Bedside Reading: The Official Filthy Rich Handbook

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It would appear that I’ve finally made it to the big leagues of blogdom.  Workman Publishing recently contacted me to ask that I review The Official Filthy Rich Handbook, by Christopher Tennet. This pretender to The Official Preppy Handbook throne has been making the reviewer’s rounds and I have secretly hoped to be among the chosen few to peer critically though this (satirical?) homage to the world of the super-rich and super-vain.

For starters, it’s hilarious and very well written.  It looks like a handbook and looks quite at home next to my dog eared copy of The Official Preppy Handbook.  One of the enduring charms of the OPH is the fine line it treads between satire and real-world guide.  If you so chose, you could very well live your life according to the TOPH.  The same can be said of The Official Filthy Rich Handbook – assuming you have several hundred million dollars.  Make that a billion.

The book is romp through the many aspects of living the life of the super rich; from where to live to the nuances of owning your own Boeing 767.  Where to vacation (Ibiza and Formentera), how many polo ponies should you own (at least eight), and which hangers on are most important to have in your retinue (therapist and life coach top that list.  The insightful commentary is clever and witty as it is biting.

While not a realistic guide, per se – if you can afford to do half of what’s discussed inside the last thing I suspect you’d be doing is reading this book – it offers a wonderful primer on living well and what, exactly, constitutes “well.”  To wit, the chapter “Buying a Better You” covers the ridiculous, a clip-and-save Non Disclosure Agreement for your staff; and the truly interesting, which once Blue Chip luxury names are now too pedestrian (think Burberry and Tiffany & Co.).

A la Preppy Handbook, there is a tongue-in-cheek schematic of the typical billionaire closet on which one might wish to model their own.  From the rack of Kiton “K-50” custom suits which start at about $50,000 each, to the custom stingray John Lobb lace ups, it is a tour de force in over the top branding.  Caring for one’s clothing is also touched upon: drop everything on the floor.  The domestic help will eventually pick it up and put it where it needs to be..

The sections on heirs and child-rearing are a hoot and it is here that the book is closest to its Official Preppy Handbook muse.  Updating readers on the proper prep schools and which colleges are acceptable back-ups for your less than brilliant offspring.

All in all, The Filthy Rich Handbook is a worthy and guffaw-inducing successor to that paragon of parody, The Official Preppy Handbook.  Buy up some extras and give them to your household staff for Christmas.


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Chris Hogan, an association executive based in Washington, D.C., blogs at OffTheCuffDC.com. A lifelong interest in style and clothing led to sales and management positions at several Ralph Lauren stores and an active wardrobe consulting practice