Tag Archives: Chicos

Of Preps and Sloanes, Neiman’s New Bargain Stores, Nautical Notes

Hello, happy Monday!

We begin with an intriguing story from the far side of the pond, this one from the student newspaper at Oxford. Published Friday, “Sloanes versus Preppies: the rise of upper middle class cool” is just as it sounds, the piece examines similarities and disparities between the groups.

“Two social groups of upper middle classes have particularly captured the imagination of thousands, prompting the production of numerous books, articles and aspirational clothing. They are the British Sloanes and the American Preppies.”

For those not as familiar with Sloanes (originally Sloane Rangers), the term became popular in the 80’s. Princess Diana is frequently referenced as an example, there were also Sloane Ranger Handbooks, not unlike TOPH.

“Exclusive, wealthy and well-connected, Sloaneys and Preppies may seem superficially similar in their lifestyles. However, scratch the surface and you quickly realize that the conservative and intellectual bunch of Preps is miles away from the “casually cool” set of Sloaneys from Kensington and Chelsea.”

Marta Szczerba’s story delves into many facets of life, including how each group spends free time:

“For both Sloanes and Preppies, sports and second homes are an integral part of the lifestyle. Sloanes love entertaining in country homes in Suffolk, having lunch dates off King’s Road and play tennis or lacrosse. Kids probably had ponies when they were little (which have since been traded into Mulberry bags). Holiday destinations include Scotland, Cornwall, south of France and Monaco.”

“Don’t look for Preppies in the city on the weekends. They are not there. They go to the country, to their second home to cook, go antiquing, nap, recharge batteries and socialize in country clubs. They are sporty and with a natural competitive streak, but their preferred sports are, well, clubby. Golf, sailing, tennis, squash, polo, biking, fishing are sports preps adore.”

We enjoyed the comparison of fashion styles between the two groups, here is a bit of that perspective:

“Preppies scorn the messy look often worn by Sloanies. As the True Prep handbook states, “Sweat suits are for sweating. You can try to get away with wearing sweats to carpool, to pick up the newspaper, or to drive to the dump, but last time you were at the dump, the drop-dead-attractive widower from Maple Lane was there, too.”

This one is a fun read, if so inclined here is the full story.


On the heels of our post about factory outlet stores and the merchandise they carry, word that Neiman Marcus is opening yet another line of discount stores, different from the existing Last Call stores.  The new stores will be called Last Call Studio; the Times has the story:

“The new Studio stores will carry lower-end products, bought directly from vendors, not the scuffed but still new pair of Manolo Blahniks (as high as $1,995 at Neiman’s) that can show up at Last Call stores (for about two-thirds as much). “

“A prototype of the Studio store in Dallas looks more like a career-wear store — an Ann Taylor or a Chico’s — than it does a Neiman Marcus or an outlet store. Clothes are simple and conservative, and muted colors like black, taupe and pink reign.”

Matt Nager for the NY Times

Last week we mentioned customers can now shop Last Call online; the Times story notes that Nordstrom Rack is also available online. We would caution anyone heading to the Rack online – the selection is fairly limited at this point, presumably it will be expanded as the days go by.


Next, a few nautical notes we think our treasured readers may enjoy. The first is a line of sailcloth bags we weren’t familiar with from True Wind USA.

The company’s bags are made in the USA, and they are super-durable.  We like the Classic Tote Bags, but there is a great selection of sizes and styles.

Next, with apologies to any of our Facebook Fans who may have seen our mention already, the nautically inclined chair from Halo Styles caught our eye.

Keeping with the signal flags theme, Nautica is shooting next summer’s catalog, and sharing pictures as they go.

Click here to see the photos on Twipic, or on the company’s FB page to take a peek at the upcoming styles.


There has been all sorts of chatter about the upcoming Lilly Pulitzer Furniture Collection that launches in the spring (most recently we posted about it here and here); we wanted to let everyone know there are a number of additional places to see more photos.

