Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Prep School Allure

As a prep school student, I was subjected to polyester-wool kilts, crisp white blouses, ribbed stockings, and penny loafers (with a shiny new penny in each shoe's fold). Both the wild success of Gossip Girl and this preppy look from Balenciaga's pre-Fall line remind me why this look has transcended the classroom into the fashionista's closet: the clean lines, the unfussy combinations, and the class implications (reinforced on every episode of Gossip Girl) highlight the privileges that are associated with prep schools. The looks are relatively simple to mimic, but they carry with them the trademarks of money: the Chanelesque jacket elevates the cost of the overall cheap jeans-and-white-shirt look, and the uniform suggests a world of connotations (Dead Poets' Society, A Separate Peace, horses, debutante balls). As Americans, we are resistant to the idea of class, but the popularity of the prep school look forces us to examine the inequalities that exist in our schools.

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