Tuesday, September 14, 2010

True Prep and the Needlepoint Belt

Having placed my pre-order for True Prep months ago, it was with increasing apprehension that I awaited its arrival. Would I love it?  Would I hate it?  Would it come anywhere near to living up to its predecessor?  

I assumed that my favorite preppy blogs would be awash with reviews of True Prep soon after its release.  The silence is deafening.  My own mixed feelings have kept me from posting for days, but here goes!  My review will be delivered in several posts as the whim strikes.

It has been thirty years since TOPH was first published, yet it still gives readers a sense of the timelessness that is the true hallmark of preppiness.  There is so much in TOPH that remains relevant after thirty years.  A twelve-year-old could pick up an old copy and make sense of it despite the lack of coverage of the internet, Facebook, and texting.  Sadly, True Prep is already dated, but so are the clothes that you bought at Tory Burch last year. 

Lisa Birnbach knows her stuff, but I get the sense that True Prep was written, not for those of us who remember the Reagan administration, but for those who were born after 1980.  Perhaps the preppies of newer vintage will feel that this new version speaks to them (or for them).  I would love to hear from the under-thirty crowd on this point.

What gets under my skin in this new version is the focus on buying prep style instead of living preppy.  As I will say many times, pink and green does not the preppy make!  Case in point, an authentic preppy knows better than to buy a needlepoint belt (TP page 105), for goodness sakes!  Stitched in China?  My word!  Any authentic preppy knows that you shouldn’t don a needlepoint belt unless you can tell admirers exactly which family member stitched it for you and upon which life event it was presented.  (This rule applies to all needlepoint items, fictitious relatives permitted!)

I don’t want for my readers to think that I am not recommending buying True Prep.  You will certainly need a copy of both books to receive your diploma from The Prep Pantheon.  I just wonder if anyone else feels the same longing for those simpler days of the 1980’s when you actually mailed letters to your friends at prep school and stood in line in the dorm hallway to use the payphone?


  1. I have read part of True Prep. I'm still not sure what I think. I have read TOPH several times. It is more about the lifestyle. Believe it or not, I still dress like that. I was hoping that True Prep would steer me to the places that replaced Carroll Reed and other preppy emporiums. I may or may not post my opinions on my blog.

  2. I would have to give True Prep a lukeworm reception. More nouveau prep than true. My biggest complaint is the emphasis on the "must have" items- rather than items that have withstood the test of time.

  3. A comment on the needlepoint belt thing having just priced it out - 1) Custom Design $150, 2) Yarn $50 3) Stitching $0 if you do it yourself or convince your mother to do it for you OR $150 stitching service 4) Finishing (leather backing, buckle) $100 - $150....that my friends is upwards of $500 on the high end. Then pray that it fits right. I applaud the ready-made marketers. Some really look great and are well made. $165 and DONE!

  4. re: the newer vintage set, I was born after 1980 and True Prep does NOT speak to me or for me. TOPH required no update or sequel - because of that, I think that any attempt at such was destined to fall short of expectations.