Privilege Blog

How To Wear Nantucket Reds By Current/Elliot, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:11am

This morning I have to point you to a conversation taking place elsewhere in the blogosphere. I’m going to assume that many of you read Muffy Aldrich’s blog, The Daily Prep,. It may be new to others.

Muffy started posting in 2010, in reaction to the co-opting of the term, “Preppy.” She herself fits the profile of a classic New England “Prep,” lives in (I think) Maine, sails, wears Norwegian-style sweaters, and descends from American public figures. She is also trying to reassociate certain values, headlined on the blog as,  Authenticity• Stewardship•Graciousness, with the “Prep”construct, all the while while jettisoning mall-induced “Preppy” baggage.

I understand the agenda, as I began to use the term “High WASP,” as a way to deconstruct and tease out my family culture from the same cheerful maelstrom. My opinions and sentiments don’t line up with Muffy’s, exactly, but she is who she says she is and she’s honorable.

She’s also consistent, focused, disciplined, opinionated, hard-working, and takes cool pictures of a lifestyle with iconic implications. I have discovered several interesting New England craftsman brands via A Daily Prep.

Most notably I’ve also recently noticed Muffy’s comment threads, quite apart from her posts, bubble like a social crucible.  I thought you might be interested. Those fascinated by discussions of social class, and live demonstrations of how people react when class is implied or denied, go here.

What To Wear With Nantucket Reds morphs into something akin to theater. Oh, and I also discover that I’ve been guilty of my culture’s worst trait, Passive Aggressive Dismissal Of Others. Please come back and tell me what you think of the post, if you could be so kind. No need to address my particular self-discovery; we spend enough time on that around here, do we not?.

Otherwise, for all of you interested primarily, or additionally, in matters sartorial, look how Muffy wears said Nantucket Reds. Cute, right? A little pattern mixing, a nice menswear feel, some light blues against a verging-on-coral red. Like J. Crew in an imaginary, innocent era.

The thing is, wholly apart from the cultural reference, on a completely different trajectory from culture, class, and heritage, I’m feeling colored chinos for spring myself. Felt that way last year too. But imagine the cultural realities of Nantucket Reds, with a ribbon belt, even sans lacrosse sticks, in Northern California. Right? See my point? So, moving on.

From Current/Elliot, via net-a-porter. 100% cotton. How great is that! And, sure, they’re an actual coral shade, as opposed to verging-on, but hey, humans live to derive. The pants come in blue, too. I did mention that they’re 100% cotton?

We can almost always find a complex path running right alongside the simple one. Here’s to joy in the choosing, as well as in walking both at once.

Have a wonderful weekend.


64 Responses

  1. Love both yours and Muffy’s blog. Both inspire entertaining comments. Y’all keep up the good work.

  2. I LOVED that link. Thanks for that. I live for lively internet debate, truly I do. I visit Muffy’s blog from time to time, but like much of the rhetoric on the discussion today, it tends to wear me out with too much exposure. I feel like sometimes it turns into a forum for those of a certain “strata”, or should I say those who are posing as a certain strata (this is, after all, the internet)…it is a forum for them to reassure themselves. I found the whole discussion about Prep being “appropriated” by the mainstream very interesting. As one overy lugubrious yet backhanded writer (you’ll know who I mean) painted it….prep is “something that does not belong to you”…I found that an interesting dichotomy. Living here in the UK, I can see the origins of American “prep” style everywhere I go. At our very origins, Americans “appropriated” themselves a country, and then filled it with culture and clothing and whatnot, all representative of what they throught they might want to become. So as I said on Myffy’s blog, the question should really be was it ever yours to begin with…

    1. That’s a very good point. And I like the Welsh spelling:). We brought the old countries, really, from everywhere, and promulgated them in many ways.

