New England in the summer is the land of preppy. It’s the one look that never goes out of style. The staples in everyone’s wardrobe, no matter the age or sex are: stripes, navy, and pink. And the homes everyone covets are the gray shingled ones with an American flag outside.
New Englanders understand the preppy handbook and it’s alive and well today. It is an area of the country where old is better than new. That is not to say people don’t build new, big houses or buy fancy new cars. They do. But they build the homes like they were hundreds of years old and they buy a Land Rover that is the old model with the modern luxuries built in.
There are too many towns to name that line the coast that are ideal preppy hangouts. Each one has their own identity and common rivalries with each other. They either tout their famous residents or boast their mark in history.
When Taylor Swift bought a home in Watch Hill, RI it didn’t put that town on the map but it certainly made my daughter happy to be able to walk on the beach right next to it. And if you make it to Watch Hill be sure to have your kids take a ride on the Flying Horse Carousel.It’s the oldest in the country and the horses are suspended from chains – they reach for these golden rings as it goes around.
Prouts Neck in Scarborough, Maine is a charming town that doesn’t get as much notoriety as others. Generations of Rockefellers and Carnegies have called the coastal peninsula home each summer.
If you rent a home you can purchase access to the country club, the yacht club or the beach club. The water is cold because it’s in Maine but kids don’t mind and hang out at the beach club most of the day.
I’m partial to Nantucket, the island 30 miles out in the sea from Cape Cod. The name means “faraway land.” It may be filled with some of the most expensive homes in the country but the National Park Service designated the island a National Historic Landmark because it is the finest surviving architectural example of a late-18th century New England seaport.
In full disclosure, I once owned a boutique on the island and loved it. I designed swimsuits and some other items mostly for kids and moms. It is such a short summer tourist season it’s hard to make your numbers in roughly 6-10 weeks.
tottieBEAN lasted a few years and it was a lot of fun to get to know my favorite island not only as a visitor but also as a business owner. I have a lot of respect for businesses that can make it work anywhere in this country in the age of online shopping.
Nantucket will always hold a special place in my heart. It is where we would escape when the kids were tiny because they could ride bikes and explore alone. They felt a sense of freedom I had as a child in a big city that is difficult to feel today anywhere. I found it on this tiny island for them. The goal was simple: find secret paths to quiet beaches and we would hunt for them all summer.
But the best part of this preppy paradise is you can go on a dinner date on two wheels. The basket helps for the leftovers you bring home.
If you get the chance to go to New England, don’t be surprised by the preppy looks you see on kids, adults as well as dogs. It’s a flashback of sorts with an updated twist. Find a striped t-shirt or put on some pink and go with it. You will be transported to 1980 when Lisa Birnbach wrote The Original Preppy Handbook, a satire to the look and lifestyle. Your name won’t magically change to Muffy but you just might find you use the word “summer” as a verb.