Vanity Fair has excerpts from various sections of the upcoming book True Prep: It's a Whole New Old World, written by Lisa Birnbach as a sequel to her 1980 bestseller The Official Preppy Handbook. TOPH (a complete scan of which can be found here) was apparently originally intended to be a humour book, but over the years many have adopted it as an earnest guide to creating the ideal preppy lifestyle. Sadly, the book is now significantly outdated, with all its meticulously-researched addresses, phone numbers, and postal rates having become all but useless to the modern reader. Combine that with the recent resurgence in preppy style and the fact that the original is long out of print, and is it any wonder that a sequel should arrive? 

True Prep is essentially conceived as an update of the original, to reflect social changes that have occurred in the last 30 years. For example:
If, in 1980, you had whispered to friends that within the next few decades America would elect a thin, black, preppy, basketball-playing lawyer to be president, they would have laughed at you and exhaled [smoke] in your face, inside the restaurant or club where you were sitting.
Now, contrary to what you might first assume, TOPH wasn't just a style guide, but an insight into an entire way of life, covering not only the "correct" schools, sports, decor and pets, but also delving into more abstract topics, such as attitudes and manners. The excerpts from True Prep show that it contains the same breadth of coverage as the original, discussing not only the pedigree and size of logos on polo shirts—unquestionably a topic of grave concern—but also matters like demographics, career choices, and the importance of frugality.

I'm hugely looking forward to this book. Not having been "to the madras born," as it were, it's hard enough to understand true prep even with the assistance of TOPH, let alone trying to figure out what it means to be preppy in 2010 rather than in the '80s. But of course, as this is a style blog, I'm most looking forward to their thoughts on changes in preppy clothing, particularly those "recent prep brands we are forced to recognize." What are the fates of J.Crew and Ralph Lauren? Inquiring minds want to know! And I, for one, am placing my pre-order ASAP.

I'll leave you with a True Prep Preppy Playlist, courtesy of publisher Knopf Doubleday.


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