Learning From Preps Without Being One

The preppy style as we know it alludes to America in the mid-20th century. Men and women in Ivy-league colleges pursued a professional dress-style on an every day basis. Their clothing and lifestyle choices shaped the preppy style as we know it.

Modern “prepsters” utilize classic colors, prints, and apparel in their every day wardrobe. In short, t-shirts and jeans are verboten for those who fully dedicate themselves to the preppy style.

Despite the classical appeal of this style, many people hesitate to embrace it. I’m sure that you, like many others, cringe at the word “preppy”. But maybe you’re drawn to the aesthetic, anyway. Even if you don’t want to go full prep, there’s still plenty you can learn from this camp.

What you’re about to learn is how to use some preppy elements here and there to tell people that you appreciate the finer things in life — because that’s basically what the preppy style is all about.

Doing It..

The Colors

When approximating a classic preppy look, your colors will make or break the whole outfit. The three colors you’ll find in a classic preppy look are navy, white, and crimson. Pairing navy, white, and crimson together is a safe bet; these are the traditional preppy colors. If your color coordination game is already on-point, utilize more adventurous colors like wine burgundy, emerald green, and mocha brown.

The Clothes

Button Downs

For someone who’s new to prep, chambray shirts are an excellent place to start: they have just the right mix of class and casual. The same is true for linen button ups in classic colors. The former is great for cool days, and the latter is great for warmer days. And, just like we mentioned before, pay attention to your color schemes. Classic colors like white, blue, pink, or lemon are all great places to start.


Invest in a V-neck cricket sweater or shawl neck-styled cardigan, and you’re in business. They’re both lightweight and capable of keeping you warm on chilly days. When it gets warm, all you have to do is carry them over your shoulder and you suddenly look 10x classier.


Made with khaki material and fitting like your favorite pair of jeans, there is no other pant better suited to the preppy aesthetic than chinos. The key to using them in your preppy look is all in the colors. Stay conservative with navy, tan, or brown. If you’re feeling more daring, go for emerald green or burgundy.

Shoes & Accessories

When it comes to achieving a casual-yet-preppy look, opt for a pair of espadrilles. To achieve a formal look, use a pair of loafers or Oxfords.

Accessories really pull an outfit together. Suspenders, striped ties, and traditionally printed belts are all safe bets. You can also utilize striped pocket squares and circular sun glasses to add an extra element of class to your look.

The Do

If clothes make the man, the hair-do is the finishing touch to a nearly-finished project. You can never go wrong with a side-part, though those with a more creative flair can opt for contemporary pompadours.

Some Final Advice

The key to getting the preppy look right today is aiming for a youthful, modern silhouette: keeping your shirts fitted and your pants tailored is the key to mastering a contemporary preppy look. And of course, even if you have to start conservative, don’t be afraid to explore and experiment.




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