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

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Questions for the Community: Can you still be preppy if you... (r)

I don’t know why, but I have received a series of emails in the last few months that fall, bizarrely enough, in the category of contrition.  People ask me, “Can you still be preppy if…” and then list some specific things that they describe as non-preppy. I thought it might be interesting to put forth this aggregate list in the spirit of fun and see what people think.

Readers ask, “Can you still be preppy if you…”
  • Jet ski and snow board instead of sail and ski
  • Vacation at theme parks
  • Vacation on cruise ships
  • Put chemicals/fertilizers/dyed mulch on your lawn
  • Watch reality television
  • Get your suits at Jos. A Banks
  • Buy new wood furniture with a high gloss finish
  • Eat family dinners at local chain restaurant
  • Get your exercise at a gym instead of out of doors
  • Buy your clothes at a mall
  • Drive a car that gets less than 15 miles per gallon
  • (For men) Have visible product and/or highlights in hair
  • (For women) Wear more than two kinds of make-up 
  • Shop at Walmart, Kohl's, Target, Ikea and other box stores
  • Have kitchens with lots of granite and stainless steel
  • Have Louis Vuitton luggage and/or handbags
  • Get plastic surgery
  • Leave your scent in a room after you are gone
  • Come from some place other than New England
  • Get all of your antiques from shops and flea markets, rather than from family members 
  • Buy jewelry from a mall store
  • Follow NASCAR
  • Wear nail polish with sparkles
  • Drive a non-European car
  • Wear black during the day


  1. Very funny! Thanks for another good laugh.

  2. The pondering of these questions alone strikes me as supremely "un-preppy," and the weighing of the pros and cons of them already presupposes one is approaching "being preppy" as a costume ball, or a new fashion.

    1. I think you nailed it.

  3. I think anyone who wants to be preppy should call themselves preppy, no matter what they do. If they want to wear black and gold sweatpants and sweatshirts to the Dollar Store and call that preppy, why not?

    1. Because neither of those things are preppy.

  4. A couple of thoughts

    Can you be preppy if you

    1) Vacation at theme parks
    Yes, but not if the themepark is Dollywood.

    2)Watch reality television
    Yes, but NOT Here comes Honey BooBoo

    3)Get your suits at Jos. A Banks
    Yes but only at the buy 1 get 6 free sale.

    4)Leave your scent in a room after you are gone
    YOU are talking about a cologne scent right?

    5)Follow NASCAR
    Yes but only if you pull for Jeff Gordon.

    6) · Drive a non-European car
    Yes as long is it is not a YUGO.

    7) Buy jewelry from a mall store
    Yes but not if you buy jewlery in the mall parking lot.

    8) Wear black during the day.
    Yes but not if you wear white after labor day.

    Seriously, true preppy is more about a state of mind and action rather than where you shop. Its about frugality and living your life in a certain graceful fashion no matter how much or how little money you have.

    Who shops at Kohls, drives a Nissan, buys his clothes at the mall and loves Red Lobster.

    1. This gave me a laugh this morning and thank you all. John, I agree with you. True preppy is a state of mind. It isn't so much if you follow the preppy rules to the letter. It is if you follow the preppy principles. So, I'm going on a river cruise. It's something old friends wanted us to do. Now I'm going crazy trying to decide what clothes to take. Irons are not allowed in the staterooms and all my clothes are 100% cotton. Actually, this is not a bad problem in a turbulent world. Forgive the whine.

    2. The no white after Labor Day made me laugh out loud. I still have issues with that.

      Seriously though, if you have to think about it THAT hard, then you aren't preppy.

    3. The yugo is a European car....

  5. Chris from New HampshireJanuary 3, 2013 at 6:21 PM

    Best line: "Some will judge this as being too judgmental."

  6. Omg at this list of questions! Hilarious!!! Your blog is a wonderful mix of everything! You do keep your readers entertained!

  7. You should write a "Are You Preppy" quiz. I would take it!

  8. Hilarious! I love not caring one way or the other.

  9. Love John's thoughts!

  10. Those are priceless! Reminds me of a joke my father-in-law used to tell--"how do you tell a Nascar fan from an Indycar fan? The Indycar fan still has all of their teeth!"

  11. John's final sentence sums it up beautifully!


  12. This has got to be my favorite post.
    John: You are a hoot. Loved #4, I was thinking the same thing.

  13. "no" on the east coast; "yes" on the west coast

  14. 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.

    1. "True prep doesn't even know where Florida is."

      Florida is a flyover state on your way to Bermuda.

      The answer to most other questions is a clear "no." I'm afraid people think Ferd was joking.

    2. Joseph A. Banks is Philadelphia Main Line - does this count as preppy?

    3. I live just off Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, went to Penn (Ivy), my mother knitted my Aran sweaters as a child - went to Penn wearing long salt & pepper coats, I sailed my wooden John Alden 1949 35' sloop across the North Atlantic - leaving Nantucket behind to permanently park near my summer home on Texel and navigated using my great-great grandfather's brass sextant with my 1966 Rolex re-certified chronometer & tables, and now buy my clothes at Paul Stewart as well as getting my hand-knitted Fair Isles knitted by my design on - Fair Isle but drive a 2006 Honda Accord with only 23,000 miles on it - used mainly to go back and forth to LBI on weekends. Do I qualify at least as an honorary preppy?

  15. Love Ferd's comment. Adding: can you be preppy if you wear Hermes or (non snaffle bit) Gucci? Can you be true prep if you think True Prep is true prep?

  16. I sent in two of those questions. I have this neighbor who might have looked like a preppy purist twenty years ago for two months when she rented a house on the shore, but she makes so many decisions that to me are the opposite. Yet still thinks she is somehow effortlessly classic New England. She is the kind of person who says, "I don't even have to think about it - I just am preppy." We'll, either she should think about it more and DO more, or stop describing herself that way. This chasm crosses over to far too many parts of her life. Thanks for gathering that list.

    1. If you say in public that you are preppy, then you are not preppy.

  17. I have a theory about why you are getting all of these questions. I connect with what you write about. But to me, "prep" first meant "the unearned arrogance and sense of entitlement of a privileged life" and then, as seen on so many blogs today, the desire of so many middle suburban kids to look and act like they have this same unearned arrogance and sense of entitlement. I think people have always been sick of the first group, but are growing even more weary of this second group. For kids to work so hard and spend so much to pretend to be carefree and worthless is problematic for our country. Thank you for taking us back to source, to real stewardship, graciousness, and authenticity. - Jack

  18. "Eat family dinners at local chain restaurant."

    True, as 'local chain' is an oxymoron.

    Great list, I enjoyed reading.

  19. Why not simply and strictly define preppy? You're only preppy if you went to prep school. The rest is totally subjective.

  20. I am relieved that one does not actually have to have gone to a prep school to be a preppie, although it probably helps. Note here that one does not even have to finish prep school, unless maybe if it's called a finishing school. Finishing schools may be a thing of the past, however, and, anyway, they're just for girls.

    I am not certain if having relatives who were employed by or taught at a prep school counts. Probably doesn't. My mother-in-law was literally born at a boy's prep school in Virginia but that doesn't make her a preppie. At least I don't think it does but her first cousin did graduate from a prep school.

    Here's a question: if you went to an Ivy League school but not a prep school, are you a preppie?

  21. @Ferd - Wow! What a knowing and entertaining piece. Thank you!

  22. Can you be preppy if you totally despise the term "preppy" and prefer Trad or Ivy because "preppy" implies adolescent.

  23. Anon 10:46 - But that is exactly why I like lists like this. The term preppy has been hijacked by the frat boy crowd and perpetuated by so many blogs where all they do is party. Ferd's list is masterful.

