Thursday, April 8, 2010

with three sleeves, it's hard to bend your arms

The New York Times revealed that Lisa Birnbach and Chip Kidd are working on a follow-up to The Official Preppy Handbook, the classic 1980 dissection of preppy culture.


I'm not sure how I feel about the follow-up, but I love the original for many reasons. 
#1 It goes into minute detail. 
#2 It has a lot of drawings. 

#3 It's got some hilarious bits, little things inserted in the diagrams that make me crack up, like "with three sleeves, it's hard to bend your arms" (see illustration above).

Another reason I love this book is because I grew up in Connecticut, so flipping through its pages brings on waves of nostalgia.  If you drive just one town over from where I grew up, you will probably find this couple within 15 minutes:

The women's accessories section reminds me of rummaging through my mom's closet, hoping to find flashy stuff so I could dress up like Madonna, but instead finding 25% of the items pictured here:

basket bag? yes
cloth bag with wooden handle? yes
headband with bow? check
circle pin? i believe so
grosgrain ribbon belt or watch band? yes

My boyfriend, Ben, is from Cleveland. I showed him some drawings from the book, and he said, "What? We didn't have people that look like this." 

I've always liked the way European actresses wore preppy basics.
 Anna Karina in a plaid kilt; Jane Birkin carrying a basket as a purse.
The kilt and basket seem like practical, breezy choices, rather than elements of a strict sartorial code they subscribed to.

I could write so much more about preppy style (and I did, but then I went back and edited it out)...but instead I'll just leave you with this helpful guide to men's shoes. 

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