Friday, February 26, 2010

How-To wear rosettes, ruffles and such without being clownish- a guide to Spring 2010 fashion

Spring 2010 Fashion is for the most part quite feminine and flattering: finally a season that works for stylish, not faddish, smart and classic-style-savvy females across the globe! Preppies and non-Preps alike rejoice...
Above: tailored-ruffles from the Lilly Pulitzer 2010 offerings

Above: a wonderful Kate Spade pump that will be a perennial classic

Above: it doesn't get much better than this great Talbots spring look

Above: Ah, Chanel... edgy, young, feminine and still properly appropriate

After my last blog post with the garish ruffles n' rosettes picture at the top serving as the visual image for "Preppy In Extremis", I thought I'd do another post regarding the pretty-side of Spring 2010's fashion.

This one is a lot more pictures and a lot less text but in some cases, especially with fashion, a picture's worth a thousand words so it was fun utilizing pictures of Spring Fashion from the purveyors mentioned above and all images come from their websites. Check these websites out: they're terriffic resources for inspiration and future purchasing. I could literally purchase the-whole-lot from both the Talbots and the Ann Taylor catalogues this spring! ( well, if you haven't read it yet, the "Preppy Caught in the Hallway" post from earlier this month features more spring fashion ideas and information)
Ruffles, Rosettes and Romanticism... nothing in the bizarre' extreme thankfully but actually in a very flattering modern-interpretation for well dressed women, this spring and beyond....

Preppy In Extremis'... going over-the-top on into tacky

Whether acted consciously or subconsciously, too much of a good thing can be quite frankly, just literally too much. What is tasteful and even a might bit fanciful can quickly devolve into decidedly downright tacky when the cultural parameters of all-that-is-Preppy goes extreme. Hence, "Preppy In Extremis'".

Preppy In Extremis' takes class with a sense of humor spiraling on down into a comical cartoon that's clownish at best and embarrassing (or being embarrassed for the person) at worst. A Bingo the Clown wants his job back kind of uber-extremism. Some people do like clowns and I try to understand that however, if one's looking or acting like a clown, well then, that's the choice they have made I guess and the reactions towards that will be what they will be. But it's also taking classic Preppy beyond what-is truly Preppy on into some kind of distortion similar it seems to how bizarre' the latest interpretation of Alice In Wonderland is being portrayed via Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. I am a huge fan of the Alice In Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass books- even having the annotated versions of both. I also am usually a big fan of anything Tim Burton does but honestly, this latest film endeavour of his takes Gothic fantasy into downright freakishness which isn't appealing in the least. It's all just a tad bit too much!

And so without further ado, here's a listing of what I've been mulling-over as being too much in the Preppy Lifestyle category, aka Preppy In Extremis'. And remember that this is being listed with a bit of ironic humor, tongue-in-cheek cheekiness so enjoy and get a chuckle outta' it:

Preppy: Naming a dog or two after one's favorite drinks

Preppy In Extremis' (PIE): Naming all dogs past, present & future Brandy, Whiskey, etc.

Preppy: A dash of pink and green decor' around the house

PIE: Every single room in the house a tribute to the worship of all-things pink and green

Preppy: Enjoying one's work, hobbies & interests as embellishments to one's many-layered life

PIE: Having one's work, hobbies & interests define oneself and be the sole topics of conversation

Preppy: Enjoying one's house, cars, boat, horses, summer home, clothing, jewelry and so on

PIE: Being defined-by and being hyper-aware of these things in one's life as well as in other's lives

Preppy: Wearing a monogrammed sterling cuff bracelet

PIE: Wearing several pieces of monogrammed jewelry at the same time

Preppy: The little darlings dressed for school, church, a party in smocked dresses and big hair bows

PIE: The little darlings dressed like this to play out in the yard, a playground, a park

Preppy: Sperry Topsiders as a part of one's footwear wardrobe

PIE: Sperry Topsiders as the only thing one wears...even to church, weddings, charity gala's

