WASPdom

A Frayed So: In Praise of Beater Clothes

Previously I’ve written about the Boston Cracked Shoe look, a term applied to certain WASP patricians who would wear items that had far outlived their presentable lifespan. Members of the press discovered the concept during the presidential campaign of Adlai Stevenson when they observed Stevenson had holes in the soles of his shoes while working

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From The Archives

Dig It: Dexter Shoe Ads, ’65-’68

This may look like a penny loafer graveyard, but the Dexter shoe is apparently alive and well (sort of). Though the company doesn’t have much of an online presence, there’s a 1957 collection, named for the year of its founding, available from Shoeline.com. The above ad is from 1965. Below is one from 1966, which

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The Great Gatsby And Old Money Versus New

First published April 10, 1925, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” gripped the American imagination and, almost a century later, has yet to relinquish its hold. Its personal, poignant narrative, fatally flawed but perfectly drawn characters, and ability to capture a particular place and time set it apart in 20th century American literature. The story


The Reluctant WASP: George Will On William Zinsser

In his column yesterday for the Washington Post, George Will discusses William Zinsser and the craft of writing, making a passing reference to J. Press and the formality still observed by old-school WASPs such as Zinsser: Tooting his own trumpet is not the style of this self-effacing and decorous WASP, who never leaves his Manhattan


Style Over Substance: The Decline Of Preppy Values

Last week Susan Cheever, daughter of legendary WASPdom chronicler John Cheever and a celebrated author in her own right, wrote a piece for Newsweek entitled “Gin Without The Tonic.” The URL of the digital version explains the theme a little less cryptically: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/08/05/how-modern-preppies-got-the-style-but-forgot-the-values.html The theme of Cheever’s essay — that the uber-rich of today are


Poised Or Oblivious? The True Essence Of Prep

This weekend columnist Mark Oppenheimer penned an essay about prepdom for Salon that’s pegged on Whit Stillman’s new movie “Damsels In Distress.” The piece is more thoughtful than the usual stuff that gets said about the cultural phenomenon known as preppy. Oppenheimer’s thesis is that preppy is more than a style of dress. This you


Uncommon Bonds: New WASP 101 Tumblr

As noted before with the now-defunct tumblr Rich White People, the fast-growing image-driven blog format provides its style-junky curators with the ideal platform for presenting a context-free visual blitzkrieg. Otherwise unrelated photos are thrown together into a collage whose cumulative effect is a personal statement about the site creator’s taste. Depending on how you look


Happy Hanukkah From Ivy Style

On this, the first day of Hanukkah, Ivy-Style.com sends glad tidings to the unsung heroes of the Ivy League Look: the many Jewish clothiers that catered to the Protestant Establishment and taught generations of young men the virtues of a natural shoulder and how to dress like an American gentleman. Despite the popular admonition “Dress



P-Unit Forever: Behind the Scenes of Tea Partay

OK, you just read the headline, saw the embedded video, and you’re snickering. Let me explain. When I founded this site, I vowed never to post the Smirnoff “Tea Partay” video, which had become infamous in the online world of Tradsville. But I recently began covering digital marketing for Yahoo!, and found myself chatting with


That Stings! The First WASP-Free Supreme Court

President Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court set off a flurry of decline-of-the-WASP articles in major media outlets this week. If Kagan is confirmed, the formerly 100 percent WASP Supreme Court will not have a single Protestant, something to mourn or celebrate, depending on your point of view. Writes the Wall Street


Friends in High Places: “Cheerful Money” Reviewed

Very belatedly I’m finally getting around to a post on Tad Friend’s “Cheerful Money: Me, My Family, and the Last Days of WASP Splendor,” which was released last year. Like the tribe of WASPs itself, Friend and his book have an even amount of vices and virtues. Tad Friend is a staff writer at The


Tribal Factions: The WASP vs. The Trad

Nomenclature in Tradsville is a tricky thing, and depends largely on your point of view. Those who like hair-splitting will tell you that a short-sleeved gingham shirt is Trad but not Preppy. Likewise, bit loafers are WASPy but not Ivy. Fair points to an extent, though it gets tedious pretty fast, and bloggers and forum


No Picture

Misquote of the Week

Are clean-cut looking guys really, you know, clean? Tough to tell, according to this post-one-night-stand passage in Lauren Lipton’s chick-lit novel “Mating Rituals of the North American WASP”: “Do you think I’ve caught hepatitis? Or worse?” She was makng herself breathless. “That guy was so conservative, he looked like a 1962 Brooks Brothers ad.” Bex


Wealth of Insight: Jamie Johnson on the WASP Establishment

Like twilight through faded chintz curtains, the sun is setting on the WASP establishment. And Jamie Johnson is seated in the drawing room taking assiduous notes. “It’s interesting to document a small group of people that are losing their influence,” says the filmmaker and columnist, “and highlight what may be appealing about their world, and


Nelson W. Aldrich Jr. on Preppies

Almost two years before “The Official Preppy Handbook” made preppy affectation accessible to all, Nelson W. Aldrich Jr. had already caught wind of the zeitgeist. His January 1979 cover story for the Atlantic Monthly, “Preppies: The Last Upper Class?” is a seminal work of exposition on the manners and mores of the WASP establishment. It