Introducing the Country Club Prep Book Club

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Preppy: Cultivating Ivy Style 

For all of you preppy literary types, welcome to the Country Club Prep Book Club. One preppy book will be recommended a month that has had a profound impact on preppy fashion. The first book of this series is Preppy: Cultivating Ivy Style, written in 2011 by menswear designer Jeffrey Banks, and journalist/publicist Doria de La Chapelle. The book is a scholarly exploration of the origins of preppy style, containing fascinating historic photos and illustrations of private and boarding school students of past generations (see below). 

Preppy: Cultivating Ivy Style

(Photos: Courtesy of Rizzoli)

The book was instrumental in the continuation of preppy or “Ivy” style being embraced to this day. The definition of preppy offered in the book still holds true today: "a well-curated hybrid of traditional and athletic attire". The book traces the origins of the style to the homogenous elite Ivy League universities of the East Coast in the 1920s. President Kennedy, Katharine Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Edward the Prince of Wales, are just a few of the listed major contributors to popularizing preppy style. Here are a few images in the book:

Preppy Vintage Images

Preppy Ivy League Images

(Photos: Courtesy of Rizzoli)

On Monday, October 10, 2011, the nation's preppiest people flocked to NYC for the book's release party at Saks Fifth Avenue. Among the very influential people in attendance were designers Kiel James Patrick and his then-girlfriend Sarah Vickers, Stan Herman, the CFDA President from 1990 to 2006 who’s pictured in between the authors of the book, and Renauld White, the first African-American model on the cover of GQ Magazine. It is clear that fashion brands and influencers of today were greatly inspired by the preppy style defined and displayed in this book, evident by their innovations and adaptations of classic, elegant preppy clothing items.

Kiel James Patrick Preppy

(Photos: Neil Rasmus/BFA.com)

The authors of the book are equally as impressive as the glossy hardback they created. Jeffrey Banks is an award-winning, black menswear designer who has been described as a major fashion pioneer, working as a design assistant at the reputable preppy companies Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, before launching his own clothing line, Jeffrey Banks Ltd. at the age of 25. His preppy suits, shirts, eyewear and accessories were being sold worldwide with sales hitting $20 million. 

Doria de La Chapelle is another instrumental force in the preppy world, having been an advertising director at Henri Bendel and written for fashion publications such as Mademoiselle magazine. She co-authored numerous other books along with Jeffrey Banks. The powerful-duo should forever be appreciated for their contributions to defining modern-day preppy style and inspiring a new generation.

 

Jeffrey Banks and Doria de La Chapelle

(Photos: Neil Rasmus/BFA.com)

Preppy style no longer strictly refers to WASP-y, wealthy students of preparatory schools, although that is still the majority. Over time, the once ultra-exclusive way of dressing has morphed into an inclusive lifestyle, accepting those of all backgrounds to participate with the shared love of timeless preppy attire and the grand lifestyle that comes with it.

I’d like to conclude with iconic quotes from the authors of the book: 

“Preppy isn’t just a way of dressing, it’s a culture and a language. It’s all about nuance.” -Jeffrey Banks

“Every generation has its own interpretation of preppy.” - Doria De La Chapelle

You can purchase the book from Amazon here.  

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