True Prep – It’s A Whole New World

Ashley Matuszak

“True Prep-It’s a Whole New World” by Lisa Birnbach, is a continuation of her 1980 New York Times best seller, “The Official Preppy Handbook.”

“True Prep” is bringing the original preppies from the 80’s out of boarding school and into modern culture.

“True Prep” gives advice to the Polo-wearing, dog-loving, shoe-obsessed preppies (who are now pushing 50) on what to wear to a funeral, how to use the internet and how to pick a suitable prep to remarry.

Although “True Prep” speaks to those who read the original 1980 book, it still has relevance to the younger generation. Teaming up with graphic designer Chip Kidd, Birnbach incorporates new designer duds, graphs and diagrams into a work which celebrates the true nature of a preppie, no matter what the age.

While “The Official Preppy Handbook” was more of a how-to manual, or field guide to being preppy, “True Prep” is more of a presentation of what it means to be preppy, giving detailed explanations on how preppies travel, house hunt and recover from undesirable situations.

Calling rehab “the new boarding school,” True Prep puts an almost sarcastic, modern spin on a preppy institution, all the while making social commentary on the glamorization of drug abuse among celebrities and the wealthy.

The word “preppy” might indicate a person who might be a bit conceited or uppity. Birnbach makes the prep attitude perfectly clear throughout—that preps are polite and kind to others, even suggesting preps give to charity anonymously. However, preps are never one to go out of their way to make someone feel extra special. Birnbach declares that preps call their places of living “houses”, not homes, because “preppies are not bred to cosset others.”

One of the most important things for a preppie to master, according to Birnbach, is wardrobe and style choices. Chapter 4, “I just found it in my closet,” displays several photographs of appropriate attire, while also giving a list of preppie no-no’s, including certain forms of body art and excess jewelry. “Nose rings are never preppy,” the book declares, and tattoos are “discouraged.” Photos in this chapter include appropriate choices of loafers, featuring modern, fashionable designers like Manolo Blahnik, Cole-Haan, and Burberry.

Even preppies get into trouble from time to time. Birnbach has a bit of advice to preppies emerging from a scandal, advising to always do so “tastefully…we get slightly spiritual, but not too spiritual. We go to church or a synagogue…for a while.”

Preppies must uphold their social expectations at all times, even when faced with serious circumstances.

“True Prep” also puts famous faces to the prep persona, in “The Prep Pantheon,” an A-Z compilation of big names, including Michelle Obama, Yo-Yo Ma and Julia Child. These iconic figures, and several others, are applauded for their preplike lifestyles, wardrobes and mannerisms.

“True Prep” touches on an incredibly vast number of topics, so that even someone new to the prep lifestyle has most bases covered.

“True Prep” features a list of excuses on why one was locked up for tax evasion, which cocktails to drink at a party and reasoning supporting that the ocean is more preppy than a lake. All of which are done in a lighthearted, funny and only slightly satirical tone.