  3. I didn’t find your comment about “moving on” dismissive at all. But, as someone who for years had split my time between Martha’s Vineyard and California, I understood it for how you meant it perfectly well. At the rehearsal dinner for my daughter’s wedding in September, as so many men were from New England, the number of Nantucket Reds, with navy blazers were quite funny, in Venice, California – it sort of looked like some costume party here, and would have been so normal on the Cape.
    All that aside, I love the Current Elliot pants you’ve shown, and I guarantee they fit much better than Murray’s!

  4. Uh, yes I enjoy reading both your blog and Muffy’s for very different reasons and relish comments on both blogs when they surface fresh insights. I knew it was a bad sign when I noted there were 70 comments on her Nan Red photo essay. This is when I love being a Midwesterner: I’ve got no dog in this hunt. Never wore Nantucket reds nor knew anyone who did. That they stimulate such passion among her readers suggests they are, in this moment, imbued with a power well beyond the pants. And that aspect is simply fascinating to watch her readers unpack….when I have the patience and time.

    1. Yes, it’s the readers and their comments that prompted me to post this link. I admire Muffy’s fortitude.

  5. After the completion of this, my 25th year in New England, I was confident my application for native status would sail through. After reading Muffy’s post and comments, I’m sure the board will extend my waiting period another decade or so…

    On the pants front, Nantucket Reds (on males) are a rare sight here as we are relatively landlocked, a vast 20 miles inland from the coast. More commonly worn with a man’s navy blue blazer are conventional khakis and in recent years a well fitting pair of dungarees.

  6. Very interesting exchange over there. Yes, some people do get touchy when it’s their own ox (class/tribe/region) being gored, but I always appreciate those who can look at themselves with a touch of self-deprecating humor. Easier to do perhaps with some histories than others.

  7. I peeked in, enjoyed the glimpse, but felt as if I were observing an almost-alien culture, quite honestly. . . . which, I suppose, I was . . . .
    These Current/Elliots look like a pleasant change from jeans or khakis or chinos. I’ve been thinking about picking up a pair or two of The Gap’s coloured skimmers, slimmer and less expensive in comparison to the Current/Elliots, although with the slimmer fit and the 2% spandex (98% cotton), they won’t be as cool. . .

  8. Wow, Lisa…my eyebrows took up permanent residence just under my hairline while reading the comments section on Muffy’s post. Do you suppose the matadors’ capes they use in Spanish bullrings are Nantucket Red?

    I grew up in Greenwich and spent summers in Kennebunkport, so I’ve seen my fair share of the Reds, but I never much gravitated toward them, as they were ALWAYS worn with navy and white Much too confining a palette for an Artsy color-grazer.

    Agreed, though, that it’s a difficult color to work with, so what to pair it with…hmmm. Maybe a natural linen shirt, a jacket (maybe something wrapped or cropped safari-style–not a blazer) in bark brown, and an accessory in blue (preferably patterned), but not navy…perhaps Prussian blue?

    Like Kathy, I didn’t find your comment dismissive at all.

  9. Oh Lord. Well, as an expatriate Southerner who has never lived in New England, I can’t adequately assess old NE/Prep/Yale humor (“aridly dry” and all).

    I can say that I have learned–the hard way–that when someone is intent upon insulting the South or its inhabitants to a) say nothing and b) think to myself, “Well, you are an arrogant, rude jackass, and I am about to pivot and head the other way.”

    Or as my husband would say, “You can’t fix stupid”–even if stupid is a Mayflower descendant and has gone to Yale.

    Also, around here (Oregon), we call those red trousers “party pants.” They seem to be worn by men who have gone to Cornell. It’s a thing….

    1. I found some of the comments horrendous in that regard- when someone is rude, abrasive, classist and loudly prejudiced, its generally best NOT to ‘reassure’ the offended party that ‘you need to grow a thicker skin’. Unbelievable. If that’s “Yankee humor,” it’s a wonder anyone ever goes to New England. (And I’m from New York- we’re not exactly known for our gentility, but by god you don’t speak to people that way.)

      I don’t know how Muffy can stand to read her own comments.

  10. I understand neither the need for apology nor the intensity of the topic. I mean… pants.

    My prep-parsing skills are forty years out of date, not that the purveyors or the look of the patrons have changed much.

