|All photos are courtesy of Muffy Aldrich, The Daily Prep|
Greetings mates, a while back I ran across a site by chance. The title was The Daily Prep and it's creator was and is a gifted writer named Muffy Aldrich.
After perusing her site and reading a few post I was impressed. Her blog was.....well.....good. It was well written and the original photos some from the past of her late father were hauntingly beautiful.
Now, I love preps who can present preppy as it really is, timeless, simple, classical, traditional and above all a strong sense of heritage, and Muffy delivers. The first thing I noticed was this writer definitely has an opinion. From where to eat, or how to compost to the correct length of a cuff on a pair of Khakis. Yet the thing that impresses me the most is that she comments on each reader comment. I mean she addresses every one of them. She has in my opinion mastered what every blogger wants to achieve, the ability to communicate as if you had only one reader.
I also found some rather splendid facts about her site. Muffy Aldrich starting blogging at the beginning of 2010 on defining her take of a Coastal New England aesthetic and lifestyle. A little more than a year old, her blog now gets over 150,000 page views a month, and referred to as a “bible” by some, and is regularly read by many manufactures such as Ralph Lauren, A&F, Lands’ End, and L.L. Bean. Brooks Brothers included “The Daily Prep” on their blog roll for their new blog.
I contacted Muffy and was pleasantly surprised. I've come across many a blogger who weren't willing to share anything. Apparently bloggers can be competitive at times. Muffy was different. I found her very amiable, honest, extremely amusing and willing to share whatever she could with me. So much so that she was gracious enough to grant me an interview on the inside of Muffy Aldrich.
The Preppy Times: Good day Muffy. What annoys you most about the state of what is considered "prep" today?
Muffy Aldrich: What annoys me most is that the clothing items that I consider staples have become harder to find, and increasingly impossible. By what twist of fate or MBA-think can it be this hard to find a decent women's pair of Khakis?) I knwo how I want to spend my money and how I want my family to dress, and hate doing either in a sub-standard way.
This is in part because so many vendors and shoppers have knocked off and co-opted the term. There are all sorts of stores latching on to such oxymoronic and drek concepts and Mall Prep, Resort Prep, even Hipster Prep. (And, OMG, self-labeled redneck Prep! I'm serious!)
TPT: Ha Ha, do tell.
M A: Mall prep is when cheap goods are painted pink and green and slapped on with monograms and iconic images, and everyone coos about how preppy they are.
Resort prep includes financially exclusive, fragile items that are appropriate for sauntering around paved walkways fishing for comments but not much else.
Hipster prep items attempt to blend a classic style with highly trendy fashions, ostensibly trying to attract "younger audiences" but more often than not attracting 45-year old narcissists that want to look like what they think 29-year old narcissists look like.
All three are designed for , and typically by, people more comfortable in cubicles than any more authentic environment. These clothes are for showing off. Perhaps the epitome of these drek Prep off-shoots are L.L. Bean Signature and True Prep, both tragic missed opportunities, subversins of great brands, and raw cash-grabs. I started my blog just before both were launched, perhaps even in apprehension borne of seeing early glimpses at both.
Obviously, people should wear what they want. But I believe this strip mining of the term, followed by their inevitable failures and backlashes, will hurt and even scare off even more vendors serving the classic prep (a phrase that should be redundant, by the way) market.
Rightly or wrongly, good clothes-classic, pleasing, sturdy, and work enabling - for me almost belong in the Maslow's hierarchy of needs. If I don't have them, I obsess on getting them, and when I have them, I can move on to higher goals.
TPT: Is that why you started blogging? And what is missing from the state of Prep?
M A: Yes! Honestly, it was my husband who strongly encouraged me, mostly so I would stop complaining to him about it. (It didn't work)
TPT: I hear ya, my wife convinced me to do the same.
M A: Voices too often missing from the collective world view around Prep are the students', including college students', who deeply care about the environment and spent summers working on organic farms; or the pre-med student' who spend their summers in underdeveloped countries serving the people's medical needs. These are the people for whom Prep clothes should be designed. (Or, said differently, the vendors that appeal to these people will gain a good ten years of healthy market share.)
Another voice missing has been the greatest generation's. These are the people who fought the war and really knew what thrift and functionality meant. They practice stewardship.
I started blogging for a few other reasons. One is that I had recently lost my father, and the blog was an attempt to reflect upon and even pay homage to his influence in my life. It was also an excuse to highlight so many places and clothes that I really like. (Finally, if I can help rehabilitate my life-long nickname of "Muffy" and make it slightly less mocked, so much the better.)
TPT: What was life like for you growing up?
M A: It all revolved around salt water. We lived in an old house on a salt marsh, and were only a short walk to the small Yacht Club where we kept our boat(s) as well as the beaches where we swam. With few excepttions, every day was spent on, or in, the water, or both. Even evenings included walds down tothe water.
I attended small private schools, and horses were also a dominant factor. I rode for many years until just after I got married.
Ornithology played a large role. So many weekends were spent in the field, visiting nesting areas, and viewing slide shows of the natural world from travels across the globe. I would often partake in the annual Christmas Count (where people from across the state all go out on the same day and count how many species they find, which meant getting up at 2am). My life list is quite extensive.
