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.
Achieving a preppy look on a budget is definitely possible. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Shop at thrift stores or consignment shops: Look for classic pieces such as blazers, button-up shirts, and skirts that can be easily incorporated into a preppy wardrobe.
- Invest in versatile pieces: Choose versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched, such as a classic white button-up shirt or a navy blazer.
- Look for sales: Many preppy brands have sales throughout the year, so keep an eye out for discounts.
- Shop at outlet stores: Outlet stores often offer preppy clothing at discounted prices.
- Stick to classic colors and patterns: Stick to classic colors and patterns such as navy, white, red, and stripes, which are synonymous with preppy style.
- Don't forget about accessories: Accessories can be an affordable way to incorporate preppy style into your wardrobe. Look for items such as belts, scarves, and sunglasses.
Remember, achieving a preppy look on a budget is all about finding classic, versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched. Don't be afraid to invest in a few high-quality items that will last you for years to come.
Ralph Lauren: Ralph Lauren is a classic preppy brand that offers everything from polo shirts to blazers to outerwear.
J.Crew: J.Crew is known for its preppy aesthetic and offers a wide range of clothing and accessories, including blazers, button-up shirts, and chinos.
Vineyard Vines: Vineyard Vines is a preppy brand that is known for its whale logo and offers clothing and accessories for men, women, and children.
Brooks Brothers: Brooks Brothers is a classic preppy brand that offers everything from suits to casual wear.
Sperry: Sperry is a preppy shoe brand that is known for its boat shoes.
Lilly Pulitzer: Lilly Pulitzer is a preppy brand that offers colorful clothing and accessories for women.
Tommy Hilfiger: Tommy Hilfiger is a preppy brand that offers clothing and accessories for men, women, and children.
Lacoste: Lacoste is a preppy brand that is known for its iconic polo shirts.
Absolutely! Preppy style can be adapted for different body types. The key is to find pieces that flatter your body and work with your personal style. Here are some tips for adapting preppy style for different body types:
- Apple-shaped body: If you have an apple-shaped body, look for A-line skirts and dresses, and avoid clothing that is too tight around the midsection. Blazers and jackets that hit at the hip can help balance out your shape.
- Pear-shaped body: If you have a pear-shaped body, look for clothing that flares out at the bottom, such as A-line skirts and fit-and-flare dresses. Avoid clothing that is too tight around the hips and thighs.
- Hourglass-shaped body: If you have an hourglass-shaped body, look for clothing that accentuates your waist, such as belted dresses and high-waisted pants. Avoid clothing that is too loose or boxy.
- Athletic body: If you have an athletic body, look for clothing that adds curves, such as peplum tops and skirts. Avoid clothing that is too boxy or shapeless.
- Petite body: If you have a petite body, look for clothing that is proportionate to your frame, such as cropped pants and fitted blazers. Avoid clothing that is too long or oversized.
Preppy hairstyles are often classic and timeless, and can be worn by both men and women. Here are some examples of preppy hairstyles:
The Ivy League: This classic men's hairstyle is short on the sides and longer on top, with a side part. It's clean, polished, and perfect for a preppy look.
The Bob: The bob is a classic women's hairstyle that can be worn straight or with curls. It's simple and elegant, and can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.
The Side Part: The side part is a simple men's hairstyle that is perfect for a preppy look. It's clean, classic, and easy to maintain.
The Ponytail: The ponytail is a versatile hairstyle that can be worn by both men and women. For a preppy look, keep it simple and neat.
The French Twist: The French twist is an elegant hairstyle that is perfect for a preppy look. It's classic and timeless, and can be worn with both casual and formal attire.
The Low Bun: The low bun is a classic hairstyle that is perfect for a preppy look. It's simple and elegant, and can be worn with both casual and formal attire.
Pearl Necklace: A classic pearl necklace is a preppy staple that adds elegance to any outfit.
Leather Belt: A leather belt with a polished buckle is a classic accessory that can be worn with everything from jeans to dress pants.
Watch: A classic watch with a leather or metal band is a timeless accessory that adds sophistication to any outfit.
Headbands: Headbands are a preppy accessory that can be worn by both men and women. Look for classic patterns like stripes or polka dots.