    1. I see you are rather new to the preppy concept as the IVY/Oxford/Cambridge frat boys long past were the original and purest examples of preppy - everything else followed.

  24. Love you Fern!!!!
    Muffy, this list reminded me II have a question for you. You always look so pretty and fresh faced. What is your beauty regime and what daily products do you use? I personally hate wearing make-up, but in the dry CO winters I have to use more on my face and body than I like.
    Love, Love your blog! Happy New Year.

  25. You might be a preppy but you won't be a WASP. I think Preppies have money whereas WASPs don't always have any. All the money in the world won't buy you the class a poor WASP will have.

    1. Rachel - by you even bringing up the subject of money reviles that you are neither preppy or a WASP - since the mere mention or display of money is vulgar not fitting by either.

  26. One of the funnier posts with hilarious commentary in recent time...

    An Austin, TX preppie

  27. First of all - hats off to Ferd! But also, I just don't agree with the "preppy is a state of mind" sentence. Where you shop is an action. For most people the most important vote they cast is with their money.

  28. I'm not sure whether to take Ferd's comments seriously or not. I'll choose not to.

  29. On the kitchen thing, serious question, what would be more classic/tasteful than granite and stainless? I'm a man and don't know these sorts of things. I'm about to replace old counters and a refrigerator and just assumed I'd get granite and stainless.

    1. Wood, unglazed tile floor, big fire clay sink, old oak table to eat on in the kitchen, need I say more?

  30. I don't think that Ferd's piece would be so funny if it wasn't so accurate. He is obviously a clever writer and he also knows things. I believe he most captures the tone of the group of writers behind The Official Preppy Handbook.

  31. That list was hilarious, yet painful to read. LOL I am guilty of being from PA, not New England, we drive American cars, and we do have granite countertops. No other violations that I can think of. I love the pictures of all the snow, do send some down our way! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year celebration, Muffy! --Holly in PA

  32. Aaaaaaaaand Volvos are now made in China. Say what you will, Muffy, the day is going to come (in maybe 5, maybe 10, maybe 20 years, when we all are going to need a new Volvo. China is NOT Europe.

  33. So funny! Thanks for posting those questions. happy New Year!

  34. @Monica - All I do is wash my face twice a day, apply some fragrance-free (Neutrogena) moisturizer, and when leaving the house, put on my pink lipstick.

    @HHH - As of now Volvos are still made in Gothenburg (Sweden) and Ghent (Belgium). Geely is preparing to manufacture Volvos in China, but only for the Chinese market. However....

    1. Volvo opened their first US car factory in South Carolina in June 2018.
      American-made Volvo S60 sedans are now making their way into dealerships.

    2. A sedan, Volvo or other make, isn't preppy.

  35. Maybe I don't get around very much, but I don't think I've ever actually been present in a kitchen where there were granite counter tops. I have seen lots of photos of them at real estate web sites like Zillow. Ten years ago I had never heard of such a thing as granite counter tops for a kitchen, and so I'm not sure they can be classified as classic, although they may be in fashion in recent years.


  36. What Prep is, in the present day and age, is a je ne sais quois; like porn, you know it when you see it. But I can categorically tell you what it is NOT:

    Socially calculating.

    If you're feeling the need to be any of those things, you're not it.
    All the other stuff on that list, run it through this filter and see where it lands; sometimes, motivation and intent make all the difference.

  37. Here's an observation that I came up while watching "Ordinary People" (circa 1981) earlier in the week.

    Driving an American car was the norm (at least in the South and, perhaps, the Midwest. In the movie, the characters drove Oldsmobiles. While not New England, it did take place in Lake Forest (not quite slumming it). Sure, there were Volvos, Peugeots, and Mercedes; however, most of my friends' parents drove the larger GM or Ford station wagons or sedans.

    As for the question of kitchen counter tops, the two kitchen sets in the movie were fairly no frill affairs (the grandmother's seemed already dated in '80s). They were pretty representive of what I remember at the time (colonial faced cabinets with formica or, maybe, Corian surfaces).

    If you want to get an idea (or painfully revisit) what was considered "preppy" back then, I would suggest that movie (or "The Ice Storm" for a earlier take).

    Ferd's witty response was great. There is an exception, though. The kids (namely sons) mow the yard when old enough. Why consider a service to do it with an established labor pool under your own roof?

    Just a dated Southern/dvd watcher's take.

  38. I'm glad I'm not alone in thinking your list is hilarious!

  39. To me, being "preppy" lies entirely in one's sprezzatura, or the ability one has to appear well prepared without much effort. That is not only in his or her dress, but also in attitude.

    I also don't believe it is as clear as you are, or you are not. There is some grey area, and I find it ridiculous to discourage someone for aspiring to the "preppy" lifestyle, in whatever defining manner it is they see it.

    I do believe, however, that one must honor quality and tradition. Find a well-made coat, and be proud of re-sewing the buttons after years of use rather than simply buying another. Build attachments to the things that do not let you down, whether they are material possessions, destinations, or people.

    That's my best shot at it.

    1. I could not agree more. Love your sentence: Build attachments to the things that do not let you down. . .

  40. Too funny. Also loving the comments.

  41. Oh, please, may I?

    Jet ski and snow board instead of sail and ski:
Yes. If it involves the outdoors and being scared to death-prep.
    Vacation at theme parks: 
Of course we do. Preps like to have fun! Mummy brings along a needlepoint project and daddy? a hip flask.

    Vacation on cruise ships:
Think Cuinard Line not Carnivale, dear.
    Put chemicals/fertilizers/dyed mulch on your lawn:
Preps love to garden. If it makes the double english roses grow we do!

    Watch reality television:
It better be British! Honey Who?
    Get your suits at Jos. A Banks:
Suits, no(but no one woud DARE notice!. Madras/Go-to-hell pants, maybe.
    Buy new wood furniture with a high gloss finish:
What is “new furniture”?
    Eat family dinners at local chain restaurant:
We can’t cook well. Of course we do! ROAD TRIP!
    Get your exercise at a gym instead of out of doors:
It better have a bar.
    Buy your clothes at a mall: I hear stories about malls.

    Drive a car that gets less than 15 miles per gallon:
 Ask any Jeep Wagoneer owner.

    (For men) Have visible product and/or highlights in hair:
Daddy uses Brylcreem(after 50)
    (For women) Wear more than two kinds of make-up:
Mummy and the girls have make-up and know how to use it when needed.
    Shop at Walmart, Kohl's, Target, Ikea and other box stores:
Well, someone has to buy the paper towels.
    Have kitchens with lots of granite and stainless steel:
Preps love function over style. (see Katherine Hepburn’s kitchen).

    Have Louis Vuitton luggage and/or handbags:
Ostentation? No, think L.L Bean canvas duffel bags. Leave LV to the Hilton’s.
    Get plastic surgery: Shhhh, don’t EVER tell the older ladies of Georgetown: “I love how your cheekbones look today, Merriam! You must tell us your secret”...and never speak of it again.
    Leave your scent in a room after you are gone: That scent better be ivory soap(men)
    Come from some place other than New England: no one notices. The Sedgwicks lived in California.
    Get all of your antiques from shops and flea markets, rather than from family members: Preps love to shop for antiques! Please..
    Buy jewelry from a mall store: Tiffany is now in the mall?

    Follow NASCAR: I don’t understand the question.
    Wear nail polish with sparkles: “oh, how lovely your nails look today”.Period.
    Drive a non-European car: of course we do. Katherine Hepburn drove old ford cars and when she was older she was driven around in an old Ford.
    Wear black during the day: I hear stories about those people.

    1. THIS reply - perfect!! Absolutely perfect, however I think it describes 'WASP' culture more than 'preppy.' Yes - WASP to a 't'.

