While we were (typically) avoiding work by G-chatting last week, I asked the Asian Persuasion if she thought I needed to buy a new dress for a wedding I’m attending in May. (The bride works in the fashion world in glamorous New York City, and so the reception will be filled with lovely 25-year-old model-types. I figured I’d look less like a 30-year-old spinster from the sticks if I at least got a new outfit.) This immediately spurred an online hunt for a dress, and a possible “Style Wars.” But the dress we liked was from Anthroplogie, not a store I’m accustomed to shopping at and so I wanted to try it on. With the long weekend stretching ahead of us we decided to head to Westport where they keep one of two Anthroplogies in Connecticut–and where we could see real preppies in their natural habitats, and I could confirm my suspicion that real preppies are morphing and have developed a new style that we have not yet caught on to.
Preppies do not frequent Anthroplogie, which is where they keep the clothes for hipsters and hippies with money, which is why it’s way down Route 1, practically in Southport. Luckily, the dress we’d picked out online looked like complete and utter shit when I put it on and so we ventured into the heart of Westport where they keep the Tiffany & Co., Patagonia, J. Crew, and Vineyard Vines (where only the most ridiculous, shameless preppies would ever buy anything, but for some reason they have two stores in Tennessee). We wandered in and out of the shops in Westport where we saw a lot of old women, a lot of rude women, and people who cannot park. I saw one couple in Banana Republic who looked like they stepped out of the catalog, but there were not many people whose entire personas said, “I have old money and spent my youth at a series of expensive boarding schools.” Frankly, the Asian Persuasion was much more preppified than anyone else we saw, and I can out-WASP just about anyone except, maybe, Gwyneth Paltrow on first glance.
We wandered into a couple little boutiques. One was called Oddz, and from the presence of the “Z” in the name we figured it was for younguns. We were right, but there was some cool stuff in there–unfortunately, as is the case with all boutiques, it was so small you could barely get from one end to the other without having to fight a 15-year-old for your territory. Upstairs from “Oddz” was the fantastically named Great Stuff. The adorable little store did, in fact, have a lot of great stuff in it. In fact, if I was a true preppy–complete with family money and prep school education–and I was looking to differentiate myself from all the imitators I’d head to Great Stuff. It was just the right mix of casual, effortless elegance and threadbare haphazardness. The Asian Persuasion picked up a lovely scarf that resembled a cat-sized afghan, only to realize it cost $400.
Now, the scarf was kind of classic, and at $400 it should damn well last for decades. So, don’t be surprised if 20 years from now you see some WASP wandering the streets with a cat-sized afghan around her neck. Still, I haven’t quite determined what they “new preppy” is but no fear… I’ll figure it out. Somewhere, there are hordes of WASPs emerging from their expensive schools, subtly influencing what J.Crew will be selling five years from now. As for my fashion future, we eventually found a new dress for moi at Ann Taylor Loft and I will do my very pale, very Protestant duty of influencing the way people with good bone structure and sensitive skin dress.