Category Archives: Help Me Understand

Kate Spade Goes Paperless

Welcome to a new week here at the Prepatorium, where the days are filling up with all those fall activities, it is the beginning of the busy season indeed.

Today we have just a few tidbits to share, beginning with word that Kate Spade is now available at Paperless Post, the online greeting company unveiled the new styles today.

Kate Spade at Paperless Post

There are all sorts of designs available.

Kate Spade for Paperless Post

Many readers will recognize the holiday card styles.

More on the line from Women’s Wear Daily:

The new offerings at… includes over 70 customizable card options and nine envelope liners that will retail from 15 to 30 cents per card (depending if the user opts to include liners, envelopes, etc).

It’s a good move for both companies, plus Kate Spade will continue to offer paper stationery as well. Below, a wedding invitation from the Paperless Post collection.

Kate Spade at

This is where TP requests your kind assistance and guidance. Online wedding invitations…? Hunh? This goes squarely in our “Help Me Understand” category.  And lest you think us hopelessly trapped in the last Millenium, we’re really not.

Surprising as it may sound coming from someone of our generation (ahem), as well as a retailer of paperFULL products, we don’t turn up our noses at the online greeting phenomenon. While we’re very firmly in the camp of those decrying the death spiral of handwritten correspondence, the reality is that online purveyors of fancified email and other greetings did not create the vacuum. It’s somewhat analogous to “email didn’t cause rude behavior, rude people caused rude behavior.”

The availability of pretty pieces that can be sent electronically makes them ideal for those occasions not requiring handwritten correspondence. In some cases it has even prompted us to send greetings we might have otherwise neglected, there’s no harm in the practice. But the online wedding invitation has us baffled, with the exception of those seeking to conserve natural resources.  (BTW, thank you to the sender of today’s *lovely* note [you know who you are, heh-heh-heh] proving yet again good taste and manners have not left us.)


The other topic for conversation this afternoon: those Apple maps.  (No, this latter topic has nary a thing to do with Planet Prep, it just seems timely.)

For those unfamiliar with the problem, Apple’s new iPhone and Operating System, which some of us upgraded to without even thinking about it (when will she learn, hello?), no longer offers Google Maps, it has been replaced with Apple’s own mapping program. It’s not pretty.  From a Journal story:

The criticism poured in world-wide as users of the new maps found misplaced labels for businesses and landmarks, cities with missing roads and erroneous features like a fractured river in Ann Arbor, Mich. A search for the Golden Gate Bridge yielded a marker roughly four miles away in San Francisco.

The Journal‘s piece contrasts two images of Martha’s Vineyard, the first is via Google Maps.

Google Maps via WSJ Online

Next, the Vineyard as seen in Apple maps.

Apple Maps via WSJ Online

Below, two views of the Brooklyn Bridge from the new Apple mapping system, one screen shot via an iPhone, the other via an iPad. (It doesn’t really matter as neither bears any resemblance to the Bridge I’m used to.)

NY Daily News

Other challenges are described in a Daily News story:

The Apple app also has a tendency to judge landscape features by their names. For instance, it marks the hulking Madison Square Garden arena in New York as green park space because of the word “Garden” in its name. The TD Garden football stadium in Boston gets the same treatment.

Conversely, Apple Maps marks “Airfield Gardens,” a farm and plant nursery in Dublin, Ireland, as an airfield. This prompted the country’s Justice Minister, Alan Shatter, to warn pilots on Thursday not to land there.

From a London Tube station via Twitter:



We leave you with a look at Don Draper Jon Hamm, now dubbed the Susan Lucci of the Emmy’s Best Actor category, his Mad Men work did not bring him an Award last night.


Until next time, may all your apps be working as you wish!


Filed under Help Me Understand, preppy, Preppy clothing & brands

When Preppy Goes Bad, Parisian Style

Today we share the rather odd tale of a French fashion label frequently referred to as preppy, a party with Pippa (Middleton) and some very bad press.

The brand is Vicomte A., founded by a Frenchman, the Vicomte Arthur de Soultrait. Below, a photo from the Vicomte’s Facebook page.

Arthur de Soultrait Facebook Page

(Full disclosure: yours truly finds the shirt wonderful.)

Vicomte A. styles have the clean, crisp lines many associate with a prep aesthetic.

Via Vicomte A.

Marketing is aimed at the leisure class. Mr. de Soultrait knows this market well, born into the aristocracy, he was raised around the pursuits of fellow aristocrats: yachting, horses, and polo matches.