  • Above we see pictures from Jamie at Furbish Studio, she has scads of amazing photos showing many of the eclectic color combinations, her description of the new line is perfect:

“…it was the perfect match of dorothy draper meets the sorority house meets jonathan adler meets delight.”


We close with today’s Pretty in Pink and Green.

The Polka Dot Yoga Tote is just now in the shop, from the ever-so-talented Candi, who also does our Ribbon Flip-Flops and other accessories.  (Can anyone help a dopey Princess who can’t seem to figure out if “polka dot” is one or two words….?)

Goodbye until next time!


Filed under nautical, preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion, preppy lifestyle, Pretty in Pink, True Prep & TOPH

The Shocking Pink Chair, Michael’s Million Dollar Donation, Thom Browne & the NY Times

This is one we simply couldn’t resist when we saw it online at the Boutique’s website. The Princess wasn’t looking for a chair, let alone a flaming fuchsia chair, but we somehow stumbled onto it whilst searching for a new Isaac Mizrahi Collection at Target.

The Pod chair in Hot Pink is available online; TP doesn’t know if one can purchase it in stores or not. Target is suggesting this zany lamp as a coordinating piece, but we don’t believe it works well in the Palace, so we shall have to pass on its unique design.

Have a tiny prep in the household who might enjoy this delightful little pink chair? This pint-sized piece of pink puffery is only $19.99 as of this writing, and it looks ever-so-cute. (“When all else fails, alliterate…”, from the film ‘Network’.)

If you are still looking for pink furniture, Target also offers the pink Cloud Chair & Ottoman. (Ouch.) Of course, there is always the Bungie Low-Back Chair in pink and black. A side note here: The Princess really feels compelled to share her impressions of the Cloud Chair. From our limited online perspective it looks like faux fur that may prove…ah…that may prove…um, may prove…yes, it could be difficult for the household staff to keep clean. What with the dog’s hair and all. We’re just looking out for your staff.

We take a moment now to revisit noted designer Thom Browne. (Regular readers have been subjected to enjoyed TP’s thoughts on Mr. Brown’s ‘look’ in previous posts.) It would seem his standalone menswear store has enjoyed a visit from the Times’ “Critical Shopper” columnist Mike Albo. Perhaps enjoyed isn’t the appropriate adjective; we’ll say ‘experienced a visit,’ that might be better.

Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times

Photo: Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times

Mr. Albo has also done Critical Shopper columns on the new Rogan store (click here for more) and the Brooks Brothers on Madison Avenue (click here for more of that column) at 44th. The photo above is from the February 2007 Brooks Brothers column.

How did Mr. Albo find his visit to Mr. Browne’s emporium, or more accurately Mr. Browne’s designs?

  • “Across from the gray-hued garments, for example, was a selection of jaunty sweaters. A $3,500 thick cardigan was striped in navy blue and red, and a V-neck tennis sweater for $2,875 looked as if it had been ripped off Jay Gatsby’s dead body.”

(Mr. Browne is seen in his own design above left.)

Mr. Albo is not without humor. In describing a brightly hued overcoat he says,

“Past the three-way mirror was a rack of hilarious outerwear, including an overcoat in a queasily cheery yellow plaid for $4,500 that no one should buy unless he is an exhibitionist looking for a more eye-catching cover-up before exposing himself on the subway platform.”

The entire column is not all pokes and jabs at Mr. Browne’s design aesthetic, who also designs the Black Fleece line for Brooks Brothers. It also makes numerous complimentary points, at one point describing the suits as “light and good-natured, not dogmatic and snobby.” Mr. Albo refers to formalwear as “…beautiful…successfully blended Mr. Browne’s traditional and experimental sides.”

Here at the Prepatorium we simply adore the Critical Shopper; previous columns covered Tory Burch, Marc by Marc Jacobs, and Steven Alan. (Note: these links are to the individual designer pages, not the Times columns.)

it is always fun to read another individual’s perceptions of the brand and/or the physical stores selling that designer’s apparel and accessories. Stop by the Times and read this Critical Shopper column, or better yet, peruse some of the back columns, including the previously mentioned Steven Alan review.

