From Lisa Birnbach, the author of The Official Preppy Handbook —and designer Chip Kidd—comes a whole new take on the prep world that Birnbach turned into an international best-selling phenomenon thirty years ago.
True Prep is a contemporary look at how the old guard of natural-fiber-loving, dog-worshipping, G&T-soaked preppies adapt to the new order of things. Birnbach considers the prep attitude towards money (ambivalent), schools (good investment), wardrobe (now your clothes fit), work (some careers will never be prep), decorating (ask mummy), scandal (including rehab and prison), and food and drink (with some classic recipes for both). She also looks at weekends (and what to do to get asked back), entertaining, sports (including sailing and shopping), weddings, etiquette, the Internet and electronic gadgetry, political correctness, reality TV, and . . . polar fleece. And last but not least: a do-it-yourself eulogy.
With more than 200 original illustrations and photographs, True Prep promises to be a whole new, old sensation.
Did the trust fund run out? Did Mummy and Daddy cut you off? Why else would you follow up "The Preppy Handbook" with this poseur of a book called "True Prep?"
Your brilliance shone in your clever, tongue-in-cheek satire of the White Anglo Saxon Protestant (WASP) world that you wrote about in 1980. Your Jewish perspective gave you a special vantage point to view "preppies" in their element when you attended Brown. You came, you saw, you wrote famously about their nicknames, picking the right prep school, dressing the part and the country club years. The graphics and layout of TPH illustrated the world that George H.W. Bush already knew. People who did not have ancestors who came over on the Mayflower (ahem) flocked to book stores, read the book cover to cover again and again and adopted preppy nicknames for themselves. L.L. Bean and J.Crew flourished as households all over the country clamored for the preppy lifestyle.
That you followed up "The Preppy Bible" with this thrown together, no tongue-in-cheek book is, well, disappointing, dear. The layout is confusing, the fonts don't match, the topics don't flow. After a thirty year hiatus, you start by writing about Daddy's new girlfriend, hired help and gay and lesbian America. You lost me right there. Where are your manners, darling? You start from the beginning (see above: nicknames, picking the right prep school, dressing the part and the country club years), transition into discussions about the hired help and then talk about gay and lesbian America after a few martinis.
Lisa, there's still time to get back into Mummy & Daddy's good graces. When they ask about "that book" you've been writing, just tell them there's no such thing, that it's an "internet hoax." Then fix them a good Bloody, and ask about their tennis game. There's hope for you yet, dear.
With warmest regards, Bitsy Standish Your college roommate, Maid of Honor and Trusted Friend of 40 years
If I could give this book 10 stars, I would, if only because the Classy Closet, my consignment shop only a block away from my house in Evanston, is one of the two shops listed as *the* place to go for thrifted vintage prep gear in Illinois. No wonder Emmanuel, the owner of the Classy Closet, has True Prep displayed in his store. As a side note, I have run into Emmanuel at the Rich People Salvation Army twice now when I pop in there on my way home from work. He still gives me grief over me finding a wonderful vintage Kors leather and canvas handbag at the Salvation Army before he could get to it, and for the low price of $3 too.
I, um, I have quite a few prep qualities in me, come to find out. I own more than one pair of loafers, including a pair of Cole Hahns and a pair of Ferragamos. I played field hockey in prep school, in a wool kilt. I bought a house four blocks away from Lake Michigan because I can't bear to be far away from water for a long period of time. So, so, so many things, I had no idea.
While I'm not a true prep, I'm probably Prep Lite and I am delighted with this, and this book. You would be too, if you read it. You should read it! Then come visit, and I'll take you to the Classy Closet and introduce you to Emmanuel. We'll have the best time, I promise.
The Official Preppy Handbook came out in 1980 and changed my life. Everything that I think I know about appearing calm, cool and collected I learned from that book. That book explained away the apparent contradictions between possessing wealth and consuming Triscuits, and persuaded me not to throw out my grandfather's hand-me-down cashmere topcoat even when it got a little worn at the sleeves.
This book, Lisa Birnbach's reboot of the original insanely lucrative and mind-bogglingly influential franchise, lacks the sense of discovery of the first. Back then we were surprised to find out that those people really were all alike, and alike in kind of weird ways.
Now everyone knows that preps drink, wear idiotic prints, and never throw things out. The list of top schools hasn't changed much, nor has the list of places to 'summer'. We know that the preppiest pet is a dog and the preppiest car is anything with a tailgate.
