Preppy is Back (Version 29… or thereabouts) & Identifying the North Shore Prep

Hello-Hello, and Happy-Happy Friday to everyone!

Yes, we do think today merits two Happies, it has been that kind of week. We remain mystified at our ongoing delusion that tomorrow shall possess a marked diminution in stress and activity, it is that point in the season where allofthedaysruntogether.  But it is loads of fun and we are grateful to be doing what we love, if we were still doing television it’s likely we would currently be engaged in weather coverage (you know what we mean, portraying a little snow as apocalyptic, the forecast requiring DEFCON 4 status, that sort of thing) at this point.

As our headline notes, Preppy is Back! Again! To be honest, we have nary a clue if this is Version 29 (as cited in the post title) or 42 or 18; we haven’t kept track in our 774 posts (eek!) of all the times we have reported such declarations and pronouncements.  This time CNBC is the media outlet sharing the ‘news’.

To be fair, the cable news channel’s story approaches the topic from a business perspective. “Straight Up or With a Twist, Preppy’s Back” looks at retailers benefiting from a resurgence of the styles some associate with the preppy aesthetic.

“The preppy style is making a comeback, but before you go digging through your father’s polos and grabbing your grandmother’s pearls, know that this time around “picnic chic” has some new twists.”

The story references Russell Simmon’s Argyleculture brand.  (FYI, the image below is not from the CNBC story, just one we selected when seeking images to better familiarize ourselves with the company.)

Via Blackpreneur

Writer Ashley Kalinke spoke with a stock expert for her article:

“Preppy is starting to make a comeback,” says Christine Chen, a retail analyst at Needham & Co. “It isn’t quite mainstream yet other than in the teen market where you see the varsity jackets, but it’s definitely making a comeback. We’re still very much stuck in the ’80s, and seeing ’80s [inspired trends] in the stores. But, that’s done. The shift is happening. “

Ahem.  A shift? Nay, nay sayeth preps everywhere.

The story looks at several versions of “prep” previously discussed in this space, notably “urban prep,” “hipster prep,” along with other styles not applicable to our personal taste. The ‘shift’ described in the article is attributed to consumers growing tired of denim.

“As a result, the style evolved to corduroy and khaki, which are inherently dressier fabrics that create more formal everyday style. This look can even conjure up a nautical feel that then lends itself to boat shoes, Breton stripes and a navy blazer, and eventually you begin to see a more classic preppy look emerge.”

The story lists LL Bean, Brooks Brothers, Vineyard Vines and Lilly Pulitzer as brands benefiting from the increased focus on classic styles.

True Prep author Lisa Birnbach is quoted in the story; we couldn’t agree with her more about a brand currently occupying a place on the AntiPrep Wall of Shame.

“There is some debate whether Abercrombie is a true prep, despite its polos and button-down shirts. Birnbach says it’s not.”It’s not preppy anymore,” she says. “What they are selling now is sex on the coattails of a brand name that’s elegant, and ‘American,’ but it’s not the same.”

Amen to that sentiment.  As always, we smile at the return of something that never left, but in this case we can see where evolving styles have impacted sales and profits at certain retailers, prompting CNBC’s coverage.  Click here to read the story in its entirety.


The Trib (Chicago) also had a preppish piece, asking “Who is the North Shore Prep?” Here are a few identifying traits from the story.

  • “The North Shore prep lives in Wilmette, Winnetka, Glencoe, Lake Forest, Lake Bluff and Kenilworth. They typically hug the coast (preppies like water)”
  • “Highland Park was said to have too many “new money” families to be prep; while at the Lake Forest Book Store, owner Sue Boucher illustrated the difference: “Someone was just honking (outside the store), and I kept thinking, ‘We don’t honk here.’ In Highland Park, they honk. Decorum is what it’s all about.”‘
  • “…not prone, for instance, to wearing the ostentatious new Ralph Lauren shirts “with the giant Polo pony horrifying to anyone of a true prep sensibility” — so described by Lance Lawson, whose clothing store, space519, in the 900 Shops on Michigan Avenue, has become a North Shore magnet. They gravitate more to regulation L.L. Bean duck boots.”

Writer Christopher Borelli’s piece merits a read, at least for those of us spending a little time on that side of The Large Lake; it also offers a “Select Preppy Reading List”.  (We do count on Third Coast Prep, Preppy Little Dress, La Belette Rouge, Tippy L and others to advise us of any egregious errors in Mr. Borelli’s story.)


