Photo by Muffy Aldrich
The Modern Guide to The Thing Before Preppy

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

New England Camps and Lake Resorts?

A reader question: 

Hi Muffy,

Now that March is around the corner, we can start to think about starting to think about the summer. I have always been enchanted with the New England lake resorts (for the families) and camps (for the children). Do you or your readers have pictures and memories of camps and camps from long ago or recommendations for resorts and camps for the current day?

Many thanks and I very much appreciate your blog. 

From NYT: My daughter’s “preppy” is not my idea of preppy


My daughter’s “preppy” is not my idea of preppy — the prep of actual New England prep schools, of frayed Oxford cloth and WASPy noblesse oblige. Nor is it the aspirational varsity style of Tommy Hilfiger and 1990s rappers in rugby shirts, or even J. Crew’s self-conscious 2010s update on old-money style...  [T]hose iterations are now known, in the TikTok world, as “old preppy.” The new sort fills its Pinterest pages with something else: colorful Stanley mugs, tiered pink micro-minis, bulbed makeup mirrors and Brazilian Bum Bum Creams.

Teen Subcultures Are Fading. Pity the Poor Kids. Gorgeous, abundant visuals are just pale imitations of what young people used to have: an actual scene. <

Monday, February 19, 2024

L.L. Bean Boat and Tote Bags - The Complete Guide (2024 Edition)

Photos by Salt Water New England
I have received quite a few questions about L.L. Bean Boat and Tote bags.  Here are the top ten, and my answers (and some answers from the community).  

1. What is an L.L. Bean Boat and Tote Bag?

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Cordings of Piccadilly's Fabulous New Tweed, the Inverness - Made in England

Photos by Salt Water New England
With the Inverness, Cordings of Piccadilly has added an outstanding new "Old School Tweed" to their already outstanding Made in England Field Coats for men.   

The rich, 100% wool Scottish Tweed has instantly become a favorite of mine, and their Field Coats are just exceptional – hand cut with reinforced cartridge pockets, hand warmer pockets, waterproof membrane, silent studs, satin quilted lining, storm cuffs, and more.

I wear both their Ladies' Cotswold and their Men's Field Coats in range of sizes and all are cut for freedom of movement with robust construction.  After all, they are made for shooting. 


Saturday, February 17, 2024

Ferd Week: Ferd on The End

Ferd Week concludes with a comment left by Ferd, March, 2013,

Dear friends,

It is now apparent that our common language lacks a sufficient number of adjectives, both pejorative and pleasant, to describe me, my writing, my ‘humor’, my dog and the crux of this beast who observes you. I admit to be gasping for gibes at this point; I am spent, my cruelest, most irritating, vulgar aphorisms having already been laid before you for so little gain.

There is nothing left to do than come clean. I can’t take it. I am bereft. To think that the erudite, worldly and wise among you can so easily find fault with me is too much to bear. I have decided to end it all today. My plan is this: open a can of aged anchovies and a handle of Southern Comfort, sit back and blend into my red leather chair. After this final act, absent divine intervention that may indeed occur since our Lord is unlikely to want me this early, you shall all be rid of me forever. Guilt will creep slowly into your middling minds when you commence to understand the genius you have destroyed, but so be it. Your remarks, slings and arrows have fatally flattened me. Adieu

PS. Contributions to the ongoing upkeep and maintenance of the Swan Bar in Lambertville New Jersey in lieu of flowers are requested.

And soon after:

Dear mortals,

He ate and drank the precious Words, his Spirit grew robust; He knew no more that he was poor, nor that his frame was Dust. In the event Emily is my neighbor here. Who knew? Well, I am not Phoenix nor am I a coward. The deed is done. My corporeal embodiment ist Kaput. (There are hoards of [...] here).

Having an eternity on my hands, I have time to write. I have good news and bad. First the good. For all of you living south of say, Harrisburg, you are golden. Nothing to worry about. Live it up. You’ve got everything to live for and everything to die for. Wow.

Now the bad. For we (formerly) lucky few in a small corner of New England, we proper priests of True Prep, repent! Do good deeds! Feed the poor! Eat dinner with the help! For if you do not lead a good and holy life, the afterlife that awaits you is more horrible that even Mr. Alighieri imagined.

As it turns out, Hell is the Hattiesburg Country Club, Hattiesburg, Mississippi. (Now I know why my Grandmother referred to Hades as “down there”). And let me tell you, Satan was never an Angel. He bears (now upon current reflection) an unremarkable resemblance to Colonel Sanders. And He is so genial, gentlemanly and, what was that word – gracious. Days are spent playing golf and Bridge. All the men wear the latest Peter Millar golf attire and smoke cigars. The ladies are dressed to the nines and wear make up as though applied with a gardening spade. Each day is another grinding groundhog of a day, replete with buckets of Bourbon, Ritz Crackers with Cheese Whip, genteel conversation about relatives, SEC Football and homes in Aspen. Everyone drives Cadillacs.

