "props" change-able all year through, but one of my BEST finds was a vintage ORANGE/RED/BLACK Pendleton poncho/throw – that I drape across the back of one chair. Yep, it's PLAID, but gives the MAIN – wow color of orange to spread around the room. The other FUN thing is a huge wooden bowl of red apples – we eat them, we love them.

    • Linda Manns says:

      Hello to both of you, I'm writing from Florida but did live in Mass many years ago..There is nothing like fall up north I believe..You have great idea's on some but I still don't understand how a THROW changed your whole room..Did you also add some pines or even a simple pumkin for more color or is the room already in these colors????? Really looking for ideas because of living in Fl on the ocean where dark colors don't work well even if I still us them because thats what I love..
      Thanks to both, Linda

  2. Deb a Mom says:

    Part 5 and last! When Halloween comes – the little white lights I have on the fireplace get orange plastic pumpkin covers (many years of collecting them off defunct lite sets!), and the basic natural palette in the living room gets enhanced with a few key colors – black, green, and that *wow* orange of the plaid poncho/throw. Chandelier is also a great place to drape Autumn leaves – sandwich/iron between waxed paper, cut out, and string w/needle & waxed linen cord – and make garland to drape. Careful not to get leaves touching light bulbs! Also, mini pumpkins & gourds you purchased for the fall look- accept very cool light bulb mini lights or tea light candles. Good for Fall decor/Halloween/& T-giving, too! Here's to the Autumnal Equinox!

  3. ralph lauren says:

    Very good information. Lucky me I found yur site bby chance
    (stumbleupon). I have book-marked it for later!

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