Vicomte A. via Topgrain UK

Founded in 2004, the company’s logo incorporates a regal touch.

Vicomte Arthur de Soultrait Facebook Page

More on the crown from an interview with Mr. de Soultrait via this story:

Vicomte is a title in French aristocracy – a small yet rare title to hold….the brand has been taken as a shortened version of my title of Vicomte Arthur. Consequently, the crown above the brand name is also representative of the crown of a Vicomte.

Vicomte A. collections have names like “Deauville Yacht Club” and “Urban Traveler”.

Via Vicomte A.

Appropriately, the company has a store on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach.

Vicomte A.

There are boutiques throughout much of the world. In addition to the free-standing Palm Beach store, Vicomte A. merchandise is carried in a broad variety of US boutiques.

Now to that party we mentioned, one that would normally go by unnoticed, receiving little or no media coverage but for the attendance of one guest: Pippa Middleton. Below, a party photo from the Vicomte A. Facebook page, the Vicomte is seated on the ‘throne,’ Ms. Middleton is in the hot pink and gold.

Vicomte A. Facebook Page

Ms. Middleton has been friends with Mr de Soultrait for some time, below we see an undated photo of the two in a more sedate setting.

Arthur de Soultrait Facebook page

The gala was to celebrate the Vicomte’s birthday, more from The Daily Mail story, no one describes scenes like this quite the way they do:

Accompanied by three of the French capital’s most eligible bachelors, the 28-year-old, dressed as a risqué French courtier, unleashes her best moves on the dance floor among a heaving mêlée of cavorting dwarves, burlesque strippers bursting out of giant cakes and aristocratic French men wearing dog leads.

(For some reason ‘heaving melee’ truly resonates.) Below, we see the guest of honor in the center of this photo.

Vicomte A. Facebook Page

A bit of background, the Middleton family made its fortunes from a company called Party Pieces, selling mail order party supplies and Pippa still does some work there, in addition to writing her book on throwing successful parties, “Celebrate,” due out this fall.  Obviously, these aren’t the sort of parties she is expected to write about.

Vicomte A. Facebook Page

A Daily Beast story is titled “Pippa Middleton’s Party Tips: Bondage Gear, Dwarves, Strippers and Fancy Dress“:
The stack of photos will not make for very happy viewing at the palace today. First off there is the general impression of privileged debauchery, with a powerful overall air of entitled arrogance…..
Politically correct this was not.

Vicomte A. Facebook Page

There is no shortage of party pix on the company’s Facebook page, 472 in one album alone.

Vicomte A. Facebook

Then there are the dwarves. Having novelty dwarves at a wild party is an old custom among some shock-seeking impressarios, but it doesn’t get any more tasteful as the years pass by. Let’s put it this way: going to a party where small people have been hired to walk around as a freak show, for people to laugh at, is unlikely to feature as a top tip in Pippa’s forthcoming party book.

Via Vicomte A. Facebook

The brand isn’t one we were familiar with previously, nor is it one we’ll be adding to the walk-in.

Vicomte A.

At the risk of being as vulgar as the party itself, we must note this is not one you can put in the ‘nouveau gauche’ category, far from it, the de Soultrait lineage goes back centuries. No claims of ‘new money and no taste’ to support these activities, nay-nay. Am I the only one who thinks Mr. de Soultrait and friends are ideal for reality TV, “The Real Comtes of Burgundy?” or some such program? (The Consort’s reaction to that notion: “Wouldn’t that be a bit highbrow for this crowd?” Ouch.)


Filed under Help Me Understand, It's Just Not Done, preppy, Preppy Fashion

The Consort Considers His Holiday Options

Hello-Hello, all.  The Consort here dashing mikeside to amuse and baffle you while The (lovely and extremely talented) Princess meets her volunteer obligations.  I thought we might spend a few moments grappling with holiday deadlines, old friends and whatever else wanders into the wasteland that remains of my mind.  Let’s begin!

