I’ve recently discovered that many on the internet like to use their blogs to discuss a weekly event called Pink and Green Thursday based upon the preppy’s supposed favorite colors (more on that in the future). It does make one post a week rather easy. In that spirit, if not that letter, I’ll offer my discussion of the local goings-on.
Those in Georgetown tonight had the opportunity to meet Lisa Birnbach, author of the recently-published True Prep and the long out-of-print Official Preppy Handbook. The crowd was either dolled-up in their cocktail finest, or just out of work, depending on how unconscious you think they were of fashion. Some were certainly both. The press was on hand with a writer searching for those had either read the original or were willing to offer some commentary. I didn’t comment as I was neither being born, getting married, or dying, but the article should appear this weekend in the Washington Post’s style section.
At the urging of her many fans Birnbach gave a brief and delightful speech about her experiences writing the book and answered questions from the assembled crowd. One point she mentioned was the importance of charm. “We may not be very good with money, we may not be very good at school, but we have charm.” She was prompted to note this after gladly seeing that people were interacting with each other face-to-face, rather than via their cell phones, an ever-rarer art in Washington.
She also squashed rumors of a reprint of the OPH saying she hadn’t heard of it and offered some interesting history. Apparently, the OPH was supposed to be called “The Preppy Catalogue” when she was approached by publishers, extensively and exclusively focusing on the things – clothes, cars and crockery that made up the preppy class. Knowing that you couldn’t understand people just through their material inheritance she added in much about the life changes, attitudes and general joie-de-vivre that gave the original so much of its, dare I say, charm. This time around she wanted to take a more sociological approach and face the question of how the self-reflexively eternal deals with changing times and our new century. She added that she hoped it was perhaps a bit more intellectually challenging. Perhaps.
One of my favorite comments was when she discussed the obvious question: “Why Vineyard Vines?” It is, after all, so new. She explained that the first time she made the decision to not include what was then a new brand, Ralph Lauren’s Polo, assuming that it would soon fall by the wayside. She didn’t intend to make the same mistake this time.
Arnold Palmer’s and white wine were served, getting at least one aspect of the preppy sub-culture exactly right.