I want to die, but well, that is no longer an option. Muffy’s Southern faithful no doubt will find a good comeuppance in this (maybe they knew all along this was to be my fate). By the way, I should mention that there are indeed Rings down here. The cruelest stage is apparently reserved for sycophants like my Uncle whose attempts at mimicry is so flaccid as to embarrass. Uncle, give it up lest ye suffer exceptionally.

So it is for me now. There are rumors that Heaven is a small western corner of Orr’s Island, Maine, but I will never know. When you pass through the pearly gates, please sent me a text with a picture, won’t you.

Yours in eternal boredom,

Good Ole’ Ferd

Friday, February 16, 2024

Ferd Week: Ferd on Southern Preps (and Everything Else)

Ferd Week continues with a comment left by Ferd, December, 2012,  on the post, "Can you still be preppy if you......"

To our Southern friends,

Frat boys at Alabama football games in bow ties or, for that matter, anything aspirational in the South is simply a vulgarization of prep. Among the many appropriate attributes of pure prep is family history with Abolition in New England. It would be akin to calling a Russian in a Barbour a 'Brit" to calling one of these Southern gentlemen a prep. Any while we are on the subject, wearing Southern Tide or some other bastardization of pure prep clothing doesn't mean anything for your cause. 

Ferd's response to comments:

After reading all of the remarks and reflections upon my historical inaccuracies and apparent lack of good taste, I am reminded of Oscar Wilde's take on enemies.

He observed "I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their intellects."

Accordingly, since it is so obviously clear that I have no enemies among you all (did I spell that correctly) permit me instead to thank all for their kind words.

Anent earlier remarks regarding Northern ante-bellum history I am astonished that none of my professors at Yale College or Princeton Graduate School (BA History; MA and PhD History) failed to mention any of this! I suppose I will revert and send my annual contributions to my prep school instead. Oh, the humanity!

And Ferd's response to responses on Ferd's response to comments: 

Unaccustomed as I am to being a flagellant, it is with slight personal distress that I now venture once again into Muffy World.

Folks, you can't "be" a prep anymore than you can be a fire truck. To be, or not to be, is not your choice. The simple truth is that prep is a vicious intersection accident of breeding, birth place, wealth or former wealth and white Protestantism. If you are Asian, or African, Southern or Californian, Irish, French or Penguin you can't "be" prep no matter how many Land Rovers, Barbours and Alden full strap shoes you purchase. You are all poseurs. Look it up on line.

If you live on the Main Line your accent outs you. No true prep would host an OOOlive in her Martini, go hOOOOOme after golf or, God Forbid, approach such unrefined vacation spots as Avalon or Pocono Lake Preserve. Nobody who lives near Philadelphia is prep, sorry to burst your cheesesteak bubble. Being unusually vapid does not gain entrance to true prep, and there is no exit ramp from the PA Turnpike.

I believe that I have previously dispensed with you Southerns, but I am compelled to share just one more observation from that pinnacle of prep Winnie Churchill who observed that truth is something people occasionally stumble upon, ignore and than move on with their self-deceiving lives. Consider my earlier remarks your dose of truth.

So, as my final pearls before swine, listen up. If you read about, write about or think about what clothing, car, vacation spot, make up or underwear you own or want you can never be prep. To prep, these matters are effortlessly achieved without thought or choice. You may be whatever else you are, but you are not, inexpressively not, prep.

What's that I hear, I think someone is calling you about watching Alabama Spring Practice football over Mint Julies! Enjoy! 

And Ferd's response to responses on Ferd's response to responses on Ferd's response to comments:  

Sigh. One of the many tasks asked of us at prep school was to pay attention. [...], I did not ask you to look up the geographic relation of New England to prep. Instead, should you have the attention span necessary to do so, I asked you to look up the word 'poseur'. Res ipse.

As for [...] and the most recent anonymous genius, your enthusiasm dispels any possibility that you are prep or that you would recognize prep if it punched you in the nose. Writing of prep and Islam in the paragraph is heretical; writing these words in the same sentence is profoundly ignorant. And you know what they say about ignorance. Other than hydrogen, ignorance is the most common substance in the universe.

As for Southern schools of any type, the concept of prep is dead on arrival. There is an abiding indolence, a casual insouciance about Southern life that dissembles in the presence of pure prep. Perhaps more importantly, it is virtually impossible to wear sweaters in June in Georgia. One is reminded of a recent headmaster at Hotchiss who would attend pre-season football games in September in heavy corduroys, a Bean cotton turtleneck, a Shaggy Dog and Bean shoes (without chain tread, of course). He never broke out a sweat. Can one imagine this taking place in South Carolina? Preps not only do not sweat, they do not place themselves in environments where such inappropriate behavior might occur.

Won’t you all please just leave Muffy and I alone?

