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Friday, June 13, 2008

In Which I Am Being Preppy

It might be that I've been spending too much time on Madison Avenue or it might be that my personality has underwent a dramatic change due to some latent brain disease, but this summer something bizarre started happening to my style. All of a sudden Ralph Lauren has become my favorite shopping destination. Believe it or not, but never in my life have I owned a polo shirt before. Now I have, um, a couple. I wear them with a collar raised in a disgustingly foppish fashion. With a white skirt and white ballet flats or kitten hills. And a bandeau on my head. Readers, I scare myself.

And so one day, as I trotted along Madison with my understated in style but not in price bag in the crook of my arm, an inevitable question popped into my head: which perfumes can be described as preppy? The easy answer would be - fresh, clean, sporty, understated. And one predictably and somewhat unhappily thinks of Lauren, Hilfinger and Lacoste and wonders if one can possibly find a perfume that would be preppy but not generic. Luckily, the fresh-understated genre encompasses some interesting things. Whether I personally like them or not, such pale and breezy scents as En Passant, L'Eau d'Hiver, Pure White Linen and L'Ete en Douce are pretty, interesting and preppy. And, of course, in search for preppy freshness one can always resort to the citrusy range: Eau d'Hadrien and Eau de Sud, Eau Illuminee and Cologne Bigarade, Chanel's new Eau de Cologne and Guerlain's wonderful offerings in the genre would go wonderfully well with a polo shirt and real estate in the Hamptons.

But to smell preppy one doesn't have to just (barely) smell fresh. If one broadens the definition of "preppy" to conservative and classical (preppy is, after all, more or less synonymous with WASP-y), infinite possibilities would open up. From that point of view, Chanel Cristalle (classical AND fresh!) is an ideal preppy scent. So is White Linen. And so are Jacomo Silences, YSL Y, Hermes Amazone, Diorella and any number of dry green florals and fresher chypres... I am still questioning my new style, but at least I can feel smug in certainty that I smell great.

Which scents would you describe as preppy? And of course- where does everybody summer?

Image source, ralphlauren.com

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38 Comments:

Blogger tania said...

Neroli Sauvage. It's a nice variation on neroli, I can imagine wearing it with a white polo shirt.

I'll mostly be 'summering' in the office...;-) I tend to use my annual leave allowance up in winter and spring, as I don't do heat or beaches.

6:43 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Tania,
Now that you mentioned Neroli Sauvage, I realized that Creed in general would fit into the whole clean-cut, conservative style :-)

6:51 AM EDT  
Blogger Divina said...

Those are some absolutely wonderful choices, especially Cristalle and White Linen! And how about the Hermes Jardin frags?

As for the summer, it's always Greece :) This year it's Syros and Mykonos!

Hugs,

Divina

7:28 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Divina,
Oh, definitely the Jardins. Especially the Nil, I guess.

7:44 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

I couldn't evenattempt to look preppy: I would just appear ridiculous. I do own one polo shirt (not Lauren) but it's black, and I tend to wear it with black pants, so it looks sorta preppy-punk (or something) I do, however, own L'Ete en Douce b/c I discovered by mistake during a sniffing expedition that if I layered it with vetiver (L'Artisan, in this case), it smelled great on me! Still, a full bottle was not necessary. . .

Full disclosure: When I was young, I did own a bottle of Lauren; my boyfriend liked it.

I will mostly be summering in front of a computer. Well, we are meeting some friends in Maine one w/e.

7:54 AM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Judith,
Ah, but Lauren (the scent) doesn't count :-) It's not preppy. :-)
I cannot believe you wear L'Ete. I will try layering it with some vetiver, that sounds like a great combo.

7:57 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Classic 60s and early 70s green chypres - those are my ideal Ralph Laurenesque scents. I normally dress in a sort of artsy, urban manner, but in summer I confess I veer into the preppy mode or, as I prefer to call it, colorful classic mode. :-) I live for RL capris - think I have at least 40 pairs. Am not quite sure how that happened. I think it's an addiction I need to work on.

9:09 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

oh, Eau Sauvage certainly. On men and women. Actually, I think the men were supposed to smell of tweed coats if I remember my yoof.

I now Summer exactly where I Winter.

