Sunday, April 28, 2013

Question for the Community: "Lamentations of a Texas Prep"

Narragansett Bay

I'll start by saying how much I enjoy reading The Daily Prep, both for entertainment and education value. It really is rare to find a blog worth reading these days, and rarer still to find one that stands the test of time (in true prep fashion, of course).

My dilemma is that of being preppy at heart, but not preppy by birth. You no doubt surmised from the title of the email that I live in Texas, as I have for my entire life of three decades. Needless to say, there is not a reliable prep tradition here in the South, and the version that does exist more than stretches the bounds of proper prep taste. As a frequent reader of your blog, I am attuned to this, but still the problem remains: How is a prep without the heritage, such as myself, able to balance/attain true prep style, keeping in mind (1) environmental differences between Texas and more traditional prep climes and (2) wanting to avoid appearing as an impostor or worse, trend-chaser?

I have no desire to fool anyone into thinking I have some long family history of a prep persuasion, but I cannot deny that my demeanor and style would be more befitting of Narragansett Bay than urban Texas. This being the case, what are the rules for those who share my quandary and wish to avoid appearing contrived and inauthentic (especially to true preps in-the-know)?

Humbly, a reader.

Newport, Tigris, Quoddy, Guernsey, Guernsey, and Herm

This weekend has provided a scatter shot of memories that defy any neat narrative - other than geography - or dominating moment.   Even the temperature, so warm on land midday and cold and raw on the water and when the sun was down, epitomized the cacophony.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ox Ridge Horse Show, 1966, Darien, Connecticut

Photographs from our archives         .
Here are some pictures from our archives taken at the 1966 Ox Ridge Horse Show in Darien, Connecticut.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Question for the Community: Nantucket Reds for a Wedding?

I came across your blog recently when I was looking for some Nantucket red photo inspirations, and thought you might be able to give your opinion/advice on this:  How does one execute Nantucket reds appropriately for a wedding?  Specifically for the groom and the groomsmen?

My fiancé and I are getting married in late summer/early fall at the Ocean House in Watch Hill, and we really want to do Nantucket reds, blue blazers and bow ties for him and his groomsmen, but we're starting to get cold feet about the whole idea (well, just about the Nantucket reds part, hopefully not about the wedding itself :)).

We have already hit up both J. Press and Brooks Brothers, and plan to try Murray’s (probably through Orvis), but we’re just starting to wonder if this will really look wedding appropriate, or perhaps it’s just too casual?  And maybe too much to have him and his 10 groomsmen in that much color (bridesmaid will just be in navy)?  Does the shade of the Nantucket red or the shirt color (blue or white) or the bowtie choice (I’m loving this Madras bowtie from J. Press play in to the appropriateness?

If you have any thoughts we’d love to hear them!


Love your blog!!

Referenced entries:

Video: From the Land: A journey to the heart of the Outer Herbrides

Here is a beautiful six minute black and white film by Ian Lawson on the people and sheep of the Outer Hebrides.  There are few things more appealing than sheep in a boat.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Reader Question: Nantucket Knotworks Classic Rope Bracelets

Favorite Nantucket Knotworks Colors
I noticed you wear a plain rope bracelets. Who makes them? Do they come in colors? Love the Daily Prep!!

 Nantucket Knotworks   has been making the classic New England rope bracelets for years.  They are known for their simplicity,  toughness, and generally not getting in the way of outdoor activities.  They come in different sizes and slide on and off easily, or as some prefer,  can be left on all summer.

The 2-Strand bracelets are only $8.00; the 3-Strands are $12.00; and the Racing Stripes are $16.00.

Nantucket Knotworks also makes some other nice items like their Turk's Head Coasters, lanyards and key rings.  (I just pretend that they don't make ankle bands!) Everything is made in the United States.

And you (or your kids) can also buy kits to make your own bracelets.

 Racing Stripes
They are comfortable and there is nothing to catch or snag.

You can even wear them in the winter. 

Questions and Comments to the Community on Madras; a Job Interview Outfit; RL Polos; Chesterfield Coat; J. Press Made in China; and Thoughts on the Classics

Questions for the Community:

1) Thank you so much for your delightful blog!  It is a true joy to read.  I have question concerning madras.  How exactly does it fit into the men's prep world?  Is it worth going for the authentic bleeding madras sold by O'Connell's, or are the offerings from Land's End, Brooks, and Press, which are made of madras fabric, but apparently with dyes more stable than the original vegetable dyes that caused the bleeding effect better options?  Also, how about sleeves?  It seems as though the general long sleeved orthodoxy seems to give way for some as far as madras is concerned, but I'm not so sure how i feel about it.  Any thoughts?