Preppy: Entertaining in one's home

PIE: Giving a tour of one's home to dinner guests (unless said house is of significant historical interest)

Preppy: Engraved calling cards used as gift enclosures- tucked into a wrapped gift or floral bouquet

PIE: ...these days, in America, using one's calling cards for anything else than gift enclosures

Preppy: Layering one's clothing

PIE: Layering beyond 3-layers unless one's out skiing, mountaineering and the like

Preppy: Wearing Wellie boots out to garden, muck out stalls, sport shoot and the like

PIE: Adults wearing whimsical Wellies as a fashion statement around town and in the big city

Preppy: Using a maid-service for house cleaning after one's longtime actual maid/s retire

PIE: Calling one's maid-service, "the staff"

Preppy: People who appreciate wine but aren't too wrapped-up in it to drink inexpensive versions

PIE: Wine Snobs

Preppy: Using a subtle fabric rose or a few rosettes as pretty trim on a blazer, a frock, etc.

PIE: Overdosing on fabric rosettes as shown in the picture above

Another film, less bizarre' in some ways than the one mentioned above, which perhaps gives a searing-look into a case of Preppy In Extremis posturing is The War of The Roses starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito. It's a morality tale worth watching and noting to oneself as, "how NOT to be" especially as to the signifying stand-off between the husband's Staffordshire collection and the wife's designer shoe collection. Their upscaled house and lifestyle posturing is the obsession that tears this family apart; a disturbing film to watch but a worthy morality tale for our day and time. Preppy is wonderful when it's a natural part of one's lifestyle but obsessing about it, posturing oneself within it and going to the extremes about it isn't. Being Preppy In Extremis' or the acronym, "PIE" can many times translate into getting a "pie in one's face" which is fun at fairs and frat parties but not so fun otherwise. It may be good at times to ask oneself, "is this Preppy or is this PIE?". I've done it myself a time or two....

The Ancient Greeks were right- living within the Golden Mean and so, nothing to the extreme.

Here's to being Preppy....naturally, casually, enjoyably and with but of course an ever-present sense of offhand humor... but laughing well not wackily.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Preppy or... Provisionally Preppy?

Preppy or Provisionally Preppy... it's all about nuancing a Preppy lifestyle with cultural signifier distinctions being found within the details. Certainly there are things that are so classically Preppy there is no pause for pondering in regards to them however, as in much of life, there are many gray-areas when it comes to what could be considered Preppy.

Before I became a Sustainer (aka "alumnus" so to speak) of the Junior League, I first had to spend a decade of serious volunteering and some less-serious cocktail partying and charity event attending however, for my very first year with the League, I was a Provisional like the rest of my 1991 class. We were the neophyte-newbies, the new kids on the block much like how it was after I pledged Chi Omega back in college. To be in the group but not a fully-vetted and vested part of it yet...this inbetween kind of membership status.

Similar to a Provisional status such as this, there are a variety of lifestyle items and choices that aren't classically Preppy but could be considered somewhat-Preppy depending on how they are integrated/interpreted into one's Preppy lifestyle.

The following is a listing of a few of these things I occassionally ponder about as to whether they're Preppy or not and as a caveat: several of the "Provisionally Preppy" items mentioned apply directly to my own life so there's no attempt to be catty on my part at all with this list. This is just a fun musing to do on a day where I'm stuck at home under-the-weather and if any blog readers have their own Prep Or Provisionally Prep items to add, please feel free to do so... (because of spammers and unwanted links to unsavory sites that try to get into this blog, I am moderating the posting replies on my site here but I do try to check this blog daily so that your replies can get published in a fairly quick manner)

So here we go: an incomplete listing of all-things Preppy or Provisionally Preppy:

