back to the Black Table
                   
  THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW: FRAT FASHIONS, THEY ARE A CHANGIN'.  
   
   
 

Over the last decade, frat guys have undergone the kind of remarkable transformation that would have the Queer Eye quintet giving their pleather L-shaped sectional the Tom Cruise treatment. Gone are the hippie grungester Frisbee chuckin' dudes with blatantly vulgar slogans emblazoned on their chests and heads, replaced by a slicker man with a shorn scrotum, a lot more pink in the old dresser drawers, and far better taste in music. Without further ado, we proudly present The Black Table's special report on the differences between frat fashion in 1995 and 2005.

***

Footwear

1995: Sandals
2005: Flip-flops

Everyone was feeling the love so much in 1995 that even frat guys could be hippies. And what do hippies wear? Sandals! Birkenstocks became accepted, not just orthopedic. Images of your spinster aunt were put out of mind and replaced with soccer fields, hacky sacks and Styrofoam coolers. The laid-back carelessness of Sigma Nu just went better with sandals. Now, dudes can care even less with flip-flops. From out of the shower or off the lacrosse field and right into happy hour, flip-flops take them every place they want to go. Instead of patchouli and Vermont, flip-flops suggest sand and SoCal-cool. Somehow, they come off as less filthy than sandals. You can even wear them to the White House!

Jewelry

1995: Hippie Necklace
2005: Livestrong

If you were wearing sandals, you were probably also wearing one of those leather-thong necklaces with a bead on it. Clearly, you were
ahead of your metrosexual time. The necklace highlighted your Adam's apple, as well as proved to the ladies that you were vaguely into
jewelry and other cultures. You've given up being interested in the world, because now all you give a shit about is cancer. Check your wrist -- does it say LiveStrong? You bet it does, modern Frat Dude. You appreciate Lance Armstrong and his utter lack of body fat, but really you like the idea of looking like you support a cause. And when the cause comes in accessory form, how can you go wrong?

Hat

1995: Fighting Cocks Hat (white)
2005: Pomade

The University of South Carolina has only 16,000 students, but fratty undergrads nationwide wore USC's school hat with pride in the mid-to-late '90s. Because it said Cocks on it. Get it? No other hat made the wearer look so instantly like a rakish asshole. And did you see the fake yearbook entry for Mike Hunt? Fucking awesome, man. But today's frat daddies are more in touch with their natural selves, so their heads require only pomade. With just a few strokes across the scalp, today's Dude can look fashionable without ever having to do anything. No need to waste valuable time in the shower when a swab of Bedhead will make you look as though you spent time making your hair look this clumsy. Hatlessness is bad news for bald guys, but a great advance for frat culture as a whole. You may still be an asshole, but now it's not so obvious. Cock.

Concert

1995: Dave Matthews Band
2000: Dave Matthews Band

Where the Blues Travelers, Sister Hazels, and Hootie and the Blowfishes all crapped out after a couple of booze happy tunes, DMB has divested all of them and grown stronger. Even though DMB hasn't put out an album in years that anybody besides its most sycophantic fans would care about, the band still hits all of the emotional touchstones that are essential for any self-respecting fraternity member: recognizable songs, universal themes about life and love, large communal gatherings with like-minded people, and, most importantly, automatically becoming twenty-five percent more bone-able to women who like the Dave Matthews Band. It's a known fact: more "platonic" relationships between frat boy and frat-friendly girl were esoterically consummated with a bottle of Cavit Pinot Grigio, Urban Outfitter candles, and "Say Goodbye" playing in the background -- and should continue to do so for the next ten years.

Cologne

1995: Polo Sport
2005: Axe Body Spray

Polo Sport was the half way point between Drakkar Noir and Issey Miyake for most budding paddle swatters. It was refreshing and simple, but also half-assedly dignified and classy. With the Axe revolution, there is a quicker, more efficient way of keeping the overpowering Yager armpit smell to a minimum and also exuding (according to advertisers) wanton virility. With fratsters becoming far more vain and image conscious, having an all-purpose deodorant/cologne/pussy magnet that can be stored away in man purses when the slightest hint of odorous must arises is essential. Plus, with Axe it is much easier and less painful to fragrant the balls and butt cheek areas -- parts of the body that burned viciously from even the most gentle of Polo Sport spritzes -- if hooking up is in the immediate future.

T-Shirt

1995: Co-Ed Naked
2005: Intramurals

Co-Ed Naked T-shirts were the epitome of frat lounge wear that also made its way to the summer shore houses everywhere once the spring semester ended. It was usually worn with blue jeans and a braided belt or gray sweat pants; its stilted irreverence appropriate for any occasion that involved beer in plastic cups and potential date rape. The Co-Ed Naked aficionado liked to party anytime, anyplace, anywhere, during any activity -- as long as at the end of the evening some of the co-eds semi-willingly became naked. Alas, the dynamic shifted and frat boys were to become not just booze and cooze hounds, but also active. It is no longer enough to be a beer pong champion -- you must also be proficient in flag football and volleyball. And the best way to advertise your new found weekend fitness is to wear the intramural t-shirt. Every. Waking. Moment. Just think of all the money you'll save not shopping at Banana Republic?

   

 

An Informal, Uneducated Survey of the History of Fraternity Guys 1830 to the Present

Frat guys have been around for more nearly two centuries now, always adapting, moving in lockstep with campus whims. In the interest of illuminating this time honored segment of the college population, we present an informal look at the evolution of the frat guy.

***

1830-1910: The Age of Really Really Rich and Powerful White People

The frat guy really came to power in the 1830s, when Skull and Bones was founded at Yale. What members lacked in truly bitchin' keg parties, they made up for with large moustaches and incredibly successful political careers, despite having lame names like "Grover Cleveland."

***

1910-1940: The Age of Really Rich and Powerful White People

Thanks in no small part to two World Wars and a Great Depression, the ranks of the frat guy have gone from really, really rich and powerful, to merely rich and powerful. But everyone's still very, very white. So there's that.

***

1940-1975: The Put a Lampshade on Your Head and Go "Woo, Woo!" to that Demonic Rock and Roll Music Era

In the years following World War II, soldiers began heading back to school, using the G.I. Bill, slowly and surely infiltrating the once elite world of fraternities. There they discover the joys of binge drinking and songs like "Wooly Bully," by Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs. While premarital sex remains depressingly low, idiotic hijinx like cramming people into phone booths and pissing off the chancellor are at an all-time high. Golden times, they were.

***

1975-2000: The Self-Absorbed Asshole Era

During this turbulent period, frat styles came and went like Saturday Night Live cast members but at their core, the tried-and-true frat dudes kept it trendy, alcoholic, and better than your dumb ass. (Dude, high fiver! Up top!) Be it the asshole jock yuppies from the 1980s Revenge of the Nerds era or the "tortured" pseudo hippy grungesters of the mid-1990s, the lunkheaded frat guy was utterly unaware of how loathed he was, trapped in a little bubble of videogames, dollar draft nights and hazing rituals. Then they caught on.

***

2000-Present: The Post-Ironic, Self-Aware Hipster Frat Guy

Perhaps the single most terrifying era of frat guy, akin to that scene in V where the humans pull off their skin and reveal lizards underneath. These frat guys come in hipster clothing, with popped collars, enough metrosexuality to make their dads nervous, and decent enough taste in music. Be afraid, be very afraid.