So why republish this book, when Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren have been shoving images of this lifestyle down our throats for decades? What's new with the preppy set?
The answer, apparently, is that we need to know how preps have reacted to the rise of the Internet; the descent of Abercrombie & Fitch from purveyor of Orvis-y outdoor gear to HPV-pocked pit of iniquity; the economic downturn; and the demise of Mark Cross.
No, really. New sections in True Prep include luggage, Facebook, multiple plugs for Vineyard Vines ties and tote bags, and that's about it. In addition, a certain amount of effort is put into protestations that preps are now diverse - they adopt Chinese babies, their daughters marry South Asian men, homosexuality is accepted (nay, celebrated!), and they claim Michelle Obama as one of their own. I am not sure how Mrs. Obama would respond to that, J. Crew twinsets aside. But in the multi-page Prep Pantheon, the Obamas, Vera Wang, and Henry Louis Gates Jr. are the only nonwhite people represented.
Not that it's not amusing - it's amusing. But it's nowhere near as funny as the original. It's lacking the pen-and-ink drawings that give the original that clinical but homey Cook's Illustrated feel. And it seems to be MUCH more defensive than what I read in 1980. "Not Our Kind, Dear," which I can assure you is still spoken aloud (and more frequently mimed) in Long Island clubhouses and Sea Island living rooms, does not appear in this book. And that's a crock.
At some point, probably at a garage sale in the mid-1980's, I stumbled across a copy of Lisa Birnbach's original send up of WASP culture The Preppy Handbook. And being in my early teens and having no concept of satire, I took it completely and totally seriously. I aspired to have a lobster trap for a coffee table, begged my parents to let me go to Exeter, wanted to wear nothing but ribbon belts and headbands.
Years rolled by, my life wandered betwixt the preppy and the less preppy. Nevertheless when I found out about True Prep that nostalgic, aspirational corner of my heart skipped a beat. I bought it the day it came out.
...And was promptly disappointed. I probably expected too much but this book fell completely flat for me. Satire? Honest guidebook? Wistful look back for a family life with more tradition than technology? True Prep doesn't seem to know what it wants to be.
Lisa Birnbach's "Official Preppy Handbook" (1980) was a national best-seller, despite being a repository of in-jokes for East Coast old-money country club members. Since it's out of print and reaps a fortune on eBay, the publisher roped Birnbach into writing a 2011 version; "True Prep" revives the lists, maps, charts and goofy photo shoots of the original.
Too bad it's unfunny and insular to yacht clubs. How odd that a book about contemporary preppy culture could utterly ignore the wild popularity and re-peopling of prep. Between 1980 and today, so much changed: - the 1% are now blingy and excessive, contrary to the fusty, pennywise behaviors attributed to preps in this book. Once, preps had old Volvos and beat-up canvas totes; now, car elevators and $13,000 purses. How did this happen?
- the only vestige of prep nowadays is in hip-hop culture, just as Ivy fashion was appropriated and perfected by jazz men in the 1950s. The only people I see wearing madras, argyle, prep-school blazers and boat shoes are young African-American men, not WASPs.
- a young person's idea of rosy, moneyed private school life comes from Kanye West and Lady Gaga, not "Chariots of Fire." Why the outdated cultural references?
If you aspire to preppy or Ivy style, aspiration is all around you: scroll through the acid-bright sweater sets on the J. Crew website, listen to Miles (and covet his Bass Weejuns, worn with or without thick socks), fret over Lady Mary from "Downton Abbey," buy a ticket for a screening of "Damsels in Distress," and make sure your retro reproduction picnic basket is ready for a trip to a city park. Amid such a glut of throwbacks and big-money icons, how could this book have missed its mark?
I cherished my paperback copy of "The Preppy Handbook", reading and re-reading it over and over in the early 80s...sharing it with friends and even adopting one of the required nicknames. Hey, I was a tween, what can I say. So I had to take a look at this title and ouch, what a disappointment. Cluttered, boring and lacking in the magic of the original, this book seems to be slapdashed together in an effort to make a deadline. The text is way too small. One positive standout in the book is the "preppy mix tape" song list on page 186--it's truly awesome and if I had the time and inclination, it's worth creating as a playlist on the iPod. Look to the original--perhaps copies are still available on Amazon rather than wasting time and money (oh wait, money's not an issue, is it preppies!?) on the contemporary version.
