Tag Archives: preppy clothes

Talbots Holiday 2011 and A Few Sales/Savings Opportunities

Hello-Hello, welcome to an absolutely gorgeous day here at the Prepatorium.

It seems like just last week we were engaged in a whineathon of epic proportion desperate for just a taste of spring or summer weather.  Fast forward a few weeks and now many friends find themselves praying for an early fall, it has been that hot or that dry or that wet, or simply that miserable in their corner of the globe. In that spirit we offer an early look at this year’s holiday collection at Talbots.

Women’s Wear Daily attended yesterday’s preview and has the story.

“Inspired by Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball of 1966, Michael Smaldone, Talbots’ chief creative officer, showed a holiday collection on Wednesday that was minimalistic, with a nod to easy Sixties glamour.”

There are some nice, bright jewel tones in the line.

It’s always good to see a splash of color in the middle of winter.

Another angle on the more vibrant colors.

Robert Mitra/WWD

Here are a few of the more casual styles.

Robert Mitra/WWD

It looks like Talbots will continue to grow its workout/athletic/yoga group, an area that remains a very positive story for most retailers. (Full disclosure; your trusty correspondent has a few pieces from this group and they are outstanding.)

Robert Mitra/WWD

There is a wonderful array of pieces in a deep, rich red, perfect for the holidays.

Robert Mitra/WWD

More from the WWD story:

“Smaldone focused on clean shapes, from long column gowns to short A-line dresses, as well as graphic black-and-white elements on looks such as a long houndstooth skirt.”

More in these colors.

Also seen more frequently this time of year, lamé and sequins, with a few animal prints also visible.

Robert Mitra/WWD

There are more jewel tones shown in the holiday accessories.

Robert Mitra/WWD

A few more items.

Robert Mitra/WWD

These are a bit tougher to see, but you can still get an idea of what will be offered.

Robert Mitra/WWD

Many of the styles shown look elegant, although it is obviously difficult to gauge when you can’t feel the fabric, look closely at the cut, the embellishment, etc.  We fervently hope the collection helps the troubled retailer get back on track, we would like to see them around for many years to come.

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We have a very few Sales and Savings Opportunities to offer.

Kate Spade is taking an additional 25% off sale prices, use promo code SALE25 for the discount. (Today is the last day.)

Brooks Brothers is doing its summer Clearance event.

Vineyard Vines is taking an additional 40% off its sale items, use promo code HOT. One caveat, this morning they have experienced numerous outages and downtime for the website. We’re sure it will be remedied as quickly as possible, but patience might be required.

Basically every apparel & accessories retailer we know of is offering significant discounts at its stores (as well factory/outlet stores) and online.

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One last FYI, we are doing a poll at our sister site What Kate Wore, Kate’s wearing of pantyhose/tights/nylons almost all the time is creating quite the conversation. We would love to know what you think, either by vote or comment or both!

With that, we say thank you for popping in to visit, we cherish each and every reader, knowing you have a gazillion choices when it comes to online reading opportunities. We are grateful you decided to spend a little time with us. 🙂

ADDITIONAL PHOTO CREDIT:

  • All Talbots photos by Robert Mitra, WWD

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Filed under preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion, preppy lifestyle, Sales & Savings

Is There A Change at J. Crew?

Hello-Hello and welcome to a new week here at the Prepatorium, we appreciate you stopping in for a visit.

We begin today with an update on J. Crew, a brand we haven’t spent much time chatting about recently.  Canada’s Globe and Mail took a look at the company in advance of its first Canadian store opening.  J. Crew Primping for its Canadian Debut examines some of the retailer’s recent business decisions, this initial portion references CEO Mickey Drexler.

Customers were complaining that his stores no longer carried the “cafe Capri” women’s cropped pants. The shelves were stocked with too many ruffled tops and mini-skirts, and too few classics such as Italian cashmere sweaters, ballet flats and knee-length pencil skirts.

