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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 October 2007, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
On Sloane safari
By Georgina Pattinson
BBC News

Lady Victoria Hervey
Hard graft: Lady Victoria Hervey working a charity bash

A quarter of a century on from The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook, is the breed still so easy to indentify? The Magazine goes Sloane spotting with Peter York (see video, right).

They were loud and braying, supremely confident - and, many would say, insufferable.

Twenty-five years ago, the Sloane Ranger's place in British society was assured. But since then, a chilly wind has blown through their natural habitat.

Centuries worth of confidence has been knocked by the deregulation of the City and decimated by Lloyds losses. The once-ubiquitous Sloane who relied on inherited money and inherited privilege is now rare. And just as they began taking baby steps into the job market, workplaces started to become meritocratic.

Hooray Henry and Caroline, stalwarts of 1982's The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook, may be waning but how to spot their modern-day successors?

OLD SLOANE v NEW SLOANE
Wearing pearls v designer labels
Anti-intellectual pursuits v rehab and yoga
Shopping at Laura Ashley v deliveries of organic veg boxes
Inherits money v earns money
Style guru Peter York claims that the Sloane has smartened up and evolved. The tribes he identifies in his book Cooler, Faster, More Expensive: The Return of the Sloane Ranger include "Turbo Sloanes", who use their impeccable contacts to make pots of cash, and Eco Sloanes, who bang the drum for the green movement.

But perhaps most recognisable are the Party Sloanes, who earn a living organising and attending shindigs now these are sponsored and branded. And all of these new Sloane are not afraid to splash the cash - vulgarity is accepted, and even expected.

World of work

Old Harrovian Henry Conway thinks he epitomises the modern Sloane. He is a fashion writer and journalist, who organises Thursday nights at the nightclub Mahiki.

Tim FitzHigham. Picture by Rich Hardcastle
Sloanes find new ways to prosper, just as aristocrats have always done
Tim FitzHigham
"I don't know whether I was an old Sloane. I suppose my background was. At 15 and 16, I sloped up and down the King's Road but quickly got bored and moved on."

So too have those who have long made a living catering for the Sloanes. "The stalwart Sloane label, the sensible labels, are all having a complete reinvention - they are cutting edge and cool," he says.

"The classless society certainly does not exist. But there's a lot more mobility. There are a few friends of mine who could be classed as 'enthusiastic amateurs' but they are few and far between. The modern Sloane is having to be professional because Daddy doesn't run the bank anymore."

Tim FitzHigham, who features in the book, is in some ways very Old Sloane with his taste for lunatic stunts. He's rowed across the Channel in a Thomas Crapper bath and has been the Commodore of Sudbury Quay in Suffolk, in charge of an entirely land-locked port.

But he defies the traditional Sloane adage not to show off - he's a stand-up comic, actor and public speaker.

"Sloanes have always changed and evolved," he says. "They are resilient. They find new ways to prosper, just as aristocrats have always done."

It girls

The female of the species too has changed. Etiquette guru Jean Broke-Smith once ushered generations of Sloane girls, such as Lady Victoria Hervey, through the idle period from school to marriage.

ALWAYS SLOANE
Public school educated
Loves the countryside
Self-deprecating
Tells a good story
"When I first started, they didn't work - they went to good schools, then they got married. If they did work, it was a 'little job for Daddy'.

"Now, even if you happen to be the girlfriend of a prince, or a lord's daughter, they go to university and get a job afterwards. They are not the Sloanes I knew, who used to do cookery or dressmaking. They've never died but they are now realising there's a life out there called work."

She herself has moved with the times. She still coaches debutants in a way, only now it's via the medium of TV, co-presenting with Paul Burrell, butler to the uber-Sloane, Princess Diana.

So can anyone who wants to become a Sloane today? "The great thing about the group is that if people want to play, there's always room for them on the team - as long as they bear in mind that elitism is a defining characteristic of being a Sloane," says Tim FitzHigham.

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