Tag Archives: Chipp Kidd

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

Preppy is Back. Again. Also, Brands You’ll See in True Prep

Hello-Hello, happy new week!

We must begin with an enormous “Thank You” to everyone who left such kind and lovely comments following Friday’s post, not to mention the Tweets and Facebook comments.  There is no adequate way to explain how touched we were by the sentiments, it made our day extra special.

Today we have breaking news just in to the Prepatorium: there is another preppy resurgence! Oh my!

Umm… not exactly. We apologize for our poor step into hyperbole, we were unable to resist the temptation. The not-breaking-news comes via our friends on the far side of the pond.  In yet another look at ‘preppy style’ this story from Sunday’s Independent asks: “Are you Ready to get Preppy?” with the following as a subheadline:

“After 30 years in the doldrums, the relaxed East Coast look is back – along with a new handbook to help you wear it with elan”

The story is pegged to this fall’s release of “True Prep” from Lisa Birnbach and Chip Kidd, a topic covered previously in this space. Here is the story’s opening paragraph from writer Susie Mesure:

“Can’t tell your Top-Siders from your Sebagos? Unsure how high to roll your chinos? After some preppy shopping primers? Well, unfurrow your brows and raise a gin and tonic because help is at hand from a new book out this autumn that will exploit the current clamour for East Coast style.”

We doubt Princess readers are struggling with the issues mentioned above, but we could be wrong.  The photo accompanying the story shows looks from the spring 2010 Ralph Lauren collection (our post on the collection may be found here.)

Courtesy Polo Ralph Lauren

If given a choice of designers to illustrate the Independent story, we lean more toward these Brook Brothers promotional pieces…

Brooks Brothers

They promote the Summer at the Cape collections.

BrooksBrothers.com

An editor from Gentleman’s Quarterly is quoted in the Independent story:

“Robert Johnson, associate editor of the fashion magazine GQ, said: “Preppy is back. Every season, particularly summer, there is always a nod to classic Americana but preppy is a big trend this year.” He partly attributed its popularity to the fact that people are “bored” with denim.”

To read the story in its entirety, click here.

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One of our favorite blogs, All the Rage, also previews the upcoming book in this piece by Adam Tschorn.  This photo collage is used to illustrate his story.

Brooks Brothers & Tory Burch via All the Rage

Mr. Tschorn (aka ‘Cuffy’) offers the perspective of someone who actually attended prep school.  In today’s post his interview with Ms. Birnbach offers insight on what brands readers can expect to see in the upcoming book:

“…familiar favorites are revisited. Among them are Lacoste, Sperry Top-Sider, Brooks Brothers, and Ralph Lauren. “I was very, very stingy with [Ralph] in 1980. I think he’s referred to maybe once,” she said. “But this time he gets a lot of play.”

She said that some additions are labels that actually pre-date the first book, including Burberry, Barbour, Hermès, Verdura, Kenneth Jay Lane, Hunter Wellies, and J.M. Weston (“They have these beautiful loafers from France,” she explains).”

Many brands included in the upcoming volume did not even exist when TOPH (The Official Preppy Handbook) was published. More from Mr. Tschorn’s story with Lisa Birnbach:

““We’ve got Vineyard Vines – they started in 1998, and of course J. Crew — which wasn’t around then either [it launched in 1983 as a mail-order company]. And we’ve got some Kenneth Cole [1982] and a little bit of Robert Graham [2001].”

Below, two shirts from Robert Graham.

Ms. Birnbach also chats at length about Tory Burch in the story.  We recommend popping over for a read, it is a fun piece.

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Perhaps the most amazing thing we’ve seen yet on the book was in today’s Book Bench from the New Yorker site.  In a post titled, “Prep is Dead, Long Live Prep” Meredith Blake mentions yours truly (prompting a most unPrincess-like shriek):

“While the original handbook advised that “you should appear in print only three times in your life—upon birth, marriage, and death,” today’s prep is virtually screaming for a little attention; the wasp mystique, it seems, has faded. Like everything else, we can blame it on the Internet, where there’s a thriving community of bloggers dedicated to all things prep-related. At the pink-and-green themed The Preppy Princess, Susan Kelly defends her love for Lilly Pulitzer, while Melissa Morris’s May December has such an impassioned following that its author was the subject of a profile in the newspaper of record. There’s also The Trad, a slightly more idiosyncratic blog dedicated to classic American-made garments.”

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We conclude all this blather with a cautionary note: it is likely we shall encounter an increasing volume in the mainstream media about the preppy aesthetic being raised from the dead (ahem), in sync with the calendar’s movement toward True Prep’s September release date.
And with visions of books dancing in our head we say, g’bye!

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Filed under Prepalicious, preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion, preppy lifestyle, True Prep & TOPH, When Preppy Goes Wrong