In a eulogy to preppy culture, Ben Schwarz compares Lisa Birnbach's 1980 classic The Official Preppy Handbook to her new sequel, True Prep:
Cracked heirlooms, threadbare antique rugs, sturdy L.L. Bean boots, duct-taped Blucher moccasins, and workhorse Volvo station wagons defined OPH’s aesthetic. True Prep’s preppies, armed with BlackBerrys and iPods, wear Verdura jewelry and Prada and vintage Gucci loafers, tote Goyard and Tory Burch bags, and adorn their desks with tchotchkes from Smythson (a firm whose success, Ian Jack notes in The Guardian, has been built “on selling baubles to the impressionable rich”). ... Rather than demonstrating a failure of the authors’ powers, True Prep’s imprecision actually reflects the erosion of the distinctiveness of the subculture it attempts to revealan erosion engendered by the progress of capitalism and the attendant triumphs of meritocracy and consumer culture.
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