  42. I can't really imagine women under 35 or so refusing to wear black during the day, particularly in a city setting. A preference for navy or tan, maybe. A ban on black, no.

    1. I used to wear black to a funeral service. When I wear my pearls with black, I remind myself of the sales clerks (old term for sales associates) at the Washington, D.C. Garfinkles. Garfinkles is long gone and for me navy is the new black.

    2. I wore black to my Manhattan prep school. It's a NYC thing. I also like sales clerk chic.

    3. My great grandmother on Park Avenue would not have worn black, nor her diamonds, before 6PM. She might have altered the rules a bit when it came to cocktail time, but not diamonds. It wasn't done, and it was understood by a certain segment of society. Things evolve and change. Now the only place where you still see old New York habits is the Colony Club. It really does not matter. Wear what you like. I do, however, long for genteel people who know how to behave, and their way of showing it by adhering to a dress code.

  43. Thank you WASP Decor! Just when I thought it couldn't get any funnier. And LG - of course women wear black during the day. It is just more Calvin Klein than preppy.

  44. Traditionally, wearing black in the day was reserved for those in mourning clothes and later on it was imagined that "fast women wear purple and black". I would never judge someone based on a color they wear, day or night. However, having said that, if you have people approaching you saying things like: "Oh, I'm so sorry for your loss", you *may* want to re-think your wardrobe.
    Also, Wasps/preps love to have fun and wear fun colors! We are just drawn to fun prints, madras, Lilly prints, or anything from Murray's, or Trimingham's. It reminds us summer and we love summer! Have fun and don't waste your time worrying about what others are wearing.
    ..and what's that old wasp saying: "be pretty if you can, be witty if you must, but be *gracious* if it *kills* you to be", or something like that.

  45. I'm glad to see WASP Decor is back in fine form.

  46. I have always had a sneaking suspicion that the New England preference for navy and khaki harks all the way back to the blue coats with tan facings worn by our Revolutionary ancestors . . . can anyone speak to this?

    1. Those facings were actually buff, not tan.

  47. well Greenfield - the hindi word "khaki" = "dusty" - was first appropriated for western useage by the British Army in India in the middle of the 19th Century. They adopted the colour in British uniforms at around the same time.

  48. @Greenfield - While I have no evidence, I too, have wondered that.

  49. Love the comments of Ferd and Wasp Decor.

    I live in Alabama, a far cry from New England, both geographically and culturally. There are quite many preps and Wasp-likes down here. We jet ski on the lake because there is no coast on which to sail. There is a coast, but it is the beach (can you say "Redneck Riviera"). No snow skiing in Alabama for obvious reasons. We have to go to New England or North Carolina for that. Theme parks are fine as long as it is not Dollywood, although I have heard that the food there is terrific. Dollywood is in a beautiful part of Tennessee that also offers great shopping. We have to go to the gym to exercise because if we exercise outside, we will die of a heat stroke. We are forced to shop at Walmart (oh the horrors), Target, and other big box stores because Walmart has put the local businesses out of business. We have to buy our antiques at antique stores and flea markets because very little were passed down through our family. The Yankees burned them all. (no offense). It seems like the same people who follow NASCAR also follow University of Alabama football. Can you tell I'm not an Alabama fan?

    This Volvo-driving prep shops at Target and the mall, eats at Red Lobster and spends summer weekends on the lake relaxing on the family's houseboat.

    As I write this, I am wearing sweatpants, old cashmere turtleneck, pearls, faux diamond earrings and am watching Legally Blonde. How unprep is that?

  50. @ Tammy B.

    I, like you, live in the South. While it is a far cry from New England, you can do well by traveling and seeking things out via the internet, on websites such as this one (thanks, Muffy!)

    We have our own unique version of WASP, but I feel the fundamentals transfer over. I do order most of my clothing online or through catalogs--I hate malls.

  51. I live in Washington, DC. You can have my black clothing when you pry it from my cold, dead hands. :)

  52. Hysterical! Thanks for the laugh, Muffy.
    Erica in Cazenovia, NY

  53. I find the answer to some of these questions is yes, and to some of them, it is no. The question of whether they should be asked or not is quite another thing;).

    Happy New Year Muffy.

  54. Both my girls went to prep school, and they are very bohemian, however, they are very " old school" about a great many things. There will be a huge set to about who gets the ( as of this writing) 22 year old, cadet blue Volvo station wagon.....

  55. Tammy's wrong. There's probably more prep in the student section of a Bama football game than in the rest of the state combined, if you leave out the lawyer and doctor graduates of Bama. Here's a pic:

    There will be snobbish yankees who think prep only exists in New England. They'd change their mind if they paid attention to Ole Miss or Vandy, or UNC or Virginia for that matter.

    Preppie people in the south play golf instead of going skiing. They wear Lilly Pulitzer or seersucker and go to steeplechase. I could go on and on...

  56. Jeff, I was not referring to the student section or the alums. I'm referring to the many fans who have never stepped foot on campus. The state is infested with them. I went to Auburn (the reason for my snarky remark about Alabama fans) which was very preppy in the day. I do agree that the "snobbish Yankees" would change their minds if they paid attention to Ole Miss, Vandy, UNC and Virginia. Very preppy.

  57. The classic prep aesthetic is to New England what jazz is to New Orleans. It evolved for, and draws from, the unique aspects of the northeast, from New York City to Maine. The Phi Gams from the University of Alabama picture shown is a completely Southern creation, for which Southerners should take full credit.

  58. Specific to #3, I once asked for an item in J. McLaughlin, and was told by the associate that it wasn't available, as they were now moving the inventory into "cruise wear season". Take that as you like.

    Also, Jos A. Banks suits are fine, as long as you take them to a proper tailor. Lastly, you can be preppy without being from New England. If you disagree, ask someone from the Main Line outside of Philadelphia.

  59. 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.

    1. Wow! I'd hate to be your Southern enemy.

    2. A proud Virginian here who’s ancestors date back to 1609 in Jamestown. I would say true southerners are anything but aspirational. Come visit UVA or William and Mary and note the unassuming manners and well bred sense of style. We too have our own traditions, antiques, and mannerisms... the most important of which is we are never rude. Bless your heart.

    3. Thank you, Ferd, for bringing up the vexed topic of Southern faux prep. The South is infested with prep wannabes at this point; it has reached epidemic levels over the course of the past decade. Who are these folks? A mixed bag but for the most part, either transplants from Pennsylvania or Ohio or Michigan or wherever (not that there's anything wrong with that), light-blue-collar Southerners with their noses pressed up to the glass of country- and yacht-club life (not that there's anything wrong with that), and folks who converted to Episcopalianism last year (not that there's anything wrong with that). Behold them in their ubiquitous bow ties, their aggressive seersucker, their obnoxious Vineyard Vines pastels, their look-at-me Lilly prints, their tasteful pearls and their brand-new monogrammed belt buckles. Oh my, all the ostentatious, obsequious adherence to all the codes, always getting them almost right... but not quite. If you don't believe me, just spend a weekend in Charleston with your eyes open. The place is lousy with these clowns and their cosplay antics. Emmy Slattery and Jonas Wilkerson have officially moved into Tara.

  60. Humorous post followed by wonderful replies
    (with the exception of Ferds last reply, it was just in poor taste IMHO)
    Love your blog Muffy

  61. Anon 3:10 - I assume you also thought that the two initial references to "snobbish Yankees" were also offensive?

  62. anonymous 3:06 here. Regretfully I missed the "snobbish yankees" comment when I was reading the replies.. Had I read it I would not have commented at all.

