Thursday, April 29, 2010

True Prep: Sequel to the Original Preppy Handbook?

It's sort of like the attitude towards the current trends in movies. "A sequel? A reboot? WHY?!?!?!?" And the answer is, simply put, because we want it. In the back of our minds, beyond all the eye-rolling and groaning, we crave more of what we like, how else can you explain the longevity of all-you-can-eat buffets? True Prep, the new book from author Lisa Birnbach is being touted as the "sequel," or "reboot," of The Original Preppy Handbook. I look fondly on that book, which is still in my possession in all its creased paperback binded glory, as a semi-sarcastic take on a bygone lifestyle that has been taken over and watered down by an imitating pop-culture that espouses that one must only "dress the part." And there in lies the problem with the timing of the book. Its just an updated version that addresses elements of our lives that did not exist in the 80s when its predecessor was published: blackberries, reality television, and the enormous crop of "prep" labels that have popped up in the last decade. If you think about it, it was probably inevitable, as many people derided hip-hops embrace of preppy fashion while paying little respect to the lifestyle. But is it necessary. Most of the questions of prepdom have been answered and those that haven't probably don't need to be. In the new century does it matter if you went to Choate Rosemary or Andover? Does it matter if you use "Summer" and "Winter" as verbs? Does it matter that Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers have so saturated the market that lesser seen brands like Vineyard Vines are more preppy simply because so few people even know where to buy them? (hint, not at any of the large retail mainstays like Macys, Bloomingdales or Dillards. Think smaller and more exclusive) I don't think this reboot will be as cherished and beloved as the original, and I certainly don't think it was necessary. I believe that the whole point of prep is that those who need to know already know it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ralph Lauren will forever be synonymous with America

Remember Polo Sport clothing? Yeah, so do I. As a matter of fact, I think I still have some shirts left with the logo on them. Nowadays, Polo Sport has been reduced to a fragrance that hardly gets the advertising of all of Ralph's others - and all that to say that Ralph turned his attention on branding not just sports, but sports of the world. He's always been on the forefront of creating iconic American images, both preppy and sporty. He gave up the "sport" moniker on shirts and replaces them with RLX, Polo Golf and Polo Tennis. He then took over the US Open, dressing the ball boys and girls in the nattiest of attires - and now he's at it again by creating the style for America's Olympians - ALL of them. Not just the models in the pic above. You'll find that on the website the triumphant and spirited designer left no detail undone by creating his new olympic line.
And it's not that he needed to do it, because Ralph Lauren has created so many different world's, from the luxury of Purple Label to the devil-may-care stylings of Rugby, it's almost as if it's an after thought. Then again, whose fault is it that Ralph has completely saturated the male fashion scene all the while achieving superstardom in women's wear, home products and now, the dress of a nation. It's probably ours. Its our fault that Ralph Lauren is America, and I suspect he'd have it no other way.

Monday, January 11, 2010

I'm Sorry, but Preppy will never die!!!

Let me be clear. As a general rule, I am usually against "trends." But I would never try to label Preppy as a trend. The truth is those who are through and through preps sit back and watch time and time again as the "mainstream" brings our style in and out of magazines and across runways. Nevermind that I still own a copy of Lisa Birnbach's "The Original Preppy Handbook," and nevermind that I have owned a navy blue blazer all of my 30 year old life, and nevermind that I know what an intarsia sweater is, what a fairisle pattern is and why layering in LL Bean, Land's End, Orvis, Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers and JPress is as normal as breathing - forget all of that. Preppy is more than the clothes. Look at Kanye West. Not a prep at ALL. He tried, he really did, and for a while he had most of America fooled. Not us. Most of the time the preppiest clothing is not labeled or monogrammed. Its not showy, nor is it always the Lily Pulitzer bright pink and green. What it always is - is effortless. A true preppy looks as natural in a bowtie and a seersucker blazer as he does in a weathered polo shirt and madras shorts. It always looks so put together, and so unprepared, like it was something thrown together on a whim - and odds are that it was because all preps have all the essentials in their closet. And because this attitude of attire is passed down from generation to generation, no matter what happens, and no matter what the trend, Preppy will never die.

New Year, Same Great Styles

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2009 was a great year for Men’s Style, mostly because a lot of older, classic elements were brought back to the forefront of our wardrobes. One can only hope that most if not all of these will endure throughout 2010. Here’s a list of my favorites.

