Prep School is Back
Classic Apparel, Manners & Color Warmth
"Preppy clothes are built to last, since they certainly will not go out of style." Lisa Birnbach
The Official Preppy Handbook, in 1980, edited by Lisa Birnbach, made Bunny and Bif waves across college campuses and became the epicenter of the preppy movement. (If you have a copy, you are in luck. It is a difficult book to find.) Everyone was quoting from this Muffy, Buffy brilliantly sassy "Let's cruise," reference guide, all the while adorning duck shoes for rain puddles and transforming into a preppy student sporting classic and subdued attire. I remember my book well, which I still have, enjoying the witty writing and humorous declarations as I walked to and from class in my red duck shoes.
The book outlined manners, what to wear, appropriate preppy names and how to behave in public. The chapters were a satire of sorts which made the book that more entertaining. A follow up book, True Prep, It's a Whole New Old World, Lisa Birnbach, released in 2010, again reinforced the classic and timeless desire in fashion, zany lifestyle combined with impeccable manners. Of course, both books are filled with preppy vibes, entwined with a smidge of flippancy and humor though offering advice on the signs of times.
Today, in 2021, forty years later since original publication, the "preppy mantra" is back. Think duck shoes, Hunter boots, Downton Abby house interiors, books, dogs, and old-fashioned names for babies such as Missy, Bunny, Trip and Bink, combined with plaids, tartans, trench coats plus simplicity in apparel are in vogue. Out is flash, glitz in apparel and austere homes with white walls and an endless sea of grey with hard edges.
Why? Perchance being at home during the Covid 19 pandemic has started a resurgence of loving what you own and seeking out an environment that is warm, color infused and inviting. The younger generations are having children in smaller homes with cozy atmospheres a bit of chaos rather than wallowing in caverns of icy and grey hues. They want color.
I keep thinking of the show Downton Abbey with the rich hues inside the house, designated cocktail hour, books on tables, games played while wearing subdued apparel. Apparel that has been worn for years and highlights you rather than the other way around. Every publication is touting, "preppy" fashion with longevity and timeless appeal. Manners are back. Minimalism is back. Having grace and empathy is making an grateful entrance.
As for fashion, quality is everything. Quality means, well made, timeless fabrics with minimal logos if at all. A friend of mine said recently, "If I purchase something, I question whether I will wear these items ten years from now before I buy?" Thus, people are being more reflective with their purchases. Think of our grandparents who bought quality furniture that was used throughout their lifetime while living in the same home. Another friend, getting ready to sell her vacation place, fully furnished exclaimed she will keep her dads tables made of solid teak. With everything plastic and throw away she stated, "You just cannot find real solid wood anywhere!" The previous generations invested in quality, built family traditions and instilled comfort and beauty into their homes over the years rather than starting another remodel to fit a society latest trend.
Home & Hearth
"Home is where our story begins"
Moreover, people had other values in life rather than decorating their homes repeatedly. In fact, The Wall Street Journal, ran an article about people who are constantly remodeling their homes. They suggested that something was missing in their lives and instead created diversions rather than face their own troubling issues. Moreover, remember, fashion icon and First Lady, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, who stated she didn't have time to photograph every activity in her life? Instead, she wanted to live it and not record it. Of course, social media, has spurned us all to invest in portraying our lives through rose colored lens. We all know this isn't true. Ironically those not on social media seem more settled with their choices in life.
Manners are a Gift to All
"Good manners reflect something from inside-an innate sense of consideration of others and respect for self." Emily Post
Additionally, stealth wealth, manners and a form of civility is making a strong statement at the end of this year. We are signaling what our parents taught us about keeping our private business private. Do not speak of what you own, where you vacation, money, how much you make or the cost of this or that in public. Think of old money people versus nouveau riche behavior. If you are a fan of the Housewives franchise, you will have an accurate depiction of nouveau riche. Though enjoyable to watch, we know that they can be incredibly tacky with their words and actions. It makes for terrific television but not the real world. However, those with true wealth are quiet and stately. Thus, take note, be a woman of mystery and intrigue. Be a preppy gal. Or at least try and stand out in the crowd. You will be remembered. I guarantee it.
As the day whines down, think before you purchase, think before you speak and think of others in your daily travels. Find ways to connect, be friendly and kind. A little kindness can open doors and make others feel good in this journey. Get off the treadmill of consumption and announcement, which is Bitsy and Bootsy shallow. Instead, give back, be informed, be a team player, read voraciously and lastly communicate with compassion and empathy. The Covid 19 road has been long. Find your inner preppy style and begin a new chapter of civility, empathy, leadership and kindness.