Many a preppy is familiar with Steven Alan; we were nudged to pop into the online shop when reminded by the Shopper’s column on the store. We feel compelled to let you know they have several of their men’s “basics” on sale, including the Hidden Button shirt, a classic.

Additionally, many of the Reverse Seam shirts are marked down along with other styles. On the Women’s side, TP is ecstatic to see the Dieppa Restropo Black Patent Lace-ups, although these treasures are not on sale. Of course not.

And while not for us, we do find the Hope Shirt to be absolutely adorable, perfect for someone perhaps a tad younger than TP.

Many of the Kids’ styles are on sale, and while adorable, they are also out of season, to be expected at this time of year. Below, the Girls Camisole Dress.

And ladies, after seeing a quick peek of the Spring 2009 line, we think you will find it more than appealing.

An update now on über-athlete Michael Phelps that many of you are likely to have already heard: he is donating his $1,000,000 bonus from Speedo to his charitable program. (You know, that little check promised if he won all eight Gold Medals.) You can see him below, receiving the symbolic check from the head of Warnaco, owners of the Speedo brand.

Business Wire

Photo: Getty Images/Warnaco

The Michael Phelps Foundation’s “Dream, Plan, Reach” program is going to focus on teaching more children to swim as well as instilling self-confidence in them. Phelps phans can see their hero on Oprah’s season-opener next Monday, along with 149 other Olympic athletes. The 8-time Olympic Gold Medalist was mobbed in Chicago when he arrived to tape the Oprah show.

AP/M. Spencer Green

AP/M. Spencer Green

Below you see Phelps helping a girl learn to swim at a Visa Grant for Early Swimming Program discussion at the McBurney YMCA in New York on Aug. 28th

REUTERS/Joshua Lott

REUTERS/Joshua Lott

Mr. Phelps has been a busy man. In addition to the many public appearances he is called upon to make, he has also purchased a 4000+ square foot apartment on Baltimore’s rejuvenated and renovated waterfront. The apartment has a stunning view, a Jacuzzi and many other accoutrements.

Good for him, he certainly has worked hard enough.

And one more update related to the Phelps family, with news that Debbie Phelps has actually signed a formal one-year agreement with Chico’s clothing. The deal calls for Ms. Phelps, who is a school principal in Baltimore (among many, many other responsibilities that can only have multiplied recently), to promote the company’s merchandise. In exchange Chico’s provides apparel, accessories, as they reportedly did for her appearance on that same Oprah Winfrey show. (You may want to take a glance at the Debbie Phelps Collection, recently supplemented with far more items than previously contained in the group.)


Filed under 2008 Beijing Olympics, preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, preppy lifestyle, Updates

It’s Official: Michael Phelps Book on the Way, & Debbie Phelps is Down with Chico’s

Well, if it isn’t Tuesday already. How did that happen? Sigh. Well it’s gonna’ be a rock ‘n roll rest of the week for The Princess, so fasten your seat belts, this could be a bumpy ride! Whoo-hoo!

AP Photo/Akira Suemori

AP Photo/Akira Suemori

We start with an update about everyone’s man of the moment at the games, at least for some: he *does* have a book deal. ‘Built to Succeed’ is due to hit store shelves in December, just in time for the holidays. According to the folks publishing it, the book will focus in part on Mr. Phelps’ life growing up with an attention-deficit disorder in a single-parent home, while the superstar swimmer has said he plans to write about his life training leading up to the Beijing Olympic Games.

Then comes word today about a possible challenge against French Olympic champion and notorious ‘trash talker’ (that is the term, correct?) Alain Bernard, next year at the World Championships in Rome, in the 100 meter freestyle. (You know that The Princess simply had to include that little tidbit!) This, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport. Oh, and the London Games in 2012? Mr. Phelps has has said he plans on chasing more Gold medals in four more years.

Now in post-Olympic fashion news (how’s that for a non-existent news category?), an update to our earlier story about Michael Phelps’ mother, Debbie Phelps, and her Beijing wardrobe. You may remember that Ms. Phelps is a Principal at a middle school in Baltimore.