Three Piece Suit – The Vest came back into popularity in 2008 for casual wear, and we finally decided to dress it up in 2009 with the three piece suit. Probably the most formal attire short of a tuxedo, this once executive only staple has invaded runways, red carpets and even bargain stores like Target and Kohl’s. For a great relaxed evening look pair a dark three piece suit with a crisp white button-up and no tie.

Flat Front Pants – Lets face it, the pleats weren’t fooling anyone. 2009 saw more Men optioning for clean lines and smooth silhouettes those only flat fronts could provide. Whether wool, cotton or cashmere, you can’t go wrong continuing this trend.

Skinny Ties – After Ralph Lauren turned the tie world on its head with the introduction of the wide tie in 1967, skinny ties became the exclusive domain of punk rockers and trendy artists. Not anymore. With the popularity of shows like Mad Men and White Collar, skinny ties became a force to be reckoned with in 2009 and show no signs of stopping.

Horn Rimmed Glasses – Their not just for Ray Bans or Academics! Eyewear boutiques were selling as many no prescription frames as local optometrist shops were. In classic colors like black and tortoise, 2009 made it cool to look studious.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

USA's White Collar Brings Style

USA is bringing us another one-hour serial, and this one actually seems like it may have a lot of style. I wrote an article on Examiner some months back on the style of the show "Burn Notice." Enter "White Collar", the new show featuring Matt Bomer. Bomer's previous career highlights include a stint on the cancelled "Traveler" and more recently NBC's "Chuck." While the premise of the show is a little far-fetched and heavily borrowed from the feature film "Catch Me If You Can," I will reserve judgement until I actually get to see the pilot. And while CMIYC was based on the real life exploits of Frank Abignale, Bomer's character Neal Caffery seems too cool and too good and too stylish to be true. Part of that is because the show's costume designer Stephanie Maslansky puts him in some top tier clothing. According to, Maslansky comments that she put Bomer in Thomas Pink, Paul Smith and a lot of John Varvatos. Stay tuned for specific pieces that are available off the rack here and at Examiner.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Guyliner and Manscara? Really?!?!?

WTF?!?!?!?! I cannot believe that it has come to this. Okay, maybe I'm overreacting. Maybe in my cro-magnon sensibility i am jumping to conclusions about something that may just be a passing fad that happens to be popular with a certain kind of guy. Emo? Okay I guess I understand; Rocker? Okay, well even Billy Jo of Green Day and Brett Michaels of Poison wore it. Then again so did KISS, Alice Cooper and Ozzie Osborne, but those guys were also generally considered nucking futs! I spent a lot of time ranting on why Men don't need to wear skinny jeans, and I'm almost apalled that I have to even write about why men should not wear makeup. Makeup! The quintessential woman's accessory. Jonny Depp is cool as Jack Sparrow, but when he's hamming it up on his private island or indulging fans and press at publicity junkets, he's not wearing eyeliner, or mascera. Many women already complain that men have better eyelashes than they do, so why exsacerbate the issue by clumping on makeup? Bottom line, it's just not a good idea. Ever!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ralph Lauren updates a classic

The classic Polo Ralph Lauren Ranger Boot has experienced something of a resurrection...well a renaissance really. The boot technically never went away. Originally introduced in 1994, the boot boasted Lauren's spirited preppy style with the rugged integrity of a boot. It's unique styling made it one of a kind in its own right, and although a similar boot called "Trapper" was released a year later (with a double buckle strap on the shank and no buckle strap across the foot), it could not compete with the enduring popularity of the Ranger boot. I got my first pair (pictured above in the right) while I was in high school and still occasionally have worn them over these past 14 years - and their still as stylish and as comfortable as ever.
The boot received a makeover in 1998 - the sole was thickened and the unique markers of the boot were also changed. Gone was the iconic green tongue tag with "Polo Country" on it, also the circular leather disc was changed and the text on it replaced with a singular Polo pony. One of the things I loved about the boot was that while the Polo boat shoes were emblazoned with the pony image, these were different - obviously the designer disagreed and decided to go this route, and keep it. The newly released Rangers, now available for the first time at, has the Polo pony image, and does not have the iconic green "Polo Country" tag, which makes my originals something of a classic keepsake. But the Boot has been redesigned to resemble its origianal shape and sole, and I do think that is something to be celebrated. The Polo Ralph Lauren Ranger Boot is available in Tan and Black leather, for $149.00