In honor of the publication of True Prep by Lisa Birnbach (a follow-up to The Official Preppy Handbook, which I blogged about last year) this month, the baby naming website Baby Names Garden has posted a list of preppy names and nicknames and is taking reader suggestions.
As it so happens, my own copy of True Prep arrived in the mail today and a quick glance through reveals that it does not address preppy names this time around. In many ways, preppy names and nicknames often stay the same. After all, prep is about staying power, the tried and true; not trying to outdo oneself with flash and sass. Case in point, when Gwenyth Paltrow named her daughter Apple – I’m still of the mind that a simple “Claire” or “Tinsley” would have sufficed.
Do you by any chance remember The Official Preppy Handbook? I do. I own a copy. It was published in 1980 (retailed in paperback for $3.95) and was probably ahead of the curve, getting out there before “preppy” officially became part of the lexicon and something of a punchline in the mid-to-late 80s. Essentially, it’s a humorous book, of course, but it also served as a kind of a road map for how to be prep, even if you weren’t born into the lifestyle and felt so inclined. The introduction states that, “Preppies don’t have to be rich, Caucasian, frequenters of Bermuda or ace tennis players.” The book has a certain something in common with today’s Gossip Girl and makes you think a bit more deeply about Gwyneth Paltrow, Izod and Ivy League schools.
It also makes me think about pink and green, a color combo I still associate with Prep, turtlenecks with repeating patterns of tiny whales spouting water or apples, wool blazers and movies like St. Elmo’s Fire. Ah, good times.