AP Photo/Steve Ruark

AP Photo/Steve Ruark

Our post mentioned that much of what Debbie Phelps was wearing at the Summer Olympics was from Chico’s, a midline clothing retailer targeting the Baby Boomer demographic. One of the things we mentioned in the article was that Chico’s execs were very clear they had no ‘sponsorship arrangement’ of any kind with Ms. Phelps. In fact, the most they did apparently was send her a $100 gift card and wishes of good luck prior to her departure for Beijing.

How things can change….here’s what you now see when landing on the Chico’s home page.

Click on that photo link and you are taken to this page….

In fact, there are now three pages in the Debbie Phelps Collection, up a page from yesterday’s two; the boost in the ‘Collection’s’ volume clearly comes via the addition of many jewelry pieces worn by Ms. Phelps. Many of the items are marked by where they were worn, as in “As seen in USA Today” or “As seen on Good Morning America.” Below we show just a few.

Believe it or not, as of this writing, there is still no formal arrangement between the retailer and Ms. Phelps, who even wore one of their jackets for a Johnson & Johnson commercial shoot of a spot that aired on Sunday night. Chico’s President Michele Cloutier told USAToday:

“Customers have been coming in and asking for what she’s wearing,” she says. “They’re saying, ‘I want that jacket,’ and they can describe it perfectly.”

“She completely articulates who we are as a brand,”

If the retailer and Ms. Phelps do come up with an arrangement, we’ll let you know.

There were some other Olympic tidbits/oddities we had not heard about, discovered in our meandering about the internet on a lazy morning. Like Angel Valodia Matos, a Tae Kwon Do entrant from Cuba. Upon hearing the Referee’s decision that he was disqualified from his match, Matos kicked the referee in the face. The World Taekwondo Federation has banned Matos life.

Matt Dunham/AP

Photo Credit: Matt Dunham/AP

REUTERS/Phil Noble

REUTERS/Phil Noble

What follows are great shots of what can happen when one mascot tries to help another mascot….oh my!

REUTERS/Phil Noble

REUTERS/Phil Noble

And how about American Idol adding a fourth judge?

Copyright 2008 Chad Buchanan/Getty Images

Photo: Copyright 2008 Chad Buchanan/Getty Images

Yes, they are. Actually, they have, as Ryan Seacrest announced on his radio show yesterday. The judge is the beautiful songwriter Kara DioGuardi. A story on the Fox news site has more information:

“DioGuardi’s songs have been recorded by artists including Kelly Clarkson, Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, Celine Dion, Faith Hill, Carrie Underwood, Santana and Pink.

“We had originally intended for ‘American Idol’ to have four judges,” said “Idol” Executive Producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz. “We’ve seen from our international series that having a fourth judge creates a dynamic that benefits both the contestants and the viewers.”

And the other judges? According to USMagazine, Paula Abdul had the following reaction:

On Phoenix’s 104.7 KISS FM Johnjay & Rich radio show Monday, she said she was excited but added, “I am concerned about the audience and acceptance. Time will tell. We’ll see.”

Asked if she, Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell have sat down with DioGuardi to test their chemistry, Abdul replied, “Nope,” and laughed.

When queried about her reaction to the news, The Princess refused to comment. Hhhhmm.


Filed under 2008 Beijing Olympics, preppy, Updates

The Michael Phelps Sports Illustrated Cover & Are Those 8 Gold Medals Helping Chicos Sales?

The Princess apologizes for showing so much ‘Beefcake’ these last two days, but it can’t be helped if we are to do the public service of supplying readers with the most current fashion and lifestyle news. And there you have it:

The most current news of some kind, we are not completely clear what kind it is, other than the photographic sort. But evidently these covers of sporting magazines are quite a topic of discussion following major sporting events. Of course, there isn’t a precedent for an athlete winning 8 Gold Medals at an Olympics. The closest of course, was Mark Spitz.

