Thirty Years Later, The Sloane Ranger Revisited

The back-page “snapshot” in Quest’s February wedding issue juxtaposes two royal osculations: the smooch shared by Prince Charles and Lady Diana in 1981, and the similar balcony kiss of Prince William and Kate Middleton last year.

But the two couples have more in common than being heirs to the throne and enduring  relentless public scrutiny. Charles and Diana heralded in the age of the Sloane Ranger, and now Will and Kate are evidently inspiring a revival.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Ann Barr and Peter York’s “Official Sloane Ranger Handbook.” Sloanes are essentially the English corollary of preppies, and the book attempted to cash in on the public’s fascination with breeding and good taste the way the bestselling “Official Preppy Handbook” had in America. Used copies are easily found online for a few bucks.

While stately homes are money pits (not to mention drafty), looking like a Sloane will always have its appeal. Here’s a guide to dressing like a Sloane, while below are some general guidelines from the handbook:

• Sloane Ranger clothes exactly reflect regimental values and solid background — conservative and reassuring. They are made to last, both in style (never high fashion, thus never out of fashion) and in material.

• It is not a look, but an expression of values and country roots.

• Tribal colors are navy, burgundy and green.

• The principles of the dress code are quality, conservatism and classicism. The country influence emphasizes practicality, while the Victorian influence brings romance.

• The Sloane look is fresh, effortless. Remember, it’s you they want to see, not your clothes. Effortless rightness is the watchword. Simple, practical are the words for the look that’s taken five generations to perfect.

• Hair is a garden to be controlled

• Don’t look sexy. Your clothes shouldn’t suggest what’s underneath them. Except for the generous official Sloane bosom at parties.