Sunday, October 9, 2011

PREPPY: Cultivating Ivy Style

I long felt, before the blogoshpere revealed to me a few other sartorial history nuts,  that Alan Flusser was the only guy I could really talk to about a rather superficial subject that I'd somehow made erudite. Mighty-Mighty-Erudite. Surely you remember the Earf Wind and Fire song. And I've got a ton of books and periodicals over here in my shack. I'm perpetually curious about subjects sartorial and always eagerly assess new offerings on the subject. Where I would probably draw the line regarding additions to my sartorial library is technical manuals.
I desire not, any tome that takes me through from a training perspective, the husbandry of fabric bolts from pattern guided cutting to the union of sleevehead and sleeve. Said union being probably the most important step in clothing gestation. That, and as Thomas Mahon shared with me...."getting that collar to hug nicely around ones shoulders and neck." What I know about the technical aspects of clothing has been fun to learn but I'd rather get such information through folk wisdom, verbally transferred here and there from a master, usually adorned with a tape measure around his well as a quip or two from a blog. And speaking of technical and structural insights, I believe that Will Boehlke over at A Suitable Wardrobe conveys clearer than anyone, technical information that's prudent and interesting to know regarding sartorial construct. 
Ok, but back to sartorial tomes that interest me. I have a reference library that probably equals or bests most. I love some of the more erudite members of the ADG bookshelf including all of Flusser's well written volumes as well as in my opinion, the Flusser runner-up, Bernhard Roetzel. But in addition to erudition, I like picture books. Nothing's more fun than grabbing a less robust volume of visual goodies and having a ten minute gander between whatevers. So my sartorial shelf has a dose or two of more visually inclined sorbets to balance the robust and chewy volumes of information rich resources.
Unfortunately, PREPPY: Cultivating Ivy Style fails on all fronts. The first person to offer me twenty bucks plus  a fin for shipping can have my copy. (That's $25.00 total... for you South Carolinians) Keep in mind that I enjoy picture books and thus assessed this one through both the lens of weighty, scholarly sartorial history contribution as well as through the loose sieve of just a lovely and fun book of pictures. Either way, this book falls short.
First, there's no new information nor is there a twist or two on the well known facts. Kind of like a new biography on Churchill or Robert E. Lee...the proverbial freaking topic has been done. And done. And done. However, there's always a new nugget or two to uncover that makes the narrative compelling enough right? I'd say so. But you won't find it here. Additionally, it's fraught with editorial oops. I thought for a moment that I was reading a pre-pub galley proof and then later concluded that the publisher was in a rush to get this thing to market. That "lived in preppy/trad threadbare look" ... you know...a key element of the preppy oeuvre...was obviously overlooked in the photo above. Take the freakin' rubber bands off of ALL the tassels when you transfer them--spanking ass new from the shoe box to the model. Surely this Hilfiger print shot didn't make it to press so why did it make this book? ("oeuvre"...the entire body of work...the aggregate expression...for you South Carolinians)
"So it fails the reiterated in a cool/interesting way information/erudition test." Big deal ADG; it might still prevail as a great picture book...a bolus dose of eye candy that's always fun to gander. Nope. Sorry again. If you removed all of the Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and other brand ad campaign material from this book, it would probably reduce the overall page count by half. So where's the crime in that? There is none and if this book had launched prior to the explosion of style/trad/prep fashion blogs, there might be a hint of value then found. But we've all seen these pictures before.
Opposite Top and Opposite Bottom. Hilfiger and the Tenenbaums. 
If my Attention Deficit Adderal long-worn-off ass caught this one, surely a copy editor would. An arguably subtle mistake? Sure. And the liner notes inspire nothing. Bottom line from a picture-visual interest perspective, this book is a slapdash rehash. Two sources might represent most of the photos...Ralph ads from the eighties and the ever so entertaining Life Magazine photo archives.
Ok, ok...there were a few photos that I'd never seen before...maybe six. Including this double breast pocketed Polo fella. Big whoop.
Oh, and one of Bill Buckley in Camden South Carolina, before he abandoned horse and hound for the snap of canvas sails catching a gust amidst the ocean's spray upon his shaker knit sweater and Nantucket Reds. 

If you haven't ordered it...don't. Wait three months and then snag a copy over at Alibris for twenty bucks.

Onward. ADG II


Anonymous said...

I'll save myself the money on this one and not buy it for my KA better half for Christmas. The rubber band did it for me.


Laguna Beach Fogey said...

Thanks for the heads-up, ol' chum. But I'm concerned about the number of Style books on your shelves, which implies you had to study and didn't come by it naturally.

Main Line Sportsman said...