Thank you so much for your time, Muffy, and thanks again for a wonderful blog.

2) I am an enthusiastic reader and I have a quick question for you - what should I wear to a job interview? I'm interviewing to become an elementary school teacher. I'm in my 20s  so my usual wardrobe consists of jeans, high quality sweaters, long or short sleeved thick cotton crew neck shirts, lots of cashmere or silk scarves (usually gifts from traveling friends or older female relatives since they know I like them), Topsiders, my staple Barbour coat, some lovely, understated heirloom jewelry (anything big and gaudy is kept in my parents safe deposit box...I still have yet to find a place to wear that!), and tweed jackets passed down from my mother from when she was my age (they were her riding jackets in the early 1970s, quality cut and material so they are timeless. I get compliments on them all the time!) My wardrobe is 80% functional and 20% fun (I am a student, after all!).

I'm not sure how to transfer my classic prep wardrobe into interview clothes, or if I even should in the first place. My mom helped me pick out a navy blue suit that didn't look too dowdy and is well cut, and a pair of low healed heels (I have to teach for a half hour as part of this interview!) but I wanted to know your take on things if you are willing to advise me. I plan on wearing the matched pearl studs and necklace gifted to me by my grandmother for a milestone birthday, a white cotton crew neck t shirt (is this too casual? I feel like I'm breaking a rule by wearing a t shirt under a suit, no matter how thick that t shirt is), and the navy suit. I have shoulder length hair so I will wear it blow dried under or up in a pony tail. I am carting all my teaching supplies for my sample lesson in my large Monogrammed boat & tote. There will likely be other interviews this season as the teaching job market is a bit competitive and it is unlikely I'll be getting a job with just a single interview and I may need two or even three interview outfits.

Thanks so much for any help you are willing to provide.

Madison Avenue
3) My family and I (husband, 3 children) have been wearing RL polo shirts for a zillion years. However, in recent years (and longer!), these shirts have become so pedestrian and mass marketed that I hesitate to purchase new ones for family members. It's a bit cringe-worthy to see such a preppy staple being splashed across the back of an otherwise "average joe" dresser.  I realize that many quality, preppy items do end up being cheaply copied, become fad items and so on--we are patient enough to ride it out, but the RL polo shirt seems to enjoy an unending popularity in the bargain basement!  I would greatly appreciate your comments.

Can't get enough of The Daily Prep!  Thank you!

Ralph Lauren Polo Shirts

4) When should a Chesterfield coat be worn in your opinion? Where is a good place to buy one?
I hope you have a moment to answer and thank you very much in advance.


J. Press, Madison Avenue
5) Hello! I thought this might interest you/your readers. I recently purchased a new lightweight gray wool suit from J. Press in New York. (Jerry was fantastic!) It was a seamless and pleasant (so long as I avoided the York St. products) process. Having received the suit back with completed alterations yesterday, I was completely satisfied, until I noticed one thing: the suit is made in China.

I am certainly not militantly against imported products, nor was the issue important enough for me to raise it prior to purchasing the suit. And I still hope to get years of use and enjoyment from the suit. But I was quite surprised and a bit disappointed to receive a Chinese-made suit, considering the not-insubstantial price paid, and the company from which my purchase was made. Can a suit retailing for $795 really not be made anywhere else but China?

6) I like your blog.  Yes, I am a male, and typically most of my buddies would not take time to read this sort of thing.  I do have a friend in MA who went to Yale, and we used to joke how we were the only guys who dressed "Ivy League" here in the Midwest.  (Ohio)

We both wear only Bills brand of chinos and they are typically short and always cuffed.  Most other guys out here have their darned trousers dragging below their heels getting frayed!

