Celebrities like Chloe Sevigny wear it and designers like Marc Jacobs reinterpret it for the runway: the preppy look is officially hot.
The look has definitely morphed since the days when Jackie O wore Lilly Pulitzer and the country club set basically owned preppy.
Gone is the stuffy image and in its place is a trendier, more comfortable style.
In the '80s, the basic college-aged preppy girl's wardrobe consisted of men's-style khaki trousers, a rainbow of the Izod crocodile polos (collar always worn up, some people even double layered the polos), and penny loafers.
Khakis are still a preppy staple, but pleated, starchy styles are replaced with low-rise, hip-hugging and bootcut silhouettes.
The croc is rarely seen these days,and Ralph Lauren's little horse has taken its place (just not quite as popular). And penny loafers are long gone, replaced by classic Dr. Scholl's and sleeker sandals.
Everything style-wise is totally different or very altered. Here are some examples:
- It used to be that preppies exclusively wore all-natural fabrics and clothing was
always a bit loose fitting. Now polo-s and tees are worn fitted (made possible with Lycra
and Spandex), pants and trousers worn slim (with the exception of a bootcut), and oxfords
on the small side, with a bit of stretch, never tucked in.
- Black, which use to be a no-no, is seen more often, and kiddie-motif prints (repeating whales, ducks, strawberries, turtles, elephants, etc.) are rarely seen.
- Ribbon belts have made a comeback in the well-known cute stripes and prints, as well as web belts with rhinestone trimming, which are very un-preppy, but add bit of glamour to a classic prep ensemble. (The new preppy girl isn't afraid to mix and match styles for a very personal effect!)
- A prep's wardrobe used to be very unfeminine. Most clothing was either from the boys department or a very similar style to the men's (and both genders wore the same colors, including pink). Feminine shapes and details are now showing up on preppy clothing and girls.
- Shoes have changed so much. I can't recall the last time I saw a girl walk by in Tretorns or Sperry Topsiders! I've seen generally preppy girls wearing flip flops, old-school sneaks, sleek black boots, classic slides, you name it. I suppose there isn't really an overly preppy shoe.
- Preppies used to wear skirts either just above the knee or right at the calf. Is it just me or does that seem a bit unflattering? Miniskirts actually appear in prep's wardrobe now. Not bum-exposing short, but shorter nonetheless. Midi, or knee-length skirts are a safe and flattering length, as long as there is a bit of a slit somewhere.
Here's where to find a mix of classic and modern preppy clothing:
Gap has classic basics and somewhat trendy pieces. I love the simple tees and tanks. Everything comes in fun colors and lots of sizes.
Abercrombie and Fitch has had preps shopping there for the longest time, though it's selection has changed quite a lot. Check out madras shorts, little polo tops, and great khakis.
J. Crew has the nicest basics, Lilly Pulitzer-like dresses, simple sandals, and nice lowrise jeans and khakis. Lots of color too.
And labels like Marc by Marc Jacobs, Polo Ralph Lauren, and the new Lacoste (now
Casey is a real, fashion-forward teenage girl who loves clothes (and describes her own look as "trendy prep") If you want to ask her a question, post it to the Fashion Forum under "Teen" and put "Ask Casey" in the Subject line.
Photo, top, Dollhouse Fall '01, copyright Cynthia Nellis About's Guide to Fashion.