  63. Personally I thought Ferd's first post was in poor taste too.

  64. @Greenfied 1.43pm and Muffy: Let me just add to this that (navy) blue and buff / khaki / beige / ... colours are standards in any traditional European set, too, so the link may be to military dress (army / navy) indeed, but with a broader than just the US war of independence context. While "prep" is often considered one of the classic US export styles, there has been an exchange in "fashions" (horribile dictu!) and social dress norms since at least the late 19th century.

  65. Chris from New HampshireJanuary 6, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    Count me in as a Ferd fan. If you are going to cross the line, do it well!

  66. Sartre:
    I completely agree!

  67. The less said about some posts, the better. The Viceroy is correct. My husband is British, and so is a lot of our aesthetic.

  68. Ferd, you might consider going a little further back in New England's history. I suggest looking up Triangular trade before issuing such a statement. My apologies, Muffy.

  69. I do hate when I miss the north/south debate but a ski trip in the Berkshires (alleged prep fail) kept me away.

    As a graduate of one of the southern universities mentioned, I am under the impression that the students as a whole are much more clean cut than their northern counterparts. You don't have to call it prep if you don't want to, but I would still rather look at frat boys in bow ties and girls in pretty dresses than some of the alternatives. Anything that encourages clean, proper dressing is a win in my book.

  70. Dear Ferd for further reference you might want to Google Brown family of Rhode Island and Slavery along with Delano family and Opium before you throw stones at the South. We Southerners own our history with slavery as I think all Yankees should. Yankee families made a lot of their money transporting both slaves and opium.

  71. I would add a few things to the "are you still preppy if..."list:

    1) If you have cats instead of dogs

    2) Aren't a White Anglo Saxon Protestant

    3) Prefer blue jeans to khakis (I know this has been discussed before)

    4) Don't boat, sail, etc. because you can't swim (I know, but it's a phobia)

    5) Don't drink alcohol (Not for any official reason, but just don't like the taste)

    6) Vote Liberal/Labor/Democrat

  72. Dear Muffy Readers,

    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!

    1. Wow! You quoted Churchill and used anent. I bet you are a hoot at a party.

  73. Personally, I really enjoyed the humor in the comments of this post. I wish I had Ferd's ability to make a point while being very funny.

  74. Wow, Ferd, you really outdid yourself this time. Is humility part of the prep ethos?

  75. Chris from New HampshireJanuary 7, 2013 at 8:11 PM

    Ha! I wish when people called me ignorant of history I could pull out those credentials! Chris from Team Ferd!

  76. Wow! This post really drew comments!
    I find it so interesting when Americans find themselves seeking "class" distinctions. (Downton Abbey fans take note!) Historically, we take pride in abandoning such social restrictions, and yet I suppose psychologists could enlighten us on the universality of such tendencies and anthropologists inform of us the human propensity for creating heirarchy.
    And so, discussion of a lifetsyle/tradition departs from the philosophical, and descends to the superficial (apparent contradiction in "direction" intended), and so we find ourselves contemplating clothing labels, colors of attire, forms and venues of recreation, etc.
    I first visited this blog a month ago as a curious exploration of the state of "preppy" in 2012. I had rather forgotten the term since graduating a Seven Sisters college in 1985, and thought I would be reminiscing about loafers, oxford button-downs and Fair Isle sweaters. Instead I discovered lovely photos of my beloved New England landscape, interesting discussions on carefully-considered (reference to responsible stewardship) lifestyle choices, and I feel encouraged to examine my own practices.
    I do have to fight my own natural tendencies to feel inferior, as I do not own a yacht, and can rarely afford to ski. My ancestors arrived late to New England (during The Great Increase in the mid- to late-17th Century -- no Founding Fathers), and I attended public school in Southeastern Massachusetts (I didn't even really know what a prep school was). I continue to be hopelessly unathletic. So this Yankee will plod along in my thrifty, practical way, being more intentional in my purchases of quality, well-made products, and try harder to incorporate healthy recreational activity in my life. I have enjoyed all of the comments, and hope to see more, thoughtful (as opposed to more thoughtful) discussions in the future. Thanks for providing grist for the mill, Muffy! Keep up the good work!

  77. As ab African American woman who is certainly neither white nor Anglo-Saxon (but Anglican), by most measures, am quite un-prep. Along the way, I have amassed a number of truly preppy friends because somehow I (and my family) seem have more in common with them than many other people. As a black "prep" I think I get a free pass for doing a number of un-prep things, since I can never really be admitted to the club. So, I carry my Louis Vuitton handbags, wear black(though I do prefer navy), jeans, love Target and I never leave the house without mascara, lipgloss and blush (in the winter). It's rather freeing really. I heartily recommend being a black prep!

  78. Dear Ferd & Rachel:

    Triangle trade we had, not so sure about abolitionism. Our moss-covered clan owned slaves right here in CT as late as the 1690's, handing them down them in their wills for all the town to see. Not exactly slack in the rum department, either, we have ships' documents showing regular runs to the Dutch and French-held West Indies right up until the Embargo of 1812. (It's been all downhill from there . . . )kk

    While scads of us took up arms against the gouty King George, it's interesting that not one man Jack among 'em bothered to fight for the Union in the War Between the States. I suppose a variety of inferences might possibly be drawn from this . . .

  79. Looey-bags pass if they're hand-me-downs! ;)

  80. Spot on WendyBee. I think the reason Muffy's blog is so popular is it reaches beyond geographical divides pulling us together with our shared values of thrift and being unpretentious. Charm and good manners are hallmarks of being brought up in a nice family even if that family hasn't had money for generations. Maybe Preppy and WASP aren't the right labels for the 21st century maybe we need a more inclusive one, a name that doesn't define you as someone who attended a prep school or one that doesn't assume you are a White Protestant. Just a thought...

  81. Greenfield... My Tennessee family all fought for the Union and the funny thing is Scott County TN seceded from the Confederacy. History is so much more interesting when we study our own family's role in it, don't you think?

  82. Rachel, what a nice sentiment and well said. Thank you for expressing that.

  83. All the observations about "you are preppy if...." were at once quite entertaining and sometimes incisive. Personally, I subscribe to "preppy-ness" in most matters because I am comfortable with the style cues and it helps to keep things a little simpler in this era of overwhelming choices and commercially induced changes and trends. My "wheels" include an older Jaguar, a Jeep SUV and a vintage MG. I also have a sailboat, belong to a yacht club, used to ski and am active in a local historical society. I favor oxford button-down collar shirts for both everyday wear and, coupled with a silk repp or motif tie for dressier occasions. I'm not above purchasing good clothes wherever I find them - e.g., RL shirts at T.J. Max and Dockers khakis wherever they are sold. My tastes include madras, Nantucket red and traditional solid colors for summer shorts and slacks (coupled with Topsider footwear), surcingle belts - worsted wool or flannel in the winter and corduroy in both fall and winter. I haven't bought any suits in several years, having kept those I have for quite a while. Although I don't often wear suits or sports jackets as much as in the past, I always wear a suit or jacket and tie to church. I also like to wear a sorts jacket or navy blazer when dining at nicer restaurants, but not at any of the chain restaurants where we sometimes go. (I don't care which one as long as I can get a decent martini and a glass of wine.) So what does that make me and does it matter to anyone except me?? I'm happy with what I like.

  84. Rachel: Seceded from the Confederacy??! WOW! That must be a great story--ditto what you said about history being most interesting when "We" were there!

  85. I love Rachel's comment
    "I think the reason Muffy's blog is so popular is it reaches beyond geographical divides pulling us together with our shared values of thrift and being unpretentious. Charm and good manners are hallmarks of being brought up in a nice family even if that family hasn't had money for generations. "

    Previous to this blog post I didn't follow the comment section I'm revisiting old posts just to read the comments!