  11. I enjoy Muffy’s exposition on prep. I actually know many that fit this profile. It is real.

    I say we all accept each other and leave it at that. Susan Lowell

  12. I’m thinking we should keep any comments about Muffy to the positive. It’s really hard as a blogger to stick to your guns, and she does, agree with her or no. Going forward, do we think it’s possible to keep discussion to the non-personally specific?

    1. I think commenting, like email, is a particularly difficult medium to convey irony, sarcasm, humor. Probably due to its reactionary, of the moment nature. No time to run it by an editor. You and Muffy are to be congratulated for letting the comments fly. I know I’ve taken down comments on my blog that don’t exactly mesh with my message. As I told one reader, think of my blog as a magazine that I publish — I’m the one who decides which “letters to the editor” get printed.

      After reading the tempest in a teapot of comments on Muffy’s blog, I thought my comment here yesterday was funny. Reading it a day later I’m not so sure. If I offended anyone, please accept my apologies.

      I’m a new reader to your fine blog and enjoy your wit and style wisdom delivered with not a whiff of “Passive Aggressive Dismissal of Others”.

  13. I enjoy reading Muffy’s posts but have learned to stay away from the comments. No matter how hard I try to find them amusing, they hurt my feelings. I don’t take myself that seriously.

  14. I also read Muffy’s blog from time to time.
    Eventhough I live on Nantucket and my husband owns and sometimes wears Reds in the summer I don’t think they are flattering on men or women. I would never wear them. I think Breton reds came before Nantucket Reds and were a better color ( not as washed out) and a better, less canvas-y fabric…But my husband and his groomsmen wore Nantucket Reds when we got married. Nantucket Reds are iconic.

  15. I love both Muffy’s blog and yours. I really only love the Nantucket Reds because of the color. I just thought they were pretty pants, but try and act like you’ll actually wear them and the Prep Police come out..LOL. I love your Archtypes so much, when I heard about the Sturdy Gal I thought by God she’s pegged me. Keep up the great work.

  16. Well, that was an interesting comment thread! Outside the US, I think we associate Prep purely with a style, as abhorred by the many in the comment thread, rather than with the actual originators of the style. I must say, I also find the openess that both you and Muffy write about class to be quite interesting too…. in Australia, we have a more British attitude I’d say – you don’t talk about it. The signs are much subtler too, no ‘uniform’ of class in dress, just little hints here and there only picked up by those in the know.

  17. I discovered The Daily Prep when I searched, lengthily and fruitlessly, for a good-looking, well-fitting flannel shirt late last fall. (P.S. Men by far have more and better choices in the flannel shirt dep’t.) It was nice to discover someone who took them as seriously as I did. I think all of her suggested pairings for the Nantucket Reds are great. While I’ve never worn NRs myself, I have jeans, chinos, and cords in many shades of the coral-to-cabernet spectrum. Warm colors are fun. :)

  18. My family had a place in Nantucket and I’ve worn reds, but I’d feel weird wearing them around some of Muffy’s readers. Some of them take it all Much Too Seriously … others are posers. Holy L. L. Bean Norwegian sweater on a Triscuit, in the end, they’re just clothes.

  19. One wonders if the true preps in the north east are feeling threatened as the waters of demographic change roll over the gunnels of their existence. I second the emotion of the commenter who said it felt like reading about aliens. They’re just clothes, it’s just stuff, it’s kind of sad that people hang their identities on a pair of red pants.

  20. Isn’t the blog world great . We get to peep into the worlds of folk thousands of miles from us & learn what excites them or horrifies them . Living in the UK , I’ve never come across these iconic pinky trousers & have to smile to think they can only be worn by certain people . New England does not have the monopoly on pompous snobs though- old England has plenty too . We have visited the US many times & found the natives refreshingly unpompous …… but we didn’t visit New England .

  21. I enjoy Muffy’s blog very much. The comments section though – yikes, not as much. But then, I also follow several “Southern Prep” blogs, including the incomparably prissy Miss Janice.