A few additional tidbits:

  • Nashville preps will be happy to know Vineyard Vines will add a second store in that city, the new one is slated to open in February.
  • J. McLaughlin celebrates its new Westport (CT) store this Sunday.

J. McLaughlin

  • Dior’s flagship store on 57th Street reopened this week after a major remodeling, a number of celebrations marked the occasion. On hand at the store, actress Amy Adams and Gossip Girl’s Leighton Meester.

Our favorite look had to be Karolina Kurkova’s (L), while Natalie Portman was stunning.

As many readers know, Miss Portman’s “Black Swan” open across the US tonight, that one is near the top of our list.


Tomorrow we have a special treat, a visit from the Queen Bee herself.  The Bee is going to be popping in now and again to share some of her thoughts and insights on April’s royal wedding, and tomorrow is the first of her posts. We are very excited the inimitable Bee is going to be visiting!

On that sunny note, may everyone revel in a stellar weekend filled with cheer and charity.



  • Dimitrios Kambouris/Wire Image
  • Steve Eichner/WWD
  • Jason Kempin/Getty


Filed under Argyle, Logos, preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion, preppy lifestyle, Preppy People, The AntiPrep, True Prep & TOPH

14 responses to “Preppy is Back (Version 29… or thereabouts) & Identifying the North Shore Prep

  1. TippyL

    Well, they missed Evanston in that list, which is officially (unofficially?) a town on the North Shore. Albeit definitely lower income than the towns mentioned. But that’s ok! I don’t feel slighted at all! 😉

    This made me laugh: ‘We don’t honk here.’ In Highland Park, they honk. Decorum is what it’s all about.”‘ I will say I’ve met “preps” from every town on the north shore and there are people with decorum and people with no decorum (but a healthy sense of entitlement) throughout the North Shore. All in all, it’s a great place to live!

    Have a great weekend, TP.

  2. I wouldn’t mind seeing the ’80s replaced by almost anything at this point. Really.

  3. LOVE-LOVE-LOVE it! I love Helanders and LF Bookstore and LF college( I taught there one time). And I do agree there is no honking or large Polo’s in Forest and Bluff. Fantastic article. Thank you for your considering me a North Shore prep( I also didn’t go to prep school and I bought my own pearls. But I am certainly more Prep than Kim Kardashian).
    Thanks, Princes!!

  4. MCW

    OK…Karolina Kurkova is so skinny it hurts me to look at her.

    Excited for QBS to stop by!!!

  5. LOVE the North Shore Prep bit- will have to read when I get snowed in this weekend!




    Happy Holidays! Thanks for the mention! 🙂 PLD

  7. 1. Preppy never left. It just lurked quietly in the background, which is sorta what it does anyway.

    2. That bookstore owner better not bite the hands that feed her. I cannot believe she let herself be published sneering about exurbs. You can’t be a salesman AND sneer at your clientele. Not smart.

  8. brie

    hooray for north shore preps! 🙂

  9. Terrific post, as always. Loved the article, loved hearing about North Shore Preps! Couldn’t agree MORE about A&F!

  10. There is a HUGE Borders in Highland Park. I can’t imagine any H.P. peep are making the trek to L.F. to buy their books. As nice as L.F. Books is, it is a tiny store.
    I don’t see Evanston as a Prep mecca. Sure there are preps there. But it is more urban and college and a mix of many styles.

  11. Great posts. I am excited to hear about the Vineyard Vines store in Nashville. That will give me an excuse to make a trip up there some Saturday.

  12. p.s. No criticism of Evanston. I love Evanston and miss it( I worked there). Yep, it’s official…today is an extreme homesickness day.

  13. The current Mr. BHB is one of those hybrid NY-Northshore preps. Raised on the upper east side of Manhattan, a Knickerbocker Grey no less, a top 5 prep school and then Stanford, he ended up on the Northshore with a house on the lake in Winnetka.
    Fortunately for me, he emigrated to Los Angeles and can now be a West Coast Prep!

  14. Anonymous

    I definitely think there are prep parts of Evanston. I live in evanston, go to prep school in winnetka, and I think I’m much preppier than many girls I know who live in winnetka, glencoe, wilmette, kenilworth, etc. Sadly when my parents were buying our house they bought one in evanston rather than winnetka because they liked it more and they knew I was going to private school any way but, oh well. It’s fun living in evanston anyway, and I can’t believe it wasn’t included on the list.

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