11:11 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a fun post for the beginning of summer!
Preppy, but attractive, scents? Aliage, from Estee Lauder, and of course no.4711, the original eau de cologne.
But I have never worn and will never wear a polo shirt (not even in the '80s)!
I'm a Californian, so of course I can summer at home. Even so, I think a few long weekends of lazy camping near Tahoe (but far from crowds) will greatly refresh my spirits. Cool mountain air, when lower elevations are baking. . .

Gretchen

12:25 PM EDT  
Blogger oedipa said...

Jardin Sur le Nil! Lately I've been bathing in it and wearing a lot of suspiciously preppy white garments. Maybe the two are related.

Also, maybe Omnia Crystalline? It's quiet and "fresh" but I find it interesting.

1:03 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

real male preppies don't wear scent. i married (and divorced) one. but in a fantasy world they wear floris no. 89, roger et gallet bouquet imperial, hermès équipage and the original zegna.

the women, who knows? something pink and watery and "clean." or patchouli.

i, too, flirted with the preppy style, until i realized it made me look dumpy (at 5'8" and size 4/6 at the time).

the ralph lauren fantasy presented in the ads is just that - fantasy. idealized. and the token diversity in the models used is bothersome. same with the preppy hickey-freeman ads.

- minette/scentsignals

1:06 PM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

I'm really scared now...
You're scaring me.
I'm very afraid !

I think Elle pegged the preps- Tommy Girl comes to mind, along with anything RL or CK.

I don't associate Chanel w/ prep, particularly- unless, it's only for the name, lol...

Preppies ALWAYS hated me; maybe, that's why I'm sounding like such a malcontent ...

Do forgive me,and blame it on Mercury still in retrograde .

1:49 PM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

Ohhh, I forgot.
I don't 'summer'- except, in my mind.

1:50 PM EDT  
Blogger Existentialist said...

True preppies can pull off the pink/green combo, as well as the pure white ensemble. You may want to work in some plaid bermuda shorts as well. I'm not able to pull if off, myself, but if you can, I say go for it. You might want to dig up a copy of "The Official Preppy Handbook" from alibris while you're at it (unless Mr. Colombina already owns a copy). Cheers!

2:38 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

L,
How do you find trousers at RL to fit you? Their 4 is too big, and by big I mean hanging loose, and it is impossible to get hands on anything nice in 2, hrmph :-(

2:44 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Tom,
It is my dream to live in a place of which I could say the exact same thing :-)

2:44 PM EDT  
Anonymous mikeperez23 said...

Anything soapy = preppy, atleast to my nose.

The new Italian fragrance, Puro Lino, is perhaps the nicest soapy scent I've smelled. Crisp, almost spray starch like in the top notes and then the fine, luxurious handmade soap accord lasts forever.

2:45 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Gretchen
That's it, I am moving to CA :-)
I agree about Aliage, totally!

2:45 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

oedipa,
I need to re-try Omnia Crystalline, thank you!

2:46 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Minette,
I absolutely adore the girl they feature in the ads now, Valentina Zelyaeva. She might have started my thing for RL stuff :-)

2:47 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Ida,
I scare myself :-)
Is Mercury still retrograde? Well, that explains a whole lot. :-(

2:51 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

And, Ida, same here about summering :-(

2:52 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Existentialist,
Mr. C is so far removed from anything remotely preppy that one might say he and preppiness exist not just on different planets but in galaxies far, far away from each other :-)

2:53 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

mikeperez,
I agree, soapy+preppy. I really don't like soapiness in perfume :-(

2:54 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Marina

Preppy scents would be the ozone-y nautically-influenced ones, I should think ...
And I'll be holidaying where I live too (luckily, Edinburgh has festivals:-)

cheerio, and welcome back,

Anna in Edinburgh

3:50 PM EDT  
Anonymous lida said...

Q: How many WASPs does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: One.

If they wear perfume, big "if", adult WASP females wear whatever they damn well please, although the default scent (weddings and funerals) is Chanel No. 5, which they spray in the air and walk through before they put on their pearls. Divorced WASP women may at some point have worn L'Interdit or Jicky;when younger, they very likely went from Jean Nate to Eau Sauvage. If they discovered them, they might now buy Eau de Merveilles or Eau de Lierre. Or, they might just plain not be interested, because scrubbing your face with soap (Ivory) and water is enough work, thank you very much.

