June 19, 2009

The Japanese get the whole perfect American thing better than Americans."

"They understand that it’s an identifiable style around the world, this American look. We think we appreciate it, but we really don’t, not like they do."

22 comments:

Pogo said...

But all is not well, because the preppy look is "classist and racist"!!

From Newsweek Aug 20, 2008:
"Lauren has built an empire by becoming the unofficial outfitter of the American Dream, marketing an idealized image of America's former ruling class to the nation at large. However, the WASP aesthetic he sells—think of characters from "The Great Gatsby," clothed in tennis whites and delicate tea dresses—has come to represent a classist and racist set of ideals, hardly representative of the current multicultural social fabric of the United States.

Social conservatives would probably fail to read anything insidious into these outfits—after all, at least the U.S. team looked pulled-together and semi-formal—but the clothes, in and of themselves, are not the problem. The issue is that the Polo brand is built upon an aesthetic intended to communicate to the world, the wearer's successful assimilation into the traditional institutions of upwardly-mobile American culture—the elitist world of typically WASP-only country clubs, prep schools and cotillions. (Never mind that Ralph Lauren, née Lifshitz, was born in the Bronx to Jewish immigrants who most certainly would not have been allowed into the country clubs that many of his designs seem destined for.)
"

Cue the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

And who knew that the Japanese were so WASPy?

kynefski said...

Thanks, Pogo, for making it about the oppression of white men. I hadn't picked that up at first.

Pogo said...

No problem.

Hey, waaaait a minnnnnute.......

jayne_cobb said...

"But that’s changing. Not long ago, men scoffed at dress shorts, let alone wore them to work. Now, they are a summer norm..."


I'm surprised this isn't the quote you used.

Pogo said...

Well I am confused. The linked NYTimes article says:
"André Benjamin, a k a André 3000, the designer of the bright Ivy-inspired Benjamin Bixby line (perhaps the only celebrity line with a truly fresh viewpoint), grew up in Atlanta amid the preppy boom of the ’80s and early ’90s. He remembers how schoolmates spent their money on clothes and cars, wearing two or three polo shirts at a time and fetishizing prepmobiles like the Volkswagen Cabriolet.

“Like a lot of things, the myth is greater than the actual thing. The WASPy lifestyle, with the parents and traditions, it looks great, but appreciating it from the outside brings a whole different perspective.

“This golden age of Ivy League style we’re talking about — the blue blazers, the chinos, the sweatshirts, the tweed jackets — what I like is that it’s a look without looking like you thought about it. It looks like you care, but you don’t care.
"


All I'm asking is for the left to get together and make some kind of final policy decision.

Is the preppy look, as Newsweek claims "classist and racist"?
Or is it merely a fashion statement, "old school authentic Americana"?


Which is it?
How am I to know if I am being merely a white oppressor or acceptably multicultural?

C'mon! Throw me a friggin' bone here!

Fred4Pres said...

They probably like this swill too.

knox said...

Dressing preppy--not full blown dress shorts and all--but sticking to the classics--is a really easy way for men to look great.

I didn't get this quote from Andre 3000:

what I like is that it’s a look without looking like you thought about it. It looks like you care, but you don’t care.

Doesn't he mean: "You care, but it looks like you don't care." The key to looking really great is looking like you didn't even try, no? Seems like he's got it backwards.

Anyway, I don't feel like the preppy look for women is nearly as smart as it is for men. Just doesn't translate somehow.

William said...

Back in the 70's I was briefly fashion conscious. I was aware that everyone in the world was wearing bell bottom trousers except me.

Salamandyr said...

"what I like is that it’s a look without looking like you thought about it. It looks like you care, but you don’t care."

Doesn't he mean: "You care, but it looks like you don't care." The key to looking really great is looking like you didn't even try, no? Seems like he's got it backwards.

I think what it means is that it's a look that shows you obviously care about appearance and quality, but do not obsess over it, it's to convey a level of comfort with the appurtenances of wealth. You not only have the money, you're so used to it you no longer think about it.

Randy said...

Once again, "What Knox said." ;-)

EDH said...

The Japanese, once again masters of reverse-engineeering?

Nothing new here, move along.

traditionalguy said...

The preppy look says that a person has lived in a suscessful culture and found a place in it. The rebellion looks say that the person is an outsider looking in and is angry about it. So the Japanese who honor the winning tradition of their own culture also pick the same part of American culture to emulate. Living outside the USA sharpens the eye to discern betwen the good parts of our culture and the self destructive parts of our culture. Not that there is anything wrong with self destruction.

Pogo said...

Don't the Japanese also revere the Harajuku look for young women?

One might question their taste as leaning more to the comic.

jayne_cobb said...

As long as the "pretty boy" look doesn't catch on here to the degree that it has in Japan I'll be okay.

I don't want to have to spend $50 a month on hair gel.

knox said...

Randy, high five!!

kynefski said...

Back in the 70's I was briefly fashion conscious. I was aware that everyone in the world was wearing bell bottom trousers except me.

Are you claiming that you would not be embarrassed by how you dressed in the 70's?

Neither bum nor yahoo?

Freeman Hunt said...

It may not be true of love, but as any boarding-school student can tell you, preppy means never having to say you’re sorry.

What does that mean?

Balfegor said...

But that’s changing. Not long ago, men scoffed at dress shorts, let alone wore them to work. Now, they are a summer norm, along with seersucker suits, ribbon belts and horn-rimmed glasses.

Clearly, this article was written from some nightmarish parallel universe.

Randy said...

One could argue that Japanese Elvis impersonators get the whole perfect Elvis thing better too.

yashu said...

Freeman, "love means never having to say you're sorry" is a famous (idiotic) quote from 'Love Story'.

knox said...

Clearly, this article was written from some nightmarish parallel universe.

LOL! I will admit, some aspects of "preppy style" are a little on the absurd side.

traditionalguy said...

Preppy may be a subset from the Theory of the Leisure Class. The style is one of a rich enough not to have to work young person just going thru the motions of attending a College Preparatory Academy and then on to the University on Dad's dime until the Trust Funds vest. The clothes have to be expensive but impractical for working at a job. Copy cats dress to make that first impression too. No blue jeans allowede, because those ARE work clothes. The loafers with no socks and deck shoes must be useless in a factory production line or other worksite. The blue blazers and grey dress slacks are Academy uniforms. The Scottish plaid skirts and sweaters are the More-Educated-than-you Presbyterian style which is very American. Etc..