TPT: I'll say, but who is Muffy Aldrich?
M A: What most surprises visiting friends is how many people in the various stores where I shop stop to talk to me. I always have to factor in an extra fifteen minutes or more whenever I go to the supermarket. I get detailed personal updates from so many of the people who work there, from their dates the night before, to their grilling techniques, to their clothing purchases (of course), to how they are recovering from their traffic accidents. All of my errands have that quality, from the lumberyard to the post office, which is just the way I like it. Village living has tremendous sppeal to me.
TPT: Who were your biggest influences that helped shape you?
M A: My parents and my grandmother were steady, supportive and kind. My grandmother taught me through example about gardening, especially perennials, and about old Yankee thrift. (She knew how to get a full and long life from a tea bag or piece of aluminum foil.) My father, now post-mortem a great supporting character on the blog, was incredibly curious. He had a deep appreciation for quality and I loved going into New York and New Haven to all of the great old stores with him. My mother taught me the importance of stewardship, of humans and animals alike, with a strong emphasis on healthful living and eating. (She refuses to be on the blog, and being all alive, I can't make her!) We had a tremendously eclectically interesting assortment of friends, from authors and ornithologists to foundation directors and taxidermists.
TPT: Speaking of stewardship of animals, how many do you own?
M A: Right now we have the fewest number of species than we have had in quite a while-just one Golden Retriever and ten hens. But at any given time we have had combinations of sheep; lop-eared rabbits; cats; more Golden Retrievers; horses; English Setters; and hens.
We also have a few farms that we visit frequently, so we can say hello to a lot of larger animals, and also give them as much business as we can so they will stick around. Finally, we have a lot of wild animals stop by, such as eight wild turkeys this morning.
TPT: What's the one thing you absolutely cannot live without?
M A: My family.
TPT: Where does Muffy Aldrich want to be in five years?
M A: Not too different from where I am now. Living full time on the coast of Maine, continuing working in our family business. I also would like to have done my part in helping the Prep marketplace get to a better place than it is today.
TPT: This is a funny question but in your eyes what makes Maine such a special place?
M A: Everything! I love the very long coast (thank goodness for fractals!). I love both the natural beauty and a culture that does not take it for granted. I also like that you have to be a little tougher in Maine. It keeps the aesthetic from getting to prissy. We have deep reoots in Maine and have spent countless summers there.
TPT: I understand that you and your husband have come out with a book. Can you say a little something about what sparked this collaboration?
M A: The book, Unschooling Rules, is another extension of our core philosophy, just aimed at something actually important rather than clothes! I have heard from a lot of readers that the topic of national education bores, depresses, or confuses them. From early reactions, through, I think anyone who likes the general tone of The Daily Prep and wants to read more will consider Unschooling Rules as a good, easy, but interesting read.
TPT: What would you say is the reason the classic/preppy lifestyle has endured?
M A: It is a bit of an ipso facto argument. That which has endured in our culture I would regard as Preppy. Over time, by definition, classics emerge.
TPT: Finally, what advice would you give to someone thinking of blogging?
M A: Be thick skinned. I have had horrible things said about me and to me. I view my blog as a gathering spot, of which I happen to be the host. Some people contribute quite a few fabulous comments, which I always really appreciate (they put the "Daily" in Daily Prep!). Others contribute comments periodically, which is also great. Most people stay in the background and listen, a position with which I am probably the most personally empathetic, as that would be me! The goal is to debate ideas and item, not the people behind them.
But some people have incredible expectations of me and get upset with me when I deviate from their expectations. Other people just want to come by in order to criticize the gathering. I don't understand either position. If everyone took The Daily Prep for granted, it would not exist for much longer. On the other hand, if you don't like the communiity, no one is forced to come. I periodically feel like reminding certain people that the blog is free and I am not paid!
Be patient. It does take a while to get going. My first few months had almost no traffic, before being noticed by a few other blogs and sites and even search engines such as Bing and Blogger.
Be comfortable. Don't be afraid to put up some bad posts. As with speaking in front of thousands of people, it is easy to get the equivalent of vertigo. Sometimes it is better to put up some clunkers than do nothing.
Be discerning in what you accept and promote. I am offered a lot of free items from various vendors. I turn down the vast majority. Most of what is on my blog I bought myself. Those things that have been given to me by vendors are listed, of course, but more importantly, they are things that I genuinely love, use, and would by for myself in a heartbeat.
By far the best part has been the incredibly kind people who have reached out to me. I cannot tell you how many wonderful emails I have received, and how very guilty I feel that I have yet to respond to all of them. Blogging takes far more time than I had expected but it has also been far more rewarding than I had expected. A good number of readers and other bloggers have turned into friends, both online as well as some that I have met. And people have alert me to interesting products and sites that I would not have found on my own. I have also had many very interesting conversations with a variety of vendors finding our overlap. So all in all, it has been a terrifically successful experience for me.
TPT: Well said Muffy!
You can always find Muffy Aldrich over on her wonderful site www.thedailyprep.blogspot.com
Posted by The Preppy Times