Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Preppy Fashion

John Marine | 1/12/2011 09:46:00 PM | | |
(UPDATED: August 25, 2012)

Preppy fashion style infuses sport casual looks and wearing it casually. Its roots are derived from preparatory high school fashions where classy casual is the way to go. It's about looking dressed up... without really dressing up. An expression I will use throughout this blog post is "classy casual," which basically defines traditional preppy style. The look is about making classy look casual. Some have fun with it and some really dress up in a stylish casual way. Regardless, being preppy can be chic for both males and females. Some love the preppy lifestyle and fashion touches, and some are about it. Being preppy, like almost any subculture entails more than just fashion. Some preppy types are about trying to get into the prestigious colleges. Preppy types exhibit class and style and are not at all about being absolute divas. This blog post, however, is my contribution to preppy fashion. I may not even attempt mentioning being preppy in terms of behaviors and personality. This blog post is ONLY mostly about preppy fashion.

NOTE: Most of my commentary involves preppy chic as I see preppy style. I know there are those who try to be preppy with denim, but the way I've perceived preppy will be explained in this blog post.


AUG 25 2012 - edited outro

--- Preppy Fashion at a Glance ---

Preppy fashion is about adding a casual touch to sophisticated pieces and outfits. It is style influenced by going to preparatory (commonly called "prep") schools. Preppy fashion entails a style of dress that is both classy and casual at the same time. One thing I loved about the '90s was in girls dressing up semi-formally or in a fancy way while not for a formal occasion. These days, you don't get that much anymore. It's all about rock-influenced, punk-influenced, trashy fashions these days. Almost like not many want to dress up classy, but casually.

Preppy at a Glance: Females.

Gossip Girl preppy
^ from: - Get preppy, girls! Classy casual is the way to go for preppy chic.

Classic preppy style primarily relates to wearing most non-denim items. To me, a popular look of preppy chic is a short-sleeve (or long sleeve) white blouse paired with a vest or a sweater vest. These days, there are layered-look sweater vests that combine the look of a blouse or shirt paired with a sweater vest. The advantage to these layered-look sweater vests is that you don't have to worry about buying both a blouse and a sweater vest. However, the disadvantage would be that if you like the vest, it's attached to the blouse, so you'll have to get a sweater vest as lovely as the one in a layered-look sweater vest.

There are a number of items that I think makes preppy cute for girls. Among many others, I think the real key lies in classic pieces and classy pieces. Here are a few items that I think defines preppy to females...

Feminine Preppy Fashions:
• preppy blouses and shirts
Nothing super-feminine or over-the-top... just simple and basic blouses and shirts.

• sweater vests
A trend in the late 1990s, I've seen girls wear sweater vests over these blouses and shirts. Cute look! The bottoms were either jeans, pants, or skirts.

• tartan skirts
I'm thinking more along the lines of Catholic schoolgirl here.

• argyle
Argyle is perhaps the best representation of preppy and classy of almost anything you'll see me mention here. Anything with argyle designs- vests, sweaters, tights, socks, skirts, etc. usually denotes preppy. Most of these are classy to wear.

• horizontally-striped rugby shirts
Rugby shirts are surely preppy. Very classy casual garments in addition to immensely sporty.

• penny loafers
Long before ballet flats became the trendy "it" shoe, there were penny loafers. These were either flat loafers, or they were the '90s loafers that had chunky high heels. They are still very much preppy shoes.

• twill bottoms (pants, shorts, skirts)
Twill pants, shorts, and skirts are surely preppy; especially when you're talking about classy twill bottoms. Think of your Dickies uniform bottoms here.

• polo shirt
A polo shirt is surely classy casual. More popular preppy polos usually are of the Ralph Lauren variety.

• boat/deck shoes
Mentioned in a past blog post, boat/deck shoes are surely as classy casual as polo shirts. Sperry Top-Sider is the best-known maker of boat/deck shoes. These shoes are simple lace-up shoes that are a happy medium between ballet flat and sneaker. Boat/Deck shoes may be dorky and geeky to most, but at least they are different from seeing Converses all the time.

