Ivy Trendwatch: Jeffrey Banks’ Upcoming Preppy Book

Over the past few months several menswear colleagues have mentioned that fashion designer Jeffrey Banks, who started his career at Ralph Lauren, was writing a preppy book. Then a couple weeks ago, as I exited the J. Press warehouse sale, I received a phone call from Mr. Banks, who was trying to track down the origin of a photo that had appeared here.

Now via a Japanese Twitter post I just learned more about the book: The title is “Preppy: Cultivating Ivy Style,” the publisher is Rizzoli, and the book is already on Amazon.

When Banks and I spoke, he complimented me on the site, saying in effect that he hopes the book is as good.

Thank you Jeffrey, I feel…. cultivated. — CC

39 Comments on "Ivy Trendwatch: Jeffrey Banks’ Upcoming Preppy Book"

  1. Christian | April 3, 2011 at 3:16 pm |

    This is post number 333, which is exactly half of 666.

  2. I can’t wait till you get to 666. Creepy ^
    On the hand, I am such a sucker for preppy style books. Another to add on the list!

  3. Oglethorpe | April 3, 2011 at 6:05 pm |

    The cover illustration should serve to refute those who insist upon claiming that there is no difference between Preppy (fashion) and Ivy (style).

  4. Oh Crap. A J. Press warehouse sale? Well thats one I never knew about. Guess those of us in the hinterlands were not notified. Of course, unless I happened to be on a business or pleasure trip, I wouldn’t have been able to attend anyway. Sure wish we had a J. Press somewhere in the midwest.

  5. @RKW

    Re: “Sure wish we had a J. Press somewhere in the midwest.”

    Don’t feel too bad. There are so few J. Press stores in the East that many of us are so far from one that we might as well be in the Midwest.

  6. He has the wrong button buttoned, not encouraging.

  7. Christian | April 3, 2011 at 7:09 pm |

    Yes, but that’s obviously deliberate to show off the belt.

    Equally deliberate, but probably something to file under Don’t Try This At Home, is the cable crewneck sweater under a rugby shirt.

  8. I hope you will let your fans know when to pre order…

  9. Can’t imagine a more mismatched combination of colors.

  10. The cable crewneck under the rugby must be terribly uncomfortable. However, I’ll still probably buy the book (thank god for the introduction of free Amazon shipping to Australia)

  11. Bill Stephenson | April 4, 2011 at 4:12 am |

    One school of thought is that Ivy, when done properly, is usually elegant.

    OTOH, Preppy comes across as a ghastly costume. The book cover would indicate that the contents might fall into the latter category.

  12. Roy R. Platt | April 4, 2011 at 7:44 am |

    To quote Alan C., “He has the wrong button buttoned, not encouraging.” Perhaps although the book is titled “Preppy, Cultivating Ivy Style” it is actually advocating some sort of Edwardian Revival style.

  13. The cover does not depict anything that I would consider ivy style or preppy style. It is more like a club kid sort of look, throwing together all sorts of miscellaneous vaguely retro items, some of which as individual items might be preppy. Many in the blogosphere might consider that sort of thing preppy.

  14. Old School | April 4, 2011 at 9:22 am |

    It was reassuring to read the comments by Oglethorpe, Bill Stephenson, and John.

    Good to know that there are others out there who find that cover illustration repellent.

  15. Let’s hope this effort is better than last year’s “True Prep” abortion. If the authors get it right we might be able to pick up where Birnbach’s betters left off years ago with TOPH.

  16. @Bill Stephenson

    “Ivy, when done properly, is usually elegant”.

    Hear! Hear!

  17. Bill Stephenson | April 4, 2011 at 2:00 pm |

    To be fair to Mr Banks, the publisher probably put together the cover, with an eye to grabbing attention on book shelves.

    It would seem, however, that when Mr Banks was asked for his approval of the galleys, the proper response would have been “Not with a gun to my head!”

    Obviously not visible on the cover, but the model simply had to be chewing gum.

  18. Christian | April 4, 2011 at 3:13 pm |

    Sound reasoning from our Elder Statesman. Surely the cover was meant to be arresting, not understated.

  19. I’m pretty sure that the model usually wears his baseball hats backwards, too–as do the stylists on this shoot.

  20. Stubbornly Trad | April 4, 2011 at 7:44 pm |

    Let’s hope that the adage about not being able to tell a book by its cover holds true in this case.

  21. The only people I’ve ever seen dressed like the guy on the cover are RL models. In other words….No one dresses like that in real life.

    Does the world need more ramblings on the preppy look anyway? What insightful information could this book possibly contain (with or without that hideous cover and ultra-generic title)?

  22. Orthodox Trad | April 4, 2011 at 8:09 pm |


    Thank God, Banks didn’t simply call his book “Ivy Style”.

  23. Lexicologue | April 4, 2011 at 8:37 pm |

    “Preppy: Cultivating Ivy Style”?