And finally...

Dear [...], 

Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them. I am spineless. I admit to nothing and deny everything. Besides, grammer is the slang of prigs who write blogs and other useless essays (excuse me George Eliot)([...], you will have to look up George Eliot for I am certain that her name was not mentioned in any Southern finishing school).

This back and forth is like a high school reunion, such as I might imagine one to be. It is brutally boring.

But, in closing for the year (sorry fans of Ferd) just one more truth. Ivy League schools are the Antithesis of Prep, the anti-Christo if you will. It should surprise none that recent Yale undergraduates' effort to humilate their Harvard contemporaries included a video of two anxious Harvard freshman reading a blog entitled "How to Date [...]Women". I am not entirely happy sharing the following with all you Philistines but there remain only three institutions of higher learning on earth that are true prep. (Sorry, St. Lawrence, I said true prep not incrediably dumb, rich, drunk graduates of third rate boarding and day schools). They are, in no particular order of prepness: Bowdoin, Colby and Williams. I was tempted to include Amherst, but then there are problems there, aren't there? All other 'schools' are far too, how does one say this nicely, mainstreamed to be prep. If you are prep, you ain't goin to Brown any more, believe me. 


Thursday, February 15, 2024

Ferd Week: Can you still be preppy if you......"

Ferd Week continues with a comment left by Ferd, April, 2011, on the post, "Can you still be preppy if you......"

Jet ski and snow board instead of sail and ski?

No. Jet Skis make too much noise to be preppy. Snow boarding is vulgar. By the way, if you sail anywhere other than off the coast of Rhode Island, Maine or Massachusetts (or from Newport to Bermuda) you are not preppy. If you ski anywhere other than Maine and New Hampshire, you are not preppy. (West Side of New York City regarding Vermont, take note.)

Vacation at theme parks?

Is Acadia National Park count as a theme park? Of course not. True prep doesn't even know where Florida is.

Vacation on cruise ships?

Why would you go to someone else's boat to vacation when you can go to your own boat? Ridiculous inquiry.

Put chemicals/fertilizers/dyed mulch on your lawn?

Honestly, very few true preps have lawns, per se. If there is something worth mowing, that is done by the husband with a 37 year old push mower. Believe me, he is not thinking about fertilizer.

Get your suits at Jos. A Banks?

True Prep doesn't 'get' suits anywhere. I have not heard of Jos. A Banks, but I suspect it is a chain store. Boys from St. Paul's do not shop. Suits are either handed down or purchased by their mother and then kept for 39 years.

Eat family dinners at local chain restaurant?

Prep parents and prep children, when they are at the family home at the same time (which is rarely) never eat together. Period. Except sometimes at Christmas.

Drive a car that gets less than 15 miles per gallon?

Yes. Most preps drive only two or three types of cars, the older versions of which do average less than 15 mpg. Examples are my aunt's 1978 Volvo, my brother's 1959 Jaguar and my mother's 1990 Land Rover County. 


(For women) Wear more than two kinds of make-up?

Yes. Lip Gloss and soap. Scented soap is make up, isn't it?

Shop at Walmart, Kohl's, Target, Ikea and other box stores?

Yes, actually, this is very prep. Nobody is tight with money like true prep. How do you think they have money for 10 generations? Spending it on Gucci's?

Have kitchens with lots of granite and stainless steel?

Granite belongs in New Hampshire. Enough about this.

Have Louis Vuitton luggage and/or handbags?

Unless these are sold at Eye of the Needle, no.

Get plastic surgery?

Prep women actually want to age. The absolute goal of every prep woman is to be 70 with swept back gray hair and grandchildren at Middlesex. Prep men are born looking 40. Why would we want to change this?

Come from some place other than New England?

Accurately, the question should be: come from a place other than Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and a few zip codes in Rhode Island? Connecticut is full of bleached blond investment banker's wive who drive Geladenwagons and play tennis. Please.

Get all of your antiques from shops and flea markets rather than from family members?

Yes, this is actually very preppy.

Drive a non-European car?

Yes, as long as they are one of the following: 1978 Ford Country Squire Station Wagon; 1983 Ford Bronco II with 29 Nantucket Beach Permit Stickers or 1968 Jeepster with 49 Nantucket Beach Permit Stickers.

Ferd Week: Ferd on J. Press

 Ferd Week continues with a comment left by Ferd, December, 2011

Graduated in 75. Funny how what is old is new again. Those years, J Press was a joke, and for good reason. It was, among many other icons, a symbol of a society in decline, one that was sending us to Vietnam or only recently using dogs to contain [...] freedom marchers. We used to say, "when the revolution comes, J Press will be the first to be fire bombed.' Alas, years have passed and our ardor has waned. We now count our Patagonia Fleeces and Barbour jackets and Range Rovers, all chasing each other as semi-rich are prone to do. I frankly prefer the old days. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024