FAQ About Preppy Style
The preppy style has been a dominant subculture throughout the 20th century. This style is mostly known for being a symbol for old money. It's emphasis on timeless elegance and tradition. However each time it comes into style it brings its own takes on its classic framework.
The preppy style is an aestethic that manifested in 2000s. Becoming one of the most influential and recognizable subcultures of the decade.
The term 'prep' comes from the late 19th century when northeastern WASP(white anglo-saxon protestant) families wanted to distinguish their old money from rising new wealth in the industrial revolution by estabkishing private prep schools for their children.
At the time these schools prioritized inheritance, family name, legacy and an 'us' vs. 'them' mentality towards the rising lower class. It was then common that these high schoolers would go on to Ivy Leauge colleges such as Harvard, Yale and Princeton. Thus continuing the family line of wealth, privilege and social connection.
Throughougt the 20th century the preppy subculture developed its own sense of style and sensibility that became well-known and prominent in certain periods where symbols of affluence and Americana was idealized.
Multiple brands began selling a sense of classic preppy at medium price points that made the style mainstream and available to all classes.
In the 2000s conservatism under George Bush was growing and while the dominant aesthetics like McBling rebelled against this, many people loved the sense of idealized America that the aestethic gave amongst the tumultuous political and social landscape of the 2000s.
A rapidly growing celebrity culture resulted in a fascination with the rich. While the preppy aestethic is about old money rather than celebrity new money.
While preppy aestethics in the 2000s may have become more diluted into the mainstream the style was still rooted in upper class. There were four main influences on the aestethic that stem from this.
- Firstly in the early 20th century tailors like J. Press and Brooks Brothers began selling their clothes to various upper-class Northeastern collegiates. It created a distinctive style that was fully established as the Ivy Leauge styles by the 50s with clothing that suited the Northeastern environment such as wintery thick fabrics and earthy fall colors. This upper-class Ivy Leauge student style allowed them to further distinguish themselves from lower classes.
- Secondly popular sports activities at these colleges meant that sportswear often seen on these campuses. Therefore it is a major element of the preppy aestethic. These sports were usually golf, tennis and riding horses. Additionally nautical and equestrian themes were big in the aestethic from preps love of horse and water sports.
- Thirdly some of these activities like polo, sailing, tennis, rowing and so on reflect historically upper-class leisure activities of the British, who also historically had a strong political and social position in Northeastern colleges.
- Lastly many of these Ivy Leauge students and their wealthy families conjugated at Southern summer vacation spots in the 50s and 60s, such as Palm Beach Florida. This meant many summer preppy styles were formed there and were particularly adopted by preps from the South, who typically follow the same traditions as Northeastern preps but come from old money in the South.
The four main influences on the 2000s preppy style is in short;
- Ivy Leauge,
- British Upper-Class,
- Southern Summer.
Polo top probably the most iconic preppy top and a plague on the early and mid 2000s. The button down collar style comes from India where Polo was played for thousands of years.The first button down collar t-shirt style was designed by tennis player Rene Lacoste with a crocodile logo after his nickname 'The Crocodile'. It won the hearts of sportswear around the world, especially with typically waspy sports like polo, golf and tennis. And the mixing of sportswear and upper-class cemented Lacoste as a preppy brand for the rest of the century.
Then in 1967 Ralph Lauren launched his casual wear brand and named it 'Polo Ralph Laure' to associate his brand with the upper-class and target the sensibilities of preps.
The Oxford button down t-shirt also takes its roots from the Polo as Johnny Brooks of the Brooks Brothers saw the button down collar shirt worn in Ivy Leauge Universities like Oxford during a triip to Britain and then introduced the Oxford shirt to America in the late 19th century. Since then they have always been extremely popular in prep culture as an example of British inspired prep fashion.
Another preppy top of the 2000s was a tory burch tunic. The item is not so much a tunics as it is a Moroccan caftan.
Also red pants and shorts became associated with the wealthy Northeasterners who used nantucket and Martha's vineyard as a popular vacation destinations in the 60s, and have remained a staple piece of preppy fashion ever since.
Other than red pants and shorts boldly colored, patterned or motif pair of trousers designed to make the prepster look bold and daring. The trend originates from affluent New Yorkers in the mid 50s who would wear bright colored pants.
Plaid skirts were an essential part of the 2000s preppy look as a direct symbol of elite education.
The blazer is the most iconic preppy jacket. It has multiple preppy origin stories but all of them come from exclusive upper-class clubs and sports and boating societies of Ivy Leauge Universities.
Also trench coat one of the main outerwears when it comes to preppy style.