About Those True Prep Reviews, Savings of the Preppish Sort

Hello-Hello, and welcome to a Wednesday.

Today we have our promised follow-up to yesterday’s post.  That piece focused on our recent interview with True Prep author Lisa Birnbach, and we promised to look at reviews for the book. The Palm Beach Daily News speaks highly of the book:

“Like its predecessor, True Prep sardonically skewers the social customs of the blue blooded and Blue Booked — and, in keeping up with the times, is a far more egalitarian sort of social X-ray.

Preppiness is not for everyone, and that is the gift. It is a club that requires a certain comfort in its singularity — and that, book or no, is what continues to give Birnbach plenty to celebrate in her own effervescent way.”

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At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Crimson’s story is fairly negative:

“For the most part, the book—a series of short little features on subjects as diverse as trunk shows, second weddings, and different types of loafers—is an entertaining encapsulation of one of the most recognizable (and ridiculous) styles under the sun, and the author certainly maintains a healthy sense of humor throughout. But underneath the humor and behind the fun, the book has an odd dimension that suggests some things that are somewhat less whimsical.”

Birnbach Defines and Undermines the World of ‘True Prep’” was written by a junior at the Harvard daily paper, James K. McAuley; it is unlikely he is fond of “preppies” real, or literary:

“Naturally, there is never an explanation of why prep culture is something worth glorifying or even a subject worthy of two whole books.”

“It just so happens that almost anyone can assimilate into our world of prepdom,” Birnbach says with regard to the subject of preppy Muslims. But, after 234 pages, one has to wonder: why would anyone want to?”

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Spencer Baily at the Book Beast is essentially positive in his look at the new book.

“Birnbach and Kidd’s book proves that there’s a lot about preppies that you probably never knew, nor did I, despite my own preppy background—boarding school, a good beat-up pair of Sperry top-siders, and, well, did you notice my name? To the contrary, I discovered a culture far more widespread—and diverse—than I ever imagined. In the 21st century, prepsterdom is pervasive.”

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Many articles have used a question and answer format, including Allan Peppard’s story in the Dallas Morning News:

What has the digital age done to the foundation of preppydom?

Rocked it to its core. One thing that defines a preppy is our very primal need for privacy and the digital age has disemboweled that. Privacy is fundamental. Having money was never the goal of life. The goal of life was having fun, having friends and outsmarting the hangover.”

Mr. Peppard notes the challenges of following up on a classic:

“Duplicating a cultural phenomenon is Sisyphean work, but Birnbach is on her way back up the hill…”

Elizabeth Wellington’s story in the Philadelphia Inquirer offers a positive critique in addition to her interview with Ms. Birnbach:

“Certainly 30 years has not been enough time to break through the members-only barriers of some preppy pastimes (still sacred are private school, a second home on the beach, even the three-martini happy hour), but the door to prep fashion is now open to the masses. What once were elitist department store-only brands – Lacoste, Coach, and Lilly Pulitzer – now have their own mall stores (not to mention their own Facebook and Twitter pages). And anyone can masquerade as a preppy, thanks to H&M and Wal-Mart, the modern-day go-to stores for polo-style shirts and khakis.

So much for exclusivity.”

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A substantial amount of verbiage is devoted to the way the prep world has changed since TOPH (The Official Preppy Handbook) was published 30 years ago. (Eek!)  Ms. Wellington posed a number of questions to the author, including one on a topic covered in many interviews:
How has hip-hop influenced preppy, and how has preppy influenced hip-hop?
Hip-hop borrowed this aesthetic in a big way. They went big and bullish with preppy. It was preppy with a twist. . . What happened is it got to be too much. The logos were too big. Tommy Hilfiger had to ratchet it back a bit because he found it corrupted his mission.”
The hip-hop topic also comes up in the Dartmouth Independent story:
There is a classic prep style associated with Dartmouth and other Ivy League colleges. I’ve noticed, however, that the hipster look has been trickling in lately. Some have joked that hipsters, rather than being true counter-culturalists, are actually ironic preps.
It’s funny―I’ve never heard him say it, but I have a son who I think is a hipster, or at least he thinks he’s a hipster.”

To see the rest of Ms. Birnbach’s answer to this question, just click here.

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True Prep is dutiful where The Official Preppy Handbook was cheeky and seems more interested in promoting the virtues of prep-dom than taking a satirical look at its foibles.”
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A Continuous Lean

The über-cool Michael Williams at A Continuous Lean was pleasantly surprised by the book:

“When I first learned of the new book I instinctively cringed. Not to be pessimistic, but I just couldn’t see how anything could be as good as the original.
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Though there are a few style related things in the book that I cannot endorse (which will go unnamed here), I have to say that after reading it with the mindset that the book is not meant to be a “part II,” (it is designed to complement the original) I really liked it. I also must admit that I was wrong about Lisa and True Prep. It is a worthy read and money well spent.
Clearly it is a mixed bag among the professional writers, just as it is with the preppy blog world.
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Many retailers are not having the much-improved 4th quarter sales they hoped for, and that means prices are dropping, promotional efforts are underway and discounts abound. We leave you with a sampling of several Sales & Savings Opportunities.

Neiman Marcus

Saks Fifth Avenus

J. Crew

We sign off with a wish and the hope that our military veterans will receive special goodness tomorrow, and every day.

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1 Comment

Filed under preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion, preppy lifestyle, Preppy People, Sales & Savings, True Prep & TOPH

One response to “About Those True Prep Reviews, Savings of the Preppish Sort

  1. Since TOPH was written by a (30 year) younger Lisa…wouldn’t it stand to reason her outlook would’ve aged? Maybe she isn’t quite so cheeky now? Maybe all the old school preps are a little bit tired and a bit more serious?

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