What matches perfectly with a Nantucket summer, sailing, and elite Ivy League schools? If you’ve noticed polos, khaki shorts, and sporty accessories, then you’ve got the answer: preppy style.
This style may be a trend, but it’s also a classic look. Preppy never truly went away—although we can say that it was lying dormant before it surfaced again. The preppy look first surfaced as a true trend in the late 1970s through 1980s, after sportswear and athletic gear was accepted and adapted into casual wear.
Preppy look this season has a strong emphasis on color. They’re a preppy clothes trademark and used for both prints and solids. We see kelly green, purple, yellow, and bright pink most, but the signature polo shirt can be found in any bold solid. The polo shirt—from Lacoste or Ralph Lauren is classic and most popular—can be worn with any simple slacks or shorts, which means it’s a good place to start if you’re looking to incorporate preppy style into your wardrobe in an affordable separate.
If you’ve already got plenty of preppy polos, there are updated styles this season to enjoy. Kris Van Assche’s collection incorporated new polo styles that included an oversized button placket and shoulder epaulets. These details are perfect if you want to take your preppy style to the club, paired with your favorite jeans. Van Assche’s polos drew from a strong palette of buttercup yellow, sage green, putty, and tans—great for layering.
Style also comes in overstated, unisex florals and repeated patterns. If you’ve seen small repeating whale patterns, that’s the kind that finds itself on preppy shoes, satchels, and shorts. In the 1980s, madras shorts and other plaids were worn with bright colors and baseball caps. This season, Dries Van Noten brought us a floral plaid—a combination of two trendy patterns and a very new look.
Nautical inspiration is a preppy clothes staple. D&G went out for a sail in its most recent collection, using nautical-themed clothes for very elegant takes on the simple look. United Bamboo employed a jaunty nautical effect for 2007. Their collection, based on a hipper version of the country club scene, had navy and red cardigans parading down the runway, matched with slim simple trousers.
Preppy shoes are always comfortable and usually slip-on. Footwear is borrowed from yachting and beachwear styles, like a simple rubber thing or loafer. This season, try a pair of topsiders from a more simple source like L.L. Bean or J. Crew, or go for the new Prada loafers for a similar effect, but a more urban feel.
All flat slip-on shoes this season can be worn with preppy-inspired trousers. California label Trovata, which always gives us reworked cool classics, paired slip-on espadrilles in navy and white with cutoff shorts and bucket hats—not to mention the classic polo. Their seafaring theme complemented preppy trends flawlessly, with a basic color palette, nautical flavor, and sporty overtones. Bucket hats and pullovers finished off the look. Loafers at polo-shirt classic brand Lacoste were white and comfortable, and were worn with simple flat-front trousers in a vibrant pink shade.
Preppy style is surprisingly simple, which means that you can find affordable choices alongside very elegant pieces. You can get your preppy clothing basics from the likes of J. Crew, Ben Sherman, and Penguin, or dress them up with a blazer or light overcoat. Regardless of how you wear your preppy look, you’ll be guaranteed two things: comfort and style!