“It is the inalienable right of every man, woman and child to wear khaki…” – Introduction to ‘The Official Preppy Handbook’ by Workman Publishing, New York.
Then- In 1980 a small plaid handbook promised young adults that anyone could be Preppy. All they had to do was read how and they could go “…from crib to coffin, from desk to date, from the city to the island without one false step, knowing full well that whenever emergencies arise, you’ll know what to do, be it gatoring, debuting, or choosing a charity….”
(click handbook images to enlarge)
According to the handbook a preppy woman is to dress like a younger version of Mummy. It starts with the mother/daughter outfits and then later the daughter borrows clothing from her mother’s extensive wardrobe. Before long they’re sharing a charge card at Talbot’s.
Shoes- “Women’s shoes are divided into two distinct categories: work shoes and play shoes…”
Shirts– “They must be cotton and always tucked in. Collars, if possible, are turned up…“
Dresses- “Although less practical than separates…they do have the advantage of being simple, neat, and comfortable…”
Skirts- “Skirts like pants, tend to disguise rather than emphasize the female body…neat but not gaudy might be the best description…”
Pants- “Preppy women would never wear the kind of pants that you have to lie down in to zipper…”
Sweaters- “Apart from being useful in keeping the body warm, sweaters are part of layering, often British, and make dandy accessories…you can never have too many…”
Accessories- “More is more, and it all matches…Note: Prep women never take off their jewelry-pearls on the squash court are perfectly acceptable…”
Stores and Mail Order Catalogs- “L.L. Bean, Bass, The Country Store of Concord, Lilly Pulitzer, Murray’s Toggery Shop, Hillhouse, Orvis, J.Press, Brook’s Brothers, Paul Stuart, The Bermuda Shop, Burton Clothing Ltd., H.Stockton, Harold’s, Leslie and Co., Land’s End, Molterer Sports, Cable Car Clothiers, The Tog Shop, Trimingham Bros., Sousa & Lefkovits…”
Now- What’s old is new again! Preppy clothing from makers like L.L Bean, Orvis and Bass are back in the fashion spotlight as adults seek quality for their hard-earned money. But instead of dressing like Mummy or Daddy as the handbook dictated… the new Preps are putting their own fun and creative spin on these classics.
(Bottom photos- American Vogue Magazine)
Related Nibs post-
Vocabulary #46: Preppy 101