Remembering the original from my salad days, I got this one for Christmas. Cracked it open last night and was immediately disappointed. Initial impression was that it is smug, has too much attitude, and obnoxiously politically correct. Uncleverly tilting at the Prep windmills in this day and age. Selective reading of the rest did not improve this impression. I would hate to be at a dinner party with the authors, and I have heard at least one anecdote that would confirm this. I remember enjoying the original, but I guess I just grew up. Destined for Goodwill.
Loaded with photographs, phone numbers, and other such colorful and classy decorations (good job, illustrator), I was initially very excited by “True Prep.” But like being force-fed banana cream pie, this book started delicious and ended up making me ill, confused, and pukey. I realized by the end of this guide that I, an impoverished Californian with an immigrant father, was Not Prep. In fact, everyone I knew in my life is Not Prep. In fact, I had never met anyone who was not (?) Not Prep. As such, this probably very sharp satire on East coast royalty was Not Funny.
Monograms, Arnold Palmers, baby nurses, 40K prep school tuitions, and trunk shows are all described in colorful language and pictures by our prep authority Lisa Birnbach. What confused me most was not the clear directions on proper charities to donate to, but the author’s tone. Was this a pure satire of ridiculous behavior? Does she have a heart filled with true prep and wants to share its glory? She insists that preps are inherently cheap and only enjoy the most sensible luxuries. But, I’m sorry, you lost me after you hired a private chef. She also mentions that anyone can become a true prep, but it feels contradictory to the message of all-American Mayflower greatness with ancient family manors. If you were using this guide to feel inspired about pearl-wearing, you’ll just feel like a depressed imposter by the end. With less than 1% of high school students actually attending a private, live-in high school, it makes you wonder how many people this book reaches. Everyone else just received swirlies and atomic wedgies for their sixteenth birthday.
The who’s-who guide to famous people who were ‘prepped’ was an eye-rolling tour of every beautiful or famous person in America. It’s like finding out a singer you like got a start because their daddy dearest owned the record label. I could only imagine all of the stars mentioned (like Steve Carell, Reese Witherspoon, M. Night Shyamalan) behaving exactly like the preps in the book, laughing at people who go to DisneyWorld for a vacation. Who exactly is being satirized here? The hand-woven leather belt wearers or we un-prepped dirty Americans?
I did find some of the book a little funny, and of course, the book’s illustrations are beautifully and tastefully done. This would be a perfect book for someone who actually knew what Lisa Birnbach was talking about. Otherwise, perhaps it’s too specific or dated for the rest of us.
In todays culture, style is about everything. Some people even breath, sleep, live fashion. In particular, the preppy style, it is classic, clean, and especially fashionable. In the book True Prep: It’s A Whole New Old World, written by “Lisa Birnbach” is about of a coming of age story about the modern day life of preppies, and how they have changed from the past thirty years. True Prep brings you into the world of fashion, etiquette, and your family’s old money. It let’s you discover the new modern age of living life as a preppie.
True Prep is a guide that let’s you explore the world of the upper class of society. Preppies differentiate themselves from the WASP’s. Preppies are either Roman Catholic, Christian, or of Jewish religion. They are from the Upper northeast of the United States of America. In particular the New England region. The usual preppie is described as fashionable, very wealthy, and intelligent. Preppies spend most of their time boating, reading, and traveling around the world. After thirty years, author Lisa Birnbach brings back the culture of what started the twenty-first century of being preppy.
In my opinion, I really enjoyed True Prep: It’s A Whole New Old World because the whole philosophy of preppy is what makes the preppies so unique from everybody else. I believe that everyone has a unique sense of style and represents themselves as belonging to a clique. True Prep teaches you about the guide of living as a preppie. For example, at the dinner table we never use our cellphones for text messaging or making phone calls and we always put our napkins on our laps. Manifesting is something that preppies do, to clear out their minds and reflect upon it. Also, another thing that interested me the most is a preppie’s wardrobe. The women wear their beautiful Prada shoes, along with their Hermes satchel, and their ruffled collar Burberry trench coat. In the other case, the men, where their Nantucket Reds, a Vineyard Vines polo shirt, and their favorite boating shoes Sperry Topsiders. Most of their clothes and accessories are monogrammed. The chapter that I really enjoyed alot was about attending the prestigious private schools on the East coast. Overall, this is a book about how someone is born into wealth, and the privileges that they have.
I give this book three stars because I really liked the original Preppy Handbook and I think Lisa Birnbach can be funny at times. I am afraid, preppies, that your days (of visibility at least) are numbered. There's plenty of money around, a lot of it new, but that's not what you're about.
