Hello, there. By the time you read this, I will probably be on my way to the hospital, in the throes of a full-body allergic reaction to Draper James, Reese Witherspoon’s new “Southern inspired” retail venture. Help me, oh Lord, for I cannot fucking deal.
Here is the ethos of the site, as articulated by a press release from Ms. Witherspoon:
“I created Draper James to honor my past and allow others to embrace the beauty, style and excitement that embodies what is happening in the South today,” says Reese, speaking to the ethos behind Draper James.
While growing up in Nashville, Reese was taught the importance of grace and charm. She learned that being overdressed was far better than being underdressed, and she grew to love clothes, accessories and home items that are unabashedly pretty. These influences are present in Draper James; the brand offers flattering, feminine dresses and separates in bright and cheerful prints, with styles meant to be playfully worn and mixed together.
Grace and charm. Charm and grace. So what “unabashedly pretty” “feminine” essentials might you need to complete your home and wardrobe? Well, here’s a limited-edition sterling silver magnolia bowl made by a Charleston, South Carolina silversmith that’ll set you back $400.
Takes quite a bit of nerve to lecture me on “keeping it pretty” via a $58 t-shirt that manages to be so dreadfully unflattering in its cut:
I’m at a loss, frankly.
This tote with STILL MORE magnolias is $155. It’s pretty damn Vanderbilt, all right.
This set of FOUR cocktail napkins featuring cutesy Southern expressions is $85. $85!
Frankly, it’s hard to see much of this as particularly Southern. Those colors and patterns and fabrics and styles look generically “preppy” to my eye. Except for the magnolias, the occasional “y’all” and those God-almighty napkins (which probably have my grandmother spinning in her grave like a damn turbine, considering she weathered the Great Depression and most people in the rural South at the time definitely did not have a bunch of spare change for overpriced cocktail accessories), I don’t see anything you couldn’t just as easily buy in Greenwich, Connecticut or any other nest of rich-ass WASPs. And it’s not exactly an aesthetic that repulses me, either. I’m currently wearing a bright blue skirt covered in goddamn sailboats.
But the packaging. Oh, Christ, the packaging. Just another ahistorical Dixie-whistling fantasy. How do you sit down to order a box of $14 sky-blue “Southern” pencils and not flinch, just a little? What constitutes a “Southern” pencil? What are you paying for, and why?
But bless your heart, Reese—I suppose there’s nothing so New South as a cash grab.
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