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.

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