I only wear Bean Boots, Alden shoes and Bean camp mocs.  It is funny to think how many regard Bills khakis to be so expensive, similar to a high quality Southwick navy blazer.  However, over time (ie-the "long haul")  I know for a fact that I spend much less $ on my wardrobe than the guys who go to Macy's every season and by "what is in style."  I am wearing the same Talbott rep ties that I wore in 1985!  I also believe in "minimalization" which is super easy if you buy your wardrobe according to "Ivy" style.  Chinos, grey wool trousers, a couple of navy and/or charcoal suits and a few prs. of Alden shoes.  Some of my Aldens are over 30+ yrs old!  I send them to the factory for a complete refurbish when necessary.  Shell cordovan penny loafs, black dressy lace-up cap toes and some tassel loafs and you are set for 30 yrs!  These crazy black shoes with the squared off toes that they are wearing now look so absurd to me.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A New England Early Spring Day

Catmint, Phlox, Peonies, Sedum, More Catmint, Unknown Daisies, Butterfly Bush, Irises, and Lilies.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Guest Post: Flag Etiquette by a Chesapeake Bay Yachtsman

The author displays the Naval Academy Sailing Squadron Burgee at the Intercollegiate Yacht Racing Association Hall of Fame at the Robert Crown Sailing Center in Annapolis (and notice the St. Davids Lighthouse Trophy in the display case)
"The Third Place" is a term for a location where people can come to relax with friends, and share stories, personal interests, and discoveries.  Over centuries, these places have ranged from bath houses to beer halls, jazz clubs, office water coolers, salons, and espresso cafes. Conversations range from critical to moot, and many start in one camp and end up in the other.    Perhaps in this age, some blogs and other social media can serve a bit of that role for the intellectually curious.   Regardless, my favorite part of hosting The Daily Prep is hearing the knowing and witty comments of so many.  Brad has been a favorite commenter (and photographer), and I am grateful he agreed to do a full "guest post" on some of the grammar of flag etiquette, and then also let me use the above picture of him. - MA

Flag Etiquette

Yes, spring is finally here and that means another season of boating fun is upon us. There’s a lot to do to get ready; and, included in the prep (no pun intended), should be checking to see that the flags are ready to go.

In general, New Englanders seem to get yachting flag etiquette right more often than down here on the Chesapeake Bay. I've certainly witnessed some pretty creative, and not so proper, ways to display flags on the Bay over the years.  But the basic rules are not difficult to follow; and in the end, flags should be flown properly or not at all.

1965-66 Chapman’s

 For most of us, there’s the (recommended) option of purchasing a copy of “Chapman Piloting & Seamanship,” commonly referred to as “Chapman’s”.  Chapman’s is in its 66th Edition and you can easily pick up a copy via Amazon or at your local ships chandlery. Chapman’s clearly and easily outlines how and when flags are to be displayed. 

I also recommend consulting your local ships chandlery (here is the Fawcett Flags Section) for advice when picking up crisp new flags for the season.  Typically, yacht club burgees can only be purchased at the club, but the rest of what you’ll need is usually available at the store. 
In an effort to keep this reasonably brief, I’ll stick to how to properly fly ensigns, burgees and private signals (also known as house flags).  We’ll leave “dressing ship” and a few other fine points of flag etiquette to you and your Chapman’s.

Two Navy MKII 44’s, “GALLANT” and “INTEGRITY” dressing ship, were about to go out to the start of the Annapolis to Bermuda Race last summer.

“APHRODITE,” a 72' Albany Boat Company express commuter is shown in all her glory at the August 1929 Harvard-Yale Race on the Thames River off New London, CT.  Note the flags visible are: the US Yacht Ensign on her stern, dressed with flags with "Y" Yale flags on side stays and John Hay Whitney's private signal on mainmast and New York Yacht Club burgee on the bow staff.  It’s doesn't get more “right and proper” than this!  This photo from the Rosenfeld Collection is posted here with permission by Mystic Seaport:

“Commodore” Cronkite
First, though, I will digress with a quick story about me learning proper flag etiquette in the “ole baptism by fire” style.  It was August of `81, and I was asked by Walter Cronkite to fill in as his captain for the New York Yacht Club Cruise in Maine.  His regular captain was away and for me it was a wonderful opportunity with a bit of pressure.

“Commodore” Cronkite was pretty easy going and forgiving, except for when it came to a few things such as accurate navigation and proper flag etiquette.  The navigation part I was pretty comfortable with; but, up to that point in time, I hadn’t paid close attention to the flags.  I quickly needed the full tutorial on properly displaying colors, which, thankfully, he graciously provided before we departed for the cruise.