Preppy: Fine linens like Porthault, Frette and other elegant brands

Provisionally Preppy: Pastel or pink and green color-blocked Quilts

Preppy: Spaniels, Golden Retrievers and any good bird dog

Provisionally Preppy: German Shepards and Dobermans

Preppy: The Wall Street Journal

Provisionally Preppy: Newsweek, Time and other news magazines

Preppy: having a several-generation country club and/or yacht club membership

Provisionally Preppy: having an in-ground pool

Preppy: a summer home or summer-long island rental

Provisionally Preppy: going to the beach for a weekend or a week's vacation

Preppy: Graduate degrees in the Humanities, Law, Medicine or the traditional MBA

Provisionally Preppy: Graduate degrees in anything else

Preppy: Tasteful, subtle and well-placed monogramming

Provisionally Preppy: Monogramming everything in sight

Preppy: Moderate ancestor-worship

Provisionally Preppy: Frequently name-dropping about one's ancestors

Preppy: Polo and all forms of horseback riding excluding western, Golf, Tennis, Sailing

Provisionally Preppy: Running, Swimming, Kayaking, Yoga and Pilates

Preppy: Flyfishing

Provisionally Preppy: All other forms of fishing- both fresh and salt water

Preppy: Loving fashion but it's secondary in one's life

Provisionally Preppy: Loving fashion and it is absolutely primary in one's life

Preppy: Utilizing a porcelain soup tureen on the sideboard

Provisionally Preppy: Utilizing a big pot on the stove for apres' ski chili

Preppy: The Old-school Junior League

Provisionally Preppy: the New-school Junior League circa late 1990's and onwards

Preppy: Well-worn and mixed outdoors clothing such as L.L.Bean, Barbor, Orvis etc.

Provisionally Preppy: Being completely kitted-out in Patagonia

Preppy: One's debutante season in the Deep South or the Northeast

Provisionally Preppy: One's debutante season anywhere else

Preppy: Tortoise shell look regular or reading glasses

Provisionally Preppy: Black, brown, metallic or trendy-red glasses

Preppy: Knowing when, where and how to wear Lilly Pultizer attire

Provisionally Preppy: not knowing...

Preppy: Recognizing and enjoying fine food and wine

Provisionally Preppy: the actual production of said epicurian delights

Preppy: Wine, scotch, sherry in cut crystal

Provisionally Preppy: Fruity drinks with mini-umbrellas enjoyed in a tropical setting

Preppy: Old, musty books from one's own small in-home library room

Provisionally Preppy: Old, musty books from the local library

Preppy: Nantucket baskets, lowcountry Sweetgrass baskets

Provisionally Preppy: Longaberger baskets

Preppy: having a great sense of ironic humor, life-adaptability and always up for a good party

Provisionally Preppy: trying too anything

And so this ends, for now, the Preppy Or Provisionally Preppy listing- hope you've enjoyed it and have gotten a chuckle or two out of it while reading through this!
For futher musings on the distilliation of all things Preppy, please be sure to check out two of my postings for July 2009 titled, "What Preppy-Isn't... But I Do It Anyway" (July 21st) and also "Preppy is... Southern Preppy is..." (July 13th).

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Born To Preppy: Deep South with a dash of the North mixed in...

Me and my brothers in our front yard- Georgia circa 1970's
Another picture of part of our front yard- standing near the pond