Willy F. has no helmet?? That may explain a few things.

Anonymous said...

The problem with the Royal Pain in the Arses is that they had a preppy conceit, but very few preppy clothes. The Indian Guy's pink trou and Danny Glover's bow ties. Luke Wilson's Camel hair might have worked if he wore the jackets with something other than camel hair trousers... And I guess Gwyneth's large econo Kelly bag, maybe.

I believe the RTs were based more on FROM THE MIXED UP FILES OF MRS BASIL E FRANKWEILER, but who's counting?

certainly not
another ignorant South Carolinian

(Speaking of camel hair...)

Mama made a sweater from the hair of a goat
Get up on the stage in your camel hair coat
Gonna play the guitar, gonna play the resonator
Gonna sing a song about John the revelator

Talkin to the people bout judgement day
get up on the steamroller, smooth out the way
Livin in the wildlife, eatin bugs and honey
Standin in the river, don't need no money

Liked to wear a girdle didn't have no pants
Before he was born he was wavin to his aunts
Talkin to the dancin girl, asked her for a date
She took him to a party with his head on a plate

Who's that John, Who's that John?
A voice in the wilderness, who's that, John?

Anonymous said...

Hilarious pick-up regarding the rubber band on the tassel. I'd venture however that a detail like that would not have escaped RL.

If you wait a little longer, you can pick up a book like this for less than the shipping and handling from one of the independent sellers on B & N.

I love the Rizzoli bookshop on 57th Street in NY, but keep in mind that books that are pretty, above all else, are just one step away from magazines that smell nice.

ilovelimegreen said...

Dare I ask why "Living with Dogs" is on one of your bookshelves?

Scale Worm said...

The Tenenbaum rip off I nailed the first time I saw the ads (my Fav. movie by Mr. Anderson). I love books, used to collect them like mad (now only signed first editions, and occasionally some Taschen art-house or older yum yum yummy books...
Sadly I have no time with the house under rebuild mode, but I see the light... I figure in two weeks I shall be spinning PVC by a well insulated wall of floor to ceiling (new) windows, on a (hopefully) rosewood original Eames lounge chair... (hope hope hope), after a lovely HOME COOKED meal in our spanking new all pro kitchen... I cannot wait. I love books, and appreciate your eye for quality in them. Nice to be reading your words of wisdom again. Cheers!

SFBayArea said...

I have "At Home With Books". Such a precious trove of book pornography. I used to covet Michele Oka Doner's black shelves and the fact that she actually found a way to keep old Nat. Geos! Sigh. But what I really love is the page after page of evidence that it is ok to stack books all over the floor. I also gained new respect for Keith Richards from that book. Consider this comment is coming from a woman who has to fix every morning at (that and for the laugh) just for that reason-to-get-out-of-bed thing.I guess I'd rather have books than clothes. Sorry. No offense intended.

Corinne and Brad Evans said...

Love the blog...wish you didn't stop. I've got a question about your blog and would like to email you. My blog is Just wrote about a polo match I tool my little daughter to. Please check it out and if you feel comfortable, I would like to email you. Thanks, Brad.

Giuseppe said...

This book may be the blaring klaxon horn annoucing the current Preppy trends proverbial jump over the shark.

Which is fine by me, now I can go back to being an unfashionable wierdo.

Anonymous said...

Where's the horsey set that usually checks in with you? - not a helmet but a riding hat. And let's face it - Mr. Buckley was not going to fall from his mount.

NCJack said...

Looks like a typical "straight-to-remainder" special: get all the out of copyright stuff you can and call it "The Classic Whatsis"

Ian Gilmoure said...

Great Post! I had a quick question, I was in your neck of the woods yesterday for a workshop, and was wondering if you could recommend a few watering holes in Old Town? Thanks in advance for your assistance.

Bob said...

Regarding the double breast pocketed sportcoat, William Holden wore one in the 1950 film noir "Sunset Boulevard". Can't come up with any reference for the wardrobe of that production. Edith Head did the costumes.

OTC said...

While I have yet to receive my copy from the publisher and asses it's literary and sartorial value, would it make a difference if I told you that one of my best posts is quoted (& cited) in the introduction?

C'mon, that's got to count for something!

BTW, I'm now working in Old Town, so let me know if you ever have time for a drink.

ADG said...

OTC...sorry. That counts for nadda.

I'm just now going to lunch. Late due to my Cleverley appointment. So ltts meet up right now

Anonymous said...

ADG, you've nailed it my good man. This book, and a lot of the "trad" crap that's coming out is just that: C R A P

PS Mr Main Line: let's get something clear... Bill Buckley was an intellectual GIANT. With or without a riding helmet.