I’ve been thinking about the modifier “extreme:” Extreme Sports, Extreme Skiing, and Extreme Weather. We get it. It’s this year’s version of “________ (something) on acid.”
Today Meredith Hoffman wrote in the New York Times about a directing class at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts that is being taught by “Mr. Franco.” Yes, James Franco, who ”is already an extreme scholar — he has a B.F.A. in English from the University of California, Los Angeles; M.F.A.’s in writing from Columbia University and Brooklyn College; and an M.F.A. in film from Tisch, and he is working on other degrees.”
A few questions: If Mr. Franco were really an extreme scholar, wouldn’t he also be studying applied math, German, Middle Eastern History and Culture, and neuroscience? Or shouldn’t he at least go further afield in his studies? Why get 2 M.F.A.’s in writing? Is this a joke or a true hunger for knowledge?
Further: Being in school forever is a prep occupation. (See True Prep p.126 — “Getting Your Degree in Getting Your Degree.”) But wanting to pile up degree after degree? Not so much. That sounds downright ambitious, which is not specifically a prep attribute, unless it involves your score in the regatta or tournament.
But I can well imagine an extreme preppy. Of course, to be a true extreme preppy, you cannot let your efforts show. (And, though I don’t really need to spell this out — if you see me at an event, and I am wearing, say, beige and navy, or grey with white and yellow and you are disappointed, you shouldn’t be. When I wear grey [note prep spelling] and white and yellow it is preppy.) Extremely.
Hello I am A huge fan of your books. One question I would to know would be what kind of fragrances to preppies like? do they like scents like dolce and gabanna or something like channel?
Thanks. Preppies like citrusy scents. Maybe we just want to smell like the lime in our drinks. A classic men’s eau de cologne is Au Sauvage by Christian Dior. (I’ve worn it and I’m biologically female.) Preppy women would rather smell clean than feminine. Ergo: Chanel 19, Annick Goutal’s Eau Hadrien, Clarins Eau Dynamisante, and several Hermes fragrances.
PART 2 She has been approving wardrobe and having long discussions with the 90's-born staff about what people wore during that time. She referenced TPH and their eyes lit up. They had never heard of this magical book. Wendy explained how TPH brought classic clothes to the public consciousness and they were FASCINATED. She showed scans of the book online. The next day, the wardrobe manager proudly brought out an actor for Wendy's approval -- dressed head to toe in pink and green.
PART 1 Lisa -My wife, Wendy, and I met you at the Brooks Brothers Beverly Hills launch event last year and told you the story of The Preppy Handbook being the basis of our love affair. I thought you'd find this story fun...Wendy is a television executive. She is currently working in Moscow, Russia on the development of a new Dawson's Creek-type series called "Eighties", set in Russia in the early 1980's.
Of course I remember you both. Maybe Wendy should help me bring preppies to Russia. I bet they’d like our layers.
Lisa - I own a pair of Dr. Marten’s shoes (chocolate brown, matte leather bluchers with the traditional Doc Marten’s sole) which I wear with khakis or jeans for casual occasions during the late fall and winter. I found them quite useful when visiting New York during the slushy aftermath of Snowmageddon. They’re practical and on the cusp of conservative (for that brand). Are there certain circumstances wherein some styles of Doc Martens could be considered "classic" or even just "acceptable?"
I just studied the Dr. Martens’ website (yes, I know; I’m a giver). I had no idea he made loafers. Or bucks. Or bluchers. Or saddle shoes. Or other shoes that are not as ugly or grungey as the bumpy-toed boots we associate with Seattle in the 90s.
I’m not going so far as calling them “classic,” but I’ll give you “acceptable.” Also, they are reasonably priced. Are they real leather? Are they comfortable?
I have other questions for you, YH: How many pairs of shoes do you own? How many do you wear regularly?
Hi Lisa! I loved reading True Prep! I was just wondering what you thought of the UGG boot trend. Do you think they've been popular enough to be seen as "classics"? -Patti
It was bound to happen. Glad it was you, Patti, who posed the important UGG question here. I really thought, when we first saw photographs of starlets in their miniskirts, fake tans, and UGG boots frolicking on the sands of Malibu or leaving Starbucks in their leggings, camisoles, and UGGs that we were witnessing one of those isolated trends that wouldn’t survive a trip to the East Coast. How wrong was I?
UGGs became so prevalent that the headmistress of my daughters’ school actually sent a letter to the parents signaling her disapproval of the expensive and ugly boots, ultimately forbidding them as part of schoolware. They caused too much envy and longing.
Last January, while scoping out preps at European university campuses, I saw almost as many UGGs as I saw cigarette smokers, Barbour jackets, Moncler jackets, Ray-Ban sunglasses, and Tod’s loafers. In other words, a motherlode of UGGs.