  86. All the true preps I know vote for democrats.

  87. Thought for the day: Is it preppy to have a PhD?

  88. I'm from a state that seceded from the Confederacy, sort of, but I don't think any preppies came from where I'm from. True, there are decidedly preppy institutions there but they're operated by people from out-of-state.

    Speaking of Confederates, my wife is a direct decendent (on her mother's side) of the adjutant general of the Confederate Army. He's her great-great-great grandfather (hope I have all the greats straight--even after 34 years I get confused). He was from New York! But he had married a Southern belle, the grandaughter of George Mason. No doubt he had conflicted loyalties. But that's all on my wife's side; I'm descended from no one in particular.

  89. I'm not an educator nor do I know much about the roots of "Prep Schools" in America but I do know my ancestor was a trustee of The Huntsville Academy in Scott County Tennessee. It was founded in 1851 so that children from the area could get a high school education. It was also coeducational and graduates from the academy became teachers in and around the South. If Prep Schools by definition prepared one for higher education and college is not this Southern academy a Prep School?

  90. Being "preppy" to me means a person who has a set of values, manners and background arising from a certain type of upbringing, that usually includes prep school, although there are exceptions.

    I don't agree with Ferd on a lot of things, especially the assertion that preppy women aspire to look old...forget that! I'm happy to avoid that for as long as possible!! Here is my list:

    Jet ski and snow board instead of sail and ski~ snow board ok, jet ski no. Why is snowboarding vulgar?? We all had snurfers when we were kids, and that is one step away from a snowboard. Although a lot of the ultra-preps freeheel around here, regular skiing & snowboarding are both ok too.

    Vacation at theme parks~ two of my ultra-prep sisters LOVE Disney. Its not something I like, but they do...I don't think it disqualifies them from the prepsterhood.

    Vacation on cruise ships~ ok if it is super deluxe and you are over 60 (like my parents).

    Put chemicals/fertilizers/dyed mulch on your lawn ~ heavens no!

    Watch reality television ~ ok for Hillbilly Handfishing when you are watching with your teenage sons.

    Get your suits at Jos. A Banks ~ no

    Buy new wood furniture with a high gloss finish ~ maybe a lovely small piece of new chinoiserie with a shiny black finish...

    Eat family dinners at local chain restaurant ~ no ~ usually disgusting

    Get your exercise at a gym instead of out of doors ~ why not do both?

    Buy your clothes at a mall ~ sometimes ok if you can find anything

    Drive a car that gets less than 15 miles per gallon ~ ok if you can live with being a despoiler of the environment

    For men- Have visible product and/or highlights in hair ~ NO! Eww!

    For wome- Wear more than two kinds of make-up ~ OK especially for those of us over 50

    Shop at Walmart, Kohl's, Target, Ikea and other box stores ~ Walmart & Kohl's, NO! Ugh!! Target & Ikea ~ OK!! Ikea is nice for young people just starting out.

    Have kitchens with lots of granite and stainless steel ~ OK if not done in a tacky overly grand kind of way in a small house. But if you have a grand house, a big professional kitchen is normal, although usually large expanses of granite counters are not necessary.

    Have Louis Vuitton luggage and/or handbags ~ not if its got the logo all over it.

    Get plastic surgery ~ I'm not against others having a little nip/tuck if not noticed & talked about. I myself am too scared.

    Leave your scent in a room after you are gone ~ if it is nice, it can be lovely.

    Come from some place other than New England ~ some of the best & preppiest preps are Southerners (although I am from the New England team. Southern prep is a little different, much warmer and more polite than the cold northern variety...must be all that hot sauce they use

    Get all of your antiques from shops and flea markets, rather than from family members ~ ok if Mom & Dad haven't forked any over yet.

    Buy jewelry from a mall store ~ no

    Follow NASCAR ~ stands for Non Athletic Sport Centered Around Rednecks. I have no desire to ever see this. But I've been to Grand Prix in Canada with European friends, and loved it (although I doubt I'll ever go again). Saratoga is the limit of my racing interest.

    Wear nail polish with sparkles ~ No way!

    Drive a non-European car ~ sure! some US models are very prep, especially dark blue Fords & Chevys. A lot of the Euro cars are now pretentious, and we should support US industry.

    Wear black during the day ~ this is totally fine in this day and age.

    Note: Vermont and Connecticut still have a large dosage of top-drawer prepsters. In fact, the preppies I know from Northwestern CT are the best! And there are certainly many warm-weather places that are very nice, such as the Hobe Soumd area in Florida.

  91. All of these comments seem to still revolve around the Caucasian race though... But how do preps (both northerners and southerners) really feel when an Asian or african american or say, latino wants to be preppy?

  92. 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!

    1. This is utter nonsense. Have you never heard of Quakers? They’ve been around the Philadelphia area since the 1680s. In addition, the point of buying a house and raising children on the Main Line is that they will grow up to have no discernible accent.

  93. @Ferd - You bring up many good points, and many funny points. Personally, I do not subscribe to the orthodox prep world view, which I believe you describe, and instead see it as more evolving and inclusive. Regardless, however, I also disagree with the Magic Vendors view, that somehow there is this secret place where true preps shop that magically does all things right. While any prep may not have to think about if they need a good blazer or a good pair of khakis, where to find decent ones takes a bit of conversation. It used to be, but isn’t any longer. One must be careful even at J. Press these days. Similarly, if preps don't influence classic prep manufacturers, for example, non preps will, and we have all seen how that turns out.

  94. Chris from New HampshireJanuary 10, 2013 at 8:33 AM

    It is often the astute outsider that comes in to a culture and appreciates and help maintain what is wonderful. Of course, in the other 95% of the situations, the outsiders come in because they are attracted to a place or culture, and then proceed to subvert everything they like. Some bloggers, for example, less than a few years after they are exposed to prep, start using phrases like "We preps aren't always stuffy. We have our wild side." This is equivalent to the couple finding a classic neighborhood, moving in, and building a giant, over-sized house, that then sends the local board scrambling to change the zoning laws to prevent it from ever happening again.

  95. There are many many "born again" preps in the world.

    There are daily "born again Preppy" events similar to the scene in the classic movie "The Jerk" with Steve Martin. When Steve Martin realizes that his adopeted family of African Americans in the Mississippi Delta region does not share his inner culture and that he is--in fact--a Big Band Music Loving White Man--he has an experience similar to the "Prep Born Again" experience.

    Their is a huge movement in Latin America away from the mainline traditional garb and over to Prep.

    Huge inroads have been made by Prep Missionaries in Asia. Japan has been largely converted to Prep away from their Traditional Shinto Samurai Kimonos by both men and women.

    Some of the tribal peoples in the jungles of Borneo and New Guineau have been converted and one can see Fed Ex deliveries of J.Press suits, ties and shirts into the treehouses of the many and varies tribal peoples all around Indonesia, New Guineau and Polynesia.

    Muffy Aldrich has done a great proseltizing service in bringing the truths of Prep to the gentile world.

    Prep has welcomed all peoples including WASPS, Celts, Gentiles, Africans, Asians, members of Islam etc.

    J.Press is making Islamic bow ties and hot pink traditional Islamic garb for females. The J. Press and Brooks Brothers haberdashers have put their fine tailors to work crafting Prep "Lawrence of Arabia" Desert Islamic wear for men and women.

    Their are reports of the Taliban Fighters in the Hindu Kush Mountains donning clothing similar to those worn by Prince Charles Windsor and Harry Windsor of the House of Windsor.

    Many Chinese Communist Party officials have enrolled their boys into Eton, Harrow and Rugby.

    The poorly written (his poor grammar and spelling on display) "crab (or lobster!) in the bucket" pitiful and sad critic who hopes to somehow perpetuate the fading "guardian of preppy" goal (see GOP Guardians of Priv/Prep) has failed.