In 1980, at the dawn of the Reagan era, preppies kind of came out of the closet. Before then, they did their thing, quietly, wherever they happened to be--at their summer place, in their blueblood workplace, in their clubs. After 1980 and the publication of the original Preppy Handbook, everyone started making reference to preppy clothes, places, colleges, etc. People became more class conscious. But I digress...
In the past 30 years, a whole new upper class has emerged that doesn't have anything to do with preppiness. At the same time, the 1% started to be all lumped together--and not in a good way. Read last week's NYTimes article on men's business attire, for example, to see that the 1% is toning it down...which is kind of what this book is about--kind of a watered-down preppiness which is maybe closer to the original idea of prep, which is understated, so it's kind of boring. On the other hand, I'm kind of grateful that it's no longer such an aspiration for people, since you can't really aspire to be born into something you're not...
Funny bits about dogs and cellphones. Worth a read if you read the original. Or if you're the real thing.
This wasn't a Must Read book, except that when your life seems to be a blend between the Preppy Handbook and the JAP Handbook, well, this really was a Must Read.
The version I read was an ARC, and I really hope that the layout was not final because each page was crowded with text and photos, while the first Handbook had more white space. There were some typos (it's just Emma Willard School, no "the") and omissions (Vera Wang attended Professional Children's School, as did Yo-Yo Ma. George Hamilton was at Hackley School. Trust me on this.) Worse was the tone. It was too, well, serious. Every prep I know has a sense of humor about their preppiness, and the first book conveyed that. This book? Not so much.
As in most things prep, original and oldest is best.
What child of the 70's did not know about THE OFFICIAL PREPPY HANDBOOK? It was my bible to be in the know about this sub-culture. I lived in Izod shirts and Sperry topsider shoes for years. Now Lisa Birnbach, doyen of the prep world, has an updated edition for the 2010's. Now that 30 years have passed since the preppy craze, this topic is not as fresh, nor as fashionable, which is a big obstacle for the reader. These character types seem not politically correct anymore (or funny) and I felt ashamed that I once aspired to be prep. I really wanted to love this book and expected cheeky humor and insider info, but instead found a parody of the original that was quite the opposite.
What a waste of reading time! I thought the first book was hysterical, and the Wall St Journal gave this a good review, so I gave it a shot. The book takes itself waaaayyyy too seriously, doesn't have the catchy diagrams (or as many pictures) as the first book, and now that the prep universe is more inclusive, a lot of the elitism is gone (not that I look for elitism in a book, but come on - it's the Preppy Handbook). Anyway, now that the club is pretty much open to anyone, it's a lot less interesting. This book is missing the snarky humor that characterized the first one - I wouldn't recommend this to anyone.
As a teen I was amused and delighted when I first read The Preppy Handbook. I thought this would be more of the same- older, more fashion conscious, more alcohol focused (if thats possible) but the same old preppy culture.
I read this book in a day and was reminded how mind numbing an in depth look at the preppy world can be. I blame the author for that. Its written in a humorous tone but its still quite a vortex. I'm sure most people would need a lobotomy to really enjoy the life and style LB describes and after reading this book, I felt as I had just binged on nothing. Pure fluff.
I find the authors snobbery a bit perplexing at times (Gays and blacks okay but doctors and missionaries not acceptable? Really?) but its still an entertaining book and like the world of preppiness itself, excellent at being not excellent at all.
Seriously disappointing. Supposedly an 'update' of her first work, The Original Preppy Handbook (5 stars, satire, hilarious and witty), the author broke her own rule of 'prep doesn't need updating.' This one is forcedly PC and takes itself way too seriously. The layout is poor, the trend is largely toward European fashion (which, don't get my wrong, I quite enjoy in context, but sections on Prada and Hermes, really? It's stretching it to even fit those into Ivy, much less into Prep.) Birnbach is bizarre in what she includes and in what she doesn't. The section on web handstitched belts is one example. She focuses largely on Tucker Blair and doesn't even give mention to Smathers & Branson. As high as my hopes were, this one is a complete snoozer. Skip it.
Not as useful as the original Preppy Handbook in terms of being filled with catalog suggestions and fashion guidelines (and thus not likely to cost me quite so much money, this is nonetheless a lovely, gently satirical, affectionate, charming update. Thirty years on, the Prep world in America is adapting itself to the new century while holding on to key values. Birnbach's "True Prep" is a re-assuring book about What Really Matters. (Contrast it with Peter York's nightmarish updating of the Sloane Ranger Handbook and the hideous chav-isation of the mannered Sloane world since the 1980s)
The introduction epigraph is, "Wake up, Muffy, we're back." Birnbach's older and forty years later (forty?!) is updating The Official Preppy Handbook. This one, like the other, is mildly satirical and a mildly amusing glimpse at prep culture. it's updated in that it now isn't just about straight WASPs, but includes just about everybody, including Jews and gays. Lots of name-dropping and cataloging and tongue-in-cheek (mostly) illustrations.
