Literary masterpieces are few and far between, but those that are considered such often have far reaching effects on society. Books like Paradise Lost, the Odyssey, Don Quixote, and 1984 have profoundly impacted and oftentimes reflected the society in which they were written.
The Official Preppy Handbook is an instant classic with deep insight into the lives of the refined and exquisite American aristocracy of the 1980s. The book leads us on a spiritual, yet materialistic journey through the lives of the young patricians who will someday come to climb, and perhaps even dominate, the ladder of corporate America.
The first chapter shows us the origins of such impactful individuals, focusing in on their humble beginnings at home. The grooming of such preppy people always starts at a young age, the importance of which the book doesn’t avoid stressing. This book does well on remarking on the critical points of the preppy childhood, some that even the most prepared of parents neglect. Books are always supposed to catch their readers in their introductions, and The Official Preppy Handbook excels at immersing the reader in the childhoods of the average preppy person. The book shows not only important things, like the do’s and don’ts of a prep childhood, but also minor things like the name of the family dog, or what sports all aristocratic children should engage in.
Academic integrity is imperative to the success of those following the preppy aristocratic lifestyle. The second and third chapter deal with the integration of the wealthy youth into academia. From choosing the right grade schools and colleges, to maximizing job opportunities,to making connections with their fellow students that would be useful in the future, the preppy student has an obligation to stay true to their lavish lifestyle. The Official Preppy Handbook sets out several useful mandatory guidelines for how one should take full advantage of the academic
opportunities granted to such high class men and women. Included in both chapters is, of course, the do’s and don’ts for how to deal with the other sex, which is seemingly ritualistic behavior for those of wealthier backgrounds. One ought to know with whom and at what times such promiscuous behaviors are appropriate. A prep could join a frat, or engage in camaraderie among fellow students at sports games. And what would the academic life be without a bit of a risky and negligent behavior that fills the memories of many, years later, with youthful vigor and nostalgia? To engage in a bit of dangerous behavior that parents wouldn’t approve of is all a part of youth, which The Official Preppy Handbook doesn’t care to miss out on.
Fashion is intrinsic to the prep personality. In the 80s, one was actually expected to dress well. The Official Preppy Handbook devotes an entire chapter to the importance of looking good and dressing the role. It goes into very specific detail on how each of the sexes should dress in order to look like a fashionista. It recommends the most high brow stores in order to dress like an aristocratic. Truly, in order to adopt the lifestyle of such wealthy and high class individuals, one ought to form their wardrobes to such elite principles. This requires a watchful eye for fashion that only be formed through careful dedication and a commitment to buying name brand items. This book aids in helping young wellborn’s personalize what they wear to all scenarios, making it so that at any event, whether it be a dance, the beach, or an aristocratic tea party with one’s father’s corporate acquaintances, a preppy will be able to look their absolute most fashionable. From a tight-fit Brooks Brothers suit to a casual khakis and brightly colored Polo shirt, the book specializes the outfit that should be prepared for certain occasions.
Now that one of such high class has graduated from prestigious academies and are ready to enter the corporate world, a preppy must be prepared for unfamiliar settings away from his or her bubble of comfort. The urban environment, with its attractive high energy atmosphere and plentiful opportunities, is a magnetic point for many of the rich after they leave academic and head out on their own. Of course, what is a young urban life without clubs and parties, which The Official Preppy Handbook gives advice on which ones to head to once work hours are over. However, the suburban life is one for an older aristocrat—one who has settled down and prepared to spend many of his days rearing his next generation and driving up to the country club in his 1970 Corvette Stingray to golf with his buds. One must even be prepared for the relaxing days of his life, when one can sit back with a cold beer and watch his kids do the exact same things he did.
Truly, the prep world is one of mysteries. It’s a complex society of wealth, connections, and opportunities that if one is not prepared for, that person can be lost in the web which it is made up of. Luckily for them, the The Official Preppy Handbook is a once-in-a-century masterpiece that deals with such complex problems, presenting intricate but understandable solutions as to guide a young prep on his or her journey through life with ease. Put it on your booklist.