Mr. Drexler felt the pain. The missteps caused J. Crew Group Inc. to stumble financially. Today….he feels the pressure to once again generate the fashion hits for which he is famous.”

We selected a few examples relative to what the story discusses, beginning with Crew’s Schoolboy Madras Blazer, an item more in keeping with what customers would consider the brand’s heritage.  Although the shrunken cut may fit too snugly, at least the garment harkens back to the brand’s ‘preppy roots.’  On the other hand, while a pencil skirt is always in style, efforts to ‘update’ the look don’t work in the ‘Pleated Pencil Skirt‘ seen lower right, the detail at the hip is unlikely to flatter anyone bigger than a Size 2. (As a sometimes Size 4 we figure we’re allowed to grip about such things.)

Back to the Globe & Mail’s story:

J. Crew’s recent fashion errors underline Mr. Drexler’s strengths and challenges. He knew quickly last summer that some of the new younger styles weren’t working, and that the stores were under-stocked on classics.

More pieces probably unpopular with “old style” core customers include things like an Heirloom Lace Vest originally priced at $295, and a $150 Sequin Sweatshirt (now $99), garments that are simply not going to work for many. 

More from the story:

We skewed a little younger than we should have – a little more trendy,” Mr. Drexler….said in an interview…“We ran out of a lot of our best-sellers. When you don’t have enough of the best, you skew too young – you have a tough time. It happened. Right now it’s kind of fixed.”

Other items in the too trendy category would likely include the Mona Shirtdress (left) and the $995 Plumage Skirt, covered in feathers, now on sale for $599.

We thought the company did a decent job maintaining a core of perfectly acceptable pieces, much like the Cotton Dress shown below.

To be fair, we never encountered any difficulty finding basic cashmere pieces, like the sweater below.

Via J. Crew

But then we didn’t look very often, at least not in the last several years. Once a core customer is turned off by a brand’s offerings they are not as likely to pay casual visits to the retailer, either in person or online. There are too many other choices available in the marketplace, the retailing landscape too crowded.

One of the more interesting things about the story is the way Mr. Drexler is referenced throughout the piece, here is one example essentially saying the company is dependent upon his talents:

“Drexler is human and obviously made some mistakes last year,” said Mark Cohen, a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business in New York and a former CEO of Sears Canada. “The good news about a one-man band is that, when in tune, the melody is awfully sweet. But when it’s off-key, the music is awful.

There is no reference to J. Crew’s President and Creative Director, Jenna Lyons.  However, it is possible the appeal she holds for many of the firm’s customers in the US won’t carry across the border until people are more familiar with J. Crew’s offerings.

In efforts to better engage customers the company has embraced social media, growing the content on its website in addition to using Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. For example, as in previous seasons, the fall lookbook is now available online.

Via J. Crew Tumblr

Here are three looks from the Fall 2011 line.

Via J. Crew

We do hope J. Crew is able to right the ship, for years the company did *many* things very well. More from this fall’s line.

Via J. Crew

What do you think, is the company getting back to styles you are more comfortable with?

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We leave you with a bright and fun image, actually a fundraiser for the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

National Aquarium

The limited-edition Lilly Pulitzer scarf is a fundraiser for the Aquarium, available now at the Aquarium’s gift shop. Here is a better look at the detail in the pattern.

National Aquarium

For an *outstanding* post on the topic, visit Let The Tide Pull Your Dreams Ashore.

Until next time, g’bye!

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Filed under preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion, preppy lifestyle

Prep World Paris, Black Fleece Bargains, Itty-Bitty Kate Middleton Dresses

Hello-Hello, and welcome to a Monday.

Things are a little frenzied this week, we’re pedaling as fast as we can here at The Prepatorium.

We begin with a look at the first Prep World pop-up store.

Via StyleRumor

The Tommy Hilfiger/Lisa Birnbach endeavor debuted last week in Paris.