Tote Bag: A classic canvas or leather tote bag is a preppy staple that can be used for everything from grocery shopping to running errands.
Bow Tie: A bow tie is a classic preppy accessory that can be worn with a suit or dressed down with a button-up shirt and chinos.
Sunglasses: A classic pair of sunglasses, such as Wayfarers or aviators, is a preppy staple that adds a touch of sophistication to any outfit.
Scarf: A classic scarf in a timeless pattern, such as plaid or houndstooth, is a preppy accessory that can be worn with everything from a sweater to a blazer.
Incorporating preppy style into your work attire is a great way to add a touch of sophistication and elegance to your outfits. Here are some tips for incorporating preppy style into your work attire:
Choose classic, timeless pieces: Look for classic pieces that are well-tailored and made of high-quality materials. This could include a blazer, dress pants, or a pencil skirt.
Stick to neutral colors: Preppy style often incorporates neutral colors like navy, white, and beige. Stick to these classic colors for a polished and professional look.
Accessorize with classic pieces: Incorporate preppy accessories, such as a pearl necklace, leather belt, or classic watch, to add a touch of sophistication to your outfit.
Wear a collared shirt: A collared shirt is a preppy staple that can be worn with dress pants or a skirt for a professional look.
Layer with a sweater or cardigan: A classic sweater or cardigan is a great way to add a preppy touch to your work attire. Look for styles in classic patterns like argyle or cable knit.
Add a pop of color: While preppy style often sticks to neutral colors, a pop of color can add some personality to your outfit. Consider adding a colorful scarf or a bright pair of shoes.
Navy: Navy is a classic preppy color that is versatile and timeless. It can be paired with a variety of other colors and patterns.
White: White is a clean, crisp color that is perfect for preppy style. It can be worn as a base color or paired with other colors for a classic look.
Beige: Beige is a neutral color that is perfect for preppy style. It's clean, classic, and timeless.
Pastels: Pastel colors, such as pink, light blue, and lavender, are perfect for preppy style. They add a touch of femininity and elegance to any outfit.
Kelly Green: Kelly green is a classic preppy color that adds a pop of color to any outfit. It's often paired with navy or white for a classic look.
Red: Red is a bold color that adds a touch of sophistication to any preppy outfit. It can be worn as a base color or as an accent color.
Plaid: Plaid is a classic preppy pattern that can be worn in a variety of colors and styles. It's often seen in shades of navy, green, or red.
Stripes: Stripes are a timeless preppy pattern that can be worn in a variety of ways. Look for classic colors like navy and white or red and white.
Polka dots: Polka dots are a fun and playful preppy pattern that can be worn in a variety of colors and sizes.
Houndstooth: Houndstooth is a classic preppy pattern that is often seen in shades of black and white or brown and white.
Argyle: Argyle is a preppy pattern that incorporates diamonds in a variety of colors. It's often seen in shades of navy, green, or red.
Gingham: Gingham is a classic preppy pattern that incorporates checks in a variety of colors. It's often seen in shades of navy, red, or green.
Yes, preppy style can definitely be mixed with other fashion styles to create unique and personalized looks. In fact, mixing preppy style with other styles can create a more modern and versatile look.
Here are some examples of how preppy style can be mixed with other fashion styles:
- Preppy and bohemian: Pair a preppy collared shirt with a flowing bohemian skirt for a mix of preppy and bohemian styles.
- Preppy and edgy: Pair a preppy blazer with a pair of ripped jeans and combat boots for a mix of preppy and edgy styles.
- Preppy and sporty: Pair a preppy polo shirt with a pair of athletic shorts and sneakers for a mix of preppy and sporty styles.
- Preppy and vintage: Pair a preppy cardigan with a vintage-inspired skirt for a mix of preppy and vintage styles.
Boat shoes: Boat shoes are a classic preppy footwear option that are perfect for summer. They are comfortable, stylish, and versatile. Look for brands like Sperry and Sebago.
Loafers: Loafers are a timeless preppy footwear option that can be worn in a variety of settings, from work to weekend. Look for classic colors like brown or black.
Ballet flats: Ballet flats are a feminine preppy footwear option that are perfect for a polished and sophisticated look. Look for colors like navy, black, or beige.
