What Brands Are High WASP-Approved?


Last week I was asked, “What brands ARE High WASP approved?” Hmm. We know which brands we don’t like right now. We don’t like Juicy Couture because they scare us. Just the word Juicy scares us. We prefer dry unless you are talking about fresh fruit. We don’t like Coach because they lost their way, although the bags of the late 70’s were perfect. We are temporarily annoyed with North Face because they let their brand promotion overwhelm their function. But, I must point out, we could change our minds at any moment. Because at the end of the day, we want Self over Brand. We want to define our style – and our identities – ourselves, thank you very much. And the brands we don’t like are generally those that self-consciously, overtly, engage in Branding with a capital B. So in trying to win us, you lose. Unless you are very subtle, careful, or ironic. I would argue, for example, that the new Lilly designs, some of them, have quite the potential for irony. But I digress.

That’s the bad news for retailers. What a persnickety bunch we are, even though we no longer hold the bulk of the country’s discretionary income in our discrete leather wallets. The good news is that if you design things we like, we are open. If you’ve dug yourself into a hole via indiscriminate logoing, or too many ads in women’s magazines, like Louis Vuitton for example, we might go through some torment before purchase. But in the end, design, of both form and function, will win out. The thing beats the brand. As long as you adhere to the principles of clean lines, judicious use of color, and usefulness, that is. If you need to carry something, the purse has to allow for carrying. If you want to put something on your feet, you have to be able to walk. If necessary through a muddy field. With horses.

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21 Comments

  • 08/03/09
    11:42 am

    Reply

    Judy said...

    I would love to see a discussion about brands that are preppy and brands that are High WASP approved. It seems that if I look at the preppy-girl blogs, I see a lot of Lilly and a lot of pink-and-green and a lot of make-sure-everything-is-cute-and-matches. Yet the High WASPs of my youth were more into LL Bean boots, their brother's old Eddie Bauer jacket, Mummy's khakis, their sister's hand-me-down Jacques Cohen espadrilles, and everything wasn't all brand new nor was there a big fascination with shopping and continually updating one's wardrobe. Maybe their grandmothers wore Lilly, but they (the grandmothers) would just as easily have worn a pale pastel cashmere twin set with nondescript, practical black pants.
    Indeed, the imprimatur and the attitude of nonchalance — so it's old and worn, so what? — is part of what I associate with High WASP. I'm interested on your take on this. Maybe this is Northern vs Southern?

    05/25/13
    12:53 am
    Leah said...

    Judy,

    Yes, that is the difference between Northern WASP and Southern WASP.

    (My Granny, born and raised in Virginia, practically LIVED in her Lilly Pulitzer and thong sandals. She was obsessed with tennis, sailing and smoking.)

    Southern WASP is bright, fresh, summery, preppy, lots of Lilly, lots of pink and green, very sweet…

    Northern WASP is far more dignified in a way… it’s a lifestyle and attitude much closer to that of European old money, where the elite wear wellies, old pants, and tromp through the manor grounds with their hunting dogs. They wear the same high quality classic clothes for decades- repairing rather than replacing. They will wear one strand of pearls only, because it’s a family heirloom and that’s all a girl needs, really. A man will wear boat shoes not because because they’re trendy but because he literally will be on a boat sailing all day. Function, comfort and timelessness always trump trend and branding in the Northern WASP world.

    Brands like Tommy Hilfiger are chasing the WASP lifestyle of the North but they do not represent it. In fact they miss the point entirely.

    05/25/13
    8:32 am
    Lisa said...

    Leah, I think you have it right. Somebody ought to write up ALL the regions!

  • 08/03/09
    12:17 pm

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    theprovidentwoman said...

    I wish I knew more about fashion!

  • 08/03/09
    12:49 pm

    Reply

    Ashley said...

    i always find your posts interesting, and i don't mean this question in a rude way at all, but for my lack of knowledge: Are there really actually a group of people out there who associate themselves as "high wasp"? and truly do uphold the sort of standards you outline? is there a different between a family with money and a high wasp family? does your family really look down on you for wearing certain brands? (many brands i must add, that seem like good ones to me. like for ex, when you mentioned disdain over yor banana republic). just curious since i come from a family where my dad thanks i'm frivolous bc i spend more than $30 on jeans. :-)

  • 08/03/09
    12:50 pm

    Reply

    Ashley said...

    also, i hate when i look back and see these silly errors in my comments like "yor" and "thanks" instead of "thinks" haha.

  • 08/03/09
    1:54 pm

    Reply

    Hannah said...

    I would argue that we dislike Juicy because it is ugly. Well, maybe ugly scares me. And others like me.

  • 08/03/09
    2:00 pm

    Reply

    Imogen Lamport said...