    Perhaps “perverting”, “parodying”, or “misintrepreting” would have been more accurate than “cultivating”.

  24. Interesting how there has not even been one positive comment about the illustration on the book jacket. Glad to see that your readers have refined taste.

  25. I couldn’t wear that outfit anywhere. Not to my law office, not to my downtown club, not to the yacht club, not to a prep school or college reunion or alumni event, not to a dinner party, not horseback riding or sailing, not for gardening, not to the golf club. I can conclude only that the book is aimed squarely at the college-age and younger sets. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  26. Bill Stephenson | April 5, 2011 at 2:33 am |

    Again, to be fair to Mr Banks, he spent a formative part of his career with RL. It seems impossible to come out of that environment with as much judgement on proper Ivy, as the newest reader here.

    Another alum of RL, got his training as a part time retail salesperson with RL, and today has a very successful message board touting his vast knowledge of the men’s clothing world.

    Guy apparently does quite well endorsing things like pre tied bow ties, with a rubber duck motif.
    Can’t knock the immense success, of Ralph, or his disciples. Most are hugely successful in their endeavors, in the world of men’s clothing.

    Can’t argue with superb RL results. Just look at the number of guys wearing polo shirts with ponies @ 8″ tall on the chest, that think that viewers assume that they are aristocratic polo players.

    Safe to say that none of us could pull that off.

  27. The model looks like a guy that has just come from a homeless shelter, cleaned up and given as much clothing as he could wear at one time. His only preppie item is the Kangol cap we can’t see.

  28. Like all the wackiness that shows up in academia simply because someone studying Shakespeare 400 years after his death has to say something ‘original’ in a doctoral thesis, what goes for preppy fashion these days seems more like shallow exhibitionism for its own sake (and, granted, for the sake of sales…). Nose rings were also a ‘go to hell’ look when they appeared, and I can’t see the trend, represented by this self-conscious Jackson Pollock of an outfit having any staying power.

  29. Christian | April 5, 2011 at 7:44 am |

    Don’t forget, fellows, that while you can judge the cover of a book, you can’t judge the book by its cover.

  30. Christian,

    The metaphor, of course, refers not to judging books, but to judging people on the basis of how they dress. Do we not, in fact, do that every day? Doesn’t the fact that a chap prefers a blue OCBD, a strlped tie, a navy blazer, gray flannels, and cordovan brogues to polyester pajamas and a baseball cap tell us something about him?

  31. Christian | April 5, 2011 at 8:23 am |

    I hear ya’, but there’s a certainly a rush-to-judgment quality about many of these comments.

    Ever notice how people are rarely content to leave their judgment suspended? It’s as if we must say yay or nay to something the very moment we hear of it.

  32. This whole discussion seems to center around the cover of the book. Clearly it is or was inspired by RL advertising. It is a given that those items would not be worn in that manner. That said the image is very strong visually and looks like a photograph that would be put on a book jacket. I am having difficulty telling if the objection is just on atheistic grounds or if the author is viewed as an intruder. Initially I was wondering if some of the readership is not familiar with the products that Rizolli produces. Their books have a mix of images fashion, art and archival. They are usually accompanied by text commensurate to the subject. Past books that spring to mind include “Jocks and Nerds” and “Tartan Romancing the plaid” Until review copies of this book start trickling out I do not believe a fair assessment can be made.

  33. Christian | April 5, 2011 at 9:06 am |

    It’s the nature of Tradsville to be skeptical any time anything new and mainstream media comes along.

    I’m reminded of when this website launched, for example.

    Banks and his co-author here also wrote the tartan book to which you referred, Chief.

  34. Hold the phone!

    I just noticed who wrote the forward: Lilly Pulitzer.

    No wonder the front cover is an abomination.

  35. Farmer Jones | April 6, 2011 at 11:17 am |

    Without the rugby, I can see it.

    With the rugby, it is painful. Partly because it means that the model has a cableknit sweater tucked into his pants!

  36. I think the sociological tone of the discussion is right on — to me, “preppy” and “ivy” are not fashion (as in “preppy is the new black, dahling”), but world views — lifestyle rather than ‘style.’ Reading blogs about the background of the world I live in, like the excellent Press piece recently, is as satisfying as fantasy football must be to others. Will books on preppy style still be coming out two years from now, when the current wave has receded? Hopefully yes (they help keep my OCBDs and Weejuns on store shelves), but hopefully they will also reflect more on the preppy essentials of public service, leadership, and charity. I honestly don’t care who wears what, but if you want to live a lifestyle, please learn the whole culture, not just the superficialities. (How misplaced do people look in safari clothes at the supermarket?) It doesn’t matter a damn how hooked your vent is if you have a real spirit of oblige.

  37. HRH The Duke of Windsor | April 17, 2011 at 7:38 pm |

    I pre-ordered it…how bad can it be after the abomination that was “True Prep”?

  38. Jeffrey Banks is considered a joke in Gotham. He’s a very ‘silly’ man.

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