Monday, 14 July 2014

Seven Sisters Style: The All-American Preppy Look by Rebecca C. Tuite.

The first beautifully illustrated volume exclusively dedicated to the female side of preppy style by American college girls. The Seven Sisters-a prestigious group of American colleges, whose members include fashion icons such as Katharine Hepburn, Jacqueline Kennedy, Ali MacGraw, and Meryl Streep-perfected a flair that spoke to an aspirational lifestyle filled with education, travel, and excitement. Their style, on campus and off, was synonymous with an intelligence and American grace that became a marker of national pride and status all over the world: from jeans and baggy shirts to Bermuda shorts and blazers, soft Shetland sweaters and saddle shoes, not to mention sleek suiting, pearls, elegant suitcases, kidskin gloves, kitten heels, and cashmere. "[The college girl's] contribution to fashion is as American as Coca-Cola, baseball and hitch-hiking," announced Harper's Bazaar in 1935.

Seven Sisters Style explores the multifaceted foundations and metamorphosis of this style, from the early twentieth century through today. Was the Seven Sisters girl an East Coast Ivy Leaguer? A geek or a goddess? Radical or conservative? A tomboy or an American princess? In many ways, she was all of these and more. This book presents a treasure trove of stunning visuals, including those from the archives of the Seven Sisters colleges that illustrate their legacy and enduring reverberations on and off the runway, in Hollywood, and in popular culture. From Dior's tailored blazers, wrap skirts, and short socks and heels to Balenciaga's juxtaposing the argyle sweater, collared blouse, and sharp tailored blazer, and even Band of Outsiders' silk pajama tartans with oversized coats and collegiate wool hats and scarves, it is a look that continues to fascinate and inspire.

3.0 out of 5 stars Redundant; some lovely photos, but poor scholarship, May 2, 2014
By Theatrical Moho -
This review is from: Seven Sisters Style: The All-American Preppy Look (Hardcover)

As a Mount Holyoke alumna--but not a preppy style aficionado--I purchased the book because I love college history, especially the history of women's colleges. Tuite has said that she did extensive research in each of the colleges' archives and I'd hoped the book would be a fun, insightful read. Not impressed. Tuite argues that preppy style has been hugely influential worldwide, but doesn't go much deeper than that. I found the text incredibly repetitive--both in overused adjectives and in the fact that she makes the same points in every chapter with little variation. There are some beautiful photos and lovely reprints of historical clothing ads, but I expected more from a fashion history book. As another commenter noted, there just aren't that many photos and many that are included are small.

Tuite's research is quite limited in scope. 2/3 of the examples she presents are from Vassar, with a handful from Smith and Wellesley, but only a few mentions of Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, and Radcliffe. I realize that she has a personal connection to Vassar, but the book read as though she'd started it as a thesis about Vassar style and then decided to throw in a few references to the other Sisters in order to reach a broader audience. There were also some inaccurate historical and literary references.

As a Seven Sisters alumna, I truly wanted to enjoy the book and I did somewhat. However, though I learned a bunch about preppy designers, I ultimately felt unfulfilled because the book barely seemed to scratch the surface of the topic.

2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Execution, April 30, 2014
By Sandra -
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Seven Sisters Style: The All-American Preppy Look (Hardcover)
I loved the idea of this book, however the reality was disappointing. It was far more of a glorification of Vassar than I was interested in, and not hardly enough of other powerhouse seven sisters, like Radcliffe or Wellesley. Furthermore, for a fashion book I would have expected large, beautiful prints. Instead, the images were small, grainy and there were just not enough of them. In fact, on one page the image was cut in half by the book seam.

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