But that photo of Mr. Spitz up above on the left didn’t make the cover. Mr. Spitz was on three different SI covers as best we can count, while Mr. Phelps has already been on five. Below we share another example, but that’s all. We can’t have people thinking this blog is nothing but a flesh factory! To see the other covers of Mr. Phelps and those of Mr. Spitz, or any other SI cover, just click here.

It never ceases to amaze the Princess how powerful the impact of a Gold Medal athlete can be, for things completely unrelated to the accomplishments of the athlete. Consider for a moment the clothing worn by Debbie Phelps, mother to one record-breaking, mind-bending Team USA swimmer.

Did you pay much attention to it? Wonder where it came from? Where you could buy it? (Neither did we.)

We were too busy marveling at an amazing Mother who piloted her son through a life spent chasing a dream, and then helping him in its ongoing management following his success at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

But someone paid enough attention to find out where Michael’s Mom *did* purchase her apparel, and apparently all, or a good portion of her Beijing wardrobe is from Chico’s. If you aren’t familiar with them, they are generally put in the same group that includes Talbots, Ann Taylor, Coldwater Creek, and a few more catering to women a bit beyond their teens or early twenties. The company also owns White House | Black Market and Soma Intimates.

According to reports from a number of sources, Debbie Phelps shopped at a Chico’s store in a Baltimore suburb before leaving for Beijing. However, there isn’t any ‘sponsorship’ arrangement between the retailer and Ms. Phelps according to a recent Forbes story online.

There is no official sponsorship deal between Debbie and Chico’s. “Fortunately for us, she just likes the brand,” says Bob Atkinson, vice president of investor relations at the women’s specialty retailer.

That doesn’t mean Michael Phelps’ success in the pool and the reflected scrutiny of his mother hasn’t been good for business. Another Chico’s executive shared her thoughts with Access Hollywood:

“Ever since Debbie first wore Chico’s in Beijing, our phone lines have been ringing off the hook. Women everywhere want to know how to get Debbie Phelps’ look!” Michele Cloutier, Chico’s Brand President, said in a statement released exclusively to Access Hollywood.

It turns out that Debbie Phelps will be filming a commercial for Johnson’s Baby division tomorrow; the company named her their “Mom of the Olympic Games”. She is already active outside of her many roles as a middle school Principal in Baltimore and Mom of three; she is the national spokesperson for a Facebook group called ADHD Moms. The group can be found on Facebook.

Access Hollywood also managed to find out that Mr. Phelps will be on a cereal box, actually two cereal boxes: Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes. Those hit store shelves in September, and heaven only knows what deluge of Michael merchandise we’ll see before then. (Just another reason to have Cook make up an extra batch of Scotcheroos!)

Mr. Phelps has not enjoyed much down time following that last appearance on the podium. His list of sponsors is already lengthy, including Omega watches, Visa, and Hilton Hotels. Now that the competition part of his Beijing stay is completed, many have expectations of Mr. Phelps. For example, yesterday it was the Speedo Athlete Media Day.

And having been to, and around, so many of these type functions for years, TP can assure you it is not all fun and games, despite appearances.

It can be very tedious indeed. And as Mr. Phelps was estimated to be earning between $3 million to $5 million a year through his endorsements *before* Beijing, at that level you know the sponsors must be taken care of.

Michael Phelps (2nd R), Ryan Lochte (2nd L) and Australian swimmers Eamon Sullivan (L) and Grant Hackett (R)

Michael Phelps (2nd R), Ryan Lochte (2nd L) and Australian swimmers Eamon Sullivan (L) and Grant Hackett (R)

Enough of the Speedo shenanigans or we’ll be back to the Beefcake and we won’t sink to that level.

In fact, at this point it is rather enough of all the swimming and things and we’re off to a League function! We hope you enjoy a splendid evening!

(BTW, the photo credit for this most recent SI cover goes to Simon Bruty.)

NOTE: We have corrected Mrs. Phelps’ title, which was originally and mistakenly published as ‘teacher.’ This redacted version of the post now accurately reflects her professional status as a middle school Principal. Our thanks to Becs’ Bohemia for enlightening us on this one!


Filed under 2008 Beijing Olympics, preppy, Updates