UGGs have been in the United States since about 2003, but it wasn’t until Oprah declared her love for the boots in 2005 that they have become ubiquitous. SO, Patti — at long last your answer. They are almost old enough to be seen as “classics,” but they fail the classics test: they are trendy, they are worn publicly by people who didn’t go to college (i.e., Hilton, Spelling, Hudson, et al), and they are not timeless. They look silly on adults. They would look preposterous with wide-wale cords and a well-cut blazer. Can you picture Uggs with a nicely worn-in barn jacket and old khakis? No — Maine hunting boots or Wellies will do — no matter your age or your sex. Even Dansko clogs work better than Uggs.
Hi Lisa, I wanted to know your stance on the Olsen twins' $35,000 purse. Do you like and do you think they've earned the right to produce such a product without seniority?
What an interesting question. For those who don’t know, the Olsen twins designed a backpack that looks pretty simple, but is made from fine matte crocodile skins, and costs $35,000. I cannot imagine who would buy it — girlfriends of Russian oligarchs? The design is fine, and the idea of a backpack in a luxurious fabrication is fine too — but you can buy a house for $35,000. How do you justify the price for a purse?????
Hi! Is "True Prep" available in Portugal? I've been looking everywhere for it but I just can't seem to find it... -Kate
Oh Kate, I know! I’m sorry. It’s probably easier to order a copy of True Prep on Amazon, but I will investigate whether it’s available in an English language bookstore in Portugal. I’ll let you know if I find one.
First, forgive me for being so derelict in my promise to post this little blogette to you last week. Between the rain, the tennis, the start of the school year, the security alert, Fashion Week, and a (very) long line at Staples, the time just disappeared.
Indian Summer (we’re not calling it “Native American Summer” yet, are we?) is a beautiful time of the year, but also a difficult time for dressing. It’s breezy one day, and then hot and balmy the following day, then pours and is frigid for the next two — what’s a preppy to do?
May I suggest seersucker? I’ve seen the future of early fall, and it is black and navy seersucker. It’s available at our own resources (L.L. Bean Signature, Brooks Brothers,) as well as in department stores with trendier designers (Band of Outsiders, Rag & Bone). I have a perfect navy blue seersucker dress from Tommy Hilfiger that even works under a shawl or a jacket for cooler nights. You will always looks crisp in seersucker.
Linen won’t keep crisp but it is a lightweight fabric that is always available in a darker, more autumnal range of colors. I’ve owned linen garments that were labelled “Guaranteed to wrinkle.” That is for sure. You may still wear your navy linen blazer throughout the fall, and if you live in the warmer parts of the United States (particularly the areas that are not on fire) a navy blazer is your go-to year round staple.
Khaki pants work year round. In the winter, though, it’s advisable to own them in a tropical wool. They hold their shape, drape more luxuriously, and look like you put a tiny bit of thought (let’s not get carried away) into your outfit.
I started to write about the warmer layers that we will start piling on, and then thought better of it. Plenty of time for that later.
Hi! Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your book, True Prep. I am a proud New Englander who attends prep school in MA, summers on ACK and Cape Cod, and who has grown up wearing L.L Bean duck boots in the cold New England winters. We have a '92 Volvo we leave at our house on the Cape but since my car is being serviced I brought the old Volvo home with me and have been receiving so much flack from my friends! Should I be embarrassed by this car? I thought vintage was in! - Blaney
What’s with your friends? A ‘92 Volvo is a thing of sturdy beauty. Old cars are preppier than new cars. The fact that there’s probably sand in it, and salt on it, and an ancient can of useless tennis balls stuck under the back seat just confirms its very preppiness. Forget the car that’s being serviced. This one sounds perfect.
I am hoping that Ben and Mrs. Ben (see previous message) have fun in the blogosphere. I still don’t know what I’m doing here, but preppies and technology have never been a good combo: we leave our thingies everywhere, misplace the USB cord (does it stand for the University of California at Santa Barbara?), and forget how to tape the tv shows we like.
We drunk text, we mistweet, and so on. It’s not pretty or preppy.
Alors. C’est la guerre.
Exhibit A has returned to school. Exhibits B and C start back on Friday. It has been a different kind of summer, but the world is feeling different in many ways. Today my bff downloaded two novels I recommended to her while on our 2 minute phonecall. I read that paperbacks are on the decline (front page of today’s New York Times), but in the jump the article clarifies that trade paperbacks are still selling. True Prep will be out in trade paperback in November. (And Chip designed an even more attractive cover for the paperback than he did for the hardcover.)
Mass market books have given way to e-books, but I somehow think anyone reading my blog isn’t reading romances or other pulpy fiction. (Not judging; just saying.)
How will people read in the future? What about you? How do you read?
Go outside. Bring a book. Or bring a “book” if you read that instead. Eat a nectarine.
Ms. Birnbach, Have you ever... But seriously, my wife just started a fashion blog in which all things prep are a constituent part. Any words of wisdom? - Ben
I haven’t…. at least knowingly. But seriously, I am just learning how to blog myself, (as if that weren’t abundantly clear). I don’t know much about blogging and I don’t know who reads blogs. Maybe you and your wife can give me wisdom about that.