Oxfords: Oxfords are a classic preppy footwear option that can be dressed up or down. Look for classic colors like brown or black.
Riding boots: Riding boots are a preppy footwear option that are perfect for the fall and winter months. They add a touch of sophistication to any outfit.
Keds sneakers: Keds sneakers are a preppy footwear option that are perfect for a casual and comfortable look. They come in a variety of colors and patterns, so you can find the perfect pair for your style.
Yes, preppy style can definitely be worn in the summer months. In fact, preppy style is perfect for the summer because it incorporates classic, timeless pieces that are clean, polished, and elegant.
Here are some ways to wear preppy style in the summer:
- Wear a polo shirt: A classic polo shirt is a preppy summer staple. Look for a lightweight fabric like cotton or linen and pair it with shorts or a skirt.
- Choose seersucker: Seersucker is a classic preppy fabric that is perfect for the summer months. Look for seersucker dresses, shorts, or skirts for a classic preppy look.
- Go for white: White is a classic preppy color that is perfect for summer. Choose white shorts, pants, or skirts and pair them with a colorful top.
- Wear boat shoes: Boat shoes are a classic preppy footwear option that are perfect for summer. They are comfortable, stylish, and versatile.
- Accessorize with a headband: A preppy headband is a perfect accessory for a summer look. Look for a headband in a classic preppy pattern like stripes or polka dots.
Dressing preppy for a formal event can be a bit challenging, as preppy style is typically associated with casual or semi-casual attire. However, it is possible to incorporate preppy elements into your formal attire for a polished and sophisticated look. Here are some tips:
Choose a tailored suit: A well-tailored suit is a classic and timeless piece that fits well with preppy style. Choose a suit in a classic color like navy, gray, or black.
Opt for a bow tie: Bow ties are a preppy accessory that adds a touch of sophistication to any formal outfit. Choose a bow tie in a classic preppy pattern like stripes or polka dots.
Wear a classic dress watch: A classic dress watch is a preppy accessory that adds a touch of elegance to any outfit. Choose a watch with a leather strap in a classic color like brown or black.
Add a pocket square: A pocket square is a preppy accessory that adds a touch of personality to a suit jacket. Choose a pocket square in a classic preppy pattern like paisley or plaid.
Choose classic footwear: Classic dress shoes like oxfords or loafers are a perfect complement to a tailored suit. Look for shoes in a classic color like black or brown.
Tote bag: A classic tote bag is a preppy staple that is both functional and stylish. Look for a tote bag made of canvas or leather in a classic preppy color like navy, white, or khaki.
Backpack: A backpack is a great option for a preppy, hands-free look. Choose a backpack in a classic preppy pattern like plaid or stripes for a fun twist.
Duffle bag: A duffle bag is a classic preppy option for traveling or gym use. Look for a duffle bag made of canvas or leather in a classic color like navy or khaki.
Crossbody bag: A crossbody bag is a practical option for a preppy look. Choose a crossbody bag in a classic preppy pattern like stripes or polka dots for a pop of personality.
Briefcase: A classic leather briefcase is a preppy option for a professional look. Look for a briefcase with a structured design and classic preppy hardware like brass or gold accents.
Jewelry: Classic jewelry pieces like pearls, gold or silver chains, and stud earrings can add a touch of elegance to a preppy outfit.
Scarves: Lightweight scarves in classic preppy patterns like plaid or stripes are a great way to add a pop of color and interest to your outfit.
Belts: Leather belts in classic colors like brown, black, or navy can add a touch of polish to a preppy outfit. Look for belts with classic hardware like brass or gold buckles.
Hats: Classic preppy hats like baseball caps, bucket hats, or straw hats can add a touch of personality to your outfit while keeping you protected from the sun.
Sunglasses: Classic sunglasses like aviators or wayfarers can add a touch of sophistication to a preppy outfit. Look for sunglasses with classic frame colors like black, brown, or tortoise.
Watches: Classic dress watches or sporty watches with leather or metal bands can add a touch of elegance to your outfit.
Preppy jewelry is all about classic and timeless pieces that are clean, polished, and elegant. Here are some preppy jewelry options to consider:
- Pearl earrings: Pearl earrings are a classic preppy jewelry staple. Look for simple stud earrings in a classic pearl color or opt for a more statement-making drop earring.
