Lisa Birnbach Preps for her Real Simple Pop-Up Shop Appearance

This week the first-ever Real Simple Holiday Pop Up Shop opened in the heart of Rockefeller Center. If you’re in the neighborhood over the next few days, stop in and shop for gifts, take holiday photos with Santa, catch live demos and presentations by Real Simple editors, or check out some of the experts that are joining us for some fun festivities.


One expert you won’t want to miss is Lisa Birnbach, who just released a brand new book—True Prep: It’s a Whole New Old World—a follow-up to The Official Preppy Handbook.


True Prep by Lisa Birnbach


Back in 1980 (yes, 30 years ago) Lisa first formally introduced us to Muffy and Biff. They inspired our wardrobe. (Hello, embroidered animals and grosgrain belts.) They instructed us to call Grandmother once a week, join the tennis team at the club, and replace our school bag with a monogrammed Boat and Tote. They also showed us that when pink is paired with Kelly green – it can look sharp on anyone.


We had a chance to chat with Lisa to find out why now–after 30 years–it was time for a preppy revival.


Why did you decide we needed a follow-up book now?

Lisa Birnbach: I was actually responding to our readers. People were requesting a sequel to The Official Preppy Handbook. You know, a lot has changed in the world over the last 30 years but when it comes to being a prep, things haven’t changed that much.


If you had to pick one thing that has changed for preps over the years, what would it be?

LB: Polarfleece.


Why Polarfleece?

LB: Preppy’s are, by nature, in love with natural fibers. Buying Polarfleece is actually a pretty big deal. And, not to mention, that Polartec—the Company that makes these microfiber items—is actually based in Massachusetts. For anyone who doesn’t know, Massachusetts is one of our preppiest states. It’s ground-breaking.


What does it take to be preppy?

LB: A true prep is confident, poised, charming, and sporty. A prep goes with the flow and will always fit in. No matter what. A prep understands that education is important and that money isn’t essential to survival. Preps like to do things the way their parents did them.  In fact, they still go on vacations with their parents. And they still let them pay to take them on vacation.


What’s the one item of clothing every preppy male or female needs to own?

LB: A blue blazer. It’s the perfect go-to finishing piece.


What’s proper preppy holiday party attire?

LB: Preppy girls: Velvet. Black velvet is great but really any color works. Of course, you’ll already be wearing your pearls. And, unless, there is snow on the ground, those UGG boots are off-limits. 
For a dressy event, you can’t go wrong with tartan and taffeta.

Preppy guys: Suit or a sport coat and cords will work. Absolutely no jeans or sneakers. Preps love embroidered animals on clothing, but seasonal-inspired embroidery is a no-no. Refrain from sporting mistletoe, wreaths, you get it.


What’s proper preppy party etiquette?

LB: There are just a few simple rules to follow:

•Shower within 12 hours of party-time.

•Arrive with clean fingernails.

•Make eye-contact.

•Give a nice, firm handshake.

•Avoid kissing the hostess on the mouth.


We know first impressions are important. What’s a great hostess gift?

LB: •A bottle of champagne or single malt scotch. Plus, re-gifting a bottle of alcohol is totally acceptable and easy if you need to find something fast.

•Frame. Preps do love their photos.

•Imprinted napkins or monogrammed luggage tags.

•Magazine subscription.


What does every prep have on their holiday wish list this year?

LB: •Digital camera because they have definitely lost the one they received last year. In case you didn’t know, preppies are always losing things.

•Passport case. This way, they don’t lose their passport. (See above.)

•Professional organizer would also be nice.


Why read True Prep?

LB: Preppy or not, this book is filled with lots of common sense. Plus, it’s funny. And everyone needs a good laugh.


Still looking for more preppy pointers? Stop by the Real Simple Pop-Up Shop this Monday between 6:00pm-7:00pm to catch Lisa signing copies of her newly released book.