    As a born-and-raised Southern California girl, I can’t recall ever seeing these pants on anyone around here. And I doubt anyone I know would realize the socio-economic implications of wearing them. IMO, if you like them, wear them. And if you manage to irritate some blow-hard in the process, all the better. :)

  22. Her blog is a lot of fun to read. It reminds me of my Grandmama’s CT and northeast roots – the Miss Porter’s crowd of my family. I enjoy her posts.

    I love Nantucket Reds. I have an ancient pair of some cotton chinos in that shade I got at J.Crew in the 9th grade that I still wear. The cotton is so perfectly broken in at this point. And L.L.Bean is now hit or miss so that is often why I wear them so sparingly. Glad to know some more modern brands are making them (like your Current/Elliot share above!).


  23. Found your blog this morning which was a happy coincidence because i’m the one who started the whole blow-up with “Ferd”.

    Who was it who said the internet is like talking in a bar? It seems important at the time but it really isn’t? I don’t usually get into it with anyone over the internet for that reason and Muffy’s blog is enjoyable but Ferd is terribly annoying, rude and pompous.

    It was such a relief to read Aine’s comments because it made me feel like i wasn’t entirely crazy to think his posts are mean-spirited, rude, condescending, and arrogant. That may be his internet “persona” but it’s so un-necessary. There are plenty of forums for that kind of “talk”. It’s good to know that at least one or two other people don’t believe that kind of attitude with “Yankee Humor”.

    Looking forward to becoming acquainted with your blog and i’ll be a good girl after this and will keep my opinions to myself.

    1. Well welcome Sara! Our deal around here is everybody is allowed their opinions, as long as they are expressed in a civil tone. With one caveat. You can say what you like about me, I don’t let people here say rude or mean things about other commenters.

  24. I’m not sure why some readers on that site are so hell bent on making authenticity, stewardship and graciousness an exclusive thing. As I have said a few times in comments, we should probably all just be happy if Muffy encourages some people to dress a little more nicely or appropriately, regardless of their geographic or educational background.

    As someone who has tangled with a few fellow readers over there I think it is time to bow out of the scene. I’m constantly amazed by how quickly people rush to the defense of someone who makes unwarranted attacks on others, and it’s pretty clear that my slightly different opinions are completely unwelcome. I really am amazed by the ugliness it brings out in everyone, and I will include myself in that statement.

    Authenticity, stewardship, GRACIOUSNESS…perhaps Muffy needs to give a refresher course on the last one.

    Also, I wish I were skinny enough to wear those Current/Elliot pants- what a great find. It’s so hard to find 100% cotton these days…

    1. We could all do with a little refresher on graciousness now and again, at least I know I could. I’m hoping to swing by Barneys and see how the C/Es fit.

  25. Pre-faded reds are like pre-scuffed cowboy boots. Did I mention that my BIL wore Top-siders fixed with duct tape( aka gaffers’ tape in my world) as a groomsman at my wedding in Oyster Bay? Authenticity was my late MIL’s word to live by, and she and my Montana rancher father were in perfect agreement.

  26. I’ve thought often of leaving Muffy’s blog because of the comments, but I’m not there for them I’m there for Muffy and the other readers who I’m happy to see are also here. P.S. I love Miss Janice too.

  27. Nice intro to meeting Muffy (love her name). I purchased a pair of somewhat Nantucket-ish Red capri’s from jjill last summer for a trip to LA, and ended up living in them, with black or white as their main attachment…it’s fun to see some different ideas for them on her site, which looks like an interesting new place to explore…I’ll be wary of the commenters though!
    Thoughts of summer have now been brought to the forefront…
    xo J~

  28. Jessica, 98% of the commenters on Muffy’s blog are very civilized. Some take the definition of “what is a true prep”, their clothes and their attendance a the “right school” a bit seriously, but other than that, they are ok.

