The term Sloane Ranger (often shortened to Sloane or less frequently Sloanie) refers to a stereotype in the United Kingdom of young, upper class or upper-middle-class people who share distinctive and common lifestyle traits. The term is a punning portmanteau of "Sloane Square", a location in Chelsea, London famed for the wealth of residents and frequenters, and the television Westerns character The Lone Ranger. Female Sloanes, especially those involved in equestrian activities, were often seen around London wearing Hermès or Liberty silk head scarves distinctively tied just below the mouth, masking much of the face, which gave added meaning to the "Lone Ranger" jest.
The term dates from 1975, when a young aspiring writer Peter York had conversations with Ann Barr (then features editor of UK magazine Harpers and Queen) about what had become a recognisable tribe of young people living in Chelsea and parts of Kensington. This led to an article for the magazine, defining the characteristics of this slice of English society.
It is often forgotten that several years passed before that the two collaborated on the Official Sloane Ranger Handbook, which became a global bestseller in 1982. The innovatory journalistic format and techniques from the 1975 article had by then become well established. Ann Barr and her editorial team at Harpers & Queen spent much time working on the original draft of the 1975 article. The potential of the piece, to become a talking point and to define a new form of social comment, was seen from the start. Ann and the sub-editors at the magazine devised many of of the 'attributes' of a Sloane, added as boxes to the main text, in what became a widely imitated format. These delineated the habits and customs of the social group in question, from clothes, to shopping, to holiday venues, to choice of marital partner.
The 1975 article needed a title. Various options were devised, and discussed between Ann Barr and her sub-editors. The aim was to find a title for the piece that resonated, while locating accurately the geographic focus of those who were its subject matter. Alternatives considered included 'Connaught Rangers' (Mayfair rather than Chelsea) and Knightsbridge Knottage (acknowledging the fashion for Hermes scarves knotted at the chin).
The Sloane Ranger proposal came from Martina (Tina) Margetts, a sub-editor on Harpers and Queen who worked (with fellow sub-editor Laura Pank) on the 1975 article. In her early twenties she had found herself amongst this social group while undertaking a course on fine art at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Initially the term "Sloane Ranger" was used mostly in reference to women, a particular archetype being Diana, Princess of Wales. However, the term now usually includes men. Male Sloanes have also been referred to as "Rahs" and "Hooray Henries". The term Sloane Ranger has similar related terms in other countries: in France they are called 'BCBG' (bon chic bon genre), while a near analogue in the United States is the preppy subculture.
The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook
Sloane Ranger, a commonplace term in 1980s London, was originally popularised by the British writers Peter York and Ann Barr in the book Style Wars (1980), followed by The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook (1982) and its companion The Official Sloane Ranger Diary. The books were published by the British society-watcher magazine Harpers & Queen, for whom Peter York was Style Editor and "was responsible for identifying the cult phenomena of "Sloane Rangers" and "Foodies".
The exemplar female Sloane Ranger was considered to be Lady Diana Spencer before marrying the Prince of Wales, when she was a member of the aristocratic Spencer family. However, most Sloanes were not aristocrats as Lady Diana was. Considered typical of SRs was patriotism and traditionalism, and a belief in the values of upper class and upper-middle class culture, confidence in themselves and their given places in the world, a fondness for life in the countryside, country sports in particular, philistinism and anti-intellectualism. The title of the Sloane Ranger handbook lists the subheading "the problem of Hampstead", in reference to the stereotypical Sloane Ranger's supposed antipathy to the champagne-socialist stereotype of the Hampstead liberal.
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Although Sloanes are nowadays supposedly more widely spread and amorphous than in the past, they are still perceived to socialise in the expensive areas of west London, most notably Kings Road, Fulham Road, Kensington High Street, and other areas of Kensington, Chelsea and Fulham. The pubs and nightclubs in these areas are popular with Sloanes, in particular the White Horse pub, known as the "Sloaney Pony" in Fulham, and the Admiral Codrington, known as "The Cod", in Chelsea.
Sloanes are associated with being educated at top-tier private schools, known as public schools in England. The most well-known schools for Sloane Rangers boys are Eton, Harrow, Radley, Westminster and St Paul's. For girls, it's Francis Holland (Sloane Square of course), Downe House, Sherbourne and Calne.
Young Sloanes aspire to attend the ancient universities of Oxford and Cambridge, or the University of London, which have a reputation for upper class attendance. A number of other universities, however, have established reputations as havens for Sloanes, notably St Andrews, Nottingham, Durham, Edinburgh, Exeter, Bristol and Newcastle.
Typically male Sloane careers include banking, finance, PR, the Army with regards to certain regiments, chartered surveyors or journalism. Women have often worked as secretaries or in fashion and retired when they had children.
The following people have been considered as past and current Sloanes:
- Jemima Khan
- James Hewitt, Army Officer and lover of Diana, Princess of Wales
- Tara Palmer-Tomkinson
- Diana, Princess of Wales
- Trinny and Susannah
- Sienna Miller
- The Duchess of Cambridge
- Sarah, Duchess of York
- Hugh Bonneville
- Hooray Henry
- Rah (slang)
- Trixie (slang)
- American prep
- Sloane Square
- Sloane Street
- Kings Road
- Young fogey
- Bourgeois personality (antithesis)
- Upper Class Twit of the Year (parody)
- "ON THE TRAIL OF LONDON'S SLOANE RANGERS". The New York Times. 25 March 1984.
- "Harpers & Queen Timeline"[dead link], The National Magazine Company, 2006.
- Slot, Owen (2 January 1994). "Same Sloanes, new Range: Ten years after their handbook was a bestseller, Owen Slot finds Caroline and Henry are still doing OK, Yah". The Independent. Retrieved 20 December 2011.
- Armstrong, Lisa (19 January 2007). "Just don't say yah... OK?". Times Newspapers Ltd. pp. Section 2 pp4–5. Retrieved 19 January 2006.
- "Sloane Rangers adapt to survive". Telegraph. 2007-10-18. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
- "Hooray, Henry, the Sloane tribe is back". theage.com.au. 2002-10-07. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
- "Kate Middleton and the rise of the Sloane Ranger". Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-07-08.
- Mount, Harry (2010-05-23). "Sarah Ferguson: the Sloane that time forgot – Telegraph Blogs". Blogs.telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-07-08.