Tuesday, April 6, 2010

This is a link to the review of the new Preppy Handbook that is coming out very soon.  It all began with Lisa Birnbach.  What great fun she had writing that book and what a hoot is was for all for us when we saw ourselves in there!

We live in Connecticut, so I see it and live it everyday.  As I see it, there are many varieties of the prep life!  Many.  The prep life seems to play out in many worlds, in many styles in all of the places where I have lived....and growing up, I may have had the greatest of all!  Same for Biff.

As I see it, we lived it.  We lived it everyday and we didn't even know it.  Our parents didn't have to work at it.  They didn't have to try to achieve it by looking it up in the preppy handbook or climbing the ladder to reach someone's perception of what the life was.  They just were and that was that.

Our parents didn't select our lifestyle...they just moved along to the right place for them...where they knew to be.  To convert an overused expression, "it was what it was"...and that's that.  They may have gone to boarding schools or had the opportunity to go to boarding schools but that's not what made them who they were.  They knew what they new.

I suppose in life, there will always be "posers", a term I've just learned in the last few months.  There will always be people "who are striving", as my mom used to say.  It seems the folks who live a certain lifestyle are always clear on the "posers" and those who "are striving" or my words, they're simply trying too hard!

They're easy to spot...like members of a club know their own, the ones who work at it stick out like a sore thumb....or they're screaming to be noticed as the ultimate whatever. Prep, Old Money, even Goth, as the kids tell us.  We have them of colors, creed in every size shape and neighborhood.  Everywhere.  Usually, not blog related, they're followers. Even in the "hood" as we used to say.  Our kids laugh, they say "gangsta".  Whatever...whoever...they're all out there!

We see some who can only wear designer labels....as my mom used to say,"they're throwing up labels...." even if it was Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci and Calvin Klein!  How right that woman was....the old school New England Yankee that she was!

Why?  Everybody wants to belong.  Especially when they have no clear cut answer to belonging.  Hence, working at it...there were probably cavemen who worked at having the ultimate deerskin........whatever...maybe the cave location was their thing.  "It is was it is and it was what it was!"

So, here we are in Connecticut....surrounded by preps who just are.... don't even know it....don't work at it...don't even wear
Lilly Pulitzer.
We have the old school professorial types who have been educated in the best schools and follow on to teach at the best schools....of course the best schools are prep.  They have lived and educated life. Education began with those who had...those who could afford the best and to those who desired the education to better themselves and their children.

It's not always about the money. Many have had and lost, recovered or not....it's simply what they know.  It doesn't matter to them...for climbing or social status....it's all they know even if in degrees.  It's real not found.

We just spent the weekend with family. We were down visiting and thought it would be fun to show the kids where we used to live and all of the people who they've heard me talk about...or at least where they lived....if they haven't moved.  It was a  charmed life in many ways.  That's another story.

We lived on the North Shore of Long Island, The Gold Coast.  We were blessed to live a very nice life.  We were surrounded by other families  of similar "worlds" with similar values.  It's no wonder.

Family was a priority.  Schools were a priority.  Church was a priority.  Beach was a priority. The Preppy Handbook was not a priority but we lived it....from the station wagon

to the country club to the beach house and the beach club

....the traditional clothing of quality and all natural fibers....the cocktail parties hosted by friends of the family...the train station...the colleges our brothers and sisters attended....our homes well decorated and barbeques....penny loafers, docksiders

and madras...sand in our shoes....chesterfield coats and so much more.

My dapper dad wore a handsome Derby and a straw Boater from Memorial Day to Labor Day with a replacement in the middle of summer due to newspaper print along the way. It's just the way it was.  Life was good despite the lack of books and blogs to call the shots.

Biff had much of the same. As noted yesterday, as we watched the Easter Old Fashioned Car Parade, we even had the same station wagon.  Biff lived further up in the country...with a family who lived a parallel life of goodness with trips to the Adirondacks and Historical Landmarks.....lots of family gatherings and fun. He was at boarding school while I was in private local schools.

Old School families with plain old fashioned values.  Biff's family greeted the Mayflower while mine arrived at Ellis Island or popped in  by way of Boston rather than Plymouth Rock. I guess if my family came from Ireland and chose to be "posers" or worked too hard at being dressed like the pilgrims, it might have been the same as a phony baloney prep!

We both grew up living lives of simplicity yet abundance and no one to guide us or comment in a handbook.  It was unspoken.  To speak of it would be "rude, crude and socially unacceptable", as some I know would say.

Over the weekend, the "prep" clothing was everywhere and certainly much of the same, but the people were new.  The people were not the same homogeneous ones we knew once upon a time.  New people have replaced the Old Guard just as many condos have replaced old estates....of
the Whitney's http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhasset,_New_York,
the Grace's  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhasset,_New_York,
 or the Payne's.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_Whitney_Payson
Much of the old has been replaced with the new and more of it.  Conspicuous consumption is what seems to be prevalent these days.....and then some of the classics remain.  They were evident by there demeanor.  There may be still be wealth and their may still be prep but much of it has been acquired only in presentation....thanks to Ralph Lipshitz (Ralph Lauren)
http://www.ralphlauren.com/frontdoor/index.jsp and Martha Kostyra (Martha Stewart)
and Brooks Brothers expansion across America
and Tiffany and Company's accessibility in Malls throughout the world
or J.Crewhttp://www.jcrew.com/AST/Browse/WomenBrowse/Women_Feature_Assortment/jcrewcollection.js
What happened to
Best and Company Children's Clothing?
...really what happened to the way children used to dress?  that's another topic.....life goes on...change is good for us all.....
 What happened to BonwitTeller?

Much of the "preppy lifestyle" has been created....we see the look....we know the look... which is just fine. It's not the right dog or the right car or the right vacation spot. It can't be defined so clearly. To a discerning eye, it is very clear who are the old school "preppies." That word tickles Biff and I...we laugh when we see stores or hair salons named," A Touch of Class because they always seem to state the obvious....they have none.

Visiting "home", it still is a wonderful place....to educate...to live....to beach...to sail and more.  Most people are still very nice.  They don't know.  It's like our little secret.  It's the secret of the old school...the way life was...the families....the life...the connection of the good life as it used to be...before the Preppy Handbook.

The families who have lived to see the next generation and the next generation live in the place that had an understated life of abundance...sensible with Puritan beliefs for some....quiet money was key...still is....sshhhhhhh. 

It's not about the haves and the have nots....it's not about what one wears to validate their "preppiness"...it can't be acquired. It is or it isn't. It's there or it's not.  Quiet. Shhhhhhhh. It's not what you have....it's not necessarily where you have it.  It just is.

So, there we stood, in a wonderful place to have a childhood, a family, a community, a place of many friends....our kids said it was like a Disney movie town.  It was better. It was. And I saw the old faces...and I visited the old friends who we knew all of our lives.....they welcomed us "home"....and into their "preppy" houses, with "preppy" drapes and shoes and cars and kitchens and photos and families...and we didn't care what polo player or Golden Fleece adorned their polo shirt,
button down or sweater.  We were just delighted to be welcomed by someone who knew....someone who knew us....and our families...and our lives....they have always loved us...then and now. It was nice to be welcomed and not judged....and the cashmere hug was wonderful and familiar.

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