Being Preppy, and all it consists of, wasn't a lifestyle trend picked up by my family within its trendy heyday of the early to mid 1980's- it was a lifestyle we were already living. Our version of Preppy which derives from the Deep Coastal South could be summed-up as perhaps, "the interesting cousin in the wedding party." Southern Preppiness of this nature can give the Northeastern Preppy (as so well sketched out in The Official Preppy Handbook) a run for its money in the bon vivant department. We're that cousin who can still pull off loads of daytime diamonds, a bit of flouncy ruffle, blonde helmet hair and laughing too loud as we're telling a joke at the reception's bar while waiting for our fourth glass of Chardonnay to be poured. I have a couple of aunts who aptly fit this description and I'm most likely as well am on my way to being of similar, er, distinction, hmm. Gotta' watch those ruffle-flounces...
Within my family, it was my great Uncle Skeet who fit so fully into this bon vivant category. A talented painter who wasn't able to realize his full potential, he lived quite a colorful life within the enjoyment of a few good cocktails and lunching at The Oglethorpe Club, car racing along the Isle of Hope, sail boating and amateur theatrical productions being played out both on and off the stage set of Savannah, Georgia. His wife was long-enduring to say the least. As for his brother, my grandfather who was a Yale-educated bank president, well, he was the one who took some of that Northeastern Preppy pragmatism to heart thankfully for the family's fortunes such as they were. Even though it meant that our family went from their expansive historical homes downtown and out on the Isle of Hope on into more sturdy and practical brick houses in and around the Ardsley Park area, Grandaddy Wylly kept several families in good stead during many decades when the fortunes of Savannah were on an ebbing tide kinda' slide. In my book, he gets a lot of credit and kudos for that. A bit of infused Northeastern Preppy's practicality definitely aided our family both back then and now as well.
My own parents established a neat balance between the Spanish Moss draped white verandas of Southern Coastal Preppydom and the sturdiness of Federal-style-bricked Northeastern Preppyness. Their's was a relaxed and elegantly simplified rennovating-an-old-farmhouse kind of Southern-Northern lifestyle hybrid that kept us grounded yet still steeped in family culture, lore and traditions. We had many homes over the decades, but when I think of my "home" where I "grew up", the ole' modest but pretty nothern farmhouse readily comes to mind.
Early childhood for me was spent in Georgia going between Savannah and Macon with summer months spent out on Tybee Island, but by the time I was in junior high, we had moved to the north. I actually really enjoy having had the experience of both cultural arenas to grow up within: I believe that there was an important balancing going on within that for me personally as well as for both of my brothers.
And so it seems that for the current generations of my Southern Preppy family, we're a bit Southern Gothic with a dash of Northeastern Pragmatic mixed in which... is actually quite alright with me.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Preppy in the Hallway: Seasonal Transition Attire

Preppy caught in the hallway - Winter to Spring transition attire

Earlier tonight as I was coming in from a day of attending a ladies-who-lunch luncheon and also helping out with a department store's annual Bridal Show event, I was caught in the hallway here in what I'd label as Winter to Spring transition attire. This is actually a great outfit to showcase how to layer, look feminine yet still tailored and also be quite appropriate for going day into evening with ease.

Placed over a camisole and thick black tights, I have my favorite Ralph Lauren blouse, a light trench coat and an a-line black and white tweed skirt that I purchased at Saks 5th Avenue ages ago and has been one of the best buys I've made with clothing purchases. Added into this ensemble' is a white topstitched black leather belt replacing the coat's tie sash and my pair of tall black boots that are more dressy in design. I have a mother of pearl/seed pearls floral pin as well as layered white and gray pearl necklaces for jewelry embellishments although they are hard to see in this photo. Pearl stud earrings keep this look neat and unfussy as the ruffles on the blouse's necklines and cuffs are certainly flouncy-enough.

(My usual large black sunglasses and a medium size black leather tote aren't pictured here.)

It's hard to go-wrong during the winter with wearing classic black and white. A few feminine flounces and pearl embellishments lighten this look up for winter-into-spring needs. Lately I've been adding in a touch of lavender hues with my usual black, white and dark gray outfits in order to gently bring a springlike tone to outfits while still keeping them seasonally appropriate. Though wonderful spring fashions are coming into stores galore', it's still cold outside and February frankly isn't the month to begin sporting around light and airy spring clothing unless of course one is down in the Caribbean soaking up the sun. Ahh, resort wear...

Next month James and I are heading off to Paris for a week and you can bet that black, white, dark gray and a dash of lavender will be my wardrobe choices for hopefully looking tres' chic :) in a city so well known for its style. Earlier today, our Bishop in Residence complimented my outfit as I was walking into our Episcopalian church's Parish Hall and if he thought it looked elegant, well then...

Here's to transition-wear and all things prettily-preppy! Happy winter-into-spring everyone!