I’m considering the merits of beginning my Christmas shopping.  Now some of you might be chuckling and wondering if I’ve lost my mind.  Yes, but that’s not the point.  The point is I understand time.  After decades of working in broadcasting I know one minute is truly a long time.  Don’t believe me?  Stare at someone for one minute.  Do not speak. Do not avert your eyes.  Just stare for one minute.  See what I mean?  One minute is a long time.  Now string together sixty of those minutes and you’re talking some real time.  So I have plenty of time to buy holiday gifts.  And that’s another thing: I don’t shop – I buy.  Most guys do the same thing.  We walk into a store and head directly to whatever it is we intend to buy.  It all comes down to prep work.  A little research can be a timesaver and a lifesaver this time of year.  Or it can work in the other extreme.  When that happens I call it Zen buying.  Walk into a store with a empty mind (not hard for most guys) and listen for the gift to speak to you.  When it happens it’s a truly magical feeling.  When it doesn’t happen then everyone gets gift cards and it’s time to head to the nearest bar.

I’ll be having lunch in a couple of days with some guys who have been my friends since middle school.  Some of you are young enough that that’s not too remarkable.  For this bunch it’s quite a feat.  There will be eight of us around the table.  Through the decades we’ve seen weddings, divorces, births and, sadly, deaths.  Some of us have moved around in our careers while others stayed close to home.  Now a couple of the guys are even retired or considering taking that step.  We’ve all followed our own paths but managed to stay connected.  It’s more than just a lunch.  For a brief time we’ll be eighteen again.  We’ll tell the same stories we’ve always told and poke fun at each other.  We’ll laugh at the old jokes and wonder “whatever happened to…”.   It will be one of the best gifts I will receive this year.

The Princess and I tossed Tilly in the back of the Prepmobile and went for a short ride around the neighborhood the other night.  We thought it might be fun to look at the decorations.  It was nice but in a couple of instances I wanted to get out and ask the homeowners if they had lost their minds and any shred of decency they might have possessed.  Garish does not begin to describe some of these houses.  I struggle with the idea of someone randomly draping thousands of dollars worth of decorations on every available inch of space on their property.  We saw one house that was likely setting off seizures with the incessant strobe effect of the lights.  Too much is often just that: too much. It seems the over-the-top decorating is everywhere and so I better get used to it.  There are entire streets where the neighbors combine their efforts to create a well thought out wonderland of light.  But some good can come of this.  In some cases these neighborhoods are accepting donations for local food banks or other charity groups.  Maybe I should just get over myself and appreciate some people’s willingness to add a little light and color to the world.

But I’ve blathered on long enough.  The Princess will return to this space tomorrow with items of much more interest than I brought to the dance today.  So I’ll leave you with the usual reminder to take good care of your waitperson because they’re working hard for you today.  Good night, everyone!


Filed under Help Me Understand, Posts by the Princess Consort, preppy

Kate Spade’s Springy Styles & “Preppy 70’s Knits”

Hello-Hello, welcome to a Thursday here at the Prepatorium.

Regular readers may remember that we have been loathe to examine next spring’s styles too closely, choosing to hold that topic in abeyance until we had at least seen leaves on trees turning color and the arrival of nippier temps. Those two events have now occurred here in The Great Midwest. (Sniff.) Therefore we can comfortably share some of the styles shown at Kate Spade’s presentation earlier this week.

Kate Spade

In fact, we’ll even make the picture up above today’s Pretty in Pink.  A snippet from the Women’s Wear Daily review:

“Standout accessories included the fluorescent orange patent pieces that popped against the black-and-white graphic prints.”

Thomas Iannaccone

More thoughts on the presentation from The Glitter Guide:

A whimsical spin on preppy classics, Kate Spade’s Spring 2012 collection is a vibrant array of embellished cardigans, brilliant prints and polka dots, killer jewelry, and bows aplenty.

The Glitter Guide

Polka Dots remain a popular theme for the company.

Kate Spade/Inslee by Design/The Glitter Guide

More from the WWD review:

…there was a nautical theme — stripes, sea flag prints, an ocean liner-shaped clutch — and a garden party-friendly group of sundresses ideal, Lloyd said, for the finishing school grad/hostess type who doesn’t take herself too seriously.

Thomas Iannaccone/Women's Wear Daily

As always, there are loads of looks we find appealing, color combinations that pop, pieces with a touch of fun, frivolity.

The Glitter Guide/Thomas Iannaccone-WWD

Hopefully we’ll be able to see some tighter shots of the accessories and jewelry, they do look fun.  One last spring 2012 photo we can’t seem to leave out of the post, two pair of shoes from Brian Atwood, both in that hot pink and orange color combo that has become so popular.

Brian Atwood Courtesy Photos via wwd


Also today, two quick tidbits, the first is a look at varying visions of ‘preppy styles’ as seen by our friends from the far side of the pond. The first styles are from a spread in the Daily Mail suggesting that readers “Take a leaf out of the Seventies with preppy knits, fedoras, and midi-skirts“.