Via Tommy Hilfiger Facebook page

The launch party was right in front of the store, modeled to look like a Hamptons cottage.

It looked like a beautiful day at Pompidou Centre.

Via PaperBlog.Fr

It is a special treat to see our friend Kiel’s work showcased, don’t his bracelets look wonderful?!

Courtesy Prep World

It is always fun to see the reactions to Mr. Hilfiger’s styles, this story in Paper Blog (France) is replete with references to Gossip Girl characters Serena (Blake Lively) and Blair (Leighton Meester).

“Preppy. The decor is slick and hostesses are welcoming. During a moment you feel like Serena or Blair, you invent a fishing trip and you fantasize about the sweaters and knitted pastel polo shirts.”

For a more comprehensive look at the shop, Style Rumor has a lengthy post with loads of photos.

If in need of more comprehensive background on the Prep World line and concept, click here.  To see more photos, the Hilfiger Facebook page has a number of photos, including this one.

Tommy Hilfiger

Hmmmm.

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We have a few quick Sales & Savings opportunities to pass along, but be advised two of them are time-sensitive:

  • The other mention involves another flash sale, this one titled Gossip Girl Boutique at ‘invitation only’ sale site Gilt.com. The sale begins tonight at 9pm EDT, here is more from Gilt’s description:

“We’ve teamed up with Gossip Girl stylist Eric Daman, the man behind some of television’s most fiercely dressed characters, to replicate some of the show’s best looks. Whether you crave Serena’s sexy spin on boho-chic, Lily’s flawless elegance, or Blair’s ladylike polish, you’ll find plenty to choose from. And we haven’t forgotten the guys: choose from pieces for him that range from Brooklyn casual to classic Upper East Side cool.”

  • J. Crew is doing an additional 30% off sale items in its Final Sale promotion, use promo code OURTREAT at checkout for the savings.

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For those like us with a mild interest in royal weddings (cough-cough), we share a headline from across the pond about the “William and Kate” movie now being shown in the UK.

Via The Daily Mail

The descriptions and reactions to the film had us both laughing.

Rupert Thorpe via The Daily Mail

From the Daily Mail’s story:

“…the Evening Standard’s Richard Godwin concurred, adding: ‘Critics in America have panned this movie as a cheesy chick-flick, but there are positives.’  It is recognisably a film, in that it takes place on a screen.”

Indeed.
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One item related to the upcoming nuptials that is adorable, the tiny collection of Kate Middleton dresses.

Images via The Telegraph

The set was done for Harumika, The Telegraph has photos of all the styles.

Apparently they will be sold at Toys ‘R Us. (Moms, aunts, grandmothers…TP needs your help, is this a popular brand?)

Our fave itty-bitty style:

Via The Telegraph

Although we are pretty sure Miss Middleton’s shoulders will be covered, we do love the tiny wedding gown created for the line.

On that darling image we say g’bye until next time!

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Filed under Collaborations, nautical, preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion, Royal Wedding, Sales & Savings, True Prep & TOPH

Tie One On & Preppy 2.0 (Again) + Faces of Japan

Hello and welcome to a new week.

We have a slightly altered structure today. The first portion of the post is comprised of our usual content, primarily the light and frothy nonsense we enjoy sharing. The second portion of the post focuses on Japan, the journalist still lurking inside won’t allow us to ignore the latter topic and this provides everyone the chance to change channels, in the cyber sort of way, if one or both portions hold no appeal.

We begin with a brief photo feature in Saturday’s WaPo (Washington Post), “Preppy 2.0,” introduced this way:

“The term “preppy” conjures a range of images, from starched school uniforms to khaki pants and navy sport coats. But the past several seasons have seen fashionable types putting a highly personalized spin on the style, choosing from a new arsenal of old-school staples: nautical stripes, plaids and timeless silhouettes updated for 2011.”

Different clothing and accessories are featured in the piece, including several Tommy Hilfiger items we showed from last fall’s runway show.

