Reese Witherspoon’s lifestyle site, Draper James has been gestating for about a year, and a few days ago I mentioned an uptick in social media activity. Now, in the midst of promoting her new movie, Hot Pursuit, it has launched. So what’s the deal, y’all?
Well, it’s hard to talk about Draper James without mentioning Goop, the OG celebrity lifestyle site, and Preserve, Blake Lively’s plucky attempt at making each house a mason jar-filled home. Draper James has the clean aesthetic like Goop (think lots of white and blues) but it is much more ornate in its branding. And it’s for good reason: Reese doesn’t just want us to read and shop Draper James, she also wants us to wear it.
The site is very e-commerce oriented, it’s more of an online shop than an editorial destination. There’s a bio on Reese, one post on a party in NOLA and a heavy dose of Southernisms. The main point is shopping and some of the pieces – like this lace top with the Peter Pan collar – have made it into Reese’s personal wardrobe (obviously not coincidental).
There is a lot to look at here: monogrammed cocktail napkins, stationery, sunglasses, tote bags, dresses, belts, necklaces, horseshoe hostess gifts – and much of it is adorned with the Draper James logo. This is where this site has navigated away from the Goop/Preserve designer collaboration model: there are bags and coasters and throws with the “D” monogram. There is some mention of working with artists from the South (this stationery set was a collaboration with a Kentucky graphic artist), but the products are really marketing Reese’s idea of Southern style. So what does that mean?
There’s talk about sweet tea and cowboy boots. About the name, a combination of her grandparents, Reese says this: “From them I learned to dress and act like a lady, to take pride in my home, to reach out to help a neighbor, and to always invite everyone in for a visit.”
So this is what we are supposed to be buying. If you were Reese’s neighbor she would invite you in for a cold drink and some no-nonsense advice like, “We don’t apologize for looking pretty.” (You can find many more of these gems here).
This is good neighbor Reese, tough-as-nails, sweet-as-pie Reese. This is Sweet Home Alabama Reese (definitely not American Citizen getting arrested Reese). Mixing prints and a statement necklace can solve almost any problem. Manners are the cornerstone of morality and being a lady means no cussin’ and no cryin’.
But about that “dressing like a lady” talk. It seems very reductive, especially for a site that has chosen Girls Inc. as its charity affiliation. “Dress like a lady” is so antiquated, and Reese, despite this doe-eyed version of femininity she’s trying to market, is certainly not antiquated. She is an Oscar winner and successful producer. She’s survived years in one of the most sexist and punishing industries in the world. She’s thrived, actually.
And if dressing like a lady means this, I’d rather dress like Rihanna.