    There are countless millions of preps in Japan/China/Israel and even Prep Jihadists.

    Some of the 911 hijackers wore tweed jackets and various Barbour Coats on their final preppy mission.

    Ralph Lauren stands as the greatest and most successful missionary of Prep in the world.

    One of the largest private land owners on the planet, a great philanthropist and someone who has brought joy and good clean fun to millions--Mr. Ralph Lauren is the modern epitome of cool, hip, clean moral Prep.

    Prep is for all peoples not only the chosen. Prep is for all the world's peoples.

  96. Ferd, there are some specific points that you have never addressed and, all sarcasm aside, I would like to hear what you have to say about them. For example, Rachel's example of a southern academy- why is that not a prep school? You have cited that there is a clear definition of prep being specific to the NE and to look it up online, but I don't think that reference is as easily found as you think it is. I know you think either you are or aren't a prep (and actually I rather agree even though our definitions differ), but I don't think it makes sense to comment at all if you aren't going to get a little more specific than "it is because I say so."

  97. This is not a thread for those who do not have a good sense of humor!

  98. Ben, I think I have a decent sense of humor. However, it's confusing when people start off tongue in cheek (I think) but then seem to bring out the daggers. Just my opinion. Maybe a lot is getting lost in translation.

  99. However, I do think it's possible that Ferd is a made up persona created to poke fun at all of us. Is it possible that anyone is that dogmatic?

    If that's the case, well done Ferd. You have certainly gotten everyone whipped up.

  100. Sigh. One of the many tasks asked of us at prep school was to pay attention. LG, 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 Wasp Decor 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?

  101. Hi LG,

    IMHO, Ferd is so close in tone to the original Preppy Handbook, perhaps pre final edit! Plenty of truth, plenty of poking fun, plenty of wit, plenty of daggers. These are all flavors of accurate observations. A purist in perspective to be sure. Hi Ferd!

  102. Ah! The Muffy World!

    I am ever so delighted to be here.

    Your obedient servant,
    The shabby gentleman

  103. couldn't agree with ferd more. there is no such thing as a southern prep.

    look at it this way: one will never be a cowboy in new england even if he drives a beat up truck and wears wranglers, ropers, and a stestson.

    context is everything.

  104. @Ferd:
    And at my southern all girls school we learned that the proper grammar is "Won’t you all please just leave Muffy and ME alone?"
    (Come on, give me credit for that one!)
    Seriously, I thought your comments about southern indolence and sweat were funny and I appreciate the answer. I will leave you alone now.

  105. I think Ferd might have a point about Southerners not being Preppy. Now if that means being a descendant of the Puritans then naturally we are not Yankee Preps. We Southerners are very often descendants of the younger sons of the British Landed Gentry, as some families in Maryland are. We Southern Cavaliers should simply be content to be charming , humble, inclusive, well mannered and decent human beings.

  106. LG,

    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)(LG, 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 Asian 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.

  107. Sorry Ferd but Williams can't be prep.My Great grand father,grand father, father and I all went to Williams. There must be a mistake.

  108. Oh _dearest_ Ferd! You must, repeat MUST, grace MuffyWorld with your presence again. You have done truly estimable service in Keeping the Flame, pulling the threadbare Oriental out from beneath the questionably-shod feet of ANYone whose ancestors didn't book passage from the dour hearthsides of East Anglia once upon a time in those small, cold, leaky boats with names belike "Arbella!"

    Yes, Southern gentmun' have their own claims to fame--younger sons of the Cavaliers indeed, but lacking in a certain, shall we say, practical seriousness and thrift which can only accrue to the Puritan once-born. . . as for Midwesterners, they espy us at 600 yards and loathe us on sight. . . best not to let on! ;)

    I am not making this up. Those who dare to know the true story, it's there for the reading in "Albion's Seed." Much will be explained there, too, about the regional flavors of God, guns, and glory.

    Wicked good, Ferd, wicked good . . .

  109. Interesting and witty reading. I drive a Yukon rather than a Range Rover but Colby '70 trumps . . . Thanks Muffy.

  110. I don't know whom I love more - Ferd or Greenfield.

  111. Ferd Aldrich for President.

  112. If Williams is Prep, Middlebury and several others also are.

  113. I have spent time on both the Bowdoin campus and the Colby campus this week. I can assure you, neither are preppy anymore.

  114. This posting was great...very funny, in a juvenile way! I am in agreement with Mr. Rowe.

    If you are an adult and you have to question or seek validation on the "preppiness" of something or someone, then this amounts to someone telling you how you must live your life and in what manner
    (much the same as a parent and child).

    If you have, in the back of your mind, a constant questioning of what is "preppy" then that is not living. Do as you wish! "Preppy" (I truly hate that word because it sounds so juvenile in this context) is just a word describing a way of life and dress.

    Be an adult and do as you wish. Dress to your prerogative. And to all naysayers whom you feel may question your "preppiness", tell them GTH.

  115. Must say how much I enjoyed Wasp Decor's recent post on rescued pets, which references this post. Prep or not, that cat is just adorable!

  116. Reading all of these comments has been too much fun for words. Questions for Ferd and everyone else about what is prep:

    A Subaru Forester
    W&L and Hampden Sydney
    Marble countertops
    Smeg refrigerators
    Belgian shoes

    I don't make the rules, but I cannot accept any logos as prep, and that includes RL's pony. I used to think the alligator was okay, but then....

  117. To Anon 10:46 - Subaru Outback - Yes, (a best seller in New England), Forester - No. The rest seem more southern and mid-Atlantic. I agree with your logo point unless you are female, because there just aren't that many other options. P.S. It was a crocodile, not an alligator...

  118. In the WASPy environs of the part of New England where I was brought up, the moms all shopped at Marshall's, aka "Grubby's", the Target of its day. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

  119. My husband's Harris Tweeds have never cost us more than $15 at the consignment shop......that is , except for the one his mother bought him.

  120. Preppy: many of the things being listed here.

    There is a difference between being Preppy and being a WASP.

    By definition, one does not need to be a WASP to be preppy. However, most WASPs seem to be preppy.

    In the Northeast, the old definition of WASP included the mainline Protestant denominations that included the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, the Congregationalists, the Presbyterians and some smaller Protestant groups.

  121. I was born and raised in Maine and very much relate to this blog. Regarding this post, if you have to think about whether you are or are not preppy, you likely are not. Being preppy *is* a state of mind. It's all about the culture in which one was brought up...when you're from New England, it's easy to recognize.

  122. I will add that some preppy New Englanders view the South unfavorably. For instance, my father would not allow me to attend college in the south as he viewed Southern schools inferior to Northern schools, especially those in NE.

  123. In my opinion, based on how I was raised, Ferd is spot on with his comments...

  124. Ferd,

    I am sure your thoughts on Philly and the South are absolutely right but then viewed from my part of the world, this whole New England is rather nouveau and lacking history as much as class, too, isn't it?

    My wife is Iranian, from a long established family. She always tells me that when her ancestors lived in splendour and elegance, mine still lived on trees ...

    Everyone finds his master, no?


  125. KK - And in my opinion if Ferd is serious, then he may be spot on but he's also rude.

    Of course, it's considered rude in the south to call someone else rude.


  126. I believe that I'm finally catching on about prep and something else (WASP?). The list below is NOT prep because of two things that come to mind: 1. too Suth-ruhn and 2. more turf than surf.

    Sweet Briar (even though school colors are pink and green)
    DAR, Society of the Cincinnati
    Old Virginia family
    Jack Rogers (but no metallics)
    Iced tea & coconut cake
    Seersucker suits (after Memorial Day)

    It's okay, though. As the belles say, "We're just like you only prettier," and "Bless your heart."