Tommy Hilfiger via Washington Post

Other items include the Lands’ End Canvas Heritage Peacoat and the LL Bean Signature Poplin Dress Shirt.

Land's End Canvas & LL Bean Signature

Reading varying interpretations of the “preppy style” is always entertaining, click here to see the photo feature in its entirety.

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Next today, our friend Ben at Starboard Clothing shared exciting news with us: the company’s website is up and running.

Starboard Clothing Company

Starboard does “beau ties”, we wanted to share some examples of their work.  As you can see, there are beaus in seersucker, gingham, madras and other fabrics.

Starboard’s beaus look simply wonderful, bright and vibrant, perfect for spring and summer.

Some readers may recall our little sneak peek at the Alex Grant Bow Ties from our friend Skip. We can share that his bows are also now available, these are silk, with the elegance and panache we would expect from Skip.

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Knowing that April showers are just around the corner (although many of our friends in the southeast have already experienced the phenomenon), we wanted to do a Pretty in Pink showcasing some of däv rain boot styles.

Davrain

For those in need of foul-weather gear for the young miss, there are also däv Kids’ products that look like loads of fun, offering a new Adventure in Argyle.

Davrain.com

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We move on now to a far weightier topic, one consuming almost everyone’s interest.

Yomiri

In some respects scenes from Japan are reminiscent of Berlin at the end of WWII, or perhaps burning oil fields during the Gulf War.

Keiichi Nakane / Yomiuri Shimbun

Or thunderstorms and tornadoes in the great plains during severe weather season.

Kyodo News/AP

It becomes much more difficult to watch now, because the images are beginning to show people from the areas sustaining the worst damage.

JIJI Press/AFP/Getty Images

As opposed to “mere property destruction”.

KIM JAE-HWAN/AFP/Getty Images

David Guttenfelder/AP Photo

And there are faces.

Reuters

Kyodo News/AP

Associated Press (L) and Reuters (R)

JIJI Press/AFP/Getty Images

Kim Kyung-hoon / Reuters

AP Photo/The Yomiuri Shimbun, Hiroto Sekiguchi

TORU YAMANAKA/AFP/Getty (L) & Hiroto Sekiguchi/The Yomiuri Shimbun/AP (L)

Kyodo News/AP Photo

Associated Press

For those considering ways to help, the good folks at Charity Navigator have a superb list of things to consider if making a financial donation, including information on some of the four-star organizations like Doctors without BordersDirect Relief International.


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Filed under Argyle, preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion, preppy lifestyle, Pretty in Pink

A Conversation With Lisa Birnbach

Hello-Hello, welcome to a Wednursday (Wednesday + Thursday) post, we are so swamped this shall have to count for two days.

Today we share our interview with the woman we call the Grand Pooh-bah of Prep, Lisa Birnbach, the author of True Prep.  Yesterday was the book’s official release date, and we still cannot believe she found time for an interview; some readers may recall Ms. Birnbach’s day started with an appearance on the Today show, and it only grew busier after that.

NBC Universal

To say we were flattered to even be on the interview list, let alone on the book’s first day, would transcend understatement. (We will share a little secret: at the last moment throwing on a strand of pearls seemed prudent, because after all, she *would* be able to tell through the telephone what we were wearing here at the Prepatorium, right down to the accessories.  Somehow. she. would. know.)

Ummm, not exactly. From the outset Ms. Birnbach was warm and witty, if anyone was wooden and stiff… well, yes. It was I. Me. Us. (Whomever, honestly Princess, get a grip!)

Sadly, our first question was truly tasteless, we asked the obvious, what (who) were you wearing on the Today show?  It turns out the ensemble was a combination of new and old, both the skirt and the blouse were Brooks Brothers (although we have to apologize for being a witless wonder right off the bat, one was Black Fleece and the other regular Brooks, but it appears we were quite incapable of properly noting which was which), and the shoes were older Manolos. (Because they are still perfectly good shoes.)