The Daily Mail

Two more looks from the pictorial.

If interested in seeing the entire piece, click here.  Another piece from the UK comes via The Telegraph, this one “Too Cool for School: preppy fashion”.

Chad Pickard & Paul McLean/The Telegraph

This is also a photo piece showing “The best preppy college wear, in sturdy fabrics and autumn hues.”

Chad Pickard & Paul McLean/The Telegraph

Autumnal hues? Yes, some very pretty colors, especially the rich aubergine shirt. Too cool for school? No.


We leave you with something ideal for our Help Me Understand category, also perfect for the It’s Just Not Done category as well.  Behold the $3100 party frock for little girls, soon to be sold at Harrods.

I Pinco Pallino via Vogue UK

The dress is from upscale Italian childrenswear label I Pinco Pallino, evidently made even more special because it is covered with Swarovski crystals.  While we do hate to be the bearers of bad news, if you’ve ever pondered the potential answer to that burning question, “Is there anything too good for my little princess?” we have an answer: “As a matter of fact, yes.”

On that silly note, goodbye until next time!


Filed under Help Me Understand, It's Just Not Done, preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion, Pretty in Pink

Grand Openings and Wacky Costumes

Hello-Hello, what a glorious Friday it has become, these are the days you dream of if residing in The Great Midwest.  Today we have a few news Bits and Bytes, the majority with a retail overtone, we’ll cap that off with a touch of Friday Fun.

We begin with a glance at Wednesday night’s party at the just-opened Brooks Brothers in Georgetown. This one included a good number of notables, as one might expect in the Capitol. Below left, DJ Benjamin Chang with Fox News anchor Ed Henry, on the right, Self magazine’s DC Editor Marc Adelman with his little one. (Although Brooks does not offer infant sizes, the photo serves as a good reminder that really, it’s never too early.)


Naturally The Consort was impressed by this.

The store is on M Street in space previously occupied by Smith & Hawken as well as part of a Pottery Barn, if the memory cells are at all functional today.

Hillary Leeb/The Georgetown Dish

In addition to our fondness for the apparel and accessories at Brooks, we enjoyed seeing some of the furniture showcased in the new digs.


Nothing like a little custom made madras to make me smile.

The party also served as a fundraiser, the Trust for the National Mall was the beneficiary, almost $5000 was raised for that very good cause.


Also today:

  • LL Bean’s new King of Prussia store opened last weekend, it is the venerable retailer’s 15th shop, located not too far from the Lilly KOP store.

Gene Walsh/Times Herald Staff

  • Marimekko, the Finnish design firm offering amazing textiles (and so much more), has opened its New York flagship.

T Magazine/The New York Times

  • While not a store opening, we have to applaud the folks at Hermès, for the ‘family reunion’ they hosted this week. Women’s Wear Daily reports the upscale firm closed all of its US stores Sunday, Monday & Tuesday so they could fly all 515 employees to a party and recognition ceremony, a very cool (and savvy) thing to do.


We close today with a look at some of the year’s more bizarre Halloween costumes. The initial idea came via a story in Guest of a Guest; it showcased the ‘Roadkill’ costume, noting that “We can all agree that being run over by a car and disemboweled is every kid’s dream.” The only thing we can offer is the thought “Especially because that’s how all mothers want to envision their child.”

Kids "Road Kill" costume from Halloween Costumes

From its description on the Halloween Costumes website:

“Scrape your child off the side of the road and turn him into real road kill with this funny costume!”

This one can be yours for $48.99.

Here’s one we discovered while idly wasting time when doing research for the post, the Baby Billion Dollar Costume. Originally I thought this was a commentary on the high cost of bringing up a child, until I read the description: “Now your toddler can get in on the family gangster action with this Billion Dollar baby costume!”


Fully acknowledging our terminally unhip life, is there something we have missed about “family gangster action”?

Finally, there is this: your infant as roast turkey.

Martha Stewart

More than ideal for inclusion in both our Help Me Understand and You Can’t Make This Stuff Up categories, we pondered the possibility this was what we used to call a ‘sight gag,’ perhaps someone having fun with Photoshop.  Wrong.

Very wrong.

Martha Stewart

Of course, if you prefer baking over roasting, there’s always this.

Martha Stewart

May your weekend be sunny and bright!


Filed under Help Me Understand, preppy, You Can't Make This Stuff Up