    What does the Passive Aggressive Dismissal of Others mean? Or rather, how does one do that? I understand cutting or snubbing somone but not PADO.

  29. Goodness gracious, I’m so happy I was born and raised in Southern California. As they say in the Old Country, “who needs this kind of
    ” over a pair of pants?

  30. Infrequent lurker, first time commentator. I have a pair of all cotton bootcut chinos in a faded blue-red from American Eagle, purchased last spring. I had no idea that this was some sort of preppy-icon until I started googling for what to wear with them, aside from (believe it or not) my seersucker blazer (APC, excellent quality) and navy tee. I just liked the “fun factor” of coloured pants for spring.

    The discussion over on Muffy’s blog (which I also infrequently visit, to check out lovely pics of her outdoorsy lifestyle) made my jaw drop. I have aspired to a waspy/preppy style since I was in my teens, and I had little clue as to why certain members of that priviledged group feels so threatened by others who want to emulate the style. As for preppy/traditionalist, my ancestors (going at least as far back to my great-grandpappies and -nannies) were landed gentry, and were uprooted by the maoists surging through the old country. My mother taught me “European manners”, please and thank you’s all the way, knowing which fork/knife/spoon to use for which course, and napkin in the lap too. What’s wrong with admitting that class and manners are admirable and that others want to “polish up”?

    Just want to say that I really enjoy your blog, and the conversation your readers contribute to.

  31. I have not known this colour before and I don’t see myself wearing it.
    When I googled it after reading your and Muffy’s postings, I found mainly men wearing those trousers, posing in front of the camera like brass bands! They wear them as a uniform.

    In Europe nothing like this exists.
    I mean yes, Italian men wear lilac and yellow cashmere sweaters. But 12 men wearing coral trousers on a wedding?!

    Lisa, do you have an explanation how this trend evolved in the US?

  32. I wonder what the purpose really is in this upper-class self-examination, especially when what lies within is a lot of thinly veiled bragging, class-ism, and sometimes racism. I suppose such discussions have always occurred in private, within closed social circles, and now it’s online – what are the implications for WASPs, Preps et al when what used to go unsaid, as a matter of culture, becomes broadcast with a loudspeaker? And what are the implications for the rest of us?

  33. Another interesting link, LPC. I considered posting my 2c in there, but decided against. A taste of that reminds me how much I prefer your blog–so less ostentatious, so closer to the realities of living with yourself and moving with the times… To say nothing of your open-minded reader community. So I hope you’ll pardon me for posting here, not there. Since you were the one to point me in the first place (and to highlight its social/anthropological dimensions), I hope it won’t be too far off the mark.

    What I wanted to say to that crowd was this: Fascinating and enlightening–thank you everyone for the exhilarating freeness of opinions stated… and I feel as if I might smile in response to the fray and say, “So now you know how it feels.”

    I am referring to the difficult phenomenon of cultural appropriation, with which the Prep/Southern Prep distinction (or broadly, the Prep/faux-Prep, or High WASP/other WASP) seems to grapple tensely. Because I myself am not Prep, but Chinese…and every other Fashion Week, it seems, the Chinoiserie train rolls round. And all the good Prep family tchotchkes, the deft Delft reinterpretations, the Ming vases at auction, even the Mao caps–they make me feel a little odd. You see?

    1. Further food for thought. I was reading through the rest of your reader comments and came upon Closet Crisis’s–with which, upon reflection, I agree in no small amount.
      The strange part is, my first reaction was to check my pedigree against hers, and (I say shamefaced) with some satisfaction. Essentially I Chinese-High-WASPed her Chinese WASP. Ouch, hypocrisy is a punch in the face! So, anthropologically. It’s interesting, Lisa, how we can never seem to get out of our concentric ins and outs.

    2. Interesting to see you, Closet Crisis, Paula, and Abby all in a row. Clearly other countries have class markers. The US is unusual in the number of cultures and immigrant waves we’ve embraced. It is VERY interesting to me to consider what effect bringing the discussion of these markers out of academia may have.