  127. This thing still running?

    Sweet Briar? Well, if you have money. Plain folks go to Longwood. My wife, however, went to Mary Washington.

    Society of the Cincinnati? My Best Man in our wedding in D.C. was a member. Very exclusive, much more so than our wedding.

    Old Virginia family? Well, actually, pretty much all families are old in Virginia and frankly, it doesn't mean as much as you'd think. It sort of depends.

    Jack Rogers? Never heard of him. But there's Jack Daniels and Jack Russels.

    Iced tea? Summertime and the living is easy.

    Don't wear suits much anymore.

    Y'all take care now, you hear! Come back when you can stay longer.

  128. Ha, BlueTrain, funny and true. If you, your parents or grandparents were born in VA prior to WWII, chances are excellent you are from a technically old VA family. Effort bonus points for insinuating a connection to Pocahontas : ) Actual bonus points for membership in the Jamestowne Society.

  129. Oh, no! I think your family needed to be here from before the Civil War (The English one, not the American one). But it's not that simple. Even then I doubt you'd qualify as FFV. Now, the DAR (for the girls) is a little more technical on the matter but it costs something to join. The really hard part is getting born into the right family.

    Naturally, all this is just Virginia. To the south, in North Carolina, there's none of this kind of stuff but they make up for it in South Carolina. However, to the north, just across the Potomac in both Maryland and D.C., all the rules are different and your sort of have to start all over learning things. But moving across the river just isn't done for trivial reasons. One very good reason is because you married someone from over there. You have to move wherever your wife is from, or suffer the consequences. The children tend to move as far away as possible, although Hawaii, for all its attractions, is considered farther than necessary. San Diego is almost perfect but the truly adventurous Preppie will find a reason to live in Kabul or Pristina. The incurably footloose but less adventurous would naturally find something to do in Bangkok until he can move back into the old family home.

    1. Well, I see that didn't miss it first time round after all. Here's an update:

      The incurably footloose (the one who was kicked out of prep school) is still living in Kabul. The old family home, in the family since before the Civil War, is neglected and vacant. Only one family member has moved as far as California. Things aren't working out all that well at the moment.

    2. My Great Grandmother used to say that North Carolina was a vale of humility between two mountains of conceit.

  130. Blue Train, I take it your a fellow Virginian. There are many that qualify as an FFV. The clinch is getting 'the invitation'. Once must never, never, ever inquire. You wait to be asked. And your wrong about North Carolina. My family was one of the first settlers in Virginia (my grandfather was in the first house of Burgesses and died during session on the house floor.) They eventually moved a bit south to sttle North Carolina and I am also a member of FF of North Carolina. I don't get all this 'preppy' debate - most of us that live here and are from old families are WASP-y, but yet no one talks about it.

  131. I would like to know if having two middle names is a sign of being a prep?

  132. @Paul Connors


  133. Hmmm. It's an age-old conundrum, similar to the question, can a white man sing the blues?

  134. Two middle names is a sign of being a Brit!

  135. Fhe Following has been written in some haste because of time constraints so it is requested that typos, grammar checks and other oversights be forgiven. The need to go forward was pressing and we do appreciate the grace granted.

    The time has arrived for many "Daily Prep" devotees to accept the reality that much like L. Ron Hubbard' Scientology--"Prep" is a defined "Religion".

    It has been reported that many members of the United States Military (Officers, Non-Coms and enlisted) have designated "Prep" as their "Religion" on their Dog Tags.

    I have placed the following Inscription on my Tiffany Neck Medalion---"In Case of Serious Accident Please Call a "Preppy Priest".

    The "Priesthood of Preppy" requires many years of study at Preppy Seminaries.

    Skull and Bones, Yale are the Pontifical Institutes of the High Priesthood of "Prep".

    Though a "Convert" to the Preppy Faith---Ralph Lauren is generally regarded as the Pope of the Preppy American Church.

    Pope Lauren has spoken on several occasion in an "Ex Cathedra" way and when he does so he speaks "Infallibly" on Preppy Matters of Supreme importance.

    When Pope Lauren I speaks "Ex Cathedra" it has been on issues effecting the entire world both Prep and Non-Prep.

    There are members of the "Anti-Prep" world who have sought to create "discord" in the Happy Kelly Green, Snappy Navy Blue world of Wool and Cotton.

    As dark as it may be the forces of "Anti-Prep" have sought to undermine the work of Pope Lauren I and his Preppy St. Peter's Basilica Enclave in Colorado.

    The Blue Blood Preppy Papal Guards stand at constant guard around St. Lauren's Preppy Papal Enclave.

    Pope Lauren I travels in the Prep Mobile which is a Classic Range Rover with a bullet proof protective glass box from which the Preppy Pope greets his many Prep Well Wishers.

    Yes, their is a Preppy Confessional in which Preppy Church members are encouraged to Confess Sins of Non-Prep thoughts and actions.

    The question of the existance of "Prep Heaven" has been raised and Pope Lauren has addressed the issue.

    Speaking "Ex Cathdera" Pope Lauren I stated in His now famous Encyclical "On the Reality of Preppy Heaven" that Preppy Heaven is an actual place and not "Merely a state of mind" as some have suggested.

    Are there "Martyrs" to the Preppy Faith?

    Yes, there have been a number of Preppy Martyrs through the centuries.

    Some of the best known have been during the "Disco and Woodstock" eras.

    Several Prep Martyrs were burned at the stake for their Preppy beliefs on the campus of The University of California at Berkley during the 1960's for refusing to dress as Hippie protesters.

    One Preppy Martyr died proclaiming that his J. Press tie would remain on his neck and his Roles GMT watch would remain on his arm until death.

    He was burned at the stake in a Barbour Border Coat with an L.L. Bean Norwegian Sweater on with Bill's Khakis Gokey Boots, Signal Flag motif cotton belt, wool socks and a Yale Ball cap on.

    He died singing the Yale University "fight song".

    More will be shared on the now "out of the closet" Religion of Prep soon.

    Others are now free to come forward to share their Preppy Faith.

    More will be written on the Sacraments of Prep.

    Their are Preppy Monks, Nuns, Missionaries etc.

    If much of the Prep Faith seems to be similar to the proseltizing efforts and hierarchy of other religions it is because many religions share similar aspects.

    Episcopals, Anglicans, Catholics, Russian and Greek Orthodox, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims all have hierarchies and headquarters as well as "Doctrines", "Saints" etc.

    More later!

    Keep the Preppy Faith!!!!

    Long Live Pope Lauren I

  136. Thanks for the refreshing "re-posting" of this one. The comments in 2013 took a noticeable journey from early responses who saw the humor in the list, giving way to much more serious and specific reactions. For me, satisfied to see that velour was in its proper place, as in not included! Cheers.

  137. Good heavens! 142 comments for one post! Obviously, there are many definitions of preppy.

    I agree with Rachel - maybe we need a more inclusive name. And I agree that Muffy's blog "reaches beyond geographical divides pulling us together with our shared values of thrift and being unpretentious. Charm and good manners are hallmarks of being brought up in a nice family.”

    For me, having good manners is the most important. I don't mean manners as in table manners, etc., but as in being gracious and having the ability to put other people at ease in all sorts of situations.

    My family is British, but I was raised primarily in the South and there is no one more preppy than my brother (including my New England partner who went to a prep school and an Ivy League university).

  138. I missed this first time round. My only addition is to say that a Series II Land-Rover with a 4-cylinder gasoline engine will not get more than 15 miles to the gallon under any conditions, although it will never get much worse, either. Also, Volvo 240s go through a lot of mufflers.

