The End of the Preppy Era?

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by Conor Friedersdorf

In a review of a new book about preppies, Mark Oppenheimer says the subculture will only survive if embraced by outsiders:

Perhaps young black and Jewish academics will take cues from their unrepentantly preppy elders, like Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Willard Spiegelman. Surely gay men will continue to do the tradition proud, and I suspect they are responsible for the current vogue for "heritage" clothing, which leads prep away from Anglophilia and into a rugged American past. As will conservative journalists: George F. Will, Tucker Carlson, Seth Lipsky. (Although female prepdom is beyond the scope of my expertise, I have noticed that hard-core preppiness among women has become hard to find, in part because preppiness is about what is old, and women do not wish to be identified with traditions that recall a more sexist era.)Perhaps there is a renaissance around the corner. After all, as one Harvard alumnus recently wrote, "I'm not sure that anyone in Regency England would have seen the Victorian era coming." But for prep to live on, it must mean something. True Prep is an enjoyable but maddening wake-up call that we are watching a culture unravel, one lambswool thread at a time. If we don't snap to attention, throw on our duckboots, thread the duck's-head insignia belt, leash up the English setter, have a Pimm's Cup, and figure out what this culture is, it will be gone.

My favorite preppies of all time: Alex P. Keaton and Brother Mouzone.

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