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- Publié sur Amazon.com
Following on comments from some others above, there isn't a whole lot of substance or historical perspective to this book. It does look like an advertising campaign from Ralph Lauren.
But a book like this should make more of an attempt to dig deeper into the heritage of the vast majority of the items shown or discussed. The most amusing and absurd comments are about how this is a clothing style that is deeply American. I actually don't see much of anything that is remotely American about virtually anything in the style. What should have been discussed is not the the aspirational nature of non-Wasps today to wear clothes that show their ambition to join this social class (like this class still exists), but the fact that it originated with American Wasps aspiring to be like the British.
Through the book you see ivy league schools that are completely modeled on the academic institutions of the UK, particularly the public schools like Harrow etc and the universities that dominate so completely this identity in Britain: Oxford and Cambridge.
I am surprised that it doesn't jump out to authors on this subject that these clothing articles originate in the UK, where they have specific regional associations or affiliations. Think about Oxford shirts, Oxford shoes, brogues, Tweeds (like the Harris one shown on the cover and elsewhere), Fair Isle Sweaters or Shetland wool sweaters, regimental ties/crests/scarfs (which denote military, school and other associations still today but are just interesting color combinations for RL fashion), Navy Blazers and duffel coats (British naval clothing not US Pea coats), tartans & plaids (yet another Scottish connection). What US Wasp didn't wear a trench coat? Burberry if it could be afforded, but otherwise US like London Fog aspiring to be British in a name that gives all away. And in the winter, a camel-hair top coat such as was introduced by the British Polo Team to the US around the 20's and which remains standard. Love the shot of the Norfolk jacket. Any guess as to is origin? And the suits that preppies grow up to wear with their Glen Plaids, Pinstripes, herringbone weaves, etc.
Doesn't it jump out when you see the sport connections of polo, rugby, golf, tennis, boating (think boating jackets and straw hats), or boat races (rowing) shown in the book. Even cricket fashion survives, albeit without the cricket. All key public school sports and social events in the UK that continue to remain prestigious events today. I don't see north american traditions from indigenous sports like baseball, american football, basketball (God help us), hockey, or lacrosse initiating any preppy clothing (football being the only one accepted socially in the US originally, and almost certainly because of the connection with rugby). And US preppie schools didn't copy socially inferior sports like football (soccer).
If you want to see and buy proper preppy clothing that is actually made for use, and not some take on a British sport, go to the UK, like Ralph Lauren does to source new trends. Savile Row and Jermyn Street have been generating men's fashion trends for 200 years. Like the English language that is now spoken as a global standard and spoken by more people as a second language than a first, English fashion in the form of the conventional suit and tie, dress shirt, shoes etc is a global standard that has superceded most local fashions. It is an interesting subject in itself to ask how and why this happened given it works best in a cool temperate climate like the UK but is still the standard in the incredibly cold places of Russia/Canada etc through to the vast majority of the world's hot and humid places. I regularly get annoyed that the world has adopted these conventions when they might have noticed that the British also wore shorts (like in Bermuda or the military) in hot places. But there it is.
Get to London and go see the real stores that make real clothes that work. I am thinking of the old names of Cordings, Barbour, Farlowes, Purdeys, Holland and Holland, Austin Reed, Daks, Burberry's (bit of a sell-out these days), and the new fun ones like Hackett and Joules. And the long list of great purveyors of shirts and ties on Jermyn street. And the best shoes, many still practically hand-made and the standard by which you judge quality. I couldn't help but notice that 5-8 years ago dress boots were popping up everywhere in London, and more recently Monk-strap shoes could be found at the better places. Now these are drifting into mainstream here in the US. It's true for most preppy fashion, and of course not true for much of men's fashion outside of business clothing otherwise.
Someday someone needs to do a better job of writing about the social history of clothing, including 'preppy' clothing. And I agree with the commentator above that the clothing has to be understood in this context, or it amounts to wearing a halloween costume. I agree that overdoing it without any cultural relationship just looks silly. And it is hard to see the cultural heritage of Anglo-Saxons or Wasps, or the British Isles (which includes Ireland and is the best description for this clothing heritage), reduced to being some brand that people like Ralph Lauren seem to claim as their own inspiration. I groan every time I see his arrogant ad come on just before PBS specials like Downton Abbey where he practically personally claims to have invented the fashion that existed before he was born. "I create a dream..." I think he just watches old b&w movies and looks at fashion ads from the past.
And incidentally, the fact that PBS still shows so many UK productions to an American demographic (dominated by the preppies or aspirations preppies) still tells me a lot about why British-inspired or designed preppie clothing will continue to be around for a while. And I also smile that taxpayer money and tax breaks make this happen:)