  139. What a great way to start the day!

  140. My favorite comment:
    “Can you be preppy if you totally despise the term "preppy" and prefer Trad or Ivy because "preppy" implies adolescent”

  141. I always thought it was a mindset--not something you attain through buying stuff you feel completes the "look." Be well, be frugal, and be happy. And if you do buy things, spend a little more than you normally would. Buy for necessity and quality. But conspicuous consumption has very little to do with being preppy. Anyone can buy a Brooks Brothers suit on eBay and pretend. It's the integrity you live by, the respect for others, and the learned wisdom that makes it so.

  142. Any person that is truly comfortable with themselves or are genuinely trying would have a set of values, principles and priorities in life. The choices that we make are merely an expression of these values, principles and priorities, which form our internal compass. Deviation from this internal compass would likely result in cognitive dissonance, and internal unrest. Contemporary psychological consensus holds that the personalities are fully developed at 25, and thus no longer malleable. Trying to make choices that do not align with your internal compass is doing yourself a disservice. While, you may derive some satisfaction from trying to be like someone else, however, this satisfaction would be short lived if the choices that were made as a result were antithetical to the manifestations of your internal compass. The preps made choices that were aligned with their internal compass, blindly copying their choices is not going to do any good for everyone. The preps lived their best lives by living through their internal compass. So, instead of focusing on the what is preppy and what is not, we should be focusing on the imposing a value system (along with the merits and demerits of said values), rather the the superficial aspects.

  143. All the checklist to be Preppy, or to signify what Preppies do, are just that. Checklists. Real Preppies might not meet many of the boxes on the checklist because they are not busy ‘doing’. They are busy ‘being’. Preppy is a state of being, an existence. As an aristocrat once said: ‘ Earls don’t do. Earls just are.

  144. It is not a long way from fun to satirical reality.

  145. All lists relating to Prep/Trad/Ivy is really a justification to be Qualified. In the past, I have stuck with the following qualifiers:
    1. Does the over all look fall inline with the overall idea?
    2. Will the clothing items transcend time? Also is the quality of the item going to last the value of the purchase?
    3. Do you feel comfortable looking like someone who cares to dress a step above the rest?

  146. I think that Ferd's comments illustrate the association of "preppy" with "juvenile."

    1. Then you probably would not have understood the tongue-in-cheek of the Preppy Handbook.

  147. Can you still be preppy if you "summered" on a construction site? If your boat has a 250 HP outboard instead of a sail? If you know that a "tractor pull" has no connection to the Farmers' Market?


    1. Yes, if you were extending the summer house, your family owned the outboard motor company, and you have a ranch or a farm.

    2. Sounds a bit nouveau, but okay, maybe.

    3. Not in the least bit nouveau riche. Look at most old houses in New England and they grow over generations with additions. Plenty of families who can afford to pay 45K to 55k for boarding schools own their own companies. It was a tongue in cheek response to a tongue in cheek response. There is absolutely nothing wrong with working construction, nor in driving a motor boat.

  148. I don't think there's any such thing as a genuine "preppy" nowadays. Plenty of affectators, aping the style or attempting to project they live the life. The real deal was an ethos, not a "look," and it was the product of tradition, lineage, privilege, money, and manners distilled into a vastly ritualized tribal culture. I enjoyed partaking of the end-times of all of that, and look back on it fondly.

    Today's Volvo is not your granddad's Volvo, and I think that pretty much says it all.

    1. My wife's grandfather (on her mother's side) was on the staff of a boy's boarding school in Virginia and the only car he ever owned was a 1929 Ford, which was still at the house when my father-in-law passed away about ten years ago. They never had much money but the family did have some notable antecedents. Being in Virginia, there was plenty of tradition and ancestor worship but few privileges. We did have Volvos, though, and the first one we had for eighteen good years. Presently we have a Ford and a VW. My wife won't let me buy a Mercedes or a pickup truck.

    2. Preps at UT-Austin, SMU, TCU drive F-150 Ford trucks. A couple of years later, Toyota Highlander, Subaru Outback, or similar vehicles for kids. Retired Preps, a Caddy maybe then a German or English made vehicle.....or a Lexus.

  149. So much overlap: preppy, wasp, gentleman (lady), rake (maybe), upper-middle/upper class, trad, old-money, and so forth. None has a precise, rigorous definition. Perhaps all preppies attend or attended a prep school, but not all graduates of prep schools are preppies. Eh, wot?

  150. Wait, Jos Bank is on that list?? I come from Baltimore, a VERY preppy place and that's the go-to for suits here.

  151. Funny thing, IKEA. I'll come to it's defense:

    1) If you have a taste for Swedish food, the market there is very nice. I worked with a number of Swedish expats for a while, and as a seafood lover anyway, became fond of Swedish items. We even had surstromming together (which to the southern Swede is about as strange as it is to an American, so we were on a level playing field). They carry Kalle's Kaviar, a nice variety of herring preparations that aren't just the usual mayonnaise kind found in US stores, knackebrod, everything you need for midsommar (minus snaps), and pepparkaka around Christmas. Those that live around a Swedish diaspora may have better options, but it received an honest endorsement from my expat friends. I stop in a few times a year to stock up on the aforementioned.

    2) I live in an old city building that was last majorly renovated in the early 1920s. As you can imagine, the dimensions of everything are small. When I was moving in, I couldn't believe how huge even trivial things are nowadays in the US (utensil trays that wouldn't fit in the old drawers, you name it). Since IKEA is European, items like dish racks and utensil trays are often a little smaller, and have become my clutch play when dealing with old-house dimensions.

  152. When I think of salt water New England, the kind of person who comes to mind is not "preppy." A preppy person, in my opinion, is someone who feels the need to advertise their wealth and social status on the outside; and this can be a natural disposition or a consciously acquired one. In other words, a preppy person is flashy more often than not. And "preppy" has far more to do with lifestyle than what school one went to, despite the original intended definition.

    Meanwhile, the salt water New Englander is still a WASP but a very specific type of WASP. He or she very probably did go to a prep school and/or an Ivy League college yet does not feel the need to advertise it anywhere other than perhaps the back window of their Subaru Outback or Toyota Land Cruiser. This is a person who buys or inherits quality items and keeps them until they absolutely fall apart. Clothes are neutral, understated, and highly practical above all else.

    The salt water New Englander is classic, timeless, and avoids trends.

    And perhaps most importantly, frugality is king.

  153. Those are priceless! Reminds me of a joke my father-in-law used to tell--"how do you tell a Nascar fan from an Indycar fan? The Indycar fan still has all of their teeth!"
    if your lawn looks bad

  154. Is it preppy to buy family antiques from a local shop because a close relative had a drinking problem and you had to buy them back? #askingforafriend

  155. Yes to everything except reality TV, chain restaurants, NASCAR and nail polish with sparkles.

  156. I'm a Texan and can substitute preppy with cowboy in most of these.

  157. I echo the comment above that there is no such thing as "true prep" these days. Many of us come from different place and I myself am a product of 2 different cultures. What I like from many (but not all, let me be clear) "saltwater" preps is that they are most of the time unstudied, unassuming and hopefully, unpretentious. To be a little too self-conscious according to the above list is, well, pretentious and anathema to what true prep is all about. I would never call myself "preppy" because to me, the word itself smacks of affectedness or being a little too studied. Be more effortless and natural, people! Live a little!

  158. And Good Lord, Ralph Lauren is as "preppy" as Abercrombie & Fitch! As in..."not really". Even when my school mates in the 80s were wearing RL polos and button-downs, I preferred Brooks Brothers at the time. And I believe that dear old Ralph Lifshitz learned his trade at B2, before moving on to Beau Brummell. He's done some nice things in his career and made some nice dosh out of trad clothing, but he certainly isn't the "pope of prep". 'Nuff said.


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