In concept,WASP men smell of ironed shirts and light sweat; actually, they smell however they smell plus deodorant. On older men, leftover shaving smells of bay rum or lavender are not automatically proof of aberrant tendencies.

I'll briefly visit (we don't "summer" as a verb)a wing of our great-grandmother's summer home which was turned into a separate house on our family compound in Maine, which my sisters and I have on the market b/c of the taxes. We've rented a cottage in Truro for a week with a family I grew up with in Greenwich; we're visiting my cousins' house in Bar Harbor (which they're also selling, for similar reasons)for a week; I rented the Cottage on the Place (translation: a home belonging to several of my my-age cousins on the family compound) for a week for us and the Truro friends at the end of August, close to when we start teaching again and will all be grumpy. I also rented for me and my husband for the entire summer a shack without water on top of a hill at the end of a dirt road on a blueberry farm in which I plan to finish the second draft of of my first novel, which I've finally committed at the age of 56.

Cliches are cliches because.....?

6:11 PM EDT  
Anonymous bella said...

By reading all these posts, it seems that preppy is out. Well, for me it has never gone out. I just mix preppy style with whatever is current.
As far as preppy scents go--one word--Aliage!!
Now, I would love to wear the Creed that is called Virgin Island. It's a mix of cocoanut and mint. A perfect preppy summer scent.

6:54 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Anna
Thank you!

I so regret I haven't visited Edinburg when I had a chance

7:51 PM EDT  
Blogger Beth Gehring said...

I grew up planted right in the middle of preppyville in the oh so snobby town of Pepper Pike, which was surrounded by Hunting Valley and Gates Mills. I found it quite boring as I've always been a bit of a bohemian although I do own quite a few strands of pearls and alot of Ralph Lauren. I think that his clothes are comfy and I applaud your good sense!
I find Norell is definitely the preppiest scent that I know of, but in a very stylish New York mood. Hermes 24 Faubourg is what very grown up preppies in my neck of the woods wear out for dinner. The other would be anything by Penhaligon's but especially their Bluebell fragrance! What a fun review!

8:55 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Lida,
I enjoyed reading your comment and am very curious about the novel now!

9:14 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Bella
I don't think it's out at all, I think it is kind of timeless.
And that is the second vote for Aliage!

9:15 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Beth,
24 Faubourg, bingo! It was at the back of my mind all day, I was trying to remember a grown up preppy kind of scent that 50% of Madison wears :-)And that is 24 Faubourg. The other 50% wears JOy :-)

9:16 PM EDT  
Blogger Clare Stella said...

I would absolutely agree that L'Artisan En Douce is preppy. I just received a sample recently and it smells very clean and fresh, very soapy on me. Perfect for when you have just left the tennis court, taken a quick shower, and are off to meet Buffy and Preston for cocktails.

6:08 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

Clare,
Indeed :-)

6:09 PM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Marina, weighing in very late here to say you should go and find The Preppy Handbook on ABE.com (american booksellers exchange) from the 1980s. I lived the dream. It is HILARIOUS.

I live in a very preppy area. Lots of Lilly Pulitzer. Preppy women smell mostly like soap (fragrance attracts the bees during tennis.) Would endorse Cristalle and EL classics like Aliage and Azuree (it has that tanned smoker in plaid pants vibe! preps smoked long after everyone else quit)

9:31 PM EDT  
Blogger Colombina (Marina) said...

March,
Thank you! I will definitely get the book :-)

9:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Juno said...

Lida is 100 percent correct - Chanel 5 all the way, though I would add Joy or L'Heure Bleue as possible options for aunts and grandmothers, if only because every time I smell them I get boarding school flashbacks.

None of the clean scents at all.

8:57 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, as someone who lived through this the first time around, I suppose the ultimate preppie fragrance must be Colors by Benneton. Do they still make that? Or perhaps um, Lauren, by Ralph Lauren......My mom has some old bottle of thay laying around. Wasn't that the preppie crie de coeur in the 80s?

11:58 AM EDT  

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