Excerpt: Lisa Birnbach & Chip Kidd's True Prep: It's a Whole New Old World

Needless to say, the Excerpt Reader adores book excerpts.

So it should come as no surprise at all if, upon a chance encounter with such an excerpt (and in his favorite non-literary magazine, of all places! - I'm referring to Vanity Fair, naturellement - 'The average Wasp's guide to every day life'), the Reader should be obliged to run and tell its readers all about it.

Well, what is it about this time, you ask?!

Oh hang on! I'm just about to tell you all about it.. But first read the excerpt yourself!

Some 31 years after publishing The Official Preppy Handbook in 1980 (gosh, has it been that long since the eighties??) - a book that 'cracked the Wasp code-and went on to become a huge best-seller' (did it? the Reader has never heard of it! Then again, it was born in 1979..) - editor and co-author Lisa Birnbach let's us have a glimpse at an excerpt from the update, entitled True Prep.

The new book, True Prep: It's a Whole New Old World (as the excerpt makes us understand) helps redefine 'preppy' and covers "the inevitable changes that are piercing blissful bubbles from Deer Isle to Jackson Hole" (with a short stop at such inventions as The Internet, Facebook, Mp3 - inventions that might seem today obvious to today's average joe-shmoe but to the average 1980's Prep are quite not, I'm sure.

So what is preppy??

Well, I'm glad you asked! Preppy is what preppy does (and wears, of course!) 
It is at once a 'lifestyle' and a vocation.
You can be born 'preppy' or turn into one as you grow older and acquire good taste, but be the circumstances as they may, you shouldn't ever ever fake it, as Birnbach makes it quite clear, in the following 'rule': 

You may wear a Harvard sweatshirt if: you attended Harvard, your spouse attended Harvard, or your children attend Harvard. Otherwise, you are inviting an uncomfortable question.

Well, enough prep-talk! Let's talk turkey!

Here are some preppy rules every average private-school Wasp, or any other preppy-wannabe should follow:

 - No drinking at lunch.

Well, that's a nice one. And very hard to follow if you belong to that whole New England social scene, or own a summer house in the Hamptons, but actually live there all year round..

O.K so how about some Fashion Rules ('preppy' is all about personal appearances, if you haven't understood by now..):

 - Your underwear must not show! Wear a nude-colored strapless bra. Pull up your pants. Wear a belt. Do something. Use a tie!

 - We do not display our wit through T-shirt slogans.
 - Nose rings are never preppy.
 - Neither (shudder) are belly-button piercings.
 - Nor are (two shudders) tongue studs..
And that goes for ankle bracelets as well!

But wait, there's more:

 - Every preppy woman has a friend who is a jewelry designer.
 - No man bags.
 - Preppies don't perm their hair.
 - Preppy men do not believe that comb-overs disguise anything.
 - You can never go wrong with a trench coat.
 - Sweat suits are for sweating. You can try to get away with wearing sweats to carpool, to pick up the newspaper, or to drive to the dump, but last time you were at the dump, the drop-dead-attractive widower from Maple Lane was there, too.

or how about Tattoos: 

 - Men who have been in a war have them, and that's one thing. (Gang wars don't count.)

Some more 'rules':

 - Women over the age of 15 may wear a simple black dress. Women over the age of 21 must have several in rotation.
 - High-heel rule: You must be able to run in them—on cobblestones, on a dock, in case of a spontaneous foot race.
 - Real suspenders are attached with buttons. We do not wear the clip versions.

 - Learn how to tie your bow tie. Do not invest in clip-ons.

...but MOST important:

We do not wear our cell phones or BlackBerrys suspended from our belts. (That includes you, President Obama.)

Thinking of going on holiday? Don't forgert to take your preppy handbook with you, and adhere to the following commandments:

 - Thou shalt not fly first-class. 
 - Thou shalt use thy frequent-flier miles whenever possible. 
 - Thou mayest fly business class if thy destination is more than five hours away.    
 - On board, the wine will not be fine; therefore drinkest beer or spirits.  -  - 
 - Naturellement, thou never wearest shorts, sweatpants, or flip-flops on an airplane, and thou shalt attempt not to sit next to a miscreant in such garments. 
 - If thou takest a sleeping pill, thou must try not to snore, Pookie. 

and on and on it goes..

VERDICT: DON'T BUY (Unless you've ever had a VF article written about you ..)

P.S. Haven't had enough?! Read on


  1. amusing!

    so, are u preppy ?

    i suspect u are....

  2. Is difficult!
    כנראה אני מאוימת מכל הקשור באופנה
    כך קראה אלי מקגרו לראיין אוניל בסוחט הדמעות האולטימטיבי
    Love Story
    And please answer your wife's question, for public interest.

  3. "yes, i am as preppy as can be!", he humbly said, bowing his head
    in self abasement (for he did not know Rian O'neal's
    LOVE STORY) Nor has he heard of Ellie McGrew.. (is that how you spell the dreadful name??)