NBC Universal

Almost all of the jewelry was on loan from Verdura, including the Beehive Pendant Watch, not unlike the one shown below in a 2007 Christie’s catalog.

Via Christie's

Verdura is covered in Chapter 4, “I Just Found it in My Closet,” sure to be a favorite for most fans, as it covers the contemporary sartorial choices one confronts in clothing and accessories.  Ms. Birnbach explained a bit of the process for borrowing the jewelry, it is not something undertaken lightly.  As mentioned, not everything was on loan, the pinky ring worn by Ms. Birnbach was her own, marking the occasion of her son’s birth.

We only had one other matter to handle before getting into the meat of the interview, a minor issue we felt compelled to discuss before we could comfortably move into more intense conversation.

TP: “There is just one little thing I need to bring up before we move on, um…well….uh, it’s….ah, it’s just something that is very troubling, actually, it’s fairly traumatic, I think some people might classify it as bordering on tragic. I’m worried it might derail our whole conversation, but have to bring it up anway.”

LB: “Oh, really? What is it??”

TP: “The Top-Siders featured on the Today show this morning.”

LB: “The Top-Siders are tragic? How are the Top-Siders tragic?”

TP: “They’re metallic.”

(As a brief refresher, below we share a snippet from our post on the topic earlier this year:

“The women’s Original 2-Eye metallic boat shoe seen below is at Crew, offered in platinum.

J. Crew/Sperry Top-Sider

(TP has stepped away for the moment, she is struggling with the word ‘metallic’ adjacent to the words ‘boat shoe’.)”

There, enough of that tedious blather the background, now back to yesterday’s conversation.

Ms. Birnbach was gracious in responding to our angst about the shoes.

LB: “Susan, let’s talk about this, allright? I know what you’re saying, I really do. But the metallic Top-Siders are sort of like the bad boy in school. You remember? You knew he was not the guy for you, you absolutely knew he was not the guy, and you may even have been repelled by him, but at the same time, there was this attraction, something drawing you toward him. I think the Top-Siders are kind of like the bad boy.  I’m not saying you should get them. I’m just saying I’m open to new ideas.”

TP: “Oh. Okay.” (Heh, heh, heh.)

Of course that exchange was understood by both parties as being in jest. Fun. Funny. Entirely couched in humor, intended to be taken as such, and returned in the same vein.

And Ms. Birnbach is *very* funny, immediately grasping the enormity of a “Princess tragedies” on the level of a metallic Top-Sider. This was helpful, allowing us to feel safe bringing up the next crisis.

TP: Since we’ve dealt with the shoe, can we talk about the skull? Did you see the CBS Early Show Monday morning, that segment on hypothetical Preppy Fashion? They said ‘The new preppy icon is the skull.” What is up with that?!” (Insert a full blast of righteous indignation to achieve the proper sense of total outrage.)

LB: “The skull? No, no, no.  Just no.  The skull of course, is rugby.  And rugby and preps do go back. It’s the Jolly Roger pirate, it’s everywhere, Smathers and Branson have the pirate, all sorts of things have the pirate, the Jolly Roger is everywhere. But it isn’t the new preppy icon.”

Phew. Another close one.

For a sense of that CBS story, here is one line:

“After lying low in the nineties, preppy has once again reinvented itself, this time led by pop stars and gossip girls.”

Indeed.

During the interview we had a splendid talk about the breadth of choices available these days when looking at clothing and accessories, from relative newcomers like Smathers and Branson or Tucker Blair for needlepoint goodies, or Vineyard Vines, to old standbys like Brooks Brothers and Lilly Pulitzer.  The number of bright, gifted entrepreneurs now making things appealing to preps of all ages continues to grow.

The writer shared a story about her own preppy look from years ago when she had one of her very first jobs in the business, this one at the oh-so-liberal (the horror) Village Voice newspaper.  As might be expected, the style was très casual, everyone dressed down. Way, way down. What was a prep to do? Ms. Birnbach went wild, and purchased a Lacoste polo shirt. In black.