Not a book to read straight through, but glancing is fun.
I read some reader reviews of this book and a lot of people seemed disappointed. I thought it was just as funny as the original and thoroughly enjoyed it. Totally LOL'ed at this passage on etiquette: "It is not entirely your fault if you've grown up in an etiquette wasteland. These days when you offer a sincere 'thank you,' you are apt to hear 'no prob' or 'sure' or worse, 'no worries.' Who was worried? Waiters or--here it is--waitpersons like to ask you if 'you're still working on that' salad/meal/drink, when they seem more than anything eager to clear your plates and glasses."
Okay. I'm preppy. I grew up on the East Coast and went to a private liberal arts college in Maine. I get it. And, I clearly like it, or I wouldn't have bought this book. I had LL Bean and J. Crew everything. I've been to the Hamptons. I have preppy cred, as it were.
However, this book is a manual on how to be elitist and ridiculous. It pokes a little, tiny bit of fun at the "prep" lifestyle, while ultimately defining it as wealthy WASP-ism that is smugly superior.
I will keep reading a few pages here and there to entertain myself, but I'm basically done with this.
I read _The Official Preppy Handbook_ when I was about 12 and thought It was hilarious. It was irreverent and politically incorrect and full of fun. This sequel, in short, is not. It tries to touch on all the changes in the world over the last 30 years, and it is, frankly, a buzzkill. The funniest part about the original is that it was a little snippet of that late 70s world of privilege-- as seen by this one woman, in relation to the wider world. This one just isn't funny. Or maybe I'm just too old. But I read this with a sneer and skipped large chunks of it.
I loved the original Preppy Handbook, so I was anxious to read this. And while I enjoyed it, it just wasn't as fun.
The main point was that it's been 30 years since the original, and the book was meant to reflect the changes since then. Frankly, some of them made be a bit depressed - has society declined so much? Apparently so.
This book won't be the classic the original was, as the too-frequent trendy pop references will date it.
Ugh, my eyes! Did the original have such tiny print? And the typos? Dear me.
Parts of this were a delight, others just wearing. A chapter on funeral etiquette without much humor or irony is really a downer. It went on a bit long, without updating some of my favorite parts of the original - specifically, preppiest bars and universities.
I did appreciate the takedown of faux-preppy Gossip Girl. I mean, I watch it, but still.
As a proud owner of The Official Prep Handbook after finding it in a used book shop, I was gifted True Prep from my 'bestie' from college. More reflective and ironic than the original, True Prep summarizes the realities of the Prep lifestyle and how ultimately every American has a bit of Prep in them. Definitely a good read on Americana pop culture and a good book to leave around for guests to keep them entertained. Prep generosity for sure.
I thoroughly enjoyed being made fun of... While it is neither as "new" or as surprising as the Preppy Handbook from decades ago, this book has caught up, reminding us what we grew up to be (and worse, what we are likley to be in the future). If you can't laugh at yourself and your social status, then don't read this... unless you are in fact not a preppy in which case you canread this and make fun of us...
This book was so nerdy. I guess there was a book like 30 years ago, a tongue and cheek look at preppy-ness and so much has changed since then! This book was just all about what makes people pretty, where do preps live, what they wear, where they go to school, how they talk, etc etc etc. Very tongue and cheek, especially from a west coasters point of view. Swap out prep for emo and you have the westside. A fun, easy read.
Having grown up in the prepdom that is Great Neck, NY, and having attended an Ivy league university, I was particularly invested in this satirical books perspective on a lot of things I just never understood, but felt compelled to emulate growing up.(The ever-present Vineyard Vines whale haunts me to this day.) I found the book charming and a fun read, but I wouldn't think so hard about the content; after all, that would be trés unprep.
I had recently read her first book, The Official Preppy Handbook, and was curious about how much had changed in the preppy world. The revised book takes excerpts from her original book, perhaps to illustrate how little has changed. I noted the addition of fleece to preppy wear. I still don't know if white is now a preppy car color; I see a lot of white BMWs around and can't figure out if this is preppy or turning prep notions on its head.