- Gold or silver chains: Simple gold or silver chains are versatile and can be layered or worn alone for a classic preppy look.
- Signet rings: Signet rings are a preppy classic and can be engraved with your initials for a personal touch.
- Nautical-themed jewelry: Nautical-themed jewelry like anchor or rope bracelets or necklaces can add a touch of personality to a preppy outfit.
- Tennis bracelets: Tennis bracelets are a timeless and elegant preppy jewelry option. Look for bracelets with classic diamond or cubic zirconia stones.
Yes, preppy style can be worn casually. In fact, preppy style was originally designed as a casual and comfortable way of dressing for college students.
Remember, preppy style is all about classic and timeless pieces that are clean, polished, and comfortable to wear. Choose pieces that make you feel confident and comfortable, and have fun incorporating preppy style into your casual outfits.
Start with a base layer: Your base layer should be a simple and classic piece like a polo shirt or button-down shirt.
Add a sweater or cardigan: A sweater or cardigan is a great way to add warmth and texture to your outfit. Choose a classic style in a neutral color like navy, gray, or cream.
Add a blazer: For a dressier look, add a blazer in a classic color like navy or gray. A blazer will instantly elevate your outfit and add sophistication to your look.
Don't forget about outerwear: A classic trench coat, pea coat, or quilted jacket is a great way to add an extra layer of warmth and style to your preppy outfit.
Accessorize with scarves: Scarves are a great way to add color and texture to your outfit. Choose a scarf in a classic pattern like stripes or plaid for a preppy look.
Dressing preppy for winter is all about layering and choosing classic pieces that are both stylish and functional.
Choose a classic and comfortable base layer like a long-sleeve shirt or sweater in a neutral color like white, gray, or black. Layer a warm sweater or cardigan over your base layer to add texture and warmth to your outfit. Choose a classic style in a neutral color like navy, gray, or cream. For the outermost layer, choose a classic winter coat like a peacoat or a trench coat in a neutral color like navy, camel, or black. Look for a coat with a classic and tailored silhouette that will keep you warm and stylish.
Scarves and hats are essential accessories for preppy winter outfits. Choose a scarf in a classic pattern like stripes or plaid, and opt for a beanie or a fedora hat to keep your head warm.
Choose a pair of preppy boots like leather ankle boots or classic duck boots. Look for boots that are both stylish and functional, with a sturdy sole and good traction for walking on slippery surfaces.
One-piece swimsuits: A one-piece swimsuit is a classic and elegant choice for preppy swimwear. Look for a style with a classic cut and a timeless pattern like stripes or polka dots.
Bikinis: A bikini can be a great way to show off your preppy style at the beach or the pool. Look for a bikini in a classic cut with a bold color or a fun pattern like gingham or plaid.
Swim trunks: For men, a pair of preppy swim trunks is a great way to show off your style at the beach or the pool. Look for trunks in a classic cut with a bold color or a fun pattern like stripes or anchors.
Cover-ups: A preppy cover-up is a great way to add an extra layer of style to your swimwear look. Look for a cover-up in a classic pattern like stripes or polka dots, and choose a style that is comfortable and easy to wear.
Dressing preppy for a beach day is all about looking chic, yet comfortable. Here are some tips on how to achieve this look:
Choose a preppy swimsuit: Look for swimsuits in classic preppy prints like stripes or gingham, or in solid colors like navy, red or white.
Layer with a cover-up: A preppy beach cover-up is a must-have for any beach day. Opt for a breezy cotton dress, a tunic or a lightweight button-down shirt.
Add a sun hat: A wide-brimmed sun hat not only protects your face from the sun, but also adds a touch of preppy elegance to your beach outfit. Look for hats in natural materials like straw or raffia.
Bring a beach tote: A preppy beach tote is both stylish and practical. Look for a tote in a classic print or color, with plenty of room to hold all your beach essentials.
Wear comfortable sandals: Choose a pair of preppy sandals that are comfortable and easy to slip on and off. Look for sandals with classic details like bows or metallic accents.
Accessorize with sunglasses: Complete your preppy beach look with a pair of stylish sunglasses. Look for sunglasses with classic shapes like aviators or wayfarers, in neutral colors like black or tortoise shell.