No one will be surprised to learn we had fun talking about the Anti-Prep Wall of Shame, we sensed unspoken approval of our existing members. For the uninitiated, this select group includes both humans (think Paris Hilton), as well as other entities (Abercrombie & Fitch) displaying gross negligence to standards of good taste, good manners, or basic decency .  The conversation moved on to the sorry state of what passes for “celebrity” these days.

“Doesn’t anybody miss the day when you actually had to accomplish something to be a celebrity? What is it that says being on a reality tv show makes someone a celebrity or authority on life?”

Amen.

We talked about the challenge of writing True Prep. It was not easy, the enormity of following an iconic book like The Original Preppy Handbook was more than daunting.

“It is scary to come out with this book, it really is.  The writing part itself, the sitting down and typing the words actually wasn’t the difficult part… it was the going through the day, trying to look at every single thing that could have changed in the last thirty years…that part was hard. I hope people have fun with it, I hope they enjoy it, I always worry.

We also chatted about what I perceive as the challenge of the upcoming book tour and other public appearances, almost everyone approaching with a “Why didn’t you include _____________________ in the chapter on preppy colleges?” Or, “I cannot believe you think that _______________ is preppy.”  Miss Birnbach explained that she is not saying absolutely, unequivocally, that a certain school, or community, or club, or sport, or item of clothing, or anything else is the “one and only.” Nor that it should be. And she also said she learns an awful lot when from questions and comments, she very much sees the process as a learning experience.

Again, we stress the fun factor, using the following as a brief example of the writing style:

On thrift:
Do keep repairing old appliances to try to extend their lives. Don’t store them on your front porch or driveway.”

It is very much like the witty irreverence found in TOPH back in 1980.

As far as we’re concerned herein lies the crux of the interview, as well as the new book, the old book, and the entire topic: this is not meant to be taken seriously now, nor was it ever intended to be.  A simple look at the book’s classification makes things clear.

humor, n.

  1. The quality that makes something laughable or amusing; funniness: could not see the humor of the situation.
  2. That which is intended to induce laughter or amusement: a writer skilled at crafting humor.

Both True Prep and its predecessor, TOPH (The Original Preppy Handbook) are meant to be humorous, one need look no further than the chapter and section titles: “Rehab: The New Boarding School,” “What Happened to Mummy’s Face?” and “Truly, Madly, Deeply Preppy: The Second Wedding.”

We didn’t have enough time to cover a few of our most whined-about issues favorite topics, like the documented increase in diagnosed cases of Logophobia, or the deplorable loss of civility accompanying all this new technology (need we even say the c— p—- words), nor were we able to get a verdict on things like Spanx, or an even bigger issue: the Snuggie. (What do you think of one for… oh, let’s say Groton, or perhaps Spence?)

In wrapping up the conversation Ms. Birnbach mentioned the possibility of another gabfest at some point in the future, something we would enjoy enormously. She is much more than fun, and bright, and sophisticated, she is simply a delight to spend time with.

Perhaps the best way to understand Ms. Birnbach is through her simple post last night on the True Prep Facebook page, an example of very few words saying quite a bit.

“I hope all of you enjoy the book. I’m under a lot of pressure to make you happy. I’m a giver, but I’m only one slightly used preppy woman. Hoping you all have a great DAY ONE. xLisa

One quick note before leaving, if there are questions you might have for Lisa, do leave them in a comment; we’ll gather them up in a bit and put them aside for a future (cross your fingers) conversation with Ms. Birnbach in the next few months.  Again, our thanks to Lisa Birnbach, and also to Sara at Random House, they made things fun.

Until next time, g’bye!

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Filed under Lilly Pulitzer Paper & Gifts, Logos, preppy, Preppy clothing & brands, Preppy Fashion, preppy lifestyle, The AntiPrep, True Prep & TOPH