His yacht, “WYNTJE”, at the time was a yawl.  Therefore, it went as follows:
  • At precisely 0800, the ensign was first placed in its bracket on the stern then the NYYC burgee was hoisted to the top of the main mast followed by his personal signal hoisted up the mizzen mast.  This was done smartly, which is to say quickly.  
  • At sunset, the flags were lowered in reverse order, and done so ceremoniously.  Ceremoniously means that that the flags come down at a slower pace, shorter drops with elbows up while lowering flag halyards.  
  • Colors were observed properly aboard “WYNTJE” always – whether during a cruise or at the end of a day sail in Edgartown.
The “WYNTJE,” a Westsail 42, sails on the Chesapeake near Annapolis in the spring of 1981.
From that story, you've hopefully gleaned that there’s some order and detail involved.

An important detail is the size of the flags you fly relative to the size of your boat.  The calculations are as follows:
  • The ensign should approximate one inch on the fly per foot of overall length of boat, or in non-nautical speak, if your boat is 35 feet long, your ensign should be at least 35 inches across.  
  • The burgee and/or private signal flags should approximate one half inch on the fly for every foot of height of the highest mast above the water line on sailing yachts and for each foot of length on power boats.
Correctly Sized Ensigns 

The photo of “DORADE” was taken at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club after the finish of the 2012 Newport to Bermuda Race.  Everything about “DORADE” of course is absolutely “right and proper.”

Incorrectly Sized Ensign
An ensign is simply a national flag used at sea.  In this case I am referring to either the U.S. national flag, or the Yacht Ensign that was created by an Act of Congress in August, 1848 that has a fouled anchor in a circle of stars in the canton.

The rules for displaying it are reasonably simple for a yacht in commission and are as follows:
  • At anchor: a manned yacht shall display the ensign at the stern between morning and evening colors except that a yacht that will be unmanned at color time shall make evening colors beforehand.  Simply put, if you and your crew are headed ashore for dinner before sunset, spend a few minutes and take down the ensign before leaving the boat.   
  • A yacht under sail, when not racing, shall display the ensign preferably at the gaff or upper leach of the aftermost sail, or at the stern. The ensign shall not be displayed when racing. 
  • Finally, the traditional Yacht Ensign shall not be flown in international waters.
A classic Concordia Yawl properly flies the ensign from the upper leach of the aftermost sail.  (Photograph taken this afternoon.)

The yacht club burgee shall be displayed at the bow staff of single-masted power yachts, at the foremost truck (top of mast) of schooners and multi-masted power yachts and at the mainmast truck of other rigs. A club burgee may be displayed only when a yacht is under the direct command of a club member. It’s not good form to fly your friend’s club burgee on your boat.  That would not be considered authentic, to put it mildly.

"JERICHO" is displaying the Northeast Harbor Fleet Burgee on her bow staff and the Gates family house flag from a mast (Thomas S. Gates was Secretary of Defense during the Eisenhower administration).  
The club burgee should be flown only at the masthead position, not at a spreader or other position. Several clubs, such as the Cruising Club of America (perhaps nobody does flag etiquette better than the CCA) prohibit flying the burgee from the starboard spreader.  It’s not exactly right and proper to do so, but it’s becoming more of an accepted practice.  One reason is because all the instruments at the top of masts these days make it a little more difficult to fit the burgee too.  Last point on the club burgee is that it may be displayed at night.

By the way, the starboard spreader is not an acceptable alternative for flying the ubiquitous “martini flag,” the skull and cross bone flag (a.k.a. pirate flag) and/or a former girl friend’s bikini top or anything else for that matter. And except as noted, its flag use is limited to foreign national colors of the host country, quarantine flag, flags of visiting flag officers on unofficial business and also signals such as owner absent, code flag hoists and the like.

The private signal (or house flag) is not as prevalent as it once was.  They identify the person/family owner of the yacht.  You will typically see them displayed at the mizzen truck of yawls and ketches.  The private signal may also be displayed at night.
The Santry family tender, “ESCORT”, at the docks at Harbor Court.  
I’ll wrap up here with The Union Jack, which is a flag you’ll unlikely often see.  It may be displayed at the jack staff between morning and evening colors, only at anchor, and only on Sundays and holidays (legal or traditional), or when dressing ship.  Although you probably won’t be flying one, it would be nice to be able to identify it.

The Union Jack

This ends my visit to The Daily Prep.  If there are questions please submit them to the comment page and I’ll do my best to provide answers.  If there is continued interest in the topic of yachting etiquette, and I get invited back, I’ll gladly share some fun stories and how-to of “right and proper” firing of saluting cannons.

Brad and Holly are from Annapolis where they currently live and sail out of.  More about them and their sailing activities can be found at

Brad and Holly provided all photographs on this entry.