• classy denim (non-destroyed, non-acid wash, non distressed)
I am mostly thinking of dark denim here, and especially no cut-off or trashed denims. Because I am thinking of classy looks, that's why I'm reserving this to denim garments that are not overly trashy or whatever.

• classy hair
A classy and classic hairstyle will nicely compliment a preppy look.

Someone in recent television that has made preppy cute and stylish is one Miss Blake Lively. Her fashion style in Gossip Girl makes her really stand out. Leighton Meester of the same show (who plays as Blair Waldorf) also has preppy style down pad as well. I know Blake Lively more, though, despite the fact I've seen only one episode of Gossip Girl as of this post. Another actress who has preppy cute style is Emma Roberts, especially in the movie 2007 "Nancy Drew."

Preppy at a Glance: Males.

preppy male
^ from: - Tennis, anyone? :) Guys know preppy style too.

Even if at the expense of being the butt of others' jokes, guys can be just as preppy as any girl. Any male with an eye for classy casual style can be as much a preppy fashionable person as any girl.

Masculine Preppy Fashions:

• polo shirt
A polo shirt is surely classy casual. More popular preppy polos usually are of the Ralph Lauren variety.

• sweater vests
A trend in the late 1990s, I've seen girls wear sweater vests over these blouses and shirts. Cute look! The bottoms were either jeans, pants, or skirts.

• classy hair
In other words... anything other than mohawks or any hairstyle that doesn't exude preppy charm.

• horizontally-striped rugby shirts
Rugby shirts are surely preppy. I have a rugby sweater [that I am not sure still fits me].

• penny loafers
Loafers are every bit as stylish for males as they are for females. So go with a pair of loafers to compliment a polo shirt and some twill pants.

• twill bottoms (pants and shorts)
Twill pants and shorts are surely preppy for males.

• boat/deck shoes
Like for females, boat/deck shoes are totally prep-friendly shoes with their casual classy style.

• classy hair
In other words... anything other than mohawks or any hairstyle that doesn't exude preppy charm.

Okay. So maybe preppy chic isn't about skinny jeans, Dr. Martens boots, ripped leggings, smoking hot high heel platforms, super-sexy mini-skirts, or anything like that. Preppy chic is about sophistication while also being and feeling casual.

--- Preppy Fashion: True Preps vs. Fake Preps ---

When I think of preppy fashion (especially among females), I think of the 1995 movie, "Clueless." The preppy style of Cher (Alicia Silverstone) personifies preppy cute to me. Piecing together polished, yet casual pieces defines preppy to me. It's about dressing like a richer person... only not being rich. It is about piecing together and casually wearing more dressy pieces. It is all about looking good and feeling good. We've seemed to have toughen up to where more people are into the whole rock subculture while preppy styles just go to the wayside. So it becomes refreshing to see something different, like these preppy fashions.

Preppy Influence: "Clueless."

Here is an example of preppy chic as defined by Alicia Silverstone in Clueless. This trailer showcases preppy chic as I know preppy chic:

Did you take note of some of the styles expressed by Alicia Silverstone? A cute sweater paired with a T-shirt, a cute plaid skirt, and obviously some dressy shoes. She later wore a plaid jacket that matched her skirt. Anyone who wants to know what preppy cute is like for girls, see Clueless. At least watch for the preppy fashions.

Preppy Influence: "Nancy Drew."

Someone else who has preppy style is Nancy Drew. At least, the Emma Roberts version of Nancy Drew. Some of [Emma Roberts'] Nancy Drew looks are preppy to me:

Nancy Drew's preppy style is more classic. Emma Roberts is as sweet as sugar. Her vintage style is incredible with her '60s-inspired chic. I saw most of "Nancy Drew" to take note of the fashion.

And Then... the Fake Preps.

Some people, however, think of preppy as... anyone who wears a lot of Abercrombie and Fitch and drinks Starbucks. There are others who think that saying things like "like, oh my God" or acting like you're better than everybody else makes you preppy. No. One video actually has a great comparison of what IS preppy and what ISN'T preppy. I suggest you have a look here:

This is one take on true preppy people vs. fake preppy people. These are the ones who think preppy people are those who drink at Starbucks and wear Abercrombie and Fitch. At least that video gave you some insight on real preps vs. fake ones. Or at least, what is considered preppy according to certain people.