      Maybe none. Maybe a lot. As a final note, I started writing about my particular High WASP thing only after working for 10 years with Chinese-American colleagues. They had no qualms about the conversation. After all, their culture was so much older than mine…

    3. Lisa, this might be the core: “They had no qualms about the conversation. After all, their culture was so much older than mine…”

      I mean in Europe we never think of Europe as the “good old Europe”, it just is what it is. Europe, a place where we live.
      so maybe it is all about lacking “true” heritage, tradition etc. in the US. The fact there there are no 900-year-old Villages where your ancestors lived. Everything is quite new, compared to other places on Earth. So that’s when those codes come into … play.
      But why don’t the Australians need those rules and codes? Well, they have a real Queen, no? ;-)

  34. Hello, Lisa, Just a note to SF readers that Ralph Lauren near Post Street is closing on March 17. Very sad. They have consolidation of items from all over the US including Beverly Hills…..

  35. As usual, you start the conversation that many people want to have but are unsure how or where to begin. I read Muffy regularly, and comment occasionally. Since we are keeping positive here, there are a number of things that I will not say about that blog or some of the commenters. Although, I would like to ask them what “non preps” (using their definition) should wear. Maybe those of us unfortunate enough not to have their blue blood running through our veins should be banned from J Press and the like. Maybe we should have pieces of flair pinned to our sleeves to denote the inferior class to which we belong? That worked very well for another exclusive group many years ago..

    I know that I will never be admitted to “the club” of prep. I commented once on that blog that I was not so worried about following their rules because as an African American woman, I will never be one of them anyway, so I’m content to do what I want. Of course, I was made fun of a bit by that Ferd character, as there is no such thing as a “black prep.” Doesn’t bother me any. I am what I am :)

    1. My sister and I think Barack Obama fits almost all the criteria for High WASP. My goal is to give away the keys to the club as fast as possible. Code of conduct, Style Archetypes, etc. I suppose all that’s left is a guide for How To Get Your Kid Into The Ivy League, and for that I will have to gird my loins.

  36. I think the words Prep and WASP are very narrow definitions. I love the Archtypes because they truly represent each individuals personality. Maybe this is the problem diehard Preps have is they’re still thinking in a tribal way, excluding anyone who doesn’t fit into their idea of Prep. Given a choice between being an individual or groupie I’ll take the freedom of the individual any day.

  37. How very funny, red trousers were all the rage in 18th century Europe, Dr Johnson wrote about them and it has gone on from there, I scribbled about them in one of my New Guide to Non – U Posts. They are worn by a very distinct group here.

  38. Had to come to this, I went off and read that thread, phew! I didn’t know such snobbery existed in America, we are aways told that you are so much better than us as class doesn’t matter, uhm poppycock it seems. I know a lot of titled blue bloods but we were outsnobbed in Muffy’s post – I sense a rallying against something that is dying in your country.

  39. Had I stumbled upon Privilege and The Daily Prep a few months earlier, I could have posted something more timely. And I was only looking for new sources for high-quality casual classics…

    Here in Wisconsin, Nantucket Reds would look ridiculous, even at posh yacht clubs. Of course, Badger Red is perfectly acceptable at a football or basketball game!

    Lisa, your original assessment of The Daily Prep is spot on. I do enjoy both blogs, have learned a great deal in a short time. I think I will take the best of High Prep or High Wasp and leave Nantucket Reds to the Ivy League.

  40. I would love to see Badger Reds:). The point, in my occasionally less-than-humble opinion, is to put this cultural stuff out there for everyone to take of it what they will. So I endorse your strategy whole-heartedly.

  41. How stange I was redirected to self help book section when I hit your link to Muffys blog. I enjoy reading your blog and thought I’d give hers a go.

    1. Muffy has changed her blog title and URL. It’s now called Salt Water New England. Why that link goes to Amazon self help I have absolutely no idea! My apologies! It’s not a section of Amazon I tend to frequent:). Here’s Muffy’s new URL I am very happy that you enjoy my blog.

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