Preppy: A Review
Look at what came into the school mailbox on Friday? Only a new style book fresh off the press by the name of Preppy: Cultivating Ivy Style by Jeffrey Banks and Doria de La Chapelle. The size of the book surprised me (of course since I didn't look at the dimensions via Amazon) as I thought it would be around the size of Take Ivy. It's absolutely beautifully made and done, props to the industrial and graphic designers of the book. I had been so looking forward to finally getting this but unfortunately, I am disappointed and not at all impressed.
The sad thing is that the more I think about what I can say about this book, the more negative my thoughts seem to be. On the whole the book is comprehensive in his coverage of the origins of Preppy style till the modern times and attitudes surrounding the Preppy pantheon today, which is great if you are not so familiar with the history of the style. However, though I do not proclaim to be some sort of expert on all things prep or menswear, I am greatly familiar with the aesthetics and the history and thus everything written in the book is unsurprising and rather dull. There is nothing here that you could not have learnt on your own by reading well written blogs like Ivy Style. Even though it was generally well written, the core content remains boring. The book cannot be made better by nice fancy packaging alone. The oft ignored age old advice of "don't judge a book by its covers" ironically applies quite aptly here.
Moving beyond the writing, the images are equally uninteresting in that nothing is new or has not been seen before elsewhere. All the images were taken from past campaigns, or were culled from menswear blogs (i.e. Style Etiquette's The Black Ivy project), or Style.com and Vogue.com for pictures RTW collections–things that anyone could have rehashed themselves with enough willpower to open a Tumblr. Heck, Francis has unearthed much better stuff from the archives than Banks or de La Chapelle will ever will. It really is a disappointment because it does not serve any of my needs, in that it is a source of neither information nor inspiration, unlike Take Ivy. I did not want to even mention Take Ivy in here because this books pales so much in comparison to the iconic book. The point is relevant nonetheless because I had thought Preppy could do what Take Ivy did for trad and ivy styles, but of course we all know now that it sadly doesn't.
Ultimately, I believe Rizzoli achieved what it set out to do. It never planned to publish some kind of game changer from the get-go but rather wanted to capitalize on the growing interest and rising popularity of the PITA (Preppy/Ivy/Trad/Americana). It reflects how increasingly mainstream the style has become, which I will, in the most unhipster-like fashion, warmly welcome because I can finally stop shopping in the men's section. The book will just be another lackluster addition atop the coffee table–impressive to look at first but will go disregarded after a few reads. I am not quite sure what to do with my copy and don't feel like asking for a refund. I will most likely preserve the book in mint condition until Christmas when I can wrap this as an extra something something for the twins, whom I don't think would mind keeping this as something to flip through when they are bored after school or on the weekends.