--- Preppy in Pictures ---

It's time to further expand the preppy love by showing you pictures. Here is a look at preppy style from a variety of different pictures I've found online. Proper credit is offered to all sources. I will try to find newer pictures and replace captions if there is an image I can't use.

Preppy Polo Shirts.

polo shirt
^ from: - Polo shirts are very preppy.

I once wore a lot of polo shirts, mostly as school uniform clothes. I did have some polos I wear casually. Most of my look nowadays center around T-shirts as far as tops are concerned.

Polos for preppy girls can range from cute to feminine. Feminine, yet still classy. There are even polo dresses that instantly denote preppy chic for girls.

Preppy Shorts.

men preppy shorts
^ from: - White preppy shorts for men.

Forever 21 preppy shorts
^ from: - Very cute preppy shorts from Forever 21.

A classy pair of shorts, as opposed to any casual shorts, can be huge in preppy style. I am always one to support bare legs for females. However, wearing tights or tall socks with some classy shoes can be cute to go with a pair of preppy shorts. Tights with shorts can be good on cold days as well. Rather than shorter shorts, there are some classy Bermuda shorts (also called walking shorts or city shorts) that are equally classy.

Try this, female audience: gray wool shorts + black tights or tall socks + black pumps. Or if you fancy a sexy pair of ankle boots or shooties, gladly replace the black pumps for black booties or shooties. Here is an example of preppy shorts with tights:

preppy shorts with tights
^ from: - Wool shorts with tights and ankle boots.

Preppy Skirt Looks.

[~~~ I had a picture of Blair Waldorf lined up here, but this space will be replaced with a new picture in a future edit. My apologies... ~~~]

preppy skirt with tights and pumps
^ from: - A cute preppy mini skirt that is plenty classy. Tights and pumps compliment this mini skirt.

Be classy with it! A preppy skirt can be cute to wear casually. These can either be like skirts with a classy pattern or even go with plaid or tartan Classy types can go with a dressy pair of pumps or sandals. Tights or tall socks along with a cute preppy skirt are also great to consider if you fancy adding a little more style to your skirt and shoes. Or if you just want to be preppy casual, one Polyvore image had a polo shirt paired with a preppy mini skirt and some Converse high-tops. The options are endless.

Penny Loafers.

[~~~ new image coming soon... ~~~]
^ from: - Emma Roberts in 2007 as Nancy Drew in "Nancy Drew."

Penny loafers were pretty common on girls back when I was in middle school and high school. These were cute and comfortable shoes to wear while still being stylish. These were the popular flat shoes well before ballet flats became trendy.

As far as this look itself is concerned, the whole look is just classic and unrefined. The look is absolutely simple- nothing in the way of serious attention-grabbing cues or accessories. It's all just classic and simple. The plaid skirt paired with the modest belt and brown penny loafers make for a cute bottom look. Along with a comfortable long-sleeve turtleneck top and a cute headband, this look is totally preppy.

Can Jeans Be Preppy?

preppy jeans
^ from: - a preppy jeans look with jeans tucked into a cute pair of boots.

In the "At a Glance" part of this blog post, I initially intended to mention no denim. Well, clean and stylish denim can be impressively preppy. The look is paired with a lovely sweater and a cute handbag. This young lady is a style star with abounding cuteness. Here is another lovely example of preppy chic with jeans:

Blake Lively Gossip Girl jeans and boots
^ from: - Blake Lively of Gossip Girl. A blouse/shirt is tucked into dark blue jeans and some candy-sweet chocolate brown boots.

Blake Lively has defined modern preppy style in Gossip Girl. I love this look here. A lovely long-sleeve blouse is complimented with dark jeans tucked into some chocolate brown knee-high boots. The look is classy and chic by the young Blake Lively.

The only thing I would be uncertain about is if going with black jeans or white jeans would be as classy casual as a pair of dark blue jeans.

Preppy Males.

preppy male shirt jeans pants
^ from: - a preppy and cool dude.

While many of my fashion-themed topics are more catered towards feminine fashions (because I am a tad more comfortable discussing feminine fashion), even I know that guys can be cool and preppy too.

