The purpose of uniforms is to make everyone look the same. But if someone’s not in the military and has elan, a uniform can be a starting point.
It’s not easy, but nothing about the lives of the teens on Cartoon Network’s drama, Tower Prep, is. They’re at this school in the middle of nowhere and discover their special abilities.
The series’ hero, Ian, has a “pre-flex, like a pre-recognition; right before something is about to happen, he can see it and react a split second before the average person,” says the actor who plays him, Drew Van Acker.
Even with this ability, Ian must conform to wearing khakis to class and burgundy or gray jackets and sweaters, striped ties, and white or blue button-down shirts.
“The look is typical,” says costume designer Kate Main. “We are in a prep school, and on the outside, it is quite a conservative school. We tried to remain within the bounds and dictates of the school uniform. The one thing I took care of is we don’t want to have 13 episodes of kids in burgundy at one time.”
“He makes it easy,” Main says. “He is a no-fuss, no-muss kind of guy. Drew and Ian are these confident guys on a mission. He is not going on a mission making sure his tie is just so. He just looks good. He is the guy who throws on his pants and shirt and just deals with the day and not with the fashion.”
“The whole thing with a uniform is it’s meant to homogenize,” Main says. “No one gets to be the richest kid or the poorest kid – in theory.”
But the reality is some teens always look better. They just know how to rock the uniform.
Main bought the shirts and hoodies at American Apparel sweaters and pullovers are from Banana Republic.
“We gave Drew his strong hero look,” Main says.
Though the Tower Preppies are not wearing blue jeans with their boxers hanging out, Drew is wearing jeans when not in class. Main has him in Adriano Goldschmied and Nudie jeans. Ian wears Zara khakis. As with any teenage boy, his sneakers are important. He wears Pumas.
Van Acker says he relates to his character’s personality and clothes.
“He has always been kind of a loner,” Van Acker says of Ian. “And he is more – just whatever – throw it on if it looks decent. I can throw it on and walk out the door.”
And that, says Main, is pretty much how to get that classic preppy look: the khakis, sweater or hoodie. “Just don’t take it too seriously,” she says. “It made me think how in the ’30s and ’40s, people looked cool. It gives them a strong, clean look.”