Preps are offspring of the old Anglo-American ruling class, whether or not they rule today. Preps once ruled North and South. Their offspring can be be found in select enclaves in Texas and California, but will always be aware of their roots in the British colonies where their ancestors were Royal Governors, Judges, Presidents of Harvard or Yale, Declaration of Independence signatories or other useful things such as merely rich. Preps have long driveways. Public display of wealth is not prep. Preps do not drive ferrarris. Prep men do not wear Italian clothes. Ever (except Gucci loafers).
Preps have always been preps. As far as clothes its a manner of dressing that you are born into. Siblings raid each other's or their parents closets for prep clothes. All generations dress the same with minor variations. Old prep clothes are better than new. Preps are not nouveau. Your dad bought his suits at Brooks brothers or had them made bespoke by his tailor. If you are lucky he may have some nice English tweeds you may come into and shirts with double cuffs from somewhere around St. James's in London, but American preps are generally much more casual than their counterparts in the UK or on the continent. Your prep dad taught you how to shoot (guns are prep). You learnt how to swim, ride, and sail (water and horses are prep). Someday you will get dad's very thin gold watch and you will wear it on a striped grosgrain band just like he did. You inherit your grandfather's thin gold cuff-links and thick ivory-handled coat brush engraved with his monogram or coat of arms. You have and often wear a dinner jacket, and possibly a white tie for full dress with gewgaws.
Preps are the gentry. The real ones have pedigrees that tie them to the English gentry and nobility. You may be a 9th cousin once removed of Prince William. Preps came to America in the 17th c. on boats like the Lady Arabella (better than the Mayflower) named in honor of the Earl of Lincoln's daughter.
Preps did not come through Ellis Island. Some of your friends and someone in your family is in the Social Register. You do not belong to the very expensive clubs and socialize with new minted high tech billionaires. You belong to the older clubs that preps have always inhabited. You may go to a public school but only if you live in the right prep neighborhood so that you will find other WASP preps there including . Super preps will have recognizable "social" names that are like a code only preps know and by which they can identity each other. Preps are often the nicest people on the planet because they have no need to be otherwise. Since they are born with top inherited social status, they have no need to step on others to get ahead unlike the aggressive middle class strivers and class climbers you will find taking over places like Harvard.
Preps may be city slickers for a while, but they are country people at heart. Preps love the land, country houses, and country pursuits like steeple chases, point-to-pointing and gentleman farming.
Preps love the past. Preps have oil paintings of their prep ancestors, often by famous artists of the 18th c. The future belongs to everyone else. Preps know the best stuff (beautiful women, good drink, fine houses, the countryside, hunting, oxford, cambridge, and harvard) has always been around. Preps are not trendy, although the women may be stylilsh and fashionable. Men can be dashing and southern preps tend to have retained a more aristocratic dash from their royalist ancestors than their buttoned- down puritan cousins.
Preps are not "intellectuals" and find the term somewhat alien and amusing in its pretentions. They may be very smart, even scholarly, highly accomplished and full prefessors in which case they are men of letters. Preps like alcohol and good conversation. Hip flasks and good jokes are prep. Preps have beautiful antique furniture (some inherited, some bought at auction or scrounged from estate sales in the country). Preps are rarely found running large American corporations anymore, and except for lucky preps, the old
fortune is not what it once was although you probably still have your trust fund to take some of the hard edges off of life. Some preps are born into branches of the family without the money but will live essentially the same way as their more fortunate cousins, just on a smaller scale. Preps won't change for anybody, or anything. Even poor preps, They have one of the few authentic, distinct and enduring cultures in America reaching back nearly 400 years. Preps like Washington and Jefferson invented America. Preps are usually socially tolerant Republicans, although some may be conservative Democrats.
Happy preps spot a noovo over Bloody Mary's at the Yacht Club on Sunday: one prep says "What's the difference between a porcupine and a range rover?" the other prep answers "With a range rover, the pricks are on the inside!"