Bonus Picture!

preppy pet
^ from: - Even puppies can be preppy! Pretty preppy puppy! ;-)

Just wanted to share this bit of cuteness with you all. Adorable preppy puppy, isn't he/she?

--- Go Preppy or Not? ---

It's probably too cold right now (at least here in the United States) to go preppy. However, it wouldn't hurt to go with something classy casual like this. One thing about most fashionable types is that we become too fixated on one specific look or style that we completely negate/neglect all others. In the case of preppy chic, we reject this in favor of stuff like tough looks, rock and punk-influenced fashions, and things like that. We tend to dislike something like preppy fashion just because it's geeky and not hard or tough. However, not everyone is into tough and sexy styles. Some choose to look hot in different ways. Or... just not look hot at all. There's nothing wrong or bland going with looks preppy chic provides. I'm just saying that if you choose to go with preppy style, you can!

Would I Go Preppy?

I would, but I'm too casual. I've become more adjusted to T-shirts and jeans (even button-down casual shirts) and jeans. I even thought about getting some loafers once. Having these looks means I would have to get some more khaki pants to wear to compliment and make for preppy looks. I don't think I could really do preppy. Lot of guys would do preppy much better than I ever can.

--- Preppy Fashion Retailers and Resources ---

There are some designers that feature a lot of preppy-style fashions. I want you to check out some of them in case you're interested. These are some of the more popular preppy fashion types for males and females. Click on the headings to visit their sites and shop around for some preppy-type fashions.

Ralph Lauren.

The rider on a horse is unmistakable and undeniable. Polo Sport by Ralph Lauren truly emphasizes and embraces preppy chic for both males and females. Perhaps the most famous items offered by Ralph Lauren are the many polo shirts and other sporty casual gear from Ralph Lauren. Rather than just fashions for casual style, their fashions are also good for school and work. There are even styles offered for children and babies as well.


Like Ralph Lauren, Lacoste can be very classy casual for both males and females. I commonly see Lacoste polo shirts as far as fashions I've seen from them.


Classy casual is no big deal to J.Crew and their fashions From polos to chinos and more, J.Crew has you preppy types covered.

Vineyard Vines.

Because I know nothing about them, Vineyard Vines was only brought to my attention from the "True Preps" video I posted earlier. Vineyard Vines themselves even mention preppy fashions. Their preppy styles are great for males and females of all ages.

Brooks Brothers.

Brooks Brothers has many business and casual outfits for both males and females. Adults and children can enjoy the classy fashions Brooks Brothers offers.

L.L. Bean.

With fashions for people of all ages, L.L. Bean have a good assortment of preppy-type clothes in addition to a lot of non-preppy fashions.

Elizabeth McKay.

Exclusively for women, a lot of Elizabeth McKay's styles are preppy. Of course, would you expect less from a company whose slogan is "Classy. Preppy. Vintage."?

(More links may be added in the future.)

Other Preppy Resources...

The heading says it all.

* How to Look Preppy - wikiHow
* How to Dress Preppy (Males)
* (many preppy fashions and gifts), and the blog
* The Preppy Life

(More resources likely to be added in the future.)

Other Reading:

(added: November 7, 2011)

There is really one related topic I can share with you in regards to preppy chic, and here it is:

Boat/Deck Shoes - casually classy shoes. They are the preppy alternative to Converses and flip-flop/thong sandals.

If I come up with more to feature here, I'll edit this area as need be.

The majority of my preppy chatter relates to classy looks. I think too much on classy casual, though there are preppy looks that involve denim and different takes on preppy chic. I'm thinking too much on "Clueless" from the '90s in looking at preppy style. Weird enough, I saw a site online that mentioned some of the most influential movies on fashion. To my absolute surprise, "Clueless" was NOT on that list of Top Ten fashion-inspired movies! It did have the "Sex and the City" movie to its credit. Honestly, how the hell can you mention fashion-inspired movies and NOT include "Clueless?" "Clueless," like many other movies, is something I haven't seen. I'm not really a movie person to be honest. Don't hate them- just don't really watch movies.

Thank you for reading!

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