Fine-tune your Sloanedar. The're still out there, but with fewer velvet hairbands and red cords. Instead, they've evolved into exotic new tribes and become weirdly cool. Violet Henderson goes 21st-century Sloane-spotting.
To understand the Sloane story, we need to go way back to its genesis. Because, for all their highfalutin notions of their own social purity, Sloanes are a mongrel lot - the country-meets-town consequence of rural toffs being forced off their country estates to spend their weekdays in London, earning a wage. With the family house in Mayfair long gone, the rural toffs appropriated the leafy backwater around Sloane Square and called it their own. Two generations later, the Eighties-heyday Sloane was fully fledged and thumping up and down the King's Road.
Today, Sloane-spotting is a little more troublesome - unless you are one, in which case recognition is instant thanks to your Sloanedar. Even if a Hooray has fled to Argentina, grown a handlebar moustache and taken to tending sheep, he'll be singled out. It's not the diaspora that has complicated the process, but rather the fact that Sloanedom has suddenly become desirable - even though, a decade ago, Sloanes themselves didn't want to be Sloanes. Now there are pretenders. But just like the Venetian gondolier, you have to be born into this business.
HOW TO SPOT THEM
A good test is the number of times a minute the person issues either thanks or an apology - the genuine Sloane is fairly out of control in this respect. Also, all Sloanes' first cars are VW Polos. Rich people who buy their children a Maserati or a Ferrari are not Sloanes.
Sloanes have terrible posture - hunched shoulders, pigeon toes, eyes glued to the floor - which is probably the exact opposite of how non-Sloanes would imagine them to be post-finishing school (which, incidentally, they never go to). The thing is, the Sloane is deeply conflicted: half supremely confident, half emotionally crippled. Not simply rich (and sometimes not even that), they have been brought up knowing the social value of everything. They are constrained by a set of inherited conventions - eat jelly only with a fork, never say 'Pleased to meet you', never eat eggs for supper. But when it comes to emotions, they have no infrastructure to rely on because, as Mummy said, 'Emotions are common.' As a result, the Sloane can complain about their hotel room and send the waiter back to the kitchen with their food but they cannot tell another human being that they love them. You could inflict no greater punishment on a Sloane than to leave them alone with someone who is crying.
No Sloane has ever snogged a person for the first time while sober. When things look as though they are about to turn romantic, they rush for the nearest thing with an alcohol content (wine, beer, loo cleaner) to numb their otherwise debilitating embarrassment. Yet, when the male Sloane gets going, he is surprisingly passionate - perhaps not expert, but always grateful (and often for tragically little).
The quintessential first Sloane date is neither innovative nor thoughtful, because those aren't Sloane attributes. Instead, it's fabulously dependable: drinks at Eclipse on Old Brompton Road, dinner next door at Tendido Cero or the whole affair at Julie's restaurant in Notting Hill. Few first dates will end in sex. Unless she's rat-arsed in a nightclub miles away from social scrutiny. Then she'll do very common things with total strangers.
Holiday romances, however passionate, will come to nothing because even progressive Sloanes (who have token non-Sloane friends) don't fall in love with non-Sloanes. To be fair to the modern Sloane, this decision is wholly motivated by fear of their mother's snobbery and the cruelty she will inflict on that 'little madam who's trying to ruin my son'.
Sloane-on-Sloane romances are like mini-marriages. For health reasons, Sloanes aren't really the sort to casual-date - they'd wind up with cirrhosis of the liver pretty quickly if they got first-date-drunk regularly. Instead, their relationships average three to nine years. If they eventually decide to tie the knot, nothing is greeted with greater celebration, because Sloane-on-Sloane weddings are a ball. Not so much because of the big marquees they erect on their big lawns but because, when Sloanes are together in such high, intoxicated concentration, they go totally tonto - scaling roofs, kidnapping sheep and setting fire to their morning suits on the dancefloor.
Read more at http://www.tatler.com/news/articles/march/the-modern-sloane#sBj0SCaHfUEBa2tV.99