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 neck...as 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