    I hate stuff with branding on it – they should pay me to walk around like a billboard with their logo on it – I want my branding on the inside not the outside!

  • 08/03/09
    2:57 pm

    Reply

    Her Preppiness said...

    Great post.

  • 08/03/09
    4:00 pm

    Reply

    LPC said...

    There isn't a group of people who think of themselves as High WASPs, at least not that I know of. I think I made the term up. But the standards are real. The mores are real. They just aren't ever voiced. Or rarely, I should say, since I now have 41 posts with this tag:). In terms of the relationship of the High WASP concept to the prep concept, I'm not an expert on prep. I can only deconstruct what I know. And I have a deep desire to avoid anyone feeling excluded in any way. I want to tell my story because I can't help it, to say what is, not what is not. My guess is that regional differences exist. But maybe in future posts I can elucidate. Oops. Already used up my big word of the day…

  • 08/03/09
    4:33 pm

    Reply

    Lipstick said...

    Excellent post. ok, LPC…seriously, I am going to have to think of a different way to start my comments of you are going to get grouchy at me! :)

    my fave point that you make is that high WASPs value self over brand. the overall look/quality is so much more important than all the logo-insanity.

    BTW…Juicy Couture just makes me nauseous. I'm not even high WASP. I'm just plain-old WASP. LOL.

  • 08/03/09
    4:40 pm

    Reply

    Jan said...

    *hides White Stage capris*

    Thank you so much.

    Juicy Couture is evil – they replaced my beloved Liz Claiborn women's outlet at the Prime One mall in Grove City, PA last year, forcing them into a dark corner in the back of the regular retail store.

    I'll never, ever forgive them. Nope.

  • 08/03/09
    4:40 pm

    Reply

    Jan said...

    *sigh*

    That's White STAG.

    It's been a long day…

  • 08/03/09
    4:55 pm

    Reply

    f8hasit said...

    Personally, not that you asked but I'm going to tell everyone anyway, I don't care for any outside branding. I've bought Burberry, but nothing with the plaid, I've bought Chanel, but not with the CC's showing, I've bought even Gap, but please, no logos.

    I like things crisp and simple. Show me a good seam and I'm in. Great fabrics rule. Attention to detail a must.

    If it feels good, I must have it. As long as there is nothing to show where it came from. That's me, now.

    But I might have changed my mind if I were able to feel that purple bag you bought a few days ago….
    :-)

  • 08/03/09
    5:08 pm

    Reply

    Sher said...

    I wore a Juicy bathing suit top this weekend. Call me trashy LOL!

    I prefer subtle branding like St John Knits with their signature buttons. I have a ton of Ralph Lauren and you have to search for the name on buttons or clips. Tommy Hilfiger, you will only know if you lift a shirt tail up or actually take the clothes off ;D

    But I'm not a label snob. If I like something I buy it. I shop all ends of the spectrum.

  • 08/03/09
    6:43 pm

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    Little Bow Prep said...

    I still have some items from my middle school Juicy phase, but as a general rule I'm not a huge fan.

    As for North Face- I agree. But I still wear mine. It's relatively lightweight but so warm at the same time.

  • 08/03/09
    10:23 pm

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    Peonies and Polaroids said...

    Branding with a big B is very very Bad and makes me shudder. I think I might have a little High Wasp in me.

  • 08/04/09
    5:23 am

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    Brown Eyed Girl said...

    Juicy scares me b/c of the writing on the rear… it's a little lolita-ish to have all these underage girls parading around and having (mostly innocent, good) men distracted by that!

    Obvious branding is my biggest ick factor when it comes to clothes.

  • 08/04/09
    2:59 pm

    Reply

    The Preppy Princess said...

    Fabulous post Miss LPC, just wonderful. You perfectly describe the aesthetic and practices. "Form and function" trump brand and frequently price, hands down. And generally things that aren't "too loud," things so distinctive they are remembered year in and year out, thus the "Lilly conflict" as we have referred to it.

    tp

  • 08/05/09
    5:55 am

    Reply

    LPC said...

    Thanks TP.

  • 08/10/09
    7:44 pm

    Reply

    teaorwine said...

    While shopping in recent years, I steer clear of clothing that “speaks”. Logos, ponies, gators, specific plaids and branded monograms, I repel. I prefer apparel and accessories crafted from superior textiles and materials, consideration of detail, lined with care, and stitched with seamstress proficiency.

  • 10/31/09
    8:10 pm

    Reply

    Belle de Ville said...

    Beladora…the ultimate high wasp brand.

  • 05/31/16
    1:14 pm

    Reply

    HIFI said...

    What’s up, I check your new stuff daily. Your writing style is awesome, keep up the good work!

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